Vendor News

Apple to Boost Music With Shazam Buy?

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Apple to Boost Music With Shazam Buy?

Apple has a plan to further improve the Music streaming service, TechCrunch reports-- it is "close" to buying Shazam, the app allowing users to identify any song by listening to an audio clip.

Shazam uses machine learning to identify audio clips from songs, TV shows and more. Launched back in 1999 (when it was available as a service accessed via SMS code), it currently offers a standalone app for iOS, macOS and watchOS device. In turn it integrates with other services, such as Snapchat, Siri and music apps including Spotify and Apple Music.

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Sony Trials PlayStation VR In-Home

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Sony Trials PlayStation VR In-Home

Sony sets to convince customers of the potential of virtual reality through an interesting promotion-- a 14-day in-home PlayStation VR trial sent to select PlayStation Plus subscribers.

The trial consists of a demo kit complete with headset, PlayStation Camera, two Move controllers and a copy of Skyrim VR. Should the user be impressed enough to want to buy the kit, they can keep it for the price of $300, a discount over the regular $450 retail pricetag of the Skyrim PSVR bundle.

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LG Realigns Mobile Business

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LG Realigns Mobile Business

LG announces a "sweeping realignment" across its various business, including the appointment of a new CEO for its mobile division-- Hwang Jeong-hwan, who replaces current chief Juno Cho.

Jeong-hwan is a long-time LG employee, having been involvied in the development of one of the first LG smartphones in 2009 as head of the CTO's multimedia R&D lab. In the meantime Juno Cho gets a new role within the LG parent company.

Another leadership change comes in the shape of a new CTO-- LG Software Centre head Dr. Park Il-pyung replaces current CTO Dr. Skott Ahn. Prior to joining LG, Dr. Park was CTO at the now Samsung-owned Harman International, as well as head of the Samsung Intelligent Computing Lab. Dr. Park also holds a number of computing patents, together with a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

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Apple Buys AR Headset Maker Vrvana

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Apple Buys AR Headset Maker Vrvana

TechCrunch reports Apple has quietly acquired another small startup-- Vrvana, a augmented reality specialist and maker of the unreleased Totem headset. The price for the company is reportedly $30 million.

Apple has no comment on the story, but does not deny it either. Vrvana similarly has no comment on the story, but TechCrunch says it has "sources close to the deal" confirm the acquisition. The news site also says a number of Vrvana employees are now working with Apple in California, and while the Vrvana website is still running it stopped updating any social media accounts and news on August 2017.

Vrvana's AR offering is the Totem, a headset combining AR and VR technology through pass-through cameras able to project real world images into a built-in 1440p OLED display. The cameras track the position of the user in both real and virtual space, while additional IR cameras detect the user's hands.

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Apple Irish Datacentre Gets Approval

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Apple Irish Datacentre Gets Approval

The Irish High Court has a decision on Apple's plan to build a datacentre in the country, Reuters reports-- construction can go ahead, bringing relief for both the iPhone maker and the Irish government.

Apple announced it was going to invest €850 million in a datacentre in Derrydonnell, Galway county back in February 2015. The local council gave planning permission 6 months later but a series of appeals blocked the works for over 2 years.

Most recently residents attempted to stop the construction on November 2016, as they insisted the permission granted by the An Bord Pleanála planning authority was invailid. According to the allegations, the authority failed to do a proper impact assessment. This lead to Apple (successfully) asking the High Court to fast-track the case.

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Microsoft Confirms End of Windows Phone

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Microsoft Confirms End of Windows Phone

Microsoft OS designer Joe Belfiore takes to Twitter to confirm what many already suspected-- work on Windows Mobile is officially over, bringing an end to the Microsoft-powered smartphone.

Belfiore does say existing support phones will continue to receive bug fixes and security updates, but Microsoft is not working on new software features or hardware. This was to be expected, considering how new development builds of the mobile OS stopped appearing earlier this year.

One also has to keep in mind Windows Phone user volumes remained all too low, leading to developers dropping support for the platform even as Microsoft offered financial incentives.

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More Google Devices at Pixel 2 Event

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More Google Devices at Pixel 2 Event

The Google Pixel 2 event might have technically been about the flagship smartphone, but the search giant also found the time to reveal a range of other devices-- the Pixelbook Chromebook, the Home Max and Mini smart speakers, and the Clip camera.

Tying all the recently announced Google devices together is Assistant, the Google virtual assistant. The search giant says the launch builds on its current "AI-first philosophy," making a combination of hardware and software able to learn and adapt to the user.

But on to the devices themselves. The Pixelbook is a continuation of Google's Chromebook efforts, being a 12.3-inch notebook powered by the browser-based OS, with built-in Google Assistant and Play Store support. It is 10mm thick, weighs 1kg and carries 7th generation Intel i5/i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, up to 512GB SSD storage and a battery promising 10 hours of use on a single charge.

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Apple Expands Chip Design Efforts?

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Apple Expands Chip Design Efforts?

Apple is a "semiconductor superpower in the making," Nikkei reports-- the iPhone maker is said to be pushing chip design efforts further in order to rely less on suppliers such as Intel and Qualcomm.

According to "industry sources in Asia," Apple is currently "invested in research and development" in a number of components making its devices. The first is the baseband modem chips required for cellular communications. To do so Apple has poached Esin Terzioglu, a modem chip engineer from current iPhone modem supplier Qualcomm, with whom Apple is locked in a bitter $1 billion dollar lawsuit over unpaid royalty rebates.

The second is "core processors for notebooks." Such chips would reduce dependence on Intel-- so much so Apple is said to be using an ARM-based (not x86) design. A final chip Apple is supposed to be working brings together "touch, fingerprint and display driver functions," and comes through a desire to "control next-generation display technology and some related key components."

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Apple Buys Computer Vision With Regaind

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Apple Buys Computer Vision With Regaind

Apple continues its tradition of quietly buying small startups, TechCrunch reports-- this time around it is the turn of Regaind, a French specialist in computer vision.

Of course, the iPhone maker neither confirms nor denies the acquisition, and instead only offers the usual “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans” statement.

Regaind has an computer vision API able to analyse the content of photos and tell what is in them. It is similar to the intelligent search feature in the Photos app found on iPhone, only it goes a step further by being able to determine the technical and aesthetic values of photos.

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Intel Gives Up on Project Alloy?

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Intel Gives Up on Project Alloy?

Road to VR reports Intel has given up on Project Alloy-- the reference design for an all-in-one self-contained VR solution promising to "cut the VR cord."

Described as "the future of merged reality" back at its 2016 Intel Developer Forum reveal, the Project Alloy headset carried all components to power VR experience. As such, it allowed a full range of motion with 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF), as well as Augmented Reality (AR) via RealSense technology.

However a statement provided to Road to VR reads Intel is winding down the reference design because of lack of partner interest. The reason why partners are not interested is unclear, but it could be due to costs associated with essentially cramming a full Windows PC in a headset.

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Google Buys HTC Pixel Team

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Google Buys HTC Pixel Team

Google and HTC announce a $1.1 billion "cooperation agreement"-- one where the search giant buys "certain HTC employees," many of whom with experience working on the Pixel smartphone line.

The search giant also gets a non-exclusive license for a good chunk HTC IP in order to support the Pixel smartphone family.

“Our unmatched smartphone value chain, including our IP portfolio, and world-class talent and system integration capabilities, have supported Google in bolstering the Android market,” HTC CEO Cher Wang says. “This agreement is a brilliant next step in our longstanding partnership, enabling Google to supercharge their hardware business while ensuring continued innovation within our HTC smartphone and VIVE virtual reality businesses."

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