Google to pay $40 million for Fossil’s secret smartwatch tech

Paul Lamkin wrote for Wareable that Google agreed to pay $40 million for Fossil’s secret smartwatch tech.

The Fossil Group and Google have exclusively revealed to Wareable that Google will pay Fossil $40 million to buy intellectual property related to a smartwatch technology currently under development.

The deal, which will see some of Fossil’s R&D team joining Google, will result in the launch of a “new product innovation that’s not yet hit the market”. That’s according to Greg McKelvey, EVP and chief strategy and digital officer of the Fossil Group, who also stated to us that he sees the deal as transaction, rather than an acquisition.

This points to the success of the Apple Watch and Google is scrambling to play catch up.

Dirty PR tactics used by Qualcomm

Jack Nicas reported for The New York Times about how Facebook’s PR firm brought political trickery to tech.

While working for Qualcomm, Definers pushed the idea that Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, was a viable presidential candidate in 2020, according to a former Definers employee and digital records. Presumably, it was an attempt to chill the cordial relations that Mr. Cook had cultivated with the Trump administration.

[…]

Definers employees distributed anti-Apple research to reporters and would not say who was paying for it. Definers distributed a 13-page memo titled “Apple Bowing to Chinese Cyber Regulators” that detailed how Apple’s activity in China contradicted its public stance on privacy elsewhere. It also planted dozens of negative articles about Apple on conservative news sites, according to a person familiar with the work and emails reviewed by The New York Times.

[…]

“Definers manages NTK Network, a news aggregation platform that targets Washington D.C. influencers. Through NTK we can directly re-publish favorable news from other outlets, and work with like-minded individuals to help create an echo chamber effect,” he wrote in a copy of the proposal reviewed by The Times.

This year, NTK has published at least 57 articles criticizing Apple and Mr. Cook. Some of the posts needled Apple for issues at the center of the legal dispute between Apple and Qualcomm and repeated Qualcomm’s complaints. Apple had also started to move away from using Qualcomm chips.

“The iPhone 8 Might Be Slower Than the Competition. Here’s Why” read a headline on an April 2017 story. NTK’s answer? The iPhones don’t use Qualcomm chips.

Other stories were even more direct, like one from August about Qualcomm’s technology that concluded: “For Apple, the choice will be clear: make nice with Qualcomm, or offer a slower, inferior product to consumers.”

Would you trust a company that employs such trickery and smear campaigns?

Facebook’s ’10 Year Challenge’ is harmless, or is it?

Kate O’Neill reported for Wired about Facebook’s ’10 Year Challenge’.

Through the Facebook meme, most people have been helpfully adding that context back in (“me in 2008 and me in 2018”) as well as further info, in many cases, about where and how the pic was taken (“2008 at University of Whatever, taken by Joe; 2018 visiting New City for this year’s such-and-such event”).

In other words, thanks to this meme, there’s now a very large dataset of carefully curated photos of people from roughly 10 years ago and now.

The question is not where this meme originated from or whether it was started for malicious purposes. It is very plausible for that this data could be use to teach AI about how human ages.

China drove 40% of mobile app spending and nearly half of all downloads in 2018

Manish Sigh wrote for VentureBeat that China drove 40% of mobile app spending and nearly half of all downloads in 2018.

China, which is the world’s largest smartphone market, also accounted for nearly 40 percent of worldwide consumer spend in apps in 2018, App Annie said in its yearly “State of Mobile” report. (Note: Google Play Store is not available in China.) Global consumer spend in apps reached $101 billion last year, up 75 percent since 2016. And 74 percent of all money spent on apps last year came from games.

Staggering numbers.

In the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Australia, people had over 100 apps installed on their phones. In comparison, an average user in China and India had between 50 and 60 apps on their handsets. Regardless of the market, people never actively use a large number of these apps, App Annie said.

These numbers indicate that the app market in China and India are dominated by several big players. In China, the widespread use of WeChat mini-apps is a big factor. You can use services through WeChat without having to download the app on your phone.

Phone makers are messing with Android’s memory management

Jerry Hildenbrand wrote for Android Central about phone makers messing with Android’s memory management.

From Dontkillmyapp’s list, Nokia is the example I’ll use here, but the list of offenders includes OnePlus, Sony, and Samsung, too. Even Google itself is called out for making it difficult to exempt an app from getting “Dozed”. Nokia includes an app on every phone the company makes that runs Android Oreo or higher that kills every background process 20 minutes after the screen is turned off. That means fitness apps are never going to work, but it also means that your alarm isn’t going to go off if you have Android P.

Battery life is more important to Android phone makers than whether apps work well. App developers have to dance around the rules set by phone makers just to make apps that work as designed for Android users.

What’s your experience with Android apps on your Android phone?

Samsung Electronics fourth-quarter profit drop 29%

Reuters reported that Samsung Electronics says weak chip demand sent fourth-quarter profit well below market estimates.

Samsung Electronics surprised the market on Tuesday with an estimated 29 percent drop in quarterly profit, blaming weak chip demand in a rare commentary issued to “ease confusion” among investors already fretting about a global tech slowdown.

This comes after LG reported a drop in profit as well.

LG Electronics sees 80 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit

Reuters reported that LG Electronics expects an 80 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit; analysts point to thinning TV margins.

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter operating profit likely plummeted 80 percent from the same period a year earlier, falling well below analyst expectations.

Remember when Apple revised their estimates for the fourth quarter?

Facebook gave Spotify and Netflix access to users’ private messages

Casey Newton reported for The Verge that Facebook gave Spotify and Netflix access to users’ private messages.

I find it helpful to read the allegations in the Times’ story chronologically, starting with the integration deals, continuing with the one-off agreements, and ending with instant personalization. Do so and you read a story of a company that, after some early success growing its user base by making broad data-sharing agreements with one set of companies — OEMs — it grew more confident, and proceeded to give away more and more, often with few disclosures to users. By the time “Instant personalization” arrived, it was widely panned, and never met Facebook’s hopes for it. Shortly after it was wound down, Facebook would take action against Cambridge Analytica, and once again began placing meaningful limitations on its API.

This makes me wonder… would Facebook do the same with WhatsApp messages?

In search of the expert team member

Seth Godin wrote about the 10x lesson on finding the power contributor we all look for.

The reason that there are so few 10x contributors isn’t that we lack innate talent. It’s that our systems and our self-talk seduce us into believing that repeating 1x work to exhaustion is a safer path.

The impact of distractions is often under appreciated. Small distractions accumulate and wipe off hours each day if you allow them to intrude. Discipline isn’t easy but the few that are able to minimise distractions would soar above those who can’t.

Android phones unlocked with a 3D-printed head

Forbes reported that they broke into a bunch of Android phones with a 3D-printed head.

We tested four of the hottest handsets running Google’s operating systems and Apple’s iPhone to see how easy it’d be to break into them. We did it with a 3D-printed head. All of the Androids opened with the fake. Apple’s phone, however, was impenetrable.

FaceID is so understated and under-appreciated.