MetroPCS is now Metro by T-Mobile

It’s been five years since T-Mobile picked up MetroPCS, and now the prepaid service is finally getting a fresh coat of paint. The “PCS” bit is getting the old heave-ho, while the brand’s owners are letting you know who’s boss with the new Metro by T-Mobile brand name.

The new name involves some new plans, along with a couple of perks from key partners. There are two new (pricier) tiers, in addition to the standard ones. The new unlimited plans run $50 and $60 a month, and both include storage via Google One.

That makes the newly rebranded service the first to offer up access to Google’s new storage plan. The cloud deal also offers access to Google Experts, who can help you troubleshoot issues with any Google service.

The $60 a month plan, meanwhile, tosses in Amazon Prime for good measure. That’s not exactly a solid reason to upgrade in and of itself, given that an Amazon Prime plan currently runs $119 a year, but the more premium plan offers 15GB of LTE data for its mobile hotspot versus 5GB.

macOS Mojave is now available

Enjoy reading lots of words about new operating systems? Good news! There are plenty of those here. Enjoy actually downloading and running said new operating systems? Gooder news! macOS 10.14 Mojave is now available in final public form over at the Mac App Store.

As with the last several versions of the desktop OS, Mojave’s a free download — though every time the company launches a new one, there tends to be a bit of a bottleneck with downloads, so you may want to give this one a bit of time before attempting.

As far as what you’ve got to look forward to on the this new version, Dark Mode is the biggest marquee feature here. Mojave offers the ability to switch windows and backgrounds to a dark design with light text — which, like many of the OS’s new features, is targeted at the company’s core audience of creative pros.

Stacks is probably my personal favorite of the bunch. With a click of a button, it cleans your ridiculously messy desktop into piles of files sortable by type and various other categories. The first batch of iOS apps have been ported to the desktop here, as well, including Voice Memos, Stocks, Home and News.

Screenshots have been pretty thoroughly tweaked, while Safari’s got a bunch of new security features.

Audible brings its audiobook library to the Apple Watch

Didn’t get your fill of Amazon news among the 70 or so announcements at today’s Alexa event? Good news, Audible’s got something to add to the deluge. The Amazon-owned audiobook site just announced the availability of its Apple Watch app.

The offering brings pretty much what you’d expect. You can listen to audiobooks and manage your library directly from the small screen. It’s a pretty logical next step for the service, given the focus Apple has put on smartwatch audio, between last year’s addition of an LTE version of the watch and the recent announcement of a native podcasting app for the platform.

This also goes a ways toward justifying the recent addition of Aaptiv fitness routines, which Audible added a few weeks back. The offering made some sense on the phone, but bringing the course directly to a fitness/health-focused product like the Apple Watch helps complete that vision. Those workout and meditation offerings are free to Audible users through September of next year.

Echo HomePod? Amazon wants you to build your own

One of the bigger surprises at today’s big Amazon event was something the company didn’t announce. After a couple of years of speculation that the company was working on its own version of the HomePod and Google Max, we still don’t have a truly premium Echo.

That’s due, in part, to the fact that Amazon is already leaning fairly heavily on hardware partnerships with companies like Sony to offer people a premium, Alexa-enabled smart speaker. But today, we got a better glimpse at how it plans to take on such products. And frankly, it’s a bit of fresh air.

Amazon’s already laid the ground work here. The first step in the plan is seeding the Echo and Alexa into as many rooms in as many homes as possible. Check and double-check, thanks in no small part to the super-low-cost Echo Dot. Today, the company demonstrated how those pieces can be turned into something more.

After the event, we were ushered into a handful of fake rooms at Amazon HQ, designed to show the new products in their native habitat. As I stood in front of a couch flanked by two of the new Echo Dots, the company blared some Ed Sheeran song (again, not my choice), with the devices splitting up the left and right stereo track.

The sound was loud and decent, but couldn’t compete with the likes of the HomePod. No problem, though. Toss in the new Sub and pick up the Link Amp. Boom, you’ve got your very own modular home stereo system. It’s a compelling à la carte approach to the system that puts Amazon in competition with the likes of Sonos, but more importantly, makes existing Echos the centerpiece of a multi-room home speaker system.

An Amazon clock? A microwave? None of these bizarre additions mattered much to my colleague, Matt Burns. The Link, on the other hand, as he put it, “I almost bought a $600 device a few weeks ago just to get optical out.” For $199 or $299, he can get his hands on the Link or Link Amp, respectively.

Instead of shelling out $349 or $400 for the HomePod or Home Max, you can create your own version piece by piece. Granted, all of the parts could easily end up costing you more than either option, but there’s a lot to be said for the ability to mix and match and customize on a per-room basis.

This approach marks the single most compelling revelation in a day jam-packed with Amazon news. It will be fascinating to see how Apple and Google respond.

Amazon intros a new Echo Show with built-in smart home hub

Today’s Amazon event is full of surprises, but you could have predicted this one from a mile away. The Echo show is a couple of years old now, and honestly, the hardware was never really that spectacular in the first place. The company just introduced a new version of the screen-sporting smart speaker, feature a much nicer designer and more.

Like the rest of the company’s recently introduced Echo products, the new device feature a more premium cloth design, similar to Google’s Home products and the Apple HomePod. The screen size has been double as well, to 10 inches, while the speaker has been tweaked, now features real time Dolby processing.

The product features an eight microphone array and will integrate Microsoft’s Skype for non-proprietary chatting. Interestingly the company has also added third-party browsers here, bringing Firefox to the offering and further blurring the line between the display-enabled smart speaker and the company’s Fire tablet offerings.

There are various other fun new skills for the refreshed product, including a Battleship game. The product will also integrate with Amazon’s security offerings through the camera and new doorbell API.

The newly designed Show should help Amazon compete with the various third-party Smart Displays introduced for Google Assistant, along with a proprietary Google device expected to be announced next month.

Like its predecessor, the product runs $229. Pre-orders open today. It will start shipping next month.

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch

Any time a smaller company is gobbled up by a larger one, you assume the worse. In the case of Nokia buying Withings, that’s more or less what happened. First Nokia launched a handful of products under its own name and ultimately dropped the French health hardware company altogether.

Four months ago, one of Withings’ co-founders bought the brand back from Nokia. And today, the innovative French hardware company returns with a new take on an old product. The Steel HR Sport. It’s a welcome return for what had become one of my favorite fitness trackers, prior to the brand’s untimely demise, back in May.

The Steel line’s simplicity has always been among its most appealing features. The original, launched in 2014, was one of the early hybrid smartwatches — a fairly standard analog timepiece that hides some smart features below the surface. The devices feature a small monochrome display up top for notifications and menus, along with a small secondary gauge embedded in the face that displays the percentage toward a daily fitness goal.

The Steel HR Sport brings some key updates to the line, including the ability to track 30 different activities, including yoga, volleyball, rowing, boxing, skiing and ice hockey. The watch also provides “Fitness Level Assessments,” which gauge things like VO2 max to provide a better overall picture of health. And while there’s no GPS built in, the watch uses the phone to track distance, elevation and pace and map runs.

Aside from the aesthetic appeal, battery life has always been one of the biggest upsides of these hybrid devices, and the new watch certainly fits the profile with 25 days on a charge, plus an additional 20 days in standby mode. That means that, unlike much of the competition, the watch actually can track daytime and nighttime activity, without needing to recharge.

Unlike the Steel HR, which came in both 36 and 40mm sizes, the HR Sport is only available in the latter — though that’s still quite a bit more compact than a number of smartwatches on the market. It’s available today for $200.

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch

Any time a smaller company is gobbled up by a larger one, you assume the worse. In the case of Nokia buying Withings, that’s more or less what happened. First Nokia launched a handful of products under its own name and ultimately dropped the French health hardware company altogether.

Four months ago, one of Withings’ co-founders bought the brand back from Nokia. And today, the innovative French hardware company returns with a new take on an old product. The Steel HR Sport. It’s a welcome return for what had become one of my favorite fitness trackers, prior to the brand’s untimely demise, back in May.

The Steel line’s simplicity has always been among its most appealing features. The original, launched in 2014, was one of the early hybrid smartwatches — a fairly standard analog timepiece that hides some smart features below the surface. The devices feature a small monochrome display up top for notifications and menus, along with a small secondary gauge embedded in the face that displays the percentage toward a daily fitness goal.

The Steel HR Sport brings some key updates to the line, including the ability to track 30 different activities, including yoga, volleyball, rowing, boxing, skiing and ice hockey. The watch also provides “Fitness Level Assessments,” which gauge things like VO2 max to provide a better overall picture of health. And while there’s no GPS built in, the watch uses the phone to track distance, elevation and pace and map runs.

Aside from the aesthetic appeal, battery life has always been one of the biggest upsides of these hybrid devices, and the new watch certainly fits the profile with 25 days on a charge, plus an additional 20 days in standby mode. That means that, unlike much of the competition, the watch actually can track daytime and nighttime activity, without needing to recharge.

Unlike the Steel HR, which came in both 36 and 40mm sizes, the HR Sport is only available in the latter — though that’s still quite a bit more compact than a number of smartwatches on the market. It’s available today for $200.

Amazon reportedly has an Alexa microwave and more on the way

Roughly this time last year, Amazon unleashed a ton of Alexa devices on the world, including the Spot and new Echos. It follows, then, that the company’s got something up its sleeve for this year, just in time to prime the pump ahead of the holidays.

According to a report from CNBC, the retail giant is planning to release “at least” eight Alexa hardware devices at an event later this month. The list is certainly diverse, including an automotive gadget, amplifier, a receiver and a subwoofer. Those last three likely work in tandem and would put the company in direct competition with the likes of Sonos.

Ditto for the automotive. Companies like Garmin already offer in-car Alexa products, while carmakers have begun incorporating the assistant into their infotainment systems. It’s an interesting tact, given that the company has appeared more inclined to let third parties do much of the heavy lifting with Alexa of late. Many of the low-cost Echo products feel as much like reference designs as anything.

Most interesting of the bunch is a voice-powered microwave oven. Certainly the voice assistant would make sense on this manner of appliance — though a proprietary device would be ambitious for a company that’s already partnered with multiple appliance makers.

Refreshes of existing products like the Show could make sense here, especially as Google has stepped up its gain with a new line of third-party Smart Displays. The long-awaited high-end HomePod competitor could, perhaps, be in the works, as well.

Apple Watch and other hardware reportedly spared by new Trump tariffs

The latest round of Trump administration tariffs is set to affect a number of different industries. At least one category previously expected to be impacted, however, is likely to be spared, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

According to anonymous sources, the tariffs impacting a slew of consumer electronics, running the gamut from the Apple Watch to Fitbit trackers to Sonos speakers, has not made it into the final language. That means, for this round at least, those products should be spared the tax that would drive up the cost of such imports.

Trump administration tariffs have been the centerpiece of a looming trade war between the U.S. and China. Earlier today, China was reportedly set to cancel further trade talks, should the U.S. announce additional tariffs. They’ve been a domestic issue as well, as companies like Harley-Davidson have announced plans to move some production overseas to avoid the fee.

Apple has been a vocal critic of the tariffs, noting the resulting price hike. Earlier this month, the company wrote a letter to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, noting, “Tariffs increase the cost of our US operations, divert our resources, and disadvantage Apple compared to foreign competitors. More broadly, tariffs will lead to higher US consumer prices, lower overall US economic growth, and other unintended economic consequences.”

CEO Tim Cook also met with the president and first lady at their New Jersey golf resort earlier this month, in what much have been one of the more awkward meals in recent memory.

The new tariffs are expected to be announced as early as today.

The new iPhone’s here, so Google wants to talk Pixel 3

In the off-chance you haven’t already had your fill of phone news for the week, Google just offered up a few friendly reminders that it’s got its own handset coming out in the not so distant future.

The company’s event isn’t happening until early next month, but Google’s started with the teasers. Here’s a site with a big number 3, while over here a “coming soon” placeholder shows off the rough outline of what one assumes is the new phone.

It’s pretty bare bones at the moment, but a click of the “G” logo unleashes a slow, steady stream of confetti. As Android Police handily notes, the phone’s silhouette is shown in three colors — black, white and a kind of mint green.

The former have already been leaked like crazy all over the internet. The pale green, on the other hand, could be a surprise — well, a “surprise,” I suppose. Companies love to whet the tech press’s collective palate with a hint or two.Though we’ve been burned in the past.

Remember when the popsicle wallpaper appeared to be a nod to the upcoming Android P name? The truth of the matter was a bit more dull. That said, there’s no shortage of Pixel 3 information out in the world right now. We’ve already seen about as much of the upcoming handset as we have Apple’s new devices.

Whatever the case, all will be revealed on October 9.