Daily Report: A Net Neutrality Setback for Facebook in India
In the United States, the social media giant has been an advocate of equal treatment of all Internet content. In India, regulators who share that belief have effectively blocked a free Facebook service.
Right now, there are a few different 5G phones out there to choose from if you really wanted to. The wireless carriers have their 5G networks up and running to varying degrees, but I think it's safe to say that if you don't already have a 5G phone right now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Waiting can be pretty frustrating when it comes to personal technology and smartphones, but I think this is one instance where it's not a bad thing at all.
But it sounds like it might be a harder thing to avoid in 2020.
A lot of companies are going to launch 5G-enabled smartphones this year. Samsung, LG, and even Apple is rumored to have 5G in at least the majority of its new smartphones expected to arrive later this year. So even if it's not a wireless technology you think you might actually reap the rewards from just yet (I'm not sure when 5G will be available in my neck of the woods, for instance), you might have a phone that can if you're in the right market.
That's probably not a bad thing, either, especially depending on how often you actually upgrade your phone. Getting a 5G phone in 2020, even if you don't have access to a 5G network this year, will mean your phone will support the wireless coverage when it does arrive in your area. There might be some caveats there, but at least you'll have access to it.
But maybe you aren't ready to make that particular leap yet. Like I said earlier it might be a bit tough to avoid a brand new phone and not get 5G on it -- especially if you want the top-tier flagship model -- but you don't have to get a 5G phone this year if you don't want to. 2020 is going to be a big rollout year for the wireless technology, sure, but it will be better in general in 2021 and beyond.
Or this could be the year you do upgrade to a 5G phone specifically for that reason! And that's what I'm wondering. Are you going to upgrade to a 5G phone this year, specifically to get access to the upgraded wireless network? And if so, which device are you planning to upgrade to? Let me know!
There are a lot of different things to subscribe to out there. That's especially true if you just narrow down the options and look at a particular category like streaming services. Music. Video. There are so many that it can be pretty daunting.
For someone interested in cutting the cord from their traditional cable company, choosing which streaming video options is the first step. Do you grab HBO for that Event Television? How about Showtime, or Starz, or CBS All Access, or... You get it. And those feel like almost essential options! Not to mention the variety of live TV streaming services there are.
What about the bonus options? The streaming services that feel like supplemental to the stock services that one might need if they're cutting the cord. Netflix. Disney+. And then there's Apple TV+, Shudder, and so on. And that's even if any of these services are actually supplemental in any way.
I don't know about you, but Netflix feels like about as standard a subscription service these days as any other.
So, Apple TV+. It's one of the cheapest options out there at $4.99 per month, but it's also one of the weakest subscription options when it comes to actual content right now. 2019 ended with just a handful of shows to watch from the service and a documentary. It's not a lot!
But it feels like the tide is about to change. Just a couple of days ago Apple officially announced new launch dates for new series and documentaries. New dramas. New comedy series. And that's all stuff that's launching before the middle of this year, with even more coming down the line.
Thanks to a deal with my wireless carrier I get 12 months of Apple TV+ for free. Which means I'll get access to that new stuff in a few months without having to change anything, payment wise. But I think it's safe to say that, right now, if I were paying for Apple's streaming video service I'd cancel it because there isn't anything to actually watch.
Even with a lot of content coming down the line, thanks to partnerships with people like Alfonso Cuarón, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Justin Lin, and so many others, I can't help but think this is going to be a recurring issue for Apple. Literally running out of things to watch. I've said that before about Netflix and that was just because I couldn't find anything to watch. Not because there wasn't something out there in the seemingly endless back catalog.
And that's what I'm interested to find out this morning. Are you still subscribing to Apple TV+ if you were paying for it before (as in, not getting the service for free)? Or did you run out of stuff to watch and drop the service? Let me know!
Apple has relied on the Lightning connector for several years now, making it one of the defining elements of the iPhone lineup since. Of course, Apple using a different port for wired charging in its smartphone lineup is not new, and that's also been one of the defining elements of Apple's tenure in the smartphone space since day one. But it sounds like the future of the iPhone could get a little more interesting, if the rumors are true.
There is always speculation that Apple is going to drop Lightning and move on to USB-C. That picked up steam when the company's portable Mac lineup introduced the port. And then again when the iPad Pro did the same thing. Apple is obviously not against the idea of USB-C for some of its products, so why not the iPhone? After all, it would mean customers would only need one cable to charge all these devices, and that's pretty cool!
But it doesn't look like 2020 is going to be the year that happens.
Not exactly. That same rumor also said Apple is going to go "completely wireless" for at least one of the iPhones in 2021. Which could be a sign of things to come for future handsets in the lineup, too. If this is something Apple does plan to do, then introducing the "feature" in one iPhone to start isn't a bad way to do it. And then the company trickles it out to other variants in the following years.
But it also seems kind of crazy because a completely wireless iPhone would leave Apple's CarPlay out in the wind for a lot of people. Right now, the majority of use cases for CarPlay involve a wired connection to the car. Yes, Wireless CarPlay does exist, but its adoption has been abysmal from auto manufacturers. That could change in the next year or so, but it doesn't feel like that's going to be the case.
And even if it were, people can't realistically be expected to upgrade their car just so their phone can be charged inside of it, or use Apple's infotainment system.
A completely wireless phone sounds like a great idea on paper, but I'm not sure that Apple should show the courage here to go through with this plan. Unless the company is going to have two high-end flagship models that are exactly the same, except one features no port and the other has one (like a USB-C port, mind you). Think an iPhone 13 Pro Max and one iPhone 13 Pro Max Wireless.
But, what do you think? Should Apple go full wireless for an iPhone in 2021? Or should the company just make the switch to USB-C and call it good? Let me know what you think!
There might not be as many of them today as there used to be, but rugged phones are still a thing. Samsung used to be one of the companies out there in the wild releasing new tough handsets on a regular basis, so it's not really a surprise to see the company coming back with a new idea in 2020.
Samsung recently unveiled what it calls the "XCover Pro," and it brings with it the now familiar design of its more flagship handsets, but packs it all in a rugged package. The handset can survive a fall from 1.5 meters without a case, and it can also survive in environments with extreme altitude and humidity, among other conditions.
It's not the most eye-catching design out there, but it's also not the worst.
The XCover Pro features a fingerprint reader on the side of the handset (so no in-display fingerprint scanner this time), two cameras on the back, a hole-punch display, and a microSD card slot for expandable storage. It comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage. The screen measures in at 6.3 inches.
It's a pretty mid-range handset, all things considered, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It definitely looks good enough, at least on paper. Plus, it's running Android 10 out of the box, so that's a nice touch.
But what's probably most important about the XCover Pro is the fact that the 4050mAh battery is user replaceable. That's right, Samsung has brought back the removable battery! This used to be one of the primary features for Samsung-branded handsets, with the company using it as a major selling point against the likes of Apple's iPhones for years.
Of course, Samsung moved away from the removable battery, too, but it looks like the company's not ready to completely give up on the idea just yet. But the question is, of course, is this a feature people want anymore?
The reason behind a removable battery is pretty clear: it's quick to swap out in a pinch. So if you have an extra battery and you need to replace the dead one in your phone, you can. I can't say that I've ever done something like that -- having an extra battery on me, even for planned trips, just never panned out. But I know some people who absolutely loved the option, even if they didn't have to take advantage of it all the time.
So, with Samsung bringing back the removable battery (kind of), I'm curious: Is this something you'd be interested in seeing coming back to more flagship handsets? Would you buy a new Galaxy S smartphone down the line if it had a removable battery? Let me know!
Highlights of the day: More Apple products to have scissor switch keyboards
Apple reportedly is looking to adopt scissor switch keyboards in its new 13.3-inch MacBook Pro and new iPads slated to be available later in 2020 and the strategy should benefit their Taiwan-based component suppliers. Meanwhile, hinge makers expect clients' hinge orders for their foldable smartphones to pick up in the second half of 2020, while Taiwan's IC backend houses are expanding capacity to satisfy demand for more complex chips.
PCB makers revving up capacity expansion for ABF substrates
Taiwan-based IC substrate makers Unimcron, Na Ya PCB and Kinsus Interconnect Technology are actively proceeding with capacity expansions for ABF substrates in 2020 to meet robust demand for processing 5G base stations chipsets and for heterogeneous integration of diverse high performance computing (HPC) chips, according to industry sources.
Highlights of the day: IT firms gearing up for 2020
IT firms worldwide are taking aggressive actions for their businesses in 2020 with some adopting strategies to defend its market status such as Intel, which is looking to cut its PC processor prices in the second half of 2020 to attract demand, while Inventec Appliances is expanding its capacity for AirPods, eyeing for more orders from Apple. China-based Yangtze is now pushing to do 128-layer 3D NAND flash manufacturing, while Qualcomm and MediaTek are expected to report double-digit increases in their 2020 sales because of their 5G products.
Sony, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics had showcased large-size micro LED TVs while China-based TCL, Konka and Leyard Optoelectronic had exhibited large-size RGB fine-pitch mini LED displays at CES 2020 during January 7-10, signaling that micro LED TVs will have a good chance to come into production in the second quarter of 2020 and demand for large-size RGB fine-pitch mini LED displays is growing in the year.
Computational Intelligence Technology Center under government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has developed an AI-based deep learning solution for use in training robotic arms to load and unload components onto and off production lines.
Motorola Razr pre-orders will finally start on January 26
Mark your calendar! Pre-orders for the much-anticipated Motorola Razr will start on January 26th. If you’ve been following the Motorola Razr news, you’re probably well-aware that pre-orders were expected to kick off in December and the phone was initially expected to go on sale on January 7th. Due to overwhelming demand, Motorola decided to postpone ...
WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app on the planet, is finally getting a Dark Mode setting! While we’ve seen the same feature roll out to thousands of popular Android apps over the years, WhatsApp is finally jumping on board after Google’s full embrace of Dark Mode with the release of Android Q last fall. We ...
Samsung Galaxy S20 pricing show why flagship smartphones are dying
By now you’ve probably seen the latest Samsung Galaxy S20 rumor. Pricing for the phone will start at €900 – €1000 for the Galaxy S20 and reach €1300 for the Galaxy S20 Ultra. If you’re thinking that flagship smartphone prices are out of control, you’re not alone. So just heard S20 prices. Expect these to ...
Disney+ will make its UK and wider EU debut earlier than expected
After its successful launch in the US, Disney+ is set to make its debut in the UK and other select European markets on March 24th, a week earlier than expected. Disney+ Pricing in the UK will be £5.99 per month or £59.99 for a full year while the monthly and yearly subscription pricing in the ...
SCDKey offering Windows 10 PRO for $13 with the end of Windows 7 support coming up
You may have heard that Microsoft is officially ending support for Windows 7. If you’re looking to upgrade your computer’s operating system to maintain official Microsoft support for updates in the future, upgrading to Windows 10 is the best course of action! Purchasing Windows 10 can be pretty expensive, but SCDKey is offering an incredible ...
Google Scientists Unveil the Biggest, Most Detailed Map of the Fly Brain Yet
An anonymous reader shares a summary from Howard Hughes Medical Institute: In a darkened room in Ashburn, Virginia, rows of scientists sit at computer screens displaying vivid 3-D shapes. With a click of a mouse, they spin each shape to examine it from all sides. The scientists are working inside a concrete building at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus, just off a street called Helix Drive. But their minds are somewhere else entirely -- inside the brain of a fly. Each shape on the scientists' screens represents part of a fruit fly neuron. These researchers and others at Janelia are tackling a goal that once seemed out of reach: outlining each of the fly brain's roughly 100,000 neurons and pinpointing the millions of places they connect. Such a wiring diagram, or connectome, reveals the complete circuitry of different brain areas and how they're linked. The work could help unlock networks involved in memory formation, for example, or neural pathways that underlie movements.
Gerry Rubin, vice president of HHMI and executive director of Janelia, has championed this project for more than a decade. It's a necessary step in understanding how the brain works, he says. When the project began, Rubin estimated that with available methods, tracing the connections between every fly neuron by hand would take 250 people working for two decades -- what he refers to as "a 5,000 person-year problem." Now, a stream of advances in imaging technology and deep-learning algorithms have yanked the dream of a fly connectome out of the clouds and into the realm of probability. High-powered customized microscopes, a team of dedicated neural proofreaders and data analysts, and a partnership with Google have sped up the process by orders of magnitude. Today, a team of Janelia researchers reports hitting a critical milestone: they've traced the path of every neuron in a portion of the female fruit fly brain they've dubbed the "hemibrain." The map encompasses 25,000 neurons -- roughly a third of the fly brain, by volume -- but its impact is outsized. It includes regions of keen interest to scientists -- those that control functions like learning, memory, smell, and navigation. With more than 20 million neural connections pinpointed so far, it's the biggest and most detailed map of the fly brain ever completed. The scientists have published a pre-print paper describing their work, and have made the data they collected available to view and download.
Twitter Tells Facial Recognition Trailblazer To Stop Using Site's Photos
Kashmir Hill reporting for The New York Times: A mysterious company that has licensed its powerful facial recognition technology to hundreds of law enforcement agencies is facing attacks from Capitol Hill and from at least one Silicon Valley giant.
Twitter sent a letter this week to the small start-up company, Clearview AI, demanding that it stop taking photos and any other data from the social media website "for any reason" and delete any data that it previously collected, a Twitter spokeswoman said. The cease-and-desist letter, sent on Tuesday, accused Clearview of violating Twitter's policies.
The New York Times reported last week that Clearview had amassed a database of more than three billion photos from social media sites -- including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Venmo -- and elsewhere on the internet. The vast database powers an app that can match people to their online photos and link back to the sites the images came from. The app is used by more than 600 law enforcement agencies, ranging from local police departments to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security. Law enforcement officials told The Times that the app had helped them identify suspects in many criminal cases. It's unclear what social media sites can do to force Clearview to remove images from its database. "In the past, companies have sued websites that scrape information, accusing them of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an anti-hacking law," notes the NYT. "But in September, a federal appeals court in California ruled against LinkedIn in such a case, establishing a precedent that the scraping of public data most likely doesn't violate the law."
Nintendo Doesn't Have To Refund Digital Preorders, According To European Court
A European court has sided with Nintendo's ongoing practice to not let users cancel digital preorders. The Verge reports: According to Norwegian gaming site PressFire, the consumer authorities of Norway and Germany sued Nintendo for not letting users cancel digital preorders purchased from the eShop. The case went to court at the end of last year. This week, the court ruled in favor of Nintendo, meaning it can continue the practice for now. PressFire reports that the German consumer authority has appealed the ruling.
When the Norwegian Consumer Council first formally criticized Nintendo's policy in 2018, it said that Nintendo's policy conflicts with the EU's Consumer Rights Directive, which requires that consumers must be able to cancel online purchases and receive refunds. Nintendo's no-refunds policy is also in place for the U.S. -- in fact, Nintendo states that all sales of digital purchases on the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Switch are final -- and Nintendo is the only console maker that doesn't let customers cancel a digital preorder, which the Norwegian Consumer Council noted in its 2018 complaint.
Seattle-Area Voters To Vote By Smartphone In 1st For US Elections
A district encompassing Greater Seattle is set to become the first in which every voter can cast a ballot using a smartphone. NPR reports: The King Conservation District, a state environmental agency that encompasses Seattle and more than 30 other cities, is scheduled to detail the plan at a news conference on Wednesday. About 1.2 million eligible voters could take part. The new technology will be used for a board of supervisors election, and ballots will be accepted from Wednesday through election day on Feb. 11.
King County voters will be able to use their name and birthdate to log in to a Web portal through the Internet browser on their phones, says Bryan Finney, the CEO of Democracy Live, the Seattle-based voting company providing the technology. Once voters have completed their ballots, they must verify their submissions and then submit a signature on the touch screen of their device. Finney says election officials in Washington are adept at signature verification because the state votes entirely by mail. That will be the way people are caught if they log in to the system under false pretenses and try to vote as someone else. The King County elections office plans to print out the ballots submitted electronically by voters whose signatures match and count the papers alongside the votes submitted through traditional routes. "Voters who use the smartphone portal also have the option to not submit their ballots electronically," notes NPR. "They can log in, fill out the ballot and then print it to either drop off at designated drop-off locations or put in the mail."
AMD Launches Navi-Based Radeon RX 5600XT To Battle GeForce RTX 2060 Under $300
MojoKid writes: Today AMD launched its latest midrange graphics card based on the company's all new Navi architecture. The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT slots in under $300 ($279 MSRP) and is based on the same Navi 10 GPU as AMD's current high-end Radeon RX 5700 series cards. AMD's Radeon RX 5600 XT is outfitted with 36 compute units, with a total of 2,304 stream processors and is essentially a Radeon 5700 spec GPU with 2GB less GDDR 6 memory (6GB total) and a narrower 192-bit interface, versus Radeon RX 5700's 8GB, 256-bit config. HotHardware took a Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT around the benchmark track and this card has a BIOS switch on-board that toggles between performance and silent/quiet modes. In performance mode, the card has a 160W power target, 14Gbps memory data rate, a Boost Clock of 1,750MHz and a Game Clock of 1,615MHz. In silent/quiet mode, things are a bit more tame with a 135W power target, 12Gbps memory, and 1,620 MHz/1,460MHz Boost and Game Clocks, respectively. In the gaming benchmarks, the new Radeon RX 5600 XT is generally faster than NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2060 overall, with the exception of a few titles that are more NVIDIA-optimized and in VR. Though it lacks the capability for hardware-accelerated ray tracing, the new AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT weighs in $20-30 less than NVIDIA's closest competitor and offers similar if not better performance.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Wine 5.0 has been released today and contains over 7,400 bug fixes and numerous audio and graphics improvements that will increase performance in gaming on Linux. With the release of Wine 5.0, WineHQ hopes to resolve many of these issues, with the main improvements being:
-Builtin modules in PE format: To make games think Wine is a real Windows environment, most Wine 5.0 modules have been converted into the PE format rather than ELF binaries. It is hoped that this will allow copy-protection and anti-cheat programs to not flag games running under Wine as being modified.
-Multi-monitor support: Multiple displays adapters and multi-monitor configurations are now supported under Wine.
-XAudio2 reimplementation: XAudio2 libraries have been added back to Wine and will use the FAudio library for better compatibility.
-Vulkan 1.1 support: "The Vulkan driver supports up to version 1.1.126 of the Vulkan spec." Here are the release notes, download locations for the binary packages (when available) and source.
Amazon Boss Jeff Bezos' Phone 'Hacked By Saudi Crown Prince'
According to the Guardian, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had his phone "hacked" in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. From the report: The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world's richest man, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis. This analysis found it "highly probable" that the intrusion into the phone was triggered by an infected video file sent from the account of the Saudi heir to Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post.
The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on May 1 of that year, the unsolicited file was sent, according to sources who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity. Large amounts of data were exfiltrated from Bezos's phone within hours, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Guardian has no knowledge of what was taken from the phone or how it was used. [...] The disclosure is likely to raise difficult questions for the kingdom about the circumstances around how U.S. tabloid the National Enquirer came to publish intimate details about Bezos's private life -- including text messages -- nine months later. It may also lead to renewed scrutiny about what the crown prince and his inner circle were doing in the months prior to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was killed in October 2018 -- five months after the alleged "hack" of the newspaper's owner.
The first case of an infection with a new coronavirus has been discovered in the United States. NPR reports: A man from Washington state returned home after a trip to Wuhan, China, on Jan. 15, sought medical attention on Jan. 19 and now is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash. State health officials say his condition is quite good and even referred to him as "healthy." But testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the 20th confirm that he is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus. The man arrived back in the U.S. prior to the implementation of screening at three domestic airports on Friday. As of yesterday, over 200 cases of the virus have been reported in China.
Sprint: LG G Flex Will Launch Online on January 31 for $299 on Contract
Starting today, Sprint customers can pre-order the unique LG G Flex smartphone for $299 online with a two year contract. By pre-ordering between now and January 31st, customers will receive a complimentary Quickwindow Folio Case, which is valued at $60. Sprint…
Motorola Announces Moto X Launch in UK, France, and Germany on February 1
Certain European consumers interested in the Moto X smartphone from Motorola will soon have their chance to purchase the excellent handset. Expected to launch on February 1st, Motorola will sell its iconic Moto X device in Black or White in…
If you never thought you'd hear a Microsoftie tell you to stop using Internet Explorer, lap it up: 'I beg you, let it retire to great bitbucket in the sky'
We say take off and nuke the entire codebase from orbit. It's the only way to be sure
To mark the arrival of the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser, Microsoft software engineer Eric Lawrence, who helped shift Edge to its Google-driven open source foundation, issued a plea to Windows users to let go of Internet Explorer.…
Safari's Intelligent Tracking Protection is misspelled, says Google: It should be Dumb Browser Stalking Enabler
Chocolate Factory boffins doubt Apple can fix it, either
Google security researchers have published details about the flaws they identified last year in Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP), a privacy scheme developed by Apple's WebKit team for the company's Safari browser.…