RAM? Memory? 32 gigabytes of internal storage you can expand using a microSD card? What does this all mean?!
We admit to throwing around lots of techie jargon when we talk about smartphones and computers, but we’ll now take a step back to talk about what RAM does and how it differs from typical data storage.
Random Access Memory
When we talk about RAM, we’re referring to Random Access Memory, which is often just called memory. Practically every task you perform, whether it be opening a web browser or camera app, has the gadget’s processor temporarily store data in the memory while it’s in use; when a device shuts down or restarts, the entire memory clears up.
So, why have something that doesn’t keep data for long periods of time? RAM serves an important purpose in every computing device, and that’s to speed up the system. By having its own little space for dumping and retrieving data at rapid rates, the processor doesn’t have to access the system’s larger, slower internal storage.
Using RAM is a lot like going through the smartphone in your pocket to quickly find information, rather doing a search using the desktop computer nestled in your home. It’s all about speed and convenience; that’s why it’s needed
In theory, the more RAM you have, the better, since it allows your device to store more temporary data at once. At the same time, having too much memory can be a bad thing. It’s terribly inefficient to make your smartphone or computer constantly look around unused space to find just one piece of data.
A Huawei executive recently claimed that 4GB (gigabytes) of memory is more than enough on a smartphone (for now), and is the reason why the P10 doesn’t have as much RAM as, say, the generous 6GB of the OnePlus 3T. He added that it’s more beneficial to have lots of internal storage than excessive memory. Let’s delve into that next.
This is as straightforward as it gets: More storage means more space for all your personal files, apps, and operating system. Unlike RAM, you can always expand your storage to fit more files. In the case of smartphones and tablets, you can extend the capacity by inserting a microSD card or accessing your favorite cloud services, such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
For laptops and desktop computers, you always have to option to add an additional HDD or SSD, or simply plug in a flash drive to an available USB port. As long you make use of all that space, there’s no need to hold back in purchasing more.
And so, while RAM and storage are measured in similar ways, they have distinctly different purposes in a system. More importantly, they must work together — along with the device’s heart, the processor — to keep your gadget running as smoothly as possible.
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Image credit: Ram Joshi
How Google alerted the Philippines during the July earthquake
Back in July, an earthquake rocked Metro Manila. Unbeknownst to most but noticed by some, a globally renowned company was helping everyone through the natural incident: Google. In the few minutes leading up to and during the 6.7 magnitude earthquake, Android users received important alerts warning them of the ongoing tremors. Though it wasn’t the dreaded Big One, the alert afforded attentive users a few precious seconds to either seek appropriate cover or stop doing dangerous tasks.
Incidentally, the tech surrounding Google’s earthquake alert system wasn’t just hastily built on ongoing databases or social media. Google actually packed in a fully responsive earthquake sensor for Android phones.
Faster than an earthquake
The forever-increasing speed of technology has always been a contentious element since the rise of smartphones. Developers and users alike have wondered how accurate or quick our favorite devices can warn us of things happening around us. There’s even an XKCD comic about how Twitter can warn us of an earthquake minutes before it reaches the reader.
Over the years, technology has developed new ways to deliver alerts. From simple weather apps to city-wide messaging systems, users can receive warnings in a timely fashion. Practically nothing is a surprise anymore with the right technology.
That said, Google has successfully developed a new system that can rely on other Android smartphones to accurately tell whether or not an earthquake is happening.
A quake detector in your pocket
Speaking to Android Police, the feature’s lead engineer Marc Stogaitis described how Google’s earthquake sensor leveraged other devices to tell users about the quake. It all revolves around the different sensors built inside your phone.
As it is, every smartphone comes with a host of sensors to support its different functions. A light detector can seamlessly adjust brightness and camera settings, and a gyroscope can support compasses, for example. With earthquakes, the biggest element to ponder on is a smartphone’s movement and vibrations during an earthquake.
According to the lead engineer, figuring out the metrics for detecting an earthquake wasn’t a problem. After decades of accurate seismograph technology, developers already have an idea on what they need to measure.
However, the technology does not stop there. Naturally, there are hiccups to relying on just a single (or even every) phone’s data. For one, a city-wide messaging system can set off everyone’s phone in a single area, potentially causing false positives. Plus, relying on a single phone is definitely tricky. There are multiple actions which can cause vibrations akin to an earthquake.
Crowdsourcing a quake
The feature doesn’t rely on just one phone. It doesn’t tap into every Android phone in an area either. Instead, it collates data from phones plugged into a charger. Naturally, a plugged-in phone is the most reliable barometer in terms of battery reliability. They won’t die out in the middle of an earthquake and ruin a source of data. Additionally, charging phones are often stationary. They won’t be affected by motions that mimic earthquakes.
Google “listens” to charging devices in an area. If the subset meets the criteria for an earthquake, the company quickly determines the earthquake’s epicenter (based on approximate location) and magnitude. Once the system declares that a quake is indeed happening, it sends out an alert to nearby devices and gives them the time needed to seek shelter.
The alerts naturally prioritize people nearer to the epicenter. But, of course, the speed will ultimately depend on the phone’s connectivity. A phone hooked up to a building’s fast Wi-Fi connection will receive alerts faster than a commuter’s phone on data while going through a tunnel.
Still, the short time that the alerts give users is enough to save themselves from a precarious situation. Though the feature can potentially warn users of quakes minutes in advance, Stogaitis says that it will more realistically push alerts five to ten seconds before the incident. However, five seconds is enough to go under a table and have some sort of protection against falling debris.
Still keeping things private
For anyone worrying about how Google is handling their data, Stogaitis says that the company removes all identifiers from the data except for approximate location. And, despite that, Google still maintains that the feature will be the most accurate that it can be. Either way, the feature will be useful for any earthquakes in the future.
The earthquake sensor is available for any Android phone running Lollipop and above. Naturally, the feature still necessitates that users turn on emergency alerts on their phone.
The industry’s next big thing: Cloud gaming explained
It’s gaming on the go, but for internet that’s not slow
Everybody’s getting into gaming these days, and you can’t blame them. With the pandemic continuing its ravaging ways in the world, people turn to their consoles or PCs for some action. However, not everyone can afford all the expensive PCs and the next-gen consoles when they come out.
Instead, a new player comes into the fray with a pretty great idea. What would happen if you can just play your favorite games from any device? Also, what if we told you that this won’t take up space on your device at all? This is basically what cloud gaming offers to you: a way to play games from any device at any time!
So, how does that actually work? What do you need to ensure quality gameplay, and should you even consider it?
The basics of playing on a cloud
On paper, it’s pretty easy to understand how cloud gaming works. Basically, you have access to a library of games from a cloud storage service. When you subscribe to the service, you can virtually play your library from any device regardless of the specs. Also, you don’t have to worry about storage problems since these games are stored on a server.
It’s no joke when these companies tell you that you can play your games on any device. With their dedicated data servers, they make sure that the games run smoothly once you access them from the cloud. On your end, you will need a strong and consistent internet connection to play the games smoothly.
Several companies already have cloud gaming software available for people to subscribe to. Some examples include NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s xCloud, and Google Stadia — all of which store PC games on a server. These companies even take the time to update their server hardware every so often to bring the best possible quality.
System requirements for cloud gaming
Much like your ordinary PC or gaming console, companies that run cloud gaming servers need certain equipment to run smoothly. First, these companies must set up active data centers and server farms that run the games. These data centers ensure that games are up and running, while reducing latency. In other words, these serve as the powerhouse of cloud gaming.
Next on the list is the network infrastructure necessary to send these to the users. To ensure that people don’t experience lags when they play their games, companies also invest in acquiring proper data connections. However, in most cases, this isn’t something these companies have control over; it’s mostly coming from their available internet service providers.
On the front-end, companies also provide dedicated hardware and software to house the cloud. For example, NVIDIA integrated GeForce Now into their own cloud streaming device, the NVIDIA Shield back in 2013. Meanwhile, Google Stadia relies heavily on using pre-existing Google software like Google Chrome and the Stadia App.
Something great to offer, for the most part
Cloud gaming services offer something unique in the industry. Essentially, it eliminates the user from investing so much into buying expensive PCs as it allows people to play from virtually any device. Whether it’s on a smartphone, laptop, or even a smart TV, people get access to games at high frame rates without an RTX 3080.
Furthermore, the game and save files are stored on the cloud, and don’t take up any storage on your devices. This is greatly beneficial for people who are already running on limited storage space, especially if they play Call of Duty: Warzone. With everything stored on the cloud, you don’t need most of the 512GB of SSD storage.
However, one of the biggest issues with cloud gaming revolves around the thing it’s based on: the internet. Specifically, it’s on the user’s internet connection as these services require the fastest internet to run smoothly on any device. Basically, you will need either an Ethernet or a 5G wireless connection to ensure the lowest latency possible.
That infrastructure isn’t readily available in most markets, which is a prominent issue among several third-world countries. Furthermore, even if there are companies that have 5G in their pipeline, these same providers also put data caps on it. Even if the user can play at an optimal frame rate, they’re doing so with a restriction in place.
Does this new player have any place?
With the world continuously opening its arms to the gaming industry, innovation becomes the forefront of success. Companies come up with a variety of gaming technologies that seek to cater to a wide variety of people. From individual hardware to pre-built systems, gaming often revolved around these things.
With cloud gaming, it gives people not just another option within the mix. Rather, it seeks to challenge the notion of availability and accessibility, and give it a viable solution. Essentially, it takes away the physical hardware limitations on the user’s end, and makes it available for everyone.
But like most gaming technologies, everything is still limited somehow. These systems still experience bottlenecks both on the manufacturer and the user’s end. In the end, it will depend on how much you’re willing to shell out for them, and how willing you are to accept the risks.
Your MagSafe Questions Answered
Do you really need it?
If you’ve ever owned an old MacBook before, you’ll know that those chargers magnetically snap onto place. That particular technology is called the ‘MagSafe’.
The MagSafe technology might not be new but the implementation for the latest iPhones makes the technology even more usable. Other than the securely-placed phone for wireless charging, there are a plethora of case manufacturers who continuously work on future accessories that support MagSafe existing ecosystem.
But is the Apple MagSafe more than just a gimmick? And do you really need it?
Watch our in-depth Apple MagSafe explainer here.
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