Is iPhone X really too expensive? We’ll find out May 1

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The date for Apple’s second financial earnings call of 2018 was revealed on its investors’ website tonight, setting Tuesday, May 1, as the big date. Apple has reportedly been facing slumping iPhone sales amid waning demand for the iPhone X. Investors will find out just how bad (or good) the sales figures are when Tim […]

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

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T-Mobile’s Galaxy S8 Active gets Oreo as well

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After AT&T, T-Mobile has started rolling out the Oreo update for the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active units on its network. The update arrives as version G892USQU1BRC4 and weighs in at around 1,302 MB. The magenta carrier’s official website reveals the update includes some bug fixes and software stability improvements, in addition to the usual Oreo goodies. The roll out started March 29, so it shouldn’t be long before you get the update (in case you haven’t already). Source

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The new iPad excites us! It’s true, and we’ll tell you why on The CultCast

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This week on The CultCast: Apple has powered up the new iPad so much, it’s hard to resist! We’ll tell you why we’re so excited. Plus: What you need to know about iOS 11.3; everything Apple revealed at its “field trip” event; a reliable report says Apple Watch Plus is incoming; and you asked, we […]

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

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Huawei says it’s still committed to the U.S., in spite of, well, everything

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A funny thing happened the last couple of times I was briefed on a Huawei flagship product: news was breaking about some major roadblock for the company’s U.S. distribution plans. First it was AT&T backing out in the midst of CES and then it was Best Buy’s decision to drop the company just ahead of the big P20 launch (though a rep for the company told me the States were never part of its plans for that handset). 

It’s been one thing after another as the Chinese hardware maker has worked to establish a meaningful presence here in the States. In spite of all of this fallout from government pushback, however, the company insists that it’s not going anywhere.

In an email to CNET, the company’s consumer CEO reaffirmed that commitment. “We are committed to the U.S. market and to earning the trust of U.S. consumers by staying focused on delivering world-class products and innovation,” Yu writes. “We would never compromise that trust.”

The sentiment echoes statements Yu made on-stage at CES in the wake of the AT&T deal implosion — albeit much more measured this time around. Most of Yu’s followup reinforced his earlier assertions that, in spite of multiple warning from various US security departments, this whole thing is blow entirely out of proportion.

“The security risk concerns are based on groundless suspicions and are quite frankly unfair,” Yu adds. ”We welcome an open and transparent discussion if it is based on facts.”

Even if the company’s intentions are as stated, Huawei’s got an epic uphill climb if it’s going to make any sort of dent in the world’s third-largest mobile market. The company’s carrier play is non-existent in a country where most phones are purchased through telecoms. And abandonment by the biggest big box store in the States was insult to injury.

And if the company does manage to reverse those trends, it will still be a hard sell for U.S. consumers after several warnings from the country’s defense departments. 

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Don’t Just Delete Facebook — Delete Well

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You’ve gotten a glimpse, by now, of the many ways in which your (seemingly irrelevant) personal data can be harvested by Facebook, and some of the purposes that third parties can find for it.

In the interest of privacy, some have concluded that it’s high time to quit the network. But by now you might know: Deserting the platform is not enough to protect your privacy.

So if you choose to #deletefacebook, don’t be tricked into simply “deactivating” your account.

That option has no effect on your data, which remains in Facebook’s servers.

To make sure that is deleted too, The Guardian has a handy explainer: Click on this help doc, go through to the “let us know” link which leads you to the magic “delete” button. Facebook has a hard time letting go, so that won’t go through for another couple of weeks (Facebook says that’s needed to process the request), plus 90 days (to actually wipe out your data from its servers).

But you’ll get there. At least, that’s what Facebook promises.

One experienced developer isn’t willing to take Facebook’s word for it. Kevin Matthew has worked in systems administration for 20 years, and told Motherboard that “everyone has data retention policies and backups… Facebook, with its infinite amount of resources, I can only begin to imagine how that data is being held and retained.”

He created a script that “poisons” your Facebook record, turning your posts into useless, junky strings of random letters. By running it over and over again, a big chunk of your posts will become a fog that the site’s algorithm can’t interpret. Although it’s currently only available to those who code, in the future the script might become an easy-to-use desktop app.

“Every little bit of information contributes to that invisible profile that they’re building of everyone,” Matthew told Motherboard. “If we can obfuscate it even a little bit, that at least puts the power back into your hands as an end user.”

We admit, it kind of sucks to have to delete your account. Ideally, Facebook, which has made its service integral to a substantial portion of the world population, would own up and make things right. But so far, that’s not happening. So the more tools you have to stand up for yourself and your privacy, the better.

Deleting your account may be a statement, but here’s one crappy thing to remember:  Facebook gathers data from all around the internet, from people who don’t even own an account. That’s because of cookies, plus the seemingly random “Like” buttons scattered around sites, from retailers to digital publications.

Even deleting your account doesn’t rid you of Facebook’s control. And honestly we’re yet not sure how to avoid that one, short of throwing your devices in the ocean (don’t throw your devices in the ocean).

The post Don’t Just Delete Facebook — Delete Well appeared first on Futurism.

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AI Translates News Just as Well as a Human Would

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Translation was traditionally considered a job in which the magic human touch would always ultimately trump a machine. That may no longer be the case, as a Microsoft AI translator just nailed one of the hardest challenges: translating Chinese into English with accuracy comparable to that of a bilingual person.

Chinese is so difficult a language that it takes years for a non-native speaker to just about manage the 3,000 characters needed to read a newspaper. Previous attempts at automatic translation have amused the world, with gems such as “hand grenade” to indicate a fire extinguisher or a mysterious “whatever” dish on a restaurant menu.

“For alphabetic languages, there’s what they call a virtuous loop between the writing, speaking and listening — those three categories constitute one composite skill,” linguist David Moser told the Los Angeles Times. “But the problem with Chinese […] is it breaks that loop. Speaking does not necessarily help your reading. Reading doesn’t necessarily help your writing.” These are three different skills that, when learning Chinese, have to be mastered in parallel.

After years of working on what it seemed a nearly impossible feat, Microsoft engineers finally achieved the so called “human parity” in translating a sample of sentences from Chinese news articles into English.

The team used a sample of 2000 sentences from online newspapers that had been previously translated by a professional. Not only did they compare the machine’s job with that of the human translator, but they also hired a team of independent bilingual consultants to keep an eye on the process.

“Hitting human parity in a machine translation task is a dream that all of us have had,” Xuedong Huang, a technical fellow in charge of Microsoft’s speech, natural language and machine translation told the company’s blog. “We just didn’t realize we’d be able to hit it so soon.”

Teaching a system to translate a language is particularly complex because two different translations of the same word may sound equally right. People choose different words depending on context, mood and who they are communicating with.

“Machine translation is much more complex than a pure pattern recognition task,” Ming Zhou, assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia told the Microsoft blog. “People can use different words to express the exact same thing, but you cannot necessarily say which one is better.”

The next challenge, he said, will be to test the new AI translator on real-time news articles.

The post AI Translates News Just as Well as a Human Would appeared first on Futurism.

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‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ Initial Impressions: I Can’t Believe How Well This Plays

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We were blown away earlier this month when Epic Games announced that Fortnite: Battle Royale would be coming soon to iOS. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last week and a half, Fortnite has been busy overtaking Minecraft and PUBG in popularity while breaking Twitch stream records. A few of us over at TouchArcade were in the first wave of invites went out earlier today to check out the iOS version. I’ve been playing Fortnite: Battle Royale for a few hours now and it simply blows my mind how well it works in the mobile arena.

I’ll save the long diatribe for how games like Battle Royale and PUBG operate, but to put it simply, you enter a game with 99 other people in a last man standing arena style combat. Along the way, you’ll find weapons and ammo to attack and defend yourself, and accumulate resources to build your way to hopeful victory. Fortnite has been steadily rising in popularity primarily due to how well Epic Games has improved on this formula.

What everyone wants to know at this point is how well Fortnite: Battle Royale plays on iOS. Well, at least on my iPhone X, I can safely say that I’m blown away with just how amazing it plays. Battle Royale’s colorful visuals are well represented in this mobile port and the game runs at a pretty smooth framerate with some occasional popup. The touchscreen controls do take some time to get used to, but the game’s strafe and aim assist do a decent job of compensating for the understandably lost of precision. The same goes for build mode, where the game’s intelligent placement system works well enough in letting me quickly build structures on the fly. Cool control options such as double tapping to lock in running and multiple fire options also do a great job of transitioning to touch screen controls. In fact, my biggest issue with the controls probably has to do with switching between weapons, as having to tap between each one on a small screen takes some practice to be precise.

So, Fortnite: Battle Royale easily passes the visual, framerate, and control tests in my book. But, most importantly, is it still as fun on mobile as it is on other platforms? I’d say the answer to that is a resounding yes. The general length of games are perfectly acceptable for holding a mobile device (although expect some heavy battery drain) and the game’s myriad of cosmetic unlocks combined with the gameplay itself lends the title to an insane amount of replayability.

I plan on continuing my adventures in Battle Royale indefinitely, but there are a few things to keep in mind. My awesome experience was on an iPhone X, so these impressions don’t cover other versions of iPhone or the iPad or controller experience (which I imagine would be quite a bit different from a control standpoint). Also, I haven’t had a chance to play a cross-platform game, which may change the general difficulty depending on your opponents. Even still, based on what I’ve seen and played so far, this is going to be the game to play for quite some time. If you’re interested in checking the game out ahead of its release, be sure to register for a chance to get an invite.

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Motorola Moto E4 now available from T-Mobile as well

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The entry-level Motorola Moto E4 – which was launched back in June last year, and has been available through MetroPCS and in unlocked form all this while – is now available for purchase from T-Mobile as well. As for pricing, you can either pay $ 7 down followed by $ 7 per month for 24 months, or $ 175 to purchase the handset outright.To quickly refresh, the Moto E4 is powered by an SoC with 1.4GHz quad-core CPU, sports 5-inch HD display, comes with 2GB RAM and 8MP main camera, and packs in a 2,800mAh battery. Source | Via

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Galaxy S9 comes out impressively well after going through JerryRigEverything’s durability test

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Zack from JerryRigEverything has become famous for his (somewhat extreme) durability tests, and now he’s finally gotten his hands on a new Galaxy S9 to put through its paces.

Starting off with the scratch test, the S9’s screen only begins scratching with a level 6 pick, and displays deeper groves at level 7. This is absolutely on par with essentially every other smartphone around (with the exception of sapphire screens that only begin to scratch at a level 8), and means the Galaxy S9’s display should hold up fine against razor blades, coins, and keys.

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Galaxy S9 comes out impressively well after going through JerryRigEverything’s durability test was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Analyst Says HomePod Sales are ‘Underwhelming’ While AirPods Continue to do Quite Well

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Apple has relied on new devices, and a heavily redesigned iPhone, to spice up its lineup recently, but it looks like at least one of those new creations might not be flying off the shelves. Continue reading
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