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Galaxy S9’s Animoji clone will supposedly be even better than the real thing

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When Apple introduced Animoji in September, it did so in part to make an important point. The TrueDepth camera that enables Face ID’s 3D facial recognition on the iPhone X has other uses beyond providing secure biometric authentication for unlocking and mobile payments. Once the iPhone X launched, Animoji went viral.

Of course, others could have launched Animoji-style 3D emoji well before Apple, but nobody did. Now that Apple has done it, top Android makers are racing to match it, proving once again that the iPhone still leads the mobile industry. Huawei was the first company to confirm that it will blatantly copy Animoji. Samsung’s Galaxy S9, however, might be the first globally available Android device to offer Animoji support. And Samsung might even claim that its solution is better than Apple’s.

A report from ETNews mentions some of the best features of the Galaxy S9, reaffirming what numerous other rumors have said for weeks. The Galaxy S9 will have the same design as the Galaxy S8 aside from the rear panel, which will feature a different camera, flash, and fingerprint sensor arrangement. The phone will be slightly thinner than the Galaxy S8 and will offer users access to a dual-lens camera, at least on the larger Galaxy S9+ model.

But ETNews also mentions the 3D Emoji feature, which is Samsung’s equivalent to the iPhone X’s Animoji. 3D Emoji are supposedly more advanced than Animoji, which would be a bold claim. The Galaxy S9 won’t have a front-facing camera as sophisticated as the iPhone X, so how can 3D Emoji be better than Animoji?

3D Emoji apparently creates a 3D character based on the face of the user and is able to detect fine movements. The feature can be used instead of emoticons in chat apps, and users will also be able to choose from a variety of different animal characters. The report also notes the Galaxy S9 does 3D facial recognition and iris recognition, suggesting they may be used simultaneously to enhance security. Again, the Galaxy S9 isn’t expected to feature 3D facial recognition like the iPhone X, so it’s unclear if Samsung’s solution will be anywhere near as secure as the iPhone X.

ETNews mentions the flexible aperture of the rear camera, which was listed in specs leaks before. The Galaxy S9 is expected to feature an enhanced low-light shooting mode thanks to this variable aperture. The handset is also rumored to get dual speakers and more Bixby features.

Finally, the report said the Galaxy S9 will be cheaper than the Galaxy Note 8, which sells for 990,500 won in the country, but that the Galaxy S9+ will cost more than 1 million won.

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Nomad unveils its latest 2,800mAh battery for iPhone

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Nomad today announced the launch of an updated Battery Cable, which comes equipped with a slim 2,800 mAh battery to add a bit of extra juice to Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

The Battery Cable looks like a standard braided Nomad Lightning cable for the iPhone, but with the addition of a battery pack at one end that can be used for extra charging power when necessary.

Nomad’s 1.5M Battery Cable includes an integrated Nomad cable tie and support for passthrough charging, so you can charge up the battery while you charge your iPhone. Having the battery pack integrated into the cable is convenient because it ensures the battery is always full when you need it.

Compared to the original version of the Battery Cable, the new model has a higher capacity and a sturdier aluminum build.

Nomad’s Battery Cable can be purchased from the Nomad website for $49.95 starting today.

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Microsoft officially announces its Xbox adaptive controller

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Microsoft’s previously announced Adaptive Controller for the Xbox is now available for pre-order for $100 USD and is expected to ship in September.

After an initial leak of the device, Microsoft has announced an Xbox controller designed for individuals with disabilities. The Adaptive Controler features two large buttons that can be programmed, as well as 19 jacks that allows connectivity with a range of joysticks, buttons, and switches compatible with Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.

Its highlighted customization and connectivity aspects allow gamers to built a setup for all their needs, and although the peripheral won’t be for every game, with its system-level button remapping, its usage has endless possibilities to build upon for the gaming accessibility field.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller will cost $99.99 USD and is slated to drop later this year.

In related news, a Black Panther-themed Xbox One X is coming.

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Wi-Fi company Plume announces new mesh router technology

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Wi-Fi router startup Plume today announced an upgraded version of its mesh networking devices and a new subscription model for its customers. Plume first began selling its “Plume Pod” routers in late 2016, and today revealed a new tri-band router called the “SuperPod” (via The Verge).

Plume’s SuperPod works like any other mesh system, requiring users to connect the first Pod to their modem with an included ethernet cable. The rest serve as wall plugs that users permanently place in an outlet to enhance the Wi-Fi signal throughout their home. In comparison to the original dual band, four-channel model, SuperPod has a tri-band Wi-Fi radio with eight channels and two ethernet ports.

When connected and running, the SuperPod system learns the user’s home usage patterns “in a matter of days.” This means that the SuperPods will learn when you use Wi-Fi the most (getting news from a smart speaker in the morning or watching 4K films at night) and implement “Adaptive Wi-Fi” to actively optimize the network for more consistent speed and performance.

For users to take advantage of these features, they’ll have to subscribe to Plume. The company previously sold the Plume Pod without a subscription, but today is changing that by requiring customers to subscribe to its Adaptive Wi-Fi service before they can purchase a SuperPod, The Verge notes.

The service costs $60 per year and if users opt out of the subscription in a year’s time “the routers may not fully work,” although Plume CEO Fahri Diner said the company wouldn’t outright “brick” the devices if users decide not to pay down the line.

Diner says Plume wants to provide so many additional services as part of its subscription that customers will happily remain subscribed. “Our intent, our hope, is to make the decision a no-brainer,” Diner said in a phone call. “If the customer doesn’t want to renew, it won’t be because of the price. They will be unhappy for us for one reason or another.”

Plume is offering price discounts for it subscribers, however, selling a three-pack of its routers for $39, down from $179. Three packs come with two dual-band routers (the older models) and one tri-band router (the new model). In terms of adding supplemental Pods onto the system, the company will still sell its Plume Pod for $39 and the individual price for the new SuperPod is $99.

Potential customers can also choose to pay a flat $200 fee for a lifetime membership to the service, while existing Plume owners will be grandfathered in to the new features for free. Other features include parental controls, speed tests, service management, and “Plume HomePass.” This service creates unique Wi-Fi passwords personalized to guests when they visit. The iOS app can also detail Wi-Fi connections, freeze device connections to prevent kids from accessing the internet, data consumption charts, and more.

Wi-Fi mesh systems have become a popular solution for in-home Wi-Fi over the years, with options from companies like Linksys, Orbi, Eero, Google, and others. The technology is looking to expand as well, with the Wi-Fi Alliance in May announcing a new certification program called “EasyMesh,” which aims to allow users to build mesh networks in their homes across different brands.

For Plume, orders on the SuperPod will open June 15 and the device will begin shipping June 21.

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