Category Archives: New Gadgets

Recode Daily: Teens are online constantly. And they're looking at Snapchat and YouTube.

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The 2018 Code Conference concluded yesterday with our inaugural Code University, a series of talks on science, business and how to be a better leader. Attendees heard from Ben Thompson of Stratechery, directors from The Second City improv school and Carbon Robotics’ CEO on the future of robots. And they learned how to take a moonshot.

Also at Code this week:

All of our videos from Code 2018 are now online. You can watch them on our YouTube channel, and please subscribe so you get alerts when we have new interviews. You can also find all of our coverage from Code on our website.

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Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off Monday, June 4. Don’t expect any major new gadgets; this year, the company is expected to debut a “less is more” look at how we use tech. “Apple engineers have been working on an initiative dubbed Digital Health, a series of tools to help users monitor how much time they spend on their devices and inside of certain applications,” Bloomberg reports.
[Mark Gurman / Bloomberg]

American teens are spending more time than ever online. Some 45 percent of them say they are online “almost constantly,” according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. What are they doing with that time? Mostly using Snapchat and YouTube.
[Rani Molla / Recode]

Top stories from Recode

There’s so much money in early-stage investing these days that Ron Conway’s firm is scaling back.

It’s a telling moment since it shows how messy the investing scene has become to fund brand-new startups.

Watch Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s full interview at Code 2018.

“We didn’t want to get into a position about talking about who gets to do exactly what or what the situation is on Spotify.”

Kara Swisher interviews Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at Code 2018.

Watch the full interview.

Mary Meeker’s 2018 internet trends report: All the slides, plus analysis

Here’s a first look at the most highly anticipated slide deck in Silicon Valley.

This is Cool

Would you pay $29,000 for melons?

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An eye on WWDC 2018: Apple won't launch new MacBook or iPads, shifts focus on apps and services

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Apple more into apps and services

Photo:FLIKER

This year, the company will be highlighting the opposite side: using gadgets less. Apple engineers are working on an initiative entitles Digital Health, a series of tools which will help users know how much time they spend on their devices or on certain applications. These details will be collected into a menu inside of the Settings app in iOS 12, the likely name of Apple’s refreshed mobile operating system, according to people familiar with the plans.

Tony Fadell, a former senior Apple executive who worked on the original iPhone and iPod, said “We need to have tools and data to allow us to understand how we consume digital media,” continuing to it he said. “We need to get the finer-grain language and start to understand that an iPhone is just a refrigerator, it’s not the addiction.”

At its own developer conference in May, Google emphasized similar tools. The company has a new Dashboard for Android phones that let users know how long they were using other apps and reminds them to take a break.

Most of this year’s WWDC will be more delicate in making users want to pick up Apple gadgets. The company is planning to show off its effectiveness in augmented reality by upgrading relatively new tools for iPhones and iPads. AR imposes 3-D digital images on people’s view of the real world. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook sees the technology as potentially revolutionary as the smartphone.

As part of new software called ARKit 2.0 internally, the company has been planning a new mode that would let users play augmented reality games against each other in the same virtual environment. Another mode allows objects to be dropped into an area and virtually remain in place. The features will be an introduction to what’s coming from an Apple AR headset which is planned for as early as 2020.

Improvements to this year’s software will be quieter. There’ll be slight new features for snoozing notifications, tracking the stock market, making video calls, and sending Animojis – the virtual cartoons introduced with the iPhone X. Earlier this year, Apple executives decided to postpone iPhone and iPad software changes – including a redesigned Home Screen for launching apps and presenting snippets of information, an artificial intelligence upgrade to the Photos app, and new file-management tools for iPads – until next year to improve the quality and responsiveness of this year’s upgrade.

The iPhone and iPad are the top mobile platforms for developers to make money from apps. In the first quarter of this year, consumers spent 85 percent more on iOS apps than Android programs, according to mobile data-analytics firm App Annie. But Apple’s other platforms – the Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV – have become less attractive to developers, and Apple has the opportunity to turn that around. In recent years, Mac software has taken a back seat to new features for iPhones and iPads, which makes sense given that those iOS devices generate about two-thirds of Apple revenue. But the Mac is still an important product for developers and users, and Apple will update the software again this year.

The focus this year will be on integrating more deeply with iOS. The company has been working on a project that would let iOS apps run on Macs, which executives could discuss as early as this year. This would address developer apathy toward the Mac App Store, which hasn’t been redesigned in several years.

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Apple's WWDC 2018: Forget the gadgets, it's all about services and software

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Apple will hold the keynote presentation for its annual developer conference at 10 a.m. PT on Monday in San Jose, California. 


James Martin/CNET

Apple’s next pitch is to get you to put your iPhone down.

Wait, what?

The effort, a response to experts’ and investors’ growing fears over smartphone addiction, is likely to be one of the key themes at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 4. Aside from that, hardware has never been front and center at WWDC, so don’t hold your breath for big Mac and iPad changes. And you can forget about a new iPhone.

But just because Apple wants you to use your phone less doesn’t mean it wants you to leave its universe. The company will use its keynote presentation at 10 a.m. PT on Monday to show off its latest software and services, an area that’s becoming increasingly important as iPhone sales growth slows. And Apple will need to figure out how to make Siri, well, useful, if it wants its HomePod smart speaker to stand a chance against the Amazon Echo or Google Home.


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iOS 12 preview and what we expect at WWDC 2018


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And of course, we’ll see a new version of iOS (likely called iOS 12, unless Apple really decides to go crazy), as well as new software for Macs, Apple TV and Apple Watch. The company likely will show off ways its different operating systems work better together.

“The buzz is much less this year than in previous years,” Technalysis analyst Bob O’Donnell said. “Now it’s about refinements.”

News of Apple’s push to combat device addiction comes from a Bloomberg report, which said the move is part of Apple’s “Digital Health” platform.

Apple has to maintain a delicate balance. It’s in the company’s best interest for us to use its devices, apps and services as much as possible, and Apple wants to create software and services that keep us hooked on its devices. But it’s also faced fire over the addictive nature of that technology. And while the company generates about two-thirds of its revenue from its iPhones, services are becoming the fastest growing part of its operations.

Bloomberg also reported that Apple won’t make huge changes to its iOS and Mac operating systems this year, deciding instead to focus on making its software more responsive and less buggy.

Apple declined to comment ahead of WWDC.

Soaring services: Apple Music, Apple Pay, the App Store

The iPhone has long been Apple’s chief moneymaker, but smartphone demand isn’t what it used to be. People are holding onto their devices longer than before, and it’s becoming harder for phone makers to differentiate their products from rival offerings. Apple’s iPhone sales have been holding up, but it’s the company’s services business that’s viewed as its next big growth area.

Apple’s services business has been “growing dramatically,” as CEO Tim Cook said during the company’s earnings conference call last month. Revenue from things like the App Store, Apple Music and Apple Pay topped $9 billion for the first time, up more than $2 billion from the previous year. The total, $9.2 billion, also was double the services revenue Apple generated just four years ago.

Paid subscriptions topped 270 million in Apple’s March quarter, up more than 100 million from the same period a year ago and up 30 million from the end of December.

“Services is fast becoming Apple’s primary growth driver,” Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said, adding that she believes “that the App Store, and services more broadly, holds the key to Apple’s future.”

WWDC will be an important place for Apple to talk up what it’s doing in services.

Software, software and even more software

Yeah, we know. It’s hard to get excited about APIs and developer tools. But what Apple shows off Monday will give hints about the iPhones coming later this year, as well as what we’ll see in the company’s other devices.

One of the biggest areas that could use improvement is Siri, Apple’s digital assistant found on its mobile devices and its HomePod smart speaker. Though Apple introduced Siri before Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, it’s often found to be less capable than its smart assistant competitors.

“Apple must change the perception that it is lagging behind Amazon and Google on voice-based assistants and on conversational interfaces,” Forrester analyst Thomas Husson said. “While still overhyped, there is no doubt that voice as an interface powered by artificial intelligence is a disruptive force Apple must embrace faster.”

Apple likely also will introduce new augmented reality features, building on last year’s introduction of ARKit. Cook has said AR, which overlays digital images on the real world, is a technology that’s potentially as important as the iPhone. This year, Apple could introduce the ability to play multiplayer games in AR, among other improvements.

Health and fitness is another big opportunity for Apple, particularly when it comes to the Apple Watch. The company could introduce new features or let developers tap into different sensors on the watch to make better apps.

“I’m expecting for sure a continued focus around health on the watch,” said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Tune back to CNET for full coverage of WWDC

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Blockchain Decoded: CNET looks at the tech powering bitcoin — and soon, too, a myriad of services that will change your life.

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Microsoft Launcher, Edge Android Apps Get New Parental Control Features

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With an increasingly progressive tech culture now a part of everyday household, Microsoft is now offering more controls to parents on what kids should access. Microsoft Launcher for Android is getting a new feature that will allow parents to track their children, even see which apps they are using and for how long. Furthermore, Microsoft Edge is also getting an update that will extend the entire approved and blocked website list from the PC to your Android devices as well.

Both the features coming to Microsoft Launcher for Android are currently in preview. It essentially will keep parents updated on their kids’ whereabouts. If your child is offline, then the kids’ last known location and time will be shown. It will also let parents be more aware about their kids’ app activity on their Android device. Microsoft Launcher will share data including which apps are accessed and time spent on each app. With Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC, you can also view their activities on those devices through Microsoft Launcher. All of these features will only work if a family account is setup, and both these features can be toggled on and off at any given time by kids and parents both.

Earlier, site blocking and approval on Edge browser was only limited to PCs, but now Microsoft is rolling it to Android devices as well. Any websites you have already tagged as allowed or blocked for your kids will carry the same settings as they try to access websites in Microsoft Edge on Android. The update has begun rolling out, and you will again need a Microsoft family group setup for this to work.

The tech giant also announced MSN Kids – a curated news site for kids. This is currently in preview, and it consists of curated news and features for children from publishers such as Time for Kids, Popular Science, Sports Illustrated for Kids, National Geographic, and USA TODAY. You can view the site here.

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WhatsApp Said to Be Making Photo-Sharing Faster With New Predictive Upload Feature

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WhatsApp is reportedly rolling out a ‘Predicted Upload’ feature to both Android and iPhone stable users. According to a report by WABetaInfo, a fan site that tracks changes in beta versions of the app, the feature is reportedly rolling out widely on the WhatsApp for iOS stable version 2.18.61, and in a much more limited manner for WhatsApp for Android stable version 2.18.156. However, we were unable to replicate the feature in our testing however, despite running the proscribed latest stable versions on Android and iPhone. We’ve reached out to the company to get confirmation on the rollout, and will update this space when we hear back.

Photo Credit: WABetaInfo

So, what does Predicted Upload do? The report explains that WhatsApp is now able to predict when a photograph is going to be sent in a chat. In fact, the purpose of this feature is to upload in advance photos to the server, said the report, ensuring they arrive sooner than before when you finally decide to press send.

Of course, as before, users will be able to edit the photos they send over WhatsApp – the Predicted Upload feature is meant to preload photos on the server on the off-chance they are not edited. The feature works for both single photo and multi-photo uploads. To see the feature in action, WABetaInfo reports users will need to select multiple photos (12 is a good number) for upload from their Camera Roll/ Gallery, using the attach button.

Once users press Done or OK (on iOS and Android respectively), they will be presented with an Edit Photo option. They should wait about 10 seconds on this screen, for it is here the feature gets to work – and uploads the photo(s) to the WhatsApp server in the background. After you press send, without editing the photos, you should be able to see the photos almost instantly gain a single grey tick in the chat window. This indicates the photo is now on WhatsApp servers.

To be sure you have the feature, check if the clock symbol either changes instantaneously (0.0001 seconds says WABetaInfo), or is not visible at all. If you see the clock symbol for any appreciable amount of time, you don’t have the Predicted Upload feature. The mileage of double ticks and blue double ticks appearing will vary on the recipient’s network.

It is questionable how receptive users will be to the rollout of this feature, as it implies that photos are uploaded to WhatsApp servers even if users decide not to send them at the Edit Photo screen – giving rise to additional data charges. Do you see the feature in action? If so, what version are you running? Do you find the feature useful or pointless? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Top 11 gadgets launched in India in May 2018

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From sleek smartphones to really smart watches, this month saw the launch of a wide variety of gadgets. Grab your wallet because you’re about to be spoilt for choice. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gadget to gift someone, or are in the mood to pamper yourself, we are here to help. Check out the best smartphones, laptops, smartwatches, earphones and more.

OnePlus 6 Marvel Avengers Edition

What’s better than a smartphone described as a ‘flagship killer’? A flagship killer that’s a part of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Aimed at the geek inside you, the OnePlus 6 Marvel Edition comes with top-of-the-line specifications, a Kevlar-textured body with a golden Avengers logo, and an Iron Man protective case. Price: ₹44,999

OnePlus Bullets Wireless Earphones

OnePlus-bullet-earphones
Along with the spanking new OnePlus 6, the company also launched the Bullets Wireless Earphones. What’s so great about them? How about fast charging (5 hours playback time with 10 minutes of charging), sweat and water resistance, and Google Assistant integration. Oh, and did we mention no more tangling of wires? Price: ₹3,999

Apple Watch Series 3 LTE

Apple-watch
The Apple Watch Series 3 LTE takes us one step closer to a future where we won’t need to carry around a smartphone anymore. The e-SIM built into the smartwatch lets you make or receive calls without being anywhere close to your iPhone. With GPS on board, and the ability to stream songs directly from Apple Music, going on a run just got a whole lot more fun. Price: ₹39,080 (38mm), ₹41,120 (42mm)

JBL GO 2

JBL-go2
Pool parties and a water-resistant speaker are a match made in heaven. With IPX7 rating, the new JBL GO 2 can be safely submerged in water. The speaker is also small enough to fit in your handbag, and yet loud enough for a house party. What’s more, there are 12 colors to choose from. Price: ₹2,999

Vivo X21

sony-bravia-kd-85x9000f-android-tv.jpg vivo-x21-india-launch.jpg
Fingerprint sensors have become a standard security feature on some of the best smartphones out there. But Vivo has taken things to the next level. Instead of a physical button, the fingerprint sensor on the Vivo X21 is embedded under the display. The result is a sleek device with no ugly buttons to mar the design language. The smartphone also comes with a gorgeous full-screen display, enough power to handle day-to-day tasks, and dual cameras. Price: ₹35,990

Sony Bravia X90F 4K HDR Android TV

sony-bravia-kd-85x9000f-android-tv
Sony added two new high-end models to its Bravia X90F lineup. The 65-inch and 85-inch models both support 4K resolution, and run on Android TV 7.0 OS. The OS gives users, access to a ton of apps and streaming services, and also supports Google Assistant and Chromecast. The TVs are equipped with four HDMI ports, three USB ports, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. There are also two 10-Watt speakers with support for Dolby Digital and DTS Surround sound. Price: ₹3,39,900 (65-inch), ₹12,99,900 (85-inch)

Asus ROG G703

Asus-rog-gaming-laptop
Asus’ latest gaming laptop costs as much as a small car. For that kind of money, you get a beautiful 17.3-inch display, and plenty of power courtesy of the 8th gen Intel Core i9-8950HK processor paired with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, and 8GB of RAM. The laptop also supports Aura Sync technology that allows gamers to sync their laptop’s light effects with compatible accessories. Price: ₹4,99,990

Samsung Galaxy A6+

Samsung-galaxy-A6-Plus
Samsung is finally bringing the Infinity Display from its flagship devices like the Galaxy S9 to the pocket-friendly price segment. Apart from the 6-inch edge-to-edge display, the Galaxy A6+ also features Dolby Atmos audio enhancement, Samsung Pay Mini for cashless payments, and a new feature called ‘Chat Over Video’. Price: ₹25,990

Sennheiser Momentum Free in-ear

Sennheiser-momentum-free-bluetooth-in-earphones

Here’s another brilliant option if you are on the lookout for a wireless headset. From the stables of German audio brand Sennheiser, the Momentum Free in-ear headphones boast high-quality dynamic speaker system. According to the company, this system delivers “superior acoustic precision with a powerful bass response”. The earpieces are also magnetic, so they stick together when not in use. Price: ₹14,990

Fitbit Versa

Versa_InBoxSE_106_wScreens_CMYKProduct photography of Versa in box classic and Special Edition

If you’re serious about fitness, then you must absolutely own a Fitbit tracker. But there are times when you need something smarter. Enter Fitbit Versa. The smartwatch can do all kinds of fitness tracking, while also offering more features like wallet-free payments, and quick message replies. All of this and Fitbit still claims the smartwatch’s battery can last over four days. Price: ₹19,999

X-mini SUPA

X-mini-SUPA

X-mini’s SUPA Bluetooth speaker perfectly blends a vintage jukebox design with contemporary features. You can connect to the speaker using either Bluetooth and Aux, or simply insert a microSD card filled with your favorite tracks. It boasts the signature tweeter-in-tweeter technology that retains audio quality even at high volumes.  Price:₹8,990

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Internet trends report 2018: The rise of voice is undoubtedly here

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THERE’S no denying there’s a new kid in town when it comes to consumer tech devices and many believe it will soon usurp our smartphones.

Venture capitalist and former Wall Street securities analyst Mary Meeker who specialises in internet trends and new technologies presented her 2018 internet trends report this week.

Ms Meeker is highly respected and her yearly manifesto on the tech industry has become a much-anticipated annual event at the Recode tech conference. And this year was no different.

Among her 294 slides was one which shows that 2017 was arguably the “year of the voice” as mainstream adoption of AI-powered smart speakers continued its rapid acceleration.

With speech recognition reaching 95 per cent accuracy in some cases, smart speakers are taking off.

Amazon was the first to market with the Echo speaker and is the industry leader. In the US, the number of the company’s Echo installed base went from 10 million to more than 30 million in 2017.

The slide below shows the rise in adoption through the four quarters of 2017, and on the right a separate graph shows the steep rise in “skills” possessed by the conversational device.

In recent years, there’s been plenty of insiders suggesting the frictionless world of voice controlled devices will render our smartphones as secondary devices.

“I’m predicting that, by 2025, voicebots will become so prevalent, so powerful, and so useful in all areas of business and our personal lives that we won’t need smartphones anymore,” US tech journalist John Brandon wrote last year.

Because Amazon missed out on the smartphone market, its strategy has been all about replacing them with voicebots — something that Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist of Alexa Machine Learning, indicated last year was the goal of the company

Google’s AI phone call demonstration a few weeks ago that troubled so many people is an example of the direction things are headed in. The company showed off how its AI voicebot can conduct phone calls with strangers to carry out tasks like booking a haircut.

The idea is that pretty soon you won’t have to open your phone, look up a restaurant and call to make a reservation. Rather you’ll just tell your smart speaker to have the conversation for you.

Google’s Machine Learning Word Accuracy hit 95 per cent in 2017, which matches the threshold for human accuracy.

There were plenty of other interesting takeaways to come out of Ms Meeker’s talk.

PHONES ARE GETTING CHEAPER

In terms of average selling price of smartphones, Ms Meeker’s data shows a decline despite the introduction of the more expensive iPhone X and other high-end Android phones

like the new Samsung Galaxy. The cheaper average is in large part due to a rise in more affordable Chinese smartphone manufacturers.

TIME SPENT ONLINE IS GROWING, BUT NEW INTERNET USERS SLOWING

Internet usage remains pretty solid as people are more addicted than ever. In the US, the average adult spends 5.9 hours per day on digital media, up from 5.6 hours in 2016.

However because about half of the world’s population is now online — about 3.6 billion people — the rate of internet user growth is slowing as we approach saturation.

CHINA IS TAKING OVER

While Silicon Valley is the epicentre of the tech world, China is catching up to its US counterpart.

When it comes to the top 20 biggest tech firms in the world, there were just two Chinese companies on the list five years. Now there are nine.

The slide below show’s China’s rising presence among the tech elites.

DISRUPTION IS HAPPENING FASTER

New technologies are being adopted at a quicker rate and disrupting traditional industries mush faster. It took about 80 years for Americans to adopt the dishwasher while the consumer internet became commonplace in less than a decade.

BIG TECH NEEDS BETTER REGULATION

Usability improvements to many tech gadgets are based on data, which creates what Ms Meeker called a privacy paradox: internet companies make low-priced services better thanks to user data. But both regulators and customers want to ensure that data isn’t used improperly which is easier said than done at times.

“It’s crucial to manage for unintended consequences,” Ms Meeker said in her presentation. “But it’s irresponsible to stop innovation and progress.”

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Apple to unveil software that helps curb iPhone addiction

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On Monday, Apple Inc. executives will take the stage at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose to lay out the iPhone maker’s software strategy for the next year and tease future hardware ambitions.

Each year when it upgrades the operating systems that power the iPhone and iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, the company touts enhancements that tie people ever closer to their devices and keep them engrossed in the latest apps and games.

This year, the company will highlight the opposite: using gadgets less.

Apple engineers have been working on an initiative dubbed Digital Health, a series of tools to help users monitor how much time they spend on their devices and inside of certain applications. These details will be bundled into a menu inside of the Settings app in iOS 12, the likely name of Apple’s refreshed mobile operating system, according to people familiar with the plans.

The latest must-have phone in Silicon Valley is Chinese

“We need to have tools and data to allow us to understand how we consume digital media,” Tony Fadell, a former senior Apple executive who worked on the original iPhone and iPod, said in a recent interview. “We need to get finer-grain language and start to understand that an iPhone is just a refrigerator, it’s not the addiction.”

Earlier this year, Apple investors Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System criticized the addictive nature of Apple’s devices. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant responded by saying it would add more “robust” parental controls to monitor the use of its products.

Rising concern about smartphone addiction is less of a threat to Apple than other big tech companies. Apple makes most of its money selling hardware, and the Digital Health software upgrades will likely give users another reason to keep buying the company’s new devices.

At its own developer conference in May, Google emphasized similar tools. The company has a new Dashboard for Android phones that lets users monitor how long they’re using other apps and reminds people to take a break.

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Most of this year’s WWDC will still be devoted to making users want to pick up Apple gadgets. The company plans to show off its prowess in augmented reality by upgrading relatively new tools for iPhones and iPads. AR imposes 3-D digital images on people’s view of the real world. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook sees the technology as potentially revolutionary as the smartphone.

As part of new software called “ARKit 2.0” internally, the company has been planning a new mode that would let users play AR games against each other in the same virtual environment. Another mode allows objects to be dropped into an area and virtually remain in place. The features will be a prelude of what’s to come from an Apple AR headset planned for as early as 2020.

Otherwise, upgrades to this year’s software will be more muted. There’ll be minor new features for snoozing notifications, tracking the stock market, making video calls, and sending Animojis — the virtual cartoons introduced with the iPhone X. Earlier this year, Apple executives decided to postpone iPhone and iPad software changes — including a redesigned Home Screen for launching apps and presenting snippets of information, an artificial intelligence upgrade to the Photos app, and new file-management tools for iPads — until next year to improve the quality and responsiveness of this year’s upgrade.

The iPhone and iPad are the top mobile platforms for developers to make money from apps. In the first quarter of this year, consumers spent 85 percent more on iOS apps than Android programs, according to mobile data-analytics firm App Annie. But Apple’s other platforms — the Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV — have become less attractive to developers, and Apple has the opportunity to turn that around.

This tiny Chinese firm plans to take on Apple in the smartphone market

In recent years, Mac software has taken a back seat to new features for iPhones and iPads, which makes sense given that those iOS devices generate about two-thirds of Apple revenue. But the Mac is still an important product for developers and users, and Apple will update the software again this year.

The focus this year will be on integrating more deeply with iOS. The company has been working on a project that would let iOS apps run on Macs, which executives could discuss as early as this year. This would address developer apathy toward the Mac App Store, which hasn’t been redesigned in several years.

Mac hardware upgrades have been a key talking point at past WWDCs. At last year’s conference, for example, Apple upgraded nearly its entire Mac line, previewed the iMac Pro, launched new iPad Pros, and showed off the HomePod smart speaker. But this year, a suite of new gadgets is unlikely.

The company is working on refreshes to the MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook with new Intel Corp. chips, and is planning a new low-cost laptop to succeed MacBook Air. But those won’t be ready until later this year, according to people familiar with the plans. Apple is also working on a redesigned iPad Pro line with Face ID, but that’s also expected later.

Since launching in 2015, the Apple Watch operating system, called watchOS, hasn’t caught on as a major platform for developers, with big names like Instagram, Google Maps, Twitter, Amazon and eBay discontinuing their watch apps.

More ‘genuine’ than Apple: Huawei is most reputed Chinese brand

Apple will need to show developers why they should keep building apps for a gadget that hasn’t yet shown the same early promise as the iPhone. That’s especially important as Apple is preparing another big push for the wearable hardware later this year.

The company is working on a pair of new Apple Watches that keep the overall size of the current models, but include slightly larger, edge-to-edge screens, according to a person familiar with the product’s development. These changes will be the most notable external enhancements since the Watch launched about three years ago, but the new models will still support watch bands from earlier models, another person said.

The iPhone maker has released minor updates to its Apple TV software, branded as tvOS, annually at its developers conference since revamping the device in 2015. The app selection on the product remains limited, but it’s important for Apple to keep working on new features for a device that’s the centerpiece of its living-room strategy so far.

Apple eventually hopes to make the Apple TV the main viewing hub for its upcoming war chest of original video, so the company will need to maintain interest in the device.

Earlier this week, Apple updated the HomePod with stereo and multi-room music listening modes and the ability to add calendar appointments. It could choose to keep updating the speaker’s software alongside new iPhone software releases, like it does with the Apple Watch.

To catch up to Amazon and Google’s digital speakers, Apple will have to improve Siri. On its phones, it plans to add more predictive Siri features this year, Bloomberg reported earlier this year. More significant changes will take time. Apple recently poached top Google AI executive John Giannandrea, after criticism about slow feature development compared to the competition.

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New type of gadget taking off

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THERE’S no denying there’s a new kid in town when it comes to consumer tech devices and many believe it will soon usurp our smartphones.

Venture capitalist and former Wall Street securities analyst Mary Meeker who specialises in internet trends and new technologies presented her 2018 internet trends report this week.

Ms Meeker is highly respected and her yearly manifesto on the tech industry has become a much-anticipated annual event at the Recode tech conference. And this year was no different.

Among her 294 slides was one which shows that 2017 was arguably the “year of the voice” as mainstream adoption of AI-powered smart speakers continued its rapid acceleration.

With speech recognition reaching 95 per cent accuracy in some cases, smart speakers are taking off.

Amazon Echo Alexa heralds the start of a big shift in tech devices.

Amazon was the first to market with the Echo speaker and is the industry leader. In the US, the number of the company’s Echo installed base went from 10 million to more than 30 million in 2017.

The slide below shows the rise in adoption through the four quarters of 2017, and on the right a separate graph shows the steep rise in “skills” possessed by the conversational device.

Amazon Echo is the industry leader.

Amazon Echo is the industry leader.

In recent years, there’s been plenty of insiders suggesting the frictionless world of voice controlled devices will render our smartphones as secondary devices.

“I’m predicting that, by 2025, voicebots will become so prevalent, so powerful, and so useful in all areas of business and our personal lives that we won’t need smartphones anymore,” US tech journalist John Brandon wrote last year.

Because Amazon missed out on the smartphone market, its strategy has been all about replacing them with voicebots – something that Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist of Alexa Machine Learning, indicated last year was the goal of the company

Google’s AI phone call demonstration a few weeks ago that troubled so many people is an example of the direction things are headed in. The company showed off how its AI voicebot can conduct phone calls with strangers to carry out tasks like booking a haircut.

The idea is that pretty soon you won’t have to open your phone, look up a restaurant and call to make a reservation. Rather you’ll just tell your smart speaker to have the conversation for you.

Google’s Machine Learning Word Accuracy hit 95 per cent in 2017, which matches the threshold for human accuracy.

There were plenty of other interesting takeaways to come out of Ms Meeker’s talk.

PHONES ARE GETTING CHEAPER

In terms of average selling price of smartphones, Ms Meeker’s data shows a decline despite the introduction of the more expensive iPhone X and other high-end Android phones like the new Samsung Galaxy. The cheaper average is in large part due to a rise in more affordable Chinese smartphone manufacturers.

TIME SPENT ONLINE IS GROWING, BUT NEW INTERNET USERS SLOWING

Internet usage remains pretty solid as people are more addicted than ever. In the US, the average adult spends 5.9 hours per day on digital media, up from 5.6 hours in 2016.

However because about half of the world’s population is now online – about 3.6 billion people – the rate of internet user growth is slowing as we approach saturation.

CHINA IS TAKING OVER

While Silicon Valley is the epicentre of the tech world, China is catching up to its US counterpart.

When it comes to the top 20 biggest tech firms in the world, there were just two Chinese companies on the list five years. Now there are nine.

The slide below show’s China’s rising presence among the tech elites.

Some experts believe China will obtain AI parity with the US in five years.

Some experts believe China will obtain AI parity with the US in five years.

DISRUPTION IS HAPPENING FASTER

New technologies are being adopted at a quicker rate and disrupting traditional industries mush faster. It took about 80 years for Americans to adopt the dishwasher while the consumer internet became commonplace in less than a decade.

BIG TECH NEEDS BETTER REGULATION

Usability improvements to many tech gadgets are based on data, which creates what Ms Meeker called a privacy paradox: internet companies make low-priced services better thanks to user data. But both regulators and customers want to ensure that data isn’t used improperly which is easier said than done at times.

“It’s crucial to manage for unintended consequences,” Ms Meeker said in her presentation. “But it’s irresponsible to stop innovation and progress.”

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New 4K 75 Inch Xiaomi Mi TV 4 Launched

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Xiaomi has announced the launch of its largest Mi TV 4 to date, the new TV comes with a 7 inch display and has a 4K resolution.

The 75 inch MI TV 4 comes with a quad core processor, a Mali T830 GPU< 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage and the device has a wide range of features.

It comes with an integrated voice assistant and it has Dolby Audio and DTS-HD. The TV also comes with dual band WiFi and Bluetooth LE.

The new 75 inch Xiaomo 4K Mi TV 4 will retail for Around $1561 which is cheaper than many of the other 75 inch TVs on the market in China.

Source MIUI, GizmoChina

Filed Under: Displays News

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