How Apple Dethroned Intel As the World’s Most Innovative Chipmaker

Ashraf Eassa, writing for The Motley Fool:

Back in 2013, Apple introduced the A7 system on a chip (SoC) as part of its then-flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5s.


Now, Intel’s chips, at the time, ran at much higher frequencies (in excess of 3 gigahertz), but what the strong per-gigahertz performance of the A7 chip signaled to me was that Apple had built a very impressive base from which to build up in future smartphone chips.


While Apple is great at chip design, it doesn’t manufacture its own chips — it outsources production to third parties. Apple’s A-series chips through the A7 were manufactured exclusively by Samsung, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was the exclusive manufacturer of the A8, A10, and A11 chips. TSMC and Samsung reportedly split the orders for the A9.

Both TSMC and Samsung have delivered new manufacturing technologies at a breakneck pace. The performance, power consumption, and economic viability of a chip are determined heavily by the technologies upon which it’s manufactured.


I believe that when Apple introduces its next iPhone in about four months, it will deliver equal or better CPU performance to Intel’s best notebook processors designed to consume 15 watts but at a fraction of the power consumption.


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Phone or Computer?

In the annals of technology, no two devices have dominated the human condition more completely than the thing you’re reading this article on, and that other thing you could have read it on but just aren’t right now.

I’m talking about phone and computer.

Given the importance of these contraptions in our lives, it’s worth asking which is better. Ranking things is just what we do as people. It’s probably why humanity has been at war with itself since the beginning of time, but it also adds order to our lives, which feels pretty great.


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An Amazon Echo sent someone’s private conversation to one of their contacts

Amazon’s Echo gadgets have exploded in popularity over the past couple years, but some folks have been reluctant about the idea of having an always-listening speaker in their home. Thanks to a report out of Seattle, a lot more people might switch to that mindset.

According to KIRO 7 News, an Echo Dot recorded the private conversation of a husband and wife in Portland, Oregon and sent it to the husband’s colleague all the way in Seattle. The colleague then called Danielle (the woman involved) and told her to immediately unplug all of her Echo speakers.

Per KIRO 7 —

“We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” she said. “At first, my husband was, like, ‘no you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘oh gosh, you really did hear us.'”

Danielle proceeded to call Amazon about why this had happened, and according to a representative she spoke with, “He told us that the device just guessed what we were saying.” However, Danielle says that her Echo never gave off any indication that it was recording/sending the message.

KIRO 7 later reached out to Amazon for comment, and this is what the company had to say:

Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.

Even if this is a “rare occurrence,” it begs the question of how in the world this was allowed to happen in the first place. Not only that, but has this happened to any other Echo users? What about Google’s Home speakers?


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Federico Viticci’s second life

Federico Viticci:

“There’s something in your latest scan that we need to double check.”

Here’s what I’ve learned about cancer as a survivor: even once you’re past it, and despite doctors’ reassurances that you should go back to your normal life, it never truly leaves you. It clings to the back of your mind and sits there, quietly. If you’re lucky, it doesn’t consume you, but it makes you more aware of your existence. The thought of it is like a fresh scar – a constant reminder of what happened. And even a simple sentence spoken with purposeful vagueness such as “We need to double check something” can cause that dreadful background presence to put your life on hold again.

Thankfully, everything was okay in my case. It’s been over five years since my cancer-free diagnosis; I went into complete remission in February 2013 and hit the 5-year-clear mark following a long series of annual check-ups and routine tests. Because of the type of cancer I had – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage IV with the involvement of my right lung – I had to go through a cycle of radiotherapy (in addition to aggressive chemotherapy and the then-experimental immunotherapy). As it turns out, the proton beam that was shot into my lung left that area slightly “denser” than normal – hence the something that needed to be double checked after a chest X-ray in March.

It’s also been three years since I last wrote about my life after cancer, and how I was using the iPhone and various HealthKit apps to help me recover from treatments and get back in shape. The story, which came out before the debut of the original Apple Watch, outlined my plans to follow a strict diet and exercise regularly. At the time, I thought I had my post-treatment life figured out; I was ready to go back to my old, normal routine.

And that was exactly the problem. Three years later, I’m here today to admit that I failed. It took me a long time – too much time – to realize that I wasn’t keeping the promises made in that article from March 2015. I was so eager to return to my previous concept of “normality”, I didn’t notice that my euphoria for beating cancer slowly morphed into a craving for old and comfortable habits. In hindsight, I wasn’t ready to begin a new chapter of my life after cancer; I just wanted my old life back.

I won’t lie: that was fun initially. I drowned myself in work again; I ate any kind of tasty meals I wanted without worrying about my diet; I chased as many work opportunities as possible because I had to make up for time lost to treatments and feeling sick. I was proud of how much I was able to work on a daily basis, even though that meant declining invitations to go out with friends or spending less time with my girlfriend. I was productive like never before. I was unstoppable and it felt exhilarating. I had regained the life I knew. I thought it was what I wanted.

That lasted for a couple of years. But the self-centered, work-obsessed barrier I built around myself began to crack sometime last year. It didn’t happen suddenly, and I lied to myself by ignoring it for months, but something was changing. I completely poured myself into my job to the point where I was enjoying neither the work nor the reward anymore. I began to feel burned out and often not good enough for the website I had so passionately built over the course of eight years. A constant feeling of unease and dissatisfaction percolated through other aspects of my life as well. I pretended to be relaxed and have fun in social situations and important life events; in reality, there was a persistent sense of anxiety always there, sitting in the back of my mind where the fear of cancer also was, telling me that I wasn’t good enough or hadn’t done enough. That it was only a matter of days until someone figured out that I sucked and everything I had built was easily replaceable – a trivial, forgettable commodity.

Besides work, I wasn’t doing much better from a personal standpoint either. I hadn’t done any serious physical exercise in years. I started gaining too much weight again, and I was often short on breath as I was spending most of my days sitting – either working or worrying about work. I wasn’t in good shape, and I certainly wasn’t as motivated as I was in March 2015.

From my perspective though, the worst part wasn’t that I let it happen again. It’s that I was deeply aware of it yet unable to fix it. I was ashamed for being constantly stressed and not caring about myself. I was both perpetrator and witness to a sense of guilt that stemmed from my selfish pursuit of whatever life I was living before cancer. I couldn’t stand myself for wasting the second chance I was given, but I didn’t know how to break out of my loop.

Thankfully, I reached the tipping point right before the holidays in December, when I decided to take a long break from anything even remotely resembling work. During those days, I started thinking. By myself first, then talking with my girlfriend and close friends. And even when I felt bored and would have rather opened Twitter or blogged about something, I kept thinking and talking and taking walks with my dogs and trying to identify a better path forward.

The more time I spent focused on myself instead of being distracted by busywork, the more I kept reaching the same conclusion. For years, I avoided accepting the reality that my life will never be “normal” again. I can’t hide from the fact that I had cancer, survived, and will always need to pay close attention to my health – more than other people. For better or worse, the experience of surviving cancer will always be part of me. Instead of running from it or finding temporary refuge in an obsession with work, I should embrace it with positivity and optimism. I should treasure the battle I won without letting the fear of a rematch define me.

Ultimately, I realized that embracing my past means being thankful every day, respecting the preciousness of my second chance, and finding my purpose by helping and inspiring other people through my work and past experiences. This took a lot of introspection and opening up to other people. And in the process, I developed a firm conviction that my time is limited; I have to cherish the new opportunity I was given and use it to leave something valuable behind me.

Six months ago, I decided my single goal for 2018 was to begin a second life. Here’s what I’ve been doing to make it happen.

Read all of Federico’s essay, it’s inspiring.


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Why Android P gestures are a risk worth taking

Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

Now that those of us brave enough to install the Android P beta have had a week or two to kick the tires, I wanted to revisit them again. Chaim Gartenberg has rightly pointedout that the combination of swipes and buttons means that the core navigation is a set of mixed metaphors. Others have called them “bad” and “a hot mess.” A gentler way to characterize the new system would be “polarizing,” but for Android users a better way might be to call it “rejection.”

Having spent some more time with the Android P beta, I tend to agree — but for different reasons. I am not at all put out by the mixed metaphors in the UI; some button taps and some swipes. Nor am I really annoyed that the gesture system hasn’t reclaimed any screen real estate, if I’m perfectly honest.

Instead, the problem with the gestures in the current iteration of the Android P beta is one that is sadly familiar to Android users: jank. That’s the technical term (no really) that Google itself uses to describe the behavior of the System UI on this beta. “Jank” is usually translated as weird jitters, effects, and scrolling behavior.

I trust that much of that will be resolved in later iterations of the software, but I’m frankly terrified that the subtler issues won’t be. I’m speaking about the basic feel of moving elements around on the screen. It needs to be as close to perfect as possible — as good as it is on the iPhone X in my opinion — otherwise that sense of “jank” is going to permeate everything.

I think the gesture interface for Android P could be risky but also a good move.


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The Developers Union

Dear Apple,

We believe that people who create great software should be able to make a living doing it. So we created The Developers Union to advocate for sustainability in the App Store.

Today, we are asking Apple to publicly commit — by the tenth anniversary of the App Store this July — to allowing free trials for all apps in the App Stores before July 2019. After that, we’ll start advocating for a more reasonable revenue cut and other community-driven, developer-friendly changes.

Think of The Developers Union more as a movement than an actual union, they’re a group of united developers with a common goal, which is to get free trials for all apps in the app stores, and they don’t just mean using a subscription model, but letting you trial an app before you buy.

To get some more info, Brent Simmons, one of the members, wrote an interesting piece about this group

Some of the press coverage about The Developers Union uses words like “angry” and “fed up.” These aren’t accurate characterizations at all. Nobody’s mad here!

But here‘s the deal: Apple controls the App Store and its economics. The system could be set up better to support high-quality apps, by indies, that last for years.

Apple doesn’t have to, of course. But we can ask! It’s totally okay to ask, so we are.

We think that an important first step would be a standardized, App-Store-supported way of offering free trials. (And where, once purchased, Family Sharing works.)

Trial versions have worked great for years for indie Mac developers, before the App Store, and we think it would benefit indies on the iOS and Mac App Stores.

And the platform would get better — and more sustainable — apps. Everyone wins!

If you agree, you can sign up. Add your name. Add your app.


I’m thinking of my friends, of developers I admire, of up-and-coming developers I haven’t even heard of yet. I — quite selfishly! — want them to thrive. I want to see what great stuff they could make. I want everybody to have the opportunity I’ve had.



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Samsung Compares Galaxy S9 to Very Slow iPhone 6

Samsung Compares Galaxy S9 to Very Slow iPhone 6

Samsung has released a new ad encouraging iPhone users to upgrade to the Galaxy S9, but there are several holes in the video.

First and foremost, instead of comparing the two-month-old Galaxy S9 to the iPhone X, or even the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, the one-minute clip shows a woman becoming increasingly frustrated with her seemingly glacially slow iPhone 6, released in 2014, as she travels by plane to visit her sister.

Samsung acknowledges this fact with fine print that says “newer iPhone models are currently available,” but that doesn’t stop it from comparing its 2018 flagship with a nearly four year old iPhone model.

Seriously? they can’t make a video with an iPhone X or iPhone 8 (or 8 Plus or even a 7 or 7 Plus)?


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Apple shipped an estimated 600,000 HomePods in the first quarter of the year

Nick Statt, writing for The Verge:

Apple shipped 600,000 HomePods in the first quarter of 2018, according to a new sales estimates from market research firm Strategy Analytics. With those sales, the firm says Apple should have around a 6 percent share of the market, which puts it far behind Amazon and Google and just below Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. According to the estimates, Amazon captured 43.6 percent of the smart speaker market with 4 million unit sales, while Google had 26.5 percent with 2.4 million sales.

There are a few grains of salt here. The HomePod didn’t go on sale until February 9th, so Apple didn’t have the full quarter, which ended on March 31st, to rack up sales. These are also just estimates, as Apple has not released full figures and we don’t know for sure how accurate Strategy Analytics is in this case, though the firm has long monitored tech industry sales trends and market leadership.


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Microsoft plans low-cost tablet line to rival iPad


Microsoft Corp. is planning to release a line of lower-cost Surface tablets as soon as the second half of 2018, seeking a hit in a market for cheaper devices that Apple Inc. dominates with the iPad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Microsoft has tried this before. The software giant kicked off its consumer-oriented hardware push in 2012 with the launch of the original Surface RT. At the time, it was priced starting at $499. After the tablets didn’t resonate with consumers and product reviewers, Microsoft pivoted to the more-expensive Surface Pro, a line which has gained steam and likely contributed to demand for a pro-oriented iPad, which Apple launched in 2015.

Here we go again…

Microsoft has been down this road before with the Surface RT, and that had so many issues from the get go that I don’t see what they can honestly bring to market to truly rival the 2018 education iPad.


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Margot Kidder, famous for portraying Lois Lane, dead at age 69

Margot Kidder, famous for portraying Lois Lane,  dead at age 69

Actress Margot Kidder, born in Yellowknife, N.W.T., has died at age 69.

She died Sunday at her home in Livingston, Mont., according to an obituary posted online Monday by the Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Best known for playing Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the Superman films of the 1970s and 1980s, she went on to become an advocate for mental health issues after speaking out about living with bipolar disorder.


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