Qualcomm’s ambitious new fingerprint sensors work through touchscreens

Qualcomm wants you to unlock your phone in ways you haven’t before.

Qualcomm wants in on the fingerprint sensor madness, since every phone these days has one — or should — and the company basically owns every other part of the animal, so why not another?

Dubbed Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors, the term encompasses three main input methods: Display, Metal, and Glass. The first is both the most interesting and requires the longest wait, since it represents the ideal situation that we, as smartphone owners, have been anticipating for years: the ability to authenticate our fingerprints by merely tapping on the screen.

While it will only work on OLED panels up to 1200μm or thinner, this allows modern devices to essentially “hide” the fingerprint sensor by using ultrasonic sensing, a technique that has heretofore been less accurate, and desirable, than traditional capacitive fingerprint solutions.

The other methods, glass and metal-based sensors, can be embedded on the rear of a device, allowing someone to unlock with no seams in the casing, just a two-dimensional guide for placement.

According to Qualcomm, all three methods work underwater and can be accompanied with heart rate and blood flow sensors, as well as directional gestures for doing things like launching apps or opening the notification shade.

Devices with glass and metal sensors should be arriving in mid-2018, while we’ll have to wait until early 2019 or so for under-display solutions. Hopefully by then we’ll have similar options from Samsung, Apple and others to keep our fingers occupied.

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Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 450 chip aims for speed and battery life on a budget

Qualcomm is bolstering its value line of systems-on-a-chip with the new Snapdragon 450.

As it has already twice this year, Qualcomm is introducing another so-called platform, a catch-all for its Snapdragon chips that power so many smartphones and tablets today.

This one, the Snapdragon 450, is aimed at budget phones, and aims to introduce a number of efficiency upgrades to help low-cost devices last all day like their mid-range and high-end rivals.

The platform is now built on a 14nm process, similar to the well-received Snapdragon 625 and recently-introduced 630, which Qualcomm says should give it up to four hours of additional battery life on equivalent tasks over the Snapdragon 435, which is built on 28nm.

Inside, up to eight Cortex-A53 cores at 1.8GHz keep things cool while moving smoothly, and the Adreno 506 is a very minor bump over the 505 inside the Snapdragon 435, though Qualcomm says, with thermal benefits and a minor clock speed bump the Adreno 506 should be up to 25% faster.

It’s clear that the performance upgrades are going to be of secondary importance to the story of this product compared to the battery gains, which should amount to up to 50% in some cases. The Snapdragon 450 also offers real-time bokeh through its support for dual cameras, the first in the 400-series.

On a connectivity side, the Snapdragon 450 supports Quick Charge 3.0, USB 3.0, displays up to 1080p, 1080p video capture at 60fps, and download speeds up to 300Mbps using the X9 baseband.

Look for devices to begin shipping with the new part in Q4 of this year.

Moto E4 review: Back to basics

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Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 450 chip aims for speed and battery life on a budget

Qualcomm is bolstering its value line of systems-on-a-chip with the new Snapdragon 450.

As it has already twice this year, Qualcomm is introducing another so-called platform, a catch-all for its Snapdragon chips that power so many smartphones and tablets today.

This one, the Snapdragon 450, is aimed at budget phones, and aims to introduce a number of efficiency upgrades to help low-cost devices last all day like their mid-range and high-end rivals.

The platform is now built on a 14nm process, similar to the well-received Snapdragon 625 and recently-introduced 630, which Qualcomm says should give it up to four hours of additional battery life on equivalent tasks over the Snapdragon 435, which is built on 28nm.

Inside, up to eight Cortex-A53 cores at 1.8GHz keep things cool while moving smoothly, and the Adreno 506 is a very minor bump over the 505 inside the Snapdragon 435, though Qualcomm says, with thermal benefits and a minor clock speed bump the Adreno 506 should be up to 25% faster.

It’s clear that the performance upgrades are going to be of secondary importance to the story of this product compared to the battery gains, which should amount to up to 50% in some cases. The Snapdragon 450 also offers real-time bokeh through its support for dual cameras, the first in the 400-series.

On a connectivity side, the Snapdragon 450 supports Quick Charge 3.0, USB 3.0, displays up to 1080p, 1080p video capture at 60fps, and download speeds up to 300Mbps using the X9 baseband.

Look for devices to begin shipping with the new part in Q4 of this year.

Moto E4 review: Back to basics

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NBC Sports introduces ‘Premier League Pass’ at $50 per season for cord cutters

Cord cutters will take any win they can get.

The opposing forces of hating cable providers while also loving sports just got a little friendlier. NBCUniversal has announced that it will offer a “Premier League Pass” subscription service for those who don’t have a cable subscription but want to keep up with the English Premier League. The subscription, which will be available in August as a part of the “NBC Sports Gold” platform, will cost $50 for the 17/18 EPL season and give subscribers access to 130 live matches and pre- and post-match studio programming.

Previously in order to watch EPL matches in the U.S. you had to have a cable subscription that included NBC Sports Network, where NBC broadcasts a majority of the big matches, while streaming every match online. The amazing part about NBC’s deal for EPL is that it actually makes more matches available in the U.S. than those in the UK even get access to. NBC has been particularly good about making the content available across multiple platforms, supporting the web, Android, Chromecast, Roku and more.

This is a huge deal for cord cutters who love sports.

So with Premier League Pass, a phone and a Cast-enabled device, you’ll have access to more EPL matches than you could possibly watch live for $50. If you’re a Premier League junkie living stateside you’ll find this to be a pretty sweet deal. While there are other subscription services of this ilk, such as MLS Live for the U.S. domestic league and Fox Soccer 2GO for more obscure competitions, nothing on the level of streaming the EPL has been offered before. The one catch, it seems, is that some of the big headline matches will be reserved for NBC proper — which thankfully is a channel most people will have access to with an over-the-air antenna via their local NBC affiliate.

Importantly for those who do have cable subscriptions, there doesn’t seem to be any downside there. NBC’s announcement claims “There will be no decrease in matches on NBC and NBCSN compared to prior seasons” and all EPL matches will still remain available on NBC Sports Live Extra through its website and app when you authenticate with a cable provider. But cord cutters don’t care about that — they’re happy they now have an option to follow the EPL without jumping through cable provider hoops.

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Dreams do come true: Chrome OS will soon have a native night mode

Your circadian rhythm thanks you.

Night owls, I understand your perspective. Night time is the right time to hunker down, light a few candles, and get into the zone with your Chromebook. But all that blue light shining in our faces is detrimental to our sleep health, which is why Chrome OS will soon have a native night mode.

By way of Android Police, there’s a Night Light feature that’s just entered the Canary channel, where new features get tested out before they’re made public. Like Nougat’s built-in Night Mode feature, the Night Light tints the screen a subtle red-orange to help mitigate the effects of staring into a computer display so late at night.

Chrome OS’s Night Light feature.

Per Google+, the feature works as thus:

You can turn it on and off quickly whenever you want from the Status Menu (Alt + Shift + S) or go into Chrome OS Settings, adjust color temperature from cooler to warmer. In Canary 🐥 channel, you can now also set it in “Sunset to Sunrise” automatic mode or use a custom schedule as you can see below.

Since this feature is only recently making its rounds through the developer channel, it may take a few more months before we see the feature added to every version of Chrome OS. In the meantime, you can try out a Chrome extension like Screen Shader to get you through the night, provided you do most of your work through browser-based clients.

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How to Fix Controller Lag in Star Trek: Bridge Crew

The fate of your starship depends on you! Don’t let lag ruin it!

Imagine this: you’re working in Engineering on the USS Enterprise. Three Klingon Birds-of-Prey are staring you down. Captain Kirk gives you the order to divert power to shields because torpedos are incoming. You mentally order your hands to move quickly over the console, but for some reason, it’s like you’re trapped in a Pakled’s body. Instead of quick moves, your hands slow to a crawl. You sweat as you feel everyone’s eyes on you, and your heart is pounding, yet nothing you do can will your body to move faster. Just as your hand finally nears the buttons that would save the day, photon torpedos strike the Enterprise, which disintegrates in a fiery explosion.

Sound like a bad time? Then you want to make certain that you try these tips to combat controller lag and drift in Star Trek: Bridge Crew, so when the red alert klaxon is blaring, you’re prepared to save the day!

Read more at VRHeads

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You can now sign up for Project Fi with G Suite accounts

One less restriction to joining Project Fi.

Project Fi has made a small, but important, change to the way it operates, opening up the service to those who use paid G Suite accounts rather than just consumer-grade Google accounts. Now businesses or families who have opted to pay for G Suite accounts and use a custom domain can get in on Project Fi rather than create a second account just for their Fi service.

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Now this still creates a hassle if you chose to use Fi on a secondary account to start and now have to switch it over, but going forward this is at least one more restriction dropped in a long list of issues where G Suite isn’t up to speed with the capabilities of a free Google account. Combine the new G Suite compatibility with Project Fi’s group plans, and you could see this being a good option for people who want to use Project Fi for a business phone line.

If you’re not the administrator of your G Suite account, you’ll need to have the admin turn on Project Fi access manually — it isn’t turned on by default.

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