MWC 2016: Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, and Other Things You Can Expect

MWC 2016: Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, and Other Things You Can ExpectThe annual Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona is both a launch pad and a proving ground for tech companies, many of which will launch their most important products of the year within hours of each other and compete for the world’s attention.

Over the course of the week, we’ll see a slew of smartphones, wearables, tablets, appliances, accessories, apps, and other announcements from companies both big and small. Some secrets have spilled, and some have been given away to build hype. Here’s a quick look at what we know, what we’re guessing, and what we’re hoping to see at MWC 2016.

Samsung
It’s all but officially confirmed that Samsung will be releasing its next flagship Galaxy S model right on schedule, and it now looks like there will definitely be a Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, but not a Galaxy S7 Edge+ just yet. The phones will be made of metal just like their predecessors, but will apparently make up for past compromises by supporting microSD cards and being resistant to water and dust. Battery capacity has apparently received a healthy bump.

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According to leaks, the phones will be sold with Qualcomm’s new flagship Snapdragon 820 SoC in some regions, and with Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 in others. We expect 4GB of RAM and at least 32GB of storage. There are even reports of a free VR headset being offered with each unit. Apart from those phones, the company is expected to use its launch event to show off new smartwatches, tablets, andperhaps some new VR products for 2016. Samsung’s big launch event is scheduled for Sunday and we will be there to give you live coverage.

LG
LG has kept its flagship phones out of the MWC spotlight, but is now shaking up its usual mid-year refresh schedule. The LG G5 has been confirmed for an early debut, and one of the features the company has confirmed so far is an always-on display that will show notifications without taking too much of a toll on battery life. There might also be a G5 Lite, if the latest rumours prove to be true.

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It looks like we’ll see the launch of a mid-range phone called K8, which will join the K7 and K10 which were launched at CES. We can also expect to see the newly announced X series, which looks like it will include multiple models, each with one of the flagship G-series’ features. The LG X Cam will feature twin cameras, while the X Screen will have a low-power secondary display for notifications.

We also hope to see new watches, given last year’s emphasis on the Watch Urbane series. Maybe LG will keep experimenting with new platforms and designs – its competitors have certainly done so over the past year. LG kicks of MWC-related launches with its event on Monday.

Sony
Sony could keep up its six-monthly refresh schedule with a fresh Xperia Z lineup, but if so, the company is doing a good job at keeping them under wraps. It’s more likely that we’ll see new mid-range phones and wearables, replacing older models and fleshing out Sony’s product lines.

Huawei
Huawei was one of the few companies to do anything around flagship smartphones at CES, so it isn’t entirely sure what it will pull out of its hat now. Following the Mate 8, we might see the debut of the more mainstream Huawei P9 and a few mass-market models including ones under its Honor label.

Xiaomi
Xiaomi has confirmed that it will preview the Mi 5, but launch details aren’t certain. It looks like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 will power Xiaomi’s latest high-end push, so it will be interesting to see what price point the Chinese behemoth will hit, and when it will launch the Mi 5 in India. We wouldn’t mind refreshes to the rest of the lineup as well. While the official Mi 5 launch event is in China, a media preview is scheduled in Barcelona on February 24, so be sure we will share everything we find out.

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Microsoft
With the Lumia 650 launched just this week, Microsoft might not have any new phones to show off. That said, there’s still bound to be a lot of curiosity around the Lumia 650 and its siblings, the Lumia 550, Lumia 950, and Lumia 950XL. Microsoft should also be showing off its nifty Continuum feature, and its ever-growing portfolio of apps for Android and iOS. Hopefully, there will be third-party Windows Phone devices. Beyond phones, the Surface 4 Pro and Surface Book will most likely make an appearance, plus of course a slew of Windows 10 devices in all shapes and sizes from partner companies.

Nokia
The former tech superpower managed to steal quite a bit of attention last year with its gorgeous N1 tablet, but we haven’t heard anything further post-show, and the launch we were hoping for never happened. There’s a little part of us that is really hoping Nokia will be even bolder and disclose plans to enter the Android market in a serious way.

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Lenovo
Lenovo might try to establish the positioning of the Moto lineup relative to its own Vibe and other models, but we only have indications of one major new launch, which is promised to be a ‘gorgeous’ new phone with stereo speakers. Stay tuned for more teasers as the launch date draws nearer.

Beyond the hype
Of course one of the best parts about an industry trade show is discovering new companies and being surprised by the unexpected. We can look forward to loads of startups in the IoT and wearables spaces. Health and fitness will be a huge deal, as will automotive entertainment and safety. Companies that have not typically dabbled in tech will show up in droves, touting tie-ups or experiments of their own. On the infrastructure side, buzz around 5G and new Wi-Fi and LTE standards will certainly be strong. Mobile payments might not be relevant to India right now, but several players will be pushing for their standards to become dominant.

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Noteworthy absences
HTC has launched new flagships at the past few MWCs, but there hasn’t been much noise from the company of late. It isn’t certain whether we’ll see an HTC One M10, but mid-range phones should be on display. The company is more likely to emphasise its second-generation Vive VR headset, and might dip its toes into the wearables and IoT markets. Asus was expected to have its next generation ready as well, but it looks as though the company will be keeping things low-key.

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Apple never participates at industry trade shows, but it seems very likely that it will host its own event in March to launch a new 4-inch iPhone, iPad Air, and updated Apple Watch. BlackBerry has confirmed that it will be skipping the show as well, so we won’t have any insight into its roadmap beyond the Privjust yet. Last year’s star Jolla, which launched its tablet last year, is unlikely to have anything to show off given its recent troubles.

What are you looking forward to the most from MWC 2016? Let us know in the comments below.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Can big data save the last of India’s wild tigers?

Can big data save the last of India's wild tigers?
Photo Credit: Bjorn Ognibeni/Flickr
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Traveling in small, nomadic groups, carrying knives, axes and steel traps, tiger poachers in India have long held advantages over those trying to protect the big cats. The poachers, motivated mainly by demand for tiger bones used in traditional medicine in China, return every two to three years to places where they know “every stream and rocky outcrop” and set traps along tigers’ pathways or near watering holes, said Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. They are seldom caught.

“They have unbelievable knowledge and jungle craft,” Wright said. “They will use every trick in the book.”

But a study published last August by Wright, ecologist Koustubh Sharma and colleagues could help turn the tide against tiger poaching in India, home to more than half of the global wild tiger population.

The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, applied a new method to estimate the probability of occurrence and detection of tiger crime in various areas of India, then used it to identify 73 key “hot spots” with high likelihood of tiger poaching and trafficking in tiger parts. According to the authors, it could lead to more efficient anti-poaching efforts by giving conservationists, enforcement officials and forest rangers working to save the tigers, the ability to home in on where enforcement is needed most and thus improve the odds of saving India’s imperiled national animal.

Charting patterns

Over the past few years, Sharma, a senior regional ecologist with Snow Leopard Trust and scientist with Nature Conservation Foundation, and his team wrote computer code and analysed 25,000 data points –collected since 1972 across 605 districts – on wildlife poaching crimes, including locations of confirmed tiger poaching instances and sites where tiger parts had been seized. “It’s such a huge dataset that whenever I would run the analysis cycle, it would take 20 to 25 minutes for each model,” Sharma said.

“An intelligence network is the most crucial step in curbing tiger and wildlife crime,” said Wright. More intelligence means being able to better place informers on the ground and use cell phone interceptions. It also means knowing where to target field patrols and forest ranger activities. Of utmost importance, Sharma said, is knowing where crime patterns have changed as poachers’ tactics change. That is why researchers worked to formulate modeling that could be updated regularly.

“At the end of the day we have to try to be a step ahead of the criminals,” said Sharma. “That’s what insurance companies and banks do. They do models and create projections, and invest. We have something similar. We have these models and projections, and we have to invest accordingly.”

Current hot spots for tiger crime identified by the study include some regions that surprised researchers and could likely benefit from increased enforcement. The Nepal-India border region, for instance, has had less enforcement in the past than other areas, Sharma said. The study found that the region has been under growing poaching pressure, likely due to an increase in the local tiger population and its role as a hub for trafficking tiger bones into China, Sharma said. “That is an area we are highlighting as a hot spot where policy makers should take action,” he said.

Attracting attention

The formulas used to calculate current and changing hot spots is already getting the attention of those charged with preventing illegal poaching across India.The study also found evidence that poachers prefer to use rail routes, where they can more easily blend in with millions of passengers daily. At least 17 districts far from tiger forests, including Delhi and Indore, scored high on tiger crime because they are trade hubs.

The formulas used to calculate current and changing hot spots is already getting the attention of those charged with preventing illegal poaching across India. In September, Sharma called the paper to the attention of Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India, who forwarded the findings to field managers in charge of monitoring wild tigers and fighting poachers in tiger reserves and buffer areas. Sharma noted that the methodology, combined with on-the-ground enforcement, can also be used to curb illegal poaching of other species, from leopards to pangolins.

“What we need is good technology and good enforcement on the ground,” Wright said. “Nothing can replace a human with two legs, two hands and a brain.”

Roger Drouin is a freelance environmental journalist and author. He covers species conservation, from bats to snow leopards, and energy issues. He blogs atwww.rogersoutdoorblog.com.

[“source-Scroll”]

Google Maps for Android Can Now Figure Out Where You’re Going

Google Maps for Android Can Now Figure Out Where You're Going

Google Maps is all set to receive its first major update in 2016 which brings several new features including Driving mode and more.

The new Google Maps for Android version 9.19 is currently not available on Google Play and can be expected to be rolled out soon. For those who can’t wait for the new features can download the apk which is signed by Google via APK Mirror.

One of the biggest highlights of the upcoming Maps update is the ‘intelligent’ Driving mode which essentially utilises the user’s location history and Web searches to provide traffic updates and ETA (estimated time of arrival). The new Driving mode feature is an optional feature in the new Maps update for Android. It can be enabled from a shortcut on the home screen and can also be turned on from the navigation drawer.

Android Police points out that Driving mode in the latest update is already plagued with a bug that actually makes it hard to switch on the feature. “Driving mode has to be enabled through some arcane set of steps on each device before it can actually be used,” writes Cody Toombs of Android Police. Google may fix the bug before making the new app available to all users, and so a gradual rollout could be expected.

The new Maps for Android update (version 9.19) also brings the on-screen toggle for turning on or off the turn-by-turn voice assistance. Previously, the toggle for audio was shifted to overflow menu making it harder for users to turn on or off the option while driving.

The Google Maps interface has also received minor tweaks with the Manage location settings option been switched for Timeline settings. The new setting allows users to control what the users see and restrict data usage. Some of the other additions include to option to see images from Google Photos or switch on the search option to correct an inaccurately feed location.

[“Source-Gadgets”]