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Straightforward tech reporting

Google Fi cellular service gets ‘Unlimited’ plan » unlimited text, phone, data » for $70

Google’s Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) cellular service is available only to residents of the USA.

Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica writes »

In 2018, Google Fi introduced “Bill Protection,” a tweak to the pay-per-MB plan that capped monthly bills at $80, making it an “unlimited” plan that throttled after 15GB. This new $70 plan is $10 cheaper and comes with more unthrottled data, and the bundled 100GB of Google One storage saves you another $2 a month. Google One is a monthly subscription service that gives you more storage for your Google account. Free Google accounts get 15GB across Gmail, Drive, and Google Photos, and Google One allows you to purchase anywhere from 100GB to 30TB of online storage.

The new Fi plan supports Google’s family bundling, too. The unlimited plan is $70 a month for a single person, $60 a month each for two accounts ($120 total), $50 each for three accounts ($150 total) and $45 each for four accounts or more ( $180 total). With this plan, you’ll get 22GB of unthrottled data and 100GB of storage per person, not shared across the whole family, which sounds like a good deal.


The Fi Store is also offering 50% off Pixel 3s right now to “celebrate” the new unlimited plan.

The 50% off sale ends tomorrow, September 18.

Frederic Lardinois at TechCrunch writes »

Unlimited, of course, is never quite unlimited, so Google will cap your speed after you use 22GB of data in a given month (only 1% of Fi users currently do so, the company says) and it ‘may’ cap video quality at 480p. Like with the company’s other Fi plans, there are no contracts or activation fees.

There are some positives, too, though. You’ll get free international calls from the U.S. to 50 countries and territories and you’ll still get Fi’s unlimited data and text in 200 countries. Every unlimited plan also includes a Google One membership with 100 GB of cloud storage and live support for all Google products, as well as Google’s new phone backup service. There are also no limits on hotspot usage.

After testing for a week, the embargo has lifted and the first real world iPhone 11 reviews are in

And for the most part, everyone agrees Apple made a good, solid phone. It’s a bit faster, has much improved cameras, more durable design, and a longer, all day, battery. The new base model, the iPhone 11, also starts US$50 less compared to last year – US$700 / CDN$979.

But it’s pretty much the same LCD display as last year.

Not everyone thinks you should be upgrading this year.

But after testing the new lineup for the past week, Brian X. Chen at the NY Times doesn’t think you should upgrade this year »

None of this is enough to warrant an immediate upgrade if you have had your smartphone for only two years. The latest iPhones just aren’t a big leap forward from last year’s iPhones or even the iPhone X from 2017.

So here’s what I ultimately suggest: You should definitely upgrade if your current device is at least five years old. The iPhone 11 models are all a significant step up from those introduced in 2014. But for everyone else with smartphones from 2015 or later, there is no rush to buy. Instead, there is more mileage and value to be had out of the excellent smartphone you already own.

Brian goes on to say »

If you spent $1,000 on an iPhone X two years ago, then hold off. The iPhone 11s just aren’t enough of an innovation leap to warrant $700-plus on a new smartphone.

Nilay Patel at The Verge disagrees »

I was also extremely impressed with the iPhone 11’s video capabilities. All three cameras can take 4K60 now, and if you record in anything less than 60 frames per second, you can switch between the wide and ultra-wide lenses with no color shifts or exposure changes, which is impressive. The only Android phones that compete with Apple in video are from Samsung. But Apple’s still ahead, and the gap is getting wider.

As mentioned, we spent a ton of time testing photo and video in our iPhone 11 Pro review, including a deep dive into video, so if you want more, go check it out there. But I think the iPhone 11 cameras are so good that they’re worth a year-over-year upgrade from the XR; I don’t usually say that.

Gareth Beavis at TechRadar claims the camera on the iPhone 11 will now surpass its Android rivals in many low-light situations »

Whether you’re in a sort-of-dark situation, or focusing a tripod-mounted phone at the night sky, there’s a setting that enables you to make what would normally be a badly-lit photo look as clear as… well not quite as clear as day, but wonderfully bright.


The results are startling, elevating Apple to the level of Huawei, Samsung and Google when it comes to taking low-light and night photos – and in some ways enabling it to surpass its rivals. Night mode can make photos shot at 1am look as if they were taken in late afternoon, and if you can get your subjects to remain still, you’ll take great snaps.

However, try to photograph a scene that includes motion – people dancing at a concert, for instance – and it’s a world of blur. You’ll need to manually turn off night mode, and that’s a little bit of a nuisance when you’re trying to get a quick snap.

Lauren Goode at Wired (paywall) was less enthusiastic about the photo improvements of the new iPhone 11, and also wondered which iPhone 11 she’d choose, even if budget was not a factor »

When pitted against other leading smartphones, the iPhone 11 Pro Max wasn’t always the obvious standout. The Google Pixel 3, a less expensive and soon-to-be-outdated phone took crisper photos of a floral arrangement in a very dark bar. An iPhone 11 Pro Max photo of my friend Kayla, captured in a dark sushi restaurant, showed a lot of detail in easy-to-miss spots like her hands, or the slight wrinkles of her shirt. But Kayla, a video producer, and I both agreed that the color and temperature of the photo was off, whereas the Pixel 3’s photo, while cooler, was more true to life.


In my experience, it took me about 23 hours to drain the battery of the iPhone XS Max from 94 percent (I took it off the charger a little early) down to 57 percent. That’s a whole day on less than half a full charge. The Max hasn’t died on me yet, as I’ve been intermittently charging it over the past week. The iPhone 11 Pro is supposed to add an extra four hours to last year’s iPhone XS battery claims, though I have not yet been able to thoroughly test that assertion.

The extended battery life on the iPhone 11 Pro Max is still not enough to convince me to buy a chonky phone. If I had to choose between all three new iPhones, and budget was not a factor, I would buy the iPhone 11 Pro. The smaller size is right for me, and its camera is a step above the two-lens camera module on the iPhone 11.

Does that make it a “Pro” phone? The answer to that is about as subjective as the quality of a smartphone photo in 2019.

Joanna Stern from The Wall Street Journal (paywall) lauded the battery life »

iPhone 11: In my full day using the 11 as my primary phone (email, a lot of Twitter and texting, phone calls, too much tapping through Instagram), I was left with a 15% charge by 11:30 p.m. The iPhone 11 streamed video on YouTube for 13 hours and 20 minutes—about 20 minutes longer than the XR. (Apple promises an extra hour of battery life.)

iPhone 11 Pro: With the 11 Pro as my primary phone, I was left with just under a 10% charge at 11 p.m. That’s far longer than I used to get with the X but not as long as with the 11. The 11 Pro streamed video on YouTube for 13 hours—three hours longer than the XS.

iPhone 11 Pro Max: On 11 Pro Max battery-testing day, I was left with a roughly 20% charge by lights out. I could go to sleep and wake up with enough juice to get me through the morning. Even after a grueling day of camera testing at the New York Renaissance Faire, it had 25% left, while the other two were in the dreaded 10% territory.

Video » Scott Stein from CNET spent a week playing with the three iPhone 11’s and asks if they are for you. Spoiler » He says they are not necessary updates, they are good updates. »

Video » Mark Spoonauer from Tom’s Guide says the Apple iPhone 11 is a major upgrade over last year »

Mark Spoonauer’s written review is here.

Video » Andrew O’Hara from Apple Insider asks if you should upgrade if you have last year’s iPhone XS or XS Max »

Lots More at » USA Today, BuzzFeedCNETMacRumorsCNBCZDNet, Fast Company, Digital TrendsCult of Mac, Daring Fireball, 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, MacStories, SlashGear, MacDailyNews, iPhone Hacks, Cult of Mac

Pixel 4 expected to be officially announced October 15 at Made By Google event

Last updated » Sept 16

» Watch it live here October 15 @ 10AM Eastern:

On Monday, September 16, Google sent out invitations to its next hardware event » Made by Google » NYC » Tuesday, October 15.

Google is expected to unveil the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. They may also launch the rumoured Pixelbook 2.

There is some speculation of a Google Pixel Watch being announced.

Bookmark this page for updates.

This afternoon Google updated it’s US online store front page. The homepage of the Canadian online store hasn’t yet been updated.

From 9to5Google:

Google this morning officially announced that its annual hardware event is set for October 15th in New York City. The heavily teased Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are expected, along with other refreshes for the Made by Google 2019 lineup.

Similar to last year’s event in New York City, Made by Google 2019 will not be hosted in San Francisco like in 2016 and 2017. Google is again opting for the Big Apple for its biggest hardware event of the year.

The keynote starts at 10AM ET on Tuesday, October 15th and Google is reusing a similar “see a few new things Made by Google” tagline. As usual, there will be a livestream for Made by Google 2019 on YouTube.

Bloomberg is on track to double its digital subscribers before the end of this year

» Obviously, reports of the end of the web have been greatly exaggerated.

Roughly two-thirds of Bloomberg digital subscribers now convert from web site visits, 25% from its app. Only 8% convert from Apple News, which does not, at least initially, seem very significant.

Bloomberg, which launched its paywall in May 2018, wouldn’t share exact subscription figures, but said that subscribers currently number in the “tens of thousands.” By the end of 2018, it had signed up three times as many subscribers than expected, and plans to double that by the end of 2019. The progress to date has been the result of frequent paywall iterations including tweaking the number of free-access articles, to pricing strategy, color and placement of offers.

Bloomberg has a dynamic paywall based on 22 criteria, including factors like how long readers spend on site, traffic referral source and return visits, which determine when a reader is most likely to convert to a subscriber. A sweet spot for how many articles it takes before a new visitor converts is three a month, said Scott Havens, global head of digital and media distribution at Bloomberg Media. Although the publisher did launch with a fixed 10-article meter, it shortly started testing different paywall heights based on reader data. Over the years, publishers have tended to tighten paywalls to keep growing: In 2012, the average meter limit was 13 articles a month. Now, as a way to keep driving growth, the average is five, according to a Shorenstein Center and Lenfest Institute study.

» Read more of Lucinda Southern’s piece at Digiday…

The Apple iPhone 11 goes on sale today » Here’s the difference between the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max » Should you wait for the Pixel 4? (Updated Sept 15)

Apples line of iPhone 11’s goes on sale today. Delivery is scheduled to begin next Friday, on Sept 20th.

These are premium level phones. The iPhone 11 starts at US$700, leading it to be called the affordable flagship. The iPhone 11 Pro starts at US$1000 and goes up to US$1449.

In Canada, starting today, you can pre-order the base model iPhone 11 for CDN$979. The iPhone 11 Pro starts at CDN$1379 and climbs all the way to CDN$2000. The exchange rate obviously hurts the optics, but still, that’s a $1000 for the “affordable” option, a phone that might last you a couple of years.

At those prices, the regular iPhone 11 is sure to be the more popular. The few minor added improvements will not be justification for the US$300 / CDN$400 price bump. Not for most people.

It’s important to put the iPhone 11 in perspective » Just last year, Joe Public could purchase a new iPhone SE, directly from Apple, for US$399. The SE was first introduced in 2016 and was available from the mother ship until mid-to-late 2018. In January of this year, Apple put the iPhone SE back for sale as a clearance item for $249. It quickly sold out.

No affordable iPhone has been announced since the iPhone SE. It was one of the last iPhones to have a standard 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack. I have an iPhone SE, and I love it. But the screen is dying and I’m looking for a replacement.

Apple made a conscious decision to disregarding a significant number of potential customers who may want a smaller design, or who may be looking for a good midrange smartphone. I like that the iPhone SE fits in my front pocket and I don’t have to worry about crushing it or bending it. And I think US$400 is about the right price for a phone in 2019.

We may have entered a time where the better value smartphone will outsell the premium offering with the premium price tag. Google understood this when they introduced the US$400 / CDN$549 Pixel 3a earlier this year. The Pixel 3a is probably the best mid-priced, Joe Public friendly smartphone on the market today. Customers are just not up to spending $1000+ every couple of years for a phone.

CNET editor Daniel Van Boom called the Pixel 3a the most important phone of 2019.

Similarly, if Google releases the much anticipated Pixel 4 at US$100 / CDN$150 or so less than the iPhone 11, they are almost guaranteed to sell out their warehouses quickly.

Sept 15

» If you are interested in the iPhone 11, Chance Miller at 9to5Mac has a similar comparison you might be interested in.

The iPhone 11 hasn’t shipped yet and already there are deals to be had » if you live in the USA

» CNET has compiled the best they have found.

And it’s only the second day Joe Public has been able to order the iPhone 11.

Apparently it withstands speeding toys and a cake drop very well. What we want to know is if we need to hold it a certain way to make calls

» A couple of new iPhone 11 Pro ads from Apple feature a unique wind tunnel test »

» and another to test the cameras »

» Curiously, no ‘slofie.’ This would see like the perfect opportunity to show off the the newly announced slow motion selfie feature. Perhaps Apple will feature it in an upcoming ad.

More images of the Pixel 4 XL corroborate previous leaks

The Verge was sent previously unpublished images of the Pixel 4 XL.

While these are photos of a pre-release model, the specs look impressive.

One detail I noticed in these photos that’s been out there, but that I haven’t seen made a point of yet: if these details are correct, the main rear camera will be getting a slightly faster aperture, moving to f/1.73 on the Pixel 4 from f/1.8 on the Pixel 3. Unfortunately, I’m yet to see specs for the rumored telephoto camera — a previous leak said it’d use a 16 megapixel sensor, but I haven’t seen the a similarly detailed spec readout like we have here for the main camera, which makes me wonder if the telephoto sensor is one of the things that isn’t working on this unit yet.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam-based dstore, which leaded the images, is getting a lot of free publicity.

3 guys on a road trip to recreate iconic macOS wallpaper images

They visited the three California landmarks – Mojave, Sierra, High Sierra, and El Capitan, Yosemite – in search of the  identical photo to their wallpapers. The don’t come close to duplicating the iconic images, but they have a wonderful experience. And the get that.

Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu’s Facebook page was suspended over hate speech

It’s not surprised that he doesn’t take responsibility. Instead Netanyahu has decided to throw someone else under the bus. He has blamed someone that works for him for the posts about murderous Arabs.. Not unlike what many other right-wing politicians tend to do these days.

Facebook has sanctioned Benjamin Netanyahu’s official page, after a post called on voters to oppose a government composed of “Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men.”

The social media company said the post violated its hate speech policy.

Facebook consequently disabled the page’s automatic chat function for 24 hours.

» More at The Independent…

I can think of a few more politicians that can be sanctioned over hate speech. Let’s hope this is the start of a trend.

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