AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

Google readying the release of a standalone VR device

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 May 2016 16:08

Google readying the release of a standalone VR device Google entered the VR market two years ago with Google Cardboard (pictured). At the time it was a low risk investment into virtual reality, one that it expressed the interest towards a possibly a tremendous opportunity in the future. Now it seems that Google is ready to gear up for a proper go at VR.

According to information Android Police managed to find from Google Play Developer Console, Google is indeed going to release an actual virtual reality device. Google Cardboard is, after all, just a box that fits a smartphone. It is a simplistic version of what Samsung is promoting with its newest flagship, Galaxy S7.

There's really three types of VR devices at the moment: the Gear VR type that require a phone or a tablet, the ones that have displays but require a PC for processing such as Oculus Rift, and the entirely standalone devices that run the software and have displays to display it.

Some rumors have it that Google is going to release VR goggles that are in the latter category. This would also mean that it would not rival Oculus or HTC Vive in terms of pure processing power but would be more portable.

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AfterDawn: News

Apple invests a billion dollars on Uber competitor

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 May 2016 8:18

Apple invests a billion dollars on Uber competitor Apple has been revealed to have invested a small chunk of its $130 billion bankroll on a transportation company that is one of the main rivals of Uber. Didi Chuxing is essentially the Chinese version of Uber, and it provides transportation to 11 million people daily.

Didi Chuxing (formerly Didi Kuaidi) was looking for a billion dollars worth of investment and had to look no further than Apple. The smartphone based transportation service offers cab rides, personal drivers, and premium cars in what is one of the fastest growing market for apps and technology.

Founded in 2012, the company has already gathered a few billions of investments but Apple's latest addition is the largest single investment. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the investment is strategic and helps them understand "the critical Chinese market."

Apple is said to be developing an electric car, which seems to be the obvious reason for a such a huge investment. Also the pressure from Chinese regulators has increased on Apple, says Reuters. The investment will possibly aid both situations.





AfterDawn: News

Instagram gets a complete overhaul, renewed logo

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 May 2016 8:01

Instagram gets a complete overhaul, renewed logo The app that stroke gold with vintage camera filters years ago has decided to renew its look and feel both in and outside the app. Outside it means replacing the logo with a flatter one, inside the changes update the UI.

The logo has abandoned the skeuomorphic design and adopted the colorful and flat-faced look known from iOS. The change seems to be more or less the same what Apple did in iOS 7 back in 2013.

Even though the logo is a breath of fresh air with bright colors, that does not carry out to the new UI. User interface consists only of shades of grey, black and white. According to the company this is to draw attention to the user generated content, which is, after all, the point of the service.

The Instagram related apps, namely Boomerang, Hyperlapse, and Layout, got the same logo update.

As you can imagine, the web went insane over the changes. Especially the change in logo seems to have baffled a lot of people. The narrative is that a recognizable logo has been switched for one that iPhone has 13 in a dozen.

In the end, however, all Instagram wants is for people to use the app more.





AfterDawn: News

Apple adds cheaper tier to Apple Music

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 06 May 2016 18:24

Apple adds cheaper tier to Apple Music Released last summer Apple Music was expected to become a success that quickly rivaled and possibly even surpassed Spotify as the leading streaming service for music. Due to failures mainly in UI design the service has had troubles rising to the occasion even with exclusives like Taylor Swift.

Apple is expected to revamp the messy user interface completely though. The overhaul is said to be unveiled at the WWDC in June, but that is not the only measure Apple is taking in order to catch up to Spotify.

Now Apple has revealed a new, cheaper tier that is solely meant for student. College students around the US as well as in countries like the UK, Germany, and Australia will be able to get Apple Music subscription for half the price. This amounts to $5.99 (depending on the market).

However, Spotify has its own Premium subscription for students for $4.99 and obviously something that Apple does not – a free ad-supported tier.

So the question remains will this get people on board the service that has been accused of randomly deleting songs and ruining the experience with a garbled and confusing user interface. Things could well change, though, if on June 13th bulk of the problems disappear.





AfterDawn: News

Microsoft's Pre-Touch to revolutionize UI design?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 06 May 2016 17:14

Microsoft's Pre-Touch to revolutionize UI design? Even if not all products out of Redmond have captured the market (yes, I'm looking at you Windows Phone), you have to give it to Microsoft Research for being one of the most innovative R&D departments in the country. Be it HoloLens or the AI features now used in Cortana, every one loves a glimpse at the future of computing.

One those futuristic glimpses might as well be in the video below. Microsoft Research has released a video on YouTube in which it demonstrates a new type of predictive touch display which it calls Pre-Touch.

The display on what looks like a Lumia looking prototype recognizes when a hand or a finger is coming close to the display, and even measures the pressure when squeezed.

Like you can see on the video this enables all kinds of handy tricks with the user interface. Knowing where the users hands are before the touch makes it possible to cater for a specific need, for example one handed use always on the right side of the phone.

As this video comes from Microsoft Research and not a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress, it'll probably still be a while before we see this in our own handsets. Maybe that will happen when Microsoft allegedly transforms its smartphone business under Surface brand.

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AfterDawn: News

TIME selects iPhone as the most influential gadget ever

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 05 May 2016 11:04

TIME selects iPhone as the most influential gadget ever TIME magazine has released its list of 50 most influential gadgets of all time. The winner is not a surprise but there's a lot of variety further back.

The number one spot was clinched by the original iPhone released by Apple in 2007. Many would say that was an expected top spot for the highest grossing consumer gadgets of all time.

Following iPhone the rest of the top five Sony's revolutionary color TV Trinitron from 1968, Apple's first Macintosh, '80s sensation Sony Walkman, and IBM Model 5150 that taught us what PC is.

Later on the list you can also find possibly your first proper cellphone Nokia 3210 equipped with internal antenna and of course Snake, gaming systems like NES and Sony PlayStation, and my personal favorite Commodore 64.

While a nostalgia trip is inevitable there's many recent invention in the top 50 as well, including some virtual reality and 3D printing equipment. Check the list in its entirety here.





AfterDawn: News

Steam adds bitcoin support

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 29 Apr 2016 17:09

Steam adds bitcoin support Bitcoin has been called a revolutionary currency but it has had its problems, and adoption in the mainstream is far from perfect. One big name in the gaming industry has decided to embrace the so-called cryptocurrency.

From now on Valve's gaming platform and game store Steam supports bitcoin. You can buy games and other content with bitcoins, the currency mediator being Bitpay. Bitpay is one of the largest bitcoin payment services.

Even though bitcoin has been adopted mainly in the western world Steam believes that the new currency will bring new customers from developing countries and within communities that do not use credit cards to a western degree.

It's essentially the alternative to mobile payment which Steam didn't see as well fit for the purposes of PC gaming.





AfterDawn: News

Samsung reports strong quarter, thanks to Galaxy S7

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 28 Apr 2016 12:28

Samsung reports strong quarter, thanks to Galaxy S7 Samsung has revealed its quarterly earnings for the first three months in 2016. The results are impressive as the company gains momentum with Galaxy S7.

Samsung's mobile business revenue increased by 8 percent but the big impact is seen in the profits. The company reported an impressive 42 percent growth in net profits in the three month period compared to year before.

The new strategy with Galaxy S7 and more streamlined portfolio of middle and entry-level devices has paid off. The flagship has been received well nearly universally and the orders have blown the predecessor out of the water.

Increasing profits are not given even for giants like Samsung and Apple as we know from the quarterly results from Cupertino. Apple's iPhone sales has dropped as have the company's profits.

Estimates are that still a fairly new Galaxy S7 will keep Samsung steady through the summer while Apple will be reporting decline in sales probably until Q4.





AfterDawn: News

Microsoft: "We're committed to Windows 10 Mobile"

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 27 Apr 2016 14:15

Microsoft: "We're committed to Windows 10 Mobile" Microsoft hasn't seemed too interested in smartphones after acquiring Nokia's mobile phone business. Oddly the number of phones released has dropped drastically, even though Windows 10 should be living its heyday.

The executive VP of Devices and Windows, Terry Myerson, has however sent an email to employees assuring that smartphones have not been forgotten. In the email Myerson explains how Microsoft is still dedicated to developing Windows 10 as a mobile operating system.

Even more specifically, he says that Microsoft is going to make Windows 10 for small devices with ARM chips.

The company is obviously trying to calm the employees down after a horrific decline in Windows Phone sales. Just couple days ago Microsoft reported a 73 percent decline in quantity and nearly 50 percent decline in Windows Phone revenue.

According to the rumors, Microsoft is shifting smartphone strategy and moving them under the more successful Surface brand in 2017.





AfterDawn: News

Apple released quarterly results, iPhone sales down first time ever

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 27 Apr 2016 14:01

Apple released quarterly results, iPhone sales down first time ever Apple has released the first quarterly earnings of 2016. As expected, the results weren't as impressive as quarters in recent history. The most significant drop was witnessed in iPhone sales.

The first time in years Apple had to tell shareholders that profits have declined compared to the corresponding quarter last year. The drop was orchestrated by a first in a history decline in iPhone sales.

Apple sold 16 percents less iPhones than year ago, amounting to 51.2 million phones. Also declining were iPad and Mac sales, just over 10 million and 4 million units respectively.

Even sales in China, which has been a big boomer for Apple for recent years, declined a hefty 26 percent.

Apple predicts this trend to continue in the second quarter as well. We might have to wait for iPhone 7 for more positive sales figures from Apple.





AfterDawn: News

Did you know that Netflix has HDR content?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 Apr 2016 14:54

Did you know that Netflix has HDR content? While no one was watching, Netflix introduced HDR content to its streaming service. Currently there's a very limited supply of HDR video but you can be assured that there will be more.

According to Engadget Netflix show Marco Polo is available in HDR video. Currently that is the only show available in High Dynamic Range but another Netflix Original, Daredevil, will soon be available in HDR as well.

To watch shows in HDR you obviously need equipment that supports the playback of such content. Netflix says that the service supports TVs with either Dolby Visual or HDR10 features.





AfterDawn: News

Music industry back from a 20 year slump, still blames YouTube

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 Apr 2016 13:35

Music industry back from a 20 year slump, still blames YouTube As many of you know, the music industry, just like Hollywood, loves to play the blame game. Whether it's Napster or Spotify, the new technologies and services are here to steal the hard earned cash of artists. Well, it seems that digital music has gotten the music industry out of the 20 year recession.

But don't for a second think there's no internet services to blame. IFPI, the industry's lobby group, is still blaming YouTube for not doing its share, despite Google and Alphabet shelling out more than 3 billion dollars so far to the industry.

According to WSJ, IFPI claims that YouTube is allowing people to listen to music without them paying anything. YouTube of course points at its subscription service YouTube Red and the fact that it does everything it has to, or can do, to eliminate illegal music.

IFPI still doesn't seem too happy about the streaming services, but maybe it should look at the figures. Worldwide digital music topped physical media first time ever. And it was streaming services that were responsible for the growth. Even if both physical and digital media sales declined the industry as a whole saw meaningful growth first time since the 90s.

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AfterDawn: News

HTC unveils its new flagship, "10"

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 Apr 2016 13:09

HTC unveils its new flagship, "10" HTC has revealed its newest smartphone called simply the 10. It's the successor to years of One lineup that ended in One M9 last year.

HTC 10 clearly carries the same design principles from previous One models. It looks like one continuous piece of metal, just like its predecessors. Of course the innards are what matter, and HTC has covered certainly all the basics.

Specs include octa-core Snapdragon 820, 3 (32GB model) or 4 gigs of RAM (65 GB model), a 5.2 inch Quad HD display, and 12 and 5 megapixel cameras. The camera in the back, hailed already as one of the best around, has larger than conventional pixels which qualify it as an UltraPixel camera.

The phone features a 3000 milliamp hour battery, Type-C USB, and stereo speakers. Unfortunately the so called Boom Sound speakers are no longer front-facing. HTC 10 will be available in four colors (Carbon Grey, Glacier Silver, Topaz Gold, and Camellia Red) on April 12 for $699.





AfterDawn: News

Netflix Originals unavailable because of licensing deals

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 12 Mar 2016 14:21

Netflix Originals unavailable because of licensing deals One of the cornerstones of Netflix Originals, whether its the shows including the award-winning House of Cards or Documentaries Virunga, is that they will be available at the same time all around the world. Much of the company's success especially outside the US has been for this fact.

Now it seems that the company has been caught having those awful region-specific licensing deals it downplays in its own strategy. One might call Netflix's situation a hypocrisy, since among others House of Cards' new season is not showing in multiple countries in Europe, Asia and Africa because it has been licensed to TV companies.

Netflix told TorrentFreak that this is because of old contracts that the company is trying to get rid of as soon as possible, and the fact that the company expanded to 130 new countries recently has brought these issues to light. Amongst other shows that suffer from late releases is the hugely popular Orange is the New Black.

Customers, however, are reasonable angry about the situation. People in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, and most of Africa are paying the same subscription fee but not getting the content as people just across the border. Furthermore people are defending their right to use VPN services to access other countries' Netflix content which Netflix has recently taken a tougher stance against.

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AfterDawn: News

Adobe reveals another Flash vulnerability, patch already out

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 11 Mar 2016 14:24

Adobe reveals another Flash vulnerability, patch already out Adobe has revealed that its Flash player was subject to another vulnerability. This time patch is already out and the company suggests you install it immediately.

The security vulnerability can allow third parties to access private information on your computer and even control the computers, says Adobe. It affects all the major operating systems, including Windows, Macs and Linux.

Fortunately the fix for this has already been released in the latest update. Most browsers feature automatic updates so you should be already safe, but to make sure check that your Flash version is as follows: Linux 11.2.202.577, Windows and Macs 21.0.0.182, Google Chrome 21.0.0.182, Windows 10 Edge and Internet Explorer 21.0.0.182, and Windows 8.x Internet Explorer 21.0.0.182.

You can update your Adobe Flash at https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/.






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