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TCL’s foldable concepts are unlike anything we’ve seen before

They can fold, flip, and roll!

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Are you a believer in the future of foldable smartphones, but not quite convinced about what’s currently available in the market today? 

TCL, a brand best known for making high-end televisions for less, is looking to leverage its display expertise with 3 new experiments that not only hope to pave the way to a future that’s dominated by foldable, bendable, and rollable displays but also to create technology that’s not just novel, but also practical.

Pocketbook

We first saw TCL’s “pocketbook concept” (nicknames all my own) late last year but got our hands on a fully working model this January at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. 

A cross between the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Pro Duo – this concept device borrows the same horizontal fold idea, albeit wider on both sides. 

Its shape is reminiscent of a book, some have also compared it to a wallet or passport. 

When opened up, the two folded screens turn into a 7.2-inch tablet with a 2K AMOLED display, but its nothing more than that, at least in its current state. You can’t fold it in such a way that would transform it into a smartphone. 

There is no secondary display on the outside. Instead all you’ll find is a row of cameras and this lovely textured glass finish that makes it look like a multi-faceted precious gem.

This concept devices uses TCL’s new Butterfly Hinge that allows the the device to be folded shut without a visible gap in between.

Tri-fold

TCL’s tri-fold concept was born out of the desire for foldable displays to be used for even bigger screen experiences. So instead of just one fold, it folds into 3, transforming from a smartphone about the the size of a Nokia Communicator to that of a 10-inch tablet. 

It’s the first foldable concept we’ve seen with two separate hinges. One folds inward, the other outward. One side uses TCL’s Butterfly Hinge, the other an older hinge design TCL first showed off a full year ago called the Dragon Hinge – which forms an accordion like tear drop shape when folded shut. 

While it become one hefty smartphone when folded and doesn’t stay put as firmly as a regular tablet when unfolded, the idea of being able to fit a 10-inch tablet in your pocket is pretty amazing. 

TCL’s General Manage of Global Marketing Stefan Streit says, “the idea is to go in a direction where people won’t have to bring multiple devices.”     

Rollable display

Of all the design experiments, for me personally, the TCL’s rollable display is most exciting.  And that’s possibly because I’m still waiting for that smartphone that folds into a tube of lipstick like Samsung teased 7years ago.

Unlike the other two devices, or any other device that’s leveraged bendable display technology up to this point this TCL concept does neither has a hinge, nor does it fold. 

Instead, internal motors allow the display on what looks like a regular smartphone to expand to become a 7.8-inch tablet. Imagine physically stretching the phone apart to make it bigger and then squeezing it back together to shrink it. 

Instead of a hinge mechanism these motors furl and unfurl the rollable display, tucking part of the display away and out of sight when not needed. 

At our briefing we were only showed a mock up that you have to manually stretch yourself – but we were showed video of an actual working prototype that does this automatically with the push of a button.

Pricing and availability

TCL stresses none of these concepts are ready for primetime, and are instead investments in finding the best, most practical use cases of this technology. Streit calls it “a long term play” in TCL’s new smartphone business, which marks the launch of its new flagship lineup in the US this week. 

If and when TCL launches its own foldable or rollable smartphone – we’re told to expect it to be priced competitively, matching TCL’s philosophy of offering great displays at more affordable accessible prices.

 


 

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Google sued for tracking Chrome users in Incognito Mode

Incognito Mode is not really private browsing after all

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Over the years, Google has been increasingly scrutinized by the government and public sector for its tracking activities. The latest lawsuit filed in California sheds light on the company’s tracking reach. It alleges that the company misleads Chrome users and continues to track their activities even in Incognito Mode.

A law firm from California — Boies Schiller & Flexner — filed the lawsuit with an aim to seek a minimum of US$ 5 billion in damages. The lawsuit alleges that Google intentionally deceived its users who browse in Incognito Mode by continuing to track their activities even when it is supposed to be “private”.

However, there’s also a chance that the lawsuit may not succeed at all. A Google spokesperson has stated in reply that third parties can still gather any browsing data even when in Incognito Mode. As a matter of fact, there’s a disclaimer warning a user that Incognito Mode is not foolproof, and states that any browsing activity might still be visible to third parties, employers, or service providers.

Incognito Mode is not really private at all

By default, Chrome in Incognito Mode doesn’t store your browsing history, cookies, and form information. These browsing data tell a lot about the user and keeps them signed in on most sites too.

However, most websites by now also rely on other data to build a profile of its users. Ads and other tracking elements enable third parties to gather data on website visitors. Websites can even gather real-time device information like geolocation and IP addresses. As such, third parties can still infer your browsing activity even in Incognito Mode.

There are many ways to circumvent third-party tracking. One easy way is to use an ad-blocking browser extension that blocks ads and other tracking elements. Other ways include using a much secure browser like Brave, Firefox, and Tor.

As for Google Chrome users, they can only hope that Google changes its course and make the Incognito Mode more private. After all, the company earns a majority of its revenue through ads that track users. Making an Incognito Mode that really blocks ads and other tracking elements will somehow affect their revenue, considering that Chrome is the most popular browser in the world right now.

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Facebook starts labeling which media outlets are paid by governments

Indicated in the Page Transparency section

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Facebook has a troubling content problem. For the past few days, the ubiquitous social media network has faced tremendous backlash for its lack of moderation towards political but factually ambiguous posts. Current Facebook employees have even virtually protested against Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on moderation, especially in light of the ongoing Black Lives Matters happening across America.

While the George Floyd issue rolls on, Facebook is attacking the content moderation issue from another angle. Today, the company has started putting official labels on state-controlled media outlets.

Especially after the 2016 presidential elections in America, Facebook faced the possibility that state-backed media could control the global conversation and pave the way for a candidate of their choice. To prevent that controversy from happening again in this year’s elections, the company promised to update current policies to protect against state intervention last year. Today, the update is finally rolling out.

Facebook will start displaying the label under the Page Transparency section wherein pages will indicate which governments are backing their content. For transparency, the company has revealed how it will determine outlets that will need the label. Critically, it won’t apply to outlets based solely on financial support. Instead, Facebook will consider the outlet’s mission statement, ownership, and editorial independence from backers. If an outlet fails the independence test, it can appeal its status by proving its internal measures to prevent state interference.

Though too late to affect the results of the 2016 presidential elections, the measure will hopefully safeguard the 2020 elections and any others after that.

SEE ALSO: Facebook adds new tool to help you delete your cringey posts easily

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Honor announces Honor Play 4 series with a temperature sensor

Coming first to China

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Temperature guns are now a part of our daily toolkits. Since the start of the pandemic, establishments have started using temperature checks as a rudimentary COVID-19 check. Regardless of its accuracy, the useful and swift tool can detect other fever-inducing diseases in individuals. Naturally, the next step is to make the tool available for the general public.

One of the first smartphones to do so, the recently announced Honor Play 4 Pro will come with a built-in temperature sensor. According to Honor’s Weibo account, the smartphone can detect temperatures between -20 degree Celsius and 100 degrees Celsius, more than enough to detect a potential fever. Further, Honor demonstrated its use to measure temperatures on foreheads and wrists. The temperature sensor only needs to go close to the intended target, rather than touching it directly.

As for its other features, the Honor Play 4 Pro is a capable daily driver. The 6.57-inch smartphone sports a Kirin 990 octa-core chipset, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and an Android 10 build with Google Play Services. On its rear panel, it carries a 40-megapixel wide + 8-megapixel telephoto dual rear camera setup. On the flipside, it has a 32-megapixel wide + 8-megapixel ultrawide selfie shooter setup. The smartphone grabs its power from a non-removable 4200mAh battery, compatible with 40W fast charging.

The Honor Play 4 Pro also has a little sibling, the Honor Play 4. The larger 6.81-inch smartphone has a MediaTek MT6873 octa-core chipset, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of expandable internal storage. Behind, it carries a 64-megapixel wide + 8-megapixel ultrawide + 2-megapixel macro + 2-megapixel depth quad camera setup. It also has a single 16-megapixel selfie shooter. For power, it has a 4300mAh battery, compatible with 22.5W fast charging.

The Honor Play 4 sells for CNY 1,799 (approximately US$ 253). The Honor Play 4 Pro will retail for CNY 2,899 (approximately US$ 408). If you want the Honor Play 4 Pro with the temperature sensor, it will set you back by CNY 2,999 (approximately US$ 422). All three variants will launch in China first. There is no word whether the smartphone duo will launch internationally.

SEE ALSO: Honor X10 is a flagship phone with 5G and pop-up camera

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