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Main article: Mobile

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Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 3346

YC-backed Stoic is a journaling app with a focus on understanding your feelings

01:27 | 21 August

The process of using the Stoic journaling app is simple: You open the app in the morning and the evening, when you’ll prompted to answer a couple questions and perform a few simple exercises.

For example, this evening the app asked me to rate my current level of fulfillment and to identify what made me smile today, while also pointing me to guided exercises like journaling and breathing.

Stoic is part of the current batch of startups at Y Combinator (it’s taking the stage today at Demo Day). Founder Maciej Lobodzinski told me that his goal is to help users understand the different factors influencing their mental and emotional state.

“The core of the app is: We have this insight and we see what influences your mood and what you feel,” Lobodzinski said. He suggested that this is very different from the “super transactional” idea embedded in my other mental health and wellness apps, where “you pay for my app and you feel better.” In his view, “You should feel how you feel. It’s okay, how you feel, but you should know why you are feeling this way.”

So once there are a couple weeks of data in the app, you should be able to look back and see how you were feeling on a certain day, and if there were activities that made you feel more or less fulfilled. Over time, Lobodzinski hopes to add more insights about “what influenced you, why you feel this way, why you are productive.”

Stoic screen shots

As the name implies, Stoic is inspired by Lobodzinski’s interest in classical Stoic philosophy (he’s not the first to suggest that the approach has direct applications in the tech industry), and the app even includes quotes from Stoic philosophers.

“It’s an extremely practical framework,” he said. “When I talk to users, there are entrepreneurs, investors, traders — people who found out about the app because they were looking for how to deal with their stress …
If you are stressed with your everyday life and you can get the advice of the emperor of Rome, who dealt with much more serious things, it’s amazing how much better you can feel after that.”

At the same time, users have the option to receive quotes from different schools of thought — not just Stoicism but also Buddhism, Taoism and Catholicism. For some users, their app experience won’t be explicitly focused on Stoicism, but Lobodzinski said that even then, it forms the “spine” of the app’s approach.

The basic app is free, but Stoic charges $27.99 per year for a premium version that includes iCloud syncing and additional content.

 


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The five technical challenges Cerebras overcame in building the first trillion transistor chip

01:38 | 20 August

Superlatives abound at Cerebras, the until-today stealthy next-generation silicon chip company looking to make training a deep learning model as quick as buying toothpaste from Amazon. Launching after almost three years of quiet development, Cerebras introduced its new chip today — and it is a doozy. The “Wafer Scale Engine” is 1.2 trillion transistors (the most ever), 46,225 square millimeters (the largest ever), and includes 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory (the most of any chip on the market today) and 400,000 processing cores (guess the superlative).

CS Wafer Keyboard Comparison

Cerebras’ Wafer Scale Engine is larger than a typical Mac keyboard (via Cerebras Systems)

It’s made a big splash here at Stanford University at the Hot Chips conference, one of the silicon industry’s big confabs for product introductions and roadmaps, with various levels of oohs and aahs among attendees. You can read more about the chip from Tiernan Ray at Fortune and read the white paper from Cerebras itself.

Superlatives aside though, the technical challenges that Cerebras had to overcome to reach this milestone I think is the more interesting story here. I sat down with founder and CEO Andrew Feldman this afternoon to discuss what his 173 engineers have been building quietly just down the street here these past few years with $112 million in venture capital funding from Benchmark and others.

Going big means nothing but challenges

First, a quick background on how the chips that power your phones and computers get made. Fabs like TSMC take standard-sized silicon wafers and divide them into individual chips by using light to etch the transistors into the chip. Wafers are circles and chips are squares, and so there is some basic geometry involved in subdividing that circle into a clear array of individual chips.

One big challenge in this lithography process is that errors can creep into the manufacturing process, requiring extensive testing to verify quality and forcing fabs to throw away poorly performing chips. The smaller and more compact the chip, the less likely any individual chip will be inoperative, and the higher the yield for the fab. Higher yield equals higher profits.

Cerebras throws out the idea of etching a bunch of individual chips onto a single wafer in lieu of just using the whole wafer itself as one gigantic chip. That allows all of those individual cores to connect with one another directly — vastly speeding up the critical feedback loops used in deep learning algorithms — but comes at the cost of huge manufacturing and design challenges to create and manage these chips.

CS Wafer Sean

Cerebras’ technical architecture and design was led by co-founder Sean Lie. Feldman and Lie worked together on a previous startup called SeaMicro, which sold to AMD in 2012 for $334 million. (Via Cerebras Systems)

The first challenge the team ran into according to Feldman was handling communication across the “scribe lines.” While Cerebras chip encompasses a full wafer, today’s lithography equipment still has to act like there are individual chips being etched into the silicon wafer. So the company had to invent new techniques to allow each of those individual chips to communicate with each other across the whole wafer. Working with TSMC, they not only invented new channels for communication, but also had to write new software to handle chips with trillion plus transistors.

The second challenge was yield. With a chip covering an entire silicon wafer, a single imperfection in the etching of that wafer could render the entire chip inoperative. This has been the block for decades on whole wafer technology: due to the laws of physics, it is essentially impossible to etch a trillion transistors with perfect accuracy repeatedly.

Cerebras approached the problem using redundancy by adding extra cores throughout the chip that would be used as backup in the event that an error appeared in that core’s neighborhood on the wafer. “You have to hold only 1%, 1.5% of these guys aside,” Feldman explained to me. Leaving extra cores allows the chip to essentially self-heal, routing around the lithography error and making a whole wafer silicon chip viable.

Entering uncharted territory in chip design

Those first two challenges — communicating across the scribe lines between chips and handling yield — have flummoxed chip designers studying whole wafer chips for decades. But they were known problems, and Feldman said that they were actually easier to solve that expected by re-approaching them using modern tools.

He likens the challenge though to climbing Mount Everest. “It’s like the first set of guys failed to climb Mount Everest, they said, ‘Shit, that first part is really hard.’ And then the next set came along and said ‘That shit was nothing. That last hundred yards, that’s a problem.’”

And indeed, the toughest challenges according to Feldman for Cerebras were the next three, since no other chip designer had gotten past the scribe line communication and yield challenges to actually find what happened next.

The third challenge Cerebras confronted was handling thermal expansion. Chips get extremely hot in operation, but different materials expand at different rates. That means the connectors tethering a chip to its motherboard also need to thermally expand at precisely the same rate lest cracks develop between the two.

Feldman said that “How do you get a connector that can withstand [that]? Nobody had ever done that before, [and so] we had to invent a material. So we have PhDs in material science, [and] we had to invent a material that could absorb some of that difference.”

Once a chip is manufactured, it needs to be tested and packaged for shipment to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who add the chips into the products used by end customers (whether data centers or consumer laptops). There is a challenge though: absolutely nothing on the market is designed to handle a whole-wafer chip.

CS Wafer Inspection

Cerebras designed its own testing and packaging system to handle its chip (Via Cerebras Systems)

“How on earth do you package it? Well, the answer is you invent a lot of shit. That is the truth. Nobody had a printed circuit board this size. Nobody had connectors. Nobody had a cold plate. Nobody had tools. Nobody had tools to align them. Nobody had tools to handle them. Nobody had any software to test,” Feldman explained. “And so we have designed this whole manufacturing flow, because nobody has ever done it.” Cerebras’ technology is much more than just the chip it sells — it also includes all of the associated machinery required to actually manufacture and package those chips.

Finally, all that processing power in one chip requires immense power and cooling. Cerebras’ chip uses 15 kilowatts of power to operate — a prodigious amount of power for an individual chip, although relatively comparable to a modern-sized AI cluster. All that power also needs to be cooled, and Cerebras had to design a new way to deliver both for such a large chip.

It essentially approached the problem by turning the chip on its side, in what Feldman called “using the Z-dimension.” The idea was that rather than trying to move power and cooling horizontally across the chip as is traditional, power and cooling are delivered vertically at all points across the chip, ensuring even and consistent access to both.

And so, those were the next three challenges — thermal expansion, packaging, and power/cooling — that the company has worked around-the-clock to deliver these past few years.

From theory to reality

Cerebras has a demo chip (I saw one, and yes, it is roughly the size of my head), and it has started to deliver prototypes to customers according to reports. The big challenge though as with all new chips is scaling production to meet customer demand.

For Cerebras, the situation is a bit unusual. Since it places so much computing power on one wafer, customers don’t necessarily need to buy dozens or hundreds of chips and stitch them together to create a compute cluster. Instead, they may only need a handful of Cerebras chips for their deep-learning needs. The company’s next major phase is to reach scale and ensure a steady delivery of its chips, which it packages as a whole system “appliance” that also includes its proprietary cooling technology.

Expect to hear more details of Cerebras technology in the coming months, particularly as the fight over the future of deep learning processing workflows continues to heat up.

 


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Mammoth Media introduces Choose Your Own Adventure-style storytelling to its chat fiction app Yarn

22:09 | 19 August

The chat fiction stories offered in Mammoth Media‘s mobile app Yarn are about to get more interactive.

The branching narrative mechanic should be familiar to anyone who read Choose Your Own Adventure books when they were kids — you read a story, and at certain key moments, you choose from different options that determine where the plot will go next.

More recently, the

thread on Twitter reminded everyone how fun and stressful this kind of storytelling can be. In fact, Mammoth says it’s hired the thread’s author Landon Rivera as one of the writers for this new initiative.

One thing you probably won’t recognize from your childhood reading is the fact that some of these choices aren’t free — to select them, you’ll need to spend money in the form of Yarn’s new virtual currency, gems.

Mammoth founder and CEO Benoit Vatere explained that in those cases, there might be two choices that you can select for free, plus a third that you need to pay for. Usually, it will be something that accelerates the story or sends it off in a new direction — in a horror story, you could get the option to stab someone, or in a romance story, your character could get the option to go home with someone.

Vatere added, “It’s not only being able to have a different branch in the story, but being able to play as a different character lead … Instead of being the male character, would they like to be the female character and really see a different perspective?”

He acknowledged that some of Yarn’s paying subscribers might be cranky about being asked to pay more, but he said the goal is that those subscribers can have “a full experience” without having to buy additional gems.

Yarn is launching interactive stories with titles including “Blue Ivy’s Nanny,” where it’s your first day on the job as Beyoncé’s nanny (I’m going to go ahead and guess that Rivera worked on this one); a romance story called “Playing the Field”; a horror story called “Haunted Camper” and a drama called “Trapped.” Vatere also said there are plans for branched narratives tying into existing Yarn franchises, and set in the world of Archie Comics.

Overall, Vatere said he’s hoping that this will lead to more engagement from Yarn readers, while also opening up new opportunities for monetization.

“Subscription is a great model, but subscription has a cap,” he said. That’s why Mammoth is experimenting with virtual currency, and why it plans to make these stories available to non-subscribers.

 


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Google discloses its acquisition of mobile learning app Socratic as it relaunches on iOS

20:56 | 16 August

Google publicly disclosed its acquisition of homework helper app Socratic in an announcement this week, detailing the added support for the company’s A.I. technology and its relaunch on iOS. The acquisition apparently flew under the radar — Google says it bought the app last year.

According to one founder’s LinkedIn update, that was in March 2018. Google hasn’t responded to requests for comment for more details about the deal, but we’ll update if that changes.

Socratic was founded in 2013 Chris Pedregal and Shreyans Bhansali with the goal of creating a community that made learning accessible to all students.

Initially, the app offered a Quora-like Q&A platform where students could ask questions which were answered by experts. By the time Socratic raised $6 million in Series A funding back in 2015, its community had grown to around 500,000 students. The company later evolved to focus less on connecting users and more on utility.

It included a feature to take a photo of a homework question in order to get instant explanations through the mobile app launched in 2015. This is similar to many other apps in the space, like Photomath, Mathway, DoYourMath, and others.

However, Socratic isn’t just a math helper — it can also tackle subjects like science, literature, social studies, and more.

In February 2018, Socratic announced it would remove the app’s social features. That June, the company said it was closing its Q&A website to user contributions. This decision was met with some backlash of disappointed users.

Socratic explained the app and website were different products, and it was strategically choosing to focus on the former.

“We, as anyone, are bound by the constraints of reality—you just can’t do everything—which means making decisions and tradeoffs where necessary. This one is particularly painful,” wrote Community Lead Becca McArthur at the time.

That strategy, apparently, was to make Socratic a Google A.I.-powered product. According to Google’s blog post penned by Bhansali — now the Engineering Manager at Socratic — the updated iOS app uses A.I. technology to help users.

askaquestion

The new version of the iOS app still allows you to snap a photo to get answers, or you can speak your question.

For example, if a student takes a photo from a classroom handout or asks a question like “what’s the difference between distance and displacement?,” Socratic will return a top match, followed by explainers, a Q&A section, and even related YouTube videos and web links. It’s almost like a custom search engine just for your homework questions.

Google also says it has built and trained algorithms that can analyze the student’s question then identify the underlying concepts in order to point users to these resources. For students who need even more help, the app can break down the concepts into smaller, easy-to-understand lessons.

googleai v2

In addition, the app includes subject guides on over 1,000 higher education and high school topics, developed with help from educators. The study guides can help students prepare for tests or just better learn a particular concept.

explorer 56kHA30

“In building educational resources for teachers and students, we’ve spent a lot of time talking to them about challenges they face and how we can help,” writes Bhansali. “We’ve heard that students often get ‘stuck’ while studying. When they have questions in the classroom, a teacher can quickly clarify—but it’s frustrating for students who spend hours trying to find answers while studying on their own,” he says.

This is where Socratic will help.

That said, the acquisition could help Google in other ways, too. In addition to its primary focus as a homework helper, the acquisition could aid Google Assistant technology across platforms, as the virtual assistant could learn to answer more complex questions that Google’s Knowledge Graph didn’t already include.

The relaunched, A.I.-powered version of Socratic by Google arrived on Thursday on iOS, where it also discloses through the app update text the app is now owned by Google.

The Android version of the app will launch this fall.

 

 


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8 million Android users tricked into downloading 85 adware apps from Google Play

17:53 | 16 August

Dozens of Android adware apps disguised as photo taking and editing apps have been caught serving ads that would take over users’ screens as part of a fraudulent money-making scheme.

Security firm Trend Micro said it found 85 individual apps downloaded more than eight million times from the Google Play — all of which have since been removed from the app store.

More often than not adware apps will run on a user’s device and will silently serve and click ads in the background and without the user’s knowledge to generate ad revenue. But these apps were particularly brazen and sneaky, one of the researchers said.

“It isn’t your run-of-the-mill adware family,” said Ecular Xu, a mobile threat response engineer at Trend Micro. “Apart from displaying advertisements that are difficult to close, it employs unique techniques to evade detection through user behavior and time-based triggers.”

The researchers discovered that the apps would keep a record when they were installed and sit dormant for around half-an-hour. After the delay, the app would hide its icon and create a shortcut on the user’s home screen, the security firm said. That, they say, helped to protect the app from being deleted if the user decided to drag and drop the shortcut to the ‘uninstall’ section of the screen.

“These ads are shown in full screen,” said Xu. “Users are forced to view the whole duration of the ad before being able to close it or go back to app itself.”

When the app unlocked, it displayed ads on the user’s home screen. The code also checks to make sure it doesn’t show the same ad too frequently, the researchers said.

Worse, the ads can be remotely configured by the fraudster, allowing ads to be displayed more frequently than the default five minute intervals.

Trend Micro provided a list of the apps — including Super Selfie Camera, Cos Camera, Pop Camera, and One Stroke Line Puzzle — all of which had a million downloads each.

Users about to install the apps had a dead giveaway: most of the apps had appalling reviews, many of which had as many one-star reviews as they did five-stars, with users complaining about the deluge of pop-up ads.

Google does not typically comment on app removals beyond acknowledging their removal from Google Play.

Read more:

 


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Huawei pushes back launch of 5G foldable, the Mate X

14:17 | 15 August

If you were desperately ripping days off of your calendar until you could get your hands on Huawei’s $2,600 5G foldable, the Mate X — which was originally slated to launch next month — it sounds like you’re going to have to wait a bit longer, per TechRadar which attended a press event at Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters today. 

It reports being told there is no possibility of a September launch. Instead Huawei is now aiming for November. But the company would only profess itself certain its first smartphone that folds out to a (square) tablet will launch before 2020. So it seems Mate X buyers may need to wait until circa Christmas to fondle this foldable.

It’s not clear exactly why the launch is being delayed. But — speculating wildly — we imagine it’s something to do with the fact that the screen, er, folds.

We’ve reached out to Huawei for official comment on the delay.

Huawei’s Mate X date slippage suggests Samsung will still be first to market with its (previously) delayed Galaxy Fold — which was itself delayed after a bunch of review units broke (because, well, did we tell you the screen folds?).

Last we heard, the Galaxy Fold is slated for a September release — Samsung seemingly confident it’s fixed the problem of how to make a foldable phone survive actual use.

Of course survival in the wild very much remains to be seen with any of these foldable. So expect TC’s in house hardware guru, Brian Heater, to put all of these expensively hinged touchscreens through their paces.

Returning to Huawei’s Mate X, potential buyers may not be entirely reassured to learn the company appeared to dangle rather more information about a planned sequel in front of reporters at the press event.

A sequel which may or may not have even more screens, as Huawei is apparently considering putting glass on the back. Yes, glass. (The gen-one Mate X will have a steel back.) Glass panels which it says could double as touchscreens. On the back. As well as the front. We have no idea if that means the price-tag will double too.

This theoretical quad (?) screen foldable follow-up to the still unreleased Mate X might even be released as soon as next year, according to TechRadar’s reportage. Or — again speculating wildly — it might never be released. Because, frankly, it sounds mental. But that’s the wacky world of foldables for ya.

There may be method in this madness too. Because, since smartphones turned into all-screen devices — making it almost impossible to tell one touch-sensitive slab from another — plucky Android device makers are trying to find a way to put more screen on the slab so you can see more.

If they can pull that off it might be great. However sticking a hinge right through the middle of a smartphone’s primary feature and function without that simultaneously causing problems is certainly a major engineering challenge.

 


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Xiaomi tops Indian smartphone market for eighth straight quarter

22:50 | 13 August

Xiaomi has now been the top smartphone maker in India for eight straight quarters, becoming a constant headache for Samsung in the key overseas market that continues to show strong appetite for handsets as their shipment slows, or drops pretty much everywhere else in the world.

The Chinese electronics giant shipped 10.4 million handsets in the quarter that ended in June this year and assumed 28.3% of the market, research firm IDC reported Tuesday. Its closest rival, Samsung, which once held the tentpole position in India, shipped 9.3 million handsets in the nation during the same period and settled with 25.3% market share.

Overall, 36.9 million handsets were shipped in India during the second quarter of this year, up 9.9% from the same period last year and up 14.8% since the quarter before, IDC reported. This was the highest volume of handsets that has ever shipped during the second quarter in India, the research firm said.

As smartphone shipments slow or decline in most of the world, India has emerged as an outlier that continues to show strong momentum as tens of millions of people purchase their first handset in the country each quarter.

Research firm Counterpoint told TechCrunch that there are about 450 million smartphone users in India, up from about 350 million late last year and 300 million in late 2017. This growth has made India, home to more than 1.3 billion people, the fastest and second largest smartphone market worldwide with unmatched room for further growth.

Globally, smartphone shipments declined by 2.3% year-over-year in Q2 2019, IDC said.

Chinese phone makers Vivo and Oppo, both of which spent lavishly in marketing during the recent local favorite cricket season in India, also expanded their base in the country. Vivo had 15.1% of the local market share, up from 12.6% in Q2 2018, while Oppo’s share grew from 7.6% to 9.7% during the same period. The market share of Realme, which has gained following after it started to replicate some of Xiaomi’s early model, also shot up, moving from 1.2% in Q2 2018 to 7.7% in Q2 2019.

GettyImages 1128860832

Samsung showroom demonstrator seen showing the features of new S10 Smartphone during the launching ceremony. (Photo by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The key to gaining market share in India has remained unchanged over the years: Increasingly bulk up the specs in handsets and sell them for low prices. The average selling price of a handset during the Q2 was $159 in the quarter that ended in June this year. 78% of the 36.9 million phones that shipped in India sported a sticker price below $200, IDC said.

That’s not to say that phones priced above $200 don’t have any takers in India. Per IDC, the fastest growing smartphone segment in the nation was priced between $200 to $300, witnessing a 105.2% growth over the same period last year.

Smartphones priced between $400 and $600 were the second-fastest growing segment in the country, witnessing a 16.1% growth since the same period last year. Chinese phone maker OnePlus assumed 63.6% of this premium segment, followed by Apple (which has less than 2% of the market share), and Samsung.

Feature phones that have maintained a crucial position in India’s handsets market continue to maintain their significant footprint, though their popularity is beginning to wane. 32.4 million feature phones shipped in India during Q2 this year, down 26.3% since the same period last year.

For Xiaomi, which shipped 32.3 million smartphones globally in Q2 2019, India has become its biggest market, the company said. Xiaomi entered the Indian market five years ago, and for the first two years, relied mostly on selling handsets online to cut overhead costs. But the company has since established and expanded its presence in the brick and mortar market, which continues to account for much of the sales in the country.

Earlier this month, the Chinese phone maker said it has set up its 2,000th Mi Home store in India. It is on track to have presence in 10,000 physical stores in the country by end of the year, and expects to see half of its sales come from the offline market by that time frame.

Samsung has stepped up its game in India in last two years, too. The company, which opened the world’s largest phone factory in the country last year, has ramped up productions of Galaxy A series of smartphones that are aimed at budget conscious customers and conceptualized a similar series that includes Galaxy M10, M20, and M30 smartphone models for the Indian market. The Galaxy A series handsets drove much of the growth for the company, IDC said.

Even as it lags behind Xiaomi, Samsung shipped more handsets in Q2 2019 compared to Q2 2018 (9.3 million vs 8 million) and its market share grew from 23.9% to 25.3% during the same period.

“The vendor was also offering attractive channel schemes to clear the stocks of Galaxy J series. Galaxy M series (exclusive online till the end of 2Q19) saw price reductions which helped retain the 13.5% market share in the online channel in 2Q19 for Samsung,” IDC said.

But the South Korean giant continues to have a tough time surpassing Xiaomi, which continues to abide by its 5% profit margin (Xiaomi says it only makes 5% profit on any hardware it sells). Xiaomi has also expanded its local production efforts in India and created more than 10,000 jobs in the country, more than 90% of whom have been granted to women.

 


0

Apple brings contactless student IDs to a dozen more universities

18:43 | 13 August

Ahead of the upcoming school year, Apple this morning announced it’s bringing contactless student IDs in Apple Wallet to several more U.S. universities. The expansion will allow over 100,000 college students to carry their student ID on their iPhone or Apple Watch, where it can be used for a variety of tasks including paying for their meals, snacks and for entry into buildings, like the student’s dorm and other campus facilities.

The expanded list of universities includes: Clemson University, Georgetown University, University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, University of San Francisco, University of Vermont, Arkansas State University, South Dakota State University, Norfolk State University, Louisburg College, University of North Alabama and Chowan University.

These join the previously supported schools like Duke University, University of Oklahoma, University of Alabama, Temple University, Johns Hopkins University, Marshall University, and Mercer University.

Apple brings student IDs to iPhone and Apple Watch student ID on apple watch 081319

Apple had first announced its plans for contactless student IDs at WWDC 2018, then rolled out to its debut schools last October.

The contactless IDs not only serve as a means of student identification, but also work as a payment mechanism for on-campus transactions — like meals at the cafeteria or textbooks and supplies at the college’s bookstore, for example. Contactless entry into buildings is also now common on college campuses, and these digital IDs can work to open doors, too, as an alternative to swiping an entry card.

Apple brings student IDs to iPhone and Apple Watch university of san francisco student ID screen 081319

Support for college student IDs is only one way that Apple is trying to replace the physical wallet. The company also support the ability to add your debit and credit cards, transit and loyalty cards, tickets, and even paper money through Apple Pay Cash. And now it’s launching its own credit card, too, which rewards you with cashback for shopping Apple and using Apple Pay.

“We’re happy to add to the growing number of schools that are making getting around campus easier than ever with iPhone and Apple Watch,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services, in a statement about the expansion. “We know students love this feature. Our university partners tell us that since launch, students across the country have purchased 1.25 million meals and opened more than 4 million doors across campuses by just tapping their iPhone and Apple Watch.”

Related to this launch, Apple says it’s also adding support for CBORD, Allegion and HID — solution providers for campus credentials and mobile access. With these technologies on board, Apple will be able to reach other schools integrated with these systems in the future.

 


0

Phones, laptops and game consoles get tariff reprieve until December

17:58 | 13 August

Electronics manufacturers are no doubt breathing a collective sigh of relief this morning at the news that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has delayed tariffs on a number of categories.

A long list of exports, including livestock, foodstuff and clothing will have the additional 10 percent tariff imposed on September 1. Others, including “cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing” have simply been delayed until December 15.

It seems the fees are an inevitability, but many might be able to scrape through just in time for the holidays.

“Certain products are being removed from the tariff list based on health, safety, national security and other factors and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent,” the USTR writes. “Further, as part of USTR’s public comment and hearing process, it was determined that the tariff should be delayed to December 15 for certain articles.”

That list includes a wide range of electronics, from “telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks” to “telephone answering machines” and “cassette players (non‐recording) designed exclusively for motor‐vehicle installation.”

Stock prices for companies like Apple have already seen a positive bump following the news. The White House is expected to have additional trade talks with China next month in Washington, though Trump has since cast some doubt.

Asked by reporters whether he might cancel talks, the President answered, “Maybe. We’ll see what happens.”

 


0

DJI slims down and simplifies its smartphone gimbal

16:00 | 13 August

As we noted last month, DJI’s camera stabilizer line began life as an offshoot of the company’s drone offerings. Since then, however, it’s grown into a pretty massive portfolio in its own right, spanning from SLR to standalone pocket offerings.

For obvious reasons, the Osmo Mobile has been one of the more popular models. Designed for smartphone users, the product is among the most accessible DJI offerings, with out of the box operation for both iOS and Android users.

09

The company says it “went back to the drawing board” for the latest version of the handheld gimbal, but the Osmo Mobile 3 is really more of an evolution. The company took some customer feedback to heart and provided a handful of key changes. The new device is smaller and foldable, so users can much more easily toss it in a backpack. A DJI rep I spoke with suggested that it might fit in a pocket, but that’s a bit ambitious.

The other big piece of the puzzle is that DJI has made it a lot easier to operate the system with one hand. Most of the functions are executed using the back trigger or a combination of the front thumb buttons. There’s a new Quick Roll feature, which switches between landscape and portrait with the click of a button, while triple-clicking the trigger flips it into selfie mode. The trigger is also used to recenter the camera or lock into place.

018

There’s a bunch of software features borrowed from the company’s drones and the higher-end Ronin line, including Story Mode, Gesture Control, ActiveTrack, TimeLapse and HyperLapse. I didn’t really get much hands-on time with those, but we’ll be getting a review unit into the hands of our video team soon.

All in all, it looks like a nice little update. It’s also a bit cheaper, starting at $119 for the standard version and $139 for a bundle that includes a tripod. The Osmo Mobile 3 is available starting today.

 


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