Huawei has confirmed that the U.S. blacklist stripping Google software and services from its devices is hurting—and, worse, there is no solution in sight. The Chinese tech giant has sourced alternative options for almost everything included in its consumer devices. But not Google—that’s the bridge too far. And it gets worse—with various workarounds coming to nothing, and any in-house replacement still years away, Huawei has also confirmed it does not have a solution yet in sight. Bad news for users. And bad news for the company, with the likely toll on international sales.
Since May, Huawei has been fending off the impact of a U.S. blacklist that restricts access to its U.S. supply chain. The sanctions stop the company using U.S. hardware or software in new devices. And while the tech giant has launched a program to un-Americanize its supply chain, it accepts that it can replace hardware components but not Google’s core Android software. “We can continue to use the Android platform, since it is open-source,” Huawei’s PR chief Joy Tan told the Financial Times, “but we cannot use the services that help apps run on it.”
In reality Huawei had hoped for some political respite, for Trump to soften sanctions outside of core areas of critical infrastructure security. But, despite a few false starts, there has been no softening as yet. Huawei has spent months looking for an audience with the U.S. administration—but Tan told the FT that they have yet to secure a meeting, “either within the Trump administration or on Capitol Hill.”
All this came to a head with the Huawei Mate 30 launch in September. A device that should have prompted countless tech columns lauding its camera, processor and display innovations, instead it had the company fielding endless questions around Google workarounds to prevent the stunning new flagship falling flat in key markets outside China. Short answer—again, despite a number of false starts, there are no Google workarounds available to the millions of normal would-be buyers.
“There are so many Android users in Europe and south-east Asia,” Tan admitted, “they’re so used to these Google applications on top of Android phones.” The really bad news for Huawei’s loyal fanbase is that there isn’t a solution likely to appear any time soon. Google, it seems, is Google.
Shortly after the blacklist was announced, Huawei’s consumer boss Richard Yu announced an in-house operating system he claimed would replace Android on smart devices, running the same apps, providing a seamless way out. But it was misleading. HarmonyOS has now launched—but it is not suited to smartphones, designed instead for larger, simpler IoT devices like smart TVs. There is also the small matter of an Android development community that would need to expand to cover a new OS.
All of which was confirmed by Tan. Developing an Android replacement, she accepted, will take years, assuming it’s even possible. “We have to find alternative solutions for that ecosystem,” she said, “but it’s going to take some time to build.” Despite months of speculation to the contrary, it is now evident that the only current option is open-source Android without Google’s services, including the Play Store and its apps.
Despite the blacklist starting to bite—and it gets worse in November, when current temporary exemptions on certain suppliers ends, Huawei released strong trading results last week. In the first three quarters of this year, the company generated $85 billion in revenues, up 25% year-on-year, signing more than 60 5G contracts with leading global carriers and shipping 185 million smartphones. But almost all of those smartphones either predated the loss of Google or targeted the Chinese market, where Google is not available. The next set of results matters much more.
Huawei isn’t the only company under the hammer—Google itself is being hit hard by the restrictions. Losing access to Huawei and tens of millions of consumers, increasing its dependence on Samsung, losing revenue streams. “Many of our suppliers are talking with the U.S. government,” Tan told the FT, “including Google, I’m sure.”
And so Huawei continues to hope Beijing can secure trade talk concessions from the Trump administration before too many consumers shift elsewhere, at which point it will face the time and cost involved in winning them back.
Apple thinks glasses will replace smartphones
Apple is planning to launch its first augmented reality (AR) product sometime in 2022. According to a report from The Information, citing sources attending an internal Apple presentation, Cupertino wants to release an augmented reality headset in 2022 and a pair of AR glasses by 2023. These “Apple Glasses” have popped up in previous rumors with an earlier launch date in 2020, but this new report reveals a far more concrete plan than previous accounts.
Product details are thin on the ground, but a few design points pop up in the report. The products will be designed with gaming, video, and virtual meetings in mind, according to Bloomberg. The Apple Glasses AR capabilities hinge on a new 3D sensor system, developed in-house at Apple over several years. Apparently, this is a more advanced form of FaceID technology used in modern iPhones. Apple is allegedly working on lenses that darken when the wearer is using AR. This is to let others know the user is not necessarily paying attention to them.
Apple has about 1,000 engineers working on the AR and VR initiative. CEO Tim Cook has been hot on the idea of AR for a number of years now. The report also mentions plans to begin attracting developers to the platform in 2021. Clearly, this is a major business commitment, not a small side project.
More posts about AR and VR
Apple Glasses to replace the iPhone
Perhaps the most interesting part of the report states that Apple believes augmented reality glasses will eventually replace smartphones. This will occur “in roughly a decade,” according to executives at the presentation. By 2030, Apple expects that the iPhone, and by extension Android phones too, will be obsolete — at least in high-end Western markets.
That’s no easy task. Current AR glasses pair up to a smartphone, which provides the data connectivity, storage, and bulk of the processing capabilities required by AR apps. Moving this entirely into a set of sleek, lightweight glasses will require a number of engineering breakthroughs. Apple’s first-generation AR products certainly won’t offer fully standalone capabilities. You’ll still need a phone in your pocket. Instead, the company is reportedly working on a new operating system, dubbed rOS, to enable existing devices to work with future headsets and glasses.
Barring the technological hurdles, there’s little reason to believe AR glasses can’t replace most of our smartphone needs. Messaging and calls are certainly possible, as is watching video and navigating with real-world map directions. The other hurdle is solving user interaction, something that advances in voice recognition and 3D object detection technology will likely be key to solving.
Augmented reality is already here, but new form factors will enhance the experience.
It’s easy to imagine the possibilities with AR, as some examples have already proven immensely popular. 2016’s Pokémon Go phenomenon was likely many people’s first foray into the world of AR. Today, consumers are using AR for Snapchat filters, real-time text translation, viewing the stars, and kitting our apartments. AR is already useful on smartphones, but AR glasses open up new possibilities for even more useful and engrossing experiences — ranging from in-world games to real-time contextual information on everything from directions to people.
Haven’t we been here before?
Apple certainly isn’t the first company to believe in AR as a future consumer product. Microsoft has been developing HoloLens for years and has just launched HoloLens 2 for businesses with an eye-watering $3,500 price tag. There’s also Google Glass, which was hounded out of the market by privacy advocates in its prototype launch period, although it remains in development for enterprise users. A number of other companies are working on the idea, including Epson, Toshiba, and Vuzix, among others. However, the majority fall under enterprise and specialist products.
Apple is banking on consumer appeal, but that’s a big ask. It is possible Apple Glasses will receive a warmer reception than Google Glass, given the US media’s often more sympathetic coverage of Cupertino over Mountain View. Its launch may also be more prime time ready, providing a robust developer platform and app ecosystem are ready to go at launch. However, consumer privacy concerns regarding camera and video recording, consent, and data collection will be a sticking point.
Privacy concerns and recording consent issues don’t disappear just because it’s Apple.
There’s no getting around the fact that AR glasses will fundamentally change the way we interact with the world and each other, but also the way in which technology interacts with us. Dedicated AR devices, like glasses, will consume even more data about our surroundings, taking in audio and visual cues from our lives to provide and contextualize content. Furthermore, we will likely wear glass throughout even more intimate aspects of our lives than a phone witnesses in our pocket. Having said that, consumers don’t seem too alarmed at the privacy implications of smart home products.
AR and the future of personal computing
Augmented reality is the inevitable next step in personal and enterprise computing. Its uses are bound to range from the essentials through to entertainment and the mundane. AR is clearly central to Apple’s future product plans, but it’s far from the only company working on the technology. Expect augmented reality to become increasingly popular in smartphones at all price points over the coming years. The next few years in mobile will lay down the building blocks for future AR-first products like Apple Glasses.
We’ll have to see whether wearable products like the Apple Glasses are the form factor that AR inevitably settles in. Perhaps phones will remain the preferred option for their flexibility if nothing else. Predicting the death of the smartphone within a decade is a bold move by Apple, but inevitably the tech world will move on. AR is as likely as any other to be that next big leap.
More posts about AR glasses
Samsung Galaxy S11 hole-punch camera will be tiny – Pocket-lint
The latest rumour regarding the Samsung Galaxy S11 suggests that the front facing camera will be placed within an even smaller hole-punch cutout than the Note 10.
It’s a relatively minor point on a smartphone that’s likely to be one of 2020’s most impressive devices, but it will mean an improved experience of the screen.
It goes without saying that having a smaller cutout for the camera means that it becomes less intrusive, and won’t block as much of what you have being displayed.
This information comes via @UniverseIce on Twitter, a leaker with a reliable track record in the mobile world.
It is certain that the hole of S11 is at the center, but it is smaller than Note10. By the way, the upcoming vivo S5 will be the smallest hole phone in 2019, only 3.x mm, which is a comparison picture with Note10 and S10. pic.twitter.com/zkxPJC14DB
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) November 11, 2019
Of course, hole-punch camera cutouts are a temporary measure until mainstream phone manufacturers figure out a way to implement an in-display selfie camera hidden beneath the display panel.
The aim from most of the smartphone makers is to create an edge-to-edge screen with no intrusion at all. It’s why some – like OnePlus and Oppo – have gone for a pop-up camera mechanism rather than have a notch or hole-punch camera at all.
Samsung’s next flagship is expected to launch around its usual timeframe in Spring 2020, kicking off next year’s new wave of high end smartphones.
Samsung brings Note 10 features to S10 series with new update
The update now lets users on the S10 quickly find photos in the Gallery app with keyword searches.
Another feature brings up content recommendations from the multimedia streaming apps on the handset. Additionally, ‘Media & Devices’ are now in the Quick Panel, which lets users control their experience across all devices.
There’s also an Auto Hotspot solution that turns your S10 into Wi-Fi hub for all your other Samsung devices if they share the same Samsung account.
Another part of the update brings an improved Night mode, AR Doodle and ‘Super Steady’ mode to the S10’s camera.
Further, there’s a feature that makes videos more dynamic and easier to edit, trim and personalize with Samsung DeX.
The rollout is currently ongoing and varies region by region. We’ve reached out to Samsung Canada for more information, but let us know in the comments below if you received the update on your S10.
And while mostly unrelated, Freedom Mobile customers with the Galaxy Note 10+ and S9 are now receiving a new security update with device stability improvements and bug fixes, as well as camera improvements for the S9.
Source: Samsung Blog
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