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Google’s new tool shows early voting and drop box locations

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If you’re one of the many people who plan to vote early this year to avoid the crowds later on, Google is here to help. The company recently updated its search engine to feature a new tool enabling users to search ballot drop boxes and early voting locations in their region. The tool joins Google Search’s existing voter information panels.

Google is one of the many tech companies that have released voter information centers where anyone in the US can learn how to register and vote in their state. Many places are now allowing residents to cast early votes for various reasons, the most common being that many people are afraid to stand in the large crowds that gather on voting day.

The new ‘Where to vote’ tool appears on mobile and desktop when you search for that exact phrase: “Where to vote?” The user can select one of the addresses they have saved on their Google Account, such as their home address, or they can type in an address if they’re looking for the location for someone else.

The tool returns multiple tabs depending on your location, including places to vote early and places to vote on election day. Assuming your region also offers it, you’ll see drop boxes for dropping off your vote early. The same results are also presented to users who search for voting and drop box locations in Maps.

According to Google, it has seen an unprecedented number of US-based searches for the query “how to vote.” This latest offering builds upon its information center, which directs users to the information from their state about registering and other voting requirements. As for the location search tool, Google says it comes from the Voting Information Project and Democracy Works.

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mophie juice pack connect slides a wireless charger behind your phone

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mophie has pretty much flooded the accessory market with an abundance of choices to keep smartphones from dying while away from a power outlet. The usual power banks require dangling cables or that you place your phone down on a wireless block. mophie’s juice pack cases offer more portability and no downtime at the expense of having a battery always stuck to your phone. Its latest trick is to combine the best of both worlds with the juice pack connect, letting slide a wireless power bank on or off as you need it.

Power banks or portable batteries have come in all shapes and sizes but a slowly growing trend seems to be the rise of wireless portable chargers. The way that wireless charging works, however, means that you need to keep the phone and power bank close to each other. Often that involves laying it down on some desk which, in turn, means you can’t use it at the same time or even carry it around.

mophie’s solution is almost genius in its simplicity. With the juice pack connect, the wireless charging block slides onto an anchor that sticks to the back of your phone. Simply push a button on the battery to begin charging your phone wirelessly and slide it off when done. The system works with or without an existing case wrapped around your phone and the wireless charger can itself be charged wirelessly as well.

Of course, that does imply that you’ll have a thin block of plastic semi-permanently attached to the back of your phone. To make good use of that piece, the juice connect system includes a phone grip that you can slide on while not charging. That grip also doubles as a stand for more convenient video watching.

The mophie juice pack connect will available sometime this month and will retail for $79.95. The wireless charger is compatible with any Qi-enabled phone, be it from Apple, Samsung, Google, and more. Sadly, the charger, anchor, and stand only come in black so it may not match well with some phones or cases.

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iPhone 12 could be hiding reverse wireless charging after all

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Apple hasn’t had that much luck with its own wireless chargers, at least if you look at the still MIA AirPower, so it was a bit surprising when it announced the all-new old-named MagSafe wireless charging system for the iPhone 12. That has almost made a lot forget about the wireless charging capabilities that have been rumored for iPhones since last year. Apple apparently didn’t forget and may have sneaked in a reverse wireless charging feature that it may be reserving for new AirPods.

It was speculated and perhaps hoped that last year’s iPhone 11 would include a reverse wireless charging function that was becoming a bit popular and common on Android phones. Of course, it’s hardly conceivable that Apple would find wireless charging an iPhone with another iPhone to be something practical but it would open the doors to charging some accessories, particularly the AirPods.

That never happened last year and rumors didn’t resurface this year so most probably presumed it was a no-go for the iPhone 12 as well. Lo and behold, this year’s iPhones apparently do have something equivalent but hidden so well that it took an FCC filing to discover its existence.

VentureBeat’s Jeremy Horwitz shares the discovery of a key phrase in that filing, noting that the iPhone 12’s MagSafe technology also supports a charging function at 360 kHz. This is pretty much the confirmation of some form of reverse wireless charging, one that’s specifically designed to charge accessories. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg connects this to rumors about new AirPods coming soon.

The existence of the feature, at least based on an FCC document, could send a few treasure hunters digging around for more clues, especially if this functionality could be enabled ahead of its planned announcement. While it does hint that Apple may be preparing new AirPods that will take advantage of this feature, it doesn’t offer any assurance that this will be taking place anytime soon.

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LG WING 5G is landing its swiveling screen on AT&T next week

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LG has made great phones and some not so great phones. Whether they sell well or not is a different question but it’s hard to deny it has created some rather unusual and sometimes innovative designs over the past years. The LG WING definitely takes the cake, at least for now, and sits on both ends of the spectrum. Those who have been enamored by its swiveling screen but scared off by its price tag may now get their chance to get one, presuming they trade it their old phone and pledge loyalty to AT&T.

The LG WING is hardly a high-end smartphone, which is part of what makes the $999 price tag a bit hard to swallow. Then again, it shares a lot in common with the $699 Google Pixel 5, like the Snapdragon 765G processor and 8GB of RAM. One might presume the extra costs come from the second screen and cameras.

Regardless, it’s definitely a daunting price tag but carriers are fortunately willing to take a load off its subscribers. Following Verizon’s lead last month, AT&T has now announced availability details for the LG WING on its own 5G network, including how it will help you pay less for the eccentric phone.

AT&T will be shaving almost $700 off the full retail price of the swiveling phone but you will be tied to a 30-month contract that will have you paying $11.67 a month, for a total of around $350. That discount, however, only applies if you’ll be purchasing an eligible plan and, at the same time, trading in an eligible phone.

The LG WING 5G will be available on AT&T starting November 6, so there’s plenty of time to make up your mind. It is admittedly a curious device but, unfortunately, curiosity isn’t exactly a reliable factor in making a purchase decision, not unless you have money to burn during these times.

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