3 things you should know about consumer tech today (20190829)

You’re too busy to keep up with all the important consumer technology news, but I’m not. Here’s what you need to know right now:

Mom and dad are fighting

What’s the most important part of a smartphone? The processor. Don’t agree? Make an argument. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. It’s the reason that the iPhone stays relevant and Huawei keeps pace with Samsung.

Actually, Huawei keeps pace with Samsung off the back of copying Apple’s design and Samsung’s marketing, but I digress – also, more on that later.

GlobalFoundries is putting the legal hurt onto TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) for alleged patent infringement. The two big silicon manufacturers you should know are TSMC and Samsung. TSMC should sound familiar because its that company’s 7nm process that both the Apple A12 Bionic and the HiSilicon Kirin 980 Socs (systems on chip) is built on.

Except that GlobalFoundries (GF) is saying that the 7nm process uses its intellectual property.

Okay, quick refresher: I commented last year on the similarities between the Kirin 980 and the A12 during the Mate 20 Pro and iPhone XS respective launches. Apple and Huawei have been in lockstep for two years now since the dawn of dedicated neural processing units on mobile phones and the underwear is starting to show.

GF isn’t that invested in the current consumer tech game – it’s used to have AMD as a major CPU client – and has actually pulled out of the 7nm manufacturing process to concentrate on building IoT devices – which forced AMD to switch to TSMC. This is, as TSMC are stating it, blatant patent trolling and I respect that.

Look, trying to block SoC shipments into the US and Germany is a ballsy move for a company that can’t really compete with consumer products and to go up against a giant like TSMC means that there must be a solid case. But imagine if they win… No iPhones and Huawei devices in major markets. Well, for Huawei that isn’t a problem.

Fitbit goes turns to Alexa to topple Apple Watch

I’m a Fitbit fan. I have an Ionic on my left wrist most days of the week and my wife is rarely seen without her Alta HR. There’s a new Fitbit “smartwatch” on the market that carries a couple features I wish could be on the Ionic, one that I’m not a fan of and one that’s laughable.

I would like to dictate text replies to my watch when connected to an Android phone. I would like only the left side button because the two on the right sometimes depress during workouts. I would love to have an edge-to-edge display. I don’t care for Alexa as a voice assistant because Amazon is primarily a retailer and wants to trap you in its ecosystem (Echo-system?) and offers nothing of real value in return – I’m speaking from a South African perspective and Prime membership isn’t that hot here.

Then there’s the Spotify integration which is pretty much just a remote control app. I had a Deezer account in the honeymoon phase with my Ionic and you could store playlists locally on the watch. The Spotify “app” doesn’t allow for local song storage, but instead gives you remote playback controls and a view into your library. Which is great, I guess.

Disclaimer: I’m an Apple Music and Google Play Music (please Google, don’t kill it) user and personally hate the way Spotify’s app looks and works.

This may be my new favourite camera

My homie Calvin Fisher (visit his YouTube channel, he does some great work) swears by his Insta360 One X and now the company has delivered a discreet way for me to get over my vlogging in public anxiety. The GO camera is about the size of a thumb and shoots 15 or 30sec video clips on command. And I love it!

Best feature for me is the magnetic back, which is a lot more useful than you would think. I wish this was the product Google put out when it released the Clips camera

Stabilised video clips from a tiny, mountable camera is my vibe and I will do everything in my power to get a hold of one.

 

If you want to hear more excellent insights from the world of consumer technology in South Africa, check out the OVRCLKD_ZA podcast I host with Gavin Dudley, editor of TECH Magazine.

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