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Google acquires part of HTC’s smartphone business

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It has finally happened: Google bought a chunk of HTC’s smartphone team to bolster their hardware efforts. 

In a blog entry posted by Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google, the search giant signed an agreement with the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer to acquire “a team of HTC talent.” Osterloh said that these people were already part of the Pixel production.

In addition, Google has also bought a “non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.” If this rings any bells, that’s because Google had a similar game plan when they bought out Motorola for their patents back in 2011.

According to The Verge, this deal is worth US$ 1.1 billion, which is a fraction of what Google spent on the US$ 12.5 billion Motorola acquisition.

Since this isn’t a full takeover, HTC’s core smartphone business and Vive sub-brand will still live on. The question remains how much genuine manpower HTC will lose in this process, and if their future products will be as competitive as they’ve tried to be this year.

As for Google, this should be seen as a smart move, considering how invested they’ve become with their own hardware since last year when the HTC-made (under Google’s direction) Pixel smartphones were launched. By having a familiar team on board, the search and advertising specialist could finally be taken more seriously for their self-branded products.

Interestingly, this is being announced just two weeks before Google’s big event on October 4, where they’re expected to launch the Pixel 2 and possibly more hardware. At the same time, we wonder how Android-reliant brands like Samsung and LG will react, now that the operating system’s owner is a more direct rival to their smartphone divisions.

SEE ALSO: 5 keys to making the Google Pixel 2 a success

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Android 9 Pie update now available for Xiaomi Mi A1

The perks of Android One

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After the Mi A2, it’s now Mi A1’s turn to get a taste of Google’s latest software. Being under the Android One program, the Mi A1 will finally get a clean version of Android 9 Pie.

The Android Pie update for the Mi A1 may have come a bit late, but it’s still sooner compared to most Android phones out there. The new firmware weighs more than 1GB to download, so be sure to have a solid connection when updating.

It brings all the benefits of Android Pie plus support for FM radio which wasn’t available before. The change log also mentions new navigation options, but the Mi A1 already has capacitive keys.

The update is already confirmed to be available in South Asia and it’ll soon roll out to all markets. The Mi A1 was launched with Android Nougat and it received the Oreo update. Android Pie is the second major update for the phone.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Mi A1, you may watch our review below. It’s still available at a discounted price in select stores, making it a great budget-friendly phone.

SEE ALSO: 24 Hours in Busan with the Xiaomi Mi A1

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Apple will not change its design next year, report says

Will keep the notch until 2019

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For the longest time, the smartphone market has been defined by technology’s ten-year old rule. Typified by Apple and Samsung, companies initially launch revolutionary phone designs, followed by incremental upgrades for the next year. For example, the Galaxy S8 and S9 have similar designs; the iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Max have near-identical looks. Both Samsung and Apple have two-year cycles. It’s a time-honored tradition.

Now, the rule is finally winding down. According to Nomura Securities Analyst Anne Lee, Apple will not follow that trend next year. Instead, the 2019 iPhones will “likely have the same form factors… as the 2H18 iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max, with some added AR-related features.”

Last year, Apple introduced the polarizing iPhone X form factor. Among others, the design standard popularized the camera notch. Since then, Android-reliant companies have also adopted the design, resulting in a lot of wacky iterations. If Lee’s report is true, the notch still has one year left in its tank. “We think 2019 could be the last year the iPhone uses the iPhone X design architecture,” she said.

Potentially, the move coincides with the company’s strides to adopt 5G technology, which will make its Apple debut in 2020. With that, Apple will likely debut a new design after a working 5G prototype.

Of course, Apple’s defensive approach also hints at the company’s struggles this past year. Notably, the company has been consistently disappointed by its sales columns this year. Apple has even decided to withhold its sales figures for upcoming quarters. On global distribution charts, Huawei has already overtaken Apple for the number two spot.

With the new report, Apple is noticeably doubling down on riskier strategies for the upcoming year. The company already expects to sell fewer units in 2019. On paper, Apple looks like it’s on a downward spiral.

SEE ALSO: Apple iPad Pro (2018) Review: Not just a laptop replacement

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Huawei pledges $2 billion to secure cybersecurity of hardware

It starts in Britain for now

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Throughout the past few weeks, Sinophobia has reached an all-time high. Various countries have started banning Chinese telecommunications companies from taking over their technology market. Huawei and ZTE have faced tremendous adversity while expanding their 5G operations. Of note, the US, the UK, and Australia have stopped Huawei’s 5G plans before they could start.

It was only a matter of time before Huawei responds. Now, the company has finally promised to solve these crucial cybersecurity issues. In Britain, Huawei has met with government officials regarding their ban. Like the rest of the Western world, Britain criticized Huawei’s technology as potential backdoors for Chinese espionage.

Both parties have agreed to a compromise. To alleviate Britain’s fears, Huawei will pledge US$ 2 billion for cybersecurity. The company will then attempt to solve whatever Britain found in cybersecurity investigations.

While the United Kingdom is more forgiving, other countries are still very wary. After the initial lineup of banning countries, Japan has joined the conversation. The country is working to ban both Huawei and ZTE from 5G development as well. With that, Japan will be the first Asian country to ban both companies. Western fears are now invading the East.

At the other end of the world, Huawei is also facing another crisis. The company’s chief finance officer, Meng Wanzhou, was recently arrested for allegedly violating embargo regulations. According to Huawei, their retaliation plans in Britain were made before the arrest. Thus, the arrest is another separate battle that awaits the company after issues of cybersecurity.

Huawei is in a world of pain. Despite offering amazing products, the company can’t find any traction in hardware development. Geopolitical fears have and will continue to bog down the company throughout the rise of 5G networking.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Mate 20 Pro: When beauty meets technology

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