AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

Apple is investing more in Maps, challenging Google with drones

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Dec 2016 16:36

Apple is investing more in Maps, challenging Google with drones Apple's 2012 released Maps-application was early on a far cry from what its main competitor Google had to offer. After four years of development the service has improved immensely – certainly not making you drive to ocean as much – but is still playing catch-up to Google Maps.

According to Bloomberg< Apple is trying to take on Google Maps with new investments in few different technologies. The first one is to use drones to quicker update maps instead of using camera vans that move slower.

Drones would probably not replace the data coming from ground level cameras but the sources say that they could quickly see changes in roads, examine street signs and spot construction sites.

According to the sources the other way Apple intends to improve the maps is by adding indoor viewing to Maps with a technology bought last year. Known as indoor.io (previously What A Map) the indoor mapping project aims to guide iPhone users within high population density settings such as airports. It uses a variety of ways to determine the location, including pressure sensors, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

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AfterDawn: News

Microsoft is working on a major design update for Windows

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 28 Nov 2016 12:05

Microsoft is working on a major design update for Windows Windows 10 has been largely a success for the Redmond giant but there's still work to do. The company is obviously trying to figure out how to lure all the remaining Windows 8 users to the new version and especially trying to stop people choosing macOS over Windows.

The newest rumor has it that Microsoft has a secretive Project NEON in development that will bring some wanted flair to Windows 10. Behind the codename is said to be a design update that will make Windows 10 more streamlined.

Released perhaps with the Redstone 3 update in early Fall 2017, the NEON update will bring new design elements in play. Cassim Ketfi at Numerama.com has called it even "Metro 2," which is to say that it'll bring smoother transitions and more motion in the rather flat UI.

One can only hope that there's been a lot of development if Metro indeed would be the starting point, as it brought a lot of grief for Windows 8 users. Thankfully sources tell that the update has been in the works for over a year and thus doesn't seem like Microsoft would just backpedal to Metro.

There's still plenty of time until the rumored update will see the light of the day officially but you can be sure to see more leaks about this one in the upcoming six months.





AfterDawn: News

VLC adds support for 360° videos

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 27 Nov 2016 13:02

VLC adds support for 360° videos If there's something that VLC can't play, I haven't been told about it. The media player developed by VideoLAN has been proud to support the widest variety of video and photo formats for a long time. Now the company has added support for 360 degree videos.

VLC's new 3.0 versio will be launched in just couple of days but the company has released a preview version, which lets you try the newest feature. The feature allows PC and Mac users to view 360 degree videos and photos as well as panoramas.

You can navigate the picture with either keyboard or mouse just like in Google Maps Street View for example. VideoLAN's 360 website includes even a few sample videos and a panorama from Giroptic to try out the feature.

The company promises to deliver the same feature later on for mobile devices and to support VR headsets like HTC Vive, Google Daydream, and Oculus Rift in the future.





AfterDawn: News

Netflix brings 4K to PC, but only if you have the right PC

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 27 Nov 2016 12:43

Netflix brings 4K to PC, but only if you have the right PC Netflix has been bringing 4K content to different platforms now for a couple of years but only platform you'd expect to get it hasn't seen it until now. Personal computers, which have come with enough calculation power to easily process 4K video have apparently given the access to UHD content.

Netflix hasn't announced anything so there are obviously some quirks with the feature. Not only are the 4K videos playable only with the Edge browser introduces in Windows 10 but they even require specific hardware to decode the DRM.

At the moment the only computers are the ones that have Kaby Lake generation (7th gen) Intel processors. This limits the computer selection to just a handful of new laptop models. However, rest assured that 4K on PC will be available to more people as the new chips come more popular and become available on desktop computers. Also, Netflix might make it available on other processors as well.

Right now, though, it is far easier to watch Netflix in 4K with a Chromecast Ultra or a 4K-capable TV.





AfterDawn: News

The crowdsourced Eve V laptop surpassed $1 million in just days

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 26 Nov 2016 16:42

The crowdsourced Eve V laptop surpassed $1 million in just days Current PC industry seems to be fairly stagnant. Even if you count Microsoft's Surface devices, there aren't that many exciting new products in the PC category these days. This has definitely changed a little bit as the Finnish startup Eve Tech has introduces its crowdsourced laptop.

Eve Tech calls its laptop, Eve V, the first ever crowd developed laptop. According to the company this means that they've really listened to what people want in a laptop and delivered exactly that. Well, delivered at least to the crowdsourcing website Indiegogo, that is.

Added to the site this week it has already gathered over a million dollars worth of funding and met 1416% of it's $75 000 goal. Estimated to hit the market in February 2017 this hybrid tablet/laptop has either Core m, i5 or i7 processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB SSD, 12 hour battery, 2734x1824 resolution IGZO display, detachable keyboard (not unlike Surface Pro tablets), tons of ports (USB, 3.5mm, Thunderbolt, microSD) and no bloatware.

For the crowdsourcers the prices start from $699 for the Core m3/8GB/128GB, $959 for the Core i5/8GB/256GB version and $1399 for the Core i7/16GB/512GB version. A bargain compared to the similarly specced Surface Pro 4 which costs almost a thousand dollars more.

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AfterDawn: News

Rumor: Samsung to sell its laptop business

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 26 Nov 2016 15:06

Rumor: Samsung to sell its laptop business Samsung has been reorganizing its company structure and even buying some important assets this year but it seems like there might be quite a bombshell still incoming.

A Korean finance and business paper The Bell has it that Samsung is negotiating selling its personal computer business. Rumors say that the Korean company is looking to close a deal with Lenovo.

The Chinese manufacturer is the largest manufacturer of PCs in the world and would seem like a logical buyer.

Traditional computer business has been slowly declining and Samsung's PC business is no different. Recent problems with smartphones meant that Samsung's other divisions have to carry the weight even more.

This fall Samsung told that it was selling the printer business to HP and buying the audio and car entertainment system manufacturer Harman for $8 billion.





AfterDawn: News

Chinese take on Amazon Echo, the LingLong DingDong

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 26 Nov 2016 14:55

Chinese take on Amazon Echo, the LingLong DingDong Amazon might have been one of the first ones to integrate a voice assistant to a home entertainment speaker but is it not alone. Google's new Home is almost a carbon copy of Echo but uses Google's own Assistant to answer your questions and fulfill your demands.

Another new assistant speaker to take on the two is LingLong DingDong. No, it's not an Onion product playing on stereotypes but instead an actual product coming from China. It works with your voice just like Echo and for example serves you information about the weather, plays your favorite music or adds appointments to your calendar.

As Google's and Amazon's products are limited in their language support there certainly is room for another device that works in Chinese. And according to the company, called Beijing LingLong, they started the development before Amazon released Echo.

Even though LingLong DingDong might be successful thanks to the large Chinese market it is far from especially Google's offering. DingDong doesn't support AI like its competitors and thus it does not understand the natural language as well.





AfterDawn: News

Domino's is replacing delivery personnel with flying robots

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Nov 2016 11:58

Domino's is replacing delivery personnel with flying robots Are you tired of opening the door for the pizza delivery guy? The awkward feeling when you have to look into their eyes while writing a zero on the gratuity portion of the bill. Or perhaps shouldn't give a tip but you have to whip out couple dollar bills because you feel bad for the poor fella. Well, no worries, Domino's has you covered.

One of the world's largest pizza chains has introduced drone deliveries. Unfortunately you might have to wait a little while still, depending on your location. You see, the trial has started in New Zealand in the town of Whangaparaoa, Qz reports.

The pizzacopters are currently only able to deliver steaming hot pizza to recipients within 1.5 mile of Domino's, but the company says that it is looking to expand the area to 10 mile radius. Also to receive pizza's in your backyard you have to register to the service and have a big enough yard for the drone to land.

The company responsible for the drones, Flirtey, has also completed a government sanctioned test in the US last year. The company is looking to expand to the US and already working on different kind of drone delivery services. It seems however, that it is the legislation and regulations of the FAA that keep us from having flying robots deliver our pizzas.

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AfterDawn: News

Is Samsung going to try sell the disastrous Note7 once more?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 17 Nov 2016 12:42

Is Samsung going to try sell the disastrous Note7 once more? Samsung's catastrophic failure with the Galaxy Note7 is still vividly present every time we hear about a Galaxy smartphone. However, Samsung has been trying to sway us from remembering the bad and the ugly.

The company has even revealed key features from upcoming Galaxy products to make us look into the future rather than looking back to the misery that was the explosive Note7. Now, though, Korean sources tell that Samsung might be still thinking about reselling the Note7.

What is this madness, you might ask. Well, according to The Inverstor Samsung might be considering selling refurbished – and this time hopefully not exposive – Galaxy Note7s in emerging markets. This could mean sales in the likes of India and Vietnam.

At the moment you should take this industry rumor with at least a grain of salt. After all it would be crazy to bring the phone to the market a third time after two immensely costly failures, right?





AfterDawn: News

WhatsApp has finally introduced video calling

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Nov 2016 14:10

WhatsApp has finally introduced video calling WhatsApp has not been trying to implement every feature under the sun. The company has trusted that a well working app with thought out features is the way to go. And who can blame, when the app is the world's largest messaging platform.

With over a billion users it's clear the WhatsApp is doing something very right. However, it's not going to stop developing new features, not at all. Among smaller updates WhatsApp introduced voice calls last year. Now it's time for video calls.

The voice calls will start to become available on Android, iOS, as well as Windows Phone in the coming days. If you won't see it in the first few days, don't worry, the release is probably gradual and different regions might get it first.

WhatsApp says it is important to bring video calls to everyone, not just to people with the most expensive and fancy smartphones.





AfterDawn: News

Do Trump's policies with China create a trade war?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Nov 2016 8:55

Do Trump's policies with China create a trade war? President elect Donald Trump has been criticizing the deals the US has made with China during nearly the entire election cycle. Accusing China of manipulating their currency, Trump wants stricter trade deals with the Asian powerhouse.

According to an op-ed in Global Times this could mean a trade war with severe consequences. The 45 percent tariff, promised by Trump, is not a realistic increase without the country being in a state of emergency. However an increase to 15 percent for a limited time is possible as well as product specific tariffs.

This however would mean that in response China would impose their own restrictions and that would lead into a trade war that wouldn't benefit either side, Global Times writes. Increasing the tariff could affect the sales of for example Boeing and Apple.

The paper suggests that this is probably just Trump's campaign rhetoric that will never see the light of day.





AfterDawn: News

Samsung's new venture to car electronics cost it $8 billion

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Nov 2016 8:43

Samsung's new venture to car electronics cost it $8 billion Samsung announced yesterday that is has bought a car electronics company Harman for approximately 8 billion US dollars. Obviously behind the acquisition is the strategic move towards car infotainment systems.

As Apple and Google (as many others) have been trying to move more and more into the car industry, it seems that Samsung is following suit in massive way. Apple has its own CarPlay and Google is developing Android Auto, both of which are competing against Harman's equipment.

Buying Harman is a significant step that brings not only infotainment manufacturing and development but also contacts within the very closed car industry.

With more than 30 million vehicles equipped with Harman's systems Samsung gets into the right negotiations without having to work for it. Also Samsung can get the full benefit of Harman's valuable entertainment brands, including JBL, Harman Kardon, and AKG.





AfterDawn: News

Apple CEO after Trump victory: "Let's move forward -- together!"

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Nov 2016 14:49

Apple CEO after Trump victory: "Let's move forward -- together!" Apple as a tech company in Cupertino, California is by default a left-leaning place to work at. No only that Tim Cook has been supporting Hillary Clinton for president by hosting her fundraisers.

Now that Trump won the election, the CEO has had to come forward and try humbly build bridges and unite employees.

The letter Tim Cook send his employees was posted by MacRumors and it is an important message to workers within Apple. It highlights core values of Apple, which include diversity. This time Cook is not only defending the diversity of race, religion, and sex but also diversity of opinion, which makes it an important statement.

He stresses that Apple's goal hasn't changed and principles it stands for have not changed. Apple is a company that is open to all and creates products that improve people's lives.

"We have a very diverse team of employees, including supporters of each of the candidates," Cook states in the letter and continues to emphasize the importance of moving forward together by any means possible quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and closes his letter in same tone, "Let's move forward -- together!"

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AfterDawn: News

Facebook stops using WhatsApp data thanks to UK watchdog

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 09 Nov 2016 14:07

Facebook stops using WhatsApp data thanks to UK watchdog As Facebook bought the world's largest messaging platform WhatsApp in 2014 it promised to keep it clear of ads and keep messaging private. Now the UK watchdog has had to come in and stop Facebook from collecting data from WhatsApp users.

In August Facebook decided to start sharing the user data from WhatsApp to Facebook. There's only one reason to do this, profit. Facebook was looking to use the data to sell ads but is not asking permission from WhatsApp users that are led to believe that the data is private.

The information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in an interview with Ars Technica that they are pleased that Facebook has stopped the sharing of data for now but still sees some issues with the privacy policies in terms of information given about and consent for data usage.

The watchdogs in Spain and Germany have also either started investigating or are already requesting Facebook to remove all data on WhatsApp users.





AfterDawn: News

Samsung to rival Google and Apple with its own AI assistant

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 07 Nov 2016 14:18

Samsung to rival Google and Apple with its own AI assistant Samsung is trying to do its best to keep discussion away from the catastrophic failure of Galaxy Note7. Mostly this means talking about future products and most importantly the upcoming Galaxy S8.

This has even meant that Samsung is willing to give a little sneak peek into what kind of new features we might expect with its next years flagship smartphone. Now Samsung has revealed that it is indeed bringing its own voice assistant to the mix.

Samsung's own AI assistant has been rumored since the acquisition of Viv Labs which was founded by the Siri founders. The people responsible for first versions of Apple's assistant are now creating a rival. And not only a rival to Apple but to Samsung's partner Google which introduced Google Assistant earlier this year.

Unfortunately not much else was revealed so we'll have to wait until next year to fully understand why Samsung would develop their own piece of software instead of adopting Google's. However, Samsung said that the AI enables easy access to third party software.

One thing Samsung definitely has is a large portfolio of devices, so the new AI, whatever it may be called, might find its way to not only your smartphone but your washer and dryer, your TV, your fridge, and your microwave.






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