The past year or so has been one of the most interesting periods for smartphone design since the early days of iOS and Android. After the bezel wars of a few years ago, we’re now seeing companies explore wackier form factors that break the typical. We’ve seen phones that can fold and phones that can roll, so it was only a matter of time until somebody combined the two.
That’s precisely what TCL has done with its new “Fold ‘n Roll” concept. Behold (start around the 30-minute mark):
The device has a hinge that can both fold as well as unfurl the flexible screen tucked inside the body of the device, going from a 6.87-inch phone to a 10-inch tablet. It also appears to feature a stylus, at the bottom of the device, making it enticing for scribbling on the go.
Now, I should make it clear the Fold ‘n Roll is just a concept device. TCL didn’t give any specs or time frame for release. For all we know, this is little more than something marketing came up with to add a bit of pizzazz to TCL’s presentation; the company did not show off a working prototype, only renders.
The device also features an ‘outer’ screen, which means it’s more likely to get damaged with a pliable display like this.
Still, I absolutely love the idea. It gives you a bit more flexibility over your aspect ratio and form-factor than a folding or rollable phone on its own, but mostly, it just feels like the type of futuristic phones we might see in a sci-fi movie.
TCL does say it has a folding phone on the way this year, just not this one. One for 2022, perhaps?
We’ve got bad news for folks who use the Google Shopping mobile app on iOS and Android: Its days are numbered.
Google confirmed to 9to5Google on Friday that the bespoke Shopping mobile app would no longer be supported “within the next few weeks,” per a company spokesperson. The apps themselves will apparently work through the month of June, but anyone who still uses them as a primary source of online shopping should probably prepare for a world in which that will no longer be possible.
The good news here is that none of that functionality is actually going away. Google Shopping also exists in web form and Google’s putting all its effort into that going forward. It’s simply a matter of opening Chrome instead of opening the Shopping app now.
Google Shopping’s Android app used to be known as Express until a rebrand in 2019. Before Google confirmed the app’s impending death late last week, users started experiencing “Something went wrong” error messages that directed them to visit the web version instead. Regardless of where it lives, Google will keep building out features like trying on makeup using augmented reality, which came in an update in December.
Nothing is actually being lost here in the grand scheme of things, but we figured we’d flag this for Google Shopping users just in case they open the app one day and find a digital ghost town. You better get used to doing all of that business in Chrome instead.
Sony is revealing its new VR controllers for the PS5 today. The orb-shaped controllers look more like typical VR controllers than existing PlayStation Move motion controllers, and they also include the same adaptive trigger technology found on the DualSense PS5 controller. Each controller has tensions in the triggers, and Sony is aiming to use this tech in future VR games.
The controllers also have haptic feedback, and finger touch detection that will let them detect fingers without having to press areas where you rest your thumb, index, or middle fingers. “This enables you to make more natural gestures with your hands during gameplay,” says Hideaki Nishino, head of platform planning and management at PlayStation.
Naturally, these controllers will also include tracking to Sony’s new VR headset via a ring at the bottom of the controller. These certainly look far improved over what’s currently available on the PS Move controllers, with better ergonomics, too.
“SIE’s Product, Engineering, and Design teams have collaborated to build our new VR controller from the ground up with a goal of making a huge leap from current-gen VR gaming,” says Nishino. “Prototypes of our new VR controller will be in the hands of the development community soon, and we can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with and how the controller helps bring their imagination to life!”
Sony hasn’t shown off the design of its next-gen VR headset for the PS5 just yet, but the company did reveal it has an improved field of view, resolution, and even a single cord to make it easier to use. Sony isn’t planning to launch its VR headset for the PS5 in 2021, but it’s clear the company is getting ready to test it with game developers soon.
There’s no doubt that a strong speedy internet connection has been nothing short of a blessing amid the pandemic. It has helped people successfully settle into a rhythm of remote working, served as a source of entertainment, helped everyone stay connected to the outside world, and more. A high-speed internet connection has become a must-have and people are relying on it more now than ever. And what is better than having the fastest 4G out there.
Vi powered by GIGAnet, has consistently emerged as the fastest 4G in India in terms of both downloads and uploads, as per Ookla’s Jul-Sept as well as the Oct-Dec 2020 report. For almost every activity that one performs on the internet, fast download and upload speeds are some of the most important factors to consider. While download speed impacts the performance of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc, the upload speed is necessary for smooth video call, immersive gaming, photo sharing, and more. In a nutshell, binge, stream, video call, go live faster and seamlessly with the fastest network.
Vi is a future-ready network, built on a foundation of 5G architecture. It has India’s largest deployment of ma-MIMOs which helps provide 5G like experience already and is also the first telecom operator to launch Dynamic Spectrum Reframing. Additionally, it is also India’s largest cloud deployment and offers low latency, making it ideal for real-time applications and hyper-connected use-cases. All of this only ensures that you will be able to enjoy India’s fastest 4G – Vi when & where it matters.
Given the breakneck speed at which people operate today, it’s important to have an internet connection that can match up with that fast pace and get things done quickly in life. Not to forget, the speedy internet has truly been a great pillar of support during the pandemic and has added great value to different people’s lives during these unusual times.
Instagram’s efforts to combat cyber bullying took a more advanced approach in 2019 when it introduced an artificial intelligence-driven tool designed to detect offensive comments and persuade people to make their comments less hurtful. Last year, the Facebook-owned service made it possible for users to bulk delete comments they would find abusive.
However, Instagram doesn’t currently use similar technology to monitor and prevent hate speech and bullying in Direct Messages (DMs), noting that these conversations are private. Well, Instagram has finally announced new changes to how it addresses abusive messages and penalizes people who send them. These measures are introduced in the wake of racist attacks on footballers in the UK, including Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe, and Lauren James from Manchester United.
Before, users who sent DMs that violated Instagram’s rules would only be prevented from using that feature for a set period. Moving forward, the same violation will result in account removal. And if someone tries to set up a new account in order to circumvent Instagram’s rules, the same penalty applies.
Instagram also vows to work with UK law enforcers when it receives legal requests from authorities for information related to hate speech cases. There are restrictions, though, for legally invalid requests.
The service is also seeking input from its community as part of an effort to develop a new capability that will address abusive messages users see in their DMs. It’s not thoroughly clear how this upcoming feature will work, but Instagram is planning to release it in the next few months.
In addition, Instagram will soon allow everyone to disable DMs from people they don’t follow, a capability that’s already available to business and creator accounts as well as personal accounts in a few territories. Of course, users can already switch off tags or mentions and block users who send them unwanted DMs. That said, the latest capabilities expand how people control their experience on the platform.
The data has been released by Sensor Tower and reveals that Telegram is followed by TikTok came and then by Signal and Facebook. WhatsApp has now dropped to the fifth position from third position last month.
The Telegram was the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide for January 2021 with more than 63 million installs, 3.8 times its downloads in January 2020. The countries that have the largest number of TikTok installs came from China at 17 per cent, followed by the United States at 10 per cent, while Signal, Facebook, and WhatsApp rounded out the top five most installed non-gaming apps worldwide for the month.
“Our estimates include downloads for the App Store and Google Play worldwide between January 1, 2021 and January 31, 2021. Apple apps and Google pre-installed apps are excluded. We report unique installs only. Android estimates do not include third-party stores. Figures represent aggregate installs of all app versions, ex: Facebook and Facebook Lite,” states the Sensor Tower report.
After WhatsApp, the sixth position is taken by Instagram followed by Zoom, MX TakaTak, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger.
Google has launched a new YouTube Progressive Web App (PWA), which enables the website to work like an app on your phone. PWA support was earlier added to YouTube Music and YouTube TV.
Google had recently announced that it’s bringing its Stadia Cloud gaming service on iOS as a PWA. Google Developers say that PWAs use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience. “They evolve from pages in browser tabs to immersive, top-level apps, maintaining the web’s low friction at every moment,” the company says in a blog post.
When on YouTube.com on Google Chrome or any other browser, a small plus (+) icon appears in the address bar, which prompts users to “Install app”. The is different from the browser’s manual overflow menu ‘Install’ option which will install the YouTube app on your device and has been there since a while.
Clicking Install will launch YouTube in a new window that lacks the address bar and other UI controls in order to provide a more dedicated experience. There is also a YouTube shortcut in the app launcher for quick access.
YouTube TV had got PWA support in January last year and YouTube Music got the same in October 2019. In November 2020, Google announced that its cloud gaming service will finally come to iOS, but will be a PWA instead of a full-blown Google Stadia app.
In 2018, Google Photos was made available as a PWA. Twitter additionally launched its PWA on the Microsoft Store for cellular and desktop platforms in 2018.
Google says that a Progressive Web App uses the app shell model to provide app-style navigations and interactions and fits any form factor, desktop, mobile, tablet, or “whatever is next.”
Google Play Store Now Has A New Icon That Shows You App Download Trends.
The trends are represented by an upward-moving or a downward moving arrows that look somewhat similar to the icon denoting the rise or fall of stock prices in markets.
The new icons appear next to the apps under Google Play Store’s top charts list. Although the list (say top free apps) is already arranged in descending order, the new icons indicate whether it would stay in the same position for longer.
The new trending icons are currently showing up on Google Play Store India’s top free app list that includes MX Tak Tak in the first position, followed by Moj short video, Signal, Telegram, and Snake Video.
While the top five here remain steady, notice the upward moving icon next to Name Ringtone Maker and Snapchat denoting its rise in downloads or popularity. Moving down the current chart the Sharechat app on 11th position seems to have reached its saturation point and now seeing a drop in daily download numbers.
Those apps on the list which are not represented by any icons to their left likely indicate that these apps are not witnessing any change in trends. Although the new icons are quite self-explanatory, Google is yet to officially talks about them on any of its communication channels.
The Google Play Store does not provide any details over the exact number of downloads other than plain lists such as top free apps, top paid apps, and so on. Notably, as the top free app list is updated almost every day, the new icons also do not reveal exactly how many slots the app has moved up or down.
Since it is a server-side update, users don’t need to do anything on their own. You can check the availability of ‘trending’ icons by opening the Google Play Store app and navigating to the top row of tabs > tapping on top charts > tapping on different charts.
Samsung just announced the Galaxy Buds Pro that is the company’s take on the AirPods Pro. The Korean giant might, however, still have a lot of ground to cover to catch up, especially when it comes to support from content providers and streaming services.
Apple’s AirPods Pro and AirPods Max already have a few of those popular services supporting their Spatial Audio feature and now it seems that Netflix will finally be catching up soon.
Spatial Audio is the marketing term Apple uses to name these AirPods’ special implementation of immersive sound, a feature that Samsung calls “360-degree audio” on the Galaxy Buds Pro. It uses a combination of gyro sensors and directional audio to track users’ heads and the position of the iPhone or iPad. The effect is that sound feels like their coming from the right position even when you move your head around.
Of course, this doesn’t happen magically for all kinds of audio content and has to be enabled by sources separately. Spatial Audio is currently supported by Apple’s own Apple TV, of course, but also by Disney+ and Hulu. That short list conspicuously leaves out streaming king Netflix, but that may not be the case soon.
According to an unknown insider (via iPhonesoft), Netflix has actually been working on that feature since December. It might be ready to launch by Spring this year but the catalog will reportedly start out quite small. Netflix could time it with the announcement of new movies and shows that will take better advantage of Spatial Audio.
That said, Netflix subscribers shouldn’t get too excited yet as the requirements might be a bit high. Of course, you need an AirPods Pro or AirPods Max but you might also need to be on the service’s Ultra HD tier to use the feature, seeing as this is the same tier that offers Dolby Atmos surround sound.
As the all-digital CES 2021 comes to an end, we got the official best of CES 2021 awards. This year too, the event was hosted by Engadget and Verizon. So here are the official best of Consumer Electronics Show 2021 award winners and all you need to know about them.
1. GoodMaps Explore: Best Accessibility Tech
The GoodMaps Explore is an indoor navigation app for visually impaired persons and first responders. With navigation accuracy down to just a few feet, it can tell people what’s ahead and help them navigate indoors safely.
GoodMaps uses LiDAR technology for accuracy and eliminates the need to install additional beacons for indoor navigation. It is also convenient for people looking for an accurate map of an indoor venue or location. The GoodMaps Explore is a free app for the blind and first responders to help them navigate indoors and outdoors.
2. Omron VitalSight: Best Digital Healthcare and Fitness Product
The Omron VitalSight is a kit with a blood pressure monitor, a bodyweight scale, and a data hub to monitor your health. This remote patient monitoring program sends an alert to your physician if your vital signs indicate a heart attack or a stroke.
VitalSight not only sends this data to the physician but also manages billing, reimbursement, and other processes. You can contact the company about VitalSight via the company website.
3. Mudra Band: Best Wearable At CES 2021
Makers of the Mudra Band call it a wrist-worn brain to device interface. It is a smart band that you can attach to your existing Apple Watch and enable gesture controls. You can snooze an alarm, answer or reject calls, and do much more using this band.
It uses neural technology to convert your finger movements to gestures for the watch. The Apple Watch integration makes it one of the best wearable devices as it adds more functionality to it. You can order the Mudra Band at $179 from the company website.
4. Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen: Best Transport Technology
The huge 55-inch Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen is a fusion of three screens across your car’s dashboard. According to the manufacturer, it is Mercedes-Benz’s largest and most intelligent human-machine interface.
It packs an octa-core processor, 24GB RAM, and 46.4 GB/second RAM bandwidth for a smooth operation. While the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) tech was first introduced in the A-class cars in 2018, the latest iteration will come to its upcoming luxury car, the EQS.
5. Sony 360 Reality Audio Speakers: Best Home Theater Product
As the name suggests, the Sony 360 Reality Audio Speakers come with ambient room-filling sound. With 3 up-firing speakers, 3 mid-speakers, and a sub-woofer, it’s a complete ambient home-theatre system.
You can connect and stream music on the Sony 360 Audio speakers via Bluetooth or WiFi. The Sony RA5000 speaker is also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can use voice commands to control the speaker.
6. Samsung JetBot 90 AI+: Best Connected Home Product
Samsung introduced the JetBot 90 AI+ as a cleaning robot that doubles up as a pet monitor for your home. It has a docking station where the bot automatically empties its bin, and you only need to change the garbage back in every month or two.
Powered by AI and packing a LiDAR scanner, the Samsung JetBot 90 AI+ can thoroughly clean the house and avoid bumping into your pets and tables while doing so.
7. LG Rollable: Best Phone Or Mobile Device
This one was in the rumors long before LG decided to finally unveil it. The LG Rollable is true to its name, a phone with a rollable screen. While it isn’t out yet, the company gave a teaser of the phone’s design at its press conference at the CES.
From its teaser video, we can tell that the LG Rollable phone would look like a regular smartphone till you command it to roll out the extra screen. Seeing the way it is, LG can use a compact form factor to accommodate a large screen.
8. LG C1 OLED: Best TV Product
The 2021 Best TV product award was bagged by the LG C1 OLED. With a bumped-up brightness, better image processing, and 5.1.2 surround sound, the LG 2021 OLED lineup is a sweet deal. It will pack the Alpha 9 Gen 4 AI processors to optimize your viewing experience.
The television will come from 48-83-inch screen sizes and you can mount it on the wall or keep it on the provided gallery stand. You can check out the complete details about the LG C1 on the company website.
9. AMD Ryzen 5000: Best Gaming Product
AMD has been making a name in the laptop gaming market for quite some time now. With added features like the Precision Boost Overdrive, the AMD Ryzen 5000 makes up for an unbeatable laptop chip for gamers.
Designed on a 7nm “Zen 3” architecture, the AMD Ryzen 5000 comes with up to 16 cores, and a maximum boosted clock speed of 4.9GHz. You can check out the complete 5000 series lineup here.
10. Kohler Stillness Bath: Most Unexpected Product
This pleasant surprise from Kohler is all about relaxing and letting go of the stress. The American brand’s bathing experience bagged the most unexpected product award as the Best of CES 2021. Kohler Stillness Bath is an inspired combination of aroma, lighting, water, and steam. Unlike any other bathtub, Kohler is trying to deliver a luxury experience with this one.
11. Samsung Health Smart Trainer: Best Sports Tech
With the idea of turning your home into a personal gym, the Samsung Health Smart Trainer is a virtual personal trainer. It tracks, analyzes, and tells you to correct your workout posture. The trainer also gives feedback in terms of rep counts and calories burnt.
In its virtual demonstration, Samsung has shown the trainer integrated into your Samsung smart TV and analyzing body postures using a web camera. It uses Bixby voice controls for an interactive training session.
12. ASUS ZenBook Duo: Best PC Or Tablet
This came as a surprise to many but the ASUS ZenBook Duo has a practical design when it comes to having a secondary display on a laptop. It is one of the more professional laptops from ASUS. The company also offers the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, which is a dual-screen gaming laptop.
With up to an Intel Core i7 chip, the laptop packs 2GB GDDR5 graphic memory, a Full HD 16:9 display, up to 16GB RAM, and up to 1TB PCIe storage. You can buy the ZenBook Duo starting at $988.99 from Amazon.
13. Sony AirPeak: Best Robot Or Drone
The CES has always been great when it comes to robots and drones. The best of CES 2021 in terms of drones was bagged by the Sony AirPeak. This drone is capable of flying with a full-frame Sony Alpha camera, which makes it the ideal film-making drone.
It is also the smallest drone to be able to do so. While there are not many details available on the product, the company will make it available in 2021 itself.
14. Samsung Solar Cell Remote: Best Sustainability Product
Samsung seems to have struck all the right tunes at the CES 2021. While the company isn’t the first to bring out solar cell remotes, the initiative of bundling them with the 2021 TV lineup is what earned Samsung this award.
A solar cell remote can recharge itself via sunlight or indoor lighting, saving the hassle of replacing batteries and taking a more sustainable approach.
15. AMD Ryzen 5000 Laptop Chips: Best Of The Best Award
With the bleeding edge technology and innovation, it is no doubt the AMD Ryzen 5000 series bagged this award at the CES 2021. AMD has come up as an alternative to the Intel chips, and the new Ryzen chips are the reason for it to come up at the top this year.
As Apple, Intel, and AMD compete for the market now, the users are likely to get better value for money and performance options in the laptop category.
16. Razer Blade 15: CES People’s Choice Award
The sleek gaming laptop from Razer is the CES People’s Choice award winner this year. The Razer Blade 15 packs an 8 core Intel i7 CPU, up to GeForce RTX 3080 graphics, 4K OLED display, up to 1TB PCIe storage, and up to 32GB RAM.
The advanced model of the Razer Blade 15 gets Window Hello, USB Type-C charging, THX Spatial Audio 7.1, along with other options like the precision glass trackpad. You can pre-order the Razer Blade 15 starting at $1999.99 from the company website.
The Consumer Electronics Show 2021 showcased new tech as well as improvements over previous generations. Companies like LG, Samsung, Asus, and Sony have showed-off products that have the potential to change the way we interact with technology.
Rounding up CES 2021, we can confidently say that there’s a lot of exciting tech developments to look forward to this year.