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4
Sep

Aukey’s $16 PowerHub Mini replaces a single outlet with six charging slots


Power multiple devices at once!

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Using coupon code AUKEYSA1 during checkout, you can grab Aukey’s Powerhub Mini for just $15.99, a savings of $4. It has two AC outlets and four USB ports built-in, meaning that your single outlet becomes far more valuable to you. The USB ports have a max output of 2.4A each, totaling 6A. The AiPower Adaptive Charging Technology allows the charger to automatically adapt to give your devices the fastest charge possible.

You can grab this option with six USB and twelve AC outlets for $32.99 when using coupon code AUKEYSA4. This option is far less compact and portable, but great for those with lots of devices that need to be charged!

See at Amazon

4
Sep

Get lifetime access to Rosetta Stone + a $10 Amazon gift card for $179


Broaden your horizons.

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Amazon has a one-day offer for Rosetta Stone Lifetime Access. Tons of different languages are down to $179 today. You’ll get lifetime access online and through your phone, plus a free $10 Amazon gift card. The access code is redeemed by email so you could give this as a gift to someone too.

At its least expensive, Rosetta Stone costs $7.49 per month for a 24-month subscription. It goes up incrementally for shorter subscriptions too. This is a killer deal for a lifetime subscription, especially because it has access for up to five family members, and you could take a refresher course to brush up before you go out and use your newfound skills in the wild. You’ll also get all future product updates for whatever language you select.

Rosetta Stone has been the go-to for language learning for years. It uses Dynamic Immersion to help the language stick. You’ll learn through context by seeing, hearing, speaking, reading, and writing.

See at Amazon

4
Sep

Apple Watch Led Wearables Market in Q2 2018 on Strength of LTE Models


Apple again held the top spot in the wearables market during the second quarter of 2018, shipping 4.7 million Apple Watch units and holding a 17 percent share of the overall wearable market. The new data comes from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, which states that the market as a whole was up 5.5 percent due to “gains in emerging markets.”

Markets such as Asia Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America grew 14 percent year-over-year because “basic wristbands” remain in high demand due to their low prices. On the other hand, more mature markets like North America, Japan, and Western Europe declined 6.3 percent year-over-year.

Still, IDC research analyst Jitesh Ubrani says this decline “is by no means worrisome” because the wearables market is transitioning to become “more sophisticated.” Instead of tracking basic data points like steps, calories, and workout minutes, future wearables “are well on track to become prescriptive and diagnostic tools.” Rumors related to Apple Watch fall in line with this idea, with reports describing future Apple Watch models that could include an EKG heart monitor and track blood glucose levels.

“The decline in mature markets is by no means worrisome as these markets are in the midst of transitioning to more sophisticated wearables,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

“While the previous generation of wearables was focused on providing descriptive feedback like step counts, the current and upcoming generations are far more capable and are well on track to becoming prescriptive and diagonistic tools. Surrounding these smarter wearables is a constellation of technologies and service providers that includes app developers, telcos, component makers, healthcare insitutuions and more – each poised for growth in the coming years.”

Overall, IDC says that “two key forces” were at work in Q2 2018: “stronger demand for smart wearables” and “slower decline in the basic wearables market.” IDC’s data describes a smart watch as a product like Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, while a basic wearable is something like the Fitbit Charge or Garmin Vivosport.

With this in mind, the researchers state that Apple saw continued demand for its LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 in the quarter, which came as a “welcome addition to many telco channels worldwide.” In total, Apple saw a 38.4 year-over-year growth in its Apple Watch shipments from 2017 to 2018. It should be noted that Apple itself does not report Apple Watch sales figures, so IDC’s numbers today are just estimates.


Behind Apple’s 17 percent share and 4.7 million Apple Watch shipments was Xiaomi, which owned 15.1 percent of the market and shipped 4.2 million devices in the second quarter, a growth of 19.8 percent from 2017. While Fitbit sat at third place with a 9.5 percent share and 2.7 million units shipped, this was the biggest decline tracked by IDC, dropping 21.7 percent year-over-year.

Rounding out the last two spots were Huawei at a 6.5 percent share and 1.8 million units shipped (growing 118.1 percent from the year-ago quarter) and Garmin at a 5.3 percent share and 1.5 million units shipped (up 4.1 percent). IDC says that Garmin “extended its lead over Samsung,” knocking the company out of the top five spots as Garmin’s shipment volume of smart watches eclipsed its basic wearables volume.

As smart watches continue to grow in popularity, we’re about one week away from the official unveiling of the Apple Watch Series 4, which leaked last week. The wearable will have smaller bezels with more visible screen space, and at least one new watch face that includes more complications than ever before on Apple Watch.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
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4
Sep

Apple Music Hosting Exclusive Concert in Paris Featuring Artist ‘Christine and the Queens’


As it has in the past for artists like P!nk and Shawn Mendes, Apple Music this month will host a special performance of new music from artist Christine and the Queen’s upcoming album “Chris” (via iGeneration) At the same time, those in attendance will see the exclusive debut of a new Apple Music film that goes behind-the-scenes of the making of “Chris.”

Fière et excitée de pouvoir vous présenter Chris en concert avec @AppleMusic !
Join me in Paris for an exclusive performance and a special screening of @applemusic presents : Chris. 
Pour assister au concert / Apply for free tickets here: https://t.co/VaPObTRMqK pic.twitter.com/xxXkRDrhqT

— Christ̵i̵n̵e̵ ̵a̵n̵d̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵q̵u̵e̵e̵n̵s̵ (@QueensChristine) September 4, 2018

The concert takes place on Thursday, September 13 at 7:00 p.m. local time at the Salle Pleyel concert hall in Paris, France. Following the exclusive show, the film “Apple Music Presents: Chris” will launch on the streaming service on Friday, September 14. The full new album by Christine and the Queens will then launch one week later on September 21.

Join Christine and the Queens and Apple Music for a special performance of new music from the forthcoming album Chris, and an exclusive screening of the Apple Music film of the same name – which is a look into the titular character that inspired it all.

Chris is an intimate peek into the intrepid French singer-songwriter-producer’s creative process while she writes and records her forthcoming album, a daring exploration of self and sexuality, identity and perception.

Apple Music has been increasing the number of both special performances and exclusive documentaries on its platform lately, releasing short films about Kesha’s “Rainbow” and Ed Sheeran’s “Divide” over the last couple of weeks. In May, Apple’s streaming service hosted a one-night-only Shawn Mendes concert in Los Angeles, which was recorded and uploaded to Apple Music in its entirety.

Similar to that concert, Christine and the Queen’s performance appears to be free for attendees, and those interested (over the age of 16) can navigate to this page to fill out a form and apply for tickets. According to Apple, those who win will receive a ticket for themselves and one guest.

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4
Sep

Japan preps first test for its awesome ‘space elevator’


Next time you step inside an elevator, imagine it has a button marked “space.”

It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but researchers in Japan are prepping an experiment for this month to test part of a design for an elevator between Earth and space.

Based at Shizuoka University, 80 miles west of Tokyo, the research team envisions a so-called “space elevator” as a low-cost alternative to rockets for getting astronauts and cargo to orbiting space stations way above Earth.

The experiment is the first of its kind, Japan’s Mainichi newspaper reported.

We first heard about Japan’s plan for a space elevator six years ago when construction firm Obayashi Corporation outlined an electric-powered design capable of transporting up to 30 people at a time into space.

While the two projects are separate, Obayashi has agreed to act as technical adviser for the Shizuoka team, sharing expertise gained from its own research conducted over the last few years.

This month’s experiment will involve a tiny version of the setup in which the team aims to move a motor-driven “elevator car” — essentially a small container — along a 10-meter-long cable connected between two microsatellites. Both satellites will be released from the International Space Station, with satellite-based cameras monitoring the experiment as it takes place.

If the engineers can succeed in moving the container along the cable, the achievement would take the team closer to realizing its dream of building an elevator between Earth and space.

A nine-day ride

Obayashi’s design, which is similar in many ways to the one proposed by the university team, envisions a high-strength cable stretching 22,370 miles (36,000 km) from Earth to a terminal station with laboratories and a living area. At 125 mph (200 kmh), the elevator would travel at more than twice the speed of today’s fastest elevator in China’s Shanghai Tower. And if getting too close to people in a regular elevator leaves you feeling queasy, then take note — the space elevator’s “top floor” will take nine days to reach.

The Mainichi points out that the project could cost as much as 10 trillion yen ($90 billion), but with the elevator’s operating costs estimated at around one-hundredth of that of the space shuttle, the financial benefits could be huge over time.

Obayashi already has plenty of experience in working on bold construction projects, though there’s little argument that a cosmic elevator would be its boldest to date.

But let’s not get carried away with ourselves here. Building an elevator to space is a monumental undertaking and a range of obstacles will need to be overcome for it to become a reality. These include developing a high-strength cable using carbon nanotechnology, and one that can protect against cosmic rays and incoming space debris. There’s also the question of how to fund it.

Still, we like the idea of stepping into an elevator and pressing the button marked “space,” so we hope Obayashi succeeds in meeting its (somewhat ambitious) 2050 deadline for the project.

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  • NASA wants help coming up with ways to get rid of astronauts’ space trash
  • Virgin Galactic wants to launch space tourism flights from an Italian spaceport



4
Sep

This autonomous drone ambulance concept won its creator a $20,000 prize


Vincenzo Navanteri

Quadcopters are proving to be an exciting technology in a lot of fields, none more so than emergency services where they can be sent into disaster areas to assess damage, send medical equipment, drop supplies, and help plan airlifts.

The remotely controlled flying machines have been used to lower flotation devices to struggling swimmers, while operators recently used a video stream from a drone’s on-board camera to help lead people to safety during a volcanic eruption in Hawaii.

Inspired by the positive work being performed by drones in emergency situations, Vincenzo Navanteri recently came up with a design for a quadcopter large enough to carry a person to safety.

Judges at the recent World Air Sports’ International Drones Conference were so impressed with Navanteri’s concept design that they awarded him the Prince Alvaro de Orleans-Borbon Grant, worth $20,000.

Accepting the award in Lausanne, Switzerland, the 34-year-old Italian said he’ll use the cash to help him and his team develop the autonomous air ambulance, which, in simple terms, looks like an enormous quadcopter with a stretcher on top.

The design includes an on-board camera and back-up batteries, as well as an oxygen supply unit and health-monitoring technology. Navanteri envisions a machine that can operate in all weathers and in a variety of testing situations, including earthquakes, floods, and even nuclear contamination zones.

The team’s aim is to build a self-flying machine capable of carrying a person — or emergency supplies — weighing up to 265 pounds (120 kg) at speeds of up to 68 mph (110 kmh).

Its unique technology could also see it flying non-stop for up to 95 miles (150 km). The quadcopter’s range, which is the standout feature for Navanteri, would be achieved thanks to its two gas-driven micro-turbines that generate the electricity to power the battery-driven propellers. The creator said he believes the patented technology is “revolutionary” and will help “move drones forward, away from simple 20-minute battery-life.”

Presenting the award, FAI president Frits Brink described Navanteri’s design as “innovative,” adding, “The potential for drones to do good is great, and ideas like this single-person drone ambulance show the potential. The technology underpinning this idea is real — a drone ambulance used in search and rescue is not simply a good idea, it is a realistic one too.”

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  • Watch as a ‘lifeguard drone’ rescues a swimmer struggling at sea



4
Sep

Asteroid mining is almost reality. What to know about the gold rush in space


Mining resources from asteroids may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but — at least if you believe some very smart people — it’s well on its way to becoming science fact.

What will be mined? Why would anyone want to do this? And who are the main players in this (literal) space? Read on for a beginner’s guide to all things asteroid mining.

I’m still not convinced. This is seriously a real thing?

Well, with that attitude it won’t be! To answer your question: no, it’s not happening yet — but don’t count it out, either. With resources on Earth set to become increasingly scarce, it makes sense that we look further afield.

Artist’s illustration of Deep Space Industries’ Harvestor-class spacecraft for asteroid mining. Deep Space Industries

Depending on their type, asteroids can contain everything from water (useful for long-term space exploration missions) to nickel and cobalt or even valuable metals like gold or platinum. These are often in much higher concentrations than we would find on Earth.

Around 9,000 known asteroids are currently traveling in orbit close to the Earth, and some 1,000 new ones are discovered each year. According to estimates, a one-kilometer diameter asteroid may contain up to 7,500 tons of platinum, with a value of upwards of $150 billion. That’s a reason to get excited in itself.

So is this going to be the next gold rush?

With that kind of money to be made, it certainly could be. While the upfront investment costs means this won’t be quite the free-for-all of the famous 19th century gold rush, there are plenty of big names — ranging from Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos — who are very, very interested.

Think of it as panning for gold, except with the pans replaced by multimillion dollar space launches.

Isn’t that cost a limiting factor?

It very well could be. Simply put: the pricey part of this isn’t the R&D that goes into working out how to do asteroid mining. Nor is it the launches that take place to actually the achieve the goal. Instead, the really expensive bit is getting the materials back to Earth once we’ve mined them.

Given the astronomical amount of expenditure this will involve, there needs to be something seriously valuable to offset the cost of transporting it.

That’s without mentioning the fact that introducing a surplus of new precious materials on Earth would have the effect of greatly lowering its market value.

Who are the big players in this field?

Considering the price tags attached to this mission, a surprisingly large number of companies are currently working in this field. Alphabet’s Larry Page is backing Planetary Resources, although it’s worth mentioning that earlier this year the company was forced to make layoffs and delay its proposed 2020 prospecting mission after failing to raise much-needed money.

Deep Space Industries is another leader, with plans to develop technologies which will make it easier for governments and other private companies to gain access to orbit. Deep Space Industries has said that much of what it plans to mine would be used in space, rather than brought back to Earth (thereby avoiding one of the biggest costs.)

Then there are the likes of TransAstra Corporation, the U.K.’s Asteroid Mining Corporation, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket system, and more. Some days it seems you can throw a space rock without hitting one of these companies!

How would the mining actually be done?

Nobody has actually done this yet, so it’s still largely hypothetical. A lot of the same mining technologies which are used on Earth could presumably be employed for extracting materials, depending on their specific requirements. Water, meanwhile, could be extracted through heating materials and then distilling the water vapor.

At present, a number of different approaches are being explored. TransAstra Corporation, for instance, wants to use highly concentrated sunlight to break up asteroids for extraction.

What are the big bottlenecks?

Broadly speaking, there are two: the technical challenges and the legal ones. Right now, companies are coming up with ways to gather information about the asteroids in our orbit so as to determine their composition. After this, they will need to establish the most cost-effective way to launch a craft capable of carrying out the mining extraction itself.

Signing of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. United Nations

The legal challenge is every bit as thorny. Right now, we’re at the earliest stages for ruling who has the right to mine certain asteroids. The United Nations’ 1967 Outer Space Treaty has been signed by 106 countries — but this doesn’t address the topic in any great detail. In the U.S., congress signed the Space Act of 2015 into law several years back. This gives U.S. space firms permission to own and sell the natural resources they mine in space — asteroids included.

Make no mistake, however: This is going to keep lawyers every bit as busy as it will aerospace engineers. And especially if and when the money starts rolling in.

When will this happen?

That’s the $150 billion per asteroid question. J.L. Galache, an advisor to Deep Space Industries, thinks we’ll see the first asteroid mining in 10-20 years. Others predict considerably longer than that. Will it happen in your lifetime? We certainly hope so.

Sign me up. How do I get involved?

Got your eyes on an asteroid-mining fortune, eh? While we’re still a couple of decades (at least) away from the first rocks being mined, there are still ways to get involved. In August this year, the Colorado School of Mines launched the world’s first “Space Resources” degree course — offering proper certification in this sci-fi-sounding topic.

“I would compare this to aviation,” Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources and Research Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Colorado School of Mines, told Digital Trends. “The first academic programs started just a few years after the Wright brothers [pioneered the first airplanes]. People realized quickly that this was no longer just the field of daredevils and people looking for entertainment; it was going to become very important. The same thing happened with academic aerospace programs shortly after the launch of Sputnik. Even though going to the moon looked far away, there was a realization that this would happen. Universities have to be ahead of the curve so they can start preparing people to enter [new] fields.”

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  • Airbus to build Mars rover to get first soil samples back to Earth



4
Sep

Belkin’s special machine puts an end to one hateful aspect of phone ownership



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belkin trueclear pro review

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

No-one, absolutely no-one, wants the task of attaching a screen protector to their phone. It’s never simple, and it almost inevitably ends up with dust, hair, or air bubbles between it and the screen. Belkin, the popular mobile accessory manufacturer, has a cool solution we tried out at IFA 2018. It doesn’t just handle the process of fitting the protector, but it avoids all the common pitfalls too.

Belkin already has a range of glass screen protectors for the current Apple iPhone range, and we got a demonstration on the iPhone X. To simplify the application of the screen protectors, and make its products more attractive, Belkin invested in the TrueClear Pro, a machine that does all the work. It’s the company’s own design, and you’ll find it in some Apple Stores now, with more coming to T-Mobile stores in the U.S., and a selection of retailers in the U.K. including John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse, and soon Vodafone stores too.

Think of the device as one of those sandwich makers you see in coffee shops, except instead of bread and a yummy filling being put inside, it’s your phone and a shiny new screen protector. It’s operated by the staff of the store you visit, and isn’t something you personally purchase. After removing the old screen protector and cleaning the screen on our iPhone X, it was placed upside down on a custom tray designed specifically for the phone, which holds it in place with the new screen protector. What happens next is almost magic.

The top is closed, the screen protector backing is pulled from the front of the machine, and the top is opened back up. The protector still has a plastic cover over the top so the glass does not get scratched while the air bubbles are pushed out. This gets ripped off, and it’s done. That’s it. No worrying it’s not on straight, no cat hair underneath, and no swearing as you realize you’ve made a mess and wasted $30.

Perfect fit

We got the ScreenForce Tempered Curve Screen Protector, which costs $40/35 British pounds, and fits the iPhone X perfectly — right down to matching the curved sides of the screen itself. It’s just 0.33mm thin, has a hardness rating of 9H — the highest you can get — and resists fingerprints. It feels very close to the iPhone X’s screen itself, unlike many plastic screen protectors. After it was fitted, there was a small air bubble left at the bottom of the screen, which disappeared the day after. So far, we’re enjoying having it on our phone.

Belkin’s screen protectors did cause some controversy late last year, when previous versions of its InvisiGlass Ultra covers broke quickly after installation. Updated versions returned to Apple Stores in February this year. We did not try out the InvisiGlass version. There are also questions over the effectiveness of screen protectors at all; but we have less of a problem when they don’t ruin the tactility of the original screen underneath, which the Belkin ScreenForce seems to avoid.

Belkin told us it recommends retailers with the TrueClear Pro machine charge only for the screen protector, and offer the fitting service for free. Some retailers may not follow this and charge for a more premium service. Almost regardless, having the screen protector fitted perfectly by someone else removes one of the most hateful aspects of smartphone ownership.

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4
Sep

Huawei’s new software and chip combo is made to make the Mate 20 fly



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Our picture of how the Huawei Mate 20 will be is almost complete. Leaks have shown off the potential design, we know the Kirin 980 processor will be inside, and now we know the software it will run — Huawei’s new EMUI 9.0 user interface, which is built over the top of Android 9.0 Pie. And it’s going to be fast.

Dr. Chenglu Wang, president of software engineering at Huawei, and Mao Yumin, director of software engineering technology and planning, told Digital Trends EMUI 9.0 paired with the Kirin 980 will make the upcoming Mate 20 absolutely fly. Dr. Wang explained the data publicly shared relates to EMUI 9.0’s performance across all Kirin chipsets, but performance will increase a lot when paired with the Kirin 980

“The Kirin 980 chipset with the new EMUI 9.0 will have amazing performance,” he said proudly, and referenced the forthcoming Mate 20 smartphone directly.

Huawei is very proud of EMUI’s performance generally, from how it balances CPU power consumption to how it learns user behavior, along with app optimization and the ability of GPU Turbo for gaming. It is all possible due to Huawei creating both the chipset and the software.

“Others just have the software, or just have the chip, like Qualcomm,” Dr. Wang said. “This is our advantage.”

New look and features

What’s new in EMUI 9.0? The concept behind the software is to create something simple, enjoyable, and consistent. EMUI is six years old now, and has grown considerably in users. In 2016 it had 190 million users, but now there are 350 million global daily active users. While EMUI 9.0 has been announced, Huawei has not shared all the new features yet. What we do know is there are changes to the system layout, new sounds directly influenced by nature, new artwork, better damping when sliding through menus, and improved ergonomics in all the basic apps.

Huawei EMUIEMUI 9.0 Beta Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Greater changes include the introduction of GPU Turbo, which improves games using software and hardware enhancements, a password vault that securely stores passwords in a secure zone on the device and not in the cloud, and a digital wellbeing feature. There are some changes you may not instantly notice too, including a consistent look for buttons across the user interface, making it simpler to use.

The other main addition is a gesture control system for what Huawei describes as devices with immersive screens, which refers to bezel-less and button-free front panels. We took a deeper look at this, and some of the other changes, to understand what goes into making an Android user interface used by hundreds of millions across the world.

Gestures, Assistant, and Wellbeing

EMUI’s gesture controls are similar to the systems we’ve seen on the iPhone X and phones from Vivo and Oppo. Sliding left and right on the screen moves forward and back when browsing, for example, and back through open apps. A cute arrow icon pops in at the side of the screen when you do this, which is genuinely helpful, as other Android systems often leave it to chance that you are getting the gesture right. Slide up from the bottom of the screen to go back home or to enter the open app helicopter view. It worked fluidly on the test device we saw, and neatly flowed between screens and apps.

It replaces the Android soft keys at the bottoms of the screen, which makes summoning Google Assistant a problem, because there is no virtual home button.

“Google doesn’t welcome this kind of innovation, because there is no entrance point for Assistant,” Yumin said.

Huawei EMUIEMUI 9.0 Beta Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

While this is fine in China, where Assistant is not used, it’s more of an issue internationally. Therefore, Huawei will make the EMUI 9.0 gesture control system an option internationally, and not the default. It’s the same sensible decision it takes regarding the app tray too. With the gestures activated, Assistant is called up by voice. However, Huawei says in the future a hardware button may be used on immersive devices, or by squeezing the phone like the Pixel 2 or HTC U12 Plus.

EMUI 9.0 also features a digital wellbeing system, similar to what we’ve seen introduced by Google in Android 9.0 Pie, and by Apple’s Screen Time in iOS 12. Yumin explained why this is beneficial: “Android 9.0 Pie’s digital wellbeing feature is only available on Pixel and Android One phones right now, and is not available in China at all.”

”Manufacturers cannot get this framework from Google,” Wang said, emphasizing the importance of developing its own version.

“At present the ideas [In Google’s version and Huawei’s] are similar,” Yumin admitted, but she did point out some added benefits. For example, the feature in EMUI provides statistics individually for each app, and over a longer period of time.

Balance

Talking about EMUI in general, the enormity of the task for Huawei in making the software suitable for both China and international users. Huawei has global ambitions, Dr. Wang said, adding that underneath the Chinese version and the international version is the same, but the user interface we see is different.

“Born fast, stay fast, the artificial intelligence, and the GPU Turbo are all the same,” Yumin said. “Chinese users like icons across all the screens, and international users like the app drawer.”

Huawei EMUIEMUI 9.0 Beta Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Carriers also try to influence the look and use of EMUI, and Huawei includes a feature where customizations are downloaded and installed when a certain carrier’s SIM card is inserted, to meet their requirements. That’s a user interface that must meet the needs to Chinese and international users, plus carriers around the world too.

Huawei has to maintain a balance here, because it works with carriers on the infrastructure side too. It’s little surprise there are more than 3,000 people working on EMUI. Dr. Wang is pragmatic about the situation. “It’s a challenge, but at the same time it’s a chance to increase our technical capabilities.”

Changes, and testing

EMUI 9.0 has new artwork, and a consistent look across the system, with significant changes over previous versions. How about all those menus, buttons, and options in the Settings menu? There were 940 in EMUI 8, but in EMUI 9.0 they’ve been reduced by 10 percent to 843. For example, the wallpaper options are on a single screen, not under separate menus, and to change the clock from analog to digital, you just tap it. Sensible changes, so why have they not been implemented before?

“It’s very complicated,” Dr. Wang told us, explaining how preferences regarding the haptics, the screen changes, the size of the tabs, and other sensory aspects of the user interface vary from person-to-person, and even age group. It’s finding the right balance that’s hard, right down to syncing the response from eye-to-finger. “It needs a lot of testing. It’s not a theory.”

“The industry doesn’t guide us. We use A/B tests, and gather feedback from end users,” Yumin said. All ages are included in the random test groups, and can total 10,000 people. Huawei is also careful not to introduce massive changes to the user interface, as this can frustrate established EMUI users.

While this process is complete for EMUI 9.0, there is still final testing to be done, and Huawei will open up the software as a beta very soon. A download will be available for the Huawei P20, P20 Pro, a Mate 10, or a Mate 10 Pro, plus the Honor 10, Honor View 10, and the Honor Play. Huawei’s EMUI 9.0 will make its debut on the Mate 20, which will be revealed at an event on October 16.

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4
Sep

Samsung wants to give new features to midrange phones before flagships


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Samsung is changing its strategy for its midrange phones in order to attract a younger audience and move harder into developing markets, according to an interview with CNBC.

DJ Koh, president of mobile communications at Samsung, said that Samsung will be changing the way it deals with mobile technological advancements. Specifically, it will now be looking to bring more premium features previously only available in flagship phones like the Galaxy Note 9 or the Galaxy S9 to lower-priced, midrange devices like the Galaxy A8 — and may even look at giving midrange phones new features before flagship phones.

“In the past, I brought the new technology and differentiation to the flagship model and then moved to the mid-end,” Koh said to CNBC. “But I have changed my strategy from this year to bring technology and differentiation points starting from the mid-end”. He also mentioned that Samsung would consider launching more than one midrange model per year, if that helped to boost sales.

But with Samsung sat atop the smartphone sales, why is it feeling the need to change a clearly winning strategy? The answer is that many developed markets are reaching “peak smartphone.” This year saw a slump in sales for the Galaxy S9, and while it’s tempting to blame the S9’s lack of massive innovation on the Galaxy S8‘s formula, this could also be due to a larger change in the marketplace. The International Data Corporation confirmed that smartphone sales had slumped in the first part of 2018 — a change that Samsung saw coming.

Smartphones are lasting longer than ever before, so not everyone is seeing the need to upgrade regularly — and that’s putting the kibosh on growth in certain markets. But there are areas where growth is still occurring — markets that crave lower-cost, high-specification handsets. Companies like Huawei, Honor, and Oppo have traditionally ruled these areas with high-spec low-cost phones, and that strategy has led to Huawei overtaking Apple as the world’s second-largest phone manufacturer.

By changing its strategy with lower-cost midrange phones, Samsung is hoping to barge into that marketplace that Huawei, Honor, and others have traditionally enjoyed — and it’s not just developing markets that encompass this either. Younger users who might not be able to afford the latest flagship phones may also be swayed by the idea of a lower-priced Samsung handset with premium features like the DeX desktop mode.

Regardless of what Samsung’s intentions are, this is a positive move for the market as a whole, and we look forward to seeing a premium-midrange phone from Samsung.

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