Netflix Is Getting Ready To Roll Out HDR Content

The difference between HDR and standard coloration in an image or video can be quite literally night and day, as seen in the attached screenshot from a Netflix original show based on Marvel’s Daredevil property. Everything is more crisp and real, blacks are deeper, and bright colors pop far more. The naked eye can tell the difference easily, but for those interested in the facts, HDR post-processing, on average, allows anywhere between 600% and 800% more color to come through by pushing out a wider gamut of colors. HDR has to be used with care, of course – it’s easy for colors to become washed out, or for a blaring pair of headlights or bright overhead light to blind the viewer to the rest of the scene. These are all things that Netflix has to take into consideration as they get ready to flip the switch on HDR content.

HDR content for Netflix will happen on their side, and will be compatible with any HDR display out there, including supporting phones and tablets. A good number of high-end TVs out there, along with the likes of gaming laptops, high-end PC monitors, and of course some mobile devices, all support HDR out of the box. Still, HDR compatible displays are a fairly new innovation in the land of display technology, so not all customers will have what’s necessary to see the new content. For those that do, no extra legwork, hardware, or software will be required.

The way Netflix is going to implement it is by offering two different versions of their content, for now; when the service detects an HDR-compatible device or display, it will output the right content, if it’s present for that particular show. Otherwise, the standard SDR content will be shown. HDR content won’t require much from the customers, but Netflix will have to have their staff put in extra hours adjusting color values to get the HDR coloration right, and then having color critics look over the program to ensure that viewers are getting the optimal experience. For now, Netflix has not laid out a timeline for when viewers can expect to start seeing HDR content.

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Latest AirDroid beta update reportedly fixes older security issues

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A few days ago, the security firm Zimperium publicly revealed that the popular remote access management app AirDroid had some serious security issues. Today, the developer behind AirDroid has released a beta version of the app that it hope fixes these problems.

See also:

What is the problem with IoT security?

3 weeks ago

Zimperium stated that it had found that AirDroid in its current form could allow an attacker on the same network to gain full access to the owner’s device through the app. The firm actually found this flaw a number of months ago and informed the app’s development team, but for some reason that team did nothing until Zimperium make the decision to publicly reveal their findings earlier this month.

Now, the team has quickly pushed out beta 4.0.0.2 of AirDroid that reportedly does fix the security problems. Zimperium is apparently going to test the beta out to make sure all the holes are closed up before the app team releases the non-beta version in the Google Play Store. In the meantime, we don’t recommend using AirDroid until it has been verified that the app has indeed plugged its security leaks. You can’t be too careful.

Slack Announces New Integrations Via Google Partnership

Slack has announced a series of new integrations today with their service that users will be able to take advantage of, all thanks to the new partnership that they have with Google. Both Google and Slack are big proponents of productivity, and the partnership is one which seeks to nurture that love of productivity. As part of the new partnership, users will see better integration with services like Google Drive, and to help make this happen Google is creating a Drive bot for Slack. The bot will be able to help you reject or approve comments in Slack, but this can also still be done in Google Drive itself if users wish to take care of things there.

While there are a few more things that will be available with the new integrations, one of the more helpful for teams who use both Google’s Cloud services and Slack might be the ability to link up the Slack channels and Team Drives that are used. Team Drives is a relatively new feature that Google has been offering to G Suite for Work and Education customers, and now those shared drives will be able to connect with Slack Channels so users will be able to ensure that everything they need to be synced up between the two locations will be.

To help make things more convenient, Slack will also now check any permissions for files shared within a particular Slack Channel. For example, if a user that is in the Slack Channel where a Drive file or folder is shared, but they don’t have permissions to view that file or folder in Drive, then the user who shared it in Slack will be prompted to update the permissions so everyone in the Slack Channel has access. If everyone has permissions, of course, then the share will go through nice and smoothly. This takes a nice little bit of hassle out of sharing stuff between team members, especially if you tend to switch between the different services you use to stay productive and keep the work flow, well, flowing. Additionally Slack will begin to start offering previews of Docs files, so when a Google Doc is shared you’ll get a quick view of what the content in the Doc is. While you’ll still need to open up Google Docs to get the full picture, seeing things at a glance will surely come in handy when you might only have a quick few seconds to take a look at something. Most of these changes are user-facing, but Slack and Google are working on something for the admins, too, as one more integration will allow administrators to use G Suite’s admin console to configure provisions for Slack. Slack mentions that all of these integrations are the beginning of more from the partnership, and anyone looking forward to using them will be able to do so in the first half of next year. This partnership is also an interesting one as Google introduced a few Slack integrations for G Suite back in October.

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Bluetooth SIG Officially Adopts Bluetooth 5 As New Standard

Bluetooth is one of those features which is common to most, if not all, smartphones now. A feature and specification which allows you to connect remotely to other devices, among other things. However, not all Bluetooths are created equal and over time, Bluetooth has evolved with the most current standard being Bluetooth 4.x. However, that is now changed as earlier today, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) finally announced the adoption of Bluetooth 5 as the new industry standard and specification.

Of course, this is not the first time Bluetooth 5 has been announced. As the new standard was originally introduced back in July of this year. Although at the time, this was just the formal introduction to Bluetooth 5 and not the actual adoption of Bluetooth 5 as the current standard. Which is what has changed today. Although, this does not necessarily mean consumers should be expecting to see Bluetooth 5 on devices immediately. Instead, today’s announcement will certainly push forward its availability and even the Bluetooth SIG stated today that they expect Bluetooth 5-enabled products to begin hitting the market within two to six months from today’s date.

Beyond the confirmed adoption, today’s announcement does not really provide any further information on what can and should be expected from Bluetooth 5, but it did reconfirm much of the details of what had already been announced earlier in the year. Namely, and in line with what one might expect from a next-generation Bluetooth specification, that it is faster and farther-reaching. In fact, in today’s announcement, the Bluetooth SIG do point out that the range will be four times as far and the speed, twice as fast. Along with having a broadcast message capacity which is eight times what it was before. Of course, with the advent of IoT, much of the selling points with Bluetooth 5 will be around its interoperability and ability to connect to a greater number (and to a greater degree) of wireless technologies. As well as lessening the likelihood of interference developing with those other wireless technologies. In short, now that Bluetooth 5 has been adopted, your next 2017 smartphone should be less Bluetooth problematic and certainly one which offers a faster, more varied and farther-reaching connection.

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Phone Comparisons: Google Pixel XL vs ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra

Introduction

Do we have a good one for you today – the ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra goes up against the Google Pixel XL. The Ultra uses a new Aerospace-grade aluminum alloy body, and ASUS cleverly hide the antenna lines on the side of the device and eliminate those lines on the back of the device. The Pixel XL has a polished glass and metal back where the fingerprint sensor resides. Both devices have a solid build and a nice, clean, design, although the ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra would probably win in the looks department. Let’s look at some of the similarities between these two devices before we look at each one individually.

The ZenFone 3 Ultra and the Google Pixel XL have very little in common. The size difference starts us off on the wrong foot. At 5.5-inches, the Google Pixel XL is considered a phablet but wielding a 6.8-inch display, the Ultra could be regarded as a small tablet – certainly not something, you would be comfortable carrying around in your pocket as an everyday driver. Besides the screen size, the Ultra uses IPS LCD technology and an FHD resolution, whereas the Pixel XL uses an AMOLED display and a QHD resolution. Both use a Snapdragon processor and Adreno GPU for graphics, but different models. They both pack 4GB of RAM and offer expandable memory. Both devices have a great camera area, and either one will satisfy any photo buff and large enough non-removable battery to get you through the entire day and both offer rapid charge. They both have a fingerprint sensor for unlocking your phone and the Pixel XL can authorize mobile sales as well. The usual suspects are there WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, and a reversible Type-C USB port for charging and data transfer.

Please take a careful look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the “View Full Comparison” link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.

Specifications

Google Pixel XL

google-pixel-xl-ah-ns-15Getting rid of the Nexus era and bringing in the Google Pixel era helps Google to have its own ecosystem, much like Apple, where you purchase only Google products because they all work together. The Google Pixel smartphones are the first to incorporate Goggle Assistant directly onto the device. From your Pixel XL, you can communicate directly with Google’s new Home products. Google is hoping that if you buy one device, you will want them all. For this comparison, we will be looking at how well the Google Pixel XL with its polished glass and metal construction holds up to the all-metal ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra.

The Google Pixel XL comes with a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels with 531 pixels-per-inch (PPI.) Google used the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor with a dual-core clocked at 1.6GHZ and a dual-core clocked at 2.15GHz and said to increase performance by 10-percent. It is paired that to the powerful Adreno 530 GPU to handle those demanding graphics. It packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 32GB or 128GB of the faster UFS memory, as there are no means to expand the built-in memory. Google did include a large 3,450mAh battery for power, and it has rapid charge capabilities.

It was nice to see Goggle include a terrific camera in both Pixel models. The Nexus 6P had a great camera, and we were hoping for the same from Google this year. When we first looked at the specifications, they seemed quite modest – with only a 12.3MP sensor for the primary camera along with an aperture of f/2.0, phase detection autofocus (PDAF,) a dual-tone LED flash, and no OIS, instead opting to use EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization.) However, after DxOMark tested the camera, it was awarded an ‘89’ – the highest rating yet for a smartphone camera. Google also included an 8MP front-facing camera (FFC) that comes with a f/2.0 aperture, a 1.4µm pixel size, and 1080p video support. This combination of specs offers up great selfies to share with your friends on social media as well as video chatting.

The new Google Pixels are priced rather high for what you get as they did not include a lot of ‘bells and whistles’ such as a heart rate monitor, exercise app, or memory expansion. You will find Google Assistant built in that will work with other Google products such as Google Home. Of course, you can make Android Pay and mobile payments. It will be running Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box and receive the fastest software updates. It is only IP53 rated against dust and splashing water. The Pixel XL measures in at 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm and weighs in at 168 grams. There are three different colors available: Quite Black, Very Silver, and Really Blue (a limited edition color.) The Pixel XL comes with either 32GB or 128GB of storage, and it will cost you about $770 for the 32GB model.

ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra

ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra_15ASUS are well known for computers but wisely started producing smartphones. For its new line of ZenFone 3 smartphones, ASUS made many improvements. They are a beautiful all-metal body with the antenna lines hidden in the edges of the device. The ‘Deluxe’ model is the actual flagship of the three whereas the ‘Ultra,’ is so named because of its large 6.8-inch display. The ZenFone 3 Ultra model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of UFS memory is the model we will be comparing today. Let’s take a closer look at the Ultra model and see just how it stacks up against the Google Pixel XL.

The ZenFone 3 Ultra is more like a tablet with its massive 6.8-inch IPS LCD display and Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 324 PPI. The Ultra is a little larger than most people would want to carry around all day in your pocket. ASUS went with the mid-range 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor with a quad-core clocked at 1.4GHz and a quad-core clocked at 1.8GHz. ASUS uses the Adreno 510 GPU to handle the graphics. It boasts 4GB of slower DDR3 RAM (a restriction of the processor) and 64GB of faster UFS 2.0 memory – like that used in the Pixel XL – but is expandable to 200GB via a microSD card.

ASUS really improved the camera area on their new models with the Ultra model having a primary camera with a large 23MP Sony IMX318 sensor with a f/2.0 aperture, 6-element Largan lens, and 0.03-second TriTech Autofocus – it uses both Laser and Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF.) ASUS even went with a 4-axis OIS for more stability and then added a dual-tone flash. The ZenFone 3 Ultra gives you an 8MP FFC with a f/2.0 aperture and 85-degree wide-angle lens for selfies and video chatting. A large, non-removable, 4600mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 powers the device.

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra comes with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device, although it lacks an NFC chip for mobile payments. It has a nice pair of bottom-mounted stereo speakers that will make watching movies and videos more enjoyable. The Ultra arrives running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with the newest ZenUI 3.0 running over the top. The Ultra measures 186.4 x 93.9 x 6.8mm and weighs in at 233 grams. It is available in Glacier Silver, Titanium Gray, or Metallic Pink and it will cost you about $480 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory.

…And The Winner Is…

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The Final Word

As far as specifications go – the Pixel XL is the clear winner here. It has a better display (AMOLED QHD), better processor, faster RAM (DDR4 vs. DDR3), and GPU. The Pixel XL has NFC for mobile payments and is IP53 certified for water splashes. These features come with a price tag of $770. Using the Pixel also gives you access to  Google Assistant.

The ZenFone 3 Ultra has an ‘ultra’ large display and dual speakers that make it an ideal device to watch movies or videos…not to mention the 4600 non-replacement battery. For just under $500, it is quite a buy, but you miss many excellent specifications. If you only use the device for watching movies or playing games, then the cheaper Ultra may be the best device for you. However, if you want a real flagship with the best of everything, then the Pixel XL is one for you.

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Rumor: LG G6 To Have Non-Removable Battery & Full Glass Body

While previous rumors have suggested that the upcoming LG G6 will have a removable battery like many of the previous models in the series, the latest rumor actually suggests that the LG G6 will not come with a removable battery, which would certainly be a departure from the design language of LG’s smartphones as most of them allow the user to swap batteries as they please. If LG does in fact decide to leave removable batteries off the table with their next flagship it could end up alienating some loyal fans who have stuck with the brand for the very reason that they have removable batteries.

A non-removable battery is not the only change that’s rumored to come with the LG G6, though, as it’s also rumored that LG is planning on changing up the materials they’ll be using to build the outer body. Instead of metal like with the LG G5 and the LG V20, the LG G6 is said to come with a body design made entirely from glass, which is what mostly what Samsung has chosen to do with its last two flagship devices, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S7.

While there was nothing wrong with the designs of the LG G5 or LG V20, most consumers would probably agree that the premium look and feel of glass on Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge was more appealing, and if LG is indeed going with glass, they might be doing so because they feel that users and potential buyers would be more inclined to consider the device if it featured a glass build. Interestingly enough the LG G6 is also said to have a 3.5mm audio jack, which would be the exact opposite of what Samsung is rumored to be doing with the Galaxy S8. For now, it’s important to remember that these are just rumors which have yet to be confirmed, but it’s also worth noting that LG has kept a very similar design language for many of its flagship devices, and a change up like this with some key aspects of the device might be just what they need to shake things up a bit and capture the attention of consumers.

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Deal: Android N Developer Kit 90% off

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links.

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Look, it’s not your fault.

We know you’ve got that killer app idea banging around in the back of your head, but the fact of the matter is that learning how to develop on Android… well, it’s definitely an investment.

Learning how to program on the cutting edge of the world’s largest operating system will take some time and effort no matter how you swing it, but one thing that’s definitely true is that it helps to have help.

You may have heard of Rob Percival. We actually conducted an interview with him a couple of months ago when we first started researching online Android developers courses. Rob is a veteran geek and teaches a coding school for kids every summer. He’s also one of the most popular coding teachers around.

Right now, Rob is teaching a 32 hour course on Android app development for Nougat. When you order this kit, you’ll get lifetime access to 270 lectures that you move through at your own pace, as well as direct interaction with Rob through the active course forums.

Complete Android N Dev Kit in a Glance:

This kit walks you through building 17 apps, and if you were to get it through Udemy, it would cost you $200. However, Tech Deals is having a week-long sale that knocks the price down to just $20.

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Bluetooth 5 official, promises improved speed and range

Bluetooth 5

After teasing Bluetooth 5 earlier this year, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) today officially released the newest Bluetooth spec.

Bluetooth 5 offers big improvements over previous versions of Bluetooth, boasting double the speed and quadruple the range of Bluetooth 4.2. One of the main goals of Bluetooth 5, says the SIG, is to increase the functionality of Bluetooth for the Internet of Things, making smart home devices and other products better. 

Better coexistence with other wireless technologies is included with Bluetooth 5, too.

Now that Bluetooth 5 is officially official, device makers can begin building it into their products. It’ll likely be at least a few months before we start seeing Bluetooth 5-equipped devices hit the market, but based on this spec, Bluetooth 5 is quite an improvement over Bluetooth 4.2 and is worth looking forward to.