Benchmarks contradict Apple slowed down my iPhone claims

It’s a refrain we all hear every year around September: “I swear, whenever they release a new iPhone, Apple makes all the old ones operate worse to make you upgrade.” But thousands of performance tests conducted over the years by Futuremark users show that the conspiracy is mostly in your mind.

If you don’t know Futuremark, it’s the company behind the benchmark software 3DMark( among others ), which for years has been a standby for testing how devices from gaming PCs to telephones perform.

3DMark has the device render demanding 3D scenes that stress various regions of the hardware, and tracks how quickly it calculates, how many frames per second it renders and so on. At the end, it combines all those metrics into a single rating that’s easy to compare between devices or cards.

In the case of the iPhone( for which 3DMark is a free download if you’d like to try it ), power users and reviewers run it( and other benchmarks like it) to see whether updates or apps affect their device’s performance. Futuremark stores those ratings for comparisons like the one released today.

Futuremark’s analysts aggregated the last couple years of scores for the iPhone 5s, 6, 6s and 7, to see whether it was true that iOS releases or new iPhones tended to coincide with( or trigger) drops in performance.

It’s clear from the data that phones don’t seem to degrade in any significant way over time; some do consider performance makes with some OS versions, but others see gains. Even the 5s, quite long in the tooth at this phase, is only a tiny bit slower than it was a year and a half and two major iOS versions ago.

That said, people may still be perceiving real slowdown , nor can synthetic benchmarks reliably capture things like little postpones or input lag that add up to a slow-feeling phone without affecting its pure performance score.

One culprit could be apps themselves; one does tend to install more over hour, of course, resulting in more background processes and network calls, less free space and so on. The apps themselves may also be poorly optimized for new iOS versions when they come out, or iOS could include improvements for newer telephones that just don’t apply to older ones — so your friend’s 6s velocities up while your 6 doesn’t.( Planned obsolescence, after all, is a conspiracy we’ve all known about for decades .)

So while the performance hit may not be totally phantasmal, it seems pretty clear that Apple isn’t sabotaging your device to attain you are updating. And truly, the desire to have the latest model is something Apple users don’t need any help with.

Hopefully that puts an end to these unfounded theories … at the least, until next year.

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The iPhone X reveals why Tim Cook was so mad about Palm

At the unveiling of Apple’s new flagship smartphone yesterday, the iPhone X, CEO Tim Cook said it was something the company’s faculty had been working on for a decade.

The new premium handset with its edge-to-edge display( minus one unfortunate top notch) does away with the physical home button wholly and induces greater employ of gestures for controlling the UI.

The new interface for multitasking seems fluid and intuitive. But it also — if you’ve been smartphone watching for long enough — engenders a distinct feeling of deja vu…

Specifically it looks rather like webOS operating on the Palm Pre — a handset that was announced in 2009, after Jon Rubinstein, former SVP of Apple’s iPod division, had been lured out of retirement in Mexico by Palm: A mobile device company with a( very) long history, and enough self-perspective to realize they needed an experienced product designer to help them surf the next wave of mobility: touchscreen computing.

Rubinstein, who had left Apple in springtime 2006, clearly possessed the sought for design chops. Palm execs flew down to Mexico to woo and win their man.

By the start of 2009 Rubinstein was on stage at CES to announce the Palm Pre: A high-gloss, pebble-shaped slider smartphone which deployed multiple gestures in the UI attaining the most of a touch-sensitive region that widened below the display and onto the bezel itself.

It wasn’t only the scroll-flicks and pinch-to-zooms already on the iPhone and Android devices of the time that Palm had brought over to its next-gen smartphone hardware. It had something else up its sleeve: Its webOS UI incorporated a deck-of-cards activity interface to be the driver for low friction mobile multitasking.

Palm showed how users could easily swipe between and tap on the cards to switch apps. How the order of cards could be rearranged with a thumb press and drag. And how individual cards could be flicked off the top of the screen when the user was done with a particular app or task. Cards indicated fully active apps. It was simple and elegant.

“Now how’s that for some real newness, ” said Matias Duarte, Palm’s senior director of human interface and user experience, with a pretty sizable grin on his face as he wrapped up that part of the Pre’s CES demo.

( Duarte now works on Google’s card-like Material Design design language, which extends the card motif the company first used in Android, for Google Now, in 2012; and “hes been gone” straight from Palm to being a VP of design at Android when the feature was being developed .)

In an earnings bellow later the same month in 2009, Cook was pressed by analysts about how quickly the iPhone’s challengers appeared to be elbowing into the market — and asked how Apple would be able to sustain its leadership.

“We don’t mind competition, but if others rip off our intellectual property, we will go after them, ” he responded in a comment that was picked up on and interpreted at the time as a pretty stark alerting shot across Palm’s bows.

When pressed again specifically on the Palm Pre, and how the device seemed to “directly imitate the iPhone’s innovative interface”, Cook doubled down on his implied accusation of IP theft: “We don’t want to refer to any particular companies, so that was a general statement. We like rivalry because it stimulates us better, but we will not stand for companies contravening on our IP.”

Of course this is all water under the bridge now, as Palm’s dreams of successfully surfing the smartphone wave ended in abrupt disaster — burdened by ongoing legacy software challenges, wrong-footed by carriers’ marketing decisions and ultimately saddled with an unloving acquirer in HP — and the Palm Pre had a cruelly short lifespan for such a forward-thinking device.

I remember how fresh the interface felt in 2009. How tremendously advanced vs legacy smartphone players like BlackBerry and Nokia — which, although they were still minting huge revenues back then, were also clearly failing to come to terms rapidly enough with the paradigm transformation of touchscreen mobility.

Whether the Palm Pre was genuinely ahead of its period, or whether the components of the interface had been plucked out of a carefully schemed Cupertino 10 -year roadmap will be a story for Valley historians to unpick.

But in the iPhone X it’s clear you’re looking at a little ghost of the Pre.

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Apple is looking into reports of iPhone 8 batteries swelling

Reports from a few iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus buyers have suggested there could be an issue with the battery inside some of the devices swelling, causing the case of Apple’s new iPhone to split open and uncover the smartphone’s internals.

Apple has now corroborated it is looking into it, although a spokesperson declined to comment further when asked how many devices are affected.

From what we’ve heard the number of reports so far is very few.

Yesterday CNET rounded up the handful of reports that have emerged — saying there are at least six different reports in at least five countries of the iPhone 8 splitting along its seams.

Today Reuters also noted a report in Chinese country media of an iPhone purchaser claiming a freshly bought iPhone 8 Plus arrived cracked open on October 5, though apparently without any signs of scorching or an explosion.

Apple rival Samsung had big problems with smartphone batteries in its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. In that instance some Note 7 batteries caught flame, and their own problems was extensive enough that it led Samsung to recall all Note 7 handsets — at great expense.

In the case of the iPhone 8 the questions appears to be limited to batteries bloating/ swelling, rather than catching flame — at the least as reported so far.

Although the phone merely went on sale on September 22 so it’s still early days for the device.

Apple did not release figures for the first weekend sales of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as it has in the past with new iPhones, so it’s also not yet clear how many of these handsets are in the hands of purchasers at this point.

Some analysts have suggested customers may be holding off on upgrading their iPhone to buy the top-of-the-range iPhone X, which Apple also announced at the same day, but with a later release date.

Pre-sales for the iPhone X are due to begin on October 27, with the handset slated to ship on November 3.

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Spotify launches an iMessage app for texting songs to friends

Spotify has softly launched its own iMessage application that let you text ballads to friends with just a few taps. The new app hasn’t been officially announced, but appears to be similar in functionality to Spotify’s Messenger app, which went live earlier this spring as one of Messenger’s new chats extensions.

As with the Messenger bot, the new iMessage app also lets you promptly search across Spotify’s full catalog for a way you want to share, then tap a button to paste a preview of that song into your chat session. This preview includes an album image, song title, and artist information.

But in the iMessage app’s instance, the image is much larger than on Messenger, and there’s no “play” button. Instead, a small Spotify logo at the top left is what indicates that what you’ve sent is a song.

The recipient then taps the image which launches a new window, overlaid on top of the chat session. From here they can play the provided 30 -second clip, or tap the “Play on Spotify” button below to hear the full way, if you’re a subscriber.( We also noticed that once it knows you’re a paying Spotify user, the option to stream a clip goes away and you’re only directed to the Spotify app to stream .)

Above: Spotify’s iMessage app begins indicating sungs as you type

The iMessage extension itself rolled out in Spotify’s latest iOS app update the coming week, and was then spotted by iGeneration, MacRumors, and others.

As reports have noted, a key discrepancies between Spotify’s iMessage app and Apple Music’s is that the latter allows you to listen to the full way right in iMessage. However, Apple’s is more limited because it only pulls up tracks that are in your’ lately listened’ list.

If you have Spotify’s iOS app already installed, you can switch on the new Spotify iMessage app from the iMessage App Store( unless you have your Sets configured to automatically enable all new iMessage apps by default, in which instance you can just start using the app ).

On iOS 11, that entails heading to the end of the horizontal row of iMessage apps that appear when you tap the App Store button next to the text entry box in iMessage, then tapping the “More” button. This launches a window where you can manage which apps are switched on.( Just tap the “Edit” button to display their toggle switches ).

Though the functionality on iMessage is limited to only sharing tracks- not observing hot or trending music or building group playlists, for example- that may actually has become a smart design selection on Spotify’s part.

One thing some iMessage apps have done wrong is require too many steps to use. When you’re in the middle of a back-and-forth dialogue, you don’t want to disappear from the chat for too long while you fiddle with apps. By simplifying the process to merely three steps- search, tap, and share- it’s a lot quicker to send a Spotify clip now, rather than hunting down the URL of the track instead.

Spotify’s Messenger app has also seemingly pared down since launch, we should note. Originally it also highlighted popular tracks and constructed various recommendations, but now it just lets you search, pulling from recent songs, or generate playlists.

Spotify confirmed the launching of the new iMessage app to TechCrunch in a statement.

“Spotify’s iMessage app is available now, allowing users to quickly search for and share music with friends directly from iMessage, ” a spokesperson said. “It’s the latest style in which we’re empowering users to share music with friends in a fast and fun way.”

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Apple open-sourced the kernel of iOS and macOS for ARM processors

Apple has always shared the kernel of macOS after each major release. This kernel also operates on iOS devices as both macOS and iOS are built on the same foundation. This year, Apple also shared the most recent version of the kernel on GitHub. And you can also find ARM versions of the kernels for the first time.

But first, it’s period for some computer history. The first version of macOS( originally named Mac OS X) came out in 2001. It was built on top of NeXTSTEP, an operating system developed by NeXT. Steve Jobs founded NeXT in 1985 and sold the company back to Apple in 1997. And Apple decided to use NeXTSTEP as the foundation for Mac OS X.

NeXTSTEP itself are from open-source project BSD. That’s why the Mac you might be currently employing relies heavily on open-source technologies. And that’s also why Apple releases a tiny, tiny portion of macOS every year. You can’t compile it and run your own version of macOS, but other kernel developers likely care about the source code of this kernel.

What about iOS? When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone in 2007, he said that the operating system of the iPhone is a macOS fork. “Today, we’re going to show you a software breakthrough. Software that is at least 5 years ahead on what’s on any other telephone. Now how did we do this? Well, we started with a strong foundation — iPhone runs OS X, ” Jobs said. “Why would we want such a sophisticated operating system on a mobile device? Because it’s got everything we need.”

Apple later called this operating system iPhone OS, and then iOS. It’s not an exact copy as there are no floating windows on iOS. But iOS and macOS use the same Unix-based core named Darwin as well as many frameworks. The Apple Watch and the Apple TV also run variants of iOS that also rely on Darwin.

So the fact that you can now download ARM-optimized source code of Apple’s kernel doesn’t entail much. Perhaps Apple wants to share the kernel of the iPhone to get feedback from the open-source community. Maybe it means that Apple is working on a version of macOS that runs on ARM chips. Maybe it was an accident. Perhaps Apple just wanted to see the reaction on Twitter.

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Amazon ordered to repay 250m by EU over ‘illegal tax advantages’

Commission also says it plans to take Irish government to European court of justice over failure to collect 13 bn from Apple

Amazon has been was necessary to repay EUR2 50 m( PS222m) in illegal country aid to Luxembourg, as EU authorities continue their campaign against sweetheart deals that help the biggest firms slash their taxation bills.

The European committee also announced on Wednesday that it planned to take the the Irish government to the European court of justice( ECJ) over its failure to collect EUR1 3bn in unpaid taxes from Apple, in relation to an earlier ruling.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition, said Luxembourg’s” illegal taxation advantages to Amazon” had allowed almost three-quarters of the company’s gains to run untaxed, enabling it to pay four times less taxation than local rivals.

” This is about rivalry in Europe , no matter your flag , no matter your ownership ,” Vestager said, dismissing suggestions she was targeting non-European companies.” Paying taxes is part of doing business in Europe .”

The commission said Amazon had benefited from an illegal taxation deal granted by the Luxembourg authorities that allowed the company to artificially reduce its taxation bill by EUR2 50 m from 2006 to 2014. The company has been was necessary to repay the full amount plus interest.

Amazon rejected the findings of the commission investigation.” We believe that Amazon did not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg and that we paid tax into full conformity with both Luxembourg and international taxation statute. We will study the commission’s ruling and hold our legal options, including an appeal .”

The country’s government said:” As Amazon has been taxed in accordance with the tax rules applicable at the relevant hour, Luxembourg considers that the company has not been granted incompatible state aid .”

In a separate announcement, Vestager said she was appealing to Europe’s highest court to enforce an earlier ruling against Apple to ensure the iPhone manufacturer repaid EUR1 3bn in back taxes.

Apple, which has appealed to Europe’s highest court to contest the decision, has neither repaid the money to the Irish government nor placed the money in an escrow account, a standard practice when court proceedings are under way.

Dublin said it disputed the commission’s ruling that it attained the incorrect decision in the Apple tax deal, but has promised to collect fund owed as soon as possible. Citing its” intensive work” on recovering the funds, the Irish government described the decision as “extremely regrettable” in a statement.

” Irish public officials and experts have been engaged in intensive work to ensure that the nation complies with all its recovery obligations as soon as is practicable, and have been in constant linked with the European commission and Apple on all aspects of this process for over a year ,” it said.

EU member states risk multimillion-euro fines when they fail to act on EU competition rulings. In 2015 the commission requested a EUR2 0m fine plus daily penalty pays against Italy over the country’s refusal to collect back taxes from Sardinian hotels that had benefited from special deals.

The commission acknowledged that Ireland had begun to work on the recovery of the back taxes, but deems the Irish deadline of” March 2018 at a very early” not good enough.

The case against Amazon centred on two subsidiaries incorporated in Luxembourg and controlled by the US parent- Amazon EU group and Amazon Europe Holding Technologies. The latter was described by the commission as” an empty shell” that had no employees or offices, but was used to bring down the company’s taxation bill.

Amazon EU group, which operates the internet company’s operations in the region, transferred 90% of its operating earnings to the holding company, where they were not taxed. As a outcome, Amazon paid an effective tax rates in Luxembourg of 7.25%, compared with the national rate of 29%.

Amazon’s blueprint was Project Goldcrest, a taxation strategy named after Luxembourg’s national bird, based on a 2003 enter into negotiations with authorities in the Grand Duchy. Amazon changed its tax operations in June 2014, a year after Brussels began investigating tax rulings across the EU.

US authorities have also been investigating Project Goldcrest, but lost in court to the retail firm. In March a court ruled against the Internal Revenue Service, which had argued Amazon owed the US $1.5 bn( PS1. 13 bn) in unpaid taxes linked to its Luxembourg companies.

Luxembourg’s role in orchestrating taxation avoidance bargains for hundreds of global companies was revealed by the Guardian in 2014, creating the issue of tax policy in one of the EU’s oldest member states.

The case continues to hang over Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission chairperson, who served as Luxembourg’s prime minister from 1995 to 2013, and acted as finance minister for much of that period.

The commission launched the Amazon investigation in October 2014, only weeks before Juncker took office, while the fallout over the Luxleaks revelations clouded his early weeks.

Many European political leaders and business groups argue generous tax breaks dedicate Amazon an unfair competitive advantage over smaller rivals, inspiring the recent announcement of a plan to rewrite EU tax rules. But investigations conducted by unjust country assistance run broader, with the EU authorities expected to conclude an inquiry into the fast-food chain McDonald’s in the coming weeks.

The commission has also ruled unlawful tax bargains between Starbucks and the Dutch authorities, as well as Fiat’s arrangements with Luxembourg. The Apple case has generated the biggest furore, with the chief executive, Tim Cook, rejecting the claims as” total political crap “.

The commission said the sweetie deal with the Irish government allowed Apple to pay a maximum tax rate of 1 %, which fell to simply 0.005% in 2014.The usual rate of corporation tax in Ireland is 12.5%.

If the UK leaves the EU single market, it will not be bound by European the standard rules on fair taxation competition. However, any free-trade deal with the EU is likely to constrain the government’s ability to turn the UK into a low-tax haven. Vestager said she was not expecting British government’s to seek this course:” I don’t see why[ UK policy] would change .”

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Apple would like to remind the FCC that it cant activate imaginary FM radios that iPhones dont have

Apple responded today to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who issued a statement that “urged” Apple to activate the FM chips that he claimed are in iPhones in the name of public safety. The recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were the hooking for the reasoning. The only problem? Apple hasn’t even included FM radio chips in iPhones since the iPhone 6s.

That’s right, Pai called on Apple to activate radios that don’t even exist.

As John Gruber astutely points out, the statement has the stink of trying to switching blamed or attention off of the FCC’s own response and readiness issues. Pai has been banging the drum for months now and it’s been a talking phase of the NAB for years. When ostensibly asked for remark by Bloomberg, National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton said “The notion that Apple or anyone else would block this type of information is something that we find fairly troubling.”

Again, the radios do not exist in iPhones and haven’t for over a year now. It’s important to note here that the FCC must test all radio devices thoroughly before they are eligible for sale in the US. It is very likely that the FCC already knew that the FM radio was not present in new iPhones. It’s also worth noting that there is no regulation that says any telephone manufacturer must do this — which is why there is a shaming campaign going on relating to the Chairman of the FCC and a radio broadcasting organization to get Apple to enable radios that it does not possess so that more devices are able to obtain radio.

I ran and asked Apple about it and they said, very clearly, that iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 do not have FM radio chips in them at all. Here’s the statement.

Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern security solutions into our products. Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information immediately from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.

I understand that’s true of the iPhone X as well, by the way.

The response from Apple came in earlier today but I still had some questions about this so I did some poking around. The chips that Apple use for its radio comms are actually fairly easy to identify once you’ve opened the occurrence. That has attained it easy for those who do teardowns to figure out what parts from Intel or Broadcom or whoever Apple is using in iPhone 8. Running purely off of that information it could be easy to assume that a certain part number is identical to other portions that are used in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8.

But that’s not true at all in the case of Apple. Even if a part seems to be the spitting image, for example, of a Broadcom BCM4 357, it is assuredly not. Apple does not buy off the shelf parts and never has. It works closely with manufacturers to get the exact specifications it needs based on the capabilities it wants. Even though parts may appear very, very similar to those used in other phones, they are usually not.

The FM block is simply not there in current iPhone radio chips. It may look the same but it’s not on the chip at all. Broadcom would need to re-spin the chip to add the stuff Apple would need back in. They’d also require, of course, to connect it up( which it never was even in the older phones) and build in an antenna and change its WiFi chip and add back in a headphone jack to use the headphones as an antenna.

Which brings us to a final point: Apple have in fact not had workable FM radios in iPhones in a very, very long time. Much further back than the iPhone 7. Even when the FM modules were included in the chip, “theyre not” connected, had no antennas and no supporting was built in to other radio components. Basically, Apple can’t switch on the FM radio in the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone X because they don’t exist. And it can’t switch on many older FM radio chips because the iPhone’s hardware simply are not in favour of it.

We’ve reached out to the FCC to see if they’re aware of any of this. No reaction yet.

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Amazon just launched 6 new gadgets and none was over $150

In the year of the $1000 iPhone Amazon just announced a scattering of new gadgets and none cost more than $150. Essentially, Amazon said “screws the margins” and are selling everything as cheap as possible. This race to the bottom is Amazon’s standard operating procedure. The company did it with Kindles e-readers and again with Kindle Fire tablets. The company releases a proof of concept and lets the market respond. If the response is favorable, Amazon releases the Kraken on the market.

Amazon announced today the quirky Echo Buttons that cost $20 a pair, the $35 Echo Connect landline thing and a $70 Fire TV capable of 4K. And then there’s the swanky $99 cloth-covered Echo, adorable $130 Echo Spot alarm clock and the $150 Echo Plus, which athletics all the goods from the original Echo plus a smart home hub and comes with a Philips Hue bulb.

There’s even a talking Big Mouth Billy Bass. No word on its cost, though.

If that’s not cheap enough, many of the products are available through bundles that pair an Echo with a Fire TV model so owneds can experience smart home commands right out of the box.

So far the strategy worked with the Kindle and Kindle Fire tablets. In both cases, after the market liked the original model, Amazon slashed the hardware margins and flooded the market with quality hardware with MSRPs dramatically under the competitor. In this most recent example, the Echo had a commanding hold on its market much like the Kindle did years ago. Amazon, following its known strategy, only sucked much of the air out of the in-home assistant marketplace. The breadth of Amazon’s inexpensive offering is impressive.

Amazon now sells Echo products for as low as $20 and bundled a Fire TV Stick with an Echo Dot for $60. Said another way, a person could get three Fire TV Sticks and 3 Echo Dots for the price of one Apple TV 4K. If 4K is needed on the Fire TV, Amazon has a bundle for that, too, and a person could buy two bundles of Fire TV 4K and Echo Dots for $20 less than an Apple TV 4K.

At the top of the line is the $199 Echo Look and $229 Echo Show. Both were announced earlier this year but round out a huge product line. There are now 8 different types of Amazon Echos available for purchase.

This bevy of Amazon products were announced at a pivotal period. Rumor has it Google is about to announce updates to its Google Home line including an Echo Dot-like smaller Google Home. Google was already playing catch-up and now it’s virtually inconceivable Google or Apple will be able to catch Amazon.

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iOS 11 is a second chance for QR codes and NFC to hit it big

Apple’s flashy new iPhones are hogging the spotlight right now, but iOS 11 is arriving before they do- on September 19, the major mobile software update will be available for existing iPhone and iPad devices. It’s bringing a lot of new features, especially to the iPad and iPad Pro, but it’s got two under-hyped payloads that could drastically change mobile apps, experiences and marketing.

Those two new is available in iOS 11 are a native QR code reader built directly into the Camera app, and an expansion of the onboard NFC chip support to allow it to read NFC tags in the real world( previously, NFC was strictly limited to Apple Pay use ). The iPhone 7 and above are required to use the NFC reading functionality, even though the iPhone 6 and 6s have NFC chips for Apple Pay, but it’s still a big deal for the short-range communication tech.

Why? Because both of these technologies offer ways to connect your mobile device with the real world. QR codes have been used to this end for a decade or more in many Asian marketplaces, and remain tremendously popular. NFC has long been present in Android telephones, and can enable a range of experiences including things like verifying that physical goods on sale are the real bargain and not counterfeit, or even transmitting transit directions to a landmark when you wave your telephone over a public information kiosk.

Both NFC and QR have run the gamut of the hype cycle- multiple times over, in fact. QR seemed like it was going to make its route to North American relevance around eight years ago, for instance, when tech started trying to copy the model they find running so well in places like Japan with advanced cellular phone. And NFC has been overhyped, turned out a bust and then returned to modest success, all within the past half-decade or so.

QR codes have been proclaimed “dead” repeatedly by analysts and tech media, but Apple building it into the iOS 11 camera( and enabling it by default, as the government had done with pre-release constructs including the current GM candidate) has the potential to resuscitate the tech and even make it mainstream in North America, even though all past efforts to do so have come to nought. It’s still an undoubtedly useful technology- there’s no other route to quickly and easily build the equivalent of’ real world links’ into objects and signage.

NFC will have a steeper hill to climb, since Apple has decided to enable merely reading of tags, and only on an app-by-app basis, which means app developers will have to build subsistence into their own software to make it work. But it’s still a huge step forward for NFC adoption, and for its employ scenarios similar to QR code’s usage.

Critics will complain that indicating Apple’s adoption of this tech is actually late, and that many others came before them, without prompting any widespread mass marketplace adoption. But it’s impossible to understate Apple’s role in promoting the proliferation of new technology into the mainstream, particularly in Northern america. For proof, seem no further than your bedside table the next time you stay in a hotel- opportunities are, if the alarm clock here has a charging dock, it’s a 30 -pin from Apple’s previous iPhone connector tech.

QR codes and NFC could still be largely ignored by the majority of consumers, but Apple’s decision to stimulate them more accessible in iOS 11 gives them a much better opportunity of finally living up to their hype, many years after their initial introduction.

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Apples HomePod is set to have some weird competition

Today, Amazon threw a lot of darts at the smart speaker committee with new product offerings that are seeking to explore what smart speakers can even do. A report also emerged today from 9to5Google that Google is seeking to build a high-end “max” version of its Home speaker, news that comes just a week before the company is likely to show off a cheaper “mini” version of the speaker, as well.

What does this rapidly crowding marketplace means for Apple? The company is still set to release its $349 HomePod speaker in a couple of months. On the pricing front, Apple is in a position it hasn’t been in for a little bit, selling a device that’s orders of magnitudes more priceys than challengers with less techie software features available at launch.

Apple will lose out on some customers initially due to pricing. The Echo Dot has shit audio, but at $50, it’s securely in impulse buy province. Apple is admittedly selling a different product here, but it’s also not. A lot of people will be buying this audio thingamajig who already have good speaker setups and are simply doing so because of the “smart” part of the smart speaker. At $349, the HomePod is going to out-price all of its challengers by comical margins. Thanks to some bulk bargains, you could buy four Amazon Echos for the same cost as one HomePod.

It’s also worth reaffirming that Apple’s aim to differentiate their HomePod as a high-end listening device rather than a direct Echo/ Home challenger is a distinction that doesn’t genuinely mean anything. The HomePod will be a smart speaker, their marketing is just inducing up for the fact that voice deputies are hard and Siri doesn’t run like a dream quite yet.

The sound quality is likely going to run laps around whatever Google and Amazon have now, but Apple didn’t build the HomePod because it realise now was the time to make a good audio product, they did so because they likely can’t afford to wait get Siri stationed in people’s living room. Apple will likely be adding HomeKit-centric features to the HomePod firmware sooner rather than subsequently, but at this point, the launch seems to be largely focused on its Apple Music integration.

The new Amazon Echos, on the other hand, can do it all, including a lot of weird stuff. I have no doubts Amazon is shocked by the Echo’s success and it seems like it simply wants to keep experimenting while it has the attention as it hones in on a sort factor that will be conducive to people buying stuff. The company now sells the Echo, Look, Show, Dot, Tap, Spot and Plus smart speakers. Stuff like the Echo Look is a bit of a reach, but the Echo Show appears to have some fresh notions as a smart hub.

Amazon’s voice assistant dominance seems to be living on borrowed hour, however.

The Echo may be the best that’s out right now, but the utility of home deputies necessitates closer integration with people’s smartphones than Amazon is capable of offering. It might take a little bit for Google and Apple to figure out the perfect harmony here, but at least they have the option for deep consolidation. Much of Amazon’s future success likely relies on its they are able to stimulate consumers feel comfy with an always-on camera, which will likely be a requirement for Amazon actually employing the Echo line to sell anything in the future.

Amazon has an early leading here, and while Google is attempting to differentiate its offering, Apple has a big opportunity to make a splash. The HomePod is definitely going to be the most pricey alternative when it drops, but with the new functionality being launched by Amazon and Google, will the device can compete on the software side?

We still don’t even have an exact launching date, so there are obviously still a few questions left for Apple to answer on their smart speaker ambitions.

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