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iPhone X: Are animojis and selfies the only reason to buy it?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.

One of the most persuasive selling points?

Duke University/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It made me chuckle at the time. At the end of last year, I went to a T-Mobile store to see what sort of upgrade its staff would recommend from my iPhone 6. The cheery salesman insisted that the iPhone X wasn’t worth the £999 (GBP999, AU£1,579) price tag, unless I was obsessed with selfies and adored Apple’s new animated emojis known as animojis.

That seemed a touch superficial.

But here we are a few weeks later, and those two things seem to be the main things Apple pushes about the phone. For the Grammys, the company has released a series of ads in which various animojis sing Grammy-nominated tunes, just in time for tonight’s Grammys broadcast. Here, for example, is Alien and the Unicorns.

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And here’s dog, poop and friends singing along to Migos.

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These follow on from last week’s release of a couple of ads — one a quite stirring effort featuring Muhammad Ali proclaiming he’s the greatest (video below) — that suggested Apple’s phone of the future is all about enhancing your selfie skills to professional levels.

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Yes, Apple has previously advertised the Face ID feature, for example.

I can’t help thinking, though, that this was more to reassure people than excite them. After all, Conan O’Brien, for one, wasn’t sure people were comfortable with Apple’s new way of unlocking a phone. There hasn’t been, though, so much focus on, say, how beautiful the phone is or how simple it is to use.

The animoji-peddling has been especially extreme. Apple has even advertised singing poop animoji before the Grammys was even in our sights. Moreover, a couple of weeks ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook participated in an ad for his upcoming May commencement speech at Duke University, one of his alma maters.

You’ll never guess what was right next to his head. It was, indeed, a fox animoji.

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Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether it, too, is seeing customers buying the phone specifically for the selfie-power and the animojis. However, as my colleague Jessica Dolcourt described in her experience with the iPhone X, it has quite a few irritants.

Face ID doesn’t work all that well — and this is something I’ve heard from quite a few people who immediately bought the phone. The battery life isn’t all that and the phone isn’t as instinctively simple to use as previous iPhones have been. It’s currently unclear how well the iPhone X is selling.

I confess to being surprised when, before and after Christmas, I went into a couple of Apple stores and found plentiful supplies of all versions of the phone. I was also surprised that Apple store employees weren’t universally giddy about it. Some rumors suggest that Cupertino will “discontinue” it this year.

What this surely means is that Apple may try and release a better version. Still, when first sales figures are released next month, we might get an inkling of just how popular it is. Currently, though, it makes me think that the T-Mobile salesman was onto something very quickly.

CNET Review

Apple iPhone X

A radical redesign that’s nearly all screen includes a new cutting-edge facial recognition feature.

But with no more Touch ID or home button, the iPhone X dares you to change your ways.

SEE IT £1,099.99at Best Buy

Now Playing: Watch this: Get started with animoji on iPhone X 1:59

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Advanced facial recognition could be coming to the Samsung Galaxy S9

Though Samsung included facial unlock functionality with its Galaxy Note 8[1], S8 and S8 Plus[2] handsets, it was quickly upstaged by Apple’s own Face ID[3] technology on the iPhone X,[4] which took a 3D scan of the user’s face to provide more advanced security. 

Now, it appears that Samsung is planning to update its facial unlock tech with “Intelligent Scan Biometrics”, according to hidden information discovered by SamCentral[5] in the Note 8’s Oreo beta settings APK. 

Dubbed Intelligent Scan, the tech will use the “Iris Scanner and Face Recognition together for better results even in low or very bright light,” and will provide “better accuracy and security.” 

Along with last year’s Note 8, it’s highly likely that the technology will find its way into the upcoming Galaxy S9, which will be revealed next month at MWC 2018[6] in Barcelona. And, if it is indeed being rolled out with Samsung’s Oreo update[7], there’s a chance it could end up on the S8 and S8 Plus, too. 

SamCentral has also posted a video animation demonstrating how the technology combination will work. You can check that out below.

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References

  1. ^ Galaxy Note 8 (www.techradar.com)
  2. ^ S8 Plus (www.techradar.com)
  3. ^ Face ID (www.techradar.com)
  4. ^ iPhone X, (www.techradar.com)
  5. ^ SamCentral (www.samcentral.tech)
  6. ^ revealed next month at MWC 2018 (www.techradar.com)
  7. ^ Samsung’s Oreo update (www.techradar.com)
  8. ^ Samsung Galaxy S9 release date, price, news and rumors (www.techradar.com)

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Ubisoft backtracks, won’t drop $40 edition of ‘Rainbow Six Siege’ after all

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege has been a runaway multiplayer hit for Ubisoft, but the recent announcement that it was dropping the £40 Standard Edition of the game and replacing it with a £60 “Advanced Edition” caused some consternation among the community. Ubisoft has now backed off from that plan, and a new post from the Rainbow Six team on the Reddit forum confirms that the standard edition will still be available after the start of the upcoming Outbreak event. “For our newcomers and those of you concerned about introducing your friends to the game, we will be keeping the Standard Edition in the store at the current price,” the post reads.

In addition, anyone who logs in and plays a game between now and March 6 will receive a free Sidewinder Elite skin for Ash, which will be automatically added to their inventory when Year 3 launches. Ubisoft indicated that there’s also an unspecified plan in the works to upgrade Starter Edition PC players who are frustrated with their inability to acquire operators. Those details will be announced in conjunction with the next Invitational tournament.

The Advanced Edition of the game comes with everything included in the standard edition, including all modes and maps, but also offers 600 Rainbow Six credits and 10 “Outbreak Collection Packs” for the new zombie-focused content. The Outbreak event, which doesn’t appear to have a concrete starting date yet, will run for four weeks and features a three-player cooperative mode that focuses on a “mysterious threat” that involves a quarantine. Though Tom Clancy’s The Division prided itself on not including zombies, it appears that Rainbow Six Siege has no such concerns.

Exclusive hazmat cosmetic items will be available during the event, which can be found in the Outbreak Packs included with the Advanced Edition. Additional items can be purchased for 300 Rainbow Six credits. All players who log in during the event will receive an additional four items — if you bought the Advanced Edition, you’ll receive 14 in total.

As with the new Battle Crates in Ghost Recon Wildlands, the Rainbow Six Siege Outbreak Packs will not contain any duplicate items. There will be 50 in total to acquire, including outfits, weapon skins, and headgear. On PC, you still have the option of purchasing the “starter edition” of Rainbow Six Siege for just £15, and it includes access to all maps and modes, as well as 600 credits, but the time to unlock new operators is increased compared to the other versions of the game.

A £90 “Gold Edition” is also available, containing the Advanced Edition and a Year 3 pass, which offers early access to operators, exclusive uniforms, renown boost, and discounts in the store. If you want to jump in with both feet, the £130 “Complete Edition” includes all content in the Gold Edition and unlocks your Year 1 and Year 2 operators in advance. Rainbow Six Siege is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Updated with Ubisoft’s new post about retaining the Standard Edition.

Editors’ Recommendations

This high-end audio shop aims for young audiophiles

Noho Sound & Stereo has a younger vibe than the other high-end shops I’ve visited over the past few years. There’s an energy to the place, which stems from the owners Alex Roy, Ron Kain, Chris Petranis and their desire to attract a younger clientele.

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A look inside Noho Sound & Stereo.

Noho Sound & Stereo

Noho Sound is reaching them through social media, and they regularly host live music concerts for 50 to 100 people in the store, in a nearby loft space and at the World of McIntosh townhouse in New York City. Noho also has a relationship with Groupmuse, a platform that brings classical chamber music concerts into people’s homes and businesses.

Those Noho shows are attracting Julliard students, and the store also does jazz and rock concerts. There are also themed listening nights, with a wide range of recorded music. By exposing people to great music right away, those potential customers are then encouraged to listen to these new favorite songs on Noho Sound’s systems.

Hearing and feeling their music in a different, more meaningful way changes people. Not everyone of course, but some get it, and they come away knowing great sound changes the way they feel about music. That’s what brick and mortar audio stores offer that you can’t get online.

Noho Sound also seems to be attracting a lot more women, who in my experience often feel ignored at other high-end shops.

That’s wonderful news right there.

18 NYC’s newest high-end audio shop caters to the youth movement

Noho Sound’s selection of high-end brands range from Audio Research, Aurender, DeVore Fidelity, Focal, McIntosh Labs, Musical Fidelity, Naim, Sonus Faber, Sonos, and U-Turn Audio to name a few. There’s lots of expensive gear, but complete system prices start around £1,300. Bottom line: Buying and owning an audio system should be fun, and that’s what Noho Sound is all about.

The store operates on an appointment-only basis.

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Apple grows its Californian self-driving fleet with 24 more autonomous Lexus SUVs

California has truly opened the floodgates. And we’re not talking about Governor Jerry Brown’s recent announcement regarding the end of the drought emergency — but the growing wave of self-driving cars washing over the Golden State. In April, a decision by the Department of Motor Vehicles to grant Apple an autonomous vehicle testing permit allowed the company to use California’s public highways for testing self-driving technology.

Apple wasted no time in taking advantage: Just a couple weeks later, a white Lexus RX450h SUV was seen exiting an Apple facility decked out with sensors, per an eyewitness who provided photographic evidence to Bloomberg. Sensors on the vehicle reportedly included “Velodyne Lidar Inc.’s top-of-the-range 64-channel lidar, at least two radar, and a series of cameras.” Nine months after first receiving its permit, Apple is expanding its operations.

The company now boasts 27 vehicles in its autonomous fleet, which should help Apple chase down the competition (namely Waymo and Lyft, which are making great strides in the self-driving space). Since last July, Apple has registered 24 additional Lexus SUVs in California, though this is still nothing compared to Waymo’s fleet of 600 minivans in Phoenix. Numerous competitors outside of Waymo are also seeking to produce autonomous vehicles en masse — Alphabet, Tesla, and Uber all already have permission from California to conduct their own tests.

At CES 2018, we counted about two dozen companies working on autonomous car tech. Last April marked the first time Apple was given a permit for its autonomous cars. Soon, its hardware lineup could be decidedly larger than the laptops and iPhones to which we’ve become so accustomed.

The permit initially allowed Apple to test three 2015 Lexus sport-utility vehicles (the number has clearly since increased), all of which were be retrofitted with the necessary hardware and software that would allow them to operate without a driver. The permit also required human operators to be present whenever the cars are on the road. While Apple has been consistently cagey about its plans to delve into self-driving territory — which may or may not be code-named Project Titan — the company penned a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016 offering its support for autonomous technology.

And the iEmpire refined its epistolary skills again in a letter made public on April 28, this time to the California DMV. In the letter, Apple called upon the state to toughen its policy on testing self-driving cars, especially in connection with disengagements, thereby requiring companies to turn over more public data that could help Apple gain ground on competitors. The company also asked for more clarity around requirements for the use of safety drivers during autonomous testing and loosened requirements concerning the sorts of cars that can be used during trials. Apple also revealed some of its own plans around self-driving tech, noting that it’s “investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.”

Apple noted further that it was looking forward to working alongside California and other players in the self-driving space “so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public.” It seems like we will soon be seeing Apple cars on the road. “I’m not sure they know what their play will be, but they do sense there’s an opportunity and they can bring value to it,” Ben Bajarin, an analyst with technology-research firm Creative Strategies, told the Wall Street Journal. “The question is: How big is this commitment? And how much money are they throwing at this commitment?

It’s hard to know where this lands on their priority list.”

Update: Apple has expanded its fleet of self-driving cars in California.

Editors’ Recommendations

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