Reuters: Technology News
last updated: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 05:20:34 -0500

Bitcoin hits new record high as warnings grow louder
LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin blasted to another all-time high of almost $18,000 on the Bitstamp exchange on Friday, up 9 percent on the day, as warnings grew over the risks of investing in the highly volatile and speculative instrument.

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last updated: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:36:03 GMT

Schools warned over hackable heating systems
A researcher finds dozens of UK schools' smart heating systems are vulnerable to being attacked.

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Geek.com
last updated: Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:30:17 +0000

NASA, Google AI Discover Eighth Planet in Kepler-90 System

Even without Pluto, our solar system always held the record for most planets orbiting a single star. Until now. Using Google machine learning, NASA discovered an eighth planet circling Kepler-90, a sun-like star […]

The post NASA, Google AI Discover Eighth Planet in Kepler-90 System appeared first on Geek.com.

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PC World - News RSS feed
last updated: Thu, 04 May 2017 03:28:00 +1000

Sneaky Gmail phishing attack fools with fake Google Docs app
Google Docs was pulled into a sneaky email phishing attack on Tuesday that was designed to trick users into giving up access to their Gmail accounts.

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Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
last updated: Tue, 12 Sep 2017 09:48:21 -0400

Galaxies collide in stunning picture
A NEW image captured by NASA Hubble space telescope shows ‘doomed duo’ galaxies colliding and then trying to destroy one another.

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CNET News
last updated: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 04:26:15 +0000

The 39 best holiday shopping deals right now: Dec. 15 update - CNET
With less than 10 days until Christmas, some better-than-Black Friday deals are still available.

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last updated: Fri, 13 Oct 2017 19:46:03 -0400
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A Day Before Net Neutrality Repeal, AT&T Revealed a Plan to Send Internet Over Your Power Lines
The FCC's Ajit Pait said repeal would spur internet investment

A day before the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality vote, AT&T announced trials of its Project AirGig, a technology that aims to provide internet over power lines.

However, the announcement may have undercut FCC chairman Ajit Pait’s claim that rolling back the Internet regulations would encourage investment in internet technologies, since it has been in development for months, if not years. AirGig was first revealed in September 2016, before the presidential election and Pai’s nomination as FCC Chair.

Describing AirGig as a “first-of-its-kind system,” AT&T claims that the technology could one day deliver blazing-fast internet speed of more than 1 gigabit per second. The technology is currently in two trials — one with an electricity provider outside the U.S. that began this past fall, and another that recently began in rural Georgia. If successful, AirGig could improve broadband speed for people across rural America, where cable companies and fiber-optic networks haven’t yet reached.

In the wake of Thursday’s FCC vote, the question of how much will internet services will cost without net neutrality is weighing heavily on households’ minds, and AT&T has not yet mentioned anything about AirGig’s pricing.

Instead, the company is highlighting the technical details. Rather than sending data through the power lines, AirGig uses low-cost plastic antenna attached to the power lines to relay data to homes from the web. That means it can attach to existing infrastructure, wherever electricity is already flowing.

Will it work? Perhaps. With 5G wireless data slowly plodding to market, AT&T may be hedging its bets in order to assure the success of its DirecTV investment and plans for future video-streaming dominance with DirecTV Now. There is also the matter of AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, which the U.S. Department of Justice has sued to block.

Then again, there’s a lot of schemes to wrestle the crown of high-speed internet from cable companies, including Google Fiber (which has paused its rollout), Facebook’s internet drones, and SpaceX’s internet satellites. In other words: Don’t sign any long-term internet contracts.

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This Is When the FCC Net Neutrality Vote is Happening — and How You Can Watch It
The landmark Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on net neutrality is taking place from 10.30 a.m. E.T. today

The landmark Federal Communications Commission (FCC) net neutrality vote is set to take place Thursday morning, a decision that could drastically change the internet.

Those who want to watch the net neutrality vote live can visit the FCC’s live stream, which can be accessed here.

The commission is scheduled to vote on FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s much-debated proposal to reclassify internet providers from utilities to information companies, which would repeal net neutrality and permit internet providers to legally control the speed of content running through their network — a practice that became prohibited during the Obama-era.

Pai, who was appointed to his post by President Donald Trump, has long been outspoken on his disagreement with the principles of net neutrality. He is leading a 3-2 Republican majority commission, among which are a number of commissioners likely to vote against net neutrality, including Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr, who was nominated by Trump in August.

If the net neutrality vote goes along party lines, a rule change will pass. This could lead to lawsuits by groups hoping to uphold net neutrality, including Common Cause, Free Press, the Internet Association, and Public Knowledge, who, according to Reuters, have lawyers at the ready.

During the two-hour meeting, which will finish at 2.30 p.m. E.T., the FCC will also be discussing six other topics, including amending the Commission’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules and considering a consider a notice that would strengthen the Rural Health Care Program and improve access to telehealth in rural America. The full meeting schedule can be found here.

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Microsoft Wants to Take on Google by Making its Search Engine Smarter
Bing is getting some new smarts that could tempt you to switch

Google may be the household name when it comes to search, but Microsoft is hoping it can make its Bing search engine the smartest. The Redmond, Wash.-based company has announced a handful of new features that it says are powered by artificial intelligence. The updates will start rolling out on Wednesday and will continue over the coming week.

The biggest changes enable Bing to be smarter about the information it chooses to display above search results in response to a query. The search engine will now be able to pull information from multiple sources, rather than just one. If a user has a question or request with opposing answers or viewpoints, Bing will be able to aggregate both perspectives and display them at the top of the page.

One example of where users might see this is when typing in a query like “side effects of coffee.” Once Microsoft’s updates start to kick in, Bing will be able to pull bits of information from more than one source and show them alongside one another above results, so that users can see both angles without having to dig through a list of links. Google currently answers this type of question with a featured snippet, which is an informational block that sums up an answer with information extracted from a web page.

Similarly, if a search query involves some type of comparison, such as “yoga vs. pilates,” Bing will surface an information box that breaks down the differences between the two terms, rather than grabbing a snippet from an article. Microsoft’s Project Brainwave initiative, a platform for boosting real-time AI performance, provides the foundation for these additions to Bing, the company says.

Microsoft is adding other features to Bing as well. One can identify individual objects within photos that appear in image search results so that users can shop for those items. Another enables Bing to offer clarifying questions based on a search query in order to help filter results more precisely.

Read more: The Top 10 Gadgets of 2017

The news comes as Google continues to frequently refine its own search engine. Just this month alone, Google updated its featured snippets section to include more images as well as launched a new program that allows celebrities to answer commonly asked questions in search. These features may be different than the functions Microsoft is pursuing with Bing, but the two companies are undoubtedly working toward the same goal of helping provide relevant information quickly without forcing users to trove through reams of data available on the web.

Bing also only accounts for a sliver of search engine traffic: Google held 81% of search engine market share across desktop and mobile devices between Dec. 2016 and Nov. 2017, according to analytics firm NetMarketShare. Baidu placed in second with 7.82% of the market, while Bing landed in third with 5.72%. Google also has a major advantage when it comes to mobile, considering its search bar sits on the home screen of most popular Android phones, and Android is estimated to account for roughly 85% of worldwide smartphone shipments according to IDC projections. Microsoft, meanwhile, recently said it has doesn’t intend to release new Windows Phone products. Bing, however, is the default search engine on Microsoft’s Edge browser, which comes preinstalled on Windows 10 computers.

But Microsoft’s improvements to Bing are likely about much more than just trying to steal some attention away from Google’s massively popular search engine. Smarter search tools will be important as new tech platforms, like virtual assistants, augmented and virtual reality, and smart home devices continue to spread, particularly if they’re relying on search results and history to answer questions or learn more about a user’s habits. “Search is more pervasive in everything we do as we spend more time online,” says Michael Inouye, a principal analyst for ABI Research. “That digital profile that we have [online] is going to become more valuable, and search is a big part of that.”

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Getting a Drone for the Holidays? You’ll Have to Register It With the FAA
This year's hot tech gift comes with comes with government regulations.

Giving a drone this holiday season? Be sure to also wrap up some extra rotors, a spare battery or two, and get drone registration through the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), because the drone registration requirements that were declared dead earlier this year were just revived by the Trump administration.

A relative footnote in the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law today, the new regulation requires that drone owners register their unmanned aerial vehicles before taking to the skies. You can register you new drone on the FAA’s drone Unmanned Aircraft System website.

But for longtime drone pilots, this requirement is nothing new. In December 2015, regulators began requiring drone registration, and the program took off, with 300,000 drone owners signing up within the first month.

Then, in May 2017, model aircraft hobbyists banded together to fight the federally mandated regulation (and its $5 fee) in the U.S. Court of Appeals. “For decades, AMA members have registered their aircraft with AMA and have followed our community-based safety programming,” said Academy of Model Aeronautics president Rich Hanson. “It is our belief that a community-based program works better than a federally mandated program to manage the recreational community.”

The FAA, for its part, disagreed. “The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats,” the agency said in response to the appeals court ruling. And with good reason — the more drones that take to the skies, the more likely there are to be collisions with passenger planes.

And now enshrined in law, it would appear the FAA has the final word on the issue.

“We welcome the reinstatement of registration rules for all small unmanned aircraft,” the FAA said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Ownership identification helps promote safe and responsible drone operation and is a key component to full integration.”

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Your Apple Watch is About to Become More Useful at the Gym
Apple's GymKit platform is starting to launch

Anyone who has worn a fitness tracker or smartwatch to the gym has probably noticed that the stats on your wrist rarely match what’s being shown on the treadmill or elliptical. That’s part of what Apple is hoping to solve by making it possible for the Apple Watch to communicate directly with compatible workout equipment through its GymKit program, which is just starting to appear in fitness clubs after it was announced in June.

GymKit is a platform that makes it possible to sync your Apple Watch with certain cardio exercise machines, allowing the watch and the equipment to exchange information so that they can provide more accurate feedback. The program is starting to launch in the United States after first appearing in Australia last month and the United Kingdom earlier in December.

GymKit takes a page from other Apple services like Apple Pay — just tap your watch against the machine, and your watch should pair it if it’s compatible. For now, GymKit will only work with cardio machines like treadmills, ellipticals, indoor bikes, and stair-steppers from companies like Life Fitness, Technogym, Matrix, and Star Trac among others. Machines that support Apple’s technology will display a corresponding logo on screen to let you know that you can connect your Apple Watch.

Read more: Review: Apple’s New Watch Only Partly Frees You From Your Phone

But GymKit availability in the U.S. is limited for now — it’s now available on cardio machines made by Technogym at Life Time Athletic’s fitness facility at Sky Club in New York City. The chain has plans to support it in 14 new clubs in 2018 as well as its existing 130 locations via a software update. Equinox will also be rolling out GymKit next year and plans to include GymKit-enabled cardio machines made by Life Fitness in all of its new clubs.

With GymKit, the Apple Watch can sync your entire workout to your wrist even if you don’t pair it until the middle or end of your exercise session, as Apple showed during a recent demonstration. The bigger benefit, though, is the fact that allowing your Apple Watch to share data with exercise equipment and vice versa can help both devices provide more precise observations about your workout. The reason your Apple Watch and the treadmill at the gym don’t always show matching numbers is simply because they’re usually working off of different information.

If you’re starting a run by pressing the Quick Start option on the treadmill, for example, the treadmill likely doesn’t know personal details like you’re height, gender, or weight as the Apple Watch does. This can factor into how calorie burn is calculated, which would explain why the statistics shown on your watch aren’t always the same as those shown on gym equipment. Similarly, the Apple Watch can’t tell if you’re running on an incline on the treadmill — even if you’re using the third-generation Apple Watch which has a barometric altimeter.

Apple also isn’t the first to create wearable devices that can sync with workout equipment. Life Fitness machines were already capable of connecting to popular fitness apps and platforms, but could only do so through its LFConnect app. GymKit appears to be a more ambitious approach that seeks to make it simpler to sync your Apple Watch in real time without having to download individual apps from equipment manufacturers.

Although it might take some time before GymKit becomes common, Apple did say during its Worldwide Developer Conference in June that its equipment partners account for 80% of the market.

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How to Use Instagram’s Newest Feature to Find Photos You’ll Love
You can now follow hashtags like you can follow other accounts

Instagram is now letting users follow hashtags in addition to the people and brands they already do, the social media company announced Tuesday.

To follow a hashtag, you can search for it or click on one from a post, which will then open the hashtag page. The page will now have an option to follow that hashtag.

Previously, Instagram would only let you search for a particular hashtag under the Explore tab or click on one in a post to see other pictures and videos using it. Posts with that hashtag will now appear in your feed along with all of the other accounts you follow.

You can see all the hashtags you follow by going to your Instagram profile, clicking following and looking under the Hashtags tab. Regular accounts will appear next to it under the People tab.

You can also view the hashtags that other users follow. However, if you set your account to private, Instagram says the hashtags you follow will only be visible to your followers

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Apple’s ‘Most Powerful Mac Ever Made’ Finally Has a Release Date
The iMac Pro will be released on Dec. 14 starting at $4,999

Apple’s new iMac Pro, which the company calls the “most powerful Mac ever made,” will be launching on December 14, Apple revealed Tuesday. The high-end Mac starts at $4,999.

The company announced the new iMac Pro at its Worldwide Developer Conference in June, but didn’t offer a firm release date until now.

The iMac Pro includes a 27-inch Retina 5K display, a new Space Gray-colored finish, a processor with up to 18 cores, and one terabyte of storage configurable up to two or four terabytes. The iMac Pro also comes with a new dual centrifugal fan system that generates more airflow, Apple said when unveiling it in June.

Apple

Apple’s decision to release the iMac Pro helped show that the company hadn’t forgotten about its Pro line of desktop products following the Mac Pro, which it released in 2013 and hasn’t updated since. It’s also one of the only products announced at WWDC that hasn’t been released yet, the other being the HomePod, Apple’s Siri-powered high end speaker that was recently delayed until 2018.

The launch of a new iMac Pro also gives Apple a chance to draw attention back to the Mac desktop line after Microsoft announced its first all-in-one computer, the Surface Studio, several months earlier.

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Apple Just Bought Shazam. Here’s What We Know
It could integrate well with Apple Music

Apple has confirmed that it will acquire Shazam, the popular app for iOS and Android that recognizes songs playing nearby in addition to providing other features.

Apple didn’t share any further information about the acquisition, including the terms of the deal, but a spokesperson issued the following statement:

We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS. Today, it’s used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, across multiple platforms. Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users. We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.

The confirmation comes after TechCrunch first reported Apple’s plans days earlier on Dec. 8.

Although Apple hasn’t shared or confirmed any plans regarding what it plans to do with Shazam’s technology, it’s easy to imagine how the service could fit into Apple Music. Shazam allows users to follow their favorite artists and see what they’re listening to. Given Apple’s emphasis on curation, it seems like a feature like this could fold nicely into the “For You” section of the Music app.

The move also comes as Apple has been pouring more resources into original media content. It bought comedian James Corden’s popular Carpool Karaoke TV series, which it launched as a show on Apple Music in August. It also launched Shark Tank-like show called Planet of the Apps in June. Apple is also preparing to launch its HomePod speaker in 2018, which it bills as being a high-end music device above all else.

There’s also the possibility that Apple could somehow integrate Shazam’s technology into the iPhone’s operating system similar to what Google has done with its Pixel 2. Google’s new smartphone has a Shazam-like feature that can automatically identify songs playing nearby and display the title and artist on the lock screen.

Shazam said in a statement that it’s “excited to announce that Shazam has entered into an agreement to become part of Apple,” adding that it “can’t imagine a better home for Shazam to enable us to continue innovating and delivering magic for our users.” But it hasn’t said whether or not it will continue to operate its Android app once the deal closes.

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3 Secrets to Landing a Job at Facebook, According to Its HR Chief
Including the one question you need to know the answer to.

Jobs at Facebook are highly sought after for good reason. The people who work there love it. The tech giant recently nabbed the No. 1 spot on jobs website Glassdoor’s list of the best places to work in 2018, based on employees’ reviews—the eighth consecutive year Facebook has made the ranking. And with literally billions of active users on the social network, any job there is guaranteed to have far-reaching impact.

If you’re looking for a foot in the door, luckily, there’s room. There are over 2,000 open positions at Facebook posted on Glassdoor. The sheer size and growth of the company offer ample opportunities, and in many locations.

You’d think Facebook would be bursting with techies. Not so.

“We’re always looking for great engineers, designers, data scientists, product managers. Really, in a lot of the technical functions, we’re always looking for more,” says Facebook Vice President of People Lori Goler, who heads up the company’s global HR organization.

The competition, unsurprisingly, is stiff. So we asked Goler about the secrets to landing one of those open Facebook jobs, and what kind of candidate the company is most likely to hire.

A Desire for ‘Strivers’

The first thing to know is that you need to really want it. Facebook places a premium on strivers—the sort of people who relish challenges everywhere they go, rather than back away from them.

“We’re really looking for builders, people who will look at the way something works today—some people may think it works well—but they will develop a vision for making it better and execute on that,” Goler says. “They’ll get their hands dirty, assemble a team across the company. They really look at things as nothing is ever done or perfect, and there’s always more possibility to do better.”

That spirit, she adds, comes right down from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who interacts with staff in weekly Q&A sessions where employees can ask the billionaire pioneer anything. Zuckerberg sets regular personal challenges for himself, like getting out to meet people in every U.S. state and learning Mandarin. If that sounds appealing to you, then you’re already ahead of the pack, but if not, you may be better off somewhere else.

Aside from ambition and sharing Facebook’s general mission of bringing people across the world closer together, there is no single type of “Facebook person.”

Agree to Disagree

“I like to think anyone is a match for the culture at Facebook because everyone realty brings something different to the organization. One thing that makes us stronger is a diversity of perspectives,” Goler says.

And prospective employees shouldn’t be shy about making their voice heard, even when it’s critical.

“We’re also looking for people who [organizational psychologist and bestselling author] Adam Grant calls ‘disagreeable givers’ who care about the organization but are willing to give hard feedback as part of that,” Goler added. “They share a perspective that isn’t the mainstream way of thinking about something so they can push on our thinking. It’s great when people come to the table with different experiences. All of that helps us build better products.”

Facebook has been serious about promoting seamless flow of communication within its ranks, including training for difficult conversations and its enterprise tool Workplace, which helps teams share ideas and opinions.

The One Question to Know the Answer To

But what if you find yourself across a desk from a hiring manager at Facebook? Goler meets people hoping to join the company all the time, and she has a favorite question in job interviews that she believes gets to the heart of what could make someone a valuable employee.

“One of the questions, I love it: ‘On your very best day, when you go home and think, I have the best job in the world, what did you do that day?’” Goler says. “ I really want to be sure when people are reflecting that the things people are doing on their best day are in the role they’re looking at when they’re talking to Facebook, and they’re being honest about that.”

Play to your strengths and Facebook’s, and there may be a new job waiting for you at the end of the interview.

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I Spent a Week Comparing the iPhone X, Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy S8. Here’s What I Found
How to decide which phone is best for you

If you’re shopping for a new smartphone, there’s a good chance three options immediately come to mind: the iPhone X, the Galaxy S8, or the Google Pixel 2.

Your buying decision might come down to whether you’re more comfortable using iOS or Android. But for those who are struggling to decide which phone is best, or simply just want to get a better sense of how each phone differs from one another, here’s a closer look at the iPhone X, Google Pixel 2 XL and Samsung Galaxy S8.

Design

While more powerful processors, sharper cameras, and better screens have become routine annual updates, 2017 was the year that smartphone makers began to rethink design, too. All three companies released new phones with screens that cover nearly the entire front of the device, resulting in a look that’s more slick while also offering more screen space. And, most importantly, the new edge-to-edge design on the iPhone X, Galaxy S8, and Google Pixel XL means you’re getting a bigger screen in a phone that’s not noticeably larger, which makes them easier to hold than big-screened devices of years past.

That’s especially true when it comes to the iPhone X — it’s only slightly larger than the iPhone 8, but includes a screen that’s even more spacious than that of the bigger iPhone 8 Plus. Apple, Samsung, and Google achieve this by making the borders around the display smaller, allowing them to fit more screen real estate on the device. Both Samsung and Google have the camera situated in a strip that extends across the top of the screen for their respective phones’ cameras, while the iPhone X has a cutout in the top center which some have disparagingly called “the notch.”

I find the iPhone X to be the most elegant looking device, mostly because of its gorgeous glass back and stainless steel edges. But it also feels the most delicate, so I rarely get to appreciate that design, since I’m always covering it with a case. Some may prefer Samsung’s design primarily for its display, which slightly curves over the left and right edges of the phone, making it feel a bit more immersive than its rivals. It’s also the only phone of the three with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you can continue to use your older or non-Bluetooth headphones without an adapter. The glossy back panel of the phone, however, is quick to pick up fingerprint smudges. Of the three phones, Google’s Pixel 2 XL is the most practical to use without a case: Most of the phone’s back is covered in a matte material that’s easy to grip and isn’t as prone to smudges.

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Display

The iPhone X, Galaxy S8, and Google Pixel 2 XL have screens that are capable of displaying rich color, bold text, and sharp detail. The iPhone X has a 5.8-inch OLED screen with a 2436 x 1125 resolution. Google’s Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch OLED display with a 2880 x 1440 resolution. The Galaxy S8’s 5.8-inch OLED screen offers a 2960 x 1440 resolution.

While they all sound fantastically sharp on paper (and they are), there are a few differences to consider. Colors will sometimes appear more vivid and pronounced on Samsung’s smartphones, which can in certain instances make the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL look muted in comparison. But this emphasis on color can be helpful or hindering depending on the situation and your preferences. For example, when browsing photos on National Geographic’s website, I found that the Galaxy S8 offered the best mix of color and detail. But I disliked the overabundant color when viewing the trailer for the upcoming film I, Tonya on all three devices side-by-side. There was one scene in which the shade of blue that star Margot Robbie was wearing looked so drastically different on the Galaxy S8 versus the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL that it almost seemed like an entirely different color.

The iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL were more similar to one another, but I preferred the iPhone X’s screen the best because it was a bit brighter and bolder without exaggerating color too much. I also found it easier to read text on the iPhone X thanks to its True Tone technology, which adjusts the device’s white balance based on the surrounding lighting.

The Pixel 2 XL’s screen also appears to have a blueish tint when you’re not holding the phone directly in front of your face, which Pixel 2 XL owners have reported in the past. This isn’t always apparent in casual use, like when you’re viewing the screen from a straightforward angle. But it’s still noticeable, and it could be particularly annoying when watching videos with multiple people who may be looking at the phone from different angles. It has also been reported that the Pixel 2 XL’s display has a “burn-in” problem that leaves an imprint of an image on the display even after an app has been closed. But Google recently issued an update that should help fix this issue, and I had a difficult time recreating the problem on my own Pixel even when the reports first surfaced.

Read more: Apple Design Chief Jonathan Ive on the iPhone X: We Had to Solve ‘Extraordinarily Complex Problems’

User Interface

If you’re considering switching from Android to the iPhone, or vice versa, software is where you’ll notice the biggest changes. Both operating systems have a different feel, each offering their own benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s start with the iPhone X: Ever since Apple unveiled the first iPhone, it refused to include any extraneous apps from carriers — content that’s often referred to as “bloatware.” That holds true today, and remains one of the iPhone’s biggest strengths when it comes to user interface design.

Aside, as Apple’s software has gotten more intelligent over the years, the iPhone has received some helpful flourishes, like the ability to automatically silence notifications while driving and a feature that translates languages in real time via Siri. It’s worth noting, however, that the iPhone X’s software differs slightly compared to other iPhones. That means even longtime Apple fans will experience a learning curve, since you’ll have to learn some new gestures to compensate for the iPhone X’s lack of a home button.

Samsung, meanwhile, has significantly improved its smartphone software in recent years in ways that make newer phones like the Galaxy S8 feel easier to navigate. But the interface is still a little bit busier than what you’ll find on the Google Pixel and the iPhone. Depending on which carrier you purchase the phone from, you may find some extraneous apps on your device — my review unit came with a few T-Mobile apps. That being said, the Galaxy S8’s software comes with some handy extras that may make it a better choice for power users. Samsung’s smartphone has a sidebar for adding shortcuts to favorite contacts and apps, as well as a tool for cropping screenshots and saving GIFs from videos you’re watching. Like the Google Pixel 2, you can view more than one app in split screen mode, as well as see the time, date, and other information even when the display is turned off.

One of the benefits Google’s smartphones have always offered is an interface that’s cleaner and simpler to use compared to most Android devices. This is no different with the Google Pixel 2XL. That’s largely because Google usually doesn’t include any unnecessary apps and services from wireless carriers. Many phone makers also put their own apps on the phones they sell in addition to Google’s apps and carrier apps (Samsung does this too, although some of its apps may be optional depending on the carrier.) Since the Pixel is Google’s phone, that type of app duplication isn’t a problem. Like the Galaxy S8 and other phones, the Pixel 2 XL also has an always-on screen for checking information at a glance. But Google’s phone offers an extra perk: If a song is playing nearby, the phone can display the title and artist name when the screen is turned off. Of the three phones, I prefer Google’s interface, because it combines the flexibility of Android with the simplicity of an iPhone.

Battery Life

Battery life was generally comparable across all three devices. When using each phone separately, I always had enough juice left after a full workday of sending emails, using social media, and streaming media, among other tasks. I found similar results when testing all three phones alongside one another. After more than six hours of mixed usage that included nearly two hours of streaming video over Wi-Fi and sporadically checking email, refreshing social media, and browsing websites, each phone’s battery level was about the same. The Galaxy S8 and iPhone X were both at 65% while the Google Pixel 2 XL had 75% of its battery left, which isn’t too surprising considering larger phones usually include bigger batteries.

Camera

It used to be the case that our smartphones were the best cameras simply because they’re the cameras we have with us at all times. But in recent years, smartphone camera quality has become so advanced that publishers (including TIME) and filmmakers are shooting magazine covers and full movies on iPhones. This year’s major flagship phones from Apple, Google, and Samsung all offer superb camera quality, but there are important ways in which they differ.

In my experience, the cameras on the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL were about equally good, but they excel in different areas. In some test shots, the iPhone X captured better color and detail, particularly for selfies and in photos of outdoor scenery. But the Google Pixel performed better in low-light situations, both with and without the flash turned on. The Galaxy S8’s photos were almost on par with those taken on the iPhone X and Pixel, but it fell short in some areas. When shooting in sunlight outdoors, Samsung’s photos felt slightly washed out compared to those taken on the Pixel 2 XL and iPhone X. I also felt the Galaxy S8’s front-facing camera made my skin look a little too smooth to the point where the photo looked artificial and wasn’t as detailed as the others.

All three phones also offer their own version of what has come to be known as “Portrait Mode,” an effect that slightly blurs the background to make the subject in the foreground more prominent. Apple and Google offer a camera mode that lets you see this effect live as you’re setting up the shot, while Samsung’s phone adds the effect afterwards. Of the three, I thought the iPhone X’s photo had the best mix of sharpness and detail, with the Pixel 2 XL placing in second. The Galaxy S8’s photo wasn’t as detailed and blurred a portion of my subject.

Read more: The Top 10 Gadgets of 2017

Biometrics

Delivering on the basics, like screen quality, camera performance, and battery life, is crucial for any smartphone. But Apple, Samsung, and Google each offer a few special features that are meant to make it much easier to unlock and interact with your phone.

One of the iPhone X’s biggest selling points is the addition of Face ID. Apple’s facial recognition system can be used to unlock your phone without typing in a passcode, to authenticate Apple Pay purchases and app downloads, and within certain apps and services to personalize the experience. Warby Parker’s app, for example, uses Face ID to scan your face in order to suggest pairs of glasses that might look the best on you. Face ID works fine most of the time for these tasks, but I do find myself being prompted for a passcode more often than I would like when unlocking my phone. (The best way to address this issue is to type in your passcode each time rather than resetting Face ID. This helps the system learn your face over time).

Samsung’s phones offer facial recognition, iris scanning, and fingerprint detection for unlocking your phone. In my experience, fingerprint scanning has generally been the most reliable option, and the iris scanning tech usually works more quickly than facial recognition. Even though I prefer fingerprint scanners in general, I often find myself using iris scanning on the Galaxy S8 because the fingerprint sensor is inconveniently located next to the camera and is sometimes difficult to reach.

The Google Pixel 2 XL supports facial and fingerprint recognition, both of which generally provide a fast way to unlock the phone. The fingerprint sensor’s placement in the center of the phone’s rear panel also makes it much easier to reach than with the Galaxy S8, but it doesn’t always read my fingerprint if I don’t keep my finger on the scanner for a long enough time.

Recap

Your buying decision will likely boil down to your budget and whether you prefer iPhone or Android. But here are some key takeaways that should help you along:

Apple iPhone X

The good: The Apple iPhone X stands out for its elegant design, excellent screen quality, and the way apps are starting to embrace Face ID to make the experience more tailored to you. But above all else, the iPhone X represents the best form factor of any iPhone to date. Until this point, Apple fans have been forced to choose between a phone that some may find to be too large and unwieldy and a screen that’s smaller than five inches. Now, they can enjoy the benefits of having a larger screen without carrying around a phone that’s much larger than what they’re used to — even if it does mean having to look at a “notch” that sits above the screen. Otherwise, the Phone X hits all of its marks when it comes to battery life, screen, and camera specs.

The bad: The iPhone X’s lack of a home button means there’s a learning curve in using it — you’ll have to get used to changing the way you perform basic tasks like restarting the phone and taking screenshots. There’s also no fingerprint sensor to use as backup if you should find yourself struggling with Face ID. And starting at $999, it’s notably more expensive than the Pixel 2 XL and Galaxy S8.

Google Pixel 2 XL

The good: The Google Pixel 2 XL’s long battery life, exceptional camera, and clean interface make it a top choice. If you often find yourself struggling with photos that are grainy in low light or appear too washed out when taken with the flash, you’ll especially appreciate how the Pixel 2 XL’s camera performs. I also found the battery life to be a bit longer than that of the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8. The interface feels neat and clean compared to some other Android devices. The screen is also larger than that of the iPhone X even though the Pixel 2 XL is cheaper, starting at $849.

The bad: The screen has a blue tint that’s visible when looking at the phone from a side angle, which could be off-putting.

Samsung Galaxy S8

The good: The Galaxy S8’s curved screen is just as functional as it is gorgeous. Because the display disappears into the sides of the phone, the screen feels even more immersive. The Galaxy S8 also includes a headphone jack, which is a rare find on today’s high-end smartphones. The battery life is also comparable to what you would get on the iPhone X, and starting at about $725, it’s less expensive than both the iPhone X and the Google Pixel 2 XL.

The bad: The Galaxy S8’s interface doesn’t feel as simple and intuitive as Google’s, and its camera isn’t as good as that of the iPhone X or Google Pixel 2 XL.

Buy now: iPhone X | Google Pixel 2 XL | Samsung Galaxy S8 |

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