The appeal of phone VR is simplicity and affordability: Just use a $100-ish set of goggles and your phone, and you're set. Samsung gummed that up a bit over the last couple of years by requiring slightly different new models of Gear VR to fit its newer phones, most recently the Note 8 last year. This year, there are a few things any Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus buyer should know before trying to pop it into a VR headset. Samsung Gear VR: Only use the late 2017 Note 8-compatible model Samsung's newest phones, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, didn't debut with any new VR hardware. They do work with the Gear VR. However, they only work with the Note 8 model released in September last year, not the nearly identical Galaxy S8 version that debuted in March that same year. We confirmed this with Samsung. The issue is all about the fit. Apparently, the design of the S9 is different enough that attempting to put it into an earlier S8-compatible Gear VR, released in early 2017, could … [Read more...] about Galaxy S9 and VR: How not to break your new phone
Now Playing: Watch this: Otter's app makes free voice transcriptions easy and... 2:08 If you don't hate transcribing, it's probably just because you don't have to do it very much. Otter, a new, free mobile app from a team of vets from Google and speech-recognition company Nuance, aims to make voice transcriptions become as easy and accessible as typing into a Google Doc. Voice is an obsession of tech giants right now. But companies like Amazon, Google and Apple are mostly zeroed in voice-command assistants like Alexa or Siri, premised on the bet that voice interaction will become the next stage of computing. Getting less attention, though, are voice transcriptions -- tech that takes a recording of people talking and turns it in to text -- even though that kind of technology could be transformative for people across different needs and professions. Most transcription apps or services fall into two buckets. If they're free, they're not often accurate. And those … [Read more...] about To make transcripts is to hate transcripts, but mobile app Otter does it free
At the 2017 Mobile World Congress trade show, Roger Gurnani, then the chief information and technology architect for Verizon, walked on stage at a Samsung event to talk about the two companies' work on developing 5G. Gurnani spoke of the field trials that were under way, and at the end he teased that we might see a Samsung 5G phone in a year. It wasn't clear whether he was joking -- the Samsung executive next to him looked surprised by the suggestion. Fast-forward to this year's show, and the only thing certain is that no 5G phone exists. That's the hype of 5G, the next-generation wireless technology that promises to be significantly faster and more responsive than anything before it. In some cases -- such as its potential application in self-driving cars, telemedicine, the trend of devices called internet of things -- it can be life-changing. But so far, it's mostly been promises. Unless you're in one of a few select towns -- fans of the HGTV show "Fixer Upper" will appreciate … [Read more...] about Blazing 5G speeds are almost here. But are they everything they’re cracked up to be?
I put on a pair of smart glasses and look up at the mock living room before me. On top of a gray wall, I see a colorful bull's-eye symbol with a "2" on it. Next to it is a bag of balls. Neither is real. I center my gaze at the target and tap a button on the right temple of my R-9 glasses from ODG. The bag releases. The balls begin to fall, bouncing along a white shelf that is actually there. Now Playing: Watch this: 5G may make AR smart glasses experiences worth trying 1:04 I look to the left, and there's an empty fireplace. I point my glasses at another nearby bull's-eye, click the button and watch as digital flames flicker to life within the fireplace. This is a demonstration of augmented reality, or the technology that overlays digital images and other data over the real world. Think of the way that a Pokemon Go's pocket monster appear on your phone sitting atop a real-world fire hydrant, or the way you can place digital IKEA furniture in your own living room. … [Read more...] about Smart glasses have a bad rap, but 5G might help
One of the best things about coming to Mobile World Congress is getting away from the cold, dreary weather in London and much of the US to spend a few days on the sunny and pleasant Mediterranean coast of Spain. The 2018 show started off that way, but Barcelona on Tuesday, like much of Europe, was hit by frigid weather thanks to Siberian weather that even brought a light dusting of snow. But we come to Mobile World Congress for the phones and with heavier coats than usual, we pushed on to find what was happening. And as it turned out, there were a lot of news to tell. From Samsung to a banana phone to 5G, here are the big stories from Barcelona that give some clues as to what we'll see from wireless in 2018. Galaxy S9 takes over everything Where does the 8,000 pound gorilla sit? Anywhere it wants to. Samsung came to Barcelona to win. And with its announcement of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, phones shaping up to be two top handsets for 2018, win it did. It didn't matter that the … [Read more...] about Here’s what we learned about the future of phones at the world’s largest mobile show
Shiny flagship phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Nokia 8 Sirocco are the talk of the town at Mobile World Congress this week. If you like your phones with precision-engineered, wafer-thin edges and expansive glass, you'll be in heaven. But while these devices are pretty, they don't necessarily meet the demands of a more outdoorsy lifestyle. Fortunately, a number of manufacturers out there are providing an alternative to these skinny, delicate devices. They're building rugged phones that can deal with all the demands of people who are outdoors and on the go all day, whether they work in construction or agriculture or they're just keen mountaineers. This week the trade show saw several rugged phones launched by specialist manufacturers including RugGear, Crosscall and Bullitt. Combining bigger batteries designed to survive sub-zero temperatures with metal bodies coated in rubber and drop-tested repeatedly onto concrete, these phones are often extremely girthy. Each has its own … [Read more...] about Your phone’s a fragile thing. You could go rugged instead
I put on a pair of smart glasses and I look up at the mock living room before me. On top of the grey wall, I see a colorful digital bull's-eye symbol with the number two on it. Next to it is a bag of balls -- still not real. I center my glare at the target and tap a button on the right temple of my ODG R9 glasses. The bag releases, and the balls begin falling down, bouncing along the white shelf that is actually there. Now Playing: Watch this: 5G may make AR smartglass experiences worth trying 1:04 I look to the left, and there's an empty fireplace. I point my glasses at another nearby bull's-eye, click the button and watch as digital flames flicker to life within the fireplace. This is a demonstration of augmented reality, or the technology that overlays digital images and other data over the real world. Think of the way Pokemon Go's pocket monsters appear on your phone sitting on top of a real-world fire hydrant, or the way you canplace digital IKEA furniture in your … [Read more...] about Smart glasses got a bad rap the first time around. 5G might help
Unlocking the Galaxy S9 might be faster -- but that doesn't mean it's more secure. Samsung's newest smartphones, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, include a new feature the company calls Intelligent Scan. The technology combines Samsung's secure iris scanner with its less-secure facial recognition unlock technology. When unlocking your phone, it first will scan your face. If that fails to unlock the phone, the device then will check your irises. If both fail, Intelligent Scan will try to authenticate your identity using a combination of the two. And it all happens almost instantaneously. "Intelligent Scan adapts to your needs, combining the intelligence of iris scanning and face recognition to make it even easier for you to unlock your phone in more situations," Justin Denison, Samsung's senior vice president of product marketing, said Sunday at Samsung's Unpacked event at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. The problem is that Samsung's facial recognition technology just … [Read more...] about Unlocking the Galaxy S9 with Intelligent Scan? It’s easy, but maybe not so secure
Haier showed up at Mobile World Congress 2018 eager to prove that there are still features to crank out of a wearable. The new Asu Smartwatch is boxy, bulky and hides a tiny projector. It's not what you're looking for if you want a sleek or stylish accessory. But the Asu is still a conversation piece. The projector peeks out of the watch's right side, throwing a range of information and images at the back of your hand or anything else you point it at. With the projector's 480x854-pixel resolution, I could clearly see whatever it projected onto my somewhat-hairy skin. Now Playing: Watch this: Turn your hand into a screen with this projector watch 1:02 Exactly what can it show? It can project the digits you're tapping out when you enter a phone number -- I guess that could be a clever way to share you number with a date. It can also display the steps you've taken with the integrated fitness tracker. Some of its more basic features, such as the stopwatch also … [Read more...] about The Haier Asu has a tiny projector inside a a bulky frame. But is it a bright idea?
Remember when phones used to be fun? HMD Global, the startup making Nokia phones, sure does. The company reminded us of the fun side of phones last year at the Mobile World Congress trade show, when it relaunched the 3310. It repeated the performance this year when it showed off a 2018 edition of the 8110, also known as both the "Matrix" phone and the banana phone. For HMD, these retro gadgets make a statement about the brand -- that it's playful, youthful and retro in a good way, and that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Rival phone makers such as Honor that compete in the budget-to-midrange segment make token statements about this, but HMD actually speaks through its product. That energy is useful if you're competing in the phone business and your name isn't Apple or Samsung. The field is littered with budget phone options, but Nokia has the edge of an established name -- even if that name has faded in relevance. Having a little fun is critical to getting those nostalgia juices … [Read more...] about Nokia’s flair for retro phones is just as bananas as it seems