iPhone 12 reportedly still on track for fall launch despite component delays caused by coronavirus – Blog – 10 minute

In brief: It looks like China has the coronavirus outbreak under control in the region, but Apple’s supply chain is still moving slower than planned to build the new iPhone 12. According to industry insiders, the company still has at least one month before it can begin assembly of the new phones, but otherwise it looks like the original launch window is still a realistic target.
Back in November 2019, when the coronavirus wasn’t on anyone’s radar, Apple was telling suppliers to expect over 100 million orders of its upcoming 5G-capable iPhone 12. That started looking much less realistic earlier this month in the context of a significant slowdown of production and delays in the supply chain for essential components.
Still, both Apple and analysts have maintained that there’s no reason to believe that the company will have to delay the launch of any of the products slated for this year. And, sure enough, Apple recently launched an updated version of the Retina MacBook Air with a scissor keyboard, with the MacBook Pro expected to be one of the big highlights of the online-only WWDC in June.

The company also refreshed the iPad Pro with a better camera system and a new Magic Keyboard accessory that makes it look like a strong alternative to Microsoft’s Surface Pro. And according to a new report from Bloomberg, the release of the iPhone 12 is still on track for this fall.
Mass production of the new 5G phones from Apple is slated to begin in May at the earliest, as Bloomberg says industry insiders are still seeing a slow pace of component shipments for the assembly process. For instance, Apple relies on Broadcom for wireless chips as part of a recent $15 billion deal, but the silicon giant has recently said that it’s expecting a significant impact on its business through the second half of this year.
Apple seems optimistic about the situation, especially if you look at its decision to reopen its physical stores in China. CEO Tim Cook also said earlier this month that the lower production rate observed at Foxconn is a “temporary condition.”

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Amazon reportedly asks customers to cooperate with DOJ price gouging probe – Blog – 10 minute

In context: Whenever there’s a shortage of a high-demand product — whether it’s a video game collector’s edition or a critical household supply — opportunists will always look for a way to capitalize on the situation. In the case of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some individuals have bought up large amounts of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and other necessities with the intent to resell them with much higher price tags.
Some digital marketplaces, such as Amazon, have tried to crack down on the practice, but there are still plenty of exorbitantly-priced essentials on the site. It’s clear that Amazon’s workers alone cannot keep up with the sheer number of people looking to profit off of this crisis. Fortunately, they may not have to for much longer.
According to Reuters, Amazon has sent out emails to customers that may have been negatively impacted by price gougers. The emails apparently ask customers to cooperate with an ongoing “criminal investigation” from the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which is centered around opportunistic price gouging.

Reuters is not sure whether or not the DOJ’s probe is directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic (and the marked-up product listings that have surfaced from it), but the timing strongly implies that’s the case.
“We wanted to notify you directly about this matter in the event that you are contacted by the Department of Justice in connection with its investigation,” one portion of the email reads. Reuters did not provide any other direct quotes from the message.
While the idea of supply and demand is a core pillar of the US economy, it’s clear that the process of intentionally (and often significantly) marking up potentially life-saving household supplies during a global pandemic isn’t sitting right with some — the DOJ included. We hope, for the sake of American citizens and those abroad, that the DOJ and Amazon are able to get a handle on this situation soon.

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TikTok reportedly told moderators to ‘suppress’ content from ‘ugly, poor, obese and disabled users’- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Video-sharing app TikTok reportedly instructed its moderators to “suppress posts created by users deemed too ugly, poor or disabled for the platform,” according to leaked documents viewed by The Intercept.
In the documents, it details how moderators were instructed to choose which videos show up on the app’s “For You” feed. 
According to the report, moderators were told to avoid choosing videos that showed users with “abnormal body shape (not limited to: dwarf, acromegaly),” who are “chubby … obese or too thin,” or “ugly facial looks or facial deformities” because the videos would not do as well.

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“If the character’s appearance is not good, the video will be much less attractive, not worthing [sic] to be recommended to new users,” the documents read. 
Videos that showed “dilapidated” backgrounds were also removed, according to the report, because of their “less appealing” environment, as was content that showed “rural poverty, slums, beer bellies and crooked smiles” – with moderators “effectively punishing” these users by “artificially narrowing their audiences”.

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The Chinese social media platform’s moderators were also reportedly told to censor political speech and “punish” those who disobeyed the rules with bans from the app. 
The platform has since denied that the guidelines for TikTok, whose “mission is to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments,” according to its website, are still in place.
According to a spokesperson for the app, which sees 800m monthly users,  “most” of the guidelines are out of date or were never formally in use. 
“Most of” these guidelines “are either no longer in use, or in some cases appear to never have been in place,” TikTok spokesperson Josh Gartner told The Intercept.
Gartner also said that the rules regarding videos with unattractive, disabled or poor users “represented an early blunt attempt at preventing bullying, but are no longer in place, and were already out of use when the Intercept obtained them”.
According to The Intercept’s report, sources indicate that “both sets of policies were in use through at least late 2019”.
The Independent has contacted TikTok for comment.

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Google’s Android license reportedly prevents TV makers from partnering with Amazon – Blog – 10 minute

A hot potato: In a move that seems far-reaching even for Google, it has been alleged that the company can revoke its Android license across all of a manufacturer’s devices if just one of then runs a forked version of Android. It has reportedly used this leverage to keep its thumb on Amazon’s attempts to gain a foothold in the smart TV market with its Fire TV platform.
According to a report from tech blog Protocol, Google has been using its Android licensing agreement to stifle competition from Amazon. Sources say that the current licensing agreement for the Android TV operating system prevents manufacturers from using “forked versions” such as Amazon’s Fire TV.
What’s more, if the OEM breaks the agreement, Google can revoke the Android license of any device the manufacturer produces. In other words, if Samsung made a smart TV using Amazon Fire, Google could not only disallow the use of the Play Store and Google apps on the televisions but on Samsung’s phones as well.
“They cannot do Android TV and Fire TV simultaneously,” said a senior insider from an unnamed “major TV manufacturer. “It basically blocked Amazon.”
Considering that Google has partnerships with about 60 percent of the top smart-TV market and over 140 cable providers worldwide, this is a big deal. Google has faced flack from mobile regulators over such agreements in the past, but this is the first time it has come to light that it is pinching off smart-TV competition.
Protocol reached out to Google, but the search giant declined to comment on the matter. Likewise, officials with Amazon’s Fire TV division refused to discuss the subject.

The section of Google’s Android agreement that is raising the issue is referred to as the “Android Compatibility Commitment,” formerly known as the “Anti-Fragmentation Agreement.” It is a confidential set of rules that makers of Android devices agree to in order to gain access to the Google Play Store.
The policies are to ensure that one Android app will work properly on any device. While developers are allowed to tweak Android’s open-source operating system, they must still abide by the compatibility guidelines. However, forked versions are not allowed. These are platforms like Fire TV that are not compatible with the “Google-sanctioned” version of Android.
The strange thing is that manufacturers who have products in different sectors have to comply across the board. In other words, if they have a compliant version of Android for mobile devices, they cannot put a noncompliant version like Fire TV on their televisions.
“You cannot manufacture any of those noncompliant devices,” said the anonymous source. “It’s completely unique [from other agreements in the industry].”
This is not the first time that Google’s compatibility policies have raised eyebrows. In 2016, EU regulators launched an antitrust investigation alleging that the company used the agreement to prevent OEMs wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling devices running forked versions of Android. It ultimately issued a fine in 2018 of €4.34 billion ($5.06 billion), which Google has appealed.
No regulatory actions have occurred regarding the use of this policy in the smart TV sector, but until now, it has been more or less an open secret among manufacturers. We’ll have to see if the FTC or other antitrust officials take action.
Masthead credit: RustyR via Shutterstock, Image credit: Eric Broder Van Dyke via Shutterstock

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E3 Event Reportedly Cancelled with Official Announcement Soon | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Image sourced from Cnet

The world’s largest gaming convention, the Electronic Entertainment Expo – E3 – will be cancelled this year, according to Ars Technica who were informed by multiple sources.
The massive gaming event where the grandest developers and publishers in the world release trailers and information about their upcoming titles is being cancelled due to the spread of, you guessed it, COVID-19, reports CNet.
Ars Technica says that multiple sources familiar with the Entertainment Software Association, the group behind E3, have confirmed cancellation.
An official announcement is expected to arrive shortly, with one previously scheduled for yesterday, adds the publication.
Prior to the publication of the report, video game publishing mega-power Devolver Digital tweeted: “Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, ya’ll.”
There was already a bubbling yet clandestine sentiment that the expo would be cancelled, following in the footsteps of the World Mobile Congress, the Game Developers Conference and Facebook’s F8 Conference, who were all cancelled to the fears of the virus.

Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) March 11, 2020

Really mixed emotions about E3 (“seemingly”) getting canceled.
— Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann) March 11, 2020

If these rumors are true and E3 is actually getting cancelled this year, I really hope Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and Square-Enix all still do pre-recorded conferences that week.
A new console generation begins this year! It’s too exciting of a year for there to be nothing!
— Roger DiLuigi (@RogersBase) March 11, 2020

After previously saying the event would go ahead as planned, the ESA had stated that it was “monitoring and evaluating the situation daily,” due to Los Angeles, the city that hosts E3, declaring a state of emergency.
E3 had been scheduled to take place on 9 June to 11 June.
Sony, who had dropped out of the event in January and were expected to give a spotlight to the new PlayStation 5, have decided to do so at another time and place.
This cancellation will see the key gaming companies from around the world without one of their largest platforms for reaching their consumers. These companies include industry titans like Nintendo, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Sega, Capcom, Square Enix, Take-Two and Bandai Namco.
No doubt most of them will communicate with users about their releases in due time through another avenue, but many gamers will miss the mass wave of euphoric excitement that E3 brings every year.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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iPadOS 14 will reportedly include full mouse cursor support – Blog – 10 minute

Something to look forward to: Apple has always positioned the iPad as an alternative to traditional PCs (or, at least, laptops), but without proper built-in mouse support, that comparison has fallen flat — sometimes, you need more precision than a touch screen alone can offer. It seems Apple understands that now, though. The company will reportedly be adding mouse cursor support to iPadOS 14 when it launches.
This news comes courtesy of 9to5Mac, which gained access to iPadOS 14 source code. According to the outlet, this will help iPads more closely resemble the desktop-like environment of a Mac, but without compromising on the devices’ smaller, more convenient form factor.
This isn’t the first hint we’ve gotten that Apple was planning full mouse support for iPads. As we reported last month, Apple has been working on a new keyboard design behind-the-scenes, which could launch later in the year with a built-in trackpad. If a trackpad-equipped keyboard is set to release, software-enabled mouse support is inevitable.

According to 9to5Mac, iPadOS 14’s mouse cursor support will allow for changing arrow pointers (a hand for hovering over buttons, an arrow for general usage), as well as “tap to click” functionality. The outlet claims tap to click could indicate that the previously-mentioned upcoming iPad keyboards will have a “depression” system with haptic feedback.
Ultimately, none of us will know for sure what to expect until Apple begins talking more about these changes in an official capacity. Provided the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t shake things up, we’ll probably learn more about iPadOS 14 and its major tweaks at WWDC in a few months.

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Apple reportedly has a new keyboard designed for iPads featuring a trackpad – Blog – 10 minute

Rumor mill: Apple’s iPad has had keyboard support for years, but editing was a hassle as highlighting text and other functions still required touching the screen. Now there are rumors that Cupertino is readying a new iPad keyboard that has a built-in trackpad. Could Apple finally be transitioning the next tablet in the Pro line to be a true 2-in-1?
Apple reportedly has a keyboard in the works for the iPad that features a trackpad. According to insiders who spoke with The Information, the device is slated for a release later this year. It may even coincide with the launch of the next iPad Pro.
This will likely bring a significant change to iPadOS. Currently, the tablet’s operating system does have mouse support, but it is not what users might be used to. The function is found in the accessibility setting under AssistiveTouch. When enabled, it places a large circular cursor on the scene that can be controlled with a mouse for those that have a hard time tapping the screen.
Now that Apple seems to be making moves toward more laptop-like functionality with the iPad, it will likely incorporate a more traditional style cursor and mouse functionality that is not just meant for those who have trouble with taps.
Could we see something similar to Logitech’s Wireless Touch Keyboard K400?
A change to iPadOS seems to be supported by a comment made earlier this week during a shareholder meeting.
“If you like what you’ve seen us do with iPadOS, stay tuned, we’re going to keep working on it,” said Apple’s head of software Craig Federighi, seeming to indicate significant changes are imminent.
Apple has been working on making its iPad more multifunctional for years, promising multitasking as far back as 2010. However, it has always fallen short of being a truly functional productivity machine partly due to it sharing an operating system with the iPhone.
Apple finally split iOS into two separate versions last year so that it could focus on differentiating its tablet from its phone. The iPad has matured into a device powerful enough to rival some laptops, especially the Pro line. So it seems natural for Apple to transition it into a 2-in-1.
Nothing official has been announced regarding a keyboard/trackpad combo yet, so take the news with a grain of salt. However, if you have been waiting for a more laptop-like experience on your iPad, the future is looking pretty good.
Masthead credit: Mr.Whiskey via Shutterstock

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A Motorola Razr is reportedly “peeling apart” – Blog – 10 minute

What just happened? It appears that foldable phones still have a durability problem. An owner of the Motorola Razr, which launched less than two weeks ago, has reported a screen peeling problem that not only looks bad but is also affecting the touchscreen functionality.
The Motorola Razr has been met with mostly poor reviews since launch, and news that one of the phones is experiencing screen peeling won’t help its reputation. The device had been owned by Input for a little over a week before Raymond Wong noticed the problem with the $1,500 handset.
In his article, Wong writes that sometime during a 45-minute train ride, the Razr’s display peeled apart at the fold. He says the phone was closed in his front jeans pocket the entire journey, and that there’s no visible damage anywhere on the device.

As you can see in the photos, the peeling has created a massive horizontal bubble between the screen and the laminate. And while the top and bottom parts of the display still work, the warped surface in the middle makes touches virtually unresponsive.
Exactly how the damage occurred is still a mystery. Wong says the Razr was never dropped and has never been moist, wet, or even near liquid. He theorizes that it could have been caused by the change in temperature when using it outside on a freezing day before taking it into his warm apartment.

I wasn’t even wearing skinny jeans https://t.co/qq781DsvTt
— Ray Wong📱💾📼 (@raywongy) February 17, 2020

In a pre-release ‘Caring for Razr’ video, Motorola said that “bumps and lumps” were “normal” in the plastic screen, which hasn’t gone down well with reviewers.
Soon after its release, CNET put the phone in a device called “FoldBot” with a goal of reaching 100,000 folds, but the hinge mechanism broke at around 27,000 folds, roughly four hours in. Motorola objected to the test, noting that the bot was designed for use with the Galaxy Fold, meaning it was putting undue stress on the Razr’s hinge and not allowing the phone to open and close as intended.
We’ve also seen iFixit perform one of its takedowns on the Razr, calling it the most complicated phone it’s ever taken apart. Elsewhere, rival foldable the Galaxy Z Flip also appears less durable than first thought, with a recent test showing how easily its Ultra Thin Glass display is damaged.
All images courtesy of Input

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Someone reportedly uploaded a playable build of StarCraft: Ghost online – Blog – 10 minute

In context: There have been a countless number of games that have been labeled “vaporware.” Vaporware is any software that has been announced but never released. The first software to receive this moniker was Microsoft’s ill-fated Xenix Unix OS.
A working copy (sort of) of famed vaporware StarCraft: Ghost has reportedly leaked online. Screenshots of the title first appeared Sunday morning posted on Twitter by Museum of Play Curator Andrew Borman.
Shortly after that, several videos of the game in action began showing up on YouTube. Many of the gameplay captures have been taken down, presumably because of copyright violations. However, the flood of Ghost footage seems endless.

Who would have thought a month ago that Starcraft Ghost would leak in some form? pic.twitter.com/24wCp4XBsE
— Andrew Borman (@Borman18) February 16, 2020

Kotaku notes that the incomplete game was leaked with an Xbox SDK then posted online. Several people have downloaded it and have got it to work on modded Xbox 360s.
Blizzard initially announced Starcraft: Ghost in 2003. It was supposed to be a third-person shooter based in the Starcraft universe slated for an Xbox release later that year. Blizzard was so confident about its debut that it hosted a one-hour gameplay screening at the Mayfair Curzon theater.

However, the development of World of Warcraft took priority and pushed the game back several years. Eventually, the looming arrival of next-gen consoles forced Blizzard to abandon the title.
There is no telling how long the above video will remain up. If it is broken as you read this, just search for StarCraft: Ghost on YouTube, and you should find many other examples.

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Apple reportedly working on its own 5G antenna for 2020 iPhones – Blog – 10 minute

The big picture: 5G connectivity seems to be ready for prime time as the tech is widely expected to officially debut this fall on Apple’s trendsetting iPhones. While the 2020 models will be using the industry-standard Snapdragon X55 chip to boast faster network speeds (along with a higher price tag), Apple is reportedly developing an in-house alternative to Qualcomm’s antenna in its 5G modem on account of the latter’s design being too big for Cupertino’s sleek devices.
Apple and Qualcomm put their legal battles to rest in April last year as both companies looked forward to a 5G future for the iPhone, set to kick off this fall. A new report, however, suggests that Apple isn’t satisfied with Qualcomm’s existing 5G antenna design and will be coming up with its own solution for 2020 iPhones.
“Apple balked at the QTM 525 millimeter-wave antenna module offered to it by Qualcomm because it doesn’t fit into the sleek industrial design Apple wants for the new phone,” an anonymous source told Fast Company.
The publication further notes that Qualcomm would still be Apple’s 5G modem supplier, with its Snapdragon X55, and that Cupertino’s custom antenna is being worked on alongside another design that utilizes both the Qualcomm modem and antenna.

With an in-house antenna design, Apple can’t risk another iPhone 4’s Antennagate-like situation for its 5G iPhones’ debut
After its $1 billion acquisition of Intel’s 5G modem business, Apple could potentially be looking to slowly rid itself of Qualcomm by starting with an in-house antenna design, which seemingly won’t be without its challenges as the antenna will need to work with a third-party modem, for which Fast Company notes:

The 5G iPhone will use a “phased array” antenna with two parts that work together to form a beam of radio signal. The beam can be electronically steered in different directions without the antenna moving. The modem chip and the antenna module work closely together to make this work properly, our source said. Having the two parts made by different companies may introduce some uncertainty and bump up the difficulty level of the overall design.

Along with its attempt for minimal reliance on Qualcomm, it remains to be seen how thin and sleek Apple is willing to go with its 2020 iPhones. If the company’s custom antenna design is unable to achieve its targets, it would then have to settle for a slightly thicker iPhone that uses Qualcomm’s QTM 525 antenna module, which its maker supports for designs sleeker than “8 millimeters thick.”

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