New indie project could lead to a bunch of Wear OS smartwatch competitors

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Soon, there could be a number of indie operating systems for your smartwatch, sprouting from an open-source code project launched last week. Indie developers making budget smartwatches can now use starting code from Project OpenWatch to craft their Android-based operating systems. The OpenWatch project is live as of last week. It was released by Blocks, the same company behind the forthcoming Blocks modular smartwatch.

Blocks’ head of engineering, Karl Taylor, said that the project is meant to “open up the smartwatch OS space to the open source community in a bid to loosen the stranglehold on the industry by other, essentially proprietary operating system.” He named Google’s Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) and Apple’s watchOS as the two…

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Nick Kohlschreiber Predicts Smart Apps to Lead Advertisement Sales in 2018

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It is no surprise that the amount of digital media consumed by shoppers and individuals has skyrocketed in the past few years, and this is a key time for advertisers to take advantage of pushing the bulk of sales through apps.

In addition, custom send times for these notifications based on when the user is most active raised retention rates by over 400%.

Modern marketing expert Nick Kohlschreiber predicts that as developers continue to understand how customers interact with their favorite apps and integrate more automation tools using artificial intelligence, these “Smart Apps” will come to define mobile advertising strategies.

Driven by new marketing centric technologies including chatbots, predictive analytics, and intelligent automation, these innovative applications are creating a fundamental shift in how consumers interact with their mobile devices.

Modern apps already have the ability to personalize content down to the individual user, as opposed to broader segments. With advanced predictive analytics, a customer’s desires will soon be anticipated before they are even expressed.

Thanks to complex algorithms of previous user choices and interactions, Kohlschreiber predicts that smart apps will soon be able to suggest relevant content at the precise time the consumer is most likely to engage.

According to Kohlschreiber, customization – backed by powerful data – has the potential to touch every key mobile marketing metric. Launching personalized campaigns with approachable content will improve user conversions, reduce acquisition spending, and drive ROI across the board.

The post Nick Kohlschreiber Predicts Smart Apps to Lead Advertisement Sales in 2018 appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.


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Kuo: Android devices to rely on alternate 3D sensing tech after iPhone X takes early lead with TrueDepth

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In a bid to catch up with Apple’s TrueDepth 3D-sensing camera, Android device makers are looking to incorporate similar components using time-of-flight technology, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, though the first models are not expected to arrive until 2019.
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New Report Corroborates Apple’s Two-Year Lead In Face ID Tech Over The Competition

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KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said back in October that he expected it to take everyone else around two and a half years to catch up to Apple’s Face ID with their own facial recognition systems, and now that appears to have been further backed up by a report by Reuters, which cites three major parts producers who believe that it will take at least two years as of right now.

[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

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Uber has reportedly rescinded its job offer for the Amazon exec that was its potential product lead

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Uber appeared set to hire Assaf Ronen, the former vice president of Amazon’s voice and natural user interface shopping, to lead its products — but it looks like that isn’t going to happen due to a discrepancy in his working history, according to Recode.

Uber discovered a discrepancy related to his tenure at Amazon, where the company appeared to be under the assumption he was working at Amazon at the time of offering him the job, and rescinded its offer, according to Recode. Ronen had actually left Amazon at the very end of 2017 and was not actually working at Amazon at the time, according to Recode, which posted a memo of new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s explanation of what happened. Ronen was brought in to take over the lead product role following the departure of former Twitter product lead and Google Maps exec Daniel Graf.

Since taking over, Khosrowshahi has tried to distance himself from the Uber under former CEO Travis Kalanick . Often times, CEOs will tell you that their number-one job is recruiting. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has mentioned it on a quarterly earnings call at least once a year for the past three years, for example, usually something to the extent of “my primary focus is on recruiting.” That’s obviously going to be a big tenet that will determine Khosrowshahi’s vision for the company and, ultimately, his legacy.

Current product VP Manik Gupta will be running the company’s product operations in the mean time, according to the memo obtained by Recode. Ronen would have been a marquee hire for Uber, but as the company has gone through a myriad of blunders under Kalanick, in addition to one of its autonomous vehicles being involved in an accident with a pedestrian on Monday, it looks like Uber is facing another hiccup in its turnaround at the top.

We reached out to Uber for additional comment and will update the story when we hear back.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Apple’s TrueDepth Tech Maintains Massive Lead Over Android OEMs

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We know that Apple’s facial recognition and 3D imaging technology, TrueDepth, is at least two-and-a-half years ahead of its closest competition. And while Samsung recently tried its hand at mimicking the TrueDepth and Animoji experience on its next-generation Galaxy S9 flagships, the South Korean company ultimately failed to create a product that even comes close. Now, […]
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Apple Has Two-Year Lead Over Smartphone Rivals in 3D Sensing Race

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Apple has gained a two-year lead over its rivals in the smartphone industry in the area of 3D sensing technology, according to a new report on Tuesday.

Following talks with three major parts suppliers, Reuters estimates that Android phone makers will have to wait until 2019 to duplicate the 3D sensing feature behind Apple’s Face ID security, which debuted last year in the iPhone X.

According to parts manufacturers Viavi Solutions Inc, Finisar Corp and Ams AG, bottlenecks on key parts will mean mass adoption of 3D sensing will not happen until next year, disappointing earlier expectations.

That means that China’s Huawei, Xiaomi and others could be a total of almost two years behind Apple, which launched Face ID with its iPhone X anniversary phone last September.

Android producers are reportedly struggling to source vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, or VCSELs, a key component of Apple’s TrueDepth camera that the company moved to secure supplies of last year. In December, Apple said it planned to invest $390 million in Finisar Corp, which supplies the components for VCSELs.

Apple said the investment would enable Finisar to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of VCSELs, which power some of the iPhone’s X flagship features, such as Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods.

According to Reuters‘ sources, Apple was initially sourcing VCSELs chiefly from California-based Lumentum, and it was bottlenecks in production there last year that also spurred the $390 million deal with Finisar.

Meanwhile, Lumentum, which declined to comment on the report, is ramping up additional manufacturing capacity for VCSELs and edge-emitting lasers for the first half of fiscal 2019, according to the company’s earnings call.

Another producer, Austria-based Ams, also expects to have VCSEL chips widely available next year and says it has won a large deal with one phone maker.

Viavi, the only major supplier of optical filters needed for the 3D sensing modules, believes only one Android handset maker will deliver 3D sensing by the end of the calendar year, but volumes are likely to be very low. The company expects at least two more Android-based phones to follow that trend in 2019.

According to a report in October by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, inquiries by Android smartphone vendors into 3D-sensing technologies tripled after Apple unveiled its TrueDepth camera and Face ID technology, which will likely replace traditional Touch ID fingerprint recognition in future iOS devices.

Apple is reportedly working on a new high-end 2018 iPad that will adopt many of the design elements from the revamped iPhone X, including built-in support for Face ID. The new tablet device, which is likely to be a “Pro” model, will reportedly do away with the Home button.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Florence is an emotional game about relationships by Monument Valley’s lead designer, and now it’s out for Android

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When it landed on iOS last month, Annapurna Interactive’s Florence was a hit, almost immediately making the App Store’s Editors’ Choice list. The game is simple, a so-called “interactive storyboard” that follows our protagonist Florence as her first relationship breaks up the mundane tedium of her life. Now those of us on greener (#A4C639) pastures can enjoy the game as well, and it’s just been released for Android on the Play Store

Aesthetically, the game’s art style resembles a comic or graphic novel, accompanied by an orchestrated soundtrack.

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Florence is an emotional game about relationships by Monument Valley’s lead designer, and now it’s out for Android was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Former Apple Employees Reflect on Siri’s ‘Squandered Lead’ Over Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

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The Information has published an in-depth look at how Siri has transitioned from one of Apple’s most promising technologies into a “major problem” for the company. The article includes interviews with a dozen former Apple employees who worked on the various teams responsible for the virtual assistant.


The report claims that many of the employees acknowledged for the first time that Apple rushed Siri to be included in the iPhone 4s before the technology was fully ready, resulting in several internal debates over whether to continue patching up the half-baked product or start from scratch.

Siri’s various teams morphed into an unwieldy apparatus that engaged in petty turf battles and heated arguments over what an ideal version of Siri should be—a quick and accurate information fetcher or a conversant and intuitive assistant capable of complex tasks.

The team working on Siri was overseen by Apple’s then iOS chief Scott Forstall, but his attention was reportedly divided by other major projects, including the upcoming launch of Apple Maps. As a result, Forstall enlisted Richard Williamson, who was also managing the Apple Maps project, to head up the Siri team.

According to the report, several former employees said Williamson made a number of decisions that the rest of the Siri team disagreed with, including a plan to improve the assistant’s capabilities only once a year.

Williamson, in an emailed response to the report, wrote that it’s “completely untrue” that he decided Siri shouldn’t be improved continuously.

He said decisions concerning “technical leadership of the software and server infrastructure” were made by employees below his level, while he was responsible for getting the team on track.

“After launch, Siri was a disaster,” Mr. Williamson wrote. “It was slow, when it worked at all. The software was riddled with serious bugs. Those problems lie entirely with the original Siri team, certainly not me.”

Forstall and Williamson were both fired by Apple in 2012 following the botched launch of Apple Maps on iOS 6. The former employees interviewed said they lamented losing Forstall, who “believed in what they were doing.”

Another interesting tidbit is that the Siri team apparently didn’t even learn about the HomePod until 2015. Last year, Bloomberg News reported that Apple had developed several speaker prototypes dating back to 2012, but the Siri team presumably didn’t know due to Apple’s culture of secrecy.

In a sign of how unprepared Apple was to deal with a rivalry, two Siri team members told The Information that their team didn’t even learn about Apple’s HomePod project until 2015—after Amazon unveiled the Echo in late 2014. One of Apple’s original plans was to launch its speaker without Siri included, according to a source.

The report says that Siri is the main reason the HomePod has “underperformed,” and said Siri’s capabilities “remain limited compared to the competition,” including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

The most notable failure in Siri’s evolution is that it still lacks the third-party developer ecosystem considered the key element of the original Siri vision. Apple finally launched SiriKit in 2016 after years of setting aside the project and shifting resources away to other areas. […]

But SiriKit has yet to fulfill its promise. So far it includes just 10 activities—Apple calls them “intent domains”—such as payments, booking rides, setting up to-do lists and looking at photos. Several senior engineers who worked on SiriKit have left Apple or moved off the project.

Some former employees interviewed noted that “while Apple has tried to remake itself as a services company, its core is still product design.”

Apple responded to today’s report with a statement noting Siri is “the world’s most popular voice assistant” and touted “significant advances” to the assistant’s performance, scalability, and reliability.

“We have made significant advances in Siri performance, scalability and reliability and have applied the latest machine learning techniques to create a more natural voice and more proactive features,” Apple wrote in its statement. “We continue to invest deeply in machine learning and artificial intelligence to continually improve the quality of answers Siri provides and the breadth of questions Siri can respond to.”

The full-length article is a worthwhile read for those interested in learning more about Siri’s internal struggles and shortcomings.

The Information: The Seven-Year Itch: How Apple’s Marriage to Siri Turned Sour

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Apple engineers to lead talks on AR, VR, Micro LED & other topics at May’s Display Week

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Several Apple engineers will be hosting talks at this year’s Display Week, running from May 20 to May 25 in Los Angeles.
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