By Supantha Mukherjee and Kenneth Li
(Reuters) – 5G will finally get its U.S. closeup with the expected debut of Apple Inc’s next iPhone on Tuesday. But the blazing speeds promised will not materialize for most people.
The device, dubbed the iPhone 12 by analysts, can tap into 5G, or fifth generation wireless technology, that theoretically operates as much as 10 to 20 times faster than current 4G wireless networks. [nL1N2H0004]
Using the next iPhone or any 5G enabled device on today’s network, however, will be “like having a Ferrari … but using it in your local village and you can’t drive to up to 200 miles per hour, simply because the roads cannot maintain those speeds,” explained Boris Metodiev, associate director of research firm Strategy Analytics.
Apple, which is expected to unveil the new phone at a virtual event on Tuesday, will need to walk a tightrope between enticing consumers to upgrade their phones while not over-promising what 5G can do today.
Current 5G U.S. networks mostly use low-band wireless spectrum, or airspace, that is slower than high-band spectrum, but more reliable over longer distances. It will likely take years before the massive speed boost phone carriers promise will make augmented reality and real-time cloud gaming seamless.
Several U.S. telecom operators have deployed networks based on lower spectrum bands, with slightly higher speeds than 4G. A noticeably faster variant of “mid-band” 5G is also being rolled out, but it is unlikely to reach three-quarters of Americans until 2025, estimated longtime Apple analyst Gene Munster of venture capitalist firm Loup Ventures.
The fastest speeds touted by carriers are a type of 5G called millimeter Wave, or mmWave, that work over shorter distances. Verizon Communications Inc has the largest current mmWave network, available only in limited areas.
Although Verizon 5G users could connect almost 10 times faster than on Sprint and T-Mobile , actual average speeds were far lower, according to research firm OpenSignal’s mobile signal experience report in June.
On average, AT&T Inc and Verizon customers with 5G phones saw only a small bump up from 4G speeds, according to the same study.
In South Korea and in China, faster 5G networks are more pervasive. But Apple will be competing against local brands including Samsung 005930.KS> in South Korea, which is already on its second line of 5G phones, and China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], whose sales have surged after the telecom giant was banned in the United States.
The other big letdown is that applications using higher speeds to deliver something new have yet to be created. It is a chicken and egg problem at this part of the tech cycle, executives said, noting that interest in 4G was fueled by Facebook Inc’s mobile apps and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.
“The applications we will be dazzled by, that will really take advantage of the network, will only be developed once the network and devices are available,” said Morgan Kurk, chief technology officer of CommScope, a telecom equipment maker.
U.S. consumers most motivated to buy a 5G phone would be those who need a new smartphone right now and are looking to protect their investments.
“If you’re buying a phone that you’re going to have for three years, you’re going to want to make sure that it’s going to support the latest networks,” said Geoff Blaber, vice president of research at CCS Insight.
Just know what to expect, Blaber added. “There’s going to be relatively little that you can do on a 5G iPhone you can’t do on a 4G iPhone today.”
(Reporting by Kenneth Li in New York and Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by Richard Chang)
Apple support article says MagSafe Charger can leave circular imprint on leather cases – MobileSyrup
The document specifically mentions Apple’s own leather cases but states the issue could occur with third-party cases too.
Other interesting information pulled from the support document includes that the new MagSafe charger doesn’t need a 20W USB-C adapter. It requires a minimum of at least 12W but won’t charge the device as fast. To be clear, even when you’re using a 20W adapter, the MagSafe charger is still only delivering 15W to the iPhone 12 since inductive charging is less powerful.
Apple also says to remove credit cards, passports and any item with a magnetic strip or RFID chip in it before attaching the MagSafe charger to the rear of the iPhone 12. The charger can also limit the charging to 80 percent if the battery ends up getting too warm during the charging process. As expected, you also can’t charge wirelessly and when connected to a power adapter at the same time.
You can find the full support document at this link.
Apple’s iPhone 12 series and all future iPhones no longer include EarPods or a charging brick in the box. While MagSafe is an interesting, surprisingly solid solution to some of Qi wireless charging’s most significant issues, including properly aligning a device on a charging pad, the accessory costs $55 in Canada.
On top of that cost, most people will also likely need to buy a $25 20W USB-C Power adapter given the cable that comes with the MagSafe charger is USB-C.
Though the case is plastic, I’ve been using a MagSafe charger with the iPhone 12 Pro and a super-thin Totallee case for the last week and haven’t noticed any marks on its rear.
Facebook quietly debuts cloud-streaming service for Facebook Gaming – Gamasutra
Facebook is working on a cloud-streaming service that will grant instant access to select titles via the Facebook app or in-browser.
The service will be integrated with Facebook Gaming, and is already available in beta form for a limited number of users. According to Facebook’s vice president of play, Jason Rubin, over 200,000 people have already played games through the nascent platform.
As it stands, users can access five titles through the service including Asphalt 9: Legends, Mobile Legends: Adventure, PGA TOUR Golf Shootout, Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale, and WWE SuperCard, but Facebook plans to diversify that lineup as the platform continues to scale.
“It’s critical for us to start with latency-tolerant games so we can deliver a good experience for players across a variety of devices,” commented Rubin in a blog post. “For the purposes of our beta, that includes genres like sports, card, simulation, and strategy games.
“This is cloud gaming after all, so even with latency-tolerant games players may notice some glitches. We’ll occasionally show player rating cards and feedback forms to help improve the experience over time.”
Rubin also stressed that Facebook will build the service slowly to avoid overpromising and under-delivering, and noted that it isn’t designed to compete with or replace more robust offerings like Stadia and xCloud.
“Cloud game streaming for the masses still has a way to go, and it’s important to embrace both the advantages and the reality of the technology rather than try to oversell where it’ll be in the future,” he continued.
“We’re [also] not trying to replace your favorite gaming hardware. We love console and PC gaming and both formats will be around for a long time. We believe cloud gaming will increase — not replace — the options to jump into great games.”
Notably, the VP also touched on the issue of bringing cloud-gaming to iOS, and suggested that while Facebook would like to venture onto the platform, Apple’s recently revised App Store guidelines could prove too big a hurdle.
“Even with Apple’s new cloud games policy, we don’t know if launching on the App Store is a viable path,” he continued. “‘Of course, there is always the open Internet,’ so mobile browsers may wind up being an option, but there are limitations to what we can offer on Safari.
“While our iOS path is uncertain, one thing is clear. Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource.”
You can hear more from the Facebook VP over on the Facebook Gaming blog.
Microsoft quietly prepares to avoid spotlight under Biden – Kitco NEWS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp, which has largely evaded Washington’s scrutiny of Big Tech companies and scored a lucrative $10 billion government contract under the Trump administration, has emerged as a significant backer of the Biden campaign.
The Redmond, Washington-based software company is the fourth largest contributor to Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s candidate campaign committee, according to data from OpenSecrets, a website which tracks money in politics and campaign finance records.
The company’s President Brad Smith is playing a key role behind the scenes, hosting a fundraiser for Biden last year in Medina, Washington. He is also a big dollar bundler – people who help raise more than $25,000 for the Biden campaign – and had a public role during the Democratic National Convention, similar to Amazon.com Inc policy chief Jay Carney.
Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott and his wife have contributed over $50,000 supporting committees helping Biden win, according to campaign finance records. And Microsoft board member and co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, and his wife have also donated generously to the Biden campaign. Hoffman’s wife has contributed over half a million dollars to the Biden victory fund.
Microsoft senior executives also have donated more to the Biden campaign during the primaries than any other large tech company, according to data from the Revolving Door Project, part of Center for Economic & Policy Research (CERP).
“Microsoft has been playing politics for much longer than the other large technology companies that are widely talked about,” said Max Moran, a researcher at CERP, noting it has been around longer than most U.S. tech companies.
“It knows how to play the game on both sides of the aisle,” he added.
Companies are prohibited by law from donating themselves. The contributions, according to OpenSecrets, were either made by the company’s political action committees (PACs) themselves, members of the PAC or their employees.
Microsoft spokeswoman said the company has a history of engaging with administrations on issues that matter to its business. “Our approach has been consistent: we’ll partner where we can, we’ll stand apart where we should,” she said, adding that the contributions were made by its employees, without offering more details.
Large technology companies including Microsoft have not emerged in the top 20 contributors list for the Trump candidate campaign committee. However, Microsoft’s Smith, whose donations have mostly helped Democrats, has made several contributions to Republicans, including a $15,000 donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to campaign finance records.
The Trump campaign’s top contributors include government employees from the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Defense, followed by companies such as American Airlines Group and banks such as Wells Fargo, according to OpenSecrets.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Biden campaign spokesman Matt Hill did not comment on the story, but he pointed to an earlier statement shared with Reuters, which said: “Many technology giants and their executives have not only abused their power, but misled the American people, damaged our democracy, and evaded any form of responsibility. That ends with a President Biden.”
Microsoft has escaped escalating criticism from Washington lawmakers and probes by regulatory agencies – which has culminated into one of the largest antitrust lawsuits against Alphabet’s Google by the Justice Department.
In fact, the lawsuit has delivered a potential opportunity for Microsoft to increase usage of its Bing search engine, a win years after it abandoned a long campaign for legal relief.
The company’s other large competitors, such as Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc, are also grappling with various state and federal investigations.
Earlier this year, Microsoft also won a highly controversial $10 billion cloud computing contract from the U.S. Department of Defense after it defeated Amazon in a contest marred by allegations of political influence by President Donald Trump.
‘ADULT IN THE ROOM’
Microsoft has presented itself as an “adult in the room” to both parties on the topic of antitrust, a strategy that will continue to ensure attention is diverted to its rivals, CERP’s Moran said.
Smith and Microsoft, for example, have invested time and resources in staying in the good graces of Democratic lawmakers.
Earlier this year, Smith met with the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, which produced a scathing report on how Big Tech hurts competitors. During the meeting, Smith offered Microsoft’s perspective as a company that has faced antitrust regulation in the past and also discussed his company’s concerns about the way Apple operates its App Store, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Lawyers and antitrust experts said there are some challenges Microsoft still faces, even though they are not likely to result in any meaningful action in the immediate future under a Biden administration. For example, in February the Federal Trade Commission said it will examine prior acquisitions from Big Tech companies including Microsoft. The company also faces an antitrust complaint in Europe from Slack, which operates a product similar to Microsoft Teams.
“It’s the classic case of shiny objects,” said Andrew Gavil, a professor at Howard University School of Law. “Microsoft has succeeded in making sure the attention stays on everybody else even when they continue to be dominant in many areas they operate.”
Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin
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