Facebook chief rejects monopoly claims

Mark Zuckerberg Attends Mobile World Congress 2016

Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) denied Facebook had established a monopoly position and dismissed theories it uses smartphone microphones to spy on users, as he faced questions from US senators in the wake of a recent data scandal.

Zuckerberg was speaking in a US Senate hearing regarding Facebook’s dealings with Cambridge Analytica, after the data mining company was accused of accessing hordes of user information for political gain (an accusation the company strenuously denies).

The scandal rocked the social media giant, as it faced online campaigns for users to delete Facebook and saw its share price plummet.

During the testimony, Zuckerberg was quizzed on a range of topics including whether Facebook now had a monopoly status, and questions on the company’s competitors.

Zuckerberg said “it certainly doesn’t feel like that to me”, when asked by Senator Lindsey Graham if Facebook had a monopoly.

He, however, appeared to struggle to name a single direct rival, instead stating there were three “categories” of companies which Facebook competes with: “Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, we overlap with them in different ways.”

Graham also asked Zuckerberg to name a service which users could turn to, should they want an alternative to Facebook, to which he replied: “The average American uses eight different apps to communicate with their friends and stay in touch with people ranging from text to email.”

During the hearing, Zuckerberg also dismissed a long-running theory Facebook and its associated apps like Instagram secretly record user conversations through smartphone microphones and use the information to provide better targeted adverts.

Facebook officially denied the claims in 2016, but the issue was again raised by US Senator Gary Peters.

Zuckerberg responded by clarifying that while Facebook does have access to audio when users record videos to post on Facebook from their devices, it does not have access to microphones in any other instance.

Source: Mobile World Live

West African economy tipped for mobile-fuelled boost

A woman farmer in West Africa using her mobile device

Strong mobile subscriber growth and greater access to 3G and 4G data services will increase the mobile industry’s contribution to the West African economy to $51 billion annually in 2022, the GSMA forecast.

The Association’s The Mobile Economy: West Africa 2018 report tipped the industry to increase its contribution to the region’s economy from $37 billion in 2017 – equivalent to 6.5 per cent of GDP – to 7.7 per cent of GDP in 2022.

Its figures for 2017 reveal a mobile penetration rate of 47 per cent across the 15 countries in the Economic Community of West African States, up from 28 per cent in 2010.

Penetration is tipped to rise to 54 per cent in 2025, driven by the region’s large youth population reaching adulthood and taking mobile subscriptions. The report also points to the positive impact of continued investment from local operators in constructing 3G and 4G networks.

By 2025, the GSMA said 94 per cent of the regions’ connections will be on 3G or 4G services, compared to 36 per cent in 2017. The increased access and performance of data networks, it added, will also drive business efficiencies across a number of industries including health and finance.

GSMA chief regulatory officer John Giusti said growth in the region also relied on the support of authorities.

“Connecting a new generation of mobile subscribers across West Africa requires a new era of collaboration between industry and governments in order to implement policies that encourage network expansion, innovation and affordability,” Giusti said.

“In addition to the work of operators to expand and improve networks, significant effort from governments at all levels is needed to create the right conditions for continued investment.”

The Economic Community of West African States comprises: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Source: Mobile World Live

Huawei continues camera focus with P20 device

Huawei unveiled its latest premium smartphone, P20, which sees further adoption of the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology, accompanied by a Pro version which made the headlines for its triple camera set-up.


Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group (pictured), said the reason for the use of P20 brand rather than P11 was because of the “big jump and new technologies”, although in many ways the device is a fairly standard upgrade over 2017’s P10.

The larger device has also become Pro rather than Plus, he said, because “this time we are introducing professional camera technologies” into the smartphone. Yu pointed out the Huawei brand on the rear of the device is now vertical rather than horizontal, so it is the right way around when used in landscape mode – the orientation for traditional cameras.

Camera and AI
Dual camera smartphones have fallen into one of two camps: RGB paired with monochrome sensor, as Huawei has used, or standard and telephoto lenses, as supported by Apple’s iPhone X.

P20 Pro mixes this up, with a 40MP RGB sensor, 20MP monochrome sensor, and 8MP sensor with telephoto lens.

Developed in partnership again with Leica, the smartphone features an “exclusive Leica colour temperature sensor for better colour reproduction” and a new Leica 3x telephoto lens for long-range photography.

The standard P20 continues the model used with Huawei’s earlier dual-camera smartphones, with 12MP colour and 20MP monochrome sensors.

Huawei said the devices achieve DxOMark scores of 109 (P20 Pro) and 102 (P20), putting them ahead of Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2S – announced earlier on the same day.

The devices are powered by Huawei’s Kirin 970 chip, which includes an AI-focused neural processing unit. As with earlier devices, such as the Mate 10 and Honor View 10, this enables automatic scene selection, with the addition of AI image stabilisation, to steady night shots without a tripod.

New to the camera is 4D predictive focus, calculating moving objects and focusing on them to capture detail, and P20 also features AI-assisted composition, providing intelligent suggestions to frame group shots and landscapes.

Both P20 and P20 Pro feature a 24MP selfie camera, with “AI beautification” and 3D portrait lighting.


Design and performance
The P20 sees the screen size creeping up: while the P10 had a 5.1-inch display, P20 offers a 5.8-inch full HD+ display. Similarly, the P10 Plus featured a 5.5-inch screen, which compares with the 6.1-inch P20 Pro.

Huawei also adopted a “notch” similar to Apple’s iPhone X, although Yu pointed out it is smaller, so more space is available for on-screen notifications.

The AI features have also been extended to the audio: in partnership with Dolby, the device detects the type of audio being listened to in order to optimize performance, and the AI can also distinguish between voice and background sound to cancel out unnecessary noise.

And the smartphone also features AI-driven power management.

The device has ultra-thin bezels and “impressive screen-to-body ratios” for better viewing experiences. The smartphone comes in black, midnight blue, and “two all-new gradient colors”, twilight and pink gold, which create “vivid, yet gradual” changes of hue.

A front-mounted fingerprint scanner can also be used to fill the same role as the three on-screen buttons on Android devices, and are designed to simplify unlock and navigation while freeing-up space on the display.

Pricing for P20 starts at €649 in 4GB RAM, 128GB storage configuration, with P20 Pro at €899 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Porsche Design
Also announced was Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS, designed in partnership with the “exclusive luxury brand”, with pricing starting at €1,695.

This device shares many of the technologies of P20 Pro, including the triple camera, but features an in-display fingerprint sensor on the front (in addition to rear-mounted scanner) and 6-inch curved 2K display.

Source: Mobile World Live

Huawei launches own app store with the Huawei P20


Huawei is a giant in the smartphone world. They are in the same conversation as Samsung and Apple in terms of sales and market share. One thing Apple and Samsung have that Huawei doesn’t is a proprietary app store. Apple, of course, has the App Store and Samsung has the Galaxy Apps store. Huawei is launching their own app store called AppGallery and it will be on the Huawei P20.

appgallery1                   appgallery2

AppGallery will be available to all existing Huawei smartphones, but the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro will be the first to have it pre-installed. The app store is primarily geared towards the Asian markets with apps like Amap and WeChat. Common apps like Facebook and YouTube will also be available. The store is organized into five tabs: Featured, Category, Top, Manager, and Me. Users can rate and leave reviews in the store as well.

If you own a Huawei device, you can download AppGallery right now. Make sure you have 3rd-party app downloads enabled and visit this page on your phone. The app store will automatically start downloading. The app store should be a great addition to Huawei devices, especially those in the Asian market. Users in some areas of the world don’t have access to nearly as many apps on the Play Store. The AppGallery can help to fill that gap.

Source: xda Forum