Google Allo finally offers web chat, but it’s only for Android users

Allo, Google’s beleaguered chat app that arrived on the iPhone and Android devices last year, finally has a web counterpart. Just a few minutes ago, Amit Fulay (head of product for Allo and video chat app Duo) tweeted that Allo for the web was available, but only for Android phones. To give it a go, you’ll need to open the Allo app on your device and use that to scan a QR code you can generate at this link.

Once you’ve scanned the code, Allo pulls up your chat history and mirrors all the conversations you have on your phone. Most of Allo’s key features, including smart replies, emoji, stickers and most importantly the Google Assistant are all intact here. In fact, this is the first time you can really get the full Google Assistant experience through the web; it’s been limited to phones and Google Home thus far.

There are a few things that didn’t work so well in my quick test. Pictures from earlier in a chat with one of my co-workers failed to translate to the web — instead, I was told I had to view them on my phone. Allo’s little “slider” feature that lets you increase or decrease the size of text in chats is also unavailable, and you can’t make your own emoji like you can on Android.

But the good news is that the most important features are all here and conversations sync quickly between multiple devices. That alone is enough to make Allo worth recommending, perhaps for the first time ever. I just couldn’t go back to a world where my chats weren’t synced across computer and phone, but that’s no longer a problem, at least for Android users. Google says that Allo for the web will be available for iPhone users before long.

Source: Amit Fulay (Twitter), Allo for web

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An iPhone is your only option on Virgin Mobile

It’s no secret that American carriers sell a lot of iPhones. Virgin Mobile, however, is taking that to a logical extreme. The Sprint sub-brand has announced that it’s the US’ first iPhone-only carrier as of June 27th — if you don’t like iOS, you’ll have to head elsewhere. In return for the exclusivity, you’ll get a fairly good rate as well as some potentially juicy promos.

You’ll normally pay $ 50 per month for unlimited talk, texting and data, with the potential for “deprioritized” data (read: it may slow down) if you use more than 23GB per month. There are no commitment. However, you’ll get 6 months of service for $ 1 if you buy an iPhone and sign up — and those who enlist before July 31st will get a full year of service for the same buck. Also, Virgin is selling the iPhone SE at a starting price of $ 279 ($ 379 for 128GB), well under Apple’s usual $ 399. Combine those with perks with Virgin brands (such as a round-trip companion ticket to the UK on Virgin Atlantic) and sales of used devices and it may be tempting to switch over, at least if you’re looking for a new iPhone.

We’ve asked Apple about the extent of its involvement and whether or not more is planned down the line, and we’ll let you know if there’s anything it can add. Regardless, it’s an audacious move. Apple may be playing it safe by partnering with a relatively small carrier like Virgin (Sprint can still count on its own brand and Boost Mobile), but you don’t really see providers limiting themselves to one manufacturer — even fledgling networks like Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile have some diversity. Apple and Virgin are clearly betting that many Americans are more interested in a sweet deal on iPhone service than a wide choice of devices.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Virgin Mobile

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Apple is on a mission to only use recycled materials

With the release of its new environmental report, Apple is looking to push the envelope of what it can do for the good of the planet. Last year, it boasted about how much cash its recycling efforts had saved it, including $ 40 million worth of gold re-used from old devices. This year, it’s talking about “closing the loop” on its use of raw materials, potentially redefining how gadgets are made altogether.

Apple believes that it’s now on the road to being able to use only recycled materials to build its next generation of products. It’s not there yet, of course, and there’s still much to be done in order to ensure secondhand iPhones come back to Apple, rather than the scrap heap. Still, if the company can make good on its admittedly lofty goals in the next few years, it’s good for everyone.

The company also believes that its experiments with material reclamation — embodied by its Liam robots that disassemble 2.4 million iPhone 6 models a year. Apple says that the two lines that have a Liam on it have salvaged 1,900 kg in aluminum for every 100,000 phones taken apart. In fact, the company has built a secret run of Mac Mini units with materials recovered by Liam, which are used to run iPhone production lines.

The rest of the report is the usual self-congratulation, although it does make a big point about saying that its data centers are wholly renewable. Apple is probably mindful of Greenpeace’s recent public shaming of companies like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, ASUS and Acer for using coal and gas power to run their servers. By comparison, iMessage, FaceTime and Siri “run on 100 percent renewable energy.”

Apple, famously, wants to own and control every part of its computers, and that attitude carries over to its energy. The company is aiming to own as much of its power generation as it can, rather than buying juice on the wholesale market. So, where it can, it’s building, running and /owning/ its solar and wind facilities rather than partnering with a third party.

By 2020, the company is hoping to have 4 GW of power generation capacity by 2020, enough to power 725,000 homes. That will be spread between Apple owned and operated sites and those that it has helped bankroll with partners. It’s entirely plausible that Apple could start selling its excess power as a side hustle without anyone realizing.

As always, most of the credit goes to Lisa Jackson (pictured), a former head of the EPA that joined Apple way back in 2013. She’s been spearheading the company’s efforts in switching to renewables, cutting carbon emissions and generally being a good citizen of the world. Her work has ensured that Apple went from the bottom of Greenpeace’s rankings in 2011 to the top for the last three years running.

Source: Apple (.PDF)

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