Proof of Huawei’s AI tech: the Mate 10 Pro drives a car

Huawei is pushing on its latest chip, the Kirin 970 with an artificial intelligence NPU. But how does this much talked about AI really work? The Chinese company wanted to show us by putting the Huawei Mate 10 Pro at the helm of a Porsche Panamera and launching it in a prepared path with unexpected obstacles.

Huawei’s AI is more than marketing buzz

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the biggest revolutions in the information technology sector and will certainly change the way we interact with technology. Huawei has put a lot of emphasis on this new technological approach based on machine learning, so much so that it created a SoC with a unit dedicated to the processing of AI-related tasks.

The biggest problem for Huawei is how to make users understand how this technology really works, how it can improve the use of smartphones in everyday life, but above all how it can improve over time with the use of devices. Quoting a representative of the Chinese company “we are often asked how it is possible to verify in a concrete way the functioning of this NPU”. To answer these questions, Huawei created the demo in which we participated.

img 7826huawei event L6aAH The smartphone used is a normal Mate 10 Pro. / © Huawei

The Mate 10 Pro drives the car all by itself

Huawei has therefore decided to equip a Porsche Panamera with the artificial intelligence of Huawei Mate 10 Pro to show how the machine vision can recognize images quickly and accurately, reacting accordingly.

The hardware used for the demo is minimized to limit any further doubt. The car was equipped with:

  • A DSLR placed on the roof to ensure a clear and precise view (the smartphone is located inside the car, which makes it difficult to use the integrated camera).
  • A video system that can send images to the smartphone.
  • A Huawei Mate 10 Pro, like the one that can be purchased in the shop, which has a dedicated application created using Tensor Flow that can take advantage of the NPU for image recognition.
  • A Wi-Fi system for receiving commands from your smartphone.
  • A hydraulic system for pedal pressure and steering to give the Huawei device full control.

img 7301huawei event zZiLT The car has no additional driving aid. / © Huawei

The car used was certainly not randomly chosen. The automotive brand collaborates with Huawei for some Porsche Design devices and the chosen model does not have any guidance system that may disturb or help the Mate 10 Pro in its task. But let’s move on to the demo itself.

The car “cruised” on a 100 meter-long route at 5 km/h, during which the Huawei Mate 10 Pro was shown some possible obstacles so that it could recognize them. The car was then brought back to the starting grid and the device showed us the various obstacles recognized by asking us what to do if they were on our way (the choices were: turn right, turn left and brake). We decided the reactions so we can confirm that it was not possible to prepare the car for certain operations.

Once we made our choices, the employees chose an obstacle among those recognized by the car in order to add an additional random element to the scene: neither we nor the smartphone were aware in advance of the obstacle chosen. At this point the car was thrown at 50 km/h on the same route in the direction of the obstacle. It seems like a low speed but, believe me, from inside the car and on such a short route the demo didn’t seem to be slow at all.

MVIMG 20180227 181609 A nice relaxing drive. / © AndroidPIT

The obstacle was a football ball and my colleague Steffen’s action was to turn right. The action was performed flawlessly.

An excellent improvised demo

The person in charge of the demo showed us how they only had three weeks (plus two weeks of brainstorming) to complete the project, and I have to admit that I was very impressed. In addition, we have also been told that with the Android 8.1 update, the Huawei Mate 10 will be able to take advantage of the new NNAPI as well as the company’s proprietary APIs. This means that all apps created using these standard instructions in the latest Android version will run much faster thanks to HiSilicon’s NPU.

The system of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro has been trained with thousands of images of every possible object in the demo: football balls, bicycles and dogs. In practice, Huawei uses this demo to demonstrate how the Kirin 970’s NPU is able to recognize the camera’s signals and react quickly accordingly.

img 7887huawei event Kkfnq Is this the future? Will your smartphone drive your car? / © Huawei

In everyday use, this is used in the camera application: the system recognizes the scene, the main framed object and adjusts ISO settings, shutter speed, white balance, color saturation and much more for the best possible result.

We certainly expect to see this technology further improved and evolved in the brand new Huawei P20 that will be presented in Paris on March 27th, and thanks to the use of three rear cameras in combination with advanced algorithms, AI will hopefully bring a further innovation in the world of computational photography for smartphones. That is at least what we expect!

What do you think about AI in smartphones? Do you find it useful?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Alexa’s hot, phones are not: American singles on dating and tech

Dating site Match recently released its eighth annual Singles in America Study, in which over 5, 000 US singles spilled the beans on their sex and dating lives. Naturally, given the significant presence of technology in our modern, always-connected lives, there were some interesting revelations about how the way you use your device could affect your lovelife.

Want a good first date? Leave your phone at home

For many of us, our smartphone is our life companion. We tell it all our secrets (intentionally or not), share our precious memories with it, and anxiously watch the battery life, a lump catching in our throat when it looks like it might die. And there are plenty of good reasons to bring it with you on a date, such as quickly finding a good restaurant or summoning a ride. Maybe you even used a dating app to get someone’s attention in the first place.

But it seems that even in our high tech culture, having your phone around a date can be a huge risk. Especially if you’re into women, as a solid 90% of them chose ‘checking their phone’ as a serious no-no on a first date.

A full three quarters of singles said they would be turned off if their date answered the phone without any explanation, while 66% would find it distasteful if their partner texted during the date. These are generally the worst offenders when it comes to smartphone etiquette on a date—understandable, since no one likes to feel that they’re not worth your attention.

Androidpit on the smartphone anna 6816 There are other uses for a phone before a date. / © AndroidPIT

Talking or texting on the phone in front of your date might be bad, but going off outside or to the bathroom with your phone isn’t seen much better. 41% of singles agree that it’s rude, possibly because they could think you’ll be gossiping to your friends about how the date is going, or being distracted by another prospective suitor. If you really have to duck out and answer your phone, better have a good explanation.

Even just having the phone around could be dangerous. 58% said that they didn’t want their date to place the phone on the table face up, and let’s face it, only a really hardcore tech geek is going to be romantically impressed by your Always-on display or custom launcher. It’s more likely to look like you can’t wait to be contacted by someone else.

If you absolutely must pull it out on the first date, better make sure it’s in good condition. Women were 92% more likely to judge their date for having an older model of phone, and 14% of all singles disapproved of a cracked screen. 14% are also irritated by hearing audible clicks while their date types.

According to the survey, the worst behavior award goes to the men of Austin, TX, who are 347% more likely to check their phone on a date. So much for old-school Southern manners.

If by some herculean feat of restraint you don’t screw up your first date by keeping one eye on your notifications all the time, then it might be time to bring it home. Some of you might have a secret seduction assistant waiting in the wings. If you’ve got Alexa or Google Home, make sure to let your date know it by setting some mood lighting or music.

61% of singles are turned on by smart assistants

Specifically, these tech-savvy singles say they are turned on if their date has Alexa or Google Home at their place. So while the presence of a handset is usually a turn-off, smart home tech often proves to be quite the opposite. All the more reason to invest in an assistant, then — the wingman/woman of the future.

AndroidPIT google home 7005 Why hello there, Google Home. / © AndroidPIT

If you don’t have a smart assistant at home (and according to the survey, over 90% of singles still don’t, despite their rising popularity), then you should also take care about what your home tech setup says about you.

Women in particular seem to be picky when it comes to tech at home. 86% don’t look kindly on a date that happens to be stealing someone else’s internet. But woe betide the suitor who has no internet at all. 79% of women would ‘raise an eyebrow’ if their date had no internet, and 73% would do the same if they had no computer.

There you go. The modern Casanova should be online, but come by his internet honestly.

Android vs iOS: could opposites attract?

The more dedicated long time AndroidPIT readers might well know that sinking feeling in our hearts that comes about when the object of our affections—beautiful, smart, funny, the works—pulls out a white slab with that Apple logo on the back. How could something that felt so right turn out so wrong?

Don’t feel bad. They probably judged you even harder,

People with an Android phone were 15 times more likely to judge someone negatively for having an iPhone, but Apple users were even snootier, being 21 times more likely to look down on Android users. Both groups would probably run a mile away from the Windows Phone users.

It seems that negative stereotypes about your choice of phone and associated lifestyle are more significant than one might think.

But if you ever find yourself closing to copulation with a Cupertino company cultist, don’t be too quick to avoid sleeping with the enemy. After all, Romeo and Juliet could make it work (for a while). And our own resident Google fanboy found himself falling in love with the iPhone X.

Although, it is always a blessing when you find that your hookup has the right charger for your phone in their house, right?

Yes, sex with robots is a thing now

At least, a thing that today’s singles are giving some serious thought to. 1 in 4 singles say that they would have sex with a robot, with men (31%) being more eager to try this out than women (15%).

lgrobots Yeah, I’m not seeing Chad anymore. Turns out he cheated with the maid. / © LG

More philosophical though, is the question of whether ‘sex’ with a robot counts as cheating. Around half of all singles say that it is, if their partner keeps it secret from them. That’s a roughly 50-50 split on people who put sex with a machine on par with sleeping with a real human, and those who presumably think it’s just fun with a very expensive toy.

All in all, the survey of singles paints a picture of interesting perspectives on the role of tech in our lovelives evolving along with our social and professional lives. The smartphone is generally a liability in love, but smart assistants are an asset and robots are being eyed up as potential competition in the dating market. What a time to be alive.

How do you use technology in your dating life? Ever impressed a date with Alexa, or argued over the ethics of sexbots? Let us know in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

What CES 2018 revealed about the latest tech trends

Once again, CES didn’t disappoint. This year, the largest electronics trade show has given us lots of exciting information about the next tech trends that will invade our homes for months and years to come. True, there were no revolutionary presentations, but the announcements made show how far we’ve come in the tech world.

Artificial Intelligence

As expected, Artificial Intelligence stole the show this year. In recent times, the American event has proven to be not the center of announcement for the latest smartphones or computers, but a showcase for future technologies. It’s no surprise then, that Artificial Intelligence was the most talked about topic among those in attendance. Thanks to this technology, our devices, cities and our cars will become more intelligent and automated.

AI allows devices to learn and think for themselves; adapting to environments that they were not specifically programmed for. Digital assistants are great examples of this, and are implemented into many everyday objects.

In the war between Google and Amazon, it appears that Alexa has won the first battle as more and more devices were integrating Amazon’s assistant. Light bulbs, speakers, vacuum cleaners, surveillance systems, coffee machines, you name it. And Google was not far behind this competition. Apple however, arrive a little late with their HomePod, which will be launched February 9. For now, Amazon dominates the market, and the figures confirm it. According to Strategy Analytics, an audit firm, 68% of connected speakers sold last year are compatible with Alexa.

AndroidPIT amazon echo show 7197 The successful Amazon Echo / © AndroidPIT

5G everywhere

For many high-tech fans, the thought of having 5G everywhere is heaven. Now it is becoming a reality. It’s slowly starting to develop and its arrival is in sight. Apparently, the first large-scale deployments will begin in 2020. Due to the development of AI, devices will require faster bandwidths after being implemented with smarter features. These next generation devices need huge amounts of transmitted data and a lot of simultaneous connections, more efficiency and less power consumption. For example, autonomous cars will have to communicate in real time to avoid accidents.

Operators therefore took advantage of CES to reveal their progress in infrastructure development, and the advances that can be made with the 5th generation, which will be ten to twenty times faster than 4G. The main telephone operator in South Korea, KT, explained that thanks to 5G, it will be possible to follow the 2018 Winter Olympics that will be held there. They aim to deploy the 5G network this month in certain areas, in order to prepare for the games.  AT&T have also announced their deployment of the 5G network in several US cities by the end of 2018, as it aims to be the first wireless carrier in the US to do this.

AndroidPIT on the phone 0428 With 5G, everything will be faster © AndroidPIT

Improving health

Health was a topic that also played an important role at CES. Technologies are constantly developing to help improve care. Virtual reality for example, could be helpful for training and preparation procedures before surgeries, and we are seeing developments of digital applications to help connect patients and healthcare professionals. Several startups have also introduced devices to improve quality of sleep. For example, Nokia’s “Nokia Sleep” is a device that is placed under your mattress to provide an analysis of your sleep pattern.

Cars and cities will be smart and connected

Lastly, CES gave us a taste of the future of mobility, and the tech event became partly a car show! Big car manufacturers (Kia, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan etc.) along with pioneering tech companies (Google, Qualcomm, Nvidia, Here etc.) presented their vision of the future. Cars will be autonomous, and probably electric, and will evolve in connected cities where everyday objects will be able to communicate. We cannot be certain how or what smart cities will actually look like, but according to analysts predictions, 88 cities will be considered smart cities by 2025, with interconnecting networks using The Internet of Things.

Which tech trends will change your life the most? Are there any that you are afraid of?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

MWC 2018: What does the Catalan tech fair have in store for us?

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MWC 2018: when and where?

The Mobile World Congress, also known in the abbreviated form as MWC, is at an event where the big players of the mobile communications sector gather to publicly present their most important creations of the first half of the year. This year, as is tradition, it will be held at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, and the doors of the fair will open to the public from February 26 to March 1. The press will have access to the event a few days in advance so that the most important devices are unveiled before opening to the public. 

Naturally, AndroidPIT’s intrepid reporters will be there to update you immediately on the most interesting tech revelations at the Catalan fair. 

Androidpit MWC 18 s3 MWC will be open to the public from February 26, but the first press events will take place on the weekend. / © AndroidPIT, GSM Association, Shutterstock

MWC 2018 Samsung: the launch of the new Galaxy flagship

It has been confirmed directly by Samsung: the successor of the Galaxy S8 will make its appearance at MWC. Dj Koh, president of the brand’s mobile division, said that the future flagship will be announced in February in Barcelona, and it can only be the S9 (and the Plus version).

Last year the S8 took its time before making its release, but this year the South Korean company does not want to give up the opportunity to unveil the flagship on the Catalan stage. The tech world is buzzing with rumors and leaks about the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus and if you want to psyche yourself up for the release, we’ve put them together in one handy article for you to check out:

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 rumor HUB Do not expect a dual camera in the standard version, that’s likely reserved for the S9+! / © AndroidPIT

MWC 2018 Huawei: will there be a flagship or not? 

The Huawei presentation is on Sunday, February 25 at 2 pm local time (8am EST) at the Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona. It’s not quite clear what we can expect from the Chinese brand, however.

We were excited to see P11 (or P20, the name is still a mystery) but the latest rumors suggest that Huawei may back out of presenting new the flagships at MWC 2018, as the manufacturer takes more time to refine the triple camera setup on the upcoming devices. 

MWC 2018: Huawei timetable

  Date Time Location
Huawei February 25 14:00 (08:00 EST) Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona

MWC 2018 Sony: new designs (hopefully)

At the MWC17, Sony decided to refresh its Xperia line. Xperia XA2, XA2 Ultra and L2 will probably be displayed to European users, but we expect that the Japanese manufacturer will unveil new top of the range devices with a renewed design.

The first steps have been taken and the new Xperia XAs integrates the fingerprint reader on the back and not laterally on the power button. In addition to the repositioning of the sensor, the other expected innovations are a 2:1 bezel-less display and softer lines. In short, bye-bye Omnibalance! That’s what we expect but we’ll see how Sony decides to evolve its flagship devices.

MWC 2018: Sony timetable

  Date Time Location
Sony February 26  08:30 (02.30 EST) Sony Booth, Fira Gran Via

MWC 2018 LG: will we even see smartphones from LG?

Last year the G6 hit the Catalan fair participants, but unfortunately it did not convince the users at the time of purchase. This year we expected LG to showcase either the G7 or an updated LG V30 with enhanced AI capability, but the most recent rumors indicate that LG may refrain completely from presenting new flagships at the MWC, as the brand undergoes a serious rethink of their smartphone strategy.

In the meantime, LG has registered the Icon and Iconic brands which, according to Evan Blass, could refer to a new smartphone and smartwatch respectively. After all, we haven’t heard much about the LG G Watch in a while….

Exactly what LG will have to show at the MWC 2018 remains a mystery.

MWC 2018 Nokia: Nokia 6 2018 and Nokia 3310 4G?

Last year the Finnish company presented the Nokia 6 and the mythical 3310 that caught everyone’s attention. What will HMD Global show for 2018? We will probably see the arrival of the Nokia 6 2018 in Europe and the Nokia 3310 4G with Wi-Fi and YunOS, an Android open source variant that could allow the use of WhatsApp! The new Nokia 3310 has passed through TENAA with improved technical specifications.

AndroidPIT nokia 3310 7372 It could be interesting if it was integrated with WhatsApp / © AndroidPIT

MWC 2018: Nokia timetable

  Data Time Location
Nokia February 25 16:00 (10.00 EST)

MWC 2018 Xiaomi: Mi 7 on the horizon

Xiaomi will be present at the MWC (as confirmed by the official MWC site), but with what? Without any official statement for the time being, we can only guess right now. However, it could be time for the Mi 7 to take the stage, which would make sense considering the opening of the brand towards the western market. You Jun, one of the company’s executives, announced the arrival of Mi 7 in the spring: what better opportunity for the MWC then to formalize it?

What else?

During the MWC 2018, we also expect to see new smartwatches and fitness trackers, new wearable devices that don’t necessarily need to be connected to the wrist, as well as Smart Home devices and VR and AR headsets.

When it comes to smart home tech, get ready for smart displays with integrated Google Assistant created in collaboration with brands such as Lenovo, Sony, LG, JBL, this could be one of the trends of 2018. Less well-known brands could then steal a march on Samsung and its Galaxy X by showing a folding smartphone.

The MWC will be the perfect opportunity to admire the first smartphone with a fingerprint sensor placed under the display. Vivo showed a prototype during the CES 2018 and the Vivo X20 Plus UD could be the name of the smartphone with this integrated technology. The device has passed through the TENAA and according to the latest rumors, it could already reach the Chinese market by the end of January.

What event are you are looking forward to with the most excitement and what will be in your opinion the most interesting smartphone or device that will be presented?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Automobile manufacturers are undertaking a tech revolution

In just a few years, the first autonomous cars are expected to appear on streets around the world. Faced with this revolution, many high-tech firms have invaded the automotive market, like Apple, Google and Amazon, all of which realize that cars will become a new frontier for content and advertising. However, car manufacturers haven’t had their last word yet and are beginning to evolve.

Automotive revolution

The advent of connected cars, and later autonomous cars, leaves the door open to many use case possibilities. Content will indeed become one of the major subjects of the automotive industry in the coming years and the battle is only just beginning. Time not spent driving is precious for many companies, and users will have more chances in their downtime for things like videos, music, reading, online purchases and more. Many high-tech companies have understood this and entered the automotive market. Tech shows are becoming car shows and vice versa. There’s proof of this with CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

One of the first examples of the arrival of tech giants in the world of cars is the development of Apple Car and Android Auto, but also the spread of voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa among cars. Given the size of the market, other, more traditional companies are also investing in the field and offering their voice assistants. This is the case, for example, with Bosch which launched Casey, a voice assistant which is supposed to make driving safer and more comfortable. This speech recognition system includes natural structures and can even handle accents and dialects from more than 30 countries around the world.

Manufacturers are aware of the danger

Of course, the largest manufacturers in the automotive sector have already begun to transform themselves. Tesla’s development has upset an industry that until a few years ago was quite reluctant to change. The traditional model, based on private ownership of vehicles, is now coming to an end and the challenges posed by new forms of mobility and autonomous cars are forcing manufacturers to accelerate their evolution. 

Some manufacturers have understood this well and realized that the arrival of autonomous cars has made it possible to transform their vehicles into something like shops on wheels, where passengers and drivers could ‘spend’ during their transport time. No, car manufacturers aren’t suddenly more philanthropic and less profit-driven in this new revolution of the automotive era.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, the world’s leading automaker in the first half of 2017, announced a few weeks ago that it would invest 5 million euros in a French press group which includes Challenges and Sciences et Avenir. Carlos Ghosn, the group’s leader said when the operation was announced, “The next topic for the automotive industry is content. Either we get it from someone else, or we take an interest in it ourselves… What we don’t want is to make empty boxes for the benefit of others”.

We don’t want to go through what phone manufacturers have experienced. We’re not going to develop hardware so that someone else can reap all the benefits.

In this way, it would seek to offer users common knowledge from the media through products which are based on a combination of databases and artificial intelligence. “We don’t want to go through what telephone manufacturers have experienced. We’re not going to develop hardware so that someone else can reap all the benefits.

mercedes smart iaa The Smart Vision EQ ForTwo represents Smart’s urban mobility vision for the future. © AndroidPIT

Tomorrow’s car will be high-tech and full of services

In addition to selling a stand-alone car, manufacturers also want to sell services to users. The competition from high-tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft will be formidable, and leaving them free to corner the market is unthinkable. Renault-Nissan seems to be keeping things proprietary, with a closed system where only brand customers will have access to certain services (and content). According to the latest trends from the Frankfurt Auto Show last September, like the Smart Vision EQ ForTwo, offering a more open ecosystem could allow more users to discover it, as vehicles will become more and more shared. 

How do you feel about the changing automotive industry? Do you believe in the autonomous car?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

The most significant tech trends to remember from 2017

Screens have a new format

In October 2016, Xiaomi presented the Mi Mix, a smartphone with a huge screen. This device inspired many manufacturers to opt for the same screen system in 2017: a huge display for a medium sized device, making it as bezel-less as possible. LG hence presented its G6 (and later its Q6 and V30) at the MWC. Samsung also began by introducing its Galaxy S8 and S8+, followed more recently by the Note 8. Unlike LG smartphones, Samsung smartphones have an 18.5:9 format, not 18:9.

Of course, other manufacturers followed the trend. Huawei offered its Mate 10 Pro, OnePlus its OnePlus 5T, and Apple its iPhone X. It’s interesting to note that this feature, which is associated with high-end smartphones, is slowly settling in on the lower range smartphones. Wiko has demonstrated this with its Wiko View, and it’s very likely that Samsung’s future A range will also adopt an 18.5:9 screen.

samsung galaxy note 8 s8 plus front The Galaxy Note 8 and the S8 Plus both have an 18.5:9 screen. / © AndroidPIT

Android versions are becoming increasingly fragmented

This is not a new problem. Google releases a new version each year, but unless you buy a new device or have an update (which most of the time only happens on high-end smartphones), you’re unlikely to have the latest version of the operating system. At the moment this article is written, only 0.5% of users use Android Oreo, and the two versions of Nougat (7.0 and 7.1), combined don’t even make up a quarter of users.

Google has decided to act by proposing Android Go. This theoretically allows a fast update of old and/or low power smartphones (1 GB RAM) to the latest version of Android. This initiative is commendable, but unfortunately there’s another variable in the equation: the will of the manufacturers. Although Android Go vastly simplifies things, their team still has to work on implementing the update given that most manufacturers tinker with the interface, which therefore requires manual improvements.

Facial recognition is gearing up to be popularized

The facial recognition system isn’t fully developed yet. The Galaxy Note 7 offered one (with no luck), and the top-of-the-range Samsung devices that followed did too, but they weren’t very convincing. OnePlus also uses a facial recognition system, but it’s ultimately Apple that has made it the talking point with its Face ID, which is currently the most successful technology.

Since it offers a new unlocking system, Apple has decided to abandon the fingerprint reader and its long-time companion: the Home button. Since the high-tech world is populated by companies copying each other, it’s very likely that some manufacturers will follow in Apple’s footsteps and also abandon the fingerprint reader during the course of next year.

That being said, Apple’s abandonment of the jack plug wasn’t followed by other manufacturers, so there is a good chance that this will play out the same.

AndroidPIT eye sensor scanner Will the iris scanner survive in 2018? / © AndroidPIT

Intelligent assistants pave their way into the market, one way or another

Google’s artificially intelligent Assistant made its way to Android by appearing on all smartphones with a recent version of software and minimal configuration, and later on appeared on the connected Google HomeGoogle Home Mini and Google Home Max speakers.

Google was not the only one offering an assistant. Amazon also did it with Alexa on its Echo range, Samsung tried its luck on the smartphone with Bixby, HTC offered Sense Companion, which was far from perfect.

AndroidPIT google home 6975 Google Home just blends right in. / © AndroidPIT

All in all, Google Assistant stands out on smartphones and is the strongest contender in the fight with other voice assistants, especially between Google and Amazon. In short, artificial intelligence has a future.

Flagship prices are only increasing

This one was hard to miss: prices are skyrocketing. Of course, the gold medal for expensiveness goes to Apple, which offers a smartphone for $ 999. Of course, the magnanimus manufacturer justifies it in several ways: the large bezel-less screen, Face ID, the combination of hardware and software, etc. The argument “technology has its price” is an old one, and occludes the huge margins of profit that big manufacturers make for themselves.

AndroidPIT iPhone X 6036 The first brand to charge a grand? / © AndroidPIT

The case is similar with other manufacturers. Samsung also passed the 900 dollar mark with its Note 8 (to say that some people were hoping for a reduced price after the Note 7 fiasco!), and Huawei has increased the price of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro compared to the Mate 9. They’re all experimenting with charging a little more to see if it works, and apparently it does.

What tech developments were the most memorable for you this year?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

CES 2018: What to expect in mobile tech, smart home, VR and more

What is CES?

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest high-tech trade shows in the world and focuses entirely on technological innovation in consumer electronics. It takes place every January in Las Vegas and has been running now for over 50 years. This year it lasts from January 9-12.

This event brings together professionals, journalists and individual tech aficionados. CES 2017 was a record-breaker, welcoming more than 4,000 exhibiting companies and over 180,000 industry professionals to Las Vegas to showcase the latest innovations from the global tech industry.

What will be the hot trends of CES 2018?

Obviously, we’re excited for the next generation of Android devices that are being revealed: smartphones, tablets and smartwatches. Smartphones aren’t the main focus of CES, however, with many manufacturers holding back some big hitters for February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Having said that consumer tech has moved beyond smartphones, so we can expect to see many more interesting devices and technologies based on last years developments. This means drones, smart home devices and voice assistants, driverless cars, the internet of things, AI making everything that much more smarter and connected, 3D printers, new kinds of wearables, plus new accessories for AR and VR.

AndroidPIT IFA 2016 ehang drone 2182 We can expect to see some new drones. / © AndroidPIT

Asus: New ZenFone?

Traditionally, Asus presents the new ZenFone at the Las Vegas show. However, that could change this year as Asus has taken advantage of an event in Rome to present the new collection. 

Huawei: Making it in America 

Huawei’s CEO, Richard Yu has confirmed that some of Huawei handsets will soon be sold by US wireless carriers, starting sometime in 2018. The first such phone will be in its Mate 10 family of devices. Yu did not state which specific carriers would sell Huawei phones, but he did reveal that more information on those sales plans will be announced in early January during CES 2018.

Huawei could also take advantage of the CES to expand its vision of the smartphone and what the future holds for us. AI-assisted smartphones could be in the spotlight. The brand could also show its interest in the Internet of Things so we can expect to see more and more ‘smart’ objects arriving on the scene.

HTC: Double down on virtual reality?

With his HTV Vive headset, the Taiwanese manufacturer had immersed us (and the fortunes of the company) firmly in the virtual reality world. The Taiwanese manufacturer plans to improve the ecosystem so we can expect to see new accessories and other VR-specific content.

LG: New robots?

LG has participated in the CES since the beginning, so the South Korean manufacturer will of course be present at the show. As we would expect, LG could introduce new smartphones, especially in the entry-level and mid-range segments. 

Last year, the fashionable technology seemed to be the intelligent robot that acts as both a personal assistant and manager of home technologies. Amazon has its Amazon Echo, Google has its Google Home. LG seems to be interested in this technology with its robots. LG could provide other robots that you can place in the house, it will be in some ways extensions that offer other functions.

lg hub robot 2 Will LG’s robots be in the spotlight again? / © LG

Sony: TVs?

We haven’t heard much news from Sony about their smartphones for CES, though we have a good idea of their strategy for 2018. 

But in January, the Japanese firm could push its TVs. We expect that the next line of Bravias will feature OLED screens, as Sony has resumed production of them in 2017. Sony will hold its press conference on Monday 8 January at 17:00 on the Sony stand.

Samsung: The new A8 and more?

While the South Korean manufacturer is unlikely to present its Galaxy S9, the new A8 and A8+ are expected to be at least teased at CES. Samsung could also unveil some new concepts for the future as well as new TV sets, including a 150-inch giant TV.

TCL : A new BlackBerry ?

BlackBerry has certainly abandoned the manufacture of smartphones, preferring to turn to software rather than hardware, but this does not mean that we will no longer see phones from this brand. Its partner TCL takes over. It could take the opportunity to present a new model, or at least a prototype to replace the KeyOne.

Xiaomi : Android TV, routers ?

Last year, Xiaomi had once again presented us with devices for the Chinese market: Android TV MI TV 4 (65 inches), Mi Router HD and a white Mi Mix.

Xiaomi’s Vice President Wang Xiang explained that the CESwas an excellent opportunity to become better known. and that it is important to “keep in mind that the CES Is not a conference on the US market, it is an international conference at which it makes sense to present products for the Chinese market and other countries”. Once again this year, Xiaomi may have some surprises in store for us. 

Auto manufacturers

While motor shows are becoming increasingly high-tech, the opposite is also true. The CES will certainly be an opportunity to discover new developments in the field of cars, or at least smart cars. Digital assistants, such as Alexa or Google Assistant, should become more widespread in cars. Dashboards will become increasingly high-tech.

What are you hoping to see from CES 2018 ?

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Editors' highlights 2017: The year in tech

The year 2017 was quite an interesting one, but it was also somewhat boring at times. Like every year, of course, every big-name manufacturer released their latest flagships with every single one of them becoming increasingly expensive. One thing is clear in 2017: If I want to buy a high-end smartphone, I’d really have to shell out a lot. A whole lot. Samsung, Google and Apple have all crossed the $ 900 threshold. The iPhone X, in particular, somewhat exaggerates things: “The device is interesting and shows a clear evolution in the Apple world, but what you get for the price is a joke”, says Benoit.

New factors are coming into focus

But the price is not the only reason why smartphones are not the real highlights for our editors. Smartphones are becoming increasingly boring, and in a positive sense at that. Nowadays, even smartphones that cost less than 500 EUR provide so much performance that they are easily adequate for any day-to-day tasks.

The year 2017 mainly saw the prominent emergence of smart assistants. Our Italian colleague Jessica Murgia sees it the same way: “Google is bringing its assistant to nearly every home with its Google Home Mini for 59 euros”. Of course, Amazon, too, sells an affordable loudspeaker, the Echo Dot, which admittedly does not sound as good as its big brother but is just as smart. Jessica merely sees this current development as a harbinger for something much greater: “The smart home revolution is just getting started.”

AndroidPIT google home mini review 3229 The Google Home Mini looks good, is smart, and won’t break the bank. / © AndroidPIT

Eric Ferrari-Herrmann also thinks that conventional smartphones are not the centerpiece of the year. Furthermore, there is an upcoming product that many Germans in particular will like: Purism’s Librem 5. For all intents and purposes, customers currently can only choose between iOS and Android, which is not OK from a privacy standpoint. This viewpoint is also shared by the developers behind the new smartphone, including the operating system. Eric elaborates: “They are promising a smartphone for the year 2019 that is fully open at its core and lets the user decide which data is collected and which isn’t.” We wish the team the very best, since they could really stir things up in the smartphone world. We are very excited!

Smartphones still play a very important role

By no means are smartphones relegated to the bottom of our hotlist of the year. Our Italian colleague Luca Zaninello has felt extremely happy with smartphones this year: “After so many years of boring smartphones without real innovations, we have finally seen profound changes in the smartphone world.” He is referring to the bezel-less displays, AI-driven smartphones, new face-recognition hardware and AR abilities. Artificial intelligence, above all, opens up a whole new array of possibilities for smartphones, even if they are only used to a very limited degree at the moment. As with the Librem 5, this is probably more of a promise for the future, but we are already excited about what we will see in the year 2018.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 LG V30 Galaxy Note8 Pixel2 plus Huawei Mate10 pro 1983 A lot has been done this year, mainly from a technical design standpoint. / © AndroidPIT

For our French colleague Pierre Vitré, Xiaomi’s arrival in Europe is the definitive highlight. This manufacturer has already been familiar to and popular with technophiles in this part of the world for several years, but unfortunately, the phones could only be officially be purchased in Asia, which was a shame when it came to some devices. The Chinese manufacturer wants to grow as organically as possible and avoid making mistakes by entering a new market too quickly (as in the case of LeEco). After years of waiting, it finally happened in 2017: Xiaomi brought its smartphones to Spain. As such, other Western markets are not far off. Perhaps we will see Xiaomi smartphones officially released in US stores in 2018?

On the other hand, our Steffen Herget is a bit more nostalgic. His highlight of the year was the return of Nokia, even if it’s only under new leadership by HMD Global: “Because I am old and still remember the good ol’ days of Nokia cell phones, which were quite indestructible and simply worked as you expected them to”. With the Nokia 3, 5, 6 and 8, the manufacturer has strutted its stuff, at least from a technical design standpoint. Otherwise, the new smartphones were not exactly a hit, but hey, every (new) beginning is difficult, right? In any case, the Nokia 5 has recently shown that the new smartphones are at least as resistant as their legendary predecessors.

The secret star: software

For our Spanish colleague Luis Ortega, it’s not Android, iOS, smartphones in general or other technical gimmicks that have impressed him this year. It’s an operating system that has not yet been officially announced and that you can’t see much of either: Fuchsia. Google is working on a new product that does things differently than Android. One definitive highlight: Apps can be developed in Swift, Apple’s own programming language, therefore making the development of two separate apps for Android and iOS a thing of the past. Will we finally be able to take a look at it? We’re pretty stoked.

Both VR and augmented reality were major topics this year, so it’s no wonder that our editors were thrilled about it. Hans-Georg Kluge and Shu On-Kwok see exciting new developments, mainly in Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit. “Innovation has declined in smartphones over the past several years, but augmented reality takes our beloved smartphones to a whole new level”. The accuracy exhibited by ARKit, which it manages to do without additional hardware, is unbelievably impressive. You could tell how good Apple’s new development was since Google announced similar technology shortly thereafter. Project Tango has now been declared dead – and it doesn’t surprise me, to be honest.

ar stickers 6 A lot of fun can be had with Google’s AR stickers. / © AndrdoidPIT

But there have also been some developments in virtual reality this year. For Nicholas Montegriffo from our US team, the new games by developer Bethesda were particularly important and exciting for the VR world. VR versions of Skyrim, Doom, Wolfenstein and Fallout 4 have been released, which is a milestone for this technology. There has been a lot of discussion on how forward-looking VR is or even isn’t; but this step taken by one of the major development studio shows that the technology is by no means dead; au contraire. “The next step is Skyrim-like blockbuster games that are specially developed for VR. Then the true revolution will have begun.”

But that’s enough of our highlights for 2017. What were your highlights for the year? Is it still smartphones or something entirely different?

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Poll: What type of tech gear makes the best Christmas present?

The holiday season is here, and that means it’s time to give thoughtful gifts to friends and family. If you’re tech obsessed, or shopping for someone who is, you’ve got a lot of gadget options to choose from this year. We want to know which kind you think would make the best gift.

2017 is a good year for those who love getting and giving the latest technology. The obvious gift choice to light up someone’s holiday might be a smartphone or tablet, but there are a ton of other choices out there you have to consider.

The rise of smart home and IoT has brought a wave of exciting devices to the market including: voice assistant speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home Mini, home security devices like Nest Cam IQ indoor and outdoor cameras, smart TVs and streaming sticks like Chromecast, and even smart locks and thermostats. There are also a ton of great wearable devices like the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch or the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 fitness tracker. And then there’s the endless fun of drones of all sizes, and new affordable VR headsets like the Windows Mixed Reality headsets which start at $ 399.

There are great tech gifts out there for any price range, and we want to know which you think is the best. Let us know in the poll below which gift would put the biggest smile on your face, and be sure to tell us why in the comments.

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Tech Christmas gifts on a budget

The holiday season is right around the corner, and whether you celebrate Christmas or are from another denomination, it’s a great time to show your loved ones you care with some cool gifts. Topping everyone’s wish list is a new smartphone or gadget, so why not check out some cool budget smartphones that are affordable, yet provide the great user experience you would want for your friend or family.

Doogee Mix 2

First on our list ist the DOOGEE MIX 2, a great buy for this season of giving and unique stocking stuffer.  It features a 5.99-bezel-less display with a FHD+ resolution and 18:9 display ratio. The smartphone features advanced 3D face unlock in addition to four cameras (two on each side), which includes a 130 degree wide-angle front lens. Furthermore, it is powered by the powerful Helio P25 processor and 6GB RAM that allows the MIX 2 to handle multitasking and other heavy usage easily. Finally, its 4,046mAh battery capacity and Type-C USB port make it a reliable “partner” that you can store right in our pocket or purse. The DOOGEE MIX 2 starts at $ 249.00.

DOOGEE MIX 2 The DOOGEE MIX 2 is affordable and looks pretty darn good.  / © DOOGEE

AllCall Madrid

The AllCall Madrid comes with a 5.5-inch SHARP display (1,280 x 720 resolution) curved in on all four edges. The frame on the AllCall Madrid is ultra narrow frame giving it very elegant look and its large display will provide users will an enjoyable viewing experience. Under the hood is a  MTK6580 processor that is supported by 1GB RAM and  8GB of internal storage, which is expandable up to 32GB. What’s more, it has a 8MP rear camera by SONY (the single sensor on the Madrid is able to provide dual camera effects), a 2MP front selfie camera, dual SIM support and 2,600mAh battery capacity. It also runs on Android 7.0 Nougat. The AllCall Madrid goes for a retail price is $ 59.99, an unbeatable price for the goodies this phone can deliver. During the pre-sale period, the price will be only $ 49.99.

AllCall Madrid The AllCall Madrid is a budget phone to consider this Christmas. / © AllCall

DBPower T21 Projector

The DBPower T21 Projector is a great multimedia home theatre gadget that will allow you to show off your movies and pictures in larger than life ways. Connect it right to your camera, laptop, media player, XBOX 360, Computer and iPad and you can display the content in a cinch. The image you get will be crisp, clear and bright thanks to the 1800 Lumens and it can project from 1.5 to 5 meters away, at an image size from 32 to 176 inches. The suggested best watching is at 2.5 meters with an image size of 130 inches (lets face it, none of us has a built-in home theater, so this is more than enough). The DBPower T21 can be bought for $ 130 right on Amazon.

projector A projector is a great at-home gadget. / © DBPOWER

iRULU GeoKing 3 Max

The iRULU GeoKing 3 Max comes with a 6.5-inch Full HD display and in two color variations of gold and silver. It shoots pictures with a 13MP rear camera, boosted by some cool features like pro mode, and a 5 MP front camera. On the back, you’ll find a fingerprint scanner that not only unlocks your phone, but can securely allow you to pay for items. It’s got a processor and inner composition that will easily allow for multitasking, gaming and video watching. What’s more, it has a dual SIM slot, meaning you can use it for private and professional life. The iRULU GeoKing 3 Max can be purchased for $ 159.99, but with the coupon code of G36OFF8, there are extra savings to be had.

geoking max Another great stocking stuffer: the iRULU GeoKINg 3 Max. / © iRULU

What are you buying your loved ones this Christmas? 

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