AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

Google calls the free iPhone backups to Google Photos "a bug"

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Oct 2019 12:39

Google calls the free iPhone backups to Google Photos "a bug" Just a few days ago we told you about an odd behavior in Google Photos, which allowed iPhone users to use the service to their heart's content, for free, a feature that isn't available even to new Google Pixel owners.

Now Google has acknowledged that it is indeed a fact that iPhone users can use Google Photos unlimited backups at original quality for free. But it is not because Google has determined that it can't improve upon the compression of iPhone's HEIC/HEIF photos.

Instead, Google says, it is because there is a bug in the system, Android Police reports. Google has also made clear that it intends to fix the problem.

They haven't, however, states how the issue is to be resolved. One has to imagine, that there's a way for Google to compress the images to save space. Likely it's just a matter of finding the sweet spot of losing detail and managing storage space.

Unfortunately for iPhone users, it is unlikely that Google will let the original quality uploads continue for much longer.


AfterDawn: News

Noise-cancelling AirPods Pro in the works

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Oct 2019 12:25

Noise-cancelling AirPods Pro in the works Apple's AirPads blew the wireless headphone market completely open. Truly wireless earbuds are now everywhere, and every single electronics manufacturer seems to have caught on.

Partly this is of course because of the lack of headphone jacks in our smartphones – a trend also from Apple's playbook. Whether you have a headphone jack available or not, the Bluetooth powered earbuds are convenient and they offer pretty much everything a regular pair of headphones would.

However, AirPods haven't yet managed to include quite everything under their tiny footprint. The one big omission is noise cancellation. This feature is found in some higher end wireless earbuds, including Sony's new WH-1000XM3 model.

Rumors have it that Apple fans won't have to wait long for the feature either. According to China Economic Daily, Apple is working on new AirPods Pro, which, among other adjustments, will include noise cancellation. This isn't the first case we've heard of noise-cancelling AirPods, either.

It would also suggest that Apple is likely to redo the ergonomics, since noise cancellation requires a tighter fit than what traditional AirPods offer.


AfterDawn: News

A three hour trailer shows everything coming to Disney+ at launch

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 19 Oct 2019 1:52

A three hour trailer shows everything coming to Disney+ at launch Disney has released a humongous trailer earlier this week on its official YouTube channel. The consists of en estimated couple hundred movies and shows landing on Disney+ as it launches.

The three hour montage is chronologically ordered, starting from 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and ending with anticipated 2019 Star Wars show The Mandalorian.

As you might imagine there's content from Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, as well as of course Disney.

The 2019 titles alone include, in addition to already mentioned The Mandalorian, Disney's Sydney to the Max, Kim Possible, Fast Layne, Amphibia, One Day at Disney, Dumbo, Encore!, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, Lost Treasures of the Maya, The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great, Apollo: Missions to the Moon, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, Kingdom of the White Wolf, Hostile Planet, Captain Marvel, Marvel's Hero Project, Noelle, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and Lady and the Tramp.

Without further ado, here's the entire video so you can determine whether it's worth your $6.99 a month when it launches on November 12.


AfterDawn: News

Oddly iPhone users get free unlimited Google Photos storage that even Pixel 4 doesn't

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Oct 2019 12:13

Oddly iPhone users get free unlimited Google Photos storage that even Pixel 4 doesn't Google Photos is one of the most useful pieces of software the company packages with Android. Offering free cloud storage, AI tricks, and convenient UI, Android users need not look further for their photo storage needs.

Even better, if you are lucky enough to own one of the previousu Pixel phones, you might be able to store unlimited original quality photos in the cloud for zero dollars a month. Even the new Pixel 4 no longer enjoys this privilege.

While Pixel 4 doesn't get free cloud storage, iPhone users seem to be able to upload to their heart's content for free.

According to 9to5Mac this is due to the super efficient HEIC/HEIF format iPhone uses for the photos.

See, if Google tried to compress the photos, as it does with the free tier cloud service, it would increase the size of the photos from iPhones. Due to this it is cheaper for Google to let iPhone users upload their photos in the original format.

This is at least what the Reddit user discovering this suggests. Android 10 is technically able to use HEIC/HEIF as well, but so far Pixels haven't used it.


AfterDawn: News

Netflix is back on track, second biggest Q3 ever

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 17 Oct 2019 2:04

Netflix is back on track, second biggest Q3 ever Netflix has been utterly dominating the streaming video space for years now. Even with Hulu, HBO and Amazon around, they didn't manage to cut into profits of Netflix much at all.

Things are different, though, now that Disney is in town, and perhaps even Apple TV+ made a slight difference. That's what people are saying, at least. For a moment it seemed like Netflix might have hit a true roadblock in the owner of beastly franchises including Marvel and Star Wars.

However, it seems like Netflix might have weathered the storm. While Netflix spent the summer losing customers in the United States, now they are heading back up.

The most recent quarter, July to September, proved very successful to Netflix.

In the US, subscriber numbers were on the rise slightly, but the global audience grew in an unexpected way. Netflix also reports that the trend should continue, and expects growth in the last quarter of the years as well.

The combined growth was far better than it was in third quarter last year. In fact, it seems like this is the second largest subscriber growth in Q3 ever, only 0.1 million behind the record-setting 2016.

Netflix projects that it will be slightly below the record-setting year of 2018 in terms of added subscribers but well above the previous three years, even with what seemed like a catastrophic Q2.


AfterDawn: News

Here's all the specs of the new Pixelbook Go variants

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 17 Oct 2019 11:34

Here's all the specs of the new Pixelbook Go variants Google introduces its newest Pixelbook couple days ago alongside the new Pixel 4 lineup. Here's what the ultralight Chromebook has to offer in terms of specs.

There's four models ranging from Intel Core m3 to Core i7, 8 or 16 GB RAM, 64 to 256 GB SSD, Full HD and 4K displays, and of course a pricing from $649 all the way up to $1,399.

While the aforementioned details change the pricing, here's what you'll get no matter which one you choose. 13.3 inch touchscreen, stereo front-facing speakers, 2.3 to 2.4 lbs weight, 12 hour battery life, magnesium body, backlit keyboard, FHD@60fps camera, two USB-C ports and a headphone jack.

But since even that doesn't cover it all. Here's a comprehensive list of features for each version of Pixelbook Go in a more digestible way.


AfterDawn: News

Google unveiled the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Oct 2019 11:37

Google unveiled the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL Google has finally announced the new Pixel phones. The devices had already largely been leaked over the months, and even the design was teased by Google themselves on the way.

However, now both Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are official, so lets take a look at what was as expected, and what wasn't.

No huge surprises in the chip department. Pixel 4 is powered by Snapdragon 855, the same chip found in most top Android smartphones this year. However, it would've been nice to see the slightly higher clocked Snapdragon 855+ inside.

Both models have now 6 GB RAM instead of last years Pixel 3 which had only four.

Display is definitely a bigger improvement, though. There's 90hz refresh rate as expected, which people are going to love, and the resolution is up to 3200x1800, which is an improvement especially to the smaller Pixel 4.

According to DisplayMate, the Pixel 4 XL display is the best smartphone display on the market, and got an A+ rating.

Camera is of course what people want to know about when we talk about Pixels. Surprisingly there is no ultrawide camera, unlike many expected.

There are dual cameras in the back, though. A 12 megapixel wide angle camera and a 16 megapixel telephoto camera. According to Google, "while ultrawide can be fun, telephoto is more important."


AfterDawn: News

Surface Pro X is Microsoft new slim ARM-based tablet

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 03 Oct 2019 3:36

Surface Pro X is Microsoft new slim ARM-based tablet Microsoft's announcements yesterday can be divided into two categories: refreshes and new products. The former include the likes of Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro 7.

The latter was represented by the next year's Surface Duo smartphone but also a product that you don't have to wait another year.

It is the Surface Pro X, which is a slimmer and more mobile version of the Surface Pro lineup. What makes it very different from other Surface Pro devices is the CPU. This is the first Surface Pro with an ARM processor.

However, Microsoft assures that it is capable of performing like a full-fledged Windows 10 computer, a proper Surface Pro, should.

Surface Pro X features a 13-inch, 2880 by 1920 resolution display with what Microsoft calls the thinnest bezels in class.

The system-on-chip inside is a custom Qualcomm chip developed with the help of Microsoft. They call it Surface SQ1 and it's based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx that has found its way to laptops, for example in Samsung Galaxy Book S.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 gets a light refresh with new CPUs, USB-C

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 03 Oct 2019 1:50

Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 gets a light refresh with new CPUs, USB-C Perhaps the device that made Microsoft's Surface lineup what it is today, namely a success, got a revamp yesterday.

The device is of course Surface Pro 7, which was leaked ahead of launch revealing some of its most anticipated features. However, now we've got the whole story.

Surface Pro 7 features, just like the new Surface Laptop 3, finally a USB-C port, and, just like the laptop, it also still has the full-sized USB-A to go along with it.

In addition it has a microSD slot, magnetic Surface Connect charging port, a headphone jack as well as the magnetic connector for Type Cover keyboard.

In terms of design there's really nothing new here. The same sleek line has been retained with sharp edges, and color options are still black and platinum.

The display is also still the same 12.3 incher with 2736 x 1824 resolution, but processors have been updated to the new 10th gen Intel chips. You can choose from Core i3, i5, or i7.

The i3 comes with 4 gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigs of SSD storage, the i5 is available in 8GB/128GB, 8GB/256GB and 16GB/256GB options, and i7 as 16GB/256GB, 16GB/512GB, and the top of the line 16GB/1TB option.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft unveils new Surface Laptop 3 with USB-C, and a new 15" Ryzen version

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 03 Oct 2019 12:21

Microsoft unveils new Surface Laptop 3 with USB-C, and a new 15" Ryzen version Microsoft held their fall Surface event yesterday in New York City. By far the most surprising of the product announcements was the company's first smartphone since Windows Phones, but there were other interesting devices unveiled as well.

One of the most anticipated ones was the new Surface Laptop. Microsoft's competitor to MacBook got its third generation in Surface Laptop 3.

Most importantly the new laptop has finally a USB-C port, in addition to a traditional and full-sized USB-A. Other major addition was the new 15-inch version, which comes with a completely different CPU setup.

The 15-inch one is equipped with a custom Ryzen chip purpose-built for Surface devices with a little bit of extra graphics processing oomph. The 13.5 inch version still hosts a Intel chip, albeit one of the new and more powerful 10th gen CPUs.

Alcantara is now also optional depending on which model and color you choose. 15-inch model is solely metal while some color options (Platinum and Gold) of the 13.5 inch model are available in soft Alcantara.

There's not much changed in terms of design. The super sleek lines of Surface Laptop 3 make it one of the most minimalist devices available. Even the speaker grill and the lid opening slit have been removed in order to make the thing as neat a possible.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft makes a surprising return to smartphones: Here's Surface Duo

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 02 Oct 2019 12:49

Microsoft makes a surprising return to smartphones: Here's Surface Duo Microsoft has today unveiled their first smartphone in years. Surface Duo was announced at the company's Surface event rather surprisingly, in a very "one more thing" fashion.

The Redmond company of course has a very storied history with smartphones, and there has been rumors about an upcoming Surface Phone for years, but it's fair to say that pretty much nobody expected a smartphone announcement today.

However, Surface Duo announcement wasn't exactly a run-of-the-mill smartphone reveal. Instead, the company essentially teased a product that is still year away from launch.

According to Microsoft, Surface Duo is slated for 2020 holiday season release.

We did get some specs as well as a good look at the industrial design today though. Microsoft says that the device will feature two 5.6 inch displays that fold 360 degrees using a hinge in the middle.

Unlike all the other Surface devices, Surface Duo also runs Android, which means that Microsoft isn't ready or willing to join the mobile platform wars again with Windows.

However, you can expect Microsoft's own Windows-like experience from Surface Duo, and the company assured that it is a true Surface experience.

Current prototypes have used Snapdragon 855 chips but we can expect more up-to-date specs when launch is closer. That is pretty much all there is to say about the device so far.


AfterDawn: News

IBM's new speech AI creates a natural voice from 5 minutes of audio

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Oct 2019 12:15

IBM's new speech AI creates a natural voice from 5 minutes of audio Artificial intelligence has been developing in massive leaps and bounds in the recent years. This is probably most evident to customers in products like Google Assistant but there's a lot of influential work being done behind the scenes that advance the capabilities.

One of the companies working on improvements in AI is IBM. They are developing the algorithms and models that recognize speech patterns and styles. Their text-to-speech (TTS) modeling has advanced so much that it can create a nearly indiscernible and infinitely adaptable human voice from just 5 minutes of talking.

The speech synthesizer can improve itself even after this, and after 10 or especially 20 minutes of "listening" to sample speech it can reproduce the voice in whatever text very naturally.

IBM says that the trick to the impressive performance is the modular architecture of the neural speech synthesis. This means that the system detects and trains each aspect of the voice independently.

This makes the result retain the original character of the voice.

But you don't have to believe us, here you can listen to the samples (5 min, 10 min, 20 min) for different voices. You can also make them speak text of your choice here.

AfterDawn: News

Microsoft's new Surface devices leak ahead of launch

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Oct 2019 11:46

Microsoft's new Surface devices leak ahead of launch Microsoft is preparing a Surface event for tomorrow, and they've gotten away without leaking their devices all the way til today.

Unfortunately for the company, and perhaps luckily for us, The Verge in association with the famed leaker Evan Blass have released some photos of the upcoming devices ahead of the launch event.

The pictured devices include the likes of Surface Pro 7, Surface Laptop in two sizes (13" and 15") as well as a yet unnamed new ARM based 2-in-1 device.

The pictures don't really reveal anything out of ordinary. For example, there is no Surface device with two displays present. Nor is there any folding displays.

Also, there are no specs revealed but we do get to see some of the features of the devices in the pictures. The new 2-in-1 device has at least two USB-C ports, camera in the back, and a vertical kickstand. It also supports stylus input.

The Surface Laptop's design seems fairly conservative, and perhaps reminds a little bit like a touch screen version of MacBook Air.

We can also confirm that Surface Pro 7 will still have the same USB-A and USB-C ports on the right side and same docking ports and pins.


AfterDawn: News

WhatsApp support for Android Gingerbread and iOS 8 ends in early 2020

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 30 Sep 2019 11:59

WhatsApp support for Android Gingerbread and iOS 8 ends in early 2020 WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform with over a billion users around the world. While most of these users have a fairly up-to-date Android phone or iPhone, many are using the service with older devices.

In fact, one of the many reasons WhatsApp became so immensely popular was because it supported all kinds of devices from the popular to the niche. Every now and then, however, some of the older devices will no longer be supported by the messaging app.

This will again happen at the start of February, 2020. The support will end this time for Android 2.3.7, more commonly known as Android Gingerbread, as well as iOS 8.

Fortunately this means that it only affects around 0.3% of Android and iOS users alike.

Also, this doesn't mean that you won't be able to use the app at all, but official support, including updates, are no longer going to be appearing on those devices.

In addition, ou will no longer be able to activate a new account with aforementioned devices.

One subsection of smartphones that won't have a working WhatsApp is Windows Phone. The service will no longer be available on Windows Phone starting December 31, 2019.

AfterDawn: News

New iPhone prototype suggests no notch in 2020

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 30 Sep 2019 11:27

New iPhone prototype suggests no notch in 2020 Apple's newest iPhones are barely out but, to be honest, they were a little bit of a let down, right? So, no wonder that the first iPhone 12 rumors are already circulating.

Rumors suggest, and as tradition would dictate, that Apple is revamping the iPhone design for next year. Famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is also of the mind that next year will be a big upgrade, something we haven't seen in three years.

Everything isn't going to be new, though. In fact, Kuo suggests that Apple is planning a return to an old design language which would provide better radio reception.

In addition, a new leak suggests that whatever the industrial design is, it is going get rid of the notch. Leaker Ben Geskin has revealed what he calls a 2020 iPhone prototype.

While the new design would have no notch it would still have the Face ID functionality. This means that Apple would have to cram all the sensors in the top bezel of the phone.

One could expect that the bezel is going to be at least slightly larger than in iPhone 11 and its predecessors. Also, to make it look symmetrical, Apple would have to enlarge at least the lower bezel, likely all sides, too.

This would make it fairly sizable as the 6.7 inch display in itself is larger than display on the iPhone 11 Pro Max.


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