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Can Qualcomm Succeed With Two Versions Of The Snapdragon 830?

October 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm appears to be returning to the two high end chips strategy and you can expect to see two variants of what we call Snapdragon 830. They will end up with two different product numbers, one being higher than the other.

Back in 2014, Qualcomm announced Snapdragon 808 and 810 and the company plans to use the same two chip strategy with the latest 10nm SoC. We don’t have definitive information what will be the difference between the two chips and what the final brands are going to be, but we do know that there will be two different SoC chips.

Even the Snapdragon 820 had two versions, something that was not really loudly communicated. Xiaomi launched its entry level Xiaomi Mi5 phone with Snapdragon 820 “lite”, the SoC that used the same internal MSM8996 name but clocked to 1.8GHz for the fast cores and 1.36GHz for two power saving cores. The faster version of Snapdragon 820 ended up with 2.15GHz for two fast cores and 1.56 GHz for the power saving cores.

Apart from the Xiaomi Mi5 32GB / 3GB RAM we are not aware that any other manufacturer used the MSM8996 lite.

The chip that all the press persistently calls the Snapdragon 830, a 10nm FinFET MSM8996 is rumored to have as much as eight Kryo 200 cores, Adreno 540 GPU, support LPDDR4X memory and come with Snapdragon X16, and a 1Gbps capable modem. The Snapdragon X16 modem supports LTE Cat 16 (1000Mbit/s) download and LTE Cat 13 (150Mbit/s) upload speeds.

Qualcomm launched a standalone version of the modem in February 2016 and it looks like that these speeds will be integrated in the Snapdragon 830 SoC.

Snapdragon 820 was definitely a successful product for Qualcomm as it ended up in more than 150 phones and it was even re-released as Snapdragon 821, clocked at 2.34 GHz for the high performance and 2.19 GHz for the power saving Kryo cores. Even the GPU clock jumped from its original 624MHz to 653MHz. The company told us to expect that GPU performance would increase by some 10 percent.  

So far, the new Snapdragon 821 landed up in a few prominent phones, including ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe, Xiaomi Mi 5s, Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus, LeEco Le Pro 3 and the recently  announced Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL.

Semiconductor companies like Intel or Qualcomm can always further optimize the chip a few quarters after a release, but  only choose to do so if a major customer expresses a wish for it, and of course, orders enough SoCs to make it financially viable.

With that in mind, Snapdragon 830 could get a faster version in Q3 2017 that might power some higher end phones launching in Q4 2017 too.


Sharp Goes All-In On OLED

October 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Japan’s Sharp is to spend $570 million on its OLED screen business in one of the first major investments since it was taken over by Foxconn.

While the figure sounds large, if you have ever tried to get a mortage, it is actually rather small compared to what Sharp’s South Korean rivals are spending on OLED development.

Sharp said it will invest in pilot production lines at its plants in Osaka and in Mie prefecture, western Japan, which are due to start between April and June 2018.

New CEO Tai Jeng-wu has previously said that Sharp will work with Japan Display on OLED displays. Foxconn took control of Sharp last month in a deal that gives its access to the Japanese firm’s advanced screen technology. That move was probably to squeeze more cash out of its major client Apple. But it is pretty clear that something has to be done with OLEDs.

Research firm IHS has forecast that shipments of OLED smartphone panels will overtake LCDs in 2020.


Will Intel Succeed In Banking With Blockchain?

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Intel backed blockchain project has apparently passed its tests with more than eight finance outfits on their bond transactions.

For those that came in late, blockchain is similar technology which is behind bitcoin and is being looked at by the finance houses as a secure way to carrying out banking translations. Intel has baded a financial innovation start-up R3 to push the tech and it trialed it with eight banks, including HSBC and State Street.

The platform featured advanced smart contract technology that enabled trading, matching, and settlement of U.S. Treasury bonds, as well as automated coupon payments and redemption, R3 said in a statement.

Tim Grant, chief executive officer of R3’s Lab and Research Center said the goal at R3 was to bring our members together with the strongest technology players and work collaboratively to evaluate and accelerate this technology to production using real-world use cases.

R3 is leading a consortium of more than 60 of the world’s largest financial institutions created to develop commercial applications of blockchain technology for the financial services industry. The R3 consortium members involved in U.S. Treasury debt project included CIBC, ING Bank, HSBC, Scotiabank, Societe Generale scgly , State Street stt , UBS ubs , and UniCredit.

The blockchain trial was undertaken at R3’s Lab and Research Center. R3, Intel and each of the banks used physical, “non-cloud-based nodes” hosted across the U.S., Canada, Asia, Australia and Europe to interact and simulate US Treasury trading on the blockchain.


Super Carmaker McClaren Denies Rumors Of Apple Takeover

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mclaren-and-apple-150x150McLaren shot down a reports that Apple Inc had made an approach for the British Formula One team owner and supercar maker.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,” a McLaren spokesman said.

“As you would expect, the nature of our brand means we regularly have confidential conversations with a wide range of parties, but we keep them confidential.”

The Financial Times newspaper, citing three sources it said had been briefed on negotiations, had reported that Apple had made an approach for a strategic investment or a potential buyout.

It reported that the automotive group could be valued at between 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) and 1.5 billion pounds.

Reports have suggested that Apple, which had no immediate response to the Financial Times story, is working on a self-driving car. The iPhone maker has hired dozens of automotive experts over the past year and is exploring making charging stations for electric cars. Apple also invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing earlier this year.

The McLaren Formula One team is partnered by Honda, who provide the power units. The team is the second most successful after Ferrari in terms of race wins and titles but has not won a grand prix since 2012.

Is The iPhone 7 Selling Well In Europe?

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-i7Apple has been accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus since the September 9 and today, five days later you can get an iPhone 7 128GB or 256GB shipped in six to eight days. 

Since’ve we followed iPhone 6S launch and availability closely, after some 24 hours the iPhone 6S was sold out and it took two to three weeks of waiting to get either a iPhone 6S or 6S Plus.

Apple seems to be selling the 32GB well but there are plenty of 128GB and 256GB available –  expect the diamond black one that is only available in 128GB and 256GB. Both of them will ship in three to five weeks as with this new color, everyone will know you have the new iPhone. It is still impressive that Apple can take away some features and come up with a new color and call it a feature. It seems that too many Apple customers are watching way too much keeping up with the Kardashians.

The iPhone 7 Plus seems to be doing a bit better as for most colors you need to wait two to three weeks and the jet black version will only be available in November.

Most Fudzilla readers do realize that  customers can help companies to find the way to go. Apple’s iPhone that sells for $649 + tax in the US suddenly started selling for €759 in the EU with VAT. The US price doesn’t include the tax since it varies from 1.75 percent in some states such as Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon while in some places in rich Cupertino or Santa Clara, California you end up paying 8.75%.  

In the worst case, if you get your 32GB iPhone 7 black in Cupertino you will end up paying $705.78 or €628.90. The difference between the €759 that European Union countries pay and €628.90  is a whopping €130.1 difference. This should be called a EU stupidity tax.  

The UK gets slightly a better deal as the actual difference today is £68 but bear in mind that the pound has dropped significantly since the Brexit vote.

The good thing is that the European Union, despite being slow, bureaucratic and inefficient in many ways ended up fining Microsoft and Intel for monopolistic behavior. It will probably collect the tiny 13.5 billion that Apple robbed from 500 million people in the European Union.


Will The PS4 Pro Be A Success?

September 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-ps4proHalfway through Sony’s announcement event for its new consoles – the redesigned, slimmer PS4 and the new, more powerful PS4 Pro – I found myself thinking about the optics of these events. I’ve seen the announcement events for every console since the PS2, and of them all, this was by far the most muted. The lack of bombast and braggadocio could speak to a quietly understated confidence, or to uncertainty, depending on where you’re standing. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle – Sony, achieving success it hasn’t seen since the PS2’s halcyon days, is certainly confident, but is also walking out onto uncertain territory with the PS4 Pro. The ground underfoot is no longer familiar.

The slim PS4, of course – perhaps the worst-kept secret in the history of the industry, given the appearance of functioning models on auction websites prior to the announcement – is nothing unexpected. Three years into the PS4’s lifespan, a slimmed down redesign was inevitable; it joins the (arguably rather more attractive) Xbox One S on the shelves as a sleeker model whose launch is somewhat overshadowed by impending obsolescence. Xbox One S, at least, has a year to run before the hugely more powerful Scorpio appears on the market. The new PS4 suffered the ignominy of being quickly announced and forgotten just moments before the unveiling of PS4 Pro, the device destined to replace it.

PS4 Pro, though, is a curious beast. It’ll run you $100 more than the slim PS4, it plays the same games and connects to the same online services. Sony has bent over backwards to avoid fragmenting their playerbase, and in theory, PS4 Pro is really designed only for the small minority of consumers with 4K displays in their living rooms. Yet the company must know the psychology of its consumers; it must know that for a large proportion of them, playing a game on a regular PS4 in the knowledge that an upgrade would make it that little bit sharper, that little bit smoother, is like Chinese water torture. That will only be exacerbated by the “Pro” moniker; so much of the market will feel an involuntary twitch of consumer desire at the very notion of their existing hardware being “amateur” or, god help us all, “noob”.

Ultimately, though, Sony’s cautious approach seems to be pitched just right. Those who will find themselves discombobulated by the notion of a needlessly dropped frame or a disappointingly undetailed hair strand, or quietly fuming at being branded a non-Pro, are precisely the audience expected to upgrade anyway. The benefits of PS4 Pro will be sufficient to keep them satisfied; while for pretty much everyone else, for the enormous audience of more casual consumers that Sony must access in the coming years in order to maintain the PS4’s sales trajectory, the benefits of the Pro seem minor enough not to bother with. The stroke of genius, perhaps, is that every upgrading gamer will release a second-hand PS4 into the market – handed off to a younger sibling or cousin, perhaps, or sold to a late upgrader from the last generation. That ought to do wonders to kick-start the PS4’s demographic expansion.

That’s not an easy balance to strike, and while it feels like it’s been skilfully done, only time and market data will tell. Sony enters Winter 2016 in a position of almost unprecedented strength; Nintendo’s NX won’t launch until next spring (and nobody really knows what it is), while Microsoft’s lovely Xbox One S is overshadowed by the plan to entirely outclass it with Scorpio next year. Both PS4 and PS4 Pro will do great guns this year (while PSVR, about which more in a moment, will undoubtedly be supply constrained). That’s not the real test; the test is how this line-up can fare against 2017’s launches, NX and Scorpio. Sony’s cards are now on the table for the next couple of years of the console war.

The other test, of course, is how this evolves. Much has been made of PS4 Pro representing the end of the console model; a final nail in the coffin of the five, seven or even ten year hardware cycle which has defined game consoles since the 1980s. Incremental updates like the PS4 Pro, maintaining compatibility and continuity while keeping pace with hardware advancements, are the future.

Well, perhaps they’re part of the future. Scorpio, with its dramatic upgrade over the Xbox One – so dramatic that the notion of Xbox One remaining fully capable of playing Scorpio titles seems ridiculous – suggests a somewhat different future. Equally, the muted nature of this week’s launch is suggestive of somewhat different thinking. Sony didn’t want to come out all guns blazing, shouting in triumph about its new hardware, because it cannot afford to alienate the 40 million existing owners of PS4 by implying that their consoles are obsolete. That’s a radical difference from console launches of old precisely because the whole purpose of those launches was to declare everything which came before obsolete. “Here, here is the new thing! All singing, all dancing, making the singing and dancing your existing console is capable of look merely like painful hopping and wheezing! Buy the new thing!” You can’t do that with an incremental upgrade; you can’t alienate your existing market in that way. Even smartphone makers have more freedom in their messaging, knowing that their hardware is expected to run on an 18 to 24 month upgrade cycle; consoles, though, you expect to remain “current” for four years, five years or more.

Incremental upgrades, then, lock us to a much more muted kind of message about new hardware. Does anyone really believe, though, that there’s no PS5 in the works? No grand, sweeping upgrade, that will be unveiled with bombast, and fireworks, and promises of walking on water and improbable feats of catering involving bread and fish? Of course that’s in the works. If PS4 Pro points us at something, it’s at the possibility of compatibility across generations in the very broad sense – perhaps, at last, we have entered a generation of consoles whose games will remain playable pretty much forever, or at least for as long as the capricious DRM gods smile upon us. The reverse, however, cannot remain true forever. Console generations will continue to roll past; it’s just that now, perhaps, there will be more mezzanines and landings between the floors.

Notably absent from Sony’s quiet little event was PlayStation VR. Oh, there was a logo, and there were a few words said, but you’d hardly imagine that this was a massive product launch that’s happening in just a few months’ time. Perhaps that’s because the aspect of PS4 Pro Sony is most anxious about is what impact it’s going to have on PSVR, and vice versa. Ever since the first leaks about PS4 Neo, as then was, hit the wild, there’s been a widespread assumption that part of the raison d’être for the new hardware was to drive PSVR headsets – with the existing PS4 simply being underpowered as a VR device.

If that’s not the case, Sony could have done a better job of pointing it out. Throwaway comments about the PS4 Pro yielding better frame rates for VR software sit uncomfortably with the company’s earlier pronouncements about 120Hz rendering for PSVR. Everything we’ve seen and learned about VR thus far suggests that this tech is all about framerate; if you can’t hit a consistent, high frame rate, users start to get severe motion sickness. If it’s the case that PS4 can hit those frame rates consistently, but PS4 Pro allows more visual finesse at the same frame rate, that’s great. If, on the other hand, PS4 is struggling with frame rate and PS4 Pro smoothes things out, that’s a big problem. PSVR cannot afford to be a poor experience on the existing PS4 installed base; if it is to be a success, it needs to work superbly on the 40 million PS4s already in the wild, not just on the fraction of the installed base which will be PS4 Pro.

Perhaps it does. Certainly, the demos of PSVR to date – all presumably running on PS4 standard hardware – have been fine, for the most part. Again, though, the optics are problematic; if you’re launching a VR headset within weeks of launching more powerful hardware, people are going to assume, not unreasonably, that they’re meant to complement each other. If that translates into users of the headset on stock PS4s getting physically ill where users on PS4 Pro do not, that’s a very big problem – and if that’s absolutely not the case, and there are procedures in place to prevent it, Sony needs to be discussing those things candidly and openly. (If it is the case, they might have been best served by doing something radical like only taking PSVR pre-orders alongside PS4 Pro pre-orders; let VR be the USP of PS4 Pro, and avoid the possibility of backlash from underpowered VR entirely.)

With the cards on the table, now we see how the hand plays. PS4 Pro is undoubtedly a shake-up to how the console business works. It’s one step closer to a world where console hardware is essentially a fixed-spec PC in a nice box that’s updated every few years – but we’re not in that world yet, and whether we ever arrive there will be determined by how Sony and its rivals fare in the coming 18 months.

Samsung Goes Bigger With New Gear S3 Smartwatch

September 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung-Gear-3-150x150Samsung Electronics introduced two new smartwatches which boast a range of digital features while also promising up to four days of battery life, seeking to outshine the Apple Watch.

The world’s biggest maker of consumer electronic products introduced its new line of Gear S3 watches ahead of this week’s opening in Berlin of the IFA, Europe’s biggest annual trade fair for consumer electronics and domestic appliances.

The new Gear S3 Frontier model has a rugged outdoor look, while the Gear S3 Classic has a more refined appearance, but both watches feature large faces that are likely to appeal mainly to male consumers.

The Frontier model has its own cellular radio chip to connect to high speed 4G mobile networks so it does not need to be “tethered” to the wearer’s smartphone in order to make calls or send and receive data, unlike Apple watches, which require an iPhone to remain nearby for their connections.

Apple, the current market leader in smartwatches, is expected to introduce its new Apple Watch 2 line-up a week from now, on September 7, along with new phones and computers.

Gadget news sites have reported that Apple is considering introducing smartwatches with their own cellular radio in 2017, but won’t offer such a feature in its upcoming models fearing it would further drain their batteries, which typically last around 24 hours in current models before needing to be recharged.

The latest Samsung smartwatches offer always-on color displays, dust and water resistance features, a built-in speaker and GPS location-finding technology. They also enable users to make mobile payments in countries where Samsung Pay is available.

Pricing was not disclosed for the new Gear S3 watches, which are due to go on sale before the end of the year.


Will The Surface Phone Debut Soon?

September 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-Surface phoneThis year’s IFA conference in Berlin may well include an official announcement from the mighty Microsoft about its second-generation smartphone lineup, the Surface Phone series.

The devices are expected to replace the not so current Lumia 950 and 950 XL devices from November 2015 and will be hyped as a significant design overhaul coupled with a more stable Windows 10 Mobile operating system, according to some reports.

The Surface Phone has been a long term project in Microsoft’s enterprise portfolio, and according to hints from Corporate VP Kevin Gallo made earlier this year during a “Build Tour” in London, England, it will be a product line aimed at the business market. The company says it does not intend to give market share to its competitors without taking its own chances.

The device is reported to come in three options, according to a Weibo post from July – entry level with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, mid-range with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and a larger unit with 8GB of RAM and 500GB of storage.

Back in May, a Baidu user posted an image claiming to be one of Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Phone devices. If the design is confirmed, the phone will look noticeably different than the company’s current Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL devices. As some have pointed out, the same Baidu user had previously revealed images of the devices before their announcements in October 2015.

At least one model with 5.5-inch or larger AMOLED display

While we certainly hope and pray that Microsoft will differentiate its product line with both smaller and larger screen sizes, two lines of information have been presented so far regarding display sizes. One suggests that at least one Surface Phone unit will feature a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, while the Baidu post claims it will be a 5.7-inch display. Well, we’ll find out soon enough.

Either a Snapdragon or Intel processor

There are also three conflicting reports about the device’s processor, claimed to be  a Snapdragon 821, a Snapdragon 830 or an Intel Atom 64-bit CPU (Apollo Lake). The cameras are also a source of interest, with some reports suggesting the device will include a 21-megapixel Carl Zeiss rear-facing camera with triple LED flash, and an eight megapixel wide-angle, front-facing camera as well. The devices are also set to include a USB Type-C port for charging and connectivity.

Just like the company’s current Windows 10 Mobile devices, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL, the Surface Phone lineup will  support Continuum, a feature that’s supposed to emulate Windows 10 on PC desktops, notebooks and tablets. Continuum for smartphones lets you pretend you’re using a larger PC by connecting an external display, keyboard and mouse through the Microsoft Display Dock.

Release may coincide with Windows 10 “Redstone 2”

The latest information on the web suggests a release date sometime in Spring 2017, so maybe Microsoft will announce the phones at IFA and debut them during the company’s Build developer conference in April. The timing fits during the first quarter of next year and coincides with the release of a new Windows 10 build, codenamed “Redstone 2,” set for release then. 

The company is also said to be ditching its Lumia brand in favor of the in-house Surface lineup, yet the main reason for the delay is to give Windows developers some time to release a strong product and “something to disrupt the market” according to Windows Central and others.

Pricing information has yet to be revealed, but some have suggested the entry-level device could sell for $699 while the top-tier model could sell for $1,099 based on configuration. No small potatoes then.



iPhone 6 Owners File Suit Against Apple Over Unresponsive Touchscreens

August 31, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

iPhone-6-Plus-150x150Apple Inc has been named in a lawsuit brought by owners of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones who say a design defect causes the phones’ touchscreens to become unresponsive, making them unusable.

According to a proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit filed, Apple has long been aware of the defect, which often surfaces after a flickering gray bar appears atop the touchscreens, but has refused to fix it.

The plaintiffs linked the problem to Apple’s decision not to use a metal “shield” or “underfill” to protect the relevant parts, as it did on versions of the iPhone 5.

“The iPhones are not fit for the purpose of use as smartphones because of the touchscreen defect,” according to the complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, California.

Todd Cleary of California, Jun Bai of Delaware and Thomas Davidson of Pennsylvania are the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which accuses Apple of fraud and violating California consumer protection laws. They seek unspecified damages.

Apple did not immediately respond on Monday to a request for comment.

Problems with iPhone 6 touchscreens were described online last week by iFixit, which labeled the issue “Touch Disease.”

That company sells repair parts and has previously analyzed other Apple products.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, sold 166.4 million iPhones, generating $108.5 billion of net sales, in the first nine months of its current fiscal year.

EA Appears To Be Going HD With Old Games

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Electronic Arts has one of the deepest back catalogs in the industry, but to date it has steered clear of mining it for new revenue through remastered and HD editions. That’s likely to change soon, according to a Game Informer interview with EA Studios executive VP Patrick Soderlund from last week at Gamescom. When asked if anything in EA’s stance on remasters had evolved in the last year, Soderlund tipped the publisher’s hand.

“What’s changed is that there is proof in the market that people want it, maybe more than there was when we spoke [previously],” Soderlund said. “There were some that did it before, but I think there is even more clear evidence that this is something that people really want. The honest answer is that we are absolutely actively looking at it. I can’t announce anything today, but you can expect us most likely to follow our fellow partners in Activision and other companies that have done this successfully.”

Soderlund added that if EA were to remaster games, it would “have to be careful in choosing the right brands for the right reasons at the right time.” Part of that would be ensuring the company handles the remasters properly instead of just selling quick and dirty ports.

That attitude is a pretty clear pivot from where the company’s thinking was just a year ago. Last October, Peter Moore said EA wasn’t interested in remakes and remasters because “it feels like pushing stuff out because you’ve run out of ideas,” adding, “I don’t know where we find the time to do remakes. We’re a company that just likes to push forward.”

While EA hasn’t been especially aggressive with remastered games, it has produced HD versions of older games like American McGee’s Alice and Crysis, primarily as preorder incentives for sequels in those series.

Hyundai, Google Discussing Self-driving Car Deal

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hyundai-Motor-150x150Hyundai President Jeong Jin Haeng said that his company is holding discussions with Alphabet’s Google unit about helping it develop a self-driving car.

The world’s fifth largest automaker hopes to enter into a symbiotic relationship, where it will bring its manufacturing prowess to Google and the Silicon Valley giant will help the automaker’s autonomous technology development.

“Hyundai is lagging behind the competition to develop autonomous vehicles,” Ko Tae Bong, senior auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities Co, told Bloomberg News. “It’s not a choice but a critical prerequisite for Hyundai to cooperate with IT companies, such as Google, to survive in the near future.”

At a news conference with Korea’s Minister of Trade on Wednesday, Haeng said that “because Google is not too familiar with vehicles” his company can help with the execution of Google’s self-driving vehicle, which is one of the most advanced in the market.

The two companies are already connected in that Google’s self-driving vehicle project is being led by John Krafcik, the former CEO of Hyundai Motor America; Krafcik left Hyundai in 2013.

Hyundai also has been among the most aggressive automakers adopting Alphabet’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, which allow the iPhone and Android smartphones to connect wirelessly to car infotainment systems.

Google’s self-driving vehicle division has also joined forces with major carmakers and ride-sharing services to form a coalition to lobby lawmakers and regulators for faster adoption of self-driving car technology.

In all, five companies — Alphabet, Ford, Lyft, Volvo and Uber — formed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets coalition. Its mission: to spur the federal government to usurp a “patchwork” of state driving laws that could hinder autonomous vehicle acceptance.


The OvRcharge Levitates And Charges Your Smartphone

August 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

A Canadian design company is selling a mobile device stand that not only wirelessly charges your phone or tablet but levitates the device at the same time.

The OvRcharge, by 15-year-old AR Designs Canada, combines magnetic induction charging with electromagnetic suspension to levitate your Android or iOS mobile device a few centimeters above a square, wooden platform.

The charger comes in two sizes: the smaller OvRcharge platform is about 5.5 inches square for smartphones, and the larger OvRcharge Ultra,for tablets, is about 6.75 inches square. Both wood platforms are around 1 3/8 inches thick.

The charging stand comes in three colors, Dark, Walnut and Cherry.

Besides the size, the only difference between the two charging models is the output current rate: the OvRcharge uses a ~500mAh charge and the OvRcharge Ultra provide ~700 mAh.

The wireless charger both suspends a mobile device at a fixed height and slowly rotates it for an aesthetic appeal.

The charger works in conjunction with an AR Designs smartphone or tablet case that’s included and can be ordered with either a Lightning or micro-USB connector for an iPhone or Android device. The unit is powerful enough to levitate a device that’s up to 21.1 ounces (600 grams) in weight.

The early bird price for the OvRcharge stand and mobile device case is $239 (the $199 and $209 offers have already sold out); the price for the OvRCharge Ultra is  $259. After two weeks on Kickstarter, the campaign has raised more than $25,000 of a $30,000 goal.

The devices are expected to ship to early bird buyers by December.

The iPhone cases can be ordered to fit iPhone 5 or later models. The Android cases fit Samsung, LG, Sony and Huawei devices.




Smartphone Market Showing Signs Of Growth Again

August 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

The smartphone market appears to be picking up steam again, if only slightly, with shipments up nearly 1 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.

The research firm, which had reported a 3 percent drop in the market in the last quarter, said that there are indications that the market had bottomed out in the first half of this year. Multiple new product launches from vendors including Samsung Electronics and Apple could create an improving growth outlook for the second half of the year.

Another research firm, Canalys, reported that smartphone shipments had returned to modest growth in the second quarter after a disappointing first quarter.

Around 340.4 million smartphones were shipped in the second quarter, said Strategy Analytics, which added that the market had seen saturation in major markets like China and been effected by political events such as Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.

The largest smartphone maker — Samsung –recently reported its most profitable quarter in two years, driven by increased sales of its flagship products such as the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. The company’s mid-to low-end smartphone portfolio, including the  Galaxy A and J series, also contributed to improved profitability, it said.

Samsung said the smartphone business would stay buoyant in the second half, but warned that competitors are expected to launch newer models in the period. The company faces competition from Chinese brands at the low end and Apple’s phones at the high end, but hopes to strengthen its high-end with the release in the third-quarter of a new large-screen flagship smartphone.

Profits are expected to be largely driven by its  components business, including demand for storage like solid state devices (SSDs), which is expected to pick up in the second half as smartphone makers launch new products.

The South Korean company reported a revenue increase of 4.9 percent year-on-year to 50.9 trillion won ($44.7 billion) in the second quarter while operating profit rose 18 percent to 8.1 trillion won.

“Apple continues to face iPhone fatigue among consumers and the new iPhone SE model has not been able to stem that trend,” said Strategy Analytics’ analyst Neil Mawston, in a statement.

Samsung led the market, with an increased share of 22.8 percent for 77.6 million smartphones shipped, while second-place Apple’s share dropped to 11.9 percent, Strategy Analytics said. The next three places were taken by Chinese vendors Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, in that order.



Microsoft Launches Pix, iPhone Camera App

July 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

There’s a new iPhone camera application available that claims to take better pictures than the one Apple ships with its phones, and it’s built by Microsoft.

The company’s research arm on Wednesday launched Pix, which enhances the photos that users take in a variety of ways. The app is  designed to make photos look better and even improves on Apple’s Live Photos ability to capture scenes that have moving elements in them.

It’s part of Microsoft’s continued push to build applications for platforms beyond those that it directly controls, especially iOS and Android. The free app was built by members of Microsoft Research and released for free on the iOS App Store.

Pix is particularly well-suited to take photos of people and is built to make adjustments to a photo on the fly as the scene changes. That way, the exposure of an image should always be tuned to the right conditions. It recognizes faces and uses Microsoft’s Hyperlapse technology to stabilize video made with the app, too.

When users press the shutter button, the app will take a burst of photos and then pick out the best ones for final use. That burst is also used to power Pix’s Live Image feature, which creates a short moving picture when there’s motion in a burst.

That’s an improvement on Apple’s Live Photos feature, which captures video before and after every photo is taken. Microsoft touts its feature as a way to get the best parts of Apple’s moving picture functionality without requiring as much storage space and stabilizing the result.


Apple Begins Testing Of Safari 10 Browser

June 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has begun testing Safari 10 with developers running the 2014 and 2015 editions of macOS, gearing up for a fall release of the updated browser to users of Yosemite and El Capitan.

Safari 10 was introduced earlier this month as part of macOS Sierra, this year’s operating system upgrade.

Apple typically supports its newest browser on three editions of macOS: The latest version and its two predecessors. The now-current Safari 9, for example, receives updates, including security patches, on last year’s El Capitan, 2014’s Yosemite and 2013’s Mavericks.

Safari 10 will be supported on Sierra, El Capitan and Yosemite. Meanwhile, Mavericks will remain on Safari 9.

The Safari 10 preview is currently available only to registered Apple developers, who pay $99 annually for access to early builds, development tools and documentation.

The general public will get its first look at Safari 10 next month after Apple opens up its broader-based public beta program for Sierra. Those who have signed on to the beta preview will also be able to download preliminary versions of Safari 10 for El Capitan and Yosemite, running the preview browser but sticking with their older, more stable operating systems.

Some of Safari 10’s signature features will be available only within macOS Sierra, including web-based Apple Pay — where payment is authorized with an iPhone or Apple Watch — but others will be supported by older versions of the operating system. Among the most notable are the new ability for developers to distribute and sell Safari add-ons in the Mac App Store, and easy portability of iOS content blockers to macOS.

If Apple replicates last year’s beta schedule, it will release the first public preview of macOS Sierra and Safari 10 around July 14.



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