Thurrott Daily: August 23

Posted on August 23, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile, Windows 10, Xbox, Xbox One with 0

Thurrott Daily: August 23

My home office in August 2003. My main PC was a Gateway Media Center PC, which I barely remember.

Tech tidbits from around the web.

8/23/2016 4:53:19 PM

WordFlow 2.0 arrives on iOS

Microsoft has released a new version of its WordFlow keyboard for iOS. Here’s what’s new:

  • Search built into the keyboard: Search for GIFs, images, and emojis to better express yourself; find contacts (when you need to share that person’s phone number); look up restaurants, news, videos, facts, weather forecasts, and much more; and new predictions, including GIFs: icons that show up as you type along with word suggestions that can help you express yourself better.
  • Control the cursor placement with 3D Touch
  • Accuracy improvements, particularly around space bar, and in arc mode
  • Support for iOS Text Replacement function
  • New themes!

Microsoft reveals HoloLens spec secrets

While we already knew that HoloLens was powered by a lowly 32-bit Intel Atom processor, The Register says that the secret horsepower behind the device comes from a customized 24-core DSP engine:

The secretive Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) is a custom-designed TSMC-fabricated 28nm coprocessor that has 24 Tensilica DSP cores arranged in 12 clusters. It has about 65 million logic gates, 8MB of SRAM, and a layer of 1GB of low-power DDR3 RAM on top, all in a 12mm-by-12mm BGA package. We understand it can perform a trillion calculations a second.

It handles all the environment sensing and other input and output necessary for the virtual-reality goggles. It aggregates data from sensors and processes the wearer’s gesture movements, all in hardware so it’s faster than the equivalent code running on a general purpose CPU. Each DSP core is given a particular task to focus on.

The unit sits alongside a 14nm Intel Atom x86 Cherry Trail system-on-chip, which has its own 1GB of RAM and runs Windows 10 and apps that take advantage of the immersive noggin-fitted display.

The details were revealed today at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California. We grabbed a snap of the slides – apologies for the blurriness, we were sitting far back to get a decent Wi-Fi signal.

Yes, the Xbox Onesie is lame

So I’ll just let Microsoft explain it.

Set to delight fashionistas and entertainment fans alike, the Xbox Australia team this week announced a limited edition ‘Xbox Onesie’ to celebrate the launch of the Xbox One S console 500 GB and 1TB SKUs in their market.

The ‘Xbox Onesie’ has been designed in collaboration with some of the country’s biggest film, TV, gaming and sports fans. The result… what can only be described as the perfect loungewear attire for true entertainment fans!

With custom features including enlarged pockets to fit controllers, forearm grips for those edge of your seat moments and an XL hood to accommodate headsets, the ‘Xbox Onesie’ comes with everything an entertainment enthusiast could need when streaming a favorite TV show or film, watching sports or embarking on the ultimate gaming session.



Samsung to start selling refurbished phones

Reuters reports that Samsung is about to copy Apple yet again: Now it’s going to start selling refurbished phones.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to launch a program to sell refurbished used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The world’s top smartphone maker will refurbish high-end phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in markets such as South Korea and the United States.

Samsung would then re-sell these phones at a lower price, the person said, declining to be identified as the plan was not yet public.

The person declined to say how big a discount the refurbished phones would be sold at, which markets the phones would be sold in or how many refurbished devices Samsung could sell.

Price hike for PlayStation Plus

It looks like the price of PlayStation Plus—Sony’s version of Xbox Live Gold—is going up. Sadly, they announced this as part of their Free Games for August 2016 post; that’s their version of Microsoft’s Games for Gold.

Starting on September 22, 2016, prices for PlayStation Plus memberships will change to $59.99 for twelve months and $24.99 USD for three months. The monthly plan will change to $11.99 CAD in Canada, and remain $9.99 USD in the U.S. If you are a current member, the new prices will take effect if your membership renews on or after this date.

Those are $10 price hikes, by the way, so Sony is now matching Xbox Live Gold pricing.

If you are a PlayStation Plus subscriber, buy now: One year is just $49.99 and 3 months is just $17.99.

Amazon wants to halve music subscription costs … but only on Echo devices

Recode has an interesting report about Amazon’s plan to bring cheaper music to Echo customers.

Amazon wants to launch a music subscription service that would work the same way services from Apple, Spotify and many others work: $10 a month, for all the music you can stream, anywhere you want to stream it.

But Amazon is also working on a second service that would differ in two significant ways from industry rivals: It would cost half the price, and it would only work on Amazon’s Echo hardware.

Industry sources say Amazon would like to launch both services in September, but has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers. One sticking point, sources say, is whether Amazon will sell the cheaper service for $4 or $5 a month.


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