Forget the Galaxy Fold wheres the Galaxy Home smart speaker

first_imgSamsung originally said the Galaxy Fold would launch April 26. Now it will hit the market in September. Waiting to release a product until it’s essentially perfect is the right move for customers and for Samsung. In times in the past, the company rushed to sell devices before the bugs had been worked out, all in a quest to be first. It has taken a more measured approach in recent years, but Samsung still gets ahead of itself. The Galaxy Fold is evidence of that. After using the device for only days — or,  in some cases, hours — during a short review period in mid-April, several technology journalists had issues with their devices. Some peeled off a thin top layer on the display, which was an essential protective coating, not a removable screen protector. Others had detritus get under the screen itself, causing bumps and bulges. Samsung canceled the release date to explore what happened. “It was embarrassing,” Koh told reporters in Korea. “I pushed it through before it was ready.”samsung-developer-conference-9891The Galaxy Home draws on expertise from Samsung and Harman, the audio business it purchased.  Angela Lang/CNET On Wednesday, 89 days after the Galaxy Fold was to go on sale, Samsung said it has addressed the issues experienced by those reporters. It extended the screen’s protective top layer beyond the bezel, “making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure.” It added “reinforcements” to keep debris from getting under the screen, while new “protection caps” strengthen the top and bottom of the hinge area. Samsung also added reinforcements beneath the Infinity Flex Display, likely to make the plastic screen stiffer, and it reduced the air gap between the Fold’s body and hinge.Samsung doesn’t need another big delay or more problems with the Galaxy Fold. It said it took “the time to fully evaluate the product design, make necessary improvements and run rigorous tests to validate the changes we made.” But this wouldn’t be the first time Samsung’s had multiple problems with a new device. Remember the Galaxy Note 7? Shortly after the phablet went on sale in August 2016, users started reporting overheating problems. Samsung originally tied the issues to a battery flaw and recalled all the Note 7 phones on the market. That didn’t fix the problem, however, and the replacement devices also overheated. Samsung launched a rare second recall in October 2016 and stopped manufacturing the Note 7.Samsung has repeatedly said that it’s learned from that experience. Presumably the tests it’s conducting on the Galaxy Fold, which are ongoing, will head off any issues people could see with the device. We won’t know, though, until reviewers and consumers get their hands on the revamped phone. Then the focus turns to the Galaxy Home. We hope.  Samsung Close up with the Galaxy Fold screen, notch and hinge 60 Photos Post a comment Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy Fold: Samsung will relaunch the foldable phone in September A Galaxy far, far away? Samsung’s Bixby speaker is still a no-show Samsung goes all in on its Bixby digital assistant Forget foldable phones. Samsung’s Bixby assistant is about to get smarter 8:07 Global smart speaker sales should reach 147.7 million units this year, up 71% from 2018, Strategy Analytics predicted in May. Amazon and Google will each control nearly a third of the market, while the rest will be split between more than a dozen other voice OS platforms, including Apple’s Siri, Alibaba’s Ali Genie, Baidu’s Duer OS and Xiaomi’s Xiao AI, the research firm said. There was no mention of Bixby. When Samsung announced its first smart speaker a year ago, there were already concerns that the device came too late. Even Apple has struggled in smart speakers. Its Siri-powered HomePod has regularly been placed on sale, and Apple in April even slashed the price by $50 to $299, an unusual move for the company. So far, consumers haven’t been willing to shell out more money for better sounding smart speakers.”I struggle to see Samsung really succeeding in bringing an alternative,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said. The situation might have been different a year ago, she said, “but seeing how little progress they’ve made from a Bixby perspective makes me really doubt that they will ever be able to compete with Alexa in the US.”Shaky reputation?Samsung may be starting to develop a reputation for delayed products. Even my un-tech-savvy parents in Iowa know about the Galaxy Fold’s delay. The company worked on foldable displays for years before showing anything to the public. It demonstrated a flexible OLED screen at CES 2013 and gave the first glimpse of the Galaxy Fold at its developer conference late last year. It officially unveiled the Galaxy Fold at the beginning of its Unpacked Galaxy 10 launch in February. The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch display when folded, and a separate 7.3-inch display when unfolded into a tablet. It starts at $1,980 (about £1,500 or AU$2,800) and comes in four colors: cosmos black, space silver, martian green and astro blue. Users can start using apps like Flipboard on the small, front display and then pick up where they left off when moving to the big, inside display.  Galaxy Fold set for September relaunch (The Daily Charge,… Share your voice Tags 0 Then at the Galaxy S10 launch in February, Samsung co-CEO DJ Koh told CNET the device would go on sale by April. (Samsung PR said it would launch in the first half of 2019.) But it’s now late July, and there’s still no sign of the Galaxy Home. The latest update from Samsung was in the form of comments by another co-CEO — Hyun-suk Kim, the head of the consumer electronics division — who told the Korea Herald in early June that the Galaxy Home would launch in the third quarter. For those of you keeping score, that’s at least three missed launch dates. If the third-quarter timing is true, it could make sense for Samsung to unveil the launch date at the Galaxy Note 10 event in two weeks. It also could wait for the IFA electronics show in Berlin the first week of September. Samsung on Thursday said it didn’t have anything to add at this time. While a smart speaker may not be as flashy or as novel as a phone with a folding screen, it’s a device that has more universal appeal. People would be more likely to buy the Galaxy Home this year than the Galaxy Fold. The foldable device — soon to be the first like it on the market — is more experimental and expensive than other phones, limiting its appeal largely to early adopters. Smart speakers are becoming so common even children know how to use them. Amazon in June said it’s launching an Echo Dot aimed at kids. The company, with its Alexa voice assistant, dominates the smart speaker market in the US, followed by Google.  See also Smart Home Mobile Foldable Phones Smart Speakers & Displays Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy Home a year ago but still hasn’t started selling it.  Angela Lang/CNET Late Wednesday, Samsung finally gave us news three months in the making: the revised launch date for its Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone. But there’s another product with an even more complicated and prolonged timeline: the Galaxy Home. Samsung started talking about the smart speaker in early 2018, and it showed off the device during its Galaxy Note 9 unveiling last August. The cauldron-esque speaker is powered by the company’s Bixby digital assistant, which was initially geared as an interface to control 2017’s Galaxy S8. Samsung has expanded the technology into its various appliances and televisions. The Galaxy Home would be Bixby’s first appearance in a smart speaker. We don’t yet know exactly what the speaker will do or how much it’ll cost. When Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Home a year ago, it said it’d go on sale in the second half of 2018. It showed the smart speaker again during its developer conference in November but didn’t specify the launch date. 2018 turned into 2019 with no sign of the Galaxy Home. last_img read more

US Senate fails Trumps Obamacare repeal efforts

first_imgSen John McCain (R-AZ) leaves the Senate Chamber after a vote on a stripped-down, or `Skinny Repeal,` version of Obamacare reform on 28 July, 2017 in Washington, DC. Photo: AFPIn a stinging blow to US president Donald Trump, US Senate Republicans failed on Friday to dismantle Obamacare, falling short on a major campaign promise and perhaps ending a seven-year quest by their party to gut the healthcare law.Voting in the early hours, three Republican senators, John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, crossed party lines to join Democrats in a dramatic 49-to-51 vote to reject a “skinny repeal” bill that would have eliminated some parts of Obamacare.“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told the Senate floor right after the vote. “The American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward.”Trump’s failure sent the dollar down against a basket of other currencies on Friday. [FRX/]The setback leaves him without a major legislative win after more than six months in power, even though Republicans control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. He had been expected to make rapid changes to healthcare, taxes and infrastructure spending.“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!” Trump tweeted after the vote.No Clear GuidanceTrump has repeatedly berated congressional Republicans for being unable to overcome internal divisions to repeal Obamacare, but has offered no legislation himself, nor any clear guidance on what he would like to do about replacing the law.The president has demanded at various times that Obamacare should be allowed to collapse on its own, that it should be repealed without replacement, and that it should be repealed and replaced.The Affordable Care Act, approved by Democrats in 2010, was President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. It provided health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans, but was denounced from the outset by Republicans who viewed it as government intrusion on people’s healthcare decisions.The voting down of the bill still leaves uncertainty in the healthcare industry, with insurers not sure how long the Trump administration will continue to make billions of dollars in Obamacare payments that help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses for low-income Americans.Insurers have until September to set rates for 2018 health plans in many marketplaces. Some insurers, including Anthem Inc, Humana and Aetna have pulled out of Obamacare markets, citing the uncertainty over the payments. Others have raised rates by double digits.Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-seat Senate. McConnell, whose reputation as a master legislative tactician was on the line, could afford to lose support from only two Republican senators, with the tie-breaking vote to be cast by Vice President Mike Pence, who was on the Senate floor.After the House passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare in May, McConnell grappled to get Republicans in the Senate to agree on their version of the bill. Conservatives wanted a bill that would substantially gut Obamacare, while moderates were concerned over legislation that could deprive millions of Americans of their healthcare coverage.Republicans released the skinny bill just three hours before voting began. It would have retroactively repealed the Obamacare penalty on individuals who do not purchase health insurance, repealed for eight years a penalty on certain employers who do not provide employees with insurance and repealed a medical device tax until 2020. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if it became law, 15 million fewer Americans would be insured in 2018 than under existing law.Drama Over MccainAs the vote approached, all eyes in the Senate chamber were on McCain. The former Republican presidential nominee and Vietnam war hero flew back from Arizona after being diagnosed with brain cancer in order to vote, and sat talking to Collins, Murkowski, and Republican Senator Jeff Flake, also from Arizona.Collins and Murkowski both voted this week against more comprehensive Republican proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare and they were both known to have concerns about the pared-down proposal. Trump had criticized Murkowski, tweeting that she had let down the Republican Party and the country.McCain was then approached before voting began by Pence and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had said on Thursday he would support the skinny repeal bill after reassurances from House Speaker Paul Ryan that it would not become law.After speaking to Pence and Graham, McCain walked across the Senate floor to tell Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats that he would vote with them. They laughed as McCain said that the reporters in the balcony could probably read his lips. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein embraced him.When McCain walked to the front of the Senate chamber to cast his deciding “no” vote, giving a thumbs down, Democrats cheered, knowing the bill would fail.After the bill’s defeat, Schumer told the Senate that it was time to heed McCain’s call this week to return to a more transparent and bipartisan legislative process.Schumer told reporters that he and McCain had been talking four or five times a day this week about the pared-down bill and that McCain had made up his mind on Thursday afternoon. “John McCain is a hero,” Schumer said.Democrats, and some Republicans, said the bill’s failure could present an opportunity for the two parties to work together to fix problematic areas of the Obamacare law without repealing it.“We now have an opportunity to regroup and pull things together through an open and full committee process, bipartisan participation,” Murkowski told reporters.McCain also urged a bipartisan approach, saying in a statement after the vote, “one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote”.Other Republicans said it was time to move on to other legislative priorities such as tax reform.“This was a heavy lift. We should have taken our time. We should have first turned to tax reform and that’s what we’ll do now,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson told reporters.last_img

Australia Probes Bitcoin Crime Links as Currency Craves Legitimacy

first_img 4 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. A top Australian law enforcement agency is investigating bitcoin’s role in organized crime, a senior official said, just as politicians and financial regulators embrace the digital currency as a legitimate part of modern business.The investigation into bitcoin’s crime links by one authority as others embrace it highlights the crossroads governments have reached as they struggle to regulate the five-year-old “cryptocurrency”, a method of making anonymous payments which has surged in popularity around the world.Australian Crime Commission Executive Director Judy Lind revealed for the first time that investigators will monitor “misuse of virtual currencies to facilitate criminal activity” at a national and international level, under an operation named Project Longstrike.”We know that virtual currencies including bitcoin are used as payment methods to facilitate illicit trade on the darknet,” Lind told Reuters in a statement, referring to a hidden part of the Internet where information can be shared anonymously and without revealing the location of its source.”Organized crime groups continue to make use of darknets to harbor trading in illicit commodities, including child exploitation material, illicit drugs and firearms, stolen credit card and identity data, and hacking techniques.”Project Longstrike is just the latest example of Australia’s determination to crack down on bitcoin-enabled crime. Last month, Australia said it extradited to the United States the alleged primary moderator of Silk Road, a website where people bought illegal drugs like heroin using bitcoins.In October, police seized Queensland state’s first bitcoin automated teller machine five months after it opened, with media reporting police believed it was being used by a former motorcycle gang member to deal crystal methamphetamine.Regulators around the world are wary after the Mt Gox bitcoin exchange filed for bankruptcy in Tokyo earlier this year, saying it lost some 850,000 bitcoins – worth about $300 million at current prices – in a hacking attack.Like many countries, Japan has allowed bitcoin trading to continue without establishing a full set of rules on its legal status. U.S. authorities are yet to agree to cohesive laws, while the United Kingdom is seen as a world leader because it has classified bitcoins as a currency.Australian authorities are also trying to facilitate legal bitcoin trades in a country where use of the currency is exploding. Between its 23.6 million people, Australia has an estimated 7 percent of the $5 billion worth of bitcoins now circulating, with reports of online retailers, real estate agents and even pubs accepting bitcoin payments.The Australian Taxation Office has published a guide for bitcoin traders on how to declare their investments, and a parliamentary inquiry is trying to lay the groundwork for a broader regulatory approach to the digital currency.But David Glance, director of the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Software Practice, said Australia appeared to be sending mixed messages.”Politicians singularly fail to understand what (the digital economy) is all about. They latch onto trends and buzzwords,” he said, referring to the tax office guidelines and parliamentary inquiry.”There still isn’t a problem that bitcoin solves, other than buying drugs,” he added.Darknet sites including Silk Road and its successor Silk Road 2.0 did about $3 billion of turnover annually in the year to November, Glance said, equivalent to more than half the total bitcoins now in circulation.Wild WestSenator Sam Dastyari, who is running the parliamentary inquiry, said bitcoins offered a way to “shake up” Australia’s “stale” banking industry. A regulatory system is needed that policed crime without restricting the currency, he said.”There is going to be a place for some kind of digital-style currency. There is inevitability that it will play some kind of role,” Dastyari said.”Do you go and start regulating it first, or wait for the IMF to do it first and come on board?”Australia could soon see the world’s first direct share market listing of a virtual currency exchange, in a sign of how rapidly bitcoin businesses are entering the mainstream.Melbourne-based start-up Bitcoin Group hopes to raise A$20 million ($17 million) and plans to file a prospectus by Christmas which will not include financial forecasts.Bitcoin Group Chief Executive Officer Sam Lee compared the currency to the early “wild, wild west” days of the Internet, and shrugged off concerns that it mainly served as a vehicle for illegal transactions.”We’ve moved far beyond that now,” he said.”We expect (bitcoin currency) to clean itself up as more capital and more smart people flow into the ecosystem.”(Editing by Stephen Coates) This story originally appeared on Reuters December 3, 2014 Register Now »last_img read more