Author Archives: Kovalenko Oleksandr

Netflix stops offering in-app subscriptions on IOS

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Netflix is no longer allowing new customers on iOS to pay for the streaming service directly through an in-app subscription. It’s the latest example of a company with a high-profile, essential mobile app ditching Apple’s payment system to retain more profits for itself and stop handing the iPhone and iPad maker a cut of every subscription activated within the Netflix app.

According to new data compiled by Sensor Tower, Netflix grossed $853 million in 2018 on the iOS App Store. Based on that figure, Apple’s take would have been around $256 million, the firm said. To date, the Netflix iOS app has generated more than $1.5 billion through its in-app subscriptions, with Apple’s cut coming in around $450 million-plus, Sensor Tower estimated. Before the change, Netflix on iOS was grossing an average of $2.4 million per day in 2018 — meaning Apple was making around $700,000 by doing nothing other than allowing Netflix to offer subscriptions in its app.

(Note, however, that Sensor Tower’s figures are based on the App Store’s 30 percent cut of transactions. After the first year, Apple’s cut on subscription renewals is lowered to 15 percent. That’s not being factored in. But it gives you a rough idea of Apple’s losses here). The latter policy was implemented in 2016 after numerous companies complained that Apple was taking too much. Spotify, the leading subscription music app, has also bypassed Apple’s in-app billing for similar reasons.

Google has faced similar criticisms on the Android end of things; Netflix had already stopped offering in-app subscriptions through Google Play before today’s iOS news — and Fortnite developer Epic Games famously keeps its smash hit outside Google’s store to maximize profits on in-game items.


Netflix stops paying the ‘Apple tax’ on its $853M in annual iOS revenue

NASA is about to visit the farthest object ever

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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is about to fly past the most distant space rock we have ever visited. Since zooming by Pluto in 2015, the probe has been heading ever further from home, towards a tiny world called 2014 MU69. It is set to arrive on New Year’s Day.

We do know that it is a mere 30 kilometres or so across – less than 2 per cent of Pluto’s diameter – which has made getting there incredibly difficult. “It’s a lot harder than Pluto,” says mission leader Alan Stern. “Instead of being the size of the continental US, it’s the size of Boston. Being 100 times smaller means it’s 10,000 times fainter.”

As happened at Pluto, New Horizons will not be communicating with Earth during closest approach, because it will be focused on gathering all the science it can during the high-speed flyby. Whenever it does turn back to point at Earth to transmit data it will take more than 6 hours for its data to traverse the distance between us. So when are we going to get to find out what MU69 looks like?


The downlinks from New Horizons around its 1 January 2019 flyby of 2014 MU69 will not contain its highest-resolution images. Instead, they will be photos that the team is reasonably confident will contain an image of 2014 MU69. Two “failsafe” downlinks are planned for before the closest approach, and three “New York Times” downlinks are planned over the two days after closest approach. These are Rosetta OSIRIS images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, scaled to be approximately the same size that the New Horizons images of 67P are expected to be, with some processing to add blur and speckle noise (for a variety of reasons, New Horizons LORRI images of MU69 will not look as crisp as Rosetta OSIRIS images of 67P). They are at a phase angle of 10 degrees, similar to the 11-degree phase at which New Horizons will see MU69 from a distance.



Postmates cute robot will help to automate its deliveries

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On-demand delivery company Postmates has unveiled an autonomous delivery robot called Serve that it’s planning to put to work in 2019.

The adorable wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and operates with a battery that gives it a range of 30 miles, which should be enough for around 12 deliveries a day, Postmates said.

The initial aim is to be able to make deliveries much more quickly by avoiding traffic by traveling on the sidewalk. Ultimately, it hopes to cut out the emissions of the cars and motorcycles that many of Postmates’ 350,000 couriers currently use.

Serve uses Velodyne LIDAR sensors and a Nvidia Xavier processor to navigate and avoid obstacles as it makes deliveries directly to people’s homes. It’s also able to make visual cues to help it weave between pedestrians on the sidewalk and vehicles as it crosses roads. A light ring on its top acts as a set of turn signals, while a pair of eyes on its front aims to give more subtle hints to passersby about which direction the robot might be heading in next. If things go wrong, a small touchscreen on the top of the bot can be used to make a video call for assistance, although the robots will also be supervised remotely.


Postmates is keen to point out that Serve won’t be putting any of its current delivery personnel out of a job. Instead, it should allow the company to make more deliveries, with the robot taking on a range of tasks that could include not only direct delivery to the customer, but also, say, item collection in busy areas where personnel might otherwise waste time looking for parking. “Serve could instantly pick up orders and transport them a few blocks to a Postmate away from occupied parking spaces and traffic,” the company suggested.

Obstacles to such autonomous delivery robots include trouble from thieves and vandals (remember HitchBot?), as well as jokers who might find it fun to confuse the robot by throwing a blanket over it. Most importantly, though, regulators have to be confident of their safety before they allow them onto the city streets, though a growing number of states have been willing to greenlight trials.

In the delivery world, robots have come to represent both a holy grail and an inevitability. Replace some or all of the human labor and you get faster drop-offs, more pick-ups per hour, and cheaper goods for everyone. Big companies, like Uber, Amazon, and Alibaba, have each invested heavily in developing such technologies, from delivery drones to autonomous bots; venture capitalist have poured millions into delivery robot start-ups like Marble, Boxbot, and Dispatch, all of which want their piece of the robo-delivery future. By some estimations, sidewalk bots like Serve will make up 85 percent of last-mile deliveries by 2025. Whichever company gains a foothold now will have a huge advantage in the future on-demand economy.

As for Serve, Postmates plans to put it to work first in Los Angeles, with more cities welcoming the delivery bot over the next 12 months.



Google smart jacket can now warn if you forgot your phone

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Google and Levi’s Jacquard smart jacket has introduced a new function designed to stop you from mistakenly leaving your phone behind.

Not so long ago an American technology Google along with a global apparel brand Levi’s has developed a smart jacket. New smart clothing has incorporated a special device, something like a mini-computer called Computer Trucker. In fact, the jacket is the most common, which are many, but developed by Google ATAP technology, Jacquard Technology completely replaces the smartphone.

The Jacquard app already introduced a manual “find your phone” feature this time last year. That let you assign a gesture to your jacket that, when performed, would trigger your phone to start ringing at full volume. While that was a fine way to track down a handset gone astray, it wasn’t much help until you realized your phone was missing in the first place.

It’s a neat addition for the smart jacket, which can already use touch inputs to control things on your smartphone like music controls and navigation pings within Google Maps. Earlier this year, an update in the Jacquard platform introduced a handful of other functions, like support for ride-sharing alerts and pin drops on a map to save locations.


New “smart” jacket from Google and Levi’s replaces the smartphone

Razer makes Xbox mouse and keyboard

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Gaming hardware manufacturer Razer is making the world’s first wireless keyboard and mouse designed specifically for the Xbox One, and it will talk more about them at CES 2019.
Aside from a flashy trailer featuring glimpses of the mouse and keyboard, Razer didn’t provide any other details. We only knew that more information would be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2019) next year. While we still don’t know how much this fabled mouse and keyboard will cost, we’ve now a better look at the device on Razer’s website.

You can clearly see the Xbox Button on the bottom right where the “Control” key should be. The Xbox Dynamic Lighting is also on display and appears to be based on Razer’s “Chroma” technology which provides similar functions on the company’s keyboards. All in all, it’s a gorgeous device, bolstered by its mechanical keys. Hopefully it’ll won’t be too hefty and tout strong battery life.
It’s up to developers to implement keyboard and mouse support in Xbox One games. Fortnite in particular will match up keyboard and mouse players with other players using those same inputs to keep play balanced.
There’s no word yet on how much the Xbox One Razer keyboard and mouse costs or when they’ll hit store shelves. That will likely be announced at CES, which takes place Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada.