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AfterDawn: News

Microsoft challenges Nest with a Windows Smart Thermostat

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Jul 2017 12:30

Microsoft challenges Nest with a Windows Smart Thermostat Smartphones are still perhaps the number one technology people focus on but it seems pretty clear that it might not be as exciting as it once was. Perhaps we're wrong but there seems to be some stagnation, or maturity, in the field.

This gives more room for technologies that have much more to gain in terms of functionality in shorter time span. One of the things that has been talked for years but hasn't quite managed to get the ball rolling in the past years is Internet of Things.

IoT, or more specifically Smart Home applications are getting there, though. Introduction of Alexa and supported Smart Home devices, Google Home, and even Apple's HomePod are making the technology more accessible and way more interesting.

One player that might be a big one in the future is Microsoft. The company's Windows 10 IoT Core operating system could be the future of Smart Home applications and devices. To demonstrate this Microsoft has released a new video showcasing Johnson Controls smart thermostat called GLAS.

The thermostat has a see-though touchscreen display, it monitors the air quality and temperature, and adjusts automatically or from user input. As it runs of Windows 10 IoT Core, it also supports voice assistant Cortana.

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AfterDawn: News

Facebook releases a new feature to further encourage group discussion

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Jul 2017 15:05

Facebook releases a new feature to further encourage group discussion Facebook has launched a new community feature to let people, brands, and communities to keep in touch with their fans more easily. The feature is called Groups for Pages.

To simplify this a little bit, first of all Groups and Pages and separate things. Pages are meant for the messaging from communities and companies. Pages can only be used by an established community and is more strictly controlled. Groups on the other hand can be used in a more general sense to communicate within a group of people that are less loosely connected, eg. group of friends.

Thus Groups for Pages are meant for free ranging discussion within a more tightly-knit community. The point of the feature seems to be to attract people perhaps from more traditional web forums. So for example artists, sports clubs, or even news services can host their own Groups within their Pages.

The feature launched yesterday gives all the 70 million Pages on Facebook the possibility to create discussion in Groups. Facebook has been looking for a way to get more people create "meaningful communities" and harbor discussion.

New feature lets communities also create more specific forums that might attract like-minded people. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg points to examples such as AddictionUnscripted.com Page and the Affected By Addiction Support Group within that lets addicts connect with each other.




AfterDawn: News

Apple trying to attract researchers with a journal for AI

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Jul 2017 13:20

Apple trying to attract researchers with a journal for AI Apple has been known to be a very secretive, perhaps the most secretive in the tech industry. Nothing seems to be revealed about their research, comments about future products are very limited, and you'll pretty much have to wait until the product release to learn about them and their development.

This is good for keeping the products under wraps and creating an anticipation not many can create. However, this also means that it is hard to recruit new talent when you can't reveal what type of research you are doing. Not only don't the top researchers know what type of research is possible within Apple but they also would like to make their own work public, and let the scientific or research community take part.

Apple wants to attract specifically AI researchers, so it is only natural that it has now launched its own Apple Machine Learning Journal site. The new journal, blog, website, is a collection of finds and even breakthroughs in the field of machine learning, which is a part of a larger pie of artificial intelligence.

Currently the journal only consists of one release, called Improving the Realism of Synthetic Images. The research goes into creating realistic images from synthetic images by using neural networks.

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AfterDawn: News

CEO behind new Nokia smartphones suddenly fired

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Jul 2017 10:45

CEO behind new Nokia smartphones suddenly fired HMD Global, a small Finnish company, became somewhat of a focal point of smartphone news in May last year as it bought the rights for famed Nokia brand. The company also made deals with the Nokia corp, that is still rocking the network business, for some mobile technology licenses.

In December it released HMD released its first Nokia phone, the Nokia 150 dumb phone. In early 2017 it expanded to smartphones with Android phones Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6. In February it even recreated the legendary Nokia 3310.

Everything seemed to be going fine but behind the scenes something had happened. Yesterday, suddenly, the company posted a press release that informed the CEO of the company, Arto Nummela, has left the company.

According to the statement the both parties agreed upon the decision but it is clear that there were some disagreements or failures that aren't being discussed. Especially since Nummela leaves the company immediately, and was replaced as the acting CEO yesterday by company President Florian Seiche.

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AfterDawn: News

Bluetooth upgrade is going to improve smart home devices

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 19 Jul 2017 14:20

Bluetooth upgrade is going to improve smart home devices The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), a consortium developing the wireless data transfer standard Bluetooth, has released the final specifications allowing mesh data transfers in Bluetooth 4.0 and 5.0 devices.

With Bluetooth Mesh devices can communicate and transfer data from one to another without any controlling middleman devices. For example, if you have a smart home camera and thermometer both supporting Bluetooth, but the latter doesn't have the range to broadcast to your smartphone, the thermometer can transfer the data to your phone via the camera.

This allows Bluetooth enabled devices to create a mesh network where data is not only transferred via two devices but can make its way via many network devices before reaching its destination.

Many of these smart home, Internet of Things (IoT) devices use very low power, even Bluetooth LE, which limits their capability to transfer data.

Perhaps the best part of the technology is that it doesn't require any new hardware if your Bluetooth devices are 4.0 or 5.0 supported. Mesh networking is supported by current Bluetooth standards so all it requires is a firmware upgrade.

Obviously firmware upgrades depend largely on the manufacturers so you can't expect all the devices, especially the older ones, to get upgrades. However, one can expect many of the new devices to include this new feature.

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AfterDawn: News

Android 85%, iPhone 15%, others 0%

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 19 Jul 2017 11:50

Android 85%, iPhone 15%, others 0% Market research company IDC has posted new figures for mobile platforms and smartphone vendors. Figures representing the first quarter of 2017 reveal a story of a nearly perfect duopoly.

There are of course dozens of smartphone manufacturers, albeit five most populous vendors take up almost 60 percent of the total market, but when it comes to smartphone platforms it's a different type of ball game.

Android is, of course, dominating the platform wars in pure device numbers. 85 percent of new smartphones came with Android, while iOS (read: iPhone) came second with 14.7 percentage points. Windows Phone was third with 0.1 percent and Others, including Samsung's Tizen, managed to get another 0.1 percent.

Essentially the numbers could be simplified to the closest percentage point: Android 85%, iOS 15%, Others 0%.

Obviously this is hardly anything new. Windows has been in decline for quite some time, and so have others. Android, however, managed to gain point and a half while iPhone lost 0.7 percentage points from year ago. At that point Windows still had 0.8% and other 0.4% shares.

IDC expect Apple to rise again in Q4 and especially early next year when the new iPhone models are reaching customers.

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AfterDawn: News

Leaker reveals what will be the first high-end Nokia Android smartphone

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2017 15:15

Leaker reveals what will be the first high-end Nokia Android smartphone Many of us remember when Microsoft bought Nokia's smartphone business in 2013 for $7.2 billion, only to kill the Lumia business later on. The company, Nokia, however remained and is developing networking solutions among other things.

And then there's the Nokia brand in smartphones. It was acquired by Microsoft as a part of the smartphone business but resold after Microsoft had killed the Lumia lineup to a Finnish company called HMD Global last October. At the same time the licensing agreement of certain mobile technologies was also signed between Nokia and HMD Global.

After that HMD Global has released three low-to-mid-tier Android phones with Nokia brand alongside with a variety of so called dumb phones. They've, however, gone mostly unnoticed in the press, with the exception of the new Nokia 3310 perhaps.

Now that we're up to speed, there are some more exciting Android smartphone news from Nokia.

A famed smartphone leaker, Evan Blass aka @evleaks, has revealed what looks like a press photo of an upcoming Nokia phone. This time around it's not a dumb phone, or even a mid-tier smartphone. This time around it seems to be high-end flagship phone with dual cameras.

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AfterDawn: News

Atari reveals its Ataribox game console in pictures

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2017 14:20

Atari reveals its Ataribox game console in pictures A month ago, after the E3 game conference, we heard rumors and saw a teaser of a new Atari product. The computer brand from the 70s was said to be developing a new game console.

Soon after Atari CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed the rumors but didn't have many details to reveal about the product. In the teaser we saw a sneak peek into some of the aesthetics but now we've got the entire thing to show you.

As you can see the device indeed has a retro look with a dark wood paneling covering the front. And as expected the design is based on the legendary Atari 2600 but is definitely not a replica.

If the nostalgic wooden panel isn't your thing, you can get the console with glass front panel with black/red coloring.

The device, called Ataribox, is essentially like Nintendo's last year's NES Classic that runs the classic games, but Atari says that you would also be able to get some "current content". However, don't expect next-gen graphics from even the new content.

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AfterDawn: News

Amazon wants to challenge Facebook's messaging empire

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2017 12:05

Amazon wants to challenge Facebook's messaging empire Two two most populous instant messaging platforms are WhatsApp and Facebook's Messenger. Well, one should say Facebook's WhatsApp and Facebook's Messenger.

Both of these platforms have over a billion users, with quite a bit of overlapping of course, so it is safe to say that Facebook is the king of the hill when it comes to personal online messaging.

There are a lot of options, though, that offer different kind of experiences. There's Snapchat, Signal, Telegram, Skype, WeChat, Viber, and then there's Amazon who apparently wants to enter this super saturated market.

AFTVnews reports that the online shopping giant is testing user reactions to a new service in its latest survey. The questionnaire asks what type of features the users like in a messaging solution.

According to some leaked pictures the service, dubbed as Anytime by Amazon, is said to feature "everything you've always wanted in a messaging app," including private and secure messaging, group messaging with @mentions, multiplatform support, GIF-animations, and high-quality voice and video calls.

It is unclear, however, how far into development, if at all, Amazon are. It might as well be that Amazon is just probing the landscape and trying to figure out if there's room for one more WhatsApp.




AfterDawn: News

AMD reveals new Threadripper CPUs to challenge Intel's i9

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 14 Jul 2017 11:19

AMD reveals new Threadripper CPUs to challenge Intel's i9 AMD's Ryzen brand processors have managed to challenge some of the Intel's Core CPUs fairly well already but there's one product family that AMD is unable to beat or even compete with. To right this wrong AMD has unveiled new Threadripper CPUs that will be released as soon as next month.

AMD has revealed more about upcoming Ryzen CPUs on a press release on their website. According to it the CPUs first unveiled at Computex earlier this year will be named Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 1920X

These processors are designed exclusively to challenge Intel's top tier Core units, and as you might guess from their name there are threads – and cores – aplenty. The top of the line Threadripper 1950X is a 16-core beast with 32 threads and a clock speed of 3.4Ghz (Turbo 4.0 Ghz). Obviously theses type of specs come with a hefty price tag.

1950X has a suggested retail price of $999 which is around the same as a Core i9 7900X. However AMD also has in store another Threadripper, the 12-core and 24 thread 1920X, which is "only" $799.

Both of the new CPUs are said to beat the aforementioned i9 7900X. Both of them will be available from early August onwards. AMD also revealed that it will be releasing new Ryzen 3 CPUs for affordable setups later this month.




AfterDawn: News

Ahoy, Commodore 64 fans! The savior of your beloved C64 is coming

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 14 Jul 2017 10:38

Ahoy, Commodore 64 fans! The savior of your beloved C64 is coming Released in August of 1982, the Commodore 64 became perhaps the first true home computer. After a decade or so it had become the best selling computer of all time and holds that crown still with more than 17 million units.

Now, the technology has slightly advanced since the eighties, but there are a lot of fans of the no nonsense aspect of this legendary machine, not forgetting the legendary games and SID music. One of them is Gideon Zweitzer who has developed C64 a new motherboard.

With this chipset you will be able to return your broken Commodore 64 to its original glory. Named Ultimate 64 the motherboard is said to be highly compatible with most of the accessories and fits perfectly replacing the original motherboard.

Obviously this isn't an official CBM product so there's no guarantee that it'll work with all the different iterations of various addons but if there are problems it should be fixable with a software patch.

Ultimate 64 has been prototyped a few times but before entering larger scale production it is still going through final tests. You can expect the product hit the market before the end of the year, which could make it a perfect gift for your nerdy loved one.

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AfterDawn: News

80 percent of Windows phones just lost support

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 Jul 2017 16:26

80 percent of Windows phones just lost support Windows phones, you remember those, right? Well, there are still a few around even though new phones haven't been released, at least from Microsoft, in a while. For those few there are some unfortunate news from Microsoft.

Microsoft has announced this week that Windows phones with Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, and Windows Phone 8.1 are no longer officially supported. Windows 10 devices do retain official support but they are in the minority.

According to The Verge, who calls this the end of Windows phones even though most of us probably considered the platform dead after Microsoft abandoned the Lumia brand, only 20 percent of Windows phone have the latest Windows version, Windows 10, installed.

As four out of five phones running Windows are no longer getting support or updates it's clear that there's no coming back. Even though Microsoft still will look after Windows 10 users even in mobile it is clear that the Mobile First, Cloud First strategy that CEO Satya Nadella revealed in 2014 didn't come to fruition.

Microsoft has recently been investing and focusing more and more on applications on competing platforms, namely Android and iOS that account for approximately 99.5% of new smartphones.




AfterDawn: News

Apple having problems with the iPhone 8 and its advanced features?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 Jul 2017 11:54

Apple having problems with the iPhone 8 and its advanced features? Since Galaxy S8 was released to the world in late March most of the smartphone rumors have been revolving around Apple. Obviously there are other smartphones released this year that are of interest, including recently released OnePlus 5 and Note8 coming possibly in September, but iPhone, and especially the iPhone 8 as it's called for now, have been under scrutiny.

Now, Apple's upcoming iPhones have been said to come in three flavors for a while. Two of them are said to be rather minimal upgrade we're used to seeing from the S models, like the iPhone 6s compared to previous iPhone 6. However, according to most rumors and leaks the iPhone 8 is where everything is at.

While iPhone 7s and 7s Plus are said to sport most of the same features from its predecessors, the iPhone 8 might be a leap forward perhaps never seen from an iPhone. Some of the technologies suggested are a full front panel display with no home button, fingerprint sensor inserted in the display, and a 3D front facing camera.

This does come with several problems, though. First of all, Apple might not be able to produce it in same volume as it usually does. This means that the more advanced iPhone is going to be a more limited edition that according to Apple analyst and blogger John Gruber the device might cost $1200 if not more.

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AfterDawn: News

Open your calendars! Netflix's Stranger Things season 2 gets a release date, and a teaser

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 Jul 2017 11:30

Open your calendars! Netflix's Stranger Things season 2 gets a release date, and a teaser Netflix has a lot of hit shows from House of Cards to Orange is the New Black but last year no other made a bigger splash than a new show called Stranger Things.

The horror storyline might pull you in but it's the super authentic 80s atmosphere and feel that really grips you. Starred by Winona Ryder among others this SAG Award winning thriller is not only critically-acclaimed but praised by the public as the 95% Rotten Tomatoes score shows.

Now you'll be happy to hear that Netflix has officially announced the season 2 and revealed the release date. The nine episode long season will arrive on every Netflix around the world on October 27. On Twitter they also released this little teaser of scary things to come.

Stranger Things is set in a fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. In the first season the four kids are haunted by the horrible demagorgon, puzzled by the mysterious laboratory, and trapped by the Upside Down world. And according to Netflix things are just going to get scarier.

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AfterDawn: News

HDR movies and shows added to Google Play

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 12 Jul 2017 13:04

HDR movies and shows added to Google Play Google has updated its Google Play Movies & TV app with a pretty delicious new feature. While 4K has been available since last December, something that makes the picture pop even more has now landed.

Google has added HDR (or High Dynamic Range) content to Play Store movies and TV shows. As you might know, HDR makes the picture more authentic and vivid with more colorful representation. It makes the details pop while retaining the darkest blacks.

Of course you'll need a HDR supported display or TV to view this new type of content in all its glory. Also, for now, the feature is only available in the US and Canada.

According to Google among the titles that are HDR compatible are Mad Max: Fury Road and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We also found Pacific Rim and Kong: Skull Island to be supported, and you'll probably find many more.





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