The Wirecutter’s best deals: Save $49 on a Vantrue dashcam

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter‘s independently chosen editorial picks, they may earn affiliate commissions that support their work. Read their continuously updated list of deals here.

You may have already seen Engadget posting reviews from our friends at The Wirecutter. Now, from time to time, we’ll also be publishing their recommended deals on some of their top picks. Read on, and strike while the iron is hot — some of these sales could expire mighty soon.

Apple iPad (5th Generation)

Street price: $ 330; MSRP: $ 330; Deal price: $ 300

A nice drop on the new iPad lowers the price to $ 300 for the 32GB model. This $ 30 off sale is also available for the 128GB size ($ 400 with discount). Silver, Gold, and Space Gray colors are all eligible for the discount in both storage capacities. We’ll continue to track the new iPads for future sales but at present these match the lowest prices we’ve seen for it. Shipping is free.

The 5th gen iPad is our new top pick in our Best Tablet guide. Dan Frakes and Nick Guy write, “The 2017 standard iPad—the 9.7-inch non-Pro model, officially called the “iPad (5th generation)”—is a familiar device. Its body is almost exactly the same as that of the 2014 iPad Air,2 and except for improved processors, its internals mostly match those of the iPad Air 2, the model it replaces (and our previous top pick). Yet the 2017 iPad remains the best tablet on the market for most people because of that familiarity: It shares its predecessor’s unique combination of performance, features, hardware quality, app selection, and accessory ecosystem, and improves on its value.”

Roku Streaming Stick (3600R)

Street price: $ 50; MSRP: $ 50; Deal price: $ 40

While we’ve seen the Roku media streaming stick as low as $ 35, it typically sells for at least $ 10 more. The aforementioned $ 35 pricing tends to be offered during the holiday season only – otherwise, the Roku stick doesn’t dip below $ 40 (with a few rare exceptions), so this is as low as you’re likely to find one if you’re looking to cut the cord or just add a great streaming interface to your setup. Shipping is free.

The Roku Streaming Stick is our pick for the best media streamer. Chris Heinonen writes, “The Roku Streaming Stick is the best media streamer for most people because it offers the largest selection of streaming content, a clean and responsive user interface, and a useful search function.” He continues, “The Streaming Stick offers the same interface, speed, and content as the more expensive Roku 2 and 3. It also has a private listening mode so you can watch your content without disturbing others. You also get an RF remote instead of IR, so it doesn’t need to be in sight to work.”

1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

Street price: $ 80; MSRP: $ 100; Deal price: $ 69

This is a new low price on our runner-up pick earbuds under $ 100. If you have a Costco membership, they’re available for only $ 65. If you don’t have a membership, don’t fret – the $ 4 surcharge isn’t too much of a burden and doesn’t detract much from the great deal price. We normally see these earbuds stick close to the $ 100 price range with occasional drops down to $ 80, so this is a great deal price to pick them up. Shipping is free.

The 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones are our runner-up pick in our guide to the best earbuds under $ 100. Lauren Dragan writes, “For iPhone or Android users that require a three-button remote, the 1More Triple Driver headphones are a wonderful choice. Via a switch (according to 1More), one model works with iPhones and most Android devices, too. Although our panel wasn’t as in love with the sound of the Triple Driver as we were with the Marshall, everyone agreed that the 1More performed vastly better than the majority of the other headphones we tested this round.”

Vantrue OnDash R2 2K Ultra HD 2.7 Inch LCD Dashboard Camera

Street price: $ 129; MSRP: $ 160; Deal price: $ 80

While there have been other deals on the R2 at $ 90 with a $ 10 gift card, this is only the second time we’ve seen a deal for this Vantrue dash cam at a flat $ 80. It’s available with free standard shipping. This sale lasts until Saturday, May 20th.

The Vantrue R2 is our runner-up pick for the best dash cam. Eric Adams writes, “Its packaging, instructions, and general usability are on a par with the Z3, and its image quality is also top notch. While just as crisp as the Z3, the R2’s images have slightly more contrast. This makes them more attractive, but not quite as useful as they could be in different scenarios, as some areas tend to be too dark, and the night vision is also a hair darker.”

Turning to quality and value, Adams writes, “It also has a slightly wider 170° field of view, which exceeds our preference just a bit. But we’re hair-splitting here: Both the R2 and our top pick, the Z3, are sensational cameras…. If you like its slightly better photographic output or you need a dash cam right away and the Z3 is unavailable, we recommend the R2.”

Because great deals don’t just happen on Thursdays, sign up for our daily deals email and we’ll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to The Wirecutter.com.

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Google Assistant on the iPhone is better than Siri, but not much

Google’s Assistant is finally ready to take on Siri on Apple’s own turf: the iPhone. Yes, you could already play around with the AI-powered chatbot if you downloaded Allo — Google’s mobile-only messenger app — but its functionality was limited. Today, that changes thanks to a new standalone Google Assistant app available on Apple’s App Store (though it’s US-only for now). Eager to check it out, we downloaded it right away and spent some time commanding our Google-branded phone butler around. After a few hours, I’ll say that while I find Google Assistant a lot friendlier and smarter than Siri, it doesn’t quite replace it. At least, not yet.

The first obvious barrier is that while Siri is baked right into iOS, you’ll need to download Google Assistant as a separate app. Plus, accessing Siri is as easy as holding down the iPhone’s home button — with Google Assistant (as with Cortana, Alexa and all other third-party assistants), you’ll need to take the extra step of launching an app. If you have an Android phone, Google Assistant is ready to go without having to download anything at all.

As you might expect, when you first launch Google Assistant on the iPhone, it asks you to log in with your Google account. After you do, it introduces itself to you and invites you to ask it anything you wish. Press the microphone icon at the center to offer a voice command, or if you’d rather not disturb the people around you, you can hit the keyboard icon to type your query.

The first thing you might wonder is if you can make a call or send a message on the iPhone with Google Assistant. The answer is: You can, but it’s not any easier than it would be with Siri. When I say, “Call Mom,” for example, it brings up her name and triggers a phone call, which you can then cancel or confirm. When I say, “Text Mom,” it asks me for my message and then kicks me over to the Messages app on my phone, where I can choose to send it off or not. At least Siri can send messages without me having to open the app.

I also tried to play music on Google Assistant to see how the experience compares to Siri. It was a little, well, uneven. When you first tell Google Assistant to play music, it’ll ask you to choose between Apple Music and YouTube as your default. I chose YouTube and then said, “Play LCD Soundsystem.” It kicked me over to the YouTube app, where it played a random song from the band. Then I went back and said “Play Radiohead,” and it would just give a list of albums. I then tried to switch the default choice to Apple Music, which I somehow was able to do so by saying “Play on Apple Music.” From then on, whenever I said “Play [name of song],” it would play the song on Apple Music. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that I can switch back to YouTube as the default, despite multiple attempts. Sometimes it says it’s playing a song, but nothing happens. Clearly, this feature is still pretty buggy.

As you might expect, Assistant plays particularly well with Google’s own apps. So sending email through Gmail is a snap — say who you want to send the email to, and it’ll kick you over to the Gmail app to follow through. Similarly, it’ll offer directions with Google Maps rather than Apple’s own.

What I found particularly intriguing about the Google Assistant app on iOS is that there’s a whole Explore page full of suggestions on what you can do with it. There’s a list of the usual suggestions, like “How many pounds in a kilogram?” or “What sound does a dog make?”

But interestingly, there’s also a slew of third-party chatbots you can try out. Examples include Genius, a bot that’ll guess the name of a song based on a lyric snippet, or the Magic 8 Ball, which will offer pithy responses to yes-or-no questions. Google Home users likely already know about some of these third-party chatbots, but to mobile users, this is new.

Aside from Explore, there’s also a Your Stuff tab that lists your Reminders, Agenda, Shopping List and quick Shortcuts that you can add to customize Assistant. So, for example, you can say “Late again” to trigger an automatic text to your best friend that you’re running five minutes late. “Cheer me up” will automatically bring up a list of kitten videos on YouTube.

I then tried to do a number of things on both Google Assistant and Siri to compare the two. I discovered that due to iOS restrictions, Google Assistant isn’t able to set alarms, take selfies, launch apps, post to Twitter or Facebook, call Ubers or Lyfts, or use third-party apps like Whatsapp for sending messages. Siri, however, was able to do all of these tasks without issue.

At the same time, Google Assistant was vastly superior when it came to translating languages (Siri often faltered) and remembering context clues. For example, when I asked, “Who’s the president of the United States” and followed it up immediately with “How tall is he?” Google Assistant immediately responded with “Donald J Trump” and “6-feet 2-inches tall.” Siri, on the other hand, could answer the first question, but not the second (it responded with “I don’t know”). Google Assistant also was smart enough to respond to set-a-reminder requests with the place and time in which I wanted to be reminded — Siri just placed them on a Reminders list. Siri was also sometimes just plain wrong — it erroneously said the population of Egypt was 85,800 (it’s actually 91.51 million).

In many ways, Siri pales in comparison to Google Assistant. It can’t understand voice commands as well as Google, and it doesn’t remember your preferences like Google can. Siri makes so many errors that there’s even a Reddit group called “Siri fails” that documents its many mistakes. But as long as it comes preinstalled in every iPhone out there and does a good-enough job, Google Assistant — and all other rivals — will have a hard time replacing it.

For all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2017, follow along here

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HTC Vive and Lenovo are developing standalone Daydream VR headsets

Google has another way to differentiate its mobile VR platform from Samsung’s: Standalone headsets that have all the hardware you’d need built right in, without the need for a phone. At Google I/O today, the company revealed that we’ll be seeing standalone Daydream headsets from HTC Vive and Lenovo later this year. They’ll be based on Qualcomm’s 835 VR platform and use Worldsense, a variation of Google’s Tango 3D mapping technology, for positional tracking without the need for any external sensors.

We only have a few sketches from HTC Vive and Lenovo for now, but they both look like typical VR headsets. HTC’s will use an overhead strap, while Lenovo’s will rest against your forehead, similar to Sony’s PlayStation VR. It also appears as if they’ll be using Google’s existing Daydream touch controller, though that could easily be changed by the time they’re released.

Lenovo’s standalone headset.

We heard that Google was working on standalone headsets last year, and we also reported exclusively that they’d be integrating eye-tracking and sensors for mapping the real world. By bundling all of the necessary hardware into a single device, Google has a way to market its platform to people who aren’t using Daydream-capable Android phones. That opens the door to iPhone users, as well as consumers who aren’t upgrading their Android devices anytime soon. Oculus is also developing a standalone VR headset of its own, and, based on our experience last year, it clearly looks like the future of virtual reality.

Qualcomm also revealed today that it worked together with Google to build a reference standalone Daydream VR headset. It’s not something that will be sold on its own, but it could help guide other companies as they design their own standalone units.

There’s no word on pricing for these standalone headsets yet. But, considering they’ll have the hardware typically found in powerful phones, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up costing around $ 300 or more.

For all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2017, follow along here

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Samsung sold over 5 million Galaxy S8 phones

Samsung was quick to crow about Galaxy S8 pre-orders, but it was easy to be skeptical without real numbers to back up the bragging. Flash forward a few weeks, though, and it’s a different story. The company now reports that it has sold 5 million Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus devices worldwide since its April 21st debut — not bad for less than a month on the market, and only in a limited number of countries. It’s not certain which model was the most popular, though the regular S8’s lower price helps its chances.

It’s hard to say how this stacks up to the Galaxy S7, although Samsung had noted that pre-orders were up 30 percent compared to a year ago. And other manufacturers? That’s tricky when most tend not to divulge model-specific data to avoid tipping their hand to competitors. The closest you get is Apple. It reported selling 50.8 million iPhones last quarter (about 16.9 million per month), but it’s not certain how many of those were iPhone 7 and 7 Plus units, let alone how many of them sold in April. Without directly comparable figures, it’d be difficult to declare a sales leader in high-end phones.

As it is, Samsung is likely less concerned about raw numbers and more about its bottom line. In that sense, the S8 could easily be a success. Samsung racked up record operating profit in the quarter before the S8 stared shipping (albeit mainly on the back of chip sales), and the phone’s strong early showing is only bound to help.

Via: Mashable

Source: The Investor, ZDNet

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The Morning After: Tuesday, May 16th 2017

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Squeezable smartphones, perhaps our first look at the glass-backed, iPhone 8 (don’t worry, unrelated), and the death of the graphing calculator? All this, and we’re only on Tuesday morning. Oh, and Toyota is musing on flying cars.


But can it play Drug Wars?Desmos app could kill off the graphing calculator

Overpaying for graphing calculators has been a rite of passage for as long as any millennials can remember, but the reign of the TI-84 may be coming to an end. That’s because of a new online calculator called Desmos that can run on any connected device and provide similar features. There are other internet-based calculators, but this one is embedded in the test itself and has backing from SAT administrator The College Board.


Squeezy phone.HTC’s squeezable U11 is its true 2017 flagship phone

After releasing the U Ultra, HTC is again attempting a top of the line smartphone with the U11. The specs behind its 5.5-inch curved Gorilla Glass display are just on par with other flagship devices, but the standout gimmick here is Edge Sense. Side-mounted pressure sensors can detect varying levels of grip and respond with associated shortcuts or app actions. Also, it can run up to three virtual assistants at once, with support for Google Assistant, Alexa and HTC’s own Sense Assistant. Finally, it loses the headphone jack but includes USB-C connected headphones that handle customized audio, as well as noise-canceling that runs off of the phone’s battery.


It’s the Shazam of foodThe ridiculous Not Hotdog app from ‘Silicon Valley’ is real

These days it’s even more difficult to tell parody apps from the real ones.


Android in autoVolvo and Audi are building Android into their new cars

Ahead of the Google I/O event later this week, Volvo and Audi have announced plans to base their next-generation infotainment systems on Android. There aren’t a lot of details yet, but the partnership promises support for Google Assistant, Google Maps and Android apps like Spotify running directly on the car’s hardware without requiring an Android Auto hand-holding from your phone.


ExclusiveiPhone 8 renders point to glass back and wireless charging

A reliable source in the accessory industry has told us that these renders represent Apple’s iPhone 8. If they hold up, they point to a new vertical orientation for the dual-camera setup, with the microphone and flash integrated into the camera hump. They also suggest that the dual-camera and wireless charging will be a standard feature, but we’ll have to wait until this fall to find out for sure — and to see the rumored tenth anniversary iPhone.


Meet the ‘Skydrive’Toyota wants flying cars in time for the 2020 Olympics

Larry Page isn’t the only one with a thing for flying cars — Toyota is backing a small startup working on a drone-like vehicle. The Skydrive from Cartivator would lift about 33 feet off of the ground and scoot along at up to 62mph. The plan is to have commercial versions ready ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. That seems optimistic, but it could provide one more reason to snag a ticket now instead of waiting.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Implanted pancreatic cells could cure diabetes
  • Plenty of blame to go around: The ‘WannaCry’ ransomware is a stark reminder of a broken system
  • What’s on TV this week: ‘Phantom Dust’ remastered, ‘Twin Peaks,’ ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ and ‘Injustice 2’
  • United flight crew inadvertently shares cockpit door codes online
  • Engadget Podcast Ep 39: Rip Off
  • Motorola’s leaked 2017 phone lineup points to the return of the Moto X

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.


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iPhone 8 renders point to glass back and wireless charging

Rumor has it that we won’t be seeing the next flagship iPhone until much later this year, but we may have just the right thing to keep y’all entertained for the time being. Earlier this week, a reliable source in the accessory industry showed Engadget a highly detailed CAD file of the “iPhone 8’s” chassis, which allowed us to generate several renders for publishing. The most obvious takeaway here is the dual camera’s new orientation, and that both the microphone plus the flash will be part of the camera bump.

While the contour may look familiar, the back of the device will actually be covered in glass this time, which allows for the integration of wireless charging. This is hinted by what appears to be a carved out area for a wireless charging coil on the underside of the chassis, though we’re not at liberty to disclose related images.

Since this is the smaller of the two next-gen iPhones, these renders suggest that the dual camera plus wireless charging will become a standard feature. Speaking of, our source said both screen sizes will be getting bumped up: the 4.7-inch version will go up to 5 inches, and the 5.5-inch “Plus” version will be stretched to 5.8 inches. Alas, these renders don’t indicate whether the new displays will go from edge to edge as rumored, but the body measurements in the CAD file do point to a slightly taller, wider and thicker body than the iPhone 7.

As with all leaks, there’s always a possibility that these renders may turn out to be false (which we highly doubt given the nature of these files), or that Apple may give up on this design entirely. Either way, there’s still the rumored tenth anniversary iPhone to look forward to as well.

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Apple acquisition could help Siri make sense of your data

If it wasn’t already clear that Apple is committed to improving AI, it is now. The tech giant has confirmed that it recently bought Lattice Data, a company that uses AI to make sense of unorganized “dark” data like images and text. It’s not discussing what it plans to do with its acquisition, but a TechCrunch source claims that Apple paid $ 200 million. It’s not a gigantic deal, then, but no small potatoes when only 20 engineers are making the leap. And if that same source is correct, it could be important for Siri — Lattice had reportedly been talking to tech firms about “enhancing their AI assistants.” But what does that mean, exactly?

AI assistants frequently depend on structured data to provide meaningful answers, such as the latest scores for your favorite team or your upcoming calendar events. It’s harder for them to parse the massive amounts of data you generate outside of those neat-and-tidy containers. Lattice could make that data usable, helping Siri handle more of your commands. Need to find some obscure piece of information? You might have a better chance of finding it.

That could be important in the long run, and not just for the usual voice commands on your iPhone or Mac. If you believe rumors, Apple may be close to unveiling a Siri-based speaker. While that device would be unlikely to benefit from any of Lattice’s know-how in the short term (certainly not at WWDC 2017), any eventual upgrades to Siri would improve its ability to compete against rivals like the Amazon Echo series or Google Home. Lattice may not sound like an exciting company on the surface, but its work could be crucial to Apple’s visions for the smart home and beyond.

Source: TechCrunch

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Apple’s fabled iPad redesign may arrive at WWDC

Apple could have more than one hardware treat to unveil at WWDC this year. KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (who has a mostly solid track record for Apple predictions) now believes that Apple is likely to launch a long-rumored 10.5-inch iPad redesign when the developer conference kicks off on June 5th. Kuo understands that mass production is supposed to start in the late second quarter (aka June), so it only makes sense for the tablet to launch around the same time. As for what the device would entail, provided the report is accurate? To no one’s surprise, Kuo mostly focus on the display.

As hinted at in the past, the 10.5-inch iPad (possibly badged as an iPad Pro) would be the first example of the narrow-bezel design that would come to the iPhone this fall. You would get a noticeably larger screen in the same approximate surface area as Apple’s 9.7-inch tablets. There has also been some talk of this new model carrying a souped-up “A10X” processor (much as other iPads have used upgraded “X” chips), but it’s not certain that this would be the case. Other iPads might stick around, whatever happens. Kuo previously asserted that there would be refreshed 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch Pro models as well, so this would just represent a sort of middle child.

The WWDC launch is plausible, although there are definitely reasons to be skeptical. If it largely amounts to the familiar iPad with a bigger screen, it’d be a safe choice for WWDC — it’d make a splash and encourage developers to write apps that take advantage of practical upgrades, such as a higher resolution screen or faster processor. An iPad launch might also ensure that the next iPhone doesn’t share the spotlight with other major introductions.

At the same time, Apple might not want to spoil the next iPhone’s debut by launching an iPad with a similar narrow-bezel design just a few months earlier. And that’s assuming the 10.5-inch device shows up. We wouldn’t rule out Apple sticking to its existing tablet sizes. If both this and the rumored Siri speaker appear, though, WWDC could entail much more than the usual round of operating system updates.

Source: 9to5Mac

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Google Maps uses Street View to keep you on the right path

Google Maps for Android got a slight remake this week, with a couple handy new features on board. It still looks and functions basically the same as the Google Maps you know and potentially love, but Google has smartly integrated some Street View features directly into the navigation view. When you ask the app for directions, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see the all the turn-by-turn steps as before. But now each step is accompanied by a Street View image of that exact turn.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Google added it to the web version of Maps many year ago, in 2008 in fact (as Android Police notes). Tapping on the Street View image opens it up full-screen, properly facing the direction you’re going on the route. Most people are probably happy enough with the info provided by the turn-by-turn navigation, but if you’re the type to get a little lost these images might help you prepare for the route.

The default view when you pop open the Google Maps app has changed a bit, as well. Now, the bottom third or so of the screen contains info relevant to the time of day and your location, like local lunch spots. Google’s had this location-specific info in Maps for a long time now; they’re just surfacing it in a more obvious way here. These changes should all be available in Google Maps for Android now, but they haven’t rolled out to the iOS app just yet. Given how Google is keen on keeping its apps in parity, these new features will likely hit the iPhone before long.

Via: Android Police

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‘How to shoot on iPhone’ videos explain why your pictures suck

The iPhone camera has been a consistently emphasized point by Apple, and for good reason. The quality of pictures it can take increases with each iteration, and for most people, smartphone cameras have become their primary way to take photos. Of course, not all of our pictures come out looking like those highlight shots Apple uses in its ad campaigns, but several videos and a website the company just posted may help close the gap.

Most of the videos in the “How to Shoot on iPhone 7” website are vertically oriented for viewing on your phone, perfect to learn about features it has that maybe you never quite figured out how to use. Portrait mode, shooting stills during or shooting a vertical panorama are fairly easy to do, if you can find the right setting. Some of them focus on things like composition, in case you need more basic photography advice.

So, is this enough information for you to become a festival-flogging “influencer”? Probably not, but no matter phone or app you use it could help your next picture look a little bit better.

Source: Apple ‘How to Shoot on iPhone 7’

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