independent– Qualcomm has announce a major rebrand of its Snapdragon chips, in a move that could make choosing a phone vastly more simple.
The company sells its Snapdragon chips to a vast range of other companies – such as Samsung, HP and OnePlus – which use them to power devices including mobile phones, watches and laptops.
But comparing those devices can often be difficult, because of the confusing name of those Snapdragon processors, which are marked by a host of complex numbers. Since processors are at the heart of the devices, it can therefore be difficult to know whether a given phone is better than another.
But Qualcomm now says that it will simplify its branding in a host of ways, most of which bring new branding to the line.
The most obvious one is that the Qualcomm and Snapdragon brands will be separated. While they will still be owned by the same company as before, the Qualcomm will be removed from the chips itself.
More usefully, however, those complicated names will be changed.
Until now, Snapdragon products have come with three different names. Each of the numbers was intended to show where it was in the line-up: the first indicating the power, the second what generation, and the third used to separate different products within those generations.
But that was difficult to know and to compare. It also led to struggles with Snapdragon running out of names – it has a Snapdragon 695, for instance, and so only space for four more chips in that line-up.
Instead, it will move to a “new simplified and consistent naming structure for our platforms makes it easier for our customers to discover and choose devices powered by Snapdragon”, it says. “This means our mobile platforms will transition to a single-digit series and generation number, aligning with other product categories — starting with our newest flagship Snapdragon 8-series platform.”
It did not give information on what that new naming system would be, and promised more information would be revealed at another event on 30 November.
Gigabit broadband: Internet seen as top homebuyer priority
bbc– A fast internet connection is now one of the most important factors for homebuyers, according to a survey of 294 estate agents across the UK.
Questions about connectivity, usually “full fibre” broadband, are up 69% since the pandemic began, the research, by Omdia for telecoms equipment maker Huawei, suggests.
Speeds of more than 300Mbps are being sought by 34% of buyers – and, according to 33% of the estate agents, can add £5,000 to the sale price of a home – while 23% want 1Gbps.
Asked to name the single most important factor is for homebuyers:
- 23% said the size of the property
- 20% said broadband quality
- 18% said the number of bedrooms
- 10% said the age of the property is
- 9% said transport links
“In many cases, customers feel that good internet is a ‘must have’,” James Hummerstone-Pope, from Purple Bricks, said.
“And poor wi-fi and a bad mobile signal can be a deal breaker.
“Fibre broadband definitely makes properties more appealing.
“And people will sometimes walk away from a property if they feel the broadband and phone signals aren’t good enough.”
- Vodafone to offer full fibre broadband to millions
- Half-a-million homes to get broadband boost
The government has promised to “bring full-fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025”.
And research from telecoms regulator Ofcom suggests 18.2 million homes (62%) already have access to 300Mbps or faster.
But only a fraction pay for such high speeds.
And the average UK speed is actually 50.4Mbps.
In Scotland and the South West, good broadband is the most important factor for homebuyers, the survey suggests.
But London-based estate agent Foxtons said while buyers considered the internet important – “particularly since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic” – it was usually outweighed by other factors.
“Choosing which property to purchase is an incredibly complex decision that depends on numerous different factors,” a representative said.
“In our experience, the price and perceived value for money, the size and type of property, provision of outside space, as well as proximity to local amenities and schools are some of the most critical factors in the decision-making process.”
Google app finds pets’ ‘art doubles’
bbc– They say dogs resemble their owners, but has your pet’s portrait already been painted by Picasso or Rembrandt?
Google’s “Pet Portraits” uses machine learning to match pets to their “art doubles” held in the collections of institutions around the world.
The furry-friend matching tool has been added to Google’s Arts & Culture app for Android and iOS.
A similar 2018 feature for human faces saw 120 million selfies uploaded.
According to Google, a computer vision algorithm recognizes where your pet is, and crops the image.
Then, “a machine learning algorithm matches your pet’s photo with over tens of thousands of artworks”.
Users can tap on the results to learn more about the stories and artists behind each artwork.
To test the system, the BBC enlisted the help of Smudge, a four-year-old black and white cat owned by a member of staff.
According to Google’s algorithm, Smudge most closely resembles “Black Cat and Narcissus” – a hanging scroll by 19th-century Chinese artist Zhu Ling – currently held in the collection of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City.
Image recognition is of increasing use to big-tech companies, but Google’s culture app disclaimer suggests pet images remain on your phone and are not used for other purposes.
“Your pet’s pic is only used to find artworks that look like your pet,” it promises. “Your photo isn’t sent from your device, and only you can see it unless you choose to share it. “
Netflix launches first games on smartphones
bbc– Netflix is launching its first games worldwide as it seeks to break into the game subscription market.
Starting Tuesday, the company will roll out updates to its Netflix app on Android smartphones, showing what games are available for download.
To begin with, five mobile games are included for Netflix subscribers.
The company is promising more to come – with no adverts in the game and no in-app purchases like those common in other mobile games.
Of the five games launching with the service, two are linked to the streaming giant’s popular Stranger Things series:
- Stranger Things: 1984
- Stranger Things 3: The Game
- Card Blast
- Teeter Up
- Shooting Hoops
“While this is just the beginning of a long journey, we’re excited to provide a gaming experience that is differentiated from what is available today – exclusive mobile games with no ads, no in-app payments, included with your Netflix membership,” the company said.
While the initial games have relatively simple graphics and casual gameplay, Netflix says it is in very early stages, but plans to eventually create games “for every kind of player”.
“Whether you’re craving a casual game you can start from scratch, or an immersive experience that lets you dig deeper into your favourite stories, we want to begin to build a library of games that offers something for everyone,” wrote Mike Verdu, the company’s head of game development.
Mr Verdu was a major hire for Netflix, having worked at games giant EA and later at Facebook, where he worked on augmented and virtual reality.
Apple coming soon
This week’s release is only for Android phones and tablets. Netflix said that games would come to iOS devices “in the coming months”.
Apple has previously resisted attempts by other companies to put “stores inside stores” – particularly around gaming.
- Squid Game helps Netflix subscriptions pick up
- Netflix: Four things which have driven its success
When Microsoft initially launched its Game Pass streaming service in 2020, Apple blocked the app from appearing in the iPhone App Store, arguing that the roughly 100 games included should all be listed in its store individually. Microsoft eventually resorted to streaming through Apple’s mobile Safari browser instead.
Netflix did not say it was facing any similar issues with Netflix Games, saying that Android arriving first was down to the launch being “still in its early stages”.
Despite the delay in reaching Apple customers, Microsoft has become the dominant figure in the game subscription market to date.
Its Xbox Game Pass service includes most of Microsoft’s own game studio releases on the day they go on sale, many of which can be played on an Xbox, a gaming computer, or streamed over the internet to phones and tablets.
It is estimated to have tens of millions of subscribers paying between £7.99 and £10.99 a month, depending on the features they need.
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