Thursday, September 21, 2017

Return Amazon purchases through your local Kohl's


Kohl’s announced on Tuesday that it will accept Amazon returns at 82 of its locations in and around Los Angeles and Chicago starting next month. According to Business Insider, there will be parking spots near store entrances designated for people coming to return Amazon goods.

Once you hand over a return, Kohl’s will then package and transport the item to Amazon’s return centers, free of charge. This is slightly easier than returning through USPS or UPS, as you won’t need to tape up your own cardboard box.

The move is Kohl’s allying itself with the e-commerce giant as analysts fear that Amazon will swallow up retail stores, especially after it made a successful transition into the groceries industry with the Whole Foods acquisition. Earlier this month, Kohl’s also announced that it would sell the Amazon Echo and other devices at 10 of its stores in Los Angeles and Chicago.

GoPro Hero 6 leaked information, images, and more


Just days after the unreleased, unofficially announced GoPro Hero 6 Black appeared in the wild for the first time, another one has now popped up at a Best Buy in Canada, and with detail. These new pictures seem to confirm that GoPro’s new camera will carry over the Hero 5 Black’s design (which means it will be waterproof up to 33 feet out of the box) and will offer spec bumps across the board.

The most major of those will be that the camera can now shoot 4K footage at 60 frames per second, something professional users have been begging GoPro for for years. But it will also shoot 1080p footage at 240 frames per second, according to these new images, meaning it can capture slow motion footage that is 10 times slower than real time. The camera will retail for $649 in Canada, according to the pictures, which is roughly in line with a $499 US price tag plus tax. And it seems like GoPro will go with a dual announce / release date of September 28th.

GoPro is most likely dropping Ambarella, which has supplied the processors dating back to some of the company’s earliest cameras. This time around, GoPro will use a custom processor known internally as “GP1,” which backs up some previous reporting on the anticipated split between the two companies. So while the Hero 6 Black won’t look too different on the outside or on a spec sheet, it could be an important camera for the company. Controlling more of the image processing pipeline could mean GoPro will be able to squeeze even better quality or battery life out of the camera, much like how Apple’s nearly full control over the iPhone stack gives the company such an advantage.

We know GoPro plans to expand the rollout of Fusion, its consumer 360-degree camera, later this year, so that’s likely to be part of this late September event as well. Karma won’t be forgotten, either. While we’re probably not going to see the next generation that CEO Nick Woodman has said the company is working on, firmware that the Karma system will get a software update that adds a “follow me” mode similar to what’s found on DJI’s drones.

The Karma stabilizer grip, which lets users shoot with the drone’s gimbal in a more handheld fashion, will also get a physical update. The new version will have more options, like a joystick for aiming the camera, that also bring it in line with DJI’s offerings.

There’s not likely to be an update to the Session, GoPro’s tiny cube camera.

Equifax customer service has been sending concerned customers to the wrong website


Earlier this year hackers broke into Equifax's servers and stole 143 million people's personal information, including their Social Security numbers. In response to the attack, Equifax set up a website — www.equifaxsecurity2017.com — for possible victims to verify whether they're affected. Because the process involves sharing sensitive information, consumers have to trust they're entering their data in the right place, which can be tricky because the breach-recovery site itself isn’t part of equifax.com. If users end up on the wrong site, they could end up leaking the data they're already concerned was stolen.

Today, Equifax ended up creating that exact situation on Twitter. In a tweet to a potential victim, the credit bureau linked to securityequifax2017.com, instead of equifaxsecurity2017.com. It was an easy mistake to make, but the result sent the user to a site with no connection to Equifax itself. Equifax deleted the tweet shortly after this article was published, but it remained live for nearly 24 hours.

Luckily, the alternate URL Equifax sent the victim to isn’t malicious. Full-stack developer Nick Sweeting set up the misspelled phishing site in order to expose vulnerabilities that existed in Equifax's response page. “I made the site because Equifax made a huge mistake by using a domain that doesn't have any trust attached to it [as opposed to hosting it on equifax.com],” Sweeting tells The Verge. “It makes it ridiculously easy for scammers to come in and build clones — they can buy up dozens of domains, and typo-squat to get people to type in their info.” Sweeting says no data will leave his page and that he "removed any risk of leaking data via network requests by redirecting them back to the user's own computer," so hopefully data entered on his site is relatively safe. Still, Equifax's team linked out to his page. That isn't reassuring.

Prior to Equifax customer service sharing the imposter site, Sweeting says he emailed the support team and tweeted to Equifax that he spotted a potential vulnerability.

Equifax's entire response to the breach has been a mess. The company's website set off alarms for lawyers who worried it might waive victims' right to sue the company, and the response phone line representatives actually had no information and just directed concerned consumers back to the website.

Although the misspelled link likely wasn't intentional on Equifax's part, it demonstrates just how easy it is for attackers to trick consumers — even the company's own support team was fooled. It also shows a lack of a consistent response strategy. I don't necessarily blame the support team, as they're likely freelancers hired for this breach, but Equifax needs to get its response strategy together.

An Equifax spokesperson says all tweets sent from their account with the wrong URL have been deleted. “All posts using the wrong link have been taken down. To confirm, the correct website is https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. We apologize for the confusion.”

If you're signing up for Equifax's identity monitoring, requesting a credit freeze, or inputting your personal information anywhere online, double check that you've navigated to the right webpage.

Bose shows off the new SoundSport truly wireless earbuds geared for an active lifestyle


Bose has this morning unveiled its first truly wireless headphones, dubbed the SoundSport Free. Much like Apple’s own AirPods and Jaybird’s latest Run in-ears, Bose is taking aim at active users looking for an audio solution during exercise.

As one of the biggest names in audio, Bose is taking its established tech and cramming it into earbuds that weigh just 0.35-ounces each. A wireless carrying case will handle charging, much like what Apple and Jaybird has instituted with their own headsets in recent releases. However, its a new antennae system that Bose claims will truly set its new release apart from the competition.

The new SoundSport Free are designed to work with devices up to 30-feet away, something that has plagued certain releases in this category. There’s not many details available in the press release about how this technology works, but Bose claims to have solved any potential issues here.

Bose rates each headset for five-hours of use per charge with the carrying case adding an additional ten-hours of playback. Aside from weighing 0.35-ounces, the earbud measures at 1.1-inch high x 1.2-inches deep. An IPX4 rating delivers water and sweat-resistance while exercising.



A “find my buds” feature is available within the iOS and Android app that can help locate lost units. This is similar to what Apple introduced back in iOS 10.3, which is a necessity on these truly wireless earbuds. A single press of a button on the right earbud calls up digital assistants, like Siri or Google Home alongside other playback controls.

Bose is pricing its latest release at $249.95, which comes in $90 more than Apple AirPods and $70 more than Jaybird’s latest release. It’s no surprise that Bose is charging a premium for its new headphones but that premium price is likely to be a tough sell for some Apple users.

The new SoundSport earphones will be available at all the usual online retailers in the coming weeks. Initially, Bose plans to ship units in black with blue and yellow colorways coming down the line ” later this year”.


BOSE OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

Redefines Sport Headphones with Truly Wireless SoundSport Free Adds Google Assistant and Noise Control Settings to Iconic QC35

September 21, 2017 – Today, Bose announced two updates to its headphone line. The truly wireless SoundSport® Free headphones offer an entirely better way to workout with music – from just two amazing little earbuds. And the iconic QC®35 becomes the first headphone to offer seamless voice access to your Google Assistant, and now comes with settings to control the noise around you. The new SoundSport Free headphones will be available in early October for $249.95, with pre-orders starting today. The new QC35 II headphones are available beginning today, and their price remains at $349.95.

“The SoundSport Free is the closest thing to what people have always wanted in a sport headphone – a technology-packed solution that’s stripped down to just two rugged earbuds that feel great, stay connected, stay in, and sound amazing,” said Brian Maguire, director, Bose on-the-go products. “And the QC35 is already the world’s most celebrated wireless headphone, and a survival tool for modern life. We didn’t change anything that people already love – with the Google Assistant built in, and new choices for what you hear, we made it better.”

THE SOUNDSPORT FREE HEADPHONES

The SoundSport Free headphones were engineered to strike a new balance between size, performance, power and stability – in a no-wire, made-for-exercise design.

Each earbud weighs just .35 ounces and measures just 1.1” high x 1.2” deep. They house a new antennae system to maintain a strong and reliable connection between each other, and the phone or tablet they’re paired to – whether the device is 30 feet away, in your pocket, gym bag, or strapped to your arm. Combined with a miniature acoustic package, including Bose digital signal processing, volume optimized EQ, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, SoundSport Free delivers up to 5 hours of powerful, clear music – without cracks, pops, or hisses.

SoundSport Free headphones are engineered for intense, focused training. They use proprietary StayHear®+ Sport tips for a secure, firm fit that’s comfortable for hours. They’re tough and built to last, with an IPX4 rating to resist water and sweat year-round, inside and outdoors. And they make it easy to use your phone and VPA – just one button press on the right earbud.

SoundSport Free headphones are ready to go and easy to track, with a stunning high-gloss finish. Their charging case magnetically holds each earbud in place, doubles as storage, and provides two additional full charges for up to 10 more hours of battery life. When not stowed away, a new “Find My Buds” feature on the Bose Connect App displays the last time and place they were used to locate them quickly.

THE QC35 II NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES 


The QC35 II noise cancelling headphones have all the performance and features of the original QC35. They deliver the same industry-defining noise cancellation, audio performance, and up to 20 hours of battery life. The same controls remain on the right earcup – audio volume, and the multi-function button for incoming calls and accessing Siri. And now, there’s a new Action button on the left earcup to connect to your Google Assistant – without having to grab your phone, unlock it, and find the app.

YOUR OWN PERSONAL GOOGLE

Bose and Google worked together on the exclusive experience in the QC35 II, making it the first integration of Google Assistant in a headphone. Press and hold the Action button, and your own personal Google is ready to help – no waiting, looking, swiping, or typing. Just start talking, and your Assistant will help you manage your music and get things done – like play a playlist or a favorite song by a favorite artist, and add appointments to your Google calendar. It can help you stay connected – from simple things like making a call, to notifying you about incoming messages, events and reminders, and reading them back to you. And it can answer questions and find information – so you can check a score, the latest headlines, whether your flight’s on time, what movie’s playing downtown – and more.

A proprietary Bose microphone system picks-up voices with remarkable accuracy, so commands are understood. And in a fraction of a millisecond, Bose active noise cancellation dramatically reduces unwanted sounds around you – so whether you’re in a crowded airport terminal, on a busy city sidewalk, or a subway platform at rush hour – you only hear your Assistant or your music, brilliantly reproduced.

NEW SETTINGS FOR BOSE NOISE CANCELLATION

Like its predecessor, the QC35 II’s noise cancellation is fully activated when the headphone is on, but the Bose Connect App now lets you choose to keep it on (high), turn it down (low), or disable it completely (off). The Connect App also lets you change the Action button’s functionality, so you can control the noise settings from the earcup when you want, and switch back to your Google Assistant when you want.

COLORS AND AVAILABILITY 


SoundSport Free headphones will come in two colors; Triple Black is available to pre-order now for early October delivery, and Midnight Blue with Yellow Citron will be available later this year. The QC35 II noise cancelling headphones come in black and silver, both available now. The QC35 II’s Action button will access the Google Assistant in the markets where Google Assistant is available; in other markets, the Action button will control noise settings only. The SoundSport Free headphones and QC35 II noise cancelling headphones will be sold through Bose retail stores, Bose.com, and authorized Bose dealers.

ABOUT BOSE CORPORATION 


Bose Corporation was founded in 1964 by Dr. Amar G. Bose, then a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Today, the company is driven by its founding principles, investing in long-term research with one fundamental goal: to develop new technologies with real customer benefits. Bose innovations have spanned decades and industries, creating and transforming categories in audio and beyond. Bose products for the home, in the car, on the go and in public spaces have become iconic, changing the way people listen to music.

Google to buy a good portion of smartphone maker HTC for $1.1 billion


It’s now official – Google is buying into HTC. Well, sort of. The deal is an odd one that is being called a “cooperation agreement” and will cost Google $1.1 billion to essentially acquire the talent from HTC who worked on the last couple of Pixel phones. The deal will also give Google access to HTC’s intellectual property, just not exclusively. Confused? We all are!

According to HTC, the agreement includes “certain HTC employees – many of whom are already working with Google to develop Pixel smartphones.” Google’s take is similar in that they are welcoming in a “team of HTC talent” that they have “already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line.” $1.1 billion for HTC engineers who helped them make phones? Alright then.

So you are aware, HTC isn’t going anywhere as its own smartphone maker. They will continue to create phones under the HTC brand, including a new flagship they are already working on as a follow-up to the HTC U11. They’ll continue investing in Vive, their VR platform, as well.

To recap, Google didn’t acquire anything from HTC other than the talent that helped them make Pixel phones. At least that’s what the press releases from each company states. I’m trying to figure out how this doesn’t involve an HTC factory or two as well, but either way, Google now has an expert team of hardware makers in-house that they can leverage to hopefully become a real competitor in the smartphone game.

On the other hand, HTC is going to continue doing what it has been doing. That’s not a compliment, even if they are making good phones. As good as those phones are, HTC continues to lose money as fewer and fewer people buy those good phones.

The deal is expected to close in early 2018.