T-Mobile’s “Digits” program revamps the phone number

T-Mobile has announced the launch of its “Digits” program on May 31. Digits is a revamp of how T-Mobile phone numbers work, virtualizing customer numbers so they can work across multiple devices. It sounds a lot like Google Voice—rather than having a phone number tied to a single SIM card or a device, numbers are now account-based, and you can “log in” to your phone number on several devices.

T-Mobile says the new phone number system will work “across virtually all connected devices,” allowing multiple phones, tablets, and PCs to get texts and calls. This means T-Mobile needs apps across all those platforms, with the press release citing “native seamless integration” in Samsung Android phones, Android and iOS apps, and a browser interface for PCs.

The new phone number system is free to all T-Mobile customers. Customers can also buy an extra phone number for $10 or by signing up to the $5-per-month “T-Mobile One Plus” package, which is a bundle of random extra features like mobile hotspot and in-flight Wi-Fi. Here the “extra number” use case matches what Google Voice users have been doing for years: a personal and business number, or a number to give to online sales sites like Craigslist, or an easily dumpable number for your Tinder dates. Unlike Google Voice, the $10 fee means T-Mobile has no problem distributing a ton of phone numbers, and the mobile telco says you can access up to five lines from a single device.

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Gaming on Dell’s 8K $5,000 monitor

Mark Walton

Specs: Dell UltraSharp UP3218K
Size 32 inches
Resolution 8K 7680×4320 at 60Hz
Response time 6ms (grey to grey)
Brightness 400 cd/m²
Contrast 1300:1
Colour depth True 10-bit
Colour spaces 100 percent Adobe RGB colour gamut, sRGB, and Rec 709. 98 percent DCI-P3
Dimensions 72cm x 21.5cm x 61.7cm with stand, 72cm x 5.3cm x 42cm without stand
Inputs 2x DisplayPort 1.4
Ports 4x USB 3.0, 3.5mm line out
Warranty 3 years
Price $5000 (UK price TBC)

While Acer’s 4K, HDR-ready, 144Hz Predator X27 gaming monitor is pretty hot, Dell has something even better: the 8K Dell UltraSharp UP3218K (buy here). This, if you’re unfamiliar, is a display that sports a whopping 7680×4320 pixels spread over a 32-inch 10-bit IPS panel. It can display a 33-megapixel image pixel-for-pixel at a density of 280ppi, and at 100 percent of the Adobe RGB colour space. It requires the bandwidth of two DisplayPort 1.4 ports to function, and, predictably, it costs just shy of $5,000 (UK release and price still TBC, but don’t expect much change from £5,000).

But then, this is a display that is so far ahead of the curve that $5,000 seems almost reasonable. In addition to all those pixels running at 60Hz, the 10-bit IPS panel also covers 100 percent of the sRGB colour space, 100 percent of Rec 709, and 98 percent of DCI-P3. Whatever creative field you’re in—photography, cinematography, graphic design, publishing, game development—Dell’s 8K monitor has you covered. It’s even factory calibrated to a Delta E of less than two.

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Samsung Galaxy Book review: A better TabPro S, but not a laptop replacement

Video shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link)

Samsung revamped one of its 2016 hybrids while simultaneously creating a challenger to Microsoft’s Surface family. Last year’s Galaxy TabPro S was a thin-and-light tablet powered by a Skylake Core M processor and featuring an OLED display. While stunning, the OLED display raised questions about the longevity of the device, and the tablet itself was lacking in connectivity options.

The new Galaxy Book tries to fix some of that while keeping the good parts intact: it’s a slim Windows tablet, accompanied by a folio keyboard case and S Pen stylus, that’s vying to replace your regular laptop by enticing you with Ultrabook-grade internals. The Galaxy Book comes in 10- and 12-inch models, but both are very different, not just in their screen size, but in internal quality as well. While Samsung managed to right some of the wrongs of the TabPro S, it’s hard to make a case for the Galaxy Book replacing your everyday work device.

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Intel to make Thunderbolt 3 royalty-free in bid to spur adoption

We’re big fans of Thunderbolt 3 here at Ars, attracted by its enormous versatility, high performance, and the promise of being a single port and a single cable that can do it all. While the technology is becoming increasingly common on high-end portables, it’s still far from ubiquitous. Intel has announced a couple of measures that should go a long way toward boosting Thunderbolt 3’s adoption.

The first step is straightforward and, in our view, a long time coming: the company is going to finally integrate Thunderbolt 3 into its processors. Although the first Thunderbolt 3 chips, codenamed “Alpine Ridge,” were released in the third quarter of 2015, last year’s Kaby Lake chipsets, including the high-end Z270, didn’t include any native Thunderbolt 3 support. Instead, vendors had to add Alpine Ridge chips separately, with many of them opting not to do so, preferring to avoid both the extra expense and extra complexity.

Alpine Ridge also includes support for USB 3.1 generation 2, which offers speeds of 10 gigabits per second, doubling generation 1’s 5 gigabits per second, but while many desktop motherboards do include generation 2 support, they’ve almost invariably done so using chipsets other than Alpine Ridge, again to avoid that expense and complexity.

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IKEA’s low-cost smart lights get Alexa, Google, and Siri voice support

IKEA recently released its own line of Wi-Fi enabled smart lighting called Trådfri. While great value—prices start at just £15 for a bulb and dimmer—the Trådfri range was limited to use with the Swedish furniture retailer’s own app and hardware remotes.

Now, IKEA is bringing Trådfri up to speed with the competition by adding support for voice control via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri. Voice functionality will trickle out across the range starting this summer and running through to autumn. The update makes Trådfri one of the most affordable smart lighting solutions available.

Individual bulbs retail between £9 and £12, with the Wi-Fi hub costing £25. A bundle of bulb and dimmer switch costs £15, while a bundle of bulb and motion sensor costs £25. By contrast, similar Philips Hue bulbs sell for £15, and a motion sensor costs £35 without an included bulb. The Philips Hue starter kit does come in cheaper at £60, but the £70 Trådfri “Gateway kit” contains two bulbs, a Wi-Fi hub, plus an extra remote.

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Nokia 3310 review: No matter how much you think you want it, you don’t want it

While this phone is not currently scheduled for release in the US, we thought you would be interested in this review from our colleagues in the UK.

SCREEN 2.4-inch QVGA LCD (167ppi)
OS Nokia Series 30+
STORAGE 16MB (plus microSD expansion)
PORTS Micro USB, 3.5mm headphone jack
CAMERA 2MP rear camera
SIZE 115.6mm x 51mm x 12.8mm
STARTING PRICE £50 (buy here)
OTHER PERKS A really bad version of Snake

That the new HMD-made Nokia 3310 was the star of this year’s Mobile World Congress says more about how dull smartphones have become than it does about the appeal of Nokia’s chintzy slab of noughties nostalgia.

Despite the retro appeal, the Nokia 3310 (buy here) is little more than a Nokia 150 (a basic feature phone that sells for a mere £20) wrapped up in a curved glossy shell and sold for a millennial-gouging £50. It is, for all intents and purposes, a fashion statement—a phone for the beard-grooming, braces-wearing festival set that think tapping out texts on a T9 keyboard is the ultimate irony.

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The A-EON Amiga X5000: An alternate universe where the Amiga platform never died

The Amiga computer was a legend in its time. Back when the Macintosh had only a monochrome 9-inch screen, and the PC managed just four colors and monotone beeps, the Amiga boasted a 32-bit graphical operating system in full color with stereo-sampled sound and preemptive multitasking. It was like a machine from the future. But the Amiga’s parent company, Commodore, suffered from terminal mismanagement and folded in 1994, just as PCs and Macintoshes were catching up technologically. The platform, like many others before it, seemed to be at an end.

So when a brand new Amiga computer arrived at my doorstep in 2017, you can imagine it was quite a surprise. Accordingly, the Amiga X5000 is a curious beast. In some respects, it’s more closely related to its predecessors than either modern PCs or Macintoshes. Yet this is a fully current machine capable of taking on modern workloads. How such a device came to be is a fascinating story, but that’s not our goal today—let’s dive into what the experience of using the X5000 is like.

The X5000 was developed by A-EON, a company formed by Trevor Dickinson in 2009 to develop new PowerPC-based Amiga computers. It is powered by a custom PowerPC motherboard, supporting a dual-core Freescale CPU at various clock speeds up to 2.5GHz. The Amiga has a long history of PowerPC support, starting with add-on accelerator cards released in 1997 using the old Motorola 603 and 604 chips. And since the release of Amiga OS 4.0 in 2007, the operating system itself was recompiled to be PowerPC-native, and many Amiga applications have been rewritten to support this architecture.

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Breaking the iris scanner locking Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is laughably easy

Hackers have broken the iris-based authentication in Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone in an easy-to-execute attack that’s at odds with the manufacturer’s claim that the mechanism is “one of the safest ways to keep your phone locked.”

The cost of the hack is less than the $725 price for an unlocked Galaxy S8 phone, hackers with the Chaos Computer Club in Germany said Tuesday. All that was required was a digital camera, a laser printer (ironically, models made by Samsung provided the best results), and a contact lens. The hack required taking a picture of the subject’s face, printing it on paper, superimposing the contact lens, and holding the image in front of the locked Galaxy S8. The photo need not be a close up, although using night-shot mode or removing the infrared filter helps. The hackers provided a video demonstration of the bypass.

Starbug, the moniker used by one of the principal researchers behind the hack, told Ars he singled out the Samsung Galaxy S8 because it’s among the first flagship phones to offer iris recognition as an alternative to passwords and PINs. He said he suspects future mobile devices that offer iris recognition may be equally easy to hack. Despite the ease, both Samsung and Princeton Identity, the manufacturer of the iris-recognition technology used in the Galaxy S8, say iris recognition provides “airtight security” that allows consumers to “finally trust that their phones are protected.” Princeton Identity also said the Samsung partnership “brings us one step closer to making iris recognition the standard for user authentication.”

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