Category: smartphones

June 10, 2019 Off

Google Assistant comes to Waze navigation app

By Jill T Frey

Ever since Google acquired Waze back in 2013, features from each have been slowly making their way back and forth between it and Google Maps — and today Waze gets a big upgrade with Google Assistant integration, which means you can use the smart voice companion within the app.

Google Assistant in Waze will provide access to your usual Assistant features, like playback of music and podcasts, but it’ll also offer access to many Waze-specific abilities, including letting you ask it to report traffic conditions, or specifying that you want to avoid tolls when routing to your destination.

Google has done a good job of rolling out support for Assistant in its own Android Auto in-car software, and even brought it to Google Maps on Apple’s competing CarPlay system earlier this year. The benefits of having Assistant work natively within Waze are many, but the number one might be … Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

The Stanford connections behind Latin America’s multibillion-dollar startup renaissance

By Jill T Frey

The houses along the tree-lined blocks of Josina Avenue in Palo Alto, with their big back yards, swimming pools and driveways are about as far removed from the snarls of traffic, sputtering diesel engines, and smoggy air of South America’s major metropolises as one can get.

But it was in one of those houses, about a twelve-minute bicycle ride from Stanford University, that the seed was planted for what has become a renaissance in technology entrepreneurship in Latin America.

Back in 2010, when Adeyemi Ajao, Carlo Dapuzzo, and Juan de Antonio were students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business they could not predict that they would be counted among the vanguard of investors and entrepreneurs transforming Latin America’s startup economy.

At the time, Ajao was negotiating the sale of his first business, the Spanish social networking company, Tuenti, to Telefonica (in what would be a $100 million exit). Carlo Dapuzzo … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

With antitrust investigations looming, Apple reverses course on bans of parental control apps

By Jill T Frey

With congressional probes and greater scrutiny from federal regulators on the horizon, Apple has abruptly reversed course on its bans of parental control apps available in its app store.

As reported by The New York Times, Apple quietly updated its App Store guidelines to reverse its decision to ban certain parental control apps.

The battle between Apple and certain app developers dates back to last year when the iPhone maker first put companies on notice that it would cut their access to the app store if they didn’t make changes to their monitoring technologies.

The heart of the issue is the use of mobile device management (MDM) technologies in the parental control apps that Apple has removed from the App Store, Apple said in a statement earlier this year.

These device management tools give to a third party control … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

iOS 13 will let you limit app location access to ‘just once’

By Jill T Frey

Apple will soon let you grant apps access to your iPhone’s location just once.

Until now, there were three options — “always,” “never,” or “while using,” meaning an app could be collecting your real-time location as you’re using it.

Apple said the “just once” location access is a small change — granted — but one that’s likely to appeal to the more privacy-minded folk.

“For the first time, you can share your location to an app — just once — and then require it to ask you again next time at wants,” said Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi at its annual developer conference on Monday.

That’s going to be helpful for those who download an app that requires your immediate location, but you don’t want to give it persistent or ongoing access to your whereabouts.

On top of that, Apple said that the apps that you do grant location … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

Oppo and Xiaomi tease under-screen selfie cameras for smartphones

By Jill T Frey


The next innovation in mobile is peeking its head for all to see today after Chinese companies Oppo and Xiaomi both showed off under-screen cameras.

Apple’s notch set the ball rolling as a new way to pack a front-facing camera without compromising on the screen size, but it is already feeling date. The industry has since given us smartphone cameras that pop out, flip up and slide out, while the hole-punch condenses the notch further still, but the next stage is going under the screen for full invisibility.

The benefits are obvious. There’s no compromise on the front screen, which is now 100 percent screen, and removing moving parts means no concern for potential damage — but can it be done well enough?

Oppo VP Brian Shen teased his company’s early effort on Weibo. The video, which was later shared by Oppo’s Twitter account, doesn’t have a … Read the rest

June 1, 2019 Off

Foxconn halts production lines for Huawei phones, according to reports

By Jill T Frey

Huawei, the Chinese technology giant whose devices are at the center of a far-reaching trade dispute between the U.S. and Chinese governments, is reducing orders for new phones, according to a report in The South China Morning Post.

According to unnamed sources, the Taiwanese technology manufacturer Foxconn has halted production lines for several Huawei phones after the Shenzhen-based company reduced orders. Foxconn also makes devices for most of the major smart phone vendors including Apple and Xiaomi (in addition to Huawei).

In the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” to protect U.S. networks from foreign technologies, Huawei and several of its affiliates were barred from acquiring technologies from U.S. companies.

The blacklist has impacted multiple lines of Huawei’s business including it handset manufacturing capabilities given the company’s reliance on Google’s Android … Read the rest

May 27, 2019 Off

TikTok parent Bytedance is reportedly working on its own smartphone

By Jill T Frey

It’s been a busy couple of months for Bytedance, one of the world’s most valuable startups and the operator of globally popular video app TikTok. The Beijing-based company has continued to grow its list of apps to include the likes of work collaboration tool Lark, an instant messenger called Feiliao as well as a music streaming app, and now it appears to be taking a bold step into the hardware realm.

Bytedance is planning to develop its own smartphone, the Financial Times reported (paywalled) citing two sources. A spokesperson from Bytedance declined to comment on the matter, but the rumor is hardly a surprise as smartphone pre-installs have long been a popular way for Chinese internet companies to ramp up user sizes.

There’s also urgency from Bytedance to carve out more user acquisition channels. After a few years of frantic growth, Bytedance failed to hit its revenue target for Read the rest

May 27, 2019 Off

Arm announces its new premium CPU and GPU designs

By Jill T Frey

Arm, the company that designs the basic chip architecture for most of the world’s smartphones, today announced the launch of its next suite of designs for premium phones. It’ll be a while before you’ll see the first phones that use chips based on this design, but typically we see the first actual chips before the end of the year. With this launch, the company is announcing the Cortex-A77 CPU, the Mali-G77 GPU and a more energy efficient and powerful machine learning processor.

Given recent trends, it’s no surprise that the new Cortex-A77 doesn’t only focus on overall performance improvements, though the company’s promise of 20% IPC performance improvement over the last generation is nothing to sneer at. Thanks to a combination of hardware and software optimizations, the Cortex-A77 now promises significantly better machine learning performance, too.

Why focus on that when the company also offers a machine learning processor? Arm … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

Best Buy cancels Samsung Galaxy Fold pre-orders

By Jill T Frey

Samsung is taking its time bringing the Galaxy Fold back to market. And frankly, that’s probably for the best. The Note debacle from a few years back was an important lesson about what happens when you rush a product back to market. That one resulted in a second recall — PR nightmare upon PR nightmare.

With a release date still very much in limbo, Best Buy has sent notes to those who pre-ordered the Fold. Spotted by The Verge, the letter has since been posted to Best Buy’s support forum. It cites “a plethora of unforeseen hiccups,” (fair enough) adding, “Because we put our customers first and want to ensure they are taken care of in the best possible manner, Best Buy has decided to cancel all current pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

The letter goes on to assure customers that the big-box retailer is “working closely … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

Roland’s tiny R-07 recorder is better than your phone’s recorder app

By Jill T Frey

In an era when the smartphone can do everything, why do you need a standalone audio recorder? Roland, makers of music gear, might have an answer.

Their R-07 voice recorder is about as big as an original iPod and is designed for music recording, practice and playback. It features two microphones on top as well as an auxiliary microphone input. It also includes a headphone jack and supports Bluetooth.

As a recorder, the R-07 is a single-touch marvel. You record by turning it on and pressing the center button. It records to MicroSD card and can create up to 96 kHz 24-bit WAVs and 320 kbps MP3s. It runs on USB power or two AA batteries.

A Scene mode makes the R-07 a bit more interesting. It has built-in limiters and low cut, essentially features that will make voices crisper. Further, you can set it to “Music Long” to record … Read the rest