Line is building its own digital assistant called Clova

Japanese-based messaging app Line is wildly popular in other parts of the world and the company has even expanded from a simple chat app to a full-service mobile carrier. According to a new report from the Financial Times, Line is branching out again and developing its own digital assistant called Clova to compete with the likes of Alexa and Google Assistant, complete with its own line of smart speakers.

Clova isn’t scheduled for release until sometime in “early summer” of this year, but Line views the platform, which is being developed with help from Sony and LG, as the next logical step for its messaging service. The platform will include the sort of features you might expect from a digital assistance in 2017 — like easy access to news, weather, calendars and online purchases — but Line is also promising Clova will be able to handle “complicated questions” and include a facial recognition aspect similar to Apple’s rumored iPhone features.

Outside of phones, Clova is designed to work in third-party apps and hardware, but the first devices to support it will be a standalone Clova app, a smart speaker called Wave and a “smart display” called Face. Although Wave looks like a direct knockoff of Google Home, Line didn’t offer any information about what sets Face apart except from its small, cartoonish face display. According to the Financial Times, Clova could eventually find its way into headsets and other third-party hardware.

Given Line’s target markets in Asia, the company hopes to beat Google, Apple and Amazon on its home turf. The Clova app and Wave speaker will see a release in Japan and South Korea this summer, followed by a roll out to Line’s other major markets in Thailand and Indonesia next.

Via: The Verge

Source: Financial Times

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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.

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The bottom line: Engadget on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus ditch the headphone jack. And if you’re like some of the readers who’ve been reaching out to us, you might be nervous about upgrading. Take it from us, since we’ve had a chance a to test both devices: Aside from the no-headphone-jack thing, these new phones are less radical than you think. In fact, we’d say Apple made some safe choices here, playing catch-up with other phone makers. These are the first waterproof iPhones, for instance, though Samsung and others have been offering this feature for some time now. Ditto for the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual-lens camera: It’s cool, but hardly the first we’ve seen.

That said, these features will feel new to Apple fans, and also, it’s hard to argue with everything these phones have to offer, including fine build quality, fast performance, long battery life and strong image quality. If you own a recent iPhone like the 6s or 6s Plus, you might not feel compelled to upgrade, but if you have an older model, this is as good a time as any to trade in. As for the headphone jack, you’ll either use the included adapter or switch to the pack-in Lightning EarPods. Just avoid the AirPods for now.

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