Android’ Fast Pair finds your Bluetooth headphones, tells you when to charge, and connects in 1 tap

Bluetooth headphones are only getting more popular so Android thought: it’s about time they got easier to connect.

Google have a solution to the clunky Bluetooth connections that plague an otherwise great wireless technology. With Fast Pair on Android 6.0+ phones, enabled accessories will be detected and paired with a single tap saving you from exploring the Settings menus just to connect your headphones.

Fast Pair with speakers, earphones and other accessories isn’t just great for quick and easy pairing. It provides a bunch of new features to make your phone and your Bluetooth accessory like the best friends they’ve always wanted to be.

Easily find your lost accessory

It can be frustrating when you put your Bluetooth headphones down and immediately forget where you placed them. If they’re connected to your phone, you can locate your headphones by ringing them. If you have true wireless earbuds (earbuds that aren’t attached by cables or wires), you can choose to ring only the left or right bud. And, when you misplace your headphones, in the coming months, you can check their last known location in the Find My Device app if you have Location History turned on.

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Know when to charge your true wireless earbuds

Upon opening the case of your true wireless earbuds, you’ll receive a phone notification about the battery level of each component (right bud, left bud, and the case itself if supported). You’ll also receive a notification when your earbuds and the case battery is running low, so you know when to charge them.

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Manage and personalize your accessory easily

To personalize your headset or speakers, your accessory name will include your first name after it successfully pairs with Bluetooth. For example, Pixel Buds will be renamed “Alex’s Pixel Buds.”

On phones running Android 10, you can also adjust headphone settings, like linking it to Google Assistant and accessing Find My Device, right from the device details page. The setting varies depending on your headphone model.

Device details

There have been more than 3 million Fast pairings between Android devices and Bluetooth accessories so far. Why not join the party?

2020 iPhone 12 Pro rumours, leaks and predictions

All the latest rumours, leaks and predictions for Apple’s new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro due later this year.

As with all rumours, none of this has been confirmed by Apple, but we can be fairly confident going off previous models and the latest leaks.

Apple phone names have always been pretty sporadic, the 2020 iPhone is no exception. Where we’d usually see an iPhone 11s, all signs are pointing towards iPhone 12. This is due to the redesign of this model.

The design of the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max is expected to be reminiscent of the iPhone 5, 5s and current iPad Pro models, with boxy flat edges. This is expected alongside a smaller notch and thinner bezels. This will be a welcome change to the design of the iPhone, which has seen no change since the iPhone X in 2017. It’s unclear whether these changes will come to the iPhone 12 (non-Pro), but being the cheaper model, it’s likely to stay rounded.

Around the back of the 12 Pro, we are likely to see a quad-lens setup, with three cameras (as on the 11 Pro) and an additional lidar sensor as seen on the newest iPad Pro, for improved AR capabilities. CAD designs of this iPhone show these lenses will be in a square setup with the flash in the middle. The concept shown above comes courtesy of EverythingApplePro.

Grey (maybe matte black) and white colours will likely remain with navy blue replacing the midnight green 11 Pro. Colours for the 12 (non-Pro) will potentially see new light blue, violet and light orange versions.

Features are fairly unknown, however the 2020 iPhones will likely be Apple’s debut 5G capable phones. It’s thought this will delay the production of the 12 Pro to October, rather than the usual September release. We are also hoping for a 120Hz high refresh rate display, much like the iPad Pro. 2020 may see the return of a Touch ID sensor under the display, which could free up notch space if Face ID is removed. We are unlikely to ever seen any USB-C iPhones, with lightning continuing this year and 2021 iPhones expected to be port-less.

Apple will almost certainly be showing off these iPhone’s at their September event. Time will tell whether this event will be online only, as WWDC is this year.

All of this news comes as iPhones SE’s ship to buyers, as well as reports of AirPods Pro Lite, Apple over-ear headphones and HomePod 2.

iPhone SE 2020 (2nd gen) review

Announced last week, Apple’s new $399 budget phone is available for pre-order now and starts shipping tomorrow

The second generation iPhone SE builds off the successful formula of the first SE. Old and small iPhone body with new iPhone internals, more specifically the iPhone 8 body with some iPhone 11 internals.

The headline features are as follows:

  • 4.7″ 750p screen
  • A13 Bionic (iPhone 11 processor) with 3GB RAM
  • New single 12MP rear camera with 4K 30 video
  • 7MP front selfie camera
  • IP67 water and dust resistant
  • Glass back with wireless charging
  • Touch ID
  • 1821 mAh battery with fast charging
  • Stereo speakers, no headphone jack
  • Black, white or Product RED (proceeds to COVID-19 relif)

How do these numbers translate in the real world? Very well!

The form factor is very familiar for those who have used an iPhone 6, 6s, 7 or 8, which means small, thin and lightweight. The screen is larger than the 2016 iPhone SE, but still small by today’s standards. Ideal for one handed use, which is a rarity today. At just over 720p, it isn’t going to look quiet as sharp or bright as today’s high refresh-rate OLED flagships.

Fast processors along with fewer pixels lead performance to be fantastic, competing with the most powerful smartphones on the market. This phone will have no trouble with slowing down on newer software in a year or two, which can not be said about many $400 phones and great news for this phones target demographic.

No word on whether the front or back cameras or sensors are recycled from previous iPhones, all Apple have said is the rear shooter is a new camera. In good light the rear camera performs fantastically, flagship grade. Unfortunately with a single lens, this phone does not feature night mode or ultra-wide/telephoto, but will still outperform any sub $500 phones. The selfie camera is good enough, with similar performance to the iPhone 8’s. 4K video is stable, with incredible detail and on point auto-focus. The video from this phone will out perform some flagship’s in it’s delivery, even if the numbers don’t (ie 4K 60 or 8K).

Battery performance is okay for a phone this size. 1800 mAh is not big by any means, but with a small screen and iOS’ optimisation, you should have no trouble getting through a full day.

The only potential downside here is the familiar, unoriginal design, however using recycled parts is how Apple have managed to keep the cost so low. Usually similarly priced phones will sacrifice one or two key features, however every aspect of the iPhone SE is either great or good enough, which is more than you could hope for from a phone of its price.

This is an easy recommendation. If you need a new phone, you’re happy to sacrifice a large bezel-less display in exchange for some money and not too locked in to Android, this is the phone for you. This phone like the original iPhone SE will sell very well. It’s the phone for those that walk into a shop and know they want an iPhone but not much else, those who don’t care for numbers or the latest screen technology, those who won’t see a $600 difference between this and an iPhone 11 Pro.

If you’re locked into Android and interested in a comparable budget phone, keep your eyes peeled for the Pixel 4a which should be just on the horizon.

Learn more and pre-order the iPhone SE here.

Napster power brand new radio-like streams on Sonos

Sonos have launched a new music powered experience to play through their smart speakers.

Today Sonos and Napster launch their new linear, ad-funded webcast on Sonos apps in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, and Europe. The new offering brings 31 stations that promise a genuine radio feel and allows users around the world to tune in and listen to the same stream.

Each station will have a “human-hosted” feel (I’m not sure if that means it will or won’t be hosted) with specific branding to set that station apart. They will all be edited by real curators based on specific genres and styles and ordered meticulously rather than a random shuffle of music.

They’re using Super HiFi technology for the most seamless experience possible with smooth transitions between tracks. The tracks are all provided by Napster and Sonos have teamed up with collection societies in every country they will launch in to ensure artists get paid properly each time their songs are played.

As the stations play like a real station there is no skipping, just taste maker’s selections all day. This means that friends and family can tune in to the station and listen to exactly what you’re listening to.

Napster want these stations to facilitate a more personal experience than simply streaming music or playlists. They said that they want to “integrate artist voices directly into the stations”, saying:

“We can integrate artist promo packages, interview snippets or other content to help provide context for the listener and build the listener’s relationships with the artists.  We are exploring the possibility of artist takeovers of our hero brand station or even of specific genre stations, and we can use the Sonos marketing machine to help promote those events to our ~20M+ user base on Sonos. Sonos will also leverage our original show properties to feature artists and industry figures, and these shows will be heavily promoted throughout Sonos’ “owned marketing channels” to our user base.”

Between April 28th and May 19th the new stations will roll out in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Finland, and Mexico.

Amazon’s AI musical keyboard is now $99

Late last year Amazon dropped the jaws of a fair few people with a brand new MIDI keyboard which is powered by AI to create music with you.

The Deep Composer looks very much like many a 32-key MIDI keyboard that has come before. But it’s not. Using Amazon Web Services’ technology the keyboard is capable of expounding upon every input towards musical cohesion. In other words; it can write music.

You can use genres to lead it towards a certain path for it to follow when it’s defining the sound of what it’s developing. If you don’t want something as simple as rock, pop, jazz, or classical standards then you can get in there and tweak the AI for your own custom genre output.

From there you can play with it to create songs from a sequence, a chord, or even just a single note. Their AI technology is built to be able to create a full song with all the elements of core instruments like drums and piano using machine-learned patterns and music theory with MIDI music. You can also use it jam along with as the software creates a backing band for you to play with based on your inputs.

Now you can get your hands on this very unique piece of technology for yourself at just $99 a pop. Whilst the keyboard has gained mixed reviews in action it is still very impressive for what it is capable of beyond all of the usual MIDI keyboard functions.

Fitbit adds Spotify to their new Charge 4 devices

Fitbit have revealed a brand new wearable to join you on your exercises with music streaming from Spotify.

This could either be the best time or the worst time to get a FitBit – it depends on where you are and how you’re approaching lockdowns. Here in the UK it might promote you to get out on a run for your daily allotted exercise leave but elsewhere you might just be tracking your walks around the house.

Whatever the case, Fitbit have revealed their Charge 4 with some neat little tech-y features. For a start it getting getting Spotify ‘Connect & Control’ allowing premium accounts to play music from playlists and control playback on it.

A built-in GPS also makes a nice little edition to the new wrist wearable designed to track your steps, exercise distance, even your sleeping patterns. It may come as a surprise that FitBits are only now getting a GPS but the Charge 4 finally brings it up to date.

The wearable will hit markets on the 13th April “in markets where they are still open” for $150 or $170 for a special addition with upgraded bands that costs.

Marshall unveil their new bluetooth speakers with AirPlay 2 and Alexa

Marshall have revealed their new Uxbridge Voice speaker with all the modern streaming and voice control action you can ask for.

In recent years Marshall have gone beyond their long lasting legacy as guitar amp creators. Marshall offer a range of speakers now, including last years Tufton and Stockwell II making their world-class audio available in a portable case.

Marshall have just revealed the Uxbridge Voice, their new portable Bluetooth offering which can be paired to other speakers for a multi-room or stereo setup. They have added AirPlay 2 support so it can be connected in a wide range of ways with Bluetooth and Spotify Connect connections also built in.

The speaker features voice control from Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa. They’ve moved on from their other speakers volume knobs which resembled a guitar amp’s pots and have decided on simple button strips with a plus on one side and a minus on the other. Beside the volume button are bass and treble buttons for EQ customisation.

The speaker is available from April 8th for $199 / £169.99.

This Spotify soap dispenser makes sure you’re washing your hands right with your favourite tunes

You should know by now the importance of washing your hands for 20 seconds, but who wants to sing Happy Birthday every time?

The Scrubber project is getting people washing their hands with real jams to accompany them. It shows you how to create your own mini speaker which connects to Spotify to play 20 seconds of your music when you use and attach it to a soap dispenser.

It’s a fun DIY project that also helps you ensure you’re doing the right thing to prevent Coronavirus infection. You’ll need a Raspberry Pi W Zero, Adafruit speaker bonnet, a few inches of thin wire and a tiny bit of copper tape to create your personal hand washing anthem machine!

Find out more and instructions on how to do it here:
deeplocal.com/scrubber

Anchor’s new feature makes podcasting even easier in self-isolation

There are sure to be a lot of podcasts coming in the next few months with more time at home and a LOT to say.

One of the world’s favourite podcast-making apps, Anchor, have launched a new feature that will get people recording their own podcast’s in no time. The new feature allows users to record a podcast directly from their browser without even creating an account.

The feature is called Record With Friends 2.0 and allows up to 5 people to join and record together. There will need to be a host using the Anchor app but they can then invite up to 4 others to join in with their say straight from their web browser.

The Anchor host will be given a link which they share to invite others to take part with microphones from their home. It’s a great solution to getting people together to talk when we are facing a period of social distancing and are encouraged to see as few people in person as possible.

When friends and podcast invitees click on the link it will take them to their preferred browser to start recording their voice in the group channel. Anchor says that whilst they don’t support Google Chrome on mobile yet, it is “coming soon”.

Early last year Spotify bought Anchor’s podcast platform to enhance their burgeoning and flourishing podcast content. Their music streaming platform now even allows users to create and upload podcasts directly from the Spotify app.

We expect that the next month will be the busiest month on record for new podcasts.

You can now get Spotify podcasts without using the Spotify app

Spotify have carved their path into podcasts with a fierce push and now they’re opening their podcasts up to people outside of the Spotify app.

In the past couple years Spotify have transformed from being a leader in music streaming to become a multimedia powerhouse with one of the biggest podcast libraries. They’ve not only nabbed over 700,000 podcasts for their platform but made many notable purchases of podcast networks and platforms for creating and managing podcasts.

This has put them in a strong position not just to offer podcasts for listening, but with the exclusive access to many major series fans of certain content have to go to Spotify to get their fix. Perhaps not any more however, as Spotify have launched a new podcast API for developers to use.

What this excitingly means is that third-party developers can use their API to make Spotify’s podcast catalogue available outside of the Spotify app. It allows people to build new apps or integrate podcasts into existing apps so they’re accessible whilst still hosted and maintained by Spotify.

For people who love the podcasts that they can only find on Spotify, but for whatever reason don’t want to use their app, this is great news. It will also allow developers to get creative with offering certain podcasts based on themes or content. The podcasts will appear with the name of the show, episode titles, descriptions and podcast art all there for integration.

Spotify said in their announcement: “We can’t wait to see what developers will come up with using this API and watch how these new ideas and projects might serve our podcast creators and increase discoverability.

“And any innovation – whether it be an app that helps you share what you’re listening to with friends or a calendar integration that sets an alert for when your favourite show is expected to release a new episode – will ultimately provide listeners with more ways to experience your podcast.”