Android 11 Release – People-centric Communication and “Pixel-First” Features

Six months have passed since Android 11 developer preview was released in February and at the time we noted enhancements for foldables and 5G, new call-screening APIs, new media & camera capabilities including animated HEIF support, as well as machine learning improvements. Google has now officially released Android 11 that is currently rolling out to select Google Pixel, OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Realme phones. More phones will be upgraded/supported in the future, and Google also introduced some Pixel-first features that will (initially?) end up on Pixel phones exclusively. All Android 11 phones will support chat bubbles to message on top of other applications, built-in screen & audio, wireless Android Auto support with compatible cars, one-time permission for increased privacy, and more. But Google may have changed strategy trying to make Pixel phones more attractive to prospective buyers and increase sales as the Android 11 release comes with the following Pixel-exclusive features: Live View with Location Sharing in Google Maps – […]

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ESPurna ESP8266 Automation Firmware Gets Support for BME680 Sensor’s Precise Indoor Air Quality Measurements

Bosch BME680 is a 4-in-1 air quality sensor measuring relative humidity, barometric pressure, ambient temperature, and gas (VOC) levels. It’s found in boards such as STM32 based Metriful Sense or Nordic Thingy:91, and Bosch Sensortec published an Arduino library based on “Bosch Sensortec Environmental Cluster (BSEC) Software” to provide precise calculations temperature, humidity, pressure, and indoor air quality (IAQ). BSEC proprietary algorithms can provide indoor air quality data as good as more expensive CO2 sensors according to a recent presentation by the company. Max Prokhorov, lead ESPurna maintainer, and Rui Marinho noticed none of the popular open-source ESP8266 automation firmware including ESPurna, Tasmota, and Esphome supported BME680 sensor just yet. So they decided to work together to add BME680 sensor support via BSEC library to ESPurna firmware, and now it’s very easy to use as you just need to define BME680_SUPPORT=1 before compiling the firmware. You’ll find the now-merged pull request here. The feature was previously discussed in Tasmota, but […]

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Sonoff Zigbee Bridge Now Supports Tasmota Firmware, Home Assistant, Zigbee2Tasmota

Sonoff ZBBridge (aka Sonoff Zigbee Bridge) WiFi to Zigbee gateway was launched a few months ago for $16.90 plus shipping, and it’s now also listed on Banggood for $17.99 shipped. It allows users to control Zigbee devices connected to the gateway using the eWelink mobile app used with other Sonoff devices. But many people like to run Tasmota firmware on their Sonoff devices since it’s open-source and provided more flexibility such as integration with Home Assitant or Domoticz. There was already support for Zigbee in Tasmota at the time but only for Texas Instruments SimpleLink CC253x Zigbee MCU’s, and Sonoff ZBBridge is made of an ESP8266 WiSoC and a Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 Gecko Series 2 Cortex-M33 Zigbee microcontroller. So I just suspected that eventually, Sonoff Zigbee Bridge could support Tasmota open-source firmware but that would take some time… It took about four months. Not too bad. It started in the comments section on CNX Software and other places, with the […]

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Software Update Brings Subscription based Functions-on-Demand to BMW Cars

Cars are getting smarter and safer, and autonomous driving looks promising but may take longer than expected, as many shortcomings still have to be worked out. In any case, that means most new cars will be connected to the Internet in the future, especially with the launch of 5G and V2X solutions. This will bring benefits and new business models, as BMW showcased at the recent BMW Connected Car Beta Days 2020. BMW lists a long list of new advantages of an upcoming software upgrade with improved BWM maps, connected parking to help you find parking space, connected charging to “make mobility more sustainable and innovative”, BMW Digital Key that turns an iPhone into a secure digital vehicle key,  wireless support of Google’s Android Auto, and the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant has received some improvement with the virtual character now turns towards the person talking and can distinguish between addressing the driver and the passenger. Some updates look genuinely useful, […]

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TASMOTA Now Supports ESP32 Targets including some Ethernet and Camera Boards

TASMOTA open-source firmware was initially designed for ESP8266 or ESP8285 based Sonoff home automation devices providing an alternative to eWelink firmware with support for MQTT protocol allowing integration with home automation frameworks like Domoticz or openHAB. It has since then expanded to support hardware from various brands, but until recently you were still limited to products with ESP8266 or ESP8285, and ESP32 was not supported. The good news is that TASMOTA has now gotten experimental support for ESP32 boards and products such as TTGO T-Camera. You’ll find basic documentation and well as Tasmota ESP32 (aka Tasmota32) firmware files for LilyGO TTGO T-Camera board, displays, and I2C sensor on Tasmota Github.io website. The ESP32 port is based on Jörg Schüler-Maroldt’s work. PuceBacoon also found other ESP32 boards in the source code including Olimex ESP32-PoE board in xdrv_82_ethernet.ino file and “AI Thinker” cameras in xdrv_81_webcam.ino. If you’d like to give it a try you can either download Tasmota32 firmware or built it […]

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Looking for an Android Phone with Long Term Support? Fairphone 2 Gets Android 9 Five Years After Launch

When you use a laptop or computer with Windows or Linux, you’re pretty much assured to get regular security updates. That’s partially why I prefer to do things like online banking on my computer rather than a phone, despite banks pushing for mobile apps. Why? Because most mobile phones get limited support. I selected an Android One phone, namely Xiaomi Mi A2, because I would get updates for at least 18 months. When you think about it it’s quite pathetic, but that’s about the best Android has to offer. It’s quite better on Apple side with updates for 4 to 5 years for iPhones, while Google Pixel phones are said to get updates for about 3+ years. How you deliver updates also matter, as I recently heard Samsung users complain about frequent updates, while they had somehow no such complaint about their iPhone. But if you’re not quite ready to make the jump to iPhones, and prefer the openness of […]

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Zigbee Firmware News – TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee for CC2530 & ptvo Zigbee FW Configuration Tool

We’ve been writing about Zigbee more in recent months with either product announcements such as Sonoff ZBBridge WiFi to Zigbee gateway, and open-source software updates such as Tasmota support for Zigbee connectivity. We’ve recently been tipped about Zigbee-related news, namely TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee router firmware port to Sonoff BASICZBR3, and ptvo Zigbee Configurable Firmware v2.4 GUI tool designed to create alternative Zigbee switch and router firmware for TI CC253x based modules and devices TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee Router Firmware on Sonoff BASICZBR3 Kirovilya, a well-known open-source developer and founder of ioBroker open-source home automation software, has ported TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee router firmware to CC2530 and tested it on Sonoff BASICZBR3 with DS18B20 waterproof temperature sensor. This is significant as Sonoff BASICZBR3 is only shipped with TI Z-Stack Home 1.2 Zigbee router firmware and I was told no one else had ported TI Z-Stack 3.0 Zigbee to CC2530 chip so far. You’ll find source code on Github, and a […]

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Updating the BIOS (System Firmware) from the Device Manager in Windows 10

I recently started having problems playing YouTube videos in Firefox and Chrome in Ubuntu 18.04. The video would load, and I could see frames at any time, but it would just not play. I soon discovered that killing PulseAudio, and the video would play without audio. I also noticed I had Dummy Output in Sound settings. I tried all usual tricks to fix this, but still no luck. Then I discovered I had audio just after booting my computer, but after a while, there would be no audio at all. This seems to match the time by which the AMD GPU drives crashes (just warning), something that had happened ever since I installed Ubuntu on my Acer laptop. After more failed attempts, I decided to try to update the BIOS using Windows 10. A 10-minute task, right? I would just have to replace the hard drive with one pre-loaded with Windows 10 (I got one from warranty service a few […]

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