iOS 4 originally appeared nearly 10 years ago as Apple’s first mobile operating system to drop the iPhone OS naming convention. An 18-year-old developer has now lovingly recreated iOS 4 as an iPhone app, and it’s a beautiful blast from the past. If you never got the chance to use iOS 4, or you’re a fan of the iPhone 3G, OldOS almost flawlessly pulls off the experience of using an iPhone from a decade ago.
OldOS is “designed to be as close to pixel-perfect as possible,” says Zane, the developer behind the app. It’s all built using Apple’s SwiftUI, so it includes buttery smooth animations and even the old iPhone home button that vibrates with haptic feedback to make it feel like a real button.
Apple’s built-in iOS 4 apps have also been recreated here, and it’s a real flashback to the skeuomorphic days of the iPhone whenever they launch. Photos lets you view your existing camera roll as you would have 10 years ago, while Notes transports you back to the yellow post-it notes of yesteryear.
Today is Launch Day
Introducing OldOS — iOS 4 beautifully rebuilt in SwiftUI.
* Designed to be as close to pixel-perfect as possible. * Fully functional, perhaps even usable as a second OS. * ️ Fully open source for all to learn, modify, and build on. pic.twitter.com/K0JOE2fEKM
— Zane (@zzanehip) June 9, 2021
The only apps that don’t work as you might expect are Messages and YouTube. Apple used to bundle YouTube directly into its operating system, and the developer behind OldOS says there are “still some major issues with YouTube” and Messages that they’re working to fix.
Everything else is mostly flawless. and you can even browse the web in the old UI of Safari. The App Store also list apps that will redirect you to the modern store to download and install. There are some things that simply don’t work, including folders and no jiggling to rearrange home screen apps.
We’ve seen this type of nostalgic app appear on the iPhone before. Rewound launched in the App Store back in December 2019, turning an iPhone into an iPod. Apple quickly pulled the app a few days later, citing store violations.
This latest OldOS app is available on Apple’s TestFlight service, which is typically used to distribute beta versions of apps. That means it probably won’t last long before Apple takes exception, so grab it while you can. Zane has also published the source code for the entire project on GitHub, so if you’re willing to compile it in Xcode then it will live forever.
Microsoft is getting ready to announce the biggest update to Windows since Windows 10’s debut in 2015, and even though the company hasn’t officially revealed anything about this update, all signs point to it offering a significantly different experience for PC users. In fact, the update is supposed to be so radical that it could lead to a new version number, Windows 11. Though Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the name change, it has strongly hinted at it, both in the artwork for its June 24th press event and the 11 am time.
What follows is everything we know so far about the update that will likely be called Windows 11.
When Will Windows 11 Be Announced?
Microsoft started teasing Windows 11 on June 2 with an invitation to a digital event called “What’s Next for Windows” scheduled for June 24 at 11am ET. The invitation featured a GIF showcasing a redesigned Windows logo that defies the laws of physics by casting just two shadows that, if you squint, look a bit like “11.”
Join us June 24th at 11 am ET for the #MicrosoftEvent to see what’s next. https://t.co/kSQYIDZSyi pic.twitter.com/Emb5GPHOf0June 2, 2021
Why Do We Think It Will Be Called Windows 11?
Those shadows probably would have been enough to inspire speculation about Windows 11 on their own, but scheduling the event for 11am ET also helped. Many of Microsoft’s events are held later in the day — especially since the pandemic forced those events to be online-only — because the company is based on the West Coast. The working theory is that Microsoft wouldn’t have scheduled an event so early in the day without a good reason; synchronicity with the new version number would qualify.
As for why everyone thinks Microsoft is moving on from Windows 10 even though it was supposed to be “the last version of Windows”: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the Build 2021 developer conference in May that the company planned to “share one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade,” which he called “the next generation of Windows,” some time “soon” after the conference. So the speculation is supported by more than just a GIF and an event’s start time.
Nadella didn’t reveal many details about this Windows update at Build 2021, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Windows 11 is a black box. A number of reports, rumors, and ruminations based on the scrapped Windows 10X operating system have offered some clues as to what we might expect from the next generation of Windows, and by all accounts the changes will be significant enough to warrant that moniker.
Also, consider that changing the name of Windows is a great way to generate interest and even spur more PC sales. Everytime there is a new version of Windows, consumers want to buy computers with that OS pre-installed, even if upgrading is easy.
How Windows 11 Could Change the User Experience
Reports indicate that Microsoft has been planning many changes to the Windows 10 user experience for a while now. Windows Central reported in October 2020 that the company was looking to “update many top-level user interfaces such as the Start menu, Action Center, and even File Explorer, with consistent modern designs, better animations, and new features” via a project known internally as “Sun Valley.”
Sun Valley wasn’t supposed to replace the Fluent Design language Microsoft introduced at Build 2017 and expanded to iOS, Android, and the web in 2019, Windows Central said, but was instead meant to expand the design language to additional parts of Windows. This would likely result in a more cohesive user experience than the hodgepodge of design languages present in Windows 10.
User Interface Tweaks
Some of these small-but-notable design problems were pointed out by Microsoft program manager Yulia Klein in the public GitHub repository for WinUI in November 2020. Klein said that “XAML controls are inconsistent with how web and mobile apps are evolving” and that her proposed changes were “part of the work to refresh Xaml UI to align with other platforms while looking familiar on Windows.”
The proposal included changes to toggle switches, sliders, and rating controls used throughout Windows. These user interface elements are nearly ubiquitous; changes would likely have a greater-than-expected effect on the operating system’s design. Klein’s post also made it clear that Microsoft was indeed looking to update Windows’ design, lending credence to the Windows Central report from a month prior.
Microsoft’s plans to modernize the Windows user experience were all but confirmed by a job listing in January that said:
“On this team, you’ll work with our key platform, Surface, and OEM partners to orchestrate and deliver a sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows experiences to signal to our customers that Windows is BACK and ensure that Windows is considered the best user OS experience for customers.”
Looking for Clues from Windows 10X
It wasn’t hard to connect the dots between Sun Valley and that job listing. As for what this “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows” might look like, well, those also came from Microsoft itself. The company planned to make several changes to the user experience for Windows 10X, the operating system meant for foldable devices that was repurposed to single-screen devices and eventually cancelled altogether.
Microsoft released a Windows 10X emulator for developers at Build 2020 that showcased a few user experience changes such as a redesigned app switcher, a new Start menu, and a Quick Settings menu for commonly used controls. Now that the changes originally meant for Windows 10X are reaching Windows proper instead, it would make sense for some of these elements to make their way to Windows 11.
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These user experience changes probably won’t be as stark as the jump from Windows 7 to Windows 8. It seems more like Microsoft is fully committing to the Fluent Design language it revealed four years ago, looking to improve the Windows experience on touchscreen devices, and making seemingly inconsequential changes that culminate in a familiar yet noticeably different way of using Windows.
How Windows 11 Could Change the Microsoft Store
Windows 11 might not just change the way the operating system looks—it could also change the way people find, purchase, and install software. That seems to be what Microsoft is hoping, at least, because the company is reportedly working to make the Microsoft Store more important to Windows users and developers alike.
An Appeal to Developers
Windows Central reported in April that Microsoft plans to make three developer-facing changes to its software distribution platform: allowing unpackaged Win32 apps into the Microsoft Store, letting developers host apps and updates themselves, and permitting the use of third-party commerce platforms. All three of those changes would make it easier for Windows developers to offer their products via the Microsoft Store in addition to (or instead of) other distribution options.
The company is also appealing directly to developers’ wallets. It announced at Build 2021 that it would only take a 12% cut of revenues from game sales via the Microsoft Store instead of the 30% cut it was taking before. That change isn’t groundbreaking — the Epic Games Store offers a similar arrangement—but it does make the Microsoft Store more competitive with platforms like Steam. It’s also less than the cut Microsoft takes for other apps sold via the Microsoft Store.
Microsoft currently takes a 15% cut of the revenues from many apps sold via its platform. It also takes a 30% cut from app and in-app purchases made via the “Microsoft Store for Business; Microsoft Store for Education; Microsoft Store on Windows 8 devices; or Microsoft Store on Windows Phone 8 devices” per the App Developer Agreement that was last updated in July 2020. Maybe the new rate for game sales hasn’t been added because similar changes are coming to other apps.
An Appeal to Consumers
The Microsoft Store is also expected to receive a visual overhaul similar to the rest of Windows 11, according to the Windows Central report, as well as updates meant to provide “a more stable download and install experience for large apps and games.” Both could improve the experience of finding software via Microsoft’s storefront. (Even if many Windows users are likely to continue installing apps via the web or competitive platforms simply because that’s what they’ve gotten used to doing.)
This is also a symbiotic relationship. Right now Microsoft has to figure out how to get developers to ship their apps via the Microsoft Store even though it’s not popular among consumers, which means it has to get consumers to download apps via the Microsoft Store even though many developers aren’t invested in the platform. A new version of Windows (aka Windows 11) provides the perfect opportunity for Microsoft to address both of those problems, without carrying the baggage associated with the store’s current iteration.
When Windows 11 Should Arrive
This might be the biggest question mark ahead of Microsoft’s event. The company usually releases major updates to Windows 10 twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, and the Windows 10 May 2021 Update’s release last month makes a September or October launch window for Windows 11 seem like a possibility.
It can be hard to predict operating system release dates, however. Microsoft announced Windows 10X in February 2020 with a planned fall 2020 release date, then announced in July 2020 that the operating system wouldn’t arrive until 2021, and then finally said in May that it was being shelved for the foreseeable future. Major updates to Windows 10 have also been delayed in the past, with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update only starting its automatic rollout in January 2019.
The safe bet would probably be for Windows 11 to arrive sometime between September and December. Microsoft will likely release preview builds before then, however, so those curious about the future of Windows should probably sign up for the Windows Insider Program if they’re comfortable using unstable software.
How to Find Out What Comes Next
Microsoft plans to reveal Windows 11 — or at least the update everyone has taken to calling Windows 11 — during the “What’s Next for Windows” virtual event on June 24 at 11am ET. The event will be live streamed via the Microsoft website and has been given the designated #MicrosoftEvent hashtag for use on social platforms.
Apple’s WWDC event always feels like roulette when it comes to whether or not the company will announce any new devices or big software updates. For the past few weeks, rumors have been swirling that Apple might announce new MacBooks or the follow-up to its successful M1 chip today, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. We did get news on the latest incarnation of MacOS, called Monterey, but the rest of today’s stream was mostly spent on new iOS and iPadOS features (many of which are already present in Android).
Monterey, the latest version of MacOS, was today’s biggest announcement outside of the mobile space, although it’s not shaping up to be as major of an update as last year’s Big Sur. It mostly focuses on bringing continuity across your MacBook and other Apple devices, including the ability to control an iMac, iPad and iPhone all with your MacBook’s keyboard and touchpad (or vice versa, presumably). It’ll also introduce new features that are coming to iOS and iPadOS to MacOS devices, but these are the most concrete details we know for now.
Apple did discuss that it’s going to be moving away from Automator and towards interspersing manual task shortcuts throughout the OS. Sort of like Windows Tiles, these shortcuts will let you open different apps from panels, but they’ll also take the form of buttons that show up in other programs and let you easily perform certain tasks. For instance, you might be able to make a gif straight from a photo editing program with a shortcut. It’s unclear exactly how intrusive or useful these shortcuts will be, especially since Apple said Automator would still be supported.
Safari is also getting tab groups, similar to the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox, and will also add Chrome Sync-like features to allow you to browse more easily across your MacBook and your iPhone (which will also get a tab redesign).
Speaking of iPhones, iOS 15 is adding a bunch of new features to the device, mostly focused around sharing content. These include spatial audio that tries to cancel ambient noise around you on video calls, plus grid and portrait mode options for FaceTime. FaceTime is also getting links you can send to participants that they can click on to join future calls, much like Zoom or Google Meet.
What’s more interesting are the new content-sharing features. Facetime will now let users watch content from a streaming app together, each having control of the play and pause functions for perfect, automatic syncing. This also applies to music, plus FaceTime will be adding screensharing support as well. While we don’t normally cover phones, these functions are worth nothing as they will be coming to MacOS, too.
Aside from these features, there was a lot of talk about privacy promises, more niche updates like changes to iCloud (iCloud+) and the health app, and sections covering Apple Watch and smart home devices. Plus, iOS will be introducing translation features and other quality-of-life changes that are similar to what’s already on other platforms.
But if, like me, you were hoping for more substantial information on what’s next for Apple Hardware, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. Still, if you want to check out any of these OS changes, a limited developer beta starts today and a public beta starts next month.
The Google Stadia could gaming service is finally branching out to more devices. It will arrive on the excellent Google Chromecast with Google TV streaming dongle on 23rd June, as well as a number of TV sets running the Android TV operating system. And, all you’ll need to enjoy the service is a compatible Bluetooth controller (and a Google Stadia subscription, of course).
Here’s the full list of supported devices, as of 23rd June:
Chromecast with Google TV
Hisense Android Smart TVs (U7G, U8G, U9G)
Nvidia Shield TV
Nvidia Shield TV Pro
Onn FHD Streaming Stick and UHD Streaming Device
Philips 8215, 8505, and OLED 935 / 805 Series Android TVs
Xiaomi MIBOX3 and MIBOX4
If your Android TV isn’t supported, you might be able to sign up for Google’s experimental support – this lets it run on a wider range of devices, though the experience won’t have been optimised, so “not every Android TV OS device will work perfectly”, Google warns. To do so, install the Stadia app from the Google Play Store, and opt in when asked.
Many have seen the lack of Stadia support on Chromecast with Google TV a major oversight – though it didn’t stop the streaming dongle earning five stars in our review – so this wider rollout will be welcome news for many. And as well as adding some much-needed gaming skills to a handful of Android TVs, it makes an already excellent media streamer even better.
Read our guide to the best video streamers
Check out the competition: Amazon Fire TV 4K review
Find out how to watch Apple TV on your Android TV device
CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED is one of the few Windows BSODs (Blue Screens of Death) that anyone can provoke at will. If you kill the process named svchost.exe in Windows 10 (right-click in Task Manager, and pick “End process tree” from the pop-up menu), it will immediately cause the machine to crash with this very error code. Among other things, that means Windows won’t run unless the generic system process that hooks Windows services up with dynamic link libraries (DLLs) is operating. Because this is a fundamental part of how the Windows OS operates, the OS won’t work unless one (usually more) instance of this service is running (at least one for each DLL in use, in fact).
In essence CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED signals that some process necessary to Windows proper operation has ended abruptly and unexpectedly (to the OS, anyway). I don’t recommend that users try killing svchost.exe unless they’ve saved their work, closed all open applications, and are ready for their PC to restart after the BSOD appears and the post-crash dump files are saved.
Most Common Causes for CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED Error
When this error occurs, numerous potential causes are worth investigating. As with most BSODs, your clearest guide to further such investigation is to consider what changed on your PC recently. Statistically, the most frequent cause of this particular stop code is a rogue update, followed by system file corruption that causes the executable for some critical system process (of which svchost.exe is a great example) to die. The list of potential causes includes:
Rogue update: this is a term that describes a (usually recent) Windows update such as a Cumulative Update, a security update, or some other update, that causes unwanted side effects on some PCs. If you can identify the update involved – there will usually be helpful notes in the update release notes from Microsoft. To that end, please check the update’s Knowledge Base number and read what you can find from Microsoft about that string.
Thus, for example, you could use Google to find useful information for KB5003173 with the string: “site:Microsoft.com KB5003173” where this
Microsoft Support note is your primary focus for follow-up. It includes a section heading that reads “Known issues in this update” where you’ll find information about known issues and potential or actual resolutions or workarounds. Third-party sources are also sometimes of interest, because they may document fixes or workarounds that Microsoft has not yet vetted and published.
To see what updates you’ve installed recently, go to the old Windows control panel, launch Programs and Features and click “View installed updates,” which shows you a list of all updates in order of install. If you need to uninstall one, right click it and select “uninstall.”
If that doesn’t work, you can boot from the Windows Recovery environment and use the DISM command to uninstall an offline image at the command line. That’s a fairly complex operation that’s documented in Option 6 of Shawn Brink’s excellent TenForums tutorial Uninstall Windows Update in Windows 10. It is also the best known method for removing a rogue Windows 10 update.
Corrupt system files: These are best addressed using the DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth command (run at an administrative command prompt or in an administrative PowerShell session). If this command finds anything to report, run DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth to clean things up. Next, run the system file checker until it reports nothing found or fixed (this sometimes takes 2 or 3 iterations): SFC /SCANNOW. If it works, this will often fix the IRQL error as well.
Incompatible device drivers: If you’ve recently updated a driver, you should probably use the “Roll Back Driver” option on that device’s Driver tab in Device Manager. If the tab is greyed out, you may have to uninstall the current driver and install the previous version manually.
Try a Clean Boot to Resolve CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED Errors
If you still can’t figure out what is causing your CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED errors, a Windows 10 clean boot should be your next step. A clean boot starts Windows 10 with the barest minimum set of drivers and startup programs. It seeks to eliminate possible causes of trouble that have been added to the startup environment over time. See our article on how to perform a clean boot in Windows 10 for instructions.
Make Use of Recent Reporting to Solve CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED Errors
If you visit TenForums.com, BleepingComputer.com, Answers.Microsoft.com or the Tom’s Hardware Forums and search for the CRTICIAL_PROCESS_DIED error string you will see how often the error has been reported lately.
You will also get some excellent insight on how others have approached diagnosis of the underlying cause, and what fixes they’ve applied. It’s especially helpful to read through fixes that claim success because these might work for you, too. On the other hand, unsuccessful fixes can be informative, too, because they tell you which repairs to try later rather than sooner (or not at all).
Fossil executives Greg McKelvey and Steve Prokup said in an interview with CNET that the company’s existing Wear OS watches won’t get upgraded to the new combined Wear software platform from Samsung and Google. Instead, Fossil is planning a premium watch that Prokup said would have “pretty major hardware upgrades,” and existing watches will probably be discounted as budget options.
According to CNET, Fossil’s Gen 6 watch should have features similar to upcoming watches from Google and Samsung, with faster performance, longer battery life, new chips, and LTE cellular options. “All of the software benefits that Google’s talking about and launching with the unified platform is something we’ll be building into that as well,” McKelvey said.
Google and Samsung announced last month at Google I/O that they would combine Wear OS and Samsung’s Tizen into a new platform, creating one central smartwatch OS for Android.
The Fossil execs didn’t give much insight into what buttons or crowns the company may use in its next Wear OS watch. ”I think you’re still going to see a variety of offerings across even our products, as well as manufacturers,” Prokup said in the interview, “not so much that you’re going to have a watch that ends up having four, five, six dedicated buttons or no buttons.”
Apple’s annual developer extravaganza, the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), is coming up fast, kicking off with the keynote presentation on June 7th at 1PM ET. Like last year, WWDC will be an entirely digital and online-only event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the keynote, that means we can likely expect another tightly produced video highlighting everything Apple has in store.
While we aren’t expecting any announcements on the level of Apple’s shift to custom silicon in its computers, which was WWDC 2020’s big news, Apple presumably has some notable changes in the works for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and its other operating systems. And if the current rumors pan out, we could also see brand-new MacBook Pros with the return of some long-missed features, such as MagSafe charging.
Read on to learn everything we expect from the big show. And don’t be surprised if Apple has a few surprises in store, too.
iOS 15 may bring improvements to notifications and iMessage
We haven’t heard much about what may be coming to Apple’s next version of its mobile operating system, which will presumably be called iOS 15, but we could see big changes to notifications and possibly iMessage, according to Bloomberg.
For notifications, you may be able to have different notification settings for situations like driving, working, sleeping, or even a custom category, and you’ll be able to flip those on as you need to. You might also be able to set automatic replies based on which notification setting you’re currently using, like what you can do now with Do Not Disturb while driving mode. Personally, I’m hoping iOS 15 will let me allow notifications from a select few people while silencing just about everything else.
As for iMessages, Apple is apparently working on features to make it act like “more of a social network” to compete with Facebook’s WhatsApp, Bloomberg said, but those features are still “early in development” and could be announced at a later date.
Apple also plans to add a feature that shows you apps that are silently collecting data about you, continuing the company’s trend of adding privacy-focused updates to its operating systems.
For iPadOS 15, you can apparently expect a major update to the homescreen, including the ability to put widgets anywhere you want. And with Apple just introducing the new M1-powered iPad Pros, here’s hoping we see some new upgrades to take advantage of the new chip.
In May, Apple also announced a lot of new accessibility features coming to Apple’s operating systems, such as improvements in iOS to VoiceOver, support for bidirectional hearing aids, a built-in background sounds player, and new Memoji customizations like cochlear implants. Apple said these features would arrive “later this year,” which suggests they’ll be included in iOS 15.
We don’t know much about macOS, watchOS 8, and tvOS 15 — but we could see a new “homeOS”
We haven’t heard all that much about upcoming software updates for the Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, so we’ll just have to wait and see what Apple is cooking up. One tidbit: macOS could be a “more minor” update, Bloomberg says. That wouldn’t be too much of a surprise, given that the macOS operating system got a big overhaul with Big Sur last year.
However, we could see the introduction of a brand-new operating system called “homeOS,” which was recently mentioned in and later removed from an Apple job listing. While it’s unclear exactly which devices this OS is for, perhaps it will work on Apple’s home-focused products like the Apple TV and HomePod Mini.
New, redesigned MacBook Pros and a new Apple CPU could be announced
Apple doesn’t always introduce new hardware at WWDC, but this year, new MacBook Pros seem like a possibility. In a May 18th report, Bloomberg said that new MacBook Pros might arrive “as soon as early this summer,” which could indicate an announcement at WWDC.
These new laptops would have new Apple-designed processors that would “greatly outpace the performance and capabilities of the current M1 chips,” according to Bloomberg. The M1 is already pretty dang good, so it sounds like these new chips could be even more impressive.
Apple is apparently planning on releasing two chips for the new Pros. Both should have eight high-performance cores and two energy-efficient cores, while leaving you with the option of either 16 or 32 graphics cores. (By comparison, the M1’s CPU has four high-performance and four energy-efficient cores, while its GPU is offered with either seven or eight cores.) You’ll probably also be able to spec the laptops with as much as 64GB of memory, up from a max of 16GB on M1-equipped computers.
The new laptops should be offered with either 14-inch or 16-inch screens and those screens could have “brighter, higher contrast” displays, according to a Bloomberg report from January. The laptops may also have a new design with flat edges as in the iPhone 12, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in January. I’m curious to see what that design might look like in practice — I worry that the hard edges could be uncomfortable if you have the laptop on your lap.
The best rumor is that the new design may also mark the return of some of the ports and features that were taken away with the now-infamous 2016 MacBook Pro redesign, including a MagSafe charger, an HDMI port, and an SD card slot, Bloomberg said in its May report. And, according to Kuo, the OLED Touch Bar currently found on Intel-based MacBook Pros will apparently be removed in favor of physical function keys.
We could see at least one other new Mac
While it seems like MacBook Pros are the only new hardware we’ll be seeing at WWDC this year, that hasn’t stopped some other Mac rumors from swirling lately, and there’s always the chance Apple could announce more at its big event. According to Bloomberg, Apple also has “a revamped MacBook Air, a new low-end MacBook Pro, and an all-new Mac Pro workstation” in the works as well as a “higher-end Mac Mini desktop and larger iMac,” all of which would be powered by Apple’s custom silicon.
The new Mac Mini may have the same chip as the new MacBook Pros. The new Mac Pro could be a beast, with processors that are “either twice or four times as powerful as the new high-end MacBook Pro chip.”
And the redesigned “higher-end” MacBook Air could arrive as early as the end of this year. Frankly, I hope that refreshed Air arrives even later. I just bought the M1-equipped Air and it’s one of the best computers I’ve ever used, but I have a bad feeling I’ll be first in line to buy a redesigned and more capable Air anyway. (Especially if it gets the MagSafe charger that’s rumored for the new Pros.)
Apple might have dropped a hint about its AR / VR headset
Apple has long been rumored to have a mixed reality headset in the works, and recently, we’ve learned a few more potential details about it. The headset might be very expensive — approximately $3,000, according to one report — though it could be packed with 8K displays, more than a dozen cameras to track hand movements and capture footage, and might weigh less than an iPhone, too.
While the headset could be a ways out, as it’s not expected to ship until 2022 at the earliest, a few suspicious details in Apple’s WWDC promotional images may be hinting toward some kind of reveal of Apple’s upcoming headset or the software on which it runs.
Check out this image below (that I also used at the top of this post), which Apple released alongside the announcement of WWDC in March. Notice the way the app icons are reflected in the glasses — I could imagine some sort of mixed reality headset showing icons in front of your eyes in a similar way.
Apple continued that reflections motif with new images released in May — you can see things from the laptop screens reflected in all of the eyes of the Memojis.
Now, these reflections may just be Apple’s artists flexing their design chops. And if I had to guess, given how far out a rumored mixed reality headset is, I don’t think we’re going to see anything about it at WWDC this year.
But Apple has surprised us in the past, and maybe these images are an indication of one more thing Apple has in store for WWDC.
The specs and feature highlights are appealing but the Halo falls short when it comes to subtlety
Excellent black depth
Bright for the money
Handy portable features
Blunt contrast control
Poor speaker placement
If you’ve ever had to pull an all-nighter for work, then you’ll know the taste of the 4am cup of coffee – strong and effective, much like the Xgimi Halo portable projector. Subtlety is not its strongest suit, but it most certainly gets the job done.
Chinese brand Xgimi has been making smart projectors and laser TVs since 2013. Now armed with an impressive array of seven portable projectors, ranging from standard-definition up to 4K, it’s here to take on Epson, BenQ and, most notably, Anker Nebula as the go-to brand for your all-in-one big screen needs.
The Xgimi Halo is just about the midpoint of the series. With its wireless speaker-sized frame, built-in battery, 800 ANSI-lumens LED light source and 1080p HDR output, it could be the home and away portable projector that meets all your needs.
Squint and you could be forgiven for mistaking the Xgimi Halo for an aluminium Sonos One, though the Halo is a little larger at 11cm tall and 15cm wide, and it weighs 1.6kg. It’s about as large as you’d want a portable projector to be before it becomes a hassle to carry around.
Xgimi Halo tech specs
Resolution 1080p, HDR, 4K input support
Internal storage 16GB
Brightness 800 ANSI Lumens
Throw ratio 1.2:1
Battery life 2-4 hours
Dimensions (hwd) 11 x 15 x 17cm
Inside is a 2x 5W Harman Kardon sound system and a DLP projector set-up with a 0.33in DMD (digital micromirror device) at its core. The LED light source is rated to last for 30,000 hours of viewing which translates as eight hours of use per day for the next 10 years – hopefully enough for almost everybody’s needs.
The light is focused by a fixed lens with a 1.2:1 throw ratio that can produce a picture of between 30 and 300in, with a 100in image possible at a distance of 2.67m.
On the outside, there is a single HDMI port (ARC-enabled), a USB and a 3.5mm headphones socket. You can plug in most games consoles, disc players and external speakers, and play files on USB sticks, hard drives, and even from the 16GB of internal storage space. Two-way Bluetooth is available, too, so you can play music through the Halo sound system from your phone or output the projector’s audio signal to a bigger external wireless speaker.
Control of all this and more is through the rather tasteful voice remote control. It includes buttons for direct access to the settings menu and input selection as well as the usual navigation, volume and focus controls too.
There are two other helpful items included. The first is a built-in battery that offers two to four hours of video use, depending on brightness settings, and eight hours of audio playback. Also, tucked underneath is a little kickstand that is useful for angling the Halo up to the right position. The weight of the machine feels quite a lot for a little flap like this and, though it’s fine during our testing, we’re not convinced it would hold up in the longer term.
Like many portable smart projectors, the Halo uses Google’s Android TV 9.0 OS to take care of the apps and menus. Google Assistant provides an effective voice search, and there is also the Chromecast screen sharing technology to fill in most app gaps.
There are a fair few of those, with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Apple TV, ITV Player, All 4, Now, Apple Music and BBC Sounds all missing. Chromecast can’t stream the Apple services but there are other, free Android TV apps available to help mirror content from iOS.
Setting up the picture projection itself couldn’t be easier. The Halo is fitted with autofocus and auto-keystone. Each time you turn it on, or when its internal gyroscopes detect that you’ve moved it, the 10,000-point AF system springs into life and produces something close to the best possible image, with an impressive keystone correction of up to +/-40 degrees vertically and horizontally.
Like most portables, the Halo runs far quieter than a traditional home cinema projector. It’s rated at less than 30dB and we’re never once distracted by the sound during testing. It’s also 3D-enabled. All you need is some content and a pair of active shutter glasses.
The minute you switch on the Halo, you get a good idea of just how bright this projector can go. There’s certainly less luminance on the table than with traditional home cinema projectors, but the Halo is a clear step ahead of the entry-level portables, such as the Anker Nebula Mars 2, and pretty much on a par with the more expensive Epson EF-12.
The big, white Xgimi logo is quite blinding with the lights off. We don’t struggle to see what’s going on when we add some ambient lighting and that bodes well for outdoor cinema use, as well as watching sports with friends.
Popping Bumblebee on 4K Blu-ray into our player, that translates to a good, strong picture with plenty of colour saturation. The early scene at the boardwalk funfair is a real treat. The sky is a beautiful sapphire blue, the candyfloss a brilliant synthetic pink and the paintwork of the 1980s cars is a line-up of some wonderful teals, burnt oranges and assorted metallics. At its best, the Halo even has enough skill with colour handling to have skin tones not look out of place either.
However, when the light levels drop, the Halo comes unstuck. Black depth itself is decent, but the detail within those dark zones is scant. The Standard preset gets the most out of the shadows, but even so, we struggle to find much in the way of individual hair strands on Charlie’s head as she rides her scooter off to the scrapyard.
There are similar problems in other areas of this tonally mixed scene. The brightness in the sky behind her is quite blown-out for whites and the shadows in the foreground are strong patches rather than careful shades. There just isn’t enough care in handling the contrast on offer.
The contrast problem is particularly hard going with a film that has any kind of added aesthetic such as Fury in Full HD. The grainy WWII drama is a hard watch on the Halo and there aren’t enough adjustments available to get a picture that’s consistently bright and detailed.
One moment, we have the external scene of the ruined German town square exactly where we want it – some texture to the masonry, a sense of daytime – and the next we’re plunged into a chequerboard of jarring light levels in the apartments where the dead Nazi officers are slumped in their chairs.
It’s even more problematic with standard-def content. We watch Up In The Air on DVD and the upscaling is handled relatively well. Any noise is easily reduced by taking the sharpness setting down and applying a light touch to the Noise Filter, but that heavy contrast is tough to take, with detail even thinner on the ground than before.
The Halo struggles to produce any difference in the blocks of black or navy blue in the suits of the business people in this film. The moment the characters sit on any dark furniture, everything bleeds together and half of each frame can be lost. As impressive as this projector can be at times, at the first sign of a difficult frame the Halo’s big, punchy strengths turn out to also be its most significant weaknesses.
Sound is a genuine consideration when buying a portable projector. While we’d always recommend upping the ante with a soundbar, headphones or wireless speaker, the 2x 5W Harman Kardon sound system in the Xgimi Halo is largely well appointed and makes an acceptable stopgap for AV and music listening needs.
The Bumblebee soundtrack is a pleasure to listen to through the projector alone. Steve Winwood’s Higher Love provides a real moment of joy as Charlie drives away in her first car, thanks to the decent dynamic ability of the system. There’s plenty of weight and a clear tonal balance that never threatens to get too bright even when we push the volume towards its limits.
Unfortunately, Xgimi has chosen to have the drivers facing forwards on the Halo and that seems an odd choice. The throw distance means you’ll most likely be sitting behind this projector and so the sound will be going the wrong direction. It makes the audio more muffled than it should be but, even in front of the Halo, it is still a touch soft and lacking a little precision compared with the Epson EF-12.
The clicks and whirrs aren’t quite as crisp as they could be when Bumblebee transforms from car to robot in the garage. There is some good spatial sense to the sound as the yellow bot’s metal parts unfold. Details might be placed more clearly in the soundscape if the Halo had a little more organisational know-how.
For this price, it’s the dynamic ability we’re most pleased with. Listening to Know Your Enemy by Rage Against The Machine, there are plenty of dramatic ups and downs and appropriate attacks and crescendos to make the song exciting.
The Xgimi Halo makes a good stab at a serious step-up device from entry-level portable projectors, but it doesn’t quite reach a rich and complex level of performance.
Its brightness, battery, storage, speakers and connectivity options mean that, at first glance, it looks the part of a punchy and convenient travel projector. It’s still small enough to throw into your bag, but big enough to give some impact around the house or even in the garden.
But, while it is a decent option for social watching situations, its picture quality just isn’t up to the same standards as those around it. Spend a bit more on the Epson EF-12 and you get a far more sophisticated portable projector. If you need something with a built-in battery, then the Anker Nebula range seems to provide more image subtlety and at a lower price too.
Google has designed its own new processors, the Argos video (trans)coding units (VCU), that have one solitary purpose: processing video. The highly efficient new chips have allowed the technology giant to replace tens of millions of Intel CPUs with its own silicon.
For many years Intel’s video decoding/encoding engines that come built into its CPUs have dominated the market both because they offered leading-edge performance and capabilities and because they were easy to use. But custom-built application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) tend to outperform general-purpose hardware because they are designed for one workload only. As such, Google turned to developing its own specialized hardware for video processing tasks for YouTube, and to great effect.
However, Intel may have a trick up its sleeve with its latest tech that could win back Google’s specialized video processing business.
Loads of Videos Require New Hardware
Users upload more than 500 hours of video content in various formats every minute to YouTube. Google needs to quickly transcode that content to multiple resolutions (including 144p, 240p, 360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p, 1440p, 2160p, and 4320p) and data-efficient formats (e.g., H.264, VP9 or AV1), which requires formidable encoding horsepower.
Historically, Google had two options for transcoding/encoding content. The first option was Intel’s Visual Computing Accelerator (VCA) that packed three Xeon E3 CPUs with built-in Iris Pro P6300/P580 GT4e integrated graphics cores with leading-edge hardware encoders. The second option was to use software encoding and general-purpose Intel Xeon processors.
Google decided that neither option was power-efficient enough for emerging YouTube workloads – the Visual Computing Accelerator was rather power hungry itself, whereas scaling the number of Xeon CPUs essentially meant increasing the number of servers, which means additional power and datacenter footprint. As a result, Google decided to go with custom in-house hardware.
Google’s first-generation Argos VCU does not replace Intel’s central processors completely as the servers still need to run the OS and manage storage drives and network connectivity. To a large degree, Google’s Argos VCU resembles a GPU that always needs an accompanying CPU.
Instead of stream processors like we see in GPUs, Google’s VCU integrates ten H.264/VP9 encoder engines, several decoder cores, four LPDDR4-3200 memory channels (featuring 4×32-bit interfaces), a PCIe interface, a DMA engine, and a small general-purpose core for scheduling purposes. Most of the IP, except the in-house designed encoders/transcoders, were licensed from third parties to cut down on development costs. Each VCU is also equipped with 8GB of usable ECC LPDDR4 memory.
The main idea behind Google’s VCU is to put as many high-performance encoders/transcoders into a single piece of silicon as possible (while remaining power efficient) and then scale the number of VCUs separately from the number of servers needed. Google places two VCUs on a board and then installs 10 cards per dual-socket Intel Xeon server, greatly increasing the company’s decoding/transcoding performance per rack.
Increasing Efficiency Leads to Migration from Xeon
Google says that its VCU-based machines have seen up to 7x (H.264) and up to 33x (VP9) improvements in performance/TCO compute efficiency compared to Intel Skylake-powered server systems. This improvement accounts for the cost of the VCUs (vs. Intel’s CPUs) and three years of operational expenses, which makes VCUs an easy choice for video behemoth YouTube.
Offline Two-Pass Single Output (SOT) Throughput in CPU, GPU, and VCU-Equipped Systems
4x Nvidia T4
8x Google Argos VCUs
20x Google Argos VCUs
From performance numbers shared by Google, it is evident that a single Argos VCU is barely faster than a 2-way Intel Skylake server in H.264. However, since 20 VCUs can be installed into such a server, VCU wins from an efficiency perspective. But when it comes to the more demanding VP9 codec, Google’s VCU appears to be five times faster than Intel’s dual-socket Xeon and therefore offers impressive efficiency advantages.
Since Google has been using its Argos VCUs for several years now, it clearly replaced many of its Xeon-based YouTube servers with machines running its own silicon. It is extremely hard to estimate how many Xeon systems that Google actually replaced, but some analysts believe the technology giant could have swapped from four to 33 million Intel CPUs for its own VC. Even if the second number is an overestimate, we are still talking about millions of units.
Since Google needs loads of processors for its other services, it is likely that the number of CPUs that the company buys from AMD or Intel is still very high and is not going to decrease any time soon as it will be years before Google’s own datacenter-grade system-on-chips (SoCs) will be ready.
It is also noteworthy that in an attempt to use innovative encoding technologies (e.g., AV1) right now, Google needs to use general-purpose CPUs even for YouTube as the Argos does not support the codec. Furthermore, as more efficient codecs emerge (and these tend to be more demanding in terms of compute horsepower), Google will have to continue to use CPUs for initial deployments. Ironically, the advantage of dedicated hardware will only grow in the future.
Google is already working on its second-gen VCU that supports AV1, H.264, and VP9 codecs as its needs to further increase the efficiency of its encoding technologies. It is unclear when the new VCUs will be deployed, but it is clear that the company wants to use its own SoCs instead of general-purpose processors where possible.
Intel Isn’t Standing Still
Intel isn’t standing still, though. The company’s DG1 Xe-LP-based quad-chip SG1 server card can decode up to 28 4Kp60 streams as well as transcode up to 12 simultaneous streams. Essentially, Intel’s SG1 does exactly what Google’s Argos VCU does: scale video decoding and transcoding performance separately from the server count and thus reduce the number of general-purpose processors required in a data center used for video applications.
With its upcoming single-tile Xe-HP GPU, Intel will offer transcoding of 10 high-quality 4Kp60 streams simultaneously. Keeping in mind that some of Xe-HP GPUs will scale to four tiles, and more than one GPU can be installed per system, Intel’s market-leading media decoding and encoding capabilities will only become even more solid.
Google has managed to build a remarkable H.264 and VP9-supporting video (trans)coding unit (VCU) that can offer significantly higher efficiency in video encoding/transcoding workloads than Intel’s existing CPUs. Furthermore, VCUs enable Google to scale its video encoding/transcoding performance independently from the number of servers.
Yet, Intel already has its Xe-LP GPUs and SG1 cards that offer some serious video decoding and encoding capabilities, too, so Intel will still be successful in datacenters with heavy video streaming workloads. Furthermore, with the emergence of Intel’s Xe-HP GPUs, the company promises to solidify its position in this market.
Microsoft has been teasing a “next generation” of Windows for months now, but new hints suggest the company isn’t just preparing an update to its existing Windows 10 software, but a new, numbered version of the operating system: Windows 11.
The software giant announced a new Windows event for June 24th yesterday, promising to show “what’s next for Windows.” The event invite included an image of what looks like a new Windows logo, with light shining through the window in only two vertical bars, creating an outline that looks very much like the number 11. Microsoft followed up with an animated version of this image, making it clear the company intentionally ignored the horizontal bars.
Microsoft’s Windows event also starts at 11AM ET, not the usual start time for typical Windows and Surface events. Following the event invite, Microsoft exec Yusuf Mehdi said he hasn’t “been this excited for a new version of Windows since Windows 95!” It’s the first time we’ve heard Microsoft specifically mention a “new version” of Windows is on the way.
The event invite also comes just a week after Nadella teased a “next generation of Windows” announcement. Nadella promised that Microsoft would soon share “one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade.” Microsoft’s chief product officer, Panos Panay, also teased a “next generation” of Windows earlier this year.
If Microsoft is truly readying to move beyond Windows 10 and towards Windows 11, we’re expecting to see big visual changes to reflect that. Microsoft has been working on something codenamed Sun Valley, which the company has referred to as a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows.”
A lot of these visual changes will come from the work Microsoft completed on Windows 10X, a lightweight version of Windows intended to rival Chrome OS, before it was scrapped. That includes a new Start menu, new system icons, File Explorer improvements, and the end of Windows 95-era icons that drag Windows users back to the past in dialog boxes. Rounded corners and updates to the built-in Windows apps are also planned.
Significant changes are also on the way for Windows beyond the user interface. Microsoft appears to be ready to address a lot of lingering problems, with fixes planned for a rearranging apps issue on multiple monitors, an upcoming Xbox Auto HDR feature, and improvements to Bluetooth audio support.
Perhaps the biggest lingering issue waiting to be fixed is the Windows store. Microsoft has been working on a new app store for Windows in recent months, and rumors suggest it will be a significant departure from what exists today. Nadella has promised to “unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators” with Windows, and the Windows store seems like the obvious way to do that.
Microsoft is reportedly overhauling its Windows app store to allow developers to submit any Windows application, including browsers like Chrome or Firefox. This would significantly improve the store alone, but Microsoft might also be considering allowing third-party commerce platforms in apps. That would mean Microsoft wouldn’t take a cut from developers who use their own in-app purchase systems.
So far, Microsoft has only announced a cut to 12 percent commission for PC games in the Windows store, but allowing developers to bypass Microsoft’s cut would be a significant change.
Moving to Windows 11 branding would also back up Microsoft’s reinvestment in Windows. The software maker signaled a renewed interest in Windows last year, during a pandemic that has demonstrated how important the operating system is. Windows usage jumped as workers and students across the world turned to laptops and PCs to work from home. PC shipments have also surged over the past year.
After slicing Windows into two parts back in 2018, Microsoft moved parts of Windows development back under Panos Panay’s control last year. The move was a clear admission that Microsoft’s Windows split didn’t work, after months of messy development experiences for Windows 10, delayed Windows updates, a lack of major new features, and lots of Windows update issues.
Moving to Windows 11 would still be a surprise move for Microsoft, though. The company previously referred to Windows 10 as “the last version of Windows” in its big push to position the OS as a service that’s continually updated. While there are monthly updates to Windows, the more significant changes are typically delivered twice a year.
Microsoft has struggled with naming these updates, though. We’ve seen the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Fall Creators Update, and simple dates like the November 2019 Update. Microsoft has also adopted yet another naming scheme recently, referring to updates as 20H1 or 21H1 to signify both the release year and part of the year the update launched.
A move to Windows 11 wouldn’t necessarily clear up Microsoft’s update naming issues, but if the company also adopted point releases like Windows 11.1, that would certainly help both consumers and IT admins to quickly understand which version is the latest.
OEMs would also be happy to see a Windows 11 release. A new version of Windows always drives new hardware sales and renewed interest in the operating system. If Microsoft backs that up with a new UI and a fresh look and feel for Windows, it will be the typical playbook we’ve seen for Windows for decades.
It’s not long until we find out whether Microsoft is ready to dial the version number of Windows up to 11. The Windows elevent (as I’m now calling it) will start at 11AM ET on June 24th, and The Verge will be covering all the news live as it happens.
This week, Apple brought its Apple TV app to many new Android TV devices — not just the Nvidia Shield. And Apple was smart to widen that support — the expiration date for free trials of Apple TV Plus is swiftly approaching, with many customers about to see their subscriptions end July 1st. That gives Apple a month to win over Android TV users by letting them watch flagship shows like the earnest and delightful Ted Lasso on the big screen, a show whose second season will premiere near the end of July.
The rollout of the Apple TV app to Android TV OS devices started Monday at 8AM PT, a Google spokesperson confirmed to The Verge. As a caveat, the Google spokesperson clarified that support does not extend to third-party operator set-top boxes, so, for example, devices like AT&T’s Android TV set-top box probably won’t get Apple TV anytime soon.
That Apple’s finally made its streaming app available across Android TV devices isn’t much of a shocker. The app was previously made available on non-Apple devices like the Chromecast with Google TV and the PlayStation 5, and it’s been on Roku and Fire TV devices since 2019. Some Sony TVs running Android TV and other Vizio models running SmartCast OS additionally received support for the app last year.
But it’s also not entirely shocking for a company banking heavily on its services offerings. Apple seems to have figured out somewhere along the way that it needed to play nice with other device makers if it wanted to grow Apple TV Plus subscriptions in any meaningful way. With some 660 million paid subscriptions across its services as of April, Apple TV Plus’ estimated 40 million U.S. subscribers is a small but certainly not insignificant slice of that pie — but that figure could quickly change come July when those users will have to decide whether Apple’s shows are worth paying for.
Apple launched its service back in 2019 with an astonishingly meager lineup of originals. Sure, they were high-caliber productions with big-name talent and directors at the helm. And sure, some of them were even good! (M. Night Shyamalan’s bizarre psychological thriller Servant is one such example.) But Apple has extended its lengthy free trials of the service that it offered to users who purchased its devices, and that trial period is very nearly about to end for some of the earliest users to hop on the freebie train.
Ted Lasso — which Tim Cook has cited as being a critical success for the platform — will, again, release its second season toward the end of next month. But for some Apple users, their free trials to Apple TV Plus end July 1st.
In other words, Apple’s dangling a content carrot in front of its most loyal users in hopes that they’ll stick around and hand over their money. But with so many other services available at present, it’s unclear whether that’ll be enough to make them stay. In fact, research MoffettNathanson estimated earlier this year that nearly 30 percent of Apple TV Plus subscribers did not plan to resubscribe following their trial periods. While $5 per month isn’t too much for a premium service comparatively speaking, it does start to add up when people are counting all the subscriptions they fork out money for each month.
Because Apple’s entire plan for the service is to be a hub for either its own in-house productions — or exclusively attained feature films like Tom Hanks’ Greyhound — that means the company has some catching up to do to reach anything close to the library scale of most of its peers, particularly considering it’s about to start making people pay for the service. Making it available across Android TV devices hooked up in users’ homes is a good way to prepare for this change. Plus, especially accounting for the pandemic, who on earth wants to watch an entire feature film on a palm-sized iPhone when they can watch it on the biggest screen in their home instead?
It’s almost as if Apple realized that doing things the Apple way wasn’t going to be a successful model for competing in the streaming wars. And while the service is late to the party in terms of accessibility across platforms — it has taken far too long for this app to arrive on more Android TV devices, in my opinion — it was a necessary move for Apple TV Plus’s success in the long run. As long-trialed subscribers discover they’ll suddenly need to pay for Apple’s content, the churn is going to burn.
We’ve been hearing information about the “Sun Valley” UX redesign for Windows since last year, and now it seems like we might finally be getting a look at it. Microsoft today announced that it will be holding a livestream on June 24th detailing “what’s next for Windows,” and although information on what that actually means is sparse, we have a few guesses.
At Microsoft Build, CEO Satya Nadella teased we’d soon see the future of Windows 10. We’ve already seen some very slight changes to system icons,
We reported five months ago that Microsoft was hiring for a Windows UX overhaul, probably Sun Valley, so it’s possible we might finally be seeing the fruits of that labor. A job listing originally said that the retooling would involve “a sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows experiences to signal to our customers that Windows is BACK,” so this is likely to be a pretty big update.
The original Sun Valley reports also said that the focus would be on bringing “modern designs, better animations, and new features,” to Windows staples like the start menu, action center and file explorer.
It’s also possible that any UX overhaul might include elements from Windows 10X, a version of the OS meant for dual-screen devices that got mothballed just last month so that the team could focus on the desktop version.
Additionally, there have been reports that Microsoft is retooling the Microsoft Store to accept more software, games and provide freedom to developers.
It isn’t clear if this is part of 21H2, the next big scheduled update, or something that will come sooner. Whatever it is, we’ll be covering it on June 24.
As reported by Phoronix, AMD is focusing on expanding its SmartShift ecosystem to support operating systems beyond Windows 10. AMD has released two patches this week that continue adding support of SmartShift’s features to the Linux ecosystem. That’s excellent news for Linux buyers who want to use AMD’s shiny new PowerShift notebooks.
SmartShift was released last year by AMD (with only one laptop, the G5 SE) as a way to further improve notebook performance and efficiency when using AMD CPUs and discrete GPUs together. The technology aims to turn both the CPU and GPU into one cohesive system, allowing both chips to dynamically share power depending on the workload at hand.
At Computex this year AMD showed off its second wave of SmartShift laptops (like the new ROG Strix G15 Advantage) based on the all-new RX 6000M GPUs and Ryzen 5000 mobile CPUs, plus new enhancements for the Smartshift technology. This aggressive push for SmartShift adoption shows us that AMD is really focused on bringing this technology out in full force. And the push to expand adoption to Linux users seems to be part of that, despite the fact that those users make up a part of the notebook segment.
Just a few days ago on May 30th, AMD released a patch to Linux which allowed support for SmartShift when a discrete Radeon GPU was detected in a notebook with SmartShift Support.
Today, another patch was released, further adding support for Smartshift’s features. This patch exposes SmartShift’s power-share info to the user-space via sysfs, meaning Linux can now monitor SmartShift’s behavior and judge to see if the system is working as intended or not.
Another patch was released as well, adding controllability of SmartShift’s power-sharing parameters to Linux, meaning the OS or possibly a user can control how much power goes to the CPU or the discrete GPU.
With all this effort, it seems AMD is preparing to make SmartShift a mainstream technology, with not only Linux support, but also a wide variety of notebook support coming in the not-so-distant future. Some serious questions remain, though, like when we’ll see the tech in more than a handful of laptop models.
And for those AMD-based models to expand, the company will need to assure its partners that it can pump out a substantial and consistent amount of its current-gen CPUs and brand-new mobile GPUs. In the current climate of high demand for desktop graphics cards, chip shortages, and TSMC’s production pushed to its limits, the only thing certain seems to be uncertainty.
Microsoft is planning to detail its “next generation of Windows” at an event later this month. The software giant has started sending invites to media for a Windows event on June 24th. Both Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and chief product officer Panos Panay will be presenting at the Windows event. Microsoft’s Windows event will start at 11AM ET / 8AM PT on June 24th.
The invite comes just a week after Nadella teased a “next generation of Windows” announcement. Microsoft is expected to detail its next significant changes to Windows, and they will likely include a number of visual enhancements. We’re expecting to see some significant UI changes to Windows under something codenamed “Sun Valley.”
Microsoft confirmed last month that Windows 10X, its OS originally built for dual-screen devices, will no longer ship. The company is now rolling the visual elements of Windows 10X into the main version of Windows 10 instead.
A lot of the visual work has already started, with new system icons, File Explorer improvements, and the end of Windows 95-era icons. Microsoft is also focusing on improving the basic foundations of Windows, with fixes for a rearranging apps issue on multiple monitors, the addition of the Xbox Auto HDR feature, and improvements to Bluetooth audio support.
Nadella has also promised to unlock a better economy for developers and creators within Windows itself, so we’ll likely get a closer look at the store changes coming to Windows. Microsoft has been working on a new app store for Windows in recent months, and rumors have suggested Microsoft will open its store up to all apps and rival payment platforms.
The Verge will be covering Microsoft’s Windows event on June 24th, so stay tuned for all the latest news.
(Pocket-lint) – Huawei’s latest watch has been announced, and is the first to launch officially running HarmonyOS, the new cross-category operating system designed to make multiple devices seamlessly connect with each other.
The manufacturer has built some great fitness tracking watches of late, including the previous flagship watch: the Watch GT 2 Pro. So, what’s changed between the last watch and the Watch 3? Let’s dive in.
GT 2 Pro: 46.7 x 46.7 x 11.4mm – 52g
Watch 3: 46.2 x 46.2 x 12.15mm – 54g
Watch 3 Pro: 48 mm x 49.6 x 14mm – 63g
GT 2 Pro: Titanium, Sapphire glass and ceramic
Watch 3: Stainless steel, hardened glass and ceramic
Watch 3 Pro: Titanium, Sapphire glass and ceramic
All: Waterproof to 50m
All of Huawei’s watches are fully round and in basic terms they do look similar. They share similarities like having the same ceramic underside, with the same design for the optical sensors for reading your heart rate and blood oxygen saturation.
Where they differ is in the glass, metal and shape of the lens. For instance, both the GT 2 Pro and Watch 3 Pro have completely flat Sapphire crystal glass screens and titanium cases. The standard Watch 3 has curved hardened glass on top of stainless steel.
While all three have two buttons on the side, only the new Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro feature a rotating crown which functions similarly to the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown. You can turn it or press it to control various functions and interface elements.
All of them are waterproof to a high level (up to 50m) and all three charge wirelessly using the same magnetic plastic cradle.
The one other thing worth noting is that the Watch 3 is the more compact of the three, but not by a huge amount. With a 46mm case, it’s hardly tiny. At 14mm, the Watch 3 Pro is clearly the thickest as well as being the largest.
GT 2 Pro: 1.39-inch AMOLED screen
Watch 3 and 3 Pro: 1.43-inch AMOLED screen
GT 2 Pro: 454 x 454 resolution – 326ppi
Watch 3 and 3 Pro: 466 x 466 resolution – 326ppi
As mentioned, all three watches have completely round screens and they’re all AMOLED and have the same pixel density. There’s a difference in size though, with both the new Watch 3 models featuring a 1.43-inch panel versus 1.39-inches on the older one. That means skinnier bezels, not a bigger watch.
More importantly, however, they have refresh rates up to 60Hz, which means you’ll get smoother and more graphic rich images and animations on it compared to the GT 2 Pro. That – of course – also means it eats more battery (more on that later).
With a peak brightness of 1000nits, that means the watches will be easier to see in daylight too. From a hardware perspective, this is the biggest – or at least most noticeable – upgrade over the Watch GT 2 Pro.
Software and Fitness tracking
GT 2 Pro: LiteOS
Watch 3/3 Pro: HarmonyOS
All: GPS, Heart Rate, spO2, steps, sleep and stress tracking
Watch 3/3 Pro: Temperature sensor
Watch 3 Pro: Precise dual-GPS location
All: Compatible with iOS and Android through Huawei health
The Watch 3 and 3 Pro are the first watches to run HarmonyOS, that means a few things have changed when it comes to the interface and software, but key elements have remained the same.
Controls are similar, although you can now view apps in a grid and even use AppGallery to install them directly from your wrist. The other addition is a fall detection feature which can be set up to call an emergency contact when you fall and don’t respond within a certain time frame.
From a fitness and health perspective, the three watches are largely similar and capable of all-day tracking for things like heart-rate, spO2, stress, sleep and steps. The new sensor on the Watch 3 series also allows skin temperature sensing.
As for the Pro, that one has a dual-GPS mode which allows for much more precise tracking during runs and outdoor sessions to give you a more accurate distance reading and mapped route.
All three are compatible with Android, iOS and HarmonyOS devices using the Huawei Health app.
Performance and battery
GT 2 Pro: 14 days battery life
Watch 3: 3 days in smart mode, 14 days in ‘Ultra-long’
Watch 3 Pro: 5 days in smart mode, 21 days in ‘Ultra-long’
GT 2 Pro: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Watch 3/3 Pro: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and eSIM/4G
What’s interesting about the Watch 3 series’ is that it has – essentially – two modes of running. You can use it as a regular smartwatch and get either three or five days of battery, or kick it into ‘ultra-long’ mode and get either two or three weeks of battery life.
What this does, sort-of, is switch the software and capabilities so that it’s very much like the Lite OS software running on the Watch GT 2 Pro. Due to its lightweight software, Watch GT 2 Pro can get up to two weeks on a full battery.
Watch 3 – as well as having Wi-Fi and Bluetooth like the GT 2 Pro – has eSIM support. This enables 4G connection on networks that support it, allowing you to stream music, answer calls and see notifications. The only downside to this is that it’s only supported by a couple of Chinese networks currently with no news on planned expansion worldwide.
GT 2 Pro: £249
Watch 3: £349
Watch 3 Pro: £499
With its higher-end internal hardware, revamped software, higher refresh screen and eSIM support it’s no surprise that the Watch 3 starts at a higher price than its predecessor.
In the UK, the standard Watch 3 starts at £100 more than the GT 2 Pro’s original price at £349. Because it’s no longer new, you can now find the GT 2 Pro even cheaper without too much trouble. The Watch 3 Pro is a pound short of £500.
When it comes to fitness and health tracking, there’s little reason to go for the Watch 3 over the Watch GT 2 Pro. It does mostly the same stuff which is then display in the same way on the watch and in your smartphone app.
Where the Watch 3 comes into its own is when it comes to the display and the richer graphics and interactions on that screen. It’s starting to feel much more like a proper smartwatch and less like a rebadged fitness tracker. With a built-in eSIM and potential to stream music and answer calls away from your phone, that’s freedom you don’t get from the Watch GT 2 Pro. Sadly though, that’s not yet available outside China.
Writing by Cam Bunton.
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