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The iPad Pro has a LiDAR camera, but should that tech come to Android? – Android Central



Apple has shown the world the 2020 iPad lineup, and the new iPad Pro models come with a new feature: a LiDAR laser and scanner. While the tech can be used for a lot of things, Apple is using it for one very specific reason, and that’s to bolster the AR (Augmented Reality) capabilities of the newest iPad Pros.

Google is also no stranger to AR, and you might remember hearing about Tango — Google’s method to build an AR powerhouse for mobile. Tango used special sensors to create a pretty good AR experience, but the project was shuttered once a way to give us as much AR as we wanted using just the regular cameras with ARCore.

Apple has done the reverse and is bringing special sensing equipment back on the hardware side. Should Google do the same?

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What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is a way to create a three-dimensional map of whatever it’s focused on.

A LiDAR system consists of a laser and receiver; the laser emits pulsed light, and the receiver measures the time it takes for the light to bounce back. It’s not a new technology — your robot vacuum probably uses it, and NOAA has used it to recreate and model the surface of the earth for a while now, though Apple isn’t doing things quite so grand.

On the 2020 iPad Pro, LiDAR is used to build an “image” of what the camera sees, so apps that have an AR component can use it to add animations and static images to the screen in exactly the right place.

Yeah, that looks cool. It’s also something that could probably be done without using any special sensors, though Apple seems to think they are needed. It’s tough to argue with the engineers who designed the new iPad, so I’ll go with the idea that the LiDAR sensor makes things better.

Project Tango and ARCore

Google introduced Project Tango in 2014 as a side project from the ATAP team, and it was equally cool. It came to consumer devices from ASUS and Lenovo, and it worked as well as it did in the lab: a Tango device like the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro could map its surroundings and store the data so extras could be added by AR developers.

In 2017, Google shuttered Project Tango in favor of ARCore. Debuting on the Pixel 2, it was demoed with new stickers and animations in the Google camera app, but there are plenty of apps in Google Play that utilize ARCore.

What’s the difference between Tango and ARCore?

Why Google did the reverse of Apple here — starting with extra hardware, then working on eliminating the need for it — is anyone’s guess. Google might have found a way to cut costs yet was still good enough, or maybe the adoption wasn’t strong enough to continue to build devices with expensive sensors. Either way, Tango is gone, ARCore is the replacement, and it works reasonably well.

Do the sensors need to come back to Android?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Apple did AR using just the standard cameras for a while, and just because the new iPad Pro has a LiDAR sensor package doesn’t mean that AR on the iPhone will stop working. Still, Apple must have a plan because the hardware isn’t cheap, and adding it just to say “look at this!” isn’t how things are done in the competitive world of mobile hardware. Apple must have a plan.

iPad Pro (2020): Everything you need to know

If you were to ask me what I think the future holds for a tablet with a LiDAR sensor package in it, I would instantly think about tieing it to GPS data. That’s what LiDAR was originally designed to do and how NOAA uses it today.

AR is fun, but it’s also useful. Google used Tango to build an indoor mapping system that gave audible cues to people with low vision so they knew where to safely step. With a precise location system, that map only needs to be “drawn” once, and then real-time checks need only look for changes that may have happened since the original. And those changes could then be changed on the “master” map.

Most people won’t be using a tablet to navigate indoors, but the idea that the world can be built in the cloud using a LiDAR sensor could lead to some other applications. Imagine seeing someone capture a Pokemon on your screen while they’re playing Pokemon Go on theirs. Or an application that that could act as a virtual tour guide on the display because it knows where you are and what to draw.

The Floor is Lava is looking like a cool game, but it could have been a cool game without LiDAR. Someone already has a great idea of how the tech can be used to make the iPad Pro do something it couldn’t do before, and if that something is worthwhile (and cool) Google should think about reviving Project Tango so we can use our phones and tablets to have the same experience. If LiDAR does make a significant advancement in how AR can be used, look for just that to happen.

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Cooking Mama dev shuts down rumours of Switch version mining crytocurrency –



Studio says blockchain was never a feature, is “frustrated” by distribution problems

The developer of Cooking Mama: Cookstar has assured that the Switch game does not utilise Nintendo’s hardware to mine for Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.

Responding to various queries on Twitter, New York-based studio 1st Playable said “Those are all rumours.”

“As the developers, we can say with certainty there is no cryptocurrency or data collection or blockchain or anything else shady in the code,” the developer tweeted. “The Nintendo Switch is a very safe platform, with none of the data and privacy issues associated with some mobile and PC games.”

The rumours appear to centre around confusion over the game’s release. IGN has a detailed breakdown of the many oddities.

At the heart is the fact that Cooking Mama: Cookstar is — according to its own website — supposed to be available now. But it does not appear listed on Nintendo’s online store, Amazon is only selling copies through two third-party sellers, and Walmart is listing it as out of stock.

There are also reports that the game appeared briefly on the US eShop before being delisted and does not appear anywhere on the European eShop.

UK retailers GAME and ShopTo both list the game with an April 9 release date, so this may be primarily based around the US release.

But some Twitter users appear to have received physical copies.

In another tweet, 1st Playable said it was “frustrated as everyone with the distribution situation,” although offered no further clarification.

This confusion, combined with a 2019 press release announcing Cooking Mama would feature blockchain functionality, led to the rumours that the game would be used for mining Bitcoin.

When presented with this press release, 1st Playable clarified that it was released back in February 2019, adding: “We presume [it was] hypothetical like most releases around blockchain are.”

The studio continued: “Blockchain was never brought up to us developers, and we were entertainment to hear about [it] in late 2019. Not happening anytime soon.”

Oddly, these tweets are the only activity from 1st Playable’s account since Novembr 2017. has reached out to Nintendo and publisher Planet Entertainment via its PR agency Sandbox Strategies for clarification.

Distributor Koch Media responded but was unable to offer any clarification.

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Airbus tells employees production rebound unlikely in short term – Bloomberg News – National Post



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— Note: Reuters has not verified this story and does not vouch for its accuracy

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Every upcoming phone available this spring and summer of 2020 – CNET



Despite the current situation the world is dealing with, phone companies still plan to release new phones this starting this month and well into the summer. While some of us might be tightening the belt right about now, manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are at this very moment still building phones and they still want you to buy them. 

I guess we’ll see how well that works out. Phones shipments were down 38% in February compared to the same month in 2019, amid coronavirus concerns. I can’t imagine March was any better, but we’ll see. No one really knows how the next few months will play out, but as far as phone releases go, what follow is the current plan. 

Read more: Galaxy S20 vs. S20 Plus vs. S20 Ultra: Which Samsung phone to buy when sales arrive

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Samsung Galaxy Fold 2


This is the first Galaxy Fold. We still expect the sequel to make an appearance this year.

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung is one company betting that foldables are the future of mobile devices. It worked on foldable displays for years before unveiling its Galaxy Fold in February 2019. Samsung’s device, which expands from a phone into a tablet, captured the world’s attention, but it quickly ran into troubles. 

The company delayed the launch of the $1,980 Fold by five months from April to September after some reporters found screen defects in their review units. This year, it’s expected to launch round two of the Fold, building on what it learned from last year’s disaster and February’s Galaxy Flip. There aren’t any firm details about when the Fold could launch, but some leakers suggest we’ll see the phone as early as the second quarter

Notable updates to the Fold could include a glass display instead of plastic and a bigger internal screen. Some rumors even suggest it will come with an S Pen stylus. Still, the coronavirus pandemic could push back the launch, and Samsung’s still having trouble making enough Galaxy Flips for potential buyers. 

Expected release date: September 2020

Huawei P40 Pro series

Huawei P40 Pro PlusHuawei P40 Pro Plus

Actual photo of the P40 series. 


Huawei’s P40 series consists of three phones — including the standard P40 and the P40 Pro — but it’s the hero — the P40 Pro Plus — that’s got us most excited. It’s the first phone to have a 10x optical zoom lens, it promises to be killer in low light photography and it’s got a practically bezel-free design. This phone is due to go on sale in June, but due to ongoing political difficulties, the phone won’t come to the US. 

Expected release date: No US release date.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20


Th Note 10 in all its iridescent glory.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The fate of Samsung’s annual stylus-bearing flagship phone for power users is up in the air. Typically, we’d expect the new Note to arrive in August, guns blazing, to much fanfare and a splashy launch event. This year, who knows. An early rumor suggested that the Note 20  — following Samsung’s new naming convention for the Galaxy S20 phones — would appear as early as July

That seems wholly unlikely as the world hunkers down to weather this coronavirus pandemic. It’s possible that Samsung could host an online event like rivals instead of the usual stadium or music hall venue. The company didn’t reply to a request for comment on the topic.

What is likely is that the Note 20 will build off the Galaxy S20’s key features, from 5G data speeds and a fast 120Hz screen refresh rate to those high-resolution cameras — whenever  — and however — it’s eventually unveiled.

Expected release date: August 2020

Xiaomi Mi 10, Mi 10 Pro 


The Xiaomi Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro.


Xiaomi took the wraps off its latest flagship phones the Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro in an online event on Feb. 13 for the Chinese market, which it followed up with an international launch on March 27. Both phones sport a massive 108-megapixel camera sensor, which appeared first on the Mi 10 Note and was co-developed by Samsung. 

The phones will also come packed with other top-shelf specs including the latest Snapdragon 865 chipset, 90Hz displays, a 4,500-mAh battery and a 30-watt wireless charging option. Xiaomi says it’ll release the phones in European countries including Spain, Italy and France in April, but stopped short of announcing any details of a possible US launch or release. In Europe, the Mi 10 will start at €799 with the 10 Pro starting at €999. Under these prices, converting to US dollars would have the Mi 10 costing $877 and the 10 Pro at $1,096. 

Expected release date: Xiaomi did not announce plans to launch in the US market

Google Pixel 4A and 4A XL


The Pixel 3A.

Angela Lang/CNET

Last year, Google debuted a budget version of its Pixel phones, the Pixel 3A and 3A XL. The devices turned out to be a success for the company, so we expect follow ups this spring. Rumors for the Pixel 4A and 4A XL include the same $399 starting price for the Pixel 4A and headphone jacks, as well as a new front-facing hole-punch camera. And in case there was any doubt, Verizon debunked a previous claim that it is dumping Pixel phones — it won’t, and said it will “continue to work with Google.”

Expected release date: April or May 2020

Redmi Note 9S


Redmi’s latest Note 9S model comes in three colors: Aurora Blue, Glacier White and Interstellar Grey.


In late March, Xiaomi sub-brand Redmi unveiled the Note 9S as its next-generation budget phone. It’s the sequel to the Note 8 series which emerged as the best-selling Android phone at the end of 2019. The biggest talking point of the Note 9S is its 5,020-mAh battery crammed under the hood, which is larger than the 5,000-mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Other notable features include: the Redmi Note’s first-ever in-display selfie camera and the quad-camera system on its rear, led by a 48-megapixel main sensor. The Redmi Note 9S will be available globally, the company said, arriving first in Singapore and Malaysia with other release dates and pricing for the US to be announced later. We’re expecting the base model that comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage to start at around $215 after converting to US dollars from its price in Singapore.

Expected release date: Redmi did not announce plans to launch in the US market

OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro


The next OnePlus phone is being announced soon.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

OnePlus announced that it will launch its latest line of flagship phones on April 14 through a digital event. Likely to be called the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, the phones are confirmed to have 5G connectivity and 120Hz displays. Because of this, we expect the phones to be pricier compared to last year’s. Other rumors include a hole-punch screen for the front-facing camera and a possible budget-minded variant called the OnePlus 8 Lite.

Expected release date: April or May 2020

Apple iPhone SE


The original SE.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple is expected to launch a budget-friendly phone in April, which could be the first of at least five iPhones anticipated to launch in 2020. This device is widely speculated to be a lower-cost phone called the ‘iPhone SE 2020’. It would take a similar approach to 2016’s iPhone SE with a mix of elements from several iPhones and could have a $399 starting price. While an actual live event is unlikely, Apple may take a similar route with the iPhone SE that it did when it launched a new iPad Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini online on March 18.

Rumored release date: April 2020

Apple iPhone 12 


Angela Lang/CNET

The upcoming iPhone 12, 12 Pro and 12 Max (Apple has not confirmed the name of the phones, but we’ll go with that for now) face unknown waters ahead — suppliers in China have already shut down or are operating on limited capacity because of the outbreak, which may impact inventory in September when new iPhones are typically launched. Rumors for the devices are all over the place with some stating the phones will have a radical new design and other leaks point that it will likely look similar to the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro. Some models could have 5G, others might not.

Expected release date: Early September 2020

Moto G Stylus 

Motorola Moto G StylusMotorola Moto G Stylus

Sarah Tew/CNET

In February, Motorola announced two new members to its budget friendly family of phones: the Moto G Stylus and Moto G Power. Both have a 6.4-inch full HD hole-punch display for a selfie camera, a Snapdragon 665 processor, 4GB of RAM and run Android 10 with Moto’s thoughtful extra touches. The Moto G Stylus has, as you can probably guess, a stylus which puts the phone in line with the Samsung Galaxy Note and LG Stylo. It has three rear cameras: A 48-megapixel main camera, a 16-megapixel ultrawide “action” camera and a built-in macro camera. It will cost $300.

Expected release date: Spring 2020

Moto G Power 


The G Power and G Sylus.


There is a significant venn-diagram overlap between the Moto G Stylus and Moto G Power. See the Moto G Stylus section above for basic specs. The biggest differences, aside from the Moto G Power’s $250 price tag, is that it doesn’t have a stylus. Instead the Moto G Power has a 5,000mAh battery that Motorola claims can last over three days of regular use after a single charge. There is a rear triple-camera array with a 16-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultrawide-angle camera and a built-in macro camera.

Expected release date: Spring 2020

Sony Xperia 1 ii 



In February, Sony announced the Xperia 1 ii and Xperia Pro which on paper share much of the same basic specs. It has a 21:9 ratio 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED display, Snapdragon 865, 4,000-mAh battery with wireless charging, 8GB of RAM and 256GB. It has a rear triple-camera array with three 12-megapixel cameras: one with a 16-millimeter lens, one with a 24-millimeter lens and one with a 70-millimeter lens. 

The Xperia 1 ii, like last year’s Xperia 1 will borrow camera tech from its Alpha line of cameras like the A7ii and A9 ii. One of the best is Eye AF that instantly finds the focus on a person’s eye when taking photos. The phone will also support 5G, but not in the US. There’s no word on pricing.

Expected release date: Late Spring 2020

Sony Xperia Pro 


Sony’s Xperia Pro has millimeter wave 5G.


In February, Sony teased the Xperia Pro, a 5G phone aimed at professional video shooters. This could be the phone that knocks Apple’s iPhone off its video-prowess throne. It has the same triple-camera rear setup and Alpha camera features as the consumer-focused Xperia 1 II, and like its sibling packs a 6.5-inch 21:9 ratio 4K OLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor and 8GB of RAM. The Pro also has 512GB of storage, and an HDMI/USB 3.1 port for outputting video. The Pro will support both low-band and midband 5G. The Xperia Pro doesn’t have a price but will likely cost more than the Xperia 1 ii.

Expected release: Late Spring 2020

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