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March 21, 2019
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Behold the Samsung Galaxy Fold under glass

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Samsung decided to forgo the Mobile World Congress pomp and circumstance, instead opting to through its own part last week in San Francisco. I’ve been carrying around Galaxy S10 for a few days now, so more on that soon. In this meantime, here’s the device everyone is really interested.

As promised, the Galaxy Fold was on display at the company’s booth this morning, but it was protected by security rope and thick panes of glass, like so many carbonited Han Solos. Not folding and unfolding — just static, playing videos while throngs of reporters elbowed one another, joking for a bit of space.

It’s not a production device just yet. And honestly, it’s not the kind of display that engenders a lot of faith that the product will be coming to market in just under two months. At least it’s a step ahead of where we saw it late last year.

In the meantime, there’s this new video from Samsung. It’s a highly controlled “demo” of the voice, devoid of soundtrack (with some ASMRy sound effects). It shows more of the Fold than we’ve seen so far — which, granted, isn’t a particularly high bar, as far as these things go. You can, however, see folding and unfolding, the same Wireless Power Share feature you’ll find on the S10 and DeX functionality for bringing contact to an event larger screen via USB-C.

You can also catch glimpses of the App Continuity feature, which picks up your workflow where you left off, event as you switch between screens. But again, how that sort of thing plays out in person vs a video shot and edited by Samsung is a different question altogether. The positioning of the product at MWC leave one wondering whether the company has worked through all of the software kinks.

At least we we can the hardware exists in the world. We know there four of the things in the world, each of which was on display behind glass (two with the screen facing out and two with the rear). We also know that, like Huawei’s device, the fold crease is highly visible when the light catches it. How much of an impact that will ultimately have on, say, the movie viewing experience is another one of those open questions.

But Samsung is a big company with a lot of resources, and it’s got roughly two months to make sure everything is in working order on the device. Given the $1,899 starting price, it no doubt wants to get everything right. The clock is ticking. 

News Source = techcrunch.com

The Google Assistant gets a button

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Traditionally, the Google Assistant always lived under the home button on Android phones, but as the company announced at MWC today, LG, Nokia, Xiaomi, TCL and Vivo are about to launch phones with dedicated assistant buttons, similar to what Samsung has long done with its Bixby assistant.

The new phones with the button that are launching this week are the LG G8 ThinQ and K40 and the Nokia 3.2 and 4.2. The upcoming Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G and Mi 9, as well as new phones from Vivo (including the Vivo V15 Pro) and TCL will also feature a dedicated Assistant button. With this, Google expects that over 100 million devices will soon offer this feature.

With a dedicated button, Google can also build a few new features into the Android OS, too, that’ll make it easier to bring up some Assistant features that were traditionally always a few taps away.

As expected, a single tap on the button will bring up the Assistant, just like a long tap on your phone does today. A double tap will bring up the Assistant’s visual snapshot feature that provides you with contextual information about your day and location (similar to the sorely missed Google Now of days gone by). A long press activates what Google calls a “walkie talkie feature.” This ensures that the Assistant listens to longer queries, which Google says is “perfect for emails or long text message.”

It’s interesting to see that the Android ecosystem is now building these buttons into phones (and we can probably assume that Google’s own next-gen Pixel devices or the fabled low-end Pixel 3 will have one, too). They will make it easier to discover the Assistant, of course, and maybe get people to use it more often, too — and that’s surely what Google is hoping for.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Daily Crunch: Samsung unveils Galaxy S10 lineup

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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Here’s everything announced at Samsung’s Galaxy S10/Galaxy Fold event

Samsung announced five new phones, some new earbuds, a virtual assistant and a watch.

And one of those phones is foldable. Folded, the handset sports a 4.6-inch display that only takes up about three-fourths of the front. Unfolded, it turns into a 7.3-inch tablet. Pricing starts at $1,980.

2. Lyft reportedly plans to debut on Nasdaq next month

Two reports, one from Reuters, the other from WSJ, indicate Lyft plans to list its shares on Nasdaq next month. The WSJ, citing unnamed sources, reported Lyft may make the filing public as early as next week.

3. Clutter confirms SoftBank-led $200M investment for its on-demand storage service

There’s plenty of speculation right now around apparently disgruntled investors in SoftBank’s Vision Fund, but the drum continues to beat and the checks continue to be written.

4. Highlights & transcript from Zuckerberg’s 20K-word ethics talk

Zuckerberg said it would feel wrong to charge users for extra privacy controls.

5. Companies including Nestlé, Epic and reportedly Disney suspend YouTube ads over child exploitation concerns

Days after a YouTube creator accused the platform of enabling a “soft-core pedophilia ring,” several companies have suspended advertising on the platform. Other advertisers, including Peloton and Grammarly, said they are calling on YouTube to resolve the issue.

6. Trump calls for 6G cellular technology, because why the heck not?

6G isn’t a thing. But … maybe it could be?

7. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Patreon

TechCrunch’s media consultant Eric Peckham spent dozens of hours interviewing Patreon’s management team and investors, as well as poring over data, in order to write this deep analysis of the company and the lessons learned. (Extra Crunch subscription required.)

News Source = techcrunch.com

Global smartphone growth stalled in Q4, up just 1.2% for the full year: Gartner

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Gartner’s smartphone marketshare data for the just gone holiday quarter highlights the challenge for device makers going into the world’s biggest mobile trade show which kicks off in Barcelona next week: The analyst’s data shows global smartphone sales stalled in Q4 2018, with growth of just 0.1 per cent over 2017’s holiday quarter, and 408.4 million units shipped.

tl;dr: high end handset buyers decided not to bother upgrading their shiny slabs of touch-sensitive glass.

Gartner says Apple recorded its worst quarterly decline (11.8 per cent) since Q1 2016, though the iPhone maker retained its second place position with 15.8 per cent marketshare behind market leader Samsung (17.3 per cent). Last month the company warned investors to expect reduced revenue for its fiscal Q1 — and went on to report iPhone sales down 15 per cent year over year.

The South Korean mobile maker also lost share year over year (declining around 5 per cent), with Gartner noting that high end devices such as the Galaxy S9, S9+ and Note9 struggled to drive growth, even as Chinese rivals ate into its mid-tier share.

Huawei was one of the Android rivals causing a headache for Samsung. It bucked the declining share trend of major vendors to close the gap on Apple from its third placed slot — selling more than 60 million smartphones in the holiday quarter and expanding its share from 10.8 per cent in Q4 2017 to 14.8 per cent.

Gartner has dubbed 2018 “the year of Huawei”, saying it achieved the top growth of the top five global smartphone vendors and grew throughout the year.

This growth was not just in Huawei “strongholds” of China and Europe but also in Asia/Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East, via continued investment in those regions, the analyst noted. While its expanded mid-tier Honor series helped the company exploit growth opportunities in the second half of the year “especially in emerging markets”.

By contrast Apple’s double-digit decline made it the worst performer of the holiday quarter among the top five global smartphone vendors, with Gartner saying iPhone demand weakened in most regions, except North America and mature Asia/Pacific.

It said iPhone sales declined most in Greater China, where it found Apple’s market share dropped to 8.8 percent in Q4 (down from 14.6 percent in the corresponding quarter of 2017). For 2018 as a whole iPhone sales were down 2.7 percent, to just over 209 million units, it added.

“Apple has to deal not only with buyers delaying upgrades as they wait for more innovative smartphones. It also continues to face compelling high-price and midprice smartphone alternatives from Chinese vendors. Both these challenges limit Apple’s unit sales growth prospects,” said Gartner’s Anshul Gupta, senior research director, in a statement.

“Demand for entry-level and midprice smartphones remained strong across markets, but demand for high-end smartphones continued to slow in the fourth quarter of 2018. Slowing incremental innovation at the high end, coupled with price increases, deterred replacement decisions for high-end smartphones,” he added.

Further down the smartphone leaderboard, Chinese OEM, Oppo, grew its global smartphone market share in Q4 to bump Chinese upstart, Xiaomi, and bag fourth place — taking 7.7 per cent vs Xiaomi’s 6.8 per cent for the holiday quarter.

The latter had a generally flat Q4, with just a slight decline in units shipped, according to Gartner’s data — underlining Xiaomi’s motivations for teasing a dual folding smartphone.

Because, well, with eye-catching innovation stalled among the usual suspects (who’re nontheless raising high end handset prices), there’s at least an opportunity for buccaneering underdogs to smash through, grab attention and poach bored consumers.

Or that’s the theory. Consumer interest in ‘foldables’ very much remains to be tested.

In 2018 as a whole, the analyst says global sales of smartphones to end users grew by 1.2 percent year over year, with 1.6 billion units shipped.

The worst declines of the year were in North America, mature Asia/Pacific and Greater China (6.8 percent, 3.4 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively), it added.

“In mature markets, demand for smartphones largely relies on the appeal of flagship smartphones from the top three brands — Samsung, Apple and Huawei — and two of them recorded declines in 2018,” noted Gupta.

Overall, smartphone market leader Samsung took 19.0 percent marketshare in 2018, down from 20.9 per cent in 2017; second placed Apple took 13.4 per cent (down from 14.0 per cent in 2017); third placed Huawei took 13.0 per cent (up from 9.8 per cent the year before); while Xiaomi, in fourth, took a 7.9 per cent share (up from 5.8 per cent); and Oppo came in fifth with 7.6 per cent (up from 7.3 per cent).

News Source = techcrunch.com

Here’s everything announced at Samsung’s Galaxy S10/Galaxy Fold event

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Missed today’s Samsung Unpacked event in San Francisco? In all, we have five new phones — one of them a foldable, some new earbuds, a virtual assistant and a watch. Here’s everything you need to know.

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, presented at Unpacked in San Francisco. (Source: Samsung)

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold launches April 26, starting at $1,980

The last time we saw Samsung’s foldable onstage, it was, quite literally, shrouded in darkness. The company debuted a prototype of the upcoming device at a developer conference, showing its folding method and little else.

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 lineup arrives with four new models

For the 10th anniversary of the flagship line, Samsung is going all in on this thing. And with more information expected on Samsung’s upcoming foldable, well, that’s a lot of Samsungs.

Samsung’s ‘budget flagship’ the Galaxy S10e starts at $750

The S10e is the most interesting of the bunch — or at least the most interesting one that doesn’t sport 5G.

The Samsung S10 gets a 5G model

Never mind the fact that 5G is still a ways away in just about every market — Samsung’s taking an educated gamble that some percentage of its early adopting/cost is no object approach will get in early on the next generation of cellular technology.

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 has a built-in Instagram mode

A new partnership with Instagram will bring Stories directly to the camera app, without leaving Samsung’s default camera software.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 can wirelessly charge other phones

The feature relies on the S10’s large battery to charge of other device. The new feature should be compatible with all phones that charge via the Qi standard.

Samsung S10’s cameras get ultra-wide-angle lenses and more AI smarts

Unsurprisingly, one of the features that differentiates these models is the camera system. Gone are the days, after all, where one camera would suffice.

Here’s how all of Samsung’s new Galaxy S10’s compare

Want a quick at-a-glance breakdown of how they all compare? Here’s a handy chart so you know what to look out for.

Samsung just announced a phone with 1TB of built-in storage

Three different storage options: 128GB, 512GB, and 1 terabyte.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch Active tracks blood pressure

In the watch front, Samsung is embracing user health, much like the rest of the industry, including blood pressure tracking.

These are Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds

Wireless all the way. Samsung says the Galaxy Buds should be able to pull around five hours of talk time, or six hours of music listening time.

Samsung’s Bixby-powered Galaxy Home speaker will arrive ‘by April’

The product — as well as a rumored cheaper version — are a core part of Samsung’s push to make Bixby a key player in the smart home raise.

Samsung has sold 2 billion Galaxy phones

That’s a whole lot of Galaxy smartphones.

Want more? You can always watch a recording of today’s live stream.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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