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The Big Red carrier thinks you want to talk to it through its new Smart Display for answers to your most precious questions.
When you think of Verizon, you might think of their service quality or your monthly bill if you’re a subscriber. I know plenty of people who get a bad taste in their mouth when they even speak their name, while others seem completely fine with it and actually enjoy giving them money every month for cell service. Whichever camp you fall into, I’m sure you don’t think it’s a good idea to say that name right before you ask to turn your bedroom light on.
Verizon seems to think you’ll be cool with it, though. The carrier has unveiled its own Smart Display to compete with the likes of companies like Google, Amazon, and Lenovo. It’s built on Amazon’s Alexa platform so it’s compatible with all the Alexa-enabled devices and accessories you might already have, and for some reason, Verizon included the hot phrase “Hi, Verizon” in case you don’t wanna say “Alexa.”
I found out about this new smart display when my good buddy Rich Woods (from XDA-Developers) reacted to it using this GIF.
I then replied in a cheeky fashion.
To this, he replied:
This raises a good point. Verizon thought about this feature before it decided to ship it, and for whatever reason, it thinks it has the same friendly brand identity as something like Alexa or Siri (hell, even Google). Saying “Hi, Verizon” is like saying “Hi, Facebook” which… isn’t very pleasant.
Of course, this opinion of mine is completely objective. You may think Verizon is the greatest company in the world and take pride in saying its name to get answers to questions, hear the latest weather forecast, and control your smart home. However, I’d argue saying any carriers’ name for this would serve as an unpleasant annoyance, so thank God Verizon lets you say “Alexa” to its smart display if you wish.
As far as specs go, the 8-inch screen has a 1,280x800 resolution, there’s 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of RAM. Verizon will also include 4G LTE so it never loses internet access. (You won’t be able to use it as a Wi-Fi hotspot, by the way.) This will also help with support, according to Verizon, since if there’s a problem with the device the company will be able to diagnose it quicker as it’ll be on its network.
Verizon will offer the Smart Display in a strange beta program this fall for select Fios customers, while the rest of us will have to wait until next year at the earliest to get our hands on it. I’ll do my best to get a review sample when the time comes.
1. Apple rumors: AirPods, iPhone 13, iPhone SE, and iPad mini
Over the past couple of days, there’s been a fresh dump of Apple rumors that reveal more details about four new products Apple has in the works.
AirPods: Apple’s redesigned AirPods are entering production next month, according to a report from Nikkei. The new earbuds will look like the AirPods Pro minus the silicon tips with a shorter stem and a more rectangular case. There’s a chance they’ll debut alongside the iPhone 13 in September.
iPhone 13: Speaking of which, the iPhone 13 has once again been reported to include a 1TB option. This time, it’s analyst Wedbush who suggests the iPhone will finally expand beyond 512GB this year. Previous rumors contradict this and suggest the phone’ll stick with 512GB of storage for another year, so it looks like we’ll need to wait until we’re a bit closer to the iPhone 13’s release date for more concrete details.
iPhone SE: The same report from Nikkei that detailed the new AirPods also shares information on the next iPhone SE. According to the publication, Apple will upgrade the device with 5G and an A15 processor in the beginning of 2022. It’ll stick with a 4.7-inch screen and Touch ID, so don’t expect any major design changes.
iPad mini: Finally, Apple’s upcoming iPad mini was detailed in a 9to5Mac report which claims the device will receive an iPad Air-like makeover with slim bezels and Touch ID in the power button. The device will come with an A15 processor (meaning it’ll likely debut after the iPhone 13 does) and offer USB-C connectivity. It’ll also sport a Smart Connector for accessories.
2. Amazon pledges widespread support for Matter, adds a masculine voice to Alexa
Amazon has confirmed to The Verge that it’ll update nearly all of its Echo smart home speakers to support Matter, the new universal smart home platform the company and many others have been working on. Coinciding with the news is an update for Alexa (as spotted by The Ambient) that adds a more masculine voice option to the list of available settings. You can now also refer to Alexa as “Ziggy” if you want.
3. Google adds a year of support to out-of-warranty Pixel 4 XLs
Google has confirmed it’s adding an additional year to those who own a Pixel 4 XL and have had their warranty expire. It’s because various issues pertaining to the device like startup failures, random reboots, wireless charging issues, and more have surfaced and don’t appear to be the fault of consumers. The company posted a support page with more information for those interested.
4. Google adds full-page screenshots and Incognito tab locking to Chrome 92 on iOS
Google has begun rolling out Chrome 92 for iOS users which includes the ability to take a screenshot of an entire webpage. Now, when you take a screenshot in the app, it’ll show a “Full Page” tab which you can use to capture the rest of the page. The update also includes the ability to lock Incognito tabs using Face or Touch ID. There are also a handful of UI design tweaks onboard.
5. Qualcomm promises new Snapdragon Wear chips are on their way
In a press release, Qualcomm has promised that new Snapdragon Wear processors are on their way. the new chips will pop up over the next year “to meet our long-term vision,” whatever that means. The release also sheds light on wearable sales which are alarming, to say the least.
6. Fossil claims it’s making the “best possible Wear OS smartwatch”
Fossil published a pretty ballsy claim today in a press release which says the company “believes it’s bringing the best possible Wear OS smartwatch to the market this year.” It’s unclear what this new watch will offer to make it so great, so we’ll have to wait for some leaks or an official announcement from Fossil before making any judgments.
7. Twitter tests letting people downvote your replies
Get ready to be disliked… on Twitter. The social media platform announced in a tweet that they’re testing the ability to both upvote and downvote replies to other tweets. “We're testing this to understand the types of replies you find relevant in a convo, so we can work on ways to show more of them,” the company said. They also specified this isn’t a glorified dislike button, and that any sort of voting beyond traditional Likes are only visible to you.
8. Verizon launches dedicated Fios TV app for Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV
Verizon has announced it’s expanding the availability of its Fios TV app to both Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV users. The app, launching today, gives you access to your entire Fios subscription just like it does on your phone or tablet. Notably, you’ll need to have at least one cable box on your account in order to use the app, but that’s to be expected since Verizon gives you a box to use with your subscription.
9. Instagram adds text translations to Stories
As reported by The Verge, Instagram has added the ability to translate a Story’s text if the language being used is foreign to you. If the app detects a Story is using a language you aren’t familiar with, it’ll prompt you with a button saying “See Translation.” The feature is supported by over 90 languages and is launching globally. Notably, audio translations aren’t available yet.
10. Clubhouse is no longer invite-only
Clubhouse has finally dropped the requirement to have an invite to sign up for its app. Now, when you go to sign up for the live audio sharing platform, you should be able to successfully create an account. The app has also received a new logo that’s a bit cleaner than before.
11. Evernote launches Tasks feature on iOS and Mac
Evernote has officially released its new Tasks feature on iOS and Mac which allows you to add things you need to remember to a running list. It’s basically a task manager built into a notebook app that could help Evernote become a one-stop shop for all task and information organizing. Currently, Tasks aren’t available on Android or Windows in a official form - it’s still in beta on those platforms.
12. Salesforce completes its purchase of Slack
Salesforce has completed its acquisition of Slack in a $27.7 billion deal. “We couldn’t be more excited to have Slack as part of the Salesforce family, combining the #1 CRM and the trailblazing digital platform for the work anywhere world,” said Marc Benioff, Chair and CEO of Salesforce. “Together we’ll define the future of enterprise software, creating the digital HQ that enables every organization to deliver customer and employee success from anywhere.”