Seems Samsung couldn’t wait a few more days for CES to arrive. The hardware giant this morning just announced the launch of “Lite” versions of its popular handsets, designed to bring key features from the Galaxy S10 and Note 10, without breaking the bank.
The devices are a clear response to a sea change in consumer demand over the last several years. While Samsung has long offered mid-range devices, the additions of the Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite are an appeal to users looking for something in the flagship ballpark. While Samsung has yet to offer specifics on pricing, one imagines they’ll fall somewhere between its mid-range A series and the $1,000+ cost of the high-end products.
Notably, both devices appear to feature actually the same display, a 6.7-inch full HD+ at 394 PPI, with a hole-punch “Infinity-O” camera up top. The downgraded screen is one of the clear cost-cutting measures here. Aside from some fairly minor spec differences, the Note’s S Pen and some camera differences appear to be the primary distinction between the products.
Both feature a three-camera array on a large, rectangular bump on the rear. Each version has their strengths. The S10 has a five-megapixel macro, 48-megapixel wide angel and 12-megapixel ultra wide (123-degree). The Note, meanwhile, has a 12-megapixel ultra wide, 12-megapixel wide-wide-angle and 12-megapixel telephoto.
Inside, both sport a hefty 4,500 mAh battery (with some differences from market to market), coupled with either 6 or 8GB of RAM and a default 128GB of storage. There’s some differences in the processor, though both are 64-bit octo-core models. They’ll both ship with Android 10.
“The Galaxy S and Galaxy Note devices have met consumer wants and demands around the world. These devices represent our continuous effort to deliver industry leading innovations, from performance and power to intelligence and services,” Mobile CEO DJ Koh said in a release tied to the news. “The Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note10 Lite will introduce those distinct key premium features that make up a Galaxy S and Galaxy Note experience.”
That’s about all we know for now on either, though one imagines that Samsung will offer up more info, including pricing and availability, next week at CES. From the looks of it, both prices appear to still be fairly premium (more after some hands-on time next week), which likely means the pricing won’t vary too far from the premium models.
We’ve written plenty about slowing smartphone sales in the past couple of years. There are plenty of factors driving the trends, including slowed pace of innovation and longer shelf lives for older models, but the tendency of big companies to bump up premium prices above $1,000 is a pretty key factor. Google, for one, has found success with its Pixel A series, helping jumpstart slow sales. Samsung has previously taken a swing at the market with the Galaxy S10e, though the product was still positioned alongside its premium devices. The downgraded display puts the device in the company of products like Apple’s iPhone XR and 11.
Oracle now monitoring TikTok’s algorithms and moderation system for manipulation by China’s government – TechCrunch
Oracle has begun auditing TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation models, according to a new report from Axios out this morning. Those reviews began last week, and follow TikTok’s June announcement it had moved its U.S. traffic to Oracle servers amid claims its U.S. user data had been accessed by TikTok colleagues in China.
The new arrangement is meant to allow Oracle the ability to monitor TikTok’s systems to help the company in its efforts to assure U.S. lawmakers that its app is not being manipulated by Chinese government authorities. Oracle will audit how TikTok’s algorithm surfaces content to “ensure outcomes are in line with expectations,” and that those models have not been manipulated, the report said. In addition, TikTok will regularly audit TikTok’s content moderation practices, including both its automated systems and its moderation decisions where people are choosing how to enforce TikTok policy.
TikTok’s moderation policies have been controversial in years past. In 2019, The Washington Post reported TikTok’s U.S. employees had often been ordered to restrict some videos on its platform at the behest of Beijing-based teams, and that teams in China would sometimes block or penalize certain videos out of caution about Chinese government restrictions. That same year, The Guardian also reported TikTok had been telling its moderators to censor videos that mentioned things like Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong, per a set of leaked documents. In 2020, The Intercept reported TikTok moderators were told to censor political speech in livestreams and to suppress posts from “undesirable users” — the unattractive, poor or disabled, its documents said.
All the while, TikTok disputed the various claims — calling leaked documents outdated, for instance, in the latter two scenarios. It also continued to insist that its U.S. arm didn’t take instructions from its Chinese parent, ByteDance.
But a damning June 2022 report by BuzzFeed News proved that TikTok’s connection to China was closer than it had said. The news outlet found that U.S. data had been repeatedly accessed by staff in China, citing recordings from 80 TikTok internal meetings.
Following BuzzFeed’s reporting, TikTok announced that it was moving all U.S. traffic to Oracle’s infrastructure cloud service — a move designed to keep TikTok’s U.S. user data from prying eyes.
That agreement, a part of a larger operation called “Project Texas,” had been in progress for over a year and was focused on further separating TikTok’s U.S. operations from China, and employing an outside firm to oversee its algorithms.
Now, it seems Oracle is in charge of keeping an eye on TikTok to help prevent data emanating from the U.S. from being directed to China. The deal steps up Oracle’s involvement with TikTok as not only the host for the user data, but an auditor who could later back up or dispute TikTok’s claims that its system is operating fairly and without China’s influence.
Oracle and TikTok have an interesting history. Towards the end of the Trump administration, the former president tried to force a sale between the two companies, bringing in long-time supporter, Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison to help broker the deal for his company. That deal eventually fell apart in February 2021, but the story didn’t end there, as it turned out.
But while this new TikTok-Oracle agreement has significance in terms of the tech industry and in politics, Oracle’s deal with TikTok doesn’t necessarily make the firm a more powerful player in the cloud infrastructure market.
Even with TikTok’s business, Oracle’s cloud infrastructure service represents just a fraction of the cloud infrastructure market. In the most recent quarter, Synergy Research, a firm that tracks this data, reported the cloud infrastructure market reached almost $55 billion with Amazon leading the way with 34%, Microsoft in second with 21%, and Google in third place with 10%. Oracle remains under 2%, says John Dinsdale, who is a principal analyst at the firm.
“Oracle’s share of the worldwide cloud infrastructure services market remains at just below 2% and has shown no signs of meaningful increase. So Oracle’s cloud revenue growth is pretty much keeping pace with overall market growth,” Dinsdale told TechCrunch. Synergy defines “cloud infrastructure services” as Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and hosted private cloud services. Dinsdale points out that Oracle’s SaaS business is much stronger.”
Spotify prompts some users to record reaction podcasts to playlists – TechCrunch
After testing new in-app podcast recording tools for users in New Zealand, Spotify is now trialing a new audio feature in Vietnam, one that’s designed to encourage users to record voice reactions to playlists.
A Reddit user posted screenshots of the feature, showing how they received a prompt to react to a playlist with a voice clip that will be posted as a podcast episode. As per its previous test in New Zealand, it’s fair to assume that these reaction ‘podcasts’ will be published directly to creators’ personal profilers where followers will be able to listen.
The screenshots show that users included in the test are seeing a microphone icon on playlist screens, and upon tapping that, they see a new screen that prompts them to record a voice reaction to the playlist.
Once they hit the button, they can either record in one go or multiple clips by pausing. Later, they can edit the clip, add background music, and tag the playlist before publishing.
This workflow is similar to the test in New Zealand, except in that test, the starting point was a “Record Podcast” button on the home screen. So this test is more about giving a prompt to users who might not have a podcast idea in their mind.
Spotify has confirmed the test, but the company didn’t share any details about what locations the feature is available, and how it plans to moderate these voice reactions.
“At Spotify, we are always looking for ways to enhance our users’ experience on our platform, and we regularly test features that we believe will bring value to listeners and creators. We are currently running a limited test of in-app audio creation, but have no further details to share at this time,” the company said in a statement to TechCrunch.
As we noted in our story in June, a lot of these features are powered by Spotify-owned podcast creation app Anchor. These tests indicate that the streaming giant is trying to convert listeners to creators by providing them with easy in-app tools to make and publish podcasts.
In its Q2 2022 earnings last month, Spotify said it now has 4.4 million podcasts on the platform, and users engaging with them have grown at a “substantial double digits year-on-year.” Spotify has invested more than $1 billion in podcasting in the last few years with €83 million ($84.3 million) invested this year alone to acquire podcast analytics companies Podsights and Chartable.
Bumble experiments with group chats, polls and video calls for its new social networking feature, ‘Hive’ – TechCrunch
Dating app maker Bumble revealed more of its plans to strengthen its social networking features during last week’s Q2 earnings, which saw the company’s shares slump over its lowered financial outlook despite delivering a revenue beat. Now, new images show what Bumble has been developing as part of the larger revamp of its “Bumble BFF” friend-finding feature — a change that could help the app attract a new audience beyond just young singles. Specifically, Bumble BFF has been testing a new “communities” offering it’s calling “Hive,” which, the images show, may include support for features like group chat, polls and video calls.
Bumble briefly referenced its plans for Hive on its Q2 2022 earnings call with investors, noting Hive was a “next-generation offering” focused on helping people find “platonic connections through small communities.” In other words, a groups product.
“As we have shared before, our approach is built on the insight that people want to find friends, acquaintances and connections through shared struggles and common joys: moving to a new city, navigating parenthood, finding a partner for hiking, or really anything else in between,” founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told investors.
She noted Bumble had recently expanded its alpha tests of the new Bumble BFF feature to the Greater Toronto area where Bumble users have since created thousands of these online communities known as “Hives.”
The promise of platonic social networking is one the company believes could help it find engagement beyond the world of online dating. During its tests, Bumble said the weekly average number of sessions for BFF members increased by two-thirds, and their weekly time spent in-app was up 16%.
According to new images released by product intelligence firm Watchful, Bumble’s Hive includes a variety of now-standard social networking features. It shows BFF members can create profiles, join interest groups led by admins, publish posts, engage in group chats, create and respond to polls and more. There’s also an option for group video calls within the “Hives.”
Video is not entirely new to Bumble, however.
The company also told investors it has been testing both video and audio in select markets as a way to enhance member profiles with “richer and more dynamic” content. This could additionally help Bumble better compete against a growing number of video-focused dating apps, like Snack, S’More, Desti and others.
More broadly, Bumble’s latest updates aim to address the shift among younger, Gen Z users who are inclined to embrace apps that allow them to socially “hang out” online — like livestreaming app Yubo and various friend-finders, including those that help them make new friends on Snapchat and elsewhere, such as Hoop, Wink, Wizz, Qudo, Wave, LMK, Swipr and Vibe, among others. Dating giant Match also embraced this trend with its $1.73 billion deal for Hyperconnect, a company that had been more focused on social networking than dating. However, that investment has not yet paid off beyond bringing audio and video technologies to various Match dating apps.
Bumble was unable to provide a statement on the new Hive features, when reached for comment.
In Q2, Bumble reported $220.5 million in revenue in its most recent quarter, ahead of Wall Street estimates, but saw a loss of 3 cents per share versus the 1 cent loss expected. It also lowered its full-year revenue forecast citing increased competition with Match, the war in Ukraine, inflation and foreign exchange headwinds.
In addition to Bumble BFF’s Hive, the company is working on new astrology features, product enhancements for LGBTQIA+ users, tests of “messaging before match” features, audio and video features, and other monetization products.
Chrome “Feed” is tantalizing, but it’s not the return of Google Reader
Enlarge / Digging into bleeding-edge Chrome code has made some bloggers hopeful, but Google has been focused on its own...
Here’s How Long A Tesla Model Y Battery Will Actually Last
Many of us have found ourselves at the side of the road waiting for someone to arrive with a gas...
Sweeping report alleges inequity, sexual harassment at Nintendo’s American HQ
Nintendo Through the first half of 2022, Nintendo of America has been in the crosshairs of critics and the US...
SAIC Mobility Robotaxi valued at $1B after $148M Series B – TechCrunch
SAIC Mobility Robotaxi, an arm of state-owned Chinese automaker SAIC aiming to launch a commercial robotaxi service, raised $148 million...
The Real Reason The US Cancelled This Multi-Billion Dollar Helicopter Project
Prior to UAVs like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper capturing the public’s attention during the War on Terror, stealth...
Social4 months ago
Web.com website builder review
Social3 years ago
CrashPlan for Small Business Review
Gadgets4 years ago
A fictional Facebook Portal videochat with Mark Zuckerberg – TechCrunch
Cars4 years ago
What’s the best cloud storage for you?
Mobile4 years ago
Memory raises $5M to bring AI to time tracking – TechCrunch
Social4 years ago
iPhone XS priciest yet in South Korea
Security4 years ago
Google latest cloud to be Australian government certified
Social4 years ago
Apple’s new iPad Pro aims to keep enterprise momentum