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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 gets an early hands-on review

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Are you bored sick waiting for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2? Yet another live video of the foldable phone has now arrived to keep you occupied. The clip takes the form of a hands-on review published to YouTube (via SamMobile) which showcases a fair bit even if you can’t quite understand the language.

There’s plenty to glean from the tidy visuals. For starters, the video compares the Galaxy Z Fold 2 with its Galaxy Fold sibling, and the latter really looks like a prototype. The newer foldable’s outer display is far larger than the Galaxy Fold’s and seems far more usable, too.

The review also demonstrates that you could, in theory, play games on the outer display or use it for navigation. Using this screen with one hand also seems pretty easy (perhaps not for clumsy folk) as the folded edges provide more surface area to hold.

As for the foldable display, gone is the notch and in comes the punch-hole, a feature that also seems to free up a considerable amount of screen. The Galaxy Z Fold 2’s center crease on its 7.6-inch display is also apparent in this clip in some angles, but viewing the screen straight on doesn’t seem to highlight it.

At the rear, the more pronounced camera hump may be an issue for some who wish to use the Galaxy Z Fold 2 on flat surfaces. The device wobbles about when lying on a table or desk, an annoying sacrifice for better camera hardware. Flex Mode, which allows the phone to be used in a mini-laptop format, largely negates this issue though.

Preorders for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 will commence on September 1. There’s no word on pricing just yet, but expect it to still cost a fair bit. That said, it does look like a more refined machine than its predecessor.

Source: – Android Authority

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Apple's Battle Royale With Epic Games Starts for Real Next Week – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The legal fight between Apple Inc. and Epic Games Inc. kicks into full gear on Monday with decisions that will influence the future of app stores in the U.S. and how the world’s largest technology platforms make money from developers.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers will decide whether to force Apple to let battle royale video game Fortnite back into the App Store with Epic’s in-house payment option. She will also rule if Apple can block third-party apps using Epic’s Unreal Engine development software.

Most legal experts expect the judge to extend her temporary injunction for Unreal Engine, but not reinstate Fortnite in the Apple App Store.

“Epic faces an uphill battle,” said Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School. “Apple’s pricing policies are problematic, and antitrust law should probably do something about it. But courts are very reluctant to dictate who a company, even a monopolist, has to do business with.”

The decisions will have far-reaching consequences especially as authorities across the globe examine whether tech giants including Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have broken antitrust rules. On Monday, the judge will consider if Epic is likely to succeed on the merits of its antitrust claims and whether the company will suffer irreparable harm if she doesn’t issue an injunction.

At stake is Apple and Google’s ability to charge fees of up to 30% to developers using their app stores. Consumers spent $50 billion worldwide on the App Store and Google Play in the first half of 2020, according to Sensor Tower estimates. That generates billions of dollars in highly profitable revenue for the companies. Some developers deride this an unfair and unwarranted tax. Epic and its Founder Tim Sweeney have led the backlash this year.

Google may change its policies if the Fortnite case ends up favoring Apple, said Lewis Ward, an analyst at researcher IDC. No matter the outcome, Epic has gained a lot of goodwill among gamers and other developers.

“In the larger court of public opinion, in the U.S., my sense is that Epic is generally viewed as the good guy here, and Apple is viewed as the bad guy,” Ward said.

“It has raised the profile of Epic from an already well-respected game company to one that has a philosophy or a vision of where the games industry should go over time,” Ward added. “That vision is one that is more aligned with how the internet began, which was open and free and cheap.”

Read more: Epic’s Battle With Apple and Google Has Roots in the Pac-Man Era

The impact on Epic’s business so far has been “fairly negligible,” said Doug Clinton, co-founder at Loup ventures — tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue. While players can no longer download Fortnite on their Apple devices, many of them have simply shifted their playing to consoles and PCs. Fortnite climbed SuperData’s rankings of top-grossing titles among console games in August, reaching third place. It ranked sixth in July, before the legal spat between Epic and Apple began.

Financially, Apple doesn’t have much to lose by kicking Fortnite out. The company has taken in about $350 million in revenue from Fortnite since the game launched on the iPhone in 2018, according to Sensor Tower data. Apple pulled in sales of more than $250 billion in its latest fiscal year.

Read more: Spotify, Match Launch Coalition to Protest App Store Rules

If the court forces Apple to keep distributing Unreal Engine, that could be positive for the iPhone maker. The decision would let other games that use the tools continue distributing their software via Apple’s platform, resulting in a 30% cut for each sale or in-app purchase. However, Apple argues that the continued distribution of Unreal Engine by what it considers to be a rogue developer could harm consumer security.

There are broader risks for Apple from the case, though. If Epic continues to paint Apple as the bad guy to younger iPhone and iPad owners who play Fortnite, that could twist the perception of these users toward Apple as a whole. If Epic wins key decisions, that would make it more difficult for Apple to impose its App Store payment system on other developers, curbing a high-margin source of revenue.

The lawsuit might also spur Apple to continue tweaking its store. While the company isn’t budging on its 30% cut, it has loosened some restrictions recently, letting a small handful of apps avoid the fee.

Read more: Apple Loosens App Store Rules a Bit After Developer Backlash

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Apple Watch Series 3 users complain of random reboots, other bugs after updating to watchOS 7 – 9to5Mac

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watchOS 7 was released to the general public last week, bringing new watch face features, sleep tracking support, and more to Apple Watch models dating back to the Apple Watch Series 3. Some Apple Watch Series 3 users, however, are reporting a variety issues since installing watchOS 7, including random reboots, poor performance, and more.

On Apple’s support forums, there’s a thread dedicated to Apple Watch Series 3 owners expressing frustration with device performance since installing watchOS 7. One of the most common complaints seems to be that the Apple Watch Series 3 will randomly reboot multiple times per day with watchOS 7 installed:

I’ve had several reboots a day since updating, it asks me for my passcode and shows blank stats on activity. Never had an issue like this before on Watch OS6 or earlier, surely there has to be a supplement update from Apple to address this?

Multiple Apple Watch Series 3 users refer to watchOS 7 as “the worst” watchOS update that Apple has released so far.

My series 3 completed an auto update overnight to Watch OS7. Today it has shut itself down at least 3 times, locked itself while on my wrist about 4 times, failed to load complications on multiple faces (weather, activity rings, date etc), disconnected from my phone at least twice. This has been the buggiest upgrade I have seen.

On the MacRumors Forums, there’s another thread dedicated to Apple Watch Series 3 owners voicing frustration with watchOS 7, including complaints of random reboots, laggy performance, and more.

Two things make these complaints even more notable. First, there is no way to downgrade a watchOS 7 update, which means these Apple Watch Series 3 owners can’t downgrade back to watchOS 6. watchOS 7.0.1 was released as a bug fix update this week, but users report that it has not solved their problems.

Secondly, Apple still sells the Apple Watch Series 3 as part of its Apple Watch lineup, even though it seems as if the aging hardware might struggle to keep up with the new features of watchOS 7. This could also have implications for the availability of future software updates, such as watchOS 8, for the Apple Watch Series 3.

At this point, it’s unclear how widespread these issues are, but judging by the sheer volume of complaints, the problems are likely to already be on Apple’s radar. Have you experienced any of these issues with your Apple Watch Series 3 since updating to watchOS 7? Let us know down in the comments.

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Ring Always Home Cam and Echo Show 10 may pave way for Amazon robot – Business Insider – Business Insider

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Ring home camera

The Ring Always Home Cam

Ring


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  • Amazon launched two new smart home products that can move within the home: the Echo Show 10 and Ring Always Home Cam.
  • The Echo Show 10 can reorient its display, camera, and speakers to face the user’s direction, while the Ring Always Home Cam is a mini security drone that can fly around the home.
  • Both product could serve as a step toward Amazon’s broader ambitions to build an Alexa-enabled home robot, as reports from Business Insider and Bloomberg have indicated.
  • But the company will have to overcome serious privacy concerns along the way. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon’s presence in the home took a big leap forward this week, and not just because the online retail giant announced a completely redesigned Echo lineup and big updates to Alexa.

Amazon’s smart home devices, whether it be an Echo speaker, Eero mesh router, or Ring security camera, have always remained as stationary fixtures inside (or outside) the home.

That’s all starting to change, however, as Amazon announced the Echo Show 10, which can rotate based on the user’s position, as well as the Ring Always Home Cam — a miniature drone capable of flying around the home.

The two products could pave the way for Amazon’s future endeavors, such as the Alexa-enabled home robot the company is said to be working on. The new gadgets may help Amazon gain an understanding of how consumers receive smart home gadgets that move autonomously in the home or reorient themselves based on the user’s location.

It could also potentially help Amazon refine such technologies before making a more sophisticated gadget like the “Vesta” robot it has reportedly been developing. 

The new Echo Show 10 can move its screen and camera as the user changes position to keep him or her in frame during video calls. If you enable Alexa Guard — the feature that prompts your Echo to listen up for sounds and turn the lights on while you’re away — the new Show can also periodically pan its camera around the room.

The Echo Show uses computer vision algorithms to understand when a person is in its scope of view, and owners can also manipulate the camera from the Alexa app to get a full view of the room. The new Echo Show can adjust its screen, camera, and speakers to face the user each time Alexa is triggered.

Amazon Echo Show 10

The Echo Show 10

Amazon


Amazon created the new Echo Show because it realized that people often aren’t stationary when they’re within their homes. As such, the company wanted to create a product that could cater to users as they move around the house and go about their daily routines, Miriam Daniel, Amazon’s vice president of Echo and Alexa devices, said to Business Insider.

The company also used virtual reality environments to gain a better understanding of how users interact with screens and cameras when developing the Echo Show 10, Daniel said.

“Up until now, customers are adapting to the technology,” Daniel said. “Whether it’s holding a phone in your hand or angling it just right to take a selfie, or how you have to pause and put yourself within frame of the camera. And so we thought a little bit about how should technology adapt to humans.”

The Echo Show 10 uses a combination of audio signals and computer vision to determine a user’s location and adjust its position accordingly. The camera looks for a human shape and the direction from which the strongest audio signals in the room are coming from to determine the user’s location, according to Daniel.

The ability to understand a person’s location within a room and adjust accordingly sounds like it could be crucial for a home robot like the one Amazon is rumored to be working on.  

Ring, on the other hand, is launching a new home security camera that can autonomously fly throughout the home. The $250 miniature drone, which is called the Always Home Cam and will be launching in 2021, follows a predetermined path that the user sets by carrying the device around the house. It’s intended to help owners keep an eye on their homes without having to install multiple cameras throughout the house. 

But both products are already raising some serious privacy woes. In particular, the idea of a tiny Amazon drone surveilling your home — as well as a stationary camera that swivels to follow you — has already been met with some concern and apprehension

Big Brother Watch, the United Kingdom-based privacy advocacy group, called the Always Home Cam “Amazon’s most chilling surveillance product yet.”

Ring says its Always Home Cam only records while in flight and that its camera is blocked while it sits in its charging dock. The flying camera is also designed to be loud so that owners are aware that it’s nearby. Amazon says the Echo Show 10 features a built-in camera shutter that can block its view anytime.

When the Echo Show 10 is scanning its surroundings, it immediately discards any imagery of human shapes within milliseconds after extracting the necessary data points, Daniel said. The imagery also never leaves the device.

How customers react to and embrace these new mobile gadgets could be critical when it comes to Amazon’s future plans. The company is said to be working on a waist-high Alexa-powered robot that would be able to move around the home based on voice commands, according to reports from Bloomberg and Business Insider’s Eugene Kim. The robot itself could cost around $1,000 and is said to be a top priority for the company. 

Privacy advocates are already taking issue with the idea of a small drone that’s only designed to make short, pre-determined trips of approximately five minutes each around your home. Imagine the backlash Amazon will likely face if it launches a bigger robot equipped with microphones, cameras, and wheels that can more freely roam around the house. 

Regardless, the new products suggest that the path forward for Amazon’s Echo and smart home products involves making them less stationary and more mobile — whether it raises privacy concerns or not. 

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