AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

Essential developing a phone that automatically answers text messages

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 11 Oct 2018 10:48

Essential developing a phone that automatically answers text messages The man behind the original Android, Andy Rubin, made a comeback to the smartphone world last year with his new company Essential Products and their first smartphone Essential Phone.

While there were definitely some innovation that really caught the eye of customers, and especially the competitors, it couldn't be exactly described as a hit.

Obviously Essential started a trend, the notched displays, that they might not be as proud anymore, especially after Pixel 3 XL's huge cutout.

Now, Rubin has something new in store and, by the sounds of it, it might be the revolutionary thing we're waiting for.

According to Bloomberg, Essential is developing a smartphone that will evolve machine learning and AI to completely new level allowing the smartphone to complete rudimentary everyday tasks without user input.

The smartphone would learn the users behavior and apply that to automate tasks such as answering text messages.

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AfterDawn: News

Google files an appeal on EU's $5 billion fine on Android

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 11 Oct 2018 10:15

Google files an appeal on EU's $5 billion fine on Android European Commission investigated Google's monopolistic tendencies during past few years which resulted in July to a massive fine for Google restricting competition on their mobile platform.

Google obviously wasn't happy about the $5 billion (4.34 billion euros) fine, and now it has decided to file an appeal, Financial Times reports.

Not only is it a great deal of money, even for Google, but the decision would affect Google's business model on smartphones immensely.

European Commission argues that Google has broken the law by requiring carriers and manufacturers to include Google's software. In addition Google has blocked the use of other platforms.

This means that device manufacturers haven't had the option to replace Google Play with a third-part app store, or install a competing platform as an alternative to Android.

EU and Google have a long and storied history with fines and court battles. Google got fined nearly $3 billion last year for preferring their own shopping services on Google search. That was appealed as well, and has yet to be resolved.





AfterDawn: News

Here's Google's take on Echo Show: Google Home Hub

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Oct 2018 13:18

Here's Google's take on Echo Show: Google Home Hub Every moment after the debacle on YouTube videos on Amazon's Echo Show has lead to this. Now Google has introduced a new smart speaker that plays YouTube videos.

It is called Google Home Hub, and we thought it might have been due already last year.

As expected it features a touch screen, not unlike Echo Show, and because it is a Google device it can play videos from YouTube among other things.

It has all the features of a normal Google Home but also answers your questions with content on the screen. That means that you can ask it to play a song and it'll do that but also shows the music video.

Or you can get cooking instructions now with step by step picture or video to walk you through. To make it more obvious that Google has Amazon beat here, they offer a six month membership on YouTube Premium for free with a purchase of Home Hub.

One of the more interesting software features of Home Hub also comes to the Home mobile app. New Home View combines all the smart home devices to one neat view so you don't have to open different apps for adusting the lights, checking the security camera, and tweaking the temperature on the thermostat.

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AfterDawn: News

Google's new tablet is a Chromebook: This is Pixel Slate

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Oct 2018 8:56

Google's new tablet is a Chromebook: This is Pixel Slate As anticipated, Google introduced yesterday two new Pixel phones, but perhaps the most intriguing new product was the new Pixel Slate.

Pixel Slate, as leaked prior to launch, is the search company's new try at making a proper tablet. A mobile device that brings in many of the advantages of a full fledged computer.

Thus it is not running Android, instead it is essentially a keyboard-less Chromebook. A Chromelet, let's say.

So inside you have a new version of Chrome OS that now offers an even greater Assistant integration and productivity features, such as split screen multitasking.

Pixel Slate offers both simple, fluid, and fast mobile apps as well as support for Linux apps. Two entirely different takes on computing.

Specs-wise it's an odd one. It includes a 12.3 inch LCD display with 293 ppi, which Google calls best in class, 8 megapixel cameras in the front and back, and laptop-like performance.

Performance comes from an Intel processor, and they range from less than impressive Celerons all the way to a Core i7, up to 16 gigabytes of RAM, and up to 256 GB SSD storage.

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AfterDawn: News

Google unveiled new Pixels: Here's the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 09 Oct 2018 13:41

Google unveiled new Pixels: Here's the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Google's this years Pixel event is over now and we have two new Pixel smartphones to feast our eyes on. The upgrades on the surface look very iterative but there's still plenty new there.

The displays are now bigger, 5.5 inches in the regular Pixel and 6.3 inches in the notched Pixel 3 XL. Both are OLED displays that hopefully prove to be better that last year's models in color reproduction as well.

Other than display size, and resolution, there's not much different in the two devices. Pixel 3 XL does have a bigger battery though.

Both of them sport the speedy Snapdragon 845 and perhaps a little underwhelming 4 gigabytes of RAM, which should be enough though, especially considering Google's track record of making buttery smooth smartphone experiences.

Cameras were the standout feature of the Pixel 2, and that shouldn't be any different this year. Front camera has turned into a dual camera with a wide angle lens, and back camera provides even more camera magic with software tricks.

Among the new tricks are a new Super Zoom that uses your hand shake to actually improve zoom quality, Top Shot that chooses the best picture (smile instead of sneeze, eyes open instead of shut, etc) with AI, and an amazing Night Sight that makes a dark scene light up like a Christmas tree.

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AfterDawn: News

Intel introduced 9th gen Core processors for gamers and overclockers

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 09 Oct 2018 9:37

Intel introduced 9th gen Core processors for gamers and overclockers Intel has unveiled its recent generation of Core processors, as expected. The desktop versions of Intel's latest and greatest offer improved efficiency and, of course, performance.

The unlocked K series got three new CPUs, Core i9-9900K, i7-9700K and i5-9600K. The octacore Core i9-9900K is the top of the line overclocking beast with sixteen threads, clocking in at 3.6 GHz with Turbo at 5.0 GHz.

Core i7-9700K offers the same base clock speed at 3.6 GHz, with a tad slower 4.9 GHz Turbo, and has eight threads. The most affordable of the 9th gen unlocked CPUs is the i5-9500K with six thread computing and 3.7 GHz clock speed with 4.6 GHz Turbo mode.

Prices start at $488 for the top specced i9, at $374 for the i7-9700K, and at $262 for the cheapest of the 9th gen K series chip.

The new K series is compatible with previous 300 series chipsets but the company also revealed a new Z390 chipset which includes support for both 802.11ac Wi-Fi, or as we call it now Wi-Fi 5, and USB 3.1 gen 2 which offers speeds up to 10Gb/s.

When it comes to the new X series CPUs, Intel had a total of seven new offerings to show off. They range from eight cores and 16 threads all the way up to 18 cores and 36 threads. Obviously you'll have to shell out quite a bit more cash for these ones.

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AfterDawn: News

Google finally calls it quits – Google+ shutting down

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 09 Oct 2018 9:15

Google finally calls it quits – Google+ shutting down Google's effort to steal some of Facebook's audience was introduces now seven years ago. Since it's inception Google+ has evolved quite a bit but it never seemed to gain any traction.

Now Google has finally acknowledged what the internet knew long ago. It is time to give up and just shut down the service from consumers.

The search giant perhaps wanted to be like Facebook too much, services like Twitter and Instagram have succeeded, in the manner that they have, because they offer different kind of experiences compared to Facebook, and Google+ arguably didn't.

But speculations aside, it is finally time to say goodbye to Google+ for good. Well, once Google actually removes it, which is somewhere in the next 10 months.

Google has made sure that you can, however, backup your one post safely, so you'll have time until October 2019 to copy your content to your preferred backup destination.





AfterDawn: News

Firefox to join Microsoft in supporting Google-backed WebP

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 08 Oct 2018 6:57

Firefox to join Microsoft in supporting Google-backed WebP Google unveiled its WebP image format already back in 2010 but it hasn't taken the world by storm in the manner that the company probably expected, or at least hoped.

Obviously all Google's own products have since been updated to supports its superior web image format but many of the competitors are yet to fully adopt WebP.

Now few of the more influential competitors, including Microsoft and Mozilla, are ready to bring WebP to their platforms. Last week Microsoft revealed that Edge would be supporting WebP content in the future, and now Mozilla has done the same with Firefox, CNET reports.

According to Mozilla, all Gecko-based products will be gain WebP support in early 2019. Gecko is the engine that is running under the hood of Firefox browsers, excluding the iOS version.

After Microsoft and Mozilla have updated their respective browsers, Safari and Apple's platforms remain the only major forces to still reject WebP.

Alongside WebP, video format AVIF, which is based on Google developed VP9, is making inroads in the web community, and is backed by most companies, including Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, and even Apple.





AfterDawn: News

Google back to making tablets, here's the leaked Pixel Slate

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 08 Oct 2018 6:26

Google back to making tablets, here's the leaked Pixel Slate Tomorrow is the big day of the year for Google. The company is debuting its new smartphones and maybe even revealing some other new Pixel devices.

In fact, a new leak suggests that Google is turning back time and unveiling a brand new tablet, first one since 2015 Pixel C.

The new one is allegedly called Pixel Slate and indeed will be revealed tomorrow in New York City as Google updates its Pixel smartphones.

However, except for these pictures, there's not a lot we know about Pixel Slate. It'll likely run Chrome OS and seems to sport a 3:2 aspect ratio, which seems to be a hallmark of Pixel tablets and computers alike.

There's also a stylus and a keyboard cover, as expected. But that's about it.

We'll know more about it tomorrow so stay tuned.

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AfterDawn: News

Spotify wants more podcasts, introduces new tools

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 06 Oct 2018 9:43

Spotify wants more podcasts, introduces new tools While Spotify has been growing at an impressive rate for years, it has not managed to turn its core business into a money-making machine.

The Swedish-born service has been looking into bringing other forms of entertainment, or at least other audio related entertainment. Cue in podcast fever that is running rampant.

Spotify introduced a new Spotlight section early this year which brought both news and podcasts to the platform.

Apparently the podcasters haven't found Spotify in numbers that would satisfy the company, and now they are trying to lure in more with new tools.

Spotify for Podcasters is meant to make it easy for podcasters to publish and monitor their podcast statistics, and thus potentially bring in more advertisement money.

You won't have to upload the audio files either, just provide Spotify a link to the RSS feed.

Spotify for Podcasters is currently in beta and you can read more about it (and get started) at podcasters.spotify.com.





AfterDawn: News

Nintendo is planning to release a new Switch next year, WSJ

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 04 Oct 2018 12:35

Nintendo is planning to release a new Switch next year, WSJ Nintendo's newest console, a combination of a handheld and a traditional gaming console, has been a success, even to a surprising degree one could argue.

However, it never was very powerful and technology keep on trotting at a pace that makes Switch supremely obsolete in no time flat.

Switch is only 18 months old but it's showing age. The graphics are just not there, if they ever were, and especially with the next generation of Xbox and PlayStation consoles ever closer, Nintendo needs something to keep people buying their devices.

And arguably smartphones could be an even bigger threat as they keep evolving and catching the Switch.

So no big surprise, Wall Street Journal is reporting about Nintendo's plans to release a new Switch in 2019. According to the sources the new Switch is slated for late 2019 release but there is not much on what this new version will update.

One update could be an improved screen which is definitely not on par with today's technology. Switch has a 6.2 inch 720p LCD screen.

Some have argued that Nintendo should give up the living room battle altogether and make the updated switch a handheld only console. This would make the device smaller and/or free up space for improvements in performance.





AfterDawn: News

Wi-Fi gets a new standard, and more importantly a new naming scheme

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 04 Oct 2018 11:54

Wi-Fi gets a new standard, and more importantly a new naming scheme For most people Wi-Fi is just Wi-Fi, and the cryptic numbers and letters alongside don't reveal a thing.

Why would Wi-Fi Alliance keep the odd number combination, "802.11", for the ride, and why would they differentiate Wi-Fi versions by attaching random letters to it?

Well, it turns out they don't anymore. Wi-Fi Alliance has revealed that instead of 802.11n and 802.11ac they'll be using new names, Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 respectively.

As you might imagine, the new standard that is in development currently, officially 802.11ax, will be named Wi-Fi 6. If you are in the biz, you know that the 802.11-names will probably persist far in to the future, but at least they won't confuse customers any longer.

Every new generation brings along important upgrades in speeds and reliability, which is better represented by the new naming scheme, and Wi-Fi 6 is no different. However, Wi-Fi Alliance doesn't quote any specs in the statement.





AfterDawn: News

Elon Musk stepping down as Tesla chairman to settle lawsuit

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Oct 2018 10:38

Elon Musk stepping down as Tesla chairman to settle lawsuit As we reported last week, Tesla's own Elon Musk became the receiving end of a government lawsuit. Musk was going to be taken to court by The Security and Exchange Commission for fraudulent behavior.

Originally S.E.C. tried to settle the issue with Tesla and Musk, but no such agreement was found. Thus the government commission went forward with the lawsuit.

S.E.C. claimed Elon Musk's August tweet was recklessly false and mislead the shareholders into thinking there was agreements about privatizing the company with a specific share price.

Now Tesla has decided to settle the lawsuit but the price was a steep one. Tesla is going to have to pay $20 million in damages and Musk needs to resign as the chair for three years.

Musk will step down as the chairman of Tesla within 45 days and can only return to his duties in October 2021. He will still remain the CEO of Tesla.





AfterDawn: News

Were you among the hacked? Here's the only way to know if Facebook breach affected you

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 29 Sep 2018 12:54

Were you among the hacked? Here's the only way to know if Facebook breach affected you Yesterday Facebook released a statement about a security breach that had affected tens of millions of Facebook users. According to the social media giant the hackers got some user information from up 50 million users.

Facebook is investigating the hack with authorities, including the FBI, but currently it is not certain what type of information was leaked. At least the "View As" pages and basic information such as age and sex were leaked.

Some have argued that the access tokens that were used to gain access to View As pages would give access to other more sensitive information as well, but there's no official word on this yet.

Those 50 million affected have been logged out from their Facebook account which cut any illegitimate connections. This also means that you have to log back in to your account to access Facebook. Facebook also logged out another 40 million users as a precaution even though believes they were not targeted.

Currently seeing if you've been logged out is the only way to check whether the hack affected your account or if you were one of the 40 million users that were suspect of a "View As" lookup and thus precautionarily logged out.

It is advised that you don't enter any details on possible forms or sites that claim they can retrieve information on whether your account was hacked.

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AfterDawn: News

Massive Facebook data breach affects 90 million accounts

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 28 Sep 2018 14:21

Massive Facebook data breach affects 90 million accounts Facebook has just revealed that it has detected a security issue that has affected tens of millions of accounts.

The statement posted on Facebook's official newsroom details that a total of 90 million accounts might have been affected by the security exploit.

50 million of the accounts are the prime suspects that Facebook has determined to have been affected but another 40 million accounts have been logged out as a precautionary step as they've been suspect to a "View As" lookup in that past 12 months.

The issue has allowed logins to users without their knowledge or consent. Facebook has now logged all those users out and they will need to perform a new log in next time requesting access to Facebook.

The breach has been fixed last night and faulty access should no longer exist.

According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook does not currently have information on whether the breach might have leaked any sensitive information like private messages. However, the hackers have gained access to users' "View As" profile information.

Facebook has removed "View As" pages temporarily.

The page shows what the user's profile looks like to someone else and could includes information such as age, sex, and home town.

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