Something old, something new

The telecommunications industry, specifically mobile communications, is converging in Barcelona this week. Even before Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicks off today, two companies have fired the first salvo with something old, something new.

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Global IT spending to rise to US$3.7t in 2018

Global IT spending is expected to grow to US$3.7 trillion in 2018, an increase of 4.5 percent from 2017, according to Gartner.

Continue reading “Global IT spending to rise to US$3.7t in 2018”

Honda to accelerate smart car R&D with SenseTime

Honda and SenseTime to partner on smart car development.
Honda and SenseTime to partner on smart car development.

Honda has signed a long-term agreement to develop autonomous cars with SenseTime, a China artificial intelligence (AI) company.

The partnership will leverage Honda’s vehicle control system with SenseTime’s AI algorithms to jointly create an autonomous driving solution. The two companies will also work together on robot technology.

“Safety is the number one priority when it comes to driving, and it also constitutes the core of our autonomous driving solution. By combining SenseTime’s strengths in computer vision technologies with Honda’s superior vehicle control technologies, we will together enable a safe and pleasant autonomous driving experience.,” said Lao Shihong, CEO of SenseTime Japan.

Sweet quarter for Apple in China

iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 helped spur Apple’s growth in Q3.

The launch of the iPhone 8 and drop of prices of older models have helped Apple turn in a sterling quarter in China, with shipment rising 40 percent to 11 million units this Q3.

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Enter the gaming smartphone

Razer Phone
Play Final Fantasy XV on the new smartphone.

Finally, a smartphone that’s made for gamers. Razer has launched in London the latest high-end smartphone with a focus on mobile gaming.

But what makes this phone different from others in the market? And how does it enhance the mobile gaming experience?

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Samsung Pay extended to smartwatches

Samsung Gear 3Guess it was only a matter of time as Samsung Pay has been extended to the Gear 3 and Gear Sport. This will let consumers use their smartwatches, on top of their smartphones, to make purchases.

Samsung Pay on Gear is protected by Samsung Knox for enhanced security. It functions independently so users need not bring their phone along to make payment with their smartwatches. They can view their transaction record on Samsung Pay Plugin, an associated application for Samsung Gear.

In another development in Hong Kong, HSBC and Hang Seng Bank have become Samsung Pay partners. Both banks’ customers can start using Samsung Pay for their credit cards from November 2.



Smartphone makers in a rush?

Google Pixel 2 XLIn 2016, Samsung had battery overheating issues with its Note 7. Recently, Apple is constantly pushing out iOS 11 fixes to improve battery life for the iPhone 8. And now, Google is working on a solution to address the screen burn-in issues of the Pixel 2.

What’s happening? Are smartphone makers in such a rush to launch new phones that they are cutting short quality tests? Admittedly, this is the probably the hottest segment of the consumer technology market and every player is trying its best to outdo each other.

According to IDC, the worldwide smartphone market will reach a total of 1.53 billion units shipped in 2017, up 4.2 percent from the 1.47 billion units shipped in 2016. That’s a lot of phones and perhaps the reason why makers are hurrying to snare a share.

Continue reading “Smartphone makers in a rush?”

5 reasons why I like Google Home

By Edward Lim

Perhaps it’s something like a forbidden fruit. The harder it it to get, the more we want it. Google tempted us with the Google Home smart speaker but it was not available in Singapore or anywhere in the region. It was only in July that the device was finally available in Australia.

Anyway, as with most gadget lovers, there’s always a way to get our hands on the desired device. In my case, I managed to snare one in Walmart in San Jose while attending a conference there in April. Actually, I bought two — one as a gift to a friend.

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Robotaxis on the way

No steering wheels, pedals or mirrors. Sounds like science fiction but the fully autonomous robotaxi is on its way with the launch of a new system that NVIDIA has codenamed Pegasus.

Pegasus extends the NVIDIA Drive PX AI computing platform to handle Level 5 driverless vehicles. NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus delivers over 320 trillion operations per second — more than 10 times the performance of its predecessor, NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2, announced Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of NVIDIA at his keynote address at GTC Europe in Munich.

Robotaxis powered by NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus will have interiors that feel like a living room and arrive on demand to safely whisk passengers to their destinations, bringing mobility to everyone, including the elderly and disabled.

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Google sets up online Singapore store

Hurray, Google has finally set up an online store for Singapore! Amid the flurry of announcements made yesterday, this is probably the most significant for those in Singapore. After all, what’s the point of reading and hearing about all the launches in recent years without being able to buy the products anywhere in the country.

The bad news, however, is that only three products were listed on the Google Wifi, Google Chromecast and the newly-launched Google Pixel 2 XL.

Google’s latest smartphone sports front-facing stereo speakers, and front and rear cameras capable of producing amazing shots using fused image stabilisation of optical and digital zoom. Though the headphone jack is gone, Google has introduced Pixel Buds that can translate up to 40 languages on the fly. Continue reading “Google sets up online Singapore store”

Nokia 3310 makes comeback at under S$100

Nokia’s announcement at Mobile World Congress in February that it was resurrecting the iconic Nokia 3310 was met with enthusiasm, which was quickly dampened when the phone was said to run on 2.5G.

However, Nokia has responded remarkably by upgrading the 3310 to 3G and making it available at “below S$100”.

“Our fans around the world have been asking for this iconic phone to support 3G. Fans asked, we listened, and today welcome the Nokia 3310 3G,” said Mr Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer of HMD Global, maker of the Nokia phone.

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Google snares HTC hardware talents

Google is flexing its muscles in the hardware business with the acquisition of a team of hardware talents from HTC.

The move marks another milestone in a decade-long relationship between the two companies.

“These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property,” blogged Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google.


New Apple iPhone is real X — for eXpensive!

Even though the X in the newly announced iPhone X is supposed to be pronounced as “10”, it can be interpreted as eXpensive. At S$1,648 for the 64GB version and S$1,888 for the 256GB iteration, the new iPhone X is a costly device, bringing it right into the price range of notebook computers.

Apple seems to be pushing the price ceiling on how much consumers are willing to pay for a high-end smartphone. It may even cause some die-hard fans to consider if it’s really worthwhile upgrading to this new rendition. The iPhone X comes with a six-core A11 Bionic processor, GPU, a bezelless super retina display, wireless charging, dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with optical image stabilisation, and Face ID. Most of these are already available in other high-end smartphones without such a hefty price tag.

Face ID, which lets users unlock and pay with the device, is probably the most unique value proposition but is this enough to justify the high price?

Guess the answer will be known when the iPhone X becomes available in Singapore on November 3.

Australia PC market bucks global trend by inching up 3.3%

Consumer and enterprise PC purchases are driving growth in the Australia PC market, which includes desktop, notebook and workstation.

The consumer segment grew 8.6 percent year over year (YoY) in Q2, according to IDC.

“The retail channel was negatively impacted by Dick Smith’s exit last year. This year however, promotional events such as Modern PC program run by Harvey Norman spiked growth in the consumer space. AMD’s new Ryzen series launch and EOFY sales further fuelled growth in this segment,” said Sagar Raghavendra, Client Devices Analyst of IDC Australia.

Continue reading “Australia PC market bucks global trend by inching up 3.3%”

March ending for Google Drive

Google Drive on the PC and Mac will cease to exist in its current form from March 2018. According to a blog post by Google, the app will no longer be supported starting on December 11, 2017, and it will shut down completely on March 12, 2018.

“We encourage you to use Drive File Stream. As an alternative to or in addition to installing Drive File Stream, you can upgrade to the new version of Drive for Mac/PC, called Backup and Sync,” wrote the blog.

Drive File Stream is for business users while Backup and Sync, which combines Google Drive and Google Photos functionalities, is for consumers. However, the Google Drive service will still work on the web and smartphone apps.

New Android devices boost Australia smartphone market in Q2

New Android mobile phone launches spurred growth in Australia, leading to year-on-year growth of 18.4 percent to 2.16 million units, exceeding expectations in Q2, according to IDC.

Smartphones accounted for nearly all of the shipped phones — totalling 2.06 million.

Android returned to being the most popular smartphone OS in Australia. Recently, iOS had overtaken Android as the most popular smartphone OS in Q4 2016 as it held over 54 percent of the market compared to 47 percent for Android.

Continue reading “New Android devices boost Australia smartphone market in Q2”

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 available in Singapore from Sep 15

After missing a beat with the Galaxy Note 7, which resulted in a massive recall and lots of bad press, Samsung has launched the Galaxy Note 8 with availability in Singapore from September 15.

Sporting a similar look to the Galaxy S8, the new smartphone’s key differentiator is the S Pen, which is designed to communicate in more personal ways. It has a finer tip, improved pressure sensitivity, and features such as Live Messaging that enable users to better express themselves.

The always on display allows users to stay on top of notifications without unlocking their phone. Screen off memo lets them take up to one hundred pages of notes as soon as they remove the S Pen. Users can also pin notes to the always on display and make edits directly.

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Singapore to trial on-demand bus service

Bus commuters are currently using apps such as MyTransport to plan their journey.

Bus commuters have always been dependent on fixed bus routes and timings. What if you can customise your own time and route? That’d be a bus commuter’s dream come true.

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) is calling for a tender to seek proposals to trial on-demand, dynamically-routed public bus services.

According to the LTA press release, the trial will enable LTA to evaluate the feasibility of operating public bus services based on real-time commuter demand and along dynamic routes, instead of plying on the basis of pre-determined and fixed timetables and routes. Through a mobile application, commuters will be able to request pick-ups and drop-offs at any bus stop within a defined operating area.

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5 reasons why I like the Google Pixel

By Edward Lim

When the Google Pixel was first announced late last year, my antenna went up as my trusty Samsung Note Edge though working generally fine and still looking great was slowing down.

I’ve been a Samsung user since the original Note and love the phablet with its stylus but the Google Pixel is something else. It looks great, has powerful features, including a 12MP rear camera, and best of all, runs on stock Android. Goodbye, bloated Android!

But, there was a major letdown. Google had no plan to make its new flagship smartphone available at this part of the world. While not impossible to ship from overseas, the cost is fairly prohibitive, bearing in mind the strengthening US dollar.

However, a recent trip to Sydney proved to be the turnaround. The Google Pixel was staring right at me as I was heading towards the gate at Kingsford Smith Airport. I couldn’t take my eyes off the smartphone and there was added incentive. JB Hifi was offering the phones at A$100 off the retail price. A quick mental conversion of the price of the Google Pixel 128GB version (the smaller model) was more than S$1,100. While not cheap, the deal proved too good to pass and I returned with a spanking new toy.

It’s been more than a month since I switched from my Samsung Note Edge to the Google Pixel and I’m loving it. Here are five reasons:

  1. Stock Android: The smartphone will always get the latest version of Android. Better yet, there’s no service provider additional dead weight.
  2. Fingerprint access: The fingerprint sensor at the back just hits the sweet spot. It’s ideally located with a natural holding position. And it works perfectly, turning on the phone and screen quickly.
  3. Swipe: I love swiping and somehow this feels and works better, making it so convenient for crafting messages.
  4. Rear camera: The 12MP camera is fast, shoots well and produces great shots.
  5. Smooth transition: Nothing dampens getting a new phone more than the pain it takes to transfer the necessary files and data over. With the cable provided, switching over took just a few minutes. It doesn’t get any better.

Do I miss my Samsung Note Edge? Only one thing, the stylus when I need to annotate images. There again, I hardly annotate images. Possible shortfalls are the lack of a replaceable battery and inability to upgrade memory. That’s why I went for the 128GB version.

Overall, thought pricey, the Google Pixel has proved its worth.

Amazon Prime Now makes first SEA stop in Singapore

The online grocery market in Singapore has just gotten hotter with Amazon’s launch of its Prime Now service. It is the e-commerce giant’s first stop in the region.

Prime Now offers tens of thousands of products, such as groceries, chilled beer, ice-cream, household, and home essentials, baby, beauty, electronics, and toys.

 Those interested can download the Amazon Prime Now app from iTunes and Google Play stores and enjoy free two-hour delivery service for orders above S$40. For orders under S$40, the cost is S$5.99 for the two-hour delivery or S$9.99 for one-hour delivery.


The 8s are coming

This is the year of the 8s. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is expected to be revealed on August 23 in New York City, according to invitations sent to the media. Samsung will be hoping that this new iteration can wipe away the disappointment of the ill-fated Note 7.

Apple is also likely to announce the iPhone 8 in the next couple of months while Nokia is reportedly readying the launch of its new flagship Nokia 8 shortly,

Students’ demand drives Aussie IT spending

Australian educational institutions are increasing information technology (IT) spending in response to dramatic changes in student expectations, according to IDC.

Spending by Australian educational institutions is expected to peak at US$1.6 billion by 2020, driven by software and services related investments. Education practices are shifting away from the classroom towards e-learning and virtual instructor-led training approaches as students are demanding anytime-anywhere remote access.

In its recently published Australian education sector report, IDC highlights the need to overhaul existing ICT management models in schools and universities so that a step-change improvement in delivery efficiency can be achieved.

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30 months on the Edge

By Edward Lim

It’s official. The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is my longest lasting phone. After 30 months, I’ve finally moved on to another smartphone — the Google Pixel (I’ll share more about this in another post).

Why have I decided to keep the Edge for so long? Well, there are several reasons:

  1. My daughter bought it for me in December 2014.
  2. My phone was working perfectly fine. Slower yes but fine.
  3. There was no compelling reason to upgrade to any phone throughout this period, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 issue notwithstanding.

Just like I shared “5 reasons why I like the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge” three months after I had it, let me share my 30 months’ experience with what I think is a wonderful device.

  1. It makes a marvellous talking point. Even when newer smartphones with curved edges came out, people were still asking me about the Edge and its unique one-sided curve. Talk about longevity!
  2. It has replaceable battery, something some of the competing top-of-the-line range lack.
  3. Simple adding of storage when needed. Despite been a fairly heavy user, particularly of photos, I never found storage space a problem. When I needed more space, I just swapped to a higher capacity micro SD card.

The downside of prolonged usage is the same as other  devices. The Note Edge did slow down considerably with each software upgrade. The most noticeable was the activation of the camera function. It takes a while to load, resulting in many missed photo opportunities.

Other challenges with owning a Note Edge is the lack of good screen protectors. I paid for a supposedly good one but the protector just couldn’t stick well onto the curved portion. There is also the lack of choices of phone covers/cases.

Overall, I was very pleased with the smartphone. It’s been a great companion throughout the past 30 months. Best of all, it survived numerous trips around the world without a single scratch on the screen — and without a screen protector in place!


Vertu no more

Imagine paying more than S$34,000 for a phone? Well, it’s hard to imagine that kind of price tag for mortals who already consider the Google Pixel, iPhone and Samsung S8 expensive.

It’s not surprising then that the luxury phone brand Vertu has breathed its last. Established by then mobile phone giant Nokia in 1998, the British manufacturer was acquired by Turkish businessman Murat Hakan Uzan this March. However, Vertu still struggled financially and is shutting down.

Vertu was renowned for producing hand-made phones made with expensive materials such as gold, leather and diamond.