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Update: The Sonos 2 app is now available, ahead of the launch of new products on Wednesday.

In what is likely to prove an extremely controversial move, Sonos has announced that it is developing a completely new platform, Sonos S2. This will add hi-res audio capabilities but will create a ‘fork’ which will effectively leave older speakers on a legacy platform.

The Sonos S2 operating system will run on all future speakers, as well as ‘many’ current ones, but will require a new Sonos app. Older speakers will be relegated to legacy status …

This means they will no longer get new features through firmware updates, and won’t work with the new Sonos app. They will continue to work with the existing app, and will still get security updates and bug fixes.

The Verge reports on the company’s plans.

Sonos is today detailing the future of its multi-room home audio strategy, which revolves around a new app and operating system, called Sonos S2, that will run on many current Sonos products and be the foundation for all the company’s future devices. Sonos S2 will be released in June and power “the next generation” of Sonos products and experiences — but it also represents the fork in the road where older, legacy hardware will be left behind and stop receiving new features.

Switching to a new OS will result in expanded capabilities, according to Sonos. Sonos S2 will allow for higher-resolution audio, whereas right now the company’s speakers are limited to CD-quality lossless audio. The revamped software underpinnings could let Sonos go hi-fi in the same way as Amazon’s Echo Studio. It could also finally result in Sonos adopting Dolby Atmos for home theater sound in the next Playbar, Playbase, or Beam.

Sonos S2 will also allow for usability enhancements (there will be improved room groups functionality in June) and “more connected and personal experiences,” according to the company. There aren’t many details on the latter just yet, but in past conversations with Sonos employees, they’ve hinted at a future in which your Sonos speakers might automatically start playing a certain playlist or podcast when you arrive home (or wake up in the morning) based on your listening patterns.

Newer speakers will work with the new app, shown above. It also seems likely Sonos will at some stage create its own smart assistant, to replace or supplement support for Alexa and Google Assistant.

The company has an upgrade program for owners of older devices.

Legacy products include the original Sonos Play:5, Zone Players, and Connect / Connect:Amp devices manufactured between 2011 and 2023. All other products are considered modern, will be upgraded to Sonos S2, and will continue to get software updates after May.

Sonos will give owners of legacy devices a 30 percent discount on a newer product through its “trade-up” program, which doesn’t actually require handing over your old device.

However, the most controversial aspect is that you cannot mix-and-match S1 and S2 platforms. This will pose major issues for those who have gradually expanded their Sonos ecosystem over the years, with a mix of older and newer speakers. The position outlined by Sonos is a hot mess.

[Your four options are:]

1) Remove the S1-only products from your system. With only S2 compatible products remaining, you’ll be ready to download the new Sonos app in June.

2) Trade up S1-only products to their S2 compatible equivalents. For customers who choose this option, we continue to offer a 30 percent discount as part of our Trade Up program.

3) Run your existing system on the S1 app. You’ll still get bug fixes and security patches, and we will work with our partners to keep your music and voice services working for as long as we can.

4) Separate your system into two. We’ll publish detailed instructions for how to do this nearer the time. Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to group an S1 system with an S2 system.

I can see a lot of long-term Sonos owners being very upset about this.

The company did at least remove the requirement to brick old devices in order to use the trade-in.

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Sonos Move Speaker Review: Great Sound In A Semi

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The Sonos Move is right at home in an Adirondack chair. Stan Horaczek

This story was originally published on Sep. 19th, 2023.

On paper, the Sonos outdoor speaker doesn’t make a ton of sense. The Sonos Move is a portable Bluetooth speaker that weighs six pounds and promises just 10 hours of battery life—when some of its competition claims more than double that number. At 10 inches tall and six inches around, it’s too big to easily stuff into a typical day bag or backpack. And it costs $400, which is extremely high if you’re only comparing it to other Bluetooth speakers.

Listen to music on the Move, however, and its purpose becomes much clearer. Inside your house, the Move works just as you’d expect with a Sonos product. It connects to networks and devices easily, it sounds great (more on that in a moment), and it even looks good in a distinguished way that eschews some of the loud graphic styling and flashing UFO lights some other companies seem to love putting on their portable speakers.

Ultimately, it’s probably not the Bluetooth speaker you want to bring on a camping trip where you’ll be away from a power supply over an extended period. But it’s extremely good when you’re in—or at least around—your house.

Related: JBL Charge 5 review: A rugged, portable Bluetooth speaker with battery to spare

How does the Sonos Move sound?

This is a key consideration because if you don’t really care about sound quality, you probably shouldn’t even really consider the Sonos Move. There are cheaper options that are more portable and can survive full submersion underwater—the Move is IP56 certified, which means it can endure heavy rain, dust, and even sun exposure, but not a full dip in the pool. That kind of ingress protection requires more seals, however, and Sonos wasn’t comfortable with the negative effect it would have had on the overall sound.

The back of the Sonos Move houses the chunky handle used to carry it. Stan Horaczek

Under the Move’s grill, you’ll find a single mid-woofer that faces out from the front of the device, as well as a downward-firing tweeter. A contoured plate in the bottom of the speaker directs sound from the tweeter out into the world to create a listening area that’s even, but directional. Many portable speakers, like the excellent Ultimate Ears Boom and Blast series, spit sound in almost every direction to try and fill up a party.

This may not sound like an important detail, but when you consider how much power the Move puts out, it’s crucial to consider. I put the Move against the fence between my yard and my neighbor’s. At roughly half volume, it was plenty loud to fill my yard. I asked my neighbor how she felt about the volume on her side of the fence and her exact response was, “You’ll have to make it a lot louder than that before I’d call the cops.” Listening from the neighbor’s yard myself, I was impressed by how little it spilled over. It performs as promised.

Sonos claims that it’s using the same audio hardware to process the sound whether you’re using Bluetooth or the more typical Sonos Wifi connection, so there’s no difference in sound quality. That assertion rings true to me. If there is a difference, my ears didn’t pick up on it.

Connecting to Wifi, however, does get you some benefits over Bluetooth. For instance, Sonos debuted its new AI-powered sound calibration platform in the Move, but it will only work over a standard Wifi connection. Typically, setting up the Sonos Trueplay adaptive sound feature requires walking around your space with your smartphone while the app records and analyzes sound from the speaker. This allows this Sonos speaker to calibrate its output to match your room and cut down on distortion. The Move, however, doesn’t always stay in the same place, which makes this process unproductive. So, the speaker listens to itself, then adjusts on the fly for optimal performance.

It takes a few seconds for the change to kick in, but you can sometimes even hear the change as it happens, especially if you put the speaker in a particularly challenging location like on a bookshelf or in a tight corner that’s prone to echoes.

In short, it sounds excellent, which is as you’d probably expect from a Sonos Move speaker.

I shot the product photos for this with the new iPhone 11 as part of my camera review. This is the Move on some grass. Stan Horaczek

Is it really a portable speaker?

If you’re looking for a portable speaker to bring on camping trips with long stretches away from the grid, then this isn’t the speaker for you, and it doesn’t claim to be. However, I found the portable nature of the Move way handier than I initially expected.

The chunky handle carved into the back of the speaker makes it easy to carry without dropping, even when you’re holding a fresh-off-the-smoker pork shoulder on a plate in the other hand. I regularly carried the speaker out into the yard and it maintained its wifi connection, which made it work just like it would inside the house, including the voice assistant features. The ring-shaped charger allows you to lazily plop the speaker onto it when you come in the house without having to plug in a cable. Inside and around the house, the Move is fantastic.

When I took the Move to the park, however, it was just fine. The sound quality is still excellent, but lugging it beyond the confines of my yard made the weight and size seem silly most of the time. Though, when an errant volleyball failed to knock it off the picnic table on which it was sitting, the extra heft came in handy. Take that, sports.

Who should buy the Sonos Move speaker?

The Sonos Move is expensive, over-engineered, and generally pretty great. The sound quality is excellent, which isn’t a surprise, and it also has some nice touches like a replaceable battery to extend the product’s lifecycle. Sonos has also said that this is just its first foray into this product segment and more products are likely coming down the line.

If you never plan on moving the speaker around, you’re probably better served by a typical, plug-in Sonos speaker like the Sonos One, which costs half the price. But, if you’re willing to pay the extra cash, and you don’t need something to take on long trips, the Move more than earns its keep by pumping out great-sounding music in and around your house.

Related: Ultimate Ears speaker comparison: Which model is right for you?

Klipsch The Nines Loudspeakers Review: Huge Hi

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The Nines are the latest in Klipsch’s wildly popular family of retro-modern, media-friendly powered speakers, which launched in 2023 with The Fives, compact powerhouses that claimed the first HDMI-ARC connection in a bookshelf speaker. Like The Fives and The Sevens before them, a pair of Klipsch The Nines speakers ($1,499) aims to deliver an expressive audio experience that seamlessly integrates with just about any entertainment setup, while exuding a heritage-inspired aesthetic that pays homage to mid-century elegance.


The Nines are the top of three models in the Klipsch line of Heritage-inspired powered bookshelf (or standmount) speakers.

The brand’s signature horn-mounted driver delivers a fleshy, high-fidelity presence across an almost multidimensional soundstage.

These are a great pair of speakers if you have numerous sources but can’t find the space or budget for discrete components.


The sound—classic Klipsch concert-like sound

Plentiful inputs and robust internal amps mean you can skip the added expense of an AV receiver

HDMI-ARC makes integration in a home theater with a modern TV easy

Can decode most digital files up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution

A built-in phono preamp means no external hardware is needed with moving magnet cartridge turntables

Dynamic Bass feature can provide enough low-end that a subwoofer is a bonus, not a requirement (a plus in apartments)


Price (though they’re a relative bargain compared to many connected stereo speakers)

Height, weight, and vibration produced mean you need an extremely sizable, sturdy bookshelf, so it’s just better to pay extra for stands

An external phono preamp can still outperform the build-in signal path

Verdict: Klipsch The Nines speakers exude retromodern style and hypermodern versatility, making them a, well, sound investment for audio-video audiophiles.

The build

The Nines’ warm-and-cozy retro exterior belies their high-tech innards. Vintage-inspired cabinets are finished with handcrafted wood veneers and top-mounted brushed-metal input-selection and volume dials. Speakers are available in walnut or ebony and feature removable magnetic grilles; I left mine off. (A collectible McLaren Edition, designed in partnership with McLaren Racing, is finished in the vibrant orange and white motif of the McLaren F1 dynasty.)

When you describe “the Klipsch sound,” anyone familiar with the brand will immediately think of the visually and audibly recognizable horns, with their clear, commanding presence. The Nines are two-way powered speakers featuring 1” titanium tweeters on Klipsch’s proprietary Tractrix horns. These 90° x 90°, silicone-composite horns stretch from edge to edge, a design optimized for the most efficient high-frequency transfer, for more detailed, accurate sound. (This proprietary technology also aims to minimize reverb from sound reflecting off walls.) Woofers are all-new 8” long-throw fiber composite cones, and cabinets feature rear-firing bass-reflex ports.

Minimalists, rejoice: Because The Nines are self-powered speakers, there’s no need to connect an external amp, receiver, or even a phono preamp. The Nines use a bi-amped design, featuring a built-in 240W RMS (480W peak) amplifier—100 watts to each woofer and 20 watts to each tweeter—optimized with a sophisticated DSP package integrating crossovers, limiters, and EQ.

When it comes to connecting all your favorite sound sources, from your TV to your turntable, these speakers are truly ready to rock (or jazz or hip-hop or house, etc.). Inputs include integrated HDMI-ARC, USB-B, optical, and analog 3.5mm; high-res aficionados will be happy to learn that digital-to-analog conversion is at 192 kHz/24-bit. (One caveat: The Nines do not accept files in the MQA or FLAC formats, so you’ll need to decode them to PCM at your source.) The Nines also have a built-in phono preamp, with a switchable phono/line RCA in and a ground connection, plus a subwoofer out (with a 60Hz crossover). Finally, the Nines offer Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, including aptX, aptX HD, and AAC support (the former two commonly found on Android devices and the latter the native Apple protocol). However, there is no built-in WiFi/AirPlay/Chromecast/Spotify Connect, etc.

Everything you need to connect your speakers is in the box, including a proprietary four-conductor cable that connects the powered speaker to the secondary speaker (either speaker can serve as left or right); an extension speaker cable; and HDMI, USB-B to USB-A, and AC power cables, plus a no-frills remote (AAA batteries included, though we always recommend rechargeables).

Setup is plug-and-play simple and takes just minutes. (A quick note, however, about connecting turntables: When running a phono signal directly from a turntable to your speakers, you might face longer cable paths than you would if you were connecting your turntable to a receiver; be aware that phono cable lengths longer than three feet can degrade sound quality, and plan accordingly.)

Once you’re physically up and running, pair the speakers with your smartdevice and use the Klipsch Connect App as a virtual remote and to access EQ controls and firmware updates. I found the app clumsy and sluggish to connect and update, but very easy to operate. Functions include a customizable three-band graphic EQ with presets, which can be useful if you need to boost mids to hear movie dialog better or crave extra-deep bass in your gaming soundtrack, for example, but listening to music, I left the EQ flat at all times. The app also offers processing compensating for wall or corner speaker placement, a Night Mode that adjusts dynamic range for quieter listening, and a Dynamic Bass function, which boosts low end at low volume levels.

When it comes to how simple it is to set up and enjoy The Nines, just think, “Plug, Play, Slay.”

The sound

Decades ago, Klipsch founder Paul Klipsch identified four design principles that he felt led to the most lifelike recreation of the live concert experience at home: high efficiency, low distortion, controlled directivity, and flat frequency response. Together, these principles provide the foundation for the signature “Power Detail Emotion” focus in premier Klipsch towers, and they are well-represented in The Nines.

I used The Nines in a music-only setup, streaming TIDAL over USB from my laptop and over Bluetooth on my iPhone 13 Pro. l connected an Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP direct-drive turntable, A/B-ing a direct phono in using The Nines’ built-in phono preamp and a path through an ART DJ Pre II phono preamp to The Nines as line-in. Spoiler alert: The external preamp won out, delivering slightly cleaner, slightly more dynamic sound, especially at higher volumes. But given the convenience factor, I doubt many Nines users will find their internal preamp (which only supports moving magnet cartridges, FYI) a deal-breaker. It’s just one of several signal paths you can take. These speakers could easily flank the plinth of a quality turntable (with or without a built-in preamp) to create a relatively compact, aesthetically and aurally pleasing listening station in a single connection; a quick flip of the Line/Phono switch and you’re in business.

Because the cabinet is a rear-ported design, for optimal bass response and imaging it’s best to set speakers at least 12 to 18 inches away from the wall, which I did; another selling point for stands. This two-way speaker package produces a wide frequency range of 34 Hz to 25 kHz. I found The Nines’ bass output so deeply extended and articulate that a subwoofer was unnecessary for my music-listening setup. Gamers, hip-hop fans, and action-movie junkies may seek a bigger boom. Still, given how much air these beefy 8” woofers can move, I recommend trying the speakers without a sub first, especially if you are in a shared-wall living situation.

In my large (15×20-foot) listening space, The Nines sounded balanced and natural out of the box. I never felt the need to tinker with the response, choosing instead to dive right in. (That said, if you’re hoping to tease out some nuances, the Connect App gives you access to a three-band graphic EQ with bands centered at 200 Hz, 1 kHz, and 4 kHz; you can save your preferences as custom settings.)

Feeling inspired by The Nines’ bass for days, I queued up Crystal Waters’ classic house banger, “100% Pure Love.” I was instantly transported to the clubs of my youth, triggering the muscle memory of clambering atop massive PA speakers in the days before I knew better. Everything—the bone-melting bass, the silky-smooth, snaking vocals, those knife-edged cowbell clanks—sounded incredibly clear and balanced, with deep, defined lows and ultra-clean, pinpoint-precise highs, even at blow-the-roof-off levels, which is what this track demands. Think of The Nines’ sound as effortless meets in-your-face.

The Nines showcased the modal intricacies of Miles Davis’ “Nardis,” as realized on Bill Evans’ landmark 1968 live recording Bill Evans–At the Montreux Jazz Festival, in astonishing clarity. Every textural detail was brought to life, from the sandpapery slide of bassist Eddie Gomez’ virtuosic fingers traveling down the neck of his instrument to the crisp counterpoint of Jack DeJohnette’s drums as they cascaded into a kaleidoscopic solo.

Because Klipsch speakers are highly efficient, their drivers don’t have to work very hard, which helps bring dynamic range to levels comparable to a live performance. And because they’re bi-amped, they offer great separation between high and low frequencies. To me, the overall effect was that of sitting in the front row, an expansive soundstage washing over me, each instrument presented with remarkable depth and distinct separation.

And although I generally listen at old-lady conservative levels, with The Nines, I never heard compression at high volumes or experienced fatigue over long listening sessions. I found I didn’t need the Dynamic Bass turned on to feel every articulate attack, but YMMV.

Listening to the lysergic pop of Fine Line—Harry Styles’ sophomore LP—the sweeping synths and golden-hour harmonies swelled in a lush, larger-than-life soundstage extending far beyond the speakers.

The conclusion

More and more, powered home speakers are morphing into entertainment hubs, dishing out everything from built-in streaming to sophisticated DSP to inputs that support every device you own (think the wireless network-enabled KEF LS50 Wireless II and JBL 4305P, among others). Although the all-in-one system is somewhat at odds with the audiophile “mix and match components until it’s perfect” ethos, as The Nines demonstrate, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy amazing sound in a convenient package without the expense and learning curve (and clutter!) of building a hi-fi system. The Nines even add the vinyl-friendly preamp that those other WiFi-connected speakers lack.

Considering their lineage and the success of their predecessors, it’s almost a given that The Nines sound amazing. Their sound signature can be characterized by its exceptional coherence, impressive imaging, and a sense of depth that draws you into the heart of the music. Bass is punchy and defined, and the midrange is rich and textured, for a warm and lifelike audio experience. Highs are crisp and detailed, a sparkling presence with no edgy harshness. The Nines’ comprehensive features and seamless connectivity make them standouts in their class.

Using these speakers feels a bit like enjoying the ease and convenience of a soundbar while experiencing the sonic separation, imaging, chest-thumping bass, and room-filling energy of component speakers. Add in their gorgeous vintage looks, and Klipsch The Nines speakers strike an ideal balance between versatility and charm and are sure to satisfy discerning listeners seeking to bring a new dimension of fun to gaming, movies, and, of course, music.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) Review – Dolby Atmos Magic

Sonos’ original Beam wowed with just how much home theater audio it packed into its tiny footprint, and now the Beam (Gen 2) is adding Dolby Atmos to the mix. A little more expensive at $449, and a lot smarter inside, this new Beam sees Sonos double-down on targeting an audience that wants surround sound but doesn’t want to be surrounded by speakers. There, with some qualifications, the surreptitious soundbar succeeds.

The S2 transition has caused no small amount of headache for Sonos, but it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t worth it. In addition to Atmos support, there’s also higher-definition streaming audio and more headroom for the company’s future features.

Like the Arc, the new Beam has a plastic grille with thousands of tiny holes, rather than the fabric cover of the original soundbar. You probably won’t notice the difference from the couch across the room, but it should make it easier to wipe clean of dust. It’s just shy of 26-inches wide, and still comes in matte white or black finishes; a panel of touch-sensitive controls for volume, play/pause, track skip, and microphone mute are on top.

The rear ports selection is the same, too: power, ethernet, and HDMI. The latter now supports HDMI eARC as well as ARC; you don’t need eARC for Dolby Atmos, but the bandwidth is greater than over an ARC connection. That means better overall audio quality is possible, but many streaming providers are still using compressed Atmos anyway so depending on your source it may not make much of a difference.

Setup is as straightforward as any Sonos product, and the new Beam now has an NFC chip – it’s just to the left of the control panel – so that you can tap an NFC-enabled phone there and have the link to your network made even faster. If you have a fairly recent TV that whole integration should be handled by HDMI-CEC, so your TV remote can control the Beam’s volume. Alternatively, there are IR options you can go through in the Sonos app.

Finally, there’s Trueplay. Sonos’ audio tuning system promises to finesse the EQ to suit the acoustic properties of the room. To do that, you need to walk around the space with your iPhone held up, as a series of faintly-ominous bleeps and bloops recreate the feel of a mid-2000s conceptual art installation. That is, assuming you’re not using an iPhone 13, which – at time of writing – isn’t supported by Trueplay yet.

Sonos does have automatic Trueplay on its portable Move and Roam speakers, but its mains-powered models stick with the regular version. The company’s argument is that the phone-based Trueplay has better results than using a speaker’s own internal microphone, and I’ll say you can notice the slight-but-worth-doing difference in audio balance post-Trueplay-tuning. Still, it’d be nice for those who use Android – or who just don’t go to the effort of running through the two-minute Trueplay process – if the Beam could fall back on auto-tuning instead.

As for what’s actually being tuned, despite the addition of Dolby Atmos support the hardware inside is unchanged. You still get a center tweeter, four mid-woofers, and three passive radiators, plus the Class-D digital amps to drive them. That’s just as it was in the original Beam.

What’s new are two new arrays dedicated to surround sound and height as, a little confusingly, Sonos refers to them. You can think of an array as a set of processing channels; the original Beam had three of them. It means it can use the existing hardware to give some of the sense of height that Atmos-encoded content includes.

Without dedicated up-firing drivers, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that the gen 2 Beam doesn’t give the same sort of Atmos experience as a full room of multiple speakers. Then again, that’s really not what Sonos is promising. What you get instead is an unexpectedly good facsimile of that.

Sonos leans on the Beam’s faster processor and its knowledge of how our hearing works to massage height and width perception, and it definitely sounds more encompassing than the first-generation soundbar. No, you’re not going to be reflexively ducking from missiles whizzing overhead, or have the sudden impression of someone shouting from over your shoulder, but it definitely feels richer and more immersive.

Since the surround audio is being bounced off your walls, bigger spaces start to dilute the effect. You can link the new Beam with a pair of Sonos speakers for wireless rear channels, and things got even better when I added a couple of Play 1 behind me. Again, that’s not going to do anything to improve the overhead sound, but there’s definitely a greater sense of height that the original Beam couldn’t supply.

Elsewhere, the new Beam works just fine with your music, cranks loud, and has decent stereo separation. I’d still recommend a pair of Play 1 with a wireless stereo configuration if music is your first priority. Where Move and Roam have Bluetooth support, Beam sticks with WiFi, though you do get AirPlay 2 for streaming from Apple devices.

You can do all the usual Sonos niceties like grouping Beam with multiple other zones, play from multiple services through the Sonos app, hook it up to a broader home automation system such as Crestron, and access Sonos’ selection of free and paid streaming radio channels. If you set up Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant you can use Beam as an oversized smart speaker, but they’re thankfully optional.

Google Adds Personalization To Toolbar Upgrade

Google Adds Personalization to Toolbar Upgrade

Google went live tonight with version 4 of its toolbar for IE (Firefox version coming soon I’m told). You can take a look at the laundry list of features and upgrades here.

Worth noting from my point of view are the following:

* Account sign-in (from the toolbar; creates another incentive to sign up for an account/Gmail)

Google also enables users to put Local, Froogle, Image Search, Video, News and Gmail (as mentioned) into the toolbar. Will this impact usage of these services? It could well boost their visibility and, ultimately, their usage.

The previously much criticized “Autolink” feature does some interesting things with Local, displaying all the addresses that appear on a map (e.g., “wine shops, Oakland, CA”‘) as a pull-down menu. That enables the user to quickly select a location if s/he knows it (“I want to one on Main,” etc.).

Google has a new marketing (and to some degree branding) vehicle to build awareness for these various services (Local, Video, Froogle) through their (opt-in) presence on the toolbar. And the Google Pack “Updater” will notify users of changes and updates, etc. How about a Google Music or Google Travel button in the future?

I’m sure I haven’t captured all the tricks the new toolbar can and will be able to do. But the thing that is most intriguing to me is the way in which the toolbar can house alerts/dynamic searches and could potentially become an RSS reader.

Imagine third parties creating buttons or feeds (as more sites are doing) for specials/deals/offers that can become buttons or persistent searches in the toolbar. It creates some very interesting possibilities.

Yahoo!’s toolbar also has “anti-spy,” a feature that the new Google toolbar doesn’t offer (which I use to delete tracking cookies every day). Indeed, Google hasn’t duplicated all the features on the Yahoo! toolbar, but it has eliminated the “customization gap” that existed, and created a broader range of potential personalization opportunities.

In addition, the Google toolbar ties in to Google’s personalized homepage (for those registered and signed in) and to your “search history.” In this way we start to see how the “Fusion” strategy might start to knit together some of these disparate elements (personalized home, sidebar, desktop search, toolbar).

Google right now has a “many doors” approach, in that users can access Google and search through any number of tools and utilities (personalized home, Sidebar, toolbar, desktop search, etc.). Over time it will start to be clear to Google how users are predominantly tapping into its features and services and the company will place emphasis accordingly.

Toolbars have been important but we expect that over time they will become even more strategic. Yahoo! will not likely leave this development unanswered (at the very least I’d anticipate more custom buttons to be introduced).

So expect more competition and increasing levels of functionality on the “toolbar front” in the future.

Xwlpm – Official Android 4.0.4 Update For Galaxy S2

Just a few days after the first Android 4.0.4 firmware leaked for the Galaxy S2, Samsung has officially released the Android 4.0.4 update for the device, for Russia, and should soon be releasing it to other regions. But for those not wanting to wait for the official update to arrive for their device or simply want to manually flash the update can do so by following the guide below. Android 4.0.4 brings improvements in stability and performance (specially in scrolling smoothness), so it’s quite an important update for the still powerful device.

This update is for Russia but can be flashed on any Galaxy S2 out there, as long as it’s the international I9100 variant. Read on to find out how you can flash it on your Galaxy S2 to update to Android 4.0.4.


This firmware and the guide below are compatible only and only with Galaxy S2, model number I9100. It’s not compatible with the I9100G or any other device. Check your device’s model number in: Settings » About phone.


The methods and procedures discussed here are considered risky and you should not attempt anything if you don’t know completely what it is. If any damage occurs to your device, we won’t be held liable.

How to Install XWLPM Android 4.0.4 Firmware on Galaxy S2

Important! Don’t forget to at least make a backup of your APN settings, which you can restore later if your data connection does not work after installing the ROM. Use the backup guide to find out how.

Extract the downloaded zip file once to get a file named I9100XWLPM_I9100OXELP8_I9100XXLQ6_HOME.tar.md5 (you might see the file name end with .tar instead of .md5 as the file extension is usually hidden, so it’s normal).

Extract the contents of the Odin file to a folder.

Disconnect your phone if it’s connected to PC, then switch it off.

Now, put the Galaxy S2 in Download Mode — press and hold these keys together: Volume Down + Home + Power. A Warning! screen will come up; press Volume Up key to continue to enter Download Mode.

If you don’t get this message, then probably there is a problem with drivers. Make sure you’ve proper drivers installed (check step 2). Also, uninstall Kies from the Control Panel as well (this will leave the drivers on the computer but remove Kies which can interfere with the procedure).

Important! Do not make any other changes in Odin except selecting the required files as given in step 11. Leave all other options as they are. Make sure Re-partition option is unchecked.

What to do if Odin gets stuck: If ODIN gets stuck and doesn’t seem to be doing anything, or you get a FAIL message (with red background) in ODIN, disconnect the phone from the PC, close ODIN, remove battery, re-insert it, turn phone on in Download mode again, and do the procedure again from Step 9.

[Important] After you get the PASS message and the phone reboots, the phone might get stuck at the booting animation. If that happens, perform the following steps to make it boot. Remember that these steps will wipe your personal data like contacts, apps, messages, etc. If your phone has already booted, skip these steps, your phone has been updated successfully:

Boot to recovery mode — for which, first power off phone (by removing battery and reinserting it), wait for 5-6 seconds, and then press and hold Home + Volume Up + Power keys together till the screen turns on, then let them go to boot into recovery. Once you are in recovery mode, use volume keys to move the selection up and down and home/power key to select the option.

Go to Wipe data/Factory Reset and select it. Select Yes on next screen.

Then, select reboot system now to reboot the phone, which will now boot properly.

If you run into any roadblocks while flashing the firmware, let us know and we’ll help you out.

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