Harman Kardon’s Cortana-Powered ‘Invoke’ Speaker Revealed on Company Site

Last year, Microsoft announced the Cortana SDK and Harman Kardon teased its first Cortana-powered speaker would be launched this year. Now, Harman Kardon has revealed the Invoke speaker. While the speaker website was initially made available for everyone to see, it seems like Harman Kardon has now pulled down the “coming soon” page for the Amazon Echo’s rival product from its website.

While the Invoke speaker is set to be released by Harman Kardon in fall this year, around same time as Redstone 3, the pricing and the exact release date has not been revealed as of now, as pointed out in a report by Thurrott.com. The Invoke speakers offer 360-degree sound, ability to make and receive calls via Skype, and other functionalities offered by Cortana that one might expect. Based on the images shared on the pre-release page, the speakers are expected to be made available in Silver and Black colour variants.

Harman Kardon's Cortana-Powered 'Invoke' Speaker Revealed on Company SiteIn terms of design, the Invoke speakers come in a cylindrical shape and have a circular ring at the top. The Redmond-based company is expected to share more information about the speakers at its Build conference that will start from Wednesday. Microsoft shared last year that the Cortana Devices SDK was then in private preview and would be made available more broadly in 2017.

As we mentioned in our earlier report, Microsoft is not the first tech company to open out its voice assistant technology to third-party developers, with Amazon, Apple, and Google each releasing tools for Alexa, Siri, and Assistant respectively.

LeEco Confirms Layoffs in the US, Cuts 325 Jobs

Cash-strapped Chinese tech firm LeEco on Wednesday confirmed that it is throttling back plans to invade the US market, cutting 325 jobs months after announcing a major expansion.

The layoffs were reported represent about 70 percent of the company’s US staff.

“The challenges with raising new capital have made it difficult in the past few months to support all of our business priorities,” LeEco spokeswoman Kayla Harper said in an email..

“As a result, the capital we do have will have to be highly focused resulting in a significant restructuring and streamlining of our business, operations and workforce.”

The belt tightening will effect approximately 325 positions in the US, according to Harper.

LeEco Confirms Layoffs in the US, Cuts 325 JobsLeEco – referred to as a combination of Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Tesla – dove into the US market late last year with a grand event in San Francisco and laid out a vision of taking on US tech titans on their home turf.

LeEco jumped into a fiercely competitive US smartphone market with sophisticated handsets priced lower than flagship models from rivals to bring users to its “ecosystem” of online offerings.

Analysts, however, expected it to take more than bargains on handsets to win people away from what Apple and Google provide when it comes to meshing mobile devices with digital content, applications and services.

Chinese focus
LeEco continues to have faith in its approach and will remain in the US market, but playing to its strength with content tailored for Chinese-speaking customers, according to Harper.

“In the past few months, we have gained a large foothold in Chinese-speaking households in the US by offering tailor-made products and content for this community,” Harper said.

“We believe this provides us an opportunity to build on our strengths and grow from there.”

LeEco last month abandoned its effort to buy US television maker Vizio, citing “regulatory headwinds.”

LeEco last year announced a deal to buy Vizio for $2 billion, but the acquisition had to be approved by regulators.

LeEco said that Vizio will look into ways to incorporate the Chinese company’s app and content into offerings.

Early this year, LeEco secured a $2.2 billion investment from a group led by property developer Sunac China Holdings, after it had to suspend trading in shares.

The money was to be ploughed into the sprawling LeEco empire, which has interests in various sectors including self-driving cars, smartphones, film making, and TV-set manufacturing.

Originally a video-streaming provider, LeEco has expanded rapidly with investments in sectors as wide-ranging as self-driving cars, sports broadcasting rights, smartphones, film production, and television manufacturing.

LeEco’s diverse ventures pit the company against Apple, Netflix, and Tesla and homegrown Chinese champions Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba.

But the company’s relentless expansion has put a strain on its cash flow, and in November told employees the company grew too quickly and was short of funds.

Twitter for Apple TV Update Brings Support for Live 360-Degree Videos

Expanding its features for big screens, Twitter has updated its Apple TV app by adding support for live 360-degree videos and Periscope’s Global Map.

The micro-blogging site launched a version of its service on Apple TV and other media player platforms last year in order to deliver its live video content on big screens.

Twitter has become the first Apple TV app to support live 360-degree video, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday.

Users can use the Siri remote to move around a 360-degree video to view its content from different angles.

According to Twitter, during the first quarter of 2017, there were 77 million hours of live user-generated video broadcast on Twitter.

Twitter for Apple TV Update Brings Support for Live 360-Degree VideosAdditionally, Apple TV users can explore the Periscope Global Map to find more user-generated content from around the world which also includes 360-degree live videos.

Apple TV users can avail these features by updating their Twitter app.

Separately, as 9to5Mac notes, Twitter has also rolled out new features to its iOS app that help it sync with the Apple TV. The first, is Allow this device to be discoverable on your network which lets users connect their Apple TV to their iOS device. This will allow you to view your Twitter account on your Apple TV and push desired content.

The second, Always allow this device and your Apple TV to connect automatically, will ensure that when Twitter is open on the user’s mobile network, both devices will connect automatically without being prompted.

Apple Set to Expand Siri, Taking a Different Approach From Amazon’s Alexa

Apple Inc is expected to announce plans next week to make its Siri voice assistant work with a larger variety of apps, as the technology company looks to counter the runaway success of Amazon.com Inc’s competing Alexa service.

But the Cupertino, California company is likely to stick to its tested method of focusing on a small amount of features and trying to perfect them, rather than casting as wide a net as possible, according to engineers and artificial intelligence industry insiders.

Currently, Apple’s Siri works with only six types of app: ride-hailing and sharing; messaging and calling; photo search; payments; fitness; and auto infotainment systems. At the company’s annual developer conference next week, it is expected to add to those categories.

Some industry-watchers have also predicted Apple will announce hardware similar to Amazon’s Echo device for the home, which has been a hot-seller recently. Apple declined comment.

But even if Siri doubles its areas of expertise, it will be a far cry from the 12,000 or so tasks that Amazon.com’s Alexa can handle.

Apple Set to Expand Siri, Taking a Different Approach From Amazon's AlexaThe difference illustrates a strategic divide between the two tech rivals. Apple is betting that customers will not use voice commands without an experience similar to speaking with a human, and so it is limiting what Siri can do in order to make sure it works well.

Amazon puts no such restrictions on Alexa, wagering that the voice assistant with the most “skills,” its term for apps on its Echo assistant devices, will gain a loyal following, even if it sometimes makes mistakes and takes more effort to use.

The clash of approaches is coming to a head as virtual assistants that respond to voice commands become a priority for the leading tech companies, which want to find new ways of engaging customers and make more money from shopping and online services.

Path to the money
Now, an iPhone user can say, “Hey Siri, I’d like a ride to the airport” or “Hey Siri, order me a car,” and Siri will open the Uber or Lyft ride service app and start booking a trip.

Apart from some basic home and music functions, Alexa needs more specific directions, using a limited set of commands such as “ask” or “tell.” For example, “Alexa, ask Uber for a ride,” will start the process of summoning a car, but “Alexa, order me an Uber” will not, because Alexa does not make the connection that it should open the Uber “skill.”

After some setup, Alexa can order a pizza from Domino’s, while Siri cannot get a pie because food delivery is not – so far – one of the categories of apps that Apple has opened up to Siri.

“In typical Apple fashion, they’ve allowed for only a few use cases, but they do them very well,” said Charles Jolley, chief executive of Ozlo, maker of an intelligent assistant app.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the company does not comment on its plans for developers.

Amazon said in a statement: “Our goal is to make speaking with Alexa as natural and easy as possible, so we’re looking at ways to improve this over time.”

Side dish, not entree
Apple’s narrower focus could become a problem, said Matt McIlwain, a venture capitalist with Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group.

The potential of Apple’s original iPhone did not come to light until thousands of developers started building apps. McIlwain said he expects Apple to add new categories at its Worldwide Developers Conference next week, but not nearly enough to match Alexa’s number of skills.

“To attract developers in the modern world, you need a platform,” McIlwain said. “If Apple does not launch a ‘skills store,’ that would be a mistake.”

Neither Siri nor Alexa has a clear path to making money. Siri works as an additional tool for controlling traditional apps, and Apple pays money to owners of those apps. Alexa’s skills are free, and developers are not paid.

At the moment, because of their limits, voice apps are “a side dish, not the entree,” according to Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Amazon was wise to not commit to an economic model at such an early state, Etzioni said. “Once a successful economic model for developers emerges, people are going to gravitate to it.”

Apple Briefly Removes 32-Bit Apps From App Store Search Results: Report

Apple is set to kick off its WWDC 2017 developers conference in San Jose today, and ahead of its keynote address, there’s a lot that is already rumoured about what’s going to be announced. The Cupertino giant will release iOS 11’s first developer preview, highlighting its big features, and shed light on the rumoured end to 32-bit apps altogether. Now, ahead of the event, fresh reports hint that 32-bit apps were briefly removed from App Store search results altogether.

Apple Briefly Removes 32-Bit Apps From App Store Search Results: ReportTouchArcade reports that the 32-bit apps were no longer showing up in search results in App Store for a while. Searching for games like TouchArcade, Ridiculous Fishing, Dungeon Raid, and more games, didn’t throw up desired results. The report claimed that the apps are still available via a direct link. However, 32-bit apps began showing up again after a 12-24 hour period, the report claimed. This indicates that Apple was doing some test of sorts, and testifies further that iOS 11, which is reported to support only 64-bit apps, will kill support altogether in the future.

Advantages of 64-bit apps include dropping age-old technology, an app eventually demanding quite less space on your iPhone, and the hardware itself getting rid of unnecessary 32-bit components altogether. iOS 11 is also reported to bring many new changes, including new animation, notification graphic tweaks, revamp of the Apple Music app, and much more. There are many iPad-centric changes expected as well. WWDC 2017 keynote will kick-off at 10.30pm IST, and you can watch it live here.

Apple’s 2017 Roadmap Leaked by ‘Foxconn Insiders’; Includes Siri Speaker and AR Glasses

It is not a new thing for an Apple product to be leaked ahead of launch but if a newly surfaced leak turns out to be legitimate, we might already have information about several upcoming products from the Cupertino-based company. Alleged Foxconn insiders have reportedly leaked information about company’s plans about augmented reality, upcoming smartphones, laptops, and a voice-activated speaker.

In a Reddit thread, ‘foxconninsider’ has revealed that a 32GB RAM variant will be introduced to the 15-inch MacBook Pro lineup and that MacBook Air laptop will be discontinued by the company, as pointed out in a report by AppleInsider. However, the source didn’t respond to a query seeking the timeline for the addition of the new RAM variant.

Interestingly, earlier reports have suggested that Apple will be introducing the 32GB RAM variant of the 15-inch MacBook Pro on Monday at its WWDC 2017 event. Further, the leaks have suggested that Apple will be refreshing its MacBook Air laptop at its event, contradicting the new information.

While foxconninsider says that new designs have been tested including “more glass and dark black body,” the glowing Apple logo is also expected to be reintroduced to the lineup. A MacBook with dynamic E-Ink keyboard, rumoured since last year, is apparently in the pipeline for 2018 as well.

Apple's 2017 Roadmap Leaked by 'Foxconn Insiders'; Includes Siri Speaker and AR GlassesMoving to the iPad, the alleged insiders have suggested that a new size variant is expected to be launched but said that they don’t have access to the tablet, as pointed out in a report by The Verge. Apple is currently expected to launch two iPad Pro tablets – one with a 10.5-inch display and the other with a 12.9-inch display.

Apple is already expected to announce its Siri-powered speaker at WWDC 2017, and foxconninsider says that Foxconn lost out to another contract manufacturer for its production. Calling it the Apple home speaker, the tipsters added that its availability will be delayed until late-2017. The tipsters also said the speaker has a similar shape to Mac Pro, adding that it hadn’t been seen in a while. The Siri-powered speaker has been tipped to come with a modified A9 chip, as pointed out by The Verge.

Coming to the information leaked regarding iPhone 8 aka iPhone X, the design of the smartphone has been described as “more like an iPhone 7 with glass and without the AuthenTec’s capacitive touch module.” The design on the smartphone has been described by foxconninsider as closest to a leaked image that shows a vertical dual camera setup with glass back.

The source said that some units with glass back and fingerprint sensor beneath the glass were tested as well but the yields were not found to be “not good”. The iPhone X has been said to feature facial detection as well as a retina scanner that will be “included in the front facing camera modules,” as pointed out by The Verge. The foxconninsider says that the iPhone X will pack 3GB of RAM. The glass has been said to be included to enable wireless charging and USB Type-C has been tipped to be removed from the phone altogether. As a result, the iPhone X is also expected to be water resistant as well. On the other hand, iPhone 7s, the rumoured refresh for the iPhone 7 has been tipped to come with aluminium unibody and not feature wireless charging.

Notably, the augmented reality glasses from the company, which have been in leaks, were also discussed in the Reddit session. As per foxconninsider, the project for augmented reality glasses has been termed Project Mirrorshades and is being designed to bring AR to a larger audience, as pointed out by The Verge.

The Apple AR glasses, termed Apple Smart Glasses, have been tipped to come with “Kopin NED Acetate frame, Polarisized or prescription lens with Zeiss smart optics, Bone induction modules Microphones (noise cancellation), Light sensor Accelerometer for step tracking and head movement, app navigation Magnetometer for navigation, Capacitive Pavel Ceramic battery, Apple chipset, Charging circuit BL5 Induction module.”

The cost of the materials used for these glasses have been estimated to be around $150 (roughly Rs.), and would eventually place the retail price around $600, as per the information made available by foxconninsider. However, the entire project can even be cancelled with the source claiming that there is 65 percent chance of cancellation.

While some of the information might be proved correct or be disproved at company’s WWDC event, we might have to wait a little longer for information on other products. Till that time, we would advise you to keep grain of salt by your side.

How to Reset or Hard Reboot an iPhone or iPad

Despite all of Apple’s engineering efforts, there are some times when your iPhone or iPad stops responding to your touch and you need to reset iPhone. And no matter how long you hold down the power button, the option to power off your phone just doesn’t show up. Essentially, the iPhone or iPad has hung due to a software bug, caused by either iOS itself, or a misbehaving app. In such a case, there’s a straightforward way around the problem. That involves forcing your iPhone or iPad to restart – called a reset or hard restart, and erroneously, even hard reset iPhone by some –  by holding down a combination of two buttons for 10 seconds or more, which will then clear all running processes and well, forcibly reboot the device. It’s not recommended that you do this unless your device is frozen, but sometimes it can be an essential last resort.

Starting with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the Home button isn’t a physical button anymore. That’s why the button combination is different on those devices, as opposed to the older models before that.

How to reset/ hard reboot on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

How to Reset or Hard Reboot an iPhone or iPadThis method works on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. To force your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus to hard reset aka reboot iPhone, press and hold down the Sleep/ Wake button on top of your device, and the volume down button on the side of the phone, until the screen goes black and Apple logo appears in the middle. This might take up to 20 seconds, so don’t let go until you see the Apple logo.

How to reset/ hard reboot on older iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, and older iPhone models

This method works on all iPhone and iPad models, except the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. To force your iPhone or iPad to hard reboot aka reset, press and hold down the Home button (under the display) and the power button (or the Sleep/ Wake button, as Apple calls it) on top of the device, until the screen goes black and the Apple logo appears in the middle. This method works with the iPads as well.

Have you faced any problems resetting your iPhone or iPad? Tell us about your experience via the comments below.

Apple WWDC 2017 Keynote Address: Siri Speaker, New iPad Tablets, and What Else to Expect

Apple this year is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the iPhone – and is expected to launch the revolutionary iPhone 8 to commemorate the occasion, but that’s not what we are here to talk about right now. In just hours from now, Apple is set to kick off the WWDC 2017 developers conference in California. In its keynote address, set to begin at 10AM PDT (10:30pm IST), the company is expected to launch a host of hardware products, alongside the regular software announcements as well.

The Cupertino giant is expected to launch a Siri smart speaker, new iPad tablets, and possibly update its MacBook laptop lineup as well. On the software front, we can expect the first developer preview for iOS 11, macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11 – with the biggest new features of each highlighted in the keynote. The event is being held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, and you can even watch it on live stream. Here’s all that you can expect from the WWDC keynote tonight.

Siri smart speaker

Apple has been reported heavily to launch its own Amazon Echo and Google Home rival. The smart speaker is expected to come with a display screen, great audio quality, will run a platform for Siri (obviously), and perform some additional functions not seen before in this category. The Siri smart speaker is expected to be priced at a higher price point than its rivals, and even though it will be unveiled at WWDC, it won’t be shipped until much later this year.

New iPad Pro models

The tech giant is also expected to launch two iPad Pro tablets – one with a 10.5-inch display and the other with a 12.9-inch display. Rumours point to a sleek design with slim bezels, with the 10.5-inch variant being only slightly taller and wider than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. There’s little else we know about the device as of now, but recent rumours suggest stereo speakers, repositioned mic, and a virtual Home Button. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is also expected to get spec and hardware upgrades, along with slight design changes. There is expected to be cellular and non-cellular options for the new tablets. Alongside the new iPad tablets, Apple could also unveil the Apple Pencil 2 as well.

Apple WWDC 2017 Keynote Address: Siri Speaker, New iPad Tablets, and What Else to ExpectMacBook updates

Recent reports suggest that Apple will also be refreshing its MacBook lineup, with updates lined up for 12-inch MacBook, the MacBook Pro, and the almost forgotten MacBook Air as well. First coming to the MacBook Pro upgrade, Apple has been tipped to update the laptop with Intel’s Kaby Lake processor series, from the current SkyLake processors.

Further, the company is expected to launch a 32GB RAM variant of the 15-inch MacBook Pro to cater to the need of professional users. There are reportedly some price cuts to the existing models that can also be expected to be announced at WWDC 2017.

The 12-inch variant of the MacBook laptop series has been tipped to be upgraded with new Kaby Lake processors as well as receive a new 16GB RAM. Finally coming to the MacBook Air, while the upgrade rumours for the laptop are thin and hard to find, the laptop is expected to be refreshed with new processors at the very least.

iOS 11

Apple’s guaranteed highlight of the keynote address will be iOS 11. The latest software will bring a host of improvements including a new video centric revamp to Apple Music, killing off 32-bit app support, and a few changes in animation and notifications. Interestingly, FaceTime is expected to get a long-awaited overhaul, and one of the biggest changes is said to be the introduction of group video calling ability. There are reportedly many iPad-centric changes also incoming.

macOS 10.13, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4

While the previews for the entire Apple product line are coming for sure, there’s little that we know about the changes that are arriving with most of them. macOS will be updated to version 10.13, and it will get a new name, presumably of another landscape that Apple really loves. watchOS and tvOS will also get updated to version 4 and 11 respectively, and it’s only a matter of time before we get all the dope on what these software updates bring to the table. We will be on ground zero and will be updating you ball by ball. Stay Tuned!

Apple WWDC 2017 Keynote Address Today: How to Watch Live Stream

Apple’s WWDC 2017 keynote address is just hours away, and the company is expected to make some interesting announcements introducing new hardware and software – essentially highlighting the company’s roadmap for the year. The WWDC keynote, being held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, will be live streamed across the world to compatible devices and here’s how you can participate from the comfort of your home.

If you own an Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Windows 10 device, then you’ll be able to live stream the event and watch the story unfold. The WWDC is set to begin at 10:00am PDT (10:30pm IST), and on you can watch the live stream on your Safari or Microsoft Edge browsers by clicking on this link right here. Furthermore, if you own second, third, or fourth-generation Apple TV set-top boxes, you can watch the keynote from the Apple Events channel when it begins.

Apple WWDC 2017 Keynote Address Today: How to Watch Live StreamAt the event, Apple is rumoured to unveil its Amazon Echo rival, new iPad Pro tablets, and a refreshed MacBook lineup. The company will also unveil the first developer previews of iOS 11, watchOS 4, tvOS 11, and macOS 10.13. The WWDC annual developer conference will go on till June 9 at the McEnery Convention Centre in San Jose, California.

Expect CEO Tim Cook, executives like Eddy Cue, Craig Federighi, and Phil Schiller to take centre stage and make all the big announcements. iOS 11 is expected to come with new animations, Apple Music revamp, FaceTime tweaks, killed off support for 32-bit apps, and much more. Gadgets 360 will also be giving you live updates from the event in San Jose as well, so stay tuned!

Nintendo Struggles to Meet Switch Demand as It Battles Apple for Parts: Report

Nintendo is said to be squaring off with companies like Apple as they “gobble” up parts that Nintendo needs to manufacture its Switch console.

Nintendo has reportedly told suppliers and assemblers that it hopes to ship 20 million Switch consoles by the year ending March 2018 according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. This is almost double the number that the company had modestly stated in its official sales target.

But Nintendo believes that the strong demand for Switch so far will help the company reach the 20 million mark, if it gets the parts that is. Nintendo managed to sell 2.7 million units of Switch in March alone following its worldwide debut. But the company is facing a problem of capacity shortage for components used in smartphones, computer servers and other digital devices – a problem faced by many smartphone makers. Components like the NAND flash-memory chips that store data, liquid-crystal displays and tiny motors called Linear Resonant Actuators that enable the Switch’s hand-held controllers to give a rustling feel are in short supply.

Image result for Nintendo Struggles to Meet Switch Demand as It Battles Apple for Parts: ReportNAND chips, in particular, see a huge demand and not enough supply, according to a Toshiba spokesperson who cited Apple and some Chinese companies among its partners. Apple, of course, has reported a strong demand for the iPhone 7 and is expected to meet the same till the end of the year as it readies to launch its next iPhone in September. The demand for the iPhone is keeping parts makers at full capacity and this doesn’t bode well for Nintendo.

Analysts also say that smartphone makers like Apple will tend to get the edge when it comes to parts as they issue larger orders than Nintendo. The flip side is that if Nintendo were to increase its spending to secure the parts it needs, it may well have to increase the production cost over its $299 (roughly Rs. 19,300) retail price, and President Tatsumi Kimishima has stated that he doesn’t wish to sell the Switch at a loss.