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Showing posts from March 18, 2018

Will New iPad Support Apple's Pencil

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KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is being reported on several website today suggesting that the new non-Pro iPad will support the Apple Pencil. Which seems pretty counterintuitive given that feature is one of the defining items in the iPad Pro arsenal.

However, with the smaller iPad Pro having jumped to a larger screen and gained improved audio and display technologies, Apple may feel comfortable adding Pencil support on the basis that the smaller screened iPad is sufficiently differentiated from the Pro to not cannibalise sales.

Why would Apple want to offer Pencil support on its cheapest iPad? That would be for education appeal - which is why the new iPad might arrive at this week's education themed Field Trip event.

Whilst the prospect of a Pencil enabled standard iPad is appealing, I'd really like to see the same feature added to a refreshed iPad Mini. An 8" tablet with stylus support is something l would whole-heartedly embrace. Unfortunately l think I'm very…

China Trade Tariffs Promise Rocky Road For Technology Companies - Especially Apple

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US President Donald Trump signed an executive order today, introducing up to $60bn of trade tariffs on Chinese goods. Whilst the exact details of what will and won't be included won't be known for fifteen days, high tech products are expected to feature highly on the list.
Which means that technology companies across the world are going to be quaking in their boots, given as most of their manufacturing has moved to China.
Apple would appear to be particularly heavily exposed, with a significant chunk of its China made iPhone, iPad and Mac sales coming from within the US. Other brands will be similarly hurt, especially Lenovo. 
For Apple pushing the price up on devices without making any extra profit will be painful and it's likely to look for alternative options for manufacturing US bound phones. It's recent partnership with Foxconn to start building iPhones in India would seem like a good candidate, if it can quickly expand to provide multiple product lines at volume…

Video Evidence From Autonomous Uber Fatality Suggests Technology Failure

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Video captured by the self-driving Uber involved in last weeks pedestrian fatality suggests that the car in question should have been able to avoid the impact, even if the driver wouldn't necessarily have been able to.
The dashcam video is interesting for ascertaining the root cause of the accident, if not for apportioning blame - which in litigation happy America is likely to be the most important part of the police investigation.
As with many road fatalities there are a number of contributing factors which led to the accident. The pedestrian was pushing a bike across a road in near darkness, wearing no reflective clothing. She was in an area of heavy shadow and became visible only in the last two seconds before impact.
A human driver has a normal reaction time between 1.5 and 2.5 seconds in these circumstances. Which means only the very fastest reacting drivers may have had sufficient time to lose speed or take avoiding action to prevent a fatality.
The Uber Volvos are equipped…

Huawei Begins P20 Offensive By Picketing Apple Stores

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Huawei's P20 needs to be a big success in Europe, now that the company has been shut out of the US as a result of concerns about the political implications of allowing a big Chinese OEM to gain a foothold in the country.
The UK has the most important mobile market in Europe and it looks like Huawei has targeted success here. At least its mobile billboards parked in prominent locations, coincidentally outside Apple Stores (and some Samsung ones) suggest so.
Huawei has been making great strides in getting its smartphones to compete directly with Apple and Samsung - its partnership with Leica in particular bearing fruit in camera quality. The Mate 10 - current range topper - manages to be close to the best from Samsung and Apple in all respects, whilst remaining 25-30% cheaper.
That saving comes at the expense of timely updates and this remains the final step which Huawei needs to address before it can claim to match the big two as a premium brand.
At which point it can probably giv…

Blackberry QNX To Underpin Jaguar Land Rover In Car Systems

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Blackberry, the company which doesn't make smartphones anymore, as opposed to Blackberry the name licensed to TCL to market its smartphones, has one good string left in its bow, QNX.That real time, Linux based OS is finding a new market for Blackberry - in car systems. The latest will be from Tata of India brands Jaguar and Land Rover who have announced a partnership which will see in car and security systems from the premium brands powered by Blackberry's platform. The success of its non-smartphone operations may have an impact on the smartphone business in the future. I can definitely see a time when Blackberry rebrands it's business and sells the Blackberry name to TCL.

Nintendo Switch Had A Record Breaking First Year, So Where To Now

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With first year sales expected to top fourteen million units, Nintendo's Switch just displaced the Wii and PS4 as the most successful console launch of all time. It's an amazing turnaround from the disaster which was the Wii U. That console managed fewer sales in its near six year lifespan than the Switch has achieved in just one year.
A successful second year is going to be entirely dependent upon support from third party publishers and their willingness to bring big name titles to the Switch. Games that standout at the moment include FIFA 18, Minecraft, NBA2k18 and Doom. It's nowhere near enough.
Still, Nintendo's success thus far has been a pleasant surprise, so who knows what it can achieve in year two?

Huawei Being Forced Out of The US

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Having been dumped by both AT&T and Verizon, apparently at the behest of the US Government, Huawei has been relying on retail sales through stores like Best Buy to maintain a presence in the country. 
That may be about to change, as Best Buy has been reported to be dropping the brand. Leaving direct imports as the only method for fans to get their fix of phones like the Mate 10 and P20. 
There's a question outstanding over how this will affect the Honor sub-brand. Logic would suggest that it will, given the Government's concerns with Huawei's links to the Chinese Government. 
With America blocked off to it, Huawei's plans to dominate the smartphone market will have to go on hold. Chances are the company will double down on Europe and Asia to maintain its momentum.

Google To Acquire Digital Light Field Specialist Lytro

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Remember the Lytro Light Field Camera, which allowed a user to change the focus of a photo after it had been taken?

It's now being reported Google is about to acquire the company for up to $40m. That is a steep discount on the valuations Lytro achieved as it raised $200m in funding.

No doubt Google will look to incorporate the Lytro technology into a future Pixel phone, although any deal is almost certainly too late for the incoming Pixel 3.

More evidence, as if it were needed, that cameras are seen by smartphone manufacturers as a significant point of differentiation in a mature market.

With Wunderlist Stagnating, You Can Go To Todoist For Task Management

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As a Wunderlist user, it has been painful to watch the snail like progress Microsoft has been making with its planned replacement for the task manager, To Do. There has never been a time when To Do has even begun to look like a viable replacement for Wunderlist.
And now we know why. Christian Reber, founder of the company, has said that the issues relate to two items - AWS and Azure; and Outlook integration.
Microsoft acquired a product which ran on Amazon's cloud, which has meant porting it over to Azure and recoding it into To Do as they go. Apparently the change is hard. Add in the need to integrate with existing Microsoft products and you begin to see how Microsoft has been trying to push sand up hill since acquiring Wunderlist and trying to convert it into To Do.
Whilst Wunderlist works okay for now, Microsoft has made it clear that the product will die in favour of To Do. However, since Microsoft has made it clear that the service is for the scrapheap, it seems like a good …

Just What Is So Surprising About Facebook Selling Your Data

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Facebook - along with other services which offer something for nothing - has a very simple premise. You don't pay for the service with cold hard cash, because you and, more specifically, data about you are the product, which Facebook sells to whoever wants it. Normally that's advertising companies looking to target potential customers based on their social activity.
Usually, but not always. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, that information was used to influence the result of the 2016 US Elections.
You'll hear the Cambridge Analytica incident characterised as a data breach in many news stories over the next few days. That's technically not true. There was no data breach because Facebook provided access to the data in return for a fee. Furthermore, the users who were affected will have accepted Facebook's terms of service which state - and I am paraphrasing here - 'all your data belong to us'.
It's received wisdom that for any given internet service y…

Will A 40mpx Camera Persude You To Overlook The Huawei P20's Notch

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German website WinFuture has uncovered further details of the Huawei P20 and in at least one model we may be about to see a camera which moves the game on in a way not seen since Nokia unveiled the Lumia 1020 with its 41mpx camera.
The information suggests the three cameras on the P20 Pro will be an 8mpx telephoto, 20mpx mono sensor and a 40mpx main RGB sensor. 
That promises a smartphone camera experience which changes the game, combining the resolution of that RGB sensor with the light sensitivity of the mono sensor to produce a different class of photo. 
What about the notch though. We know the P20 range is coming with a screen cut-out which is halfway between the Essential Ph1 and the iPhone X. That's going to be something that annoys every time you look at the screen. 
My only reservation here is that the images of the triple sensor P20 Pro don't show a sufficiently large camera bump to squeeze in a sensor large enough to usefully accommodate 40mpx . 
So, exceptional cam…

Self Driving Uber Crash Investigation Already Mired In Controversy

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The accident which claimed the life of a 49 year old pedestrian earlier this week, was always going to be under the microscope. The first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle and involving Uber too.Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle that preliminary investigation suggests neither car nor backup driver were at fault for the accident. That has brought accusations of victim blaming and whitewash.Moir's comments suggest that the victim stepped from a shadowed pavement into the path of the vehicle, leaving no time for the driver - human or otherwise - to take evasive action.The backlash against Moir's comments seems unwarranted. Having briefly dabbled in accident investigation myself (many years ago) I can say that sometimes the cause of a crash is obvious right from the start.Given the additional evidence provided by the car's cameras, it doesn't seem unreasonable to reach a preliminary conclusion this quickly.That doesn't ne…

HTC Desire 12 And 12+ Go Official

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HTC's global social media accounts have been busty announcing the new Desire 12 and 12+ this morning. The new handset - which is powered by a Mediatek handset and is expected to be the company's new entry level handset - is being marketed under the strapline 'Big to see, small to hold' a reference to their new 18:9 screen ratio.
The handsets had been expected to launch at MWC last month, but HTC has chosen to delay them until now, possibly to remove them from the blinding glare of other releases. 
There's no word yet of where the new phones are going to be available - however it's a pretty good bet that emerging markets will be the primary target for these particular phones.
The smaller Desire 12 has a 5.5" screen at 720p+ resolution and packs a 13mpx main and 5mpx selfie cameras, whilst the larger phone gets a 6" screen, and a dual camera rear sensor package. Both are available in 2GB or 3GB versions.
Whilst this won't be HTC's headline hand…

More Evidence That Password Managers Increase Risk - From Firefox

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Mozilla has implemented weak security for its Firefox and Thunderbird password managers, resulting in a situation where it would be possible to brute force the key to your password database in a matter of minutes, according to Wladimir Palant, developer of the AdBlock Plus extension.
That's just more evidence to back my recommendation that you avoid password managers when securing your online activity.
Putting all of your secure access credentials behind a single master password - Mozilla's or anybody else's - gives somebody a single lock to pick to gain access to your online life. In the past I've discussed various options for managing your passwords through schemes and thus avoiding this risk. 
Length and complexity are key here - currently I'd suggest sixteen or more characters and a complex mix of phrases and punctuation. Simple substitution of non-alphanumeric characters like 'a' with @ are too obvious.
Marry that with a different password for every s…

Pedestrian Dies After Collision With Self Driving Uber Volvo

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Uber has suspended all self-driving vehicle testing after one of its Volvos was involved in a fatal accident involving a pedestrian. The incident is under investigation by the authorities and Uber itself; and as the first fatality involving an autonomous vehicle both reports will come under close scrutiny.
Unlike Tesla's fatal accident last year, where the driver's misuse of the Auto Pilot system was at fault, Uber's vehicles are targeting true autonomy, which means driver intervention is not an option and no blame can really be attached to the driver in the car if it was in fully autonomous configuration.
Until we know the exact circumstances of the accident it's going to be hard to quantify the impact on self driving cars in general - and Uber's plans for self-driving on demand vehicles in particular. But before these services are allowed to move into widespread usage it is imperative they be truly safe and fail safe too.
With computer systems, that's genera…

Spotify Cleans Up Paid Playlists

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With Spotify comfortably the biggest on-demand music streaming service in the world, musicians looking to break through need to achieve success there more than the traditional methods of gaining recognition, such as radio airplay.
For many a quick shortcut to achieving this is by appearing on as many curated playlists as possible; and a number of services have appeared which help make that happen in return for a fee.
Spotlister is the most famous and most popular. Or should I say was, because Spotify has taken action to dump them off the service and prevent them selling playlist attention in future.
Buying attention seems to be a very popular way of gaining followers for blogs, social media and now music services. The theory being that the payback will come in the form of advertising, notoriety and royalties. It's the 21st Century equivalent of bill posters and advertising in fanzines. However, whilst its not illegal, it is against the terms of service for most of these services,…

New MacBook Air Is An Open Goal For Apple

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What is the most popular laptop you see around you today? If you're anything like me its an Apple MacBook Air of some vintage.The machine that fundamentally changed the way that laptops were designed and sold had as much an effect on Apple as the iPhone or iPad.In the last few years Apple has very much neglected the Air,  yet it's the laptop that most benefits the company in so many ways.The MacBook Air is hugely popular on campus and in schools. Whilst it may not bring in the profits or revenue of its more expensive siblings it does something far more important: it brings new buyers into the Apple fold.It's exactly the same reason why premium car makers have been moving into lower and lower market sectors. Hook a buyer young and they'll keep coming back.A MacBook Air owner in college is going to proceed through an iPhone, iPad and eventually a MacBook Pro, to become a lifelong Apple customer.And we know once Apple has a customer it knows how to sell to them and ensure…

Broadcom Qualcomm Stalemate Is Temporary Relief For Intel

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The decision by the United States Government to block further negotiation for the purchase of Qualcomm by Broadcom was no doubt celebrated in the offices at Intel. But the prevention of this extinction level event should not make the company forget its most pressing problem - its failure to embrace a mobile world. Right now Intel has limited penetration into the smartphone / tablet industry. A modem deal with Apple that dies the moment Qualcomm and Apple resolve their licensing differences; and a handful of tablets running Intel Core M processors, until Windows on Arm ejects them from that market too.The temporary reprieve the company was handed last week should prompt it to refocus it's efforts on low power RISC cpu packages designed for mobile first. If that means reducing effort on its x86 processors, well so be it. That market is declining. Smartphones and tablets are the future. This looks like one last chance. Develop a mobile business or acquire one. Complete failure will b…

F1: Australia Here We Come

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We're into the final countdown before the start of the 2018 F1 season in Melbourne this coming weekend. Last year Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel stole victory from under the noses of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton thanks to a smarter pit strategy.This year they will need something more like divine intervention to have a chance.Although the front and back of the grid seems pretty sorted - Mercedes comfortably to the fore, Sauber adrift at the back - the Class B and midfield battles should be tense this year.Ferrari and Red Bull looked very close in terms of absolute speed in testing, and I foresee a tight and aggressive battle for first of the non-Mercedes between Vettel and Verstappen.Will anyone join this battle near the front? I'd say not. But a concertina-ing of the midfield means that everybody bar Sauber will be tightly bunched in the midfield. Williams look the potential losers here, with all those around them looking to be on a stronger position through testing. I can'…

Microsoft's Plan To Rescue Edge Is Lunacy

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Microsoft Edge is a great browser, hamstrung by the Microsoft browsers which preceded it and the poor reputation they bequeathed it. Even as Windows 10's user base has grown, Edge's penetration has been static.So the latest Windows 10 Insider build makes changes designed to encourage more users to use Edge for more than just downloading Chrome of Firefox.That change forces links opened from the default Mail app to run in Edge rather than the default browser. I suspect this will introduce Microsoft to the law of unintended consequences. To whit, users will find a replacement mail client, rather than use Edge. Assuming Microsoft doesn't reverse this change before releasing the next Windows 10 update.

At Some Stage Spotify Will Have To Become More Than A Streaming Service

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Spotify is heading for an IPO, once which won't be underwritten by the banks. It has been forced into this unconventional action by the difficulties it faces in the streaming market. Firstly that it has never - and on current performance probably never will - made money; and secondly, that it facing off against Apple, for whom music streaming is side game it can afford to play over a lengthy period of time.
Something Spotify doesn't have on its side. Until it can turn its bottom line from red to black the company is living on borrowed time.
Why is a company with such an excellent record of attracting paying subscribers and one which has almost single-handedly killed the music piracy problem, struggling to make end meet? That would be the complex and archaic laws that determine who gets paid what in the music industry. Something which favours the publishers over the artists and songwriters.
Right now Spotify's costs are higher than its income stream, because it has so many…

The Death Of Android Wear Flags A Change In The Way Google Sees Android As A Whole

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Android Wear will shortly disappear, to be replaced by Wear OS. Doesn't seem like a big enough change to help the smartwatch platform recover from its dismal start in life, but that's not the intention here.
Smartwatches aren't great - especially those using the Wear platform - and a name change won't help change that. Google says that that's not the intention here, rather it's an attempt to reposition its smartwatch platform to reflect that it works on Android and iOS.
Given the low number of sales and the superior quality of the Apple Watch, I'm doubting that the name is even close to being a top ten reason for iPhone users not picking an Android Wear device.
I think that's misdirection on Google's part. Instead what it's telling us here is about the future of Android.
That is to say, it hasn't got one. Sort of.
Google wants a larger chunk of the smartphone market and the Pixel shows it wants the high end. It's also now pushing Andro…

Formula E: Vergne Takes Commanding Championship Lead With Uruguay Victory

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Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne converted pole position into victory in Uruguay, to take a commanding Championship lead into the second half of the season. Despite insane amounts of pressure from outgoing Champion Lucas Di Grassi, Vergne made himself Championship favourite with this hard fought win.
Behind Di Grassi, Sam Bird claimed third place, which moves him closer to second place in the Championship, as Felix Rosenqvist, the early season pace setter, was only able to finish in fifth place.
With the inaugural Rome E-Prix up next, we're promised another belter of a race, but whatever happens on the track Vergne will come away from Italy as Championship leader.