Microsoft Gives Up Windows in Favor of Android for its 2020 Foldable Phone

This week at their annual press conference, Microsoft unveiled a wide variety of devices for its customers. Unsurprisingly the company showed off its latest laptops and tablets, which, as you would expect, are running the latest versions of Windows. In a surprise move, however, Microsoft announced it is launching a new phone during the holiday season of 2020. This phone is going to be a new type of dual-screen foldable device Called the Microsoft Duo. What’s more surprising that Microsoft launching a new phone? Well, this phone won’t run a mobile version of Windows. (Microsofts own OS) The Duo will run Android OS.

This isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt to capture a portion of the smartphone market. Their brand of Windows phones was a commercial failure. This failure was due in part to the companies inability to convince developers to make apps for their mobile version of Windows.

This time Microsoft has a different strategy. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, said “the company needs to meet customers where they are. The predominant operating system for smartphone users is Android, and it makes more sense for Microsoft to utilize this Open source platform for their devices.

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Photo Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft does have the advantage of utilizing the world’s most used Operating system. Microsoft, however, has to contend with other Android phone manufacturers who are well established and have a proven track record of producing high-quality phones with innovative designs. The design of the Microsoft Duo, in my opinion, already looks dated. Though its dual-screen design isn’t widespread, it’s very thick bezels leave much to be desired. The design of the Microsoft Duo might have customers thinking the device is obsolete upon arrival.

Even though the Duo will use Android OS, Microsoft still needs developers to update their apps to utilize the dual-screen setup in innovative ways. Microsoft announced this phone so early for that very reason, so developers can start thinking of ways to bring their apps to the Duo. As the Duo is still in development, it will likely be midway through 2020 before we get more information like specs and camera information.

Square Cameras Will be Making Their Way to iPhones and the Pixel 4 this Fall Whether you like them or Not.

 
The design language of smartphone components is continuously changing and evolving with the implementation of new technologies. The pressure to be innovative can stem from competitors and the growing boredom and reluctance from customers to upgrade their devices as often as they used to.

The quest to have the best smartphone camera has forced smartphone manufacturers to rethink their previous strategy of having small and minimalist cameras on the rears of their handsets. Google and Apple have had a different approach to their camera functionality. Apple has embraced a hardware-based approach featuring dual lenses and proximity sensors. Google, on the other hand, has used a software-based method utilizing artificial intelligence to tweak and enhance the quality of photos shot on their phone. Apple uses AI as well for its camera sensors but not as focused as Google’s model.

At this point, it seems Google has achieved the perfect balance between competent hardware and a heavy emphasis on AI-based photography to produce stunning results when taking pictures on their Pixel phones. While iPhones are certainly no slouch in the photography department, many agree that Google still holds the edge with camera features and photo quality. A prominent example of this is Google’s Night-Sight mode on their newer Pixel phones. The Night-Sight feature uses AI to take well-composed pictures in near black-out environments without the need for a flash.

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Photo Credit: EverythingApplePro

Apple plans to try to even the score or even surpass Google by doubling down on its hardware strategy by adding another camera sensor to its next iPhone. This would give the top tier iPhone a total of three lenses on the rear. However, due to a recent leak and subsequent surprise confirmation by Google, Google also plans on adding another lens to its flagship for a grand total of two cameras on the rear with an unknown sensor.

Because of leaks, we now know that both Apple and Google have significant physical changes coming to their camera sensors. These new camera modules will be relatively large and square in shape. Impressions from the leaks and renders of the phones have been mixed, and sometimes leaning to the negative side of the fence due to differences in design preferences.

The jury is still out on what new advancements these new camera modules will bring, but I have to assume Apple and Google can justify the risk of an unpopular design by providing a significant upgrade to their current camera systems.

Our Wishlist & Predictions For The World Wide Developer’s Conference

 

With WWDC less than a month away and with rumors spreading concerning which features will come to iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and TvOS this fall, it seemed like an opportune moment to share our wishlists and predictions for the World Wide Developers Conference.

 iOS13 

My number one wish for iOS is a system-wide Dark Mode for iPhones and iPads. Dark modes for phones and laptops are popping up everywhere. Last year Apple gave us hope by announcing dark mode for MacOS, and I’m hoping this year the iPhone and iPad will follow suit. Even Google is getting in on the action as at their Google I/O event, they announced a system-wide dark mode was coming to the latest version of Android. As other operating systems are adopting this feature, I anticipate the inclusion of dark mode on iOS is very likely.

Apple Finally added a user accessible file system to their iOS devices on iOS 11, while this addition was much appreciated, a fuller-featured file manager should be encouraged. Adding more robust support for external storage and management of files stored on those devices would be ideal. Apple wants us to envision the iPad as a viable replacement for our laptops but to do that the iPad needs to function more like a laptop in critical ways such as file management. Due to constant pressure from competitors and Apple’s user base, I anticipate this feature is moderate likely, but it will be implemented in Apple fashion (file type restrictions, installation restrictions, etc.).

I’ve been praying for the addition of a native option for using the iPad Pro as a secondary display for Mac. I’m very hopeful this feature will finally be made available for my mobile workflows. I do however believe if this feature is implemented, it will only be available on iPad Pros with a USB Type C Port, as the lightning port might not have enough bandwidth to support a high-resolution extension of a Mac display. This feature has been available for some time with the use of third-party apps such as Duet and Astropad, but due to the bandwidth of the lightning port video output is highly compressed and the refresh rate is much lower than traditional monitors and displays. 

Multitasking on iPad has significantly advanced over the last couple iterations of iOS, but to truly compete with desktop operating systems, the iPad needs to implement windowed multitasking. These windows need to be arranged as desired or arrange in a split screen configuration as well. Again due to the competition and demand from its user base, I would assume the addition of this feature to be very likely as Apple continues to persuade users that the iPad is a viable replacement for laptops.

 Besides, better multitasking tools on iPad, Apple should also add mouse support to the iPad Pro. With the addition of the Apple Pencil and support for external keyboards, I find my fingers rarely touching the iPads screen. I notice this in specific workflows, especially when I decide to try typing documents on the device. It’s always an inconvenience to move my hand towards the touchscreen to adjust my cursor, and when I try its never as accurate as a mouse’s input. As Apple would have to rework most of their first party apps to utilize mouse support, I would say the addition of this feature is unlikely to slightly likely. 

WatchOS 6

I personally don’t want or expect too much from the next version of WatchOS. The Apple Watch is already one of the most feature-rich smartwatches on the market and understandably one of the most popular wearables. The Apple Watch does have some glaring omissions to its software offerings that wish Apple would finally address. First, I would like Apple to allow support for third-party watch faces. An SDK for building watch faces and a spot in the App Store would create an entirely new development sector for Apple and developers. The only new watch faces Apple Watch owners get are from Apple directly or collaborations other companies have arranged directly with Apple. Examples of this are Pixar’s Toy Story watch faces and Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse watch faces. I would also appreciate more options with the Watch Face options Apple gives us by default. For example, I like to use the live Jellyfish* watch face, though all of the jellies shown are fine, I’d like only one or two of the pictures to be in the rotation. Apple, however, gives you an all or nothing option on that front. Apple also provides a few minimalist watch faces in various colors, which I do enjoy. However, I do wish Apple Watch users had access to a color wheel to choose more specific colors for these watch faces. 

MacOS

As much as people say that Apple needs to pay closer attention to the Mac, I personally feel that Apple has every configuration of Mac desktops and laptops available to a vast variety of users. Also, MacOS seems to get newer and more impressive software features faster than any platform maintained by Apple. MacOS is feature rich, fast, stable, and reliable. I expect Apple to build on this and to further refine its desktop operating system. I personally don’t have many wishes for MacOS as any changes I want to make to the OS or UI I can change with an app. Any new features Apple decides to bring to the Mac will be quality of life changes that I didn’t know I needed or wanted, and those are my favorite kinds of features.

Samsung Announces Four Versions of Galaxy S10

 

During Samsung’s “Unpacked” event this morning, the company officially announced 5 new phones. This first to be announced was the radically designed Galaxy Fold (https://iphonetennismatch.com/2019/02/20/samsung-unveils-insanely-expensive-galaxy-fold/).

Samsung then announced their newest model or should I say, models of their flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S10. Due to numerous leaks and pure speculation most people expected the Galaxy S10 to be announced today. Most people, however, didn’t expect so many variations of the Galaxy S10 to be available.

The Galaxy S10 & S10 Plus

Though its design isn’t as radical as the Galaxy Fold, the S10 boasts a new design as well. The Galaxy S10 is the first of Samsungs phones to feature its “Infinity-O” display. The Infinity-O display is Samsungs answer to having a full display on the front of the phone. Instead of Apple’s “notch” the Galaxy S10 will have a cutout in the display that has been precisely cut by a laser to accommodate the front-facing camera. 

S10 Screen size: 6.1 inches

S10 Plus Screen Size 6.4 inches

The Base version of the Galaxy S10 will have a perfectly circular cutout for its front-facing camera. This is because there will only be one camera on the front of the device. This is in contrast to the Galaxy S10 Plus, which will have a more pill-pill-shaped cutout to accommodate two front-facing cameras. The two cameras on the front of the S10 Plus should make it possible for users to take portrait photos that exaggerate the depth of field.

On the rear of the Galaxy S10 & 10 Plus, both phones are identical in the camera department. Both phones are equipped with a triple lens camera set up. Each phone has a 16 MP wide-angle lens, a basic 12MP lens, and a telephoto lens with an optical zoom of x2.

What you will no longer find on the rear of the S10 & S10 Plus is a fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint scanner has finally found its way onto the front of the device. Only this time it isn’t a physical button, but it is seamlessly embedded into the display itself. Samsung uses ultrasonic technology to map a 3-D model of your fingerprint while it rests on the screen. 

The Galaxy S10 & 10 Plus can be configured with up to 12 GB of RAM and a TB of onboard storage with a micro SD slot for even more storage. 

One of the most innovative additions to the Galaxy line up is the addition of the “Wireless Power Share” feature. This feature functionally turns the back of the Galaxy S10 into a wireless charger. The charger uses the QI standard which means in theory this feature could be used to wirelessly charge an iPhone that supports wireless charging. Though that would probably be jarring, Samsung probably expects its users to use this feature to charge the various branded accessories they also announced today. Some of these accessories include the Galaxy Buds which have a charging case that supports wireless charging, and Samsung’s pair of new smart and fitness watches, the Galaxy Watch Active, and the Galaxy Fit.

The Galaxy S10e

Samsung also revealed the Galaxy S10e, which is an entry-level version of their latest flagship phones. These phones are meant to compete directly with Apple’s iPhone XR. Unlike the XR and the S10, the S10e has a dual camera set up on the rear which is a step up from Apple’s offering but a camera shy of its bigger brothers. The S10e also losses support for the new Wireless Power Share feature. The Galaxy S10e will, fortunately, come at a more affordable price than its bigger brothers as well.

Pricing for the S10(s)

 S10e will cost you $749 *Starting 

S10 will cost you $899 *Starting 

S10 Plus will cost you $999 *Starting 

These prices are $100 cheaper than what Apple is asking for its starting prices, except for the 10e. Samsung is clearly trying to undercut Apple by offering cheaper flagship phones. This pricing quickly changes as buying a full loaded 1TB 12GB RAM S10 Plus will cost you $1600, more than Apple’s fully loaded iPhone XS MAX.

5G is Here 

As for the fourth version of the Galaxy S10, Samsung gave us a taste of the Galaxy S10 5G. 

The 5G as the name implies will support the upcoming 5G cellular connectivity, which is rumored to be a significant improvement over 4G LTE. Also, the S10 5G would be even bigger than the S10 Plus. It is going to feature a screen size of 6.7 inches, and a 3D sensing camera on the rear for advanced AR capabilities. No release date was given for this phone.

Release dates were however given for the other S10 models. Pre-orders will go live on February 21st, and devices will ship on March 8th. 

Samsung clearly wants to lead the pack in the smartphone market and with its current lineup, it seems to certainly have the momentum. 

Samsung Unveils Insanely Expensive Galaxy Fold 

During today’s “Unpacked” event, Samsung debuted its new foldable smartphone. This phone is called the Galaxy Fold and it is packed incredible technology, and unfortunately for our wallets, it all comes at a hefty price. Before revealing the price for the Galaxy Fold, Samsung braced us by framing its new phone as a “Luxury” device. To own a Galaxy Fold you are going to have to find it in your budget to part with a cool $1980.

With a price nearing 2k, you and everyone else is asking what makes this phone so expensive. Samsung is offering its new “Infinity Flex Display” which is a foldable OLED display. As this technology is new and cutting edge, Samsung is asking top dollar from early adopter hopefuls. 

Its new OLED screen is 7.3 inches in diameter, putting it in a class among smaller tablets in the screen size department. The phone unfolds or opens like a book, and sports a 4.6-inch screen on the front of the device. This screen can be used while the device is closed. Due to a featured called App continuity, one can view a web page or app on the smaller screen, then continue viewing their content on the larger 7-inch screen by simply opening the phone. 

The Galaxy Fold isn’t a slouch in the specs department. It features a 7-nanometer processor and sports an unnecessary 12 GB of RAM  and 512 GB of storage. This phone is also fitted with 6 cameras in total. It has a triple lens setup on the back, a dual lens sensor in the middle when opened, and a single lens camera for quick selfies on the front. 

As I said this device is jam-packed with new technology and a newer form factor. I personally just wonder if twenty bucks shy of $2000 is too egregious for a smartphone no matter what it does or how it looks. Only time will tell how this phone performs.