Apps, Companies

You can now try Spotify Premium free for three months rather than one, giving you longer to sample the service and decide if it’s right for you.

The new 90-day trial isn’t a limited-time offer – according to Spotify, it’s here to stay. “Beginning August 22, eligible users will receive the first three months on us for free when they sign up for any Spotify Premium plan,” the company said.

You can now try Spotify Premium free for three months rather than one, giving you longer to sample the service and decide if it’s right for you.

The new 90-day trial isn’t a limited-time offer – according to Spotify, it’s here to stay. “Beginning August 22, eligible users will receive the first three months on us for free when they sign up for any Spotify Premium plan,” the company said.

“You’ll unlock a world of on-demand access to millions of hours of audio content – no matter when you sign up, winter, spring, summer, or fall.”

The new trial is available now for individual and student plans, and Engadget reports that subscription prices will remain the same once the free period ends: $9.99/£9.99/AU$11.99. Duo and Family plans will get the trial period soon.

Free for all

It’s no coincidence that Spotify’s 90-day premium trial matches that offered by Apple Music, as it looks to lure listeners away from its main rival.

Competition between music streaming services has really heated up in recent months, with Apple commissioning exclusive podcasts to make its aural offering more appealing, Spotify signing a deal with EE that means music streaming doesn’t count towards subscribers’ data usage, and Amazon making Amazon Music playlists playable on Echo speakers free of charge.

This rivalry is great news for consumers, and it’s well worth keeping an eye on what each of the providers is offering to make sure your subscription is still the best one for you.

Companies

Suddenly, the next version of Android won’t be named after a dessert. Is this just one more step toward Google trying to act — or even be — mature?

On the seminal reality TV series House Hunters International, I occasionally witness young people buying their first house — or even living on their own for the first time — and describing it as “adulting.”

This seems to be a newly created word that represents strange concepts such as taking responsibility and even considering the needs of others.

The young people walk through apartments, sometimes sad that they’re rather smaller than the ones they’ve lived in with their parents, and struggle with difficult decisions. Like deciding whether to choose the apartment that’s $100 a month over their budget, but has a large American fridge or whether to go for the cheaper one that looks out over a construction site.

Somehow, I find myself occasionally imagining that these days Google is going through such a maturing process.

Last week, the company announced it would resist naming its next operating system after a dessert.

This was odd, as surely the whole world had been excited to the point of fainting as to whether Android Q would be Android Quince or whether the company would show its mischievous qualities by going for Queijadinha.

Instead, it’s Android 10. Which certainly commemorates the 10th version of Android, but also creates a peculiarly sobering cloud.

Google admitted that constantly amusing itself by choosing an American dessert word might have excluded some countries where, for example, Froyo or Marshmallow just aren’t a thing. Or even a word.

I can’t help thinking, however, that someone at Google has decided it’s time to reduce the slightly juvenile fripperies.

Few companies in world culture can have amused themselves more by creating April Fool’s jokes. Few have chosen to spread their slightly awkward jollity with such insouciant abandon.

There was, though, a far deeper level to Google’s naïveté.

“Don’t Be Evil,” for example, sounded like nothing more than a slogan created late on a Friday night by a Ganja Cake-gorging students’ union subcommittee.

The mere idea that you could grasp at all the world’s most intimate information and still be sanctimoniously pure was touchingly laughable.

The mere thought that you could claim to be making the world a better place while hoovering up every last advertising dollar and never, ever favoring your own products was chuckleworthy.

One can’t help thinking that co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin slipped out through the side door at the perfect moment.

Suddenly, Google was being asked to account for the slight dichotomy between its protestations of youthful, sincere goodness and its actual behavior.

Suddenly, the company was grappling not only with the fact that it’s just as slippery as other big companies, but with some basic tenets of real life.

The sudden realization, for example, that not everyone is a liberal.

Growing up isn’t proving easy, however. Few CEOs have been placed before more uncomfortable tests of maturity than Sundar Pichai.

One minute he’s being grilled by Congress and offering disturbingly defensive nonsense.

The next his employees are loudly telling him that no, no Google can’t work with the sorts of people who might kill others. You know, like the Department of Defense.

Then there’s the severely troubling instances of alleged sexual harrassment, some involving grotesque payments to executives involved.

Meanwhile, the company’s YouTube arm, once a place to watch music videos and learn how to sand down an old table, now wrestles with the idea that it’s enabling the radicalization of whole countries.

Of course, some of Google’s most severe issues are shared by other tech companies that have bathed the world in their immature ways.

Yet few could surely have accused the likes of Facebook of being remotely as idealistically superior and childlike as Google.

That’s why something as apparently innocuous as leaving desserts behind is a small sign that Google might — just might — become a touch more considered and mature in its thought process.

Adulting isn’t always a lot of fun. There are times when you’re truly frightened. There are times when you simply have no idea what you can or should do to solve a problem, but at least you know you should do something.

There are times when you wish you were a kid again and someone else would handle all the ugly stuff. And I don’t specifically mean Eric Schmidt.

Yet here Google is, no longer a darling, nor even so daring.

Instead, it’s a company that’s trying to release phones that people might actually buy, aggressively attacking Microsoft and attempting to operate successfully in a world that’s going very slightly insane.

I suspect the company hasn’t yet received all the desserts that ought justly to be meted out to it.

Yet there’s now a little hope Google might begin to represent something a little more edifying in years to come.

Companies, Technology

The Apple iPhone 11 lineup will come with a camera setup that will allow the device to capture better images in low light conditions.

pple is gearing for a major launch event next month, where the company is expected to unveil the much-awaited iPhone 11 lineup. Apart from its 2019 iPhone, the tech giant is also expected to launch a bunch of new devices including a brand new MacBook Pro laptop and new iPad models among other things.

In the past, a series of rumours and leaks have revealed a number of key details about the upcoming iPhone 11 lineup right from its name, which is likely to come with ‘Pro’ moniker to its design and camera setup. But now, a new report by Bloomberg has given us a detailed view of the products launching at Apple’s upcoming launch event and their key details.

iPhone 11: Leaks and rumours in the past couple of weeks have detailed that Apple will use the Pro moniker for its higher iPhone models, which means that the iPhone XS successor could be called the iPhone 11 Pro while the iPhone XS Max successor could be called the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The new report states that the main feature of the Pro iPhone models will be their camera. The two iPhones will come with a third camera at the back that will allow users to capture ultra-wide angle images and videos. The third camera will also help in capturing better images in low-light conditions. On the front, a multi-angle Face ID sensor will ensure that a wide field of view is captured allowing users to unlock their iPhones more easily.

Apart from this, the company’s 2019 will come with a special feature that will allow users to retouch, reframe or even alter the colors in a video live while are recording it. They will also come with a reverse wireless charging feature – similar to the one present in the Samsung Galaxy S10 – that would allow users to charge their AirPods and may be even Apple Watches by placing them on the back of the phone.

While the overall design is likely to remain unchanged, the 2019 iPhones are expected to feature matte finish as against the existing glossy finish. They are also expected to come with shatter resistant technology and an advanced water resistant technology that could allow the iPhone to be submerged under water for longer than 30 minutes.

The iPhones will also gain an iPhone XR-like haptic touch which will replace the pressure sensitive 3D touch technology. While the three iPhones will be powered by A13 chipset, it will come with a co-processor that may help the device with computer vision and augmented reality.

MacBook Pro: A number of reports in the past couple of months have hinted that Apple will launch a 16-inch MacBook Pro with a scissor keyboard along with the iPhone 11. Now the Bloomberg report takes the old report a step further. The 16-inch MacBook Pro will be closer in size to the 15-inch MacBook Pro but it will come with slimmer bezels.

In addition to that Apple will also Mac Pro and 32-inch XDR Pro Display later this year.

iPad: Apple refreshed its line of iPad Air and iPad Mini models earlier this year. The report states that Apple will launch the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models with A13 chipset and upgraded cameras. The company will also launch a low-end 10.2-inch iPad model, which be be the successor the company’s 9.7-inch model.

Companies, Smartphone

A laboratory test of one of Apple’s most popular iPhone models has came back with worrying results — that could impact your health.

Apple’s popular iPhone 7 produced radiofrequency radiation above the legal limit in a new test, prompting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate the issue.

The phone was set to operate at full power and was secured below a tub of clear liquid formulated to mimic human tissue during the test, which was conducted and paid for by the Chicago Tribune inside an accredited lab following federal guidelines.

For 18 minutes, a tiny probe measured the radiofrequency radiation the liquid was absorbing from the iPhone 7.

According to the Tribune, the test found radiofrequency radiation “over the legal safety limit and more than double what Apple reported to federal regulators from its own testing.”

The newspaper tested three more brand new iPhone 7s at full power, and those also measured above the exposure limit. In total, 11 models from four different manufacturers were tested.

The FCC told the Tribune it would conduct its own testing over the next few months.

“We take seriously any claims on noncompliance with the RF (radiofrequency) exposure standards and will be obtaining and testing the subject phones for compliance with FCC rules,” agency spokesman Neil Grace said.

As the Tribune notes, it’s not clear whether prolonged exposure to radiofrequency radiation can increase the risk of cancers or cause other harm.

A decline in male fertility has been recorded over the past several decades. Studies on the impact of mobile radiation on male fertility have reported conflicting results.

There is no strong evidence linking the use of mobile phones with an increased risk of cancer but in 2011 a World Health Organization working group classified phone use as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

With phones in wide use around the world, the issue is sure to receive increased scrutiny.

Two phone manufacturers, including Apple, disputed the Tribune’s results, saying the lab that the newspaper used does not conduct tests the same way the tech giant does — although the company did not specify exactly what was different or wrong about the Tribune’s tests.

“All iPhone models, including iPhone 7, are fully certified by the FCC and in every other country where iPhone is sold,” Apple’s statement to the Tribune said. “After careful review and subsequent validation of all iPhone models tested in the [Tribune] report, we confirmed we are in compliance and meet all applicable … exposure guidelines and limits.”

The tests were conducted by RF Exposure Lab in San Marcos, Calif., which is recognised by the FCC as accredited to test for radiofrequency radiation from electronic devices.

Companies

Apple has acquired eye-tracking startup. The acquisition is being looked at through the lens of Apple’s virtual reality and augmented tech ambitions. With this acquisition, the company has significantly bolstered its arsenal of eye-tracking technology.

Founded in 1991, SMI has made significant advances in eye-tracking software, coming up with various  proprietary eyeglass hardware and technologies. The company mainly focuses on consumer centric applications of eye-tracking technology including but not limited to eye tracking for virtual reality.

We probably didn’t even have to ask to know what Apple was going to say in response to inquiries about the acquisition.

SMI’s tech also includes something called foveated rendering which tracks where you are looking at, and then blurs out everything else but the place that is in your line of sight. This tech as can be imagined, could be pivotal to the development of VR and AR headsets.

Apple is not alone in acquiring companies working on eye-tracking based scenarios. Google for instance, acquired Eyefluence last year, in a bid to help it obtain technology that could choose interfaces using the movement of the eye. By acquiring startups and companies that have the tech they need, corporations like Google and Apple that have surplus money are saved a lot of time and effort. And this is probably why this practice has gained much popularity of late.

Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.