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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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The US is offering a $10 million reward to prevent election hacking

Better be safe than sorry

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For ages, civilization has announced a bounty to get a hold of criminals. The tactic usually works because money acts as a motivating factor, prompting everyone to be on a lookout. The US is using the tried and tested method to ensure its 2020 Presidential election aren’t meddled with.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would offer a US$ 10 million reward to arrest anyone who interferes in the November elections. It includes attacks against US officials, US election infrastructure, voting machines, and also candidates and their staff.

Pompeo did not specify Russia but the US intelligence community has previously confirmed it expects another effort by Moscow as well as other US adversaries in the 2020 election.

The country is taking immense caution amid the Coronavirus pandemic to ensure fair elections. In 2016, many alleged that the elections weren’t fair since foreign entities had interfered. No substantial proof has been found yet, but it’s a widely known fact that hackers leveraged Facebook’s vulnerability to attack users psychologically.

“Such adversaries could also conduct malicious cyber operations against US political organizations or campaigns to steal confidential information and then leak that information as part of influence operations to undermine political organizations or candidates,” the State Department said.

Russian involvement has long been suspected and the US is already busy fighting a trade war with China. The hostile geopolitical scenario could be a perfect recipe for disaster if sharp vigilance isn’t maintained.

Modern warfare is pivoting towards digital offensives and the US has experience from both sides of the coin — a perpetrator as well as a victim. The US used cyberwarfare to derail Iran’s nuclear program. In retaliation, American companies are always a target, as proved by North Korea’s infiltration of Sony Pictures in 2014.

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Microsoft’s Your Phone app brings Android apps to Windows 10

This is what the future looks like

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Your Phone app will be able to run Android apps on your laptop or computer by streaming your phone’s screen. You can open an app, pin it to the taskbar, or quite literally do anything you want to. The feature will be extremely handy since it actually ports two completely different ecosystems into one.

Samsung just announced its top-tier offerings, including the Galaxy Note 20 series, Galaxy Tab 7, and the Galaxy Fold2 5G. They also announced further partnerships with Microsoft that’ll not only bundle Office apps on Samsung phones but also bring Android apps to a Windows computer.

Samsung has always marketed the Note-lineup as productivity-focused. With the Windows integration, you can complete work on-the-go with a Note 20 and quickly sync data with your primary machine.

This kind of looks like how Huawei Share works between a Huawei phone and laptop.

The more exciting part is the feature won’t be limited to the flagships. The list of compatible phones include but are not limited to the following:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy S20
  • Samsung Galaxy S20+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
  • Samsung Galaxy A50s

The total number of supported devices stands at 33 at the moment.

There will also be new notification badges for your Android phone apps that you have kept open on the Windows machine. However, Microsoft does warn that certain apps may block this functionality considering they do limit the ability to cast screens to other devices.

This will also help you reduce app duplications. Simple apps like Spotify, WhatsApp, and Slack can be installed on one device and used seamlessly, without reaching out to another device.

The app is shipping to testers as part of the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20185 and is rolling out to Windows Insider testers at this time. With this app, Microsoft is not only advancing the experience of its own operating system but also ensuring its core products like Office are used the most on rival platforms like Android. To do so, it’s tapping Samsung’s potential as a phone maker.

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Samsung commits to three years of updates on its flagships

2019 flagships are also covered with the new change

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There’s one big change that Samsung is doing with the release of its latest flagships. From now on, Samsung is committing to three years of software updates. It’s a big change for the company.

All Samsung flagships starting with the Note 20 series will receive three major OS updates. This also applies to the recently-launched Galaxy Fold Z Fold2 5G. As such, buyers can expect the flagship to sport Android 13 since this recently-released flagship has Android 10 onboard.

In a surprising move, the company is also doing the same for the Galaxy S10 series released last year. The 2019 flagship has Android 9 on board, so users of that device can upgrade up to Android 12 in the future. As a matter of fact, Samsung confirmed to The Verge that all S, Note, and Z-series phones from 2019 will receive up to three years of updates.

See also: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — what the leaks didn’t tell you

As for the Galaxy A-series phones, Samsung said that support will vary depending on the hardware. Perhaps, budget-oriented A-series phones will stick to two years of updates. Still, it’s better to wait for Samsung’s official announcement regarding the per-device update roadmap.

Still, the change is a welcome move for everyone. In the past, the company only committed to two years of updates for most of its smartphones. For example, Samsung’s 2017 S flagship — Galaxy S8 — came with Android 7 Nougat and can be upgraded to Android 9 Pie. Moving to three years of updates allow users to keep the device for longer, which has a tremendous impact on the environment as well as the economy.

A looming domino effect?

With Samsung’s move, it is not far-fetched to think that other companies will follow suit. A major Android manufacturer pushing the needle for software updates is enough to compel others to provide a year or more of software updates.

Perhaps, this shall start a trend of supporting phones for longer. As more companies begin supporting their devices for longer, two years of updates will soon be not enough. In the future, Android users may expect three years to become the norm for updates. This is not just a pipe dream anymore, as Google and OnePlus are already doing it.

While it may seem like a big thing in the Android world, three years of updates are still measly compared to Apple’s support for its iPhones. Still, Samsung’s move is a step in the right direction, and it sure is a welcome one for those who keep their devices for longer.

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