Category Archives: Gadget News, Reviews, And Features

This phone carrier is building its own smart speaker

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Republic Wireless is working on its own smart speaker, and it appears to be geared toward phone calls.

Republic Wireless

Phone calls are a relatively new feature for both the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers, both of which focused on music and house controls before adding calling. 

On Friday, wireless carrier Republic Wireless indicated it’s taking the opposite approach, saying it plans to enter the space with a speaker that appears to be all about phone calls.

The Anywhere HQ is the company’s first hardware product. It’s an LTE-connected speaker that can be used to make calls, as well as issue commands.

Like “Alexa” on Echo and “OK Google” on Google Home, Anywhere HQ will require customers to use a start phrase — something like “OK Republic” — before it will make a call.

The speaker itself has volume and mute controls on top and a full number pad underneath.

Republic, a mobile virtual network operator that runs on Sprint, T-Mobile and Wi-Fi, said the speaker also has a built-in smart assistant and works with a customer’s phone number. 


The underside of the Anywhere HQ has a number pad for making phone calls.

Republic Wireless

Anywhere HQ is part of Republic Wireless’ Labs program, where it’s being tested. Pricing and availability aren’t yet available, and the fine print on the announcement says that it can’t be sold until it obtains authorization from the Federal Communications Commission.

Republic Wireless didn’t immediately return a request for comment about further details.

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Williams-Sonoma is buying into AR, literally


Pottery Barn’s 3D Room View app uses AR, and there’s going to be more to come.

Pottery Barn

Shopping for your new kitchen in a physical store? Odds are, you’ll eventually be window-shopping in AR.

The home furnishings giant Williams-Sonoma is purchasing Outward, a San Jose company specializing in 3D scanning and augmented reality, for $112 million, Recode reported Friday. Williams-Sonoma also owns Pottery Barn and West Elm.

Outward made an AR app for Pottery Barn called 3D Room View earlier this year that ran on Google’s Tango AR platform, allowing 3D models of furniture to be placed in real rooms.

Outward also specializes in detailed 3D scanning, which suggests future applications beyond AR and possibly into customized 3D design.

Augmented reality apps using home decor are becoming a serious trend: From Lowe’s to Wayfair to Ikea’s augmented app, companies are dipping into AR applications for laying out furniture using phones. 

Based on my experiences using AR on phones, furniture-shopping tools are easily accessible and actually useful. It’s not surprising that more companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

Williams-Sonoma and Outward did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Amazon partners with EatLove to deliver personalized meals

Following yesterday’s team-up between Amazon and Allrecipes, the online shopping giant is announcing yet another grocery delivery partnership with EatLove, makers of an app for personalized recipes. Once you build up a meal plan of your own, you can quickly get the items you need through AmazonFresh. EatLove isn’t just another recipe service: It accounts for dietary restrictions, medical issues and offers up daily reminders to make sure you follow its recommendations. Naturally, the integration is only available in markets where AmazonFresh is available, but it sounds like a genuinely useful addition to EatLove.

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‘The Punisher’ is ready to take over your weekend


Jon Bernthal punishes the fretboard with his blazing speed. 

Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Welcome back to your guide to finding out what’s new online. Every week, we put together a podcast that lets you know what’s been added to services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. The audio is about a minute or two long. 

If you watched “Daredevil” on Netflix, you know that Frank Castle is involved in some of the most violent scenes in the series. With his solo show, you can expect Frank to keep up the standard. The first season of “The Punisher” is up on Netflix right now. 

Since you’re reading this, we’ll give you some info not found in the podcast. WWE is running “Survivor Series” live on Sunday, Nov. 19 starting at 7 p.m. Eastern on its WWE Network. It’s a stacked card featuring former UFC champion Brock Lesnar taking on “The Phenomenal” A.J. Styles in a champion vs. champion match. 

Want to know what else is new (including that Hulu/Marvel show)? Listen to this guy:

For more information on what’s available to watch online, check out or subscribe to the podcast — it’s free! And go to to see what else is out in the world of streaming.

Audio (weekly): RSS | iTunes | Google Play

Video (monthly): iTunes (HD) | iTunes (HQ) | iTunes (SD) | RSS (HD) | RSS (HQ)RSS (SD) | YouTube     

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EA ditches microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II

It’s as if EA heard a million voices cry out in terror — and it’s not staying silent.

Electronic Arts has announced it is turning off all in-game purchases on Star Wars Battlefront II, on the eve of the game’s worldwide launch, after a massive outcry from fans.

The company confirmed the news in a blog post late on Thursday, admitting that the microtransactions it built into the first person shooter were “overshadowing an otherwise great game.”

The game, which is due to launch globally on Friday, was made available to fans early through EA’s subscription service, EA Access. But early players soon discovered unlocking top hero characters like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader could take up to 40 hours, unless players paid-to-play.

When the news hit Reddit, the furore grew.

The game’s developer EA DICE responded by announcing it would reduce the number of credits needed to unlock the top characters by 75 percent. Now, it’s gone further.

In a statement, EA DICE said.

It’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.

But while microtransactions are gone for the launch, they’re not gone for good. EA said it will spend time “listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning” once the game is launched, but in-game payments will be back.

“The option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay,” the EA blog post continued. “The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”

In-game payments are not new. Often used as a way for players to pay for cosmetic elements like new character skins, some players argue they can help developers to keep improving the core game over time. But when payments become a major impediment to gameplay, or a game becomes virtually unplayable without forking out cash, gamers are quick to speak up.

The only question that remains is whether fans will be placated enough when microtransactions return.

EA has been contacted for comment.

Star Wars at 40: Join us in celebrating the many ways the Force-filled sci-fi saga has impacted our lives.

Virtual reality 101: CNET tells you everything you need to know about VR.

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Tesla reveals a new Roadster, due in 2020

At Tesla’s Semi event, the automaker dropped its new Roadster. It’ll have a 620-mile range via a 200kWh battery pack.”You’ll be able to travel from LA to San Francisco and back without recharging,” CEO Elon Musk said. The new Tesla Roadster will do zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds, and it’ll blast through a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds, before reaching a top speed of over 250 MPH.

Oh, and it’s a four-seater.

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