Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘smartphone’ Category

Bigger, Better, Badder Pixels

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Well, uh, that was awkward. 

Just a day after Google had to come clean about its Google+ privacy debacle (and announced the imminent demise of G+ for consumers once and for all), Google announced some new members of its hardware family.

I’m an iPhone guy, but I did purchase a Google Pixelbook chromebook earlier this year that I’ve been very happy with, so at minimum I wanted to pass along the speeds and feeds from yesterday’s Google Pixel 3/XL Android smartphone announcements.

The Verge has this tight breakdown:

The Pixel 3 starts at $799 for 64GB, with the 3 XL costing $899. Add $100 to either for the 128GB storage option. That’s a $150 and $50 premium over last year’s models, respectively.. Core specs for both include a Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM (there’s no option for more), Bluetooth 5.0, and front-facing stereo speakers. Also inside is a new Titan M security chip, which Google says provides “on-device protection for login credentials, disk encryption, app data, and the integrity of the operating system.” Preorders for both phones begin today, and buyers will get six months of free YouTube Music service. The Pixels will officially launch on October 18th.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL both feature larger screens than last year’s models thanks to slimmed down bezels — and the controversial notch in the case of the bigger phone. The 3 XL has a 6.3-inch display (up from six inches on the 2 XL), while the regular 3 has a 5.5-inch screen (up from five inches). Overall, though, the actual phones are very similar in size and handling to their direct predecessors.

And Google’s own blog post explains how the Pixel 3 will help you keep from talking to those undesirable humans you’re trying to avoid:

…Starting out in English in the U.S., Pixel 3’s on-device AI helps you screen phone calls and avoid spam calls. Imagine you’re at dinner with family or in a meeting at work and a call from an unknown caller comes in. Just tap on “Screen call” to find out who’s calling and why, as well as other information (as prompted by you). You’ll immediately see a transcript of the caller’s responses so that you can then decide whether to pick up, respond by tapping a quick reply (e.g., “I’ll call you back later”), or mark the call as spam and dismiss. Processing the call details on-device means these experiences are fast, private to you, and use up less battery.

Second, Pixel users in the U.S. will be the first to get access to an experimental new Google Assistant feature, powered by Duplex technology, which helps you complete real-world tasks over the phone, like calling a restaurant to book a table. This feature will initially be available later this year in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area to help people book restaurant reservations and will roll out to other U.S. cities in the future.

Because why talk to even yet another human to make a restaurant reservation when your Google Assistant can do all the work?

Written by turbotodd

October 10, 2018 at 9:44 am

Posted in 2018, google, privacy, smartphone

Tagged with ,

Xiaomi’s Float Stumbles

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Happy Monday.

CNBC is reporting that shares of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi stumbled on their debut, slipping as much as 6 percent.

The company’s Hong Kong offering was priced at 17 Hong Kong dollars, and opened for trade down more than 2 percent and slipping as much as 5.88 percent during the session.

Some analysts were quoted in the story as thinking the valuation was too high. 

Hao Hong, head of research at BOCOM International, explained:

“The share was priced at a very high valuation multiple, substantially higher than its global peers. Even though Xiaomi remained to be a very good story, I think the market is at a stage where you have to prove yourself first before the market can give you a good valuation,” Hao Hong, head of research at BOCOM International, told CNBC.

Meanwhile, back at The New York Times, Paul Mozur goes deep on AI and surveillance in China in a piece entitled, “Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras.”

For some reason, the movie “Minority Report” kept coming to mind as I read through his chilling story.

The Net: There are an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras watching its Chinese citzens’ every move, and their surveillance system is getting smarter every day, partially due to a boom in surveillance-related startups in the country.

And no Orwell jokes, please…China is well past that point.

Written by turbotodd

July 9, 2018 at 9:56 am

Posted in 2018, china, smartphone

Tagged with ,

Finding a Mate

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If you’re in the market for a new Samsung smartphone, you’ll have to wait until Mobile World Congress in late February for the Galaxy S9 announcement.

ZDNet is reporting that DJ Koh, president of Samsung’s mobile business, said its first flagship smartphone of the year will be unveiled at MWC (where they will also announce the on sale date).

If, on the other hand, you were looking for the new Huawei Mate 10, it’s looking more and more like you’ll be needing to acquire it not from a major telecom vendor if you’re a prospective customer in the U.S.

As Android Police reported recently, The Information reported that the U.S. and House intelligence committees sent letters to the FCC back in December alleging Huawei was a security threat, and expressed “concerns” that the company was working with U.S. telecom providers to sell smartphones here in America.

The AT&T deal died a few weeks after members of the U.S. Senate and House intelligence committees wrote to the Federal Communications Commission raising concerns about reports that Huawei had struck a deal with a major telecommunications carrier. The Dec. 20 letter, reviewed by The Information, cited an intelligence committee report on the Chinese firm’s alleged ties to the Communist Party and China’s intelligence and security services. “Additional work by the Intelligence Committees on this topic only reinforces concerns regarding Huawei and Chinese espionage,”
– via Android Police – Android News, Apps, Games, Phones, Tablets

Android Police goes on to report that Verizon is facing similar pressure.

You can read CNET’s review of the Huawei Mate 10 here.

Also in the China Internet news front…9to5Mac writes that Apple has announced a date for when it will hand over operations of iCloud data services for residents of mainland China to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Ltd., a cloud partner in the Middle Kingdom.

GCBD will manage a new Apple data center in China that will eventually store all iCloud data for Chinese customers. Affected customers are now being notified about the transition which will start on February 28. Apple reassured users that the data will be protected by the same encryption standards as its current US policies and that no special backdoors will be created. This means that customers who live within mainland China will see the physical storage location of their data change, although it should go unnoticed in terms of available iCloud features and functionality. All of a user’s data will not move across to the new geographic location, but the process is beginning from February 28.
– via 9to5Mac

According to 9to5Mac, the switchover will happen automatically on February 28, and Apple customers in China will be “notified in due course.”

Written by turbotodd

January 10, 2018 at 11:27 am

iPhone Shmyphone

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Apparently I missed the whole iPhone 10-year anniversary celebration thing yesterday.

Judging from my RSS feeds, though, there was a lot of fond remembrances of how much the iPhone changed the world, even if the original 2G phone connections were lethally slow.
In 2007, I was still a diehard BlackBerry user — my Bold took me around the world and back again, and it did email really, really well (and worked in just about every country I flew to).

But eventually I pried my cold, live hands from the BlackBerry keyboard and migrated to the iPhone. I’d already been a Mac user since…well, I won’t say when…and it only seemed logical.

I’m not one of those who holds the iPhone up on the altar of technology worship. Nor do I denigrate the iPhone because it’s presence has led to no end of human folly and absurdities due to its use or misuse. And don’t ask me to name any of them, because I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

No, for me, the iPhone is a tool, plain and simple. A wonderous one, one that allows me to stay in touch with people all over the globe at the touch of a button.

One that allows me to watch human calamity in real-time from afar.

One that allows me, for good and bad, to respond to work email from anywhere I have a data connection (which is almost everywhere, but not completely).

One that allows me to learn new things, entertain myself, buy stuff, take pictures and videos….we all know what it does for us, personally.

What it does for culture and society and the broader world? Well, I can make a strong argument that it brings us all closer together, but others would argue it does just the opposite, that it takes us further apart.

As with anything, and as with any technology, it’s really all relative and depends on your point of view.

As I look back on the first ten years of the iPhone, I force myself to remember that these devices are called “smartphones.”

Whether or not the iPhone (and subsequent smartphones) have made us any smarter is probably still up for debate.

Whether or not I would pretty much be lost without my own is not.

Are you paying attention to me? Are you still reading this?!

Look at me and stop looking at that damned phone!

: )

Written by turbotodd

June 30, 2017 at 9:06 am

PC On Your Person

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The jokes about the new Samsung Galaxy S8 were all but inevitable.

I confess, I played as well, saying to one of my colleagues yesterday via IM, “Does it come with an asbestos burn bag??”

And that’s all the beating up I’ll do on poor Samsung — they’ve had one tough year and are trying to rise from the ashes.

The Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler covered the basic speeds and feeds, its new Bixby virtual assistant, and other regular fare in his latest column.

But he also highlighted the looming possibility of the smartphone as desktop replacement:

The S8 has one other unexpected software talent: With an adapter, the S8 can transform into a computer, capable of driving a monitor, mouse and keyboard. It’s actually a Samsung-modified version of Android called DeX, which creates a desktop-like experience including resizable windows.
– via WSJ

That’s almost enough to stop your nightmares of phone batteries exploding in your pockets or while playing Angry Birds on airplanes!

Imagine, a computer in your pocket that you could take to work, plug it in, and not need to carry around a boat anchor (even today’s admittedly lighter laptop boat anchors).

As Fowler points out, at your desk, you’d obviously need a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, but other than that, you’d be good to go and you could always have your “computer” be on your person without much hassle.

Engadget put the S8 through some desktop paces during its own demo time and had this to say.

In summary, they wrote “The road to the perfect phone-desktop hybrid is littered with the carcasses of ambitious failures…” but that they were “…particularly impressed with the way Samsung has customized Android for bigger screens.”

Et tu, iPhone?

Written by turbotodd

March 30, 2017 at 9:15 am

President-elect Trump’s New “Secure, Encrypted” Device

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Well, we’re only a couple of hours away from President-elect Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States of America.

Like President Obama before him, Mr. Trump is alleged to be “trading in” the Android phone (one that has helped make his Tweets so famous) for a Secret Service-approved smartphone.

President Obama, of course, was forced to give up his beloved Blackberry upon ascending to the presidency. Anybody remember Blackberry??

No real details seem to have emerged about President-elect Trump’s new device. It is, of course, Secret-Service issued, so the details remain secret. That’s the way that whole thing works.

I just sure hope somebody load the Twitter app before handing it over to the new president. Otherwise, we could see our first scandal of the new administration, and our first “You’re fired!”

 

Written by turbotodd

January 20, 2017 at 9:09 am

A Manual Start To The New Year

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Once again, I don’t think I’m going to make any New Year’s resolutions.

I find bargaining with myself like that to be somewhat whimsical, if not purposeless.

That’s not to say I’m not optimistic about the future. I just find that being practical…being realistic, if you would…has served me better over the longitude of time.

Another thing that has served me well is the very act I’m currently engaged in: Writing.

This blog is now well into its 8th consecutive year, and trust me, if I didn’t like to write, it wouldn’t have lasted this long.

So rather than come up with a list of grand technological projections and prognostications, this year, I’ve decided to go a little more Luddite on you.

Fear not, that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning all social media and going out to live in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a copy of Thoreau’s Walden, or, Life in the Woods and some granola bars.

God, live without Facebook or Twitter for a year, are you *&^@#$# kidding me?! How in the world would I know what was going on in the world, or whose friend’s cat just took its first bath?!

No, I’d never do anything that extreme.

But I did do this: I ordered a new ribbon for my old Royal manual typewriter.

For you kids in the audience who have never seen a typewriter, it’s a small portable machine we used to use to put down our thoughts.

It’s a contraption that…I know, get this…requires NO batteries or electricity (unless you bought an electric typewriter, in which case you were bound to the grid).

Now, again, I want to be straight with you: The typewriter didn’t have a “Like” button, so for many of you, I know, that’s a dealbreaker.

In fact, it had no share function whatsoever, other than taking the piece of paper you were writing on and mailing it to another person. So yes, it was essentially useless for any kind of crowdsourcing.

But, what it WAS good for was sitting down, thinking through an idea, focusing, and actually starting to tell a story or pull together a thesis with no interruptions (instant messages, Facebook messages, direct Tweets, SMS messages, smoke signals…) other than those created by your own imagination

I know, it’s a hard notion to comprehend, focusing, especially when you’ve never had to focus.

And the idea of doing one thing at a time…well, yes, it’s almost heretical in our multitasking times.

But that is one of the things I wish for in 2013.

Because I’ve seen what happens when people become possessed by the multitasking smartphone demons. They remind me of Linda Blair’s head turning round and round in “The Exorcist.”

It’s not pretty to watch, and yet there’s no priest you can call for smartphone demons. You just have to watch the poor person suffer until their multitasking becomes so overwhelming they just have to let their iPhone run out of juice.

Yes, that’s what I wish for in 2013: For people to have the opportunity to focus.

Instead of trying to do everything, and doing it mediocre, I wish to see more people do just a few things, or even just one thing, really, really well.

Come to think of it, at minimum, I’d like to see more people doing just one thing at a time (especially while they’re on the freeway).

Multitasking is highly overrated. There are very few humans who can do it and do it well, and the odds are pretty high you’re not one of them. And studies suggest that people who smoke marijuana do better at cognitive functions than people who multitask.

Put that in your iPhone and smoke it!

So my recommendation: Consider revitalizing American productivity by using a manual typewriter.

No, you won’t be able to directly enter that blog post into WordPress (although perhaps that’s a new widget Matt Mullenweig and his team can consider for future versions), but writing that first draft without electricity and with minimal interruptions will be good for the environment and your psychological wellness.

The other thing you might consider is to keep a journal. When I was traveling across America in 1987 in my Volkswagen bus, I used a manual typewriter AND kept a journal, and that period is one of the few times in my life I can actually go back and account for because there’s an actual record.

If you use a Mac, DayOne is a great journaling app that makes it very easy to journal and allows you to even synch up your entries into the cloud (if that gives you even a small sense of permanence).

It’s January 1st, and I promise I’m going to get started on all this just as soon as that new replacement ink typewriter ribbon I had to order off the Internet arrives via the mail.

Those things are harder to find than an iPhone 4 case these days!

Written by turbotodd

January 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

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