Ikea smart bulbs to get Google Assistant, Alexa, and HomeKit integration

Ikea smart LED bulb Assistant

Ikea’s line of Trådfri smart LED light bulbs for the home are already compatible with an Android app for controlling them wirelessly. Now Ikea has announced that the lineup will soon be getting support for all of our favorite virtual assistants.

Coming late this summer, the bulbs will support Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. This means you’ll be able to use your phone handsfree and even your Google Home to control your lights. They support dimming as well, and have wall-mounted controllers you can buy.

While the Philips Hue bulbs are more advanced, they also cost a small fortune. Ikea’s bulbs are relatively cheap at $12-18, so you can outfit your entire home without breaking the bank. Are you going to pick some up now that they’re getting Assistant support? Leave a comment!


LeEco is cutting 70 percent of its U.S. workforce

LeEco logo

LeEco has had its eyes set on the U.S. consumer for quite some time, and the Chinese company officially entered the market in October of last year with the Le Pro and Le S3 smartphones.

Since then, it’s been a relatively quiet approach for the company that has wanted to make waves as big as Apple and Samsung for the “fickle U.S. consumer.” April was a busy month for LeEco, with reports that it was “in trouble” in the United States and the company not handing out year-end bonuses as well as delaying paychecks.

Later in the month it was reported that LeEco would not be finalizing its acquisition of Vizio. Now the bad news continues to roll on. As CNET reports, LeEco is cutting up to 70 percent of its workforce in the United States, about 325 employees.

The reason, according to the report, is a “lack of funding.” It speaks to the fact that LeEco had a bold ambition of expanding into the U.S. market with talk about revolutionizing the way they use their phones and costume content on TVs (plus much more), but without having a recognizable brand name in the new market to back it up.

For what it’s worth, LeEco still plans on operating in the U.S. market, but its scope has diminished quite a bit, with plans to focus on Chinese-speaking homes.

Did you expect big things from LeEco in the U.S.?


Samsung’s iris scanner can be defeated with a photo and a contact lens

Samsung iris scanner

Any security system can be bypassed with enough effort. Fingerprint sensors aren’t perfectly safe if someone has access to your fingerprint or even a high-res photo of your finger. And now Samsung’s iris scanner has been defeated with a photo and a contact lens. The iris scanner is a big feature on the Samsung Galaxy S8, using infrared to scan your eye. It can be defeated by taking a photo of the eye at a distance in night mode on a point and shoot (night mode shoots in infrared) and putting a wet contact lens on the image. This will instantly unlock the S8. This is a lot of effort to go through to unlock a device and requires that the person have access to a high-res photo of the user’s eye, so this isn’t a big danger for regular people. Iris scanning is secure enough for regular use. But it’s always interesting to see what create ways people use to get by security. If your friends come at you with cameras pointed at your eye, now you know what’s going on.


Android Pay is now available in Russia

Android Pay in Russia

The last new market to get access to Android Pay, Google’s mobile payment option, was New Zealand back in November of last year. Now Android Pay continues its expansion.

Google announced today that Android Pay is now officially available in Russia. The company confirmed that 15 banks will support Android Pay in Russia at launch and that thousands of retailers, including KFC, McDonald’s, and Burger King, will offer mobile payment support at checkout.

The banks that support the option include VTB 24, Yandex.Money, MTS Bank, “Ak Bars,” and others. Russian payment services like Payture and ASSIST also support Android Pay out of the gate as well.

If you’re in Russia and want to use Android Pay, your device must be running Android 4.4 or later and it has to support NFC. You’ll install the Android Pay app from the Play Store, too.


OnePlus teases potential colors for the upcoming OnePlus 5

image OnePlus One

OnePlus recently put out a cryptic tweet asking what color your next phone should be. “Should” was spelled with a 5, pointing to the upcoming OnePlus 5. Three of the colors are regular colors, black and gold being a staple of most smartphones these days. Red is a bit more interesting, but still normal. Color number two, however, is an interesting fade between teal and pink. Either that or it’s a pearlescent, color shifting color.

What 5hould the color of your next phone be? pic.twitter.com/5FevP1VSq5

— OnePlus (@oneplus) May 22, 2017

With the OnePlus 5 being a higher end phone with a higher end price tag, a crazy finish like a color shift wouldn’t be a bad idea as an option. A regular fade, however, might look a tad cheap. What are your thoughts on the possible color choices for the OnePlus 5?


Google Jamboard now available to reinvent collaboration

Google Jamboard

Google has announced the availability of Jamboard, the company’s high-tech digital whiteboard. First announced in Fall 2016, Jamboard is focused on improving collaboration and creativity, particularly in the business arena. Google readied the device for its final launch by partnering with early adopters including Dow Jones, Whirlpool, and Pinterest. The companies provided feedback on improvements to be made, while also praising Jamboard for its workplace benefits.

Jamboard breaks down barriers to interactive, visual collaboration across teams everywhere. It’s the perfect anchor for a meeting and encourages impromptu, productive sessions. We can easily add any content to the Jamboard to capture great ideas from everyone. We immediately saw the benefits. Shaown NandiDow Jones

Jamboard utilizes a wide range of technology to make it simple, fast, and easy to use. After receiving early adopter feedback, Google placed its focus on creating high-speed touch response, ensuring that Jamboard keeps up with the various tasks that it can perform. To help Jamboard keep up, the product is tied into G Suite, which automatically saves everything in the cloud. This deep integration allows constant flow of content between Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Jamboard.

Jamboard is geared towards businesses and is now available for $4,999 USD. This price also includes two styluses, an eraser, and a wall mount. Jamboard also requires an annual support and management plan, which is regularly $600, but for customers who purchase on or before September 30, 2017, the fee is reduced to $300. Google will also discount Jamboard’s optional rolling stand for customers who purchase on or before September 30, 2017.

Jamboard is currently available to G Suite customers in the US (an active G Suite plan is required), and Google plans top open sales in the UK and Canada this summer. More countries will be added in the future.


Instagram rolling out Hashtag and Location Stories

Instagram Hashtag stories

Stories are an important part of Instagram‘s experience, with semi-regular updates that bring in new features. Now there’s even more to experience.

Instagram today announced that there are two new Explore categories within the Stories feature: hashtag and location. These two new features will let Instagram users search for what they want to see based on a hashtag, or if they want to check out pictures from a certain spot on the globe, they can just type in a location and go from there. These new sections will bring up photos and videos.

For users that want to use hashtag stickers and location tags in their own Stories, they could be added to the “larger story,” so you could get your own video or photo witnessed by millions of users. However, Instagram has made it possible to keep your story out of the mix by tapping the “X” on your stories viewer list.

The latest update to Instagram is rolling out now.


Xfinity Mobile is now available starting at $45 per month

Xfinity Mobile

Back in April of this year, Comcast officially announced its own wireless service called Xfinity Mobile, with plans to launch it before the summer kicked off. And sure enough, Xfinity Mobile is now live and available to purchase for those interested.

As previously reported, Xfinity Mobile has two different plan options. The first is priced at $12 per gigabyte and also includes unlimited voice and text.

The other rate plan is an unlimited data, talk, and text option. It is priced at $45 per month for Comcast’s Xfinity X1 internet customers, or $65 per month for everyone else. However, Comcast is hosting a limited time deal that allows any of its internet customers to pick up an Xfinity Mobile plan for $45 per month per line.

With the unlimited data plan, there is one thing to be aware of. If you surpass 20GB per month, Comcast will throttle your network speed down to 1.5Mbps.

Also worth mentioning is that you cannot bring your own device to Xfinity Mobile. That means you’ll need to pick up one of the 12 phones the MVNO has available right now.

Here are the available devices:

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
  • LG X power
  • Apple iPhone 7 and PRODUCT(RED)
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus and PRODUCT(RED)
  • Apple iPhone 6s
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
  • Apple iPhone SE

So, now that Xfinity Mobile is available, do you plan on subscribing to the new MVNO on the block?


Google’s new Family Group makes it easier to share in Photos, Keep, and Calendar


Google wants its users to share content as quickly and easily as possible, which is why the company has been rolling out features to make that a possibility. For instance, at the tail-end of 2015 we saw Google roll out Google Play Music family plans. And more recently it launched Family Library, which lets a certain number of people share books, movies, and more.

Now Google has a new “Family Group” to make sharing even more content with all of them even easier. It begins rolling out today in select countries, and it includes support for Google Photos, Google Keep, Google Calendar, and now YouTube TV as well.

For YouTube TV, Google’s new Family Group means that up to six people can share the benefits of the TV streaming service, including their own cloud DVR, and access to channels like ABC, FOX, CBS, and others, all for the standard price of $35 per month.

Meanwhile, Google Keep with the Family Group means that any member of the family can change and update a note saved to the service in real-time, so updating a to-do list or shopping list can be quick and easy. Any note shared between a family group will have the family group icon — a house with a heart in it — next to it, making it obvious what’s a group project.

Shared Google Calendars aren’t anything new, but with Family Group it’ll just be for family members; outside members can’t be invited to the calendar itself. Contacts outside of the family list can be still invited to events, though. Finally, Google Photos will make it easier to share photos with the group directly, rather than individually.

These new features are rolling out today in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, and Spain.


Samsung offering buy one, get one deal for T-Mobile Galaxy S8


Earlier this month, T-Mobile officially rolled out a buy one, get one (BOGO) deal for the Samsung Galaxy S8. But, as is par for the course with these types of deals, there were a few hopes to jump through to get that second phone free. Now Samsung has decided to cut down on all the strings by offering its own BOGO deal for T-Mobile customers.

Samsung has announced that if you buy two Galaxy S8 phones for T-Mobile and activate at least one of them, it will send you a rebate card with $750 to cover the cost of the second phone’s price. That activated device needs to be registered through Samsung.com at the time of purchase, or within 14 days of you receiving it to qualify for the rebate card.

On top of the BOGO deal, Samsung will throw in its Entertainment Kit for free, which includes six months of Netflix, a 64GB microSD card, and a Clear View Standing Cover.

Since you’ll need to buy the phones through Samsung.com, you’ll need to be aware of Samsung’s pricing. The Galaxy S8 costs $750, or $31.25 per month for 24 months. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S8+ retails for $850, or $35.42 per month for 24 months.

So, who’s taking advantage of this deal?