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Report: Walmart developing a cashier-free concept, not unlike Amazon Go

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 23 Dec 2017 13:05

Report: Walmart developing a cashier-free concept, not unlike Amazon Go Early this year Amazon revealed its first cashier-free store in Seattle. While it seems to have been only a one-off for now, many expect for the concept to expand, especially now that the e-commerce giant owns Whole Foods.

Amazon's innovations with such stores has been picked up by Walmart, which is developing a similar concept, Recode reports.

Amazon has awoken the sleeping giant in many respects. Walmart has been trying to claw away Amazon's electronic retail advantages by introducing two day free shipping. Now it seems Walmart is worried about not only Amazon Prime perks but possible cashier-free brick-and-mortar stores.

The new store concept, known as Project Kepler, has been developed in Walmart's innovation department, Store No. 8, that is responsible for many of the startup offshoots of Walmart. One of these new concepts also includes a retail service for "high net worth urban consumer", or, as some Recode sources have described it, a service for busy NYC moms.

According to the rumors, the concept known as Code Eight will be a membership (with a fee) that offers 24 hour delivery for household items and 2 day delivery for other items. You can also order things by text messages or even just by snapping a picture.


AfterDawn: News

Google and Alphabet exec Eric Schmidt stepping down

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 23 Dec 2017 9:20

Google and Alphabet exec Eric Schmidt stepping down  Sergey Brin and Larry Page. People know those two men built the Google empire from ground up, but it was Eric Schmidt that was in the spotlight most of the important years. Now after being the CEO of Google for a decade and serving as the executive chairman of Alphabet since of its inception, he is stepping down.

While Schmidt is moving on and leaving the role of executive chairman, he'll still be helping Larry and Sergey out in some respects. After stepping down as the executive chairman he'll be considered a technical adviser that will share his insight in scientific and technological problems.

Schmidt's role was extremely important in the early years of Google. He was recruited from a US software company, Novell Inc., in 2001. At that time Google founders were looking for an experienced leader to guide them and their roughly 200 employees.

Since Google, and later the parent company Alphabet, have grown to employ roughly 150 000 people and develop products and services for billions more.

Alphabet is expected to replace Schmidt's executive chairman positions with an non-executive chairman. Officially Schmidt will leave his post at a board meeting in January 2018.

AfterDawn: News

Netflix adds HRD support for Windows 10 users

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 22 Dec 2017 13:50

Netflix adds HRD support for Windows 10 users Many of the Netflix Originals as well other content on the world's most popular streaming TV service are now available not only in 4K but also in HDR. Now the streaming giant has expanded the support to another major platform.

Supported by most high-end TVs, HDR gives you a clearer, more vibrant image with blacker blacks and more contrast. However, in addition to HDR supporting display, your playback platform also needs to support the feature.

Netflix can be watched on HDR for example via PlayStation 4 or Chromecast Ultra, but one of the more popular platforms, Windows 10, has lacked the support. Now Netflix has added HDR support – more specifically HDR10 – to Windows 10.

However, it has a few limitations. You will need to use the Windows 10 app or Edge browser, so no love for Chrome users. Also if the computer is powered by an integrated GPU by Intel, you'll also need at least 7th generation Core processor. For Nvidia GPUs you need GeForce 1050, 1060, 1070, or 1080, with no less than 3GB of RAM.

Unfortunately there is no support for Dolby Vision or AMD's GPUs or CPUs. Also, naturally, if you aren't connected to a HDR supported TV, or other HDR display, it doesn't matter what type of PC you have.


AfterDawn: News

First 5G specs have been completed

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 22 Dec 2017 12:28

First 5G specs have been completed 3rd Generation Partnership Project, known more commonly as 3GPP, has finished first fifth generation wireless network specifications earlier this week. The consortium gathered in Lisbon, where they announced the next-generation mobile network specifications.

The specifications detail how the first edition of 5G networks will be built and thus the manufacturers finally know how they should build their network devices. The first new generation of network technology is dubber 5G NR, NR standing for New Radio.

While the specifications have been completed and approved, they haven't quite yet been revealed to the public. That is, however, expected to happen before Christmas.

Obviously the completion of 5G specs is a huge step forward in getting next-generation mobile networks to the public. Technology companies and mobile operators can now focus on building the products and services necessary to implement 3GPP's plan.

5G NR supports a wide array of bands ranging from a low of 600-700MHz to high of 50GHz. That means that the technology supports many circumstances with different range and penetration requirements.

AfterDawn: News

Apple confirms its slowing down old iPhones – here's why

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Dec 2017 14:39

Apple confirms its slowing down old iPhones – here's why Apple has been super effective at selling a new iPhone for existing customers for years. A yearly, or perhaps more commonly biyearly, cycle of buying a new iPhone has been very beneficial for Apple, but some have suggested that there's some foul play how Apple treats older devices.

Now it has been revealed that Apple is slowing down older iPhones as it releases a new model, or models. That would obviously incentivize people to invest in the new, much speedier device.

Previously these types of allegations have been met with denial from Apple, or even no response at all. This time around, though, Apple has had to confirm what has been rumored for years, TechCrunch reported.

According to Apple, they added a performance limiter to iPhones a year ago. That doesn't sound good at all, but Apple says that there's a good reason for it.

Apple's reasoning is that it wants to ensure optimal user experience in certain situations and circumstances. This means that when the battery gets older it is not anymore able provide the system with high enough voltage. Thus especially cold climate and sudden performance hogging could prove difficult for older iPhones.


AfterDawn: News

EU rules Uber a transportation service, not a digital company

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Dec 2017 13:50

EU rules Uber a transportation service, not a digital company European Court of Justice has ruled today on the Uber case where the US-based ride-hailing app was looking to be classified as digital company. Instead the EU court decided that it is regulated under transportation laws.

Uber has been calling itself a digital technology company that provides a platform for drivers and customers to connect. While the company itself wants to be classified as an IT company delivering digital products, it is already considered a transportation company in many countries.

The highest court in the EU, however, makes Uber's case harder to make, and is definitely a setback for them. Regulations for transportation companies are harsher than the ones for digital enterprises, and that might not only hurt the company's bottom line but remove it from some spaces altogether.

Even though the ruling was clearly not what the transportation company was looking for, according to Uber's statement it doesn't affect most of its business within the EU. This, however, was because it was looking to be freed from much of the regulations and the situation is not optimal to begin with.

AfterDawn: News

Google to roll out Chrome ad blocker in February

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Dec 2017 12:20

Google to roll out Chrome ad blocker in February Google surprised many of us earlier this year by announcing that it will be adding an ad blocker element to its Chrome browser. The search giant that has made its billions thanks to advertisements realized that it can't stop people from using ad blockers.

Obviously Chrome's native ad blocker is not going to work quite like the rest of them. It will block all the advertisements from a single page if it has even one obtrusive ad. So it basically tries to block ads from sites with obtrusive ads, not ads in general. There are no exceptions for Google's own ads.

Now Google has revealed that the new feature will enter the Chrome pipeline in just a couple of months. Previously it has been unclear in what update the ad blocker will be enabled, but now Google says that it will start the rollout in February.

Chrome version 64 will be released in late January and version 65 in early March, so the ad blocker will be deployed somewhere in the middle. The launch will be gradual, and Google probably wants to make sure it doesn't lose too much ad revenue due to the new feature before adding it worldwide.

AfterDawn: News

Chrome will block annoying ads from February

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Dec 2017 18:45

Chrome will block annoying ads from February Google's Chrome browser will begin blocking annoying and nuisance advertisements on webpages from February, 2018

Google previously announced plans to block nuisance advertisements on webpages. It defined such elements as being auto-play videos with music, or ads that prevent a user from using a webpage for a set amount of time.

Chrome browsers will start to take actions against such ads from February 15, which doesn't appear to coincide with any major release of the Chrome browser.

Websites that go on to violate te Better Ads Standards (set by Coalition for Better Ads, which counts Google as a member) will see all of their ads blocked by Chrome if they persist for more than 30 days. The idea is to reduce the amount of annoying advertisements that encourage users to install ad blockers that remove all ads altogether.

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AfterDawn: News

Report: YouTube reaches music deal with Sony, Universal

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Dec 2017 18:37

Report: YouTube reaches music deal with Sony, Universal Bloomberg is reporting that YouTube has reached licensing deals with Universal and Sony, a vital ingredient for its music service plans.

It had been proviously reported that a YouTube subscription service for music could be launched as early as March, but was under threat from possible failures to sign agreements with major music corporations.

Bloomberg is now reporting that YouTube has secured long-term deals with Sony and Universal. The contracts set royalty rates for music video rights holders, but also commit YouTube to more aggressive anti-piracy action on its platform.

YouTube's planned music service will feature music that is not available to play for free on the video site.

Relations between YouTube and large media companies have been shaky for years, to say the least. Rights holders want YouTube to more aggressively police content on its platform, as many YouTube users upload music to the service without permission. Disputes with trade associations in several European countries have previously resulted in widespread blocking of music in those countries.

AfterDawn: News

Kaspersky sues over anti-virus ban in U.S.

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Dec 2017 18:17

Kaspersky sues over anti-virus ban in U.S. Kaspersky Labs has filed a lawsuit in the United States over a recent ban imposed on the use of its software by government agencies.

The Russian firm is targeting the Trump administration in a lawsuit filed in a lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. It is seeking to overturn a ban on the use of its antivirus products at civilian and military agencies, signed into law by President Trump.

Kaspersky has been refuting claims that it is vulnerable to influence from the Kremlin, and claims the U.S. government deprived it of its rights to due process with the ban.

At one point, Kaspersky offered to hand over source code for its products to independant entities to ensure that there was nothing to worry about. U.S. officials welcomed the offer but said it was insufficient.

Eugene Kaspersky said the company is going to court in order to secure its rights.


AfterDawn: News

Analyst: iPhone X might not be as good as expected

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 17 Dec 2017 11:37

Analyst: iPhone X might not be as good as expected After releasing what is the most revolutionary change in iPhones since perhaps their introduction, Apple has been suffering from shortages that accumulated from pre-release production problems.

Lately, however, the queues to buy yourself an iPhone X have been shortening, and some analysts have suggested that this is not due to lower demand but instead Apple has managed to iron out most of the production problems with its suppliers.

All seems to be well in the Appleland, and this would only suggest a new record-breaking Holiday quarter?

Well, hold on for a bit, other analysts say as reported by Pocketnow. Cowen and Company analyst Karl Ackerman has reported that demand for Apple's latest and greatest has actually been lower than initially was expected. According to Ackerman people have gravitated towards previous iPhone models, including iPhone SE that costs barely a third of a brand new iPhone X.

Ackerman says that it's not necessarily the problems with availability that has disincentivized people from buying the $999 flagship.

It's not horrible for Apple, though, as they are still expected to ship nearly 80 million iPhones in the first fiscal year of 2018, that includes the Holiday season. That could very well still be a record amount of iPhones shipped, and with a higher price point it would likely also break revenue records. Current record is 78.3 million iPhones from last year same time.

AfterDawn: News

YouTube VR is now available on Steam, supports HTC Vive

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Dec 2017 14:38

YouTube VR is now available on Steam, supports HTC Vive The future is in virtual reality. Or augmented reality. Or mixed reality.

Clearly people are looking for some other reality than the one we live in. It seems like in the last few years every technology company on the face of the earth has developed some kind of alternative reality device or application.

Of course the largest online video service YouTube is no different, not least because its owned by Google, who likes to innovate with technology. Now YouTube VR, the virtual reality app for YouTube, has been made available on Steam.

You can download the app starting today from the Steam store. The app supports both 360 degree VR videos as well as VR180, a format meant for easier and cheaper to film 180 degree clips. There's also support for traditional video which can be viewed with a VR headset.

To get the entire benefit of the app you obviously need a virtual reality device. Unfortunately at this point the support for such devices is fairly limited as you'll have to have HTC Vive.

There are still bugs and the device support is obviously something to be improved, and that's probably why it was released via Steam Early Access, but one can hope for quick updates in the future.

AfterDawn: News

Spotify wants EU to stop Apple from taking shares from subscriptions

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Dec 2017 14:23

Spotify wants EU to stop Apple from taking shares from subscriptions European streaming music services aren't happy with Apple taking royalties from them, and they've signed a plea for European Commission to pressure Apple, The Verge reports.

According to Spotify, Deezer, and others, Apple shouldn't be taking 30 percent royalties when user purchases their Premium streaming service. The share is the same as for any other subscription purchase on Apple's App Store, but streaming services aren't happy about that.

They claim that this gives Apple's own music service an unfair advantage when they lose 30 percent from already razor thin margins. To avoid this trap they've started offering a link to their own website where you can buy the subscription without Apple taking a share.

Obviously for a user that doesn't really care about who gets the money as long as they get the service an extra step might be all too much. That is why the streaming companies are now pleading EU to stop Apple from collecting shares on competing music subscriptions.

AfterDawn: News

News agencies want Facebook and Google to pay for linking

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 14 Dec 2017 12:51

News agencies want Facebook and Google to pay for linking Nine European news agencies have signed on a plea which details that the U.S. online giants should be required to pay for using their content as the copyright holders. They are claiming that the social media companies are abusing content creators to further their own businesses.

The plea claims, according to Yahoo News that Facebook, among others, has become a de facto news aggregator for many people who read content created by these news agencies. However, they say that Facebook doesn't compensate the news agencies in a fair manner for using their content.

Their contention is that the stories written by the news agencies are now part of the core business for Facebook and Google even though they themselves do not participate in creating the content or hold rights for them. Furthermore the payments are too small or nonexistent.

According to them, the profitability of news has been in decline for years because these platforms haven't had to pay for their content that they distribute, meanwhile the profits of said internet companies have been booming.

In Spain this debate was already started in 2014 as Google was required by law, a newly enacted one at that, to pay royalties to Spanish news agencies for linking to their content in their Google News web service. Google instead declined to pay and closed their website in Spain.


AfterDawn: News

Disney acquires 21st Century Fox for $66 billion

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 14 Dec 2017 12:28

Disney acquires 21st Century Fox for $66 billion The media conglomerates Disney and 21st Century Fox have agreed on a deal in which the former will acquire most of the latter for a whopping $66 billion. After the acquisition Fox will retain control of only the news and sports businesses, including Fox News.

Disney will get a host of immaterial property, including the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, which also means that this is the first time all Marvel franchises are controlled by the same company. One of the more important TV franchises to move to Disney is The Simpsons, a Fox show that's been running for nearly 30 years.

In addition to immaterial rights, Disney will gain control of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, Fox-owned cable TV networks that include FX and National Geographic, as well as stakes in British pay TV operator Sky and Asian network Star TV.

Disney will also get the 30 percent stake Fox owned of Hulu, which will make Disney the majority owner of the online streaming service with 60 percent ownership. The rest are split with Comcast (30%) and Time Warner (10%).

Rupert Murdoch will gain a five percent stake in Disney and the rest of the payment will be in cash. The cash portion is said to be around $52 billion. Murdoch has been trying to shed some of the extra baggage of less profitable entertainment branches and wants to focus more on news and sports.


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