Yes 4G Double Double and Altitude
First up, we attended Yes 4G’s launch of their new Double Double data plan alongside the all new Yes 4G Altitude smartphone. With an RRP of MYR399, the Altitude is for sure a budget device worth looking at. You can also get it bundled with the Double Double data plan for 1MYR70 per month. The plan will give you the freedom of using 24GB of 4G data. The usage, however is separated into 16GB of LTE data while 8GB is on broadband, or WiMax; hence the “Double Double” moniker.
New in VR
This week also we see some loving on Virtual Reality (VR) tech. Samsung has been a long time partner and sponsor for Olympics. For the 2016 Olympics in Rio they have partnered with NBC to bring exclusive VR contents to Samsung’s Gear VR. Owners of Samsung Gear VR who are also paid subscribers of NBC will have access to 85 hours of exclusive VR content including the opening and closing ceremony the day after the events are held from the 6th August, 2016 until 22nd August, 2016.
Google is also looking to be on board the VR boat with their new development of the Chrome. There are talks of Google launching a VR ready Chrome in the Google I/O coming soon. Not surprising really when the Beta version of Chrome has WebVR as an application and an extension you can download. The idea here is to browse the internet in VR mode, a fully immersive experience of the web. The issue with WebVR is that it works on VR ready website only. Chrome VR looks to resolve the issue and pretty much make VR readily available for Android devices of the future. Google is also reportedly releasing a VR only section in their latest iteration of Google Play Store that will be introduced in Google I/O.
HTC’s Vive has been one of the products in the limelight these days contrasting the hardware manufacturer’s state of affairs. The board of the Taiwanese manufacturer is looking to separate the success of the Vive from difficulties of HTC operations by spinning the Vive into an entirely different brand operating under the same company. HTC’s board does not want the failing HTC brand to be affecting the financial success of the HTC Vive which sold about 30,000 units in its first week of launch.
Google and Microsoft Hard At Work
Google, last week acquired Webpass, a San Francisco based gigabit internet service provider company. They also have invested into an undersea cable that connects the American continent to Japan. It went live on the 30th of June and is capable of 60TB of data exchange. Google’s contribution to the project gives them 10TB of the 60TB which are shared among five Asian service providers and Google. With access to 10TB of the bandwidth Japan will no go wanting for more speed with the near instantaneous access of Google’s services. This also opens up the possibility of Google Fiber expanding outside of the United States region. All this is happening while Google’s Spanish office is being raided or tax evasion or tax fraud charges. A month before this Google’s Paris office was also raided for the same reasons. Google has said that they are in compliance with the tax laws in Spain and will work closely with the authorities to resolve the issue.
Microsoft looks to be on the busy side this week with the announcement of the next big update of the Windows 10 coming on the 2nd of August, 2016. With the new Windows update they will also release something called the Whiteboard. Sounding pretty much like Microsoft’s version of Google Classroom, it allows sharing of content with student and teacher in a single created classroom. Any user of the system can also create content that can be seen and altered, or corrected by other users in the system. It will allow for seamless integration of web contents and digitally created contents as well for a more seamless classroom experience. It also allows you to submit and evaluate assignments.
Microsoft was reported to buy LinkedIn for US$26.2 billion last few weeks. It turns out though that there are actually five companies that are in talks of buying LinkedIn including Microsoft. The latest report suggests that three out of the five companies have already backed down from offers. Those three companies remain unnamed but speculations are putting their money on Facebook, Alphabet (Google), Oracle, or IBM having part of the negotiations before backing down to Microsoft and Salesforce. Salesforce has offered US$200 per share of LinkedIn, higher offer than Microsoft’s US$196 per share. Though Salesforce offer is slightly higher, it is a cash and stock transaction which means that LinkedIn shareholders will get some money and a certain percentage of Salesforce equivalent stock shares. Microsoft though is offering a total cash transaction for LinkedIn.
Rumours has been going around too that Microsoft is looking to produce a certain Surface All-in-One PC that is designed for your living room. There have been plenty of request and therefore a higher demand projection for this sort of device for home multimedia and couch surfing. It is apparently to be announced at the Microsoft Surface refresh or announcement in early 2017. However, other reports point to its availability being closely tied on how soon Intel can announce or roll out their latest, next-generation 14nm processors. The Microsoft Surface refresh in the early 2017 also carries some rumours surrounding a certain Surface smarphone device.
Autonomous Cars: A Very Near Future? Or an Accidental Gimmick?
Tesla, one of the largest and fastest technology firms making its name through electric cars has been in the limelight after having one of their cars involved in a fatal crash. There are fatal crashes everyday and it does not actually seem to significant. This crash is very significant because it marked the first ever crash that involves an autopilot driven Tesla Model S that is fatal. Ironically it was also Tesla’s autopilot system that saved the victim’s life in a near-miss incident he recorded much earlier. Police have recovered a DVD Player unit in the car containing a Harry Potter movie. There are no mentions of which Harry Potter he was on but they were determining and suggesting that the victim was watching Harry Potter at the time of the accident. Theories regarding the lack of auto-braking in Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system has been addressed by Tesla and its developing partner MobilEyes. Tesla’s semi-autonomous system is currently one of the best, if not the best implemented system of its kind in the world. Tesla and MobilEyes however recommend that drivers keep their eyes on the road at all times.
With the mention of Autonomous driving, BMW has boldly partnered with Intel and MobilEyes announcing their commitment to make fully autonomous cars in five years time. While the 2021 date seems sort of preposterous as we have not seen a decent semi-autonomous driving system other than Tesla’s autopilot BMW is confident that alongside Intel and MobilEyes it is a possible future. MobilEyes has an extensive experience obviously with Tesla developing the autopilot system while Intel has reportedly been working on autonomous vehicles for a couple of years now.