AfterDawn: Tech news

News archive (10 / 2020)

AfterDawn: News

FT: Apple prepping a search engine to replace Google

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 28 Oct 2020 2:18

FT: Apple prepping a search engine to replace Google As you might have noticed in the years that have passed, Apple is trying to create an all-encompassing ecosystem of both hardware and software.

One of the major milestones for the hardware have been getting chip production in-house, which means less dependency on companies like Intel. In terms of software, the latest expansions include Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade among others.

Now, according to Financial Times, Apple is developing a search engine to replace Google. This seems like an odd choice for a company like Apple, but it turns out it's more about necessity than what they'd like to do.

See, The US Department of Justice might soon make it impossible for Apple to sell their default search engine spot to Google. The deal is an important part of Apple's service structure and nets the company each year as much as $12 billion.

Now that the contract might become void, Apple is speeding up the development of some sort of a replacement for Google.

At this point it's unclear what type of solution Apple is looking at. Although Applebot has been roaming the web for years collecting website data, it's unlikely that Apple will take Google's approach.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft finally getting rid of Flash, new update

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 28 Oct 2020 12:37

Microsoft finally getting rid of Flash, new update Microsoft has released a new voluntary update for Windows 10 which removes the official bundled Flash exntension from Windows 10. For years now, Adobe Flash has predominantly been just a nuisance or a security vulnerability, but fortunately all participants are finally ready to move on.

Officially, the death of Flash on Windows 10 will have to wait until next year, but at this point you can be a first adopter of sorts. The update removes the bundled Flash, and doesn't allow the reinstallation of it, but it doesn't remove your standalone Flash applications, like browser extensions.

The rest of the removal will happen starting early 2021, as Microsoft will release a Flash removal tool via Windows Update and end the support for Flash on its Edge browser alongside legacy browsers.

Other parts of Flash, like the developer tools, might hang around for a little bit longer but will be terminated later in the year.

Even Adobe themselves have made it clear that there is no future for Flash. Adobe will stop supporting Flash on December 31, 2020.


AfterDawn: News

Forget Retina: Samsung and Stanford developed a 10,000 PPI display

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 27 Oct 2020 12:06

Forget Retina: Samsung and Stanford developed a 10,000 PPI display Six years ago in June Steve Jobs revealed the first Retina display in the form of iPhone 4. It wasn't necessarily anything mind boggling, although the concept they used was new.

According to Apple back then, 330 PPI display of the iPhone 4 was enough to outperform your retina from a standard viewing distance. In the coming years Apple's Retina displays and others have improved upon the pixel density and on some Android phones we're looking at nearly 600 PPI.

However, these are minor changes in technology compared to what Samsung and Stanford University researchers have been working on. Stanford has released a paper about an OLED display that could reach 10,000 PPI.

This would mean that the width of one pixel is 0.001 inches, or around 2540 nanometers, and you could create a Full HD resolution screen that measured just around 0.2 inches wide.

As mentioned, the display is based on OLED technology that Samsung is a pioneer in, but some of the insights came actually from science of nanoscale photonics the researchers were using developing in new type of solar panels.

Obviously creating a smartphone display, much less a PC screen or TV, with this sort of pixel density is currently not convenient. You would need much more processing power to run it at full resolution, but in smaller screens that need to be denser, like in VR, it could be revolutionary.


AfterDawn: News

OnePlus announces two new more affordable smartphones, Nord N10 and Nord N100

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 26 Oct 2020 11:34

OnePlus announces two new more affordable smartphones, Nord N10 and Nord N100 OnePlus has today announced that it will be adding two entirely new smartphone models to its catalog. The new Nord N100 and Nord N10 are the company's most affordable models designed based on the OnePlus Nord released earlier this year.

The original Nord didn't arrive to the U.S. but both of these should be available in the States at a later date. First they will be introduced in Europe.

The cheaper one, OnePlus Nord N100, features a Snapdragon 460 chip, a large 6.52 inch HD+ display, 4 GB RAM, and expandable 64 GB storage. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the 5000 milliamp hour battery. There's also a triple camera setup with 13 MP regular shooter, 2MP macro and 2MP depth sensor.


AfterDawn: News

VPN provider wins a court fight: police can't get or use its database

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 21 Oct 2020 10:01

VPN provider wins a court fight: police can't get or use its database Finnish VPN and antivirus provider F-Secure scored a big win in courts this week. It sued Finnish law enforcement authority over a database raid that was conducted in January, 2019.

In the raid, Germany's top law enforcement agency had asked assistance from its Finnish counterpart, National Bureau of Investigation, to get its hands to F-Secure's Freedome VPN user logs. Germany's authorities wanted to get the data to get evidence for a "serious crime case" in Germany.

As per requested, Finnish NBI confiscated F-Secure's Freedome user records and list of IP addresses used by its users - all of them, not just the ones related to the German authorities criminal case.

F-Secure sued and wanted courts to rule the confiscation of its data illegal. Lower courts have previously agreed with F-Secure's argument and ruled the case in favor of F-Secure. Now, Finnish court of appeals ruled in line with the lower court, in favor of F-Secure.

According to the ruling, authorities can't have blanket access to VPN data, as F-Secure acts simply as a "messenger" for the transmitted data. If authorities would need information about specific user, they'd have to obtain a warrant from court first in order to get a (very specific) set of data, only related to the case in question.


AfterDawn: News

Tesla announces a refreshed Model 3 variants with improved performance and range

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 16 Oct 2020 1:44

Tesla announces a refreshed Model 3 variants with improved performance and range Tesla has announced an update to their Model 3 lineup that wasn't necessarily expected. The company has refreshed the Model 3 with improvements in performance.

It isn't a major rehaul but there are some important improvements under the hood. The price won't be any different, and you won't necessarily even know about the changes unless you take a peak at the specs.

Of the three Model 3 variants the two more expensive ones got improved range as well as slight performance boost in terms of acceleration. The new Model 3 Performance now claims an EPA rating of 319 miles instead of the 299 previously.


AfterDawn: News

Song (without words) stuck in your head? Hum it to Google!

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 16 Oct 2020 8:51

Song (without words) stuck in your head? Hum it to Google! Most of us probably know the annoying feeling when you have a melody of a song stuck in your head, but you can't remember the name of the song or the artist who played it.

Well, luckily, there's a solution to that. Google has added a support for humming to its voice search and knows when you're looking for a song name.

Basically, the AI-powered feature tries to recognize the patterns of your humming and compare those to the database of songs it has stored. And it works, pretty darn well, as we quickly tested the feature.

You can activate the feature by tapping the small microphone symbol in Google's search bar. Then, you simply start humming. After few seconds, Google suggests that you might want be looking for a song:

Option to search for a song based on humming

After moving to the specific song search, continue humming and you'll see an audio wave resembling what you hum to the microphone:

Google listening to your humming


AfterDawn: News

Sony releases introductory video to PlayStation 5's user experience

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Oct 2020 11:20

Sony releases introductory video to PlayStation 5's user experience Sony has today released a new video on the YouTube page revealing some new footage of the upcoming game console. For the first time, Sony offers an rather in-depth look at the UI of PlayStation 5.

In this 11 minute video they go through some of the most important UI elements found in the new console. It starts off from a mid-game state paused, as you would start you console from rest mode. The view is called Control Center and via it you can access controller settings, communications, and power options, as well new Cards that include news and game specific Activities.

The video also goes through multiplayer features like the improved Party system with voice chat and media sharing, and of course the Home Screen that hasn't changed a ton from previous generations, probably for a good reason.

One of the more impressive new features is the splitscreen and picture-in-picture viewing of game help content as well as shared screens of your friends.

The entire experience has been designed with 4K displays in mind, and that is what you want to have to get everything out of PS5. But without further ado, here's the video:


AfterDawn: News

OnePlus announced new OnePlus 8T with 120 Hz display, 65 watt charging

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Oct 2020 10:40

OnePlus announced new OnePlus 8T with 120 Hz display, 65 watt charging Chinese smartphone phenom OnePlus has announced new products yesterday. As the company had confirmed the new OnePlus 8T came as a solitary device this time around, without a Pro partner.

Thus, the current flagship among OnePlus devices remains the OnePlus 8 Pro.

That doesn't mean, however, that the OnePlus 8T release was any less exciting. The phone has a lot of new things to offer in a little more affordable price point.

The phone that replaces OnePlus 8 has quite a few advantages over its predecessor from earlier this year. OnePlus 8T has a new super-fast Warp Charge 65 technology as well as improved display.

The former is, as one can imagine from the name, a 65 watt fast charging technology that allows the OnePlus 8T to charge the 4500 milliamp hour battery from zero to full in 39 minutes. A day's charge is said to be attained in just 15 minutes.

To make this possible, the battery of the phone is divided into two separate batteries that are charged simultaneously. To make it reliable and durable, there's 12 sensors measuring temperature to make sure the heat doesn't pose a problem.

Warp Charge technology actually doesn't make the phone as hot as you might think since it divides the heat production between the wall brick and the phone.


AfterDawn: News

Google plans to turn YouTube into a shopping site

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 15 Oct 2020 8:22

Google plans to turn YouTube into a shopping site Well over 50 percent of consumers watch YouTube product videos before making a purchase decision. And now, YouTube's owner, Google, wants to tap into this opportunity.

Google is testing a feature that would basically turn YouTube into a massive e-commerce site. Select YouTube channels have been participating with a test where channels are encouraged to tag the products they feature with their videos.

Eventually, the master plan for Google is to add "Buy now" buttons next to all unboxing and review videos. Instead of traditional outbound links, where clicking such link would take user to a selected e-commerce site, the purchase could be handled and completed fully within YouTube itself. Google is testing such feature with Canadian Shopify where transactions are handled inside YouTube, even tho the actual seller is Shopify. Google's plans were revealed by Bloomberg.

Monetization model of such plans is not quite clear yet, but probably Google plans to take a certain percent of all transactions' value. It is also unclear whether YouTube content creators get a cut or not.


AfterDawn: News

Huawei in talks to sell its sister brand Honor

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 14 Oct 2020 7:33

Huawei in talks to sell its sister brand Honor Huawei has been pushed to corner with U.S. export restrictions, blocking the Chinese telecom giant from using Android operating system in its phones. Furthermore, United States has made it very hard for company to develop new chips for its phones, as U.S. suppliers aren't allowed to provide any technology for the company for now.

According to Reuters report, company is now "resetting its priorities" and considers selling its youth-oriented sub-brand, Honor.

While relatively unknown in United States, Honor has been extremely successful brand on its own in many Western European countries. According to Reuters' sources, the sale would include Honor brand, R&D capabilities and supply chain management business.

Possible bidders for Honor business include three Chinese companies: Digital China which is already the distributor of Honor phones, Chinese electronics company TCL and Huawei's phone rival Xiaomi.

If Honor sale goes through, Honor would be able to use Android and other U.S. technologies in its line of phones, as the entire Chinese electronics industry isn't in U.S. crosshairs, just Huawei and handful of other players.


AfterDawn: News

Netflix: No more free trials in the U.S.

Written by James Delahunty @ 13 Oct 2020 8:59

Netflix: No more free trials in the U.S. Having previously eliminated the free trial option for new customers in other territories, Netflix has confirmed it is killing the offer in the U.S. too.

For years, Netflix would tempt customers with 30 days of full access to its entire library. Potential customers could cancel before paying a monthly subscription fee for the world's largest streaming service. However, with more than 200 million subscribers, Netflix has decided to pull the plug on the freebie.

"We're looking at different marketing promotions in the U.S. to attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience", a Netflix spokesperson said while confirming the reports, according to Reuters.

Competing services have started to eliminate similar options. Disney halted the free trial for its Disney+ service back in June.

Netflix does still offer its free portal for potential customers to watch some of its original content without paying.

AfterDawn: News

Apple unveils new 5G iPhone 12 models

Written by James Delahunty @ 13 Oct 2020 8:50

Apple unveils new 5G iPhone 12 models On Tuesday, Apple unveiled four new iPhone 12 models bringing 5G to its smartphone line-up.

The four models include the Apple iPhone 12 mini, Apple iPhone 12, Apple iPhone 12 Pro, and Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. All of them support 5G wireless networks, which will be used when the operating system of the device determines it is required. For low-data requirements, it will drop to LTE 4G connectivity to save battery.

All models also run on Apple's proprietary A14 Bionic system chip. Each features an OLED display including its lower-end iPhone models for the first time. MagSafe wireless charging is also supported.

As leaks suggested, the iPhone 12 models have squared off edges rather than rounded edges, and each has a protective glass developed in conjunction with Corning, which develops Gorilla Glass.

Another previously leaked detail that turns out to be true is that the iPhone 12 models do not come with a charger or headphones. They do come with a USB-C compatible Lightning charging cable. Apple justifies the omissions on environmental grounds, finding that most people already have multiple chargers and also that by removing chargers the iPhones can be packed more tightly for shipping.


AfterDawn: News

U.S. Congress: Internet giants are monopolies

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 09 Oct 2020 1:15

U.S. Congress: Internet giants are monopolies The House Antitrust Subcommittee has released a 449 page report which delves into antitrust issues in digital markets involving some of the largest companies in the world.

The report, which can be found here (pdf), goes into detail of four dominant online platforms: Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. Apple and Amazon the report claims have "significant and durable market power" and dominance in their respective fields.

Google, and Facebook, are said to have a straight-up monopoly in their segments.

However, it also says that Amazon has a monopoly power over many small and medium-sized businesses, and Apple exerts monopoly power in the app store market.

These allegations seem a little less drastic than in the case of Google and Facebook, but nonetheless are seen as some of the more egregious antitrust issues.

The report says the the scrappy startups of the yester year are now "the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons" and that it's not clear whether the companies think they are above the law.

While the report doesn't equate to new laws or policies against the monopolistic nature of these internet giants, it does include proposals how to avoid their ever-increasing power.


AfterDawn: News

AMD announced new Zen 3 based Ryzens, new flagship beats i9-10900K

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 09 Oct 2020 12:23

AMD announced new Zen 3 based Ryzens, new flagship beats i9-10900K AMD has announced the new processors based on the Zen 3 architecture, as expected. The company's new flagship is the 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X.

The company promises as significant leap in performance from previous generation. According to AMD, the new CPU architecture brings along up to 19 percent improvement in computing using the same clock speeds as the predecessor.

Not only are the chip more powerful, they also provide a better efficiency which means less heat generation.

The new models that will be landing soon are as follows:


AfterDawn: News

Google's Stadia works now on mobile networks

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 09 Oct 2020 12:08

Google's Stadia works now on mobile networks Google's strategy with their cloud gaming platform Stadia was all along to compete on all platforms and with all devices. However, the hardest problems to solve don't at all come from the devices of their platforms but from the connections.

The toughest one to do properly is mobile internet. Mobile phones and their data plans aren't well suited for the latency driven entertainment. That is why while Google has promised mobile data gaming on Stadia, it has been under the Experimental umbrella for the past few months.

Now, Google has decided that its stable enough that it can be enjoyed by everyone.

There are some disclaimers, though. The gaming quality is limited to 720p, and there's now word if or when this will go up.

Also, one has to consider the data transfer rates in a country that doesn't offer many unlimited plans. Google says that Stadia will use up to 2.7 GB/hr of 4G or 5G mobile data.

That translates to average of 45 megabytes a minute or around 750kB per second. That should be easily accessible with both 5G and good 4G connections.

In games where latency is a problem at all, the transfer speed isn't usually the problem. That is unfortunately largely a luck of the draw, since you cannot really choose where Google's servers are located, and mobile data pings are very unreliable to begin with, at least on 4G.


AfterDawn: News

Apple quietly removes audio competitors from the Apple Store

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 07 Oct 2020 3:51

Apple quietly removes audio competitors from the Apple Store While no one was looking, or so they thought, Apple made some changes to their online store. The company removed some of the competing audio products from the Apple Store.

Previously you could find the likes of Bose's popular ANC headphones (pictured) and Sonos speakers on Apple's online offerings. Now Bloomberg reports that there's no Bose, no Sonos, and no Logitech headphones, although other Logitech products are found.

All Bose product have disappeared as well as Sonos smart speakers, and the Ultimate Ears branded Logitech headphones. Bose and Logitech have confirmed that Apple no longer sells those products but there's no word on why this is the case.

One can predict that Apple is soon ready to launch new audio products, perhaps a new take on HomePod and on-ea/over-ear headphones.

Apple's iPhone event is slated for next week, so stay tuned and come back on the 13th to see whether this was indeed the case.

AfterDawn: News

Sony releases an official teardown of PlayStation 5

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 07 Oct 2020 12:57

Sony releases an official teardown of PlayStation 5 Sony has already unveiled most things about the PlayStation 5 console, as one would imagine at the point that pre-order have already started – and sold out.

However, there's still things we don't know, and we learn new things about the next-gen consoles constantly, like is the case with Xbox Series X and its load speeds.

Sony themselves have now released a YouTube video showing the internals of the upcoming PlayStation 5. This official teardown lasts seven minutes and takes a close look at the structure, connectivity and tech inside.

The VP of Mechanical Design Dept. Yasuhiro Ootori goes through how the console's stand can be used to prop the console up both in horizontal and vertical fashion, how to easily open the the console and access the M.2 PCIe 4.0 slot for storage expansion, and how to take part the entire console while going through most specs.


AfterDawn: News

Xbox Series X load speeds out of this world! Doom Eternal loads in 5 seconds

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 07 Oct 2020 12:39

Xbox Series X load speeds out of this world! Doom Eternal loads in 5 seconds The next generation of console gaming is upon us. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (and S) are already in pre-order stage of the release schedule, and if you're looking for one, you are already probably out of luck.

Even with pre-orders sold out we still don't know everything about the consoles. We have a good idea about the specs inside Xbox Series X, for example, but how does it translate to real-life performance.

One thing that's going to make the new generation much more speedier than the previous are the new SSDs. Xbox Series X has a custom 1 TB NVMe SSD. This storage solution means that games will load up faster than ever.

A twitter user and an Xbox insider by the name of astaranx has posted a video showing current generation Doom Eternal loading up a map on Xbox Series X. The loading sequence blazes through the percentages and lasts only five seconds.

Another Twitter user wanted to make sure the game isn't a fast loader even on Xbox One X. To make it even more fair, the One X had an SSD installed instead of an HDD that would obviously lose to the SSD of Xbox Series X.

Still, it took more than twice as long at 10 seconds to load out the map.


AfterDawn: News

Blizzard has postponed World of Warcraft: Shadowlands launch

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 02 Oct 2020 10:06

Blizzard has postponed World of Warcraft: Shadowlands launch Blizzard has released a statement titled "An Update on Shadowlands" where the Executive Producer of World of Warcraft, John Hight, has announced that the expansion has been delayed.

Hight details that they want the expansion in the hands of players but the right decision was to postpone the launch. At this point there is no release date, but for now the launch will happen later this year.

Originally World of Warcraft: Shadowlands was slated for October 26 release.

According to the statement the essentials of the game seem ready for release but due to feedback there are endgame issues that still need to be resolved. Also working from home is mentioned as a reason that the endgame content hasn't been properly tuned yet.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft announced new Surface Laptop Go and updated Surface X

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 02 Oct 2020 9:31

Microsoft announced new Surface Laptop Go and updated Surface X Microsoft announced yesterday without much fanfare the new and more affordable Surface Laptop Go as well as an improved Surface X.

The new Surface Laptop Go starts at $549.99 and the newly-updated Surface X 2-in-1 starts at $1,499.99.

Each version of Surface Laptop Go is equipped with a 10th gen Intel Core i5. RAM and storage options vary from 4 GB of LPDDR4x and 64 GB eMMC up to the 8 GB and 256 GB SSD on the highest-end version.

All of them have the same 12.4 inch and 3:2 touchscreen PixelSense display with a resolution of 1536 x 1024, and PPI of 148. Microsoft promises up to 13 hours of battery life, and charging via 39 watt charger.

The laptop is 15.69 mm (0.61") thick and weight 1110 grams (2.44 lbs). It's built from aluminum, polycarbonate and composite resin.

Connectivity options include one USB-C, one USB-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack and Surface Connect port. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi 6.

Power button has a fingerprint sensor (not on cheapest model) but there is no Windows Hello for face recognition, although it has an HD capable camera.


AfterDawn: News

Google's latest smart speaker is for listening to music

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Oct 2020 11:38

Google's latest smart speaker is for listening to music Google announced a new audio device at yesterday's Pixel event. In addition to the new smartphones, and Chromecast with Google TV, the company introduced the new Nest Audio.

This is the company's latest smart speaker that is aimed at people who want a great listening experience from their smart speaker. The single speaker comes with a 19 mm tweeter and a 75 mm woofer.

Unlike many of the smart speakers aimed toward Assistant functionality, this one doesn't have a 360 degree audio but instead is projected clearly to the front allowing better experience when listening to music in the designated area.

You can also combine multiple speakers to an array or room configuration like with Sonos.

As you might imagine the speaker works great with YouTube Music and Google has some celebrities, including Selena Gomez, demoing it with their own music service.

Nest Audio will be available on October 5 for $99.


AfterDawn: News

Google has a new Chromecast with Google TV interface

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Oct 2020 11:29

Google has a new Chromecast with Google TV interface Google announced yesterday two new Pixel phones but the event wasn't only about smartphones. Google also announced a new Chromecast device that will join the regular Chromecast and replace Chromecast Ultra.

The new Chromecast with Google TV offers now a remote control in addition to the dongle. You might ask what do I do with the remote, since Chromecast is traditionally controlled via other smart devices.

That's where the Google TV part comes in. The company also announced a new app, or user interface, called Google TV. Initially this comes with the new Chromecast but it will also be available to other Android TV devices and even smartphones.

The UI offers a compilation of all the different video and streaming services in one place and controllable via the remote. Also included in the remote is a separate Assistant button that can be used to control the Chromecast but also smart home devices.

Chromecast with Google TV became immediately available in three color options for $49.99 at Google Store. There's also a bundle with Netflix offering the device and six months of Netflix (dual screen plan) for $89.99, although it's out of stock now.


AfterDawn: News

Ikea stops selling regular batteries, only allows rechargeable ones

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 01 Oct 2020 3:54

Ikea stops selling regular batteries, only allows rechargeable ones Furniture giant Ikea has decided to stop selling regular, non-chargeable batteries in its stores worldwide.

The change will come into effect in October 2021 after which date, company will only sell rechargeable batteries in its stores.

"By phasing out alkaline batteries and focusing on our range of rechargeable batteries, we are taking one step on that journey, offering customers an affordable and convenient solution to prolong the life of products and materials and reduce waste."

-Ikea Sustainability Development Manager Caroline Reid

According to Ikea, by switching to rechargeable batteries, customers could help it reduce more than 5,000 tons of electrical waste, as Ikea sold about 300 million standard alkaline batteries between September 2018 and August 2019. The 5,000 figure is based on calculation where company assumes customer would charge the rechargeable battery 50 times.

Source: Ikea press release

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