Amazon warns Alexa Echo Buds earphones could overheat

Amazon has warned its wireless earphones may be at risk of overheating and is urging customers to update their software, to make them safe.

Customers were sent an email on Wednesday, saying in “very rare cases” Echo Buds could overheat in their charging case.

Amazon said it had released a software update to fix the issue “out of an abundance of caution”.

“The safety of our customers is our top priority,” it said.

It is not clear if Amazon engineers discovered the issue themselves or if a real-world incident sparked the advisory.

Amazon said customers would automatically receive the update when the Echo Buds were connected via Bluetooth to a mobile phone and the Alexa app.

It also said if the Echo Buds were a gift, the customer should alert the recipient immediately.

The earbuds are still for sale on the Amazon site but labelled as “out of stock” until late August.

The details of the email were shared by Daniel Bader, managing editor at the Android Central technology blog.

“We are writing to inform you about an important software update for your Echo Buds,” the email said.

“We recently determined that in very rare cases it is possible for Echo Buds to overheat while in the charging case.”

The email also said the same software update “improves the long-term performance of Echo Buds’ batteries”.

Many brands of wireless earbuds have their own battery inside the case, which automatically charges the earbuds when they are placed inside.

Battery heat is often given out by devices while charging but usually stays within strict safety limits.

Amazon did not say if the heat problem was caused by overcharging or any other specific issue within the battery case.

To check if your buds have updated:

  • Open the Echo Buds case
  • Ensure both buds are in the case
  • Confirm they are Bluetooth connected to a phone
  • Open the Alexa app
  • Select “Devices” in the bottom right
  • Choose “Echo & Alexa”
  • Choose “Echo Buds”
  • Scroll to the “About” section at the bottom of the page
  • Confirm the device is running software version 318119151 or higher

If you have a different software version:

  • Open the lid of the case with the Echo Buds inside
  • Confirm they are Bluetooth connected to a phone and the Alexa app
  • Check the buds and case are at least 30% charged
  • Close the case lid with the buds inside
  • Stay within Bluetooth range of the phone for 30 minutes
  • Check the software version is 318119151 or higher, following the instructions above

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How to Recall Gmail: Unsend An Email

The option to change your mind after you’ve sent an email from Gmail is one the most useful features for getting you out of a spot of bother, and it works both in the mobile apps and on desktop web browser.

Even if you’ve not yet sent a message you regret, you should check your Gmail settings now. That’s because Undo Send works for only 5 seconds by default and you can increase this to 30 seconds.

Also note that Undo will only appear if you’re sending from a Gmail account: the mobile app allows you to see other email accounts from other providers, but you can only recall an email when you sent it from a Gmail account.

Increase Undo Send Gmail to 30 seconds

Adjust Undo Send time period

You will need to be using a PC or laptop browser to complete this step, because even when you opt to view the Desktop version of Gmail in a mobile browser you will be shown the old version that does not contain the Undo Send feature.

So on a PC or laptop, launch your web browser and open Gmail. Tap the cog icon at the top right and choose Settings. On the General tab look for Undo Send. To the right of this you’ll see ‘Send cancellation period’, by default set to 5 seconds, but you can tap on the drop-down menu to change this to 30 seconds. Now scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save changes.

Do remember that if you increase this feature to the maximum length of time, no emails will leave your Outbox until 30 seconds have passed. So if people are complaining that the email you just sent them has not yet arrived, this is why.

How to Unsend Gmail on Android

Recall Gmail on Android

When you compose an email message in the Gmail app on Android and then tap the Send button it will automatically return you to the conversation view. 

Watch carefully the bottom of the screen: you’ll see a black bar appear that says ‘Sent’ on the left, with ‘Undo’ on the right. (Again, remember that this will NOT appear if you sent the email from a non-Gmail account.)

Quickly tap Undo and you’ll be returned to the message composition screen, where you can delete or edit the email as required.

Unsend Gmail on a PC or laptop

Recall Gmail on computer

Recalling a Gmail message on a PC or laptop browser works much the same as it does on Android. 

After you have hit Send, look to the bottom left of the screen for an option that says ‘Message sent’, with further options to Undo or View message.

Click Unsend and the message will pop up onscreen again, so you can edit or delete as required. 

You might like to know how to disable Gmail Nudges as well.


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iOS 14 tips and tricks: Get the most out of the public beta

Apple lifted the lid on iOS 14 at its all-digital WWDC 2020 keynote in June, giving us a sneak peek at what to expect from Apple’s upcoming operating system when it’s released to the public later this year. Developers got their hands on the beta the day it was announced in order to prep their apps ahead of release, and Apple promised that a public beta would be available in July to give dedicated fans a taste of what’s to come.

As promised, you can now install the iOS 14 public beta, and although you run the risk of running into bugs and other glitches, many people (ourselves included) have taken the plunge. We’ve spent time using the iOS 14 public beta, and here’s how to get the most out of the new features on offer.  

Use widgets on your Home screen

Widgets aren’t new – they were first introduced to the Today View in iOS 10 – but for the first time, you can place widgets on the Home screen alongside your apps. It’s a much-loved feature of Android, and it’s great to see Apple finally fully embrace widgets after all these years. 

There are a bunch of new widgets for iOS 14, including those for fitness rings (ideal for Apple Watch owners), battery life, Maps, Photos and more. There’s also what Apple calls a Smart Stack widget that’ll provide you with Siri app suggestions directly on your Home screen. It’s all based on your habits, and we’ve found it to be pretty helpful – especially now that not all apps live on the Home screen. 

To add widgets to your Home screen in iOS 14, simply tap and hold anywhere on your Home screen until your app icons begin to jiggle. Then tap the + icon in the top-left, select the widget you’d like to place and drop it on your Home screen. 

The only widgets available right now are those for built-in apps, but there’s a lot of interest around what app developers will offer once iOS 14 is officially released later this year. Could we see an Android-esque Spotify widget to control music playback? One can only hope.  

Remove apps from your Home screen

For the first time in iOS history, you’ve now got the option of removing an app from your Home screen without deleting it entirely. It’ll still be accessible via widgets, the App Gallery and the Search bar, but it won’t be cluttering your Home screen. Besides, with widgets now available, you’ll need all the space you can get!

To remove an app without deleting it, simply press and hold until the app icons jiggle, tap the x and tap Remove from Home Screen. We cover how to remove apps in iOS 14 separately if you need more information. 

Remove pages from your Home screen

As well as removing individual apps from your Home screen, you can get rid of entire pages at once. But, unlike with removing individual apps, you can re-add the pages with a tap – no need to drag-and-drop apps from the App Gallery one by one. 

To hide pages, simply press and hold on the Home screen until icons begin to jiggle, then tap the app page icon (dots) at the bottom of the screen. From there, it’s as simple as unchecking the pages you want to hide and tapping Done to apply the change. 

Use the App Gallery

We’ve mentioned it a few times, so it’s time to address it: the App Gallery. Accessible via sideswipe, it’s what makes removing apps from the Home screen possible, presenting all your installed apps either in list form or via smart folders.

The latter splits your apps into various categories – including a dedicated folder for Apple Arcade games, and another for recently installed apps – for easy access. You can tap on the largest app icons to open the app directly, or tap the smaller icons to open the folder, and the largest app icons will automatically change depending on app usage. 

It’s certainly a nice spin on Android’s App Drawer, but only time will tell whether those folders are truly smart enough to automatically organise your favourite apps and games. 

Siri has had an upgrade

Siri has had a much-needed facelift, now taking up a small segment at the bottom of the screen while dimming the rest of the display. When triggered, it appears as a colourful orb, pulsating as it listens to your request. Siri’s response, in the form of replies and tappable information cards, will appear at the top of the screen. 

Siri is also smarter than ever, boasting the ability to search the web and resources like Wikipedia to provide answers to your queries – no more “here’s what I found on the web” responses. That should bring Siri more in-line with Google Assistant, which has traditionally been lightyears ahead of Apple’s option in terms of general knowledge queries. 

Back Tap to open apps

It might not be one of the headline features of iOS 14, but Apple quietly added a new feature to its suite of accessibility options: the ability to activate functions with a double- or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone. You can set the function to lock your smartphone, access the control centre or even open apps like Messages or Instagram via Shortcuts, and it works on a variety of iPhones – not just the latest models.

We’ve outlined how to tap to open apps in iOS 14 separately for those interested. 

Wave goodbye to full-screen calls

You ever been playing a game or writing a message on your iPhone, only to be interrupted by a phone call? Well that’s a thing of the past in iOS 14, which displays incoming calls in the form of a banner at the top of the display. Even answering the call won’t take up the entire display, and you’re free to interact with your apps while your call is sat at the top of the display.

If you do want the full-screen phone experience, you can tap the banner at the top to expand it. It’s a simple change, but one that dramatically changes the overall experience of iOS. 

No more pausing FaceTime calls

Picture-in-picture is a staple not only of Android, but iPadOS too, so it was only a matter of time before Apple introduced the functionality to the iPhone. In iOS 14, you can enable picture-in-picture on any video you’re watching, shrinking the video down to a small box that’ll sit in the corner of your display while you browse, swipe and text.

The picture-in-picture mode also works with FaceTime, allowing you to minimise incoming video calls while accessing other apps without having to actually pause your camera. Perfect for those… less than interesting FaceTime chats. 

Though it’s seemingly limited to first-party apps in the iOS 14 beta, we imagine it’s a feature third-party app developers will make use of once the software is officially released later this year. 

Bonjour, Translate app! 

In response to the hugely popular Google Translate app, Apple has bundled its own version within iOS 14. It’s called Translate, and it does what you’d expect: translates text or voice from one language to another.

Right now, there’s support for English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese (mainland), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Russian, with offline translation available for all languages – although it may not be as accurate as when you have an active connection. You’ve also got the option of favouriting handy translations, perfect for a quick reference when travelling in another country (whenever that happens again!). 

You can also use Siri to get quick translations on-the-fly. Simply ask Siri to translate a phrase into another language and it’ll do so, and it’ll also provide a handy button that’ll get Apple’s virtual assistant to repeat it on your behalf. None of this is really new compared to Google’s Translate app, but it’s nice to see Apple finally enter the fray. 

Pin conversations in Messages

Another year, another Messages update – and this one includes a very handy feature. If you want to ensure easy access to text threads from people you care about, you can now pin the chat to the top of your messages list. It’s easy to do too – just tap and hold on a conversation and tap Pin, or swipe right on any message thread. 

Tweak your Memoji

Memoji is one of the more gimmicky reasons to get an iPhone, but people adore it – and Apple knows it. iOS 14 brings with it a bunch of new options to customise your digital avatar, including the option to don a face mask and the ability to age your Memoji characters too. 

Plan a cycle trip in Maps

In a bid to one-up Google Maps, Apple has introduced support for cycle routes in iOS 14. Apple claims it’ll take things like elevation, staircases and even foot traffic into account when calculating the ideal route for a bike ride – the catch is that it’s only available in a handful of US cities right now, with more locations coming soon.


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Chrome 84 starts squashing notifications from abusive sites

Google released Chrome 84 this week. Most of the changes occur underneath the hood for web developers, but the latest release of the world’s most popular web browser includes a very nice feature for users, too: It blocks notification prompts from websites that use them for nefarious means.

Google says that abusive notification prompts are “one of the top user complaints” for Chrome. The company classifies abusive notification prompts into two different categories:

  • Permission request issues are requests designed to mislead, trick, or force users into allowing notifications. One example of this is websites that require users to allow notifications in order to gain access to site content or that are preceded by misleading pre-prompts.”
  • Notification issues include fake messages that resemble chat messages, warnings, or system dialogs. They also include phishing attacks, an abusive tactic that tries to steal or trick users into sharing personal information, and malware notifications that promote or link to malicious software.”

The feature only works with sites that Google’s algorithms have classified as malicious, and only for new notification permission requests, though Google says, “In the future, we may add protections for users who have already accepted notification permissions from abusive sites.”

Any sites that use abusive notifications are now automatically enrolled in Chrome’s “Quieter Permission UI” program, which automatically blocks the notification prompt. Instead, a bell icon appears in the address bar that tells you that the browser blocked notifications on the site. Other conditions can also trigger the Quieter Permission UI, but if you click the bell icon, Chrome will tell you if it did so because the “site may be trying to trick you into allowing intrusive notifications.”

chrome block notifications Google

“Only a small fraction of websites will be affected by this change but we expect the impact on notification volumes will be significant for some users,” Google says.  

If, like me, you never want to receive notifications from any website, you can disable notification prompts universally by clicking the icon with three vertical dots in Chrome’s upper-right corner, then heading to Settings > Privacy and security > Site settings > Notifications and disabling the “Sites can ask to send notifications” toggler. You can also use the same interface to universally activate the Quieter Permission UI by leaving notifications on and enabling the “Use quiet messaging (block notification prompts from interrupting you)” toggle.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

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Should I replace my fridge freezer?

Your fridge has one of the longest potential lifespans of home appliances. It can comfortably last for 15 years or more, so it’s easy to get used to its odd quirks and not notice when it’s getting less efficient. Besides, it might seem that the most frugal option is to keep it going for as long as possible.

But if it’s approaching the end of that period or showing other signs of slowing down, that may not be the case. Fridges that are working too hard use much more power than they should, even as they’re wasting your food. 

Signs that your fridge is failing

Look out for these signs that your fridge needs to be replaced.

  • Food doesn’t last until its expiration date.

  • The back of the fridge feels warm or hot to the touch.

  • The fridge is sweating – there’s condensation on either the inside or outside of the appliance.

  • There’s an increased build-up of frost in the freezer.

  • You notice that it’s noisier than it used to be – there’s an ongoing buzz or hum.

  • Conversely, if your fridge seems quieter than usual, and the food inside seems warmer than it should, this may mean that the compressor is damaged.

Why you should replace your fridge freezer

Cost

Faulty or deteriorating appliances use much more power than those that are running well. If your electricity bill is higher than estimates suggest it should be, or if it shoots up suddenly, the first thing you should consider is that one of your appliances may be draining power.

Because it’s on all the time, your fridge freezer is one of the home appliances that uses the most power. An average (newish) fridge in an average UK household uses about 12p per day, or £44 per year.

New fridges are made to be more energy-efficient and this technology is improving all the time. So, it’s possible that you could make a saving on your energy bills by finally saying goodbye to an older appliance – especially if you’ve had it for a decade or more.

Safety

Ageing fridges also pose a number of safety issues. Bacteria are a danger if your fridge is not keeping food cold enough. Your fridge should be below 5°C and the freezer below -15°C to keep food at an ideal temperature.

Listeria can thrive in temperatures of between 2°C and 4°C, which means that cracks in the shelves and vegetable drawers of older fridges can harbour this bacterium, even when your fridge is at the right temperature. If your fridge is not cold enough, there is also a risk of salmonella, yeast and mould.

There’s also an increased risk of fire from old electrical wiring, which, over time, can become loose and fray. If live wires are exposed, there’s also a risk of electric shock.

If you spot a frayed or unravelling wire, you may be tempted to fix it yourself. Don’t do this! Unplug the appliance immediately, stop using it and replace it as soon as you can.

Simple fridge fixes

But, most of the time, if your fridge is not running well, there are things you can try before consigning it to the rubbish heap. If the problem is something straightforward, like the gasket (the rubber seal around the door) not doing its job, you might be able to sort it out yourself. If you’ve noticed any of the issues mentioned above, you can try the following fixes.

Check the gasket

To test whether or not the gasket is at fault, try putting a piece of paper in the seal and closing the door. If you can pull the paper out without resistance, the seal is compromised. If so, get a cloth and hot water and clean the gasket (don’t use detergent or other cleaners, which may damage the rubber), then carefully open up any areas that have become compressed. This may be enough to solve the problem.

Adjust the thermostat

Check and adjust the thermostat. It’s possible that your setting is just too warm. If you’ve changed the volume of food you’re storing, the temperature might need to be tweaked.

Clear the drain

The next step is to clear the drip drain. You can find this at the back of your fridge: it’s a channel that drains into a small aperture. Depending on your fridge’s design, you may need to remove the vegetable drawers for access. Remove any rubbish from the channel and the top of the drain. If it still seems to be blocked, try inserting a straw and wiggling it around to clear the tube. 

Clean the condenser coils

Another good maintenance tip is to pull out your fridge from the wall and vac the condenser coils on its reverse. The coils cool and condense the refrigerant but can’t do their job properly if they’re clogged with dirt and dust.  

Defrost

Finally – and although it’s an annoying job – defrosting your fridge and freezer on a regular basis is a good idea. If the appliance begins to freeze up again immediately, it’s probably a sign that it’s reaching the end of its operating life.

Replacing your fridge

If the above tips don’t fix the issue – and if your fridge is old – then it’s probably more than a minor problem and you’ll need to weigh up the benefits of getting your current fridge repaired versus investing in a new appliance.

There’s a good rule of thumb to bear in mind if any of your appliances malfunction. If it’s more than halfway through its probable lifespan, and if a repair will cost more than half of the cost of a replacement, then it’s probably time to go shopping.

Think about it like this: instead of putting the cost of the repairs towards a new fridge, you’re just using that money to put off the repurchase. When that day comes, you’ll have shelled out for both the repair and the new purchase in full. And that’s not even considering the increased day-to-day costs of machines that are limping along.

After more appliances advice? Read on:
 


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