Weekly Digest - 2020.06


Faking trafic jam on Google Maps

Google Maps monitors traffic data using various sources, including phones with location services turned on.  Sam Wecker tricked Google Maps and created virtual traffic jam by walking through empty streets of Berlin with 99 second-hand phones loaded on a small wagon.

Google is aware of this flaw and, in response to 9to5Google, stated that they liked the idea, and hope that it will somehow improve the service.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip leaked

A video showing upcoming Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip has been shared on Twitter. Phone itself looks more like a traditional flip phone that folds up into a compact device. There is not much information about this phone, but here is what we know so far based on the leaks:

  • It will have 6.1- inch foldable main screen,
  • Smaller screen on the back for clock & notifications,
  • Front facing camera built into the main screen,
  • Double camera system on the back.

The Galaxy Z Flip is expected to be revealed at Samsung's Unpacked event on February 11.

GeForce Now finally released

Nvidia's game streaming service -  GeForce Now - left the beta and is finally available for everyone. At the moment, players can choose one of two tiers:

Free

  • Play session is limited to 1 hour,
  • Raytracing is disabled.

Founders

  • Costs $4.99 a month,
  • Unlimited play time,
  • Priority access to servers,
  • Raytracing is available.

GeForce Now allows to play already purchased games from Steam, Uplay, and Epic Store. The list of compatible games is impressive.

At the moment, the client is available for Windows, macOS i Android, but Nvidia also plans to release the PWA version.

Microsoft forgot to renew a certificate, again

Microsoft Teams went down for nearly three hours after Microsoft forgot to renew a critical security certificate. Teams users couldn't sign into the service because the app was failing to establish an HTTPS connection to Microsoft’s servers.

This is not Microsoft's first incident with expired certificate. In 2013,  Microsoft Azure was not available for couple of hours.

AMD Powered macs?

New beta of macOS 10.15.4 Catalina continues to reference the AMD processors. Those references could mean one of couple of things:

  • Apple is just playing with AMD's hardware and there is nothing more to the story,
  • AMD's CPU and GPU will power rumored gaming computer,
  • Apple is going to replace Intel's chips with AMD ones in future iMacs and MacBooks.

Image credits: Google Maps

Weekly Digest - 2020.02


Cool tech at CES 2020

As always, the second week of January is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) week. I'm not going to cover in much details what has been shown, people on the site can do much better job. Instead, I've created a list of the most interesting gadgets & thing shown at CES 2020.

Mobile, portable & wearable devices

Laptops

Computers

TVs & Monitors

Headphones & speakers

Smart home devices

Cars & Vehicles

Weekly digest - 2019.23


WWDC 2019 is over. Now, it's time to summarised the new things that have been announced.

iOS 13

As always we got a new version of the iOS. Last year, Apple focused on bug fixes and performance, this year we got a new features. Here is the list of the major changes coming this September:

  • Dark Mode,
  • Improved Photos and Camera apps,
  • Improved privacy and security,
  • Sign In with Apple,
  • New Maps app,
  • Improved voice of Siri powered by neural TTS (Text to Speech),
  • New Memoji and Memoji Stickers,
  • QuickPath - a new Swype keyboard,
  • New Reminders app,
  • Redesign CarPlay
  • Faster unlocking with FaceID  and faster app launches,

Those are the major changes. If you want to see what else have changed, check out this list or this video.

iPadOS

When new iPad Pros came out, people unanimously agreed that the raw power of the hardware was limited by the operating system. During WWDC, Apple acknowledge this problem, and addressed it by creating a new operating system - iPadOS. Although iPadOS is, right now, the iOS 13, Apple added some cool new features, which might be the first step into creating an iPad a true device that can replace a computer:

  • Slide Over and Split View,
  • Multiple instances of the same application,
  • App Exposé,
  • New Home Screen with widgets,
  • New Tool Palette for Apple Pencil,
  • Full-Page Markup allows to take screenshots of entire document or website,
  • Brand new text editing gestures,
  • Floating keyboard,
  • Sidecar allows to extend workspace by using an iPad as a second Mac display,
  • Redesigned Files App with support for external drives and file servers,
  • Mouses are now supported,
  • Safari on iPad is now a desktop class browser with download manager,
  • And it also contains all the changes introduced in iOS 13.

Those are only the major changes. The full list is available here.

This is huge release for iPad. Apple tackled most of the complaints people had after iPad Pro premiere.

macOS 10.15

Latest version of the mac operating system is named Catalina. Like the rest, it also comes with cool new features:

  • iTunes is gone and will be replaced by 3 separate applications for Music, Podcasts and TV,
  • Supported iPad applications can be run natively on macOS thanks to project Catalyst (formerly known as Marzipan),
  • Sidecar allows to extend workspace by using an iPad as a second Mac display,
  • ScreenTime is now also built into macOS,
  • FindMy combine functionality of Find My iPhone and Fid My Friends,
  • Approve with Apple Watch allows to authenticate or approve operations on the Mac from the Apple Watch,
  • Voice control  allows to control the Mac with voice commands,
  • Notes and reminders app has been redesigned,
  • macOS comes with ZSH as a default shell instead of Bash.

The full list of changes is available here.

watchOS 6

Changes made to watchOS as not as spectacular as for other systems, but they are definitely the nice step forward:

  • AppStore for watch allows to install apps independently from iPhone,
  • Activity Trends allows to track activity progress over time,
  • Cycle tracking is a new app dedicated for women,
  • Hearing health monitors the level of noise and alert a user when it's too loud,
  • And as always new watch faces, but still no custom ones 😢.

New Mac Pro

Apple has finally showed us the new Mac Pro. Apple listened to criticism and delivered truly powerful and modular computer. The top specification is mind-blowing:

  • 28-Core 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
  • 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC RAM,
  • 2 AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo cards with total of 128GB of memory,
  • 4TB SSD,
  • 1.4 KW PSU,
  • Eight PCI Express expansion slots,
  • Afterburner card for accelerating ProRes and ProRes RAW footage manipulation,
  • I/O card with 2 USB3 and 2 thunderbolt ports,
  • Two 10Gb Ethernet ports,
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0,
  • Built-in speaker and 3.5 mm headphone jack.

This computer is a beats. It's both luxurious and powerful at the same time. Unfortunately not many people will be able to afford this computer. Even the base model starts at $6000, so the maxed out version will be around $30k. Despite the price, I'm really glad to see that Apple listened and created both modular and powerful computer.

Pro Display XDR

Alongside with Mac Pro Apple also announced new Display. Here is the specification:

  • 32-inch display
  • Resolution: 6016 x 3384 pixels (6K)
  • Brightness: 1000 nits sustained, 1600 nits peak,
  • Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1,
  • Color: P3 wide color gamut, 10-bit depth for 1.073 billion colors,

This monitor, with both specification and pricing, is definitely dedicated for professionals. The version with standard glass costs $5999 and the version Nano-texture (antireflective) glass costs $6999. Both prices are only for the displays as the stand is not included in the box. The dedicated stand costs $999 and visa adapter "only" $199.

Lack of the stand caused a small outrage over the Internet. As I mentioned before, this monitor is dedicated for professionals and apparently selling products without obvious elements is a common practice 🙁


Image credits: Apple

Weekly digest - 2019.22


Deepfakes becomes real

Researchers from Samsung’s AI Center have figured out a method to train the AI to animate a person's face from an extremely limited dataset, like a single photo. They achieved this by training algorithm for detecting facial features and face landmarks, like shape of the face, eyes, mouth shape, etc. They used 7,000 images of celebrities gathered from VoxCeleb to train the model and achieve realistic results.

What they achieve is really impressive and scary at the same time. I'm afraid that soon we will have problem to tell the difference between what's real and what's fake.

Facebook & cryptocurrency

According to BBC, Facebook plans to launch its own cryptocurrency in 2020. New digital currency, named GlobalCoin, will be launched in 12 countries and it suppose to make money transfers easier for Instagram and WhatsApp users.

This is an interesting approach, and it's completely different from Apple's "traditional banking" route. I'm curious how it will be adopted by users. Maybe, finally, the cryptocurrency money transfers will become widely used.

iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 rumors

One week before WWDC, Guilherme Rambo revealed screenshots of some upcoming iOS 13 features. So far, the following changes will released with new operating system:

  • Dark mode,
  • New toolbar for screenshots editor,
  • Redesigned Reminders app,
  • Find my iPhone and Find my Friends apps are united into one app called Find My.

On the macOS side, we got screenshot of new Music and TV apps.

Those features align with previous rumors about iOS 13 and macOS 10.15, so there is high chance that we will see the rest of anticipated features on Monday.

New iPod Touch

Apple has quietly updated the iPod Touch with new A10 Fusion chip. Beside new CPU, iPod got new version with  256GB of storage. And that's it. This update is strange as Apple didn't even use latest generation of  A11 or A12 chips.

I'm surprised that Apple even bothered to upgrade iPod Touch, but apparently  they are convinced that users need more performance. Maybe they think that people will use iPods to play games, for example from Apple Arcade. Well, iPod Touch, with starting price at $199, is definitely chipper than the iPhone, so they might be people who like mobile games, but cannot afford a new iPhone. In that case, iPod Touch is reasonable choice.


Image credits: Egor Zakharov

Weekly digest - 2019.20


2019 iPhone design

Mark Gurman tweeted a photo of alleged case molds for upcoming iPhones. Those molds align with previous rumors and shows much bigger, square camera bump. The bigger bump could be justified on the next iPhone XS ans XS Max, which are suppose to get 3 rear cameras, but XR model, despite the rumors about having only 2 cameras, also has square bump, almost the same size as XS will have.

Next Star Wars movies

Last week we got confirmation of the next Star Wars trilogy. This week, Bob Iger confirmed the rumors that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Games of Thrones show runners, will create next movie.  I'm stoked to see next movies, but looking at the turmoil the last season of Games of Thrones created I'm also a little bit worried.

Beside this, we also got more detailed release dates:

  • Part 1 - 16th December 2022
  • Part 2 - 20th December 2024
  • Part 3 - 18th December 2026

3rd Star Wars TV show

Bob Iger also revealed that during 3 years break from the movies we will get 3 Star Wars TV shows. So far we know about The Mandalorian and Cassian Andor series. The third one was a surprise and becomes an interesting mystery.

App Store Monopoly Lawsuit Against Apple

The U.S. Supreme Court decided to proceed with the class action lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by some iPhone users who believe that Apple violates federal antitrust laws by requiring apps to be sold only through  the App Store. This allows Apple to collects a 30% cut from all purchases, which leads to inflated prices of the applications.

Long story short, iPhone users believe that apps would be priced lower outside of the App Store, as Apple's 30 percent cut would not be calculated into  prices.

I have mixed filings about this. I agree that 30% cut is a big one and it didn't change since the beginning of the AppStore, but I also doubt that apps would be priced differently outside of the AppStore.  


Image credits: Mark Gurman