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Sonos One Reviews: Premium Sound Partners Well With Alexa, Although Voice Commands Limited at Launch

Earlier in October, Sonos announced its new smart speaker device, called the Sonos One, which will launch On October 24 with support for Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. The Sonos One allows users to control the speaker entirely through voice, providing smart speaker capabilities into a music-focused device, similar to Apple's marketing for the upcoming HomePod.

Ahead of the October 24 launch, reviews for the Sonos One have been posted online, with many sites giving the new speaker a favorable review thanks to Sonos' expected high-quality playback, which becomes particularly useful with Alexa controls. Still, those voice commands are limited at launch with only a few music services supporting Alexa, making the Sonos One slightly harder to recommend for users not already in the Amazon ecosystem.

Engadget said that the Sonos One provides "significantly better" music quality than the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo "without breaking the bank" at $199. The site elaborated that the Sonos One uses the same audio hardware as the company's Play:1 speaker, so users can expect "clear, dynamic and loud sound" when playing music, although the "low end is not as strong as what you'll get from larger (and more expensive) speakers."

Photo by Nathan Ingraham via Engadget

Engadget wrapped up by noting that while the speaker stumbled occassionally with voice controls and lacks support for Spotify voice commands and Google Assistant at launch, it's still "the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy."
The Play:1 has been Sonos' best-selling speaker, and with good reason. It offers significantly better music quality than your average Bluetooth or smart speaker, at a reasonable price. It's also a great first step into a multi-speaker setup for your home. The Sonos One does all of that and adds voice controls without raising the price. Those voice controls may have a few bugs to work out, but aside from one frustrating afternoon, it worked well for me.

The Sonos One is a great way for most people to significantly upgrade their audio setup while also getting the convenience of voice controls. I wish that both Spotify voice commands and the Google Assistant were supported at launch, but this speaker will keep getting more features through upcoming software updates. Given that, I have no problem recommending it now. It'll work right out of the box as an Alexa-enabled device, it'll support more music services over time and it's a great way to dip your feet into the Sonos ecosystem. Just don't be surprised if you end up wanting to buy a few more.
The Verge broke down the supported music services on the Sonos One, commenting that voice commands at launch (through Alexa) are only supported with Pandora, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM. Spotify users will gain access "soon," but any Apple Music or Tidal subscribers will have to start playback through the Sonos app, and after that they can use Alexa to control the songs.

Photo by Chris Welch via The Verge
There are some early frustrations and missing features that prevent the Sonos One from being a perfect marriage between Sonos sound and Alexa’s voice smarts. You can’t yet play music from Spotify with Alexa, but I’ve been told that’s coming “soon.” Other services, such as Apple Music and Tidal, are absent with no ETA, and it’s quite possible that they’ll never support voice playback. They all work perfectly fine through the Sonos app, and once music is playing from any service, Alexa can always pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, or tell you what song or artist is playing. But the bottom line is that, at least for now, Alexa is unable to play anything from your Spotify library. Instead, you’ve got Pandora, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM to work with out of the box.
In 2018, Sonos One will also update with support for AirPlay 2, and then iOS users will be able to more easily control music playback with the speaker. While many interesting features are promised for future updates, The Verge still gave the speaker a score of 8 out of 10 and said, "Even with the Spotify situation factored in, I’ve found the Sonos One to be good enough in most other places to earn a solid recommendation if you’re looking to spend a couple hundred bucks on an in-home speaker."

Like a few reviews, Wired mentioned a convoluted setup process that requires you to switch between the Alexa and Sonos apps multiple times, further pointing out that any device trying to seamlessly connect two ecosystems is "sure to stumble occasionally." Still, the site was a fan of the new speaker, stating that the "key point" of any Sonos product remains: "the One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker," and voice controls -- while limited -- are still a bonus.
This new $199 speaker takes the current Alexa-Sonos relationship and removes the complexity. You could think of it as an Echo with much improved sound. It does all of the Alexa things, but it's foremost a Sonos speaker, so it does all the Sonos things too—it works as part of a multi-room system, it streams from scores of services, and it obeys the company's controller apps. The One has some faults. Amazon world and Sonos world are two nuanced and complex domains, and any device that attempts to bridge the two is sure to stumble occasionally. But the key point remains: The One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker, and that's reason enough to consider one. It also so happens that you can command it with your voice.
Many reviews compared the Sonos One to Google's and Apple's upcoming products, which compete in the same high-quality music playback area but have noticeable differences in price. While the Sonos One will cost $199 when it launches next week, Apple's HomePod will run for $349, and the Google Home Max will be priced even higher at $399, with both latter products debuting in December. For more of the latest HomePod news and information, be sure to check out our HomePod Roundup.

More Sonos One reviews can be found at the following sites: The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, VentureBeat, Digital Trends, 9to5Mac, SlashGear, TechHive, and Mashable.

Tag: Sonos

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Fantastical Maker Flexibits Launches ‘Cardhop’ Interactive Contact Management App for Macs

Flexibits, the company that makes popular calendar app Fantastical, today launched a new contacts management app, Cardhop. Designed to be more than just a simple contacts app, Cardhop is interactive and is designed to be your communications hub, allowing you to email, message, and interface with your contacts from one central location.

When developing Cardhop, Flexibits aimed to do the same thing for contacts that it did for the calendar - turn an app that can be dull, unintuitive, and slow into a robust, streamlined app that offers a lot more utility.


Cardhop imports all of your contacts from your Mac (which are typically also synced with iOS devices using iCloud) and it provides an interface that makes it easy to search for an existing contact or add a new one using the same natural language parsing that's available in Fantastical.


A search for "Eric" for example, will bring up the card for a contact named Eric, with information like phone number, email address, birth date, home address, Twitter handle, Facebook profile, Skype username, and more. There are dozens of fields that can be added for each contact.


Entering a phrase like "Eric 867-5309 work" will automatically add the phone number you entered to Eric's contact card under the work heading, and similar phrases can be used to quickly update or remove information for all contacts. Added information will sync to the default Apple Contacts app.

If you start typing a name that's not already in your contacts list, Cardhop will automatically add a new entry with the information. Groups of contacts are also supported, so you can create a group like "work" to automatically send an email or a message to everyone you work with.


Cardhop's most useful feature is perhaps its quick actions. Every contact card in Cardhop features four customizable quick action buttons for interacting with contacts and performing tasks like placing a call, sending a tweet, or sending an email. The following quick actions are available: Call, Copy, Directions, Email, FaceTime, FaceTime Audio, Large Type, Message, Skype, Telegram, Twitter, URL, and VoIP.

Clicking on one of the quick action buttons performs the task assigned to the button, but typing a quick action like "Skype Eric" or "Message Eric" also works. When using the call feature, there's also an option to place the call on your iPhone from your Mac using Bluetooth. Cardhop has the potential to save time in a workflow because it automates tasks that would normally take several clicks.


Cardhop also takes advantage of the underused "note" feature available in the default Contacts app, making a notes section front and center for each contact in the app. Notes can be used to add details about contacts that you want to remember, leading to richer interactions.
"Until now, contacts apps were basically boring databases," said Michael Simmons, Co-founder of Flexibits. "Cardhop is an entirely different approach and we think it's going to simplify and truly change the way people think about and interact with their contacts."
Cardhop is normally priced at $19.99, but to celebrate its launch, Flexibits is offering it for $14.99 for a limited time. Cardhop can be downloaded from the Mac App Store.


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Best Buy 3-Day Sale Launches With Early Access Discounts on Latest MacBook Air and 4K TV Sets

Best Buy today launched an early access sale for members of the My Best Buy program, marking the first day of a new 3-Day sale that's gearing up this week. Only one Apple product has an early access discount -- the mid-2017 refresh of the MacBook Air -- but there are a few other deals on 4K television sets and Bluetooth headphones. As the week progresses and Best Buy opens up the sale to more users and adds new products, we'll be sure to share any notable discounts.

For now, take a look at a few of the early access sales below:

For these early access deals, remember that you'll need to be logged in to your My Best Buy account in order to see the sale prices.

There are also a few discounts on items outside of the 3-Day Sale, ranging from the latest iMacs, to multiple Philips Hue lamps, and even DJI's new miniature Spark drone. Check them out below:


It's worth noting that previous sales on Apple Watch Series 2 and iPad mini 4 remain ongoing at Best Buy, so if you're interested in those products you still have a chance to purchase them at a discount. There are many more items on sale on Best Buy's Hot Deals page, including Epson all-in-one printers and select Insignia cables and chargers, so be sure to browse all of the discounts here.

For more of the latest deals on Apple products, accessories, and more, head over to our Deals Roundup.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

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Apple Continues Rolling Out Indoor Maps of Airports in iOS 11

Apple Maps now provides indoor maps of six additional airports in the United States, as the new feature continues to roll out in iOS 11.


The recently added airports include O'Hare International and Midway International in Chicago, McCarran International in Las Vegas, Miami International, Minneapolis–Saint Paul International, and Oakland International.

The feature has also been available for Philadelphia International Airport and San Jose International Airport since iOS 11 was in beta.

When searching for these airports, Apple Maps users can tap "look inside" or simply zoom in to view terminals, boarding gates, security checkpoints, airline check-in desks, baggage claim carousels, information kiosks, restrooms, stores, restaurants, parking garages, and even escalators, elevators, and stairs.


It is even possible to browse by floor, or search for shops, food, drinks, or restrooms in a specific terminal. Tapping on a restaurant, for example, brings up a detailed place card with photos, hours, and additional information.

Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi previewed Apple's indoor maps at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Skip to around the 1:07:50 mark of Apple's WWDC 2017 keynote video to watch.


Apple said indoor maps will also be available at several other major airports, including Los Angeles International, JFK and LaGuardia in New York, San Diego International, Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International, Heathrow and Gatwick in London, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Apple is also adding indoor maps to shopping malls, making it easier to find the exact location of stores, restaurants, restrooms, escalators, elevators, and stairs on each floor. Users can also filter stores by categories such as clothes, shoes, accessories, beauty, food, and drinks, with detailed place cards for each.

A few shopping malls currently supported include Westfield's Valley Fair in San Jose and the San Francisco Centre.

(Thanks, Abel La O Fernandez!)


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Adobe Turns Lightroom CC Into a New Cloud Photography Service

Adobe's annual Adobe MAX conference kicks off today, and the company is introducing a whole slew of updates to its Creative Cloud platform. Among those updates is a new version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC, which is now a full cloud-based photography service.

Lightroom CC has been available cross-platform for some time now with a dedicated Mac app and an iOS app, but with the new cloud service, Adobe is aiming to make editing and organizing photos simpler for both professionals and enthusiasts across multiple devices.


The new version of Lightroom CC continues to offer the same image editing capabilities that have been available in previous versions of Lightroom, but there's a new streamlined user interface with quick adjustment tools and presets that are quicker and easier to use.

All content is stored in the cloud, with Adobe providing users with up to 1TB of storage space that includes support for RAW images.


Full resolution photos stored in Lightroom can be edited on any device using the Lightroom CC app for Mac, the iOS app, or the web interface. Lightroom backs up all photos and keeps edits synced across devices.

Lightroom CC supports Adobe Sensei machine learning technology, which is able to recognize objects and people in photographs to make searching for and finding content simpler. Keywords are automatically applied to photos based on content.

Sharing tools make it simple to share Lightroom CC content directly to social networks, and there's an option to create Lightroom web galleries to showcase multiple photos at once. Lightroom CC also supports integration with Adobe Portfolio.


On iOS devices, the updated Lightroom CC app features the same Adobe Sensei search technology, and it offers an enhanced iPad layout and support for the iOS 11 Files app.

With the launch of the new cloud-based Lightroom CC app, Adobe is not eliminating the previous version of Lightroom. The older non-cloud version of Lightroom, which will continue to focus on a more traditional desktop-first workflow, has been renamed to Lightroom Classic CC. Lightroom Classic CC is also getting several new updates. It is gaining an enhanced Embedded Preview workflow for scrolling through large sets of photos faster than before, and new editing capabilities like a new Color Range and Luminance Masking feature.

With the launch of the Lightroom CC Cloud Photography service, Adobe is introducing new pricing plans. The Lightroom CC Cloud service with 1TB of storage plus Photoshop CC and access to Lightroom for mobile and web is priced at $19.99 per month. For existing Photography subscribers, Adobe is dropping that price to $14.99 per month for the first year.

Adobe is adding Lightroom CC to the existing Creative Cloud Photography plan and providing current subscribers with 20GB of storage space. The plan will continue to cost $9.99 per month and includes Lightroom CC, Lightroom mobile, Lightroom web, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop CC.

A standalone Lightroom CC plan is available for customers who don't need Photoshop access. It includes 1TB of storage and access to the mobile and web apps for $9.99 per month. For mobile only users, there's a Lightroom Mobile plan for iOS that offers 100GB of cloud storage for $4.99 per month.

More information about Adobe's New Lightroom CC Cloud Photography service can be found on the Adobe website.

Tag: Adobe

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