Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Apple and Google unveiled jointly developed contact tracing technology to help the government track the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies a user if she has been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. The technology’s protocol relies on the phone’s Bluetooth signal to identify those who have been near an infected person. So far, North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina in the U.S. and 22 countries have asked for and received access to the technology. The app was previously released in beta. Continue reading Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Epic Games Intros Unreal Engine 5 With Dynamic Rendering

Epic Games showcased Unreal Engine 5, with its heightened ability to generate realistic graphics in real time on next-generation game platforms from PlayStation 5 to smartphones. Epic Games chief executive Tim Sweeney stated that Unreal Engine 5, which will roll out in 2021, will offer “a real generational leap in new features … [and] will be a straightforward upgrade for anyone working with Unreal Engine 4.” Epic Games also worked closely with Sony so its games can “take full advantage” of the new engine. Continue reading Epic Games Intros Unreal Engine 5 With Dynamic Rendering

Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Banned from buying U.S. technology, Huawei Technologies is still struggling to replace Google apps, which it utilized for ten years. Although all demand for smartphones is down during the coronavirus pandemic, Huawei’s phones are seeing a 35 percent slowdown of shipments outside of China. According to Canalys, that’s more than double the drop faced by its rival Samsung Electronics and four times that of Apple. The slide threatens to topple Huawei from its No. 2 position in global cell phone brands. Continue reading Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Mobile, PC and Console Gaming Skyrocket During Pandemic

According to Newzoo, in 2020 the globe’s 2.7 billion gamers will spend $159.3 billion on mobile, PC and console games, representing 9.3 percent growth from 2019. The game market is on track to exceed $200.8 billion in revenue by 2023, with growth of 8.3 percent per year. The COVID-19 shutdown and the release of new consoles by the end of the year are the biggest contributing factors to growth. Some game developers also note that, during the pandemic, older players of casual games are reactivating accounts. Continue reading Mobile, PC and Console Gaming Skyrocket During Pandemic

Apple Planning Mac Computers With Own ‘Kalamata’ Chips

Two years ago, Apple stated plans to sell Mac computers with its own chips, and now announced it will roll them out in 2021. The company is developing three Mac-specific chips using the 5-nanometer process it will debut this year. The chips, which are expected to be faster than those found in the iPhone and iPad, won’t be able to initially surpass Intel’s performance for Apple’s high-end MacBook Pros, iMacs and Mac Pro. For that reason, Apple will likely first debut a laptop. Apple has used Intel chips since 2005. Continue reading Apple Planning Mac Computers With Own ‘Kalamata’ Chips

Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Long-time rivals Apple and Google joined forces to build software into smartphones that would alert people who have recently been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. Users will have to opt-in to use the tool, which will be ready to release in “several months” and enable smartphones to “constantly log other devices they come near,” to accomplish what is called contact tracing. It also relies on a user’s voluntary report of having become infected. The two companies said they teamed-up in the last two weeks. Continue reading Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Niantic has acquired 6D.ai, an augmented reality company that is building a 3D map of the world via smartphone cameras. According to Niantic chief executive John Hanke, the resulting dynamic 3D world map will enable developers to create planet-scale AR experiences. On the company blog, he stated that, “this means we’re even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware.” Founded in 2017, 6D.ai was spun out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. Continue reading Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

With the coronavirus in full force, Apple is one of many companies finding it challenging to predict consumer demand, even as it readies the release of its low-price iPhone model and 5G-enabled iPhones. Apple closed factories in China and its Silicon Valley headquarters as well as stores in Europe, impacting iPhone sales, which peaked in 2015. The new model was scheduled to debut this month but might be delayed; 5G phones are expected to unveil in September. Meanwhile, Huawei is also testing the demand for new flagship phones. Continue reading Apple, Huawei Test Demand for New Phones in Tough Market

Stanford Project Studies Phone Use, Aims to Identify Patterns

Starting three years ago, Stanford University researchers began the Human Screenome Project to create a digital map with detailed information about how people use their phones. Stanford School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Thomas Robinson, one of the lead researchers on the project, is focused on the portion of the project on adolescents. Although the iPhone first debuted over ten years ago, said the researchers, we have very little information about how such screens impact this cohort’s well-being. Continue reading Stanford Project Studies Phone Use, Aims to Identify Patterns

Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Read It is a new Google Assistant feature that reads web pages out loud in 42 languages. Accessible through browsers and Android smartphones, it is launched by saying “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page.” Users can adjust the reading speed, and the feature highlights words as they are read out loud. Buttons can be used to skip forward or backward in the text or pause the reading. Google also added native support for sensors in Google Assistant, and a special device type for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Continue reading Google Assistant Adds Read Aloud, Sensor Support Features

Gartner’s Mobile Data Shows a Mixed Bag for Phone Makers

Gartner just released figures on total global smartphone sales that show decreased sales in Q4 2019 despite small year-on-year increases for Apple and Xiaomi. In that quarter, consumers purchased 406.6 million new phones compared to 408.5 million in the same quarter the previous year. Samsung, the long-time leader in smartphone sales, retained the same 17.3 percent market share although it sold fewer units year-on-year. In comparison to Q4 2018, Apple sold 5 million more mobile devices in that quarter in 2019. Continue reading Gartner’s Mobile Data Shows a Mixed Bag for Phone Makers

Netflix Switching From VP9 Codec to the More Efficient AV1

With the claim that the new AV1 video codec much more efficiently compresses video, Netflix plans to introduce it to its Android app. Until now, Netflix has used the VP9 codec but says AV1 is 20 percent more efficient. The AV1 codec is already enabled for “selected titles” — although it didn’t name specifics — when the user activates the Save Data option. The company also stated it plans to introduce AV1 on all its platforms and is working with chip and device manufacturers to increase compatibility. Continue reading Netflix Switching From VP9 Codec to the More Efficient AV1

Nvidia Launches Its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming Service

Nvidia debuted its GeForce NOW gaming service, putting it in competition with rivals Apple, Google, Microsoft and Sony. It will connect to PCs, Android phones and Apple Macs, but there is no version for iPads or iPhones. After a free promotional period, GeForce NOW will be priced at $4.99 per month. The games will stream from Nvidia’s data centers, powered by its highest-end graphics cards, providing high definition gaming to all compatible devices. The service will also allow consumers to access titles they’ve bought elsewhere. Continue reading Nvidia Launches Its GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming Service

Apple Revenue Rises But China’s Virus Poses Uncertainties

With its latest iPhone, AirPods wireless earbuds and apps, Apple’s revenue rose 9 percent in the December quarter, to $91.82 billion. In response, the company’s shares rose 1.5 percent in after-hours trading. Apple’s flagship smartphone, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, rose 8 percent to $55.96 billion. China’s coronavirus outbreak poses uncertainty, since most of the tech giant’s products are manufactured there. Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple is limiting travel to China and reducing store operating hours in the country. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises But China’s Virus Poses Uncertainties

Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing. Continue reading Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

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