Daily updated technology news

Apple captures over half of global smartphone revenue 19 Feb 2018, 12:52 pm

Apple captures over half of global smartphone revenue

Every year Apple takes home nearly every penny of global smartphone profits. Thanks to huge margins no one has been able to replicate, it only leaves crumbles to Samsung and others. Obviously Samsung is competing in number of smartphones but most of them are way cheaper and barely make them any money.

However, what are the actual revenue numbers? How far behind is Samsung, and others, in terms of pure monetary value of smartphones sold? Well, very far.

A new report from Strategy Analytics has revealed the revenues of last quarter of the 2016 fiscal year. The numbers are very much in favor of Apple, which shouldn't really be a surprise for the largest company in the world by market cap.

Apple racked a total of 51 percent or $61.4 billion of the historically large smartphone market revenue of $120.2 billion. As mentioned, the gap between Apple and the second place holder, Samsung, was very wide.

However, Samsung, like Huawei on third place, managed to enlarge their slices of the pie. Samsung's share was 15.7% and Huawei's 7% with $18.9 billion and $8.4 billion respectively.

Everything comes down to the average prices really. As a typical smartphone manufacturer gets away with $200, maybe $300, average price, Apple manages to sell a phone with the average price of 800 dollars.

Even though smartphone prices have been increasing overall, Apple remains far above others and it seems like there is no touching the Cupertino giant. Obviously a new model with a starting price of $999 has only made catching up impossible.

However, one thing to note is that even though the previous quarter set another record for global smartphone revenue, we did see a dip on units sold. Thus the global increase in prices, which amounted to 18 percent, was the single factor that kept sales numbers growing.

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Chrome's own ad blocker is now live - and this is how it works 18 Feb 2018, 9:56 pm

Chrome's own ad blocker is now live - and this is how it works

Google's Chrome web browser started blocking ads on February 15, 2018. It comes into effect for all of its billions of users, without any extensions, plug-ins or settings to tweak with. Ad blocking for all Chrome users, on by default.

This might sound weird given that Google is the largest ad company in the world: almost all of its massive revenue comes from ads. But there's a logic behind all of this. Google figured out that the reason why Joe Average ever installs a third-party ad blocker is because of the annoying ads, and not simply because Joe hates ads in general. He hates those that obstruct his web browsing and/or annoy him. The problem is that most third-party ad blockers, when installed, block everything from all the websites in the world. So you get frustrated because the hobby site you're visiting has auto-play, audio-on video ads in every corner and install a third-party ad blocker. The result? You block every ad from every site you visit. Sure, you could adjust the settings to allow ads through for specific sites, but only a handful of people ever do that.

Google's thinking is this: If we can remove the annoying ads, people will be happy with the remaining, non-obstructive ads. So, they developed their own ad blocker and built it directly into Chrome.

Some of the ad formats that Chrome will block
some of the ad formats Chrome will block now

Chrome complies with the so-called Better Ads Standard. They list 12 ad types that are most hated and should be blocked. If Google detects any of such ad formats on particular domain, it informs the domain owner and gives them 30 days to fix the issue. If domain owner fails to make appropriate adjustments, the domain will be blacklisted until the problem has been fixed. This means that all ads from that domain will be blocked, even when only some of the ads don't comply with the Better Ads Standard.

It is a major threat to get website owners to clean their sites and remove the "banned" ad formats as quickly as possible. Such formats include auto-play video with sounds on, pop-up ads prestitial ads in mobile.

Ad blocking is now live on both desktop computers and on Android devices.

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Apple promises to fix the crash inducing message bug "soon" 18 Feb 2018, 7:23 pm

Apple promises to fix the crash inducing message bug "soon"

A few days ago a new, and fairly severe, iOS bug was revealed. The problem occurs system wide but especially plagues the messaging and email apps, and crashes either the app itself or the entire operating system.

The problem is rather simple: iOS receives a text message, instant message or an email with a symbol from the Telugu language, a language spoken in India by some tens of millions, and can't compute it.

If the symbol is shown in a notification it will crash the phone and you'll have to reboot. If it is shown on iMessage, WhatsApp, or Gmail for example, it crashes the app and you'll have to reboot the app and somehow get rid of the message.

Now, that seems like a simple fix since it only happens with this specific symbol. And there is a fairly simple solution: iOS 11.3. However, the newest version of iOS is only available for the beta testers currently, but fortunately a fix will be coming "soon" according to Apple, The Verge reports.

Apple is not expediting iOS 11.3, though, which includes plenty of other updates that are still under development. Instead you'll be getting a midway update, perhaps something like 11.2.6, which would be the slightest update over current 11.2.5.

So at this point the only question really is how long it will take Apple to release the fix. Unfortunately there is no other answer except for sooner than iOS 11.3.

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Apple to replace iPhone's back camera with TrueDepth? 18 Feb 2018, 4:35 pm

Apple to replace iPhone's back camera with TrueDepth?

Apple's latest iteration of iPhone, or the greatest one should say since iPhone X and iPhone 8 were released simultaneously, utilizes a new type of camera setup. However, it's not the back camera, mostly used for photographs that was significantly improved.

The front-facing camera, the selfie shooter, was upgraded with never-before-seen technology that Apple's marketing team calls TrueDepth. It allowed Apple to get away with the fingerprint sensor, Touch ID, and rely solely on identification via facial recognition.

Face ID couldn't have been done without the innovations behind the TrueDepth camera. Obviously there are face recognition implementations that are available on Android, and are faster too, but they aren't nearly as accurate, or more importantly secure.

You can, however, use the 3D camera tech for other things too. Forget that Apple decided to showcase it by introducing animojis, the animated emojis that follow your facial motions, there is so much more you could do with a 3D mapping camera.

And thus analysts believe that Apple is going to expand the TrueDepth capabilities to iPhone's back camera, Apple Insider reports. The Cupertino-based company is said to be developing new versions of TrueDepth camera that could bring for example AR experiences to a new level.

As TrueDepth relies on several components in addition to the camera itself, you'll need to make room for additional sensors and projectors next to the camera. At least a laser dot projector is probably necessary to create the 3D map.

It could be that this would also mean that dual camera setup would be given up. Something Google has shown to be wholly unnecessary, even for Portrait mode. Then again, if you remember, years ago 3D cameras were a thing on Android phones and they only relied on a dual camera setup.

Analysts at Barclays are not convinced that Apple would bring the new technology to iPhones this year, however. According to them, we'll have to wait at least until 2019, which makes it iPhone XII, right?

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Sony cuts $100 from PSVR bundles 16 Feb 2018, 9:58 am

Sony cuts $100 from PSVR bundles

Sony is seeking similar success it had with its holiday PlayStation VR discounts with a new temporary price cut.

PlayStation VR prices are being cut by $100 temporarily as Sony seeks to clear out winter stocks. The promotion will run from February 18 to March 3. Under the deal you can purchase the standalone PlayStation VR headset for $199.99 during the time period.

You can also purchase the PlayStation VR Doom VFR Bundle, including the PlayStation VR headset, PlayStation Camera, the PS VR Demo Disc 2.0 and the Doom VFR Blu-ray Disc. The bundle would set you back $299.99 MSRP.

Alternatively, you can get the PlayStation VR Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR Bundle with the PS VR headset, PlayStation Camera, two PlayStation Move controllers, the PS VR Demo Disc 2.0 and Skyrim VR (+ addons). During the promo the bundle will sell for $349.99 MSRP.

There are also reports that you can pick up the Gran Turismo Sport bundle for just $199.99, but availability would be an issue if true.

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Microsoft to add 'Ultimate Perfomance' mode to Windows 10 15 Feb 2018, 6:51 pm

Microsoft to add 'Ultimate Perfomance' mode to Windows 10

Microsoft has posted another update on its official Windows blog about future Windows 10 builds. The post reveals new emojis but also touches on what is a new power scheme for workstations.

The new mode found in the Power settings of Windows 10 is called Ultimate Performance, and does exactly what you would imagine a setting by that name would do. It makes sure that the operating systems takes advantage of as much of your hardware as possible. Currently Windows 10 includes a High Performance power mode but the new mode will further improve efficacy.

According to Microsoft, Ultimate Performance is developed from High Performance by "eliminate micro-latencies associated with fine grained power management techniques" which means that it could likely result in consuming more power.

Unfortunately not everyone will be able to use the new setting as it is limited to a single Windows 10 version. Ultimate Performance can be used only in Windows 10 Pro for Workstations.

Microsoft says that the update is due somewhere in March or April.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on tarkoitettu ympäristöihin, joissa käsitellään paljon isoja data-aineistoja ja tehdään vaativaa laskentaa edellyttäviä tehtäviä. Kotiolosuhteisiin tai edes pelikoneisiin sitä ei ole tarkoitettu lainkaan.

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Hyped AR startup Magic Leap talks price 15 Feb 2018, 4:37 pm

Hyped AR startup Magic Leap talks price

Last year a new virtual reality, or more aptly Augmented Reality, startup was introduced. The company calls itself Magic Leap and has been developing an AR headset that is poised to revolutionize mixed reality content.

In Decembe, Magic Leap revealed what the glasses, and they do actually look like glasses this time around, will likely look like. As the above picture shows, Magic Leap headset has a very unique look with two lenses, and displays, as well as myriad of cameras and other sensors.

Now the CEO and founder of Magic Leap, Rony Abovitz, has sat down with Recode and talked about the future. According to Abovitz, the headset will become available in a couple different setups that are meant for distinct price points.

He says current plans are that the most affordable, and thus the least feature rich, version of the AR headset will cost around the price of a high-end smartphone. One could argue that there are high-end smartphones that cost around $500 but many would bet safe and take the latest, and greatest, iPhone as a reference. So it is very possible that the cheapest version will retail $999 just like the iPhone X.

The Creator Edition, that was revealed in December, is the company's midrange model so there will be an even higher-end version available. However, Abovitz did not reveal how expensive that is. You can draw comparisons towards Hololens, though, that costs around $3000.

That seems awfully lot for another gadget, right? Well, Abovitz believes that this will replace computers, tablets, TVs, and perhaps even smartphones for many, and for that reason they are willing to pay the big bucks.

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EA offers 2008 classic, Dead Space, for free 14 Feb 2018, 8:15 am

EA offers 2008 classic, Dead Space, for free

EA is now giving away the 2008 horror shooter classic Dead Space for free.

The offer is available only for limited time, but once you download the game, it will remain free forever. So, no gotchas there, other than the fact that you need to have an account with Origin in order to get the game.

You can download Dead Space from here.

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Google changes the concept of email with its AMP for Email project 14 Feb 2018, 7:26 am

Google changes the concept of email with its AMP for Email project

Google plans to dramatically change the way email and your inbox works. With its AMP for Email project, Google is making email messages interactive, allowing users to perform various actions directly within the message.

With AMP for Email, each email message could have interactive features. One could, for example, book a flight directly within the email when receiving an offer from an airline. Or to reply to a discussion thread directly from within the email when receiving a notification about new messages in a subscribed forum thread.

Traditionally, actions such as these would require visiting an external webpage through a hyperlink. As Google focuses on making things as fast as possible, especially for mobile users, it makes sense to remove this additional step if you can.

The project is open source and obviously Google is hoping to get as wide support for it as it gained with its Accelerated Mobile Pages project. It is now open for developers and can be accessed/viewed if one has signed up for developer preview edition of Gmail.

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Apple's HomePod and Siri left on last place in a smart speaker bout 13 Feb 2018, 7:06 pm

Apple's HomePod and Siri left on last place in a smart speaker bout

Apple finally managed to release their smart speaker to the public last week. First shown to the public last summer, Apple HomePod, was supposed to be launched by Holiday season where it would wreck havoc, or that's what Apple hoped for at least.

Now that the device has landed on many reviewer's desks, it has been torn apart, although for now only figurative as we wait for JerryRigEverything or iFixit to grab one. A company by the name of Loup Ventures, that calls itself "a research-driven venture capital firm", has compared the new speaker and its assistant to the competition.

HomePod has been receiving quite a bit of criticism from reviewers for not having any connections or supporting Bluetooth. It also is not meant only for the most extreme Apple enthusiast, since it doesn't support Android phones or even really Apple Music competitors like the twice as popular Spotify.

However, most are very impressed with the sound quality that might not be as loud or as bass-y as on Google Home Max, but offers a really balanced good audio experience.

When it comes to comparing Siri, Loup's test seems to be the best so far. A fairly scientific test included a total of 782 inquiries on four of the most popular assistants on four different smart speakers. They had the Amazon's Echo with Alexa, Google Home with Google Assistant, Apple's HomePod with Siri, as well as a Harman Kardon Invoke with Microsoft's Cortana.

The test revealed that Apple has still a long way to go with Siri. Google managed to take the crown with a success rate of 81% with Amazon taking the second spot with 64%. Even the Harman Kardon speaker topped Apple, and HomePod was left last with just over half questions answered correctly.

The testers, however, noted that even though Siri only managed to answer 52.3% of the questions appropriately Siri did hear and understand the question nearly every single time. This means that Apple's listening prowess is way better than its answering abilities at this point.

They also reminded that Apple has just released their device while Amazon has been in business for a long time. HomePod doesn't currently support for example navigation-related questions which took it down quite a bit.

All in all Loup Ventures was impressed with Apple's effort this early on in HomePod's life cycle.

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VLC updated to 3.0, finally with Chromecast support 12 Feb 2018, 5:06 pm

VLC updated to 3.0, finally with Chromecast support

VLC, or as some may know it VideoLAN Client, has updated their app universally. The new versio of the popular media player has finally reached v3.0, and it brings some new and highly anticipated features.

The new versio is available for all VLC supported platforms, both mobile and desktop. You'll be able to enjoy HDR videos and support for hardware encoding is now available for all platforms. However, the most important new feature is probably support for Google's media device Chromecast.

People have been long requesting the feature to, what for many is, the ultimate media player. VLC has finally added a beta version of this feature to VLC 3.0, but unfortunately you can't take advantage it on all platforms.

Currently Google's Cast feature is available only on the Android and Chrome OS, while VLC is also available on Android TV, Linux, macOS, iOS, Apple TV, and Windows. Also not that as the feature is still in beta it means that you might encounter some problems and bugs.

Perhaps by v3.5 we'll have a more wide range of platforms to choose when it comes to Chromecast support and hopefully the beta label has been stripped.

You can download the VLC from here:

VLC for Windows, 32-bit
VLC for Windows, 64-bit

And the rest of the editions you can find from here. Mobile editions can be found from app stores.

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Nvidia admits that they aren't making enough graphics cards 11 Feb 2018, 5:19 pm

Nvidia admits that they aren't making enough graphics cards

A few days earlier Nvidia released their quarterly reports which happened to be a fairly nice read to those who've invested in the company. Revenue was up to a new record, $2.91 billion, and everything seems rosy.

However, while Nvidia might be dancing on rose petals there is an underlying issue that is stopping the company from getting an even sweeter result. As people buying a new PC, or at least a GPU, recently might have noticed, there seems to be a lack of graphics cards.

In many cases you can't just walk in to a store and get your preferred model off the shelf. You might have to wait a bit, weeks even.

Nvidia acknowledges, reports Polygon, that GPUs are few and far in between, which is obviously because demand has overtaken supply. The reason seems to be the cryptocurrency boom that really took off last year.

Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrency, miners are buying all the GPUs they can get their hands on if it means that they are able to make a profit. Extreme demand not only means that you aren't getting your GPUs as fast as you want, but you also have to pay more for them.

Nvidia promised that it will improve on the production side and hopefully customers will not have to wait for their gaming gear as long as they've been accustomed to recently. Not only that, but according to CEO Jensen Huang Nvidia is preferring gamers over miners in the retail.

Also, maybe Bitcoin's plunge lately has also discouraged some miners, and there will be more for gamers.

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Google to finally challenge iMessage properly? Leak suggests major Messages update 10 Feb 2018, 4:57 pm

Google to finally challenge iMessage properly? Leak suggests major Messages update

Android's default messaging apps are probably used by a minority small enough to fit on a palm of a regular sized human hand. Yes, no one uses them.

In most cases you either pick up WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger – both owned by Facebook, mind you – and only open up Messages, or whatever it's called, when absolutely necessary.

Now, this isn't the case on iOS. Apple has managed to capture many, perhaps even most, iPhone users with their iMessage. And I say capture, because it really limits their options moving forwards as there is no iMessage for Android, and likely never will.

So Apple knows that they have built a walled garden, with oh so delicious blue dots and off-putting green ones.

Obviously Google wants to be part of this messaging game. After all, Google wants to play all the games. However, every single approach since Gchat, later Hangouts, have been utter failures in the grand scheme of things. Google seems to be horrible at implementing social media and messaging.

Another try might be on the way, as Android Police have found proof, albeit very unofficial, about a new iteration of messaging on Android.

According to AP, Google is developing an improved Android Messages that includes Rich Communication Services (RCS) support, desktop messaging, and free messages via data connection like on iMessage.

As mentioned, none of this is official, but Google desperately needs to get their game together when it comes to messaging, so one can hope all this is coming soon.

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Google pressures websites towards HTTPS: "A secure web is here to stay" 9 Feb 2018, 5:44 pm

Google pressures websites towards HTTPS: "A secure web is here to stay"

Google's crusade for a safer, more secure web has been taking place for years. Especially after the Snowden leaks everyone has been more interested of encrypted messaging and secure web traffic.

It is no surprise then that Google is about to take another step securing the entire web. The company has now announced on their Chromium blog that their upcoming browser will mark all HTTP sites as "not secure."

Starting with Chrome 68, Google's Chrome browsers will notify the user, albeit not intrusively, if they are using a website that doesn't support HTTPS connections. Currently Chrome does not inform the user about non-secure websites unless they click the information button next to the URL.

When users browse secure websites with HTTPS connection they are already notified that the connection is secure on the address bar.

Many popular websites have already transitioned to HTTPS, and that includes, but even on the top 100 websites 19 do not support HTTPS yet. Google tightening the noose around HTTP is bound to bring that closer to 100, and of course increase the overall HTTPS penetration, which currently stands at 68% on Windows and Android and 78% on Mac and Chrome OS.

Google believes that the transition is good for not only the users that get a more secure connection but also for the websites as it enables new features and improves performance.

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One of the most important parts of iOS leaked, hackers rejoice 8 Feb 2018, 6:18 pm

One of the most important parts of iOS leaked, hackers rejoice

Even though Google's mobile operating system, Android, is arguably not as open source as the company wants you to think, many of the building blocks of it, thanks to AOPS or Android Open Source Project, are everybody's game. This is not the case in Apple's world as most of iOS is completely closed off from anyone outside Apple.

This also means that changing how iOS operates requires some high-level hacking, and as many of us know jailbreaking is quite the hassle compared to Android. Thus it was probably quite a shock to Apple when they found out one of the most important, if not the most important, parts of iOS source code was leaked.

Motherboard reports that part of iOS source code found its way to GitHub, a hosting service for git version control often used for source code. This part, called iBoot, is the one responsible for starting up the device before the user has any control over it.

It's the same part that in Android devices is fairly accessible and it allows custom Android ROM's to be installed. One could imagine that hackers and jailbreakers are going to be enjoying a life of Riley.

The code itself reveals that it is part of iOS 9, a version of iOS that is a couple years old. Apple has since released iOS 10 and last year iOS 11, but some parts, if not most, are bound to be untouched since 2015.

Apple quickly sent a DMCA notice to GitHub to take down the source code and thus confirmed the authenticity of the code. However, Apple should know it as well as we do: Once on the web, always on the web.

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