AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

RuuviTag Bluetooth beacon project meets its Kickstarter goal in just hours

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 30 Jun 2016 9:14

RuuviTag Bluetooth beacon project meets its Kickstarter goal in just hours We told you about the Finnish startup Ruuvi and its Bluetooth beacon technology that heading to Kickstarter couple months ago. Now the RuuviTag is finally on Kickstarter and before the first five hours passed it was already fully funded.

Now after three days it has been funded over five times the original goal of ten thousands dollars and unlocked the first stretch goal.

RuuviTag is a Bluetooth enabled Internet of Things beacon that provides environmental information with multiple sensors and transmits its data to smartphones via low-power Bluetooth 4.2. Its key selling points are the open source community that builds and enhances the device and a battery life of up to 10 years with just one coin battery.

The variety of sensors give readings about the ambient temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, altitude, and acceleration. Ruuvi says that the beacon works for example as weather station or a physical web address but the possibilities are endless with community support and good ideas.

RuuviTag costs $25 with all sensors and $20 with just the thermometer. Check the video below to get some inspiration for your own beacons.

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AfterDawn: News

Nexus devices not enough, Google developing an in-house smartphone

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 30 Jun 2016 8:22

Nexus devices not enough, Google developing an in-house smartphone Google's Nexus devices have served for years as a reference device on Android. Developed by most of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world they have provided different takes on what is a Google phone.

For a long time it has been suggested that Google wants to some day do it all by themselves but so far there hasn't been an official Google phone. According to The Telegraph this is going to change later this year.

Even though Google has always participated in the development of Nexus devices it has never made one from the ground up. The products always reflect the manufacturer and this time around Google wants to make it special.

The rumors have it that the device will be released this year but it won't replace Nexus devices, which are as well still arriving from HTC and possibly other manufacturers this fall.

Like Microsoft after the acquisition of Nokia, Google needs to be careful not to step on its partners' toes. Giving special attention to your own baby might discourage other manufacturers. Those questions were certainly in the air when the search giant bought Motorola.

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AfterDawn: News

A bug in Chrome allows you to download Netflix movies

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 25 Jun 2016 15:21

A bug in Chrome allows you to download Netflix movies A group of security researchers have found a vulnerability in Google's Chrome browser that allows downloading movies straight from Netflix. This is obviously not a feature especially the entertainment industry wants in what is the most popular browser on the globe.

David Livshits from the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Alexandra Mikityuk with Telekom Innovation Laboratories in Berlin, Germany have found that the implementation of Widevine EME/CDM technology that is used to stream encrypted video was lacking and enabled downloading of the video. According to Wired, the two researchers informed Google of this bug already in May but it hasn't yet been patched.

This not only works with Netflix but many of its competitors, like HBO. The researchers will not reveal the details to the bug before 90 days has passed since they told Google about it. Google still has time to issue a fix before pirate jump all over this security hole. The researchers have though released a brief video showcasing the vulnerability.

Google has acknowledged that the bug exists and says that it's working on fixing the problem. The vulnerability might also be found on other Chromium based browsers which include for example Opera.

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AfterDawn: News

Three out of four Netflix customers would rather cancel than watch ads

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 25 Jun 2016 14:05

Three out of four Netflix customers would rather cancel than watch ads For a long time Netflix was adamant on its pricing. No changes were made for a long time and everything seemed to be good. The markets obviously reacted and more expensive deals and original content meant that price increases, several of them in fact, were needed.

Fortunately for the customers the increase was not a radical one and for many I would argue the new content was worth every penny. However, it might not be all over yet, and there's been even rumors about advertisements.

Will Netflix adopt the Hulu strategy and show ads even for paying customers? Who knows, but if they indeed decide to do it, how will the customers react?

AllFlicks decided to do a poll on exactly that. Approximately 1200 Reddit users answered questions regarding ads on Netflix. The negativity towards ads was clear.

90 percent would rather see another price increase instead of ads. Most of them were at least a dollar or two and over 10 percent were willing to go over 4 dollars more.

The most shocking of the poll results, however, was that nearly three out of four answered that they would rather cancel the subscription than watch ads. That's 74 percent of the people who answered the poll. It's hard to say how many would actually act on it but it's safe to say that Netflix probably doesn't want to try their luck, unless it's the last option.





AfterDawn: News

Apple Music left in the dust, Spotify at 100 million subscribers

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 25 Jun 2016 12:01

Apple Music left in the dust, Spotify at 100 million subscribers Spotify has told The Telegraph that it has surpassed the 100 million mark in subscribers. Paying subscribers was earlier this year reported to have passed 30 million. Apple meanwhile is having trouble growing its service past its initial base.

Apple told us in April that it had mustered 13 million Apple Music subscribers which is not much more than it had 9 months earlier just after Apple Music's release. Now though those people are paying and not just enjoying their free three months of music.

Just before the launch of Apple Music Spotify revealed that it had more than 20 million subscribers. So Apple might have beat Spotify's growth within the year but that is mostly because of the launch boom. Spotify has thus been growing faster than Apple Music for most of the past year – or at least on par.

It will be really hard to catch Spotify in this game unless you come up with something completely different. Its free model also is a springboard for potentially new paying customers who are ready to pay for convenience.

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AfterDawn: News

Rumor has it that Apple has cancelled iPhone's dual camera

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jun 2016 18:05

Rumor has it that Apple has cancelled iPhone's dual camera The next iPhone will be a major upgrade to current iPhone 6s. This biyearly full upgrade cycle provides us with a bigger upgrade every two years. But how will Apple update its number one product, sales of which has started declining.

The rumors have had for the past few months that Apple will introduce its first dual camera smartphone. After months of speculation it was widely recognized that it's more likely that only the bigger and better Plus version of iPhone 7 will have the double lens.

Now rumors from a Foxconn employee suggest that plans might have changed. According to the subcontractors claims Apple has decided to back down from having a dual camera at all, a plan that it once did indeed have.

This, like other rumors, should be taken with a grain of salt. It remains to be seen if the feature some Android phones already have is there or whether Apple's big new feature is something completely different.





AfterDawn: News

OnePlus releases new "flagship killer", smaller X discontinued

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jun 2016 16:11

OnePlus releases new "flagship killer", smaller X discontinued The small Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus took the world by storm two years ago by releasing a super cheap flagship smartphone. They called it the flagship killer, and it indeed challenged the best Android smartphones without big drawbacks and with a tiny price tag. Now the company has revealed this years model.

As expected it is called the OnePlus 3. The third generation is not quite as cheap as the first, or even the second model, but it certainly is worth the flagship killer moniker. Comparing it to Samsung's number one smartphone, the Galaxy S7, OnePlus 3 only loses in screen resolution. Some would say not going QHD was a smart move from OnePlus too.

OnePlus 3 features a super thing 7,4 mm (0.29 in) thin, single-piece aluminium body which holds a 3000 milliamp battery. Performance is ensured by Snapdragon 820 and six gigs of RAM. The sixteen megapixel f2.0 camera features optical image stabilization and phase detection auto focus.

Everything seems to be in order for a good top end smartphone but it's the price what makes the deal sweet. You can buy one unlocked for only $399.

OnePlus has however revealed that the 5,5 inch smartphone will be the only option for now, and there's only the one 64 GB version. The company has discontinued the X model that was introduced last year as the cheaper and smaller option.





AfterDawn: News

Apple's updated Thunderbird Display has an integrated GPU?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 03 Jun 2016 13:02

Apple's updated Thunderbird Display has an integrated GPU? Apple's external display's are somewhat popular among certain professionals but the company hasn't released any new models in ages. Soon, however, we will likely see an upgrade.

What makes this display special, though, is not its amazingly color accurate panel or the super fast Thunderbolt connectivity. No, according to 9to5Mac the new Thunderbolt Display from Apple has an integrated GPU.

That means that the display will feature a full-fledged graphics card to run your Photoshop or Premiere on 5K resolution that your MacBook's GPU might not support.

Of course the upgrade will bring the resolution from QHD resolution in the 2011 model to a 5K resolution (5120x2880). This will bring it on par with the best current iMacs.

The sources have it that the display(s) won't be revealed at this years WWDC in June but it could be that they have been postponed to the fall iPhone event. They are reported to become available this year.





AfterDawn: News

Is Xbox One getting VR games next year?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 03 Jun 2016 12:37

Is Xbox One getting VR games next year? Sony has a huge lead in this generation's console wars but it's far from over yet. There might be another hurdle that could change things up – virtual reality. However, looking at the current situation it seems like Microsoft is behind the curve on this too. Or is it?

Even though PlayStation intends to bring the VR experience to PlayStation as early as this year, Microsoft might not be out of the race as we've thought. According to Ars Technica's source a large European game studio is developing a VR game for both Windows and Xbox.

According to the leaked information this game will, however, not be available before 2017. This reaffirms that Microsoft is, like Sony, developing an improved console, mostly VR experience in mind.

It could be that Microsoft will rival the first official introduction of VR experience to their console at the E3 this year but would have to wait until 2017 to release it to the public. It also remains to be seen if the new Xbox is compatible with Oculus and/or Microsoft's own glasses. However, it does seem that Sony doesn't have this aspect totally in the bag yet.





AfterDawn: News

Samsung's new stamp sized SSD could be heading to next MacBook

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 03 Jun 2016 12:23

Samsung's new stamp sized SSD could be heading to next MacBook Samsung has introduced a new super small SSD that might only cover your regular postage stamp but can fit 512 gigabytes of data. This PM971-NVMe chip is sized at one hundredth of a normal 2.5 inch SSD you usually see on laptops.

Laptops are becoming smaller by the year and storage this is one of the key things holding them back. Replacing a standard 2.5 inch drive with a miniscule chip like this not only slims the laptop down but also removes some excess weight. This first of it's kind SSD NVMe chip weighs only one gram – around 60 rice grains.

Obviously Apple is one of the key partners of Samsung – as well as a competitor – and it would be (read: have been) hugely important for Samsung's SSDs to grab a deal with the Cupertino giant for their next super slim MacBook. As Apple Insider notes the companies are closely cooperating in SSD space already.

The next question is obviously going to be if it's fast enough for laptops. And yes, in fact, it is. Read and write speeds are 500 MB/s and 900 MB/s respectively which puts it above most SSD drives that you'd find in computers. The chip is manufactured with Samsung's V-NAND technology that packs sixteen 48-layered 256-gigabit chips, an in-house controller and DRAM into one tiny drive.

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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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