AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

New Nintendo Switch brings hugely improved battery life

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2019 12:03

New Nintendo Switch brings hugely improved battery life Nintendo has unveiled a new version of its highly successful gaming console Switch. The new version has first been introduced in Japan, but is expected to hit the U.S. soon.

FCC has received documents for regulatory approval, so it only seems to be perhaps weeks or few months before we'll see the new Switch in America.

The new device looks and feels identical to the Switch we know, but there is one very significant change. Nintendo has increased the battery size, which obviously improves upon the battery life.

This means a lot more mobile gaming. In fact, Nintendo promises around 4.5 to 9 hours of battery life. This is a massive boost to previous 2.5 to 6.5 hours.

The company has revealed that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be played nearly twice as long with the newer version. Previously Switch would run out of juice after three hours of Zelda, the new version can go for 5.5 hours.

At least in Japan the price of the device has stayed the same, so we don't expect any price hikes here in the States either. We'll just have to wait and see how long it takes for FCC to approve the device.

AfterDawn: News

Netflix price hikes cost the company subscribers: First US subscriber loss in 8 years

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2019 10:31

Netflix price hikes cost the company subscribers: First US subscriber loss in 8 years For the first time in eight years, Netflix has suffered a loss in subscribers in the United States. The company that has seemed invincible has shown some signs of weakness.

The company CEO, Reed Hastings, explains the reduction of subscribers with recent price hikes, and he's most certainly right. However, Netflix isn't too worried, as the decrease was only around 126 000 users.

Compare this to the fact that Netflix gained around 2.7 million new subscribers around the world.

However, it's not a good day for the investors or the company, when they did expect increase in subscribers at home, and a 5 million increase worldwide.

Hastings also brought up the fact that second quarter of the year didn't have many high profile releases. Even with lackluster performance like this, he isn't still considering competition as a problem.

Netflix stock took immediately a slight dive, although nothing radical.

The company has probably better news next time around when the figures include the new viewership champ Stranger Things 3.

Official expectations are for 7 million new subscribers, we'll have to wait and see whether that'll be closer to the truth.

AfterDawn: News

Tesla autopilot gets better, and another $1,000 price hike

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2019 7:46

Tesla autopilot gets better, and another $1,000 price hike Tesla has been working on its autonomous driving features for years, and slowly but surely they are inching towards what they call full self-driving. It's not a feature on all Tesla's, however, you'll have to pay quite a bit of extra for the option, and for the second time this year it's about to get more expensive.

In May, Tesla raised the price from $5,000 to $6,000, and it was already earlier suggested that another price hike was in the works. Now Musk has revealed on Twitter that its going to be raised another thousand dollars or so in August.

The raise will happen on August 16 after which the option should start at about $7,000, for those who choose the option pre-installed.

After a slight backlash on Twitter, Musk had some better news to share too. According to him, Tesla is going to release Enhanced Summon around the same time.

This means that Tesla vehicles will be capable of driving themselves off the parking spot to your location. There's no exact release date for the feature, though.

Level 5 autonomous driving, FSD or full self-driving as Tesla calls it, seems still far off. It would allow users to get from place to another without ever touching the steering wheel.

AfterDawn: News

Samsung's Galaxy Note10 not getting the new Snapdragon

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 17 Jul 2019 11:48

Samsung's Galaxy Note10 not getting the new Snapdragon Just recently Qualcomm unveiled their newest, and most powerful, mobile chipset. The new Snapdragon 855+ improves upon its predecessor, the Snapdragon 855, in both CPU and GPU prowess.

As Qualcomm announced that the chip would be introduced to the public in August, one immediately glanced over at Samsung's table for a reaction. The reason being that the Korean manufacturer is preparing the launch of its new Note10 lineup in mid-August.

It would seem natural that Samsung would employ the best chip at the time for its American audience. However, this doesn't seem to be the case, according to WinFuture.

The report claims that Samsung is going to stick with the less powerful Snapdragon 855 that it used in Galaxy S10 phones launched earlier this year. It's all well and good, because the chip is indeed only a little bit behind the newly announced Plus model, but the international crowd is going to get an improvement in the chip department.

As per usual, Samsung has its international version using their own Exynos chips, which are going to be upgraded to Exynos 9825, instead of the Exynos 9820 in Galaxy S10. This means improved performance for Europeans and others, but not for us here in the States.


AfterDawn: News

Europe's GPS alternative has been down for days

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 16 Jul 2019 11:36

Europe's GPS alternative has been down for days When people talk about satellite positioning systems, they usually refer to GPS. GPS is of course the US government owned venture that stands for Global Positioning System, but it is not the only game in town – or on earth rather.

Many of the positioning application we use gather information from several different satellite systems in the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System). One of them is the Russian developed GLONASS and another one is EU's own Galileo.

However, the latter mentioned has had some troubles lately, and might have not been much of use for you and me. According to a website that is portraying the status of Galileo system reports that all the satellites in the constellation are "not usable", "not available", or "testing."

The satellites themselves are still in orbit and probably working fine, it is the earthly infrastructure that has failed us and been down since Friday. Thus many of our GPS devices, like our smartphones, have had to recently rely on non-EU GNS partners.

One might conclude that Galileo isn't exactly the most reliable of the GNSS providers but that is completely understandable since it is still largely in a pilot phase. EU is aiming full operations to begin in 2020.

AfterDawn: News

Twitter has a new, simpler design

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 16 Jul 2019 9:52

Twitter has a new, simpler design Microblogging service – or perhaps after increase in character limit, miniblogging service – Twitter has redesigned its user interface, and released it to the public.

The new design is trying to make it easier to use the service and its core features. This means that the navigation has been updated, and it should be easier to access things like your notifications, messages, and trends.

The site still relies in the three column view in which the center column is dedicated to your Twitter feed. However, Trends for you has moved from the left side to the right side, and now takes up the space above Who to follow, which is still at the bottom right.

Navigation has been moved from the top to left side and takes up way more of the real estate. The navigation bar includes the following options: Home, Explore, Notifications, Messages, Bookmarks, Lists, Profile, and More.

More gets you to less used features, like settings, ads, analytics and so forth.

A new Tweet button can be found under the navigation menu and the tweet field is still at top center like you're used to.

All the elements are far larger, and the design is much simpler, easier to read, and perhaps to use. It might be a little too simple for some, but on the other hand it does now offer two different dark modes.


AfterDawn: News

Late 2019 Android phones have a new, more powerful chip from Qualcomm to utilize

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 16 Jul 2019 9:16

Late 2019 Android phones have a new, more powerful chip from Qualcomm to utilize The leading chip manufacturer for Android phones has released a new system-on-chip. Qualcomm's new offering is called Snapdragon 855+ and it improves upon their flagship model with better performance.

The plus version brings a higher clock speed for it's Kryo 485 processor cores as well as more performance from the Adreno 640 GPU. Processor clocks are up to 2.96 GHz from 2.84 GHz, and graphics performance sees a boost of 15 percent.

Why would Qualcomm update their perfectly capable chip half way through the year, you might ask. Well, they are focusing this new SoC towards devices that yearn for better AR and VR capabilities, while the chip is slightly better at general purpose things.

There's no 5G capabilities in the chip as it is using the LTE enabled X24 modem, but it supports an external X50 modem if 5G speeds are needed.

Snapdragon 855+ will be found on first devices as soon as second half of the year. Asus has promised to use it in its upcoming gaming device, ROG Phone II, and it could be possible that either Google's Pixel or Samsung's Galaxy Notes have it as well.

AfterDawn: News

Finnish compulsory military service making smartphone mandatory – offers one if necessary

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 11 Jul 2019 3:09

Finnish compulsory military service making smartphone mandatory – offers one if necessary The Finnish armed forces are readying new rules for the country's semi-compulsory military service. In the reform, entitled Koulutus 2020, Finnish for Training 2020, they disclose smartphone as training equipment, Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reports.

The service is compulsory for men starting at the age of 18 either as a combatant trainee or a civilian service member. For the ones choosing the path of military training they will be required to have a smartphone as a training tool in the future.

As it is mandatory, if the young recruit doesn't own a smartphone, they will be provided with one by the government. Also if the one doesn't want to use their own, in a very real worry that it might be broken for example, they also get a government issued smartphone.

The new training procedure including a smart device is currently being ran as a pilot in a couple subdivisions, specifically Army Academy (Maasotakoulu) and Coastal Brigade (Rannikkoprikaati).

Currently there are a few Android tablets per company and they are borrowed on an as-needed basis.


AfterDawn: News

Major change to YouTube rules: Copyright claims now require timestamp

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Jul 2019 10:43

Major change to YouTube rules: Copyright claims now require timestamp YouTube has managed to dodge the 'copyright mafia' since the beginning, or at least since acquisition by Google, fairly well. I guess having tons of lawyers from Google helping out fighting the copyright problems has been the key.

Obviously adding complete and easy-to-use copyright claim features to the platform has made it less likely of a target of copyright holders.

Unfortunately there are consequences to giving so much power to the individuals and organizations. There's even an aphorism of some kind about power and corruption.

There certainly has been corruption among the folk posting mass copyright claims on YouTube. So much so, that for much of the independent YouTube community copyright claims have become a joke.

Whether it is to suppress ideas or content of critics, or just to gain a competitive edge against competitors, YouTube's copyright claim has been used for it all.

Due to YouTube's abhorrent record in communicating with the community, many of the creators have probably given up that there's any kind of protective action against what can be truly called the copyright claim mafia.

However, sometimes it is very nice to be wrong. For those people, today is the day.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft joins Stranger Things hype with Windows 1.11 release

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 09 Jul 2019 9:40

Microsoft joins Stranger Things hype with Windows 1.11 release Netflix newest and most popular TV release is the nostalgic sci-fi series Stranger Things 3.

The third season of the 80s themed show racked over 40 million views in the first four days after the 4th of July release, and even Microsoft has decided to chime in, or perhaps forced by a contract with Netflix and its monetary value.

Regardless, Microsoft has released an app in the Microsoft Store entitled Windows 1.11. This app is bringing the authentic feel of 80s computing, more specifically in the era of Windows 1 and IBM PC in 1985.

The full description reads:

Experience 1985 nostalgia with a special edition Windows 10 PC app inspired by Windows 1.0--but one that's been taken over by the Upside Down from Stranger Things. Explore the mysteries and secrets plaguing Hawkins, unlock unique show content and easter eggs, and play retro games and puzzles--all building off Stranger Things 3. Join Eleven, Steve, Dustin and gang as they seek to save Hawkins and the world. Embrace the 80s and grab your hairspray, because it's basically the raddest show companion experience ever. But fair warning: beware the Mind Flayer.


AfterDawn: News

Google adding global media controls to Chrome

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 08 Jul 2019 1:55

Google adding global media controls to Chrome Google has updated Chrome's Canary developer build with a new feature that some of us are fairly excited about. The feature is called Global Media Controls (GMC) and, as you might imagine, it allows you to control Chrome's media playback.

The new Canary v77 brings the new feature as an opt-in in the settings. If you have installed the Canary 77, you can find the feature and enable it here. Be warned, however, it is an unstable release and might crash at any point.

When enabled, the feature will add a playback icon on the right side or the address bar. Clicking the icon opens up the global media controls as a pop-up.

You can control both video and audio playback on any of the open tabs on your Chrome browser. This is a very welcome addition, considering that Google recently removed the ability to mute tab with a simple press on the speaker icon.

You can still mute by right clicking the tab and press mute site. However, this will mute all the audio coming from that site, not just the one tab.

Also the new feature allows to stop playback, not just mute it, of both audio and video playing on any Chrome tab or window.

At this moment the GMC feature is only available in the Canary build but one can assume, or at least hope, that Google is bringing it to the official Chrome builds soon.


AfterDawn: News

Musk: Tesla's new self-driving chip available for older Teslas starting late Q4

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 08 Jul 2019 11:41

Musk: Tesla's new self-driving chip available for older Teslas starting late Q4 Tesla took a page out of Apple's playbook a while ago and started developing their own chips for their cars. Previously the self-driving chips were provided by Nvidia, but Elon Musk realized they could do way better in-house.

The chip that was unveiled this April is suggested to be many times faster than the previous one, and in some tasks it is said to outperform old Nvidia's offering 21 to 1.

According to Musk the new chip finally also is powerful enough that it can provide a fully autonomous driving. Unfortunately that is not yet possible due to software among other things, like regulatory action.

However, the hardware prowess should be there, and this means that Tesla will soon be able to replace the older Tesla models with the new chip. According to Musk this will begin in late Q4 this year for the cars with previous generation HW2, or Autopilot Hardware 2.0.

The new generation, previously known as HW3, Musk calls simply FSD for Full Self-Driving.

If you've bought a Tesla with the Full Self-Driving option, costing some $6000, you'll get the new chip with installation for free. Even if you didn't opt in for full self-driving, it is still possible to get the features, however you'll obviously have to pay for it and possibly have to wait quite a bit longer.


AfterDawn: News

Huawei is back in business! Trump removes the ban

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 29 Jun 2019 12:25

Huawei is back in business! Trump removes the ban The United States and China have resumed trade talks at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. Huawei, of course, have been eagerly waiting for Trump and Xi to meet, and it seems that they have caught a good break.

Huawei's future lied largely in the hands of the two governments finding common ground. Fortunately Trump and Xi Jinping have managed to address Huawei's blacklisting, and Trump has allowed Huawei to resume trading with American companies.

According to Trump, the ban did not advance national security which was the sole purpose of putting it on the Commerce Department's list. Huawei is able to now continue working with the likes of Google and Qualcomm, although it still remains on the Commerce Department's Entity List.

Trump was not ready to talk about removing Huawei from the black list altogether. There are clearly still security concerns that perhaps Huawei has nefarious ties to the Chinese government.

I don't want to talk about it now, we're looking at that very carefully. Huawei is very much in play in terms of our country and in terms of intelligence and the intelligence community - we know a lot about Huawei - but I don't want to mention that right now. I just think it's inappropriate. We're not making it other than what I told you... We're going to save that for later.


AfterDawn: News

Design guru Jony Ive is leaving Apple

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 28 Jun 2019 11:18

Design guru Jony Ive is leaving Apple While Apple has mastered some parts of the software world, you might give App Store as an example, it has been, and is still, first and foremost a hardware company.

Apple doesn't do all the manufacturing of the hardware but they do design pretty much everything themselves. One of the aspects that traditionally Apple was perhaps most successful designing was the aesthetics.

This is Jony Ive's realm. He's been leading Apple's industrial design team for years, and in 2015 became only the third C-level executive (in addition to CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri) in the company as the chief design officer.

Now Ive has decided to end his career with Apple and move aside from the company. The design guru that was named senior vice president of industrial design in 1997 soon after the return of Steve Jobs, and was behind iconic and immortal designs like the iMac, the iPod and of course the iPhone, is leaving to pursue more personal goals.

He is regarded as one of the key influences alongside the late Steve Jobs in the new rise of Apple.

Apple is holding on to Ive until the end of the year, and even after that he will likely work as a contractor for Apple with his new design studio.


AfterDawn: News

Apple: Spotify doesn't pay 30% "app tax", barely pays at all

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 25 Jun 2019 2:05

Apple: Spotify doesn't pay 30% "app tax", barely pays at all Spotify and Apple became fierce rivals the moment Apple Music was introduced in June, 2015. The (near) trillion dollar company has put immense focus on catching up Spotify's lead in music streaming game, and the fight has only gotten dirtier.

This include Apple pulling all the stops when it comes to exclusives, spending copious amounts of money on advertising, and of course taking advantage of its massive hardware base. It managed to claw itself into the lead in the U.S. but still has a long way to catch worldwide.

Spotify isn't without tricks to protect their beloved #1 spot either, and the most recent of them is to call Apple out for anti-trust behavior.

They've filed an anti-trust complaint to the EU for Apple's so-called 30 percent app tax. That is the 30 percent share that app developers have to pay Apple for purchases in the App Store. This also applies to the first year of subscription purchases after which it is reduced to 15%, which Spotify has called monopolistic.

Obviously Apple doesn't agree with Spotify's view of the situation, but furthermore they are now suggesting that Spotify doesn't even pay the 30%.

According to Music Business Worldwide, Apple says that Spotify isn't paying what they claim. In fact, according to Apple's response, Spotify hasn't paid any additional commission one any subscribers obtained via the App Store for three straight years.


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