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Alternatives to Apple’s pricey AirPods #roundup

(TECH NEWS) For parents and my fellow forgetful friends, $159 isn’t a price we want to pay for something we may lose and eventually have to replace.

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Healthier options for your wallet

You know the saying, “If your head wasn’t attached to your body, you’d lose it”? Well I’m pretty certain that saying was forged especially for me and my worsening forgetfulness. Car keys, Chapstick, work badge – basically anything important – has a 100% possibility of getting lost at some point. Which is why after hearing about the new Apple AirPods, I felt like I had already lost them.

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The new wireless pods boast amazing sound and take the obvious hassle out of tangled cords, but are a $159 expense. For parents and my fellow forgetful friends, $159 isn’t a price we want to pay for something we may lose and eventually have to replace. Which is why I bring to you a comprehensive list of cheaper options to the AirPods, all of which are wireless.

1. Muse 5

Price: $180
These Bluetooth dongles are fitted with patented FitSeal Sleeves that make them fit secure into the wearer’s ear. Because of this, the company describes these as being most beneficial to listeners with an active lifestyle.

Along with the sleeves and additional tips, the Muse 5 comes with 7 hours of talk time, 4 hours of listening time and a portable magnetic charging case.

The portable case allows the earphones to be fully charged two times before the wearer needs to plug into the wall to recharge. The Muse 5 will retail for $180, but is available from Indiegogo for only $99. Yahtzee!

2. Rio 3

Price: $130
If the Muse 5 is for the active folks, Rio 3 is for the even more active.

Equipped with over-ear hooks and sleeves, users can sweat, run, or jump as much as they want and these won’t budge. The pods come with a built-in remote that makes it easy to switch songs, change the volume, and interfere with Siri or Google Now. They can last for up to 8 hours of talk time or 6 hours of playback.

There is no portable charging case for the Rio 3, which may be why the retail  price is only $130. Even better than that, these too are on sale at Indiegogo for $69.

3. Bragi the Headphone

Price: $120
This new and improved design from Bragi allows users to toggle between music, phone calls, and voice commands, while noise cancellation destroys any distractions.

When the wearer wants to be aware of their immediate environment, or simply hear the person next to them, they can use the new “Audio Transparency” setting that allows ambient noise to filter in. The software can also speak four new languages: Chinese, French, German and Spanish, and now configures with Google Fit, Apple Watch and Apple Healthkit.

These multi-lingual headphones are on retail for $120 until November 1; after they will be $150, so if you’re interested: get while the getting’s good.

4. Motorola Hint

Price: $130
This discreet wireless earbud, enhanced from previous versions, comes with 70% more battery life and a more comfortable gel design than before. Amongst the improvements are improved audio and CrystalTalk technology that filters background noise.

For the fashion inclined, these also come with a variety of natural materials and hues. The charging case can be used up to four times, and provides the Hint pods with 17 hours of talk time.

These are the cheapest wireless option Motorola has thus far, coming in at a still lower than Air Pod price of $129.99.

5. Bohm Audio S10

Price: $89
These powerful earbuds come with a portable charging case that is Micro USB compatible, and chargeable up to 4 times. The pods, complete with sweat proof sleeves, allow the user to pair with 2 devices, and easily switch between calls and audio. Users will also have the convenience of automatic pairing anytime you’d like.

Coming in at only $89, these are the most affordable option on the list.

Got any more?

Now that wireless ear phones are the new rage, it was pretty hard finding these affordable options. Other wireless pods range from $120-$299 and have a ton more functionalities but with the same ease of loss.

So if you want to join the wireless bandwagon, but don’t want to lose $300 in the meantime, try one of the options above. If you have any more affordable wireless options that we may have missed, please share below!

#AirPodAlternatives

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

Tech News

Google set to release new AI-operated meeting room kit… and it’s pretty baller

(TECH NEWS) Google’s newest toy is designed to “put people first” by alleviating video and audio issues for conference room meetings.

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Google Meet Series One is a new meeting kit that puts people first.

Remote meetings can be the worst sometimes. The awful video and audio quality are frustrating when you’re trying to hear important details for an upcoming project. Even with the fastest internet connection, this doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to clearly hear or see anyone who’s in the office. But Google is re-imagining conference rooms with their new video conferencing hardware.

Yesterday, the company introduced Google Meet Series One. In partnership with Lenovo, this meeting room kit is made exclusively for Google Meet and is poised to be the hardware that “puts people first.”

The Series One has several components that make it stand out. First is the “Smart Audio Bar,” powered by eight beam-forming microphones. Using Google Edge TPUs, the soundbar can deliver TrueVoice®, the company’s “proprietary, multi-channel noise cancellation technology.” It removes distracting sounds, like annoying finger and foot-tapping noises, so everyone’s voices are crystal clear from anywhere in the room.

The hardware also has 4K smart cameras that allow for high-resolution video and digital PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) effects. Processed with Google AI, the device knows to automatically zoom in and out so all of the meetings’ participants are framed in the camera. With an i7 processor and Google Edge TPUs, the system is built to “handle the taxing demands of video conferencing along with running the latest in Google AI as efficiently and reliably as possible.”

The meeting kit has Google grade security built-in, so the system automatically updates over-the-air. The system also works seamlessly with Google services and apps we already use. Its touch control display is powered by a single ethernet cable. From the admin controls, you can manage meeting lists and control room settings. Powered by assistant voice commands, their touch controller provides a “touchless touchability”; if you want to, you can join a meeting just by saying, “Hey Google, join the meeting.”

These new meeting kits are easy to install and are versatile. They can be configured to fit small, medium, and large-sized rooms. “Expanding kits for larger rooms can be done with just an ethernet cable and the tappable Mic Pod, which expands microphone reach and allows for mute/unmute control.”

According to the Google Meet Series One introductory video, the meeting room kits are “beautifully and thoughtfully designed to make video meetings approachable and immersive so everyone gets a seat at the table.”

Currently, there is no release date set for Google Meet Series One. However, pre-orders will soon be available in the US, Canada, Finland, France, Norway, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium.

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Tech News

One creepy way law enforcement might have your private data

(TECH NEWS) Wait, geofences do what? Law enforcement can pull your private data if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Man walking on crosswalk with phone, but his private data could be vulnerable.

By now, it’s pretty common knowledge that our smartphones are tracking us, but what you might not be aware of is just how much law enforcement is taking advantage of our private data. Now, the good news is that some places have gotten wise to this breach of privacy and are banning certain tactics. The bad news is: If you were ever in the vicinity of a recent crime scene, it’s quite possible your privacy has already been invaded.

How are law enforcement doing this? Well, it starts with a geofence.

At its core, a geofence is a virtual border around a real geographic location. This can serve many purposes, from creating marketing opportunities for targeted ads to tracking shipping packages. In the case of law enforcement, though, geofences are often used in something called a geofence warrant.

Traditionally, warrants identify a subject first, then retrieve their electronic records. A geofence warrant, on the other hand, identifies a time and place and pulls electronic data from that area. If you’re thinking “hey, that sounds sketchy,” you are–forgive the pun–completely warranted.

With a geofence, law enforcement can dig through your private data, not because they have proof you were involved in a crime, but because you happened to be nearby.

This practice, though relatively new, is on the rise: Google reported a 15-fold increase in geofence warrant requests between 2017 and 2018. As well as invading privacy, these warrants have led to false arrests and can be used against peaceful protesters. Not to mention, in many cases, geofence warrants can be extremely easy to acquire. One report in Minnesota found judges signed off on these cases in under 4 minutes.

Thankfully, there have been signs of people pushing back against the use of geofence warrants. In fact, there have been multiple federal court rulings that find the practice in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” including your electronic data.

If you’re still worried about your privacy, there are ways to keep your electronic data on lock. For example, turn off your location services when you’re traveling, and avoid connecting to open Wi-Fi networks. You can also work to limit location sharing with apps and websites.

These and other tips can be a great way to help you avoid not just geofence warrants, but others who want to use your electronic information for their own gain.

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Tech News

Incoming! Amazon drones will be dropping off packages soon (we hope)

(TECH NEWS) The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Amazon for drone delivery service, but when will the drones actually take flight?

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One of Prime Air's drones ready for test flights.

Amazon has finally received the stamp of approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to deliver packages by drones. This pivotal step brings the online retailer closer to their promise of delivering packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

In 2013, during CBS’s “60 Minutes” interview, Amazon CEO and Founder, Jeff Bezos, said drones would be delivering customers’ packages within five years. Although the estimate is a couple of years off, it seems like that day might be right around the corner.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the day when little floating presents are sailing through the sky (Animal Crossing balloons, anyone?). Despite our excitement to see our latest Amazon impulse purchase land on our doorstep, it isn’t going to happen overnight.

The Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate Amazon obtained for its fleet of Prime Air drones will allow the company to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) “to carry the property of another for compensation beyond visual line of sight.” Although the FAA certification is allowing Amazon to begin test trials, Bloomberg reports that the retail giant still has “regulatory and technical hurdles” to overcome.

In addition, the FAA has yet to set regulations that will “serve as a framework to expand drone flights over crowds, a building block necessary for deliveries.” Amazon hasn’t said when and where it will start testing the delivery service either.

David Carbon, Amazon Vice President who oversees Prime Air, made this statement: “This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world.”

This approval is definitely a step forward, but Amazon has been working on the drone delivery service for years. Early last year, the giant retailer revealed they would start offering one-day shipping. They have followed through on this, at least. And during a Las Vegas Conference in June 2019, they revealed their “fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes.” But it still doesn’t answer when we can expect to see whizzing drones overhead.

I’m not sure when Amazon will fulfill their last promise. But it is getting closer. What I do know is that I look forward to the Amazon drones taking flight. I can’t wait to place my orders knowing that I will get that last-minute present I ordered just in time.

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