AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

A surprise feature from the world's most popular messaging platform

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Feb 2017 10:28

A surprise feature from the world's most popular messaging platform WhatsApp has long ago surpassed SMS in popularity and its billion users is rivaled only by Facebook Messenger, both obviously owned by Facebook.

WhatsApp's road to success has really been very simple. The company made a simple, easy-to-use, phone number based messaging system that didn't have many faults. Over time they've implemented new features but they've never tried to reach too far.

One thing they have been pioneering is security. WhatsApp messages and now even videos and calls are all encrypted if the user so desires. The latest new feature was Groups, which allows users to create multiple group chats.

Now, however, WhatsApp has come up with a surprise feature. The new feature is actually a new iteration of the status that has pretty much always been a part of WhatsApp but not an integral part by any means.

Status takes now more of a center stage and its essentially a carbon copy of Snapchat's Stories feature. Thus the status now allows you to add pictures, videos, or even GIF animations. Pictures can be enhanced with emojis or hand-drawn accents. The status updates self-destruct after 24 hours.

While the update will come to all mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows) it will roll out gradually starting today.





AfterDawn: News

No taxation without representation unless you're a robot, suggests Bill Gates

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Feb 2017 13:06

No taxation without representation unless you're a robot, suggests Bill Gates Bill Gates is obviously known from creating one of the worlds largest technology companies and becoming the richest man on earth for it. Now the previously often even hated CEO of Microsoft has become a futurist and a philanthropist.

Saving lives by eradicating malaria might be the most important job of the Gates Foundation but Bill has been also vocal about the challenges that future, especially automation and AI, brings along. In an interview with Quartz, Bill Gates suggests that when robots start working instead of men and women, we should tax them the same way.

In his view robots will free us from the labor of producing some of the things and services we need so we can move more on to things that cannot – at least as easily – be replaced. Those are some of the more empathetic jobs such as caring and teaching professions.

Because robots won't probably have their own bank accounts and won't be given actual money the income tax would be replaced with a tax that would target the owner of the robot, which would be the company. In Gates' view this would slow down the adoption of automation as well as fund the population that is jobless because of it.

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AfterDawn: News

Samsung's reputation in free fall after exploding phones

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Feb 2017 12:34

Samsung's reputation in free fall after exploding phones Samsung's catastrophic launch of one of last year's most anticipated smartphones had a clear impact on the company's overall reputation, suggests a new report. An annual poll conducted by The Harris Poll reveals that Samsung's reputation has plummeted in the United States, Engadget reports.

The poll that was conducted on little over 30 000 U.S. adults between November 28 and December 16 puts Samsung in the 49th spot among the top companies. While this might not seem like an awful result you have to bare in mind that Samsung has been in the top-10 the previous two years. It is not hard to see a connection with exploding Note7 smartphones in last September and October.

The Reputation Quotient ranking of around 75 points puts Samsung just ahead of USPS while competitors like Google and Apple are 8th and 5th respectively with 82-odd points. That in itself should be telling.

Obviously there are still companies that are rated way worse and companies that have recently had even bigger controversies. These include everyone's favorite telecommuncations company Comcast and Volkswagen, which is known for its air fresheners, both of which are at approximately 63 points and rank 90th and 91st respectively.

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Apple's original TV show Planet of the Apps gets a trailer

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Feb 2017 12:42

Apple's original TV show Planet of the Apps gets a trailer Apple has positioned itself against some of the biggest TV and movie conglomerates by beginning the production of its own content. Following Netflix's and Amazon's lead, the Cupertino based giant has released a trailer of one of its first original TV shows.

The show is aptly called Planet of the Apps and is to applications what Shark Tank is to business ideas. Well, actually, it is a combination of Shark Tank in terms of pitching the idea of the app and The Voice in which the celebrity judges choose whether they want to help out the pitcher.

As the video shows, the pitch to the celebrity judges (Jessica Alba, will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gary Vaynerchuk) is just the first step. If they are accepted by one – or if many, they can choose their mentor – they must prepare for a pitch to four members of venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners.

The best will get a featured spot on the App Store (obviously) and a lot of publicity. The show will be exclusive to Apple Music.





AfterDawn: News

Cortana reminds you even when you forgot to add the reminder

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Feb 2017 13:22

Cortana reminds you even when you forgot to add the reminder Microsoft has announced an update to its voice assistant Cortana with a single new feature. The so-called Commitment feature allows the Windows 10 assistant to remember things you forgot to add to your reminders.

How does this thing actually work? Well, it's as simple as your assistant going through your emails and remembering to add reminders for you. Cortana essentially reads your emails and determines whether there are any commitments that you make.

Once it finds one of these instances it saves a reminder with the subject, persons involved and possible deadline. The result is, as seen in the picture and video, a surprise reminder that will present you with the part of the email that triggered the feature as well as who the commitment was made to, ie. the recipient of the email.

Microsoft's Cortana assistant might not be the most popular of the voice assistants but it is definitely challenging the competition in terms of machine learning. Google's new Google Assistant is also heavily focused in machine learning and context specificity.

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Nintendo explains how to use their upcoming game console Switch

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 08 Feb 2017 15:05

Nintendo explains how to use their upcoming game console Switch It's been months since Nintendo first unveiled its upcoming gaming console to the public but we still have to wait over three weeks to get our hands on one. However, Nintendo – as well as unofficial rumors – have given us some new information about the device and its features in the past couple of months.

However, there's still some things that aren't as clear as we would hope them to be. How do the controllers work? Can you use it separately? How about multiplayer gaming? Well, many of the questions have been answered in a new video Nintendo published on YouTube today.

Due in early March, Switch consists of a handheld console, a dock for your TV as well as two JoyCon controllers that can be used in different ways. In the video Nintendo goes through the different methods of playing, which include, the Handheld Mode with JoyCons attached to the tablet, the TV Mode with the controllers attached to the JoyCon Grip, and using JoyCon controllers separately in the Tabletop Mode.

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Former NSA contractor followed in Snowden's footsteps?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 07 Feb 2017 12:59

Former NSA contractor followed in Snowden's footsteps? When it comes to leaking government secret there are few names that have more weight than Edward Snowden. A man who's been featured in an Oscar-winning documentary may have inspired a new leaker.

According to Washington Post, prosecutors are currently seeking for indictment as soon as this week for a former National Security Agency contractor that allegedly leaked secret government information.

Harold T. Martin III has been accused of stealing over 50 terabytes of information from the agency and will likely be charged with violating the Espionage Act. The 52-year-old was arrested in August last year and has been detained since. In October, Martin requested to be released pending a trial but was refused by a U.S. District Judge.

Martin was a former contractor for the NSA and was part of the agency's elite hacker unit, Tailored Access Operations. Some of the leaked data has been said to reveal secret techniques and tools used by the TAO. Estimates have it that this is the largest theft of government data in U.S. history and could include as much as 75 percent of TAO hacking tool data.

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Netflix original programming is destroying Amazon's and Hulu's in comparison

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 02 Feb 2017 17:44

Netflix original programming is destroying Amazon's and Hulu's in comparison Netflix in globally a streaming giant no one has managed to challenge. However, in the United States, there are few streaming services that could if not topple at least put pressure on Netflix. A new report from Parrot Analytics, though, suggests that Netflix is a force to be reckoned with in one specific category: original programs.

According to the analytics company the lead Netflix has in terms of original program viewership has only increased in the past 12 months. A steady growth has been met with largely stagnant competitors.

Amazon has managed to create some buzz in the last weeks of 2016 which might suggest that its highly anticipated car show The Grand Tour has been doing well. The Grand Tour of course being the show by former BBC's Top Gear trio. But one or two hit shows aren't going to be enough to challenge Netflix.

Netflix's last years original hit shows included Stranger Things, The OA, The Get Down, and Luke Cage.

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Apple's year ended in record figures

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Feb 2017 16:18

Apple's year ended in record figures For the past year of two Apple's future hasn't seemed quite as bright as we've been used to. After record iPhone sales for year after year the growth slowed down and threatened to start, what some called, an inevitable decline.

Apple fought through, though, and had some amazing news to tell about the last quarter, which marks the first quarter for the fiscal year 2017. With 78.3 million iPhones sold, most in any quarter so far, the company posted a record-setting $78.4 billion in revenue. Earnings at $3.36 was another record high for the Cupertino giant and the net profit topped $17.9 billion.

We're thrilled to report that our holiday quarter results generated Apple's highest quarterly revenue ever, and broke multiple records along the way. We sold more iPhones than ever before and set all-time revenue records for iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.

Tim Cook also added that the App Store saw record customer activity and the company is very excited about upcoming products.

"Revenue from Services grew strongly over last year, led by record customer activity on the App Store, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline."

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AfterDawn: News

Apple loses the number one spot in China

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 31 Jan 2017 16:06

Apple loses the number one spot in China Apple's iPhone has been the number one smartphone around the world for much of the last 10 years. Even in China, which the Cupertino, CA compnay had a slow and tough start but managed to clinch the number one spot in 2012.

After 2012 the ride hasn't been exactly smooth either, but the spot has been captured every year by Apple – until now. A new smartphone model has overtaken Apple's iPhone as the most popular smartphone in China, CNBC reports.

Last year Apple's most popular iPhone model was the iPhone 6s released in fall 2015 and it managed to move approximately 12 million units in 2016. Even though China's smartphone sales is far from the huge growth couple years back, Apple's 21 percent decline in sales is unnerving for the giant.

The new king of smartphones in China comes from the multitude of manufacturers their homeland produces. Although selling a whopping nearly 17 million million R9 (pictured: R9 Plus) units you might have not even heard of the brand, unless regularly watching America's Next Top Model which, as you might have guessed, has been sponsored by the company.

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Apple joins Google, Facebook, Amazon, to study and advance AI

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 28 Jan 2017 14:41

Apple joins Google, Facebook, Amazon, to study and advance AI It is clear that artificial intelligence is going to be a huge part of future computing. It might not mean Haley Joel Osment's David from 2001 movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence is going to be reality for quite some time but computer learning and other AI technologies are going to play an increasingly important role in our lives even in the very near future.

This is definitely what most of the technology giants believe as they combine forces to educate the industries and public about what all of this might mean. The research collaboration is called Partnership on AI, shortened from Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society, and it has just added another big, perhaps the biggest, name to its already impressive list of contributors.

The creation of Partnership on AI tracks back to last fall, in September to be precise, when a number of leaders from the world's largest technology giants decided to have a serious conversation about what type of challenges AI poses to the society and what kind of benefit one could reap from its emergence.

Now the research firm has announced that one of the early collaborators, Apple, has been named one of the founding members alongside Google/DeepMind, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon. It also added six new members to its Board of Trustees to join the six board members that represent the founding members. New members come from leading AI foundations and universities, including OpenAI, UC Berkeley, and MacArthur Foundation.

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This is the first leak of Galaxy S8 you should look at

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 27 Jan 2017 9:24

This is the first leak of Galaxy S8 you should look at Samsung is preparing one of its most important launches in quite some time as they are getting close to ready to launch this years Galaxy S flagship smartphone. Because of the catastrophic failure of Galaxy Note7 last year this launch carries a special significance.

The phone has been leaked in dozen or more photos and lists of features but now we have the first one that we should definitely take seriously. Evan Blass (@evleaks) of VentureBeat has revealed pictures and details of the upcoming phone.

Blass, known for his accuracy amongst the leakers and journalists alike, shows off pictures of the metallic silver device from back and front. The front picture reveals that there seems to be no home button, as suspected, and the back on the other hand shows the new position of the fingerprint reader next to the camera.

He continues to unveil the specs that bring a huge boost in screen real estate. The phone comes with two versions, S8 and S8 Plus?, like last year and they feature 5.8 and 6.2 inch displays respectively. Because the displays cover almost the whole phone their aspect ratio is also rather unusual 18.5:9 instead of the traditional 16:9.

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Windows Insiders get their hands on the new Game Mode

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 26 Jan 2017 10:59

Windows Insiders get their hands on the new Game Mode The upcoming and anticipated Creators Update for Windows 10 is still a long way from being released but there are some parts of it that you could be getting to try soon. As a Windows Insider you get to try out the features early and this week Microsoft is bringing the Game Mode to testers.

Previously Game Mode was supposed to be added for Insider today but it's been delayed a bit. However, as some point this week it'll become available.

The idea behind Game Mode is rather simple but it should make gamers' lives a little easier. Entering the Game Mode the PC optimizes it automatically for the labor intensive future. The CPU and GPU are tuned for maximum performance and this should mean smoother gaming and better frame rates.

Microsoft wants testers to seek the complications within the Game Mode so it can iron out the end product. Obviously there are tons of games so Microsoft wants to get feedback from as many situations as possible before launching the feature.

In addition to the Game Mode, Microsoft will introduce Windows 10 a new Game Bar for shortcuts during the games. This will be available via the Win+G keyboard shortcut. From the Game Bar you can easily take screenshots, start recording video or stream gaming directly to Microsoft's Beam-service.

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Apple and Foxconn investing billions in a new display plant in the U.S.?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 23 Jan 2017 12:12

Apple and Foxconn investing billions in a new display plant in the U.S.? Apple and Foxconn are in talks about a display manufacturing plant in the U.S., Nikkei reports. According to the paper, the two mega corporations are planning to invest billions of dollars to a new facility that would employ tens of thousands.

The founder and chairman of Foxconn Terry Gou estimates that even though the plant would be highly automatized it could bring as many as 30 000 to 50 000 new jobs indirectly. The total cost of the facility could measure in the $7 billion range.

It has been previously reported that Apple has been asking Foxconn what kind of investment a manufacturing plant in the U.S. would require. According to Nikkei, display manufacturer Sharp has also been interested in a U.S. based manufacturing facility.

Bringing blue-collar jobs back to the U.S. was of course one of the main themes in Donald Trump's campaign as well as his inauguration speech three days ago. While it is still far from a sealed deal, this would be a huge victory for the new POTUS. However, Foxconn has estimated that this would definitely raise the prices.





AfterDawn: News

Samsung's Galaxy S8 launch will be delayed

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 23 Jan 2017 11:52

Samsung's Galaxy S8 launch will be delayed Samsung's investigation into last years Galaxy Note7 battery problems has finally concluded but there might still be some worries for the Korean smartphone giant. The company has revealed that it will be delaying its next flagship phone's release.

In previous years Samsung has released their Galaxy S flagship during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This time around that won't be the case, the mobile chief Koh Dong-jin revealed Reuters.

For a while now rumors have had it that Samsung's investigation to battery issues would delay the upcoming Galaxy S8. Even though it is not confirmed yet that this was indeed the reason of the delay, Koh said that the company is working hard to regain trust by making sure every measure is taken to ensure product safety.

Samsung's investigation concluded that there was two separate problems in the batteries of two different batches. Both of them could be detected with the new safety protocol in place for new devices.

The company did not reveal when the press conference for Galaxy S8 release will be held. However, we can assume that it will happen sometime before summer.






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