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How smartphone would look like in 2030

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It’s the end of the decade, and you’re seeing plenty of retrospectives rounding up the last ten years of smartphones, and tech in general – but what about the future, and the tech advances it might bring? How could smartphones change in the next ten years?

We’ve looked at a few trends of the 2010s, and in particular 2019, and guessed at where these trends could go by the year 2030. We’ve looked at everything from foldable phones to USB ports and 6G.

It’s worth pointing out that this speculation could end up being totally, totally off, as guessing tends to be, so come 2030 the smartphone industry could be totally different to how we suggest here.

Foldable phones in the future

The foldable Samsung Galaxy Fold (Image credit: TechRadar)

Foldable phones really entered the public eye in 2019, with multiple devices like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Motorola Razr 2019 launched (although the latter wasn’t available to buy during the year), and they’re only going to get more popular as more devices are released.

So, by 2029, could we all own foldable phones? Well, that depends on how phone companies navigate the next few years. At the moment, foldable phones are largely considered interesting gimmicks, but ones that most people (other than tech fans) wouldn’t consider buying as their next phone.

This is because of how pricey they are, and also because software hasn’t been developed that really makes the most of the form factor.

So if the next few years brings foldable phones that are affordable and, more importantly, vital for certain functions, people will leap on board. Ten years is a long time, and it’s highly likely that foldable phones will become affordable and useful pretty soon, but that depends on how willing people are to ditch the tried and trusted form factor of ‘normal’ phones.

The 5G LG V50 ThinQ (Image credit: LG)

5G is already out and about in several countries, although at the close of 2019 it still remains to be seen how long it will take for people to get on board with the tech. Its added speed doesn’t mean much for people in high-speed areas, where 4G is already faster than most people need, and no apps have been launched that really make the most of the high-speed connection.

But in the coming years, companies will launch more 5G phones and fewer 4G phones, following the pattern of every new generation of connectivity, to the point where it’s ‘normal’ to buy a 5G phone, just as you’d buy a 4G phone now.

That’s less because people need a high-speed phone, and more just because most of the devices on shelves will be 5G, with few (or no) 4G options

Towards the end of the decade, we could even see mentions of 6G (Donald Trump has already been demanding it), but we’ll have to see how much people take to 5G, and if we really need even faster connections, before knowing for sure.

The future of front-facing cameras

The Samsung Galaxy A80 with a pop-up array  (Image credit: Future)

One of biggest differentiating features between different smartphones nowadays is the front-facing camera – does your phone have a big notch like an iPhone, a teardrop notch like plenty of phones use, a punch-hole cut-out like many Samsung phones, a pop-up like several companies have embraced, or something else entirely?

Well, it’s possible that future phones will have none of the above – the front-facing cameras could actually be under the display. Oppo has shown off this tech already, and it’s likely other companies are working on it too. This method removes the front snapper from view, so it won’t take up screen space but also won’t take up lots of internal space either (like pop-ups do).

So what about the camera itself? Towards the end of 2019, we’ve seen a few smartphones use two front-facers, one to take a picture and a secondary snapper for depth sensing, for more accurate background blur.

In the next few years, and especially into 2030, we’d expect this trend to get more established – selfies are one of the main types of picture you’ll take on your phone after all. Phones could even introduce an ultra-wide front-facing camera for group selfies, with a depth sensor or software that can create background blur for a whole group.

Goodbye ports

An Oppo prototype with no ports (Image credit: Future)

Many phones are dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack already, and those things will be ancient history by 2030 – it would be a surprise if many phones even in 2020 kept the port. As more users flock towards wireless headphones over wired ones, the amount of phone users who need to physically plug their headphones into their smartphone will reduce, and in ten years, after years of advances in Bluetooth technology, we’d be surprised if many people use wired headphones at all.

More uncertain is the presence of a USB port to plug your phone into a computer or charger. We’ve already seen a few prototype phones without this port, as handsets can rely on wireless charging to power up and Wi-Fi, mobile data or NFC options to send information and files to a computer.

It’s likely as wireless chargers get more popular and, more importantly, faster at powering up your device, people will rely less on physical wires, making a port more and more redundant. In that way, it echoes the use of wireless headphones, and in 2030 portless smartphones could be the new normal.

More rear cameras?

The Nokia 9 PureView with five rear cameras (Image credit: Future)

While you may think the future will bring you phones with plenty of smartphone cameras, far more so than now, that might not end up being the case: there are only so many different kinds of lens, so we’ll soon reach a point where adding more lenses adds nothing new.

No, in fact, the real change will likely be megapixel count – at the end of 2019 the highest resolution in a smartphone is 108MP in the Xiaomi Mi Note 10, but it looks like a number of phones in 2020 are gearing up to match that. In ten years, though, that number could be through the roof.

Well, at least five times nearer the roof. Scientists have estimated that the human eye sees roughly 576MP, but that’s assuming perfect vision with an image right by your face, so if you’re looking at a phone at arm’s length and don’t have flawless vision, that number is higher than you’ll ever need.

So people don’t need cameras with incredibly high megapixel counts, and it would be a surprise if phone companies decided to even reach 576MP. Saying that, advances in megapixel count will almost certainly be more pronounced in 2030 than the number of rear cameras.

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Twitter announces first algorithmic bias bounty challenge – ZDNet

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Twitter has announced its first algorithmic bias bounty challenge, offering cash prices ranging from $500 to $3,500 for those who can help the social media giant identify a range of issues. 

After significant backlash last year, the company admitted in May that its automatic cropping algorithm repeatedly cropped out Black faces in favor of White ones. It also favored men over women, according to research from Twitter. Multiple Twitter users proved this fact using pictures of themselves or of famous figures, like former President Barack Obama

Rumman Chowdhury, director of Twitter META, explained that the company decided to change the algorithm and admitted that companies like Twitter often “find out about unintended ethical harms once they’ve already reached the public.”

On Friday, Chowdhury and Twitter META product manager Jutta Williams unveiled the algorithmic bias bounty competition, which they said was part of this year’s DEF CON AI Village. 

“In May, we shared our approach to identifying bias in our saliency algorithm (also known as our image cropping algorithm), and we made our code available for others to reproduce our work. We want to take this work a step further by inviting and incentivizing the community to help identify potential harms of this algorithm beyond what we identified ourselves,” the two said. 

In creating the program, they were inspired by how the research and hacker communities helped the security field establish best practices for identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities in order to protect the public. 

They said Twitter wanted to build out a similar community but one focused on machine learning ethics that will help the company “identify a broader range of issues than we would be able to on our own.” 

“With this challenge we aim to set a precedent at Twitter, and in the industry, for proactive and collective identification of algorithmic harms,” Chowdhury and Williams wrote. 

“For this challenge, we are re-sharing our saliency model and the code used to generate a crop of an image given a predicted maximally salient point and asking participants to build their own  assessment. Successful entries will consider both quantitative and qualitative methods in their approach.” 

There is a submission page on HackerOne where people can find more information, the rubric used to score each entry and details on how to enter. The entries will be judged by Ariel Herbert-Voss, Matt Mitchell, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, and Patrick Hall.

The first place winner will get $3,500, the second place winner gets $1,000 and third place gets $500. There will also be $1,000 rewards for most innovative and most generalizable. Winners of the competition will be announced at the DEF CON AI Village workshop on August 8.  

Williams told ZDNet that other than learning more about the photo cropping feature, she is expecting to learn what people think “harm” entails.  

“As a product manager, I endeavor to put myself in the shoes of people who use or are affected by our products to understand what a word like that means. Traditionally, we hear from people already looking at algorithmic bias — and I’m expecting that we’ll hear from a much broader community of people who will share a lot of perspective on what harm means to them,” Williams said. 

“Rumman floated the idea with me and our CTO after a conversation with the AI Village organizers — it takes a pretty risk-tolerant company to go first on something like this. Twitter leadership was willing — enthusiastic even. We didn’t have a lot of time to make the deadline for DEFCON, so the two of us got right into brainstorming how to scope something that we could release within the few weeks we had to make a go/no-go decision.”  

She added that the competition will make Twitter much wiser about how the next event should run and be instructive in making it easier for participants and more inclusive.  

The company is also hoping to learn more about how their technology may need to be immediately corrected, Williams explained, and more about how they can better prevent harm. The team will gain a better understanding of how to test and assess algorithms for biases, Williams said. 

Williams noted that there are many unknowns in the emerging field of study on machine learning bias and few programs actively address algorithmic risks. 

“I have hope we’ll have a few more unknowns that we can start working on solving.  Most importantly, maybe, we’re going to learn about working with this community, ways to better measure and classify harms, what it takes to validate reports, ways to mitigate and/or prevent new harms in the future — all of which we can share back to the community,” Williams said.  

“This wasn’t run for our benefit alone — I wouldn’t personally have put the sweat equity into it if it weren’t for the goal of ultimate transparency.”

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Big tech companies are at war with employees over remote work – Ars Technica

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Enlarge / Apple offices in northern California.

All across the United States, the leaders at large tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook are engaged in a delicate dance with thousands of employees who have recently become convinced that physically commuting to an office every day is an empty and unacceptable demand from their employers.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced these companies to operate with mostly remote workforces for months straight. And since many of them are based in areas with relatively high vaccination rates, the calls to return to the physical office began to sound over the summer.

But thousands of high-paid workers at these companies aren’t having it. Many of them don’t want to go back to the office full-time, even if they’re willing to do so a few days a week. Workers are even pointing to how effective they were when fully remote and using that to question why they have to keep living in the expensive cities where these offices are located.

Some tech leaders (like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey) agreed, or at least they saw the writing on the wall. They enacted permanent or semipermanent changes to their companies’ policies to make partial or even full-time remote work the norm. Others (like Apple’s Tim Cook) are working hard to find a way to get everyone back in their assigned seats as soon as is practical, despite organized resistance.

In either case, the work cultures at tech companies that make everything from the iPhone to Google search are facing a major wave of transformation.

It didn’t start in 2020

The gospel of a remote-work future has long been preached by a dedicated cadre in Silicon Valley and other tech startup hubs. Influencers, writers, and business consulting gurus have for years been saying that, thanks to today’s technology, working in an office is destined to be a thing of the past.

There is no apparent justification for resisting remote work besides a sort of management control-freak insecurity, proponents argue. And to support their case, they point to studies that suggest that some employees in certain kinds of jobs are happier and more productive when remote work is an option. Studies also debunk the assumption that productivity is always lower when remote work is the norm.

The movement reached something of a fever pitch in the late 2000s, when tech-unicorn optimism was sweeping the business world and some prominent executives in the new wave of startups seemed cozy with the idea. But remote work went on to face dramatic setbacks. Notably, Yahoo!—then known as one of the most remote-friendly large tech companies—changed course in the early 2010s under the leadership of then-CEO Marissa Mayer, who mandated that a vast fleet of remote workers had to relocate and show up at their assigned desks.

Since that and other similar incidents around that time, the remote-work movement has been quieter.

Remote-work advocates and the business establishment seemed to settle into a compromise. Companies like Google or Twitter would let employees work from home periodically as the need arose (for example, to take care of a sick child or even for the occasional mental health day). But in most cases, the culture dictated that workers not play this card too often. Remote work was a privilege, not a right, and employees usually could not relocate out of daily commuting range from the cities where these companies were based.

As housing prices skyrocketed and traffic worsened in cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Austin—and as economic inequalities worsened in those places as a result—prominent commentators still occasionally penned op-eds that essentially said, “Gee, maybe some of these problems would be lessened if business leaders were more open to remote work.” But the most radical vision of the remote-work movement nonetheless seemed dead in the water.

And then the pandemic happened.

The involuntary revolution

Companies whose leaders long claimed remote work would never function were left with no other options. In traditional businesses, the digital-transformation movement accelerated dramatically to meet the need. And in some tech startups, the transition was so seamless that many employees (and even managers) found themselves wondering why all this hadn’t been tried before.

There are exceptions in some kinds of tech companies, of course. For example, large game development studios struggled to maintain prior levels of productivity in the new remote way of working, leading to delays or a reduction in quality for some releases. But more often than not, the changes made in response to the pandemic led people to believe that this remote thing might actually work out after all.

Between the threat of future pandemics in crowded cities and insane housing prices in tech hubs, a lot of workers recently began to make plans to evacuate from places like the Bay Area for cheaper, greener pastures—but with the hope that they could keep their high-paying jobs.

According to Glassdoor’s data, the average software engineer salary in pricy tech hotspot San Jose, California, is $137,907. Shockingly, that’s not enough to bankroll the whole American dream in the Bay Area. But if that hypothetical engineer relocates to St. Louis or Tucson on that salary, they can live like royalty.

An Apple divided

Few tech companies have experienced as much widely publicized drama over this issue as Apple. Though many employees in the Cupertino headquarters and elsewhere mostly worked from home through much of 2020, CEO Tim Cook emailed staff in early June 2021 that a policy change was imminent.

Employees would be required to return to the office for at least three days of every week beginning in September. They would also be able to go fully remote for up to two weeks per year, provided they secure management approval.

Employees then circulated a survey amongst themselves to reveal that Cook’s mandate was out of step with what they wanted or expected, according to reporting by The Verge’s Zoe Schiffer. Ninety percent of the survey’s 1,749 respondents said they “strongly agree” that “location-flexible working options are a very important issue for me.” Workers wrote a letter to Cook asking him to rethink the new policy. Sixty-eight percent agreed “that the lack of location flexibility would likely cause them to leave Apple.”

The threats may be legitimate because some other tech companies (like Twitter) have taken a much more permissive approach. These companies may give dissatisfied Apple employees somewhere else to go.

Apple executives did not back down from their plan. Over the summer, the upcoming change has led to turmoil in the industry giant, with longtime employees pledging to quit over a required return to the office. Some workers went to the press with claims that Apple management has begun rejecting remote-work requests more than normal in response.

A few Apple employees wrote another letter arguing for a compromise: more lenient remote-work policies in exchange for a system wherein employees in cities with lower costs of living would accept proportionally lower salaries. However, this proposal angered other employees still, who argue that Apple can afford to pay them a competitive salary regardless of where they choose to relocate to mid- or post-pandemic.

Postponed on account of delta

But now the battle over remote-work culture at companies like Apple looks like it is going to be extended. This summer’s initial optimism about an imminent return to normal in the wealthy parts of the world has waned across the industry. Credit the rapid spread of the delta COVID-19 variant and rising cases among the unvaccinated in the US.

The state of California reintroduced an indoor mask mandate, even for people who are vaccinated, because studies have shown that even relatively healthy-seeming vaccinated individuals can spread the deadly delta variant to the vulnerable unvaccinated. California’s mandate directly affects many of these companies, and more states are likely to soon follow.

Apple has nudged its return-to-office plan amidst the internal turmoil and growing health concerns. The timeframe has reportedly moved from September to October, and there’s a strong possibility it will be pushed back even further.

This week, Twitter announced that it is closing the US offices it had recently partially reopened. Google extended its current work-from-home policy through mid-October, and Lyft postponed a plan to move back into its office this coming September all the way back to February of next year.

Several big tech firms are requiring some or all employees to get vaccinated to return to the office, including Lyft, Google, and Facebook. And even in companies that haven’t yet announced any vaccination requirement, like Apple, employees are being asked to fill out surveys disclosing their vaccination status.

Others like Microsoft are still pushing to get workers back at their desks, despite the new developments, though they might change course again in the near future. Microsoft has generally been more proactive than Apple in laying the groundwork for long-term hybrid work support, though, despite its plans to press forward with reopening offices.

Don’t expect these discussions to resolve soon. Some executives are still trying to get employees back at their desks, some employees are still saying “not so fast” or “not at all,” and COVID-19 is still sweeping the planet.

Every workplace is handling things differently, and whether the fully remote dream actually becomes a reality at some of these companies or not, long-time remote-work prophesiers are right about one thing: the old ways aren’t going to cut it anymore, and tech is never going to be the same again.

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On Telegram, here is how to use the auto-delete timer feature, similar to WhatsApp disappearing messages – HT Tech

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Telegram today rolled out a massive update on its platform, which includes both its Android and iOS-based apps. This new update brought a host of new features on its platform. The long list of features coming to the WhatsApp rival includes the ability to add up to 1,000 viewers in a group video call, increasing the resolution of video messages, giving three different video playback speed options to users, including sound from the device in one-on-one screen sharing, new precision drawing features, passcode animations, password recovery and reminders, a new in-app camera on iOS, option to send a message to multiple recipients in a single go on iOS, and new animated emojis.

In addition to the above-mentioned features, Telegram also introduced a small tweak to one of its existing features. For those who are new to Telegram, the messaging app has a feature called auto-delete timer that lets users put a timer to all messages that are shared on its platform. Up until now, users could enable this feature and set the auto-delete timer to either one day or one week. Now, Telegram has added a third option to the list. Now, users of this popular messaging app can also set the auto-delete timer to one month. Once they set the timer to one month, the selected message or messages will disappear once a month has passed.

Also read: Looking for a smartphone? Check Mobile Finder here.

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Interestingly, WhatsApp too offers a feature called disappearing messages that enables users to set a timer on the messages that are shared when this feature is turned on. However, unlike Telegram that gives users the option to select a timeline according to their needs and requirements, messages on WhatsApp disappear after a week.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t used the auto-delete timer feature in Telegram, here’s a quick guide for you.

How to enable auto-delete timer on Android

Step 1: Open the concerned chat windows in Telegram.

Step 2: Tap on the three dots.

Step 3: Tap on the Clear History option.

Step 4: Choose a duration.

Step 5: Tap on Done.

How to enable auto-delete timer on iOS

Step 1: Open the concerned chat windows in Telegram.

Step 2: Press and hold the message on which you want to put a timer on.

Step 3: Tap on the Select option at the bottom.

Step 4: Now tap on the Clear Chat option on the top-left corner of the chat window.

Step 5: Tap on Enable Auto-Delete option.

Step 6: Select a timeline that meets your needs.

Step 7: Tap on Done option.

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