Prisma can turn Facebook Live broadcasts into artistic affairs

Prisma’s latest update gives you the power to air artistic videos on Facebook Live. When you switch from Photos to Videos, you’ll now see a “Live Stream” button that broadcasts whatever it is you’re capturing on cam. You’ll be able to apply any of the eight available art filters onto your broadcasts, which means you can transform any ordinary event into a moving painting on the fly. Unfortunately, this feature has a pretty limited reach: you’ll only get Facebook Live integration if you have an iPhone 7 or a 6s. Prisma says it’s because videos are processed locally on the device — the update also improves overall video quality — and requires the phones’ power.

In its announcement, the company said it knows both Facebook and Google are working on their own Prisma-like offerings. The social network launched artistic filters along with Snapchat-like features for Live a few days ago, while Google revealed that it’s working on its own style-transfer technology at the same time. Prisma CEO Aleksey Moiseenkov says it’s “really cool that Google and Facebook are trying to copy” the company’s app, but he thinks “that’s the evidence that style transfer and all this on-device deep learning stuff matters a lot for every big company in the world.”

Besides announcing the new feature, the company also assures Android fans that it still plans to bring offline processing to the platform, even though it’s taking some time to do so. Prisma promises to launch GIF support, to add social sharing options and to improve photo quality and offline processing time, as well.

Source: Prisma

Engadget RSS Feed

The 12 best tech gifts for fashionistas

Buying clothes and other apparel as gifts is always something of a risky proposition — and that’s doubly true if the person you’re shopping for prides herself on having good taste. Indeed, you might want to skip clothing altogether and focus on services your intended can use to do what they do best: be fabulous.

You might consider a gift card to Stitch Fix, where your friend will get a box of five items personalized to their tastes, with an option to return whatever they don’t like. Alternatively, there’s the Glam app for on-demand blowouts, manicures and makeup appointments, while Decorist offers online interior design consultations. If you’d still prefer to buy a physical gift, might we suggest headphones that look like a necklace, this sturdy-yet-stylish iPhone case or a fitness tracker that could pass for jewelry.

For our full list of recommendations in all categories, don’t forget to stop by our main Holiday Gift Guide hub.

Engadget RSS Feed

Samsung Pay starts rolling out in Canada

Canadian iPhone owners have had Apple Pay for a while, but what if a Samsung phone is your weapon of choice? You might be set after today. Just a couple of weeks after the company revealed that Samsung Pay was coming to Canada in November, Galaxy phone owners are reporting that the tap-to-pay service is going live. You currently have to sideload the Samsung Pay app and framework on a compatible phone (typically a Galaxy S6, S7 or Note 5), but you may not have to take your wallet out after that. A formal launch should come soon.

The big catch: Samsung Pay only works with “select” Visa credit cards from one bank, CIBC. You’re out of luck if if you pay with debit or prefer to stash your money elsewhere. More banks and cards are coming, but the service won’t initially be as ubiquitous as Apple Pay (which supports debit and most Canadian banks). At least you won’t have to worry as much about where you shop. Samsung Pay has the advantage of working with virtually any payment terminal, so you won’t have to reach for old-school plastic as often as you might otherwise.

Via: Android Central, MobileSyrup

Source: Reddit

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple temporarily cuts USB-C dongle prices to appease MacBook Pro buyers

Last week Apple announced its new lineup of MacBook Pros and revealed they include only new USB-C-style connectors, dropping all legacy ports (other than, oddly enough, the headphone jack.) While the aggressive move means owners can charge their laptop through any of the jacks, and have the new capabilities offered, it also means that simple things like plugging in an iPhone to charge will require an adapter of some kind, which is not included.

As my former podcast partner Ben Drawbaugh noted, stocking up on dongles to go with your new laptop gets pricey fast, and Mac buyers have responded angrily online in our comment sections and elsewhere, However, now Apple says it will help them make the switch by “reducing prices on all USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals we sell, as well as the prices on Apple’s USB-C adapters and cables.”

The new prices in the Apple Store:

  • USB-C to USB Adapter drops from $ 19 to $ 9
  • Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter drops from $ 49 to $ 29
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m) drops from $ 25 to $ 19
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable (2m) from $ 35 to $ 29
  • USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter from $ 69 to $ 49
  • USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter from $ 69 to $ 49
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro SD UHS-II Card USB-C Reader drops from $ 49 to $ 29
  • All other third party USB-C peripherals ~25% off

Will not include Apple USB-C power adaptors or the USB-C Charge Cable (2m)

The only hitch remaining? These price drops are temporary. In a statement provided to Engadget on this lovely Friday afternoon, an Apple spokesperson said they would remain in effect through the end of the year, so even if you’re not buying a new laptop immediately, you may want to stock up on new cabling now. The Apple store page confirms this, saying “* Discount reflected in price. Subject to availability and quantity limits apply. Pricing effective October 27 – December 31, 2016.”

There’s also no word on credits for those who have purchased these products already, however as iMore points out, if you bought them since the announcement they should still be within the return period so you can contact Apple about that.

Update: MacRumors points out that prices on the LG 4K and 5K displays announced last week have dropped by about 25 percent. Apparently, they count as third-party USB-C peripherals? The UltraFine 5K Display is down to $ 974 from $ 1,300, while the Ultrafine 4K Display is down to $ 524, from $ 700.

Source: Apple Store

Engadget RSS Feed

India wants the tech used to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone

Israeli forensics company Cellebrite helped the FBI access the contents of a suspect’s iPhone 5c following the shooting in San Bernardino last year. Now India is in talks to buy the company’s tech that will allow it to unlock phones and other devices. The Economic Times reports that India’s Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) is purchasing the tool and should have it in hand within a month. What’s more, the FSL says India will be “a global hub for cases where law enforcement is unable to break into phones.” In other words, the India government will lend a hand to other countries that need to crack encrypted devices.

The Economic Times reports that the Indian government has already enlisted help from Cellebrite in “a few cases,” but now it will have the encryption cracking tech on hand to use as needed. Details are scarce on if the country will be the exclusive owner of the technology or under what circumstances it will make the resource available to other governments around the world. It’s also not a done deal yet, but FSL officials seem confident the government will complete the purchase soon. There’s no word on how much the transaction will cost, but the FBI paid Cellebrite over $ 1 million for its services in the San Bernardino case.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: The Economic Times

Engadget RSS Feed

V-Moda’s line of ‘Forza’ earbuds is meant for workouts

If you’re familiar with V-Moda, you know that the brand is mostly known for making premium over-the-ear headphones. While it does have earbuds in its portfolio, that’s never been the company’s main focus. Today, however, V-Moda is introducing the Forza Series, a trio of in-ear headphones designed for people who love to work out on a regular basis. It’s an interesting move for the company, which seems to be taking on Beats’ fitness-oriented products, like the PowerBeats and upcoming BeatsX.

For starters, there’s the entry-level Forza Sport Hybrid, which features Hi-Res Audio and 5.8mm drivers enclosed in a plastic housing. According to V-Moda, it’s the first sport set to support high-resolution audio files, yet it’s only going to cost $ 100. Meanwhile, the Forza Metallo comes with the same size drivers as the Sport Hybrid but in a metal housing, as well as Hi-Res Audio. That’s the model pictured above, which also has a tangle-free, Kevlar-reinforced cable. The Metallo is slightly more expensive, at $ 130.

It’s worth noting that both of those two models have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you’ll need a dongle if you own an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus or another “courageous” smartphone. If you don’t want to deal with any of that, V-Moda has a higher-end wireless option. Aptly named Forza Metallo Wireless, these $ 170 earphones also sport 5.8mm drivers, though they lack the Hi-Res Audio feature from the wired models. The neckband, for its part, is made out of titanium and designed to lock comfortably around your neck for better stability. Battery life is rated at up to 10 hours — two more than what you’d get with the BeatsX, for reference. And, thanks to fast-charging tech, a 30-minute charge gives you two hours of use.

As you might expect, since V-Moda’s Forza line is intended for an active crowd, all three options are sweat and water resistant. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test the audio quality when V-Moda showed me the Forza Metallo V-Moda in a recent demo, as the unit I saw was merely a prototype. Still, the company claims the they are tuned with “the V-Moda standard,” which means you should expect your tracks to sound clean, crisp and not so bass-heavy most of the time.

Engadget RSS Feed

Roli Blocks is an affordable, modular way to make electronic music

British music-gear company Roli is mostly known for its attempts at reimagining the piano. The full-size Seaboard and smaller Seaboard Rise may bear similarities to traditional keyboards, but their rubberized, touch-sensitive buttons let you modulate, pitch-bend and slide between notes in a way that’s far different from what you can do on a standard keyboard or synthesizer. However, price is a big barrier to entry — the Seaboard Rise starts at $ 800, while its full-size counterpart will set you back $ 2,000 or more.

But Roli has been working on a way to bring its unique music-creation tools down to a much lower price point, and it’s taking the wraps off those efforts today. Roli Blocks are a set of modular synth controllers that snap together and hook up to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth. They’re tiny and inexpensive: The main controller, called the Lightpad, is a small square (less than 4 inches to a side) that sells for $ 179. That’s significantly cheaper than Roli’s other products. And while you can’t play the Lightpad like a keyboard, the short time I spent playing with it and the other Roli Blocks convinced me that it’s still a powerful, flexible and fun music-making tool.

At a high level, the Lightpad is essentially a MIDI controller; it’s useless without hooking it up to an iOS device. But once you do that and install the free Roli Noise app (only for iOS at the moment, but coming to Android soon), you can tweak the Lightpad in myriad ways. In the app, you can pick from 128 different software instruments like synths, bass instruments, pianos, guitars, pan flutes, drum sets and so on. Roli says it’ll continue to release more free instrument updates, and it will also sell instruments created by professional musicians like Grimes, RZA and Steve Aoki. But most of the content you’ll use to make the Blocks system work is already there in the free app.

Once you pick a sound you’re interested in, the Lightpad…err… lights up in a 5×5 grid pattern, with each box representing a note in the chromatic scale. The fun starts when you press your finger down on the Lightpad’s silicon-covered surface. The whole surface is pressure sensitive, so the harder you bear down, the louder the initial tone will be. Holding your finger lets the note ring out, while different slides across the pad will let you tweak the sound in some major ways. If you slide horizontally, you’ll bend the note to whatever pitch your finger lands on. But if you move up and down, you’ll apply each instrument’s modulation effect. You can move your fingers slowly in short strokes to apply a subtle effect, for instance, or quickly move your finger across the Lightpad to really tweak out your chosen sound.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s the basic gist of the Lightpad, but there is of course a lot more you can do inside the app. You can pick your scale (say, D major vs. E minor) and it will light up the pad with only the notes that fit into your chosen scale. That makes it a lot easier for someone who doesn’t know much music theory to hit the “right” notes when making a composition.

And the app offers way more than just major and minor scales too. If you’re a fan of the mixolydian mode, that’s an option as well. You can still play “dark” spots on the pad outside of your chosen scale, but the lit-up points help you stay in line. You can also have arpeggiated patterns play when you tap a note.

But while you can technically perform live on the fly with the Blocks system, it also has a fully developed recording and looping system. You can record multiple patterns, assign them to different “blocks” on the Lightpad and trigger them at will. You can also start by recording a drumbeat, layering a lead line and bass over it, and record that entire segment as one piece in a longer composition. I didn’t get to play around with it too much, but in my brief demo it seemed like a fairly robust system.

And we haven’t even gotten into the modular nature of Blocks yet. Each component has magnetic conductors on its side, so you can take two Lightpads and slap them side by side and the system will automatically recognize that you’ve extended your canvas and set it up appropriately. Roli is also offering two other blocks alongside the Lightpad: the Live Block and Loop Block. (They cost $ 79 each.) The Loop Block gives you instant access to the system’s recording and playback features so you don’t have to jump back and forth between your iOS device and the Lightpad while recording a new creation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Live Block is meant for, well, performing live; many of the features buried in the iOS app are exposed here. You can page up and down between software instruments, switch keys and scales, change tempos and effects and so on. While I was able to grasp how these additional blocks gave physical controls to features in the app, it’s a bit harder to say how useful they’d be to most users. There’s a definite learning curve here, though people who more proficient than I am at using sequencers and live electronic music gadgets might master it faster.

Even so, Roli Blocks piqued my interest. I’ve always wanted to get a small, electronic music-making setup but have never quite found what I was looking for. Playing the Lightpad felt intuitive to me, and the vast array of sounds and other variables built into the Roli Noise app make it a very flexible system, particularly at this price. I don’t know if the extra Live and Loop blocks are necessary just yet, but fortunately you don’t have to decide right away. In fact, the free iOS app includes a Lightpad-like view, so you can just start messing around there — and if you get hooked, you can buy the physical hardware controller. If you’d rather try this all out in person, Roli’s new gadgets will be available at Apple Stores this fall as well.

Engadget RSS Feed

Xiaomi aims to be more than king of the budget smartphones

The day after the Mi Note 2 and Mi MIX launch last week, the flagship Mi Home store next to Xiaomi’s headquarters was packed with visitors. Nope, they weren’t there to spend their yuan, but to simply wait for their turn to play with the new phones. But the real star was clearly the Mi MIX “concept phone.” People were drawn to its near-bezel-less display and fancy ceramic body. Despite this being Xiaomi’s most expensive smartphone ever, I heard many visitors ask if they could buy one immediately, only to be let down when told they have to wait until November 4th. Xiaomi must be doing something right

The Mi MIX didn’t just happen over night, of course; it was a two-year project with contributions from French designer, Philippe Starck. This man is no stranger to the tech world, he’s helped design headphones, hard drives, a smart radiator valve, electric bicycles and, even, the late Steve Jobs’ yacht. Barra described Starck’s role in the Mi MIX project as setting high-level priorities, especially when it came to convincing the Xiaomi team to keep things clean and simple.

Xiaomi’s aim with the Mi MIX is to showcase some of the breakthrough mobile technologies that will eventually trickle down to its mainstream devices. In this case, we have Sharp’s near-bezel-less display which we knew was arriving sooner or later. Hidden underneath that is Elliptic Labs’ ultrasound-based proximity sensor, which replaces the ugly infrared dot and turns the screen off when the phone is placed next to your ear. Last but not least, the full ceramic body is a nice alternative to the aluminum we’re accustomed to. The company hopes these experiments will lead consumers to see Xiaomi as home to serious innovation, rather than a budget brand.

Some would argue that it should be giants like Apple and Google bringing out devices like the Mi MIX. While Barra declined to comment on the iPhone 7, he was happy to praise his previous company’s efforts with the Pixel and even went as far as saying the series “sets a bar for the whole world.” He described Google’s latest phones as being “all-around optimized,” “very responsive” with “great battery life” plus an “awesome camera,” though he did say that they don’t necessarily have the best industrial design — especially with their “very tall chins.”

Could Google have done a phone like the Mi MIX? Barra defended his former colleagues by saying it would have been difficult for them to justify the risk of delivering a phone like this, as it wouldn’t sell in large quantities. The Pixel, on the other hand, doesn’t have this problem. “I think they’re gonna sell a lot of Pixels. Every Android enthusiast is going to try what they can to get their hands on one.” Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if Barra is still working for Google.

Save for the Mi Home’s strong resemblance to any Apple store, the Mi MIX could have almost peeled the copycat label off Xiaomi for good. Alas, people were quick to compare the Mi Note 2’s 3D curved body to Samsung’s S7 Edge and its discontinued Note 7. Barra was keen to point out that Xiaomi was actually the first company to release a smartphone with a 3D curved glass back — the original Mi Note. The same industrial design was applied to the smaller but more powerful Mi 5.

“I’m not worried about what people are going to say.”

Samsung then combined the 3D curved screen and the 3D curved glass back for the S7 Edge, to which Barra said, “Well, no one is going to give us credit for a curved back, right? They just care about the front.” It wasn’t until the Mi Note 2 when Xiaomi followed Samsung’s suit, courtesy of the flexible OLED display allegedly supplied by LG.

“In how many ways do you think you can design a curved display? Exactly one way,” Barra argued. “I don’t think that anyone can outright claim ownership of that as an invention because it’s kind of like a logical thing. They can claim that they were the first ones to do it, but certainly not the ones responsible for the most incredible idea in the world because it’s just a very straightforward engineering thing: As soon as you can come up with a flexible OLED display, you can design a screen like this.

“I’m not worried about what people are going to say, because we’re pretty confident in our design capability. I think [the Mi MIX unveiling] was a pretty clear demonstration of that.”

Engadget RSS Feed

Korg brings the iconic ARP Odyssey synth to iOS

Synthesizer companies have a knack for bringing digital versions of analog gear to mobile devices so hobbyists and pros alike can get creative with ease. Earlier this year, Moog released a $ 30 app that brought the legendary (and massive) Model 15 to the iPad. Korg already has synth apps under its belt, including a more mobile version of its M1, and now its introducing another. Based on the iconic ARP Odyssey, the company built the appropriately-named ARP ODYSSEi mobile software for iOS.

This $ 20 iOS app houses versions of all three ARP Odyssey analog synths. Yes, that includes the 2015 reissue that offered an updated take on two well-respected instruments. Korg said it wasn’t content with just reproducing the sounds of those synthesizers for the app, so it put its Circuit Modeling Technology (CMT) to use so that the sounds you’re able to make with your iPad or iPhone are as close as possible to the physical gear.

The three filter types and Drive function from the 2015 model are here on the digital version of the ARP Odyssey, but new effects, a voice assign mode and a programmable arpeggiator expand the functionality of the instruments even further. This new ODYSSEi app can be put to work with Korg’s own DAW software and GarageBand if you’re looking to do more than just tinker with the virtual controls to make some noise. The company says the $ 20 price is “introductory,” so you might end up paying more if you wait too long to commit. For now, you can hear the app in action via the video below.

Engadget RSS Feed