first_imgThe list of issues with the Pixel 2 XL and, to some extent, the Pixel 2 didn’t seem to end. Fortunately, they have and are really limited to a few notable ones. First on the list has been the Pixel 2 XL’s muted colors, which Google has defended to be more realistic than the overly saturated colors that users seem to prefer. To resolve this, the update will add a new Saturated color mode so that users can choose their own poison.Another display-related Pixel 2 XL complaint has been the case of burn-in. Google continues to deny any lapse in quality control in making the smartphone. Again, Google’s answer is the software update that will make the navigation bar fade out in order to combat burn-in.The Pixel 2, on the other hand, has had better luck with displays but have exhibited clicking noises that may have been related to the NFC radio. That too is getting a fix for November. Google promises that more enhancements will come in December but these first few need to be pushed out the door to prevent losing even more customers. The update also coincides with the roll out of the November security bulletin for Nexus and Pixel devices which, among other things, include the patch for the KRACK vulnerability.SOURCE: Google Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are easily two of this year’s most talked about smartphones. And not in a good way. The Pixel 2 XL especially has been plagued with many issues that, while not exactly terrible or even life-threatening, have detracted from the enjoyment of the device. Google has promised that everything can be fixed with a software update and owners can now put that theory to the test as Google finally rolls out the November software update for the embattled smartphones. Story TimelinePixel 2 XL display will get more vivid colors, Google talks about burn-in issuePixel 2 XL’s audio recording problem has a fix comingPixel 2, 2 XL Preferred Care will no longer have deductibleslast_img read more

first_imgIt has been common advice given to parents to limit the time their very young ones spend using a smartphone or a tablet. It is so common that no parental control service or app worth its salt doesn’t come without some way to limit screen time. But new studies are surfacing challenging those long-held prescriptions. Some are even encouraging parents to let kids spend even more time fiddling with devices. It’s not a blanket recommendation though and it’s based more on how kids spend their time rather than simply how long they spend it. When you think about it, the recommendation to limit phone or tablet screen time is not that different from the recommendation to limit TV time. That already betrays the line of thinking, which, admittedly, is based on studies as well. Those range from “TVs turn them into zombies” to “spending too much time on screens damage their eyesight” to “they should be spending more doing physical activities than sitting down.Simply equating mobile devices with TVs, however, don’t do these modern gadgets justice and overlook the fact that they are completely different things. Yes, they both have screens and both are used to consume content. But phones and tablets can also be used to produce content. In other words, these mobile devices are interactive devices rather than passive ones like TVs.There lies the spirit of the new studies cited by The Wall Street Journal. Research and guidelines springing from such research should distinguish between passive and active screen time. Passive screen time is all about consumption, like watching videos, and does carry the same dangers and concerns as TV time. But it is the active use that researchers and educators are more interested in and encourage.AdChoices广告Unlike TVs, smartphones and tablets are interactive. They can offer a broad range of experiences not possible with TVs, from video chats to even coding. These offer “extraordinary learning” opportunities that have never before been possible, even with the computers of decades past. These should be encouraged instead of limited.Of course, these studies don’t deny the other dangers of spending too much time attached to screens, interactive or otherwise. Use should be limited to give kids time to rest their eyes, to encourage physical activity (though there are apps for that too!) and social interaction, or even to induce necessary boredom that leads to creativity and imagination. At the very least, parental guidelines and apps should at least consider passive screen time and active use as two different things and not to lump them together as one big bad thing.last_img read more

first_img Samsung Galaxy S9 Gallery For a start, the dock itself has changed significantly. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ now slot in horizontally, rather than sitting upright: it means they can use their touchscreen as a trackpad rather than requiring a Bluetooth or USB mouse, and even show a QWERTY keyboard if you don’t have access to a full-sized peripheral. The new design also leaves both the speakers and the 3.5mm headphone jack accessible. The new DeX Pad is compatible with the old S8 and S8+, too, but the Galaxy S9 and S9+ support 2K displays in addition to Full HD. That gives more screen real-estate for the Windows-like UI. Enterprise customers, meanwhile, will be able to tap into the S9’s Knox security system, customizing the smartphone with secure apps like business VPNs and mailboxes. It’s no understatement to say that the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the most important Android phones of the year. Sure, Google’s Pixel might inspire more enthusiast excitement and, contrary to speculation, the S9 won’t debut Samsung’s first in-display fingerprint scanner but, when it comes to handset sales, the Galaxy is the daddy. For 2018, then, what’s fascinating about the new Galaxy S9 is as much about what Samsung hasn’t done as what it has. Story TimelineSamsung DeX Pad makes Galaxy S9 a 2K PC replacementGalaxy S9 price details: Verizon, T-Mobile, unlocked, more [Updated]Galaxy S9 vs S8: The reasons to upgrade Refinement, not revolutionIt’s a testament to Samsung that, twelve months on, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ still hold up well against the smartphones that we’ve seen since. That the Galaxy S9 and S9+ take an evolutionary approach, therefore, rather than throwing everything out and starting from scratch, seems a wise decision. That’s not to say, however, that you won’t notice an improvement if you upgrade. The day to day frustrations of the old phones, like the placement of the fingerprint sensor, have been ironed out. Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box is welcome, as is the new turn of speed from the Snapdragon 845, and the performance gains from Gigabit LTE support. Samsung has, for the most part it seems, resisted the urge to follow gimmicks, and instead delivered a device shaped by the feedback of actual users. Time will tell how the Galaxy S9’s twin aperture camera performs in comparison to the Pixel 2’s more computational approach to images or the iPhone X’s dual cameras. Mobile photography has moved beyond just megapixel count, and is all the more interesting for it. It’s one of the things we’ll be particularly keen to explore in our full Galaxy S9 and S9+ review.As for when you can test that out yourself, you won’t have long to wait. The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will go up for preorder on March 2, with availability following two weeks later, on March 16. Samsung will be offering a “Trade up and save” offer for those wanting to swap their existing smartphones for a discount on a new S9 or S9+; details will vary according to country, but in the US you can expect up to $350 for a Galaxy S8 or S8+ or its equivalent iPhone. An unlocked Galaxy S9 will be $719.99 while the unlocked Galaxy S9+ will be $839.99; both will be offered in Lilac Purple, Midnight Black, and Coral Blue.center_img Up to eight different characters can be stored at any one time, switched between from a row of thumbnails at the bottom of the live preview. Each is animated according to your own facial expressions, and you can snap stills or record clips of that. I’ll confess, after a brief experiment with Animoji when my iPhone X first arrived I’ve not actually used them since, but Samsung’s AR Emoji feel like more fun. Of course, what would really be entertaining would be combining different animated characters, each controlled by a different person on their own S9 or S9+, collaborating on sketches that you could film and share. The camera changes don’t end there, mind. The Galaxy S9+ follows the Note 8’s lead, and adds a second, 12-megapixel f/2.4 camera alongside its twin-aperture sensor. That offers a 2x telephoto zoom as well as opening the door to portrait-mode photography with bokeh-style background defocus. Bixby, too, makes more use of the camera.There’s now live translation of text across 54 languages and 63 currencies, for instance. Point the camera at a foreign sign, for example, and Bixby will change the text in real-time into your choice of language. Place recognition has been improved, and there’s shopping support, identifying items and then giving you the option to order them from Nordstrom and Sam’s Club. A makeup mode puts virtual products on your face, to show you what they’d look like, and then lets you buy them from Sephora or Cover Girl. The S9 even promises to recognize foods, with Bixby giving you nutritional information before you succumb to that piece of cake. A serious powerhouse, tooIt’s not all fun and animations, however. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ arrive alongside a new dock, the DeX Pad, upgraded over last year’s DeX Station system. The core concept is the same: you slot your smartphone into place, plug in a display, keyboard, and mouse, and then turn the handset into a desktop PC replacement. However, in keeping with the S9’s ethos of refining and improving, for 2018 DeX gets some welcome upgrades. Each is a little wider than its predecessor, and they’re about half a millimeter thicker, too, though you hardly notice it in your hand. What is recognizable is the weight increase: the S9 is 163 grams, versus the 155 grams of the S8, while the S9+ is 189 grams, versus the S8+’s 173 grams. Still, they look and feel sleek and smart (and more than a little slippery). Samsung makes good use of the size and weight increase, too, taking the opportunity to address some of the more vocal complaints about 2017’s handsets. What you’ll probably notice first is the repositioning of the fingerprint sensor on the rear, which is now underneath the camera rather than alongside it. That, Samsung is blunt about, was a decision that came down to user-feedback, and the S9 and S9+ are all the better for it. AdChoices广告Other improvements include stereo speaker support now. The S9 still has a speaker on the bottom edge, but now the earpiece driver can be used for playback too. It’s noticeably louder and clearer than on the S8; Samsung says the AKG-tuned speakers are in fact 1.4x more powerful than before. Dolby Atmos support has been added, for a surround sound effect with or without headphones. You can optionally turn it off from the status bar shortcuts, though having heard it at work I’m not sure why you’d want to. Samsung’s other big fix brings together its two more controversial biometric security features. Iris scanning and facial recognition are now combined – Samsung is calling it Intelligent Scan – with the ensuing promise of the security of the former and the convenience and speed of the latter. More high-stakes apps, such as Samsung Pay, can use the iris scanner alone for maximum protection. What the S8 and S8+ got right, so the Galaxy S9 and S9+ preserve. You still get a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD slot, the latter now supporting up to 400 GB cards. There’s still IP68 water and dust resistance, while onboard storage will range from 64 GB to 256 GB, country-depending. Samsung is sticking with its strategy of using the very latest silicon available, too: for the US, that means Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845, paired with 4 GB of memory on the S9 and 6 GB on the S9+. The S9 keeps the 3,000 mAh battery of before, and the S9+ the 3,500 mAh of its predecessor. There’s fast wireless charging as well as fast wired charging using USB-C, and Gigabit LTE Cat.18 (with 4×4 MIMO and carrier aggregation) is onboard along with the WiFi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC. So what’s changed, then?Samsung’s big push for 2018 is upgrading the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+’s photography talents. Both phones get a new Super Speed Dual Pixel 12-megapixel sensor, with optical image stabilization. It has a choice of two lenses, an f/1.5 and an f/2.4, between which it can switch either automatically or manually. They’re mechanical lenses, too: you can watch the S9 flip between them on the back. Samsung’s argument is that different apertures suit different scenes. In daylight, for instance, f/2.4 is more appropriate: too much light and you’ll end up with over-saturation, or blown-out skies. Darker situations, however, benefit from the f/1.5 lens, which allows in 28-percent more light than the f/1.7 optics on the old Galaxy S8. You can leave the phone to switch automatically, or force it yourself in Pro mode. It’s not just the lenses at play, however. Samsung embeds DRAM memory directly into the camera sensor, and then uses that for multi-frame noise cancellation. The S9 and S9+ fire off 12 photos in rapid succession, then splits them into three groups and treats each batch of four with noise reduction comparison. The resulting three images are then combined into a single shot which, so Samsung claims, you’ll get 30-percent less noise than in a Galaxy S8 image. That onboard memory has other uses, too. Since it allows the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to capture photos four-times faster than before, it opens the door to a new Super Slow-mo mode that captures at 960 fps. The regular 240 fps Slow-mo mode is still there, if you prefer. Since timing that could be tricky, there’s now automatic motion detect: set up the camera app’s trigger zone where you expect the action to happen, like a party-popper bursting or a baseball entering the frame, and as soon as high-speed movement is spotted the S9 will begin capturing. It’s not perfect, mind. Testing the S9 ahead of today’s launch, there were a fair few moments where the phone failed to trigger, often because the subject of the photo moved or the action generally didn’t take place in the same spot the camera app was watching. When it does work, though, Samsung does its best to make sharing that moment easier. The S9 and S9+ will automatically add music to the resulting video, for instance, or offer to make a GIF or even a wallpaper from it. On the front of both new phones there’s an 8-megapixel autofocus camera with f/1.7 optics. That’s used for Samsung’s new AR Emoji, the company’s retort to Apple’s Animoji. Like the animated iPhone X emoji, Samsung is using face tracking, but the difference is that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ create the animated character from you yourself. Swipe through the redesigned camera app – streamlined, so that the different modes are now easier to flip between – to the AR Emoji mode, and the S9 takes a few seconds to capture your face. That automatically generates a cartoon-like animated version, which you can then customize with different hairstyles and colors, different eye colors and skin tones, glasses, facial hair, and other personalizations. Samsung offers two choices, one more cartoon-esque and the other more realistic; it also has a catalog of clothes and outfits for your AR Emoji to wear. Something familiar, something newAt first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at last year’s flagships. Samsung says that the Galaxy S8 was its most popular design ever, and so the S9 consciously iterates on that rather than embracing change for its own sake. So, the Galaxy S9 sticks with the 5.8-inch Quad HD curved Super AMOLED display of its predecessor, and the Galaxy S9+ with the 6.2-inch version, each running at 2960 x 1440 resolution though now 15-percent brighter than before.What Samsung has done is devote more of the fascia of its new phones to those displays. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are each a little over a millimeter shorter than the handsets they replace: the result is the 83.2-percent of the front is taken up by Super AMOLED. Unexpectedly, though, in other ways 2018’s phones are larger than before. last_img read more

first_imgCasio is back with a new Pro Trek lineup smartwatch, the WSD-F20A. As the name implies, this model is designed for hikers and other wearers who engage in outdoor adventures. The Pro Trek features a round display and, among other things, Google’s Wear OS platform. Users get access to high durability and offline maps. Casio will launch this model in the United States next month. As far as design goes, the new Pro Trek watch has a sporty design and is water resistant to depths as deep as 50 meters / 164ft. According to Casio, its new model has a MIL-STD 810G durability rating, which means it should be able to handle accidental drops and other moderate incidents.Casio has packed several sensors relevant to smartwatches into the WSD-F20A, including an activity tracker, altimeter, barometer, and digital compass. These are joined by the maker’s own MOMENT SETTER+ app, a microphone, and dual-layer LCD. Rounding the features out is a soft black urethane band and buckle, a protective bezel, and button guards.In addition to the general features you get with Wear OS, the new Pro Trek makes it easy to access maps and download them for use offline in places where connectivity is unavailable. Casio says it struck deals with “nine major app companies” to offer sports and outdoors apps on the watch, as well, all of them found in a dedicated “Featured Apps” section.Among those apps are Fishbrain, ViewRanger, and Hole19, but the company didn’t detail the other products. Other features include a low-power GPS mode that works with full-color maps to navigate in offline status. The company will launch Pro Trek WSD-F20A some time next month for $399 USD online and through certain retailers.SOURCE: Casiolast_img read more

first_imgStory TimelineAmazon Alexa is learning how to whisper – and moreAmazon Echo Link Amp, Echo Link, Echo Sub are speaker add-ons for your Alexa setup Amazon has launched its first speaker-less Echo, the new Echo Input, offering a way to pipe music and the virtual assistant to third-party speakers. Smaller and cheaper than an Echo Dot, the new gadget looks more like a hockey puck than anything else. It inherits much of its functionality and hardware from the Echo Dot, unsurprisingly. The Echo Input has both a line-out port on the back, and supports Bluetooth streaming to wireless speakers. On the top, there’s a far-field microphone array so that Alexa can hear you from a distance. What it doesn’t have, of course, is any way to play music itself. Instead, Amazon is relying on third-party speakers to do that. It’s similar in concept to the Amazon Fire TV Cube, which adds voice control to your existing TV. Amazon is inking deals with a number of speaker manufacturers, who might want to enable voice control for their existing models but who don’t necessarily want to integrate Alexa in directly. Among the first to partner up this way will be Bose, who will be offering speaker bundles that include its regular speakers and an Echo Input. More will be in the pipeline, Amazon promises. If you still want a speaker, of course, Amazon has you covered there too. There’s a new, third-generation Echo Dot already announced, which has better audio performance. A new Echo Sub, meanwhile, adds a wireless subwoofer to the system. It can be paired with either a single Echo speaker, for a 1.1 setup, or with a pair of speakers, for a 2.1 setup. It’s part of Amazon’s attempt to further wave Alexa into your daily life, with music being a significant part of that. Indeed, the company credits Alexa – and its Echo smart speakers – for driving a huge growth in music streaming. The virtual assistant is also gaining the ability to whisper and more. The Echo Input will launch in the US, UK, and Germany later this year. It’ll be priced at $34.99.last_img read more

first_img5. Amazon Echo devices use Voice RecognitionDevices with Alexa, including Amazon Echo devices, work with voice recognition technology. Devices hear your voice and decipher the words, constructing a complex series of “if this, then that” equations. If the machine believes you’ve told it to sing a song, it’ll select a song it knows how to sing, and it’ll sing. Have a peek at our first ever Amazon Echo article to learn more about the origins of this technology.4. Amazon uses what you say to sell you productsEach time someone speaks to Alexa, Alexa becomes smarter. Technology called Machine Learning allows Amazon’s artificial intelligence to become more complex. Because Alexa is capable of recognizing your voice – assuming you’ve connected Alexa to your Amazon account – Amazon uses the things you say to create a profile. That profile allows Amazon to target you with emails and suggestions (on Amazon.com, etcetera), for products you’ll probably want to buy.AdChoices广告3. Amazon stores audio clipsThe moment you say Alexa, Amazon begins to record what you say, until the moment it decides that your command or question is complete. That audio makes your individual profile more unique and better able to target you with potential products for sale. That audio is also used to make Alexa smarter – again, see #4.2. Alexa is always listeningAmazon says that Alexa only sends audio to its servers for processing once a user summons Alexa. SEE THIS: How private is Amazon Echo? Once a user says Alexa, Amazon begins to listen and process commands. Much in the same way that every voice assistant is always listening for that command*, Alexa is always listening. *This includes Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and etcetera. This does NOT mean that any individual one of these technologies is failing to act as its creators suggest. When these products work as intended, all audio that does not occur after a call (after Alexa, for example) SHOULD be instantly deleted. That audio should also never leave the device and should never reach the internet. However, as we’ve seen before, the way these products are intended to work isn’t always the way they DO work. Have a peek at the timeline below to see several examples of ways in which Alexa’s misbehaved over the last several years. Story TimelineDelete your Amazon Alexa recordings – the latest wayEcho Dot Kids privacy concerns raised by lawmakers, advocacy groupAmazon admits Echo eavesdropping as Alexa shares private chat [Updated]Alexa Echo Eavesdropping: What went wrong, How to stop itAmazon Alexa calling: don’t enable it if you don’t need itAmazon has weaponized choice 1. Alexa can be funFor sure, the technology that makes Alexa a reality is fun to make use of. If you’re willing to subvert reality for a moment and imagine Alexa only consists of the skills – like telling you the temperature or playing an audio game – Alexa is pretty great. If Amazon Echo devices worked 100% locally, without the need to send information to Amazon via the Internet, you might have no reason to do anything but praise Amazon’s tech.Take a trip down one dollar Echo Dot road if you’re ready to roll with Alexa. Let us know how it goes!center_img Your family might have a question or two about Amazon’s Alexa and/or a very inexpensive Echo device this holiday season. As such, we’ve compiled a list of 10 simple points that you might want to relay. This isn’t a cheerleading list, and it’s not the list you’ll want if you’re looking to convince your family that Echo devices and Alexa are a great idea. Then again, it’s not all bad. last_img read more

first_imgWhy is the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform so important? Beyond Qualcomm’s boasts about performance and power efficiency, not to mention it ushering in 5G, the sheer fact that it’ll be seemingly ubiquitous in 2019 makes it a big deal. Qualcomm’s ongoing spat with Apple may make it persona-non-grata in the iPhone right now, but Android phone-makers are lining up to add some Snapdragon 855 to their flagships. We’re expecting the chipset to power the Samsung Galaxy S10 early in the new year, and likely the Galaxy Note 10 later on in 2019. OnePlus and LG will undoubtedly release smartphones that use it, along with most other names, big and not so big. Not all will necessarily tap into every hardware feature Qualcomm is offering with its new Mobile Platform. After all, as we’ve seen in the past, there can be a gulf between what a Snapdragon can technically do, and what a smartphone built on that Snapdragon has the capabilities of by the time it hits shelves. Still, much of what Qualcomm is discussing today at the Snapdragon Summit 2018 – where SlashGear is a guest – will have relevance across the board. AdChoices广告5GWith the first commercial 5G networks expected to light up in the US come early 2019, it’s no surprise that the Snapdragon 855 has a big focus on fifth-generation cellular. In reality, though, 5G will still be an option, and whether it’s included will be down to individual device-makers. Every Snapdragon 855 will have the X24 Cat 20 modem integrated: previously, that was a discrete component. It tops out at 4G LTE – though it still manages up to 2 Gbps throughput, network depending – and is paired with 802.11ac (aka WiFi 6 under the new Wi-Fi Alliance nomenclature) for up to roughly 10 Gbps speeds, with 8×8 sounding and WPA3 security. 802.11ay, or mmWave WiFi, is also included, as is Bluetooth 5.0. If a phone needs 5G, though, it’ll have the Snapdragon X50 modem added too. Although a separate part, Qualcomm still considers it falling within the overall Mobile Platform. Just how useful that will be – and how ubiquitous in stores – will depend on how fast 5G networks roll out, and the speeds they achieve in their earliest iterations. Certainly, though all of the major US carriers have 5G roadmaps, at first coverage is going to be the exception and not the rule. That, of course, is why having the Snapdragon X24 onboard is so important: Gigabit LTE isn’t going anywhere. As for audio, Qualcomm is enhancing its TrueWireless Stereo Plus system for fully wireless earbuds. That should cut latency between the left and right earbuds, in addition to cutting power consumption.Performance and GamingA new Snapdragon means stronger compute, and that’s down to Qualcomm’s Kryo 485 CPU and Adreno 640 GPU. The former promises up to 45-percent more performance over the previous Snapdragon 845. While it’s an octa-core as the Snapdragon 845 was, Qualcomm has actually changed the architecture considerably. There’s now a single Prime Core for maximum performance, running at 2.84GHz, and then three Performance Cores each running at 2.42GHz. Then there are four Efficiency Cores, each running at 1.8GHz. Each of the eight cores has its own L2 cache, and they all share a single L3 cache. Overall, it gives the Snapdragon 855 more flexibility to deliver maximum power when required. As for the Adreno 640, there’s up to a 20-percent performance increase over the Snapdragon 845’s GPU. A new Cinema Core has support for features like H.265 and VP9 hardware-accelerated decoding, and the whole chip is up to 7x more power efficient than before. Qualcomm has also enabled second-generation HDR support, for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. Potentially more important to gamers, meanwhile, are things like 120 fps playback support. For video, there’s 8K 360-degree playback, together with Volumetric VR video playback. The Adreno 640 will be able to drive up to a 4K HDR display on the smartphone itself, and up to two 4K HDR displays connected externally. To maximize the Snapdragon 855’s performance potential, Qualcomm is launching the Snapdragon Elite Gaming Platform. Effectively an umbrella term for things like cinematic color grading in HDR – with support for over a billion colors – and filmic tone mapping, it’ll include Vulkan 1.1 graphic library support along with physically based rendering, or PBR. That’s not something we’ve really seen in mobile devices before, but it could make a huge difference to gaming on the go. At its core it’s a change to how animation textures are rendered, beyond a single reflection from a light source. Instead, game developers will be able to do physically-based rendering, just like Hollywood animators can use, taking into account the characteristics of different materials like stone, fabric, and indeed anything on the periodic table, and then calculating just how light would interact with those surfaces. Theoretically, Qualcomm says, you could have done all that in software before. However figuring out the albedo color, micro-surface textures, reflectivity, and porosity would have been incredibly inefficient when it comes to power consumption, with the chip-maker suggesting that it likely wouldn’t have hit 40 fps. In contrast, Adreno 640 has hardware support for it, and developers will be able to dip in with relative ease as the Unity 4 game engine also supports PBR. Artificial IntelligenceOn-device AI is a big deal in mobile right now, for a number of reasons. Of course there’s performance to consider: having on-device AI engine processing support can be faster than sending data to the cloud to be processed, then get the results back. However there’s also a strong privacy argument to be made, keeping more of a user’s data on their phone or tablet. For the Snapdragon 855, Qualcomm’s fourth-generation AI engine debuts. That combines the Adreno GPU and Kryo 485 CPU with the chipset’s new Hexagon 690 processor, for as much as three-times the AI performance versus the old Snapdragon 845. The Hexagon 690 gets four of Qualcomm’s Hexagon Vector eXtensions (HVX), double the vector processing from before, along with four scalar threads and a new design of Hexagon Tensor Accelerator (HTA). “We’ve been asked to add more of these capabilities to the device,” Cisco Cheng, evangelist for Snapdragon technologies, explains. “Hexagon is by far the most power-efficient core.” There’s also native voice assistant support for things like the Google Assistant, Baidu’s DuerOS, and other voice-AI platforms. That’ll include dedicated AI acceleration for echo cancellation and noise suppression, making it more likely that your assistant can hear you across the room or with loud background noise. In fact, the Snapdragon 855 can do noise cancellation with just a single microphone, unlike traditional systems which demand two or more.Camera and Computational PhotographySmartphone buyers are led by camera functionality, and so unsurprisingly many of the Snapdragon 855’s enhancements are around capturing better images and video. At the heart of that is the new Spectra 380 ISP, which includes the world’s first computer vision (CV) ISP, or CV-ISP, for more efficient computational photography. The Spectra 380 handles things like the color pipeline, noise reduction, autofocus, autoexposure, and more. Then, the computer vision pipeline collects color information – with things like HDR10+ support in video – and combines the two. Previously, the CPU/GPU/Hexagon would’ve been responsible for the latter, but bringing it into the new Spectra has some significant performance advantages. For a start, there’s up to 4x power savings over the old method, despite it also being faster. There’s a 2x power saving in 6DoF body tracking, and 4x power savings for object detection and object tracking. The Snapdragon 855 can record 4K video at 60fps with HDR while using 3x less power than the old 845 did when it was capturing 4K at 30fps. Qualcomm can now support things like depth sensing at 60fps, too, and portrait mode in 4K HDR video, not just stills. That could mean background defocus in video, but also removing the whole background and replacing it with something else. Hardware acceleration for HEIF file format encoding as well as decoding has also been baked in. So far the biggest push for HEIF has been on Apple’s recent iPhone models, which take advantage of the fact that its compression delivers photos roughly half the size of JPEGs. However that’s only really the tip of what HEIF can do. For example, HEIF encoding can store details on HDR color, computer vision data, the depth map generated when you took the shot, RAW data, or even burst and animated photos, all in a single file. On devices with multiple cameras – in the manner of, say, the LG V40, which has wide-angle, regular, and telephoto lenses – each could capture an image simultaneously, and then all of those shots could be combined into a single HEIF. Rather than sharing a number of images, one HEIF could carry them all. Of course, the receiving device will need support for unpacking them, though that’s native in Android 9 Pie. Services like Google Photos would likely be quick to embrace the format’s potential, too. Qualcomm has built a mockup of what an interface for HEIF file navigation might look like, though it’ll be down to individual device-makers and services to decide how they want to present the extra wealth of data preserved in each file. SecurityThe headline feature for the Snapdragon 855’s security enhancements is the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor. Announced yesterday, it’s the company’s latest fingerprint scanner, using ultrasonics to build a 3D map of the surface of the fingertip. What makes it particularly special is that it can be embedded underneath the display. We’ve seen in-display fingerprint scanning before, but Qualcomm says its system differentiates itself with its resilience to imperfect scans and its security. Because it relies on ultrasonic mapping of the ridges and whorls of the finger, it can scan through dirt or grease. And while an optical scan would build a 2D picture, the 3D Sonic Sensor collects what’s effectively a texture map of the fingertip, which is more secure.Snapdragon 855 availabilityQualcomm is currently sampling the new Snapdragon 855 with OEMs. The first devices to ship using the new platform will arrive in the first half of 2019, with OnePlus already confirmed as the first phone-maker to use the new chip. The Snapdragon 855 is here, and Qualcomm would really rather you call it a “Mobile Platform” than a processor. Promising to open the door to a new decade of 5G, Artificial Intelligence, and Mixed Reality technologies like AR and VR, the flagship chipset cranks up the power while paving the way for form-factors beyond just the smartphone. Story TimelineWelcome to the 5G warsQualcomm Snapdragon 855 revealed as 5G flagshipSamsung 5G Android demo is fast but finickylast_img read more

first_imgWhile the S5 may focus on performance, that’s not to say the interior tech is lacking. As well as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, 4G LTE with WiFi hotspot support, an optional B&O audio system with 755W and 19 speakers, and optional Qi wireless charging, there are microphones embedded in the seat belts for better audio pickup on calls and when speaking to the infotainment system. There’s the usual safety kit too, including options for adaptive cruise control that can not only control speed but, on select roads, steering too. Audi has brought two fast helpings of bright red car to the Detroit Auto Show 2017, with the 2018 SQ5 and 2018 S5 Convertible showing up in North America for the first time. In fact, it’s the new SQ5’s debut worldwide, with the performance version of Audi’s best-selling vehicle getting a turbocharged 3.0-liter TFSI engine and new driving dynamics systems. That’s despite also delivering better economy than its predecessor, mind. 2018 Audi SQ5 Gallery The V6 engine is good for 354 HPO and almost 369 lb-ft. of torque from 1,370 to 4,500 rpm, which adds up to a 5.4 second 0-60 mph time. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. However, when you’re not pushing it hard, it can switch into the “B cycle” that boosts the compression ratio among other things, improving efficiency. That means 28.3 mpg on the US cycle, and a cut in CO2 emissions. Add in a more than 30 pound weight cut from the new aluminum engine versus the old, supercharged engine, and you can start to see where the savings hit home. Audi’s eight-speed tiptronic transmission plays its part, too. It has shorter ratios at the lower end, for more performance, and then longer ratios at the top for cutting consumption; however, it can also switch automatically into freewheeling mode when you lift off the gas above 55 mph. Of course, SQ5 buyers are really concerned about performance, and we can’t blame them there. The quattro all-wheel drive is active permanently, biased toward the rear wheels normally though capable of shifting power front or rear depending on traction needs. Wheel-selective torque control brakes the inside wheels to aid cut-in on tight cornering. At the back, an optional sport differential can distribute torque to the left or right wheel on the move. Five-link suspension front and rear is standard, as is damper control with various settings between comfort and dynamic; adaptive air suspension is an option, with control over both handling and ride height. Electric power steering is the default, but can be upgraded to speed- and angle-dependent dynamic steering. NOW READ: 2018 Audi Q5 first-drive255/45-series tires on 20-inch cast aluminum wheels are standard-fit, while 21-inch are options. Six-piston fixed caliper brakes are standard at the front. Adaptive cruise control can be added, as can active lane assist, cross traffic assist, collision avoidance, turn assist, and all the other safety tech from the 2018 Q5. Inside, there’s S sport seats in Alcantara and leather, with Nappa leather seats an upgrade that also adds pneumatic massage. The seats and wheel have contrast stitching, and there’s brushed aluminum on the dashboard; you can switch it to wood or carbon if you prefer. The back bench has a three-way split and can, optionally, be adjusted for back angle. Between 17.7- and 21.5-cubic feet of trunk space is offered with the rear seats up; drop them down, and you have 54.7 cubic feet. For technology, the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display is standard, as is an 8.3-inch display atop the dashboard for infotainment. 4G LTE with WiFi hotspot support is standard too, and there’s handwriting input for the infotainment system along with remote app control. A head-up display is optional, as is Qi wireless charging for your smartphone and a Bang & Olufsen audio system with 3D sound. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available. Audi is yet to confirm pricing or US availability for the 2018 SQ5. However, it’ll go on sale in Germany in mid-2017. 2018 Audi S5 Cabriolet makes North American debutShown off for the first time back in November, the 2018 Audi S5 Cabriolet is making its American debut today at the Detroit Auto Show. Last member of the latest A5 range, it seats four with the convenience of a full-automatic droptop with acoustic lining. That’ll open and close while the car is traveling at up to 31.1 mph: opening takes 15 seconds, while closing takes 18 seconds. Under the hood there’s a six-cylinder turbocharged V6 engine. Audi says that’s good for 354 HP and 369 lb-ft. of torque, good for 0-62 mph in 5.1 seconds. It’ll top out at the electronic limit of 155 mph. Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive is standard, as is an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. last_img read more

first_imgThere is a lot of shenanigans happening online these days and many of them happen through our smartphones. From malicious apps both subtle and overt to websites we visit, it seems that anyone and everyone is out to get us, or at least our data. And while there is no shortage of apps and tools to protect our privacy even on mobile, not all of them are as easy as flicking a switch. To fill that need, Opera is now testing a built-in VPN for its Android browser so that you won’t have to install anything extra just to get around eavesdroppers and even region locks. This isn’t the first time Opera has fiddled with a built-in VPN feature in its web browser, of course. That feature has long been present on the desktop versions so this announcement is quite long overdue. The timing, of course, couldn’t be better.Opera’s built-in VPN for Android is easy enough to use, or at least hopefully it is. You just tap the toggle to enable it and you’re done. You can, however, also choose your virtual location, be it in Europe, America or Asia. Or, if you’re not sure, you can just set it to the default Optimal setting.A VPN would mask your IP address so that spies and websites won’t know where you’re really coming from, or even what device you’re using. There are usually some speed penalties with VPN enabled, though Opera isn’t talking about that much. It does, however, promise that it’s a no-log service so it won’t be collecting any information that passes through those VPN servers.That said, even VPNs, especially mobile VPNs, are being looked at with suspicion these days. Thanks to Facebook’s Onavo VPN and, more recently, the Facebook Research app, VPNs have become tools to violate privacy as much as to protect it. If, however, you do trust Opera’s word, you can install the beta version of Opera for Android to get into the test group and try it out yourself.last_img read more

first_imgAdobe’s Lightroom has found its way into the Mac App Store, offering subscription access to the popular photo editing and organization tool. It’s the first software from Adobe’s full-featured Photoshop family to find its way into Apple’s official download store for macOS. Adobe has software already available in the Mac App Store, though with a more consumer focus. Adobe Photoshop Elements, for example, offers a cut-down version of the popular Photoshop app, intended for those who don’t need the full functionality. It’s currently priced at $69.99. Lightroom, however, takes a different pricing approach. The version being distributed through the Mac App Store is the app formerly referred to as Lightroom CC, and uses Adobe’s subscription plan rather than being available for outright purchase. You get seven days of access when you download it, to see if you like it, and after that it’s $9.99 per month. Adobe’s switch to a subscription-based model didn’t go down well with many of the company’s users, back when the company announced the “Creative Cloud” system in 2013. Rather than selling software licenses outright – and then hoping that users would pay to move up to the most recent version – Adobe instead promised full access to its suite of apps but for an ongoing monthly fee. Since then, it has gradually phased out its standalone software, pushing all new versions of Photoshop family apps to a subscription basis instead. While some are still frustrated by the shift, others have accepted that subscription can have its advantages if you make full use of what Adobe is offering. The $9.99 for Lightroom also includes 1TB of cloud storage.What’s notable about this Mac App Store arrival is that it suggests Adobe is banking on extra exposure making up for Apple’s cut of its subscription revenues. Apple takes a fee from all subscription payments, which in the first year of a subscriber’s paid service amounts to 30-percent. After a subscriber has been paying for a year, that drops to 15-percent. With the $9.99 subscription fee staying the same as if you signed up through Adobe direct, it’s clear that a customer acquired through the Mac App Store is actually worth less to the software company. On the flip side, Apple’s distribution heft is considerable, and Adobe has clearly decided that even with reduced revenues, the benefits in visibility are worth it.last_img read more

first_img Tesla Model Y Gallery The Tesla DNA is clear from the outset. Tesla based the Model Y on the same architecture as the Model 3, and that includes the design language. It’s roughly ten percent larger than the premium compact sedan. In fact, it looks a little like someone took a Model 3, loaded it into Photoshop, and then unchecked the “constrain proportions” option before stretching the car upwards. Taller then, it has a roofline familiar from the Model X, though there are some significant differences between that three row SUV and this new crossover. Most conspicuous is the absence of Falcon Wing doors. Tesla initially planned the Model Y to have them, but had a change of heart and opted for more traditional – and, in terms of engineering and cost, much more straightforward – doors like the Model S. The overall aesthetic is bulked-up-3 rather than the more rugged look that many crossovers in the segment go for. AdChoices广告It’s the electrification that’s the key, of course. Right now pure EV crossovers are in relatively short supply, though that’s likely to change by the time the Model Y reaches buyers. As with the Model 3 there are both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive options. Range clocks in at 300 miles from the Long Range model, which Musk describes as “true, usable range.” 0-60 mph takes 3.5 seconds. “It has the functionality of an SUV, but it rides like a sports car,” Musk promises. Inside, there’s a panoramic glass roof, and – in a huge surprise – seven seats, albeit as an option. The standard car will have seating for five. There’s 66 cubic feet of space, too. As you’d expect, all of Tesla’s driver-assistance bells and whistles are onboard. That means Autopilot and Autopark, along with Navigate for Highways and the usual safety features like blind spot monitoring. They’re controlled via a sizable touchscreen in a suitably minimalistic cabin. Why is the Model Y arguably Tesla’s most important car to-date? Certainly the Model 3, with its $35,000 starting price – admittedly only just achieved – is the most affordable Tesla. However it doesn’t play in the same category as the Model Y. Crossovers and SUVs are the hot markets right now, and have been for some years. Whether it’s for cabin space, design preference, the prevalence of AWD, or just the psychological factor of a more rugged “off-road” vehicle, they’re the vehicles that consumers have been shifting toward, over sedans and minivans. That means competition is fierce, but so are the opportunities. If Tesla can get the Model Y right: meet demand, deliver on reliability and quality, and avoid the controversies that have plagued the Model 3 – and indeed the S and X before that – then there’s a vast audience of potential customers out there waiting. It can’t afford to get it wrong, though: the traditional automakers may have taken a while to get up to speed with electrification, but we’re going to see an influx of EVs from all the big names over the next few years, all with the aim of biting off the audience Tesla has been cultivating for the past few years now. The question many have been waiting to have answered is pricing. Musk had promised a car roughly 10-percent more expensive than the compatible Model 3, and that’s pretty much what Tesla has delivered. The Model Y will start at $39,000, though that’s the Standard Range Model with 230 miles range which will launch in Spring 2021. It’ll do 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and have a 120 mph top speed. The Model Y Long Range will be $47,000 before incentives and launch in Fall 2020; it’ll do 300 miles and 5.5 seconds 0-60, with a 130 mph top speed. The Model Y Dual Motor AWD will have 280 miles of range and a 135 mile top speed. It’ll do 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds. It too will arrive in Fall 2020, priced from $51,000.Finally, the Model Y Performance will do 280 miles and have a 150 mph top speed. It’ll do 0-06 mph in 3.5 seconds and have a $60,000 price tag when it arrives in Fall 2020.Going for a seven-seat interior adds $3,000 to your bill. Autopilot places an additional $3,000. But since the $5,000 Full self-driving option requires Autopilot to also be present, you are, in effect, tacking on $8,000 more to the price. For the Dual Motor AWD, that brings the total to $62,000. Say hello to the Tesla Model Y, the most important car Elon Musk and his EV company have created so far. Taking the current Tesla line-up to four when it launches in 2020, it’s the automaker’s first entry into the fiercely competitive compact SUV segment.last_img read more

first_imgSammy Hagar must be proud right now. California state senator John Moorlach, a Republican from Orange County, has introduced a bill in the state legislature that could bring autobahn-style unlimited lanes to California highways. The bill seeks to add lanes to north and southbound Interstate 5 and State Route 99 that would have no speed limits. The bill doesn’t state where specifically these unlimited lanes would be added, but local reports indicate the lanes would run from Stockton to Bakersfield, a distance of about 240 miles via I-5 or 230 miles via State Route 99. These lanes would have no speed limits; the bill would suspend the current California statute that governs speeds above 100 mph in those lanes.Current statutes see drivers moving over 100 mph being fined $500 for a first offense, the second offense in three years would cost drivers $750, and under the current rules, a third offense is a $1,000 fine and suspension of the driver’s license. Funding for the construction of these unlimited lanes would come from the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund with no cost for the project offered.The bill is positioned as a way to cut idling in traffic and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The move would also help ease gridlock and make long distance traveling faster. A project to build a high-speed railway in California was canceled recently, and the unlimited speed lane bill would help make up for that loss.AdChoices广告Moorlach notes that accidents on Germany’s unlimited autobahn stretches are less frequent than accidents on American highways. One thing the bill doesn’t address is what sort of driver training would be needed for those using the lanes if any, Germany has much tougher driver education requirements. If approved, California would have the highest speed limits in the entire country. Currently, the highest speed limit is in Texas on a stretch of State Highway 130 at 85 mph.last_img read more

first_imgN.Y. Hospital Alleged To Have Pressured Heiress For Donations The New York Times: Hospital Caring For An Heiress Pressed Her To Give LavishlyFor the last 20 years of her life, Huguette Clark, a wealthy and reclusive copper heiress, lived in a Manhattan hospital room, shades drawn, door closed. She played with dolls, watched cartoons and followed the Bush v. Gore hanging chad debacle. … [A]s relatives see it, [Beth Israel Medical Center] coerced a woman who did not need constant medical care to give it a piece of her large fortune (Hartocolis, 5/29). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

first_imgU.S. Urges Daily Pill For Those At Risk Of AIDS The recommendation could transform AIDS prevention from reliance on condoms to a regimen that relies on an antiretroviral drug. Meanwhile, a report analyzes the costs and benefits of treating prison inmates for hepatitis-C and a study finds that nearly half of American adults take prescriptions.The New York Times: Advocating Pill, U.S. Signals Shift To Prevent AIDSFederal health officials recommended Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk for AIDS take a daily pill that has been shown to prevent infection with the virus that causes it (McNeil Jr., 5/14).WBUR: Treat Hep C In Prisons? Could Cost $76B, But Break EpidemicThe hepatitis-C epidemic — five times bigger than the HIV epidemic — is finally getting the attention it needs, thanks to the sudden availability of costly new treatments that can cure almost everyone with this potentially deadly liver infection. But there’s one big piece of the problem that almost no one talks about: the concentration of hepatitis C infections in the nation’s prisons and jails. One out of six inmates has hepatitis C, compared to something like one in 100 in the general population … The hep-C epidemic is a catastrophic cost burden for the nation’s federal, state and local prisons. But it also represents a precious opportunity to get a jump on ending this insidious epidemic — the leading cause of liver failure, liver transplantation and liver cancer (Knox, 5/14).WBUR: Rx Nation: CDC Says Half Of American Adults Take Prescription PillsAmericans pop pills more than most other nations. We knew that. But the numbers are still striking: roughly a full half of Americans, when surveyed, had taken a prescription drug in the last 30 days. (And the concerns those numbers raise are manifold, including the report this week that 1 in 5 meds are prescribed off-label.) Our prescription drug use is up sharply over the last couple of decades, whether you’re young or old. If you’re over 65 and not taking any pills, you’re quite an outlier, in a lonely 10 percent (Goldberg, 5/14). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

first_imgThe health system will allow patients to see doctors using their cell phones, computers or tablets. Meanwhile, the American Medical Association calls for boosting the quality of electronic health records and asks the Obama administration to abandon its “all or nothing approach” to the shift to digital records.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: No Time To See The Doctor? Try A Virtual VisitPatients looking for convenient medical appointments can now see UCLA Health System doctors using their cell phones, computers or tablets. It’s part of an ongoing effort at UCLA and elsewhere to extend alternatives to the in-person doctor visit to busy consumers outside rural areas (Gorman, 9/16).Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Frustrated AMA Calls For ‘Action Plan’ On Digital RecordsSaying that electronic health records distract doctors, take time away from care and make physicians less productive, an influential doctors’ group called on vendors and government agencies to work with them to develop better, easier-to-use technology. The American Medical Association asked the Obama administration to abandon its “all or nothing approach” requiring Medicare providers to go digital or be penalized. The group also wants the government to develop better certification criteria for vendors selling electronic record systems (Rabin, 9/16).  UCLA Health System Promotes Virtual Doctor Visits This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

first_img The Hill: Healthcare Groups Object To Medicare Cuts In Trade Bill This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Provider Groups Object To $700 Million Cut To Medicare To Fund Trade Bill The Trade Adjustment Assistance reauthorization bill would help provide health coverage to workers who lose their jobs because of foreign trade. Groups representing health care providers and senior advocates are concerned because the program is partially bankrolled by a reduction in Medicare funding. Leading healthcare provider groups are objecting to Medicare cuts being used to help pay for a new House Republican trade bill. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill helps workers displaced by trade and provides a tax credit to help pay for health insurance. It was rolled out in addition to a proposal to give President Obama “fast-track” authority on trade. The healthcare providers object to the TAA bill including a 0.25 percent cut in Medicare payments in fiscal year 2024, which amounts to a $700 million cut, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (Sullivan, 4/21) Modern Healthcare: Providers Decry $700M In Medicare Cuts Proposed In Trade Package The Philadelphia Inquirer: Schwartz To Lead New Medicare-Focused Group Senior and provider groups are angry that Medicare cuts will help pay for one of the trade bills that Congress will soon consider and are waging a last-ditch effort to nix the cuts. The Trade Adjustment Assistance reauthorization bill hasn’t received as much attention as the fast-track trade authority bill, but Democrats see it as a priority: The program helps workers who have been put out of a job because of foreign trade with job-training and placement as well as health-insurance costs. … But on Tuesday, senior and provider groups started criticizing the proposal. They’re unhappy because about $700 million of the $2.9 billion cost would be offset by increasing the cuts to Medicare authorized by the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration in fiscal year 2024 by 0.25 percent, according to a Congressional Budget Office score of the House bill. (Scott, 4/21) Also in the news, a former member of Congress takes a new job – Providers are raising alarms about potential cuts to Medicare that would bankroll benefits for workers hurt by future free-trade agreements. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, sponsored by Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash.), would rely on $700 million in reduced Medicare spending in 2024 to pay for healthcare coverage and other benefits for workers who lose coverage because of any agreements negotiated under fast-track trade authority sought by President Barack Obama. (Demko, 4/21) Former U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) will become the president and CEO of a group working to support Medicare Advantage, a Medicare program that has often been targeted for reform. She will be leading the Better Medicare Alliance, made up of health insurers (like Aetna), hospitals, medical providers, and advocates for Medicare Advantage recipients. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is another member of the alliance, which launched in December. (Tamari, 4/21) National Journal: Groups Fume That Medicare Cuts May Pay For Trade Bill last_img read more

first_img The Associated Press: Valeant In New Distribution Deal With Walgreens The Wall Street Journal: Valeant Pharmaceuticals Slashes Revenue, Earnings Guidance A drug that can cure hepatitis C was one of the top pharmaceutical costs in most states’ Medicaid budgets in 2014. All told, 33 states spent more than $1 billion to treat the disease with Gilead Sciences’ Sovaldi. (Kodjak, 12/15) Stung by criticism that it jacked up the price of lifesaving medicines, Valeant Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday it will lower some prices though an agreement with Deerfield-based Walgreens, the nation’s largest pharmacy retailer. Valeant said its “fulfillment agreement” will cut prices by 10 percent on all skin and eye medicines, and by more than 50 percent on some other branded drugs that that have generics available. The lower prices will be phased in over the next six to nine months, said Valeant, based in Laval, Quebec. (Russell, 12/15) Valeant Pharmaceuticals Strikes Distribution Deal With Walgreens The drug company, which has been in the hot seat recently because of its high drug prices and its troubled relationships with some mail-order pharmacies, hopes the Walgreens agreement will lead to new distribution pathways for its products and help regain some credibility among investors. However, Valeant issued a downbeat earning guidance for 2016. Valeant Pharmaceuticals regained some credibility with upset investors thanks to its announcement Tuesday of a new distribution deal with Walgreens and plans to line up more pharmacies to sell its products after a scandal forced it to cut ties with a key distributor, Philidor. (Johnson and Murphy, 12/15) Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. on Wednesday slashed its outlook for the current quarter and full year, and issued downbeat earnings guidance for 2016, as the drugmaker deals with the fallout from its relationship with a controversial mail-order pharmacy. Shares in Valeant, down 53% over the past three months through Tuesday’s close, fell 4.2% in premarket trading. (Beilfuss, 12/16) The Associated Press: Valeant’s Outlook For The Quarter, Year And 2016 Grows Grim Chicago Tribune: Under Fire For High Prices, Valeant To Sell Some Drugs For Less At Walgreens Bloomberg: Valeant Surges On Drug Distribution Agreement With Walgreens News outlets also report on Bayer’s search for takeover targets – Bayer will keep looking for takeover targets in the consumer health market even as it digests the $14 billion purchase of Merck & Co businesses, to stay at least among the top three players in the industry. “I’m always interested in acquisitions,” the German drugmaker’s divisional head Erica Mann told journalists at an event in Basel, Switzerland. (12/16) center_img Valeant Pharmaceuticals International has agreed to distribute many of its drugs through Walgreens stores in a new way and, in some cases, for lower prices, the companies announced on Tuesday. The agreement appeared to be part of Valeant’s strategy to replace its reliance on Philidor Rx Services. Philidor, a mail-order pharmacy, had played a big role in keeping insurers and corner drugstores from substituting less expensive alternatives for Valeant’s high-priced dermatology drugs. (Pollack, 12/15) Los Angeles Times: Specialty Drug Costs Soar 32% To $438 Million At CalPERS Amid Uproar Over Prices One of the nation’s biggest health care buyers, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, said its specialty drug costs soared 32% last year to $438 million. Despite being less than 1% of all prescriptions, specialty drugs accounted for nearly a quarter of the pension fund’s $1.8 billion in total drug costs, according to a new report by the agency. (Terhune, 12/15) In addition, hepatitis C and other specialty drug costs impact public program budgets – Valeant shares surged 12 percent to $105.76 at 11:25 a.m. in New York. They climbed as much as $109.25 earlier, the highest price since Oct. 29. The company has been under pressure over how it prices drugs and its relationship with mail-order pharmacies such as Philidor Rx Services, which specialized in helping doctors and patients get access to Valeant drugs even when insurers declined to cover them. The stock has plummeted from an all-time high of $262.52 on Aug. 5. (Torsoli and Chen, 12/15) NPR: Hepatitis Drug Among The Most Costly For Medicaid Reuters: Bayer Consumer Health Still Looking To Bulk Up After Merck Deal The New York Times: Valeant Makes Distribution Deal With Walgreens Embattled Valeant Pharmaceuticals has slashed its expectations for the fourth quarter and all of 2015, with about two weeks left in both, and issued a guarded outlook for next year as well. But shares of the Canadian drug company jumped more than 3 percent in premarket trading Wednesday, continuing a rally that started Tuesday after Valeant announced a new distribution deal with Walgreens and plans to line up more pharmacies to sell its products. (12/16) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

first_img This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Apple has just announced iOS 13, iPadOS and the ridiculously expensive Mac Pro and XDR Display.You’ll be waiting a while to get your hands on the Mac Pro but you can snag yourself an update to the latest versions iOS, macOS and the new iPadOS, today.There is a catch, however: you have to be a registered Apple developer.This is usually how Apple does things and it allows developers to get an early look at the new software, start planning updates for their apps and ensure everything works as it should when the software becomes officially available to all later in the year; usually around the time the next iPhone (which could be the iPhone 11 this year) is released in September.The beta process also allows Apple to iron out any bugs it has in the software.To download the beta software you’ll need to head to Apple’s developer portal, log-in with your account details and install the files either via iTunes or directly through your device. This is a paid-for service and you’ll need to have an active subscription to access it.Tim Cook said on stage during WWDC the betas would be available today (June 3), however at the time of publishing they are not. We’d assume they’ll be made available very shortly.When is the iOS 13 and iPadOS public beta available?In recent years Apple has begun to utilise public betas for its new software. This allows those not paying the £99/$99 developer fee to get in on the action a bit early.During WWDC 2019, Tim Cook announced that the next round of public betas for these new services will be available in July. Usually, the process of installing these betas is very simple and it can all be done on the device.iOS 13 boasts a number of new features for the iPhone including a Dark Mode, enhancements to the Photos and Maps apps and Memoji make-up. iPadOS brings greater multitasking support and a new Files app to the iPad. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links.Tell us what you think – email the Editorlast_img read more

first_img Share this storyWhat Canadians need to see in the Federal budget: David Rosenberg Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Join the conversation → February 21, 20192:59 PM EST Filed under News Economy Email Larysa Harapyn Recommended For YouWall Street hits new highs on rate-cut optimismYield curve steeper, rate cut bets unmoved by inflation gainU.S. Gulf of Mexico crude oil output cut by 59% due to storm -governmentIndivior loses appeal to block generic Suboxone opioid treatmentsPanama to withdraw flags from more vessels that violate sanctions Facebook Redditcenter_img What Canadians need to see in the Federal budget: David Rosenberg If you want to avoid a recession you had better cut taxes across the board, says Gluskin Sheff’s chief economist Twitter Comment More Gluskin Sheff’s chief economist tells FP’s Larysa Harapyn that if Ottawa wants to get ahead of a possible recession the heart of the budget should be lowering corporate and personal taxes. But how likely are we to see that? These are the potential tax measures federal budget watchers are speculating about this year Federal budget will be released on March 19, Morneau says Ottawa’s deficit for the year to come in $2 billion lower than expected, says PBO 5 Commentslast_img read more

first_img Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.Al Drago/Bloomberg Bloomberg News The Federal Reserve said it will be “patient” on any future interest-rate moves and signaled flexibility on the path for reducing its balance sheet, in a substantial pivot away from its bias just last month toward higher borrowing costs.The Federal Open Market Committee “will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support” a strong labour market and inflation near 2 per cent, the central bank said in a statement Wednesday following a two-day meeting in Washington.In a separate special statement on Wednesday, the Fed said it’s “prepared to adjust any of the details for completing balance sheet normalization in light of economic and financial developments.” The central bank also said it would be ready to alter the balance sheet’s size and composition if the economy warrants a looser monetary policy than the federal funds could achieve on its own. Federal Reserve holds rate: Read the official statement Canada’s economy may soon endure something it hasn’t faced in 68 years, according to BCA Rate outlook: What are central banks going to do next? U.S. stocks rallied after the announcement, Treasury yields fell and the dollar sank.The statements mark a broader shift toward risk management and follow months of criticism from President Donald Trump, who hectored the central bank for raising rates too much.The FOMC dropped previous language calling for “some further gradual increases” in interest rates and opened the door for the next move to be either up or down, as it cited “global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures.” Policy makers also omitted a line saying risks to the outlook are “roughly balanced.”The decision comes after Chairman Jerome Powell’s remarks earlier in January assuring that officials will be patient in raising rates helped to calm investors, who had perceived he was overly dismissive of sharp stock drops and volatility.“The U.S. economy is in a good place and we will continue to use our monetary policy tools to help keep it there,” Powell said at the start of his press conference. The central bank expects continued solid growth this year, though at a slower pace than in 2018, he said. Amid the crosscurrents of a strong U.S. economy and some uncertainties abroad, a “common-sense” approach means the Fed will patiently await “greater clarity” and rely on economic data to guide policy, Powell said.On the balance sheet, Powell said the normalization process will be completed “sooner and with a larger balance sheet” than previous estimates.Ample ReservesIn another significant move, the committee said will continue to run monetary policy in an ample-reserve regime, where control over short-term interest rates “is exercised primarily through the setting of the Federal Reserve’s administered rates, and in which active management of the supply of reserves is not required.” That suggests the FOMC has will set policy with a larger balance sheet than would be the case if it went back to its pre-crisis approach.“It’s hard to read this anything other than the Fed has capitulated to the market,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc. “The market will read this as they’re done with the hiking cycle and that a halting in the balance sheet runoff is more likely than another rate hike.” The 10-0 vote on the decision held the target range for the federal funds rate at 2.25 per cent to 2.5 per cent. Powell’s press briefing on Wednesday inaugurates a new approach of briefing the media after every meeting of the FOMC — eight times a year — instead of every other meeting. Policy makers will still update economic projections quarterly.The statement was in line with the views of more than two-thirds of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News last week, who said the Fed wouldn’t keep the language on “some further gradual increases” and would instead signal greater uncertainty, refer to patience or remove the line entirely.Officials gathered in Washington with less visibility on the economy after a five-week government shutdown delayed the release of some statistics including December retail sales and fourth-quarter gross domestic product.Even without a full flow of data, the Fed said household spending “has continued to grow strongly” while business investment growth had moderated since earlier in 2018. The committee said economic activity “has been rising at a solid rate” and job gains have been strong. There was no reference to the shutdown.As the central bank does every January now, the Fed also published a separate statement on its longer-run goals and policy strategy. The statement reaffirmed the central bank’s 2 percent inflation target, and again stressed its symmetry, meaning it would be concerned if it persistently ran above or below that target.Bloomberg.com Share this storyFederal Reserve holds interest rates, pivots to ‘patient’ approach to future moves Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Federal Reserve holds interest rates, pivots to ‘patient’ approach to future moves The Fed signalled flexibility on the path for reducing its balance sheet, a substantial pivot away from its bias just last month toward higher borrowing costs ← Previous Next → 1 Comments What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Reddit Twitter Morecenter_img Facebook advertisement Join the conversation → January 30, 20193:45 PM EST Filed under News Economy Featured Stories Craig Torres Email Comment Sponsored By: last_img read more