Here's the thing. As happy as smartphone makers are about selling a ton of devices across the globe, they would all like to make it big in the US. It's a huge market where lots of consumers buy premium handsets -- which offer the biggest margins. However, it's not easy to gain ground here.
The US is unlike the vast majority of markets in the sense that iOS and Android share a similarly-sized slice of the pie. Making things even more difficult is the fact that Samsung pretty much wipes the floor with the competition in its corner of the market. And then there is the matter of perception. Huawei probably knows best about it, as it's been taking hits left and right over its ties to China.
As much as we'd like to think otherwise, no software is free of security issues. That's why it's important for tech companies to play an active role in finding and fixing as many bugs as possible before they're exploited. Implementing a bug bounty program can be very effective, as the product is exposed to various testing mindsets and approaches which can uncover some nasty surprises.
Netflix, which has over 100 million users across the globe, today introduces its first bug bounty program that's open to the public, with rewards that can reach $15,000 for the most-valuable findings that security researchers report.
Venezuela is the first country to create its own crytpocurrency, after it announced the oil-backed Petro last month. The coin, which is expected to make its debut on public exchanges in April, is highly controversial, and not for the usual reasons players in this market are frowned upon.
Critics say that Petro is used by the Venezuelan government to circumvent international sanctions, which is a serious-enough concern for the US government that President Trump decided to ban the use of Petro in the country.
It's been a while since Apple introduced a new product and it looks like the wait will soon be over, as today it announced its first major event of the year. It'll take place later this month and it focuses on education, one of the company's core markets.
The location for the spring event is a bit unusual, given that Apple has a perfectly good venue in its spaceship campus in Cupertino. It'll be held in Chicago, at the Chicago High School, Lane Tech, on March 27. Given the theme, we're likely to see new hardware aimed at educators and students.
The cryptocurrency market is going through a tough period right now. The cap is down significantly from the record high reached in January, Google is following Facebook in banning crypto ads and regulators are investigating ICOs, just to name a few of the problems that it's facing. However, there is some good news to report as well.
Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, today announces that it's received an e-money license in the UK, which allows it to provide payment services to its local users and, by extension, other EU customers as well.
It's become quite clear that the idea of having major updates available in a timely fashion remains a distant dream for many Android users. Lots of smartphones remain a version or two behind the latest big release of the popular operating system, even though the hardware is more than capable of handling it.
Trouble is it's not (just) obscure companies that are failing users, but major players too. Take Samsung and the Galaxy S8 for instance. The Oreo roll-out only just started, but it's based on Android 8.0 -- not 8.1, as you would expect. Fortunately, there are some exceptions, most notably OnePlus and its two most-recent flagships.
The iPhone X is the best iPhone that you can get right now, but it's most certainly not the best looking. You can probably tell where I'm going with this: the notch. It may set it apart from other smartphones, but it's a pain to look at on a $1,000 device.
Apple probably had its reasons when it decided to go with that design and, I believe, this will be improved upon in future iterations. Trouble is, other manufacturers think it's something worth copying, not avoiding like the plague. The New ZenFone 5 comes with a notch and it is not the only one. By the looks of it, the upcoming Huawei P20 will follow suit.
Laptops and detachable tablets have come a long way in recent years, becoming smaller, lighter and more energy-efficient with each new generation. But, even though they're more portable, they're not necessarily easy to use on the road as well.
What I mean by that is that connectivity remains limited to Wi-Fi for the vast majority of devices that hit the market these days. If you don't have coverage, you have to set up a hotspot on your phone. And that's a shame. However, there are some notable exceptions, with the Surface Pro with LTE Advanced being one of the most interesting of the bunch.
Although I do not consider myself a smartphone addict, I have become so used to filling up my down time with YouTube videos, learning new stuff and staying in touch with friends that I might as well call myself one. Thing is, unlike other people who say they want to disconnect, I don't. It's fair to say I don't reminisce about the days when all I could do was phone or text someone.
But I have to admit that I'm intrigued by the Light Phone 2. It's a new phone that is designed to offer as little as possible in terms of functionality, with the goal being to help users "spend quality time doing the things [they] love the most, free of distraction." It's a fresh concept, and the thing that I find the most interesting is its unique design.
It's easy to get excited about new technologies when you're privileged to live in one of the handful of markets and speak one of the few languages that tech companies support. Case in point: voice assistants. You can read about Cortana, Alexa or Google Assistant, but, chances are, for many people that's where the fun ends.
The problems are dead obvious, but, at least when it comes to Google Assistant, things will drastically improve this year, as Google today announces that it's expanding the availability of the service to include over 30 languages -- a huge increase over the eight it supports now.
Samsung kicked off the Android Oreo roll-out for the Galaxy S8 early this month, making the much-awaited update available to folks who've been part of the beta program first, with a wider rollout expected to take place shortly after.
However, due to a problem that caused unexpected reboots, Samsung pulled it a week ago. The good news is that the roll-out is back on track, with a new version now set to reach Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ users.
There is a lot of talk surrounding the potential of 5G networks. The big players in the industry have already announced their plans to support the new technology, and some have also revealed their first products to support it.
Intel is part of that crowd, announcing today that its XMM 8060 modem will enable 5G connectivity in a slew of PCs from the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft. It does not take long to realize that, among other devices, the Surface line will offer 5G support. When?
There are times when you don't need an elaborate reply to a message a friend just sent. Maybe all you need to say is "I'll be there," "No, thanks" or "Cool." However, many messaging apps do not give you the option to send these kind of smart answers, which, in this day and age, sounds like something that should be standard, given all the talk about AI and clever bots in this space.
Google has decided to do something about it, as it's working on an app, called Reply, that lets you offer smart replies to messages in many messaging apps, including Google Hangouts, Android Messages, WhatsApp, Twitter and more.
Parallels may be best known for its virtualization software for Mac, but the company is also active in the Windows scene. One of its most interesting programs is Toolbox, which, as its name suggests, offers a suite of tools to help power users make the most of their PC.
And, today, it gets an update, as Parallels releases Toolbox 1.5 for Windows. The new version adds a presentation mode, a disk cleanup tool and an option to quickly change your display's resolution.
Android and iOS users who are not happy with the stock keyboard on their device have lots of third-party options to choose from. Among the established alternatives is Swype, which has been available for nearly five years on Android and over three on iOS. It's actually one of the first third-party keyboards I tried on both platforms.
Swype, however, hasn't really caught on in quite the same way that, say, SwiftKey has, which is likely the reason why the company behind the app, Nuance, has announced that it's reached "end of development." In other words, Swype users, your favorite keyboard is now discontinued.