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Future iPhone might add a time-of-flight camera

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We’re still a few months away from Apple announcing its 2019 iPhones, but rumors have already started for next year’s models, with the ever-reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claiming in his latest report that two of the 2020 iPhones will feature a rear time-of-flight (ToF) 3D depth sensor for better augmented reality features and portrait shots, viaMacRumors.

It’s not the first we’ve heard of Apple considering a ToF camera for its 2020 phones, either. Bloomberg reported a similar rumor back in January, and reports of a 3D camera system for the iPhone have existed since 2017. Other companies have beaten Apple to the punch here, with several phones on the market already featuring ToF cameras. But given the prevalence of Apple’s hardware and the impact it tends to have on the industry, it’s worth taking a look at what this camera technology is and how it works.

What is a ToF sensor, and how does it work?

Time-of-flight is a catch-all term for a type of technology that measures the time it takes for something (be it a laser, light, liquid, or gas particle) to travel a certain distance.

In the case of camera sensors, specifically, an infrared laser array is used to send out a laser pulse, which bounces off the objects in front of it and reflects back to the sensor. By calculating how long it takes that laser to travel to the object and back, you can calculate how far it is from the sensor (since the speed of light in a given medium is a constant). And by knowing how far all of the different objects in a room are, you can calculate a detailed 3D map of the room and all of the objects in it.

The technology is typically used in cameras for things like drones and self-driving cars (to prevent them from crashing into stuff), but recently, we’ve started seeing it pop up in phones as well.

How is it different from Face ID?

Face ID (and other similar systems) use an IR projector to pulse a grid of thousands of dots, which the phone then takes a 2D picture of and uses that to calculate the depth map.

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Time-of-flight sensors work differently: by using the time-of-flight data to calculate how long it takes the lasers to reach the object, it’s getting real-time, 3D depth data instead of a 2D map that is calculated to three dimensions.

That leads to several advantages: due to the laser-based system, it works for longer ranges than Apple’s grid-based system for Face ID, which only works for about 10 to 20 inches away from the phone. (If the subject is too far away, the dots for the grid are too spaced out to provide a useful resolution.) It also, in theory, allows for more accurate data than IR-grid systems. A good example is the LG G8, which uses a ToF sensor for its motion-sensing gestures. The ToF system allows for things like tracking and distinguishing each individual finger in 3D in real time to enable those gestures.

Why does Apple want it?

The rumors from both Kuo and Bloomberg are saying that Apple is looking to add the ToF sensor to the rear camera on 2020 iPhones, not to replace the existing IR system used for Face ID (which the new iPhones will reportedly still have).

Apple’s focus is said to be on enabling new augmented reality experiences: a ToF sensor could enable room tracking on a mobile scale, allowing a future iPhone to scan the room, create an accurate 3D rendering, and use that for far more immersive and accurate augmented reality implementations than current models allow for.

As an added bonus, a ToF sensor would also enable better depth maps for portrait mode pictures (which Huawei already does with the P30 Pro) by capturing full 3D maps to better separate the subject from the background, as well as better portrait mode-style videos.

Who else is using it?

Several phone companies already feature ToF scanners in their devices. As noted earlier, LG uses one in the front-facing camera of the G8 to enable motion gestures and better portrait photos. (It also uses the same IR laser system for its vein-mapping for the phone’s unique “palm recognition” feature.)

Huawei’s P30 Pro also features one as part of its rear-camera array, which is used for depth maps for portrait effects. That said, Huawei also claimed at the time of launch to have some AR ambitions for the sensor, too, noting that the P30 Pro can measure the height, depth, volume, and area of real-world objects with greater than 98.5 percent accuracy.

Sony — which provides imaging sensors for a wide variety of smartphones, including the iPhone — announced earlier this year that it was planning to ramp up production of 3D laser-based ToF chips this summer, which would be perfect timing for inclusion in a 2020 iPhone.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2019/7/29/20734550/apple-2020-iphone-time-of-flight-camera-ar-depth-map-lasers-portrait-photography

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The Future

Here’s how much the Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Z Flip could cost

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The Samsung Galaxy S20 series is just weeks away from its official unveiling and, thanks to TuttoAndroid, we now know how much the next-generation flagships are going to cost across Europe at launch.

The Galaxy S20 will be more expensive than the Galaxy S10

Starting at the very bottom of the South Korean giant’s flagship spectrum with the standard Galaxy S20, it looks as though Samsung is planning to price this phone at €929 in Italy at launch. Prices in that market are typically around €10 higher than the rest of Europe, which means most consumers will be able to get their hands on the device for €919. 
This model will, of course, be accompanied by a 5G variant marketed as the Galaxy 20 5G. As suspected, Samsung is going to charge consumers €100 extra for the next-generation network compatibility, resulting in a retail price of €1,029/€1,119 on the continent.
To compare, last year’s Galaxy S10 retailed at €899/€909 in Europe, so it appears the company is planning to hike prices yet again.

Here's how much the Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Z Flip could cost

For those of you that aren’t yet aware, these smartphones will bring a compact 6.2-inch Infinity-O display to the table in addition to the Exynos 990 chipset and a triple-camera setup that includes a 12-megapixel primary camera, a 64-megapixel 3x telephoto shooter, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor. 
The flagships will also ship with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM as standard, although a 12/512GB configuration is reportedly planned. Other characteristics include a 4,000mAh battery, Android 10 straight out of the box, and support for microSD cards of up to 1TB.

The Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20+ 5G won’t cost much more

Further up the lineup sit the Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20+ 5G. The former is reportedly going to start at €1,029 in Italy while the latter should be priced at a hefty €1,129. For reference, the Galaxy S10+ debuted at €999/€1,009 in Europe last year.
These two devices are virtually to the standard Galaxy S20 models, albeit with some important exceptions. For example, the display is larger at 6.7-inches and the rear camera setup gains a Time-of-Flight sensor.

Here's how much the Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Z Flip could cost

Software and storage will remain unchanged, but a higher 4,500mAh battery capacity is currently expected in a bid to maintain battery life levels despite the bigger display. 

The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s price is ridiculously high

Completing the extensive flagship series will be the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, which won’t be available in a cheaper 4G LTE variant. This model is expected to replace last year’s Galaxy S10 5G and looks set to carve out an entirely new ultra-premium smartphone segment. 

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra concept render by Ben Geskin - Here's how much the Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Z Flip could cost

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra concept render by Ben GeskinThat’s because Samsung reportedly has plans to price the phone at a whopping €1,379 in Europe, significantly higher than the €1,249 price tag attached to the Galaxy S10 5G. Fortunately, Samsung is at least going to try and justify the added cost with a long list of upgrades. 
These include an even bigger 6.9-inch variant of the 120Hz display and a totally new quadruple-camera setup on the back. Taking the lead will be a 108-megapixel primary camera that supports 30x hybrid zoom and 100x digital zoom with the help of a 48-megapixel 10x periscope alternative. A 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle shooter and a Time-of-Flight sensor are reportedly part of the setup too.

Samsung Galaxy S20 series colors, release date, pre-order bonuses

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra will reportedly be available in just two colors at launch – black and gray – while the Galaxy S20+ is going to add a third color to the list – blue. Where the company is going to offer the most variety, however, is the Galaxy S20 – a mysterious pink version is said to be on the way. 
Samsung is going to announce the Galaxy S20 series on February 11 and it’s believed pre-orders will commence later that day ahead of shipments on March 13. However, customers that choose to pre-order the devices should receive the phones three days earlier on March 10.
As an additional bonus for pre-orders, Samsung reportedly has plans to bundle a pair of wireless earphones with the smartphones. The exact pair hasn’t been confirmed yet but it’s believed buyers of the more expensive models will receive a free pair of the upcoming Galaxy Buds+

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip could undercut the Motorola Razr

Joining the Galaxy S20 series on February 11 is rumored to be the Galaxy Z Flip. This phone should act as a direct competitor to the Motorola Razr, although information published by tipser Max Weinbach suggests Samsung is going to undercut its €1,599 rival by pricing its device in the region of €1,400.

Here's how much the Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Z Flip could cost

Rumor has it the smartphone will feature a foldable 6.7-inch Infinity-O display that’s covered in a thin layer of glass to improve durability. The Snapdragon 855 chipset used inside the Galaxy Fold is also expected to make an appearance. 
Last on the list of features is apparently a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 10-megapixel selfie camera alongside a tiny 3,300mAh battery.

Source:
https://www.phonearena.com/news/samsung-galaxy-s20-plus-ultra-z-flip-price-colors-storage-pre-order-leak_id121660

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The Future

Apple to begin iPhone 9 production in February, announcement coming in March

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Apple will begin assembling its lower-cost iPhone 9 in February and make it official in March, as per supply chain sources quoted by Bloomberg.

The assembly will reportedly be split between Taiwan-based manufacturers Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), Pegatron Corp and Winstron Corp.

The report claims the iPhone 9 will have an iPhone 8-inspired design with a Touch ID home button, 4.7-inch screen and iPhone 11-matching Apple A13 Bionic chipset.

We’ve seenconflicting reports, which suggest that the lower-cost iPhone 9 will indeed have an iPhone 8-inspired design but omit the home button in favor or Face ID and thus have a slightly taller 5.4-inch display. That would make more sense in 2020.

Apple to begin iPhone 9 production in February, announcement coming in March

The lower-cost iPhone rumor is a bit long in the tooth now. It first started floating around in 2017, quoting an early 2018 announcement. It got started again in late 2019. Is it finally the year that iPhone 7 and 8 owners will get their long-awaited replacement?

Source:
https://www.gsmarena.com/apple_to_begin_iphone_9_production_in_february_announcement_coming_in_march-news-41146.php

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The Future

Computers With Foldable Screens Will Make Laptops and Tablets Obsolete

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At CES last week, Intel revealed its Horseshoe Bend foldable-screen computer prototype. Lenovo demoed another foldable-screen X1 laptop that it co-engineered with Intel. When unfolded, both devices resemble large tablets, but as you bend the screen upward, they feel much more like laptops.

This isn’t the first time companies have attempted to merge tablets and laptops — Microsoft infamously tried with Windows 8 — but with Intel and Lenovo’s new computers, the hardware is adaptable, rather than only the software. And unlike foldable phones, which are great marketing tricks with few realistic benefits, this new segment of computers will change how we use both laptops andtablets: They’ll merge the two categories into one.

Tablets and laptops have remained separate categories largely because their physical design simply can’t do both jobs well — tablets are usually all screen, and a laptop typically has a keyboard glued to the lower half that can’t be changed.

While laptop sales have slowed since tablets arrived, devices like the iPad, which has dominated the category, still aren’t perfect replacements. It’s awkward to hold an iPad and type on it for long lengths of time, so people often buy the keyboard case to make it act more like a laptop or relegate the iPad to watching Netflix. There’s simply no middle ground without awkward cases, attachments, or stands that end up making tablets more like a laptop in the first place, defeating the point.

Owning a tablet and a laptop will feel ridiculous, because a single device will do the job of both devices.

Meanwhile, laptops lack the magic of a tablet. While Windows supports touch and pen input, it’s a tacked-on experience at best, with few apps truly taking advantage of touchscreens. Laptops are also generally much bulkier and have a shorter battery life.

But a foldable tablet’s display size and shape no longer restrict how the device can be used. Adding a fold means you can prop up the device without a kickstand, for example. It also means you can fold it the opposite way to halve its size for use in tight spaces like airplanes or even safely fold the screen inside the clamshell when you’re not using it, like you would a laptop. When the device is folded open, it has a large, glorious screen — the Intel prototype measures 17 inches fully unfolded — with nothing else in the way.

The new generation of foldable-screen devices is a peek at a future where owning a tablet anda laptop will feel ridiculous, because a single device will do the job of both devices.

Naysayers will point out the benefits of keyboards and physical keys and that it’s more difficult to type on a flat display. While that may be true, the iPhone’s success shows that this is unlikely to be a problem; the adaptability and flexibility of virtual on-screen keyboards beat out the need for the physical keys found on the BlackBerry and ultimately opened up new opportunities for developers to use the screen real estate. And for those who remain attached to real keys, there will always be the option to attach a traditional keyboard.

Still, the success of truly foldable-screen devices is far from assured. Manufacturers aren’t yet committing to prices or availability. Lenovo provides just a vague “2020” timeline and says that it “expects” pricing to start at around $2,499.

New categories are risky, as Samsung discovered with the debut of its foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, which was discovered to break easily almost as it debuted. As manufacturers race to be the first to market, we may see one or two foldable-screen laptops become publicly available, but their longevity with remain a question.

And without fundamental overhauls to the way software is designed to adapt to constantly changing screen sizes and layouts, foldable-screen computers will fail. Every demo of a foldable-screen computer at CES was running Windows 10, which isn’t yet optimized for this new world.

Microsoft is building a new version of Windows, labeled Windows 10X, that will address some foldable-screen capabilities. It debuts later this year with the Surface Neo, the company’s own foldable-screen device. The software is specifically designed to adapt to devices that morph in shape and size, like the Neo and X1, but it’s not yet available to manufacturers.

The Neo, as well as larger devices from manufacturers like Asus, will likely arrive much sooner in stores than the CES prototypes since they are a different type of foldable. They sport two distinct displays with a hinge connecting them, rather than a single display that folds — a technology that is much easier to achieve.

Manufacturers of truly foldable screens still need to ensure the devices can reliably fold without breaking over the long haul — but their demos forecast a future where our devices adapt to us, rather than the other way around.

Source:
https://onezero.medium.com/computers-with-foldable-screens-will-make-both-laptops-and-tablets-obsolete-f4a6a48ece31

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