Wednesday, February 28, 2018

New iPhones

Apple Inc. is preparing to release a trio of new
smartphones later this year: the largest iPhone
ever, an upgraded handset the same size as the
current iPhone X and a less expensive model
with some of the flagship phone’s key features.

With the new lineup, Apple wants to appeal to
the growing number of consumers who crave
the multitasking attributes of so-called phablets
while also catering to those looking for a more
affordable version of the iPhone X, according to
people familiar with the products.

Apple, which is already running production tests
with suppliers, is expected to announce the new
phones this fall. The plans could still change, say
the people, who requested anonymity to discuss
internal planning.

Despite months of breathless hype, the iPhone X
hasn’t sold as well as expected since its debut last
year. Apple sold 77.3 million iPhones in the final
quarter of 2017, below analysts’ projections of 80.2
million units. Some consumers were turned off by
the iPhone X’s $1,000 price despite liking the design
but wanted something more cutting-edge than the
cheaper iPhone 8. With its next lineup, Apple is
seeking to rekindle sales by offering a model for

“This is a big deal,” says Gene Munster, a co-founder
of Loup Ventures and a long-time Apple watcher.
“When you have a measurable upgrade in screen size,
people go to update their phone in droves. We saw
that with the iPhone 6, and we think this is setting up

to be a similar step up in growth.”

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

PAW Patrol

PAW Patrol: On a Roll will be available
through the interactive pre-school app,
Nick Play Jr in the UK and Denmark,
before launching on Playstation, Xbox,
Nintendo Switch and PC in September.

Nickelodeon and video games publisher
Outright Games have partnered for the
launch of a new Paw Patrol video game title.

The game follows the series’ characters
along 16 rescue missions and features
curriculum that focuses on citizenship,
social skills and problem solving.

“PAW Patrol is a series the entire family
can enjoy so we are creating a video game
that children and parents can have fun playing
together,” said Terry Malham, chief executive
officer, Outright Games.

“We are excited to reveal more about the action-
packed features in the coming months, so stay


Monday, February 26, 2018

Samsung Max

Samsung has rescued Opera Software’s Opera
Max data-saving, privacy-protecting Android app
from oblivion and relaunched it today as Samsung

Norwegian tech company Opera, which first became
known for its desktop browser when it launched in
1995, has offered mobile browser apps across various
platforms for years. But in 2014 it launched the standalone
Opera Max app for Android to give its users more bang
from their data plan, along with some VPN-like features.
The app compresses data such as photos, music, and
videos while promising “no noticeable loss of quality.”
Opera Max can also block background processes to
conserve battery and data.

The app was given a number of new features over the
past few years, but last August the company revealed
it was pulling the plug on Opera Max once and for all.
The reason, according to Opera at the time:
The product had a substantially different value proposition
than our browser products, and represented a different
focus for Opera. We, therefore, focus on our browsers and
other upcoming services.

Opera delisted the app from Google Play*, though it did
state that the app would remain functional for a period of
time and promised that it would inform existing users before

terminating server-side functionality.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Qualcomm to Use 7-nanometer Chips

Qualcomm's future Snapdragon 5G mobile chipsets
will be made using Samsung Electronics' 7-nanometer
process, the companies announced.

The South Korean tech giant first showed off the 7-
nanometer LPP EUV process in May last year. Samsung
said in July that it will surpass rival TSMC when 7-
nanometer is rolled out in 2018.

Scaling down chip sizes allows a slimmer design
and more usable space for manufacturers. They
also consume less power and process faster.

Compared to the 10-nanometer FinFET process
that is currently widely commercialised, the 7-
nanometer will allow up to a 40 percent boost in
area efficiency, 10 percent higher performance,
and 35 percent less power consumption, Samsung

In October, the South Korean tech giant developed
an 8-nanometer process, considered a stop-gap
between 10-nanometer and 7-nanometer, stressing

that it was continuing to cooperate with Qualcomm.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Google Pay App

Google announced last month that it was bringing
Android Pay and Google Wallet together under the
new Google Pay brand. Today, the big rollout begins,
with the new Google Pay-branded app now available
through Google Play.

If you already have the Android Pay app installed, it
appears you won’t need to do anything. However, the
app currently still shows up as “Android Pay” on your
phone, despite appearing as “Google Pay” through the
Google Play store on the web. The transition is evidently
still underway.

Muddy waters

Google’s digital payment setup has so far been a little
muddy, given that Android Pay was for online, in-app,
and retail purchases using an Android phone, while
Google Wallet was a P2P payment service for those
with a debit card or bank account in the U.S. or U.K.
and worked on Android and iOS.

Google Pay represents the company’s attempt to unify
and simplify its digital payments service across the web,
in apps, in stores, and through peer-to-peer (P2P) payments.
It also constitutes the service formerly known as Pay With
Google, which is an API that allows merchants to offer online
shoppers a simpler way to enter their payment details at

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Future of Gaming

IF YOU ASK 13-year-old Keanu Snyder what he wants for his
birthday, he won't tell you about Nerf blasters or Playstation
games. He’ll tell you all about augmented reality. Maybe a new
shooter game that lets you zap digital targets around the house,
or an experience that makes you feel like you're traveling the
solar system like a galactic explorer.

A few years ago, Snyder was more into playing Xbox games,
like NHL, which let you skate around a virtual hockey rink like
an all-star athlete. Then he heard about augmented reality,
where instead of watching your avatar move on the screen,
you could become the avatar and recreate the world around you.
“It looked so cool,” he says. “I wanted to be the first one to try it out."

Now, Snyder acts as an AR ambassador to his friend group.
Sometimes, when friends come over, they see Snyder's Merge
AR/VR goggles, which he leaves on the dresser in his bedroom.
He’ll slide in his phone, show them how it works, and let them
take it for a spin. “Their eyes pop,” he says. “They always ask
me, ‘Where can you buy this?’”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Apple NAND Chips

Apple is in talks with state-backed Yangtze Memory
Technologies to buy NAND flash chips from it, a move that
will mark the U.S. giant's first purchase from a Chinese memory
chipmaker and a huge boost to the local sector.

The deal will be a big coup for Yangtze Memory and China if it
goes through. For Yangtze Memory, a little known technology
company, securing a deal with a global entity such as Apple will
be a big deal even if the initial orders are small. For China, a
deal with Apple will go some way toward its ambition to cut
dependence on foreign chip supply, area in which Beijing has
shown it is willing to invest heavily.

Whether Apple is under any pressure to buy from Chinese
makers is unclear. Afterall, China has been known to apply
pressure on foreign technology companies that want to operate
within the country. One thing is for sure, Chinese deals will help
Apple grow its business there, according to an industry

For now, no Chinese company has yet to produce memory chips
and Yangtze Memory's first factory lines, worth some $24 billion,
in the city of Wuhan is set to start production only sometime in

As such, the earliest that the deal could come into fruition will
be 2019 but industry sources say it is more likely to be after
2020 before Yangtze Memory can produce enough of the
components at a standard that Apple requires. Apple will use
these chips in new iPhone models and other products for sale
in the Chinese domestic market specifically, according to two
people familiar with the matter.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Amazon Skills Kit

Amazon today is rolling out the biggest makeover for its
Alexa Skills Kit Developer Console – the console where
voice app developers create their skills – since its debut
back in 2015. The new console has been redesigned with
a focus on improving developer workflows, says Amazon.
It now offers separate sections for “build,” “test,” “launch,”
and “measure” – meaning developers can create skills in
a visual interface, test their performance, push them live,
then see how consumers respond in order to make

The redesign comes at a time when a number of third-
party companies have stepped in to address issues that
Amazon’s own toolset has been lacking. For example,
prototype their voice apps ahead of coding, and YC-
backed Storyline allows for Alexa skill development
without coding.

While Amazon’s own developer console doesn’t address
those exact same use cases, there is a bigger emphasis
on visualizing the flow of the conversation with Alexa than
in the previous version.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Facebook Speakers

Facebook is set to officially foray into the global smart speaker
market in mid-2018 by launching two new models, codenamed
Aloha and Fiona - both with 15-inch touchscreens - in July at
the latest, with the devices positioned as a way to allow family
and friends to stay in touch with video chat and various social
features, according to industry sources.

The sources said that the Facebook move is expected to further
heat up the global smart speaker market, which has been
crowded with heavyweight players, including top supplier Amazon
and other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and many
China players including Alibaba. According to estimates by
market researcher Canalys, the global market sales of smart
speakers are likely to double to over 50 million units in 2018 from

Supply chain sources said that Facebook was originally slated to
release the devices in May, but has decided to reschedule the l
aunch to allow more time for perfecting the acoustic quality of the
gadgets and software modification.

Pegatron as sole contract assembler
The two models will be fitted with 15-inch in-cell touchscreen panels reportedly to be sourced from LG Display, while Taiwan's Pegatron is also reported to be the sole contract assembler of the devices. But both firms declined to comment on matters concerning clients.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Apple Updates

Apple's annual software upgrade this fall will offer users plenty
of new features: enabling a single set of apps to work across
iPhones, iPads and Macs, a Digital Health tool to show parents
how much time their children have been staring at their screen
and improvements to Animojis, those cartoon characters
controlled by the iPhone X's facial recognition sensor.

But just as important this year will be what Apple doesn't
introduce: redesigned home screens for the iPhone, iPad
and CarPlay, and a revamped Photos app that can suggest
which images to view.

These features were delayed after Apple Inc. concluded it
needed its own major upgrade in the way the company
develops and introduces new products. Instead of keeping
engineers on a relentless annual schedule and cramming
features into a single update, Apple will start focusing on the
next two years of updates for its iPhone and iPad operating
system, according to people familiar with the change. The
company will continue to update its software annually, but
internally engineers will have more discretion to push back
features that aren't as polished to the following year.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mobile Games

When it comes to worldwide revenue in mobile games,
Chinese and Japanese companies are starting to dominate
the charts, according to measurement firm Sensor Tower.

Sony has a big hit on its hands with the role-playing game
Fate/Grand Order, which took the top position from Mixi’s
big hit Monster Strike. While the two Japanese companies
slug it out, Tencent’s Honor of Kings held the No. 3 position.

Candy Crush Saga from King and Clash Royale from
Supercell were the only Western games in the top 10, while
Asian companies held eight of the top 10. NCSoft’s Lineage
M reached No. 1 on Google Play, thanks to its huge popularity
in South Korea.

Tencent’s mobile racing title QQ Speed debuted on the chart
after launching in late December, hitting No. 5 overall and No.
3 on iOS.