The next Sony Xperia flagship is expected to be announced at the beginning of September at consumer electronics show IFA.
It has leaked several times over the last couple of months as both the Xperia XR and the Xperia F8331, but we are going to call it the former for the sake of this feature.
We’ve compared the rumoured specs of the Xperia XR to the Xperia Z5 in a separate feature, but here we are looking at how the Xperia XR compares to the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance, based on the speculation.
Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia X Performance vs Xperia X: Design
The leaked images of the Xperia XR all show a device following the same OmniBalance design previous Sony smartphones feature. The new flagship is claimed to measure 146.4 x 71.9 x 8.1mm and offer a brushed metal finish.
According to the images, it looks like the fingerprint sensor will remain within the side power button, USB Type-C will be on board and there will be a new rear camera layout. We’d also hope to see IP65 and IP68 water and dust resistance.
Both the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance have a brushed metal finishes and the OmniBalance design. They also both have fingerprint sensors built in to the side power button, but only the X Performance is water and dust resistant.
The Xperia X measures 143 x 69 x 7.7mm and weighs 152g while the Xperia X Performance measures 143 x 70.5 x 8.6mm and weighs 164g. That means if the rumours are accurate, the new Xperia will be larger than both the X and X Performance, but perhaps slimmer than X Performance.
Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia X Performance vs Xperia X: Display
The Sony Xperia XR is rumoured to be coming with a 5.1-inch display offering a Full HD resolution. If accurate, this would put the XR’s pixel density at 423ppi.
The Xperia X and X Performance both have 5-inch displays and they both have 1080p resolutions meaning their pixel densities are 441ppi. Although on paper that means they will be sharper than the XR if the rumours are true, the difference wouldn’t be noticeable to the human eye.
The Xperia X and Xperia X Performance both have a number of Sony technologies on board, including Triluminos and X-Reality. We’d expect the same from the next Xperia too though.
Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia X Performance vs Xperia X: Camera
There haven’t been any rumours relating to the resolution of the next Xperia smartphones camera, but it has been claimed it will offer 4K video recording from both the front and rear.
As we mentioned previously, the leaked images suggest the Xperia XR will have a different camera layout on the rear, and it has been claimed it will offer a dual-LED flash.
We’d expect the same sensors as the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance though, as Sony waited a few years to upgrade to this from the 21.5-megapixel seen on the earlier Xperia Z devices.
The Xperia X and Xperia X Performance come with a 23-megapixel rear camera and a 13-megapixel front-facing camera. Both are only capable of Full HD video recording, but they come with Predictive Hybrid AF, which we’d also expect to see on the Xperia XR.
Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia X Performance vs Xperia X: Hardware
The Sony Xperia XR is said to be coming with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor but there haven’t been any other leaks relating to the hardware.
We’d expect to see 3GB or 4GB of RAM, hopefully the latter, along with 32GB of storage and microSD support. We’d also expect a battery capacity around the 3000mAh mark.
The Xperia X features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chip, supported by 3GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of storage, both of which have microSD expansion. There is a 2620mAh battery.
The Xperia X Performance has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, suggesting it will offer the same performance as the Xperia XR if the rumours are true. There is 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal memory with microSD and a 2700mAh battery.
Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia X Performance vs Xperia X: Software
The Sony Xperia XR will probably launch on Android Marshmallow rather than Android Nougat and it will no doubt have Sony’s bloatware over the top.
Both the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance launched on Android Marshmallow and also feature bloatware over the top.
There will probably be a few new software features announced with the new device but we’d expect the experience between these three devices to be similar.
Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia X Performance vs Xperia X: Conclusion
According to the rumours, the Sony Xperia XR should improve on the Xperia X in terms of hardware and performance, though perhaps not on the X Performance.
The image leaks suggest we will see a slightly different design, even if still familiar, but in terms of other specs, there doesn’t seem to be much change, especially compared to the Xperia X Performance.
This is all speculation for now though so take everything with a pinch of salt. You can read our next Sony Xperia rumour round up for the latest and we will update this feature when the official specs and name are announced.
We’re getting a better idea of what the Huawei Mate 9 and its camera array might look like, thanks to a new set of leaks.
These leaked renders come from Baidu and appear to show a Mate 8-ish look as well as a modified dual-camera module with a different orientation than the Huawei P9. It’s unclear if the dual rear camera will sport Leica branding like the P9. There’s also some confusion regarding the resolution of the cameras. Apart from cameras, the leaked renders also depict the Mate 9 with a fingerprint scanner on its back and a metal build.
There have been a few Huawei Mate 9 rumours floating around in the last few months, including a recent leak involving a couple pics posted on Chinese forum site Weibo. Those pics were allegedly of the casing for the forthcoming flagship smartphone, and some specifications were listed alongside them. If the specs are true, the Huawei Mate 9 will have a 5.9-inch screen with a Full HD resolution.
Baidu (via GSMArena)
The Mate 9 might also feature the Kirin 960 processor, something touted since April and the launch of the P9 series. And there will be options for 4GB and 6GB of RAM, much like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which is likely to feature the latter in China. The only other recently-leaked specification that didn’t resonate so well is that the phone will come with a 16-megapixel camera on the rear.
All previous leaks have claimed the phone will either have a 12-megapixel snapper or a mammoth 20-megapixel sensor, topping the dual cameras on the P9. There is no word of a release date, but with IFA 2016 only a few weeks away, we have a feeling it could make an appearance there.
Huawei is holding a press conference at IFA in Berlin on 1 September.
Baidu (via GSMArena)
Nokia’s trolley-dash approach to business means that it now makes health gadgets and professional-level VR cameras. The latter arm sells one product, a $60,000 VR camera called Ozo which is bought by studios like Disney and UEFA. In order to gee-up demand and to celebrate launching in China, Nokia is now hacking $15,000 off the asking price for the gear. The first customer to grab the unit in the middle kingdom is LeVR, the surprisingly-named VR arm of Chinese superconglomerate LeEco. From this we can take one of two things: either Nokia overpriced the hardware, or it’s so staggeringly popular that everyone (in the industry) wants one.
Ubisoft has dropped the dates for three of its incoming VR games, including Star Trek: Bridge Crew. That title, set in JJ Abrams Star Trek universe, is available for pre-order and arrives on all three major platforms, the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR on November 29th. It lets you take on the role of captain, engineer, tactical officer or helmsman on the Enterprise-style “Aegis” bridge. The aim is to work with your crew mates to help settle Vulcan’s remaining population after the planet was destroyed in the first Star Trek reboot.
Eagle Flight (above) is another intriguing title that we first saw (and fell for) at GDC 2016 in March. You pilot your very own eagle over the skies of a futuristic, overgrown Paris, playing either in teams or solo. The whimsical goal is to pick up a dead rabbit or other prey and bring it to your home nest ahead of rival birds. Engadget editor Nicole Lee called it ” immersive, fun and surprisingly social.” It’s now on pre-order and arrives October 18th to the Rift, November 8th on PlayStation VR, and to the HTC Vive on December 20th.
The last title is Werewolves Within, “a game of social deduction that brings the competitive fun of game night with friends to virtual reality,” according to Ubisoft’s PR. Every game is different — in one, you’re innocent, trying to convince others you’re a non-werewolf, in another, a legit half-lupus lying to avoid the villagers’ wrath. Also available on pre-order, it hits all three VR platforms December 6th. So, if you’re running out of activities for that pricey headset, you at least have something to look forward to.
Tekserve, a landmark New York City Apple dealer and repair center for 29 years, closed this week and is auctioning off its huge collection of computers and other tech. The centerpiece is a 35-piece (mostly) Macintosh collection from its Mac Museum, which only includes groundbreaking or special models and “consciously omits variants.” Highlights include a 128K Macintosh signed by Steve Wozniak, a Lisa and a NeXTcube. So far, the top bid is $31,000.
That’s not nearly all, though. Other items up for bid include a Blade Runner poster signed by Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos and Ridley Scott ($550 so far), several “Think Different” posters (Bob Dylan’s has hit $200), a working Aibo robot dog and an Apple Newton Emate 300 PDA, which can be had if you’re willing to pay more than $20. Hopefully the Mac collection will end up in a place where folks can still see it, but if you’re interested in grabbing a piece of history, check out all the items here.
Source: Live Auctioneers
Say hello to smarter artificial intelligence. Soon, anyway. Facebook is opening up the secret sauce that powers its bots so the public can employ and study it. This is part of the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) lab’s mission to help researchers and engineers by making its work available to all. Called fastText, the library of code is now available on Github for public use and scrutiny, and will require a compiler with “good C++11 support.”
The biggest appeal of fastText appears to be speed and efficiency. According to Facebook, fastText is, as its name suggests, much quicker than other learning methods, and can train models “on more than 1 billion words in less than 10 minutes using a standard multicore CPU.” In fact, FAIR claims that, compared to deep learning models, fastText can cut training delays from several days to a few seconds.
fastText focuses on classifying words and sentences, and produces libraries that programs can reference when executing tasks. For example, fastText can learn that the words “boy,” “girl,” “man” and “woman” refer to specific gendered nouns and store those values in a document. Then, when an AI program, like a bot, is interpreting a request, such as “Where my girls at,” it can look into the fastText-generated document and understand that the user is asking for female names.
It’s easy to see how this move makes sense for the social network. It started integrating chat bots in its Messenger app this year, and making it easier to train AI can boost the growth of third-party offerings. Considering the proliferation of AI integration in many of its competitors, such a move can also encourage developers to focus on building for Facebook’s platform first.
In a statement, FAIR said, “Ultimately, we hope that fastText will help us all design better applications and further advance the research in language understanding.” Perhaps future AI developers can look to FAIR’s research for help, which for now appears to be a far more sensible resource than Reddit.
The 1983 film WarGames portrayed a young hacker tapping into NORAD’s artificial-intelligence-driven nuclear weapons’ system. When the hit movie was screened for President Reagan, it prompted the commander in chief to ask if it were possible for the country’s defense system network to be compromised. Turns out it could. What they didn’t talk about was the science fiction of using AI to control the nation’s nuclear arsenal. It was too far-fetched to even be considered. Until now.
At Def Con, seven AI bots were pitted against one another in a game of capture the flag. The DARPA-sponsored event was more than just a fun exercise for hackers. It was meant to get more researchers and companies to focus on autonomous artificial intelligence. As part of the Department of Defense (DoD), DARPA is tasked with making sure the United States is at the forefront of this emerging field.
While the country may currently be mired in a ground wars against insurgents and extremist groups, the DoD is looking at future skirmishes. The department’s long-term artificial intelligence plans are focused more on conflicts with countries like Russia, China and North Korea than terrorism. “Across the military services and the leadership we see people really starting to focus on the next generation of capabilities if we are to deter — and defeat if necessary — not the kind of terrorist organizations we’ve been dealing with but the peer adversaries,” DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar said.
With that in mind, the Department of Defense has introduced its third offset strategy. When faced with new tactical issues, the United States comes up with plans to stay ahead of its adversaries. The military’s first offset strategy was the buildup of nuclear arms. The second, the creation of smarter missiles and more reliance on reconnaissance and espionage. It’s a long-term plan that focuses on cyberwarfare, autonomy and how humans and machines will work together on the battlefield. We’ve entered into an AI arms race. “Our intelligence suggests that our adversaries are already contemplating this move. We know that China is investing heavily in robotics and autonomy. The Russian Chief of the General Staff (Valery) Gerasimov recently said that the Russian military is preparing to fight on a roboticized battlefield.” Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said during a National Security Forum talk.
Although drone strikes are currently piloted by humans thousands of miles away from a target, in the future, these unmanned craft (airborne, undersea and ground-based) will be largely autonomous and probably part of a swarm that’s simply overseen by humans. DARPA is already researching two self-flying devices. One is the CODE (Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment) program that aims to create an autonomous aircraft that can be used in hostile airspace not just for reconnaissance — but also airstrikes. The other is the Gremlins fleet of small aircraft that can be deployed and retrieved mid-air.
But to keep that horde of flying robots in the air, the DoD will need to work on making sure they can consistently talk to each other. To that end, DARPA has introduced the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge. Like in the Cyber Grand Challenge, multiple teams will compete to build a machine-learning solution for radio-frequency scarcity by predicting what other RF devices and potential enemies are doing and figuring out how to best use the available spectrum.
While the government agency is offering cash prizes for the teams that help come up with a solution, DARPA is also working on the more impressive sounding Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE) program. That research will be “developing the capability to counter new and dynamic wireless communication threats in tactical environments.”
It’s a two-pronged approach to solving something that’s going to be key to keeping communications open between everything on the battlefield. But neither will be ready for battle anytime soon.
Prabhakar said that while AI is extremely powerful it’s also limited in some very important ways. Even though their statistical systems like image recognition are currently better than humans’, they’re far from perfect and “when they make mistakes, they make mistakes that no human would make.” If a system goes awry, there’s no underlying theory on why. “You don’t understand what’s happening,” Prabhakar told Engadget.
There’s also the issue of faith. At what point does the military decide to deploy something that it might not fully understand? DARPA and the DoD are trying to figure this out. “Knowing how much and in what circumstances to trust a system are some really big questions,” Prabhakar said.
Even if you trust the AI infrastructure that’s been created and believe it’ll do everything it’s supposed to, it could still be hacked. “I don’t think people fully understand yet what it means to deceive these systems” Prabhakar said. In addition to trust, DARPA thinks a lot about the potential for artificial intelligence to be hacked or tricked into veering from its mission.
A rogue drone or smart gun that’s been hacked could be devastating. It could alter the course of a mission or worse, turn on its human counterparts. Which brings us back to the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge and its bots that find and fix vulnerabilities. They’re an important part of a giant puzzle of technology that’ll pit robot against robot with human helpers.
The future of warfare will be filled with AI and robots, but it’ll be more than just autonomous drones clashing on the battlefield. It’ll include humans and computers working together to attack and defend military systems. More importantly, it’ll be a world where whoever builds the best artificial intelligence will emerge the victor.
Much like the game itself, Rez Infinite is being released in a very unorthodox manner. For example, iam8bit is publishing the game as part of a special collection with a vinyl soundtrack, special T-shirts, and collectible pins.
If you’re going to choose a game to make your publishing debut with, as iam8bit is doing here, you couldn’t do much better than Rez Infinite, a port of the cult classic Rez, originally released on the Dreamcast in 2001.
After being ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2002, it amassed followers with its unique mix of on-rails shooter action and thumping electronic beats. Rez Infinite is being remade for PlayStation VR, which should take an already unique experience and transform it into something positively transcendental, combining an excellent soundtrack with trippy visuals and audio that syncs up to your actions in-game.
The physical edition of Rez Infinite from iam8bit comes with the vinyl soundtrack mentioned above with the retrospective booklet sewn right into the two LPs and bonus 7″ cover. Complete with quotes and lore straight from creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi himself, it’s a custom-made tome that should offer a good amount of insight into the game and the history behind it.
Additionally, you’ll get two T-shirts, with one designed by Fez creator Phil Fish. A few collectible pins round things out. What this package is missing, however, is the Trance Vibrator peripheral that originally released as part of a special collector’s edition for Japanese audiences. We can dream, though.
Rez Infinite is coming out on October 13th alongside PlayStation VR. Fall can’t get here quickly enough.
Gawker Media’s long, strange legal battle is done, and so is Gawker.com — reporter JK Trotter just confirmed that the site is set to cease operations next week, after 14 years of snarking up every possible tree. The announcement comes on the heels of Univision’s $135 million bid for Gawker Media’s network of websites, which also includes Kotaku, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Jalopnik, Jezebel and our friendly rival Gizmodo.
At this point, we don’t know what Gawker’s online legacy will look like. “The near-term plans for Gawker.com’s coverage, as well as the site’s archives,” Trotter mentions, “have not yet been finalized.”
Speaking of things that haven’t been finalized, the fate of Univision’s deal hasn’t been set in stone yet either. A New York bankruptcy court will pass judgment on the offer later today, and after that, the $135 will hang in the air while Gawker Media appeals the verdict of its case against Hulk Hogan. What’s more, the question of Gawker’s continued existence hung over the entire process — Univision has been steadily growing its online assets by acquiring satire site The Onion and The Root, an online magazine dedicated to African-American culture. The rest of Gawker’s network could bring plenty of new eyeballs to Univision’s advertisers, but Gawker.com’s reputation was likely considered too toxic to salvage by its new corporate overlords.
Gawker might soon go dark, but the conversations it sparked will live on. If nothing else, media wonks will continue to talk about Peter Thiel’s decisive financial and legal retribution against the site, and the precedents it could set for independent journalism that deals with people in power.
Sprint has announced a new plan called Unlimited Freedom that offers unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data for $60 per month. A second line can be added for $40 per month, while up to eight more lines can be added for an additional $30 per month each. The total cost for a family of four, for example, would be $160 per month, the same price as T-Mobile’s new ONE plan for that many lines.
Unlimited Freedom automatically optimizes select content, limiting video streams to up to 480p resolution, gaming up to 2 Mbps, and music streams up to 500 kbps. The carrier did not specify if tethering is included, or if customers will be able to upgrade to unlimited HD video and music for an additional monthly charge. T-Mobile ONE offers unlimited HD video for an additional $25 per month.
Sprint also announced that its prepaid subsidiary Boost Mobile is launching a new Unlimited Unhook’d plan featuring unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data, with the same content optimizations, for $50 per month. Up to four additional lines can be added for $30 per month each. The new plans from both Sprint and Boost Mobile are available for new and existing customers starting tomorrow.
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