Asharq Al-Awsat Tests New ‘Nokia 8’ before its Release in Arab Market

Nokia

Jeddah – After an absence from the smartphone market, Nokia unveiled its new Nokia 8 that includes a unique feature that allows users to capture photos and videos by using the front and back camera simultaneously.

Dubbing it the “bothie”, the Finnish HMD company is seeking to take the “selfie” to the next level.

Asharq Al-Awsat got its hands on the new Nokia model before its release in the Arab market.

Bothie

In order to take a “bothie”, the user can take photos of what is taking place around him, while also capturing his own reaction. This feature can be activated with one touch and can also be used to record videos. For Facebook and YouTube streams, the user would be able to record his own video, while filming the reaction of the viewers.

While Samsung, LG, HTC and Motorola had beaten Nokia to taking photos using the front and back cameras, the Nokia 8 is the first smartphone to offer this feature over social media. Using Zeiss optics, the phone boasts dual 13 megapixel back cameras and one 18 megapixel front camera and is able to record videos at [email protected]

Advanced features

The Nokia 8 relies on OZO audio that features three microphones and a surround-sound algorithm that allows it to record sound from all sides at high quality. This was demonstrated during a test conducted by Asharq Al-Awsat by using headphones and without them. The technology proved its effectiveness at loud events and could be useful to record vacation memories with family and friends.

The phone also boasts a unique cooling system to prevent overheating during heavy use. It relies on the Quick Charging 3.0 technology that can charge up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes.

Operating on the Android 7.1 (nougat), the Nokia 8 will appeal to photography lovers and HMD is preparing to introduce the Android 8.0 Oreo operating system to its phones before the end of the year. The update will include the Nokia 3, 5, 6 and 8.

Technical features

Featuring an aluminum body, the Nokia 8 is the first android smartphone to use the Carl Zeiss lens in all of its cameras. Its 5.3 inch screen can display images at 1440×2560 pixels at 554 pixels per inch. It operates on the Snapdragon 835 and enjoys 4 GB RAM and an internal memory of 64 GB that can be expanded to 256 by adding an external memory card.

The Nokia 8 will be available in the Arab market on September 24. It comes in four colors: Tempered Blue, Polished Blue, Steel and Polished Copper. It will sell for 1,699 Saudi riyals (around USD 453)

Apple’s iPhone Turns 10

Iphone

Jeddah- On this date, 10 years ago, Apple Inc. held its hopes on a small phone as it launched it in the markets, selling more than one billion units around the world and becoming the world’s largest market value.

The phone has changed many of the concepts of technology, and simplified it to become comfortably used by everyone.

We will review what the iPhone has changed through the last 10 years and its future in the next 10 years.

Impressive Achievements

Iphone has been promoting innovative designs for smartphones since its launch to date. Although the phone has been a major reason for surfing the Internet while moving because of facilitating and simplifying the process of Internet connection and browsing sites, yet launching the application store in summer 2008 was the main reason behind people’s interests in using smart phones and moving somehow away from their laptops since the store provided a wide range of useful applications that develop the experience of their according to their desire and need.

Today, there is more than two million applications in the digital store, with the launch of a whole sector of software spread through the store.

The phone made it easy to take pictures, record videos and share them with others, and broadcast live through many services, but this has increased concerns about users’ privacy by storing their photos and recordings on the phone or through cloud storage services since many celebrity accounts have been hacked and their personal photos were published over the past years.

Apple has sold over one billion iPhones since the product first launched on June 29, 2007, as well as millions of iPads and Apple Watches—other mobile devices born out of the smartphone’s success. But there was a time when the iPhone was a singularly unique experience, when people camped out outside Apple stores to pick one up, when even holding one would illicit envy in all those nearby.

The Future of Iphone

The company is expected to unveil a new version of iPhone on the occasion of its 10th anniversary in September 2017 as well as an improved version of the iPhone 7. But what is the future of iPhone? Where will it be 10 years from now?

Apple is expected to further develop and simplify the usage and communication experience, regardless of the shape and design of the phone and whether the user will interact with a glass, audio screen or through special glasses.

It is enough to take a look at your phone’s current settings menu to see how many options are associated with many areas, such as user account settings for storage services, watching webcasts and social networks, privacy settings, connectivity with devices, peripherals, fingerprints, applications, storage, and more.

Samsung Unveils its New Galaxy S8 Smartphone

Samsung

Jeddah – Samsung has unveiled its new flagship smartphones, the “Galaxy S8” and “Galaxy S8 Plus”, with high-standard features. Despite that their size has shrunk due to eliminating the main button, the new phones are characterized with bigger resolution screens compared to last year’s edition “Galaxy S7” and “Galaxy S7 Edge”.

The new device comes in two sizes, the 5.8-inch S8 and the 6.2-inch S8+. Like other smartphones including Huawei and LG, users can press on the screen to interact with the phone’s content and features. The screen offers the phone’s holder the “High Dynamic Range” technique to preview photos and to benefit from rich colors.

Samsung has also revealed the new virtual assistant “Bixby” which can be activated with a special button on the phone’s side; “Bixby” was developed to compete the Siri Assistant from Apple and the Google Assistant.

Bixby is set to support vocal interaction instead of touch with 10 compacted apps, including the photo album, text messages, and weather forecasts. The new assistant app determines the photos’ content featuring known products and touristic features, and help on searching more related information. The current version of Bixby only functions in the English and Korean languages.

Both sizes of the new Galaxy S8 enjoy an 8-megapixel selfie camera and a 12- megapixel back cam, with a 10% faster processor compared to the previous editions. The new devices can also be unlocked using eyes and facial recognition.

Samsung has also revealed other innovated products that accompany the new smartphones like the camera 360, a wireless charging station, and a dock to link the phone with separated screens, keyboards, etc.

The S8 and S8+ are due to go on sale on April 21 and will cost $859 and $969 respectively (higher prices compared to 2016).

Samsung reveals its latest Galaxy phone after last year’s failed launch of the Galaxy Note 7 due to several battery explosions, which Samsung recalled from the market, before scrapping its edition.

Amazon Acquires Souq.com for $650 Million

Amazon

Jeddah – Negotiations had ended for Amazon to buy Souq.com in a deal worth more than $650 million that will shake up Middle East’s electronic trade by taking 78% of the regional sale.

Middle Eastern online retailer Souq.com had been valued at $1 billion in its last round of funding a year ago, when it raised $275 million. And at the end of last year, Souq was actually in talks to sell a 30 percent stake to Amazon in a deal that would have also valued it at $1 billion.

By buying Souq, Amazon provides it with an existing customer base and the infrastructure to store and deliver products.

Electronic trade reached $20 billion in 2016 which has the potential to grow especially with the increase in numbers of smart phones users.

Last year, Amazon hired 100,000 employees which reflect the progressive trading mentality of the company that could reflected on the region after the deal is completed.

Local merchants and traders can now promote and sell their products around the world and not just in the Arab region.

Souq was founded in 2005 as an auction site and shifted in 2011 to a marketplace model similar to Amazon. It is one of Middle East’s most recognized online brands as its largest digital sales portal. Souq delivers to the six Gulf Arab states and Egypt and sells electronic products, like OnePlus exclusively, books, toys, beauty products and much more.

Interest is growing in the region’s e-commerce market, estimated to be worth $20 billion in 2016.

Souq also held acquisition talks with eBay and Emirati retail group Majid Al Futtaim last year and had spent 2017 to date thrashing out a deal that jumped between $500 million and $700 million. Eventually, the two parties settled on $650 million.

There had been rumors about the launch of an e-commerce venture called Noon.com, backed by $1 billion in capital from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Dubai real estate tycoon Mohamed. Noon was never completed nor launched.

E-commerce in the Middle East is expanding quickly due to the region’s young and tech-savvy population. The introduction of portable devices into the market changed the habits and made it easier and quicker with users accessing from anywhere.

New techniques can analyze and compare the websites which the user had visited as well the products he viewed and those he kept in his shopping cart before leaving the store.

E-commerce relies on analyzing the habits of buying of users in order to show products that are suitable to his taste.

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are among the top worldwide for mobile phone penetration.

About 85% of merchandize are bought on e-shops worldwide in comparison to personal computers, whereas it was 38.8% during the third quarter of 2015 in Saudi Arabia.

Souq is the first e-shop in the Arab region that launched its own shipping application. Its popularity exceeds international shops because of its interest in the local market as well as finding solutions for buy and sell problems such as pay-on delivery and inaccurate addresses.

Twitter Shuts Down over 600,000 Accounts Linked to ‘Violent Extremism’

Jeddah- The famous social media platform ‘Twitter’ has banned at least 636,000 accounts linked to extremism that have been under suspicion since 2015.

Over 376,000 accounts were suspended by the social media website in the last six months of 2016 in a bid to crack down on extremism.

Twitter also said it initiated legal action to remove content posted by verified journalists and media outlets.

Twitter said it had received 88 such requests, but had not taken any action on the majority of them.

The communications giant relies on a special automated system, rather than user-based or government reporting, to speed up the process of identifying and reporting violent extremist accounts.

Twitter is preventing the spread of violence and the promotion of terrorism. The company employs experts who have developed innovative tools to single out and report terror-linked accounts, current vice president of public policy and communications for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region Sinéad McSweeney told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Many terrorists have shifted away from using twitter, given the intense crackdown.

There is no available software algorithm capable of identifying all terrorist content uploaded to the Internet, but current algorithms work together by reporting users to identify abused accounts.

McSweeney also confirmed that Twitter had established many partnerships to counter online-spread extremism by training hundreds of NGO staffers and offering free campaigns to raise awareness of the impact of violent extremism.

Many other social networks are working closely to close accounts linked to terrorist organizations, in an effort to root out online recruitment worldwide, via popular platforms like Facebook.

it is noteworthy that Facebook has devoted five offices around the world to combat terror-related accounts with individuals speaking dozens of languages.

Whatsapp Video, Voice Call Back Reality in Saudi Arabia

Whatsapp

Jeddah – Chaos of WhatsApp voice and video call ban and activation has emerged again in Saudi Arabia. Following the last update, users thought they can use WhatsApp video call with others, after the service was banned when WhatsApp launched it for the first time.

Asharq Al-Awsat tested these services and apparently the activation is useless, as only those who are using the same wi-fi connection in the same house or in the same office can benefit from it. Asharq Al-Awsat also tested the service between two phones in the same house, with one connected to wi-fi and the other to the internet service provided by a telecommunication operator, however, the service didn’t work.

Many have suggested that the activation of this service is a mistake and that the Saudi Arabian Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) didn’t update the restrictions it imposed after the update of the application. Others assumed that the CITC unintentionally removed the ban, but will resume it as soon as possible.

Saudi Arabia’s telecommunication operators were heavily criticized last year after they officially restricted the video call service at the request of the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) in the kingdom. However, the commission and the telecom companies exchanged accusations of the ban responsibility – hoping the public will forget the matter with time.

This confusion led people to launch a campaign threatening to boycott the telecommunication companies in an attempt to urge them to develop their services in a way that responds to users’ needs. People unfollowed the companies’ accounts on social media pages.

Users see that telecommunication companies and the CITC decided to ban this category of apps to protect their commercial interests, especially that WhatsApp is one of many applications like Facetime, Line Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Viber, and many others which provide free calls.

These disputes also brought back to surface the companies’ attempts to suspend apps of instant text messaging to control their losses.

However, companies lost this battle and compensated their subscribers with new bundles offering services with good prices. Apparently, CITC didn’t recognize until now that the telecommunication’s future starts by providing people with attractive bundles to use new apps, and not by banning people from using them.

New Technologies Fascinate Visitors of Mobile World Congress

Barcelona- The Mobile World Congress 2017, which kicked off in Barcelona earlier this week, has featured myriads of revolutionary innovations that have fascinated the event’s visitors.

Asharq Al-Awsat took a close look at the new Sony Xperia XZ Premium with its three revolutionary features; first, this device can shoot 960 frames per second, and provide the opportunity to show these photos slowly to preview smaller details. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium also offers the first screen with a high accurate resolution, along with a great capacity to connect with up to 1 GB networks per second.

The congress also witnessed the announcement of LG’s new smartphone, the G6 with its 5.7 inch screen, which according to the company, will be the number one device for video display.

Huawei has unveiled its new devices; two smartphones “P10” and “P10 Plus”, which have duel cameras. The company also showed the second edition of its smart watch “W2”. With its sport and luxurious design, this watch offers a 4G LTE cellular connection, along with its GPS service and an optical heartrate sensor.

As for Nokia, it has surprised technology fans by relaunching its iconic 3310 handset with a new design, 17 years after launching the original version, which has sold 126 million of the original phone worldwide.

Smart Appliances to Invade Houses Soon

Singapore- People can now prepare themselves to control functions of appliances they use every day for food storing, cleaning, and entertainment through messages.

They will be able to talk with their TV to change voice and picture settings, even in Arabic. In fact, these appliances are ready and close to invade the Arab and global markets, as announced at the Samsung Electronics Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Forum held in Singapore, with the attendance of more than 400 media figures and distributors from the MENA region.

The forum has asserted that smartphones will soon become a primordial device to control home appliances and adjust their functions according to the user’s desire.

During the forum, Choong Ro Lee, the president of the Samsung Electronics Middle East and North Africa office, stated that over the years, Samsung spoke about its vision of the Internet of Things, and it continues to defy the barriers to ensure our evolution in the IoT space by introducing new products with great elegance and distinguished performance.

During the forum, Samsung unveiled several key products, including the new QLED TV display lineup, which allows the user to control it with manual and voice commands.

New air conditions will also be capable of evaluating the entourage’s temperature and regulate their function automatically, which is expected to reduce power costs by 72% and protect the user’s health at the same time.

These new innovations come shortly after a hard phase Samsung faced with the explosion of Galaxy Note 7 batteries and the recall of the device from global market. However, the company said it will always be eager to develop more advanced electronic devices with the newest techniques that serve users.

PlayStation VR Headset Launched in Arab Markets

Jeddah-Videogame fans will have the chance to enjoy the newest technologies while sitting at home after Sony launched the PlayStation VR headset along with a number of related games across world markets, including Saudi Arabia and the Arab region.

Asharq Al-Awsat got the chance to test the final edition of the headset two days prior to its launch in the Arab and world markets during a press conference held by the company.

This new device can be connected to PlayStation 4 to move into the virtual world and play family and professional games; the headset includes a special camera that accurately monitors the movement of the glasses and the control tool to ensure a real connection with the game. The headset uses two compact screens instead of a mobile phone like other headsets.

The device will remarkably contribute to spreading the virtual world technique for many reasons including its affordable price compared to other products, the high quality of the images it can offer, and the great support it received from a big company like Sony unlike other similar headsets.

Moreover, the environment offered by PlayStation in the living room in front of big TV screens and for all the family members unlike other computer headsets will add an extra feature for PlayStation VR.

“Sony Saudi Arabia” reported that the share of PlayStation 4 in the Kingdom reached 74.9% by the end of August 2016, which is a clear sign that the device has created enthusiasm for the youth.

This year has witnessed the launch of many types and trademarks of virtual reality glasses; Companies of HTC and Oculus have launched their two glasses and Google is expected to launch its version of virtual reality glasses soon.

The Video game experience will improve with the upcoming launch of PlayStation 4 Pro on November 10, which will tremendously improve the quality of the virtual reality image.

Saudi Arabian markets offer the PlayStation 4 VR for SAR1,599 (USD426) and the two control tools PlayStation Move for SAR329 (USD88).

Twitter for Sale, Companies May Soon Bid

twitter

Jeddah – You might be using Twitter under a new administration in the near future as news circulated in technology circles saying that some companies may soon officially bid to buy Twitter.

Reports revealed that Google, Alphabet, may be interested in acquiring Twitter. Asharq Al-Awsat reached to Twitter MENA representative who said the company hasn’t issued an official statement yet.

CNBC revealed that Twitter is meeting with possible suitors, and TechCrunch reported that “Twitter currently has a market cap of $13.3 billion, and it opened for trading today with a jump of nearly 22%.”

Reports said that Google and SalesForce.com are the possible buyers with Microsoft and Verizon have also been reported as potential suitors.

Current negotiations are happening with 23 tech company although it is possible for Google to take the acquisition given that it hadn’t achieved in presenting the public with convincing social network.

According to media report, Twitter is leaning towards selling and an informed source at the negotiations told CNBC that it is possible that the deal could happen by the end of this year.

Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi believes the victor is likely to be Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company, which is a better strategic fit.

According to Mogharabi, the final sale price is likely to be around $22 per share.

Twitter has been trying to attract more users recently with many deserting the application for more youthful ones like Snapchat who is now referred to as Snap.

The migration from Twitter to other applications is due to the fact that Twitter began in 2006 at a time where the services and speed was not available everywhere. But with the iPhone in 2007 and camera phone and later applications, young users abandoned Twitter for something else.

Twitter tried to offer other services to its users like verifying accounts, a feature which was a paid service or available for celebrities. In addition, Twitter launched polls and integration with Periscope live application.