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Amazon’s Echo Loop is a smart ring with Alexa assistant

Alexa is literally everywhere

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Years back Amazon tried its luck with a smartphone — the Firephone. It received a lukewarm response and the e-commerce company ended up with a huge unsold inventory. Fast forward to 2019, Amazon has established itself in the hardware space, but in a different niche.

The Echo line of speakers have been a hit and the main unique selling point has to be Alexa assistant. The voice-enabled assistant is competing against Google Assistant and Siri, both of which are available in a range of devices.

Taking a step further, Amazon has unveiled the Echo Loop, a smart ring that’s powered by Alexa. It’s a titanium ring that has two built-in mics to take voice commands and help you out on the go.

The ring connects to your phone through Bluetooth and uses your phone’s mobile network to fetch answers to your questions from the cloud. It can also vibrate to discreetly alert you about notifications and incoming calls.

Using a small button you can accept or reject calls and even speed dial your favorite number. To give voice commands, you’ll have to bring the ring close to your mouth and whisper.

The company says it’ll sell this device in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes. It will also send you a demo kit to try out the various sizes before purchasing. The Echo Loop will cost US$ 129, however, that’s a special price for the invitation period.

Amazon also unveiled a slew of other products including smart glasses called Echo Frames and Echo Buds. Both come with Alexa as the backbone and it makes sense for them to test out new devices since wearables are going to be the future.

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This wallpaper is somehow causing Android devices to crash [Update: Samsung to roll out patches]

Something about the color

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Wallpapers are one of the most personal ways to customize our phones. Whether it’s a photo of a loved one, a pop culture icon, or just a default one, smartphones become much more colorful and dynamic because of wallpapers. That said, the only time you should fear a wallpaper is when you accidentally show off a very NSFW wallpaper to a very SFW public. However, a new and mysterious wallpaper is striking fear into the hearts of every Android user.

On their official Twitter page, renowned Samsung leaker Ice Universe posted a seemingly innocuous wallpaper with a dire warning: “Never set this picture as wallpaper, especially for Samsung mobile phone users!” The photo depicts a picturesque lakeside sprinkled with tall, coniferous trees; a minuscule island stands at the lake’s center; warm sunlight filters through thick clouds, disturbed only by towering mountains.

Further, when posted to Weibo, the photo changes, losing its purplish-orange hue. In its altered form, the wallpaper becomes harmless. The leaker suspects that the Chinese social network filters out the photo’s “harmful ingredients.”

Original (left) and Weibo format (right) | Image source: Ice Universe / Twitter

(As I was writing this article, I tried putting the photo on Photoshop to analyze its elements. When I downloaded it directly from Twitter and placed it on the software, Photoshop also filtered the hue out. There’s something off about this photo.)

Naturally, after the leaker posted the photo, curious users tried the wallpaper for themselves. As expected, Ice Universe’s warning turned into reality for some. Strangely, the wallpaper’s mysterious power picks and chooses which smartphones to brick. However, based on the flurry of responses, it’s exclusively an Android issue. Besides Samsung models, Google’s Pixels and Xiaomi’s phones are victims. Curiously, only newer models are affected.

According to a Korean forum, the problem lies in the wallpaper’s image profile. Apparently, the raw image was created using GIMP, a Photoshop alternative. Unlike other image manipulation software, GIMP operates in color profiles beyond those that Android is compatible with. As such, Android gets confused when loading the photo as a wallpaper, causing crashes and bricks. Some have also speculated on an error in encoding. Regardless, it seems that the photo’s color profile is at fault.

Still, don’t try it out. If you do try it out, convert it to sRGB first.

UPDATE: According to a follow-up tweet from Ice Universe, Samsung has already received similar complaints in mid-May. The company has resolved the concern and will start rolling out fixes to affected models soon. It’s time to wait whether other brands will release similar patches, if they haven’t already.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 might now be in mass production

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Android 11 launch delayed due to US protests

#BlackLivesMatter

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Image source: Android Developers / YouTube

Coronavirus-related delays are commonplace in this newfound era. The global health crisis has forced various companies from various industries to postpone their much-anticipated annual events. So far, we’ve seen event cancellations, launch delays, and digital migrations. Today, another anticipated launch has been postponed. However, for perhaps the first time in a while, the delay isn’t canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

In an official tweet from Android’s Twitter account, Google announced the postponement of Android 11’s unveiling. Previously, the company earmarked June 3 as the upcoming operating system’s debut. The launch would have introduced the system to developers for optimization with their apps before a more public release. That will now have to wait.

“We are postponing the June 3rd event and beta release,” Google said. “Now is not the time to celebrate.” Instead, the company will release more details “soon.”

Besides the ongoing pandemic, the United States is now buckling under a lot of civil uprising across several states. The protests are calling for justice for the brutal death of George Floyd, an African American man, under the custody of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer. In less than a week, a revolutionary spirit rushed through the entire country, resurrecting the #BlackLivesMatter movement from very recent memory. Since then, several companies and personalities have used their respective platforms and audiences to spread awareness, goodwill, and justice towards the issue.

Besides Android 11, Google has also quietly delayed the launch of the Pixel 4a for coronavirus-related reasons, according to previous reports.

SEE ALSO: Apple and Google release contact tracing software all over the world

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OnePlus accidentally disables OnePlus 8 Pro’s x-ray camera worldwide

Update rolling out in India

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Weeks ago, OnePlus confirmed a brewing privacy controversy surrounding the recently released OnePlus 8 Pro. Apparently, the premium smartphone’s Photochrom filter can penetrate through thin material like plastic or clothing. Despite OnePlus’s assurances to the contrary, several reviewers have demonstrated the feature’s strong capabilities. As a result, OnePlus has promised to disable the feature temporarily before working on a more permanent solution.

Surprisingly, after all the hullaballoo, OnePlus is disabling the feature only in Chinese smartphones. Presumably, the invasive feature is a more serious threat in China, compared to other nations. However, a recent update reveals a change of mind. Further, a followup hints at conflicting decisions inside OnePlus.

In India, OnePlus 8 Pro users are receiving new OTA updates — Oxygen OS 10.5.9.IN11, 10.5.9.IN11AA, and 10.5.9.IN11DA — that carries only one item in the patch notes, as posted in the OnePlus forums. As you might expect by now, the exactly similar patches remove the Photochrom filter temporarily “for adjustment.” In this case, “temporarily” is hugely short-term. The update promises the feature’s return “around June.”

However, after users spotted the update, OnePlus has quickly issued a statement, saying that the updates rolled out accidentally. Apparently, the company did not intend to disable the feature for non-Chinese models. As such, an upcoming OTA update will re-enable the feature.

Naturally, if you don’t live in India or China, your OnePlus 8 Pro still has the controversial Photochrom filter. However, OnePlus’s lingering uncertainty in India marks similar uncertainty in handling the privacy controversy.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus 8 Pro review: Best of the best

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