WhatsApp adds voice and video calling feature to desktop version
Technology|: Facebook Inc's WhatsApp has introduced a voice and video calling feature on its desktop version, the company said on Thursday. The company said users will be able to use desktop screens for calls in both portrait and landscape mode, and the calls will be end-to-end encrypted. The move to facilitate calls over large screens would put WhatsApp on par with video-conferencing bigwigs Zoom and Google Meet, but it is not clear if it has ambitions to compete with the two in the enterprise space. WhatsApp, which recorded 1.4 billion voice and video calls on last New Year's Eve, has benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic as people around the world used video-calling apps to stay connected while sheltering themselves at home.
iPhone 13 Pro to get ultra wide sensor-shift image stabilisation
San Francisco: Apple is reportedly planning to launch its iPhone 13 lineup and now a new report has claimed that the top variants iPhone 13 Pro, as well as Pro Max, will feature an improved ultra-wide lens with the addition of sensor-shift image stabilisation and autofocus features. According to DigiTimes, Apple will include sensor-shift OIS for both the Wide and Ultra Wide lens on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. The new lenses will also include autofocus. An earlier report had suggested that Apple will also bring the Wide lens with sensor-shift OIS to the remaining models in the lineup. Earlier, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that the Ultra Wide lens for the iPhone 13 Pro models will also benefit from a wider f/1.8 aperture, compared to f/2.4 on iPhone 12 Pro models. In addition, the upcoming iPhone 13 series will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 5G modem. According to DigiTimes, Qualcomm will continue to fabricate its next-generation 5G mobile chip, tentatively dubbed Snapdragon 895, at Samsung Electronics built using an upgraded 5nm process, but may switch to TSMC in 2022 using its 4nm process. The iPhone 13 lineup may mirror the iPhone 12 family of phones, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, 6.1-inch iPhone 13, 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. According to Barclays analysts, the iPhone 13/Pro models may feature Wi-Fi 6E. The Wi-Fi 6E provides Wi-Fi 6 features and capabilities, including higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates.
Nintendo plans switch model with bigger Samsung OLED display
Gaming|: Nintendo plans to unveil a model of its Switch gaming console equipped with a bigger Samsung OLED display this year, hoping the larger touchscreen can prop up demand in time for the holidays, people familiar with the plan said. Samsung Display will start mass production of 7-inch, 720p-resolution OLED panels as early as June with an initial monthly target of just under a million units, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The displays are slated for shipment to assemblers around July, the people said. Representatives for Nintendo and Samsung Display declined to comment. Nintendo seeks to sustain a Switch lineup that continues to sell well against the Xbox and PlayStation, thanks to pandemic-era breakout hits like Animal Crossing and a chip crunch that's plagued supply of rival devices. But the gadget is now into its fifth year, while Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. both have new and more powerful machines in the market. The gaming community has speculated online about the introduction of an OLED or organic light-emitting diode screen, but Nintendo has stayed mum and President Shuntaro Furukawa said in February his company has no plans to announce a new Switch "anytime soon." Samsung's involvement is the strongest indication that Nintendo is serious about updating the console, and on a large scale. Shares of the Kyoto-based games maker fell 3.6% in Tokyo on Thursday amid a wider market selloff. "The release of a more premium version of Nintendo's Switch console with an OLED display and support for 4K graphics for the holiday 2021 selling season could drive the company's sales above consensus for the fiscal year ending March 2022 and extend the life cycle of the Switch platform for many more years," said Bloomberg analysts Matthew Kanterman and Nathan Naidu. In February, Nintendo raised its annual forecasts after the Switch helped the company to its best quarterly earnings since 2008. The games maker hopes to sustain that run in 2021 despite stiffening competition and an ebbing pandemic. "The OLED panel will consume less battery, offer higher contrast and possibly faster response time when compared to the Switch's current liquid-crystal display," said Yoshio Tamura, co-founder of display consultancy DSCC. Nintendo decided to go with rigid OLED panels for the new model, the people said, a cheaper but less flexible alternative to the type commonly used for high-end smartphones. The latest model will also come with 4K ultra-high definition graphics when paired with TVs, they said. That could intensify a longstanding complaint of developers, who have struggled with the difference in resolution between handheld and TV modes and now face a bigger gap between the two. The deal benefits Samsung Display because market prices for so-called rigid OLED panels have been falling due to excess supply. Winning a customer like Nintendo also helps the Korean giant - an affiliate of Samsung Electronics Co. - firm up production plans. Nintendo in turn secures a valuable partner and supplier at a time semiconductor shortages are squeezing the supply of display-related components. The new display's resolution mirrors the current Switch and Switch Lite but is an upgrade from the Switch's 6.2-inch and Lite's 5.5-inch size. If the console's housing remains unchanged, the new Switch is likely to sport a thinner bezel.
People waste way more food than thought, UN finds. Here's how Canada compares
News/Technology & Science: A new UN report estimates 17 per cent of the food produced globally each year is wasted. That represents a big environmental toll. Canadians are more wasteful than Americans, the report found.
World's first 'space hotel' to open in 2027
Technology|Offbeat|: San Francisco: If you are a space enthusiast, there is more exciting news as a US-based space construction company, Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC), is planning to make the world's first "space hotel" operational within this decade. Construction of this space structure designed to accommodate about 400 people is scheduled to begin in 2025, according to the company as it revealed new details about the project. When completed, amenities available in the space hotel could range from themed restaurants, viewing lounges, movie theatres and concert venues to bars, libraries, gyms, and a health spa, Space.com reported last week. Called the Voyager Station, it is projected to operate with artificial gravity. The company is now inviting private investors to buy a stake in the company at $0.25 per share, said the report. Image Credit: Twitter/Orbital Assembly Corporation "Around 44 Starship launches will be required to send all the Voyager Station pieces in orbit, where they will then be assembled by pods and drones operated by the work crews staying in the Operation and Control Center located in the Inner Ring," OAC said in a tweet. "Voyager Station will be in a high sun synchronous polar orbit, between 500 and 550km, there it will offer tourists and other station occupants a view of the entire surface of Earth," it added. Voyager will have 24 habitation modules, each 20 metres long and 12 metres wide. The company plans to make this "space hotel" in low Earth orbit operational by 2027. It will be a rotating space station designed to produce varying levels of artificial gravity by increasing or decreasing the rate of rotation, the company says on its website, adding that artificial, or simulated, gravity is essential to long term habitation in space. The station has been designed from the start to accommodate business, manufacturing, national space agencies conducting low gravity research, and space tourists who want to experience life on a large space station with the comfort of low gravity and the feel of a luxury hotel, it added.
The science behind delaying the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccines
News/The National: Federal government scientists have put their support behind delayed second doses of COVID-19 vaccines — which several provinces were already doing — and ongoing research shows some of the benefits of the adapted strategy.
The physical and mental side effects of Zoom fatigue
News/The National: Zoom fatigue has become a pandemic side effect for people working from home. It has led to neck, back and shoulder pain, and made workers overly aware of their facial expressions because of constant videoconferencing.
Amazon's first cashierless store arrives in Britain
Retail|Companies|: Amazon.com Inc will open its first-ever physical store outside the United States on Thursday. The world’s largest online retailer said the cashierless store, dubbed “Amazon Fresh,” is located in Britain, in the London Borough of Ealing. It will carry a private UK food brand it’s calling “by Amazon” and will let consumers skip the checkout line when they shop. The opening is a sign of the Seattle-based company’s ambition to sell food globally and its belief that physical stores are a key way to capture consumers’ high spend on groceries, a category it has yet to dominate. It so far has worked toward that goal in the United States by acquiring the Whole Foods Market chain in 2017 and testing shoppers’ interests with an array of other formats: about two dozen cashierless convenience stores called Amazon Go, two Seattle-area Amazon Go Grocery stores that are about four times the size, and 10 Amazon Fresh supermarkets in California and Illinois. As in the Go stores, customers will scan a smartphone app to open the UK store’s entry gates. Ceiling cameras and shelf weight censors determine what shoppers add to their carts or put back, and their on-file credit cards are billed after they exit. The location, much smaller than a supermarket, will sell prepared meals, some groceries, and Amazon devices, as well as offer a counter for picking up and returning online orders.
SpaceX completes another successful launch of massive rocket — accompanied by another explosion after landing
News/Technology & Science: The third test of SpaceX's Starship rocket that CEO Elon Musk hopes will one day ferry humans to Mars, launched from Boca Chica, Texas, on Wednesday, and touched down softly, but exploded shortly thereafter.