Samsung’s true Face ID rival won’t arrive until 2019

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Apple’s huge lead over Samsung in mobile facial recognition won’t be threatened anytime this year. Samsung is supposedly working on adding a 3D mapping facial recognition sensor to its next flagship smartphone, but according to a report from Asia, the supplier won’t have it ready until 2019. Israeli startup Mantis Vision is allegedly collaborating on […]

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Apple Music rival iHeartMedia files for bankruptcy protection

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iHeartMedia — the operator of nearly 850 U.S. radio stations, as well as streaming and concert businesses — has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, as it looks to cope with more than $ 20 billion in debt.
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Microsoft’s Slack rival gets translation and Surface Hub compatibility

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Teams just turned one, and for its anniversary, Microsoft has unveiled new professional features for it that go well beyond what rivals like Slack offer. Probably the most important ones for enterprises are compatibility with their existing telephone…
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Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Called ‘Worthy Rival’ to iPhone X as Reviews Hit

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Galaxy S9 and S9+ reviews are officially out, and they’re mostly positive. The consensus is that Samsung’s latest smartphones are iterative but improved versions of its already-impressive Galaxy S8 devices.

We’ve linked a handful of the reviews below for anyone interested, but since we’re an Apple-centric website, we’ve chose to specifically highlight some comparisons made to Apple and the iPhone X in particular.


The Wall Street Journal‘s David Pierce believes that Samsung and the Galaxy S9 once again “set the bar for smartphone design”:

Nobody makes better-looking phones than Samsung. Last year’s Galaxy S8 was a particular gem of a device, glassy and stark with that “infinity display” stretching almost entirely across the front. It was thoughtfully designed on a level only Apple used to be able to achieve. As a result, it flew off shelves.

So why change anything? Nine versions in, Samsung feels it has landed on the right design for its Galaxy S phones. A company spokeswoman compared Samsung’s approach to the way a luxury car maker might build new models: Nip and tuck, but dont change what people already love.

CNBC‘s Todd Haselton described the Galaxy S9 as “a worthy rival to the iPhone X” in his review. However, he said Samsung still lacks a Galaxy S smartphone that “pushes the boundaries a bit more” like the iPhone X.

I don’t normally compare Android phones with the iPhone because the product ecosystems are so different […] There’s no question the Galaxy S9 is a worthy Android rival to the iPhone X, with a great screen, camera, wireless charging and more. If you’re buying an Android phone and don’t like Apple products for whatever reason, this is a safe bet.

This brings up a larger point: Samsung’s Galaxy S9 feels a lot like the move from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone 8. It’s an upgrade, but not really a huge bump in a lot of ways. Samsung needs something in the Galaxy S range that pushes the boundaries a bit more, like the iPhone X does in Apple’s lineup.

Samsung finally included stereo speakers on the Galaxy S9, and Haselton believes they sound “noticeably better” than those on the iPhone X.

The Verge‘s Dan Seifert said Samsung’s new “AR Emoji” feature is “built just to compete with Apple” and “not very good”:

There are a couple issues with Samsung’s AR Emoji. First, Samsung isn’t using any special tech to capture your face or movements, it’s just relying on the front or rear camera, so tracking is bad. Second, the characters it creates are on the wrong side of creepy, and everyone I’ve tested it with has been completely turned off with the results. The animal characters are similarly weird. It’s definitely something that Samsung built just to compete with Apple, and it’s not very good.

Quartz‘s Mike Murphy said what irks him most about the iPhone X is that it can only be unlocked with Face ID or a passcode, whereas the Galaxy S9 has a fingerprint scanner, iris scanner, facial recognition, or a passcode.

However, he adds that the Galaxy S9’s iris scanner and facial recognition system are both slower than Face ID on the iPhone X.

While it’s nice that there are multiple ways to unlock the S9, the iris and face scanners aren’t as quick as the iPhone X. The iris scanner requires you to hold the phone pretty much at eye level and takes a few moments to scan, whereas Apple’s Face ID technology seems to work almost instantaneously, at a range of angles.

Mashable‘s Raymond Wong touted the Galaxy S9 camera’s variable aperture, but he said low-light photos aren’t necessarily better than those shot with an iPhone X or Google Pixel 2. Most reviews agree it is a matter of personal preference.

Yes, the camera is smart enough to identify the amount of light in a scene and switch to the suitable aperture, but the photos don’t stomp all over the iPhone X’s or Pixel 2’s shots, even in low light scenarios.

The iPhone X still takes the prize for color accuracy. The S9 camera still over-saturates and over-processes photos. And the Pixel 2 XL is still the sharpness and low-light champion.

More Reviews

Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ can be pre-ordered on Samsung’s website for $720 and $840 respectively. The smartphones launch March 16.

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

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Rival chipmakers Qualcomm and Broadcom are in a back-and-forth that can only be described as a soap opera

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Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm Inc., gives a press conference on Feb. 26, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain, on the first day of the Mobile World Congress.

Qualcomm has no interest — never has and never will — in letting Singapore-based Broadcom take over its company.

A version of this guest post by analyst originally appeared on Techpinions, a website dedicated to informed opinions, insight and perspective on the tech industry. It is part of the site’s Think.Tank series, for which a subscription is required.

The back-and-forth between rival chipmakers Qualcomm and Broadcom can only be described as a soap opera. Both companies are using PR to go back and forth and talk to each other through public channels. This is largely for the shareholders, and the media to a degree, in order to help shape public sentiment and to be on the record.

Here’s where we are at this point: The White House is now paying attention to the $ 117 billion takeover fight between the two companies, because Broadcom is based in Singapore and Qualcomm is based in San Diego, and the Trump administration isn’t sure that an Asian buyer should own a big U.S. tech company. Qualcomm management agrees, and has been fighting off Broadcom’s advances for months. This week, a secretive government panel called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States moved to stall the takeover for 30 days until April 5 while it reviews the deal. And today, the U.S. government said Broadcom’s proposed acquisition of Qualcomm could pose a national security risk, and called for a full investigation into the hostile bid.

I think it would be helpful to briefly look at a few key pieces of the timeline in this saga:

Nov. 6, 2017: Broadcom makes an unsolicited bid for Qualcomm at $ 70 per share.

I bolded the emphasis there because it is worth remembering there had been no prior discussions between the companies, and Broadcom’s hostile takeover offer came out of the blue. The $ 70-per-share offer, according to an official Qualcomm statement, was so low that it didn’t merit engagement.

Nov. 13, 2017: Qualcomm rejects Broadcom’s $ 103 billion takeover bid, saying the offer undervalued the company and would face regulatory hurdles.

By now it should be clear Qualcomm wants nothing to do with Broadcom. I will go into details why after we finish looking at the timeline of key events.

Dec. 4, 2017: Broadcom makes its first formal move toward a hostile bid to take over Qualcomm by nominating 11 directors to its rival’s board.

Dec. 22, 2017: Qualcomm rejects Broadcom and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners’ 11 director nominees, setting the stage for a proxy battle.

Feb. 5, 2018: Broadcom raises its offer for Qualcomm to $ 82 per share from $ 70 per share, calling the bid its “best and final offer.” The revised offer is contingent on either Qualcomm acquiring NXP Semiconductors for $ 38 billion or the NXP deal being terminated.

Feb. 8, 2018: Qualcomm rejects Broadcom’s revised buyout offer of $ 121 billion, but proposes meeting to address the bid’s“ serious deficiencies in value and certainty.”

Feb. 14, 2018: Representatives of Broadcom and Qualcomm meet for the first time to discuss a potential combination; Qualcomm later calls the meeting “constructive.”

Feb. 20, 2018: Qualcomm deals a blow to Broadcom’s raised bid by increasing its offer for NXP Semiconductors to $ 127.50 per share in cash from $ 110 per share.

Okay, now things are getting a bit more interesting. The two companies got together to talk. I was a bit shocked when this happened, because I believe deep in my bones that Qualcomm wants nothing to do with Broadcom. Perhaps Qualcomm’s board and the executive committee felt they needed to take this meeting as a show of good faith, as well as to present the public-facing view that they are willing to talk with Broadcom. Especially in light of Qualcomm’s increased bid for NXP, which can only be interpreted as a hostile way to get Broadcom to back off, which in turn needed to be justified to shareholders.

In a recent statement from Qualcomm in advance of its annual shareholder meeting — rescheduled yesterday for April 5 — where a vote will be taken regarding the Broadcom acquisition/merger bid, the following statement was made:

Since evaluating and subsequently rejecting the $ 82 per share offer on February 8, Qualcomm has repeatedly and genuinely attempted to engage with Broadcom on issues including price, regulatory and other closing certainties, including most recently at meetings on February 14 and February 23. In each of those meetings, Broadcom refused to engage in good faith. It instead reiterated its “best and final” stance which it established prior to our first meeting, despite our attempts to find a path to a deal that makes sense for Qualcomm stockholders. Broadcom’s refusal to outline its proposal and the future direction of Qualcomm’s licensing business also raises significant issues from a value and regulatory perspective.

Qualcomm is trying to balance the fine line of making it clear to shareholders and the general public that it is not in its best interests to agree to the terms of Broadcom’s proposals. Qualcomm needs to make sure that its wording and tactics don’t raise any issues or potential lawsuits from activist investors who would be willing to jeopardize Qualcomm’s future just to make some quick money now. In the end, this is what I think this continuing dog-and-pony show is about.

Qualcomm has no interest, never has, and never will, in letting Broadcom take over its company. If you remember your history, Broadcom isn’t actually Broadcom — it is Avago, which purchased Broadcom in 2015 for $ 37 billion dollars. I had done quite a bit with Broadcom up to that point, and had close contacts there even after the acquisition. Broadcom, like Qualcomm, was an aggressive patent pursuer and prided itself on its culture of innovation. Everyone I know left because of the culture clash Avago brought to the scene, where everything was about the bottom line and management was very short-sighted when it came to R&D. Should Broadcom get its way and acquire Qualcomm ,the same thing would happen, and it would be the end of Qualcomm as we know it.

A review of the timeline, in light of the upcoming Qualcomm shareholder vote regarding the board of directors, reveals a clever set of maneuvers and carefully crafted public wording by Qualcomm. I think this line from Qualcomm’s latest press release from the board sums up its stance:

All three items — price, closing certainty and the licensing business — are critical to the Board’s evaluation of Broadcom’s proposal, and without a meaningful discussion or an agreement on these items, the Qualcomm Board believes it is not in the best interest of Qualcomm’s stockholders to elect Broadcom’s nominees. The Qualcomm Board of Directors remains ready to engage with Broadcom on these issues both before and after the March 6 stockholder meeting.

Qualcomm is leading with price, closing certainty and licensing business. But what really is at stake is a culture of innovation that the global tech industry depends on. That is much harder to argue and plead with shareholders within this vote, which is why the company is leading with the tangible items. I truly hope Qualcomm investors do the right thing and vote to reelect all 11 current board members.

Ben Bajarin is a principal analyst at Creative Strategies Inc., an industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Reach him @BenBajarin.

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Porsche unveils its insanely fast Tesla Model X rival

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Porsche continues to target Tesla. After taking a swipe at the Model S, X and 3 maker last week, the German automaker just surprised us in Geneva with the Mission E Cross Turismo SUV (even though Porsche calls it a CUV, a cross utility vehicle). Watc…
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Apple rival Xiaomi could enter US smartphone market later in 2018

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Xiaomi is aiming to enter the U.S. smartphone market by the end of 2018, or early 2019 at the latest, the Chinese company’s chairman said on Monday, speaking on the sidelines of China’s yearly legislative session in Beijing.
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Chinese discount phone makers were supposed to rival Apple’s iPhone globally. Instead, they’re dying off within China

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Ever since iPhones officially went on sale in China back in 2009, pundits have claimed that local production of cheaper smartphones would not only block Apple’s growth prospects in China but also invade smartphone markets globally. They were wrong, here’s why.
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This affordable Apple Pencil rival works with any iPad

If you do any kind of writing or sketching on your iPad, you should use a stylus. But you don’t need to spend $99 on an Apple Pencil. SonarPen is the affordable “smart pen” every iPad owner needs. It’s accurate, practical, and it never needs charging. Apple Pencil gets rave reviews — and rightly so; […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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