Much-Anticipated iPhone X Unveiled on Smartphone’s 10th Anniversary

iPhone

Apple Inc on Tuesday unveiled its latest smartphone model, the iPhone X, on the tenth anniversary of the groundbreaking device.

The glass and stainless steel device features an edge-to-edge display that Chief Executive Tim Cook called “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone.”

The iPhone X may not look like other Apple smartphones, but you might notice striking similarities with some of the sleek smartphones that Samsung, Google and others have been churning out during the past year or two.

Like its rivals, Apple has finally gotten around to making a phone with an edge-to-edge display, a nod to consumers’ desire for more space to view their photos, watch movies and TV shows, read books and play games.

With the features of the new phone, including its hefty price tag, being leaked ahead of Tuesday’s launch, the roll out ceremony held little surprises. The iPhone X’s $999 price still raised eyebrows, and its November 3 ship date prompted questions about possible supply constraints ahead of the holiday season.

Investors and fans have viewed the 10th-anniversary iPhone launch as an opportunity for Apple to refresh a smartphone lineup that had lagged the competition in new features. Last year the company’s revenue declined when many consumers rejected the iPhone 7 as being too similar to the iPhone 6.

The new Apple Watch for the first time will be able to make calls and access the internet without the customer carrying an iPhone — a major upgrade that one analyst predicted would more than double watch sales.

The iPhone X has wireless charging, an infrared camera and hardware for facial recognition, which replaces the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. The home button is also gone, and users instead tap the device to wake it up.

On a basic level, facial recognition allows its owner to unlock the phone with a quick glance. But it also opens the door for a menagerie of emojis that can be controlled and manipulated with facial expressions and voice.

For instance, you can pull up a fox or a rabbit and it will frown or smile in sync with your own expression. The emoji figure will move its mouth when you do; record it and it will speak in your voice. (You can send such videos to friends.)

The screen on the iPhone X is about the size of the current iPhone 7 plus, though the phone is smaller. It features richer colors thanks to a new screen technology called OLED that other vendors are also rolling out.

But in an embarrassing moment for Apple Senior Vice President Craig Federighi, the face ID unlocking did not work on his first attempt during the on-stage presentation.

The phone also provides a spectacular canvas for photos, thanks to a superior camera and a souped-up screen Apple calls a “Super Retina” display.

Apple normally ships new products within a week or two of announcing them, though the company said the later date was consistent with earlier guidance to investors.

“It’s great to have a product but we’d have liked it sooner rather than later, more like the beginning of October or mid- October,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

Apple shares closed down 0.4 percent. They had traded as much as 1 percent higher during the launch event before reversing course. The shares are up almost 40 percent on the year.

Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York, said he was not worried about the ship date and liked the new phones features, but also flagged a lack of surprises.

“It’s sell on the news,” he said. “They didn’t talk about the evolution of Apple beyond the iPhone and into artificial intelligence.”

Apple executives also stressed the phone’s capabilities in augmented reality, in which digital images are overlaid on the real world. But their remarks suggested that the phone does not have the full panoply of 3D-sensor chips that some had expected.

Apple also introduced the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which resemble the iPhone 7 line but have a glass back for wireless charging. The company said it was working on a new device, called the Airpad, that would charge all newer Apple products.

The wireless charging uses a standard called Qi, also used by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which will likely solidify that technology as the industry standard.

The new phones all feature Apple’s first proprietary graphics processor, which provides greater speed, improved cameras and some features for augmented reality apps.

The company had previously used graphics chips from Imagination Technologies Group Plc, which put itself up for sale earlier this year after Apple said it would make its own technology.

Apple is moving to design more of the internal components of the iPhone, squeezing some suppliers but giving Apple control.

The cheapest of the iPhone 8 models have 64 gigabytes of memory, up from 32 gigabytes in previous models, and will sell for $699 and $799. Apple also noted that for budget-conscious shoppers, there is now a $349 iPhone SE, similar to the iPhone 5.

The bump-up in memory for the new phones should help suppliers of memory chips, and Apple is now angling to own a piece of the memory-chip business being sold by Toshiba Corp

Apple has never released numbers on watch sales, but analyst Gene Munster with Loup Ventures forecast the company would sell 26 million in 2018.

Also featured at the launch event was an upgraded Apple TV that will support the high-resolution display known as 4K and will feature more programming options as Apple steps up efforts to cut content deals and produce its own shows.

Cook opened the event at the Steve Jobs Auditorium on Apple’s new campus with a tribute to company co-founder and former CEO Jobs, who died in 2011.

Apple Tests Consumer Loyalty and Pockets with $1,000 iPhone 8

iPhone

Apple is expected to unveil on Tuesday the iPhone 8 ten years after co-founder Steve Jobs released the first version. A decade later, the new phone is likely to sell for $1,000, making it the company’s most expensive yet.

Crossing into a new financial frontier, this will test how much consumers are willing to pay for a device that’s become an indispensable part of modern life.

The unveiling of a dramatically redesigned iPhone will likely be the marquee moment Tuesday when Apple hosts its first product event at its new spaceship-like headquarters in Cupertino, California. True to its secretive ways, Apple won’t confirm that it will be introducing a new iPhone, though a financial forecast issued last month telegraphed something significant is in the pipeline.

In addition to several new features, a souped-up “anniversary” iPhone could also debut at an attention-getting $999 price tag, twice what the original iPhone cost. It would set a new price threshold for any smartphone intended to appeal to a mass market.

What a thousand bucks will buy

Various leaks have indicated the new phone will feature a sharper display, a so-called OLED screen that will extend from edge to edge of the device, thus eliminating the exterior gap, or “bezel,” that currently surrounds most phone screens.

It may also boast facial recognition technology for unlocking the phone and wireless charging. A better camera is a safe bet, too.

All those features have been available on other smartphones that sold for less than $1,000, but Apple’s sense of design and marketing flair has a way of making them seem irresistible — and worth the extra expense.

“Apple always seems to take what others have done and do it even better,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies.

Why phones cost more, not less

Apple isn’t the only company driving up smartphone prices. Market leader Samsung Electronics just rolled out its Galaxy Note 8 with a starting price of $930.

The trend reflects the increasing sophistication of smartphones, which have been evolving into status symbols akin to automobiles. In both cases, many consumers appear willing to pay a premium price for luxury models that take them where they want to go in style.

“Calling it a smartphone doesn’t come close to how people use it, view it and embrace it in their lives,” said Debby Ruth, senior vice president of the consumer research firm Magid. “It’s an extension of themselves, it’s their entry into the world, it’s their connection to their friends.”

From that perspective, it’s easy to understand why some smartphones now cost more than many kinds of laptop computers, said technology analyst Patrick Moorhead.

“People now value their phones more than any other device and, in some cases, even more than food and sex,” Moorhead said.

The luxury-good challenge

Longtime Apple expert Gene Munster, now managing partner at research and venture capital firm Loup Ventures, predicts 20 percent of the iPhones sold during the next year will be the new $1,000 model.
Wireless carriers eager to connect with Apple’s generally affluent clientele are likely to either sell the iPhone at a discount or offer appealing subsidies that spread the cost of the device over two to three years to minimize the sticker shock, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

Even Munster’s sales forecast holds true, it still shows most people either can’t afford or aren’t interested in paying that much for a smartphone.

That’s one reason Apple also is expected to announce minor upgrades to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7. That will make it easier for Apple to create several different pricing tiers, with the oldest model possibly becoming available for free with a wireless contract.

But the deluxe model virtually assures that the average price of the iPhone — now at $606 versus $561 three years ago — will keep climbing. That runs counter to the usual tech trajectory in which the price of electronics, whether televisions or computers, falls over time.

“The iPhone has always had a way of defying the law of physics,” Munster said, “and I think it will do it in spades with this higher priced one.”

Eyes on China

Apple Inc also hopes the number’s auspicious connotations in China will help turn around fortunes in the world’s biggest smartphone market after six quarters of falling sales.

Chinese shoppers, however, are already counting the cost, with the latest model’s $1,000 price tag sitting at roughly double the average Chinese monthly salary.

The success of Apple’s next iPhone in China is crucial for the Cupertino-based firm, which has seen its once-coveted phone slip into fifth position in China behind offerings from local rivals Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi Inc.

Greater China, which for Apple includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, accounted for roughly 18 percent of iPhone sales in the quarter ended in July, making it the company’s top market after the United States and Europe. Yet those sales have been declining steadily and are down 10 percent from a year earlier, in contrast with growth in all other regions.

While the iPhone 6 took China by storm in 2014, models since have received a more muted response.

“I’ll wait for a drop in price, it’s too expensive,” said Angie Chen, 23, a project manager in Nanjing and iPhone 6 owner.

Chen said she might even wait for the new phone’s successor, when prices will fall. “It’s a nice number to hear, but there’s no rush.”

Eight is the luckiest number in China because it sounds similar to the phrase meaning “to get rich”.

Mentions of “iPhone 8” on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo – an indicator of consumer interest – were running slightly ahead of the similar period before the iPhone 7 launch, but were far more muted than with the iPhone 6.

Huawei to Reveal New Mobile Phone Chip to Rival Apple, Samsung

Huawei

Huawei will unveil next month a new mobile phone chip that will rival the likes of Samsung and Apple, who enjoy the lion’s share of the smartphone market.

The Chinese country aims to use artificial intelligence-powered features such as instant image recognition when it launches its new flagship phone in October, a top executive said on Saturday.

Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei’s consumer business, on Saturday revealed a powerful new mobile phone chip Huawei is betting on for its upcoming flagship Mate 10 and other high-end phones to deliver faster processing and lower power consumption.

He declined to detail new features, but the phones are expected to boast large, 6-inch-plus full-screen displays, tech blogs predict.

Huawei will launch the Mate 10 and its sister phone, the Mate 10 Pro, in Munich on October 16, Yu confirmed.

Artificial intelligence (AI) built into its new chips can help make phones more personalized, or anticipate the actions and interests of their users, Yu said.

As examples, he said AI can enable real-time language translation, heed voice commands, or take advantage of augmented reality, which overlays text, sounds, graphics and video on real-world images phone users see in front of them.

“As we look to the future of smartphones, we’re at the threshold of an exciting new era,” said Yu.

“Mobile AI = On-Device AI + Cloud AI. Huawei is committed to developing smart devices into intelligent devices by building end-to-end capabilities that support coordinated development of chips, devices, and the cloud. The ultimate goal is to provide a significantly better user experience. The Kirin 970 is the first in a series of new advances that will bring powerful AI features to our devices and take them beyond the competition.”

Yu believes the new Kirin 970 chip’s speed and low power can translate into features that will give its phones an edge over the Apple iPhone 8 series, set to be unveiled on September 12, and Samsung’s range of top-line phones announced this year. Huawei is the world’s No. 3 smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple.

The company asserts its newly announced Kirin 970 chip will preserve battery life on phones by up to 50 percent.

Huawei describes the new chip as the first Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for smartphones. It brings together classic computing, graphics, image and digital signal processing power that have typically required separate chips, taking up more space and slowing interaction between features within phones.

Most importantly, Huawei aims to use the Kirin chips to differentiate its phones from a vast sea of competitors, including Samsung, who overwhelming rely on rival Snapdragon chips from Qualcomm, the market leader in mobile chip design. Among major phone makers, only Apple and Huawei now rely on their own core processors.

The 970 is designed by Huawei’s HiSilicon chip design business and built using the most advanced 10 nanometer production lines of contract manufacturer TSMC.

After years of development, Cloud AI has seen broad application, but user experience still has room for improvement, including latency, stability, and privacy. Cloud AI and On-Device AI can complement each other.

On-Device AI offers strong sensing capabilities, which are the foundation of understanding and assisting people. Sensors produce a large amount of real-time, scenario-specific, and personalized data. Supported by strong chip processing capabilities, devices will become more cognitive of user needs, providing truly personalized and readily accessible services.

Kirin 970 is powered by an 8-core CPU and a new generation 12-core GPU. Built using a 10nm advanced process, the chipset packs 5.5 billion transistors into an area of only one cm². Huawei’s new flagship Kirin 970 is Huawei’s first mobile AI computing platform featuring a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU). Compared to a quad-core Cortex-A73 CPU cluster, the Kirin 970’s new heterogeneous computing architecture delivers up to 25x the performance with 50x greater efficiency. Simply put, the Kirin 970 can perform the same AI computing tasks faster and with far less power. In a benchmark image recognition test, the Kirin 970 processed 2,000 images per minute, which was faster than other chips on the market.

Information, Technology Shares Rise to Unprecedented Levels

London- Prices of information and technology shares stabilized this week, following seven trading sessions that witnessed consecutive rise by which the index sector reached a new historic level.

S&P index of this sector recorded an unprecedented level of 995 points last week before it dropped on Thursday to around 987 points, thus the index rose around 22 percent since the beginning of 2017 until August 2.

Silicon Valley analysts stated that the “sector has overcome the tension that resulted from the election of Donald Trump as the US president, especially when he revealed his intention to reduce the number of immigrants entering the US. Tech and internet firms were the first to object over this because their development and innovation depend on attracting talents from abroad.”

Analysts added that after the relapse of this threat, Silicon Valley firms shares witnessed additional rise that is still ongoing, because there is a clear vision in this sector unlike others. This is also supported by the growing profits not to mention optimistic forecasts made by analysts for the upcoming years.

S&P index, however, has changed in shape and content in 17 years – some firms went bankrupt, others lost its relative significance such as computers and phones industry firms while other firms integrated together. Meanwhile, firms of artificial intelligence, smartphones, social network, online payment, e-commerce and cloud computing were advancing.

Analysts saw that there has been a radical transformation in 17 years from the economy of computers and telecommunications industry to the internet of things. Intel value is now three times less and Cisco is less with 60 percent compared to its value in 2000.

In one year, Apple value rose 50 percent, Alphabet’s Google increased 18 percent, Microsoft inched up 28 percent, Facebook rose 37 percent and Amazon 31 percent.

Samsung Predicts Record Profits in Second Quarter of 2017

Samsung

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd expected on Friday a record operating profit for April-June.

The tech giant’s record figures have been propelled by a memory chip boom that will continue to pad margins for the rest of 2017, said analysts.

The Apple Inc smartphone rival and global memory chip leader said second-quarter operating profit was likely 14 trillion won ($12.11 billion), compared with the 13.1 trillion won average of 19 analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Revenue likely rose 18 percent from a year earlier to 60 trillion won, also a quarterly record, versus analysts’ forecast of 59 trillion won. The South Korean firm did not elaborate and will release detailed earnings in late July.

The robust estimates reinforce expectations for best-ever earnings for Samsung this year, fueled by a so-called memory chip super-cycle. Samsung has the most advanced memory chip production technology.

Other milestones may be waiting. Samsung’s quarterly profit may have surpassed Apple’s for the first time, and Samsung’s semiconductor revenue, which had been second to Intel’s, likely surpassed the US company’s in the second quarter, analysts said.

The Suwon, South Korea-headquartered company’s financial performance has usually mirrored trends in the global economy or followed cycles in the consumer electronics industry, such as how often users upgrade their televisions or smartphones.

That is no longer the case. Now data is driving its growth.

“To process and analyze big data, data storage comes first and this is the driving force behind Samsung’s record-high profit,” Hwang Min-sung, an analyst at Samsung Securities, said in a report. “Consumers’ data usage exploded and companies are not saving their money to invest in servers for data storage and data analysis.”

Global tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook are scurrying to add more servers for their databases to store, analyze and process the massive data generated from connected devices by consumers surfing the internet to stream videos and music, sharing and viewing photos and files online and using mobile applications.

The adoption of artificial intelligence and growth of the “internet of things” that takes vehicles, refrigerators and even mundane objects like toothbrushes online will drive even higher demand for microchips that can handle more data with speed and energy efficiency.

Analysts estimate that Samsung’s semiconductor division, which makes DRAM and NAND chips for mobile devices and servers, generated nearly 8 trillion won ($7 billion) in April-June, or 60 percent of its quarterly profit.

That’s close to what Samsung’s semiconductor division used to earn in a full year.

Analysts forecast Samsung’s quarterly semiconductor profit will continue to rise because none of its rivals are likely to catch up or match its know-how and investment in memory chip production.

Another profit driver has also emerged in the form of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. Samsung has a stranglehold on the market for the bendy, next-generation screens which are widely expected to be used for Apple’s latest iPhones, due out by October.

“In July DRAM prices will go up again, while from mid-August on, OLED panels go out for Apple,” HMC Investment analyst Greg Roh said. He expects Samsung’s third-quarter operating profit to exceed 15 trillion won.

Samsung shares were down 0.3 percent in early Friday trade, compared with a 0.2 percent fall for the broader market, as the strong earnings outlook was already priced in. The stock is up more than 30 percent this year and hovering near all-time highs.

While analysts say the memory chip industry will ride a super-cycle for several years on the back of consolidation and new demand from services such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence, its growth rate may slow from the massive jump expected this year.

Samsung said on Tuesday it would invest $18.6 billion to extend its lead in memory chips and next-generation displays, a move likely to ease shareholder fears that major decisions were on the backburner while Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee fights bribery charges in court.

On the mobile front, sales prospects for the Galaxy Note 8 will be closely watched in the third quarter, after its predecessor was pulled from the market last year due to fire-prone batteries.

Samsung is preparing to unveil the handset in August, a source told Reuters, underscoring the firm’s desire to continue the Note brand. ($1 = 1,156.4200 won)

Baghdadi Was Here

Still image taken from video of a man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would be his first public appearance at a mosque in Mosul

The world has remembered three men this week. They come from different continents, different professions, and divergent interests.

In the first scene, leaders from around the world gathered at the European Parliament headquarters in Strasbourg, around the coffin of late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

An exceptional tribute to an exceptional leader, as if the Europeans wanted their people to contemplate extensively the path of that man; the chancellor, who seized the historic opportunity to serve his country, his continent, and the world.

Kohl grabbed the moment when the Berlin wall collapsed and the Soviet Union was dissolved to achieve Germany’s reunification without a bullet or a drop of blood. That was enough for the man to enter History. But what he did was far more important. He placed the German drive at the service of the European cohesion and he deserved to be described as a “great German and a great European.”

Leaders from France, Britain, and the United States and from all over the world gathered around Kohl’s coffin. The tall chancellor succeeded in persuading the Europeans that a unified Germany would not return to the policies of belligerence and aggression. He also achieved a harder task. He convinced the Germans to relinquish the last great general in their history – the Mark – thus opening the door to the establishment of the single European currency.

Germany can say that ‘Kohl was here’ and left his mark on Germany. He led the country to unity, prosperity and future partnerships.

The second scene: another man whom the world has remembered. He is Steve Jobs, the late chairman and CEO of Apple. Ten years ago, the man offered the world a “revolutionary mobile phone” and a “supernatural Internet connection device.” On that day, the world has received the iPhone, which revolutionized the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Steve Jobs left his mark on our days: a small device in your pocket that changes your relationship with the world, in terms of communication, messaging, photos, business and entertainment, as well as a terrible exchange of information and scenes; as if you carry in your pocket a strong force that gives you access to knowledge and connects you to others and to present and future generations.

Jobs has also changed the lives of journalists. He made of each device-holder a journalist, who takes photos, makes comments, and transmits. We, residents of the old castles of the written press, did not have the choice but to change our lives, styles, and uniforms in order to survive, and to avoid being regarded as aging horses.

Jobs, also, was here. The world remembered his famous saying: “Live each day as if it was your last”. He lifted the torch and lit the road. He was a fierce warrior fighting with science, competition, and progress. Jobs is a pride to our History.

The third scene: we are in the horrific Middle East and we have different schedules. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced the fall of the so-called “ISIS-caliphate”, three years after its declaration. The victory is important and necessary, and a benefit to Iraq, the Arab region, and the whole world. History must acknowledge that the Iraqi Army has offered great sacrifices to bring down the terrorist scheme, which has spread its cancers in every direction.

The Iraqi army has erased from the memory the scandal of June 10, 2014, when entire parts of it collapsed in and around Mosul while fighting ISIS, which captured a full arsenal of American weapons left behind by the defeated units.

The world has remembered a man called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Iraq, the region, and the world have paid a heavy price for the man’s exploits in Mosul. One can say that the three years have produced a river of widows and orphans and a sea of refugees.

There is a far distance between the route taken by Steve Jobs – of a Syrian father – which led him to Apple and other major achievements, and the path taken by Baghdadi, which led him to ISIS.

Jobs was looking to improve living conditions and progress, while Baghdadi was using Jobs’ achievements to transmit images of slaughter, bombing, and destruction or to manage relations with the “lone wolves”, who were assigned with striking the stability of world capitals.

Apple’s revenues have been used for development, research and the increase of creative capabilities, while ISIS’ revenues were used to commit more invasions and woes.

It is strange that the blind warrior has turned – perhaps without knowing – into an ally of those who claimed to be his enemies. Baghdadi did not save Iraq but contributed to its partition.

He targeted the Kurds, who shed blood to defend their territory and “disputed areas”. They had an increased desire to move away from Baghdad, its policies and its wars.

ISIS has instigated strife between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Baghdadi pretended to be defending the Sunnis, while they were the ones who have incurred the major calamities. He didn’t kill others, but he killed them.

The rise of ISIS has prompted Shiite Cleric Ayatollah Sistani to issue a fatwa authorizing the bearing of arms. Tehran was quick to grab the opportunity. It made Shiite fighters part of the “mobilization forces” and succeeded in giving them a legitimate cover as a prelude to transforming them into a “Revolutionary Guard-style army.”

The rise of ISIS has given General Qassem Soleimani the opportunity to move freely in Anbar, with all the consequences that would affect the Iraqi components.

ISIS has also caused the return of American soldiers to the ground, and US and non-US fighters into the air.

The rise of ISIS in Syria was not less burdensome. It has assassinated the Syrian uprising and distracted the world from the cruelty of “barrels”.

The exploitation of foreign fighters of the Syrian territories has also justified Iran’s intervention through multinational militias.

ISIS’ practices were also a golden opportunity for the Caesar, who was waiting for the right moment. Under the pretext of fighting ISIS, Russia intervened militarily and punished the Syrian opposition before punishing the Baghdadi regime.

How far is the distance between the European farewell to Kohl and our torn and shaky maps! How far is the distance between the dreams of Apple and the practices of ISIS! It is the horrific Middle East. Jobs’ father escaped it early on. However, Baghdadi was here.

How Apple May Compete with Amazon’s Echo, Google Home

New York- Speculation over what Apple will do to compete in the home hub market is spinning up ahead of Apple’s annual developers conference this week, where many analysts expect the company to confirm the project. And what will be the Apple home hub’s distinguishing feature? It may be sound quality, according a report from Bloomberg News.

The Siri-infused speaker will really focus on producing quality surround sound and may also have a feature that can measure the room it’s in and adjust its sound accordingly, the report said. Although there were no details on how this room-adapting feature works, it sounds similar to one already on Sonos speakers, called Trueplay, that uses the microphone in an iOS device to measure a room.

Apple declined to comment on the report.

Focusing on sound quality would give Apple an advantage, particularly given its historical strength in music, if it moves to another front in its war against Google and Amazon.com. Both of those companies already have smart speakers on the market that integrate with their services, but they aren’t going to challenge Bose or other high-end speaker systems. Still, it will be stiff competition. Both Google and Amazon are continually adding features to their devices and the voice assistants they house. Google, at its own developers conference, announced that its Google Home will work with more devices, thanks to a Bluetooth connection, as well as even deeper integration with its own services. And Amazon on Thursday announced that its Echo line of smart home hubs now lets users further customize their reminders and timers on the device — a small but useful update for two core uses of these devices.

Apart from focusing on sound quality, Apple will also have to find ways to leverage its own ecosystem of services — iTunes, the App Store, HomeKit, Siri and more — to convince potential buyers that its hub is right for them.
It’s not yet clear how Apple will do this, although Bloomberg reports that there will be “deep integration” with Apple services. However, contrary to prior reports from analysts, the Bloomberg report said Apple’s home hub will not have a screen. That could mean it won’t compete, as expected, with Amazon’s recent Echo Look — a home hub that allows for video calling and potentially threatens Apple’s FaceTime.

Still, Apple has laid some groundwork in the home hub space before, by allowing some smart home devices such as lightbulbs to be controlled through its Apple TV, and prominently featuring its own apps for the living room. A smart speaker that builds on what Apple TV has offered would give users more flexibility to decide where to place their home hub.

The Washington Post

Americans Prefer Android Apps for Being Cheaper

Berlin- A new report showed that users of smartphones that operate with Android systems in the United States download more apps that iPhone users, but they are less likely to download more expensive apps.

The report released by Market researcher Sensor Tower showed that on average Android users in the US are spending 33 percent less on Google Play than iPhone users are on the App Store. On the other hand, Android users download more apps per device, an average of 42 from Google Play last year, while last year iPhone users downloaded an average of 33 per device from the App Store.

According to CNET website, Sensor Tower researcher Ruika Lin wrote that Android devices are typically lower-priced that Apple’s, which suggests that Android users could be more cost-conscious.

Android users are clearly into their games: The category accounted for a whopping 90 percent of their total average expenditure, and the mobile games category is reported as best performer for both Google Play and the App Store.

While Android users put their money into purchasing twice as many games as iPhone users, iPhone users are still keeping up, with Android and iPhone users both spending $27 on games last year.

On another hand, the research showed that Android users pay less than $0.50 on apps, and average download numbers don’t go past a handful. These findings came from an estimated 135 million active Android devices in the US that come with default access to Google’s Play store.

Researcher Lin expects Android users will begin burning more cash this year. She adds that as the market develops, people download less apps but spend more money on the ones they do install on their device.

Apple to Expand Siri to Work with More Apps to Rival Amazon

Apple

Apple’s Siri voice assistant role may be expanded to cover a larger variety of apps as the technology company seeks to fend off competition from Amazon’s Alexa service.

Currently, Apple’s Siri works with only six types of app: ride-hailing and sharing; messaging and calling; photo search; payments; fitness; and auto infotainment systems. At the company’s annual developer conference next week, it is expected to add to those categories.

Some industry-watchers have also predicted Apple will announce hardware similar to Amazon’s Echo device for the home, which has been a hot-seller recently. Apple declined comment.

But the Cupertino, California company is likely to stick to its tested method of focusing on a small amount of features and trying to perfect them, rather than casting as wide a net as possible, according to engineers and artificial intelligence industry insiders.

Even if Siri doubles its areas of expertise, it will be a far cry from the 12,000 or so tasks that Amazon.com’s Alexa can handle.

The difference illustrates a strategic divide between the two tech rivals. Apple is betting that customers will not use voice commands without an experience similar to speaking with a human, and so it is limiting what Siri can do in order to make sure it works well.

Amazon puts no such restrictions on Alexa, wagering that the voice assistant with the most “skills,” its term for apps on its Echo assistant devices, will gain a loyal following, even if it sometimes makes mistakes and takes more effort to use.

The clash of approaches is coming to a head as virtual assistants that respond to voice commands become a priority for the leading tech companies, which want to find new ways of engaging customers and make more money from shopping and online services.

Now, an iPhone user can say, “Hey Siri, I’d like a ride to the airport” or “Hey Siri, order me a car,” and Siri will open the Uber or Lyft ride service app and start booking a trip.

Apart from some basic home and music functions, Alexa needs more specific directions, using a limited set of commands such as “ask” or “tell.” For example, “Alexa, ask Uber for a ride,” will start the process of summoning a car, but “Alexa, order me an Uber” will not, because Alexa does not make the connection that it should open the Uber “skill.”

After some setup, Alexa can order a pizza from Domino’s, while Siri cannot get a pie because food delivery is not – so far – one of the categories of apps that Apple has opened up to Siri.

“In typical Apple fashion, they’ve allowed for only a few use cases, but they do them very well,” said Charles Jolley, chief executive of Ozlo, maker of an intelligent assistant app.

Amazon said in a statement: “Our goal is to make speaking with Alexa as natural and easy as possible, so we’re looking at ways to improve this over time.”

Neither Siri nor Alexa has a clear path to making money. Siri works as an additional tool for controlling traditional apps, and Apple pays money to owners of those apps. Alexa’s skills are free, and developers are not paid.

At the moment, because of their limits, voice apps are “a side dish, not the entree,” according to Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Earlier this week, Apple said it was preparing to launch a connected speaker to serve as a smart home assistant in a challenge to Amazon Echo and Google Home, a news report said Thursday.

Like Echo and Home devices gaining traction in the market, an Apple home assistant could let people control lights or appliances and interact with the internet using voice commands.

Amazon recently unveiled the latest member of its family of devices powered by its Alexa digital assistant — this one with a touchscreen.

Amazon has dominated the category of connected speakers since 2014 when it introduced its first Echo, which responds to voice commands and allows users to order goods or rides and control connected appliances.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the US market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home and 5.6 percent for others including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel.

Samsung-owned Harman Kardon meanwhile recently announced the release of an Invoke speaker powered by Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana and integrating Skype for making calls using the device.

At its annual developers gathering in May, Google announced an array of new partnerships and capabilities for Home smart speakers.

Meanwhile, Apple has been under pressure to wow the world with a new creation as its culture-changing iPhone is about to turn 10 years old.

Apple Plans to Train Driverless Cars’ Operators

Apple

San Francisco, London – In documents submitted to California regulators earlier this month, Apple Inc outlined a plan to train operators of self-driving cars, the latest step emphasizing the company’s ambitions concerning autonomous vehicle technology.

Apple acquired a permit to test self-driving cars on April 14 from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, but the company has never said anything about its plan.

The state allowed Reuters to acquire 41 pages of Apple application documents that shed some light on the company’s highly secret self-driving effort, which it has never officially acknowledged.

Apple joins a long list of carmakers, start-ups and technology rivals, including Alphabet’s Waymo (Google’s mother-company) that are testing cars on California’s roads.

Apple is looking for new hit products and autonomous car technology is expected to revolutionize the traditional auto industry. The application submitted by Apple included a 10-page training plan that appeared to be related to operators who will manually drive the car during automated driving exercises of the system, which it calls a development platform. Apple refused to give any additional information on the issue.

The document does not include detail on how Apple’s self-driving platform actually works or other technical details. It also does not say what kind of sensors are found on Apple’s three permitted vehicles, all 2015 Lexus model RX450h. The permit does not necessarily mean that Apple itself is building a full car. It could instead be designing a self-driving platform that can be integrated into other manufacturer’s cars.