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Voice e-commerce inflection premieres at Amazon Prime Day 2018

Amazon Prime Day is scheduled for July 16, with a targeted goal towards massive deals and a new addition to voice e-commerce.

Noted as one of the most significant e-commerce days of the year, Amazon’s Echo Show will garner a plethora of interest and sales, particularly as the company markets its own brands throughout Prime Day.

Amazon’s private label brands, Whole Foods, and Alexa devices are all are set to be a major part of the Prime Day deals.

Last year’s Prime Day helped launch what turned out to be an “Alexa everywhere” strategy that put multiple Echos in homes nationwide. Additionally, the Christmas shopping season furthered Amazon’s Alexa plan.

Voice e-commerce, through Prime Day devices or as an actual shopping method, will be one of the bigger themes to observe through the electronic commerce and cloud computing Seattle-based company. Given that Echo Show recently became available for Amazon video platforms, the Prime Day event will undoubtedly place more Alexa and voice product into homes.

There are two distinct marketing sides to the Amazon Prime Day 2018 event. On one side, Amazon will be promoting Alexa-powered devices. In addition, Amazon will be encouraging e-commerce through Alexa.

PR firm Walker Sands Communications has projected that as much as 19 percent of consumers may place orders via Alexa.

“As consumers become more comfortable integrating voice into their daily lives, commerce is set to grow in popularity. But barriers to adoption still exist. When asked what might prevent them from shopping via voice, consumers note concerns about security (45 percent), privacy (42 percent) and a lack of visuals like images and videos (35 percent),” the PR firm explains in a blog post on July 13.

According to annual sales reports and the increase of voice technology, it remains unclear whether Amazon Prime Day can continue to be the biggest e-commerce sales event year after year. However, the inflection point in voice interfaces may be viable for Amazon.

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Amazon brings Alexa to iOS

Amazon launched an important update for its Alexa app on iOS today, enabling users to use the Alexa virtual assistant directly from their iOS device to control smart home accessories, ask questions, and other numerous features.

The new Alexa app update fulfills a commitment Amazon initiated in early 2018 when it promoted the capacity for iOS users to access full voice control directly through the Alexa application. Upon release, the feature was limited to Android.

Adding voice control to the Alexa app on iOS is part of Amazon’s long-term objective of making its virtual assistant available in as many different places as possible. Undoubtedly, the biggest dilemma with that strategy on iOS is that users must first navigate to the Alexa app to use voice control, rather than being able to simply say the “Alexa” trigger word.

While competing with Siri, it also significantly reduces the usefulness that a voice assistant is destined to provide.

Within the Amazon app, users can access the complete resources of Alexa features, including question and answer, smart home control, music playback, and much more.

“From there, however, you can ask Alexa questions, listen to music, access skills and control smart devices — you know, the standard Alexa fare. Queries like weather, sports, calendar, and movies will also offer up a visual component in the app,” TechCrunch states.

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Samsung may release triple-camera smartphone

Korean tech giant Samsung may launch three different models of its next Galaxy S flagship, according to news outlet ETNews.

Each Galaxy S10 variant will contain a distinctive rear camera setup with the most high-end model receiving three rear cameras, providing new camera functions.

According to the report, the three Galaxy S10 devices are reportedly named “Beyond 0,” “Beyond 1” and “Beyond 2.” ETNews says that Beyond 0 will have a 5.8-inch display and one rear camera, Beyond 1 will have a 5.8-inch display and two rear cameras, while Beyond 2 will be 6.2-inches and have three rear cameras. The Galaxy S10 lineup will cater to both entry-level buyers and people looking for top-of-the-line specs.

With similarities to the Huawei P20 series, the new three-tier smartphone is expected to be compared by features. Earlier this year Huawei released the Huawei P20, Huawei P20 Pr, and Huawei P20 Lite. The Huawei P20 Pro also has three rear cameras, which helps with low-light pictures, zooming and portrait mode effects.

Recognized by Android Authority, the report repeats earlier news about the Galaxy S10 getting an in-display fingerprint reader and Samsung releasing a foldable phone in the near future.

A 3D scanning module will allow the S10 to continue to use facial recognition for security as well as aid with more complex AR Emoji. The Bell’s report also says once again that the Galaxy S10 will be the first Samsung smartphone to use an in-display fingerprint sensor

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Apple hits $1 trillion mark

Apple on Thursday became the first U.S. public company to be valued at $1 trillion dollars, ABC News reported Thursday.
The tech giant’s market cap briefly hit the milestone Thursday morning before dropping slightly again. Apple’s shares were hovering near the record $207.05 price most of the morning.
It’s a largely symbolic achievement for the company, which has seen its shares rise 28 percent over the past year. Crossing the $1 trillion mark has been expected and reported on in the days leading up to the monumental feat, according to Fox Business.
The benchmark comes after Apple reported a strong second quarter, with $11.52 billion in profits and total revenue of $53.27 billion.
The surge in stock price may have been helped along by Apple’s record share buybacks, a practice where companies inflate shareholder value by purchasing their own stocks.
Buybacks have become increasingly common among U.S. businesses in the months since the Republicans’ tax-cut legislation passed at the end of last year.
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Huawei Mate 20 leak reveals triple camera

Huawei’s expected premiere of the Mate 20 has been reported to be revealed within the next few months, which suggests that more of the device’s details may be leaked soon.

The latest is a set of renders that reportedly reveal the design of the handset, including its triple camera setup and Essential Phone-style notch.

An anonymous source provided the images, which are based on photos of an engineering sample of the Mate 20, to XDA Developers. Similar to Android phones, apart from Samsung’s, it comes with a notch.

“Huawei has shrunk the cutout it introduced in the P20, opting for a new teardrop shape similar to those used in the Essential Phone and Oppo’s F9—good news if you’re tired of seeing iPhone X clones,” TechSpot states.

Huawei became the world’s first smartphone to feature three rear cameras when it launched the P20 Pro in March.

The Mate 20 will also have a trio of snappers, but the P20 Pro’s vertical orientation has changed to a square setup in the center of the phone, where the flash also resides.

Specs-wise, the Mate 20 is said to come with a 6.3-inch 2244 x 1080 AMOLED screen, 128GB of storage, 6GB of RAM, a HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC, stereo speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a massive 4,200mAh battery, wireless charging, and USB Type-C. There may be variations with different storage/RAM, and the phone will come with Android 9 Pie.

Lacking variety among so many flagship Android smartphones, TechSpot notes that “it’s refreshing to see Huawei releasing something that stands out from the pack.”

The company will hope the Mate 20 takes the spotlight off the many controversies it’s faced this year—deals with AT&T and Verizon were blocked by the government, and it’s once again been accused of using shady marketing tactics to sell a device.

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Netflix bypasses Apple’s 30 percent iTunes cut

Streaming video giant Netflix is preventing new and existing customers in Europe, Latin America, and Asia from paying for subscriptions through iTunes, redirecting them instead to sign up to its service via a mobile version of Netflix’s own website, according to TechCrunch.

This move to bypass Apple, which takes a 30% share of new subscription revenue and a 15% cut on renewals made on its platforms, appears to form part of the Scotts Valley, California-based company’s bid to extract maximum profit from slowing top-line growth.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Netflix confirmed that it is now “testing the iTunes payment method” in 33 countries, having first rolled out the experiment in 10 countries in June. The test is expected to run until Sept. 30.

“We are constantly innovating and testing new signup approaches on different platforms to better understand what our members like,” a Netflix representative said to The Verge. “Based on what we learn, we work to improve the Netflix experience for members everywhere.”

The streaming video giant is not the first company to encourage users to shun iTunes.

Notably, Spotify Technology released in a website statement that it has discontinued an option which enabled new customers to sign up for its service via Apple’s app. In the same post, the music streaming firm urged its existing subscribers to cancel automatic renewals of Spotify payments with the iPhone maker in order to resubscribe directly.

Netflix is currently calling its own move to bypass Apple a test. However, it is unlikely that the company’s plans to make this experiment a temporary one.

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Slack releases Windows 95 app

Felix Rieseberg, a software engineer at Slack has released Windows 95 as an app for Windows, Mac or Linux. It’s a 100MB Electron app that you can install and run on Windows, Mac or even Linux computers.

In a GitHub post, developer Felix Rieseberg explains that you’ll get the full Windows 95 experience after installing and running the new Electron app. The size of the Windows 95 Electron app is around 100MB and it actually works well on Windows 10 devices.

“I put Windows 95 into an Electron app that now runs on macOS, Windows, and Linux. It’s a terrible idea that works shockingly well. I’m so sorry,” developer Felix Rieseberg writes in a tweet.

BGR notes how Internet Explorer is not operable with the new app. “Unfortunately, not every program that Rieseberg included in the package works. For example, you can open Internet Explorer, but you can’t actually get it to load any pages, as the app won’t connect to the internet,” BGR details.

Interested users can visit the GitHub page to download Windows 95 Electron app package for Windows, Mac or Linux. With access to a Windows computer, users will need to download the Windows 95 Setup exe and double-click the app to use it.

“The app its only 129MB in size and you can download it over at Github for both macOS and Windows. Once it’s running it surprisingly only takes up around 200MB of RAM, even when running all of the old Windows 95 system utilities, apps, and games. If you run into any issues with the app you can always reset the Windows 95 instance inside the app and start over again,” The Verge explains.


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Apple Pay now accepted at all US Costcos

Apple has procured a new partner for Apple Pay in the U.S. after Costco began accepting the mobile payment service across 750 stores.

The retailer plans to include support at its gas stations, but that isn’t yet complete.

The debut follows limited trials at selected Costco outlets, including a warehouse near its corporate headquarters in Washington.

The new partnership comes as Apple lands similar deals with CVS and 7-Eleven. The deal with CVS is particularly notable since the retailer had held off on supporting the Apple service, to the point that it even developed its own alternative that is based on barcodes.

Apple also secured a deal this summer to add Apple Pay support to eBay which gives it more breath among online retailers, too.

The service is operational in 30 international markets and, in the U.S., it is tipped to account for half of all contactless payments operated by an OEM by 2020, according to a recent analyst report.

The market for such services, which includes Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and others, is inclined to reach 450 million consumers.

The mobile payment feature is part of the company’s ‘services’ division which recorded revenue of $9.6 billion in the last quarter, that’s up 31 percent year-over-year.

Apple Pay works in 24 markets worldwide with over 4,900 bank partners, and Apple plans to add Germany later this year. It also said that in the US, eBay is beginning to enable its sellers to accept Apple Pay, and CVS Pharmacy and 7-Eleven will roll out Apple Pay nationwide this fall.

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Lenovo launches ultra-thin ThinkPad P1

Lenovo presented its new ThinkPad P1 workstation on Monday, which integrates high performance, portability, and a 4K 15.6-inch display.

The system unites Intel’s latest Core or Xeon processors with up to six cores, NVIDIA’s Quadro discrete graphics, as well as a massive amount of DRAM and solid-state storage.

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 mobile workstation is based around Intel’s 8th Core i5/i7/i9 or Xeon processor accompanied by up to 64 GB of DDR4-2667 (with or without ECC) and up to 4 TB solid-state storage.

The more advanced SKUs are outfitted with a multitouch 15.6-inch 10-bit IPS LCD with a 4K Ultra-HD (3840×2160) resolution, a 400 nits brightness, and covering 100% of the AdobeRGB color gamut.

The more affordable models will come with a non-touch Full-HD (1920×1080) IPS panel featuring a 300 nits brightness, covering 100% of the sRGB color range, as noted by AnandTech.

The ThinkPad P1 is equipped with two Thunderbolt 3 ports (unknown controller), two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A connectors, a mini GbE header (requires a dongle), an HDMI 2.0 output, an optional smart card reader, a 4-in-1 card reader, a webcam, a fingerprint scanner, and a TRRS audio port.

Most notably featured, the usage of carbon fiber enables Lenovo to make the laptop thinner and lighter than most 15.6-inch notebooks available today: it is just 17.8 mm (0.7 inch) thick and it weighs 1.7 kg (3.76 pounds). When compared to the latest MacBook Pro 15.6-inch, the latter will be thinner (at 15.5 mm/0.61 inch), but heavier (at 1.83 kg/4.02 pounds). Meanwhile, the ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 UX550 is both thicker (18.9 mm/0.74 inch) and heavier (1.86 kg/4.1 lbs) that the new ThinkPad P1.

Lenovo will begin to ship the ThinkPad P1 in late August, prices will start at $1,949.

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Apple removes gambling apps from China App store

Apple has removed thousands of gambling apps from its China app store, according to reports.

The tech giant has not confirmed reports suggesting it had pulled 25,000 apps, but in a statement, the firm said: “gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China”.

The cull follows criticism from state broadcaster CCTV for not doing enough to filter out banned material.

The removal of the gambling apps has been widely reported, but originated from CCTV which claimed that Apple had carried out a “large-scale removal of illegal apps that sold fake lottery tickets and offered gambling services”.

In its statement, Apple said: “We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.”

It is not the first time that the tech giant has been criticized by Chinese state media for having illegal apps in its store.

In the past year, Apple has removed Skype, as well as hundreds of virtual private networks, or VPNs which are used to send secure emails, transmit data and access websites that are blocked in China.

Apple has also been accused of not doing enough to filter banned content on its iMessage service.

In a report on Sunday, CCTV said: “Apple itself has set up the rules on how to allow apps onto its store, but it didn’t follow that.”

The network said that resulted in the proliferation of “bogus lottery apps and gambling apps”.

The latest media attack comes at a sensitive time for US companies operating in China, amid worries about the fallout of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.