Apple to Debut New AirPods This Year With Handsfree ‘Hey, Siri’ Voice Command Feature, ‘Water-Resistant’ Models Coming in 2019

Apple is reportedly working on several upgrades to its wireless AirPods with a new version of the popular headphones set for release as soon as this year, according to Bloomberg.

Like with its mobile devices — the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch — Apple intends to frequently update the AirPods with new hardware features. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on a new version for release as soon as this year with an upgraded wireless chip, the people said. A subsequent model for as early as next year is planned to be water resistant, they added, asking not to be identified discussing private product plans.

The new 2018 AirPods are said to come with an upgraded wireless chip that will let users summon Siri using the “Hey, Siri” voice command without having to physically tap the headphones, similar to the way iPhone and HomePod users invoke the virtual assistant. Currently, summoning Siri through AirPods requires users to double-tap the sides of the earbuds, although responsiveness to touch can occasionally be flaky. The upcoming version of the headphones are known internally as B288, according to today’s report.

The idea behind the third iteration of AirPods, said to be coming in 2019, is for the headphones to “survive splashes of water and rain”, although they likely won’t be designed to be submerged in water, according to Bloomberg‘s sources. That plan comes despite reports that current-generation AirPods survive being submerged in one foot of water for five minutes, and even come out the other side of a washing and drying cycle functioning as normal. That said, Apple doesn’t advertise AirPods as water resistant, and a patent was in fact filed last April for a waterproof AirPods case that can double as an iPhone or Apple Watch charger.

Designed by the same department that produced Apple’s HomePod speaker, AirPods were first introduced in 2016 alongside the iPhone 7 sans headphone jack, as a wireless solution for users wanting to listen to audio through a headset. Since launch, AirPods have been considered one of Apple’s top-performing products, apparently reflected in Apple’s severely constrained supplies throughout 2017. Production capacity of AirPods was bumped up in the second half of last year, but Apple has consistently struggled to reach supply/demand balance. Despite tight supply, AirPods were the overall top selling electronic products during last November’s Cyber Monday, according to online shopping data provided by Adobe.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that Apple shipped 13 to 14 million AirPods last year, and he expects AirPods to remain one of Apple’s most popular accessories through 2018, with shipments likely to double to an estimated 26-28 million units on a year-over-year basis. Separately, analyst Gene Munster has predicted Apple will eventually earn more from AirPods than Apple Watch.

Back in December, Kuo also predicted Apple would release an upgraded version of AirPods in the second half of 2018. Kuo said one internal change on the second-generation AirPods will include a “smaller quartz component,” but he didn’t provide any further details about new outward-facing features or improvements to expect.

During Apple’s iPhone X event in September, Apple revealed that a rumored new version of its AirPods headphones were not in fact the “AirPods 2,” but simply a new inductive wireless charging case that users will be able to purchase as a replacement for their current charging cases. The only design change made to the new charging case is the placement of the LED battery indicator light, which has migrated from the inside of the case to the outside on the front. No release date has been given for the wireless charging case, but there’s a fair chance it could appear during a March event alongside Apple’s AirPower wireless charging pad and new iPads. It’s still unclear if Apple will offer a version that also includes the AirPods themselves at the typical $159 price tag.

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Google says dark mode coming to future version of Android

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UPDATE: Google has now clarified its statement, saying that an official dark mode isn’t coming. Instead, it’s planning to enable a developer-facing night mode to help devs test apps that use a night mode.

 

ORIGINAL: As more and more smartphones come to market with OLED displays, many Android owners have been clamoring for Google to add a dark mode to Android. Now it looks like Google is finally going to do just that.

Back in November 2017, someone posted in the Google Issue Tracker asking for Google to add a dark mode to Android 9.0. A Google employee said at the time that they shared that request with the engineering team and that they’d share more info as it became available.

Fast forward to February 2018 and the Googler has marked the issue as fixed and said that a Google engineering team has added a dark mode. “It will be available in a future Android release,” the employee added.

There aren’t really any other details about Android’s dark mode right now, but this is still exciting news. One of the benefits of OLED displays is that you aren’t using as much energy to power a black screen compared to an LCD, so a dark mode that has mostly black or dark elements could help conserve energy. Plus, sometimes you just want to have a dark UI rather than a blindingly white one.

It’s unclear when Google will officially add dark mode to Android, but it is expected that Android P will be released later this year, so maybe we’ll see it then. Will you use Android’s dark mode when Google adds it?

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30 languages and multilingual support, routines, and location-based reminders are coming to Google Assistant

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It hasn’t been 2 months since Google Assistant dominated half the conversation at CES (with Alexa taking the other half) and now it’s back again with more announcements and new things for MWC. After Google’s teaser that new Android One and Go phones are coming at MWC next week, now we have a new announcement from the Google Assistant team and it’s a big one. Some would call it a worldwide one.

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30 languages and multilingual support, routines, and location-based reminders are coming to Google Assistant was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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MLB’s ‘Home Run Derby VR’ is coming to PSVR and Vive this spring

Major League Baseball has gotten into VR lately with a host of initiatives, including partnerships with Google for At Bat VR, Intel for "Game of the Week" live streams and Samsung for immersive highlights of the 2017 season. Now MLB is bringing a VR…
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Intel Announces 5G-Connected Laptops Are Coming in 2019

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The future of 5G is nearly upon us. Intel today announced that 5G-capable laptops could be coming as soon as next year.

Intel’s XMM 8000 modems — packed with commercial 5G technology — are expected to show up in Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft notebooks in the second half of 2019, the company wrote in a press release.

“Imagine immersing in untethered VR from anywhere in the world, or downloading a 250 megabyte file in seconds from a parking lot,” Intel wrote. “Or imagine being able to continue participating in a multiplayer game as you ride in an autonomous vehicle on the way to class.”

The company said it’ll show off what 5G might look like in a laptop at a special Mobile World Congress demonstration next week. That sneak peek will be a concept “2 in 1” device powered by an early prototype of Intel’s 5G modem.

While Intel’s press release focused on its partnership with Windows PC makers, it stands to reason that the company will also supply Apple with its 5G modems — eventually, at least.

The next-generation broadband technology is largely expected to revolutionize a variety of industries. It’ll change the way we compute, communicate, and even the way we commute through the proliferation of connected driverless cars.

While much of the hype around 5G centers around nascent technologies and ultrafast smartphone speeds, the new broadband standard is just as likely to impact PCs and notebooks. Even though LTE notebooks are still relatively rare, with blazingly fast 5G technology, laptops with cellular chips could become the norm (and could even replace wired computers).

Theoretically, a 5G-connected laptop would be able to harness extremely fast mobile speeds with a low latency. That means the notebook of the future could play online games just as easily as it could stream multiple 4K videos at once.

Intel isn’t the only company jumping on at the chance to spearhead 5G. Earlier this week, AT&T announced that it would be one of the first telecom companies to roll out 5G networks in the United States. By the end of the year, AT&T said it will deploy 5G in three U.S. cities.

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