Day: October 8, 2018

Wi-Fi 6 Is Coming: Here’s Why You Should Care

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 9.30.05 PMGet ready for the next generation of wifi technology: Wi-fi 6 (for so it is named) is going to be appearing on devices from next year. But will you have to throw out your old router and get a new one? And is this going to make your Netflix run faster? Here’s everything you need to know about the new standard.

A brief history of wifi

Those of you of a certain age will remember when home internet access was very much wired—only one computer could get online, a single MP3 took half an hour to download, and you couldn’t use the landline phone at the same time.

Thank goodness for wifi technology then, which gradually became cheap and compact enough to fit inside a router suitable for home use. The first wifi protocol appeared in 1997, offering 2Mbit/s link speeds, but it was only with the arrival of 802.11b and 11Mbit/s speeds in 1999 that people seriously started thinking about home wifi.

Wifi standards, as well as a whole host of other electronics standards, are managed by the IEEE: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Specifically, IEEE 802 refers to local area network standards, and 802.11 focuses on wireless LAN. In the 20 years since 802.11b arrived, we’ve seen numerous new standards pushed out, though not all of them apply to home networking kit.

The introduction of 802.11g in 2003 (54Mbit/s) and 802.11n in 2009 (a whopping 600Mbit/s) were both significant moments in the history of wifi. Another significant step forward was the introduction of dual-band routers with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, tied to the arrival of 802.11n, which could offer faster speeds at shorter ranges.

Today, with 802.11ac in place, that 5GHz band can push speeds of 1,300Mbit/s, so we’re talking speeds that are more than 600 times faster than they were in 1997. Wi-Fi 6 takes that another step forward, but it’s not just speed that’s improving.

Explaining wifi technology can get quite technical. A lot of recent improvements, including those arriving with Wi-Fi 6, involve some clever engineering to squeeze more bandwidth out of the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz your router already employs. The end result is more capacity on the same channels, with less interference between them, as well as faster data transfer speeds.

Turning wifi up to six

One of the most important changes Wi-Fi 6 brings with it is, of course, the new naming system: Using a simple succession of numbers is going to make it a lot easier for consumers to keep track of standards and make sure they’ve got compatible kit set up. The more technical term for Wi-Fi 6 is 802.11ax, if you prefer the old naming.

Older standards are getting retroactively renamed too—the 802.11ac standard becomes Wi-Fi 5, the 802.11n standard becomes Wifi 4, and so on. Expect to see the new Wi-Fi 6 name on hardware products and inside software menus from 2019, as well as funky little logos not unlike the one Google uses for its Chromecast devices.

As always, the improvements with this latest generation of wifi are in two key areas: Raw speed and throughput (if wifi was a highway, we’d be talking about a higher maximum speed limit for vehicles, as well as more lanes to handle more vehicles at once). Wi-Fi 6 will support 8K video streaming, provided your internet supplier is going to give you access to sufficient download speeds in the first place.

In practice that means support for transfer rates of 1.1Gbit/s over the 2.4GHz band (with four streams available) and 4.8Gbit/s over the 5GHz band (with eight streams available), though the technology is still being refined ahead of its full launch next year—those speeds may, in fact, go up (it’s been hitting 10Gbit/s in the lab). Roughly speaking, you can look forward to 4x to 10x speed increases in your wifi.

Another improvement Wi-Fi 6 will bring is improved efficiency, which means a lower power draw, which means less of a strain on battery life (or lower figures on your electricity bill). It’s hard to quantify the difference exactly, especially as Wi-Fi 6 has yet to be finalized, but it’s another step in the right direction for wifi standards—it shouldn’t suck the life out of your phone or always-on laptopquite as quickly.

Refinements in Wi-Fi 6 hardware and firmware should also mean better performance in crowded environments. You might finally be able to get a strong signal at your sports bar of choice, though don’t hold your breath. As always, a host of other factors (walls, microwaves, the number of people streaming Netflix in your house) are going to have an impact on the final speeds you see.

What will you have to do?

Not a lot. As is usually the case, Wi-Fi 6 is going to be backwards compatible with all the existing wifi gear out there, so if you bring something home from the gadget shop that supports the new standard, it will work fine with your current setup—you just won’t be able to get the fastest speeds until everything is Wi-Fi 6 enabled.

READ MORE: https://gizmodo.com/wi-fi-6-is-coming-and-heres-why-you-should-care-1829516258

The 7 Biggest Street Style Trends of Spring 2019

2017FALL38_39It’s such a cliché to talk about the weather, but when you’re covering a month of fashion shows—widely considered plush, leisurely events, but ones that actually require a lot of time outdoors and on your feet—temperatures and precipitation make a big difference. In Paris, the air was crisp, the sun was shining, and we saw some of the week’s best looks. Some women we know packed entire suitcases of romantic, voluminous floral dresses, which make an easy, effortless impact; others showed up in retina-searing neons, the direct result of a single Fall 2018 show; and many women seemed to reject the idea of trends altogether, sticking to a mix of elegant, everyday button-downs, jackets, and trousers. Below, we’ve distilled the month of street style photos—828, to be precise—down to the seven most important trends.

Hemlines Keep Rising (and Rising . . .)

Back in the ’60s, miniskirts were a symbol of rebellion, of sexual freedom, and of youth in general. They’re creeping back into the zeitgeist—both on the runway and on the streets—partially in response to the modest midi and maxi lengths we’ve been wearing for years, but perhaps also because women of 2018 are embracing the bold, anti establishment spirit of ’60s women. On the runway, hemlines rose at Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Stella McCartney; on the street, we saw minis in all manner of prints, patent leather, denim, and suede.

Back to Black

There are no real “rules” of street style, but over the past few years, it’s been a commonly held belief that wearing black won’t get you noticed. The competition for a photographer’s attention is fierce—you need color! Glitter! Prints! Things changed drastically this season: Not only did we see droves of women (and men) in head-to-toe black, but they wore it in uniquely interesting, un-minimal ways. Tulle frocks, leather harnesses, asymmetrical LBDs, and furry accessories were plenty eye-catching in stark black, perhaps even more so than if they’d been in a predictably bright color.

2017FALL28_29Groovy, Baby

Some are calling it escapism, others say it’s all a numbers game, but the groovy prints and hippieish chill of the late ’60s and ’70s were all over the Spring 2019 runways (Etro, Paco Rabanne, and even Dior), a trend we saw immediately reflected on the streets. It doesn’t get easier than a breezy, billowy caftan and leather sandals—but if you’re really leaning in, you’ll layer on a tangle of beaded necklaces, too. There’s a sense of naivety to that “Summer of Love” look, which turned 50 last year; maybe that’s why it’s coming back around. Vogue’s Sarah Mower drew a brilliant line between these boho-chic vibes and our current obsession with wellness and self-care in her Etro review: “The modern ideal of a sound mind in a superhot athletic body, clad in an accidentally pretty print dress.”

The Prada Effect

The retina-searing neon dresses, vests, and handbags filling Prada’s shop windows have become something of a beacon. Passersby are scratching their heads, and they aren’t alone; anyone remotely familiar with Miuccia Prada’s work might be struck by the futuristic, embellishment-free unnaturalness of it all. Fashion obsessives, of course, took Prada’s blinding Fall 2018 show as a cue to dive headfirst into the neon trend: Kelela and Sasha Lane both turned up in supercharged lime knits, Aleali May wore a cobalt fur with acid-green boots, and we saw dozens of guys and girls pledging allegiance to Prada in head-to-toe Fall looks in highlighter pink and traffic cone orange. Prada has always played a part in influencing trends, but a word to the wise: Spring 2019 only had a few touches of citron, lime, and bright peach, so if you’re into supercharged, nearly glowing neon, now’s the time to wear it.

READ MORE: https://www.vogue.com/article/spring-2019-street-style-trends

THE BEST MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE

Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 9.13.55 PMYou probably already know that listening to music no longer requires trips to a music store, or purchasing individual songs or albums from iTunes to download to your computer. Today’s best music streaming services have millions of songs in their catalogs, offer personalized playlists, and feature exclusive internet radio shows and podcasts. But which should you pick and pay a subscription fee for?

A good streaming music service has a straightforward user interface that makes it easy to organize a library of thousands of songs or playlists across the web, Android, and iOS apps, and in some cases, a desktop Mac or Windows app. However, while most music streaming services have these features, most of them aren’t free, and nearly all services require paid plans that grant you access to a full on-demand library of music and other features.

While testing these music streaming services, I considered factors like audio quality options, social integration, and built-in lyrics. It’s also absolutely necessary that your streaming app plays nice with more than one personal device. These are all important points when considering which music service to pick and ultimately, make for a better listening experience.

Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 9.11.25 PM

Spotify is the best streaming music service for a variety of reasons, but there’s one in particular that stands out. It has the most consistent iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows experience. It’s far from perfect, of course, but features rolled out to the iOS version follow on Android not too soon after. Competing music services sometimes have issues with certain platforms, like the clunky Android version of Apple Music or the Windows app for Tidal that sometimes won’t load.

Other than having a unified app experience, Spotify has a large catalog of music (35+ million songs), the best playlist recommendations, useful, yet non-intrusive social features, and a variety of plans (including student discounts) that make it great for most music listeners with a smartphone and some headphones.

It’s also one of the streaming services (alongside Amazon Music and Apple Music) that supports offline listening for both mobile and desktop, which is useful when you’re doing work and don’t want to eat up bandwidth or using your device on a plane without internet. Spotify is also supported by most smart speakers and smart devices, so it’s almost universally available on all platforms.

However, Spotify isn’t without shortcomings. There’s no hi-fi option, the app can misbehave when you have a poor cell connection, and uploading purchased songs to your desktop Spotify library is a convoluted process. Still, Spotify’s mobile and desktop experiences are fast and easy to understand. Spotify’s pricing also set the precedent for other music streaming apps. It has a compelling free option on desktop, a $4.99 option for students (US only), the standard $9.99 premium option that lets you download and stream on all your personal devices, and finally, a $14.99 family plan (for six users total).

A GREAT ALTERNATIVE: APPLE MUSIC

Apple Music has a lot going for it that’s pegged on exclusivity. Beats 1 is home to many top-tier artists that use their respective radio shows to demo and tease new music and collaborations. If you’re a fan of certain popular artists, you might find that the first chance you’ll have to hear their new music is on Apple Music, not Spotify or Tidal. Sound quality is usually better than Spotify’s, thanks to Apple Music using a 256kbps AAC bitrate, compared to the max 320kbps Ogg Vorbis bitrate used by Spotify.

Banking on this sense of access and being “in the know,” Apple Music tops this off with artist’s music videos, adding a visual treat you can enjoy without having to go to another app. However for comparison, Tidal, YouTube Music, and Spotify are the other streaming services that offer music videos built into the app. Of those, only Spotify has short vertical videos for a few of its popular songs; Apple Music does not.

Apple Music also has a digital locker feature that subscribers can take advantage of, to the tune of 100,000 songs. Although, you should be hard-pressed not to find your purchased music in Apple Music’s library of over 50 million songs. You can also save these songs for offline listening on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and the Apple Watch.

The iOS, Android, and desktop apps are my least favorite user music streaming interfaces. The abundant use of hot pink accents and white backgrounds everywhere isn’t the most comfortable to view at night. On Android, the Apple Music app feels even more out of place and occasionally had problems staying open on my Pixel 2 XL. Using Apple Music on a desktop requires you to use iTunes, an app that’s slow, cumbersome, confusing, and long overdue for a redesign. Apple Music has definitely not been blessed with the most beautiful interfaces the designers at Cupertino have released.

Apple Music’s pricing is similar to Spotify and other services: $9.99 monthly or $14.99 for a family plan (up to six users), with student discounts varying by country.

If you’re an audiophile — someone who is enthusiastic about hi-fi reproduction — and want to use a streaming service, there are some good alternatives.

For those that have audio hardware capable of taking advantage of lossless hi-fi, then Tidal or Deezer’s $20 lossless plans might be good options. Tidal has a $9.99 on-demand plan as well, but it doesn’t get you the higher sound quality.

On the flip side, casual listeners who want a more radio-style streaming service can opt for the $5 radio-only, no ads version of Pandora; it also includes on-demand streaming, but it’s less mature than its competitors in terms of playlist recommendations and library management.

But what if you have thousands of songs you’ve already purchased the old-fashioned way? If you want the benefits of uploading your music to the cloud and a music streaming service to back that up — that is more consistent on Android and the web — then Google Play Music is the perfect option. However, next year Google is merging YouTube Music with Play Music into a new service with a music uploading feature, so it might be worth waiting.