Apple Partner Lens Deal Reaffirms AR Glasses Are Coming

An Apple manufacturing partner has struck a deal with an augmented reality component maker to start producing lenses for AR smart glasses.

Quanta Computer, which assembles MacBooks and other devices for Apple, has reached a licensing agreement with Israel-based AR company Lumus Ltd., Bloomberg reported on Monday. As part of that deal, Quanta will start manufacturing lenses for Lumus and will have the option to produce those lenses for leading tech companies (like Apple).

Lumus designs displays for augmented reality products, including a technology that projects information into a wearer’s field of view. That’s the basic premise of AR glasses, and due to this new licensing deal and the decreasing cost of the components as a result, it’s coming closer to a consumer product reality.

“This means that the most expensive key enabling technology in the AR glasses teardown will now be affordably priced, effectively bringing down the overall cost of consumer AR glasses,” Lumus CEO Ari Grobman told Bloomberg. “Quanta has suggested that full AR headsets would be priced for less than the cost of a high-end cell phone. That’s a big deal.”

Apple’s AR Glasses

Apple is hard at work developing its own proprietary AR headset — including a new operating system called “rOS.” Apple’s headset would feature deep integration with Siri, and could display texts, maps and other information in the wearer’s glasses.

While Apple is undoubtedly still working out the kinks, sources suggest that the rOS headset could be controlled through a mixture of touch controls, head or hand gestures, and voice commands. rOS would be based on iOS, but would not need a connected iPhone to operate fully. The AR operating system could feature its own App Store with a variety of applications from 360-degree video playback to AR navigation.

Other Reports

While Quanta’s new agreement with Lumus fills in certain pieces of the bigger picture, this isn’t the first time that the key Apple supply chain partner has been mentioned in correlation with a Cupertino-developed AR headset. According to a Nov. 15 report by Nikkei, Quanta wants to produce a mass-market AR headsets by 2019 — with many analysts forecasting that Apple has tapped the company.

While Bloomberg’s suggests that Apple’s AR headset will drop by 2020, Quanta’s comments and research by analyst Jeffrey Pu of Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting could hint at a sooner release date. Pu forecasts that Apple could release an AR headset as soon as 2019, and even Bloomberg’s sources agree that the Cupertino tech giant is likely to have the technology ready by then.

From CEO Tim Cook’s own comments on the matter to the variety of patents and acquisitions related to augmented reality, Apple’s ambitions in the AR sphere haven’t exactly been secret. But these new reports corroborate that an Apple AR headset is indeed on the way.

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Apple Pay Cash Is Not Working for Many iOS 11.2 Users

Apple’s peer-to-peer payment system should be officially rolling out to U.S.-based users today, but according to social media reports and firsthand experience, Apple Pay Cash is not working for everyone.

The Cupertino company released iOS 11.2 on Saturday — a few days early — to address a serious date bug that caused iOS devices to crash. As such, Apple Pay Cash was not activated when iOS 11.2 dropped and was unavailable to use, despite being listed as a feature in the update’s release notes.

Today, news outlets have reported that Apple Pay Cash is officially on the rollout for non-beta iOS users, but what seems like a majority of U.S. users on social media are reporting that the Apple Pay Cash setup isn’t working properly, or in some cases, is not present at all.

Users are reporting that Apple Pay Cash is indeed listed as an option in Wallet, but when they go to set up the feature, they’re greeted with an error message that says “Apple Pay Cash Unavailable: Apple Pay Services are currently unavailable. Please try again later.”

Some users report being able to set up the system properly but ran into issues that led them to delete the card in Wallet. Other users are simply receiving the error message. In both cases, the option seemingly disappears from Settings.

Apple Pay Cash Release Date

At this point, we’re not exactly sure when Apple Pay Cash will officially launch. Worse still, some anecdotal reports seem to hint that Apple is disabling and putting a stop to its Apple Pay Cash rollout — at least for today.

Twitter user Barry M. Porter, for example, said that Apple Support told him the peer-to-peer payment system has officially been pulled and deactivated in iOS 11.2. It’ll reportedly be activated in a software update later this week.

So while iOS 11.2 is out, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users across the U.S. might have to wait a few more days until they can use Apple Pay Cash.

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Samsung Applies for Palm-Reading Password Reminder Patent

In lieu of an advanced facial recognition platform, Samsung is apparently working on something else: biometric palm-reading.

A recent Samsung patent application details a system of scanning a user’s unique palm features as a means of identification. Interestingly, the system as explained in the patent application isn’t meant to be used to unlock a device. Instead, it’s portrayed as a way to help users get access to a forgotten password.

In addition to identifying — and presumably authenticating — a user’s unique palm lines through a camera view, the system would also display certain fragments of a user’s forgotten password and hid them within the distinct patterns on their hands. It won’t show a complete password, but show display enough of a hint for a user to guess.

It’s not clear if the password hint abilities would be limited to a user’s device passcode, or if it could be applied to saved passwords in a browser. The latter would, of course, be a lot more useful in a practical sense.

Even though the patent application uses the method specifically for forgotten password help, there’s always the possibility that it could be used for more traditional authentication purposes — like unlocking a device or authenticating a user’s identity for Samsung Pay. On that note, Samsung would need to implement some type of depth-sensing technology to thwart spoofing.

It’s an interesting method, and unusual considering most biometric systems rely on fingerprint or facial recognition. But, since it’s just a patent application, there’s no guarantee that the platform will end up on the Galaxy S9 or a future Samsung device. If it does, it’ll join the litany of security features on Samsung handsets, including fingerprint, iris and facial recognition as well as the stock Android PIN and pattern passcode options.

The Korean phone maker may be a few years off from developing a facial recognition system as advanced as Face ID, but this patent suggests the company is still striving to one-up Apple.

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Here’s How AI Will Vastly Improve Your Snapchat Experience

Amid poor third-quarter results and stagnant user acquisition rates, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel announced that his social media company would undertake a significant overhaul of its platform. The initial redesign began rolling out on Wednesday and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.

The goal, Spiegel told investors, is to make the Snapchat app easier to use and navigate in the hope that it will spur user adoption across generations, including baby boomers. Another goal of the redesign is to combat the spread of fake news and promote more intimate sharing among friends on the app.

“While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves,” Spiegel said in a blog post about the redesign.

Separating “Social” and “Media”

To that end, Spiegel announced in an Axios opinion piece that the app would disentangle the social and media communications from here on out, marking “an important step forward towards strengthening our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media.” The left side of the app will focus on your friends and what your groups share and discuss. The right side of the app will have the “Discover” feed featuring content from publishers and influencers.

“The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media,” Spiegel wrote. “We believe that the best path forward is disentangling the two by providing a personalized content feed based on what you want to watch, not what your friends post.”

Customizable AI-Powered Discover Feed

Another major change is the introduction of machine-learning algorithms, similar to the ones employed by Netflix, to recommend and curate content on the Discover feed. The algorithms will help you discover new content based on your interests, preferences, and past activity rather than simply pushing content to you because your friends are sharing it.

You can help personalize your own Discover feed by subscribing and unsubscribing from the content you find there. There’s also a “see less like this” option for additional fine-tuning.

While AI will make recommendations on your Discover feed, the content itself will be curated by humans. To make sure that algorithms aren’t solely responsible for the content you consume, Snapchat has hired an editorial team of content programmers to ensure “that each user sees a diverse mix of content formats, and be able to promote interesting or editorially important content to users.”

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