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Microsoft Surface Duo- Release Date, Specs, Features, Price

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Microsoft Surface Duo Review

There are a lot of smartphones in the market now. Most of them have bigger and vibrant displays, while some focus on more cameras than others.

But, just when we think that we cannot revolutionize smartphones anymore, there are some companies that try to push the envelope even further.

It all started when Samsung created the Galaxy Fold- a phone that held two screens together to form a bigger unit.

Microsoft also followed suit and they, too, created their own in the form of the Microsoft Surface Duo.

In this article, I will talk more about what Microsoft is offering and I will give you all of the information you need to know about this upcoming product.

Release Date and Price

In 2019, Microsoft announced that they are going to release their foldable phone/tablet in the Holidays 2020. That means that it could ship anywhere between November and December, but what’s interesting is that there are rumors circulating in the space that the product could ship much earlier than that.

Some industry pundits have gotten samples of the product already, indicating that it might release much sooner than we think. People have speculated that it could be released in August, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Microsoft Surface Duo might definitely be pushed until later this year (or early next year depending on the production).

Anyway, how much would this phone cost? Unfortunately, the company didn’t disclose any pricing yet, but if we were to look at similar products on the market such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold, for example, the Surface Duo could probably be sold at the $1500-$2000 range.

Design

The Microsoft Surface Duo is the company’s foray into the foldable smartphone market. It aims to rival the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Microsoft intends to create a much better product.

You see, while the Samsung  Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X fold only in one direction, the Microsoft Surface Duo can be folded 360 degrees. This solves the problem with durability, especially since there were some concerns that the aforementioned products could break if folded in the opposite direction.

There will be a noticeable crease or hinge in the middle of the device that will glue the two screens together. The hinge is a polished metal material which indicates that the smartphone has a premium build.

The Microsoft Surface Duo is reported to have dual 5.6-inch screens- both of which are AMOLED panels. The screen resolution will be about 1800 x 1350 and pixel density is rumored to be 401 pixels (though this is still not confirmed by the company itself).

Although this foldable smartphone tries to be as thin and svelte as possible, the materials used in the construction of this device might add heft to it.

Operating System

This foldable phone is reported to run on the Android operating system. If the company is correct in that they will release this product in the Holidays, it could potentially be shipped with Android 11 as it is the newest mobile operating system by then.

If it would be shipped much earlier than that and the said version of the mobile operating system hasn’t been released, it might be available on the market using Android 10 (but could potentially be upgradeable to Android 11 once the operating system is available to the masses).

Microsoft Surface Duo Review 2020

Features

Information about the Surface Duo’s features is still sparse, but I have collected some data that will give you an idea about how this foldable smartphone works.

Its main feature would be to use the Android operating system to fluidly shift the content between the two screens. In fact, Microsoft has released guidelines for app developers to build applications that would utilize the two enjoined screens together in a way that is not seen before.

Content consumption will also be one of its amazing features. Since it is rumored to have two AMOLED displays, the graphics on the screen will be vibrant and clear.

Now, Microsoft also intends this foldable smartphone as a productivity device and because of that, the company will also include its own stylus that will help you get more tasks done in a single day.

As smartphones become more sophisticated on the camera front, no tangible information is available yet about the product’s camera at the time of writing.

Specifications

The Surface Duo is a flagship device and, therefore, it should ship with the top of the line specs. It is very likely that the device will be shipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor unless Microsoft intends to create their own with the help of Intel, and in that case, that still remains to be seen.

The phone is also reported to have a single camera at the back of the device, though its specifics are not yet disclosed to the public (like what sensor it is, how many megapixels, and so on).

Its polished metal hinge will allow you to fold the device 360-degrees, thereby eliminating any worries about the product’s durability.

Since a foldable smartphone uses two screens at once, the product should definitely have a beefy battery to come along with it. According to a report by Windows Central, the Surface Duo could ship with a 3,460 mAh battery, but keep in mind that this is still a rumored specification and is not yet confirmed by the company.

What is the Surface Neo?

At the time when the Surface Duo was announced, it was not the only product that was showcased. The company also announced that it will have a bigger brother in the form of the Surface Neo.

When the Surface Duo is a foldable smartphone, the Surface Neo is a foldable tablet, which means that the device will have a much bigger form factor.

It is not only the physical form factor that’s changed though. The Surface Neo would use Microsoft’s Windows 10X operating system and it will have accessories available to the market that will basically turn this foldable tablet into a product that aims to go head-to-head with the Apple iPad Pro.

While both of the products have been announced at the same time, the Surface Neo will be delayed indefinitely as the company is focusing its efforts to make the Surface Duo run flawlessly.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Conclusion

The Microsoft Surface Duo is a foldable smartphone that will use the Android operating system. It aims to be better than the Huawei Mate X and the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

It is aimed for productivity tasks but the vibrant displays might also be great from a content consumption standpoint as well.

Pricing is still not official, but it could be shipped with a $1500-$2000 price tag if we were to compare it to its rivals.

The Microsoft Surface Duo is rumored to be released during the Holidays, but it could potentially be shipped much sooner than that.

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WatchOS 7- New Features and Everything You Need to Know

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WatchOS 7

Apple’s smartwatch operating system is now on its 7th iteration and although it doesn’t have grandiose features, there are some notable ones nonetheless.

Today, I am going to go over the new features and everything you need to know about WatchOS 7.

What’s New?

The new Apple smartwatch operating system will debut with the release of the Apple Watch 6 but it will also be available on a handful of older generation Apple watches as well.

Anyway, there aren’t a lot of big features included in the new update, but there are some notable ones. Here are just some of them:

1.Watch Faces and Complications

There isn’t a lot of flexibility when it comes to watch faces on Apple smartwatches and that is because the company didn’t make it open source, which means that other developers cannot chime in with their own designs.

But despite the fact that support is limited only to the company, Apple is going to be releasing some new watch faces soon that will not only make your watch look very interesting but it will also add new features and information that will surely be useful to you.

Aside from new watch faces, app developers can also make use of watch complications via a new API. That means that you can use your Apple smartwatch to find out more information about current events, weather, sports, and many others.

For example, if you are going to run a weather app, the said application can provide information about the weather condition, as well as the wind speed, temperature, etc.

2.Sleep Tracking and Wind Down Mode

Apple watches have become one of the most reliable sleep tracking devices for quite some time now and it has only been improved in the new update.

WatchOS 7 provides you with a more robust ‘Sleep’ app that can help you track your sleeping habits and provide you with some tips on how to help improve the quality of your sleep.

You will be able to set your own sleeping time, though you are encouraged to sleep at night (which can be a problem for people who are working in graveyard shifts).

To complement the Sleep app, there is also a Wind Down mode that basically mutes all incoming notifications until the time you’re supposed to wake up. This also means that the watch will not accidentally turn its lighting on whenever you flick your wrist or make watch gestures.

With the use of the watch’s different sensors, the application can record some important metrics that can help you improve your overall sleeping patterns. This is great for people that are not getting the right amount and quality of sleep.

3.Handwashing

One of the best ways to kill the Covid-19 virus is to do frequent handwashing. But, it is not just a mere gesture of wetting your hands with water and putting a little bit of soap and be done with it because there are some set rules that you have to follow to make it even more effective.

As a general rule, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. I think by now, you know the basic principles of handwashing, albeit you have to do it 20 seconds at a time.

To help you instill good handwashing habits, the WatchOS 7 can use an Apple Watch’s motion sensors, built-in AI, and microphone to ensure that you are doing it correctly.

If it senses that you are done before the 20-second mark, it will remind you to continue washing your hands. 

In addition, the watch will also remind you to wash your hands again once you come home from work or from somewhere else.

4.Fitness

It is always a good idea to strengthen your immune system and one way to do that would be to increase your daily physical activities.

The new update brings with it a new fitness app that includes four additional activities that you can track using your Apple Watch.

If you are a fan of dancing, the new fitness app can help you track a lot of popular dance routines, including Hip-hop, Latin, Bollywood, and so much more.

Aside from dance tracking, you also have options for functional strength training and core training. It is said that resistance training not only helps build muscle but it can also be good for your general health as well.

Lastly, you can also track your cooldown regimen as well. This includes some stretching and things that you can do to maximize your time after working out.

WatchOS 7 Review

5.Hearing

According to the WHO, people should not exceed listening to music at 80 decibels for more than 40 hours a week. Otherwise, your hearing will be compromised.

To help protect your ears, the new WatchOS 7 can send you timely notifications to remind you to stop listening to loud music once you’ve reached the 40-hour mark (this could be in a span of one week).

I think that most people are not going to go beyond that limit anyway, but it is still a nice feature if you forget to rest your ears.

If you are using wireless headphones, you will hear a chime that will notify you when you are close to the said limit.

6.Maps

As part of physical distancing measures, people are encouraged to ride a bike to work instead of taking public transport (this is assuming that you do not have your own car).

If you are riding a bike to work, the new feature can help plot a course that will help make your travel more seamless.

For instance, if there is a huge stairway in your path, your Apple smartwatch can plot a different course for you to take for a smoother ride.

Of course, it should go without saying that this feature is only available for LTE versions of the Apple Watch as this thing will require continuous internet connectivity to work.

7.Translation and an Improved Siri

Siri, Apple’s own AI assistant, has been vastly improved. This time, you are able to send voice-to-text commands right on your Apple Smartwatch and you can use that feature to help you translate some foreign words to your chosen language.

For instance, if you want to know the Japanese term for ‘hello’, you can say that to Siri and she will not only translate that for you but she will also say it out loud so that you will know how it is said correctly.

This is a nifty feature, especially if you are talking to some foreign clients and you want a quick way to know the meaning of certain words that you are not familiar with.

How to Get the Update?

WatchOS 7 Review 2020

The new WatchOS 7 is now available only for select Apple smartwatches. This means that your unit should be at least Apple Watch 3, Apple Watch 4, Apple Watch Series 5, and the new Apple Watch SE. Apple Watch 6, as mentioned earlier, already comes with the new operating system so you do not have to worry about anything.

There are three ways to get the update. The first one would be to open up the Watch application on your iPhone. Next, tap ‘General’ and you will find the option to install a ‘Software Update’.

Alternatively, you can also do the update process directly on your Apple smartwatch as well. To do this, head on over to Settings->General->Software Update.

Apple is employing a staggered rollout which means that you might not get notified even though the update is already available for download. The above steps can be done in order to force the watch to get the new update.

If you are patient, you can go with the third approach and just wait for the notification that will prompt you to download the new update.

There are a few things that you have to remember before initiating the update. First, you need to be connected to your WiFi router as the update will not push through if you are using an LTE connection.

Second, your Apple Watch must at least have 50% of battery before downloading and installing the update to ensure that the device won’t turn off during the entire process.

Third, do not touch the watch while it is updating. Let the entire thing install first before you can use the watch again. It is vital that the entire process is not interrupted, otherwise, you could experience a lot of issues.

WatchOS 7 Update

Conclusion

The WatchOS 7 is an iterative update, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some exciting and important features.

I am really happy about the Watch faces and complications because it just provides you with a much better user experience, especially since app developers can now introduce more watch-specific features to the masses.

The sleep tracking, handwashing, hearing, and fitness applications help you improve your overall health, especially since we are still under the effects of a global pandemic.

I also find maps and Siri’s translation services to be quite useful as well, so there are still a lot of things to be happy about with the new update.

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Xbox Series X- When Will It Be Released and What Does It Bring to the Table?

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Microsoft Xbox Series X

After months of hype and speculations, the Microsoft Xbox Series X has finally been unveiled to the public and we now know a lot more information about the upcoming game console than ever before.

In this article, I will go over the key points that you need to know about Microsoft’s console, such as release dates, pricing, new features and technologies, and so much more.

Release Date and Pricing

The Xbox Series X will be released on November 10 and pre-orders will start as early as September 22. The price of the said game console will be $499 which is in-line with Sony’s Playstation 5 disc edition.

Unlike Sony where the company has decided to employ a staggered release date for its PS5 consoles, the Microsoft Xbox Series X will be released on the same date worldwide. Of course, there is the challenge of availability considering that we are still suffering from a global pandemic, which is why pre-ordering the console (assuming that you want to get one) makes a whole lot of sense.

Design

Microsoft Xbox Series X 1

Unlike previous Xbox consoles, the Series X will actually have a more tower-like design with some air vents that can be visibly seen on top of the device.

The Series X will also feature a 4K Blu-ray player, so you could say that it is indeed quite similar to what Sony has to offer.

As of the time of writing this article, the console will only be available in black, though with the release of prior Xbox consoles, a white-colored Xbox is not too far off.

The more vertical design of the upcoming gaming machine might prove to be challenging for some people, especially when it comes to desk space. You will need to have adequate space to rest the console on the surface.

Specs

Microsoft Xbox Series X Design

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen Custom Zen 2, 8-cores/16-threads (via SMT) @3.8GHz (boost) and 3.6GHz (base)
  • GPU: AMD Custom RDNA 2 GPU with 52 Compute Units, 12 TFLOPS, and @ 1.825GHz
  • Process (nodes): 7nm Enhanced
  • Memory: 16GB GDDR6, 320-bit Bus, 10GB @ 560GB/s and GB @ 336GB/s memory bandwidth
  • Internal Storage: 1GB Custom NVMe SSD, 4.8 GB/s (read) and 2.4 GB/s (write) (both are theoretical values)
  • Storage Expansion: 1TB
  • External Storage Support: USB 3.2 External HDD
  • Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
  • Performance Target: 4K @ 60 FPS, up to 120FPS (Theoretical)

I am really very excited about the new-gen consoles because they are packed with serious hardware that allows you to play games at 4K resolution without any issues.

Just like the PS5, the Xbox Series X is also powered by a custom AMD Ryzen CPU (using Zen 2 architecture) and a custom AMD GPU (using the new RDNA2 architecture). This performance package should allow you to play games at 4K@ 60 frames per second ‘comfortably’ (at least according to Microsoft Xbox president, Phil Spencer) and it could even give you the right amount of processing power to achieve more than 60 frames per second (up to 120 frames per second, theoretically).

The CPU, according to Digital Foundry, has a base clock of 3.6GHz and it boosts up to 3.8GHz. The good thing is that the boosting algorithms will only kick in when the console needs more horsepower which can be a good thing both from a performance and thermals standpoint.

It is also worth noting that the new Xbox will support ray tracing. Thus, you can enable such a feature in the games that support it and you will not have to worry about any performance penalties at all since the hardware is more than capable.

This new and upcoming game console will also be using a custom 1TB NVMe SSD which is 100+ GB more than what the PS5 has to offer.

While Spencer didn’t mention anything specific, the SSD that comes in the Xbox Series X should be faster than any consumer SSD that you can find on the market up to this point.

This would mean that if you are going to use its expansion slot to add more storage, you will have to buy an SSD directly from Microsoft if you want to get the best performance possible out of a storage drive.

If you are okay with using an external hard drive, it can support one that is using a USB 3.2 Gen 1 cable.

The optical drive is a 4K Blu-Ray player and each game disc can hold as much as 100GB of storage (though it is more likely that each disc can contain an amount lower than that).

Features

The Microsoft Xbox Series X has a lot of nice features up its sleeve. For one, it has the new Velocity architecture that makes good use of the console’s NVMe SSD, thus virtually eliminating load times.

In line with the said technology, you will also get to enjoy the ‘Quick Resume’ feature where you can pick up right where you left off almost instantly thanks to the use of a new DirectStorage API and Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS) technologies.

The Xbox Series X will also have VRR or Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode or ALLM to provide you with a smooth gaming experience. The former will eliminate screen tearing and improve overall frame rates and the latter will ensure that it will use your chosen display’s lowest latency mode for maximum performance.

Because the Playstation 5 can support 8K resolution, Phil Spencer also said that the Microsoft Xbox Series X can also handle that as well, though it remains to be seen if the gaming experience will be somewhat enjoyable, given how taxing the said resolution can be.

Controller

Microsoft Xbox Series X Controller

Unlike the DualSense controller that comes with the PS5, not much is known about the Series X’s controller. Spencer did say that it will have a slimmer form factor and its D-Pad is vastly improved (to mimic the Xbox Elite controller which is a 3rd-party peripheral).

The rumble motors are reported to make a comeback, though I do not know if it will be a better implementation than the haptics that are embedded in the DualSense controller.

It seems that lowering the latency is one of the top priorities of the company as Spencer said that it will have a Dynamic Latency Input feature that will significantly reduce the input lag of the said controller. Of course, this will be tested in our review once the unit is available.

Games

It is a bit of a disappointment that Halo Infinite, which used to be a launch title, is delayed until 2021. There are still plenty of different games, however, and here are just some of the most notable ones:

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • As Dusk Falls
  • Avowed
  • Battlefield 6
  • Borderlands 3
  • Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War
  • Chivalry 2
  • Control: Ultimate Edition
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Dirt 5
  • Dragon Age 4
  • Dying Light 2
  • Everwild
  • Exomecha
  • Fable
  • Far Cry 6
  • FIFA 21
  • Gears 5
  • Graven
  • Hood: Outlaws and Legends
  • Hogwarts Legacy
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • New Genesis: Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Rainbow Six Quarantine
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Scarlet Nexus
  • Scorn
  • State of Decay 3
  • Watch Dogs: Legion

Backward Compatibility and Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft Xbox Series X Game Pass

A lot of people were disappointed by the fact that the Playstation 5 only supports PS4 games and is not backward compatible with the older generation Playstation consoles. The Microsoft Xbox Series X is different.

You see, it not only supports all of the games from its predecessor’s content portfolio, but it will also support most of the games of the older generation platforms as well. This means that even the original Xbox games are playable on the new game console which is a really good thing.

You would want to register for the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate so that you can unlock all of the games. It is worth noting that by getting the game pass, you also have the privilege of using the company’s xCloud feature that allows you to play Xbox games while you are on the go. Think of this as an improved version of Google Stadia.

Conclusion

I am really impressed with what the Microsoft Xbox Series X has to offer. Aside from its very powerful hardware, its new features and technologies will certainly improve your gaming experience manifold.

By getting the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you get to enjoy your favorite Xbox games while on the go, while also unlocking all of the possible older-generation games that are playable on the new platform.

It remains to be seen if the new controller is better, but I am eager to find out if the new low latency feature can truly decrease input lag by a lot.

Remember that you can already pre-order your own unit today and the console will be officially released on November 10 in all regions. It costs $499.

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TikTok and WeChat Bans- What We Know So Far

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Tiktok and WeChat Ban

It seems that President Trump’s ban on Chinese tech giants are in full swing after one of the most powerful men in the world issued bans on popular Chinese-owned apps: TikTok and WeChat.

TikTok is a popular platform that allows people to record and upload user-generated content, which is essentially a means of uploading viral content over the internet.

WeChat is a chat platform that also includes a payment portal and a news corner. It is a more robust application that could potentially be a problem when it comes to your data and privacy in general, at least, that’s what Trump thinks.

The Ban

Tiktok Ban

In a previous post, President Trump has given ByteDance, the company that created TikTok, about 45 days for them to reach an agreement with Microsoft. If a deal doesn’t push through, the application will no longer be allowed to operate in the U.S. Apparently, there is a new deal that was made and the stakeholder is a different company now.

Oracle has won the bidding war so instead of Microsoft making a deal with the Chinese-based company, it is now Oracle that will take the helm. The company was supposed to oversee the deal but apparently, it couldn’t reach an accord with ByteDance, which prompted Trump to remind the Chinese company that it only had until November 12 to operate.

In what appears to be an insult to ByteDance, Trump also added that its popular application will no longer be available in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store starting Sunday, September 20.

On a similar note, WeChat also suffers the same fate as the president of the United States have also issued an order for the US-owned mobile operating system giants to remove the said application in their respective app stores.

At the time of writing, both Apple and Google haven’t issued any statements but they did mention in the past that they are going to abide by the laws of the country.

President Trump, on Friday, has issued an ultimatum where the popular Chinese export will no longer be able to operate within U.S. soil if it cannot reach a deal with Oracle.

ByteDance representatives, as well as the Chinese government, were adamant against the decision stating that ByteDance was not given a chance of due process. The Chinese government is mulling over the possibility of doing the same with US-owned companies, so we could see some ramifications of this particular threat made by Trump.

Apparently, the ban on both WeChat and TikTok spawned over fears that the Chinese-owned apps are getting private data from its consumers.

There is some truth to this in the sense that TikTok wants to gain access to a lot of permissions that have no integral bearing on the app’s features, which is kind of fishy when you really think about it.

But, in a statement that was released by ByteDance, the only information that was extracted from users is data that the users are willing to share and nothing else. This is also stipulated in the terms and conditions and if users agreed to this, then the app developer has the right to the data.

Some Hope

ByteDance is probably happy by the fact that it has received quite a number of downloads on Saturday, the supposed last day that American citizens can download the application.

True enough, in a statement that was released by the said company, it had received an 800% surge in users over the weekend- something that was unprecedented in recent times.

Just a reminder, you can still use TikTok on your mobile device until November 12 (or longer, depending on whether or not Oracle and ByteDance will reach an agreement).

An update on the deal: Trump’s administration wants Walmart to join the agreement, which would mean that both Oracle and Walmart will be major stakeholders of ByteDance.

It is also worth noting that both of the US-based companies will only own about 20% of the entire share of the company. That means that ByteDance will still own the vast majority of TikTok and other future applications that are going to be developed.

The move is just to ensure that the Chinese-based company will not overstep its boundaries, especially when it comes to national security.

What About WeChat?

WeChat Ban

It still remains to be seen whether or not WeChat will be permanently banned in the U.S. or not, but American users will no longer be able to use the said application until further notice.

Judge Laurel Beeler, one of the judges that handled the case, said that the ban has created a lot of serious questions about the First Amendment rights of some Chinese-Americans.

Apparently, WeChat is the only chat application that is allowed to operate within Chinese soil, so banning this application in the U.S. would mean that some Chinese people who are not fluent in English, will have a hard time communicating with their relatives in China.

I think it is precisely because of this reason why Trump and his administration wants to ban WeChat. It apparently has the means of communicating some sensitive data from American citizens that could potentially be used and be weaponized by the Chinese government. Although these claims could potentially be true, there is no tangible evidence to suggest that this is indeed the case.

While TikTok could still be used by Americans until Walmart and Oracle are able to reach a deal, the same cannot be said for WeChat.

The good thing is that there tons of other messaging apps that American citizens can use, but this will certainly not bode well for the Chinese-American community.

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Microsoft Surface Duo- Release Date, Specs, Features, Price

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Microsoft Surface Duo Review

There are a lot of smartphones in the market now. Most of them have bigger and vibrant displays, while some focus on more cameras than others.

But, just when we think that we cannot revolutionize smartphones anymore, there are some companies that try to push the envelope even further.

It all started when Samsung created the Galaxy Fold- a phone that held two screens together to form a bigger unit.

Microsoft also followed suit and they, too, created their own in the form of the Microsoft Surface Duo.

In this article, I will talk more about what Microsoft is offering and I will give you all of the information you need to know about this upcoming product.

Release Date and Price

In 2019, Microsoft announced that they are going to release their foldable phone/tablet in the Holidays 2020. That means that it could ship anywhere between November and December, but what’s interesting is that there are rumors circulating in the space that the product could ship much earlier than that.

Some industry pundits have gotten samples of the product already, indicating that it might release much sooner than we think. People have speculated that it could be released in August, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Microsoft Surface Duo might definitely be pushed until later this year (or early next year depending on the production).

Anyway, how much would this phone cost? Unfortunately, the company didn’t disclose any pricing yet, but if we were to look at similar products on the market such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold, for example, the Surface Duo could probably be sold at the $1500-$2000 range.

Design

The Microsoft Surface Duo is the company’s foray into the foldable smartphone market. It aims to rival the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Microsoft intends to create a much better product.

You see, while the Samsung  Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X fold only in one direction, the Microsoft Surface Duo can be folded 360 degrees. This solves the problem with durability, especially since there were some concerns that the aforementioned products could break if folded in the opposite direction.

There will be a noticeable crease or hinge in the middle of the device that will glue the two screens together. The hinge is a polished metal material which indicates that the smartphone has a premium build.

The Microsoft Surface Duo is reported to have dual 5.6-inch screens- both of which are AMOLED panels. The screen resolution will be about 1800 x 1350 and pixel density is rumored to be 401 pixels (though this is still not confirmed by the company itself).

Although this foldable smartphone tries to be as thin and svelte as possible, the materials used in the construction of this device might add heft to it.

Operating System

This foldable phone is reported to run on the Android operating system. If the company is correct in that they will release this product in the Holidays, it could potentially be shipped with Android 11 as it is the newest mobile operating system by then.

If it would be shipped much earlier than that and the said version of the mobile operating system hasn’t been released, it might be available on the market using Android 10 (but could potentially be upgradeable to Android 11 once the operating system is available to the masses).

Microsoft Surface Duo Review 2020

Features

Information about the Surface Duo’s features is still sparse, but I have collected some data that will give you an idea about how this foldable smartphone works.

Its main feature would be to use the Android operating system to fluidly shift the content between the two screens. In fact, Microsoft has released guidelines for app developers to build applications that would utilize the two enjoined screens together in a way that is not seen before.

Content consumption will also be one of its amazing features. Since it is rumored to have two AMOLED displays, the graphics on the screen will be vibrant and clear.

Now, Microsoft also intends this foldable smartphone as a productivity device and because of that, the company will also include its own stylus that will help you get more tasks done in a single day.

As smartphones become more sophisticated on the camera front, no tangible information is available yet about the product’s camera at the time of writing.

Specifications

The Surface Duo is a flagship device and, therefore, it should ship with the top of the line specs. It is very likely that the device will be shipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor unless Microsoft intends to create their own with the help of Intel, and in that case, that still remains to be seen.

The phone is also reported to have a single camera at the back of the device, though its specifics are not yet disclosed to the public (like what sensor it is, how many megapixels, and so on).

Its polished metal hinge will allow you to fold the device 360-degrees, thereby eliminating any worries about the product’s durability.

Since a foldable smartphone uses two screens at once, the product should definitely have a beefy battery to come along with it. According to a report by Windows Central, the Surface Duo could ship with a 3,460 mAh battery, but keep in mind that this is still a rumored specification and is not yet confirmed by the company.

What is the Surface Neo?

At the time when the Surface Duo was announced, it was not the only product that was showcased. The company also announced that it will have a bigger brother in the form of the Surface Neo.

When the Surface Duo is a foldable smartphone, the Surface Neo is a foldable tablet, which means that the device will have a much bigger form factor.

It is not only the physical form factor that’s changed though. The Surface Neo would use Microsoft’s Windows 10X operating system and it will have accessories available to the market that will basically turn this foldable tablet into a product that aims to go head-to-head with the Apple iPad Pro.

While both of the products have been announced at the same time, the Surface Neo will be delayed indefinitely as the company is focusing its efforts to make the Surface Duo run flawlessly.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Conclusion

The Microsoft Surface Duo is a foldable smartphone that will use the Android operating system. It aims to be better than the Huawei Mate X and the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

It is aimed for productivity tasks but the vibrant displays might also be great from a content consumption standpoint as well.

Pricing is still not official, but it could be shipped with a $1500-$2000 price tag if we were to compare it to its rivals.

The Microsoft Surface Duo is rumored to be released during the Holidays, but it could potentially be shipped much sooner than that.

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WatchOS 7- New Features and Everything You Need to Know

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WatchOS 7

Apple’s smartwatch operating system is now on its 7th iteration and although it doesn’t have grandiose features, there are some notable ones nonetheless.

Today, I am going to go over the new features and everything you need to know about WatchOS 7.

What’s New?

The new Apple smartwatch operating system will debut with the release of the Apple Watch 6 but it will also be available on a handful of older generation Apple watches as well.

Anyway, there aren’t a lot of big features included in the new update, but there are some notable ones. Here are just some of them:

1.Watch Faces and Complications

There isn’t a lot of flexibility when it comes to watch faces on Apple smartwatches and that is because the company didn’t make it open source, which means that other developers cannot chime in with their own designs.

But despite the fact that support is limited only to the company, Apple is going to be releasing some new watch faces soon that will not only make your watch look very interesting but it will also add new features and information that will surely be useful to you.

Aside from new watch faces, app developers can also make use of watch complications via a new API. That means that you can use your Apple smartwatch to find out more information about current events, weather, sports, and many others.

For example, if you are going to run a weather app, the said application can provide information about the weather condition, as well as the wind speed, temperature, etc.

2.Sleep Tracking and Wind Down Mode

Apple watches have become one of the most reliable sleep tracking devices for quite some time now and it has only been improved in the new update.

WatchOS 7 provides you with a more robust ‘Sleep’ app that can help you track your sleeping habits and provide you with some tips on how to help improve the quality of your sleep.

You will be able to set your own sleeping time, though you are encouraged to sleep at night (which can be a problem for people who are working in graveyard shifts).

To complement the Sleep app, there is also a Wind Down mode that basically mutes all incoming notifications until the time you’re supposed to wake up. This also means that the watch will not accidentally turn its lighting on whenever you flick your wrist or make watch gestures.

With the use of the watch’s different sensors, the application can record some important metrics that can help you improve your overall sleeping patterns. This is great for people that are not getting the right amount and quality of sleep.

3.Handwashing

One of the best ways to kill the Covid-19 virus is to do frequent handwashing. But, it is not just a mere gesture of wetting your hands with water and putting a little bit of soap and be done with it because there are some set rules that you have to follow to make it even more effective.

As a general rule, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. I think by now, you know the basic principles of handwashing, albeit you have to do it 20 seconds at a time.

To help you instill good handwashing habits, the WatchOS 7 can use an Apple Watch’s motion sensors, built-in AI, and microphone to ensure that you are doing it correctly.

If it senses that you are done before the 20-second mark, it will remind you to continue washing your hands. 

In addition, the watch will also remind you to wash your hands again once you come home from work or from somewhere else.

4.Fitness

It is always a good idea to strengthen your immune system and one way to do that would be to increase your daily physical activities.

The new update brings with it a new fitness app that includes four additional activities that you can track using your Apple Watch.

If you are a fan of dancing, the new fitness app can help you track a lot of popular dance routines, including Hip-hop, Latin, Bollywood, and so much more.

Aside from dance tracking, you also have options for functional strength training and core training. It is said that resistance training not only helps build muscle but it can also be good for your general health as well.

Lastly, you can also track your cooldown regimen as well. This includes some stretching and things that you can do to maximize your time after working out.

WatchOS 7 Review

5.Hearing

According to the WHO, people should not exceed listening to music at 80 decibels for more than 40 hours a week. Otherwise, your hearing will be compromised.

To help protect your ears, the new WatchOS 7 can send you timely notifications to remind you to stop listening to loud music once you’ve reached the 40-hour mark (this could be in a span of one week).

I think that most people are not going to go beyond that limit anyway, but it is still a nice feature if you forget to rest your ears.

If you are using wireless headphones, you will hear a chime that will notify you when you are close to the said limit.

6.Maps

As part of physical distancing measures, people are encouraged to ride a bike to work instead of taking public transport (this is assuming that you do not have your own car).

If you are riding a bike to work, the new feature can help plot a course that will help make your travel more seamless.

For instance, if there is a huge stairway in your path, your Apple smartwatch can plot a different course for you to take for a smoother ride.

Of course, it should go without saying that this feature is only available for LTE versions of the Apple Watch as this thing will require continuous internet connectivity to work.

7.Translation and an Improved Siri

Siri, Apple’s own AI assistant, has been vastly improved. This time, you are able to send voice-to-text commands right on your Apple Smartwatch and you can use that feature to help you translate some foreign words to your chosen language.

For instance, if you want to know the Japanese term for ‘hello’, you can say that to Siri and she will not only translate that for you but she will also say it out loud so that you will know how it is said correctly.

This is a nifty feature, especially if you are talking to some foreign clients and you want a quick way to know the meaning of certain words that you are not familiar with.

How to Get the Update?

WatchOS 7 Review 2020

The new WatchOS 7 is now available only for select Apple smartwatches. This means that your unit should be at least Apple Watch 3, Apple Watch 4, Apple Watch Series 5, and the new Apple Watch SE. Apple Watch 6, as mentioned earlier, already comes with the new operating system so you do not have to worry about anything.

There are three ways to get the update. The first one would be to open up the Watch application on your iPhone. Next, tap ‘General’ and you will find the option to install a ‘Software Update’.

Alternatively, you can also do the update process directly on your Apple smartwatch as well. To do this, head on over to Settings->General->Software Update.

Apple is employing a staggered rollout which means that you might not get notified even though the update is already available for download. The above steps can be done in order to force the watch to get the new update.

If you are patient, you can go with the third approach and just wait for the notification that will prompt you to download the new update.

There are a few things that you have to remember before initiating the update. First, you need to be connected to your WiFi router as the update will not push through if you are using an LTE connection.

Second, your Apple Watch must at least have 50% of battery before downloading and installing the update to ensure that the device won’t turn off during the entire process.

Third, do not touch the watch while it is updating. Let the entire thing install first before you can use the watch again. It is vital that the entire process is not interrupted, otherwise, you could experience a lot of issues.

WatchOS 7 Update

Conclusion

The WatchOS 7 is an iterative update, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some exciting and important features.

I am really happy about the Watch faces and complications because it just provides you with a much better user experience, especially since app developers can now introduce more watch-specific features to the masses.

The sleep tracking, handwashing, hearing, and fitness applications help you improve your overall health, especially since we are still under the effects of a global pandemic.

I also find maps and Siri’s translation services to be quite useful as well, so there are still a lot of things to be happy about with the new update.

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Xbox Series X- When Will It Be Released and What Does It Bring to the Table?

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Microsoft Xbox Series X

After months of hype and speculations, the Microsoft Xbox Series X has finally been unveiled to the public and we now know a lot more information about the upcoming game console than ever before.

In this article, I will go over the key points that you need to know about Microsoft’s console, such as release dates, pricing, new features and technologies, and so much more.

Release Date and Pricing

The Xbox Series X will be released on November 10 and pre-orders will start as early as September 22. The price of the said game console will be $499 which is in-line with Sony’s Playstation 5 disc edition.

Unlike Sony where the company has decided to employ a staggered release date for its PS5 consoles, the Microsoft Xbox Series X will be released on the same date worldwide. Of course, there is the challenge of availability considering that we are still suffering from a global pandemic, which is why pre-ordering the console (assuming that you want to get one) makes a whole lot of sense.

Design

Microsoft Xbox Series X 1

Unlike previous Xbox consoles, the Series X will actually have a more tower-like design with some air vents that can be visibly seen on top of the device.

The Series X will also feature a 4K Blu-ray player, so you could say that it is indeed quite similar to what Sony has to offer.

As of the time of writing this article, the console will only be available in black, though with the release of prior Xbox consoles, a white-colored Xbox is not too far off.

The more vertical design of the upcoming gaming machine might prove to be challenging for some people, especially when it comes to desk space. You will need to have adequate space to rest the console on the surface.

Specs

Microsoft Xbox Series X Design

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen Custom Zen 2, 8-cores/16-threads (via SMT) @3.8GHz (boost) and 3.6GHz (base)
  • GPU: AMD Custom RDNA 2 GPU with 52 Compute Units, 12 TFLOPS, and @ 1.825GHz
  • Process (nodes): 7nm Enhanced
  • Memory: 16GB GDDR6, 320-bit Bus, 10GB @ 560GB/s and GB @ 336GB/s memory bandwidth
  • Internal Storage: 1GB Custom NVMe SSD, 4.8 GB/s (read) and 2.4 GB/s (write) (both are theoretical values)
  • Storage Expansion: 1TB
  • External Storage Support: USB 3.2 External HDD
  • Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
  • Performance Target: 4K @ 60 FPS, up to 120FPS (Theoretical)

I am really very excited about the new-gen consoles because they are packed with serious hardware that allows you to play games at 4K resolution without any issues.

Just like the PS5, the Xbox Series X is also powered by a custom AMD Ryzen CPU (using Zen 2 architecture) and a custom AMD GPU (using the new RDNA2 architecture). This performance package should allow you to play games at 4K@ 60 frames per second ‘comfortably’ (at least according to Microsoft Xbox president, Phil Spencer) and it could even give you the right amount of processing power to achieve more than 60 frames per second (up to 120 frames per second, theoretically).

The CPU, according to Digital Foundry, has a base clock of 3.6GHz and it boosts up to 3.8GHz. The good thing is that the boosting algorithms will only kick in when the console needs more horsepower which can be a good thing both from a performance and thermals standpoint.

It is also worth noting that the new Xbox will support ray tracing. Thus, you can enable such a feature in the games that support it and you will not have to worry about any performance penalties at all since the hardware is more than capable.

This new and upcoming game console will also be using a custom 1TB NVMe SSD which is 100+ GB more than what the PS5 has to offer.

While Spencer didn’t mention anything specific, the SSD that comes in the Xbox Series X should be faster than any consumer SSD that you can find on the market up to this point.

This would mean that if you are going to use its expansion slot to add more storage, you will have to buy an SSD directly from Microsoft if you want to get the best performance possible out of a storage drive.

If you are okay with using an external hard drive, it can support one that is using a USB 3.2 Gen 1 cable.

The optical drive is a 4K Blu-Ray player and each game disc can hold as much as 100GB of storage (though it is more likely that each disc can contain an amount lower than that).

Features

The Microsoft Xbox Series X has a lot of nice features up its sleeve. For one, it has the new Velocity architecture that makes good use of the console’s NVMe SSD, thus virtually eliminating load times.

In line with the said technology, you will also get to enjoy the ‘Quick Resume’ feature where you can pick up right where you left off almost instantly thanks to the use of a new DirectStorage API and Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS) technologies.

The Xbox Series X will also have VRR or Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode or ALLM to provide you with a smooth gaming experience. The former will eliminate screen tearing and improve overall frame rates and the latter will ensure that it will use your chosen display’s lowest latency mode for maximum performance.

Because the Playstation 5 can support 8K resolution, Phil Spencer also said that the Microsoft Xbox Series X can also handle that as well, though it remains to be seen if the gaming experience will be somewhat enjoyable, given how taxing the said resolution can be.

Controller

Microsoft Xbox Series X Controller

Unlike the DualSense controller that comes with the PS5, not much is known about the Series X’s controller. Spencer did say that it will have a slimmer form factor and its D-Pad is vastly improved (to mimic the Xbox Elite controller which is a 3rd-party peripheral).

The rumble motors are reported to make a comeback, though I do not know if it will be a better implementation than the haptics that are embedded in the DualSense controller.

It seems that lowering the latency is one of the top priorities of the company as Spencer said that it will have a Dynamic Latency Input feature that will significantly reduce the input lag of the said controller. Of course, this will be tested in our review once the unit is available.

Games

It is a bit of a disappointment that Halo Infinite, which used to be a launch title, is delayed until 2021. There are still plenty of different games, however, and here are just some of the most notable ones:

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • As Dusk Falls
  • Avowed
  • Battlefield 6
  • Borderlands 3
  • Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War
  • Chivalry 2
  • Control: Ultimate Edition
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Dirt 5
  • Dragon Age 4
  • Dying Light 2
  • Everwild
  • Exomecha
  • Fable
  • Far Cry 6
  • FIFA 21
  • Gears 5
  • Graven
  • Hood: Outlaws and Legends
  • Hogwarts Legacy
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • New Genesis: Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Rainbow Six Quarantine
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Scarlet Nexus
  • Scorn
  • State of Decay 3
  • Watch Dogs: Legion

Backward Compatibility and Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft Xbox Series X Game Pass

A lot of people were disappointed by the fact that the Playstation 5 only supports PS4 games and is not backward compatible with the older generation Playstation consoles. The Microsoft Xbox Series X is different.

You see, it not only supports all of the games from its predecessor’s content portfolio, but it will also support most of the games of the older generation platforms as well. This means that even the original Xbox games are playable on the new game console which is a really good thing.

You would want to register for the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate so that you can unlock all of the games. It is worth noting that by getting the game pass, you also have the privilege of using the company’s xCloud feature that allows you to play Xbox games while you are on the go. Think of this as an improved version of Google Stadia.

Conclusion

I am really impressed with what the Microsoft Xbox Series X has to offer. Aside from its very powerful hardware, its new features and technologies will certainly improve your gaming experience manifold.

By getting the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you get to enjoy your favorite Xbox games while on the go, while also unlocking all of the possible older-generation games that are playable on the new platform.

It remains to be seen if the new controller is better, but I am eager to find out if the new low latency feature can truly decrease input lag by a lot.

Remember that you can already pre-order your own unit today and the console will be officially released on November 10 in all regions. It costs $499.

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TikTok and WeChat Bans- What We Know So Far

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Tiktok and WeChat Ban

It seems that President Trump’s ban on Chinese tech giants are in full swing after one of the most powerful men in the world issued bans on popular Chinese-owned apps: TikTok and WeChat.

TikTok is a popular platform that allows people to record and upload user-generated content, which is essentially a means of uploading viral content over the internet.

WeChat is a chat platform that also includes a payment portal and a news corner. It is a more robust application that could potentially be a problem when it comes to your data and privacy in general, at least, that’s what Trump thinks.

The Ban

Tiktok Ban

In a previous post, President Trump has given ByteDance, the company that created TikTok, about 45 days for them to reach an agreement with Microsoft. If a deal doesn’t push through, the application will no longer be allowed to operate in the U.S. Apparently, there is a new deal that was made and the stakeholder is a different company now.

Oracle has won the bidding war so instead of Microsoft making a deal with the Chinese-based company, it is now Oracle that will take the helm. The company was supposed to oversee the deal but apparently, it couldn’t reach an accord with ByteDance, which prompted Trump to remind the Chinese company that it only had until November 12 to operate.

In what appears to be an insult to ByteDance, Trump also added that its popular application will no longer be available in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store starting Sunday, September 20.

On a similar note, WeChat also suffers the same fate as the president of the United States have also issued an order for the US-owned mobile operating system giants to remove the said application in their respective app stores.

At the time of writing, both Apple and Google haven’t issued any statements but they did mention in the past that they are going to abide by the laws of the country.

President Trump, on Friday, has issued an ultimatum where the popular Chinese export will no longer be able to operate within U.S. soil if it cannot reach a deal with Oracle.

ByteDance representatives, as well as the Chinese government, were adamant against the decision stating that ByteDance was not given a chance of due process. The Chinese government is mulling over the possibility of doing the same with US-owned companies, so we could see some ramifications of this particular threat made by Trump.

Apparently, the ban on both WeChat and TikTok spawned over fears that the Chinese-owned apps are getting private data from its consumers.

There is some truth to this in the sense that TikTok wants to gain access to a lot of permissions that have no integral bearing on the app’s features, which is kind of fishy when you really think about it.

But, in a statement that was released by ByteDance, the only information that was extracted from users is data that the users are willing to share and nothing else. This is also stipulated in the terms and conditions and if users agreed to this, then the app developer has the right to the data.

Some Hope

ByteDance is probably happy by the fact that it has received quite a number of downloads on Saturday, the supposed last day that American citizens can download the application.

True enough, in a statement that was released by the said company, it had received an 800% surge in users over the weekend- something that was unprecedented in recent times.

Just a reminder, you can still use TikTok on your mobile device until November 12 (or longer, depending on whether or not Oracle and ByteDance will reach an agreement).

An update on the deal: Trump’s administration wants Walmart to join the agreement, which would mean that both Oracle and Walmart will be major stakeholders of ByteDance.

It is also worth noting that both of the US-based companies will only own about 20% of the entire share of the company. That means that ByteDance will still own the vast majority of TikTok and other future applications that are going to be developed.

The move is just to ensure that the Chinese-based company will not overstep its boundaries, especially when it comes to national security.

What About WeChat?

WeChat Ban

It still remains to be seen whether or not WeChat will be permanently banned in the U.S. or not, but American users will no longer be able to use the said application until further notice.

Judge Laurel Beeler, one of the judges that handled the case, said that the ban has created a lot of serious questions about the First Amendment rights of some Chinese-Americans.

Apparently, WeChat is the only chat application that is allowed to operate within Chinese soil, so banning this application in the U.S. would mean that some Chinese people who are not fluent in English, will have a hard time communicating with their relatives in China.

I think it is precisely because of this reason why Trump and his administration wants to ban WeChat. It apparently has the means of communicating some sensitive data from American citizens that could potentially be used and be weaponized by the Chinese government. Although these claims could potentially be true, there is no tangible evidence to suggest that this is indeed the case.

While TikTok could still be used by Americans until Walmart and Oracle are able to reach a deal, the same cannot be said for WeChat.

The good thing is that there tons of other messaging apps that American citizens can use, but this will certainly not bode well for the Chinese-American community.

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