TechSummit Rewind 093

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Xiaomi’s first laptop is $750 Mi Notebook Air

Xiaomi Mi Notebook AIr

Xiaomi has announced its first laptop line, the Windows 10-toting Mi Notebook Air. It comes in two sizes – a portable 12.5-inch and 13.3-inch – with both featuring slim bodies, a 1080p display with slim bezels and a one-megapixel webcam, backlit keyboard, USB Type-C charging point and a minimalistic metallic design in gold or silver with no logo on the lid. The best part? The bleeding edge model will set you back roughly $750.

The flagship 13.3-inch model comes in at 14.8mm thick and weighs 2.82 pounds. Inside, there’s a dual-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U “Skylake-U” processor with turbo boost up to 2.7GHz, a NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU with 1GB of GDDR5 RAM. You also get 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and one free expansion SATA slot (for Xiaomi use only). The 40Wh battery is rated for 9.5 hours, and can go from zero to 50 percent in half an hour with the bundled USB-C charger.

The 12.5-inch model is an even slimmer and lighter 12.9mm and 2.35 pounds, respectively. However, you’ll have to make do with an Intel Core M3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD with one free PCIe slot for future Xiaomi-sanctioned expansion. Instead of two USB 3.0 ports, there’s only one in this model with an HDMI port and an additional two hours of battery life. It’ll set you back roughly $520.

The Mi Notebook Air launches on Aug. 2 in China, with no word on global availability.

Apple Q3 earnings: Income of $7.8B, $1.42/share

apple-store-union-square-sf-1802-001

Apple’s third-quarter net income fell 27 percent to $7.8 billion ($1.42/share).

Third-quarter iPad shipments were 9.95 million, with 4.25 million Mac sales. Services revenue rose 19 percent to $5.98 billion. iPhone unit sales fell 15 percent from a year ago to 40.4 million.

Fiscal third-quarter revenue fell 15 percent from a year ago to $42.4 billion.

“We had a June quarter that was better than we had expected 90 days ago. The March quarter seems to have been the low point for the cycle.

“We had a very successful launch of iPhone SE.

“There are some macro conditions that exist in China, both in mainland China and in Hong Kong. The economy has slowed down and the foreign exchange rate has weakened.”

-Luca Maestri, Apple CFO

Apple forecasted fourth-quarter revenue between $45.5 billion to $47.5 billion. A year ago, sales were $51.5 billion.

According to the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, gross margin in the period ending in September will be between 37.5 and 38 percent.

Google brings Family Library sharing to Play Store

Google Play Store

The Google Play Store’s Family Library feature went live with expanded sharing options for all of your apps, movies, TV shows, and books to make Play Store purchases across every device in your household.

When you sign up, you’ll need to enter a credit card to cover purchases made by the family, but the account administrator will be able to approve purchases for the other users or allow them to use their own credit/gift cards. Each family member can also set which purchased items will be shared to the communal library and which will only stay on an individual device.

While all Google Play apps and media will sync across Android devices, only books, TV shows, and movies will be available to iOS users. The service is live now, but can take up to 48 hours to rollout to users if it hasn’t shown up already.

Microsoft Pix aims to take better pictures

Microsoft Pix

Microsoft Pix, a free app from Microsoft Research, focuses on delivering better pictures of people. It does this by continuously taking pictures when the app is open and using an algorithm to choose the best shot(s) from among 10 images (seven just before the shutter’s pressed and three after).

“If you see it happen and you aren’t already taking pictures, it’s too late, you missed the shot.”

-Josh Weisberg, Microsoft researcher

Microsoft uses artificial intelligence to provide a better picture, drawing from discarded stills to improve the best shots by reducing noise and automatically adjusting contrast/white balance to make sure that faces look great.

Pix also incorporates Microsoft’s Hyperlypse technology to turn any video into a high-speed time-lapse video, working whether or not the video was shot in the app.

Microsoft also has “live images,” which is Redmond’s take on Apple’s Live Photos. Microsoft’s are stored as short videos without sound. Pix will only take live images when it thinks there’s enough action for it to be compelling. The app works on the iPhone 5s, 6, 6s, and newer iPads.

Pix also seamlessly saves images and videos into Apple’s camera roll and its own gallery, according to Microsoft, by syncing its photo database with Apple’s native camera roll.

In the future, Microsoft plans to make Pix for Android and add support for slower-speed video, panoramas, and the beauty mode originally developed for Microsoft Selfie.

Facebook open sources Surround 360 camera with Ikea-esque instructions

Facebook-Surround-360-camera

Facebook has put the hardware and software designs of its Surround 360 camera on Github. Thanks to instruction materials inspired by Ikea’s manuals, you can learn how to buy the parts, assemble the camera, load the image-stitching software, and start shooting 360-degree content.

Essentially housing 17 cameras on an UFO-looking stick, the Surround 360 can be built for roughly $30,000 in parts. The four-megapixel lenses can shoot up to 8K 360-degree video, and fisheye lenses on the top and bottom to remove the blindspots.

“We set out to open source this and accelerate the development of the ecosystem and capturing 360 video. We believe it’s the first camera to be fully open sourced end-to-end. Build it yourself, modify it, make different versions – that’s the goal. We wanted to connect the world with rich, new media. This is how we can get there faster.”

-Brian Cabral, Facebook engineering director

Reddit will let brands sponsor posts from regular users

Reddit

Reddit will soon let big brands sponsor posts from regular users. The ad program, slated to launch Aug. 4, is part of a renewed effort from co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman to make the site more profitable. Once a company finds a piece of content that suits their message, Reddit will work with the company to display the post on different parts of the site and target specific users the brand wants to reach.

“This isn’t traditional display advertising. This is different and more personable. You have to bring you’re a game here and if you do, it works amazingly.”

-Steve Huffman, Reddit co-founder & CEO

According to Huffman, Reddit will seek users’ permission before a brand can sponsor their post. If the user agrees, they’ll receive a lifetime Reddit Gold subscription, the premium service that allows users to opt out of seeing ads on the site. The company is also building an internal team that works with large brands to help them identify organic posts on the site that may be suitable for becoming ad copy.

“Reddit users don’t like being bullshitted. Reddit is a platform where you can call people out on it. And a lot of traditional advertising feels like we’re being taken advantage of and nobody likes that. But when advertisers come with honest intentions, we see a much higher level of engagement with the brand. We don’t see hostility and we have valuable connections.”

-Steve Huffman

Nintendo Q1 2016 earnings: Loss of $48.6 million, Revenue of $587 million

Nintendo E3 2013

Nintendo had an operating loss of $48.6 million in the first quarter of its 2016 fiscal year as Wii U sales plunged 53 percent year over year to 220,000 units. Nintendo blamed the strengthening yen as one reason for its 31.3 percent slide in revenue to $587 million, with roughly 72 percent of its sales overseas.

Scopely raises $55M Series B round

scopely-logo

Scopely has raised a $55 million Series B funding round.

The Los Angeles-based company offers tools for promoting and monetizing mobile games.

The round was led by Greycroft Growht Fund, with participation from Elephant Partners, Evolution Media Capital, Highland Capital, Sands Capital Ventures, and Take-Two Interactive.

Greycrosft’s Mark Terbeek and Scopely President and COO Javier Ferreira are joining the company’s board of directors.

LinkedIn buys PointDrive

The logo for LinkedIn Corporation is pictured in Mountain View

LinkedIn has acquired PointDrive, a startup with a service that lets salespeople share visual content with prospective clients.

“What [PointDrive’s] created has quickly gained tractions with sales professionals in a wide range of industries. Our very own global sales organization became a PointDrive customer about a year ago and their product has become one of the most valued tools for our teams.”

-David Thacker, LinkedIn VP of product

SafeBreach raises $15M Series A

Safebreach

SafeBreach, a cybersecurity startup that simulates hacks on companies’ systems to help them identify holes, has closed a $15 Series A round from participating investors Sequoia Capital and Shlomo Kramer, along with newcomers Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Hewlett Packard Pathfinder, and Maverick Ventures.

“We had many alternatives for funding but elected to go with strong financial backers with strategic value-add that will help SafeBreach aggressively grow our market leadership. We see the market shifting toward the understanding that while breaches may be inevitable, the impact doesn’t have to be.”

-Guy Bejerano, SafeBreach CEO & co-founder

Pokemon Go reaches 75 million downloads

pokemon-go-image-810x400

According to mobile apps analytics group Sensor Tower, smash hit Pokemon Go has been downloaded 75 million times.

The game topped the App Store in every country where it’s available without being featured and with little of its own advertising.

Pokemon Go holds the record for most mobile game downloads in the month after its launch, according to Sensor Tower, despite only being in 32 of the 100 countries that the App Store and Google Play operate in.

Oculus update preps Rift for room-scale VR, motion control

Oculus Touch

Thanks to a recent update, the Oculus Rift’s Oculus Home software now supports up to four tracking sensors – doubling the points needed to produce room-scale VR.

Analog Devices buys Linear Technology for $14.8B

Analog_devices_logo

Analog Devices has acquired Linear Technology for $14.8 billion.

Analog will pay $60/share for Linear in cash and stock, according to a joint statement from the two chipmakers. The transaction’s expected to close by the first half of next year.

According to Analog, they will fund the purchase with about 58 million new shares and $7.3 billion of new long-term debt coming from the combined company’s balance sheet cash.

Mobileye won’t supply Tesla self-driving tech beyond current EyeQ3 processor

Tesla Model S

Self-driving automotive tech company Mobileye’s work with Tesla will not extend beyond the current EyeQ3 processor, according to Mobileye’s quarterly earnings call.

According to Mobileye CTO Ammon Shashua, the company will continue working with Tesla to improve EyeQ3’s performance.

“EyeQ3 shipments will continue for the near future, and maybe for the longer future. We simply decided where we wanted to put our resources for the future of autonomous driving… and we decided what we decided.”

-Ammon Shashua, Mobileye CTO

Vizio acquired by LeEco for $2 billion

Vizio_logo_3

Chinese electronics firm LeEco is buying American TV manufacturer Vizio for $2 billion. Under the deal, Vizio will be operated as an independent subsidiary, with the company’s current executive team and Southern California headquarters without company founder and CEO William Wang, who’s leaving the company.

Wang will become chairman and CEO of Inscape, Vizio’s data business, which will be spun out into a privately held company. LeEco will own 49 percent of Inscape, with Wang owning the remaining 51 percent. The LeEco deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of the year.

“We had to fight through competition from all over the world.

“I have mixed feelings. As the owner and father of Vizio, I am very reluctant to let it go. But as the CEO and owner of the company, I know this is the right decision to make for our hard-working employees, and loyal shareholders.”

-William Wang, Vizio founder & former CEO

T-Mobile’s Binge On now includes over 100 partners

T-Mobile Logo

T-Mobile’s Binge On has over 100 partners, with the addition of the Big Ten Network, Disney Junior, ABC, Apple Music, Disney, DISH Anywhere, Nat Geo TV, Ceek VR, Pan.tv, DramaFever, ShalomWorld, and Fox Now (among others). The program grants subscribers unlimited access to streaming services without it going against customers’ data caps. When enabled, Binge On downgrades video to 480p.

“Binge On’s popularity with consumers and video providers is amazing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s all about listening to your customers and doing what they want.”

-John Legere, T-Mobile CEO

White House launches color-coded scale for cybersecurity threats

The White House has released the Presidential Policy Directive on United States Cyber Incident Coordination, a framework for handling cyberattacks. It’s intended to create a clear standard of when/how government agencies handle incidents. It also comes with a new threat level scale, assigning specific colors and response levels to the danger of a hack.

The scale is designed to make sure that the agencies involved in cybersecurity (Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence) respond to threats with the same level of urgency and investment. A Level One incident is “unlikely to impact public health or safety, national security, economic security, foreign relations, civil liberties, or public confidence,” while a red Level Four one is “likely to result in a significant impact to public health or safety, national security, economic security, foreign relations, or civil liberties.” Finally, Level Five (black) covers anything that “poses an imminent threat to the provision of wide-scale critical infrastructure services, national government stability, or to the lives of U.S. persons.”

Anything at Level Three or above will trigger a coordination effort to address the threat, including the aforementioned groups and the attacked company/organization/agency.

Facebook pledges 1,500 housing units for general public

Facebook_Logo

With an influx of Facebook employees continue to drive up demand and prices of housing in its hometown of Menlo Park, Calif, the company will build 1,500 housing units open to the general public.

The units will accommodate plans to expand its headquarters and hire 6,500 new employees, according to the Wall Street Journal. Fifteen percent of these units will be set aside for low-to-middle-income families.

“Facebook is committed to being a good neighbor. We understand that our growth affects the everyday lives of our neighbors, and we want to be respectful and thoughtful about how we approach our expansion.”

-A Facebook spokesperson

Runkeeper’s Running Groups are a virtual running club

Runkeeper Running Groups

RunKeeper has introduced Running Groups, a new group running feature for up to 25 people, with new members able to join/leave at any point.

Once a Running Group has been set up, you select a challenge (a set number of runs in a given week/total distance traveled in a week or month). As each member of the group completes a run, everyone gets a notification, with a group-chat feature allowing for friendly banter.

BlackBerry DTEK50 claims to be “world’s most secure” Android phone

BlackBerry DTEK50

BlackBerry has announced the DTEK50, its second Android smartphone. The device, which shares hardware specs and design with the Alcatel Idol 4, as a midrange, all-touchscreen device.

In terms of specs, there’s a 5.2-inch 1080p display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB of RAM, 13-megapixel rear camera and eight-megapixel front camera with a selfie flash. The DTEK50 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with BlackBerry-specific software features, such as the Hub.

Security is a major focus, with BlackBerry’s DTEK software to protect users from malware and other security problems. DTEK lets users get a quick overview of their device’s security and take action on any potential issues. According to BlackBerry, Android has been modified with technology originally developed for BlackBerry 10 to be more secure. The company has also committed to rapid updates for security patches.

The BlackBerry DTEK50 is available for preorder directly from BlackBerry for $299.99 starting today and will be available on Aug. 8. It’s sold unlocked and will work with AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S.

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