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Sony pulls the plug on PlayStation Vue

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Sony today announced that it’s shuttering its Vue TV streaming service, apparently not being able to make it work despite numerous price increases. The service will end early next year.

Vue’s gimmick was that, like Sling TV, you could pay only for the channels you wanted. It was primarily aimed at PlayStation 4 users, a compliment to PS4’s suite of other entertainment options. While it might have seemed like a bargain when it first debuted, Sony‘s pushed the price up and up. Most recently, it pushed the price up by $5 this July, blaming it on “costs rising each year.”

There’s a scent of bitterness in the announcement, as John Kodera, Deputy President of Sony Interactive Entertainment says: “Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected. Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.” He later adds, “We had ambitious goals for how our service could change how people watch TV, showcasing PlayStation’s ability to innovate in a brand-new category within the Pay TV industry.”

This clearly wasn’t as successful an experiment as Sony would have liked. Recent scuttlebutt has it that the company was looking for a buyer for Vue, but no one was nibbling. The Information reports Sony approached FuboTV, another such service, as a potential buyer, but no dice. The sale would have included a 500,000-household subscriber list — which doesn’t seem like a lot to me. Then again, Vue hasn’t been as big of a staple of the PlayStation brand recently as, say, PlayStation Now.

Movies and TV content will still be available to PlayStation users via apps like Netflix and such. But if you’re one of the people who was using Vue as a standalone service, then you’re out of luck. There are alternatives, but given how Vue slipped into the red despite having the backing of such a big corporation as Sony, it kind of raises questions about how long the other services are going to last.

PlayStation Vue service officially shuts off on January 30, 2020.


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Apple thinks glasses will replace smartphones

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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.

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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

Using Google Lens to identify a bunch of bananas as seen on the camera of the OnePlus 7 Pro.

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.

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Samsung Galaxy S11 hole-punch camera will be tiny – Pocket-lint

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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.

We’ve already heard that the S11 will come in three different sizes, similar to the Galaxy S10, and that it will have a bigger battery than the S10.

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.

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Samsung brings Note 10 features to S10 series with new update

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A recent update brings a lot of the Galaxy Note 10 features to the S10 series of smartphones, according to the company’s latest blog post.

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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