Vendor News

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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China-Backed Equity Firm Buys Imagination

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China-Backed Equity Firm Buys Imagination

Imagination Technologies, the former maker of the graphics chips inside iDevices, has found a buyer-- Canyon Bridge, an equity firm backed by Chinese fund Yitai Capital.

According to the Financial Times the deal is worth £550 million, and is conditional on the completion of the sale of MIPS. The Imagination US unit currently being bought by Silicon Valley investment group Tallwood Venture Capital.

Back in June 2017 Imagination put itself on the selling block after Apple, its largest customer and one of its biggest shareholders, decided to stop using PowerVR technology in favour of self-designed solution. The announcement halved the value of Imagination stock almost overnight, causing a crisis in the company.

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Microsoft Teases Windows Mixed Reality Event

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Microsoft Teases Windows Mixed Reality Event

The press is to see more of the Windows Mixed Reality-- aka the Microsoft combination of virtual and augmented reality-- at a special event come 3 October 2017, ahead of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update launch.

The event should be an "opportunity to hear where Microsoft is headed next," and will have Kinect and HoloLens inventor Alex Kipman as speaker.

One can safely assume the event will host a variety of Windows Mixed Reality headsets, which should hit the market from 17 October. As seen at IFA 2017, Mixed Reality headsets come from a number of vendors, including Acer, HP, Dell and Lenovo. The trade show also hosted an Asus headset with unique polygonal design, but that one will only hit the market on Spring 2018.

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Huawei Takes on Apple With "Real AI Phone" Promise

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Huawei Takes on Apple With

Were you impressed by the iPhone X's Neural Engine-powered face-recognition? Huawei insists it isn't, as it posts a video on its Facebook page stating "facial recognition isn't for everyone."

Following that, the video also claims it will unveil a "real AI phone" on 16 October 2017-- meaning its latest flagship, the Mate 10.

Marketing bombast aside, Huawei might have something actually interesting to show off with the Mate 10. After all, it will be the first phone powered with the Chinese company's latest system-on-a-chip, the Kirin 970. Presented at IFA 2017, the Kirin 970 carries a "Neural Processing Unit" (NPU), a set of processing cores dedicated to AI tasks.

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New iPhones, Watch, Apple TV at September Apple Event

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New iPhones, Watch, Apple TV at September Apple Event

The 12th of September sees Apple inaugurate its new, purpose-built theatre-- named, of course, the Steve Jobs Theatre-- with the launch of the latest iPhone models, as well as the Watch Series 3 and the Apple TV 4K.

Following an preamble on the state of the Apple Store by retail chief Angela Ahrendts, Tim Cook took to the stage to present the next version of the Watch. First off was the revelation the Watch is now the top watch in the world, beating even the likes of Rolex and Fossil, while customer satisfaction is no less than 97%. The company also claims the Watch is now the most used heart rate monitor in the world.

But what is really interesting is the next generation of Watch-- Watch Series 3, now with built-in cellular radio for truly bringing the Dick Tracy 2-way wrist radio dream to life. The smartwatch shares a number with the user's iPhone, streams Apple Music and pairs with with the AirPods. Powering it is a new dual-core processor promising a 70% performance boost, together with a custom W2 wifi/Bluetooth chip. Handling cellular connectivity is an electronic SIM, while the antenna is built right into the display.

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