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2017-tech-preview

New technology for 2017: all the PC gear to look out for this year

This year could represent possibly the most exciting twelve months of technology we’ve ever had. There are rumblings in the tech world that something we’ve not had for a while is coming back to the PC hardware industry – genuine competition.

To see what the landscape is looking like right now check out our comprehensive hardware guides for what’s hot in PC gaming tech.

Nvidia and Intel are the current dominant names in PC technology, ruling the roost when it comes to graphics cards and processors respectively. It’s a hegemony that’s been in place for years, but there is the very real possibility that it could be upset this year with the AMD underdog promising competition on both CPU and GPU fronts.

Click on the quick links below to jump to the tech that takes your fancy.

  • 2017 Graphics cards: AMD Vega and Nvidia’s 1080 Ti

  • 2017 Motherboards: Intel’s 200-series and AMDs AM4

  • 2017 SSDs: Intel Optane to rule the roost?

  • 2017 Virtual reality: Vive 2.0’s wishful wireless thinking

  • 2017 Gaming monitors: OLED, HDR and Super IPS

  • 2017 Windows: Microsoft’s getting creative

2017 CPUs: Kaby Lake, Ryzen and all the cores

Intel Kaby Lake CPUs

This is where things are going to get real interesting real soon. We’re expecting 2017 to kick off with Intel and AMD going head-to-head on the tech front, both releasing new CPUs almost as soon as January rolls around.

Starting with Intel, they will be launching the desktop version of their Kaby Lake architecture, the 6th generation of their Core CPUs. Kaby Lake is the optimisation of their 14nm Skylake processor design, the third generation of chips built on their 14nm node. It’s expected to deliver higher out-of-the-box clockspeeds and improved overclocking potential, but not really a lot else, certainly little reason to upgrade from Skylake anyways.

That said, one thing Kaby Lake will be bringing is the first K-series i3 processor. The Core i3 7350K is a dual-core, four-thread processor with an unlocked multiplier and a 4.2GHz initial Turbo clockspeed. If Kaby Lake can deliver on its promise of higher overclocking performance it could be the ultimate budget gaming CPU.

Though AMD might have something to say about that in 2017 too. It’s a massive year for Team Red because we’ll finally see the first fruits of their Zen CPU labour. Kicking off with the octo-core Ryzen (formerly known as Summit Ridge) processors, they represent the first new CPU architecture from AMD in around five years, five years that haven’t been particularly kind to the processor side of the business. AMD could only really compete on price, not performance after betting the farm on a heavily multithreaded future that never materialised. And even then, as their CPU tech has gotten further and further out of date, the budget side of the business has tailed off too.

AMD Ryzen CPU

But Zen, and in particular the first Ryzen iteration, is set to change that, with the potential to offer CPU performance to compete with Intel’s eight-core behemoths for around half the price. Not only that, but they are set to offer both six-core, 12-thread versions as well as cheaper quad-core, eight-thread chips at the budget end of the range.

AMD are also going to bring the power of Zen to bear upon their APU range too. The Raven Ridge processors are going to use the four-core, eight-thread variant of the Zen architecture and pair it with a Vega-powered GPU core. Vega is AMD’s next graphics architecture, also out this year, and with a touted 1024 Vega GCN cores inside it early estimates are putting this single chip at PS4 levels of performance. That could make for a tasty little mini PC…

But Intel won’t be sitting on their laurels, letting AMD back into the CPU race without a fight. 2017 will see Intel matching up their standard and high-end desktop processors ranges with both the Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X chips landing around August-September time, though some sources claim a potential launch around Gamescom. These will replace the Broadwell-E processors with the first high-performance 14nm CPU architecture Intel have produced.

We’re still not 100% sure how things are going to shake out with both Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors appearing at the same time, but it looks like the former will be comprised of 6,8 and 10-core HyperThreaded CPUs with the latter sporting a solitary quad-core, eight-thread version.

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2017 Graphics cards: AMD Vega and Nvidia’s 1080 Ti

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti

Just as AMD are fighting back against Intel on the CPU front they are taking the graphics card fight to Nvidia this year too. 2016’s Polaris architecture was meant to bring a bit of competition back to the graphics game, and to a certain extent it did succeed. But while AMD’s mid-range cards proved a match for Nvidia’s, especially with the modern DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs, the green team still had the outright fastest, most powerful GPUs around.

That could all change when AMD’s new Vega GPU architecture arrives early this year. Expected to be able to compete at least with the GTX 1080, the inaugural Vega 10 chip will arrive sporting 8GB of high performance second generation high bandwidth memory (HBM2). That’s the one spotted at an AMD event late last year, shown alongside the Ryzen CPU running Star Wars Battlefront’s Rogue One DLC at 60fps in 4K. But there are also rumours of a 16GB version, and that could be the super high-end AMD graphics card Radeon gamers have long been craving.

Alongside the Vega-based graphics cards will be a set of cards using refreshed Polaris GPUs. We’ve seen new GPU names appear in a recent Mac driver which could potentially form the basis of AMD’s next-gen 500-series mid-range and budget graphics cards.

AMD Vega GPU running Rogue One in 4K

Before any of that though Nvidia will be releasing the GTX 1080 Ti. That’s likely to be the go-to 4K GPU of choice when it launches, and we expect that to be early this year, potentially with Jen-Hsun Huang announcing it at his CES keynote on January 4. Not long to wait to see if he does…

The GTX 1080 Ti is set to bring the GP102 silicon of the latest GTX Titan X down into a more affordable price point, though don’t expect it to be that affordable… We’re expecting some 3,328 CUDA cores compared with the 3,584 in the Titan X, but with a higher base and boost clockspeed (as well as probable overclocked SKUs likely to appear post-launch) I wouldn’t be surprised to see the GTX 1080 Ti out-performing its older sibling.

After the big early year launch we may well see Nvidia pushing out a refreshed line of Pascal-based cards throughout 2017. If AMD’s Vega GPUs start to encroach on Nvidia’s market share then I would expect that to happen sooner rather than later. There are rumours of more GP102-based cards to follow the GTX 1080 Ti as well as a refresh of the GTX 1070 and 1060 cards with GDDR5X memory to bring them into line with the GTX Titan X and GTX 1080.

It’s also possible that the Samsung 14nm lithography used for the GP107 chips in the GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti cards might be brought to bear on any refreshed spins of the GP104 or GP106 GPUs.

But what of Nvidia’s next generation of graphics architecture? Volta, for that is the name of the beast, may make some sort of appearance this year, with some predicting a May unveiling of the new design at Nvidia’s GTC event. The high-end, supercomputing version of Volta might get an airing at the show, but we still wouldn’t expect consumer versions of the new architecture to appear before 2018 rolls around.

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2017 Motherboards: Intel’s 200-series and AMDs AM4

AMD AM4 socket

Motherboards are the unsung heros of your PC. I don’t care who many threads your CPU has, how expensive your graphics card is or how quickly your SSD can read files, it don’t mean squat if your motherboard isn’t up to scratch. This year is going to see the introduction of no less than three new, high-end motherboard platforms with Intel kicking things off in January alongside their Kaby Lake CPUs.

The new Z270 motherboards aren’t expected to bring too much to the table compared with their socket-matched Z170 progenitors, though we do anticipate a little performance boost thanks to the more mature overall design. The Z270 boards have also been designed with a view towards the rise in PCIe-based SSDs and have increased the number of PCIe 3.0 lanes on board from 20 to 24. They’re also coming with support for Intel’s new Optane SSDs, a technology based on a partnership between Micron and Intel to create a step-change in memory storage performance. Intel are also producing H270 and B250 boards for the Kaby Lake CPU generation again as a direct replacements for the existing 100-series offerings.

Intel high-end desktop sockets

There will also be another 200-series motherboard chipset rolling around later this year, the X299. As you can probably guess the X299 is the generational successor to the old X99 motherboard and is going to be the supporting platform for the new Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors which will release around August-September next year. All we really know about the X299 at the moment is that the chipset will come with a new socket with another 55 extra pins, the LGA 2066. Other than that we expect it will come with a host of PCIe lanes, lots of M.2 connections and quad-channel DDR4 memory support.

On the opposite side of the CPU divide are AMD with their brand new AM4 motherboards. The 1,331 pin AM4 socket will represent the marrying of both their CPU and APU designs into one unified platform. It gives AMD users a far more varied platform meaning anything from a quad-core Bristol Ridge APU to an octo-core Ryzen CPU can drop into exactly the same motherboard.

That doesn’t mean there is any less choice in boards though as AMD is reportedly adding in three new chipsets for the AM4 socket: the high-end X370, mainstream B350 and entry-level A320. These should be roughly analogous to Intel’s Z270, H270 and B250 chipsets for Kaby Lake.

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2017 SSDs: Intel Optane to rule the roost?

Intel 3D XPoint / Optane

The big news for this year in terms of SSD will be the appearance of Intel’s Optane SSDs. The Optane drives use a new type of memory, called 3D XPoint, which was designed in collaboration with Micron. 3D Xpoint memory promises a holy trinity of 10x lower latency, 3x higher write endurance and 4x more writes per second and is coming in both storage and system memory forms.

Initially we’ll only see it in SSDs with Intel’s Kaby Lake the first platform to support it, but there is the promise that Optane will introduce a system where your machine will be able to see the system memory as a combination of RAM and Optane SSD. That will allow memory intensive tasks to grab SSD memory to use a system memory.

Realistically that’s not going to be a massive help in gaming, but if you like yourself some big ol’ databases then it could be kind of exciting… in a not-at-all-exciting way.

New Samsung SSDs for 2017

The low-hanging fruit of standard SSDs seems to have been plundered already so I’m not expecting big shifts in read/write performance even from NVMe-based drives. We’ll probably see a new Samsung SSD arriving in a October-November time frame alongside their annual SSD Global Summit event in Korea. Rivals Micron, with their Crucial consumer brand, cancelled the Ballistix TX3 PCIe SSD last year, but I would still expect to see a Micron-based M.2 drive appear some time in 2017.

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2017 Virtual reality: Vive 2.0’s wishful wireless

Vive with wireless TPCast adapter

There are some optimistic rumours that HTC will display their Vive 2.0 headset at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. HTC have confirmed they are working on a second generation Vive, but I think a January unveiling of a brand new headset might be a little premature, though potentially an improved Vive may still appear this year.

What are we likely to get with the Vive 2.0? I would guess at wireless tracking for a starter. Quark VR have said they have been working with HTC and Valve on a wireless prototype which replaces the wires or the Vive, and TPCast have been doing pre-orders on their version, so if we get anything appearing at CES it will probably be the same device but with wireless connectivity.

Other speculation has the Vive 2.0 headset coming with a different form of lighthouse tracking to facilitate its room-scale VR experience. There have been a few complaints about how tricky it can be to set up the current sensors, so a streamlined option would be welcome.

Are we going to get higher resolution screens? As much as I’d love to say ‘yeah, don’t worry, we’ll have 4K per eye running at 120Hz’ that’s just not realistic in the next twelve months. We don’t have, or expect to have, the GPUs readily available that could power such a device. Even a machine running twin Vega GPUs, with one card rendereing per eye, would have a hard time getting that going.

Windows 10 headsets

We’re not expecting a second generation Oculus Rift next year though. This time last year Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, explained in a Reddit AMA that the first generation Rift would have a lifespan “somewhere between a console and a mobile phone, much closer to a mobile phone.” That would likely peg a 2018 release for a Rift 2.0.

Microsoft and Intel though are looking to make virtual reality mainstream this year with their Project Evo collaboration. Project Evo is a plan to produce a range of affordable PCs that can cope with VR and gaming (though not necessarily both). They’re anticipating headsets, using either virtual or mixed reality, from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo this year, with Microsoft’s HoloLens getting more availability to developers too.

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2017 Gaming monitors: OLED, HDR and Super IPS

LG HDR 4K monitor

This year could see the first OLED gaming monitors hitting our desks. Maybe. We’ll at least see standard OLED monitors, but how good they’ll turn out to be for gaming is still up in the air. I have plugged my desktop rig into a 55-inch LG OLED I borrowed a while back, and that was a quite stunning experience, even just playing Fallout 4 on it.

The long-awaited 30-inch Dell UP3017Q was the first OLED monitor to be announced and promises a 120Hz refresh rate to go along with its 3840 x 2160 native resolution. It was first shown off at CES last year and has still to hit the market. Fingers crossed it will do this year. And fingers crossed LG decide to up their monitor game too and deliver us some more OLED screens.

OLED isn’t the only new screen tech which could potentially arrive on our desktops this year, Panasonic have been developing a new type of IPS panel which could rival OLED for image quality. It promises 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 1,000nits peak brightness and almost the same perfect blacks of OLED displays. Early samples are meant to be appearing this January, but whether that will translate into actual retail monitors later on in 2017 we just don’t know.

Panasonic Super IPS

Elsewhere you can bet the refresh rate rat race is going to carry on apace. Asus are working on releasing a 240Hz gaming screen this year and I expect some manufacturer’s going to faux up some 300Hz screen using a heady mix of marketing bull and creative license.

You will also be seeing a lot more HDR-ready monitors over the course of the next 12 months too. LG have recently announced they will be showing off their own 32-inch HDR 4K IPS monitor at CES, supporting the HDR 10 standard, and you can bet they won’t be the only ones out in Las Vegas eager to jump on the HDR bandwagon. We are still waiting on HDR patches for games to make them at all relevant, but fingers crossed that will be happening this year too. Or HDR monitors are going to be a complete waste of time…

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2017 Windows: Microsoft are getting creative

Groove Music Maker

There’s a new version of the Windows operating system coming this year. Exciting, no? Is it Windows 11? Have they needed to skip that number due to it being a horrendously offensive numeral in Chad and gone straight for Windows 12? Nope, it’s still Windows 10, just with a new update.

Windows 10 is set to be the final version of Microsoft’s OS. Yeah, they think they’ve finally cracked it. From now on there will only be incremental updates as they try and move towards an approach of Windows being more of a service than a product.

The next of these incremental changes is the Creators Update and is due to drop this Spring. MS Paint is getting a major overhaul and you’ll now be able to create bad 3D models in the basic software as well as bad 2D drawings. And, speaking of three dimensions, the Creators Update is also going to be the version of the OS which supports the coming dawn of Microsoft’s virtual and mixed reality ecosystems.

If you’re more aurally fixated then the Groove Music Maker app might suit you better. It looks like a really basic drag and drop music creation tool, optimised for touch. But at least it’ll be free, eh?

The Edge browser (you know, behind that other ‘e’ icon you never click on because you’re still using Chrome) is also getting an update too with some tab preview feature. But if a tab previews in a browser and no one is around to see it, does it make a difference?

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Apple plans to make iPhones in Bengaluru from April

BENGALURU: Apple plans to make iPhones for the Indian market in Bengaluru. Wistron, a Taiwanese OEM maker for Apple, is setting up a facility in Peenya, the city’s industrial hub, to manufacture the iPhones. The facility will start production from next April, according to industry sources.

Top sources in the company confirmed to TOI that Apple is “very serious” about beginning assembly operations —and thereafter full manufacture — in India by the end of next year. “Bangalore is being looked at seriously,” said multiple sources within the company. Local manufacture will help Apple price its phones competitively as full imports attract 12.5% additional duty.

Foxconn, Apple’s largest Taiwan-based OEM, earlier committed to setting up a manufacturing plant in Maharashtra. The assumption was the plant would make only Apple products. But sources say Foxconn has tied up with other players like Xiaomi and OnePlus for local manufacture and not necessarily to only make Apple products there.

This will be Apple’s second big announcement for Bengaluru. In May, Apple announced a design and development accelerator in the city to grow the iOS developer community and also to guide Indian developers to leverage Apple’s programming language Swift and build apps for Apple TV and Apple Watch. The facility will open early next year.

 The Bengaluru manufacturing facility underscores India’s importance for the Cupertino-based company. Apple CEO Tim Cook’s multi-city India tour earlier this year signalled the growing importance of India powered by the demand for Apple products by a burgeoning middle class. Data from Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Technology Market Research showed that Apple sold 2.5 million iPhones in India from October 2015 to September 2016, a rise of more than 50% over the year-ago period.
The revenue numbers speak for themselves. Apple India clocked robust sales touching Rs 9,997 crore in the 2016 financial year, up 56% from Rs 6,472 crore, previously. The company’s net profit grew 21% to Rs 294 crore during the same period with deeper retail penetration and lower prices for older iPhone models that garnered a huge user base. An email sent to Apple didn’t elicit a response till the time of going to press.

Apple has published job openings on its portal for a few positions at its OEM’s factory in Bengaluru like operations program manager and product quality manager. Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst (telecom) at CyberMedia Research, said, “Apple coming to India is a big booster for the make in India initiative.”
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“Golden visa” for investors in UAE

UAE plans to introduce special preference visas for foreign businessmen who are going to invest in the country’s economy, reported Emirates 24|7.

“The Ministry of Interior is studying a proposal to start issue “golden visa” for businessmen and we plan to implement it at the federal level,” – said the head of the General Directorate of stay of foreign nationals Mohammed Ahmad Al -Marri.

The system of privileged or so-called “golden visas” for foreign investors is currently operating in several European countries. In particular, in the UK a Tier visa or an investor visa is issued once for three years on condition of investing £ 1 million. The minimum threshold for the “golden” visa in Greece is 250 000 euro, in Cyprus – 300 000 euros, in Portugal and Spain – 500 000 euros. It is expected that this step will lead to an increase in foreign direct investment in the UAE, including the sphere of real estate. The duration and cost of such type of visa have not been announced yet.

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Portugal Immigration Services

Portugal has become one of the most popular destinations for migrants due to its Golden Visa Program. The property-for-visas program has been highly successful and since it started in 2012, it has sold some 1.53 billion euros worth of homes. Portugal has achieved this success because of the many benefits it offers to migrants, which include:

Temperate weather:- Portugal is one of the warmest countries in Europe, with an average temperature of 13-degrees C. The warmest months are from March to October with temperatures reaching their hottest in July and August.

Beautiful beaches:- The coastal regions of the country, which stretch along the entire southern and western areas, are among its strongest draws for tourists. Portugal is known for having some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world, including famous ones that can be found along the Algarve, where there is spectacular scenery such as scalloped bays and looming cliffs.

English-speaking:- Younger Portuguese are taught English in school, making it easier to communicate with them.

Affordable cost of living:- This is one of the biggest draws for expatriates who want to live in the country. The cost of food is much cheaper compared with other countries in Western Europe, and property is affordable.

Travelling around the country is easier:- Public transportation in the country is efficient and cheap. While the costs of petrol and automobiles are relatively more affordable than in other Western European countries; the country has a good network of carriageways and highways, and the traffic is considerably lighter except during peak hours.

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What Is The UAE Golden Visa

What Is The UAE Golden Visa?

The UAE is a country that is unique in the world because it allows individuals from almost any country in the world to obtain a visa in a straight forward model.
According to Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, a new model is being considered. One that would be specifically designed to attract wealthy individuals: a so-called ‘Golden Visa’.

What Is The UAE Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa is issued by countries to provide wealthy individuals a fast track to a fully valid residency permit. In return these individuals need to make a substantial investment in the country, thus supporting the economy.
It is often a very straightforward and flexible programme, with simple and clear legal requirements, and extremely reduced minimum stay requirements.
This type of residency programme is not new. It is often used by governments in distress to increase their tax base with some ‘strong shoulders’, or by governments that are business oriented.
These programmes are attractive for individuals who wish to live in a country with a better quality of life or to obtain certain benefits. Residency in Europe can increase their travel options within the Schengen area. The UAE would be attractive for its stable and tax free business environment in a turbulent region.
Currently the UAE does offer residence visas for business owners (investor visas), employees. Also it offer a visa for property owners who invest at least 1 million Dirhams; however this is not a residence visa but a 6-month multiple-entry visit visa.

What Are The Requirements Of The UAE Golden Visa?

Lately there have been a number of countries that have initiated a type of Golden Vis programme. Naturally each country sets their own requirements but typically it involves making a minimum investment.
The UK for example requires a 1 Million GBP investment in a government approved investment. Portugal requires one of the following: acquisition of any property above € 500,000, the transfer of capital above € 1,000,000 into a business or at a bank deposit, or the creation of a minimum of 10 permanent jobs. Latvia has a residency programme that requires a minimum investment of €30000; after 5 years citizenship can be applied for. Panama has a range of investor programmes; all of which can lead to citizenship after 5 years of residence. Cyprus and Malta offer popular citizenship programmes for investors too.
In short: governments want to make it easy for wealthy individuals to instantly contribute to the economy.

Conclusion

As of now, the Golden Visa is still only being considered by the UAE government. Nothing is yet known about the costs, the duration of the programme and the requirements.
But when the programme is implemented, this can be yet another outstanding tool in the arsenal of the UAE to attract more business and capital to its shores.
Freemont will follow this development closely and report on any future developments.
If the programme gets approved, we will be ready.

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Facebook and Google to Own 71% of UK Ad Market by 2020

By 2020, 71% or £4.1bn of the UK’s overall online display advertising market will go to Facebook and Google, according to a new report published today by OC&C Strategy Consultants.

According to OC&C’s Marketing 20:20 report, Facebook and Google currently account for just over half (53%) of the £4bn online display advertising market in the UK, but will experience combined annual growth of on average 24% year-on-year over the next four years.

Already attracting two-thirds of the US’ lucrative £18.4bn online display ad market, OC&C Strategy Consultants’ report suggests it will take Facebook and Google just four years to achieve a similar share of the UK market.

Display ads – which include online banner and rich media ads such as video, images and audio – are now the leading digital advertising format across the world and represent c.40% ($216bn) of global advertising spend. The two technology giants will play a critical role in the dissemination of these adverts in future, controlling how and when ads are served, and to whom. According to marketers interviewed for the Marketing 20:20 report, they offer an enticing combination of precision and reach which is hard to ignore.

Fergus Jarvis, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, said: “Google and Facebook provide unique tools which allow marketers to reach and target customers in new and innovative ways. As these tools become more precise, and their audience continues to grow, CMOs are increasingly seeing the benefit of highly measurable and targeted campaigns. As a result, Facebook and Google’s command of the online advertising market is not a matter of if, but when.”

The platforms’ success in the growing digital advertising market comes as the time spent on digital media also continues to grow significantly – particularly on mobile. In fact, OC&C Strategy Consultants’ projections reveal that, in the next 12 months in the UK, time spent looking at content on a mobile will surpass that watched on TV for the first time. In 2017, the average Brit will consume around 3.2 hours of content on their mobile each day, compared to 3.1 hours on TV. Both Facebook and Google have positioned themselves to take advantage of the pivot to mobile, owning 8 of the 10 most used mobile applications between them.

Fergus added: “Facebook and Google are increasingly at the centre of all content consumed on a mobile and can provide quite remarkable reach to advertisers as a result. But as more and more advertising spend drifts towards Facebook and Google, it’s all the more important for marketers to understand the returns these platforms can generate. CMOs need to do two things: firstly, they need to understand how much better the ROI is for advertising through Facebook and Google compared with other channels; and secondly, they need to ensure that ad spend through these platforms forms part of a diversified media and marketing mix.”

“For media companies, the picture is altogether more complex. With Facebook and Google not only able to drive traffic, but also able to identify that traffic and monetise it, publishers need to find ways of collaborating and innovating to keep up. In order to compete, media companies need to build out a better view of their customers and aim to provide better targeting to marketers directly than they can get through Facebook or Google.”

Top Mobile Apps for the Year 2016

“Here are our favourite apps for the year 2016”

Smartphones have become incredibly powerful over the years and consequently, we have become extremely reliant on these pocket computers to manage our tasks, consume media as well as get some work done on the go too. Regardless of the platform, be it iOS or Android, we need appropriate software to make the most out of these smartphones and with the year coming to an end, we decided to list some of the best apps and games which caught our eye and made the headlines this year. These are the best apps and games for the year 2016.

APPS

Prisma (Android / iOS)

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Amassing more than fifty million users on both iOS and Android since its launch, the photo-editing app Prisma has had an incredibly successful year. Only a handful of apps have been able to amp up the audience as much as Prisma did. Users can create artsy pictures in as little as two steps by using the app. All the photos are edited/rendered on a cloud-based platform using AI. Hence, a smartphone’s hardware capabilities don’t really affect the final result. If you haven’t gotten around to trying the app yet, we highly recommend that you do and spruce up your mundane selfies with some fancy filters.

Dubsmash (Android / iOS)

Lip-syncing a live performance is considered a grave offence, unless you are using Dubsmash. The popular iOS and Android application was able to get 10 million users hooked onto it since its launch by offering them an enormous catalogue of dialogues, songs, video-clips and much more from popular movies, songs and TV shows. Thousands of Dubsmash videos were being shared on social media platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook with many Hollywood and Bollywood stars jumping in on the frenzy and sharing their clips too. If you haven’t gotten around to trying it, the app is a great way to kill some time.

SmartNews (Android / iOS)

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If you are in the market for a newsreader/aggregator, you won’t find anything more minimal and intuitive than SmartNews. The app collects news from different channels and lays them in a tab-like format separating them on the basis of their categories. What sets SmartNews apart from other aggregators is that the app finds news based on real-time analysis of several web pages. The app also loads all the stories in the background making load times substantially quicker. If you consider yourself an avid reader, SmartNews will have you swiping through tabs in no time.

Apple Music (Android / iOS)

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While Apple might not be able to convince millions of Android users to buy its iPhones, the company found a different way to profit from the massive user base by launching its music streaming service on Android a couple months back. Apple music is a great app for discovering new music as well as for listening to old classics, and comes preloaded on iPhones. The app is extremely minimal and comes with curated radio, playlists as well as recommendations and is free for the first three months after which, users can opt to the service by paying Rs 120 per month.

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Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2017

The GSMA recently announced the first details of the 2017 GSMA Shanghai, including confirmed exhibitors and sponsors, as well as a range of programmes and activities taking place at the annual mobile industry event.  Under the theme of “The Human Element”, Shanghai will be held from Wednesday, 28 June through Saturday, 1 July 2017 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC). More than 65,000 attendees will participate in the Shanghai event, including professionals from across the mobile industry and adjacent sectors, as well as consumers.

International Smart City Expo To Be Part of Shanghai
The GSMA has signed an agreement with Pudong New Area Commission of Commerce, Pudong Science and Economy Commission and Shanghai Wistropolitan Exhibition Company Limited to incorporate The International Smart City Expo – Shanghai Pudong in Shanghai. Pudong will demonstrate its strength in the areas of technology innovation and free trade, and promote Pudong as a leader in smart tourism, smart community and smart exhibition.

Showcase more than 650 Companies
This year, the Shanghai exhibition is expanding to seven halls at the SNIEC, including both “Industry Halls” and “Experience Halls”. As always, the exhibition at Shanghai will showcase innovative products, services and technologies that are shaping the future of mobile from across the mobile ecosystem, as well as adjacent industry sectors such as automotive and consumer electronics.

Launched at Shanghai in 2016, 4 Years From Now (4YFN) and the Youth Mobile Festival (YoMo) will both return to Shanghai. Bringing together more than 100 local and international startups, 4YFN will continue to focus on promoting the development of international entrepreneurial talent in Asia. YoMo will again provide an engaging, fun and hands-on educational experience for young people and families. In addition to 4YFN and YoMo, the exhibition will include focused areas such as the Gaming Zone, Device City and the Drone Zone.

NEXTech is the future

Are you interested in next generation technology? The latest mobile innovations? Then you have to visit the newest addition to Mobile World Congress, NEXTech Hall.

Immerse yourself in a world filled with the latest VR, AR, IoT, drones, robotics, AI and much more. Learn more about VR/AR Hardware and software companies, Humanoid Robots, Cognitive Computing and AI technology. With the fourth Industrial Revolution now well underway, NEXTech will demonstrate the most forward thinking companies and technologies currently disrupting the ICT ecosystem.

The hall will feature different pavilions and zones including the NEXTech Pavilion (incorporating VR/AR, Robotics and AI), IoT Pavilion and Drone Zone. The NEXTech lab will also form part of the pavilion – this open theatre will feature content led presentations by those industry experts currently at the forefront of next generation tech. Some of the most prominent companies in the mobile industry will be joining in this interactive experience.

The Drone zone is set to quite literally ‘take off’ at the show this year, be sure to stop by to see amazing demonstrations taking place at the flying drone cage. Some of the largest drone manufacturers in the world, including the current industry leader DJI, will be showing us why the commercial drone market is set to reach $120m by 2022. No wonder drones are at the top of many wish lists for the holidays!

Our IoT pavilion was such a hit  in 2016 that it has doubled in size this year. Leading companies offering solutions in IoT, M2M, Wireless Networking and Smart Cities will be showcasing these exciting solutions and showing delegates how the technology is changing the world.

Be sure to add Hall 8.0 NEXTech to your MWC17 agenda, to see the latest cutting-edge technology of the future!

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Photos in Daydream VR offers a powerful trip down memory lane

I’ve resolved to take a lot more panorama images from now on, and Daydream View is the reason why. Google’s new mobile VR headset, which makes it possible to use Daydream VR in Android 7.1 on the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, is an easy and enjoyable way to try out virtual reality, and its most powerful feature might be your boring old photo library.

We’ve already reviewed Daydream and covered how it might be a big step forward in terms of mass VR adoption, provided it comes to more Android hardware quickly. But something that Daydream offers right now is a powerful way to virtually step into your memories, using the standard Google Photos app included in Android and any images you’ve captured using either the Cardboard camera app, or with the standard Panorama capture mode in the stock Android camera app

Viewing even narrower-angle panoramas in Photos in Daydream VR is a breath-catching experience – literally in my case. It does actually feel like you’re standing inside your memories, and provided you captured them with a decent camera to begin with (most of mine were snapped with a Galaxy S6), they appear sharp and vibrant as well as life-sized.

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My only complaint with Photos in Daydream isn’t levied at Google – it’s pointed at myself. I have around six photos total that work in VR, and I took one of them yesterday. The others are luckily collected from a few cherished trips, and looking at them in the Daydream View feels as close as I’ve ever come to actually stepping back in time.

This will be among the most difficult experiences to convey to people who don’t own their own Daydream but who are interested in trying one out, because it’s intensely personal, and requires that you already have your own panorama photos and a Daydream VR headset/smartphone combo that allows you to see them in the VR Photos app. But trust me when I say that it’s actually breathtaking, and one of the Daydream features that I think will actually change my behavior significantly long-term.

Now, I’m off to take some more panorama photos.


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