Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Vivo debuts the Under-Glass Fingerprint Technology for Smartphones

We’ve been through a year of speculations and rumors about which company would be the first one in the race to provide a working under-glass fingerprint technology. With the advent of the bezel-less display and the crescent need of trimming down the bezels in favor of larger displays that retain a small form factor, the fingerprint technology that proved to be very successful in the segment needed a change. The Chinese Vivo was very aware of this, and for that reason have been developing alongside Synaptics an ultrasonic sensor to capture the finger data through the smartphone glass display.

Vivo teased for the first time a smartphone carrying such technology a year ago, by that time we saw the first glimpse of a promising new technology. We expected that technology to make a debut in 2017, but it never came, not even two major manufacturers like Samsung and Apple were able to introduce the technology before the end of last year. The iPhone X was a clear example of the effects of missing a ready under-glass fingerprint. In order to make a full-screen display with reduced bezels Apple had to drop the sensor in favor of Face ID, that move generated a lot of controversies and no matter what the US manufacturer says about their facial ID system we simply know if that the manufacturer had a ready under-glass sensor that would be the technology employed in the iPhone X.

Vivo issued a press release today where the company revealed the technology debut in a smartphone that will be announced in a near future. The company opted for instead of sharing a lot of technic details about the technology simply delivers a simple teaser showing how the ultrasonic sensor works and the advantages of it. First, the under-glass sensor is a front-facing one, so all people who prefer a front placed fingerprint sensor will get covered on this new technology, the second one is that introducing an underhood sensor will allow the companies to keep the race for the Full-Screen smartphone with nearly zero bezels.


The BBK owned company also shared the scheme around the technology with matches perfectly with the Synaptics Clear ID FS9500 sensor. Additionally, the Chinese manufacturer introduces an interface that lights up when the fingerprint scanner is being used but keeps a low profile when the smartphone is being used in other environments. Basically, the Fingerprint indicator will show up when you need to unlock the phone, access any secured data or when doing payments through the smartphone, but when you’re simply using your smartphone you can’t even tell if there is really a sensor underneath the OLED Panel.

The only thing remaining is to know the fated device to debut such technology, or more precisely the name and the rest of specifications, maybe Vivo X20 Plus? Only the time will tell, thankfully we don’t need to expect much since the company stated the “early 2018” date for the official debut of the smartphone carrying the new technology.

The group behind Vivo, the BBK also is responsible for other major Chinese players as OPPO and OnePlus the fact that was one of the BBK big three to debut this technology can also indicate that in the future we may see the same employed in future OnePlus and OPPO devices.

Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S9 next month

Samsung will unveil its next flagship handset, the Galaxy S9, next month at Mobile World Congress (MWC). The company’s smartphone chief, DJ Koh, confirmed the launch toZDNet at CES yesterday. Koh didn’t offer a specific date, but MWC will run from February 26th to March 1st this year, so expect the unveiling to fall somewhere in that time frame.

The S9 (and, presumably, an S9 Plus) will be the successors to the S8 and S8 Plus, which launched at a Samsung event in New York last March before going on sale in April. The S8 and its bigger brother were a hit with critics, who praised the phones’ gorgeous design and brilliant cameras. The phones were even good enough to make consumers forget about the disaster of the Galaxy Note 7 and its exploding batteries.

Not much is known about the Galaxy S9 at this point, though we’re not expecting any radical departures from the S8. A handful of leaked renders suggest it will look near-identical to its predecessor, with a slight tweak moving the rear fingerprint sensor to below the camera (rather than its current, awkward position of off to one side).

However, the S9 and S9 Plus won’t be all Samsung fans have to look forward to this year. Speaking to ZDNet, Koh also reiterated that the company plans to launch a foldable phone in 2018. What exactly “foldable” means in terms of functionality isn’t clear, but smartphones with curved displays have been an obsession of Samsung’s for more than half a decade. So far, it’s given us the bizarre Galaxy Round but also the successful wraparound screens of the S7 Edge onwards. Let’s see what’s next.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DJI's Osmo Mobile 2 smartphone video stabilizer will be much less expensive than the original for the same expected performance

DJI is introducing a new version of its smartphone stabilizer, the Osmo Mobile, that makes a handful of small changes to the original as well as one big one: its price. The Osmo Mobile 2 will start at $129, making it much more affordable than the original model (which started at $299, though you can find it now for closer to $200) as a way to keep your phone shake-free while shooting video.

The Osmo Mobile 2 doesn’t change the formula very much. As far as upgrades go, there’s really only one big one — though it’s a notable one: the new model has full support for shooting in portrait. The original model could shoot in portrait, but you had to hold the stabilizer sideways, which wasn’t always ideal. The new model can actually be mounted in portrait, which should make using it more comfortable and flexible since you can still hold the grip upright.

Otherwise, little has changed for this new version. The Osmo Mobile 2 is made of “high performance nylon” instead of a mixture of nylon and magnesium alloy, making the whole thing ever-so-slightly lighter (though it’s mostly imperceptible in use). The buttons have been tweaked a bit for simplicity, and the accessory mount has been moved to the bottom of the grip, instead of the side.

DJI has now switched to an internal battery, too, instead of using replaceable ones, which should be a good thing if it lives up to the company’s estimates. Instead of the estimated 3 to 4.5 hours the original got from one battery, the new model is supposed to get up to 15 hours of battery on a single charge. The lack of support for replacements could put filmmakers in a bind if it suddenly dies out; but if it actually lasts for anywhere close to 15 hours, that probably won’t happen all that often.

The Osmo Mobile 2 is supposed to launch sometime next month, with pre-orders starting January 23rd, exclusively through Apple at first. DJI says the stabilizer should support most popular phones, so devices as large and heavy as a Plus-sized iPhone or Android phone should be fine.

FoldiMate, with still some work from you, will help you fold a load of laundry in minutes

The FoldiMate was first introduced at last year’s CES to a surprising amount of interest, racking up 8,000 pre-order reservations according to the company’s blog. I say “surprising” because it was a laundry-folding machine that was expected to cost around $850 and took up about as much space as an actual washer. Now the company has just opened up “early pre-order deposits” for its latest version, which is expected to be available at the end of 2019 through a partnership with European home appliances group BSH. The new model aims for a target price of $980 and features a sleeker redesign, though it’s still just as huge.

FoldiMate can fold shirts, buttoned-up blouses, and pants from children’s clothes to adult size XXL. The new model can now fold towels and pillowcases, though socks and undergarments are still strictly off the menu. And you’re way out of luck if your wardrobe consists of baby clothes and bulky hoodies. Watch the video below to get a sense of how it works:

The previous FoldiMate model featured de-wrinkling and fragrance add-ons, which have now been sacrificed for better folding technology. FoldiMate boasts that you can fold an average laundry load of 20-40 items in two to four minutes, but that’s giving the machine way too much credit when you have to do the work of individually clipping on each item. Though it looks kind of fun feeding a machine clothes like you would place a dollar bill into a hungry vending machine, the real convenience would be to dump your laundry load and have it sort out the clothes on its own.

Just place this behemoth of a machine that looks like an old photocopier anywhere in your home. Leave it in the family room while you hang out with your friends! 

Google Pay will combine Android Pay and Google Wallet into one service

Google just announced that it’s combining all of its different payment services, including Android Pay and Google Wallet, into one unified service, simply called Google Pay.

With the new system, payment information saved in your Google account will be available everywhere you use Google products: in Chrome for web purchases, in YouTube for renewing your subscriptions, in apps on Android for in-app purchases, and at retail outlets with NFC payments.

According to Google, apps like Airbnb, Dice, Fandango, HungryHouse, and Instacart already support Google Pay, with more sites and stores set roll out soon over the coming weeks.