Microsoft’s selfie-obsessed Lumia 735 debuts on Verizon for under $200

Microsoft lumia 735

People have moved on from snapping pictures of weddings and graduations. Now, they put themselves in the picture. And Microsoft’s Lumia 735, available today on Verizon for under $200, was designed for exactly that.

Microsoft has designed the Lumia 735 explicitly with selfies in mind: there’s a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and even the 6.7MP rear camera can be aligned on your face with the built-in Lumia Selfie app. It’s also worth noting that the phone ships with the Lumia Denim firmware, which helps the phone fire off quick shots.

Verizon will charge $192 for the Lumia 735, or $8 per month (for 24 months) on Verizon Edge, when it ships next month; you can preorder it now. Verizon has also tossed in a year’s subscription to Office 365 Personal, which adds another $70 worth of value to the whole affair. When Microsoft announced the Lumia 735 last fall, the company expected you’d pay about $288 for the Lumia 735; the price has dropped significantly since then.

Think of the Lumia 735 as the little brother of the Lumia 830, with the Lumia 830 carving out a niche as the “affordable flagship” of the Lumia line. The Lumia 735 is nothing fancy; in fact, besides the emphasis on selfies, little stands out.

In general, there’s a good mix of low- to midrange components inside the Lumia 735. It ships with a 4.7-inch, 1280×720 OLED screen with sunlight readability enhancements and a high brightness mode; 1GB of memory; 8GB of internal storage; and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core chip running at 1.2GHz. A removable 2,200mAh battery is also included. The phone weighs 134.3 grams and measures 134.7 mm x 68.5 mm x 8.9 mm. Since the phone runs on Verizon, however, it also supports the carrier’s XLTE network.

While the phone can be charged with a wired charger, Microsoft also has provided a line of wireless charging docks in orange, green, white, red, and cyan, that can be purchased for an additional $25.

Why this matters: For all of our myopic focus on flagships, readers keep telling us that price matters—a lot. With the Lumia 735, Microsoft has pared down the feature set to what most phone users tend to do: take selfies, browse the Web on a high-speed network, and run a few apps.

Skype Translator now speaks German, French

Skype translator

The Skype Translator beta app now can help people say “guten tag” to their friends in Germany, thanks to an update it received on Thursday.

Microsoft’s real-time translation app can now provide live voice and text translations for conversations involving people who speak German and French, in addition to English, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish.

For example, someone who speaks English can call up another Skype Translator user who speaks German, and each will have their side of the conversation translated into the other’s native language in real time. The app will provide both a computerized voice translation and a running text transcript that allows users to read what’s being said.

All of that comes in addition to Skype Translator’s existing support for live translation of instant messages sent in 50 different languages, including Arabic, Catalan, Japanese, Polish and even Klingon.

German support has been a long time coming. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadellademonstrated the app at the Code Conference in 2014 by showing off a conversation that took place between two company employees in German and English. The app was first launched in a closed beta program in late 2014.

Skype Translator has been widely available to the public as an open beta on Windows 8.1since May. It’s a project that shows off Microsoft’s new strategy under Nadella of quickly moving innovations out of its internal Research division and into products that can be used by consumers.

Huawei delays its Android Wear watch to Q3, hints at design tweaks

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The Huawei Watch may be the front-runner for best-looking Android Wear timepiece , but it could look a bit different when it finally goes on sale.

Yang Yong, Huawei’s manager for wearables, told The Wall Street Journal that the watch will hit the United States and Europe in the third quarter, later than the summer timeframe that Huawei announced at Mobile World Congress in March . Huawei is also apparently tweaking the watch’s design, with the Journal saying it will be “less bulky, more akin in appearance to a classical wrist watch with a round case.”

Last week, Chinese media reported that Huawei would delay the watch’s launch until September or October, due to issues with using Google services in China. Still, it was unclear if this affected Huawei’s launch plans elsewhere, and the company didn’t respond to our request for clarification at the time. The Journal’s report confirms a delay for Western markets, and also says the China launch could be pushed as far back as 2016 as Huawei works around its Android Wear woes.

There’s no word on whether Huawei is making any changes to the Watch’s tech specs, which currently include a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with 400-by-400 resolution, a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm processor, 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of storage, a 300 mAh battery and a thickness of 11.3 mm. Yang told the Journal that Huawei won’t be releasing a new smartwatch every year, so the company may simply be making some minor design refinements in hopes of getting it right the first time.

Why this matters: As Greenbot’s Jason Cross wrote in March , the Huawei Watch was the most attractive Android Wear smartwatch he’d seen, with a round, stainless steel body that’s not as chunky asMotorola’s Moto 360 or LG’s Watch Urbane. While those watches have a diameter of 46 mm, the Huawei Watch’s 42 mm body should be a much better fit for small- to mid-sized wrists. It’s a promising improvement for Android Wear on the design front, provided Huawei doesn’t make any drastic changes.

Fearing net neutrality rules, Sprint stops throttling heavy data users

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Sprint says it has stopped throttling its heaviest data users on congested networks, in what appears to be the first tangible benefit of the Federal Communications Commision’s new net neutrality rules.

Sprint had added a throttling clause for its top 5 percent of data users last year, saying they might see slower speeds in congested areas. But the carrier has now ended this policy, The Wall Street Journal reports, saying it wanted to steer clear of the FCC’s Open Internet Order.

The FCC’s rules went into effect last Friday, and prohibit Internet service providers from discriminating against certain types of traffic. That means no selective blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization, even on wireless networks. While Sprint believes its throttling policy might still be allowed, the carrier is reversing course just to be safe.

Apparently, the policy reversal isn’t going to cause any sort of nightmare congestion scenario, either. “Sprint doesn’t expect users to notice any significant difference in their services now that we no longer engage in the process,” a Sprint spokesman told theJournal.

Sprint’s reversal doesn’t mean that throttling is a thing of the past. AT&T throttles its heaviest unlimited data users, though it faces a heavy fine from the FCC for failing to adequately disclose the policy. (AT&T plans to dispute the charge.) Verizon still slows down its top five percent of 3G users on unlimited plans, though it dropped an effort to do the same for 4G LTE users under pressure from the FCC. T-Mobile says it slows down users’ unlimited data only in extreme circumstances.

Why this matters: Net neutrality opponents have done a fair share of shrieking about potentially higher bills and stifled innovation, but even if those threats are more than theoretical, they won’t emerge for some time. Until then, supporters of the FCC’s stance can point to the end of Sprint throttling as a real benefit that affects consumers right now.

Inbox auto-suggests reminders from your email, syncs them with Google Keep

inbox open with keep

Google’s Inbox has another tool to turn your messages into an easy-to-follow to do list.

Inbox now uses Google’s natural language understanding capabilities to recognize when a message contains something you might need a reminder about.

When the email app sees such a message, it will prompt you to add a reminder, which will join your other Inbox messages (and of course, ping you with a notification at the appropriate time or place). If you specify a specific time for the reminder, it will hang out in the Reminders tab until then.

keep remindersOFFICIAL GMAIL BLOG
Reminders you create in Keep will also show up alongside your other messages in Inbox.

When I created reminders with Keep to test this feature, they also appeared in my Google Now stream. This gives Google three places to bug you about things, which hopefully means you won’t forget whatever that task is.

add reminder inboxOFFICIAL GMAIL BLOG
Inbox will suggest reminders based on some of your emails.

Google is also more closely tying together Inbox with its excellent Keep app. Now any reminders that you add to Keep will also join your other stuff in Inbox. When you go to open the reminder you can view it in Inbox or touch the Open in Keep prompt, which will then take you to the Keep app.

If you’re cross-platform your reminders will also show up with Inbox on the web or in iOS. The Keep feature even works on iOS, taking you to Keep’s web app.

The impact on you: This is another case where Google is tying its services more closely together. The feature doesn’t require any type of app update—just fire up the Inbox app (the beta is open to everyone) and try it out for yourself. And look for Google to keep adding in neat tools like this, as Inbox is clearly the future of Gmail.

 

Inbox auto-suggests reminders from your email, syncs them with Google Keep

inbox open with keep

Google’s Inbox has another tool to turn your messages into an easy-to-follow to do list.

Inbox now uses Google’s natural language understanding capabilities to recognize when a message contains something you might need a reminder about.

When the email app sees such a message, it will prompt you to add a reminder, which will join your other Inbox messages (and of course, ping you with a notification at the appropriate time or place). If you specify a specific time for the reminder, it will hang out in the Reminders tab until then.

keep remindersOFFICIAL GMAIL BLOG
Reminders you create in Keep will also show up alongside your other messages in Inbox.

When I created reminders with Keep to test this feature, they also appeared in my Google Now stream. This gives Google three places to bug you about things, which hopefully means you won’t forget whatever that task is.

add reminder inboxOFFICIAL GMAIL BLOG
Inbox will suggest reminders based on some of your emails.

Google is also more closely tying together Inbox with its excellent Keep app. Now any reminders that you add to Keep will also join your other stuff in Inbox. When you go to open the reminder you can view it in Inbox or touch the Open in Keep prompt, which will then take you to the Keep app.

If you’re cross-platform your reminders will also show up with Inbox on the web or in iOS. The Keep feature even works on iOS, taking you to Keep’s web app.

The impact on you: This is another case where Google is tying its services more closely together. The feature doesn’t require any type of app update—just fire up the Inbox app (the beta is open to everyone) and try it out for yourself. And look for Google to keep adding in neat tools like this, as Inbox is clearly the future of Gmail.

OnePlus teases Snapdragon 810 processor for OnePlus 2, promises no overheating

oneplus two 810

The OnePlus 2 will use the infamously hot Snapdragon 810 processor, though the company promises it’s cooled off any overheating problems.

That’s what OnePlus says in the first of what will be many blogposts about the specs of the upcoming OnePlus 2. The company says in a blog post this is version 2.1 of the Snapdragon 810, which has been engineered to mitigate any problems with running too hot.

“Although there have been reports that the 810 runs warmer than its predecessors, we assure you that we have taken all the necessary precautions and beyond to prevent this from occurring in the 2. We worked very closely with Qualcomm’s engineers to integrate an improved version of the chipset (v2.1) in the OnePlus 2, and fine-tuned both hardware and software. The 2 will be “cooler than ever”.

The story behind the story: OnePlus is making a big point about the fact this is version 2.1 of this system-on-a-chip to allay any fears about its overheating issue. OnePlus promises that this is the first drop of spec information that will slowly pour out over time, much like LG did with the G4, and OnePlus did last year for the OnePlus One. Not every announcement will be newsworthy, but we’ll keep watch to see what else OnePlus has in store for its follow-up phone.

Twitter’s Project Lightning will showcase event tweets visually, kind of like Snapchat

twitter logo

If you had to use one word to describe Twitter’s strategy over the last year, that word would be experimentation. Later this year, the mobile app is planning its boldest change to date: a new way to display tweets from big events as fullscreen collections of photos and videos.

According to BuzzFeed, Twitter’s super-secret Project Lightning will bring a new button on the Twitter app home screen that will take you to curated feed of events—like Coachella or a riot breaking out in Russia—featuring fast-loading photos and auto-playing videos. You’ll be able to follow event collections to get updates on your Twitter feed without having to follow every Twitter user whose content is featured in the collection. That’s helpful so your feed won’t be cluttered with tweets after the big event ends.

Each tweet, photo, or video featured in a Project Lightning collection will be selected by an editor on Twitter’s media team and will appear fullscreen on your smartphone. Project Lightning will also include Vines and Periscope streams in these collections, and it all will be visible even to non-Twitter users or when you’re not logged in to the platform. The new Twitter format will debut in the next few months.

“It’s a brand-new way to look at tweets,” Twitter’s VP of product Kevin Weil told BuzzFeed. “This is a bold change, not evolutionary.”

Over the last year, the Twitter experience has slowly been evolving with a bunch of small product upgrades and features, from curtailing harassment to experimenting with messaging. Twitter loudly declared it had entered a new era of experimentation, and Project Lightning seems to be its most drastic upgrade in years. But is it really going to blow your mind? If you’re already on Snapchat, most likely not.

At its core, Project Lightning is very similar to Our Stories, the Snapchat feature that curates an event-based stream out of snaps (video clips) from users who were at the event. In the year since it launched, Our Stories has featured photos and videos from music festivals, fashion weeks, sporting events, and gaming conventions. Each of these collections is reportedly generating about 25 million views.

Outgoing Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was in charge of getting Project Lightning off the ground. Even though Costolo resigned last week, interim CEO and Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey told BuzzFeed that the company was still fully committed to Costolo’s baby. While Project Lightning is in the clear, we don’t know how Costolo’s departure and Dorsey’s return will affect the overall fate of the company. Twitter’s success has long been associated with event coverage and breaking news, so the fact that this feature has taken this long to come to fruition is not very reasurring.

Why this matters: “Immersive multimedia.” “Innovative storytelling.” The visual web is coming to mobile, and social apps are all trying to create “experiences” that will make users fawn over pretty pictures and lure advertisers who love getting that type of eye-popping treatment.

The thing that could set Twitter’s feature apart from the Snapchat’s version (and even Facebook’s standalone Paper app) is that Project Lightning’s event-based collections will be embeddable across the web, and will be updated automatically if more photos and videos are added to the collection. Project Lightning hopes to break Twitter content out of its walled garden and in front of more eyeballs—even to people who’ve never created a Twitter account or are intimidated to jump into the constant frenzy happening on the platform every second.

Samsung to plug security hole on Galaxy smartphones

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Samsung will update the security software on its Galaxy smartphones to address a flaw that researchers warned could let attackers access people’s devices.

Earlier in the week, researchers at NowSecure, a mobile security company, identified the flaw in SwiftKey, a keyboard application that comes preloaded on Galaxy smartphones. The flaw could be exploited even when SwiftKey was not used as the default keyboard, NowSecure said.

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On Thursday, Samsung said it would issue a fix that would roll out over the coming daysto owners of the Galaxy S4, released in 2013, and later models. Those devices have Samsung’s Knox security platform installed by default and can receive over-the-air security policy updates. Users must have automatic updates activated in their phone’s settings, Samsung said on its website.

For earlier Galaxy phones that don’t come with Knox, Samsung said it was working on an expedited firmware update. Availability will vary depending on the model, region and service carrier.

SwiftKey’s app, which predicts words as users type, is also available from the Google Play and Apple App stores. But those versions of the app were not affected by the vulnerability, a SwiftKey spokeswoman said on Thursday.

A New Documentary Takes on the Cost of Fast Fashion

"The True Cost" New York Premiere

The True Cost is a hard film to watch if you have ever, well, been to a store and bought clothes. Director Andrew Morgan pairs shots of Black Friday shoppers with bodies of the 1,100 workers crushed when a factory collapsed at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh two years ago — a galvanizing event that spurred Morgan into activism. He tells the story of a single mother who tries to organize a labor union in her factory and gets locked in a room and beaten by her employers. We meet mentally handicapped kids in India, who are reportedly suffering from the impact of pesticides used to grow the cotton for our clothes. We see children playing near landfills overflowing with those same clothes, now discarded.

In the film, premiering on Netflix on June 29, Morgan blames unregulated fast-fashion companies and unfettered American consumerism for the current state of affairs. The Cut caught up with the director last night at aPeggy Siegal screening of the film hosted by Dean & DeLuca, which drew Anne Hathaway and Georgina Chapman. We asked him what shoppers can do, what the fashion press can do, and if power players like Anna Wintour — who watched the film last night with her sunglasses on — have a role to play in this movement.

What do people do now?
For me personally, when I started making the film I made a choice to start buying secondhand, and that is not a solution, but I just wanted to slow down and understand what I was buying. We should invest in things that we love, that we’re going to wear for a long time, and what I want people to get off of is that endless treadmill of bringing cheap, disposable stuff into their lives.

Do consumers have the information to make those decisions?
I don’t think they have ever been told, and I think this is just the beginning of it. I read a New York Times article about the Rana Plaza collapse, and I realized that I had never, in my life, thought about where my clothes come from. What we are trying to do is force the conversation, and crowdsource the solutions. We’re never going to fix this if it is not something we are even discussing.

The high-fashion brands are using factories to some degree that have higher quality, better working conditions, slower processes, but what responsibility do the big designers have in this conversation, because it is still one big fashion family?
The brands have most of the power in the supply chain, in this equation, and they have the least amount of responsibility right now. They have engineered a system to position them to reap most of the rewards, and to be called to account for almost nothing. These local governments will bend over backward to please those companies. We’ve allowed this system to spin out of control. I think it is fundamentally unjust, and inhumane, and on the environmental side, unsustainable. I’m not criticizing one group. I’m just saying the groups involved have created a system that makes it very difficult, to enforce, to call to account, and the people who are left to suffer have absolutely no voice.

We just had Anna Wintour, one of the most powerful women in fashion, here. What is that responsibility?
I have to be delicate. But I will say, I’m fascinated and intrigued by the response from the fashion industry. One of the things it says is that there is a difference at our hearts, and at the hearts of some of the people you are mentioning, between fashion, what it has historically been, and what this big business model has created.

All we want to do in the film is start a conversation. I love the fact that these people are in the room, and are willing to have it. I want them to print it and we are pushing, and we are pushing hard, and we will see what happens and what doesn’t. There are advertising interests at play. These are big businesses. These are publicly traded companies, but I’m hopeful. To me, there is a tipping point coming, and the fashion media, the fashion press, they are gatekeepers.

What would you say to the criticism that it is easy for people of privilege to go buy higher-end stuff, but there are people who can’t afford to do that?
I have four kids, I live in Los Angeles, and I was making a documentary for the last two years, and I don’t make a lot of money, so for me it was about getting creative. You’d be amazed how buying less disposable cheap stuff that’s going to fall apart that season, and just rethinking that money alone [helped].