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Android 10 officially released for Google Pixel phones

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After several months in betas, each of which brought its own fresh teapot tempest about how gestures would work, Google is officially releasing the final version of Android 10 to Pixel users beginning today. In what may be a hopeful sign that this version of Android will come to other phones faster than before, Google is promising that it is “working with a number of partners to launch or upgrade devices to Android 10 this year.”

There are a few headline features in Android 10 beyond the new gesture system, including stricter permissions and privacy controls, a new “Focus Mode” for disabling distracting apps, simpler notification controls, better integrated family controls, and a new Dark Theme.

One of the most important updates will be invisible to most users: “Project Mainline” will allow Google to issue some critical security patches directly through the Play Store instead of waiting for manufacturers and carriers to distribute them. In fact, phones that are upgraded from Android 9 Pie to Android 10 won’t support it.

Not all of Android 10’s features are fully available, however. Focus Mode is launching only in beta today. Another headline feature called “Live Caption” will allow users to get real-time captioning for any audio or video on their phone. But unfortunately, it won’t launch until later this year, and it will be Pixel-only for a time.
Google says that all of its first-party apps are committed to supporting the new Dark Theme, but not all of them have made the deadline for Android’s release. Gmail, for example, is still working on compatibility with the Dark Theme and won’t have support for it until later this month.

More than anything, though, the feature on Android 10 that has garnered the most attention is the new gesture navigation system. It works much like the iPhone’s does, and in the beta phase of Android 10, it seemed to get tweaked every few weeks. It’s now stable and won’t change, which means the entire left and right sides of the screen are dedicated to going back. The traditional three-button system will still be an option, however, which is probably good since many people prefer it.

The 10th version of Android is also the first since nearly the beginning that doesn’t have a public dessert codename. Google made the switch in the name of being more globally inclusive and not, it says, because picking a Q-named dessert was too difficult.

There are a few other features in Android 10 that didn’t get much attention back when it was originally announced at Google I/O in May. Google is highlighting more gender-inclusive emoji, app timers for specific websites, and support for streaming audio to hearing aids.

Google typically rolls out major operating system updates over the course of a few days, so your Pixel phone might not get an update alert right away. You can check for it by going to Settings -> System -> Advanced -> System Update. As usual, other Android device manufacturers will announce their rollout plans for Android 10 upgrades separately, and it will likely take weeks or months for the upgrade to arrive on many non-Pixel devices.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/3/20842507/google-android-10-q-pixel-release-download-availability

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Paris tests new bubble-shaped water taxi

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Paris is testing out a new form of travel: an eco-friendly bubble-shaped taxi that zips along the water up and down the Seine River.

Organizers are holding test runs this week on one white, oval-shaped electric hydrofoil boat that resemble tiny space shuttles gliding past Paris monuments.

The boats can fit four passengers, and if they get approved, can be ordered on an app like land taxis, shared bikes or other forms of transport.

Its designers hope to run the so-called Seabubbles commercially in Paris and other cities starting next year.

Anders Bringdal, SeaBubbles CEO, told The Associated Press that “the most important for us is no noise, no waves, no pollution. And bring them into cities that are congested.”

Bringdal said the water taxi will “not only be fun” but also makes economic sense.

“If you compare a similar size boat with an engine, you are going to run 30, 40, 50 euros an hour in fuel cost when this one costs you 3 dollars or 3 euros,” he said.

Proponents see the vehicle as a new model for the fast-changing landscape of urban mobility.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/sns-bc-eu–france-water-taxi-20190918-story.html

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Google Fi launches a more traditional unlimited plan

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Google is announcing a new plan for its MVNO Fi cell service: Unlimited. Like the big four carriers in the US, Google apparently feels the need to use the word “Unlimited” next to its service, whether or not it means what you think it means.

For Google, it means that a single line costs $70 for everything, two are $60 apiece, three are $50 apiece, and you can have four to six at $45 per line. The caveats — and there are always caveats with unlimited plans — is that Google “may optimize” video streaming down to 480p and will also throttle data for any single user that goes over 22GB per month. (You can pay $10 per GB if you want un-throttled data over 22GB.)

Google is also tying its new Unlimited plan to Google One, another service that hasn’t taken off in the popular imagination. Google says that the Unlimited plan comes with a Google One membership, which would save you the $1.99 per month it costs for the 100GB cloud storage tier.

But though that sounds complicated, it’s conceptually easier (at least in the US) than Google Fi’s previous plan — which is still sticking around but is now called “Flex.” Under that plan, it is $20 for the phone line, $15 for each additional line, and $10/GB for any and all data used. For a lot of customers, it could end up being much cheaper than other plans — though heavy data users could sometimes run into higher costs. Still, Google capped data costs at $60 per month.

The Flex plan is actually a really great deal for certain customers, but it meant that their bill could have wild swings from month to month depending on data usage. Google wanted something conceptually easier for US customers, the ones who have been seeing every other carrier offer Unlimited plans.

Both the Unlimited and Flex plans will allow customers to order free “data-only” SIM cards that draw from the same data buckets with no additional monthly charge. Most other US carriers charge a monthly fee for adding such devices, which makes Google Fi one of the best choices for people who love using LTE-enabled version of gadgets.

Fi also is popular with international travelers, as it doesn’t charge any extra fees for data when roaming, though it does $0.20 per minute for calls. Fi also offers a free VPN to Android users, to protect them on sketchy Wi-Fi networks.

Add all that up and Google Fi is one of the better deals in wireless, with bonus features that are actually relevant to wireless service instead of corporate media TV tie-ins. That hasn’t been enough to get it widespread usage, but maybe the new, easier-to-understand unlimited plans will give Fi a boost.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/17/20869599/google-fi-launches-a-more-traditional-unlimited-plan

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Voyage Auto raises $31 million to expand self-driving technology

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Voyage Auto Inc, the self-driving-car start-up, has just completed $31 million in Series B fundraising, which brings its total capital raised to $52 million.

Founded in 2017 by MacCallister Higgins and Oliver Cameron, Voyage’s mission to “build technology that brings self-driving cars to those that need it most” has attracted financial partnerships with Chevron Technology Venture, Jaguar Land-Rover’s InMotion Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. Franklin Templeton Investments led the Series B round of fundraising.

“Since investing in the company’s Series A in 2018, it’s been fantastic to watch the business go from strength to strength. They’ve shown us that they have the capability to quickly make self-driving, autonomous taxis in residential communities a reality, sooner than anyone would have thought,” said Sebastian Peck, Managing Director of Jaguar Land-Rover’s InMotion Ventures.

The Palo Alto, California-based start-up known for its self-driving taxi services in retirement communities has expanded its presence to Florida, where the cars navigate complex communities and deliver passengers to their doors at a maximum of 25 mph. While retirement communities have provided a controlled baseline to deploy their services, Voyage does not plan to stop there.

Voyage will use the funds to grow its talent base, expand the fleet of G2 model (Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan), prepare to introduce the G3 model, and further develop its technology towards commercialization. Also, with this additional support, Voyage cars will be able to increase its speed in neighborhoods with a progressively more complex network of streets.

Voyage engineers have made significant strides in the safe-critical middleware, prediction systems, as well as its high-definition map navigation.

Since 2018, Voyage’s talent base has grown 300 percent. Voyage hired former Uber and Tesla employee Drew Gray as its Chief Technology Officer. David Bacchet, the company’s new Director of Autonomy, brings experience from Apple SPG and Tesla. Voyage has begun hiring for engineering, operations and leadership positions to maximize its expertise base.

The robo-taxi industry is projected to be worth $2 trillion by 2030, based on a thorough New York City simulation conducted by UBS Evidence Lab.

“The current number of taxis operating in New York alone could be cut by two-thirds once cars are fully autonomous,” the report said.

Source: https://www.freightwaves.com/news/voyage-auto-raises-31-million-to-expand-self-driving-technology

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