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Critical of Apple’s efforts in the TV space, having previously called the company’s seemingly non-existent TV strategy aimless and backwards. And with good reason, nothing Apple has done to date suggests that the company truly understands what makes for a compelling TV viewing experience. Bizarrely, Apple still can’t seem to figure out if it wants to jump into the TV space head-first or simply leverage a few TV programs to bolster its Apple Music service.I’ve been pretty critical of Apple’s efforts in the TV space, having previously called the company’s seemingly non-existent TV strategy aimless and backwards. And with good reason, nothing Apple has done to date suggests that the company truly understands what makes for a compelling TV viewing experience. Bizarrely, Apple still can’t seem to figure out if it wants to jump into the TV space head-first or simply leverage a few TV programs to bolster its Apple Music service.

What’s more, Apple’s rumored TV subscription service remains nowhere to be seen. If you recall, Apple a few years ago was reportedly interested in rolling out a skinny bundle of cable TV channels at an affordable price. Ultimately, word surfaced that Apple couldn’t reach mutually agreeable pricing terms with content providers, thus nipping Apple’s streaming plans in the bud. All the while, Apple has already been beaten to the skinny bundle punch, first by DirecTV and soon by Hulu, Google, Comcast and even Verizon.

That said, Apple might have a trick up its sleeve after all.

Not every TV streaming service is created equal, and a new report from Recode suggests that Apple may be working on a skinny bundle that could completely change the streaming landscape as we know it. Citing sources within the TV industry, the report relays that Apple is now interested in putting together a TV package that would include premium channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime within the same bundle.

Here’s Apple’s latest proposal: It wants to sell consumers a premium TV bundle, which combines HBO, Showtime and Starz.Apple already sells each of those channels individually. But it has approached the three networks about rolling them up into a single package, as conventional pay TV operators sometimes do.

If Apple can actually get this done at a reasonable price point, it would immediately set Apple’s mythical TV streaming service apart from the rest of the pack. Even if Apple prices its streaming service a tad higher than its competitors, the ability for users to instantly access premium shows from the likes of HBO and Showtime — while also receiving access to traditional cable channels like AMC, ESPN and Bravo — would be an immediate game changer.

As it stands now, Apple already offers customers HBO, Showtime and Starz subscriptions for $15, $11 and $9, respectively. Presumably, a streaming package containing all three would fall somewhere in the $60 range, though it’s worth noting that Recode’s sources were unaware of Apple’s desired pricing plan. Previously, it was widely believed that Apple was aiming to introduce a skinny bundle with 25-30 channels in the $40/month range.

All that said, there appears to be more life left in Apple’s TV plans than we would have otherwise imagined. Incidentally, Apple recently hired Shiva Rajaraman, formerly of YouTube, to help bolster the company’s video efforts.

Source : Yahoo.com

Categorized in Others

Computer simulations, and the means to visualize them, could be in the palm of your hand in new and potentially revolutionary ways later this year, if rumors about Apple's forthcoming "iPhone 8" bear fruit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has made an assortment of remarks, heralding augmented reality and virtual reality as potential cornerstones of the company's future. Combined with rumors of a new dual-lens forward facing camera system and advanced facial recognition software in the "iPhone 8," it's possible that Apple's true interest in the space could be revealed later this year.

While virtual reality promises users a more immersive experience, by sinking a user in the environment with video and audio cues, augmented reality instead offers a hybrid and more social approach, merging a virtual world with the one around us.


Augmented reality is a clear interest for Apple. Rumors about the hardware in the "iPhone 8" coupled with Apple CEO Tim Cook's remarks about the technology suggest that the company is going to dive deep into augmented reality very soon.

Virtual reality

For about three decades, the term "virtual reality" has been used as a catch-all for any sort of real-world simulation or modification. Initial implementations were used by the entertainment industry for relatively compact rides in amusement parks, with additional user by the military for flight simulator training.

Early implementations employed conventional displays in conjunction with mechanical haptics to provide full feedback of the environment to the user. 
Because VR is an immersive and largely solitary experience that requires a headset, it's an unlikely fit for Apple. Instead, the company is likely to embrace an offshoot of VR, augmented reality, in a way that can allow users to interact with the world— and others— around them, via the iPhone.

Augmented reality

AR is less hardware- and software-intensive than VR, using the combination of a camera and display such as those found in the iPhone to manipulate and generate overlays over the surrounding real-life environment. Augmented reality can be used to guide a user on a street, or highlight businesses as a user travels through a town. 

Another possible use case is capture of virtual creatures with the flick of a finger, after spotting them in the park on a daily walk such as in Niantic's "Pokemon Go."

Done properly, augmented reality could be readily adopted by the iPhone crowd —assuming it can be made "friction-free." As it turns out, that's an area where Apple historically has excelled. 

Tim Cook on augmented and virtual reality

"The smartphone is for everyone, we don't have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it's for everyone. I think AR is that big, it's huge," Cook said in an interview in February. "I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining." 



"I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it's not a product per se, it's a core technology. But there are things to discover before that technology is good enough for the mainstream," Cook concluded. "I do think there can be a lot of things that really help people out in daily life, real-life things, that's why I get so excited about it."
"I think AR is that big, it's huge" - Tim Cook

Apple's tangible moves in the AR and VR sector


Apple has made a number of strategic hires and acquisitions over the last five years to further its AR ambitions.

Motion capture specialist Faceshiftwas acquired in 2015, with machine learning and computer vision startup Perceptio grabbed earlier that year.

German AR firm Metaio and Flyby Media also go hand-in-hand with in-house development of transparent displays, iPhone-powered VR rigs, AR maps and other related technologies described in recent patent filings.

In January, Apple was reassigned IP from Metaio for an AR device with advanced point of interest labelling. Specifically, a pair of patents detail a mobile AR system — or smartphone —capable of detecting its surroundings and displaying generated virtual information to users in real time. 

The "iPhone 8" and augmented reality


While the "iPhone 8" may not be sold to customers on AR prospects alone, it appears to be setting the table for wider adoption of the technology.

According to recent rumors, the sensor expected to be used in this year's "iPhone 8" is intended for a practical face scanning utility, and not solely or specifically for augmented reality application.


However, the technology described for the sensor appears to be a micro-miniaturized version of a LIDAR mapper or rangefinder.

LIDAR is a proven technology, with resolution and accuracy dependent on a combination of factors, not the least of which is the integration of the laser and the sensor —which Apple's acquisition of Primesense in 2013 appears intended for.

To properly overly the environment requires accuracy —which a rear-mounted LIDAR installation supplementing existing range finding equipment associated with the iPhone camera would give. It also requires heavy-duty processing power, which the existing A10 Fusion processor also has —and any successor would as well.



According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, the new camera system expected to arrive in Apple's "iPhone 8" will enable 3D sensing and modeling in applications, which could be used for a range of capabilities including replacing the head of a character in a 3D game, or taking a 3D selfie.

Beyond proprietary camera software, Apple has other AR- and VR-related edges over its competition as well. For example, the iPhone only has a few resolutions, where Android devices have literally hundreds. 

The "iPhone 8" is expected to be thinner and lighter than even the iPhone 7. This could allow for less user fatigue, whether installed in a headset, or held by the user for an AR environment overlay.

Apple as iterator, not innovator

First off the starting blocks doesn't guarantee victory —just ask Eiger Labs or Creative Media how their corporate fortunes are doing in the wake of the iPod, how Microsoft's tablet initiative fared after a 2002 debut, or how Samsung's smart watches are selling.

Apple wasn't the first to the computer mouse, the digital media player, an internet-connected phone, or the tablet form factor. It waited until the technology and time was right, perfected each form factor —making it truly "friction free" to adopt. 

And, like most of the rest of the developments its known for, Apple isn't going to be first to AR or VR. Google Glass rose and died in less than two years, and is beyond a niche in the company's Mountain View headquarters, if it isn't completely dead —all because the product didn't work well.

Virtual reality is tied up in litigation between Zenimax and Facebook, after the latter made a multi-billion dollar bet on the technology.

Apple stands at a point with the "iPhone 8," controlling the current specs and future development of a near-ubiquitous device sold in the millions per quarter, where it can call the shots in AR for now, and the next decade at least.

Source : appleinsider.com

Categorized in Others

Discover and Watch TV Shows and Movies from Multiple Apps in One Place

Cupertino, California — Apple today introduced the new TV app, offering a unified experience for discovering and accessing TV shows and movies from multiple apps on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad. The TV app provides one place to access TV shows and movies, as well as a place to discover new content to watch. Apple also introduced a new Siri feature for Apple TV that lets viewers tune in directly to live news and sporting events across their apps. Watching TV shows and movies across Apple devices has never been easier.

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Explore Apple’s curated collection of trending shows and movies from a variety of genres.

“Using apps on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad has become the primary way for so many of us to watch television,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “The TV app shows you what to watch next and easily discover TV shows and movies from many apps in a single place.”

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New features allow users to easily access favorite video apps and resume watching where they left off.

Key features within the TV app include:
  • Watch Now: Watch Now is where viewers will see their collection of available shows and movies from iTunes and apps. From Watch Now, viewers can then go to Up Next or Recommended to choose what to watch. 
  • Up Next: Users can enjoy the shows and movies they are currently watching, including recent iTunes rentals and purchases — all presented in the order they are most likely to watch first. For example, when viewers finish an episode, the next one will automatically appear at the start of the Up Next queue, as will any new episodes as they become available. At any time, users can simply ask Siri to continue watching a show and immediately pick up where they left off. 
  • Recommended: Viewers can explore a great selection of curated and trending shows and movies, including collections handpicked by Apple’s curators, and dedicated categories and genres such as kids, sci-fi and comedy. 
  • Library: Viewers can access their entire collection of iTunes movies and TV shows that they have rented or purchased on iTunes. 
  • Store: If users are looking for something new, they can check out the Store to discover great new content across video services that they have not yet downloaded or are not yet subscribed to, along with the latest releases on iTunes. 
The TV app will be available for Apple TV, iPhone and iPad and always stays in sync so that when users begin watching on one device they can easily continue where they left off on their Apple devices.

Live Tune-In with Siri

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New Siri capabilities offer immediate access to live events with single voice commands.
 
Siri continues to gain powerful new capabilities, including making it really easy to tune right to live news and sporting events on Apple TV. Siri is now aware of live sporting events across apps so users can simply say things like, “Watch the Stanford game” or “Which games are on right now?” Siri knows additional details of the games, can provide live scores and can take viewers directly to the live stream within the app that’s carrying it. Viewers can also tune directly to live video by just saying the name of the app, for example “Watch CBS News” without having to navigate to the live stream from within the app.

Single Sign-On for Pay-TV Apps

In addition to the new TV app, customers in the US will have a simplified way of enjoying their pay-TV video apps by using single sign-on. Starting in December, subscribers to DIRECTV, DISH Network and more will just sign in once on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad to enjoy immediate access to apps that are part of their pay-TV subscription.
Since its introduction just a year ago, the latest Apple TV has revolutionized the experience in the living room with 8,000 apps, including 2,000 games and 1,600 video apps, across categories such as sports, news, fitness, education, kids, lifestyle and more.

Pricing and Availability

TV App and Single Sign-On

Available in December as free software updates for Apple TV (4th generation), iPhone and iPad customers in the US. For more information, please visit Apple.com. Features are subject to change and only apply to participating apps. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.

Siri Live Tune-In 

Available today. For more information, please visit Apple.com. Features are subject to change and only apply to participating apps. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.
Source : Apple.com
Categorized in Others

We were gifted with another stellar week of game releases on the App Store yesterday. Not only do we get a free mobile version of the popular Dynasty Warriors franchise, but we also get a new open-world game from Gameloft, the team behind Asphalt, Brothers in Arms and Modern Combat. Also, if you’re anxious for baseball season to start, you should MLB Tap Sports a try. Really fun one-touch game.

Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed

Dynasty Warriors is the legendary ultimate high adrenaline battle experience in Action Combat games. Celebrate the return of your favorite heroic characters, massive battles overflowing with onslaughts of relentless enemies wrapped in a timeless epic saga to unite the three kingdoms. Your elite warriors and cunning strategies are forces to be reckoned with. Promote your generals, build your armies and, battle to the death as you strive to fulfil the vision of your ancestors.

  • Survive massive battles against unyielding hordes of enemies
  • Choose Wisely: 48 legendary characters from the Dynasty Warriors series!

– Each officer has their own unique skills and abilities
– Create powerful officer teams to conquer every mode

  • Strengthen your officers with the signature weapon system!
  • Dynasty Warriors comes to mobile with a variety of game modes!

– Skirmish: Battle in real time with up to four players
-Boss Fight: Jump in and raid the boss with your friends
– Raid: Steal fragments from your opponent
– War Supply: Occupy mines and acquire resources
– Conquest: Compete with other players to take control of the map

[Download Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed free on the App Store]


Final Shift

1 ship, 5 lanes & a ton of objects in your way.
How fast can you shift when you are speeding down the fast lane and obstacles are in your way?

Collect gems and unlock all 15 space ships.

[Download Final Shift free on the App Store]


Gangstar New Orleans

The gold standard for open-world action-adventure series is back, in the fascinating city of New Orleans. With hundreds of vehicles, an outrageous arsenal, and complete freedom to roam this vast city, you have all the tools to become a criminal legend.

Biker gangs, crooked cops and even Voodoo priests prowl these streets and hide in the bayou. And you? You’re the least common criminal of all! Become a man on a mission to claim the Big Easy as your own criminal capital… by any means necessary.

– Discover an open world bustling with life… and crime!

  • Take on dozens of story missions through varied districts, each with its own unique flavor, from the French Quarter to the slums and even the mysterious bayou.
  • Enjoy the AAA graphics and soundtrack to experience the city’s fascinating atmosphere.

– Defend your Turf and raid others

  • Exclusive to Gangstar New Orleans, Turf Wars introduce new competition and excitement to your favorite series.
  • Claim your Turf and defend it from your rivals — the resources you’ll gain will come in handy when it’s time to craft new items.

– Make your own path!

  • Create a character in your image using lots of customization options!
  • Equip, fuse and evolve hundreds of weapons, vehicles, thugs and more to tailor your gangster skills to fit your personal style. From sniper to explosives expert, there are plenty of approaches — which one will you pick?

[Download Gangstar New Orleans free on the App Store]


KAMI 2

The calming yet addictive puzzle game is back!
With over 100 hand-crafted puzzles, Kami 2 takes you on a mind-twisting journey that combines logic and problem-solving.

Can you achieve perfection?
Flood each puzzle with a single color in as few moves as possible to claim a ‘Perfect’ sticker. But watch out for subtle new tricks and fiendish surprises.

Want even more?
Beat the global Daily Challenge, earn a winning streak and compare your scores to other players. Test yourself on thousands of user-generated puzzles, uploaded daily.

Get creative and take on the world.
Craft your own KAMI designs using the Puzzle Builder. Design and share your creations, send them to your friends and challenge the world to beat your score.

[Download KAMI 2 free on the App Store]


MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017

Tap Sports Baseball 2017 now features the official MLB Teams and MLBPA Players

Play Major League Baseball 24/7

  • Play with official teams and players from Major League Baseball
  • Tap to swing with easy one-touch controls, anytime and anywhere
  • Enhanced graphics brings the Major League Baseball experience to life

Manage Your Team, Compete to Win

  • Build and level up your MLB roster to climb up the leaderboards
  • Compete for the greatest baseball legends in daily events and challenges
  • Swing for the fences in Home Run Battles mode

Play with Friends, Join Clubs and Tournaments

  • Compete against multiple friends in action-packed gameplay sessions
  • Play in weekly events and prove who possesses the ultimate team in head-to-head competitions
  • Join a Club or create your own to compete in exclusive events for top prizes

[Download MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017 free on the App Store]

Source : bgr.com

Categorized in Others

After releasing roughly 437 different iOS 10.3 betas to developers over the past few weeks alone, Apple has finally released iOS 10.3 to the public. The new mobile software is available as an over the air (OTA) download or as a download through iTunes on a Mac or Windows PC, and it’s compatible with 19 different Apple devices dating as far back as the iPhone 5, 4th-generation iPad, iPad mini 2, and the 6th-generation iPod touch.

Should you be excited? Should you rush to download and install iOS 10.3 on your iPhone or iPad as soon as possible? In this post, we’ll run through all of the top new features Apple introduced in iOS 10.3.

Find My AirPods: The most talked-about new feature in iOS 10.3 is Find My AirPods, which obviously only matters if you own a pair of Apple’s hot new AirPods. They’re still next to impossible to find in Apple stores, so Amazon is really your only hope if you want AirPods anytime soon.

There’s now a new option in the Find My iPhone app that can track down your AirPods, but it’s nowhere near as accurate or as useful as it is for iPhones and iPads since AirPods don’t have a GPS radio or the ability to connect to any networks. Instead, this is basically a log that will show you the last location where your iPhone was connected to your AirPods.

If you forget your AirPods somewhere, this nifty new feature could definitely help you find them. If you haven’t connected to them in a while or if they’re stolen, you’re pretty much out of luck.

App Transition Animations: You might not even notice this one, but Apple made a subtle change to the transition animations that are shown as apps open and close in iOS 10.3. They now have slightly more rounded edges, which is definitely not a big deal. But they also seem to move a bit faster, which is a big deal since it speeds up the interface a bit.

Weather in Maps: In the Maps app, users can now 3D Touch the weather icon to see a local forecast for the area.

Apple ID Profile: There is now a new Apple ID profile section in the Settings app that you’ll see at the very top of the first screen. It gives you access to a single page where you’ll find your full contact profile, security settings, payment information, iCloud account details, App Store settings, Family Sharing settings and a bit more.

Also of note, this page displays every Apple device where you’re currently signed in.

iCloud Storage: You’ll now find a new section at the top of your iCloud settings page with a breakdown of how your iCloud storage is being used.

New File System: This is a big one, though it takes place completely behind the scenes so you won’t even realize it’s happening. Installing iOS 10.3 will automatically update your iPhone or iPad to use Apple File System (APFS) instead of HFS+. APFS is better optimized for NAND flash storage so files can be accessed more quickly, and it also supports stronger encryption.

Voice Call Continuity for Verizon: This is obviously a new feature that will only be appreciated by Verizon Wireless subscribers, but iCloud calling features are now finally supported if you use Verizon. That means you can make or receive voice calls on your Mac, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch.

Podcasts Widget: You know that widgets panel you never use? There’s a new Podcasts widget available now (it’s actually a pretty cool addition for podcast fans).

Author : Zach Epstein

Source : Bgr.com

Categorized in Others

After months of countless leaks and rumors, it was starting to feel like this day might never actually come. Believe it or not, however, it’s finally here: Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are finally official. No more specs leaks, no more renders, no more spy shots on Weibo, no more dummy models being compared to rival smartphones, and no more guessing. Samsung on Wednesday finally took the wraps off of its next-generation Galaxy S flagship phones.

We spent some time with the new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ earlier this week, and there’s really only one thing you have to know: You don’t know anything about these phones. You’ve seen all the leaks and you’ve read all the rumors, but nothing you’ll ever see on a computer screen or a smartphone display can properly convey just how stunning Samsung’s new flagship phones truly are.

Image Source: Zach Epstein, BGR

We’ve obviously got plenty of Galaxy S8 coverage lined up for you today, but in this post I’m going to focus on one thing in particular: Samsung’s design.

First, let’s quickly run through the specs. Aside from the displays (5.8-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED vs. 6.2-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED), the batteries (3,000 mAh vs. 3,500 mAh), and the overall size, the new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are identical. Both phones are powered by the new 10nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset in the US, while the global models pack Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 SoC. Both phones also pack 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, microSDXC support, a 12-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, IP68 water- and dust-resistance, and Android Nougat.

Both phones also share what is unquestionably the most stunning smartphone design of all time.

Image Source: Zach Epstein, BGR

Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are an evolution of the design we’ve seen on other recent Samsung phones like the Galaxy S7 edge and the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. The similarities are obvious, but the S8 and S8+ look and feel brand new in the hand. Samsung removed the oblong home button on the face of the phones and reworked the phone’s guts, which allowed the company to design two smartphones with displays that occupy a staggering 83% of the phones’ faces.

The look is incredible. While it will still be quite some time before any company launches the all-screen smartphone we’ve all been waiting for, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is as close as any mass-market device has come. Because the narrow bezels that remain are a deep, glossy black that matches the display itself, distractions seem to fade away and content takes center stage more so than on any other phone.

Image Source: Zach Epstein, BGR

Like the S7 edge and Note 7, the sides of the phone are curved on both the front of the phone and on the back. As a result, the Galaxy S8 feels impossibly thin. I was really looking forward to using a phone with a nice big 5.8-inch screen crammed into a handset that is barely bigger than the iPhone 7, but I might actually prefer the larger Galaxy S8+ to the smaller model. It’s unbelievably comfortable in your hand thanks to the curved edges. Even though the phone is about the same size as the iPhone 7 Plus, it feels much smaller.

Of note, there is a new virtual home button that appears on the bottom of the display where the old physical home button used to be, and Samsung has included its own take on Apple’s 3D Touch haptic feedback that offers localized vibration feedback when you press the button. For those wondering, it’s not even in the same league as Apple’s solution. It does the trick in that you feel some feedback when you tap the home button, but it’s nothing like Apple’s Taptic engine.

When you press the virtual home button on the iPhone 7, it feels like you’re clicking a real button. When you press the virtual home button on the Galaxy S8, it feels like the phone is vibrating.

Image Source: Zach Epstein, BGR

From left to right, the photo above shows the Galaxy S8, LG G6, iPhone 7 Plus and Galaxy S8+. Here’s another shot without the iPhone in the image:

Image Source: Zach Epstein, BGR

As you can see, the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 are about the same size, though the Samsung phone is far more comfortable in the hand thanks to LG’s peculiar design snafu that I wrote about recently. Both phones feel like the future, though. Smartphone design had become stagnant in the past few years, but this new leap toward all-screen phones brings some much-needed freshness to the market.

There’s plenty more to cover, of course, and we have much more Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ coverage lined up for you today. We’ll dive into the phones’ software and performance much more in that coverage, but there are a few things I wanted to touch on briefly in this post.

First, Samsung’s new Desktop Experience is flat-out awesome. Either phone can be connected to Samsung’s new DeX dock to instantly power an Android desktop experience alongside a connected monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Several of Samsung’s apps like the browser and email app have been optimized for the new Desktop Experience, though every first- and third-party app on the phone can be used in desktop mode.

Image Source: Zach Epstein, BGR

I haven’t spent time diving in yet, of course, but so far I’m very impressed. The experience is lightning-fast (apps open so much faster than they do on my MacBook that it’s a little depressing, to be honest) and it’s great for multitasking. I could easily see Samsung’s Desktop Experience replacing the need for a PC or Chromebook for many users, especially if some big-name third-party developers get on board and optimize their apps.

Microsoft has already done so with its Office suite, in fact, and more announcements should come soon. In fact, Samsung even partnered with VMWare, Citrix, and Amazon to enable all three popular Windows 10 virtual desktop experiences on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. In other words, if you want, you can use your new Android phone as a Windows 10 desktop.

Image Source: Zach Epstein, BGR

Bixby seems like it will be another highlight, though I haven’t yet spent much time testing it. Samsung’s answer to Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant can be called upon with a voice command or by holding down the dedicated Bixby button on the left edge of the phone, and it will support a very wide set of features at launch.

In terms of core functionality, Samsung said anything that can be done with a touch in any app can also be done with your voice using Bixby. The new virtual assistant is also context-aware, and a nifty feature called Bixby Vision brings the camera into play. Bixby Vision can recognize objects or points of interest and give the user info, and it can also recognize text and translate more than 50 languages in real-time.

If Bixby isn’t your speed though, don’t worry — Samsung also included Google Assistant in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Simply press and hold the home button to pull up Assistant, just like you would on any other Android Nougat device that ships with Google Assistant.

Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ will be released on April 21st, and preorders open tomorrow, March 30th, at 12:01AM from all major US carriers. The phone will be available in black, gray and silver in the US, and preorders will include a free next-generation Gear VR headset with Samsung’s new wireless remote and a free Oculus game pack.

Zach Epstein

Source : bgr.com

Categorized in Others

Artificial intelligence has made great progress in helping computers recognize images in photos and recommending products online that you're more likely to buy. But the technology still faces many challenges, especially when it comes to computers remembering things like humans do.

On Tuesday, Apple’s director of AI research, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, discussed some of those limitations. However, he steered clear during his talk at an MIT Technology Review conference of how his secretive company incorporates AI into its products like Siri.

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Salakhutdinov, who joined Apple in October, said he is particularly interested in a type of AI known as reinforcement learning, which researchers use to teach computers to repeatedly take different actions to figure out the best possible resultGoogle (GOOG, +0.17%), for example, used reinforcement learning to help its computers find the best possible cooling and operating configurations in its data centers, thus making them more energy efficient.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon, where Salakhutdinov is also an associate professor, recently used reinforcement learning to train computers to play the 1990's era video game Doom, Salakhutdinov explained. Computers learned to quickly and accurately shoot aliens while also discovering that ducking helps with avoiding enemy fire. However, these expert Doom computer systems are not very good at remembering things like the maze's layouts, which keeps them from planning and building strategies, he said.

Part of Salakhutdinov’s research involves creating AI-powered software that memorizes the layouts of virtual mazes in Doom and points of references in order to locate specific towers. During the game, the software first spots what's either a red or green torch, with the color of the torch corresponding to the color of the tower it needs to locate.

Eventually, the software learned to navigate the maze to reach the correct tower. When it discovered the wrong tower, the software backtracked through the maze to find the right one. What was especially noteworthy was that the software was able to recall the color of the torch each time it spotted a tower, he explained.

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However, Salakhutdinov said this type of AI software takes “a long time to train” and that it requires enormous amounts of computing power, which makes it difficult to build at large scale. “Right now it’s very brittle,” Salakhutdinov said.

Another area Salakhutdinov wants to explore is teaching AI software to learn more quickly from “few examples and few experiences.” Although he did not mention it, his idea would benefit Apple in its race to create better products in less time.

Some AI experts and analysts believe Apple's AI technologies are inferior to competitors like Google or Microsoft because of the company's stricter user privacy rules, which limits the amount of data it can use to train its computers. If Apple used less data for computer training, it could perhaps satisfy its privacy requirements while still improving its software as quickly as rivals.

Author : Jonathan Vanian

Source : fortune.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

A mysterious group of hackers claim to be threatening to wipe up to 300 million iPhones and iCloud accounts – unless Apple pays a ransom in Bitcoin by April 7.

The group – who describe themselves as ‘Turkish Crime Family’ – claim to have demanded $75,000 in Bitcoin or Ethereum cryptocurrency, according to Motherboard.

A hacker said, ‘I just want my money and thought this would be an interesting report that a lot of Apple customers would be interested in reading and hearing.’

They claim to have credentials which would allow them access to hundreds of millions of users’ accounts, according to the report in Motherboard – and are threatening to wipe a number of them unless they are paid.

Screenshots of supposed discussions with Apple show Apple’s security team requesting that the gang delete a YouTube video where they supposedly access an elderly woman’s iCloud account.

Hackers threaten to wipe up to 300 million iPhones unless Apple pays ransom

(Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

What is less clear is if the threat is real – or if the group even exists. Beyond the evidence shown to Motherboard (screenshotted emails), there’s little proof.

British computer security expert Graham Cluley, writing on Bitdefender’s Hot for Security blog, says, ‘What we don’t know is whether the email exchanges between the hackers and Apple are real or faked, and – indeed – whether the so-called “Turkish Crime Gang” really has access to a large number of Apple users’ credentials.

‘If it’s true that the hackers are attempting to engage with the media in an attempt to increase their chances of a substantial payout then that would be in line with an increasingly common technique deployed by extortionists.’

Author : Rob Waugh

Source : http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/21/hackers-threaten-to-wipe-up-to-300-million-iphones-unless-apple-pays-ransom-6524809/

 

Categorized in News & Politics

It has taken three months, two software updates, warnings from the Chinese governmentover 100 pages of customer nagging and numerous articles by publications around the globe since I exclusively broke the story in November but Apple AAPL -0.53% has at last confessed. In a statement today the company finally admitted to the so-called 30% Bug, but that is only half the story… 

Having tried to get a statement out of Apple for months without success, it suddenly made a confession to TechCrunch. The company stated not only did it know iPhone 6S and iPhone 6 models have been shutting down at random for some time but that it also hid a fix into iOS 10.2.1 which it believes mostly fixes the problem.

Apple iOS 10 claims to have partially fixed one of its most infamous bugs, but it that enough? Image credit: Apple

“We’re seeing a more than 80% reduction in iPhone 6S and over 70% reduction on iPhone 6 of devices unexpectedly shutting down. We also added the ability for the phone to restart without needing to connect to power, if a user still encounters an unexpected shutdown,” the company stated.

Apple gave no further information about whether further fixes would be introduced in future to fix the problem for users still suffering after installing iOS 10.2.1. With iOS 10.3 in advanced testing, we will just have to keep our fingers crossed. (Note the 30% Bug is a different issue to the iPhone 6S shutdown issues the company addressed with a limited recall program last year.) 

So is this the end for the infamous 30% Bug? I’m sorry to say no, it isn’t even close and here’s why…

We Only Got Half The Story

As it stands a lot of pieces to the 30% Bug puzzle are still missing. Let’s break them down:

  1. The Missing Models

Apple fesses up to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6, but the fact is the iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 are all affected by the 30% Bug as well. Where is the confirmation about this, and are fixes for them being worked upon?

Even former Apple executive Tony ‘Father of the iPod’ Fadell tweeted his iPhone 6S Plus was affected by the 30% Bug back in November:

Ex-Apple senior executive Tony Fadell confirms the 30% Bug affects his iPhone. He later confirmed his model is an iPhone 6S Plus. Image credit: Twitter

Ex-Apple senior executive Tony Fadell confirms the 30% Bug affects his iPhone. He later confirmed his model is an iPhone 6S Plus. Image credit: Twitter

  1. Confusion From Customers Apple Is Charging For New Batteries 

If Apple is now admitting the 30% Bug is a software problem, then confusion remains about why many customers affected by the 30% Bug have been charged for replacement batteries.

iPhone owners affected by the 30% Bug have repeatedly reported being charged for new batteries, despite Apple subsequently confirming it is a software problem. Image credit: Apple Support Communities

iPhone owners affected by the 30% Bug have repeatedly reported being charged for new batteries, despite Apple subsequently confirming it is a software problem. Image credit: Apple Support Communities

Apple has published a new battery-care guide and said a “your battery needs service” message will soon come to the battery info screen in iOS 10.2.1, but this is only for iPhones where the battery is completely worn out. That’s a very different problem to the 30% Bug. More clarity is needed here about what entitlements affected customers can receive and, in light of Apple's statement, whether some are due refunds. 

  1. How Widespread Is This, Really?

I can’t remember Apple ever confessing to a problem without describing it as only affecting “a small number of users” but what are the parameters for this? After all, if five models of affected iPhone are excluded, we certainly don’t have the full picture yet.

As a personal anecdote, I’ve never been contacted so frequently about a problem in my 17 years as a technology journalist as I have about the 30% Bug. Fellow Forbes contributor Anthony Karcz also expressed to me that he has received extraordinarily high levels of contact from affected users as well.

We are far from alone in finding this. As Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff explains: "I started asking friends and co-workers about their experiences. Pretty much anyone I mentioned iPhone battery issues knew what I was talking about or had an experience to share."

iOS 10.2.1 Creates New Problems

It is also worth pointing out that while Apple is now pushing users to upgrade to iOS 10.2.1 now it has revealed the partial 30% Bug cure hidden inside it, the reality is the release also introduces a lot of new problems.

  • A bizarre bug lowers screen brightness at 74% and 49% is affecting every supported model other than the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,)
  • It is breaking Touch ID fingerprint recognition for many (sources: 12345678910 - video)
  • It is causing Bluetooth connectivity and stability problems (sources 12345678)
  • There are also reports of high battery drain (sources 123456), sound performance issues and degraded WiFi.

On the flipside iOS 10.2.1 does contain an important security fix that should not be taken lightly.

As such, while I’m pleased to see Apple finally admitted some liability for the 30% Bug and made some progress in fixing it, we remain far from a full confession and a 100% effective solution. Given that affected users have suffered with this problem for months, I think this is the very least they deserve…

Author : Gordon Kelly

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2017/02/24/apple-ios-10-2-1-release-admits-to-serious-problems/#380876c650ac

Categorized in Others

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung's (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) reign at the top of the smartphone market is under threat. Slowly but steadily, Chinese telecom giant Huawei has been spreading its wings across key global markets, in a bid to displace Apple and Samsung from the top of the smartphone heap.

Huawei's ambition of becoming the second-largest smartphone company in the world received a shot in the arm in 2016, as its smartphone sales increased close to 27% from the year before. In stark contrast, both Apple's and Samsung's shipments fell 4.3% over the same period, according to Gartner. The strong growth in shipments gave Huawei 8.9% of the smartphone market in 2016 compared to 7.3% a year ago.

By comparison, the market shares of both Apple and Samsung took a beating. The Cupertino-based smartphone giant's share of the market fell by 1.5 percentage points to 14.4%, while Samsung's market share fell by two percentage points to 20.5%. Huawei, however, has managed to consistently increase its smartphone shipments, leading to market-share gains:

Data sources: Strategy Analytics and Counterpoint Technology Market Research. Chart by author.

Having already occupied the third place in the smartphone race, the Chinese vendor will now go all out to achieve its lofty ambitions. In November 2016, the chief executive of Huawei's consumer business group told Reuters that it wants to become the second-largest smartphone company in two years. But will it be able to meet this aggressive target?

China and India will be tailwinds for Huawei

The Chinese company has been seeking growth in its home market. Last year, Huawei shipped 76.6 million phones in China and sat in the second place with a market share of 16.4%. Meanwhile, Apple's Chinese shipments dropped an alarming 23% to 44.9 million units, giving it a single-digit market share of just 9.6%.

This means that Huawei has opened a huge gap over Apple in China, as its smartphone shipments there are up almost 22% in 2016. China will be the key to Huawei's global smartphone dominance, since it is the world's biggest smartphone market and accounted for 21% of global shipments last year.

What's more, the growing adoption of LTE connections in China means that smartphone demand in the country will remain strong. GSMA Intelligence forecasts that China will have 1 billion 4G connections by 2020, compared to 762 million at the end of 2016. The increased adoption of 4G means that customers will need to upgrade to smartphones from feature phones as they move away from legacy technologies such as 2G and 3G.

On the other hand, Huawei is also looking to make inroads into the Indian market. Last year, it said that it aims to have 10% of the Indian smartphone market by the end of 2017. In fact, Huawei's Indian consumer operations reports directly to the Chinese headquarters, showing the company recognizes the importance of this market.

This is not surprising as annual smartphone sales in India are expected to top 200 million units in 2020 (rising from 102 million units last year), making it the world's second-largest market. If Huawei manages to carve out a 10% share for itself in India, it can add 20 million units in smartphone sales.

This looks like an uphill task since it had just 0.5% of the Indian market in the first half of 2016. But in September 2016, Huawei began its smartphone manufacturing operations in India, and it plans to manufacture 3 million units by the end of 2017. If it is able to convert all these units into sales this year, the company's Indian market share will gain respectability.

By comparison, Apple is yet to get its manufacturing operations in India into full swing. Though its manufacturing partner Wistron has set up a plant in the southern part of the country, it will only produce around 300,000 to 400,000 units of the iPhone SE initially. This is a far cry from Huawei's manufacturing capacity.

The secret behind Huawei's growth

Huawei has a smart formula to win over customers in big smartphone markets -- offline sales. In China, Huawei plans to set up 1,000 stores across all counties, apart from striking partnerships with distributors and retailers. It also plans to deploy 460 service stores in 45 nations.

Meanwhile, Huawei has partnered with more than 50,000 retail outlets in India and is going to set up more than 200 service centers. The company's offline-store strategy for emerging markets is a smart one, allowing it to gain more eyeballs and eventually increase sales.

In fact, offline sales in markets such as India have been the key to the success of Chinese smartphone companies, since customers have been able to touch and feel their phones before buying. And, just 35% of the Indian population had access to the internet last year, which could be another reason that Huawei has been busy opening retail outlets in smaller cities.

A similar scenario is unfolding in China, where offline smartphone sales are gaining momentum. The growing shift toward offline smartphone sales has encouraged Huawei to drastically ramp up its company-owned stores.

Huawei had bumped its global store count by 116% to 35,000 toward the end of May 2016. The company has further strengthened its retail presence as it planned to open another 15,000 stores in 2016 itself. Around half of its stores are on the Chinese mainland and across the rest of Asia, with the next-largest fraction in Europe.

By comparison, Apple has 491 stores spread across the globe, and over half of them are in the U.S. What's more, its store presence in markets such as India and China is negligible compared to Huawei's. Apple reportedly had 40 stores in China by the end of June 2016, when Huawei had over 11,000 stores on the mainland. On the other hand, Apple's plans to open stores in India have been slowed by regulations, though it might open up three of them this year.

Huawei's strong retail presence is complemented by the company's strategy of offering both budget and premium smartphones. The Honor 5C, which some reviewers count among the top budget phones, costs less than $170 in India at current exchange rates, placing it way below the global-average smartphone price of $256.

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In fact, Huawei also sells feature phones in emerging markets that cost less than $100. These budget phones help bring customers to its stores and improve brand awareness. The company is now gradually moving into the higher segment of the market by launching more mid-range and premium phones, which should eventually improve the average selling prices of its phones.

The takeaway

A strong retail presence and an extensive product portfolio that covers all segments of the smartphone market have been the catalysts behind Huawei's growth. In fact, the company's two-pronged strategy has put it in the limelight, as the value of its brand grew 28% in 2016 on the back of high-end devices and marketing campaigns.

Apple and Samsung, therefore, have a fierce competitor that looks capable of breaking into the top two in the smartphone market.

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Author : Harsh Chauhan

Source : http://host.madison.com/business/investment/markets-and-stocks/why-apple-should-be-scared-of-this-company/article_efd040d5-f525-526e-b170-68a23ad6ba81.html

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