Mobile Digest: Buckle up, the era of foldable smartphones is upon us
Samsung and ZTE are on the brink of foldable smartphones, as Microsoft waves goodbye to the Windows Phone. Andrew Tolve reports.
In the news
Samsung confirmed that it plans to bring a foldable smartphone dubbed the Galaxy X to market next year. The phone will have dual screens that hinge in the middle, allowing them to fold out into a tablet-esque handset or fold in to a svelte smartphone that fits in your pocket. This could be a major game changer in a market that has grown so inundated with options that every new generation of hardware feels more redundant than innovative. And Samsung may not even be the frontrunner with foldable tech. Rumors are swirling that ZTE is on the precipice of unveiling a folding smartphone that opens to a 6.8-inch display. That’s just an inch shy of an iPhone mini and almost an inch larger than any phablet that Samsung or Apple have ever put on the market. ZTE has a special event planned for NYC on October 17. VentureBeat is reporting that the phone will retail for $650.
In the money
Netflix is betting that the majority of its users in America don’t care about a buck. The streaming service is raising the cost of its primary streaming package from $10 to $11, a small bump that the company hopes will pay major dividends in its ability to bring in top-notch content. Netflix says that it plans to spend $6 billion in 2018 on programming in an attempt to outclass Hulu, HBO, YouTube and Amazon.
In other news
The Windows Phone is dead. The head of Microsoft Windows said as much on Twitter, admitting that his division doesn’t plan to bring out any new hardware or new features ever again for the Windows Phone. The company will continue to support the platform, fixing bugs and updating security so that existing users aren’t left out in the rain, but that’s about it.
Twitter is experimenting with doubling its 140-character limit to 280. The company is randomly selecting users around the world to participate in a trial with longer tweets and plans to collect data that analyzes which markets and which languages respond best to the longer limits. The goal is to eliminate user frustration at being constantly cut off mid-sentence. No word yet on the trial size.
Google debuted the second generation of its handset, the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The phone stands out for its camera, which has raked in off-the-chart ratings for its clarity and versatility; rating site DxOMark rated it as the best smartphone camera of all time. The phones also come with Google Lens as standard, allowing them to recognize and identify whatever objects that the phone’s camera is pointed at. The phone starts at $649 exclusively through Verizon.
Rumors suggest that Apple is headed for big delays on the iPhone X due to trouble with the phone’s new facial recognition software. The phone is supposed to go on sale November 3 — if Apple can manage to straighten out the 3D sensor that enables the facial recognition feature and ramp up production in a matter of days. Apple is banking on the iPhone X to buoy 2017 sales given tepid consumer response to the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
Uber has racked up nearly 900,000 signatures through a petition on change.org called “Save Your Uber in London.” The ridehailing giant is facing an embarrassing and costly ouster from Britain’s capital after Transport of London announced that Uber’s private hire license would not be renewed after September 30th because it failed a host of requirements, including reporting serious criminal offenses among drivers. Uber can continue to operate while it appeals the decision.
Personal assistants aren’t just on the rise in connected homes; they’re starting to crop up in connected cars as well. Leading the way is BMW, which just announced that Amazon Alexa will come as standard in all BMW and MINI models from mid-2018. The assistants will allow drivers to control everything in their dashboards from music to navigation to listings for movies and contacts, all by voice command.
Remember back in the early 2000s when Sony released that dog-like robot that chased toys and responded to basic voice commands? It was called Aibo, and it’s making a come back, now with full personal assistant, smart speaker capabilities. Sony is hinting that it will be like Amazon Alexa or Google Home only in the cuddly body of a robotic dog. Release is expected in spring 2018.
The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.
Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.