Smartphones and Wearables Experience Growth in Q3 2018

Research firm Gartner published a Q3 report indicating that global smartphone shipments are continuing a slow but steady growth pattern. Handset sales only increased 1.4 percent to 389 million units overall. However, Chinese brands Huawei and Xiaomi are doing much better (Huawei recorded a 43 percent jump). Meanwhile, IDC reports a more dramatic uptick in the international wearables market. Xiaomi experienced a 90.9 percent year-over-year increase in shipments for Q3, overtaking Apple for the world’s top spot. According to IDC, Fitbit is holding strong in third place. Continue reading Smartphones and Wearables Experience Growth in Q3 2018

Samsung Prototype Debut May Help Kickstart Foldable Trend

Samsung chose its San Francisco developer conference to unveil the anticipated prototype of its foldable two-screen smartphone. The Infinity Flex Display touts a 7.3-inch screen that can be folded to easily fit in a user’s pocket. The device also includes what the company calls a “multi active window” feature that enables running up to three apps simultaneously. Google will support the phones with its Android operating system and is working with Samsung on next year’s planned launch. Meanwhile, foldable tech is becoming an emerging trend, with products in various stages from Huawei, Lenovo, Royole, Xiaomi and LG, some of which we may see at CES in January. Continue reading Samsung Prototype Debut May Help Kickstart Foldable Trend

Huawei Takes On Apple and Samsung in the Mobile Market

IDC reports that Huawei surpassed Apple in smartphone shipments for Q2 and Q3 2018, marking the first time in seven years that Samsung and Apple did not maintain the top two spots together. Huawei held 14.6 percent of Q3 market share, representing a 32.9 percent jump over Q3 the previous year (Samsung took 20.3 percent of the market for Q3 this year, while Apple held 13.2 percent). Huawei is doing well with its P20, P20 Pro and Honor models, while analysts are watching what happens with the newly released Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Continue reading Huawei Takes On Apple and Samsung in the Mobile Market

Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Some Indian leaders are resisting the dominance of U.S. Internet platforms and services such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, Google’s Android mobile operating system and Amazon’s e-commerce business, calling it a form of colonialism and vowing to regulate these foreign companies, especially regarding what they do with users’ personal data and how they might undercut prices offered by local businesses. India’s smartphone market, second largest in the world, is dominated by offerings from China, Taiwan and South Korea. Continue reading India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Samsung Unveils Galaxy Note 9, Inks Partnership with Spotify

Samsung Electronics has debuted the Galaxy Note 9, which features a 6.4-inch screen, a revamped Bluetooth stylus and an upgraded camera. The company hopes that the Note 9, which is priced between $999.99 and $1,249.99, will revive sales and help it compete with Apple iPhones, especially over the upcoming holiday season. The Note 9’s chief selling point is the S Pen, a new stylus that enables remote camera control, switching between presentation slides, and more accuracy writing and drawing on the device’s screen. The camera also adds enhanced colors and exposure. Continue reading Samsung Unveils Galaxy Note 9, Inks Partnership with Spotify

Facebook’s Plans for Innovation Hub in China Hits Roadblock

Facebook has been planning an “innovation hub” in Hangzhou, China — home to Chinese Internet leader Alibaba Group — to support that nation’s startups and developers as well as increase its own presence in the country. However, the approval that was briefly listed on a Chinese government database has now disappeared and, according to one source, the approval has been withdrawn. Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, spurring the company to find other ways to position itself there. Earlier this year, it inked an agreement with Xiaomi to build a VR headset for the Chinese consumer market. The company planned to provide training and workshops through the proposed hub.

Continue reading Facebook’s Plans for Innovation Hub in China Hits Roadblock

Congress Takes Closer Look at Google-Huawei Relationship

A recent deal between Google and Huawei Technologies now has some influential Congress members looking into the relationship between the two behemoths. Google and Huawei, which have an operating-system partnership, recently struck a deal to upgrade capabilities on Huawei smartphones, which run Google’s Android operating system. After Congressional scrutiny, another Silicon Valley giant — Facebook — said it will end its relationship with Huawei and three other Chinese electronics manufacturers. Continue reading Congress Takes Closer Look at Google-Huawei Relationship

Google and Amazon Remain Leaders in Smart Speaker Market

Smart speakers continue their popularity, with nine million units shipped in Q1 2018, representing a 210 percent jump over Q1 2017, according to Canalys. In a first, global shipments of Google Home speakers surpassed those of Amazon’s popular Echo speakers. “Google shipped 3.2 million Home and Home Mini devices, versus 2.5 million Echo devices shipped by Amazon,” reports VentureBeat. “Google held an estimated 36.2 percent share for the quarter over Amazon’s 27.7 percent — a profound reversal from a year earlier, when Amazon had 79.6 percent of shipments to Google’s 19.3 percent.” Continue reading Google and Amazon Remain Leaders in Smart Speaker Market

Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

During this week’s Google I/O conference, the importance of Google Lens to chief executive Sundar Pichai’s AI-first strategy became apparent. Google Lens combines computer vision and natural language processing with Google Search, for a solution aimed at consumers. Lens, described as “Google’s engine for seeing, understanding, and augmenting the real world,” resides in the camera viewfinder of Assistant and, soon, its top-end Android smartphones. Lens recognizes people, animals, objects, environments and text. Continue reading Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

At its Build developer conference this week, Microsoft is showing products that highlight its changed direction under the aegis of chief executive Satya Nadella. Among them is a DJI drone loaded with Microsoft software to identify oil pipeline faults without an Internet connection. Although Microsoft is helping customers enhance their existing gear, the company promised “big things ahead” to those entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem. Uninvolved in recent data scandals, some deem Microsoft to be the tech industry’s moral conscience. Continue reading Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Google revealed that its AI-powered Google Assistant is now connected to more than 5,000 smart devices in the home, up from 1,500 such devices in January. Among the devices now controlled by Google Assistant are air conditioners, cameras, security systems, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Google faces stiff competition in the smart home arena, most notably from Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung’s SmartThings and Bixby. Now the rivals must convince consumers to buy the devices. Continue reading Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Xiaomi Plans Hong Kong IPO, China Reins In Tech Companies

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi plans to launch its IPO in Hong Kong in what is anticipated to be the world’s biggest IPO in 2018. The filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange did not reveal the size or projected valuation of the offering, but sources say the company hopes to raise at least $10 billion. A source also reported that the listing will value the company at “less than the $100 billion figure previously suggested.” Xiaomi’s filing also uncovered some financial details for the first time. Continue reading Xiaomi Plans Hong Kong IPO, China Reins In Tech Companies

ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Just before Mobile World Congress, Google officially introduced its ARCore mobile augmented reality platform. Snapchat and Sony Pictures are among the first to use it; Sony Pictures plans to debut an AR game with a “Ghostbusters” theme that lets users fight and capture ghosts from the movie franchise, comic books and elsewhere. According to Sony Pictures Entertainment executive VP Jamie Stevens, SPE’s partners in the venture are Columbia Pictures subsidiary Ghost Corps and game publisher FourThirtyThree. Meanwhile, Amazon has introduced “AR View” to its Android app for devices that support ARCore. Continue reading ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Gartner: Global Smartphone Shipments Decline for First Time

According to Gartner’s Q4 sales report, the global smartphone market saw a dip in shipments for the first time. The world’s top vendors (besides Huawei and Xiaomi) experienced declines. Overall, there was a 5.6 percent slide compared to the previous year, representing 24.29 million fewer phones. Gartner research director Anshul Gupta cites “a lack of quality ‘ultra-low-cost’ smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones.” Additionally, “replacement smartphone users are choosing quality models and keeping them longer, lengthening the replacement cycle of smartphones.” Continue reading Gartner: Global Smartphone Shipments Decline for First Time

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