On Consumer Reports' Approach to Apple

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Consumer Reports

AppleInsider‘s Stephen Silver took a trip to Consumer Reports to talk about that magazine’s approach to Apple. It’s a very good read, full of direct information about some of CR’s high-profile criticisms of Apple’s report. Here’s a snippet:

This all said, there are a few things we conclude from our visit to Consumer Reports. Having viewed their testing process and met with their team, we are confident that they do not harbor a purposeful anti-Apple agenda, nor is there any sort of conspiracy against Apple afoot behind the CR walls. Their complete testing and evaluation process is conducted with integrity and in good faith.

However, there may very well be something about CR’s analytical, numbers-driven process that clashes with the design-heavy Apple ethos, and makes their conclusions about Apple products different from those of more traditional reviewers. Even so, this hasn’t stopped them from recommending most of Apple’s lineup.

Rosetta Stone 12-Month Subscription: $109.99

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Rosetta Stone on MacBook

We have a great deal today on a 12-month subscription for Rosetta Stone, the language learning platform. I’m a subscriber now for French, and I love Rosetta Stone. Our deal is for 12 months in your choice of languages for $119.99. But if you use coupon code ROSETTA10 at checkout, you get another $10 off for a total price of $109.99, a 39% discount. You can choose a language on the deal listing.

On Getting to the Bottom of Google Duplex

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Diagram for Google Duplex

This, from John Gruber:

But everything about the way Google announced this — the curious details of the calls released so far, the fact that no one in the media has been allowed to see an actual call happen live — makes me suspect that for one or more reasons, the current state of Duplex is less than what Sundar Pichai implied on stage.

This was my thought from the get-go, and John Gruber does a great job of walking through the reasons. He also explains that he’s not bagging on Google’s ability to get to a true human-sounding AI that can book our appointments, and I agree with him there, too. There’s simply a lot that doesn’t add up about the Google Duplex demo and the information about that demo that’s come to light. It’s a good read I recommend.

A Key Organizer that Pairs with Your iPhone for Tracking: $39.99

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KeySmart Pro with Tile Smart Location

We have a deal on the KeySmart Pro with Tile Smart Location. The KeySmart Pro is a key organizer that works a lot like pocket knife. Unfold your key, use it, fold it back up, no mess. This model has an embedded Tile Smart Location device that pairs with your iPhone via the Tile app. That means you never need to wonder, “Where’d I put my keys.” It will even play a sound for you. It’s $39.99 through us, 33% off retail.

Amazon in Talks for The Expanse Season 4

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The Expanse

The internet pretty much had a meltdown when SyFy announced about two weeks ago there wouldn’t be a season 4 for The Expanse. Now Amazon is stepping up and is negotiating to keep the show alive through Amazon Prime. Amazon already has the rights to stream the first three seasons, so adding first-run rights for season 4 makes sense. The Hollywood Reporter makes it sound like the deal is practically a done deal, and hopefully they’re right. After all, we need to know what the protomolecule is up to.

goTenna Lets You Send Secure Messages and GPS Coords without Service: $155

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Two goTenna Devices

We have a deal on an interesting device called goTenna. It’s essentially your own private network for sending encrypted messages and GPS coordinates to friends, with no local service required. You pair it with your iPhone or Android device, and then use the goTenna app to send messages to your goTenna friends. Check out the video. Our deal is on two goTennas for $155, 13% off retail.

No, Apple isn't Releasing a Cheaper HomePod Model this Year

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HomePod, the Top

Apple is hard at work on a lower-priced version of the HomePod, or so the latest reports claim. The report comes from the Chinese website with a claim that “foreign media” is reporting a US$199 HomePod is on the way this year. It looks like this all spins out of an article from money.udn.com from early March (english translation) speculating that Apple could decide to make a lower priced HomePod model. The information available so far doesn’t even amount to a rumor, so no, Apple isn’t releasing a sub $200 HomePod this year.

Can't Find an AirPort Base Station in Stock? Here's How to Pick a Wireless Mesh System

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Wi-Fi mesh routers

With Apple officially dropping its AirPort Base Station product line it’s no surprise the remaining inventory is dwindling. Reports are cropping up saying some models from Apple’s Wi-Fi router lineup are already gone, although we’re still seeing AirPort Extreme, Express, and Time Capsule as in stock in the Apple Store app. Still, if you’re looking into getting a new Wi-Fi router it may be time to check out the wireless mesh network options. Dave Hamilton has done a great job of explaining what your options are, and how to pick the right product for your needs.

Report Says Apple Sold 600,000 HomePods in Q1 2018

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Apple HomePod

Apple owns 6% of the global smart speaker market, according to Strategy Analytics. The research firm says Apple sold about 600,000 HomePods during the first quarter of 2018. Of course, that’s only an estimate because Apple doesn’t share sales HomePod figures. Considering Amazon holds 43.6% of the smart speaker market, and Google has 26.5% with far more than a single quarter’s sales, it’ll be interesting to see how many people say this proves HomePod is a failure. It’s possible HomePod is a flop, or it’ll own the market. Either way, a single quarter’s sales isn’t enough to make a definitive conclusion.

Portable USB-C Power Adapter and 6-Port Hub: $49

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CASA Hub PDC601 USB-C Power Adapter

We have a deal on the CASA Hub PDC601 USB-C Power Adapter, a USB-C power adapter for your MacBook that also has 6 ports, including: USB Type-C PD port, three USB 3.1 Type-A ports, SD Card slot, and a microSD Card slot. It’s small, too, at 3.6″ x 1.6″ x 0.7″, and 100 grams. It’s $49 through us, 16% off retail.

About Twitter's API Stupidity

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Bug with a Twitter coffee cup

I was going to write a rant—OK, another rant—about how stupid Twitter is being its APIs and third party apps. The company announced a change that will effectively render third party clients useless without change—this after the company killed its own Mac client. Twitter has confused its ^#%$ desire for me to use its service on a browser with my desire to do so. Because I do not want to. At all. Anyhoo, enter John Gruber, who already wrote the rant. It’s a good one.

To me this is like finding out you’re now required to access email entirely through a web browser. Sure, lots of people already do it that way and either prefer it or think it’s eh, just fine, who cares — but a lot of others hate it and find it completely disruptive to longstanding workflows.

CINEMOOD Portable Movie Projector: $349

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CINEMOOD Portable Movie Projector

We have a deal on the CINEMOOD portable movie projector, a 3-inch device that streams Netflix and YouTube content. You can also download Netflix content for offline projecting. It’s $349 through our deal, 12% off retail.

Apple Wants $1 Billion from Samsung for iPhone Patent Infringement

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Apple v Samsung justice scales

Apple and Samsung are back in court for the next round in their years-long legal fight over copying the iPhone’s design. This new trial is to determine how much money Samsung owes Apple for patent infringement. Apple is pushing for US$1 billion in damages, and of course Samsung is balking. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out considering Apple was originally awarded over $1 billion, but that was cut back dramatically over the years in the ongoing legal fight. Maybe now Apple can get that number pushed back up. Bloomberg has more about the new damages trial.

TREBLAB X11 Earphones: $32.99

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TREBLAB X11 Earphones

We have a deal on a pair of TREBLAB X11 earphones. These wireless earphones  use Bluetooth 4.1 CSR, and are designed for active people. They features 6 hours of play time with a charge time of 2 hours. They’re $32.99 through us.

Ruling Invalidating Personal Audio's Podcast Patent Stands, Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Appeal

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Apple lawsuit

Personal Audio’s fight to use a patent to force podcasters to pay royalties is finally at an end. The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear PA’s appeal in a ruling that invalidated its patent, which means the EFF won its legal fight. That’s great news because now PA can’t claim all podcasters have to pay royalties. It’s also an example of something going right in our painfully broken patent system. You can read more about the ruling at Ars Technica.

Robots, Emotions, Empathy & Lies

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I, Robot (the movie)

Should our modern robots have emotions? If not, should they at least be able to detect and respond to human emotions?  If they do, how can/will we, in turn, treat them? What happens when a Boston Dynamics Atlas inherits the abilities of Google’s Duplex? Should robots on the phone divulge who they are? Should we permit them to lie? More questions than answers, but the awesome Particle Debris readers are, as always, up to the challenge.