AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

Google ready to give up and copy iMessage

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Apr 2018 14:11

Google ready to give up and copy iMessage Google's mobile operating system is the most popular around the world, but it is not without faults, far from it. Many of you are familiar with the Android's fragmentation problem, also known as "where are the damn updates?!", but there are some other key issue too.

One of them is something that is perhaps not discussed enough, the messaging mess. For iPhone users both SMS and instant messages are as simple as 1, 2, 3 – you use iMessage and that's it.

On Android over the years you've been through dozens of applications that designed for different purposes by different teams for different kinds of people. Finally Google has decided to call it quits and just go with what Apple has determined to be the best practice.

The best practice, of course, is the way of the iMessage – and don't get me wrong there are no perfect solutions as will become evident. When using iMessage you'll send messages and pictures over the internet for blue dot contacts (with iOS device) and over the cellular network for green dot contacts (non-iOS users).

The same will apply to Google's new messaging app that is called Chat, according to a scoop by The Verge. Chat will be released somewhere between 6 and 12 months from now, and will be replacing Google's current messaging apps on all Android devices.

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AfterDawn: News

LG to release first ever phone with dedicated Google Assistant button

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Apr 2018 14:27

LG to release first ever phone with dedicated Google Assistant button Perhaps nothing is a bigger focus point for technology giants these days than artificial intelligence. Companies try to integrate smart, and often learning, systems to almost all facets of modern technology.

Google has been at the forefront of this AI revolution for years, and one of the more important achievements is the Google Assistant. Google Assistant is of course an ever-learning voice assistant just like Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana, or Samsung's Bixby.

You can talk to Google Assistant nowadays via Google Home devices but more importantly on hundreds of millions of Android phones. The company has been looking to integrate Assistant more seamlessly with smartphones, but traditionally you'd have to first wait for the features to be applied to their own Pixel line of smartphones.

However, according to CNET, the second largest Korean manufacturer, LG, is about to release the first ever phone, dubbed LG G7 ThinQ, to feature a Google Assistant button. Then again, Google's last year's Pixel 2 phones have a squeeze sensing feature that opens up the Assistant.

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AfterDawn: News

Netflix beat growth estimates, Amazon boasts 100 million Prime members

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 19 Apr 2018 9:32

Netflix beat growth estimates, Amazon boasts 100 million Prime members Netflix revealed their quarterly results this week, and even most of the more positive analysts didn't guess how well the three month period has gone for the streaming giant. Adding around 7.4 million new subscribers it was a whole million ahead of Wall Street estimates.

This means that Netflix's global user base has grown to around 125 million even when the company has in the recent past increased some of its pricing. However, Netflix is definitely not without competition these days, and Jeff Bezos wants to makes this clear.

Following the Netflix reports, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos unexpectedly revealed some stats about Prime memberships. Previously the company has stayed quiet about the subscriber counts but Bezos decided to share with investors that Prime subscribers have surpassed 100 million.

One doesn't know if the sudden urge to reveal membership details came because of Netflix's recent announcements but it does put Amazon's prowess into perspective. Obviously Prime membership offers much more than the Grand Tour toting video streaming service, which is continuing to invest in original content.

While Amazon isn't all in on the video streaming quite like Netflix and its $8 billion investment in programming, it definitely has potential to make Netflix's future seem a bit more uncomfortable.

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AfterDawn: News

Cable companies accepting defeat? Comcast bundling Netflix

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Apr 2018 13:31

Cable companies accepting defeat? Comcast bundling Netflix In the arena of television and media, cable companies and Netflix are rivalries of the most epic proportion, or so you'd think.

For many of the Netflix generation there aren't much to gain from old-fashioned cable television while cable companies want to protect their TV profits with expensive subscriptions.

Comcast, Spectrum (formerly known as Time Warner), and others are bending over backwards trying to keep their customers. Bundling TV with internet, and even home phone, is the go-to strategy of aforementioned companies.

Now, they've seemed to have accepted defeat and joined Netflix's side, or are at least flirting with the idea. Comcast, the largest of them all, has entered in a partnership with Netflix and is offering the streaming service in a new bundled service package.

Of course cable companies offer internet in addition to TV, and with that internet many choose to watch Netflix. In fact, on the X1 platform nearly half of the users use Netflix actively.

Netflix on the other hand is getting access to millions and millions of potential new customers with not much work on their side, so it seems like a good deal for both of them.

The companies have already been in a partnership via Comcast's X1 platform but now they are ready to expand. Comcast's statements says they are going to offer "new and innovative Xfinity packages, including a Netflix subscription."

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AfterDawn: News

Love vinyl? Soon there's a new, better sounding HD version

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 Apr 2018 13:08

Love vinyl? Soon there's a new, better sounding HD version In recent years, as physical music media has largely disappeared from use and from stores, there's been one exception that has seemed to cement itself with a surprisingly strong foothold.

While CDs have been crushed by streaming services, people still find use for old vinyl records. Perhaps it is the fact that they are the most tactile, physical media and the opposite of where the mainstream is now.

Austria based company Rebeat Innovation is trying to hit this niche with a new product it has collected $4.8 million in investments for. The technology, dubbed High Definition Vinyl, is said to be a better version of the age old method of listening to music.

The HD vinyl is said to provide a richer, more authentic sounds with higher peak volumes compared to traditional vinyl records, Pitchfork reports. It is unclear how the higher volume is managed but the company says the technology increases the amplitude up to 30 percent.

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AfterDawn: News

Reuters: Tesla starting the production of Model Y next year

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 12 Apr 2018 17:09

Reuters: Tesla starting the production of Model Y next year Most of the largest car manufacturers of the world are developing both autonomous vehicles as well as full electric cars. Both of these are of course the wheelhouse of Tesla, lead by the generation's revolutionary numero uno.

Tesla has been an important player in both respects for years but only after the release of Model 3 (pictured) has it really become a truly dangerous to some of the biggest – and oldest – companies in the world.

However, an affordable electric car has been problematic, to say the least. Tesla is struggling with the production, and ramping it up seems to where it needs to be is posing troubles even Elon Musk didn't expect.

Perhaps Tesla is better at doing higher end cars, and should stick to them?

Well, according to Reuters, as soon as next year Tesla is going to start producing yet another model, and it's not the super car Roadster. The report says that Tesla is looking to start production of a new Model Y before the end of 2019.

Model Y is slated to be Tesla's fifth car model, after Roadster, Model S, Model X, and Model 3. It's a crossover, quite like the Model X, that has some functionality of a SUV but in a more compact body, likely based on Model 3.

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AfterDawn: News

Gmail getting a revamp with a new interface, features from Inbox

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 12 Apr 2018 12:22

Gmail getting a revamp with a new interface, features from Inbox Google is planning to do a fairly meaningful user interface revamp to its beloved email service, Gmail, according to a leak by Android Authority. The renovation will include new features that have been used in Google's 2015 launched email service Inbox.

Among these updates Google will introduce smart answers and mute to Gmail, but perhaps more importantly user interface will get a refresh. Nothing major will change, as you might imagine, after all the companies don't want to fix what's not broken and thus no radical changes are usually expected.

Google will move Gmail's interface more towards its Material Design design philosophy most likely familiar from Android. This means turning some buttons into round bubbles and changing some colors, fonts and other minor elements.

Function-wise Gmail will retain everything you've gotten used to, and the bulk of options should be in their own usual places.

Leak doesn't have information when this update would be released but it might be as soon as Google I/O next month. Learn more about the leaked update at Android Authority.





AfterDawn: News

Google to buy Nokia's new airplane LTE technology?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 11 Apr 2018 9:43

Google to buy Nokia's new airplane LTE technology? Google is in talks with Nokia to buy their air-to-ground LTE technology, Bloomberg reports. According to the information acquired by Bloomberg, Google's parent company Alphabet wants to expand its current ISP service to new markets.

Nokia has developed a technology called A2G (air-to-ground) which uses mobile broadband connections to connect airplanes to ground cell towers. This means that you don't have to bounce the connections off of satellites. It improves upon both speed and latency of the connection on planes that traditionally use satellites for internet connectivity.

Google has been looking into bringing fast internet connections to flights. Currently the market leader is Gogo Inflight Internet operated by Chicago-based Gogo.

The search giant has been looking for ways to connect people of the world in myriad of ways. One of these is of course Google Fiber, which has been expanding slowly but surely, but also cross-ISP service Profect Fi as well as more experimental connectivity advancements in Project Loon with high-altitude balloons.

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AfterDawn: News

Googles upcoming Android TV device revealed in pictures and specs

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Apr 2018 13:09

Googles upcoming Android TV device revealed in pictures and specs Google only really sells one type of TV product at this moment, albeit in a couple variations. That is of course the immensely popular Chromecast streaming dongle we all know and love.

However, other manufacturers already offer perhaps a more Google-y TV experience than Chromecast already. That is due to the fact that Google has offered its Android TV platform for manufacturers since its inception alongside a now discontinued Nexus Player.

However, Google has been rumored to be releasing a new Android TV product, and that is exactly what we've got for you today. The US regulatory body for communications, FCC, has revealed a product by the name of 4K ATV Stick, manufactured by a Chinese company called Shenzhen SEI Robotics.

Now, it could be just another Android TV device from a no-name Chinese company, but we believe, as do the hawkeyed Ausdroid, that this is in fact the upcoming Google device.

There's a few hints in the pictures provided by the FCC. First and foremost you can't miss the huge Google logo on the front, but perhaps even more importantly the device is fitted with the Google Assistant out of the box.

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AfterDawn: News

Apple Music is growing fast, hits another major milestone

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 05 Apr 2018 13:14

Apple Music is growing fast, hits another major milestone Just as Spotify entered the stock market in an unusual direct listing that determined its market value at nearly $30 billion, Apple has announced that its 2015 launched service hit a new milestone.

Apple Music, the streaming service launched at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in July of 2015, has reached 40 million subscribers. The company revealed the new subscriber count via Twitter, although from an usual source.

The tweet was posted by Steven Huon, the content boss of Apple France, and not by say Tim Cook, or Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, who revealed just a month earlier at SXSW that Apple Music had 38 million subscribers.

I doesn't necessarily mean Apple managed to rack two million new subscribers within a month – although it has been closing in on Spotify's subscriber acquisition numbers after a shaky start – although it is possible. It could be that Cue has a little bit older data at SXSW.

The world's largest streaming music service, Spotify, started the year with 70 million subscribers. The Swedish service has added 5 million subscribers every three months or so, which would make Spotify's user count somewhere around 75 million at this moment.

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AfterDawn: News

Spotify was publicly listed with market cap of nearly $30 billion

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 04 Apr 2018 10:34

Spotify was publicly listed with market cap of nearly $30 billion The king of music streaming, Spotify, completed the public listing process yesterday. The company officially listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) where the market initially valued the company almost at $30 billion.

Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek wrote a blog post a day earlier thanking hard-working employees for the past years, but more importantly looked in to the future.

The company has been a huge influence in music industry as a whole. During its early years it was the target of artists, activists, and record companies who believed that especially the free tier is the essentially stealing from the artists.

Later Google and Apple have followed suit, and streaming music is overwhelmingly the choice of music media these days. And Spotify has turned millions of non-paying customers into real customers.

The company in fact boasts now a total of over 160 million listeners, of which more than 70 million are paying a monthly subscription fee. The worldwide customer base is unparalleled, although Apple Music is challenging Spotify's numbers in the US.

NYSE recognizes Spotify, that did an unusual direct listing instead of a fancier more traditional IPO, now with a ticker SPOT. Spotify opened with a stock price of $165.90 which is a quarter up from its initial reference price.

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AfterDawn: News

Goo.gl is shutting down

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 03 Apr 2018 14:49

Goo.gl is shutting down Google's URL shortener Goog.gl is shutting down, the company reports. The service that was introduced in 2009 is going to be killed off and you'll have to rely on bit.ly and others.

Google has announced that come April 13th the service will not function anymore and you should switch to a different ULR shortening service. Among the more popular are aforementioned bit.ly as well as ow.ly.

Don't worry though, this doesn't mean that URLs already shortened with Google's service won't work after next Friday. Goo.gl URLs will be working in the future as well but Google just simply doesn't allow you to make new shortened web addresses.

Google retains the Goo.gl console from which you can modify your links until March 2019 when that is shut down. Even after that you'll be able to use already created URLs.

The search giant is suggesting you move to what it calls Firebase Dynamic Links. Google introduces these new type of dynamic links in 2016 and you can check them out on the short below.

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AfterDawn: News

Mozilla releases a privacy tool for Facebook users

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 28 Mar 2018 13:30

Mozilla releases a privacy tool for Facebook users Facebook has been under quite a volley of fire recently, thanks to the Cambridge Analytica controversy. Now Mozilla has revealed a new tool to prevent privacy violations.

The world's largest social media company has been tracking its users in myriad of ways, some of which are more nefarious than others. For example, with cookies Facebook has managed to store data on websites its users visit.

Mozilla is branding their web browser as the solution to the privacy breaking madness, and has released a new tool it calls the Facebook Container Extension. As you might imagine it is an extension for the company's Firefox browser.

The extension prevents Facebook from tracking you when you are browsing other sites. This obviously doesn't affect usage within Facebook or even when using Facebook buttons outside the site, such as the like or share buttons, which will be tracked and sold, just like everyone should expect by now.

You can find Facebook Container Extension from Mozilla's web store and if you are new to Firefox and would like to give it a go amidst all the privacy concerns, head to our software section to download it.





AfterDawn: News

Apple confirms Siri privacy bug, fix coming

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 24 Mar 2018 11:34

Apple confirms Siri privacy bug, fix coming Apple's latest iOS versions have been in some hot water lately. As you probably remember, the current iteration of iPhone's (and iPad's) operating system slows down older devices with degraded batteries.

All would have been good, if Apple just told people and perhaps even offered a way out of this slowdown even if that would mean battery problems. And that is exactly what Apple is going to offer in the upcoming iOS 11.3 update.

Well, turns out there are some other fairly major problems with the current system version. Apparently Siri, the voice assistant for iOS, can read your notifications out loud, and thus blurt out private messages even when the device is locked, and when the notifications aren't revealing any secrets.

Apple has acknowledged this bug to MacRumors, and confirms that an upcoming patch will indeed take care of any privacy issues related to Siri reading locked messages.

Currently this problem affects many third party applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and email apps. It seems to have no effect on iMessage, however.

The update is likely to arrive with the major iOS 11.3 update that also includes the aforementioned battery improvements, although there is a possibility of an intermediate smaller patch.

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AfterDawn: News

Chrome update tackles what is the most annoying problem on the web

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 23 Mar 2018 12:05

Chrome update tackles what is the most annoying problem on the web The internet is decades and decades old already, and more specifically even the web, the world wide web as it was once known, has come of age a decade ago, depending on how you define adulthood and start of the WWW.

Most of you probably still can think of a few problems with the undoubtedly revolutionary technology that has brought all information in the world to our fingertips. Perhaps you dislike the unintended feature that people seem to be creating their own echo chambers to feed their confirmation bias. Or think that social media is toxic, as some have pointed out with findings related to Facebook recently.

However, there might be one thing we can agree is not good, though. Automatically playing advertisements with sounds. Now Google has decided to tackle this issue once and for all.

Google, the player in online ad space, has announced that the upcoming update to its Chrome browser will block advertisement that are automatically playing video with sounds. The version number 66 will not be stopping all automatically playing videos but only the ones that might ruin your eardrums.

Obviously Google has noticed that there's no reason to make people hate ads entirely, and thus it might be more persuasive to keep people's ears intact, at least until they consent to the sounds.

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