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Dyson, Maker Of Vaccums, Investing In Electric Vehicles

February 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Late last year, James Dyson of Dyson vacuum cleaner maker announced that his company would be investing £2 billion to develop an electric car by 2020 and, hopefully, it doesn’t suck.

Dyson on Wednesday provided a few more details including a production target date and some very general technical specs.

Typically, we’d greet this kind of news with a healthy eye roll of skepticism, but the fact is that Dyson is as rich as Croesus (from ancient Greece, very rich) and loves inventing things. Additionally, the word around the campfire is that he already has 400 people working on the project at the Dyson facility in Malmesbury, England.

Dyson has said that its first electric car won’t be cheap and won’t be a sports car. This, in our minds, puts it in direct competition with Tesla’s Model S and Model X. The car was initially set to feature solid-state batteries, technology in which Dyson has been investing heavily lately — specifically with its acquisition of Sakti3, a solid-state battery startup, for $105 million. However, Ann Marie Sastry, the former head of Sakti3 who came to work for Dyson after the acquisition, has departed the company rather suddenly, which may slow down the development schedule for solid-state batteries.

To help put solid-state battery technology in perspective, Toyota is alone in having committed to bringing the technology to market inside of a decade. Porsche has talked about its investment in the technology but hasn’t made any claims as to when it might be available in its vehicles. If Dyson can bring this technology to market first, it will have a huge leg up on more established competitors thanks to solid-state batteries’ higher energy density and quicker recharge times versus standard wet cells.

Based on statements that Dyson made to Reuters, it seems unlikely that the car would be built in the UK.

“Wherever we make the battery, we’ll make the car; that’s logical,” he said. “So we want to be near our suppliers; we want to be in a place that welcomes us and is friendly to us, and where it is logistically most sensible. And we see a very large market for this car in the Far East.”

Based on what we know so far, Dyson’s plan seems not unlike Tesla’s in that it will start with an exclusive and expensive vehicle, using that to develop and possibly fund a second more affordable and advanced car, and so on. Given Tesla’s production troubles with its hotly anticipated Model 3, the EV giant is vulnerable in a way that it hasn’t been previously.

Hopefully, Dyson gets his car developed and brought to market. Competition improves the breed, and the world of EVs has benefited from increased competition already. Also, the potential to see AvE tear a Dyson car apart on YouTube is almost too exciting.

Google Already Increasing The Price Of YouTube TV

February 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Alphabet Inc’s Google is increasing the price of its YouTube TV online service for new customers as it adds channels from Time Warner Inc’s Turner, National Basketball League, and Major League Baseball, the company said Wednesday.

Less than one year after launching YouTube TV, the company is increasing its pricing to $40 per month from $35 per month as it adds Turner’s channels, which include TNT, CNN, and TBS, and soon will be adding MLB Network and NBA TV, the company said.

Google is expanding its offering at a time when a growing number of competing services, such as Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirectTV Now and Hulu, are vying to win over the growing number of viewers who are canceling their cable subscriptions to watch their favorite shows online.

The four largest cable and satellite companies lost 1.5 million pay TV customers in 2017.

DirectTV Now has over 2 million subscribers, according to AT&T. Sling TV, Hulu, and YouTube TV do not disclose how many users they have, but research firm BTIG estimates they respectively had 2.1 million, 500,000 and 350,000 as of the end of 2017.

The costs for these competing offerings range from $20 for Sling TV’s most basic offering of 30 channels to $39.99 for Hulu’s one with more than 50 channels and its library of shows and movies, which costs $7.99 separately.

Google is betting that its strong sports offering will help win over more subscribers, said Heather Moosnick, director of content partnerships, YouTube TV.

“Sports is really one of the key offerings that a millennial would be willing to pay for a live TV service,” she said.

To that end, Google has targeted sports fans with its TV ads this year. Ninety-six percent of YouTube TV’s ads on television so far this year have appeared during sports programming, including the Super Bowl, according to iSpot.tv, which tracks TV ads.

When Google launched YouTube TV last April it was cautious with how much content it was offering so that it could keep the price low enough to entice cord cutters or people considering cutting the cord, Moosnick said.

At launch YouTube TV offered almost 50 channels in five markets. With these additions, YouTube TV will have almost 60 channels, and be in 100 markets, Moosnick said.

The new pricing will take effect for new users who sign up after March 13, the company said.

Google Shipped Nearly 4M Pixel Phones, Analyst Says

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Google won’t reveal the number of Pixel phones it shipped in 2017, but one analyst from the research firm IDC has a number: 3.9 million.

The analyst, IDC Research Director Francisco Jeronimo, said the figure includes both generations of the phone, the Pixel 1 and 2. For comparison, it’s a “tiny portion” compared with the entire 1.5 billion market size for smartphones altogether, Jeronimo said. And it’s just a sliver compared with the 77.3 million iPhones Apple sold in the last quarter alone.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Though the numbers are small, the good news for Google is that they’re growing. Jeronimo said Google doubled its Pixel sales in the last year.

Google debuted the Pixel, the search giant’s first branded phone, in October 2016, and unveiled the second generation of the device exactly one year later. The company has made a serious investment in hardware. In 2016, Google brought in former Motorola executive Rick Osterloh to lead its hardware division, which includes its Google Home smart speakers, Chromecast streaming devices and Google Wi-Fi routers.

The company also said last year it made a $1 billion investment in hardware maker HTC to bring to Google 2,000 engineers, many of whom worked on the Pixel. And the search giant’s hardware division keeps growing. Last week, Google said it’s folding Nest, the smart device maker, into the Google hardware team, after Nest was spun out into a separate company under Google’s parent Alphabet in 2015.

Twitter Tamps Down Rumors Of Being Acquired

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

 Twitter Inc Chief Executive Jack Dorsey stated that he sees value in the social media network remaining an independent company, tamping down recent speculation by analysts that it could be an acquisition target.

“I’ve always thought that there’s a lot of strength to our independence. We can work on every device. We can work through any medium,” Dorsey said in a response to a question at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.

Some investment analysts reignited talk of a potential Twitter deal last week when Twitter reported a surprising rise in revenue and its first quarterly profit.

 The Walt Disney Co. expressed interest in 2016, though at the time Twitter shares were trading at about half the current price, meaning an acquisition by anyone would be much more expensive than two years ago.

Shares in Twitter closed at $33.44 on Tuesday, up 8 percent against a 0.3 percent rise in the S&P 500 Index. Dorsey’s comments came after the closing bell, and shares were unchanged afterward.

Tablet Market Still Shrinking

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The market for game-changing, super cool keyboardless netbooks is slumping lower than Donald Trump’s approval rating amongst educated black women.

The tablet, which was once touted by the Tame Apple Press as a technology cure for cancer saw only 46 million units sold in the fourth quarter of 2017. Both brand and white-box tablet shipments had sequential growths in the quarter.

According to Digitimes Research, white box tablet suppliers are expected to cut their shipments for the first quarter of 2018 to lower their inventory levels and the move will undermine the suppliers’ shipments in the quarter.

For the brand tablet segment, despite cutting its price tag, Apple’s efforts to buck the trend of the first-quarter 2018 low season, shipments are unlikely to make much difference..

Worldwide tablet output will fall 30 percent sequentially and 17.1 percent on year to stand at around 32 million units, a new historical low.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, tablet shipments to first tier brand vendors accounted for over 70 percent of the overall worldwide volume, growing more than 10 percent sequentially, meeting Digitimes Research’s forecast thanks to the vendors’ aggressive promotions.

After its strong promotional campaign in the third quarter of 2017, Amazon turned less aggressive about marketing its tablets in the fourth quarter, resulting in a sequential shipment decline for non-Apple first tier brand vendors’ combined shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017.

White box players saw their combined shipments reach more than 12 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 3 percent sequentially, mainly due to strong orders from their overseas clients.

However, compared to the same period a year ago, the overall white-box tablet shipments still slipped 8.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 because of fierce competitions from first-tier brands’ inexpensive models and weakening demand from emerging markets that are gradually reaching saturation.
In the first quarter of 2018, overall tablet shipments from first-tier brand vendors will drop to only around 22.5 million units, down 32 percent sequentially as non-Apple first-tier vendors will not have any new devices for the quarter.

Courtesy-Fud

OLED Display Maker eMagin Gets $10M Boost From Apple, LG

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A small firm that produces OLED microdisplays is getting some attention from tech giants with big plans for virtual and augmented reality.

Apple, LG and Valve are making a $10 million investment in eMagin, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The Hopewell Junction, New York-based company makes microdisplays used in the military, medical and industrial fields, but it has recently turned its attention to companies building consumer headsets.

“We entered into strategic agreements with multiple Tier One consumer product companies for the design and development of microdisplays for consumer head-mounted devices and, together with these companies, negotiated with mass production manufacturers for higher volume production capabilities,” eMagin said in its filing.

The company’s flagship product is a 2K display with a resolution of 2,048 by 2,048 pixels and a 70 percent fill factor, the percentage of each pixel that can be used to gather light.

The investment, made in the form of a new stock issuance, was expected to be completed before the end of January, according to the filing.

The investment underscores the tech community’s commitment to virtual reality, which promises to transport goggle-wearing users to a computer-generated 3D environment. Augmented reality, meanwhile, overlays digital images on the real world via special headsets.

Apple amped up its AR play in January when it released its ARKit 1.5 to developers. The software, which is part of the upcoming iOS 11.3 release, will pack new features to enable richer apps, including the ability to places items on vertical walls and doors, not just horizontal surfaces like tables.

LG and Valve have also partnered on developing a VR head-mounted display.

Apple and eMagin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Verizon Is Re-tooling It’s Unlocked Phones Policy

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon is strengthening it’s security protocols to protect its phones.

The nation’s largest wireless carrier announced that it would begin locking the phones it sells to consumers, which will prevent them from using a SIM card from another carrier. Initially, the phones will be unlocked as soon as a customer signs up and activates the service. But later in the spring, the company will begin the practice of keeping the phone locked for a period of time after the purchase — in line with the rest of the industry.

Verizon said it is doing this to deter criminals from stealing phones, often on route to retail stores or from the stores themselves. Unlocked phones make attractive targets because they can be resold on the black market or used overseas with different carriers. That’s particularly the case for iPhones, which are a top target for thieves because of their high resale value.

“We’re taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud,” Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon, said in a statement. “These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.”

For consumers, there’s little immediate impact because the phone gets unlocked immediately through a software update. But the policy change in the spring could be a hassle for customers who buy a new phone and then go overseas. One way of saving on international roaming fees is to buy a SIM card from a local carrier. If you have a locked phone, you’ll need to contact Verizon to unlock the device before switching out your SIM card — assuming the carrier will make the exception.

The policy change underscores how the issue of phone theft remains prevalent despite the CTIA wireless trade group, the carriers and phone makers banding together to add antitheft tools to phones in 2015. A study conducted by fraud and theft data provider Recipero in 2016 found that 5 percent of devices offered for sale or trade-in at retail were reported lost or stolen, while 4 percent of warranty claims were made on lost or stolen phones.

Verizon wouldn’t say how long the locked period would be, adding only that it would provide an update ahead of when it rolls out the policy. It also declined to provide a specific timeline. The wait period is in place to deter scammers from signing up for service using stolen identities to get a new phone and immediately turning around and selling the device.

The move may elicit a backlash from people concerned that this isn’t a consumer-friendly action. But Verizon’s policy to sell entirely unlocked phones — which it has done ever since it began selling 4G LTE devices — was the most generous in the industry. That’s largely because of a deal with the Federal Communications Commission requiring it to unlock phones as part of its acquisition of a block of 700 megahertz spectrum, which it uses to power its LTE network.

AT&T requires you to pay off your phone and be active on your service for at least 60 days. Even then, there’s a 14-day wait after you make your request. Sprint also requires that you have paid off your phone and wait 50 days, although the phone is automatically unlocked. T-Mobile has the same paid device requirement and a 40-day wait period, but will offer to temporarily unlock the device sooner for travel.

Even after the change, Verizon will continue to unlock the phone regardless of whether it’s paid off or not. The company will also still accept unlocked phones from other carriers.

Facebook Illegally Collecting Personal Data, Says German Court

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A German consumer rights group revealed that a court had found Facebook’s use of personal data to be illegal because the U.S. social media platform did not adequately secure the informed consent of its users.

The verdict, from a Berlin regional court, comes as Big Tech faces increasing scrutiny in Germany over its handling of sensitive personal data that enables it to micro-target online advertising.

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzvb) said that Facebook’s default settings and some of its terms of service were in breach of consumer law and that the court had found parts of the consent to data usage to be invalid.

“Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy center and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register,” said Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the vzvb.

“This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.” The vzvb posted a copy of the ruling on its website. A court spokesperson confirmed that a judgment had been handed down but declined further comment.

Facebook said it would appeal, even though several aspects of the court judgment had been in its favor. In a statement, it said it had already made significant changes to its terms of service and data protection guidelines since the case was first brought in 2015.

“We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law,” Facebook said.

Further, Facebook would in the meantime update its data protection guidelines and its terms of service so that they comply with new European Union-wide rules that are due to enter force in June.

Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion users worldwide, already faces scrutiny from Germany’s competition authorities over its handling of its users’ personal data.

Microsoft Office 2019 May Only Work On Windows 10

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Software king of the world Microsoft has decided that its nice new shiny Office 2019 will not run on versions of Windows before Windows 10.

In a support article for service and support of Windows and Office, Microsoft has revealed you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 if you want the latest version of Office without subscribing to the company’s Office 365 service.

It’s a move that’s clearly designed to push businesses that are holding off on Office 365 into subscriptions, as the standalone Office 2019 software will only be supported on Windows 10 and not Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 machines.

Microsoft is also altering the support lifecycle for Office 2019, so it will receive five years of mainstream support and then “approximately two years of extended support”.

Courtesy-Fud

nVidia AI Base Mercedes Benz In Development

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mercedes has unveiled its new A-Class at the event in Amsterdam last night, which is the first Mercedes car to feature the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system powered by Nvidia.

While the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is quite an impressive hatchback which will enter series production this spring, it is also the first car with the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system as a standard feature.

Powered by an Nvidia chip, the MBUX is described as a system that combines natural language processing, “silky-smooth” 3D graphics and an augmented reality boosted navigation system, bringing both better intuitive interactive and safety. The MBUX system will be available in three display versions, two 7-inch, 7-inch, and 10.25-inch or two 10.25-inch displays.

Although it looks like two tablets stitched together and placed where the dashboard should go, Nvidia claims that the chip will have more than enough computational capabilities to even support new and future applications. As it is updateable over-the-air and as speech and AI applications evolve, MBUX has the potential to offer much more.

Ola Källenius, board member for group research and Mercedes-Benz car development said that the company’s mission was to take the user experience to a new level and by choosing the best technology available for AI they created a learning system that will better anticipate your preference the longer you use it.

The MBUX also has speech recognition and indirect commands, it will not only understand simple phrases like “raise temperature” but also much more complex ones like the “I’m cold. Make it warmer in here.”

“Natural language with AI will be the preferred method of interacting with the car,” said Georges Massing, Daimler AG’s director of user interaction. “That’s because speech is the easiest — and safest — way to interact.”

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class will be the first car to get the MBUX but similar versions will also be available across its entire vehicle lineup in future.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Testing ‘Downvote’ Button

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

It’s probably the easiest ways to express your opinion: like or dislike.

Yet for a more than a decade, Facebook only offered the happier option, the thumbs-up. That’s about to change.

The social networking giant is testing a new feature that lets some people register a negative reaction to comments with a button called “downvote.”

The goal, Facebook said, is to allow people to weigh in on comments people leave on public pages, like those for President Donald Trump. When selected, the button offers reporting options like “offensive,” “misleading” and “off topic.”

“We are not testing a dislike button,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts.”

Facebook is currently only testing this feature in the US, with a small number of people using its app on Android-powered phones.

The move marks yet another way Facebook is hoping to spur more interaction on its site, and keep its users happy. Offering easy ways for people to mark comments as “offensive” and “misleading” may help quell users’ concerns about harassment, as well as the impact of Russian propagandists who used the site to spread misleading information during the 2016 election.

Facebook’s efforts also answer people’s long-running response to the company’s mascot, the thumbs-up “like” button, which was rolled out in 2009. While the “like” feature allows users to express their approval over a post or a photo, some people complained it was too limiting.

“Not every moment is a good moment,” said Facebook’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Q&A session in 2015. He said he realizes people may not want to “like” a current event such as the Syrian refugee crisis or a family member passing away. But at the time, he didn’t want users to merely vote up or down on people’s posts.

The answer was a set of emojis, which the company released in 2016. The reactions expanded options to a laughing face, an angry face, a “wow,” a sad face and a heart. “It’s surprisingly complicated to make an interaction that’s that simple,” Zuckerberg said when announcing the initiative.

Unlike the “like” button or “reactions,” the downvote button isn’t about giving feedback to commenters but rather to Facebook. The intention is to give users a way to flag inappropriate, uncivil or misleading comments, Facebook said.

It doesn’t affect a comment’s ranking, and users won’t even see how many people downvoted a comment.

Facebook said there are currently no plans to expand the feature.

Apple Watch Sets Record For Shipped Devices

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The electronics giant, Apple, has shipped 8 million Apple Watches in the fourth quarter of 2017, Canalys research shows, which the firm said is a record for wearables sold by a company during a quarter. Fitbit was the previous record holder, Canalys told CNET, shipping 6.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Apple has won the wearables game,” said Jason Low, senior analyst at Canalys. The company shipped 18 million Watch devices throughout 2017, a 54 percent increase on 2016.

While Android Wear competitors, like the Samsung Gear S3 and Huawei’s Watch 2, are compatible with both Androids and iPhones, Apple’s Watch devices don’t work with Android phones. “Despite innovative designs, such as the rotating bezels and circular screens employed by other vendors, Apple has pulled far ahead as it continues to focus on its core iPhone user base,” Low added.

Apple’s 2017 wearable success is in large part thanks to its September-released Watch Series 3, which added cellular connection — allowing you to make phone calls from your Watch — to the product range. Canalys said the Watch did particularly well in the US, Australia and Japan, where major carriers sold it over the holiday season.

It’s congruent with what Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a call to investors last week. “It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch,” he said, “with over 50 percent growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment.”

In terms of volume, Apple’s closest competitor is Chinese company Xiaomi and its inexpensive Mi Bands: In 2017’s third quarter, Apple held 23 percent of the market, compared to Xiaomi’s 21 percent. Fitbit wasn’t far behind though, with a market share of 20 percent.

Microsoft Offering OneDrive For Business For Free

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft is stepping up plans to win over customers from its cloud content storage rivals, offering free usage of OneDrive for Business platform in a new promotion. 

Under the deal announced Tuesday, current customers of Box, Dropbox or Google can switch to OneDrive and use the service for free for the remainder of their existing contracts. The offer is valid until June 30 and is available for organizations that are not currently OneDrive for Business or Office365 customers. Those making the switch must also commit to moving a minimum of 500 users to the platform.

“We want new customers to be able to experience OneDrive without incremental costs above and beyond what they are paying for today,” said Seth Patton, OneDrive general manager of product marketing at Microsoft.

Forrester principal analyst Cheryl McKinnon said the cloud content platform market is “rapidly consolidating” into a handful of large providers, and the Microsoft move could entice customers already on the fence about switching or driven primarily by cost concerns.

But McKinnon argued that customers need to “look beyond just discounts and bold offers” to ensure they’re investing in the content and collaboration services that best help employees and allow for easy sharing and collaboration when needed.

Patton said many organizations are keen to consolidate the number of vendors they rely on for content storage and collaboration. “They are interested in looking at OneDrive for Business but they have existing contracts that they are paying for which they can’t get out of,” he said. “We are reducing that cost and making it easier for new customers to move over.”

To that end, Microsoft provides FastTrack support services to help customers migrate onto OneDrive and Office365.

However, even with support from Microsoft, migrating from one cloud provider to another is no small feat. The offer may appeal to organizations that use cloud platforms for simple file storage or sharing internally, but it will not necessarily work for those that have applications more deeply embedded with their processes.

“Customers who are using these cloud platforms for more strategic content applications…may be less likely to leap within this window, and face rebuilding or reworking key apps or business processes,” McKinnon said.

Alongside the offer, Microsoft noted that 350,000 organizations now use OneDrive for Business, including both Office 365 and standalone customers. OneDrive is a standard part of the cloud application suite.

Among the customers to make the switch to OneDrive for Business are Accenture, Lowe’s, DBS Bank and Land O’Lakes.  Meanwhile, monthly active usage rates doubled during 2017, and the volume of OneDrive for Business storage more than tripled.

Patton also pointed to recent additions and improvements to OneDrive for Business. This includes   Files on Demand file sync service, File Restore and new search capabilities thanks to integration with Microsoft Graph.

McKinnon said the Office 365 suite is rich in what it offers, with only Google offering a near-comparable set of capabilities. “However, there is still some confusion among customers when trying to figure out how the O365 pieces can best complement each other.”

For example, OneDrive for Business is positioned as a personal file storage workspace, facilitating file or folder sharing with internal or external participants, yet SharePoint Online is pushed by Microsoft as the team or company-wide content repository for documents and related metadata.

“Box, Dropbox Business and Google have a clearer story when it comes to personal, team or enterprise content workspaces,” McKinnon said.

She added that the latest OneDrive for Business offer “adds fuel to the fire” in what is a hugely competitive cloud content management and collaboration market. “There has been tremendous innovation in this market over the last five years, with vendors traditionally known for ‘enterprise file sync and share (EFSS)’ capabilities moving into broader collaboration and cloud-native content repository services.”

Snap Chat User Base Grows, Shares Soar

February 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc surprised investors with a rebound in user growth for its Snapchat messaging app, showing resilience amid competition with Facebook Inc’s Instagram and sending shares up nearly 30 percent.

Paired with higher-than-expected revenue and improved margins, the user growth signaled loss-making Snap could be turning a corner as it grapples with other social media companies adding Snapchat-like features, analysts said.

Snapchat’s daily active users rose to 187 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from 178 million in the third quarter, beating analysts’ average expectation of 184.2 million users, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.

Daily active users rose 18 percent from a year earlier, reversing a trend of slowing growth. The figure is closely watched by investors who hope user growth can be translated into advertising revenue.

Chief Executive Evan Spiegel credited improvements to the version of Snapchat that runs on Android phones, saying the retention rate of new Android users rose by nearly 20 percent compared to a year earlier

“Our business really came together towards the end of last year,” Spiegel said in remarks prepared for a conference call with analysts.

Shares traded at $17.73 after the bell, up 26 percent after trading even higher earlier. They had not traded above Snap’s initial public offering price of $17 since July 10.

“This was a monster quarter relative to bearish expectations,” analyst Daniel Ives of GBH Insights said, cautioning however that “competitive headwinds abound with Instagram front and center.”

Nearly a year after Snap’s March IPO, analysts and investors have been watching to see if Snap can boost user growth amid competition from larger rival Instagram, which has added photo filters and other Snapchat-mimicking features.

To make its app more friendly to users and advertisers, Snap launched a redesigned app in November, splitting “friends” from content feeds.

The Venice, California-based company posted a net loss of $350 million, or 28 cents per share, compared to a loss of $170 million, or 20 cents per share, a year earlier. It was Snap’s fourth quarterly earnings as a public company.

 

Phone Makers To Introduce Diamon Screens Next Year

February 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

If dropping your smartphone and ruining the screen is your worst device nightmare, you’re not alone.

Phone makers use chemically strengthened Gorilla Glass, shatterproof coatings and sometimes sapphire crystal toppers to help ward off cracks should your phone take a tumble. Now, one company says it’s working with a phone maker to test the first phone screen made with diamond glass.

You just have to wait until 2019.

Screen breakage is a common concern. Akhan’s diamond glass uses a nanocrystal pattern that randomly arranges the crystals, instead of lining them up along their crystal planes — that arrangement discourages deep cracks from forming and damaging the materials underneath.

Made with lab-grown diamonds, Akhan Semiconductor’s Miraj Diamond Glass promises to be stronger than other materials used to cover the phone’s fragile electronic display. It can be applied in conjunction with other materials, like Gorilla Glass, as a top layer.

When I first learned about diamond glass last year, Adam Khan, Akhan’s CEO, promised that we’d see it in its first device by the end of 2017. We didn’t.

Now, Khan says that the promising new technology is being actively tested with device makers, the identities of which Khan isn’t ready to reveal. Akhan’s partners are stress-testing the diamond glass’ strength, and making sure the surface transmits electrical signals well, so your finger can navigate the touchscreen without a glitch.

Before diamond glass can come to a phone, the partners need to work out the details of production and manufacturing using a new material like diamond. They need to make sure that the diamond glass coating gets applied evenly on top of the cover material, which could be Gorilla Glass or a proprietary make.

They’re also working to minimize the diamond glass’ reflectance, which means how much light it bounces back at the user. Phone screens with higher reflectance are harder to read because you’re interfering with glare. That prompts you to turn up the brightness to combat the glare, which then drains the phone’s battery faster.

While diamond glass could come to any device with a screen, Khan says his company’s only working with one vendor in each category, starting with a single phone and single aftermarket screen protector. If all goes well, it could expand into fitness bands and beyond.

2019 is a long time to wait for a phone that wants to sooth your fears of shattered glass. Don’t expect it to be cheap, either. The process of making and applying lab-grown diamond to a phone’s cover material comes at a cost. Expect it to debut on a pricier handset that promises a “shatterproof” screen, similar to the Motorola Moto Z2 Force, which I dropped 28 times to see if its screen would crack.

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