Nokia 3310 3G review

Why it matters to you

The Nokia 3310, widely considered to be one of the most popular phones ever made, will now be a good burner phone, but it won’t replace your smartphone.

You’re in for a doozy of a throwback with the Nokia 3310 3G.

The one-of-a-kind Nokia 3310, if you don’t recall, was a “dumb” phone that launched in 2000. Like most Nokia phones at the time, its long-lasting battery and tank-like durability set it apart.

So when can you buy one and how much will it cost? Here’s everything you need to know about the Nokia 3310 3G.

Price and release date

In a market brimming with $900+ smartphones, the Nokia 3310 3G is a real bargain.

In the U.S., it’s available for pre-order at Best Buy for $60 ahead of an October 29 ship date.

In the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, the 3310 3G is on sale now for 49 euros (~$53). Note, though, that the European variant of the phone only supports GSM 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, which means it isn’t really configured for U.S. networks. If you want stateside service, you’ll have to stick with the U.S. 3310 3G.

In all territories where it’s available, the Nokia 3310 3G comes in red, dark blue, yellow, and gray colors.

A colorful phone that’s built like a tank

Nokia isn’t in the business of making phones anymore, smart or dumb — it licensed its brand name to HMD Global, a Chinese holding company, years ago. But it retains control over the design, software, and marketing of phones carrying its brand. Basically, HMD has to make sure its phones are in keeping with Nokia’s standards.

Enter the colorful Nokia 3310. It’s plastic, like the Nokia Lumia series for Windows Mobile, almost to the point that it looks and feels like a toy. But it’s also incredibly light, compact, rounded, and anything but fragile.

1139654 autosave v1 2 nokia3310 mwc 4

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Nokia 3310 doesn’t have at QWERTY keyboard (you’ll have to brush up on your T9 typing), and the 2-megapixel rear camera and 2.4-inch QVGA display don’t leave much room for the battery. Still, Nokia claims the 1,200mAh removable cell, which charges via Micro USB port, lasts up to 27 days on standby and up to 6.5 hours of talk time.

In terms of storage, the 3310 3G has a MicroSD card slot that support cards up to 32GB in size. And besides 3G, it’s equipped with Bluetooth SLAM, Nokia’s proprietary pairing standard, and an FM radio.

You won’t find Android on the Nokia 3310. It runs on the Nokia Series 30+ operating system instead, which ships with a basic bundle of apps. There’s an MP3 player app in case you want to listen to some music, and a few games (including Snake) that will hold your attention for short commutes.

The 3310 3G won’t won’t replace your smartphone — it can’t. But as a burner phone, a backup, or a fun novelty, you could do worse.

Highs

  • Compact, fun design
  • You can play Snake
  • Long battery life

Lows

  • Camera is practically useless
  • Feels cheap
  • Only supports GSM 900MHz and 1,800MHz bands

Update: Added news of U.S. availability. 

Editor’s Recommendations

This backpack can carry all of your things — and you

MOVPAK is an electric skateboard and a backpack all in one. The skateboard pops out from the bottom of the bag and pops back in after use. It can also reach speeds up to 15 mph and is remote controlled. The electric board takes 2 hours to charge and can ride for 9 miles on a single charge — allowing you to carry all your things on your back in the subway and ride the rest of the way to work.

The best ZTE Blade Z Max cases to keep it safe from bumps and scratches

As we said in our ZTE Blade Z Max review, this phone is really big and adds some new features from last year’s ZMax Pro. It has a huge 6-inch screen and a new design that includes a grippy texture on the back and a repositioned camera in the top left. The headphone jack is located on the bottom of the phone next to the USB-C charging port. Ports that you use all the time should be easily accessible. The Blade Z Max needs a case that will protect that massive screen from drops, but also offer easy access to those ports. Here are our picks for the best ZTE Blade Z Max cases that will do that and more.

If you’re planning to buy more accessories for your ZTE Blade Z Max, then check out our picks for the best USB-C cables and best portable chargers.

Otterbox Achiever Series Case ($30)

best ZTE Blade Z Max cases
Otterbox is here to protect your ZTE Blade Z Max from drops with its renowned Drop+ Protection. Unlike some other Otterbox cases, this one has a slim profile for pockets or purses. The dual-layer inner core and hard outer layer absorb and help to deflect impacts when dropped. All the cut-outs you require for easy access to the camera, fingerprint sensor, and ports are there. The case comes in black and two other options that look quite nice. You can choose cool plum or water stone two-tone color combinations.

Buy one now from:

Otterbox Cases

Jaten Brushed Metal Hybrid Cover ($8)

best ZTE Blade Z Max cases
If you want drop protection and you also want to keep things as slim as possible, take a look at this dual-layer slim-fit case by Jaten. The inner core is a soft TPU sleeve that is surrounded by a hard polycarbonate layer. The hard edges give the phone a good fit all the way around the case which makes it feel nice and compact. The thin, brushed-metal look is nicely done and not overly flashy.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

LeYi Women Glitter Case ($8)

best ZTE Blade Z Max cases
For anyone out there looking for a case that protects the phone with sparkly style, this case from LeYi is a nice choice. It has a dual-layer design that consists of a soft silicone inner layer and a hard polycarbonate outer layer that snaps in place to give the case rigidity. There’s a bezel around the front to protect the screen and you get a screen protector in the box with it. Besides the glitter design, you can choose the case in this mint color, pink, or rose gold.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

NageBee Flip Fold Wallet Case ($10)

best ZTE Blade Z Max cases
Here’s a good quality wallet style case that has card slots for your ID or other cards and a pocket for cash. The magnetic clasp snaps in place to keep everything secured inside the case. The ZTE Blade Z Max goes inside a plastic case that covers the entire phone. The case also doubles as a phone stand in case you want to watch videos. The synthetic leather gives it a nice premium look, and you can choose from a butterfly design or a plum color.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Beyond Cell Flip Wallet Cover ($10)

best ZTE Blade Z Max cases
Sometimes you need a no-nonsense, professional looking wallet cover. This wallet case from Beyond Cell is just that. Inside the wallet, you will find two ID slots and a pocket for cash. The company also includes a wrist strap that could certainly come in handy. There is a magnetic closure that locks the flip cover securely, and the wallet also doubles as a stand for watching videos or reading. The front flip cover has holes so that you can talk on the phone with the wallet completely closed. The cover comes in black and brown, dark blue and brown, red and brown, or rose gold and brown color combinations.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Editor’s Recommendations

BlackBerry’s KEYone ‘Black Edition’ offers more than just good looks


BlackBerry’s most interesting phone in years – if not an entire decade – is the KEYone, an Android device with a classic BlackBerry hardware keyboard that finally answers the needs of truly dedicated thumb typists with a modern mobile OS. Now, the KEYone ‘Black Edition’ has arrived, and it’s more than just a fresh coat of paint on an older gadget.

In fact, the ‘Black Edition’ doubles the internal storage of the KEYone, from 32GB up to 64GB (and it retains its expandable memory capability via microSD) – plus, it boosts RAM up to 4GB, which is a very welcome change from the 3GB on the original, if only because the one complaint I had about the original KEYone was that it could feel a bit pokey in places in terms of the speed of elements of the OS and some aspects of a few applications.

The ‘Black Edition’ feels speedier in all regards, after a few days of testing, and still retains all the charm of the original. The all-black design feels a bit less retro, but on the whole is probably a more appealing look for a larger segment of the population vs. the dual-tone silver and black of the original. And the phone benefits from months of production of the KEYone by TCL, which should mean it’s got less in the way of manufacturing quirks.

Basically, this is the current best BlackBerry you can buy, and it’s actually up there in terms of the top Android device options – for a certain type of buyer. That is, if you value the physical keyboard, and the convenience that comes with having a whole lot of hardware shortcuts for apps and actions at your fingertips, and you’re not as concerned about having a large, generous display for watching videos or other content, this is probably right up your alley.

The ‘Black Edition’ KEYone also has that assignable dedicated hardware button on the side, which is far more useful than the Note 8’s Bixby button, and the keyboard doubles as a trackpad for scrolling and other features which keep the display free of obfuscation while browsing Twitter and reading documents.

BlackBerry’s ‘Black Edition’ KEYone went on sale this week in Canada at Amazon, Telus and Walmart for $799.99 off contract.

Apple reportedly isn’t producing enough iPhone X units for first weekend sales


According to a new report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is still facing supply chain constraints for the upcoming iPhone X. The company will have around 2 to 3 million units before the launch on November 3rd, which shouldn’t be enough to meet demand.

While Apple didn’t disclose exact numbers for first weekend sales last year, the company sold 13 million iPhone 6s units during the first weekend, 10 million iPhone 6 units and 9 million iPhone 5s/5c units. The iPhone 8 is already available, which could mitigate demand for the iPhone X, but it sounds like many buyers will be disappointed by Apple’s initial stock.

In many ways, the iPhone X packs more innovative components than your average new iPhone. Apple usually adds cutting-edge components when its suppliers can produce tens of millions of them. But multiple parts of the iPhone X are generating supply chain issues.

According to KGI Securities, Apple now uses a flexible printed circuit board for the antenna. This is not your average circuit board, so Apple has had issues finding suppliers that can produce those components at scale. Murata was supposed to be the main supplier for this part, but it sounds like the company can’t meet Apple’s strong requirements. Since then, Apple has found a new supplier, which created some delays.

On the camera front, Apple is using a different circuit board for each sensor. Other phone makers only use one circuit board. This custom design has also been a challenge.

Finally, the iPhone X features a ton of sensors on the front of device. Apple has packed a tiny Kinect in the notch of the device. One component in particular projects a network of infrared dots to create a 3D map of your face based on the reflection of those dots on your face. Apple has had issues finding a supplier that can produce enough dot projectors for the iPhone X.

iPhone X pre-orders start on Friday, October 27th at midnight Pacific time. If you plan on getting the new phone, you shouldn’t delay your pre-order. Chances are that shipping estimations are going to slip to multiple weeks after just a few minutes.

Production should ramp up in the coming weeks, but it sounds like it could take months before you can just walk in an Apple store and buy a new iPhone X. It’s going to be interesting to hear Tim Cook’s comments on those supply chain issues when Apple announces its quarterly earnings in a couple of weeks.

Harmon Kardon Invoke review

Ready for the smart speaker explosion? It’s taken a little time for specialist audio manufacturers to follow the lead of Amazon Echo and Google Home, but momentum is building with speakers flooding the market at a range of price points that pack Alexa, Siri, or the Google Assistant. What Bluetooth speakers were to 2015, smart speakers are to 2017 and beyond – and we’re just getting started.

We recently reviewed (and loved) the Sonos One, the company’s reinvention of their Play:1 speaker, combining superb sound quality and excellent Alexa integration (with Google Assistant coming next year). Not to be outdone, Ultimate Ears has just taken the wraps off two new, portable, Alexa-packing speakers, the $230 UE Blast and $300 Megablast.

Now there’s a smart speaker with a new (old) sheriff in town: Cortana. While Cortana has been around on the Microsoft platform for awhile, we haven’t heard her in a smart speaker. That’s no longer the case, thanks to Harman Kardon’s new Invoke Cortana-enabled speaker, available starting Sunday. Find out how well the speaker measured up to other smart speakers on the market in our Harman Kardon Invoke review.

While Cortana has been around for awhile, we haven’t heard her in a smart speaker.

While you can expect many more “me too” speakers to launch over the coming months, the Harman Kardon Invoke stands out for a few reasons. The $199 device is the first speaker to launch with Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant (and possibly the only device, although HP and Intel have signed up to develop reference hardware, which may stimulate others to follow).

The partnership combines Harman Kardon’s premium audio expertise with Microsoft’s online services – notably Cortana and Skype – as well as Windows 10 PC connectivity, the Bing knowledge graph, Office 365 calendars and newly-announced smart home device integration.  A range of third-party Cortana skills extend features, but you won’t have the breadth of support you’d get from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Restrictions on Cortana’s availability mean that the Invoke will only ship in the United States at launch.

With Harman Kardon (recently acquired by Samsung) also announcing the Alexa-enabled Allure speaker, the Invoke may represent somewhat of an experiment for all parties. The question is whether the Invoke delivers the combination of quality and intelligence that can compete against the tsunami of smart speakers flooding the market. If it doesn’t, given Microsoft’s reputation for canning hardware and services that don’t make the grade, the Invoke may end up as a collector’s item.

Refined hardware design with a beautiful finish

We were impressed by the design of the Harman Kardon Invoke, when announced back in May, with its sleek lines, gentle curves and chrome finish building on Amazon Echo’s cylindrical form.

Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

Available in a choice of pearl silver or graphite, the Invoke has all the visual design cues you’d expect from a premium audio stable.

In hand, the impact is even more impressive. From the carbon-black packaging with spot-varnished branding, to the punched metal speaker surround and slow, weighty action of the volume ring, the Harmon Kardon Invoke bleeds quality. Even the branded (and somewhat large) power supply has folding pins, making it more convenient for travel.

While there are clear visual similarities with both Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:1, Harmon Kardon has just done enough to give Invoke its own identity. It’ll look fabulous in your home.

Impressive audio engine packed into a svelte chassis

Despite its sleek 4.2 by 9.5 inch-dimensions, the Invoke packs a mighty 360-degree audio engine under the hood. Two vertical passive radiators fitted to the top half of the device are joined by a lower cluster of three direct-radiating 0.5-inch tweeters. Below them, a further three direct-radiating 1.75-inch woofers drive the low-end. Total power output is rated at 40 W, with a frequency response of 60-20kHz (-6dB).

That’s one more microphone than the Sonos One, if you’re counting

At the top of the device, seven far-field microphones (that’s one more than the Sonos One, if you’re counting) are designed to pick up your voice from anywhere in the room but can be disabled via a rear button for privacy. In terms of connectivity, the Invoke supports Bluetooth 4.1 connections and dual-band Wi-Fi, but there’s no Ethernet port or 3.5mm input jack.

It’s an impressive array, especially when you consider the single tweeter and mid-woofer equipped in the Sonos One. While there’s no wired connectivity, the Invoke supports faster wireless connections as well as direct streaming over Bluetooth, which the Sonos does not support. But does this translate into a better listening experience?

Wide range of controllers, including Voice, App and PC

The Invoke supports manual control courtesy of a volume ring and capacitive touch panel at the top of the device. A short tap (less than three seconds) stops or responds to whatever is happening on the speaker, for example, stopping playback, answering an incoming call or cancelling a timer. If the speaker is idle, a quick tap provides a “fun fact” from Cortana – a small distraction if you’re bored, or hours of fun for the kids.

Harmon Kardon Invoke review bedside

A long tap is used to activate Cortana (alongside the usual, “Hey Cortana” voice command) or to ignore a call. We found the manual controls to be intuitive and responsive; however, it’s more likely that you’ll use a combination of voice and the smartphone app to play music on Invoke. The speaker supports the Cortana Android and iOS apps alongside native Windows 10 and Windows Phone controls.

Simple setup via your smartphone

Power on the device and a cloudy, swirling pattern emanates from the touch panel. It’s much subtler than Echo’s bright blue LED ring or Google Home’s circle of indicators. Located on top of a reasonably tall device, it’s also less visible. We found ourselves having to stand up and head over to the speaker to check the display, which was quite inconvenient. However, displaying Cortana’s blue and white ring adds a little personality to the design.

Setup is performed using your smartphone and the Cortana app. In typical Microsoft-style, you’ll need to agree to a host of permissions during setup, configure your location and time zone, then your phone will hunt out and connect to the speaker. Provide your Wi-Fi details, and you’re all set as far as the hardware setup goes – it’s quick and painless.

Before you get going, however, you’ll be invited to connect your preferred music services and calendars. At this time, Spotify Premium, TuneIn Radio and iHeartRadio are the default options, with Office 365 and Outlook.com calendar connections also offered during setup.

Clear, punchy sound that beats Amazon and Google, but comes up short against Sonos.

We tested the Hardman Kardon Invoke alongside a Sonos Play:1, Amazon Echo and Google Home, playing a range of music over Bluetooth (Sonos excepted) and Wi-Fi.

Invoke’s audio is balanced and refined.

Invoke’s audio is balanced and refined. It can play loud, for sure, getting a little ragged at the top of the speaker’s range, but music certainly doesn’t distort as much as with Amazon Echo at high volume. There’s more than enough volume to fill a large space and the 360-degree driver positioning means that’s it’s the perfect speaker to place at the center of the room.

Compared to the cheaper Google Home, the difference in the Invoke’s audio quality is pronounced. Google Home sounded muffled and withdrawn, with muddy beats a world away from the Invoke’s clear highs, muscular mid-range and tight, punchy bass. The soundstage is narrower than you’d think, given the multi-directional speakers, but separation between instruments and vocals was reasonably good for a speaker at this price point.

Streaming over Bluetooth worked well, with pairing guided by Cortana when we pressed the relevant button on the rear of the device. Invoke offers the best streaming experience with Spotify, with Spotify Connect app controls working out of the box for playback. Open up the Spotify app on your phone, hit Devices Available and off you go.

Given the difference in speaker configuration to the Play:1, we were expecting the Invoke to top even the excellent sound quality of Sonos’ entry-level speaker. Certainly, the Invoke’s 360-degree sound is an advantage over the Play:1, but we actually preferred the warmer tone and greater presence of the Sonos speaker compared to the cleaner, tighter output of the Invoke. While the Play:1 is equipped with a single tweeter and woofer, compared to three of each in the Invoke, the significantly larger drivers in the Play:1 offer more depth and engagement overall.

That doesn’t make the Invoke a bad speaker, and it certainly beats both Amazon Echo and Google Home (the latter, easily) on quality. But Sonos Play:1 and its close cousin, the new Sonos One, remain the speakers to beat.

Hands-free Skype calls, calendars, alarms and smart home control

While Cortana has been around for more than three years, it’s been quickly overtaken by Amazon and Google’s aggressive push to dominate and control the smart home.  While Cortana may be available on 500 million Windows 10 PCs in 13 countries, the hearts and minds of consumers – and the support of hardware manufactures – is most firmly with competitors.

The launch of Invoke is designed to tackle that challenge, in part, but there’s a long way to go. Perhaps the jewel in the crown, at launch, is Skype integration. Invoke supports Skype-to-Skype as well as calls to landlines and mobiles through the speaker. We found that hands-free calling over Skype worked well, with Cortana able to connect to Skype callers by name and landlines or mobiles via a dictated number. Better still, Cortana can find and call numbers with relatively vague commands. Say, “Cortana, call the nearest Italian restaurant” and hey, that’s what she’ll do!

Harmon Kardon Invoke Compared To

Calls to US phone numbers are free (for the first six months only, which is disappointing), while you can also call abroad using Skype credits. While Invoke is able to receive incoming Skype calls, there’s sadly no support for hands-free calling via your phone’s Bluetooth connection.

Invoke can access Office 365 and Outlook.com calendars alongside handy features like timers, alarms and lists, plus location and time-based reminders. One advantage of using Cortana is that events can be created on your PC, on your phone or the speaker and you’ll receive notifications across your devices.

There’s also integrated support for smart home devices, with Wink, SmartThings and Insteon hubs available at launch, plus direct connections to Nest and Philips Hue. We found Cortana did a good job of handling basic tasks like powering our Philips Hue Lights and even controlling brightness, but color changes were out of the question. Controlling our Nest Learning Thermostat was also mostly successful, but Cortana did complain that she was unable to change the temperature on a couple of occasions.

Perhaps the jewel in the crown, at launch, is Skype integration.

Throughout our time with the Harman Karman Invoke, the speaker’s integrated far-field microphones did a good job of picking up commands from around the room, even with music playing.

Of course, with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant boasting ever-expanding libraries of third-party skills, you may find Cortana’s locker a little less well stocked. Whether that situation is likely to change, who knows, but Microsoft had trouble wooing developers with the Windows Phone, and the same may well be true with the corporation’s smart assistant.

While it fails to hit the highs of the Sonos One, a combination of good looks, great quality audio and a decent selection of well-executed features ensures the Harman Karmon Invoke is a solid smart speaker debut for Cortana.

Our Take

The Harmon Kardon Invoke isn’t the best smart speaker available today, but it’s a strong debut for Microsoft’s Cortana in a good-looking, great-sounding device. Skype, Outlook and Office 365 integration will attract Microsoft fans and smart home device control works well, but Invoke doesn’t have quite the quality or flexibility to beat Sonos One.

Is there a better alternative?

At $199, the Sonos One offers excellent sound quality, multi-room connectivity, a brilliant controller app and support for a variety of music services. With Amazon Alexa integration at launch and the promise of Google Assistant next year, it’s hard to beat.

There’s also the Siri-enabled Apple HomePod ($350), the range-topping/wallet-draining Google Home Max ($400) and enhanced Amazon Echo Plus ($150).

How long will it last?

In recent times, Microsoft has developed a poor reputation for sustaining consumer products and services that don’t turn into instant blockbusters. For every Xbox and Surface, there’s a Zune, Groove or Microsoft Band. With limited support from other hardware manufacturers and significant competition ahead, Invoke may well be the first and last Cortana-enabled smart speaker.

Should you buy it?

If you’re a Microsoft fan and you’re all in on Cortana, you’re going to love the Harman Kardon Invoke. Everyone else, check out the competition, or just pick up the Sonos One.

Editor’s Recommendations

You can now PayPal friends in Messenger and get help via chat


PayPal users in the U.S. will now be able to send and receive person-to-person payments over Facebook Messenger, the company announced this morning. The deeper integration with Messenger’s platform, which will also include PayPal’s first customer service bot for handling customer questions and requests for help, follows a series of tie-ups between the two companies.

Last year, Facebook and PayPal announced a deepened relationship that allowed customers in the U.S. to shop from online merchants using their Messenger chat bots, then transact in the messaging app via PayPal. Customers could also choose to link their PayPal account with Messenger in order to receive notifications and receipts from their online transactions within Messenger.

To date, over 2.5 million users have linked their PayPal account with Messenger, PayPal says, and that number is expected to grow with today’s news.

For starters, PayPal users can now pay their friends right inside Messenger – shifting some portion of PayPal’s $80 billion+ peer-to-peer payment volume to Facebook’s messaging app.

To be clear, this is an alternative to the existing payments feature that’s existed inside Messenger for a couple of years. The feature appeared, at first, to be Facebook’s own competitor to services like PayPal and PayPal-owned Venmo, Square, and others. But Facebook insisted it wasn’t aiming to build its own payments business – it largely saw the addition as something that just made Messenger better.

Earlier this year, Facebook added support for group payments, for example, but said it was still not taking a cut of transactions.

Starting today, Facebook is offering users the ability to choose PayPal as the funding source for peer-to-peer payments – and it can even be set as the default, PayPal tells us.

The new option is available by tapping the blue plus icon within Messenger, then selecting the green Payments button to send or request money. Here, you can select PayPal as the source when making a payment to a Messenger contact.

Beyond just being a simpler – and perhaps quicker – way to PayPal someone compared with using the native PayPal app, the addition will likely be used by those in Facebook’s buy-and-sell groups, including the local sales groups which are visited by some 450 million people monthly, according to data Facebook shared last fall.

While the Messenger integration will bring PayPal to a large audience, it’s not the first time PayPal has integrated with a messaging service – it’s already available via Apple’s iMessage, and can be launched through Siri.

When we asked PayPal if the plan was to offer a similar p2p option in other messaging apps in the future, PayPal COO Bill Ready said there was nothing to share right now.

“But I think this is part of a broader movement where we’re meeting the user in whatever context they’re in,” he added, noting that PayPal is also now available in services like Android Pay and Google Play, for example.

We also wondered if PayPal had plans to integrate Venmo into messaging experiences later on.

“There’s nothing we’re announcing with Venmo right now,” Ready replied. “But we really think about Venmo and PayPal as two interfaces that should get the user two common types of experiences,” he said. “Certainly, this general theme of users wanting to get p2p in new contexts – you see Venmo in iMessage and Siri – those types of things – we’re thinking [should be for] both PayPal and Venmo,” Ready said.

So…uh, yes, from the sounds of that.

PayPal’s new customer service bot

In addition to person-to-person payments, PayPal’s bot is gaining new capabilities, too. While it will still support notifications and receipts, PayPal users will now be able to get customer service help just by chatting with PayPal’s bot.

The automated system takes advantage of the natural language processing capabilities in Messenger’s platform to understand what people are saying.

That means, you can say something like “oh man, I totally forgot my password” and the bot should understand you need a password reset. The bot can also help answer questions about your PayPal transactions. But when the user’s request goes beyond the bot’s abilities, you’ll be connected with a live rep for help.

PayPal says it doesn’t have customer service staff dedicated to Messenger alone, but is using existing reps to handle in the incoming inquiries.

“The unique thing here is that Messenger has opened up a platform that allows us to not only have a one-to-one communication, but there’s a platform where we can go resolve things right inside of Messenger,” says Ready.

The Messenger bot and p2p payments option are going live today for Messenger users in the U.S., but PayPal expects to roll it out to its other supported global markets in time. Because of the size and scale of both companies, the feature will be rolled out gradually – which means you might not see it right away, but should soon.

The feature will initially launch on the web, with iOS and Android to follow.

Keep this emergency flashlight and radio close to your bed

Perfect for blackouts or your "I Am Legend" situations.
Perfect for blackouts or your “I Am Legend” situations.

Image: Vista shops

Do you have a plan in place for an emergency situation? Unfortunately, we all should. Even if you’ve been intending to put together an emergency kit but haven’t quite gotten around to doing it, good intentions won’t get you very far in an actual emergency.

Here’s a tip for getting started: grab this Emergency Multi-Function Radio & Flashlight. This handy gadget will check off multiple boxes for under $20, and take up minimal space in the meantime. It boasts a radio that can monitor both AM and FM stations as well as the NOAA 24/7 weather broadcast. With solar panels and a built-in hand crank, all the functionality can stay powered self-sufficiently, including its onboard battery for charging USB devices and an LED flashlight that lasts 100,000 hours.

You’d never know how much is included in this flashlight because of how compact it is at only 5 inches long. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to be prepared but doesn’t want to invest in an apocalypse bunker just yet. 

Buy it now for $18.99, which is a steep 78% discount off its $89.95 price tag. Plus, for a limited time only, enter promo code SAVE15 at checkout to save an extra 15% on your purchase.

The next tech bubble will last weeks, not years, and it will be gloriously insane

I’ve been there for the early ICO (initial coin offering) days for cryptocurrencies. I’ve seen companies raise hundreds of millions of dollars within hours, and I’ve seen valuations for startups that don’t even have a working product climb to billions. 

And now that these clay giants have begun to crumble, I look back at the beginnings of the ICO craze, and ponder when did it all go wrong. 

Well, it couldn’t have been more than a few months ago, because this entire bubble has been going on for about a year. 

Perhaps this is the real gift the blockchain technology, which is the basis for most of these companies: Speed. The ability to raise money fast, to build a product quickly, to burn brightly and, in some cases, die fast. 

Don’t believe me? Ethereum, the platform on top of which most of these ICOs are based, was launched July 2015. It took two years from that to Vegas clubs adopting the technology for cheaper drinks and stripper tips

I’m not saying the ICO bubble has burst. The initial coin offerings — digital token-based fundraisers for (mostly) blockchain-based startups — are still going strong, with dozens of new ones lined up every month. More than a billiion dollars have been raised so far, but that’s a paltry sum compared to the trillions raised (and lost) in the dot-com craze in the early aughts. The craze will likely go on for a while, but the early signs of decline are there: ICOs for companies that don’t do anything; companies that raised hundreds of millions squabbling over what to do; authorities clamping down on scams. 

I’ve been there every step of the way, writing about this trend and even investing in some ICOs, and the thing that impressed me the most is the insane pace at which everything is happening. 

ICO funding in Q2 2017.

ICO funding in Q2 2017.

Image: Coindexk

During the dot-com days, in the nineties, the money had flown into crappy companies at an unprecedented rate. Think of a web-based project, build a .com website, raise money, poof: You’re rich. 

But there were still some regulatory hurdles to overcome. You had to talk to lawyers, banks, VC funds. Yeah, the pace was crazy — building an online store was way faster than building a brick and mortar one. But it still took roughly seven years for the bubble to peak and burst. 

Seven years is forever in ICO land. The thing that was hot yesterday is dead today and forgotten tomorrow. 

Just look at Kik’s Kin, one of the largest, most high-profile ICOs. A month ago, the company raised nearly $100 million in its token sale. But right around that time the tide turned and most investors decided that any ICO (unless it has vast, game-changing potential, which Kin doesn’t) that tries to raise over $50 or so million is too greedy and is not worth investing in. Right now, Kik tokens are trading at less than half of their ICO price, which was unimaginable just two months ago, when nearly every high-profile new token skyrocketed in value immediately after it hit the market. (Disclosure: I participated in this ICO and I own Kin tokens). 

And does anyone still remember Hubii, the token that Floyd ‘Crypto’ Mayweather shilled in August?  Despite a $2.7 million market cap, the token is being traded in mere thousands of dollars in daily volume, and from what I can see on social channels, near-zero buzz. 

And the next big thing? It literally changes from hour to hour. A few days ago, when the price of Bitcoin surged due to the promise of free money after the two upcoming forks, people sold ICO tokens en masse, with many proclaiming the golden era of ICOs dead on Slack channels and social media. Now that Bitcoin’s price is retreating, ICOs are hot again, but only those with a small market cap, a solid team, a sound whitepaper, at least two advisors, and a big amount of a largely intangible asset called hype. Don’t have the hype? You’re as good as dead. 

I’m not sure what lies ahead for ICOs; no one is. There will probably be more regulation, and there will surely be less space for crappy startups to raise millions, both of which are good things. While it does indeed look like the golden age is behind us, perhaps there is more growth ahead — sound growth, with better foundations. 

But following this world has taught me that when the next bubble comes along, it will blow up as fast as the hype around the new episode of Stranger Things. There will be no time to read books on investing or learn candlestick charting techniques. Perhaps even Slack, Telegram, and Reddit, currently the main hype-producing social channels, will be obsolete. If you want in, you won’t be able to afford to stick with what you know; you’ll have to jump head first and learn as you go along. 

I’m not sure whether the next bubble will have anything to do with blockchain, but this technology definitely sped up the pace at which tech revolutions can happen. Just like the dot-com boom in the nineties, when so much business moved from offline to online, the blockchain (and, largely, Ethereum) have enabled startups to arise quickly, get funded quickly, and solve important problems in the way we do business. Make no mistake: Next time around, things will happen even faster. 

It’s both fascinating and scary, and I can’t wait for it to happen. 

Disclosure: The author of this text owns, or has recently owned, a number of cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH. 

Mac mini is not dead, sayeth Tim Cook

You thought that just because Apple hasn’t updated it in over three years, the Mac mini is dead? We don’t blame you, but according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, there’s still hope for Apple’s tiny desktop computer. 

The news comes via Cook’s somewhat surprising response to a customer’s letter, unearthed by MacRumors

“I’m glad you love Mac mini,” wrote Cook. “We love it too. Our customers have found so many creative and interesting users for Mac mini. While it is not time to share any details, we do plan for Mac mini to be an important part of our product line going forward.”

Cook’s letter echoes Phil Schiller’s statement from April 2017, when he said that the mini is “still a product in (Apple’s) lineup.”

Six months later, it still doesn’t appear like a new mini is right around the corner, but at least we know Apple hasn’t completely forgotten about it. 

Combined with previous news, this vague update on the Mac mini spells an interesting near-future for fans of Apple desktop computers. The iMac Pro is launching in December,  and a completely revamped Mac Pro is coming sometime next year. 

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