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Philips Launches New Over-Ear Wireless Active Noise Canceling Headphones

Envision Peripherals Inc. (EPI), the Brand license partner for Philips Audio in North America, announces today the latest addition to the Philips audio line with the Philips Wireless over-ear noise cancelling headphone (TAPH805BK). The headphones are now available on Amazon, competitively priced at $199.99 USD. Ideal for at Home, in the Office, or on-the-go, the new Philips (TAPH805BK) headphones provide users with an unparalleled listening experience.

Music or Silence
Eliminate outside noise through a press of a button with Active Noise Canceling mode or flip to Awareness Mode to stay in tune with your surroundings. Users can control volume by swiping up or down on the ear-housing touch control panel. Activate or deactivate Active Noise Canceling or engage in Awareness Mode with a simple press. While carrying out a call over Bluetooth, its built-in mic with echo cancellation keeps sound crystal clear.

Khronos Group Releases Vulkan 1.2

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announces the release of the Vulkan 1.2 specification for GPU acceleration. This release integrates 23 proven extensions into the core Vulkan API, bringing significant developer-requested access to new hardware functionality, improved application performance, and enhanced API usability. Multiple GPU vendors have certified conformant implementations, and significant open source tooling is expected during January 2020.

Vulkan continues to evolve by listening to developer needs, shipping new functionality as extensions, and then consolidating extensions that receive positive developer feedback into a unified core API specification. Carefully selected API features are made optional to enable market-focused implementations. Many Vulkan 1.2 features were requested by developers to meet critical needs in their engines and applications, including: timeline semaphores for easily managed synchronization; a formal memory model to precisely define the semantics of synchronization and memory operations in different threads; descriptor indexing to enable reuse of descriptor layouts by multiple shaders; deeper support for shaders written in HLSL, and more.

Elevate the Google Experience with Samsung's First-Ever Galaxy Chromebook

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today introduced Galaxy Chromebook, a premium 2-in-1 device that sets a higher standard in mobile computing. This new entrant to the Galaxy Computing portfolio redefines what a Chromebook can be. As the thinnest Samsung Chromebook ever released, it combines the best of Samsung technical innovation - such as an AMOLED display and built-in-pen support, offering users new ways to take advantage of Chrome OS experience that is simple, fast, and seamless.

"The notion that we do everything stationary at a desk is a thing of the past, and people need premium devices built for our new reality," said Alanna Cotton, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Samsung Electronics America. "By offering a seamless, premium user experience, Galaxy Chromebook helps you effortlessly switch between streaming, creative projects, word processing, and more."

Brin and Page Hand the Reins of Alphabet to Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page announced on Tuesday that they relinquished control of Alphabet, Google's parent holding company, to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The two will remain employees of Alphabet and sit on its board of directors, but will no longer hold the positions of CEO or President. Brin was Alphabet's President, and Page its CEO. Pichai will now be CEO of not just Google, but also Alphabet. This gives him executive control over Alphabet's other subsidiaries, such as CaptalG, Google Fiber, Loon, Waymo, and DeepMind.

"Going forward, Sundar will be the CEO of both Google and Alphabet. He will be the executive responsible and accountable for leading Google, and managing Alphabet's investment in our portfolio of Other Bets. We are deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term, and will remain actively involved as Board members, shareholders and co-founders. In addition, we plan to continue talking with Sundar regularly, especially on topics we're passionate about!," the duo said in their blog post announcing the change. Google reorganized itself as Alphabet in 2015 with Eric Schmidt as executive chairman, making its core business, Google Inc., a subsidiary of a holding company named Alphabet, and its other non-web businesses being spread across as its other subsidiaries. Following Schmidt's 2017 exit, Brin and Page took direct charge.

AMD Reports Third Quarter 2019 Financial Results

AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) today announced revenue for the third quarter of 2019 of $1.80 billion, operating income of $186 million, net income of $120 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.11. On a non-GAAP(*) basis, operating income was $240 million, net income was $219 million and diluted earnings per share was $0.18.

"Our first full quarter of 7 nm Ryzen, Radeon and EPYC processor sales drove our highest quarterly revenue since 2005, our highest quarterly gross margin since 2012 and a significant increase in net income year-over-year," said Dr. Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO. "I am extremely pleased with our progress as we have the strongest product portfolio in our history, significant customer momentum and a leadership product roadmap for 2020 and beyond."

Compute Express Link Consortium (CXL) Officially Incorporates

Today, Alibaba, Cisco, Dell EMC, Facebook, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, Intel Corporation and Microsoft announce the incorporation of the Compute Express Link (CXL) Consortium, and unveiled the names of its newly-elected members to its Board of Directors. The core group of key industry partners announced their intent to incorporate in March 2019, and remain dedicated to advancing the CXL standard, a new high-speed CPU-to-Device and CPU-to-Memory interconnect which accelerates next-generation data center performance.

The five new CXL board members are as follows: Steve Fields, Fellow and Chief Engineer of Power Systems, IBM; Gaurav Singh, Corporate Vice President, Xilinx; Dong Wei, Standards Architect and Fellow at ARM Holdings; Nathan Kalyanasundharam, Senior Fellow at AMD Semiconductor; and Larrie Carr, Fellow, Technical Strategy and Architecture, Data Center Solutions, Microchip Technology Inc.

Audio-Technica Introduces Its Truly Wireless ATH-CKS5TW and Its ATH-CK3TW Headphones at IFA 2019

At IFA 2019 Audio-Technica is introducing its ATH-CKS5TW and its ATH-CK3TW truly wireless in-ear headphones, which eliminate all connecting wires for the ultimate in comfort and on-the-go listening convenience. Both models combine Audio-Technica's 57 years of audio engineering expertise with compact, lightweight designs, long-lasting battery life, Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology and outstanding audio quality.

The ATH-CKS5TW and ATH-CK3TW both feature a new Auto Power On/Off feature that automatically turns the headphones on and connects to a paired smartphone, portable digital audio player or other compatible device when they're removed from their case. Both models will also turn off automatically when placed back in their case. Both headphones are charged via an included USB-C connection and the cases feature LED battery status indicators.

Google Stadia Pro Coming November 2019 for $130 Up Front, $10 Monthly with 31 Games at Launch

Google's Stadia platform will be the first serious effort to bring cloud gaming to the masses - a first, real step in a game that Microsoft and Sony are pursuing as well which will change the outlook for entertainment hardware development as we know it. The company has just announced that its Stadia Pro service will be launching come November of this year, with a $130 upfront cost for a Founder's Edition, which includes a limited edition Night Blue Stadia Controller, Chromecast Ultra, a free copy of Destiny 2, and 3 months of Stadia Pro for users and a special friend of theirs.

Besides this Founder's Edition pack, Stadia will be available in two packages. The Pro, which goes for $9.99 a month and allows you to play games up to 4K at 60 FPS with HDR and 5.1 surround, and the base version, which will be free of charge but limited to 1080p 60 FPS. You will always require a Chromecast Ultra and a Stadia controller, which will run you $70 each, though - so if this is up your alley, the Founder's Edition seems like a good setup, including three moths of games and the free-to-play-going Destiny 2. So they're not actually offering a game here - they're offering access to it through their cloud. Remember that unlike other subscription services, excluding free to play games, you'll always have to purchase each game you're going to play on the platform - it will be a digital storefront like any other.

U.S. Tech Industry, Including Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Qualcomm, Ban Huawei

The United States tech industry has overnight dealt a potentially fatal blow to Chinese electronics giant Huawei, by boycotting the company. The companies are establishing compliance with a recent Executive Order passed by President Donald Trump designed to "stop the import, sale, and use of equipment and services by foreign companies based in countries that are potential adversaries to U.S. interests," particularly information technology security. Google has announced that it will no longer allow Huawei to license Android, and will stop updates and Google Play access to Huawei smartphones. Huawei can still equip its phones with open-source Android, but it cannot use Google's proprietary software, including Google Play Store, Chrome, and all the other Google apps. Intel decided to no longer supply processors and other hardware to Huawei, for use in its laptops and server products. Sales of AMD processors will stop, too. Qualcomm-Broadcom have decided to stop supply of mobile SoCs and network PHYs, respectively. Microsoft decided to stop licensing Huawei to use Windows and Office products.

The ban is a consequence of the U.S. Government placing Huawei on a list of banned entities, forcing all U.S. companies to abandon all trade with it, without prior approval from the Department of Commerce. Trade cuts both ways, and not only are U.S. firms banned from buying from Huawei, they're also banned from selling to it. Huawei "buys from" over 30 U.S. companies, (for example, Windows licenses from Microsoft). CNN reports that U.S. firms could lose up to $11 billion in revenues.

AMD Reports First Quarter 2019 Financial Results- Gross margin expands to 41%, up 5 percentage points year-over-year

AMD today announced revenue for the first quarter of 2019 of $1.27 billion, operating income of $38 million, net income of $16 million and diluted
earnings per share of $0.01. On a non-GAAP(*) basis, operating income was $84 million, net income was $62 million and diluted earnings per share was $0.06.

"We delivered solid first quarter results with significant gross margin expansion as Ryzen and EPYC processor and datacenter GPU revenue more than doubled year-over-year," said Dr. Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO. "We look forward to the upcoming launches of our next-generation 7nm PC, gaming
and datacenter products which we expect to drive further market share gains and financial growth."

Jon Peddie Research: 20 Million Shift from PC Gaming to Console Gaming by 2022

Jon Peddie Research has released a new report on the state of gaming and its future, with the research firm estimating a total of 20 million PC gamers will make the shift to console gaming by 2022. It does make sense, as the no-frills architecture of consoles and highly specialized hardware and development - alongside the lower cost of entry) have been calling gamers from all ages and budgets. Add to this the fact that IQ considerations are becoming smaller and smaller between a high-end gaming PC and their console counterparts - at least when it comes to global, base IQ of settings - and it does make sense that makers make the shift.

Adding to this is the expectation of increased doubling-down on exclusives from games consoles, with the exception of Microsoft, which will be bringing all of its exclusives to the PC market as well. The increased attention to game streaming, with Google's Stadia and Microsoft's own xCloud will prompt change in the way gamers consume content - no dedicated hardware may mean no consoles, but it will also mean no need to purchase expensive, high-end PC gaming hardware to run the latest games with the latest graphics technologies - that will all be run in the cloud. Smart TVs, for instance, may be all the investment required for a premium, lag-free gaming experience with maximum details, should worldwide internet access improve as it has been. Of course, the ratio of high-end PC gamers making their way to consoles is lower than that of gamers with basic or entry-level PCs that are capable of gaming - those will make up the vast majority of the quoted 20 million shift.

Google Announces Stadia Cloud Gaming Service at GDC 2019

We knew this was coming, especially after Google's teaser from earlier this month. Project Stream was a proof-of-concept in collaboration with Ubisoft, to see whether AAA gaming was possible over the internet. Things were smooth most of the time in our own experience, but there remained questions over how the concept would translate over to a finished product, especially with infrastructure challenges on the client side of things. Google's keynote at GDC just wrapped up, and the main focus was Stadia- the now named cloud gaming service borne out of Project Stream.

Stadia is built with instant access in mind. An example demo came in the form of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which was used in the public test before. It is integrated with partner YouTube channels such that a trailer for a supported game would have an option to play said game, which would then launch immediately. Stadia is built with support from a wide partner network including AMD, Unity, id Software, and more, with details seen past the break.

Google to Significantly Scale Down Notebook and Tablet Development

Google has reportedly laid off a big chunk of its hardware workforce behind notebook and tablet products. These were teams behind the development of Pixelbook and Pixel Slate, which are premium notebooks and convertible-tablets, respectively, based on Google's Chrome OS platform. With this move, Google concedes that Chrome OS cannot replace Windows in the mainstream personal computing space, and will only relegate it to low-cost devices such as Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, and Chromebases. The Business Insider report talking about these workforce cuts also mentions roadmap cuts and a paring down of Google's hardware product portfolio down to profitable ones such as Chromecast, Google Home IoT products, and Nest; with Chrome OS devices being largely handled by OEMs.

Google Keynote at GDC 2019 Hints Towards Dedicated Gaming Entry

Google sent out a fairly cryptic invite to the game developers and associated press this week in the form of a GIF (converted into relevant images below). It teases a keynote on March 19, 2019 and more information was made available shortly confirming this would be in the form of a keynote to be held at 10 am PST during GDC this year. The media giant promises to "reveal all", and also has developer-focused sessions throughout the course of the event. An early report from The Information suggests the keynote will have Google talk about their new game-streaming service, code-named Yeti. This is in line with our own expectations, after having participated in the fairly successful Project Stream beta test that concluded recently.

Kotaku went further to suggest that Yeti is a streaming service in conjunction with a hardware platform- a simple streaming box, if you will, to take on the dedicated game consoles of 2019 and beyond. Indeed, Google has been wanting to get into this highly lucrative market, with intentions to take over Twitch before Amazon pulled one over them. There remain many challenges in general to a game-streaming world, not least of which were detailed in our own editorial linked above. But, with the next generation consoles getting ready for development and Microsoft willing to explore a game-streaming future themselves, perhaps Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and others should pay very close attention to said Google keynote in less than a month's time.

Sonarworks Debuts True-Fi Mobile App, Demonstrates Personalized Audio Profiles at CES 2019

If you had not heard of Sonarworks prior to this or the press release that went out last week, you may not be alone. The Latvian company is a little over 6 years old, and has since already managed to grab attention of some of the largest players in the audio market, including car makers interested in stereos, DJs, music producers, and of course more typical headphone and speaker makers. Their True-Fi desktop program claims to calibrate headphones to where everyone is able to hear the same sound no matter where they are- provided you use a supported headphone. This makes use of software sound processing and filtering, and the process works well enough to where they say over 30,000 recording studios worldwide currently use their technology.

At CES 2019, Sonarworks demonstrated the mobile version of their True-Fi program, currently in the Apple and Google Play stores as unreleased versions that will remain free until ready, following which it will cost $3.99/month or $99 for a lifetime license (the desktop version costs $79 by itself at this time). I was able to try out the app at their suite, and then also at home on my own phone, and came out impressed with the changes made. I did happen to have one of the ~300 currently-supported headphones though, and Sonarworks say they are working on adding more all the time. Users can also specifically request support to their own headsets if not on the list, although that might involve round trip shipment to Latvia. Read past the break for more, including their equally exciting personalized audio feature coming later this year.

Sonarworks Releases Mobile App, Making the Ultimate Sound Experience Accessible Anywhere

Pioneering audio calibration software company Sonarworks has announced the launch of its new Sonarworks True-Fi mobile app at CES 2019. The revolutionary mobile app, which provides audio calibration references on both iOS and Android for nearly 300 headphone models, has already launched in 'early access' and will be available for purchase later this year in the App Store and Google Play at a price of $3.99 USD per month, or as a lifetime license for $99 USD. Existing Sonarworks customers who already own the desktop version will be provided a free upgrade option to a lifetime license for the mobile app.

Sonarworks True-Fi mobile app- provides consumers with the ultimate sound experience 'while on the go- supports wide a range of native file formats as well as content from iTunes and Android local content libraries. True-Fi mobile supports native file formats including MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC and ALAC (iOS) and MP3, WAV, OGG (Vorbis) and AAC (Android).

Announcing the ASUS Chromebook Education Series

Today marks the debut of the ASUS Chromebook Education series that provides lightweight, ruggedized Chrome OS computer solutions for educational use, and continues the ASUS commitment of providing an extensive range of innovative products and services for the education sector.

The series includes two traditional clamshell laptops - the 11.6-inch ASUS Chromebook C204 and the 14-inch ASUS Chromebook C403 - and the 14-inch ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 convertible. There's also a brand-new form factor introduced, with the ASUS Chromebook Tablet CT100, a stunning 9.7-inch QXGA wide-angle touch-display tablet. The new series features durability, spill- and tamper-resistant keyboards and all-around rubber bumpers to withstand the rigors that electronics often face in schools. This lineup provides educators and parents with a full-range of lightweight, ruggedized options that can cater to their specific curriculum choices and unleash the creativity and productivity of their students. The new ASUS Chromebook Education series will be available in the coming months with configurations, pricing, and availability to be announced at launch.

Sennheiser introduces MOMENTUM True Wireless

Sennheiser's iconic MOMENTUM range of headphones continues to change the game through its fusion of advanced technology, uncompromised sound performance and the highest quality materials. Now, the audio specialist brings the MOMENTUM ethos to an exceptional new product, the MOMENTUM True Wireless: these exquisitely crafted Bluetooth earphones set new standards for audio quality, with characteristic MOMENTUM style and comfort.

The first model in a new generation of the iconic MOMENTUM family redefines the audio benchmark for true wireless earphones with superior stereo sound performance that is guaranteed by Sennheiser's audiophile 7 mm dynamic drivers. With the latest Bluetooth technology, AAC codec support, and Qualcomm aptX compatibility, this exceptional hi-fi sound is delivered without any compromise. "The MOMENTUM range has always stood for a fusion of excellent sound, progressive technology and craftsmanship. We are pleased to now introduce the newest member of the family, which brings the essence of MOMENTUM to a truly wireless form for the first time", said Frank Foppe, Product Manager at Sennheiser.

Google's Project Stream Offers Free Copy of Assassin's Creed Odyssey For Testing the Service

We covered Project Stream in a more detailed news post recently, so this is a short update. The test period is active as of the time of testing, and will remain so through January 15, 2019. Selected entrants now get a bonus incentive of retaining a copy of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, with all progress from the test retained, even after the stream test is done. Indeed, users (who are limited to the USA as of the test period) with a minimum of an hour of game play will see the game added to their Uplay account on file and this should prompt more of the testers (which you can still apply to be, from everything we have seen) to try out Google's take on game streaming over the internet. Yours truly happens to be one who applied, was selected, and played all of five minutes thus far, but be on the lookout for another post early next year with impressions galore on how it goes.

"Logitech Options" Software Vulnerability Disclosed, Users Should Uninstall Until Fix is Available

(Update 1: It seems that Logitech has launched an updated version of their Options software with a fix for the vulnerabiity - but this only happened after the vulnerabiiity became public. You can go on over Logitech's own webpage to download the updated version, which includes the fix in its changelogs, from here. Safe browsing.)

Adding to the critical vulnerability galore that's been coming out of Google's Project Zero, a researcher has demonstrated how an inherent bug in the "Logitech Options" software renders users vulnerable when visiting web pages. Tavis Ormandy, with Google Project Zero, found that Logitech Options opens a local Websocket port that doesn't require authentication for external commands. Attackers could exploit this issue by sending simulated keystrokes from any website - and thus execute pretty much anything on affected systems.

Microsoft to Kill off Edge Browser, Replace with its Own Chromium-derivative?

It looks like Microsoft is on a tactical retreat in the web-browser wars, with no amount of marketing integrated with Windows 10 dissuading users from using Google's near-monopolistic Chrome web-browser. Windows Central has come out with a sensational report that suggests that Microsoft could kill off the Edge web-browser that ships with Windows 10. It could try a different strategy against Chrome - designing a new web-browser that's derived from Chromium, the open-source foundation that supplies Chrome with key components. Much like Firefox, Chromium is heavily forked and customized by the OSS community.

Microsoft is internally calling this Chromium-based browser "Anaheim." The browser will be designed for both the x86 and ARM versions of Windows 10, and could be heavily differentiated from Edge and Internet Explorer, which could include a new branding, or perhaps even a significantly different user-interface from Edge. Microsoft could begin non-public community testing of "Anaheim" throughout 2019.

The Internet is Becoming QUIC - New HTTP/3 Protocol Improves UDP, Increases Internet's Responsiveness

As the internet evolves and becomes more of the organic, ever-evolving system that it has been coming towards, there is a need to leave behind old protocols that have served us well - but that are now standing in the way of progress. It's always like that with (but not limited to) technology, and now, it's time for TCP's (Transmission Control Protocol) review. The idea is for it to make way for its leaner, faster cousin with some upgrades: the Google-proposed - and meanwhile much-altered by IETF, the Internet Engineering Task Force - QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections).

QUIC has been built upon UDP (User Datagram Protocol), which is leaner than TCP, but lacks some much-needed features for a safe Internet. UDP doesn't incorporate Reliability (knowledge of missing data from the origin point), or Order (meaning that data is received in the order it is transmitted), things that TCP does include, right alongside Error-correction (detection of in-transit corruption of data).

Facebook has Won. Google+ is Shutting Down

Google announced that it will shut down its social network Google+, citing a security vulnerability that affected 500,000 users. The vulnerability was found during a security investigation into the Google APIs, while the company was looking for APIs that were too broad, or that didn't deliver on their promises. According to Google, Google+ "has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps. The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds."

After scrutiny, Google confirms that no data breach occurred, but the executives still chose to not publicly report on it, fearing regulatory action. The official statement from Google was released only after a Wall Street Journal article reported the flaw.

In addition to shutting down Google+ consumer accounts, Google also plans to make changes to its privacy policy, including new changes to its APIs to limit developers access to user's data on Gmail and Android devices.

Project Stream is Google's Version of Game Streaming: Play Assassin's Creed Odyssey in Chrome Browser

In 2010, a company called OnLive believed that game streaming was the future. The problem was that they believed that this future would come sooner than what ended up happening. The company (or rather, its IP) would end up being bought by Sony instead. The Japanese company then launched PlayStation Now later, which in itself is a cloud gaming platform that finally brought us closer to that future.

They weren't the only ones hedging this bet, however, and soon the cloud gaming fever spread to other companies and manufacturers. NVIDIA's GeForce NOW is one of the clearest examples of that venture, with its own pros and cons. But now we have a new, promising competitor in this field: Google, which announced yesterday the birth of the so-called "Project Stream". As the name suggests, this initiative is intended to offer end users the possibility of playing any game from any device and with only one requirement: to have access to the Google Chrome browser.

Chrome 69 Adds Forced Login, Threatens Privacy: How to Fix it

There was a time when Chrome users could be safe and think that what they did in Google Services (Gmail, YouTube, Maps, etc) was separated from their actions in the browser. One thing wasn't necessarily tied to the other, but now things have changed - and without any public disclosure from Google.

Starting with the recently published Chrome 69, if you use this version of Chrome and log into any Google service or site, you will be automatically and magically logged into Chrome with that user account. A systems architect called Bálint disclosed a problem that changes Chrome behavior in a way that could potentially harm user's privacy.
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