How Much Is an Android Phone Worth Without Google?—Data Sheet
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China’s Huawei Technologies will host a press conference in Munich, Germany on Thursday to unveil its latest generation of smartphones, the Mate 30 series.
Photos and specs for the new devices have been widely leaked, winning oohs and aahs from global gadget geeks. Early reports suggest Huawei plans to introduce four models: a Mate 30 Pro, a premium Mate 30 Porsche edition in black leather, a Mate 30, and a Mate 30 Lite. All but the Lite will feature Huawei’s super-fast Kirin 990 processor and a 5G option. The Pro and the Porsche models will be photography powerhouses, supported by state-of-the-art Leica camera systems, and sport curved “waterfall” displays with full HD resolution. From a hardware perspective, the Mate 30’s two top-end versions will be just about the coolest smartphones on the market.
Alas, from a software perspective, Huawei’s new phones will be distinctive in a less enticing way. Mate 30s will be the first Huawei phones affected by the security ban slapped on the Chinese telecommunications giant in May by the Trump administration, meaning that new Huawei phones sold in Europe will not be able to offer widely used Google apps and services such as the Google Play Store, Gmail, or Google Maps. (The U.S. Commerce Department granted Huawei a couple of reprieves for software updates, but those apply only to previously released phones.)
Huawei can use an open-source version of Android, for which it doesn’t have to pay any fees, without violating the U.S. sales ban. It also can offer Google apps outside Europe, where they are free. But in Europe, Google’s apps can only be used under a paid license from the search giant, thus triggering the security restrictions.
Huawei last month announced that it is building its own operating system, HarmonyOS. But even the company’s own engineers concede Harmony is no match for Android—and won’t be anytime soon.
Still, for consumers in Huawei’s home market, the inability to use Google apps is no big deal; Google is blocked in China and there are lots of perfectly workable domestic alternatives there, anyway. But it’s hard to see why consumers in Europe would fork over hundreds of euros for a new gadget that, however sleek and sexy, can’t run the apps they use the most.
LetsGoDigital.org, a Dutch website, reports that Huawei has decided not to roll out the Mate 30 series in Europe because it “realizes that launching an expensive high-end smartphone without Google apps is practically useless in Europe.” That could take a nasty bite out of Huawei’s overseas sales—and, at the very least, makes Munich an odd destination for the Mate 30 launch event.
On Twitter: @claychandler
Line them up. Speaking of new gadgets, the review embargoes for Apple's new iPhones and Series 5 watch have lifted. As to the iPhone 11, Anabel Pasarow at Refinery 29 praises the new colors and improved durability, while Nilay Patel at The Verge really puts the new cameras through their paces, if that's your thing. And at watch geek site Hodinkee, Stephen Pulvirent says he's a big fan of the watch's new always-on display: "I'll get into the practical benefits of this in a minute, but spoiler alert: it's a huge deal." On the other hand: "My vintage Rolex doesn’t tell people when my next appointment is and my modern IWC doesn't share my heart rate with passersby."
I see where you're going with that. Eyewear giant Luxottica is partnering with Facebook to make a pair of augmented reality glasses under its Ray-Ban brand. The glasses, codenamed Orion, aren't expected to go on sale until 2023 at the earliest but could replace smartphones, CNBC reports. What you'll be able to upload from those new glasses may be reviewed by Facebook's new oversight board. The company on Tuesday released details of how the board will make content decisions when it opens for business next year.
Transparency. A new online tool called ImageNet Roulette shows how artificial intelligence-powered facial recognition software can go astray or reflect biased results. Created by a couple of A.I. researchers, ImageNet takes a picture from your webcam or an uploaded photo and tries to categorize the person or persons pictured using one of about 2,500 labels (apparently, I look like a psycholinguist this morning).
My sponge is full. Need one more streaming service? Comcast's NBCUniversal unit says its ad-supported service will arrive next April as...the Peacock. Some of the programming is standard fare–reruns of The Office and Parks and Recreation–while other content sounds a little stretched: a reboot of Punky Brewster and a movie spinoff of Psyched. Not appearing on the Peacock will be the 12 seasons of AT&T's WarnerMedia hit comedy The Big Bang Theory. It's going to...you guessed it, AT&T's WarnerMedia new streaming service HBO Max. Will be interesting to see how all this shakes out. I'm thinking our voice-run digital assistants will learn how to find it all. Siri, put on the episode where Sheldon and Leonard lose their bitcoins.
Counting crocodiles. Bill Gates' net worth has increased by $16 billion this year, which by itself would rank about 77th on Bloomberg's billionaires list. But with total assets estimated at $106 billion, the Microsoft co-founder ranks second on the globe behind only Jeff Bezos (whose net wealth has fallen by almost $12 billion this year).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Your online persona these days is largely a matter of what's on various social platforms, from Instagram photos of your favorite pancakes to your career listing on LinkedIn, or maybe a dating profile on Tinder. On the DESK blog this week, German designer Tobias van Schneider makes the case for going back to personal websites, particularly for people like him in the design field.
Having my own website says I care about what I do beyond clocking in and out and cashing a paycheck. It shows I’m proud of what I create. If my taste or my work or the industry evolves, I have the power to reflect that on my portfolio. If I launch a new project, my first thought is to put it on my homepage. With this blog, I can write articles that connect directly back to me and my website. Social media is a nice way to extend the reach, but it all points back to vanschneider.com. It’s the one link I give to people inquiring about me and my work, rather some www.designplatform. com/vanchneider08247 URL or social media handle I don’t own. My site is the little place I’ve carved out for myself on the world wide web. It’s mine.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Feed the World By Aric Jenkins
Ironclad, the ‘Salesforce for Lawyers,’ Raises $50 Million By Jeff John Roberts
BEFORE YOU GO
Ever dream of flying a rocket ship into space? Turns out it's no easy matter, even for highly trained Air Force pilots. There's a great story at Ars Technica about Joe Engle, who flew the rocket-like X-15 in the 1960s before going on to pilot an early space shuttle mission. Engle explains how hard it was to fly the X-15, which could reach speeds five or six times faster than the speed of sound and leave the earth's atmosphere. “You’d work your tail off during that 10-minute flight," Engle recalls. "You’d be covered in sweat. But once it stopped, you really felt like you’d accomplished something, like you’d scored a goal with a USA uniform on at the Olympics.”