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Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 starts shipping

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Earlier this year, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced the second generation of its HoloLens augmented reality visor. Today, the $3,500 HoloLens 2 is going on sale in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand, the same countries where it was previously available for pre-order.

Ahead of the launch, I got to spend some time with the latest model, after a brief demo in Barcelona earlier this year. Users will immediately notice the larger field of view, which still doesn’t cover your full field of view, but offers a far better experience compared to the first version (where you often felt like you were looking at the virtual objects through a stamp-sized window).

The team also greatly enhanced the overall feel of wearing the device. It’s not light, at 1.3 pounds, but with the front visor that flips up and the new mounting system that is far more comfortable.

In regular use, existing users will also immediately notice the new gestures for opening up the Start menu (this is Windows 10, after all). Instead of a ‘bloom’ gesture, which often resulted in false positives, you now simply tap on the palm of your hand, where a Microsoft logo now appears when you look at it.

Eye tracking, too, has been greatly improved and works well, even over large distances, and the new machine learning model also does a far better job at tracking all of your fingers. All of this is powered by a lot of custom hardware, including Microsoft’s second-generation ‘holographic processing unit.’

Microsoft has also enhanced some of the cloud tools it built for HoloLens, including Azure Spatial Anchors that allow for persistent holograms in a given space that anybody else who is using a holographic app can then see in the same spot.

Taken together, all of the changes result in a more comfortable and smarter device, with reduced latencies when you look at the various objects around you and interact with them.

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Apple designs futuristic sci-fi iMac computer formed from one piece of glass

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A drawing from a recent Apple patent showing a futuristic-looking glass computer (Image: Apple)
A drawing from a recent Apple patent showing a futuristic-looking glass computer (Image: Apple)

Apple has secretly designed a striking new computer formed from a single piece of glass.

The tech firm is widely expected to be planning to release a new iMac this year, which is the name for a product range made up of all-in-one units combining a monitor display with computer hardware.

Experts are expecting to see a new model this year because its design has changed relatively little in more than a decade.

Now Apple has been granted a patent for a remarkable iMac-like computer that’s made of a large piece of glass which curves at the bottom and sits atop a stand.

The curled portion of the glass can incorporate a keyboard – or perhaps a touch screen – whilst the main part of the glass is used as a display.

But although it certainly looks like a new iMac model, there’s no telling whether Apple will ever build the device, because it patents technology all the time which does not make it to market.

People queue to try out the new iPhone 11 Pro smartphone at an Apple store in Hong Kong on September 20, 2019. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images
(Picture: AFP/Getty)

Earlier this month, Apple dramatically reduced the value of some of its most popular gadgets.

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The tech giant slashed the ‘trade-in’ price of iPhones, iPads and Macs.

This means that millions of people’s devices are suddenly worth less than they were last week.

Apple offers customers a recycling option when they buy new devices.

Instead of throwing an old iPhone or Macbook away, it encourages people to trade in their gadget and then offers them a reduction on the cost of a new device.

But the price has suddenly been reduced, meaning your iDevice may just have had a huge chunk sliced from its value.

The Macbook Air Pro suffered the biggest reduction. Previously, you could exchange it for £900 in Apple credit, but that has been reduced to £610. The Macbook Air is down from £400 to £190 and the basic Macbook from £380 to £300.

Apple has also increased the trade price of the iPad Pro from £230 to £270.

However, the iPhone has been hit by big reductions, with older models suffering a revaluing of up to 25%.

The iPhone 7 Plus, for instance, has been slashed from £180 to £135 while the premium £470 has been cut from £470 to £400.

The old trade-in values, which we found by accessing Apple's website using the Wayback Machine (Image: Apple)
The old trade-in values, which we found by accessing Apple’s website using the Wayback Machine (Image: Apple)
Here are the latest iPhone trade-in values (Image: Apple)
Here are the latest iPhone trade-in values (Image: Apple)
SIPA USA via PA Images An Apple mobile lover seen checking the specification of newly launched Apple phone at a shopping mall in Kolkata. Apple iPhone 11 smartphone officially launched in India. (Photo by Avishek Das / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
This is the iPhone 11 – which still features a Lightning port (Provider: SIPA USA/PA Images)

Apple isn’t afraid of making big decisions which sometimes annoy people.

It is famed for ditching old features to make way for new ones – often causing massed wailing and gnashing of teeth among its fans in the process.

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First, the tech giant scandalised iPhone users by swapping the old charging plug for a Lightning connector, before unceremoniously ditching the device’s headphone jack.

A leading Apple analyst recently claimed it could be about to get rid of the last remaining port on its upcoming iPhones, meaning you won’t be able to plug it in and will have to use a wireless charger instead.

Tech industry expert Ming-Chi Kuo believes there’s a model coming in 2019 which will ‘provide the completely wireless experience’ by removing the Lightning connector, according to Apple Insider. 

This is already the only port available on current models and is used to plug the handset into a charger or to attach other devices.

What this means is that all those cables and accessories you’ve collected will be totally useless.

However, anyone who’s used a wireless charger will know there’s something almost magical about sitting their gadget atop a plate to power it up, rather than plugging it into a wall.

The ports will be removed from a high-end model first, Kuo said. But this is likely to herald a wider bonfire of ports, meaning Lightning could soon be nothing but a flash in the memory of Apple users.

The Apple analyst also believes the tech colossus will unleash several new iPhones in 2020, include one with a 5.4-inch screen, two with a 6.1-inch display and a 6.7-inch mega beast.

Of course, we don’t know what Apple is going to do until it does it, so take these rumours with a pinch of salt.

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Source: Metro News

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Apple is going to give old iPhones a new lease of life, rumours suggest

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Apple's Lightning port has been used by its products since 2012 (Getty)
Website claims the tech giant has secretly drawn up a green new policy which will lengthen the lifespan of ageing phones. (Image: Getty)

An Apple iPhone is only meant to live for five years before becoming obsolete.

Now it’s been claimed the tech giant is going to grant some of its ageing smartphones a new lease of life.

Last year, Apple released a new operating system called iOS 13 that was exciting for lots of people but potentially upsetting for millions more.

Anyone who owned Apple’s iPhone 6 or a previous model was unable to install iOS 13, meaning the oldest device it worked on was the iPhone 6S released in 2015.

Under the normal run of things, Apple will release a new iPhone this September along with a new operating system which is not compatible with the iPhone 6S.

But Apple is now taking steps to further boost its green credentials and cut down on its use of Earth’s precious finite resources.

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The tech firm has already rolled out a policy which makes it easier to repair iPhones, meaning they should have a slightly longer lifespan.

Now a French Apple website has claimed the next mobile operating system – iOS 14 – will be compatible with the iPhone 6S.

This means the phone will be supported for at least six years, rather than the usual five.

However, at this stage, the claim is little more than a rumour and we’ll probably find out Apple’s real plans at its annual WWDC conference in June.

The sight of a broken iPhone should no longer be as depressing as it once was (Image: Reuters)
The sight of a broken iPhone should no longer be as depressing as it once was (Image: Reuters)

Last year, Apple announced a major repair policy change which made it cheaper and simpler to fix a broken iPhone.

Until recently, you had to rely on Apple or companies it named as ‘authorised service providers’ for iPhone repairs.

But Apple announced that it will begin selling parts, tools and repair guides to independent shops so they can fix broken iPhones.

This a big u-turn for the tech giant, which has spent years lobbying against the introduction of ‘right-to-repair’ laws in some US states.

Apple said the scheme should help ease heavy demand on Apple and partners companies to fix millions of cracked screens and fried charging ports.

The policy change could also lead to a mini-boom for repair shops who could find they are able to offer the same repair services as Apple but at a much cheaper price for customers.

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It launched in the United States before being rolled out to other countries.

The sight of a broken iPhone should no longer be as depressing as it once was (Image: Reuters)
Apple has had maintained a tight grip on iPhone repairs until now (Image: Reuters)

Independent repair shops will be offered official parts for out-of-warranty repairs at the same price offered to authorized service providers, such as Best Buy Inc, which perform warranty work.

Ben Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies, said the move could create more opportunities for Apple to sell services or accessories if it encourages iPhone owners to hand down used phones to friends and family.

‘That helps them get the product more affordably into the hands of more customers and increases the base,’ Bajarin said.

‘Every data point seems to say, if you get someone into the Apple ecosystem, they generally don’t leave.’

Apple’s iPhone sales have declined in the past two fiscal quarters, but sales of accessories such as its AirPods wireless headphones and the Apple Watch, along with paid services like Apple Music, have helped make up for some of the revenue falls.

Independent shops have long complained that the high purchase volumes required by Apple to become an authorized service provider priced them out of the repair market.

The tech giant had previously lobbied against right-to-repair bills which would have compelled it to supply independent businesses in several US states including New York and California.

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It cited concerns about maintaining a high service standard. However, earlier this year Apple allowed all US Best Buy stores to handle work carried out under warranty.

Apple said it trialled the new repair program for a year with 20 businesses across North America, Europe and Asia. It did not give a timetable for the international launches.

The new policy will allow independent stores to set their own prices for repairs and also offer cheaper aftermarket parts.

They will be required to return any collected broken Apple parts to the company for refurbishment or recycling.

The program will be free for shops to join, but they will be required to have an Apple-certified technician who has taken a free 40-hour training course and test provided by the company.

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Source: Metro News

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Vivo beats Samsung for 2nd spot in Indian smartphone market

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Samsung, which once led the smartphone market in India, slid to the third position in the quarter that ended in December even as the South Korean giant continues to make major bets on the rare handset market that is still growing.

According to research firm Counterpoint, Chinese firm Vivo surpassed Samsung to become the second biggest smartphone vendor in India in Q4 2019. Xiaomi, with command over 27% of the market, maintained its top stop in the nation for the 10th consecutive quarter.

Vivo’s annual smartphone shipment grew 76% in 2019. The Chinese firm’s aggressive positioning of budget $100 to $150 S series of smartphones in the brick and mortar market and acceptance of e-commerce sales helped it beat Samsung, said Counterpoint analysts. Vivo’s market share jumped 132% between Q4 of 2018 and Q4 of 2019, according to the research firm.

Realme, which spun out of Chinese smartphone maker Oppo, claimed the fifth spot. Oppo assumed the fourth. Realme has taken the Indian market by a storm. The two-year-old firm has replicated Xiaomi’s playbook in the country and so far focused on selling aggressively low-cost Android smartphones online.

The report, released late Friday (local time), also states that India, with 158 million smartphone shipments in 2019, took over the U.S. in annual smartphone shipment for the first time.

India, which was already the world’s second largest smartphone market for total handset install base, is now also the second largest smartphone market for annual shipment of smartphones in a year.

Tarun Pathak, a senior analyst at Counterpoint, told TechCrunch that about 150 million to 155 million smartphone units were shipped in the U.S. in 2019.

More to follow…

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