Huawei and Xiaomi Aiming to Rival iPhone in United States With AT&T and Verizon Sales Partnerships

Chinese smartphone makers Huawei and Xiaomi are reportedly in discussions with carriers AT&T and Verizon, who may begin selling each company's flagship Android smartphones in the United States as early as next year.


The negotiations are still in progress, and it's possible no final agreements will materialize, according to Bloomberg News.

The news echoes an earlier report from The Information that claimed AT&T has tentatively agreed to sell at least one Huawei smartphone, which was believed to be a high-end model resembling the company's flagship Mate 10 handset.

A partnership with AT&T and/or Verizon would be a major win for Huawei, already the world's third largest smartphone maker by market share behind Samsung and Apple, which dominate the smartphone market in the United States.

Huawei is the most popular smartphone maker in China, and it has aggressively pushed into Europe and Canada, but it has considerably less brand awareness in the United States since no major carriers sell its smartphones in the country. American customers currently have to resort to retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, or Amazon to purchase a Huawei smartphone.

If it wants to achieve its lofty goal of becoming the largest smartphone maker in the entire world by 2021, Huawei will almost certainly have to secure these types of agreements with AT&T, Verizon, and other carriers.

Huawei remained in third place with an estimated 39.1 million smartphone shipments worldwide last quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, while Apple reported sales of 46.7 million iPhones over that period.

In the United States, Huawei held just a 0.2 percent share of the smartphone market as of June 2017, according to Counterpoint Research.

Meanwhile, Xiaomi said it aims to roll out smartphones in the United States within two years. Xiaomi is also considering opening retail stores in the country to increase its brand presence, according to the report.


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Apple Reportedly Working on 3D Sensor System for Rear Camera in 2019 iPhones

Apple is developing 3D depth sensing technology for the rear-facing cameras in its 2019 iPhones, according to a new report by Bloomberg on Tuesday. The 3D sensor system will be different to the one found in the iPhone X's front-facing camera, and is said to be the next big step in turning the smartphone into a leading augmented reality device.

Apple is evaluating a different technology from the one it currently uses in the TrueDepth sensor system on the front of the iPhone X, the people said. The existing system relies on a structured-light technique that projects a pattern of 30,000 laser dots onto a user's face and measures the distortion to generate an accurate 3D image for authentication. The planned rear-facing sensor would instead use a time-of-flight approach that calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects to create a three-dimensional picture of the environment.
The existing TrueDepth camera would continue to be used in the front-facing camera of future iPhones in order to power Face ID, while the new system would bring the more advanced "time-of-flight" 3D sensing capability to the rear camera, according to the sources cited. Discussions with manufacturers are reportedly already underway, and include Infineon, Sony, STMicroelectronics, and Panasonic. Testing is said to be still in the early stages, and could end up not being used in the phones at all.

With the release of iOS 11, Apple introduced the ARKit software framework that allows iPhone developers to build augmented reality experiences into their apps. The addition of a rear-facing 3D sensor could theoretically increase the ability for virtual objects to interact with environments and enhance the illusion of solidity.

Apple was reportedly beset with production problems when making the sensor in the iPhone X's front-facing camera, because the components used in the sensor array have to be assembled with a very high degree of accuracy. According to Bloomberg, while the time-of-flight technology uses a more advanced image sensor than the existing one in the iPhone X, it does not require the same level of precision during assembly. That fact alone could make a rear-facing 3D sensor easier to produce at high volume.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Apple Developing Redesigned 2018 iPad With Face ID, Slimmer Bezels and No Home Button

Apple is working on a new high-end 2018 iPad that will adopt many of the design elements from the revamped iPhone X, reports Bloomberg. The new tablet device, which is likely to be a "Pro" model, will reportedly do away with the Home button.


It will feature slimmer edges, a faster processor, a custom Apple-built GPU, and built-in support for Face ID, allowing it to be unlocked with a facial scan much like the iPhone X. With Face ID, there's no need for a Touch ID Home button.
By removing the home button, Apple plans to noticeably reduce the size of the edges on the top and bottom of the device for the first time since its introduction in 2010, bringing the design closer to that of the recently released flagship iPhone X. The new version will mark the first revamped look for the iPad since the first iPad Pro debuted in 2015.
While the new 2018 iPad is said to be adopting many iPhone X features, Bloomberg's sources do not believe it will feature an OLED display. Instead, it will continue to use an LCD, likely because Apple suppliers are still working on ramping up OLED production. Samsung continues to be the only display maker capable of producing OLED displays suitable for an iPad, but technical and financial constraints will prevent Apple from adopting OLED at this time.

A new version of its Apple Pencil and new "software tools" for using the stylus are also said to be in development alongside the new iPad model.

According to Bloomberg, the revamped iPad is expected to be released "a little more than a year" after the prior iPad Pro update, suggesting it could see a launch sometime around September. Apple refreshed its iPad Pro lineup in June of 2017 at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Today's rumor is in line with prior reports from reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who previously said he believes iPad Pro models set to be released in 2018 will come equipped with a TrueDepth Camera and support for Face ID.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro

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Apple May Launch Augmented Reality Headset With Custom ‘rOS’ Operating System by 2020

Apple is ramping up development of an augmented reality headset that will have its own display and run on a new chip and operating system, according to well-connected Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman.

A fanciful mockup of digital glasses via TechAcute

Apple aims to have technology ready for the headset by 2019, and could ship a product as early as 2020, the report claims. But the development timeline is said to be "very aggressive" and could still change.

The headset's custom operating system, based on iOS, is reportedly dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system."
Just as tvOS powers the Apple TV, macOS runs on Macs and watchOS runs on Apple Watches, "rOS" will power Apple’s AR headset. Geoff Stahl, formerly a software manager for games and graphics at Apple, is one of the directors of the "rOS" software group.
Apple hasn't finalized how users will control the headset and launch apps, but it is investigating touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures as it creates prototypes, according to the report.
Engineers are prototyping a range of applications, from mapping and texting to more advanced features including virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback. The company has discussed pairing the headset with its own version of the App Store, where users would be able to download content, just as they do with the iPhone, Watch, Apple TV and Mac.
Apple software engineers are said to be using HTC Vive headsets, while working on a device similar to an Oculus Gear VR headset that uses an iPhone's display and other hardware, both for internal testing purposes only.

An augmented reality headset is one of several hardware and software projects that a team of Apple software engineers are supposedly working on under the umbrella code name of "T288" in Cupertino and Sunnyvale.

The same team was behind ARKit, which provides developers with tools to create augmented reality apps for iPhones and iPads.

Gurman previously reported that Apple was considering a pair of smart glasses that would connect wirelessly to an iPhone, much like the Apple Watch, and display "images and other information" to the wearer.

The Financial Times has also reported about Apple experimenting with "several different kinds" of wearable augmented reality prototypes, as it tries to figure out the "most compelling application" for a headset.

Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to any headset being at least a few years away during a recent interview about augmented reality.

"Today I can tell you that the technology itself doesn't exist to do that in a quality way," Cook said. "We don't give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people's experiences. Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with."

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project

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Apple Wants to Produce Comedies and Dramas That Are Viewer Friendly Enough for Apple Stores

Apple's reported $1 billion push into original content will include comedies and emotional dramas with broad appeal, according to Bloomberg.


The report claims Apple wants every show it produces to be suitable enough for an Apple Store, as opposed to content with nudity, raw language, and violence. Hollywood producers that have pitched edgier content, such as an eight-part series produced by filmmaker Alfonso Cuarónto, have allegedly been turned away.

Apple wants to have a small slate of shows ready for release in 2019, a timeframe previously reported. Unlike Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke: The Series, however, its new shows will supposedly no longer be placed on Apple Music, which in turn will be limited to music-related videos and documentaries.

Carpool Karaoke itself was supposed to launch in April, but its debut was delayed until August due to some coarse content.
Days before Apple Inc. planned to celebrate the release of its first TV show last spring at a Hollywood hotel, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told his deputies the fun had to wait. Foul language and references to vaginal hygiene had to be cut from some episodes of Carpool Karaoke, a show featuring celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Blake Shelton, and Chelsea Handler cracking jokes while driving around Los Angeles.

While the delay of Carpool Karaoke was widely reported last April, the reasons never were. Edits were made, additional episodes were shot, and Apple shifted resources to another show. When Carpool Karaoke was released in August, it didn’t make much of a splash.
Apple has aggressively hired as it pushes into the content arena. In June, the company hired Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, two Sony Pictures Television executives, to lead its video programming efforts. Apple has also hired Matt Cherniss, Morgan Wandell, Jay Hunt, and several other industry executives.


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Facial Recognition Startups Report Increased Interest in Their Tech After Apple’s Reveal of Face ID

With the upcoming launch of the iPhone X in November, Apple is preparing to debut an all-new biometric security feature called "Face ID." By using half a dozen front-facing sensors and an enhanced camera system, the iPhone X will be able to project more than 30,000 invisible dots onto your face, create a precise map of what it sees, and remember it so that all you have to do to unlock the iPhone X is look at it with your eyes open, and swipe up on the Lock Screen.

Although it's yet to be seen if this feature will be "well received" by users, a new report by Bloomberg today cites a few startups in the technology industry that have noticed Apple's influence already beginning to make waves in the face-scanning technology market. These startups -- which specialize in technology related to facial recognition systems -- say they have "already seen a pickup in demand" from certain companies interested in their technology, starting soon after iPhone X event day on September 12.


George Brostoff, CEO of one such startup called Sensible Vision, told Bloomberg that Apple's Face ID/iPhone X announcement "makes companies like Motorola, like LG come knocking on the doors of companies like ours." Brostoff said that the company is now fielding calls from potential buyers, including talks with "virtually all of the world's phone manufacturers," with expectations set for the startup to be sold to one of these interested parties -- which excludes Apple -- within a year.
While not everyone will buy the $999 high-end iPhone, rival electronics makers are already trying to figure out how they can incorporate the technology in their offerings. Startups selling their own versions of facial recognition say they’ve already seen a pickup in demand since Sept. 12, when Apple announced the iPhone X, aka 10.

“We now have a leader like Apple acknowledging that this makes sense,” said George Brostoff, chief executive officer of SensibleVision Inc., a Cape Coral, Florida-based startup that makes software for tablets and smartphones. “This makes companies like Motorola, like LG come knocking on the doors of companies like ours.”
Looking forward, research firm Crone Consulting LLC reported that facial recognition will account for "more than half of all [device] log-ins" over the next three to five years, including users authorizing mobile banking apps and payments. In terms of earnings, researchers at MarketsandMarkets predicted that the market for Face ID-like biometric security systems will double from the $3.35 billion it made in 2016, to $6.84 billion in 2021.

Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi has made the rounds since the September 12 keynote event, assuring users that Face ID is "incredibly reliable," "very fast," and it "just works." He's said that he understands user uncertainty over the new feature, but these concerns will "melt away" once they get the iPhone X in their hands. In terms of security, Apple has also said that your face is saved only to the iPhone X and not accessible by anyone who doesn't have access to the device.

According to Federighi, all of these behind-the-scenes Face ID features come together flawlessly: "You don't even think about it," he said.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Tags: bloomberg.com, Face ID

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iOS 11 Dock and Gesture Controls to Replace ‘iPhone 8’ Home Button Entirely

Apple's upcoming "iPhone 8" could rely entirely on gesture controls for carrying out tasks like navigating to the home screen and opening the new multitasking App Switcher in iOS 11, a new report on Wednesday claimed.

Apple has tested the complete removal of the home button – including even a virtual one – in favor of touch-based gestures, according to images of the new OLED iPhone viewed by Bloomberg and people familiar with the device.

Across the bottom of the screen there’s a thin, software bar in lieu of the home button. A user can drag it up to the middle of the screen to open the phone. When inside an app, a similar gesture starts multitasking. From here, users can continue to flick upwards to close the app and go back to the home screen. An animation in testing sucks the app back into its icon. The multitasking interface has been redesigned to appear like a series of standalone cards that can be swiped through, versus the stack of cards on current iPhones, the images show. 
In addition to the software-based changes, some of which are alluded to in beta releases of iOS 11, Bloomberg reports that the new OLED screen on Apple's "premium" handset is rounded on the corners, whereas current iPhone screens have square corners. The power button on the right side of the phone is also reportedly longer so that it's easier to press while holding the device in one hand, according to images.

Elsewhere, in perhaps a more contentious move, Apple has reportedly opted not to hide the notch area at the top of the OLED screen, so a definite cutout area will be visible when using apps with non-black backgrounds.
The cutout is noticeable during app usage in the middle of the very top of the screen, where the status bar (the area that shows cellular reception, the time, and battery life) would normally be placed, according to the images. Instead, the status bar will be split into left and right sides, which some Apple employees call "ears" internally. In images of recent test devices, the left side shows the time while the area on the right side of the notch displays cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity and remaining battery life. Because of limited space, the status bar could change based on the task at hand, according to a person familiar with the testing.
Bloomberg also claims that when the display shows black, the superior color reproduction of the OLED screen ensures that it "blends in perfectly" with the notch and thin edges on the front. The screen is also reportedly flat like previous iPhones, in contrast to the fully curved displays found on Samsung's latest smartphones.

Video from iOS 11 beta showing App Switcher control gesture.

Lastly, the report adds that Apple plans to include a stainless steel band around the phone which the glass curves into. According to images seen by Bloomberg, the steel band "has small antenna cuts on the corners like past iPhones to improve reception".

While Apple often tests different designs of its products, the hardware details covered here will have been finalized long ago, although the software interface could still change before iOS 11 gets its official public release. Apple is expected to debut the redesigned OLED iPhone at a September 12 launch event alongside iterative updates to its current smartphone line-up, as well as a new upgraded Apple TV with 4K support and Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE capability.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iOS 11
Tag: bloomberg.com

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Apple to Debut Apple TV With 4K HDR Support at September Event

Apple will introduce a fifth-generation Apple TV with 4K video support at an event planned for September, reports Bloomberg. The device is said to feature a faster processor to support 4K streaming, which is twice the resolution of the 1080p streaming supported on the current fourth-generation Apple TV.

In addition to 4K support, which will only be available on a 4K television, the new set-top box will support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video for brighter, more accurate colors.

Apple is also said to be testing a new version of its TV app that is designed to better highlight live TV content, aggregating live shows from apps that offer live streaming, and it is establishing deals with content makers to provide 4K video.
In order to play 4K and HDR content, Apple will need deals with content makers that can provide video in those formats. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has begun discussions with movie studios about supplying 4K versions of movies via iTunes, according to people familiar with the talks. The company has also discussed its 4K video ambitions with content companies that already have apps on Apple TV, another person said.
We've known Apple has had a new Apple TV with 4K support in the works for some time, and while there were hints that a launch was imminent, there was no confirmation that the device would be introduced in September prior to today.

The Apple TV was last updated in October of 2015, which is when the redesigned fourth-generation set-top box with Siri Remote and a full App Store was introduced.

Along with a new 4K Apple TV, we're also expecting to see a third-generation Apple Watch with LTE support and three new iPhones, including a radically redesigned 5.8-inch iPhone with an OLED display and facial recognition at Apple's September event.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tag: bloomberg.com
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Face ID Described as iPhone 8’s ‘Crown Jewel’, Unlocking Device in ‘A Few Hundred Milliseconds’

The front-facing 3D sensor on Apple's upcoming iPhone 8 will be the device's "crown jewel," able to unlock the iPhone 8 in a "few hundred milliseconds" to give users quick access to their smartphone and quickly authenticate Apple Pay purchases.

The statement comes in a new report by Bloomberg, and follows on the heels of a recent article by The Korea Herald which used similar language to describe the unlocking process on the iPhone 8. As we near the device's launch, expected in September, so-called "Face ID" has risen to the forefront of iPhone 8 rumors and is largely believed to be replacing Touch ID entirely on Apple's majorly redesigned tenth anniversary smartphone.

The Korea Herald: The new facial recognition scanner with 3-D sensors can deeply sense a user’s face in the millionths of a second.

Bloomberg: The next iPhone will seamlessly mesh screen and charging technologies invented by others with such Apple innovations as a 3-D face scanner that unlocks the phone in a few hundred milliseconds. Upgrades to core technologies aside, the new iPhone’s crown jewel will be a 3-D facial scanning sensor that will unlock device and authenticate purchases—an industry first.
Recent HomePod leaks have also been building up Face ID features over the past few weeks. The HomePod discoveries started off with mention of infrared sensors in the iPhone 8's front-facing camera notch, which will reportedly allow the device to scan the user's face in dark environments, and then led to a string of code that suggested the iPhone 8 will be able to scan faces at various odd angles, including when it's flat on a table.

In the midst of the HomePod leaks, Mark Gurman tweeted that Apple's pitch for Face ID over Touch ID during its upcoming September keynote will be that "Face ID is quicker, more secure, and more accurate than Touch ID." Rumors that the iPhone 8 will omit Touch ID entirely began in early July in a report by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, which was then corroborated in a report by Bloomberg.

Bloomberg's original report mentioned an "improved" security system coming to iPhone 8, potentially with eye scanning to "augment the system," and the ability for the smartphone to be unlocked with an advanced 3D sensor within a few hundred milliseconds.

As more reports have built upon these original rumors -- including the general idea that Face ID will be more secure than Touch ID because it can capture more data points than a fingerprint scan -- users can expect that advanced facial recognition features will likely be one of the major talking points of Apple's iPhone 8 keynote next month.

Check out Bloomberg's full report here, including a few infographics about the new features coming to the iPhone 8 with a focus on Apple's "best, not first" philosophy.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: bloomberg.com, koreaherald.com

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Hollywood Pushing for iTunes to Sell Major Films Just Weeks After They Debut in Theaters

Despite the objections of some cinema chains, the largest Hollywood studios are considering pushing ahead with a plan to offer digital rentals of films just weeks after they appear in theaters, according to Bloomberg.


The report, citing people familiar with the matter, claims Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. remain in talks with potential distributors such as Apple and Comcast on ways to push ahead with the project even without theater chains.

A deal with Apple, which reportedly could happen as soon as early next year, means iTunes could supposedly offer major films as early as 17 days after their theatrical debut for about $50, or four to six weeks from release for $30.

That timeframe would be significantly shorter than the current average of three months between a major film's theatrical release and availability in DVD and digital formats, but it would also cost viewers more than an $8 or $9 movie ticket.

The revenue from the premium video on demand, or PVOD, product would help offset a continuing decline in DVD sales, which were down 10 percent in the first half of 2017, according to research firm The Digital Entertainment Group.

Disney, which plans to remove its movies from Netflix and launch its own streaming service by 2019, reportedly isn't interested in the PVOD talks.

Bloomberg first reported on the discussions in December, when it claimed 21st Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. were all seeking deals with Apple to create a $25 to $50 premium movie download product.


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