Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Huawei export ban claims another victim: Huawei’s $2,600 foldable smartphone

June 14th, 2019
Huawei's response to the export ban so far.

Enlarge / Huawei's response to the export ban so far. (credit: KC Green / Ron Amadeo)

The Huawei export ban has claimed another victim. The embattled Chinese company told CNBC that it is now delaying perhaps its most anticipated product, the $2,600 Mate X foldable smartphone. Huawei's official explanation is that it wants to avoid a Samsung Galaxy Fold-level launch disaster, so the company is holding the device back for more tuning. But the Trump administration's export ban is undoubtedly a contributing factor. That policy has shut Huawei off from so many suppliers that it could not launch a new smartphone right now if it wanted to. Huawei cancelled a laptop launch just a few days ago, in fact.

The Mate X was originally scheduled for the middle of the year, with a rumored launch this month, but now CNBC reports that the Mate X launch will be delayed until September. Huawei doesn't officially blame this delay on the export ban, instead telling CNBC it didn't "want to launch a product to destroy our reputation." CNBC writes that Huawei will use this delay to do "extra testing with mobile carriers around the world and developers to make sure their apps work when the device is fully unfolded."

It is hard to believe Huawei's official explanation here, especially in light of the laptop launch it canceled just a few days ago. The export ban means Huawei cannot ship new devices running US-made operating systems like Windows and Android, and the wide scope of US export regulations means many hardware components are off-limits, too. Huawei has not shown the capability to launch anything since the export ban went into effect.

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Target’s same-day deliveries might break my Amazon Prime addiction

June 14th, 2019
Target’s same-day deliveries might break my Amazon Prime addiction

Enlarge (credit: Shipt)

On Thursday, Target unveiled a new same-day ordering feature on its website. For just $9.99, customers can get items delivered to their door in a couple of hours. I gave the service a try on Thursday, and I loved it. It was fast, convenient, and affordable.

The part I'm most excited about, though, is something that isn't actually new—though I hadn't heard about it until yesterday. Target's same-day delivery option is powered by a startup called Shipt that Target acquired in 2017. And Shipt has a subscription offer that I find compelling: for $99, you can get a year of free same-day deliveries on any Target order over $35.

This is such a good deal that it ought to keep Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos up at night. Amazon Prime has been a key driver of Amazon's growth over the last decade. By making two-day deliveries free, Prime got millions of subscribers in the habit of checking Amazon first for almost anything they buy online.

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Posted in amazon, Amazon Prime, Biz & IT, prime now, shipt, target, Tech | Comments (0)

Here’s what an Apple TV and Alexa look like on an old TV and record player cabinet

June 13th, 2019
Apple TV on a vintage TV cabinet.

Enlarge / Apple TV on a vintage TV cabinet. (credit: Thomas Martin Lewins V)

Consumer and household tech obviously looks quite different today than it did years ago—there's a significant analog and digital divide, for one thing. Among other things, bridging that gap makes integrating the latest tech with tech from a few decades back a real challenge. But it's not impossible.

Facebook user Thomas Martin Lewins V proved that last point by getting a modern Apple TV box to work with his gigantic, archaic console television and by integrating analog speakers, radios, and record players throughout his house with Amazon Alexa. He posted a couple of videos online as proof, which Boing Boing picked up recently.

First up: the Apple TV setup. This allows him to view Netflix and Hulu shows on that old TV. Here's what he wrote to introduce the clip:

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Posted in amazon alexa, Apple TV, retro, Speakers, Tech, TV, vintage, vinyl | Comments (0)

Google is ending the integration between Drive and Photos

June 13th, 2019
Google is ending the integration between Drive and Photos

Enlarge

Google Drive is a place to store all your files, and Google Photos is a place to store all your photos. On the surface, having these two Google services integrate somewhat makes sense, and today, all your Google Photos end up in Drive and all your Drive photos end up in Google Photos. But this week Google has announced that this integration will be ending soon, citing user feedback that the integration is "confusing." Starting in July, the two services will be separate with photos in one service no longer moving over to the other.

Google Drive's "Backup and Sync" desktop app is Google's equivalent of Dropbox. Install it to your desktop computer, and it will download all your Drive files into a folder and keep that folder synced and up to date. Usually this involved a ton of office files generated by Google Docs and the like, and the Google Photos integration meant that, by default, Drive also tried to download your entire photo collection to every computer you own. While it's hard to fill up a hard drive with office files, the Google Photos folder could be tens or even hundreds of gigabytes depending on how much of a shutterbug you are.

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Apple wants to acquire Intel’s 5G business to build its own modems, sources claim

June 12th, 2019
A 5G Intel logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress on February 26, 2019 in Barcelona.

Enlarge / A 5G Intel logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress on February 26, 2019 in Barcelona. (credit: Miquel Benitez/Getty Images)

Apple is still looking into the possibility of acquiring Intel's Germany-based modem business, The Information claimed yesterday, citing sources familiar with Apple's plans.

Intel has reportedly considered selling off pieces of its modem business, and the heart of that business is in Germany, where Intel acquired and integrated Infineon for $1.4 billion in 2011. The engineers that ended up in that division previously worked on chips that ended up in the iPhone about a decade ago.

This is not the first we've heard of Apple's interest in Intel's business. A Wall Street Journal report in April claimed that Apple was looking into making an acquisition then. In a statement to CNET and others, Intel said that it has seen "significant interest" in its 5G modem business but did not name any specific companies or partners. The statement is further quoted in CNET and AppleInsider, saying:

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Posted in acquisitions, apple, cellular, Cellular modems, Intel, modems, Tech | Comments (0)

Google responds to Pixel 4 rumors by… posting a picture of the Pixel 4

June 12th, 2019

So you want some Pixel 4 news, do you? After rumors started flying that the Pixel 4 would support Project Soli, Google's radar-based gesture chip, Google has offered an official response. It's, uh, a picture of the Pixel 4.

What you see above comes from Google's official hardware-focused "Made by Google" Twitter account, which, along with the picture, commented, "Well, since there seems to be some interest, here you go! Wait 'til you see what it can do. #Pixel4." This is certainly not what we're used to from company PR, but we'll take it!

With Google's official picture, we can confirm a number of things about the Pixel 4. First, there's a giant square camera assembly that looks like it comes out of the phone quite a bit. If the early renderings of the iPhone 11 from in-the-know people like OnLeaks are any indication, Google and Apple could have rather similar-looking devices—from the back, at least.

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Google’s Pixel 4 rumored to support air gesture system

June 12th, 2019
Project Soli in action.

Enlarge / Project Soli in action.

We're at least four months out from the typical Google Pixel smartphone unveiling, but that isn't stopping the rumor mill from churning. There are already a pair of reports pointing toward a Project Soli-based gesture system being in development for the Pixel 4.

First, a refresher on what the heck Project Soli is. The project has been in development for years inside Google's ATAP group, with the first public showing happening all the way back in 2015. Soli aims to embed a tiny radar system into a chip that can be used to detect hand motion above a device. Google demoed gestures like moving the thumb and index finger together for a virtual button press or rubbing the two fingers together to scroll or turn a dial. It has always seemed like something that would be a good fit for a smartwatch, where the tiny touchscreens and UIs limit how much can be done on with smartphone-style input.

Like many ATAP projects, Soli kept a low profile for years, and you would have been forgiven for assuming it was dead—until the project surprisingly gained FCC approval this January.

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Apple’s iCloud has been a poor experience in Windows, but a new update seeks to fix that

June 12th, 2019

Apple has released a new version of iCloud for Windows 10 in the Microsoft Store, according to a recent blog post by Microsoft and a handful of Apple customer support documents. The new version claims to be a major improvement, with more robust features and more reliable syncing—the latter of those has been a common complaint for users of Apple's previous version.

Features listed by Microsoft include:

  • Access your iCloud Drive files directly from File Explorer without using up space on your PC
  • Choose the files and folders you want to keep on your PC
  • Safely store all your files in iCloud Drive and access them from your iOS device, Mac, and on iCloud.com
  • Share any file right from File Explorer and easily collaborate with others—edits will be synced across your devices

Interestingly, Microsoft says the new iCloud app is "powered by the same Windows technology that also powers OneDrive's Files On-Demand feature"—an unexpected technical and corporate partnership. But it shouldn't be too surprising at this point; despite the storied history and rivalries of the 1980s and '90s (as well as competition in areas like, yes, cloud services), Microsoft and Apple have largely played together nicely in recent years.

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Posted in apple, File Explorer, icloud, iCloud Drive, Microsoft Store, Tech, Windows, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

AMD launches Navi as the $449 Radeon RX 5700 XT

June 11th, 2019

AMD took the stage at E3 to announce its "Navi" family of GPUs. The company's new graphics cards are officially the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT and Radeon RX 5700. The 5700 series is launching July 7, making the GPUs a one-two punch alongside AMD's Ryzen 3000 series CPUs.

AMD isn't tackling the flagship GPU market with the 5700 series. Instead, the company is aiming for more mainstream pricing with mainstream performance: the 5700XT is $449, while the 5700 is $379. AMD is positioning the cards against Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2070 ($499) and 2060 ($349), respectively, and claims performance wins in each comparison.

The cards introduce AMD's new "RDNA" architecture, which AMD says has 1.25x performance-per-clock and 1.5x performance-per-watt over the previous generation. The chips are built on TSMC's 7nm manufacturing process, a significant shrink from the 12nm process used on the Radeon RX 590, and on Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2080. The Navi die is significantly smaller than the previous-generation Vega design, with a die area of only 251mm2 compared to the 495 mm2 die area for Vega. The smaller die should make the Navi significantly cheaper to produce than Vega.

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Samsung is bringing the $350 Galaxy A50 to the US

June 11th, 2019

Samsung's flagship smartphone lineup comes to basically every carrier and every country on Earth, but the company is much more selective when it comes to cheaper devices. Today Samsung announced that its midrange smartphone lineup will be coming to the US this summer, starting with the $349.99 Samsung Galaxy A50. The A50 was originally announced in February and is just now making its way to the US.

You won't find Samsung's trademark "hole punch" camera cutout from the Galaxy S10 here; the company is instead going with a teardrop notch for the 25MP front camera, which makes the A50 look a lot like the OnePlus 6T. It's certainly not as distinctive as cutting a hole in the display, but it is more space efficient, allowing the A50 front camera to fit inside the normal Android status bar. The Galaxy S10 front camera is so deep into the display that it requires a double-height status bar to surround it.

On the back is a triple-camera setup, featuring a 25MP main camera, an 8MP wide-angle lens, and a 5MP depth sensor. There's no rear fingerprint reader because the Galaxy A50 features an in-display fingerprint reader, which is quickly becoming the norm for Android smartphones. While the S10 has an ultrasonic fingerprint reader, this device has an optical reader, just like a OnePlus phone.

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