Google confirms it’s the end of the road for the Chromecast Audio

Farewell then, to the Chromecast Audio dongle – Google has confirmed it’s discontinuing the product, which was launched back in 2015. The product is no longer available to buy direct from Google, and it won’t be getting restocked.

For those who aren’t aware, the Chromecast Audio dongle was designed to attach to a regular speaker via a 3.5 mm audio cable, and pipe through audio from Chromecast-compatible apps on other devices – though if you haven’t heard of the Chromecast Audio before now, you’re a bit late to the party. So late in fact that it’s now ending.

The device actually worked very well as a way to add some smarts to an existing speaker, and get audio from plenty of apps at a louder volume without resorting to Bluetooth. However, Google obviously feels the Chromecast Audio’s time is up.

Support will continue

Suspicions were raised in a Reddit post by someone who had ordered a Chromecast Audio, and then a Google spokesperson confirmed to Android Police that the dongle had reached the end of the road after a little over three years.

“Our product portfolio continues to evolve, and now we have a variety of products for users to enjoy audio,” Google says. “We have therefore stopped manufacturing our Chromecast Audio products. We will continue to offer assistance for Chromecast Audio devices, so users can continue to enjoy their music, podcasts and more.”

It sounds as though Google would much rather you used one of its own speakers – or maybe a Sonos One with Google Assistant support – rather than plugging a smart attachment into an existing one.

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The Redmi Note 7 is now the most affordable 48MP camera smartphone

The Redmi Note 7 smartphone has officially been launched at an event in Beijing, China. At the same event, Xiaomi confirmed the earlier news that Redmi would be an independent brand, going forward. 

The Redmi Note 7 comes with an all-new design, a departure from its predecessor, the Note 6, whose design remained largely unaltered from the Note 5. The new Note 7, however, sports a waterdrop notch with thin bezels on the sides. It also houses a 48MP rear camera, which makes it the cheapest 48MP camera smartphone in the world. 

Due to the notch at the top of the display, the Note 7 has a 6.3-inch LCD screen with 2340×1080 pixels. The company claims that the bezels on the sides are just 0.8mm thick, with a brightness of 450 nits, similar to the Note 6 Pro. The body of the phone is a 2.5D curved glass chassis, with a rear fingerprint sensor. The camera unit is placed at the top left corner of the rear panel, aligned vertically, with a single LED flash below the sensor; there’s also a secondary 5MP rear sensor for portrait shots. The camera appears to be housed in a large, protruding module. 

The design refresh is certainly welcome; but it’s the rear camera module that’s the real newsmaker for this phone. According to the company, the 48MP sensor can take better low-light shots, and poster-quality HD photos. 

 The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC, and a 4000mAh battery. The phone will come in 3GB, 4GB and 6GB RAM variants, with 32GB and 64GB storage models. At the bottom is a USB Type-C port, replacing the micro-USB port that most phones in this budget have. It supports Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0.

The selfie camera has a 13MP sensor, with AI algorithms for beautification and portrait mode. According to Xiaomi (or is it Redmi now?), the display is so durable that stepping on it won’t break it. Dare we test that claim?

The Redmi Note 7’s price begins at 999 Yuan for the base variant (3GB+32GB), which translates to roughly Rs 10,381; the priciest is the 6GB+64GB variant, which costs 1399 Yuan (about Rs 14,532). The company is offering an 18-month warranty to buyers in China. It’s hard to say when the phone will come to India, and if it’ll remain as affordable as we’ve come to expect from the brand. Clearly, the Note 7 brings some pretty high-end specs to the budget smartphone table, so the pricing in India will be a matter of some interest. 

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Hybrid processors at CES 2019 are the future of computing

While Intel and AMD were outdoing each other at CES 2019 by announcing their respective 10nm and 7nm processors, both companies also introduced hybrid processors that may have an even greater effect of change the future of computing forever.

On one side, there’s Intel’s LakeField processors, whose architecture is closer to that of ARM CPU than a traditional computer chip. Instead of just having a block of 10nm CPU cores, the LakeField processor will feature one central 10nm Sunny Cove core paired with four Treemont Atom cores.

Later into the CES 2019, AMD also introduced its own hybrid processor with its Ryzen 3rd Generation chip that paired an eight-core 7nm chiplet with a second 14nm chiplet to manage memory controllers and PCIe lanes.

Both processors aim to do different things with they’re hybrid architectures, but they share one thing in common: they’re both moving away from the traditional monolithic processor.

AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation

Monolithic vs Hybrid

Now after all that talk you might be wondering what the difference is between monolithic and hybrid processor designs? The answer is actually simpler than you might think. 

For the most part, processors that have come in laptops and PC have stuck to a monolithic design, in which the there’s one homogeneous processor die built from a single architecture. For example, Intel Coffee Lake processors used a single 14nm die, Ryzen CPUs featured 14nm die, Ryzen 2nd Generation a 12nm die, and so on .

Hybrid designs shake things up by introducing chiplets that may add a second type of processor cores, integrated graphics, memory or any number of things.

ARM-based CPUs found in phones, tablets and even Qualcomm-powered Windows 10 machines typically use this type of design to great effect for maximizing battery life and even performance. Now it seems we’re starting to see the beginnings of hybridization in computer processors now  – at least in Intel’s case with LakeField.

Hybrid processors could allow your devices to both handle all your tasks on demand and save your battery life when they’re just on standby by packing in both performance cores and low energy cores into the same chip. What’s more, chips with this type of architecture can act as compact systems on a chip if they also have integrated graphics, memory and other modules.

Intel LakeField

Proof in the pudding

Intel has actually already shown an examples of the how small its hybrid processor-powered device can be. At its CES 2019 keynote stage, the company introduced its LakeField processor built into the smallest motherboard it has produced measuring just length of five American quarters, a form-factor that could easily fit into tablets and even some phones.

According to Intel, LakeField processors can power anything from very low power devices and scale up to full PC performance.

AMD didn’t nearly have any as many proof of concept examples, but it did show that it’s new hybridized processor doesn’t lose a step in performance due to the new design. The company’s mystery Ryzen 3rd Generation processor scored 2,023 points in Cinebench. By comparison, the Intel Core i9-9900K and AMD Ryzen 7 2700X scored 1,873 and 1,798 points, respectively in our own testing.

While it seems like hybrid processors have a promising future in computing devices, we don’t want to buy into the hype too much until we actually get some devices with them.

There’s also no reason for processors with monolithic designs to disappear anytime soon. All the complexity of hybrid chips will likely add to the cost of devices until their production becomes ubiquitous. 

Also, not all devices may benefit from a hybrid architecture. For example, PCs built for production and gaming will be better off with classically constructed CPUs and the maximum power a monolithic processor can deliver – though, the regularity at which Apple’s iPads equipped with its self-made processors outpace Windows 10 laptops may prove this to be false. 

It’s too early to tell what devices powered by Intel and AMD’s hybrid processors may look like, but we’re excited this is even happening. The software and experience of using laptops and PCs has evolved to in step with phones and mobile devices – with touch screens, biometrics and features like modern standby – and it feels like it’s about time for the same thing to happen to the hardware that powers them.

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Amazon fires open-source shot with DocumentDB launch

In a move that will surely upset the open-source community, AWS has launched a new database offering compatible with the MongoDB API called DocumentDB.

The cloud giant describes its new product as a “fast, scalable, and highly available document database that is designed to be compatible with your existing MongoDB applications and tools.” However, it is essentially a replacement for MongoDB that uses its API but none of its code.

According to AWS, its customers have found it difficult to build fast and highly available applications that are able to scale to multiple terabytes with hundreds of thousands of reads and writes per second. So instead, the company built its own document database that is compatible with Apace 2.0 open source MongoDB 3.6 API.

This has led to further accusations that AWS is taking the best open-source projects and re-branding them without giving back to the communities responsible for their creation.

Sincerest form of flattery

MongoDB took efforts to stop AWS and others from copying its product by re-licensing its open-source tools under a new license that clearly states that companies trying to use its code to create similar products have to buy a commercial license.

MongoDB’s CEO and President Dev Ittycheria responded to the news in a statement to TechCrunch, saying:

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so it’s not surprising that Amazon would try to capitalize on the popularity and momentum of MongoDB’s document model. However, developers are technically savvy enough to distinguish between the real thing and a poor imitation. MongoDB will continue to outperform any impersonations in the market.” 

The company’s Co-Founder and CTO Eliot Horowitz also weighed in on the matter, saying:

 “In order to give developers what they want, AWS has been pushed to offer an imitation MongoDB service that is based on the MongoDB code from two years ago. Our entire company is focused on one thing — giving developers the best way to work with data with the freedom to run anywhere. Our commitment to that single mission will continue to differentiate the real MongoDB from any imitation products that come along.” 

Time will tell if developers embrace AWS’ DocumentDB but the damage to the open-source community has already been done.

Via TechCrunch

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Google can limit “right to be forgotten” in EU

A top court adviser for the EU has said that Google can limit the “right to be forgotten” to internet searches made within the European Union.

Back in 2016, Google was fined by France’s privacy watchdog CNIL for failing to delist sensitive information beyond the borders of the EU. Maciej Szpunar’s opinion on the case will likely help the search giant as the European Court of Justices judges generally follow the advice of the advocate general though they are not bound to do so.

Google’s senior privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer explained how the company has worked to protect European’s right to be forgotten, saying:

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for Europeans, including using geolocation to ensure 99 percent effectiveness.” 

Right to be forgotten

A landmark ruling five years ago gave Europeans the right to ask search engines to delist certain information about them.

According to Szpunar, searches made from outside the EU should not be affected by the right to be forgotten. He explained how the right to be forgotten should not interfere with other fundamental rights, saying:

“The fundamental right to be forgotten must be balanced against other fundamental rights, such as the right to data protection and the right to privacy, as well as the legitimate public interest in accessing the information sought.”

Google has appealed a $115,000 fine from CNIL in March 2016 for failing to delist information across national borders which sent the case to the European Court of Justice. 

Via Reuters

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