Oppo R11 to be available outside China starting next week

The Oppo R11 – which was made official last week, and is currently only available in China – will soon be available outside of its home country. According to a Weibo post, the device will go on sale in Taiwan next week.

Specifically, the post notes the launch is set for June 21. As for pricing, the phone will carry a tag of NTD 15,990, which translates into around $525. For comparison, the R11’s price in China is CNY2,999, or around $4

Why Amazon's Use of Self-Driving Technology Would Be a Game Changer

Self-driving vehicles have yet to hit the road in a major way, but Amazon already is exploring the technology’s potential to change how your packages are delivered.

Amazon is the nation’s largest online retailer, and its decisions not only turn heads but influence the entire retail and shipping industries, analysts say. That means any foray into the self-driving arena – whether as a developer or customer – could have a significant effect on the technology’s adoption.

Amazon has assigned a dozen employees to determine how it can use the technology as part of its business, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. It’s unclear what shape Amazon’s efforts will take or how far along they might be, although the company has no plans to create its own vehicles, according to the report.

Nevertheless, the Amazon group offers an early indication that big companies are preparing for the technology’s impact.

Transportation experts anticipate that self-driving cars will fundamentally alter the way people get around and the way companies ship goods, changes that stand to disrupt entire industries and leave millions of professional drivers without jobs. The forthcoming shift has attracted the money and attention of the biggest names in the technology and automotive industries, including Apple, Uber, Google, Ford, General Motors and Tesla, among others.

In particular, the technology could make long-haul shipping cheaper and faster because, unlike human drivers, machines do not command a salary or require down time. That would be important to Amazon, whose shipping costs continue to climb as the company sells more products and ships them faster, according to its annual report. Amazon even invested in its own fleet of trucks in December 2015 to give the company greater control over distribution.

Why Amazon's Use of Self-Driving Technology Would Be a Game Changer

If Amazon adopts self-driving technology, it may push others to do the same.

 

“When Amazon sneezes, everyone wakes up,” said Satish Jindel, president of SJ Consulting Group, a transportation and logistics advisory firm.

The company said it shipped more than 1 billion items during the 2016 holiday season.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined a request for an interview, citing a “long-standing practice of not commenting on rumors and speculation.” The company’s chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post.

Amazon has become something of a pioneer in home delivery, in part by setting the standard for how quickly purchases arrive on your doorstep. The company has begun using aerial drones in an effort to deliver goods more quickly, completing its first successful flight to a customer in the United Kingdom in December. Like self-driving vehicles, drones will need to overcome regulatory hurdles before they’re widely deployed.

In its warehouses, Amazon has used thousands of robots that pull items from shelves and pack them. Last summer, Deutsche Bank analysts found the robots reduced the time to fulfill an order from more than an hour to 15 minutes, according to business news site Quartz. They also saved Amazon about $22 million per warehouse. Amazon acquired Kiva, the company that makes the robots, in 2012 for $775 million.

Samsung Pay Is Here, and It Could Be the Best Reason to Get the Galaxy S8

On a trip to the mall late last year, as I got to the checkout kiosk to pay for the clothes I had just bought, I realised I didn’t have my wallet on me. Forced to make the walk back to where I had parked, I envied people living in countries that have had the option to pay with their phones for a few years, and wondered when I would be able to have that luxury too.

Well, that day has come. Samsung Pay launched officially in India on Wednesday, allowing you to simply make payments with your phone – as long as it’s one of six Galaxy devices, including the Galaxy S7, and Galaxy Note 5. If you have one, then all you need to do is get the app, and enter your card details on first run (assuming your account is with one of the supported banks, such as HDFC and ICICI). Voilà! Who knew the future would be so easy?

Of course, India isn’t the only region to get Samsung’s mobile pay service. Samsung Pay launched in Korea in late 2015, before moving to the US a month later. Since then, Samsung Pay has expanded to the likes of Australia, Brazil, China, and Russia. It’s a tiny market right now, overall, but there’s growing competition from all sides, mostly Apple Pay and Android Pay, at least in markets outside India.

Samsung Pay been here slightly longer for more enterprising people, thanks to an early access programme Samsung made available earlier this month. I’ve tried the beta several times during those weeks, and it’s worked flawlessly so far. To be honest, I have had reservations every time I stepped up to the head of the queue, but the only issue has been the curious/ puzzled faces of the people behind the counter.

It is also really easy to use, too. Like Apple Pay, it’s accessible from the lock-screen. Simply swipe from the bottom, and then swipe left or right to pick the desired one. It remembers what you used last time around, so if you frequently make payments with the same card, you’re good to go with one swipe. Then, align your phone’s back with the card reader, and authenticate using your fingerprint/ PIN combination.

Now if I find myself having forgotten my wallet again, all I’d have to do is get my phone out, and I’d have all my cards with me. Soon, the Gear S3 will have it as well, so you won’t need your phone either. Much more importantly, it’d allow me to leave my clunky wallet behind that I hate having to carry in my back-pocket. It’s a constant annoyance when I’m sitting, and I’d be glad to get rid of it.

Samsung Pay Is Here, and It Could Be the Best Reason to Get the Galaxy S8

This won’t be as universal for everyone, as it depends on your lifestyle. Samsung Pay doesn’t work with ATMs, so you’ll still need to carry your card around if you tend to withdraw cash frequently. Fortunately, I live a cash-less life for the most part, and visit the ATM roughly once every three months, so it’s not a bother for me. But that may not work for you. For what it’s worth, Samsung Pay already has Paytm support, and UPI is on its way, so you can use those routes if you prefer.

The biggest concern for most seems to be security, but mobile payments can actually be more secure. For one, card skimming isn’t possible since you don’t need to physically give your card to anyone, and two, like a chip-and-pin card, Samsung Pay only shares a random token with the reader, not the card number. Plus, it also needs your fingerprint/ PIN for authentication, so you don’t have to worry if your phone gets stolen – although the fact that your phone’s been stolen will still be worrisome.

The other problem with digital payments methods is that support can often be limited. Samsung Pay supports both NFC – which is the common standard for mobile payments – and MST (magnetic secure transmission), which works with most existing card readers, as it emulates the presence of a card by wirelessly transmitting, well, magnetic waves. NFC might be the true future of payments, but it’s a future that’s still not here, even in places such as the US. Samsung Pay’s MST feature is essentially a form of backward compatibility, so you can use this method of payments nearly everywhere, though the people working there might themselves be unaware.

For Samsung, this feature is a fantastic trick up its sleeve, as it gives the Korean company a leg up on its competition. By comparison, the other big two – Apple Pay, and Android Pay – will be limited to NFC-equipped readers even when they do make it to India. Samsung then has a clear advantage in that regard, and one that it can leverage to market its smartphones, and peripherals.

With the launch of the Galaxy S8 just around the corner, Samsung Pay looks like a real selling point. No thanks red iPhone, I know which one I want.

Firefox 54 Claims to Be Faster, Use Less RAM Than Earlier Version

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Firefox 54 is already available for download
  • The new version uses up to four content processes
  • New version allows browser to handle complex web pages better

Mozilla’s Firefox browser has had problems with memory management in the past and with the latest version – Firefox 54 – the company claims that it has finally achieved a breakthrough. Firefox 54, which was released on Tuesday, has been claimed by the company to bring efficient RAM management and speed improvements to the browser.

In order to achieve these improvements, Firefox 54 uses up to four content processes as part of Mozilla’s ‘E10s’ project, instead of one used by earlier versions. In simple terms, this means that a complex page, with extensive multimedia content, now ends up having less impact on responsiveness and speed of other tabs, said Nick Nguyen, Vice President, Product, Firefox, in a blog post.

“By separating the tabs into separate processes, we make better use of the hardware on your computer, so Firefox can deliver you more of the Web you love, with less waiting,” Nguyen wrote.

Nguyen adds that in company’s tests, Firefox 54 was found using significantly less RAM as compared to other browsers on Windows 10, macOS, and Linux.

Firefox 54 Claims to Be Faster, Use Less RAM Than Earlier Version

The Firefox 54 release has been described as a phase in Mozilla’s E10s initiative and going ahead, the company might very well increase the cap on the maximum number of processes used by the browser. The Verge points out that users can already customise the upper limit by entering “about:config” in the address bar and adjusting the settings themselves. Interested users can download the latest version of the browser from Mozilla’s official website or simply update their existing Firefox release to the latest version and check they are on Firefox v54.

Mozilla seems to be working to improve one aspect of its browser at a time. After introducing Quantum Compositor with Firefox 53 to reduce crashes, the company focused on RAM management and speed improvements with the next release.

As Google’s Chrome browser is used by a much larger chunk of users than Firefox, taking care of these issues one at a time might convince more people to give Firefox a try once again.

Facebook's Virtual Reality Ambitions Could Be Threatened by Court Order

Facebook Inc’s big ambitions in the nascent virtual reality industry could be threatened by a court order that would prevent it from using critical software code another company claims to own, according to legal and industry experts.

Last Thursday, video game publisher ZeniMax Media Inc asked a Dallas federal judge to issue an order barring Facebook unit Oculus from using or distributing the disputed code, part of the software development kit that Oculus provides to outside companies creating games for its Rift VR headset.

A decision is likely a few months away, but intellectual property lawyers said ZeniMax has a decent chance of getting the order, which would mean Facebook faces a tough choice between paying a possibly hefty settlement or fighting on at risk of jeopardizing its position in the sector.

For now, Facebook is fighting on. Oculus spokeswoman Tera Randall said last Thursday the company would challenge a $500 million jury verdict on February 1 against Oculus and its co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe for infringing ZeniMax’s copyrighted code and violating a non-disclosure agreement.

Randall said Oculus would possibly file an appeal that would “allow us to put this litigation behind us.”

She did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

An injunction would require Oculus, which Facebook acquired for $3 billion in 2014, to stop distributing the code to developers or selling those games that use it.

Such a court order “would put a huge stumbling block in front” of Oculus, said Stephanie Llamas, an analyst with gaming market research firm SuperData. It would offer the company’s rivals in the new market, which include HTC, Sony Corp, Alphabet Inc and others an “important opportunity for them to become first movers.”

Sales of the Rift itself would not be barred, but Llamas, said a lack of available titles could hinder Facebook’s offering relative to HTC’s Vive headset and Sony’s PlayStation VR.

That market is relatively small at the moment – sales of VR hardware and software totaled $2.7 billion in 2016 – and mainly limited to gaming. But Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has predicted the technology “will become a part of daily life for billions of people,” revolutionizing social media, entertainment and medicine.

SuperData says the VR market will be worth $37 billion by 2020. Likewise, investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald last year issued a report predicting VR would account for 10 percent of Facebook revenue in four years’ time.

ZeniMax’s lawsuit arose from 2012 correspondence between Luckey and famed video game developer John Carmack, creator of the Doom and Quake series and then a ZeniMax employee. Luckey signed a non-disclosure agreement with ZeniMax covering his communications with Carmack.Facebook's Virtual Reality Ambitions Could Be Threatened by Court Order

Carmack joined Oculus in 2013 as chief technology officer. ZeniMax sued in 2014, claiming Carmack’s work while its employee was crucial to the Rift. At trial, Facebook said ZeniMax concocted its claims because of “sour grapes” over missing the VR trend.

Zuckerberg testified that “the idea that Oculus products are based on someone else’s technology is just wrong.”

The jury decided Oculus had not stolen trade secrets but had infringed ZeniMax’s intellectual property. It also said Oculus breached the non-disclosure agreement.

IP lawyers said the judge would consider factors such as whether ZeniMax continues to be harmed and whether money is sufficient compensation.

Edward Naughton, a Boston-based copyright lawyer with Brown Rudnick, said ZeniMax has a strong argument because its technology continues to be used without its permission and the jury’s verdict does not compensate for that.

“I think they have a pretty good shot here,” Naughton said.

Mitchell Shelowitz, a copyright lawyer in New York, noted that the non-disclosure agreement explicitly stated ZeniMax would be entitled to an injunction in the event its terms were violated.

Not all lawyers agree ZeniMax has the stronger position. Chicago-based IP lawyer Joshua Rich said he thinks Facebook has a good chance to repel the injunction by arguing that ZeniMax is not being harmed by the sale of the Oculus products because it is not direct competitor.

If Facebook can get past the injunction fight, the calculus could change, said Naughton. Facebook may believe it has strong arguments on appeal or, because it has so much cash on hand, it may hope to wear ZeniMax down to the point where it settles on favorable terms.

“Facebook has deep pockets,” said Naughton. “That allows them to put their opponent into litigation fatigue.”

6 display settings you should be using in Windows 10

Windows 10 Creators Update added two display settings that make sitting in front of your laptop or PC a more pleasant experience. I’ll cover these two new display settings along with some old standbys so you can get Windows 10 ($92.99 at Amazon.com) looking its best.

1. Use the night light at night

Staring at an unnaturally blue screen at night can shift your body’s natural clock and make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Your phone likely has a way to switch to warmer colors at night, and now Windows does, too. Creators Update added a setting to lower the blue light of your PC. Head to Settings > System > Display (or just right-click on your desktop and choose Display settings) and click Night light settings. You can use a slider to choose how warm you want your display’s color temperature to get a night and schedule night-light mode to come on at sunset or manually set hours. You’ll also find a new Night light button in the Action Center to toggle the setting on and off.

Image result for 6 display settings you should be using in Windows 10

 

2. Fix old apps with high DPI scaling

It’s a bummer to upgrade to a 4K display only to find that some of your apps look blurry, because the developer has yet to update them to run on a screen with so many pixels. Creators Update adds a way for you to override DPI settings so individual apps can scale properly (read: crisply) on high-resolution displays. For apps that look less than crisp on a high-resolution display, right-click on the app and choose Properties. Click on the Compatibility tab and check the box for Override high DPI scaling behavior and then choose System (Enhanced) from the pull-down menu.

If you are having trouble reading text, recognizing icons and navigating apps because your high-resolution display makes everything look so tiny, then you need to check out Windows 10’s scaling options. On the Display settings back is an option for Scale and layout. Windows will recommend a percentage but you can play around with the offerings to find the right balance between legibility and screen real estate.

display-settings
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

4. Use your display’s native resolution

You should make every effort to use your display’s native resolution, which Windows calls the recommended resolution. It’s the highest resolution offered. If you select a lower resolution, then your screen image will look blurry. At its native resolution, each pixel on your LCD display is directly mapped to a pixel in the image sent by your PC’s graphics produce a sharp image. When those pixels don’t line up, things get blurry. Try to adjust the size of text and icons and so on by using the scaling option in tip 3 before you lower your screen resolution from the recommended setting.

5. Do a little color calibration

Windows has a built-in color calibration tool that’s hiding out in the Control Panel. Just search for color calibration and select Calibrate color display. You’ll be stepped through a number of display tests to adjust gamma, brightness, contrast and color balance. The tool helpfully shows you examples prior to each test image so you know what to look for to get the best results.

color-calibration
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Why Any Modular Gadget Should Be Taken With a Pinch of Salt

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Companies have tried making modular gadgets for decades
  • Google’s Project Ara might just be the biggest failed modular attempt
  • There’s nothing to suggest modular devices can really work

The common complaint heard these days with gadgets – and smartphones in particular – is that there’s a lack of any true innovation. Phones today look more similar than ever before, monoliths carved out of glass and aluminium. Because of tightly-packed hardware that allows them to be thinner and lighter, many phones have lost even basic features, such as a replaceable battery, and even the 3.5mm headphone jack in recent times.

What if, like the good old desktop computer, other gadgets too were made up of easily pluggable components, that could be replaced individually, instead of replacing the entire product every few years? That’s the premise behind modular hardware, but although people keep trying to make it happen, there’s little reason to believe it actually will.

Why Any Modular Gadget Should Be Taken With a Pinch of Salt

The idea isn’t new, but has certainly evolved with time. Back in 1999, Handspring made Personal Digital Assistants that had a Springboard Expansion Slot, used to attach modules that added features like GPS, a camera, RFID, or barcode scanner. Sony Ericsson’s phones from 2002 such as the T68i and T300 too were compatible with an attachable accessory that added a camera to these phones.

Next came Modu, a mobile phone released in 2007 that brought the idea of easily swappable ‘jackets’, which would either change the appearance of the phone or add additional functionality, or both. For instance, there was a ‘Boom Box’ jacket that added stereo speakers, a ‘Storage Jacket’ that added added a male USB port to directly attach to a computer.

Modu Phone full Modu Phone

Modu Express Jacket

It even partnered with Micromax to bring the modular phone to India in 2010, which had a ‘camera jacket’.

But all these additional features quickly got integrated into smartphones, as features like cameras, GPS, stereo speakers, etc gained importance over time. By 2011 Modu had shut operations and sold its patents to Google.

In 2013, the idea of modular hardware again caught eyeballs, as a concept called Phonebloks went viral, with many rallying up towards a modular phone future. The then-Google-owned Motorola even acknowledged the concept as it unveiled Project Ara, finally giving modular phone fans their brightest ray of hope.

Project Ara was basically a real-life version of Phonebloks, where endoskeletal frames called ‘endos’ held together everything from the display module, to the ones containing the battery, chipset, camera, and more. The endos came in three sizes – mini, medium and large. Apart from being able to upgrade the phone’s basic hardware at any point of time, there was also talk of specialised modules like medical devices, pico projectors, night vision sensors, game controllers, etc.

After years of iterations and a failed first bootup in 2014, Project Ara by 2016 changed vastly, with many of the core components like the battery, display, and system-on-chip becoming non-replaceable. Ultimately, the project was killed by the end of that year.

project ara full 2 Project Ara

Project Ara

Around the same time as Project Ara, there were two other projects that took a slightly different approach to modularity. Instead of swapping out every component for a new one to add functionality, the pitch was easy repairability and creating a positive social change.

Amsterdam-based Fairphone started its work in 2013 and produced two phones, the newest of which (Fairphone 2) scored a 10/10 repairability score by iFixit, with the spare parts being easily available for purchase on its website. As of today, the Fairphone 2 sports an ancient, 2014-made Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, which was released the same year as the chipset. It can be preordered today for 529 euros (roughly Rs. 37,000), though it doesn’t sound like a good purchase, to say the least.

Another Finland-based company, called PuzzlePhone, in 2014 made a product with three easily-replaceable parts – dubbed the Brain, Spine, and Heart. The brain consisted of essentials such as the CPU, RAM, internal storage and cameras; the spine had the display; and the heart contained the battery. On its blog post, the company shared that due to financial troubles, it couldn’t ship the phones in 2016, though it’s still trying to ship this year.

While attempts like Project Ara were closer to the true modular phone dream, there were some subtler attempts made by LG and Motorola in 2016, with the LG G5 and Moto Z respectively. The LG G5 had a removable battery module, which could be replaced with attachments called ‘LG Friends’. These included a pro-camera module and a DAC made by Bang and Olufsen. The Moto Z had magnetically latching ‘Moto Mods’, which ranged from camera-centric accessories made by Hasselblad, to speakers and battery packs.

As of today, LG is said to be removing modular functionality from the successor to the G5. Motorola’s next phone might also drop mods, though at least the Moto Z is supposed to continue supporting mods in next year’s model.

Modular isn’t restricted to the smartphone category too – a company called Blocks started its Kickstarter campaign in October 2015 to make a smartwatch with modules that could be coupled together as part of the wrist strap. Last we heard, the shipments of the product had been delayed more than once, finally pushed to December 2016. We’re in January 2017 already and there appears to be no word on the progress.

blocks smartwatch full Blocks Smartwatch

Blocks Modular Smartwatch

The interest in modular devices was also evident at this year’s CES 2017 – where Intel announced the Compute Card, a credit-card sized standard for plug-and-play computing hardware, which can be easily replaced in appliances like smart refrigerators, smart kiosks, security camera setups, and so on.

Similarly, Xiaomi said its Mi TV 4’s computing hardware (presumably, the system on chip) would be upgradeable after it becomes obsolete after a few years, without having to change the entire TV.

These ideas sound interesting, but even a cursory reading of the history of modular attempts is enough to make you cynical. If you’ve read all the documented attempts at making modular gadgets, you will want to take anything in the future that has the words ‘modular’ in it with a pinch of salt.

No matter how much fans want a world where their gadgets are easily upgradeable like desktop computers, there are physical, technological, and economical limitations that have kept this from becoming mainstream.

For example, can the individual modules be small and strong enough that the overall size of a modular smartphone is comparable to the dimensions and durability of today’s typical smartphone? As of now, that’s not the case. And what happens when users are given the freedom to upgrade individual components that may not play nicely with the rest of the setup? What if a hypothetical 4K display module or a dual camera setup was put on a phone whose processing power is not up to the task? You would have to upgrade some other modules to support the display. At which point, wouldn’t it not be a cheaper proposition to buy a new phone instead?

Next is also the question of compatibility – remember how when you put a new graphics card in a computer, you have to install drivers given by the manufacturer? Will modular component makers support all the fragmented versions of Android in use by making their components compatible with all of them?

Then comes question of economics – will manufacturing, selling and supporting these modules be a profitable business? Can the modules be cheap enough to be affordable for most consumers? You can buy a good smartphone for well under Rs. 10,000 today – can these modular components offer competitive pricing?

Lastly, comes the question of interoperability. None of the examples above had modules that were interoperable with other manufacturers. In a desktop computer, a graphics card made by Zotac works with a motherboard made by Asus, because the PCIe slot is standardised. Unfortunately the same isn’t the case with modular gadgets (at least until now) because one standard isn’t implemented by multiple makers.

Manufacturers have spent many decades trying to answer these questions. Clearly (and unfortunately), they haven’t been able to make any meaningful impact yet, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be one anytime soon.

Sony's move to focus on flagship Xperia phones could be good for it

Sony Mobile just announced on its Investor’s Day celebration that it is trying to streamline its product portfolio by eliminating ‘Premium Standard’ models like the Xperia X and Xperia X Compact.

Currently the company produces three separate lines of smartphones –  mid-range handsets like the Xperia XA1 Ultra and Xperia XA1, ‘Premium Standard’ models like the Xperia X and Xperia X Compact and flagship phones like the Xperia XZs and Xperia XZ Premium.

After eliminating budget smartphones last year, now the company has decided to further consolidate its line-up by eliminating smartphones that slot in between the mid-range and flagship categories.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

This is a very welcome move and points towards a more lean and focused Sony Mobile, which aims to take back the market share it has lost over the years to Samsung, Apple and Chinese OEM’s like OnePlus. Consolidating their line-up does not only make financial sense, but will also help the company reclaim brand value that has degraded over the years.

A confused and intimidating line-up is a problem that Sony Mobile has suffered for quite some time now. Sony found considerable success with the early iterations of the Xperia Z, but over time, the attention tapered off thanks to a combination of incremental updates, poor pricing policies and a six month cycle of new flagship smartphones.

The foundation is there for Sony Mobile to stage a grand comeback. The innovation is there, all the company needs to do is streamline their line-up and make sure they don’t cannibalise their own products.

Instead of following a sensible one-year update cycle for their flagship smartphones, Sony decided to release a new version every six months. This resulted in dilution of the Xperia brand as every subsequent flagship had only incremental updates and did not look much different to the general public.

While tech enthusiasts and tech journalists could understand the slight spec differences between the new and old handsets, it became quite difficult for the common man to distinguish between the many ‘Z’ handsets on sale.

Last year, Sony decided to revamp their entire smartphone line-up by ditching the ‘Z’ brand name and introducing a whole new series in the form of the Xperia X, Xperia X Compact and the Xperia X Performance.

While this move had the potential to usher in a revival, their gamble failed to take off as the X and X Performance failed to set the market on fire due to a myriad of reasons. Now, Sony seems to have settled on the ‘XZ’ brand name and both the Xperia XZ and XZ Premium have been received warmly by critics.

The decision to streamline the product line-up will dramatically help make Sony’s product range easier to understand for the layman and will also help Sony market its product in a much clearer and focused manner.

Sony’s smartphones have a lot going for them – excellent cameras, a unique industrial design that stands out from the competition, state of the art displays and a wholly unique location of the fingerprint sensor. The upcoming Xperia XZ Premium is a clear representation of Sony Mobile at their best, a clear distillation of everything that makes Sony unique and what they are good at – Imaging, displays and audio.

The foundation is there for Sony to stage a grand comeback in the smartphone market. The innovation and impetus is there, all the company needs to do is streamline their line-up and make sure they don’t cannibalise their own products.

A lean and focused Sony Mobile has the potential to take back the market share it has lost over the years to Samsung, Apple and Chinese OEM’s like OnePlus

With fresh rumours emerging that the company plans to release two new flagship handsets by the end of the year, the potential to confuse their line-up again is ripe for the picking. It would do Sony a world of good if they establish clear product lines like Samsung has done with the ‘S’ and ‘Note’ series, with systematic and timely updates to them once every year.

What the company needs to refrain from is flooding the market with a plethora of products that have little differences between them. This will alienate the mass audience and will dilute the strength of the Xperia brand.

The future looks bright for Sony Mobile. They seem to doing all the right things in order to reclaim lost market share. The new Xperia XA1 and Xperia XZ Premium are getting great reviews. The ball is in Sony’s court now, let’s see if they hit an ace or strike out with a double fault.

10 podcasts you should be listening to

  1. Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People Comedian Chris Gethard opens the phone lines to one anonymous caller, and vows to never hang up first. Every caller tells a story, ranging from shocking confessions to sad tales of failed artists, and the comedian helps get to the source of their emotions. You’ll get sucked into the raw, honest conversations.
  2. Code Switch Listen as a team of journalists (Kat Chow, Gene Demby, Leah Donnella, Adrian Florido, Karen Grigsby Bates, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, and Shereen Marisol Meraji) discuss race, ethnicity and culture.
  3. AWAYE! Tap into Aboriginal art and culture from all over Australia. You’ll get a chance to hear from a variety of Aboriginal people, as well as touch on topics such as constitutional recognition, and their representation in politics. It’s a must-listen for every Australian.
  4. The Hilarious World of Depression A beautiful podcast that faces the dreary world of depression head on. Host John Moe, who has battled depression throughout his life, interviews comedians about their mental health issues. The show draws listeners in by being extremely relatable, even for listeners without a mental health illness.Image result for PODCASTS
  1. HomecomingGimlet Media brings listeners a scripted political thriller with an all-star cast including David Schwimmer (Friends), Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, Amy Sedaris, and David Cross. The show, which is in talks to become a TV series, focuses on a caseworker at a government facility. Close your eyes and let the sounds paint the scene; you’re in for great acting.
  2. Never Before with Janet Mock Janet Mock, a transgender rights activist and author, teams up with actress Lena Dunham to bring listeners a brand new podcast that features in depth conversations with some of the most influential celebrities of this generation. Her first episode starts with one of the most famous matriarchs in the world, Beyonc??’s mother, Tina Knowles.
  3. RevealSome of the best investigative journalists in the world come together to tell compelling stories on everything from crime to politics. Hosted by Al Letson, this podcast touches on many relevant issues in today’s world.
  4. Sleeptalker This is a podcast surrounding the topic of sleep, specifically what happens when we sleep. The show also digs deeper into sleeping disorders and anxiety, but is told as a captivating story that is sure to hook the listener.
  5. 99% InvisibleThe show touches on the thoughts that go into the things we don’t think about. Topics include the origin of the fortune cookie and how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures in used car lots.
  6. InvisibiliaCo-hosted by Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel, the podcast goes in depth on the invisible forces that control human behaviour.