Category: Technology

Apple Never Considered Huawei an Option for 5G iPhone Chips

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The company has already confirmed that it signed a supply agreement with Qualcomm, suggesting that a 5G iPhone is indeed on its way. And while no specifics were shared, everyone now expects this 5G iPhone to launch in 2020.

Meanwhile, a quick look at how Apple handled the whole dispute shows just how certain the company was a 5G iPhone would come to be without the need for a potential agreement with a rival.

Leaving Qualcomm aside, Apple’s only choices when it came to a 5G modem were Intel, Samsung, and Huawei. Intel originally said a 5G chip would be ready in 2020, but analysts projected the company would miss this target, eventually pushing back a 5G iPhone for another year.

Samsung and Huawei, not even considered as alternatives

Samsung, on the other hand, already supplies a series of parts to Apple for the iPhone, including the OLED screens, but given Cupertino’s attempt to reduce reliance on its South Korean rival, adding a 5G modem to this list wasn’t considered a good idea.

Huawei was the last big name with an output that could have reached Apple’s expectations, but as it turns out, the iPhone maker hasn’t even reached out to the Chinese firm to discuss a potential 5G modem deal.

Despite Huawei actually saying it was willing to supply 5G chips to Apple, a company representative said at the Huawei Analyst Summit a few days ago that the American firm never looked into such an option.

“[There was] no communication with Apple about 5G modems,” a company representative said at the event according to tech analyst Anshel Sag.

In the meantime, Huawei has huge plans in the short term. The firm wants to become the number one phone manufacturer by 2020, while at the same time investing big in high-end phones with 5G capabilities.

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Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL Expected to Launch on May 7 At Google’s I/O 2019 Developer Conference

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Google is gearing up for its annual developers’ conference, the Google I/O 2019. To be held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California between May 7, 2019, to May 9, 2019. Being one of the biggest events organized by the tech giant, the teasers have already started burgeoning. Google has put up a teaser on its Google Store indicating that the company would be launching new Pixel devices alongside OS, Google Assistant, and VR updates.

Google Teases Pixel Phones Launch At I/O 2019

The teaser on the Google Store reads, “On May 7, something big is coming to the Pixel universe.”The caption in bold says, “Help is on the way.” All this hints at the launch of budget Pixel devices rumored to be Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, at the I/O 2019. In addition to the obvious teaser for the Pixel devices, there is a promotional video in collaboration with Marvel for the upcoming movie, Avengers: End Game. The video showcases popular Marvel Avengers characters in Playmoji format on the Pixel 3 smartphone.

Although Google has not exclusively revealed that it would be launching the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL smartphones at the Google I/O 2019, the leaks and renders that have surfaced in the past few weeks give us reasons enough to expect the launch in May 2019. So, yeah, Google will most likely include the budget Pixel phones among other devices that it may announce at the event.

Google Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL Rumors So Far

As we mentioned in the beginning, leaks and renders around the Pixel 3a lineup have been dominating the tech landscape for several weeks. Earlier this month, Google itself ‘accidentally’ disclosed Pixel 3a moniker in a listing on the Google Store page. Even though Google had withdrawn the listing, it confirmed the existence of the Pixel 3a smartphone.

Some of the other leaks revealed that Google would use a Snapdragon 670 chipset in the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL smartphones and couple it with up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of inbuilt storage. Both the phones would ship with Android 9 Pie. In terms of display, both Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will have an aspect ratio of 18:9. Connectivity support would include eSIM. The upcoming budget Pixel phones are also expected to feature Active Edge sensing technology for Google Assistant. Reports also state that unlike the Pixel 3 lineup, the forthcoming pixel 3a phones would embrace 3.5mm headphone jack.

Among the two upcoming phones, the Pixel 3a XL would feature a slimmer design with lesser bezels around the screen while the Pixel 3a could have more bezels. As of now, none of the rumored specs have been confirmed by Google, so we must take them with a pinch of salt. All the necessary details surrounding the Pixel 3a lineup would unfold at the I/O 2019 slated for May 7, 2019.

Russian State Duma adopts law on “sovereign Internet”

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Roskomnadzor, Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media

Russian  State  Duma adopted the draft law on the provision of Russian segment work on the Internet in case it disconnects from the global infrastructure World Wide Web, as TASS reported.

Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, – ed.) will be responsible for “coordination of provision of a stable, safe and integral functioning” of the Internet in Russia. If there are threats to stable work of the Internet in Russia, the establishment can “implement centralized management of the public telecommunications network”.

The Government will define the types of threats and measures to remove them. In particular, the body will designate the “cases of management of the technical means to counter the threats and give compulsory instructions”.

Besides, the secondary legislation should provide “demands on organizational technical interaction within central management of the public telecommunications network and the ways Roskomnadzor defines technical possibilities of execution of instructions given within the central management,” the document reads.

Besides, the Government is responsible for “defining the conditions and cases when the service provider has a right not to send traffic through the technical means of countering threats”.

The operators who sent such means are exempted from the responsibility to block banned information if the access to it is limited by the mentioned systems within the central management of the public telecommunications network.

Related: Roskomnadzor: Amazon, Google can face issue of work in Russia due to Telegram

The law provides the creation of a national system of domain names.

Earlier, Russian media informed that the document on Digital economy received a sum in the amount of $456,9 million for the development of the sovereign Internet.

As it was reported, Twitter was fined for conflict with Roskomnadzor.

See the new iPhone’s ‘focus pixels’ up close

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The new iPhones have excellent cameras, to be sure. But it’s always good to verify Apple’s breathless on-stage claims with first-hand reports. We have our own review of the phones and their photography systems, but teardowns provide the invaluable service of letting you see the biggest changes with your own eyes — augmented, of course, by a high-powered microscope.

We’ve already seen iFixit’s solid-as-always disassembly of the phone, but TechInsights gets a lot closer to the device’s components — including the improved camera of the iPhone XS and XS Max.

Although the optics of the new camera are as far as we can tell unchanged since the X, the sensor is a new one and is worth looking closely at.

Microphotography of the sensor dies shows that Apple’s claims are borne out and then some. The sensor size has increased from 32.8mm2 to 40.6mm2 — a huge difference despite the small units. Every tiny bit counts at this scale. (For comparison, the Galaxy S9 is 45mm2, and the soon-to-be-replaced Pixel 2 is 25mm2.)

a circuit board© Provided by AOL Inc. The pixels themselves also, as advertised, grew from 1.22 microns (micrometers) across to 1.4 microns — which should help with image quality across the board. But there’s an interesting, subtler development that has continually but quietly changed ever since its introduction: the “focus pixels.”

That’s Apple’s brand name for phase detection autofocus (PDAF) points, found in plenty of other devices. The basic idea is that you mask off half a sub-pixel every once in a while (which I guess makes it a sub-sub-pixel), and by observing how light enters these half-covered detectors you can tell whether something is in focus or not.

Of course, you need a bunch of them to sense the image patterns with high fidelity, but you have to strike a balance: losing half a pixel may not sound like much, but if you do it a million times, that’s half a megapixel effectively down the drain. Wondering why that all the PDAF points are green? Many camera sensors use an “RGBG” sub-pixel pattern, meaning there are two green sub-pixels for each red and blue one — it’s complicated why. But there are twice as many green sub-pixels and therefore the green channel is more robust to losing a bit of information.

a screenshot of a video game© Provided by AOL Inc.  Apple introduced PDAF in the iPhone 6, but as you can see in TechInsights’ great diagram, the points are pretty scarce. There’s one for maybe every 64 sub-pixels and not only that, they’re all masked off in the same orientation: either the left or right half has gone.
The 6S and 7 Pluses saw the number double to one PDAF point per 32 sub-pixels. And in the 8 Plus, the number is improved to one per 20 — but there’s another addition: now the phase detection masks are on the tops and bottoms of the sub-pixels as well. As you can imagine, doing phase detection in multiple directions is a more sophisticated proposal, but it could also significantly improve the accuracy of the process. Autofocus systems all have their weaknesses, and this may have addressed one Apple regretted in earlier iterations.

Which brings us to the XS (and Max, of course), in which the PDAF points are now one per 16 sub-pixels, has increased the frequency of the vertical phase detection points so that they’re equal in number to the horizontal one. Clearly, the experiment paid off and any consequent light loss has been mitigated or accounted for.

I’m curious how the sub-pixel patterns of Samsung, Huawei, and Google phones compare, and I’m looking into it. But I wanted to highlight this interesting little evolution. It’s an interesting example of the kind of changes that are hard to understand when explained in simple number form — we’ve doubled this, or there are a million more of that — but which make sense when you see them in physical form.

Facebook has problems fact-checking words, but now it wants to check photos and videos

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To say that Facebook’s fact-checking efforts are going well would not pass the muster of any good fact-checker. Its external partners have said the system is inefficient. Some of them are getting brutally attacked online. Partisan bickering has also been an issue. And most importantly, sketchy news sources and fake stories continue to thrive on the platform.

Facebook’s executives, on the other hand, keep praising the program. And on Thursday (Sept. 13), the company announced that it would be expanding its fact-checking work to photographs and videos. In a post, Antonia Woodford, a product manager at Facebook, says it built a machine-learning model to identify potentially false images or clips. These get sent to one of Facebook’s 27 fact-checking partners who are based in 17 countries. These fact-checkers are expected to use techniques “such as reverse image searching and analyzing image metadata” to determine whether the content has been falsified.

“As we get more ratings from fact-checkers on photos and videos, we will be able to improve the accuracy of our machine learning model,” Woodford writes. The company is also working on technological solutions to determine whether visual content had been manipulated (as is the case with “deepfake” videos like this, for example).

Manipulated images are a common way to the spread of misinformation, and hoaxers are getting more and more sophisticated with their methods, but text-based articles are hard enough to check. The current system is far from perfect, and now Facebook is piling on yet another, difficult ask.

Canon announces EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera

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Canon has announced its first full-frame mirrorless camera and lens system, both called EOS R. Coming shortly after rival Nikon announced its own full-frame mirrorless cameras, the announcement of the EOS R means both Japanese camera giants are now taking high-end mirrorless seriously after years of putting out half-hearted responses to the likes of Sony and Fujifilm.

As previously leaked, the EOS R camera is built around a 30.3-megapixel full-frame sensor with an ISO range of 100-40,000. The sensor uses dual-pixel autofocus and is paired with Canon’s DIGIC 8 image processor. There’s a fully articulated touchscreen as well as an OLED electronic viewfinder and an information panel on the top of the camera.

While the camera basically looks like a slimmed-down DSLR, the EOS R system breaks away from Canon’s traditional control scheme in a few ways. Most notably, all the lenses have a dedicated control ring as well as the dials for zooming and manual focus; this lets you adjust settings like aperture from the lens itself. There’s also a sliding left-right control bar on the back of the camera that can be used for various other features.

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The first EOS R lenses are a 24-105mm f/4 L, a 50mm f/1.2mm L, a 28-70mm f/2 L, and a 35mm f/1.8 macro. Canon is also releasing three lens mount adapters for EOS SLR lenses, including one with the EOS R control ring and another that can be used with drop-in filters. The camera will be available body-only or with the 24-105mm lens in late October.

We’re at Canon’s EOS R event in Tokyo and will bring you more news and impressions soon.

Samsung Galaxy X to have FOUR rear cameras and launch in 2018

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The Samsung Galaxy X looks like it has just had its camera system leaked online and, at face value, it looks like an optical system in advance of that installed on the best Android phone in the world, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Why? That’s because the new Samsung phone looks like it is equipped with four rear cameras, which sees it double up on the Note 9’s two-camera rear setup.

A four-camera rear setup would also see this new Samsung phone also outgun the mighty Huawei P20 Pro and its Leica-brand triple-rear camera, which remains one of the best smartphone camera systems in the world.

The four-camera reveal comes courtesy of Samsung leakster-in-chief Ice universe, who has a very reliable track record of breaking specs and feature news for the South Korean maker’s upcoming devices, and recently stated that:

 

Now, despite the brevity of these Tweets, if you put them all together they actually deliver a clear picture of what is being alluded to.

Firstly, the new Samsung phone being hinted at here is “not [the] S10 or Galaxy F“, which are rumored to be the South Korean maker’s much-wanted upcoming flagship and folding phones, which are predicted to be landing in early 2019.

Unless, therefore, this is a brand new phone we currently know nothing about, it has to be the Samsung Galaxy X, which recently has been reported as Samsung’s incoming gaming phone.

Secondly, this new Samsung phone is coming in “2018”, meaning that we should at least see a reveal this year if not a full launch. This again seems to indicate that this phone is not the Samsung folding phone (reported as both the Galaxy X and Galaxy F) or Galaxy S10 flagship, which are due in 2019.

And, thirdly, the new iPhone rival will have four cameras (“camera camera camera camera”) and they will be positioned facing “all back”.

a close up of electronics: Samsung Galaxy S10 © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Samsung Galaxy S10

These details naturally raise the question of why the new Samsung phone, which as we’ve elaborated on at this point looks like it will be the Galaxy X gaming phone, need four rear cameras?

The answer could lie in the phone’s next-gen AR gaming capabilities, or even VR powers in-sync with the new Samsung Gear VR headset.

Indeed, a flagship-spec new Galaxy phone from Samsung tailored to take on the best gaming phones on the market, such as the Honor Play and Razer Phone, but with crazy-advanced AR/VR capabilities as well, would really help separate Samsung’s hot new gaming phone from the rest of the pack.

A pixel-pushing powerhouse new Android phone with mad AR and VR capabilities that is set to land before the end of the year? Color us excited!