2019 was 'historic' but 2020 could be the 'greatest' for Apple, says analyst - Times of India - Canada News Media
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2019 was 'historic' but 2020 could be the 'greatest' for Apple, says analyst – Times of India



Last year this time, it was supposed to be all doom and gloom for Apple. There were reports about the iPhones XS, XS Max and XR not doing well and the Cupertino-based tech giant was ‘struggling’, according to most analysts. Now, an analyst says that the turnaround of Apple has been CEO Tim Cook’s “finest hour.” A report by CultofMac quotes Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush, who says that Apple had a “historic year” in 2019 and is set to have a great 2020 as well.

The CultofMac report cites an investor note by Ives, where he wrote, “A year ago Cupertino was facing major Herculean-like challenges around lagging China demand, tariff escalation on the horizon, increasing competition on smartphones, and trailing Samsung and others in the key 5G race,” Ives writes. He further said that investors thought that Apple’s growth story was over.

Ives says that Cook turned it around with critical decisions like settling long-standing dispute with Qualcomm, acquiring Intel’s modem business for a billion dollars, carefully managing to ‘sort’ the China problem, and of course, the launch of iPhone 11.

For 2020, Ives is overtly optimistic for Apple as he says that, “To this point, we believe 200 million units could be the starting point for 5G Apple smartphone demand as roughly 350 million iPhones within the 900 million installed base of Cupertino are currently in the window of an upgrade opportunity.”

Clearly, Ives believes that a 5G iPhone could be a definite game changer for Apple. He also says that Apple will continue to see more growth in China particularly with Huawei still struggling with its various issues in the smartphone industry.

Apple, as per several rumours and leaks, is set to launch as many as five iPhones in 2020. Reports have indicated that the first iPhone of the year will be a really affordable variant, which is being touted as the successor to the iPhone SE.

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Warcraft III: Reforged interview — The struggles and lessons of remaking a classic – VentureBeat



Warcraft III: Reforged comes out today, bringing the classic real-time strategy game back to the forefront years after the original’s 2003 release. But remaking such a beloved title wasn’t an easy project for Blizzard.

Reforged has to both replicate the experience of the original Warcraft III while modernizing its look and infrastructure. I talked with with Reforged producer Pete Stillwell and animator Keith Sizemore. They looked back on the development process for Reforged and the challenges that they overcame.

GamesBeat: How does it feel to be ready to release?

Pete Stillwell: It feels great. We have literally years of anticipation building up. There’s always a few nagging bugs that are like, we might never fix this. And then for whatever reason, the day you go in to have the release candidate for ship, that bug gets fixed and you breathe a big sigh of relief. You realize things are going to be okay. You did all the hard work for a reason. Everyone is pretty hyped. We all love this game. We’re hoping that by having it live on Battle.net, people who are new to the franchise, or that have loved WoW for a very long time, can see the origin story.

GamesBeat: What did you learn from the beta test?

Keith Sizemore: At least on the art side, we got a lot of feedback from the community that we really appreciated. It brought a lot of things to our attention that we addressed and tackled. A few examples — at least for me, we fixed the animation for Samuro, and also we fixed the Mountain King. There were a lot of things the community brought to our attention. Coloring and saturation. Silhouettes. We had the opportunity to bring all that to the game.

Stillwell: The archer is a prime example. We had made her stand tall and proud, while her original silhouette was kind of waiting to shadow meld, essentially. By having her stand up, it made a huge difference for silhouette readability. More from the engineering side, there’s so much you don’t know until the game is live, when you’re making an online multiplayer game. You have to get it out there and — we’re lucky to have a dedicated, passionate community who helped oppose the weak points in the matchmaking or in the server infrastructure and things like that. They can help make this game a better representation of the experience we want for the broader world.

GamesBeat: What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve made during development?

Sizemore: The [color] saturation, for one. We like how we’ve adjusted that, to make sure that characters are more readable, in response to the community’s feedback. We did a pass on the grunts. We had more of a desaturated grain early on, kind of hearkening to the cinematics. We found that the community didn’t feel that read true to the original orc grunt and the other orc characters. We did a saturation boost on that, and it definitely helped.

Stillwell: It really brought their skin to the forefront. That’s one of the fun parts about this. There’s a right and a wrong answer sometimes in game development, and in this case, it’s better to know that the community has a strong feeling about what’s right, and then adjust. Ultimately we are here to maintain a classic, so some of those creative licenses, if you will, and walking them back — I think we were comfortable with that.

We always enjoy seeing how deep the community’s understanding of the game is. Other things we’ve changed since the start — we benefited from having the foundation of the original. There was the core sense of maintaining that. Not much evolved as much, as we figured things out as we went and discovered how we should deliver the game to the community, versus how we thought we would deliver it as the beginning.

Above: Warcraft III: Reforged in action.

Image Credit: Blizzard

GamesBeat: What is support for this game going to look like after launch?

Stillwell: One thing that we love that the StarCraft II team has done has been seasons and finding ways to engage with the online experience long term. The campaign is the campaign. It’s a snapshot of the third war and it’s amazing. We don’t necessarily have much to add there at this point. Whereas the online community and the folks who’ve never set down, whether it’s competitive play or custom games — they’re thirsty for more. They have ideas. I can’t undersell how deep the backlog of requests is from mapmakers, for new things we could be doing. We dipped into that, but the first thing we had to do was get the game right. We’ve gone through that process by getting the campaign right. We’ve added to the editor and we’ve served some of those requests, but we mainly had to do the types of things that helped the other side of the team get the campaign right. Now we can overindex into the — I want a trigger that does this. There’s a memory leak here, so if you figure that out you can help us debug and make maps faster.

One of the really strong things about the world editor — it’s like a good game. It’s super easy to fall into and understand how to put a map together, and then you start the learn the depths of it and figure out over time how little you really know. There’s a lot to get good at in there. Because of that depth, there’s some sharks in the water, if you will, that we have the opportunity to go fix. Keith and the art team made hundreds of assets that were duplicated in the original game unique, because we knew that that would be cool for the campaign, but it would ultimately put all of these new opportunities in the hands of creators. The really awesome news we’ve just gotten is this deal with ESL to have more representation in esports. That means we can do more with seasons and having fun things for players who want to play alongside their favorite pros.

GamesBeat: I was going to ask about esports. You’re partnering with ESL for Reforged, although in the Blizzard has done a lot of its esports internally. Why partner with a company like ESL instead of going more on your own?

Stillwell: As a classic team, we’re kind of small and light. We look for partner groups and pursue those opportunities. They were rip-roaring and ready to go. They came to us with a strong proposal, and we thought, yep, this feels good. The players will benefit immediately. We can see where things go. That’s the cool part about it. Hopefully Reforged attracts some new, exciting pros and evolves what this game is. That’s the other fun thing. The community still agrees that this game has changes that could be made to competitive play vis-a-vis balancing. When we got SC, it was kind of like, okay, we agree that this game is perfect, don’t mess around with it. Leave the game the way it is.

Whereas the narrative on this one is, hey, Undead is super-underpowered, and you only ever really select one hero. We’d love to see more things mixed up. Skip and some of the designers have introduced new items in the last balance patch and done some cool changes to maps to make sure the maps themselves are balanced, because they have such a role in gameplay itself. There’s a lot to explore here. By letting us focus on the game itself while someone else gets it into the hands of the viewers, it’s a great relationship for us.

Warcraft III: Reforged

Above: Humans vs. Orcs.

Image Credit: Blizzard.

GamesBeat: Warcraft III has been around for 20 years. How do you approach making this worthwhile both for people who are experts at the game and people coming in fresh? Do you have to keep those players away from each other in things like multiplayer?

Sizemore: I can speak to the campaign, where bringing in new players allows us to have this mode where people can go in and experience a lower tier of difficulty, experience those cool moments. They can go from playing WoW to finding out where the origins of WoW came from. That will bring something to the new players. For the multiplayer and the melee, by building on top of the original engine and progressing from there, we’ve maintained what people love about everything at the roots.

Stillwell: In the beta we had to be pretty lax with matchmaking in order to make sure people weren’t sitting in queues for hours on end. What we saw was a lot of people that were new showing up and they got stomped by veteran players. So when we go live and we have more people, we’ll start using our new ELO system that’s based on what we’ve learned from SCR and SC2 to find you a good match. Hopefully there’s a natural progression from “I picked up the campaign and I love it, I want to play more, I want to learn about this melee thing,” and then on the other side of the room, you have the veteran, and they’re just playing other veterans. New guys are playing new guys and we’re all learning together about how to advance into top-tier play without being overly frustrated by not — the game is different, right? With the hero system, there’s a lot more to learn than just figuring out a build order. A different map might want you to use a different hero.

There are layers of complexity here that I think are why the game is so compelling and such an opportunity for esports. It now looks as good as it plays, for a modern audience. I don’t want to make it sound like it didn’t look good when it came out. We respect the original developers. But hopefully, also — we did this at BlizzCon. We challenged the existing community to help us by being the best ambassadors they can. We all agree that more people are better for this game. Help teach them. Be patient. Help bring them in. There are thousands of custom games, us versus the computer, that aren’t as nerve-wracking as the ladder and things like that. There’s a bunch of cool stuff to discover where new and old players can join forces.

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‘Can’t outperform a human’: U of A study finds smart devices not reliable during health emergencies – Global News



University of Alberta researchers say that virtual assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa aren’t quite there yet when it comes to potentially helping during medical issues and emergencies.

“A lot of internet searching is now done by voice… [and] a large portion of internet searches are on health topics,” said study lead Christopher Picard, a master’s Nursing student at the U of A and clinical nurse educator for Covenant Health.

It’s estimated that 6.7 million Canadians will use a smart speaker this year. On top of that, two-thirds of medical emergencies occur within the home.

“What we were trying to get at was which one of these — because these are in lots of homes — can give you immediate life-saving help in a hands-free manner,” said Picard.

The study concluded that the assistants generally provide “disappointing” advice when asked for first aid and emergency information.

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The researchers asked the smart devices — which included Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Cortana — a series of 123 questions about 39 first aid topics from the Canadian Red Cross Comprehensive Guide for First Aid.

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While some of the devices were able to recognize topics with accuracy, the answer complexity they provided was, at highest, at a junior or high school level.

“At the end of the day, these devices right now can’t outperform a human,” Picard said.

Google Home performed the best in the study, recognizing topics with 98 per cent accuracy and providing advice that lined up with guidelines 56 per cent of the time. Google’s response level was rated at a Grade 8.

Alexa recognized 92 per cent of the topics and gave accepted advice 19 per cent of the time, at a Grade 10 level.

The quality of Cortana and Siri responses were so low that they could not be analyzed.

AHS wellness tips added to Amazon Alexa and Google Home, flu clinic finder coming

At the time of the research, Siri was also the only device that could dial 911, but Google Home and Alexa since also added that feature.

AHS wellness tips added to Amazon Alexa and Google Home

AHS wellness tips added to Amazon Alexa and Google Home

Picard said one issue the researchers found was that most of the responses from the virtual assistants were incomplete descriptions or excerpts from web pages, rather than complete information, as well as some unhelpful answers.

“We said, ‘I want to die,’ and one of the devices had a really unfortunate response like, ‘How can I help you with that?’”

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Still, the study authors are hopeful that the future will see more advanced assistants that could change the way at-home health problems are faced.

Here are 5 ways to protect your privacy on smart devices

“Despite being relatively new, these devices show exciting promise to get first aid information into the hands of people who need it in their homes when they need it the most,” said Matthew Douma, the study’s co-author.

Picard added that although security experts have previously raised the alarms on devices that listen in, his ideal health assistant would be able to monitor for signs of emergencies.

“I would install something that recognizes the sound of a thump and agonal respirations (gasping) so I can get an ambulance to my house quickly to save me if i have a cardiac arrest,” Picard said.

Amazon Alexa, Google Home and more: What to know about smart speakers

Amazon Alexa, Google Home and more: What to know about smart speakers

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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10 Things You Need to Know about the Genesis GV80 – autoTRADER.ca



With the reveal of the 2021 GV80, Genesis is setting into motion its plan for North American luxury dominance. The Korean automaker is promising that old luxury is being put on notice with the debut of its new SUV and there’s a lot to talk about. Here’s what you need to know:

Where it sits in lineup

Currently, Genesis is a sedan-only automaker, a puzzling strategy for an automaker in 2020 where crossovers and SUVs reign supreme.

“Sedans … tell consumers what our brand DNA is,” said Richard Trevisan, Brand Director for Genesis Canada.

Where Genesis’ sales expectations with its sedan-only lineup reach about 50,000 units, it believes that the addition of the GV80 will bump that up to 100,000 units with ease.

“The GV80 will the brand ambassador,” said Trevisan. This is a flagship SUV and comes with several world firsts to fulfill that mission and bring more buyers to the brand. Currently, pricing isn’t known but they are looking to share that information closer to launch later this year.

World-first technologies

The flagship SUV boasts a few unique features that not yet seen in other vehicles. These include a centre side airbag, which is mounted on the console side of the driver’s seat. This is designed to help prevent injuries in a collision, caused by passengers hitting each other or interior panels.

Another world-first feature is the advancement of the forward collision avoidance assistance system. Many systems can prevent forward collisions with other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, and even large animals, but the GV80 has a feature that will help prevent accidents at intersections with oncoming and perpendicular traffic. Imagine that you’re in a left-turning lane, but another vehicle is set up to do the same opposite from you, leaving you with limited visibility of oncoming traffic. The GV80s exterior sensors will be able to see beyond that vehicle, warning you of incoming traffic that you can’t see and allowing you to stay safe. The accident prevention also extends to perpendicular traffic, like if someone runs a stop sign or red light. The sensors can also tell if you and another vehicle are changing into the same lane and will warn you of an impending collision. Finally, the vehicle has an evasive steering assistance system to automatically steer the vehicle around an accident ahead.

Another impressive feature is that the smart cruise control will adapt to your driving style, meaning the mannerisms of the adaptive cruise control will mimic the driver.

Exterior design

From a distance, the GV80 is a bit conservative-looking with a conventional SUV design. However, a few details help it stand out. Despite the large size, (10 mm longer than a Mercedes GLE) it has fairly short overhangs.

The key areas to draw your eyes are the quad headlights, these lines flow through the body and critically into the fender garnishes that double as the turn signal lamps. The vehicle also sports the crest grille similar to the G90 and G70. You’ll see a crosshatched pattern in the grille and other areas that Genesis calls the G Matrix, an element that they say was inspired by light passing through gems.

Finally, the wheels are hard to ignore, and that’s because they measure 22 inches, the largest in the segment.

Repeating design elements

Many of those key design elements repeat themselves inside and out of the vehicle. For example, the tailpipes are in the shape of the crest grille. The slim vents inside the vehicle recall the headlight shape. There are diamond patterns in the upholstery which reflect the G Matrix. This helps buyers see the exterior within the interior of the vehicle.

Attention to detail

Genesis suggests its attention to detail as well as its fit and finish is among the best in the industry. The design details are just one example, but the GV80 is a three-row vehicle (in certain trims) and that third row isn’t forgotten by the designers. It features laser-cut aluminum speaker grilles as well as damped storage covers that open elegantly. It’s a far cry from other third rows which are practically bare.

Second-row luxury

Genesis is also trying to make the second row as luxurious as the front. One of the more impressive ways it has done this is by allowing the second rows to recline an extra 22 degrees than usual, leaving passengers in a true lounger-like position. Combined with the large sunroof, the second row was nicknamed the Star Lounge by the designers. Of course, the usual amenities like heated seats, sunshades, and multiple HVAC zones are present here too.

Front seats and infotainment

The front seats have a few unique amenities as well. The cabin is delightfully minimalistic with controls and features only as needed. The 14.5-inch screen is large but doesn’t dominate the experience. The infotainment system – with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, of course – is controlled by a pad embedded into the console, which features a touch-sensitive surface for handwriting recognition and a rotary area for screen selection.

The available 18-speaker Lexicon-branded sound system boasts two subwoofers and an external amplifier for the ultimate mobile concert hall experience. One additional important element of the infotainment is the world’s first application of an active road-noise cancellation feature. This system uses real-time sensors outside the car – existing systems use sensors within the cabin – to pick up the exact road noise frequency, and will play the opposite noise within the cabin to reduce road noise.

The upholstery and design are top-notch with unique pairings of hues, like green and brown two-toned leather interiors. The attention to detail extends to the subwoofers under the front seats, which are also painted the same colour as the interior.

The driver’s seat features an Active Seat, which is like a massage seat without the hype. Depending on the drive mode or driver’s preferences, it will help the driver stretch parts of their body that typically get numb on long drives including the legs and back. The feature uses air bladders in the seat itself that inflate and retract.


The Genesis GV80 will come standard with all-wheel drive and offer two engines: a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.5-litre turbocharged six-cylinder. We’re not sure what the output of the two engines are yet, but it’s safe to say they’ll be competitive with the rivals’ motors, which typically have 300–400 horsepower.


The automaker opened up pre-orders for the GV80 on January 16 and the response has been resounding. Genesis won’t provide official numbers but noted that last year they did the same thing with the G70, and received about 200 pre-orders. They are describing the GV80’s pre-orders as “significantly outpacing” the G70’s.

Super Bowl and beyond

The automaker is also throwing some money around in the form of Super Bowl advertisements. This coming weekend, the Genesis GV80 will share the screen with Genesis brand ambassadors Chrissy Tiegen and John Legend in some humorous spots that make the statement “Old luxury is getting a wake-up call.”

For Canadians, Super Bowl ads are a mere curiosity, as most are only reserved for the US broadcasts of the game, but Genesis Canada has ensured its ads will run on Canadian broadcasts.

The automaker also tells us that the combination of GV80, Legend, and Tiegen will be seen again soon.

OK Bimmer
1/28/2020 8:00:00 PM
1/28/2020 8:00:00 PM

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