Thursday, July 19, 2018

Nest CEO is Leaving

According to CNET, Nest has announced today that
Marwan Fawaz will no longer be its CEO. As part of his
departure, Nest will now be folded into Google's home
and living room products team. In a joint interview with
Fawaz, Rishi Chandra, vice president of product
management for Google's home and living room
products,

said that the combination would make it easier for Google
to integrate some of its machine learning technology and
artificial intelligence into Nest products.

This move comes six months after Nest merged with Google's
as well. Now, Nest will live under Google's home devices (like
the Home smart speakers) umbrella, which is led by Chandra.
"This is the natural evolution," he said to CNET. "We thought,
let's connect these things and build experiences that we really
couldn't do before."

According to CNET, Fawaz will stay on at Google as an
executive adviser, and that the Nest brand will stick around.
CNET reports that his exit came after an internal push for
leadership change, where several employees expressed
dissatisfaction and distrust in Fawaz after he replaced co-
founder Tony Fadell. Interestingly, CNET also reports that
when Fadell left in 2016, Alphabet had contemplated selling
off Nest to Amazon, which is now considered to be one of

Google's primary competitors in the smart home space.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung is planning to release three models of the
Samsung Galaxy S10, its flagship phone, in 2019,
according to a new report from the TF International
Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

He believes the S10 lineup, usually launched in the spring,
will come with three models: one with a 5.8-inch screen,
one with a 6.1-inch screen, and one with a 6.4-inch screen.

One key feature Samsung will promote next year is a
"fingerprint on display," or "FOD," reader, meaning users
will be able to scan their finger by placing it on the screen.

According to the Sunday report seen by Business Insider,
the two larger, higher-end Galaxy S10 models will have the
"ultrasonic FOD" feature, while the smaller Galaxy S10 will
have the fingerprint sensor on the side of the device.

The Galaxy S9 has a fingerprint reader on the back. Apple
has opted to remove the fingerprint reader from its iPhones
— this year it's expected to release three new iPhones, each
without a fingerprint sensor. And people with the iPhone X
instead use Apple's proprietary Face ID camera to unlock
their phone.

Kuo said he believes Samsung will "aggressively" promote
the on-screen fingerprint scanning — after all, it's one feature
Apple's not planning to match. The fingerprint-on-display part
is expected to be used on Samsung's high-end "A series"
phones and the Note 10, which will probably launch in fall
2019 and could have a 3D-sensing camera as well. The
ultrasonic FOD part is made by GIS and O-film and based
on a Qualcomm design and software, according to the report.

Kuo predicts Samsung could ship 40 million Galaxy S10
phones next year — mostly the two larger models, which will
be more expensive. Samsung could also ship 14 million to 16
million Galaxy Note 10 phones next year, according to the TF
International Securities forecast.

Kuo's research is geared toward investors in Asian parts
suppliers, and in the note he picked several potential winners
if ultrasonic fingerprint scanning becomes widespread. He has
a reputation for correctly forecasting technical details for

upcoming phones and laptops, particularly those from Apple.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Amazon TV

Amazon is preparing the next phase of its pay-TV attack
on Sky with plans to unleash its own smart television set
and elbow its way into more homes.

The television, developed alongside a group of Chinese
manufacturers including Huawei, is being confidentially
tested by DTG, the industry body that maintains Britain’s
digital terrestrial broadcast technical standards.

Amazon has turned to broadcast technology after its
attempts to convert its subscription streaming service
Prime Video into a viable alternative to satellite or cable
pay-TV fell flat.

It failed to attract mainstream channels from the BBC and
others, leaving Prime Video unable to poach customers from

Sky and rival Virgin Media.

Monday, July 16, 2018

New MacBook Pro

Good news, Mac fans: If you were waiting for Apple to
refresh the MacBook Pro, today is your lucky day. Both
the 13- and 15-inch models have received some under-
the-hood upgrades, along with a quieter keyboard. (Be
warned: It's maybe not the overhaul some of you were
hoping for.) These new models are are available today
starting at the same prices as before: $1,299 and up for
the 13-inch model and $2,399-plus for the 15-incher. I
had a chance to see them in use this week, and will also
be receiving a review unit any day now, at which point
we'll be doing some performance and battery life testing
(and, yes, checking to see if the keyboard tweaks make
a difference). For now, here's a rundown of what you can
expect across the line.

For the kind of people who will pay potentially $2,399 for
a new laptop, it's probably best if I cut straight to the specs.
The beefier 15-inch model is now a six-core machine, with
Intel Core i7 and i9 processor options, up to 4TB of storage
and up to 32GB of DDR4 memory. With the 13-inch model,
you have a choice of Core i5 and i7 chips, including quad
-core CPUs on the Touch Bar models. For the 13-inch,
you're maxing out at a two-terabyte SSD, up from one
terabyte in the previous generation.

As for graphics, the 15-inch model is once again the better
performer, with AMD Radeon Pro GPUs and at least 4GB of
VRAM. The 13-inch model has integrated Intel's Iris Plus 655
graphics, 128MB of eDRAM. If neither graphics solution is
enough, Apple will also be selling an external GPU in its store
for the first time, a $699 model from Blackmagic that feature
AMD Radeon Pro 580 graphics, 8GB of GDDR5 memory,
quiet 18db performance and a slew of ports that includes two
Thunderbolt 3 sockets, four USB 3.0 connections and one
HDMI 2.0 output. It also delivers 85W of power, allowing you

to power the laptop and drive an external display.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Great News for (Some) Sonos Users

Great news for Sonos customers: AirPlay 2 has arrived.
This makes compatible Sonos speakers the first third-party
AirPlay 2 speakers to hit the market, and support is being
added retroactively through a free software update.

This means you can use Sonos speakers to play audio
from iTunes on the Mac and all iPhone and iPad apps
including Music, TV, YouTube, and Netflix. Sonos speakers
can also be used for multi-room audio playback with HomePod
and Apple TV, and Siri can control Apple Music and Podcasts
playback from iPhone, iPad, HomePod, or Apple TV.

Sonos customers have long requested AirPlay support for
their speakers, but Sonos cited issues with latency and playback
interruptions as reasons for not adopting Apple’s wireless
streaming protocol. Sonos changed their tune when Apple
unveiled AirPlay 2 which reduces latency and accounts for
Wi-Fi interruptions.

AirPlay 2 works with the newest Sonos speakers (recognizable
by their touch controls instead of hardware buttons) which
includes Sonos Beam, Sonos Playbase, Sonos One, and the
second-gen Sonos Play:5.

You’re not totally out of luck if you have other Sonos speakers,
but AirPlay 2 is a lot easier to use on newer speakers. Older
Sonos speakers can work with AirPlay 2 when paired with
compatible speakers (like a Sonos Play:1 paired with a Sonos
One as a single stereo speaker). You can also press play on an
older Sonos speaker without AirPlay 2 to pick up the audio stream

from a compatible Sonos speaker.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Apple Merging Teams

Apple  is creating a new AI/ML team that brings together
its Core ML and Siri teams under one leader in John
Giannandrea.

Apple confirmed this morning that the combined Artificial
Intelligence and Machine Learning team, which houses Siri,
will be led by the recent hire, who came to Apple this year after
an eight-year stint at Google, where he led the Machine Intelligence,
Research and Search teams. Before that he founded Metaweb
Technologies and Tellme.

The internal structures of the Siri and Core ML teams will remain
the same, but they will now answer to Giannandrea. Apple’s
internal structure means that the teams will likely remain
integrated across the org as they’re wedded to various projects,
including developer tools, mapping, Core OS and more. ML is
everywhere, basically.

In the early days, John was a senior engineer at General Magic,
the legendary company founded by Apple team members in 1989,
including Andy Hertzfeld, Marc Porat and Bill Atkinson. That company,
though eventually a failure, generated an incredible number of
technology breakthroughs, including tiny touchscreens and software
modems. General Magic also served as an insane incubator and
employer of talented people; at one point Susan Kare, Tony Fadell,
Andy Rubin, Megan Smith and current Apple VP of Technology Kevin

Lynch all worked there.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

MSFT Surface Go

It's easy to think that Microsoft has given up on small
tablets. In the three years since the release of the Surface
3, its last inexpensive iPad competitor, Microsoft shifted its
attention towards larger and more powerful devices like the
Surface Pro; the pro-grade Surface Book 2; and the
traditional Surface Laptop. Along the way, the company even
displays. But it turns out Microsoft hasn't forgotten about
smaller slates -- it was just developing one that could truly
stand out. Enter the $399 Surface Go, the company's smallest
and cheapest 10-inch tablet.

The Go weighs just 1.15-pounds -- a quarter of a pound lighter
than the Surface 3, and a tad heavier than the 1.03-pound iPad.
While that's not a huge size improvement, it's enough to make
the Go feel more like a typical tablet, instead of a slightly smaller
Windows PC. During a brief product demonstration in New York
City, a Microsoft representative genuinely surprised me by pulling
the 8.3mm thin Go out of her slim purse. It was almost like a
magic trick -- it didn't look like there was anything in her purse at
first. That goes to show what Microsoft is aiming for with the
Surface Go: It wants to deliver a machine that'll simply disappear
as you carry it throughout the day.

At first, it's difficult to tell that the Go is actually a new member
of the Surface family. It doesn't look that much different than
the Surface 3. But get up close and you'll notice the changes.
The 10-inch screen is almost a full inch smaller. And you'll
definitely notice how much lighter it is once you pick it up.
Overall, though, Microsoft hasn't changed up much with the
Surface aesthetic. The Go's screen still has a 3:2 aspect ratio,
which is a bit taller than typical 16x9 displays. And of course,
there's the iconic kickstand, which can be opened up a full

165 degrees.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

More California Stupidity

The consumer privacy law that California’s governor signed
into law on June 28 is considered the strongest, most
aggressive privacy protection measure in the U.S., according
to legal experts.

The new California law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020,
will require that companies tell state residents what information
the company is collecting and how it’s used. It also gives
people options to ask the company to delete or stop selling that
information. The law does not prevent companies from collecting
people’s information or give people an option to ask a company
to stop collecting their information, differentiating it from GDPR.

“The sweeping nature of this bill is really unprecedented in the
privacy area, and its impacts are still far from known,” said
Dan Jaffe, group evp for government relations at the Association
of National Advertisers.

The law contains “broad sweeping definitions of personal
information,” said Ron Camhi, managing partner at law firm
Michelman & Robinson’s Los Angeles office and chair of its
advertising and digital media industry group. That personal
information includes standard categories like people’s names,
email addresses and Social Security numbers. But it also covers
unique personal identifiers: IP addresses; geolocation data;
shopping, browsing and search histories; and consumer profiles

that are based on inferences from personal information.