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Ultimate Ears myBOOM 3 speaker hands-on: Thousands of ways to customize an outstanding audio experience

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It’s been six years since I tested out the UE Boom speakers and they continue to perform well today. Ultimate Ears released the Boom 3 in September 2018 and just recently made available a more personalized version that you customize in the myBoom Studio.

The various Ultimate Ears speakers have always had vibrant color options and unique styles, but with the new myBoom 3 users can come up with their own combinations to personalize the look and feel of the speaker. Rather than send out random options, reviewers were given the opportunity to try out the myBoom Studio themselves and then use a promotional code to finalize the speaker creation for testing.

Customizing with myBoom Studio

A few weeks ago I let my family walk through the myBoom Studio site with me and help select a review speaker to test out. Thousands of variations are available thanks to the ability to customize six parts of the Boom 3 speaker, as follows:

  • Fabric pattern: 12 options
  • End caps: 8 options
  • Volume buttons: 8 options
  • Spine: 8 options
  • Loop: 8 options
  • Text: 20 characters can be entered

My family selected Frozen Kingdom for the fabric, Seashell end caps, Seashell volume buttons, Ultraviolet spine, and Ultraviolet loop. For the text I entered my Twitter handle, @palmsolo.

The Frozen Kingdom colored ferns are not as vibrant in real life as the image on the website, but all the rest of the selections look about the same as shown. The text is very subtle with cutouts in the rubber material.

Retail package and hardware walk around

The UE myBoom 3 arrived with a white sleeve that details the Magic Button, Party Up mode, and other key features of the speaker. Slip off the sleeve and a colorful inner box is revealed. Open up the lid to see the speaker you customized through the myBoom Studio website. The retail package also includes a nice quality USB charging cable, unfortunately still of the microUSB variant.

The first thing I noticed were the very large plus and minus buttons used to control the volume. Although the buttons are large, you still have to press the center to activate the button. On the opposite side you will find the loop and spine. At the bottom of the spine is a rubber port cover for the microUSB port. Given that everything, including Apple products, is moving to USB-C, I was a bit disappointed not to see a USB-C port on this speaker.

On the top of the speaker is the power button, center large Magic Button, and small Bluetooth pairing button. The Magic Button can be used to play, pause, and skip a track when playing music.

There is a metal assembly in the bottom of the speaker that you can use to charge up the speaker using a Power Up stand.

Specifications

The UE myBoom 3 has top of the line specifications that include:

  • Support to connect two speakers for stereo sound, eight devices (for individual or stereo playback), or more than 150 Boom or MegaBoom speakers for Party Up mode
  • Maximum sound level of 90 dBA
  • Frequency range of 90Hz to 20 kHz
  • Drivers measuring 2 inches and two 2 inch by 4 inch passive radiators
  • Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery with up to 15 hours battery life
  • Drop resistant to five feet (1.5 meters)
  • IP67 water resistance
  • Dimensions of 184 mm tall and 73 mm in diameter with weight of 608 grams (1.34 pounds)

The speakers also comes with a two year warranty and is built to last.

Smartphone software

In order to connect more than one speaker, you need to connect an iOS or Android device through the UE Boom application. There is no way to have both speakers connected physically, through daisy chaining, or wirelessly without the UE Boom application. As you can see in my screenshots, the UE Boom application lets you pair to two speakers wirelessly and then have the speakers work in stereo with a left and right channel or in stereo individually with both speakers powering your audio experience.

In addition to controlling the pair of speakers, the mobile application lets you manage the name of the speakers, view battery level, set the alert language, change equalizer settings (loud, vocals, or intimate), toggle alerts sounds on or off, and view/manage the speaker firmware. You can also use the app to manage more than 150 speakers with PartyUp or let up to two of your friends be the DJ with Block Party settings.

Audio experience

At first I just setup the single myBoom 3 speakers and played audio from an iPhone XS, Galaxy Note 9, and Pixel 3 XL. It worked flawlessly and the volume was better than any other speaker I have tested before. In addition to loud volume, the music was crisp and clear with a good level of bass. I was very impressed by the audio quality and found it to be a bit better than the original UE Boom speakers I have had for a few years.

While I have Google Home devices sprinkled around the house and a Cavalier Maverick Alexa speaker, the myBoom 3 sounds better. It is handy to control the music selection with my voice, but the myBoom 3 is perfect for beach or patio parties.

I was then able to use the smartphone app to connect a UE Boom speaker to a myBoom 3 speaker to enjoy audio in stereo mode and in dual playback mode. Other phones were connected for DJ mode too in order to test out this functionality.

I was unable to test the speaker out in a pool, but understand it is waterproof and will also float for up to 30 minutes. The speaker has a greater diameter than the UE Boom, but is still able to easily be carried around for portable use.

The UE Boom 3 is available for $149.99 in seven colors while you can come up with thousands of combinations for the myBoom 3 at a price of $179.99. Thus, there is a $30 premium to customize this speaker. Be aware that you cannot return or exchange customized products like this, unless there is some defect that is part of the warranty coverage. Make sure you select what you like before placing your custom speaker order.



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Twitter shuttering NY, SF offices in response to new CDC guidelines – TechCrunch

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Just two weeks after reopening its New York and San Francisco offices, social media giant Twitter said Wednesday that it will be closing those offices “immediately.”

The decision came “after careful consideration of the CDC’s updated guidelines, and in light of current conditions,” a spokesperson said.

“Twitter has made the decision to close our opened offices in New York and San Francisco as well as pause future office reopenings, effective immediately. We’re continuing to closely monitor local conditions and make necessary changes that prioritize the health and safety of our Tweeps,” the spokesperson added.

The company initially just reopened those offices on July 12. It declined to reveal headcount per office.

The CDC this week recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid transmission rates amid concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant.

Earlier today, TechCrunch’s Brian Heater reported that Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to work on-site. It was part of a larger letter sent to Google/Alphabet staff that also noted the company will be extending its work-from-home policy through October 18, as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to sweep through the global population.

In a message to TechCrunch, Facebook’s VP of People, Lori Goler, confirmed a similar policy for the social media behemoth.

Amazon also responded to TechCrunch’s inquiry on the matter, noting, “We strongly encourage Amazon employees and contractors to be vaccinated as soon as COVID-19 vaccines are available to them.”

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Snapchat adds My Places feature to Snap Map, recommending spots to visit – TechCrunch

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As more people are venturing out into the world this summer (safely, we hope!), Snapchat wants to make it easier for people to find restaurants, stores, parks and other interesting spots in their neighborhood. Today, Snapchat is starting to roll out the My Places feature on its Snap Map, which connects users with over 30 million businesses. Users can log their favorite spots, send them to friends, and find recommendations.

My Places has three main tabs: visited, favorites and popular. Visited lists places you’ve checked into on Snapchat, and favorites saves, well, your favorites. But the popular tab is particularly interesting because it marks the first time that Snapchat is using an algorithm to provide personalized recommendations to help people engage with the world around them. The algorithm considers where you are, what you’ve tagged or favorited already, and where your friends and other Snapchatters have visited.

This further differentiates the social-forward Snap Map from more established resources like Google Maps and Apple Maps, which you can’t really use to find out what restaurants your friends like. Sure, Snapchat can’t give you directions to that trendy sushi bar, but it’s not meant to, just like how Google Maps isn’t meant to show you what bar all your friends went to without you last night.

Image Credits: Snapchat

Snapchat shared survey results indicating that its users are more likely on average to engage in “post-pandemic” activities (is that a good thing?) and added that 44% of Snapchatters turn to the Snap Map to find places around them that they’re interested in.

With over 250 million monthly active users on Snap Map, the company announced an update in May called Layers, which lets partner companies add data directly to their own map. So far, Snapchat has collaborated with Ticketmaster and The Infatuation, a restaurant recommendation website — these partnerships help users see where they can find live entertainment, or what great restaurants are hidden in plain sight. Snapchat plans to further integrate Layers into Snap Map and My Places later this year.

Last week, Snap announced that during Q2 this year, it grew both revenue and daily active users at the highest rates it has achieved in the last four years. Year over year, the app grew 23%.

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Facebook warns of ‘headwinds’ to its ad business from regulators and Apple – TechCrunch

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Facebook posted its second quarter earnings Wednesday, beating expectations with $29 billion in revenue.

The world’s biggest social media company was expected to report $27.8 billion in revenue for the quarter, a 50 percent increase from the same period in 2020. Facebook reported earnings per share of $3.61, which also bested expectations. The company’s revenue was $18.6 billion in the same quarter of last year.

In the first financial period to really reflect a return to quasi-economic normalcy after a very online pandemic year, Facebook met user growth expectations. At the end of March, Facebook boasted 2.85 billion monthly active users across its network of apps. At the end of its second quarter, Facebook reported 2.9 billion monthly active users, roughly what was expected.

The company’s shares opened at $375 on Wednesday morning and were down to $360 in a dip following the earnings report.

In spite of a strong quarter, Facebook is warning of change ahead — namely impacts to its massive ad business, which generated $28.5 billion out of the company’s $29 billion this quarter. The company specifically named privacy-focused updates to Apple’s mobile operating system as a threat to its business.

“We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably the recent iOS updates, which we expect to have a greater impact in the third quarter compared to the second quarter,” the company stated its investor report outlook.

On the company’s investor call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed to Facebook’s plans to reduce its reliance on ad revenue, noting the company’s expanded efforts to attract and support content creators and its e-commerce plans in particular. “We want our platforms to be the best place for creators to make a living,” Zuckerberg said, adding that the company plans to monetize creator tools starting in 2023.

Zuckerberg also emphasized Facebook’s grand aspirations for social experiences in VR. “Virtual reality will be a social platform, which is why we’re so focused on building it,” Zuckerberg said.

No matter what Facebook planned to report Wednesday, the company is a financial beast. Bad press and user mistrust in the West haven’t done much to hurt its bottom line and the company’s ad business is looking as dominant as ever. Short of meaningful antitrust reform in the U.S. or a surging competitor, there’s little to stand in Facebook’s way. The former might still be a long shot given partisan gridlock in Congress, even with the White House involved, but Facebook is finally facing a threat from the latter.

For years, it’s been difficult to imagine a social media platform emerging as a proper rival to the company, given Facebook’s market dominance and nasty habit of acquiring competitors or brazenly copying their innovations, but it’s clear that TikTok is turning into just that. YouTube is huge, but the platforms matured in parallel and co-exist, offering complementary experiences.

TikTok hit 700 million monthly active users in July 2020 and surpassed three billions global downloads earlier this month, becoming the only non-Facebook owned app to do so, according to data from Sensor Tower. If the famously addictive short form video app can successfully siphon off some of the long hours that young users spend on Instagram and Facebook’s other platforms and make itself a cozy home for brands in the process, the big blue giant out of Menlo Park might finally have something to lose sleep over.

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