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Computers With Foldable Screens Will Make Laptops and Tablets Obsolete



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.


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The Future

Apple Loop: New iPhone Leaks, iPad Air’s Future, MacOS Faces Awkward Future




Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes new iPhone 12 design leaks, folding the iPhone camera, your mostly dead MacBook and MacOS’ future, fun with Apple charts, new iPad Air pricing, the success of the iPhone SE, Apple’s carbon-free aluminium, and recreating the Big Sur wallpaper…

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

New iPhone 12 Design Leaks

Tucked away in the latest beta of iOS 14’s accessibility tools is the latest leak around the iPhone 12 family. It’s not an obvious leak in the same way as having a graphic of the phone show up, but it’s a leak nonetheless, because of how the code is implemented.

“Thanks to some superb detective work by 9to5Mac, Apple’s plan to release its smallest ever, bezel-less iPhone has just been uncovered in its new iOS 14 beta release. And it is the evolution of a six year old software feature in iOS 14 which gives the game away.

“The culprit is ‘Display Zoom’, an accessibility tool which allows users to enlarge the user interface to make text, icons and buttons easier to see. How Apple achieves this is actually a hack: each iPhone simply displays the interface of the next smallest model with the same aspect ratio.”

Which, in its own way, confirms the smaller 5.4 inch iPhone 12. More here on Forbes.

Apple Unveils iPhone 11 And iPhone 11 Pro At Its Cupertino Headquarters
CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 10: Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address during an … [+] VCG VIA GETTY IMAGES

New iPhone 12 Design Leaks (cont.)

July 27 update: Over the weekend a closer look at the iPhone 12 screens was posted on Weibo. The pictures, presumably from the manufacturing lines, show the pre-packed screens ahead of the iPhone assembly process. The assumption is that these screens are the 5.4 inch variety. Tim Hardwick reports:

“At first blush, the panels seem to have the same notch size as the iPhone 11, but an improved screen to bezel ratio, although it’s possible this could just be down to their pre-assembly appearance.

“That said, despite the hand in the image, it’s not immediately obvious from the photos which size of ‌iPhone 12‌ that the panels are supposed to be destined for. Weibo blogger Digital Chat Station claims they are for the 5.4-inch model, which could suggest we’re looking at a smaller notch than the one on the 5.8-inch ‌iPhone 11‌.”

Although the broad specs of the screen have been leaked and discussed, there’s still some question over the position and size of the notch on the flat-screened iPhone 12 models. The question now is which data point is represented by the leaked images.

Folding The iPhone Camera

Apple’s designers are naturally looking further down the line than this September’s iPhone 12. And naturally the camera is going to be used to show Apple’s technological prowess. The latest report from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo highlights the potential use of a ‘periscope’ zoom lens in 2021’s iPhone:

“Periscope cameras (sometimes called folded optics) are already in a number of high-end smartphones, such as Huawei’s P30 Pro launched last year. Through the use of mirrors, the path of the incoming light can be bent, allowing the periscope lens to be both longer and orientated in a different direction – the obvious benefit here is to have the sensor beside the lens, rather than directly behind the lens.

“… a longer lens will demand more internal space, if you are looking for larger levels of optical zoom something else is going to need to be sacrificed, such as battery volume.”

More here on Forbes.

The Lifespan Of An Intel MacBook

With the transition of the MacOS platform to Apple’s own chips using the ARM architecture, what happens to the massive user-base of Intel powered machines. The switch to ARM will not be instantaneous, so your hardware is not dead. Even with Apple’s best intentions, the Intel MacBook is just mostly dead:

“MacOS on ARM has not appeared out of nowhere. Apple’s engineering team will have been working internally on this for many years, and some of the key third-party software will have been working with the the new architecture. The lack of ‘new’ features in MacOS over the last few years has left the MacBook range especially looking like Apple’s secondary team behind the iPhone and iPad families.

“…But ARM is the future of the Mac platform. Apple will not want to top the ball on this one, in fact it will want not only to push the development heavily, it will want to be seen publicly to be pushing the development.”

July 25 update: Lurking inside the latest MacOS beta is another illustration of where the Mac platform is heading, and how the Intel machines will be left behind. Biometric security is available on some Mac machines with the inclusion of Touch ID on a number of MacBook Pro machines. The latest beta of MacOS has code for the inclusion of FaceID, Apple’s 3D facial recognition system. Fossbytes’ Anmol Sachdeva reports:

“When Apple introduced FaceID biometric authentication technology in iPhone X, a code snippet with the project’s internal name as “PearlCamera” was found in the iOS update and now developers have found references to “PearlCamera” in macOS Big Sur Developer Beta 3…

“However, the project is in its early stage of implementation and Apple might take some time before adding FaceID in MacBooks.”

Thanks to the use of the True Depth camera to capture the face, this is not going to be available on any of the current Intel machines. Given the two-year window to move to ARM, there’s every chance that FaceID on MacOS will only be available on ARM machines. 

An Apple Chart With A Message

What does Apple’s shiny chart from WWDC mean? It’s quietly contrasting Intel and AMD chips with Apple’s upcoming chips for the Mac platform, but is there a unique message in here? Jason Snell has some “Fun With Charts”:

“On one level, it’s a meaningless bit of marketing fluff. There are no labels. The vast breadth of notebooks and desktop PCs is represented by two perfect rounded rectangles. “Macs with Apple Silicon” are represented by a fuzzy gradient of squares. What does it mean?

“It’s a question that won’t be answered until after the Betas of Summer have gone. It’ll be a while before we get a clear picture of what the first Macs of this new era will look like. We don’t have a lot to go on… but there is this chart.”

More at Six Colors.

Macs With Apple Silicon (Apple WWDC / via SixColors)
Macs With Apple Silicon (Apple WWDC / via SixColors) APPLE WWDC

Your Next iPad Will Be Cheaper

More news from the supply chain, this time on the upcoming refresh to the iPad Air lineup. It’s the welcome combination of more power for less dollars. Alex Alderson reports:

“The next iPad Air may not only have a larger display and a more powerful chipset than the current model, but it may be cheaper too. The iPad Air 2020 is believed to feature a 10.8-inch or 11-inch display and an A13 Bionic SoC, which would both be improvements over the 10.5-inch display an A12 Bionic in the current model.” 

More at NotebookCheck.

The Success Of The iPhone SE

Apple, like many manufacturers, is facing lower sales due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. With sales down 23 percent according to Coutnerpoint Research, the new iPhone SE is standing out. Launched in April, the mid-range iOS smartphone is performing ahead of expectations. Juli Clover reports:

“Priced starting at $399, the ‌iPhone SE‌ has been selling well in both postpaid and prepaid channels. More than 30 percent of ‌iPhone SE‌ buyers were upgrading from an ‌iPhone‌ 6s or older, and more than 26 percent of ‌iPhone SE‌ users came from an Android device, which Counterpoint says is a higher than normal Android to iOS switch rate.”

More at MacRumors.

Apple’s Environmental Progress

With a commitment to making the whole company carbon-netural by 2030, Apple continues to use its scale to promote environmental issues and its own impact. Alex Hern reports:

“The majority of the progress, Apple says in its 2020 environmental progress report, will be made by cutting its carbon emissions directly. But the last 25% will come from “carbon removal solutions” such as forest planting and mangrove swamp restoration.

“The company is investing some of a recently announced $100m (£78.5m) fund for a racial equity and justice initiative on minority-owned businesses that can help clean up its supply chain. “Systemic racism and climate change are not separate issues and they will not abide separate solutions,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s environmental lead.”

More at The Guardian. As part of the commitment, Apple confirmed that it will start using low-carbon aluminum as an intermediate step towards a carbon-red smelting process. The first consumer hardware to benefit from this will be the 16-inch MacBook Pro:

“For the moment, this MacBook Pro will be unique, but it will be joined in time by the rest of the MacBook range, then the Mac family, before the new aluminium will be found in every Apple product. It’s not an immediate switch over and it may not have a cut-of date of ‘before and after’, so there’s no way or a consumer to specify that it wants the newer materials. Instead they need to be content with the knowledge of Apple’s march forward.”

More on that, here on Forbes.

And Finally…

With the move to MacOS 11 Big Sur, Apple has a new default wallpaper. How easy would it be for Andrew Levitt and his friends to capture the same image in under seven days. One thing is or sure, it’s clear that Craig Federighi is camping out in Levitt’s head.

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.

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The Future

This is what Samsung’s bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live will look like in your ear




All indications point to Samsung introducing its next set of true wireless earbuds at the company’s Unpacked event next month. We’ve already seen them, and they’ll reportedly be branded as the Galaxy Buds Live. (It’s truly foolish of Samsung to not just own the design and call them the Galaxy Beans, but I digress.) Now, new images and a video posted by Twitter user h0x0d give us an even closer look at the Buds Live — and how they’ll look when worn.

In the below marketing video, you’ll see a tag line that suggests the Galaxy Buds Live might feature active noise cancellation. “Keep the noise out. Let the sound in.” The buds don’t have silicone tips or an in-ear seal, so I’m curious as to how Samsung achieved ANC if it turns out to be there.

In the follow-up photo, you can see that there are a number of grills and microphones around each earbud, so there’s a lot going on here. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live are expected to come in black, copper, and white.

I haven’t yet seen a solid rumor about what they’ll cost. The company’s most recent earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Plus, retail for $149.99, though they’re often on sale — and our go-to pick for true wireless earbuds.


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The Future

Apple’s Surprise iPhone 12 Pro Upgrade Suddenly Confirmed




We know a great deal about Apple’s redesigned iPhone 12 smartphones. But now a big piece of the puzzle has just been filled in, and it may result in some users needing to spend more than they intended. 

Apple, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, new iPhone, iPhone 12 release date, iPhone 12 camera,
Apple iPhone 12 Pro render based on multiple leaks SVETAPPLE

Rising Apple insider L0vetodream has revealed that Apple will equip its iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max models with 6GB RAM, that’s 50% more than their predecessors and this should deliver a major increase in multitasking performance. Moreover, acclaimed Apple leaker Jon Prosser has now followed up this information stating that he “can confirm” it as well. But there’s one downside. Recommended For You

The bad news is L0vetodream states that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max (the new names for the 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch entry level models), will stick with the same 4GB RAM as in the iPhone 11. Last year Apple gave all iPhone 11 models matching chipsets and RAM, so it’s something of a surprise to see the company reverse this change (the iPhone XR had less RAM than the iPhone XS) after only a single generation. 

Consequently, those who want absolute peak performance from their new iPhones are going to have to spend more this year. After all, it is Apple’s decision to equip iPhones with considerably less RAM than Android rivals which has seen them repeatedly outpaced in multitasking speed tests

Apple, iPhone, new iPhone, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 release,
Apple’s iPhone 12 render showing its more angular design SVETAPPLE

That said, don’t expect any iPhone 12 model to be slow. At their heart will be Apple’s new A14 chipset which looks set to bring the biggest generational leap in years. The 5.4-inch iPhone will also deliver a price/performance ratio unlike anything this small, while the iPhone 12 Pro models will add Apple’s potentially game-changing new LiDAR sensor and 5G is coming to all models (albeit in different flavors). 

At this stage, the only fly in the ointment is ongoing display concerns in what otherwise looks set to be a truly stellar iPhone launch year. 


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