CO-LOCATED WITH:

Unpacked 2019: Every Galaxy Phone and Device Samsung Showed

Wired 20 Feb 2019 10:06 D. J. Koh, CEO of Samsung's mobile division, holding the Samsung Galaxy Fold David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images It's the 10-year anniversary of Samsung's Galaxy phone, a line of devices that made phablets cool, survived baptism by fire, and turned Samsung into a leader in the mobile phone market. Today, at an event in San Francisco, the company showed how it plans to push its smartphones into the next decade—and into another dimension. The vision includes 5G, folding displays, and a brand new line of Galaxy phones filled with flashy features. For Samsung, this isn't just another product showcase. It's the company's pitch for "the next era of mobile innovation," as D. J. Koh, CEO of Samsung's mobile division, put it onstage today. Samsung wants you to buy its latest hardware, but it also needs you to buy into its vision for the future, so you'll keep returning to the ecosystem of Galaxy products for years to come. If you missed the event, you can watch the entire thing here—or read on for the TL;DR of everything Samsung announced today. Next-Generation Galaxy Phones Samsung It wouldn't be a Galaxy birthday party without showing off a few new flagship phones. The brand-new Galaxy S10 pushes the line forward with an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, a trio of rear cameras, and an "Infinity O" display, which replaces the wide cutout at the top of the phone with an elegant hole-punch display. It has its own neural processing unit, smarter Wi-Fi capabilities, and—weirdly—can even act like a wireless charging pad for your other devices. If you buy into Samsung's pitch, this is the phone you'll use to capture professional-grade photography, record TV-worthy video, and power your most complex AI tasks. Of course, you'll pay for the privilege. The new lineup includes the Galaxy S10, the larger Galaxy S10 Plus, and the Galaxy S10e, a slightly more affordable version that knocks off a few of the premium features. There's also an S10 model that will ship later this year and will work on next-generation 5G wireless networks. (More on that later.) The "cheap" S10e starts at $750, while the S10 costs $900 and the larger S10 Plus starts at $1,000. Each of the new phones will be available to preorder starting today. Does That Phone Fold Up? Justin Sullivan/Getty Images If the Galaxy S10 line feel a little too rank-and-file, you're in luck. Samsung also introduced the Galaxy Fold, the manifestation of the folding-phone dream it's held onto for years. When closed, the Fold looks like your standard handset with a 4.6-inch screen. Open it up and it turns into a tablet-size device with a 7.3-inch display. Samsung imagines you'll use this to watch YouTube videos on your commute into work, or multitask with several apps at once, then fold it up to text your friends and slip it comfortably into your pocket. Samsung's demo focused on the added functionality you get from an extra screen. Three-app multitasking lets you juggle a few different apps at once, and “app continuity” lets you switch between screens seamlessly. It's the size of a small tablet when you need the extra screen, and it's a pocketable device when you don't. The Fold also packs in six cameras, for capturing everything around you, no matter what mode you're in. The only catch? The Galaxy Fold starts at $1,980—almost twice the cost of Samsung's (already very expensive) flagship phones. For those who want to be on the forefront of the foldable future, the Fold will be available starting April 26. Hey Look, Galaxy Buds Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Along with the new phones, Samsung announced a few new accessories. Galaxy Buds, the company's latest swipe at the AirPods, take the company's existing earbuds into the mainstream. Samsung says these are the lightest, most compact earbuds it's ever made, and they come in white, black, or yellow. The battery is designed to last for five hours of calls or six hours of music—and there's Bixby built in, should you ever want to chat with Samsung's virtual assistant. You can charge them in their case or on the back of your new Galaxy S10, using the phone's wireless charging feature. The Galaxy Buds will cost $130 and ship on March 8. Two New Smartwatches Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images Samsung also added two new wearables: the Galaxy Watch Active, a beefed-up smartwatch built to withstand all your fitness needs; and the Galaxy Fit, a minimalist activity tracker that Samsung compared to the weight of a single strawberry. Both include heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and stress management systems, like any good wrist-wearable; the Galaxy Watch Active also adds blood pressure monitoring. The Active will cost $199 and go on sale March 8; the Fit, available in May, will retail for $99. A 5G Phone Is Here ... Sort Of Don't look now, but 5G is coming soon to a phone near you. This is the faster, more robust network we've been hearing about for years—and today, Samsung took a step toward making it a reality. The company showed off the Galaxy S10 5G, it's first "5G-enabled phone," which comes with a gigantic screen and the biggest battery of the Galaxy S10 line. (You're going to need that extra battery life if your phone is constantly searching for a 5G network.) It's easy to get amped about the promises of 5G—faster downloads! Instant AR and VR! Never wait for anything to load again!—but you can still ignore 5G for now. Yes, this phone will likely be super fast. And Samsung will be well-positioned to take advantage of 5G networks when they exist. For now, though, a 5G phone is mostly just a vision for the future. More Great WIRED Stories My life online—without all the metrics A group catfished soldiers to prove a point about privacy Why a grape turns into a fireball in a microwave See all the tools and tricks that make Nascar go In defense of videogame selfies (yes, really) 👀 Looking for the latest gadgets? Check out our latest buying guides and best deals all year round 📩 Want more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest stories
Read More

5G? 5 Bars? What the Signal Icons on Your Phone Actually Mean

Wired 20 Feb 2019 10:04 Richard Baker/Getty Images Some AT&T customers noticed a strange phenomenon earlier this year. The upper left corner of their smartphones began displaying “5GE,” ostensibly indicating their phones were using 5G technology. And while Samsung announced Wednesday that it will soon release a 5G-compatible phone, actual 5G networks in the US are still in their nascent stages. AT&T is engaging in a marketing ploy—one it has used in the past. The 5GE symbol really means a phone is using advanced LTE technology, which is available on other carriers and is slower than the 10-gigabyte speeds 5G promises. When the company introduces actual 5G tech, it plans to call it 5G+ instead. Sprint is suing AT&T over the nomenclature, alleging it constitutes deceptive advertising. Even beyond 5GE, there's a lot of confusion about what the letters, bars, and other symbols on your phone actually mean. Experts say interpreting them may only become more complicated as 5G rolls out in the coming years. It's not entirely the fault of carriers—many factors can impact a wireless signal, which are difficult to convey with a few characters at the top of a screen. What the Symbols Represent Terms like 3G, 4G, and LTE refer to subsequent generations of wireless technology, which began with 1G in the late 1970s. In most parts of the world, LTE and 4G are synonymous—they refer to the same group of technologies that emerged nearly a decade ago and provide speeds around 10 times faster than their 3G predecessors. But in the US, 4G corresponds to HSPA+, which is technically still a 3G innovation. “The distinction between 4G and LTE is a purely American one, in every other country there’s no difference,” says Brendan Gill, the CEO of OpenSignal, a company that collects independent data on carrier signal quality. LEARN MORE The WIRED Guide to 5G These regional differences exist, in part, because while organizations like the International Telecommunication Union and 3GPP help define the standards, they don’t regulate how labels like 4G are used. “As a technical organization, ITU does not have the mandate to intervene in Member States’ domestic issues or private companies’ matters, including labelling technology for term[s] for marketing purposes,” Fernando Neda, a spokesperson for ITU, said in a statement. 3GPP declined to comment. HSPA+ is better than plain-old 3G, but it doesn’t meet the technical standard for “true” 4G. That’s why you may notice slower download speeds on an American 4G network than on an LTE one. You might also fail to detect any difference between a 4G network in the US and what’s called a 3G one overseas. In short, HSPA+ can be thought of as 3.5G—not quite a new generation, but certainly an upgrade. Americans just like to round up. AT&T is doing something similar with its so-called 5GE service. Since LTE was first introduced, carriers have added a number of enhancements to make their wireless services faster and smoother. Downloading apps and watching high-resolution videos take far less time than they did only a couple years ago. But AT&T—or any carrier, for that matter—has yet to create a network that meets the fifth-generation standards agreed upon by technical organizations. For one, AT&T’s 5GE service doesn’t use high-frequency millimeter waves, the band of spectrum associated with 5G technology. “It is something different there,” says Gill. “But it’s not typically what is being referred to as the next generation.” The 5GE icon therefore represents something more like 4.5G—certainly better than 4G, but not yet really 5G. In the US, you can think of LTE and 5GE as the same thing. “These are all just different labels and ultimately what matters is not whether your phone says 4G, 5G, or 5GE, it’s what experience you actually get,” says Gill. Even if you’re on a fast LTE network, your phone might still sometimes move at a snail’s pace. That lethargy could be the result of congestion in the network, which is caused by too many phones trying to connect at the same time. This can happen during the morning or evening commute in a big city, or during a concert or a sports game where lots of people are crowded into the same area, for example. These issues can also be more permanent if there’s inadequate coverage in a specific area. That might be the reason, for instance, why you always fail to find service in a particular part of town. Strength vs. Quality In addition to the network you’re using, the strength and quality of your wireless signal can also impact performance. But the “bars” in the top left corner of your screen solely refer to signal strength. They indicate nothing about quality, or what is often referred to as “signal to noise ratio,” which it turns out is more indicative of the experience you will get.This is the reason you can have four or five bars and still experience crappy service—the signal is strong, but the quality of it sucks. To make matters more confusing, there’s no standard definition for what constitutes high or low signal strength. Each device manufacturer calculates signal strength in its own way. In 2010, Apple even admitted it had made a mistake in its formula for calculating signal strength on the iPhone 4. “It’s not as simple as four out of five bars is some absolute standard that you know where you stand,” says Gill. In other words, just because your friend’s phone has more bars doesn’t mean they will have an easier time placing a call or sending a text than you will. The Role Hardware Plays The type of phone you have, as well as what mobile chip it uses, can also impact the quality of your wireless service. “There are huge differences across devices, it’s staggering. That’s definitely true at a high level,” says Michael Thelander, the president of Signals Research Group, which studies the wireless telecommunications industry. While the latest smartphones tend to come with the most advanced antennas and modems, some models—packed with fancy features like bigger batteries and cameras—compromise when it comes to signal performance. At the same time, OpenSignal has found that the latest iPhone models have faster download speeds than their predecessors, for instance, but if excellent coverage is your main priority, you don’t necessarily need the most sophisticated smartphone. In controlled tests, Signals Research Group has found that cheaper smartphones sometimes do better. The winner of one was “literally a phone I bought at Walmart. The $200 smartphone turned out to be the best performing phone,” says Thelander. So the next time you’re shopping for a new smartphone, it’s worth comparing the wireless capabilities of different models. If in the past you’ve only considered, say, battery life and camera quality, you can forgive yourself. Thelander says he’s noticed wireless performance is often ignored in both editorial smartphone reviews and in advertising. “They don’t mention that the phone is a phone,” he says. More Confusion to Come As they begin planning for 5G, some carriers want to change current technical standards in order to allow for more information to be shown in the top corner of your screen, says Thelander. They want to do this by increasing the number of data bits that communicate when icons like 4G or LTE should be displayed. More data bits would allow carriers to differentiate between, say, a more reliable signal and one that provides higher download speeds. Hypothetically, we could start seeing icons like 5GR, for reliable, or 5GF, for fast. There’s one additional factor that could make 5G even more confusing for consumers. In order to introduce the new technology faster, carriers in the US are going to be combining 5G with existing 4G infrastructure. The line between an LTE and a 5G connection will be inherently blurry in some cases, and it’s not yet clear where every carrier will draw it. “It’s not just 5G or 4G, it’s both together,” says Thelander. So even when the next generation of mobile tech arrives, the symbols on your phone will continue to elide the full story of what’s happening with your signal. More Great WIRED Stories The devastating allure of medical miracles A group catfished soldiers to prove a point about privacy Would you pay $6,000 for vision-quality VR? WIRED Guide to your personal data (and who's using it) Will AI achieve consciousness? Wrong question 👀 Looking for the latest gadgets? Check out our latest buying guides and best deals all year round 📩 Get even more of our inside scoops with our weekly Backchannel newsletter
Read More

Samsung Galaxy Fold: Price, Specs, Release Date

Wired 20 Feb 2019 08:57 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images When Samsung first teased its foldable smartphone in November, it mostly left the details to the imagination. At its Unpacked event on Wednesday, the company began sketching a fuller picture. The wild concept is now officially real, and it has the name, price, and release date prove it: Galaxy Fold, $1,980, April 26. Samsung’s not the first company to sell a folding phone. Many have tried hinges in the past, and a Chinese company called Royole showed off a working model of its own bendy display before Samsung even teased the Galaxy Fold. And more foldable phones will follow close behind, especially given recent materials breakthroughs and a broader Android push to support them. But Samsung is the first company with real clout—and the technological know-how to make one that might actually work. You could see signs of that in Samsung’s presentation Wednesday, which focused as much on the physical curiosity of the Galaxy Fold as it did the software that will attempt to make it useful. On the build side, the Fold has a 4.6-inch display when in smartphone mode, which should be a chunky but welcome reprieve to those who miss the small smartphone era. When opened, it reveals a 7.3-inch “Infinity Flex” display made not of glass—which would crack under the strain of opening and closing—but of a plasticky polymer that Samsung has previously said can withstand hundreds of thousands of openings and closings. (It’s unclear, though, how soon you’ll start to see a physical crease.) Likewise, Samsung says it invented a new type of hinge system, hidden between the displays, that can withstand the strain. Samsung The Galaxy Fold relies on two batteries—one on each side. The other internals seem befitting of a device that needs serious power not to sputter: a 7-nanometer processor, a whopping 12 gigabytes of RAM, and 512 gigabytes of onboard storage. It has not one, not two, but six cameras, strategically stationed so you can take photos no matter what mode you’re in or what side of the phone you’re looking at. Still, all the specs in the world won’t save you from a stuttering software experience. Samsung has at least given this area some thought, which is more than can be said for previous dual-screen disasters. It has three-app multitasking, which one should expect from a tablet these days (though it may feel crowded on a 7.3-inch screen). More important, it offers what Samsung calls “app continuity,” which lets you carry over your small screen experience to the bigger one. In a demo onstage, a small view of Google Maps became a larger view when the phone is unfolded. That seems genuinely useful, unless of course you don’t want to carry Google Maps with you into tablet mode, in which case it’s just creating extra work. It's clear that Samsung’s trying. The bigger question is whether developers will as well, since they need to create foldable smartphone experiences to make this phone worth buying. So far, it looks like power players like Google, WhatsApp, Microsoft Office, and Spotify are on board—but expect some early frustration over apps acting inconsistently within the foldable paradigm. Fortunately, Samsung’s not in it alone; Android officially released foldable-phone guidelines in November, a nudge to the broader community that the future is just about here. And in truth, developers may well come up with ideas that push the Galaxy Fold beyond what Samsung has so far envisioned. “We know that you’ll use it in ways that we haven’t even imagined yet,” said Samsung senior vice president of product marketing Justin Denison at Wednesday’s event. Besides, as Chris Harrison of Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute noted last fall, the fragmented nature of Android means that the platform’s developers are inherently used to working with all manner of shapes and sizes. As an earnest effort at innovation, the Galaxy Fold deserves credit. It’s been years since the smartphone industry has seen anything so genuinely different. As a product, though, it faces ample hurdles. It costs as much as two high-end smartphones, which make sense, since that’s essentially what it is. It’s hard to imagine that a polymer display will feel especially luxurious, despite Samsung angling this as a luxury device. And even if none of that bothers you, it might pay to wait until the inevitable software wrinkles get ironed out. Or at the very least, to see what incoming folding-smartphone competitors like Xiaomi and LG have on offer. All of which is to say that the folding smartphone you actually buy may still be a couple of years away. But it wouldn’t get here at all without something like the Galaxy Fold to prove that it can be done. More Great WIRED Stories In defense of videogame selfies (yes, really) Will identity politics force the stubborn mind to adapt? How a DIY Tesla mechanic resurrects flooded electric cars Is that Dagobah? No, just a real-life magical forest Monkeys with super-eyes could help cure color blindness 👀 Looking for the latest gadgets? Check out our latest buying guides and best deals all year round 📩 Want more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest stories
Read More

Samsung announces 5G phone in move to reinvigorate smartphone market

Ad Age 20 Feb 2019 08:28 Credit: SamsungSamsung debuted its most extensive new lineup of smartphones, taking on Apple amid a slowing market with new low-end and premium models, 3-D cameras, an in-screen fingerprint scanner and faster 5G connectivity. At simultaneous launch events in San Francisco and London on Wednesday, the South Korean technology giant introduced four new phones: the Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e, and S10 5G. The S10 and S10+ are direct successors to last year's S9 and S9+, while the S10e and S10 5G are two new models for the company: a low-end phone aimed at Apple's iPhone XR, and a high-end version priced above $1,000. Samsung previewed the 5G model, which in addition to the faster web download speeds, includes front and back 3-D depth cameras for more professional-looking photos and augmented reality, a larger battery, and a 6.7-inch screen. Its overall footprint, however, is similar to the S10+ model. The S10, S10+, and S10e go on sale March 8, while the 5G variant will launch later in the first half of this year, Samsung said. In the U.S., it will debut as an exclusive to Verizon and it will later expand to other carriers. The 5G model will come to Europe after the U.S. and South Korea, with network partners expected to announce further details at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week. Big picture Samsung's success with its latest gadgets will be a barometer for the global smartphone industry struggling to revive momentum after a decade of robust growth ground to a halt. Global smartphone shipments fell last year to 1.4 billion, marking the first time the figure had slid on a full-year basis, according to StrategyAnalytics. Consumers are holding on to their phones longer and spending less on upgrades, putting pressure on manufacturers to bolster innovation and justify the price tags on their products. With premium mobile phones that can cost well over $1,000 a piece, consumers have also been turning to lesser-known companies, which has given rise to Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies, Xiaomi and Oppo. In China, Samsung has been almost driven out of the phone market, and globally it faces losing the title of the world's biggest handset maker to Huawei. Samsung sold 291 million smartphones last year while Huawei sold 206 million, according to StrategyAnalytics. Samsung will probably sell more than 40 million Galaxy S10 units in the first year of release, Counterpoint Research said in an email. That would be more than the Galaxy S9 for the same period, but fewer than the Galaxy S7, Samsung's best-selling S-series smartphone up to date, it said. The S10 and S10+ include 6.1-inch and 6.4-inch screens respectively, up from 5.8 inches and 6.2 inches on last year's models. The front-facing cameras sit inside holes cut into in the display itself as an alternative to including them in a "notch," as the iPhone does. The displays also now have in-screen fingerprint scanners, a new approach that diverts from the 3-D facial recognition scanner employed by Apple in its latest devices. They also add a third back camera as a wide-angle lens. Those models start at $900 and $1,000 respectively. At its San Francisco event, Samsung also announced a pair of key partnerships for the new devices. Adam Mosseri, head of Facebook Inc.'s Instagram photo-sharing app, announced that an Instagram mode would be integrated into the new camera application. It lets people upload photos and videos directly to the Instagram Stories feature and use the app's filters. Samsung also said it is working with Adobe Inc. on an optimized version of its Premiere Rush CC video editing app. The company also introduced a foldable-screen phone, called the Galaxy Fold, which turns into a tablet at a cost of $1,980. Even with Apple's strong market share in regions like the U.S., the new Samsung line could pose a serious challenge to the iPhone maker. Samsung is beating Apple to the punch by about half a year with features like triple-camera photography, and by at least a year a half with features like 5G and a rear-facing 3-D camera. Samsung is also launching the low-end $750 model, which has a 5.8-inch screen, lacks the in-screen fingerprint reader (it's on the side of the phone instead), and has only two rear cameras. Its bezels, like the iPhone XR versus the high-end iPhone XS line, are also slightly thicker. All of the phones will work with a new feature called Wireless PowerShare, which lets users charge a phone or wireless headphones by tapping it to the back of one of the new Samsung models. It also debuted new Galaxy Buds headphones, competitors to Apple's popular AirPods. Samsung on Wednesday also debuted upgraded Galaxy Active and Fit smartwatches that pair with the new phones. — Bloomberg News
Read More

Android Users: Check This Facebook Location Privacy Setting ASAP

Wired 20 Feb 2019 08:21 WIRED Staff On Wednesday, Facebook introduced a new privacy setting for Android users. Previously, if you had Location History turned on, the app could track you in the background. In other words, even if you didn’t have the app open, it knew where you were. Now, you can stop it from doing so. And you should. The change applies to Android only, because iOS users already had that granularity, thanks to default iOS location permissions that let you specify whether you want an app to track your location always, only when you’re using it, or never. Android’s location permission is binary; an app either can or can’t access it. Facebook would tap into that data to feed features like Nearby Friends, which is pretty self-explanatory, and presumably its formidable advertising apparatus as well. “If you enabled this setting, two things happened: You would share your location when you weren’t using the app and you would allow Facebook to store a history of your precise locations,” Facebook engineering director Paul McDonald wrote in a post announcing the change. Facebook says it’s making the change to improve on Android’s “all or nothing” location rubric. To limit Facebook’s awareness of your whereabouts, tap on the hamburger icon in the upper-right corner, then Settings & Privacy > Settings > Location > Location Settings. From there, you should see a new option called Background Location, which you can toggle off. (If you already had Location History turned off, nothing changes.) Facebook will also be inserting a notice into your News Feed to alert you to the change and offering a link to manage settings. The update is still rolling out, so you may not see the notice or the new settings quite yet. Facebook “We made the update because over time we heard feedback from people using Facebook on an Android device that they wanted easy-to-understand incremental control in addition to the device ‘on’ ‘off’ options,” Facebook spokesperson Rochelle Nadhiri said in an email. Facebook has faced increasing scrutiny over its data collection policies ever since last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. Location, too, has become a lightning rod for privacy advocates, in light of a series of ongoing location-sharing scandals. Just six months ago, Google got hit for opaque location permission settings, precisely the kind of public blow-up that Facebook may want to avoid, especially as it faces a potential record fine from the Federal Trade Commission. “Location is one of the most sensitive data sets there is, and Facebook is one of the most widely used platforms, so this is an important change,” says Michelle Richardson, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Freedom, Security, and Technology Project. Richardson adds, though, that without the backstop of a federal law, users are still at the mercy of tech companies when it comes to protecting their data. “This is the challenge of having a system that’s based on privacy self-management,” Richardson says. “There are just too many apps, devices, and services that we all touch every day. There’s just no meaningful way for people to manage all of these different apps, all these decisions they have to make, for many years into the future.” For now, Android users at least have a little bit more control over when Facebook tracks them. That may not make up for all the other ways Facebook has neglected privacy over the years, but it’s something. More Great WIRED Stories The devastating allure of medical miracles A group catfished soldiers to prove a point about privacy Would you pay $6,000 for vision-quality VR? WIRED Guide to your personal data (and who's using it) Will AI achieve consciousness? Wrong question 👀 Looking for the latest gadgets? Check out our latest buying guides and best deals all year round 📩 Get even more of our inside scoops with our weekly Backchannel newsletter
Read More

The Galaxy S10 Is Here. Pricing, Specs, Release Date

Wired 20 Feb 2019 07:30 Samsung’s just-announced Galaxy S10 flagship phone is, inarguably, the most innovative phone Samsung has ever produced. Forget scanning your eyeballs—that sensor is gone, replaced by an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor within the Galaxy S10’s display. Forget Wi-Fi 5; this new phone supports Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax. Forget the wide cutout for sensors at the top of the display. Forget that ugly thing ever existed! This is a hole-punched display, and it does look better, even if it has been graced with the unfortunate name “Infinity O.” Your smartphone camera, the one you’re using right now? It’s probably not as good as this one. There’s no question that Samsung's Galaxy S10 is worthy of the “flagship” moniker. Barring some terrible flaw, it will assume its position right at the top of the Samsung smartphone pile. The question, though, is whether that matters. Can a crazy good camera, or a neural processing unit, or four different SKUs—including one that supports 5G—make a difference in this era of slowing smartphone sales? Samsung thinks it will. This launch is not just about a smartphone but about the next 10 years of smart devices, the ultraconnected world in which all of the things around us can communicate intelligently, Samsung mobile head DJ Koh said in an interview with WIRED. It’s an ambitious and perhaps slightly unnerving vision of the future. It’s also the kind of vision that smartphone makers need right now. New Phone, Who Dis Samsung's new lineup includes the Galaxy S10, the larger Galaxy S10 Plus, and the slightly more affordable Galaxy S10e. There's also an S10 model that will ship later this year and will work on next-generation, 5G wireless networks. Of the lot, the Galaxy S10e is the least expensive, starting at $750. The S10 costs $900 and the S10 Plus will run you a cool $1,000. Each of them come with a base storage of 128 gigabytes. Samsung hasn’t shared pricing yet for the 5G phone, which has Qualcomm’s 5G modem, the X50, built in. Samsung As with previous Galaxy phones, the S10 and S10 Plus showcase new display technology. Both the 6.1-inch S10 and 6.4-inch S10 Plus have slightly curved AMOLED displays. They’re also HDR10+ displays, which is a Samsung-created standard that was first present in TV displays and is supposed to offer more color accuracy and contrast. The entire front of the phone is a screen, with the exception of that laser-cut “Infinity O,” which houses a front camera. (On the Galaxy 10 Plus, there’s also an RGB depth camera.) With the advent of phones with edge-to-edge displays, smartphone makers have had to get creative with sensor placement. Apple ditched its fingerprint sensor entirely, putting FaceID in its newer iPhones instead. Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone. But no more! The new Galaxy S10 phones have a fingerprint sensor built into the display, one that appears as a floating icon when the phone is locked. Samsung isn't the first to do this—Huawei, Oppo, One Plus, and Vivo all have smartphones with in-display sensors—but Samsung made a point to say that its sensor, built on Qualcomm technology, captures 3D images of your finger pads, which other optical fingerprint scanners don’t. The Galaxy S10 also still has a headphone jack, despite many of its competitors having ditched this simple-yet-still-incredibly-useful port, and will charge via USB-C. All About the NPUs Each of the new phones run on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 855 processor and will run Google’s Android 9 Pie operating system out of the box. Most notably, this is the first Samsung smartphone with its own neural processing unit, a co-processor that’s dedicated to AI-powered tasks. “For the next 10 years, 5G and AI technology will be the major drivers of the mobile industry,” Koh told WIRED. It remains to be seen whether a neural processing unit (which Apple also includes in its newer iPhones) is enough to convince the average consumer to spend $1,000 to upgrade. Justin Denison, senior vice president and general manager for Samsung Electronics, insisted it is. “You’re already seeing the application of some of those features today, like scene optimization in the camera or the way the phone knows to open and shut apps so you have the best battery life possible,” Denison said. “Those are meaningful applications of intelligence.” The battery life on each of these new phones should be about a day or more, depending on the model. The Galaxy S10 Plus and S10 5G phones will have the largest physical batteries. One wild new feature: The phones themselves act as Qi-compatible wireless charging pads. You can activate the PowerShare charging mode in the phone's settings, put your S10 face down on the nightstand, and plop your brand-new Samsung Galaxy Buds ($130) on the back of the phone to charge while you sleep. The Galaxy S10’s camera has also been infused with AI features, in addition to some hardware upgrades. Image stabilization has been improved in video capture. The front-facing camera now shoots 10-megapixel stills and 4K video. The rear camera on the two top Galaxy S10 phones—triple lenses!—captures 12-megapixel photos and now ultra-wide shots too. Scene Optimizer, a feature rolled out in last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 9, has a couple of new tricks. Beyond automatically recognizing what scene you’re shooting, it now helps you frame and straighten your shots, too. On the Money If you opt for the Galaxy S10e, the “cheaper” phone, you won't get all of the same camera features. That phone has merely two rear lenses, not three. It looks like a high-end phone, but with a more compact body, which also means a smaller battery. It doesn’t ship with as much RAM as the higher-end models. Samsung But the most interesting thing about the $750 Galaxy S10e might just be that it exists. It’s Samsung’s answer to the iPhone XR, a less expensive (but still expensive) smartphone designed as an alternative to the lineup of pricey new phones. A new, spec'd out Samsung Galaxy S10 with a ceramic back, after all, will cost well over $1,000. When asked about rising prices on smartphones, Koh pointed out that Samsung has its Galaxy A line, which ships outside of the US and is less expensive, as well as a new Galaxy M series, which is aimed at consumers in India and priced competitively. Even with these new flagship phones, Koh insisted that “we have a broad range. That’s why we’re delivering four models.” Ramon Llamas, research director at IDC, said the success of a “slightly more affordable S10” will depend on how people perceive its affordability and its feature set. “Let’s face it, smartphones have gotten expensive,” he wrote in an email to WIRED. And regarding other new features like the in-display fingerprint scanner, NPU, and improved camera, Llamas said they “keep Samsung in the conversation for high-end smartphones, but I don’t see them as the driving force for people to upgrade.” Annette Zimmerman, a research vice president at Gartner, agrees. “All vendors face the same issue: breakthrough technology such as an in-screen sensor may not be enough reason for smartphone users to upgrade early,” she said. Gartner is forecasting a mere 1.5 to 3 percent growth in the smartphone market over the next five years, and the smartphone market, Zimmerman said, is trending towards a three-year cycle. And while a 5G phone might be a perk for early adopters who want to be first, it's not enough to move the needle right now, Zimmerman said. "Everyone knows 5G networks are not ready." Over the past 10 years of Galaxy phones, Samsung has bet on its most loyal users upgrading every few years. Now smartphone makers can no longer make that bet—even Samsung, the largest shipper of smartphones in the world. It will keep having smartphone launches like the one it hosted in San Francisco today, showing off a whole new lineup of legitimately impressive features. But some consumers may not bat an eye—at least, not for a while. More Great WIRED Stories Dun-dun dun-dun! The great white shark genome is here AR will spark the next big tech platform—mirrorworld The 7 best cold-brew coffee makers you can buy Before internet paranoia, there was Lyndon LaRouche Inside the push to legalize magic mushrooms 👀 Looking for the latest gadgets? Check out our latest buying guides and best deals all year round 📩 Want more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest stories
Read More

Oracle claims a fighter of pirated apps is a front for ad fraud

Ad Age 20 Feb 2019 02:26 Oracle says apps infected by Tapcore generated fake ads on nonexistent websites. Credit: Mary Ellen ForteA company that claims to combat app piracy is a pirate itself, according to a report Oracle released on Wednesday. Oracle claims the company, Tapcore, has been perpetrating a massive ad fraud on Android devices by infecting apps with software that ring up fake ad impressions and drain people's data. Based in The Netherlands, Tapcore works with developers to identify when apps are pirated and then enables developers to make money from those bootleg copies by serving ads. Oracle says that Tapcore's anti-piracy code was a Trojan horse that was generating fake mobile websites to trick ad serving platforms into paying them for non-existent ad inventory. "The code is delivering a steady stream of invisible video ads and spoofing domains," Dan Fichter, VP of software development at Oracle Data Cloud, tells Ad Age. "On all those impressions it looked like the advertiser was running ads on legitimate mobile websites. Not only were they not on a website, they were on an invisible web browser." On its website, Tapcore says it works with more than 3,000 apps, serving 150 million ad impressions a day. The apps whose pirated versions it has worked with include titles like "Perfect 365," "Draw Clash of Clans," "Vertex" and "Solitaire: Season 4," according to Oracle's report. Tapcore's scheme works like this, according to Oracle: The app developer signs up with Tapcore and is given code to put in its software. After the app is downloaded by a consumer, hours, even days later, the code updates with new functions—what's known as side-loading—that turn a device into a fake ad generator. The app is secretly used to make requests for digital ads by generating what look like mobile websites in a mobile web browser that don't exist. Oracle says the fraud, which it has named DrainerBot, was uncovered through the joint efforts of its technology teams from its Moat and Dyn acquisitions. There are three victims here, according to Fichter: the advertiser who buys the ad no one sees; the publisher who has its domain "spoofed" to appear like an ad ran on its webpage when it didn't; and the consumer. An infected app can leak 10 gigabytes of data in a month. A gigabyte of data can cost $15 a month at major telecom providers. Oracle would not put a monetary figure on how much money could have been generated by the alleged scheme. A Tapcore spokeswoman said the company is disputing that it's the cause of the fraud and that it reached out to Oracle for more information. "We are very concerned about Oracle's statement," the spokeswoman said in an email. "At the moment we are trying to find out the details and investigate the causes and circumstances that led to Tapcore being involved in this situation. We have always been on the frontlines in the fight against mobile ad fraud and vow to fully investigate the claims and ensure the facts are brought to light. "We hope Oracle will make appropriate changes to their statement once we can prove we are not the reason for the fraud activity they're referring to," the email said. Oracle is working with the industry organization Trustworthy Accountability Group, which is notifying advertisers of the potential that they bought ads from the alleged invalid traffic. Google says that it worked with Oracle and Moat to eliminate any bad apps from its store, but it also said that its normal security procedures were working to thwart the infected apps. "The vast majority of reported apps had either been previously removed through our regular enforcement procedures or were not available on Play, and we have taken steps to blacklist the impacted apps to protect our advertisers," a Google spokeswoman said in an email statement. Tapcore, for its part, claims to be expanding its business: On its website, it says its services are coming to Apple apps in the coming months. Scammers siphon nearly $20 billion a year from the industry by some estimates, according to eMarketer.
Read More

Google-Facebook duopoly set to lose some of its share of ad spend

Ad Age 20 Feb 2019 11:00 Credit: BloombergThe duopoly is losing some of its advertising dominance, albeit a very small amount. The combined share of Google and Facebook will drop in 2019, even as their revenues grow, according to eMarketer. Google will fall to 37.2 percent from 38.2 percent last year, while Facebook will slip slightly to 22.1 percent from 21.8 percent. Facebook continues to maintain its share thanks to strong demand for ads in Instagram Stories. The photo-sharing platform still benefits from the perception that it's less impacted by the challenges Facebook has faced, according to Debra Aho, principal analyst at eMarketer. But the big winner of 2019 is expected to be Amazon, which continues to siphon share from Google and Facebook. Its U.S. ad business is on track to grow more than 50 percent this year, according to eMarketer, and its share of the digital ad market will swell to 8.8 percent this year from just about 4 percent last year. It share is expected to reach nearly 10 percent in 2020. "Amazon has a major benefit to advertisers, especially consumer packaged goods and direct-to-consumer brands," said Monica Peart, forecasting director at eMarketer. "The platform is rich with shoppers' behavioral data for targeting and provides access to purchase data in real-time. This type of access was once only available through the retail partner, to share at their discretion. But with Amazon's suite of sponsored ads, marketers have unprecedented access to the 'shelves' where consumers are shopping." As expected, digital ad spending will surpass traditional ad spending this year. And by 2023 digital is expected to account for more than two-thirds of all media spending. Total digital ad spending in the U.S. will grow 19.1 percent to $129.34 billion in 2019, according to eMarketer, topping traditional spend by nearly $20 billion. Mobile makes up more than two-thirds of digital, totaling $87.06 billion in 2019. Overall, traditional ad spending in the U.S. will decline to 45.8 percent this year from 51.4 percent last year. Print will drop nearly 18 percent, while TV ad spending will decline 2.2 percent to $70.83 billion. The 2020 presidential election is expected to propel TV ad spending back into positive growth before falling again in the following years.
Read More

How to catch a catfisher

Guardian Technology 20 Feb 2019 08:00 When Max Benwell found out someone was using his photos to approach women online, he decided to track down the trickster – setting up a fake Instagram account and changing his gender on Tinder along the way Illustrations by Gabriel Alcala. Design by Sam Morris and Juweek Adolphe Warning: some of the language quoted in this piece may be triggering for people who have experienced abuse online. Last year, I found out someone was using my photos to catfish women. He stole dozens of my online photos – including selfies, family photos, baby photos, photos with my ex – and, pretending to be me, he would then approach women and spew a torrent of abuse at them. It took me months to track him down, and now I’m about to call him. I’m nervous, so much so that I have been putting it off for weeks. I sit down and dial. My palms are sweaty. He picks up. “Hi,” I say. “I’m looking to talk to Chris …” “This is Chris. Who am I talking to?” He already sounds pissed off. “I’m really glad I finally managed to talk to you.” “Who am I talking to?” “This is Max Benwell.” “Sorry, Max who? Where are you calling from?” “New York.” “OK, and how can I help you?” I first find out about my catfisher in March 2018, when a woman messages me on Twitter. Hey, I just wanted to let you know someone is pretending to be you ... March 2018 Little do I know that from moment on, I will fall down a rabbit hole of online fakery, which will include setting up a fake Instagram account, buying followers, buying likes, even changing my gender on Tinder. After receiving that first message, I try to forget about it, thinking people will report him and that Facebook and Instagram will suspend his account. But about two weeks later, I receive a message on Twitter from a different woman: Hey, I know you don’t know me but I think you should know that someone has been using your pictures to catfish me haha, I thought you should know and it sucks when someone does that April 2018 Soon after, a third woman messages me. Hi, sorry to bug you. But there is someone on the internet who stole your photos, and is using them to try and catfish people. It just happened to my friend. I just figured you’d wanna know. April 2018 Each seems to have reported him, and I can’t find his profile anywhere. So what is there to do? Again, I just hope that his account has been suspended. Two months later it happens for the fourth time, and it’s the worst one yet. A woman has tweeted a screenshot from a Facebook conversation her friend had with the catfisher. A stream of vile abuse is coming out of my grinning face. What's happening? Sally Plus @sallyplus Hey, John Mason, you’re a disgusting piece of shit. You definitely won’t be getting any dates in Oklahoma City now, you asshole. I am mortified. At this point, I decide to track him down and tell him to stop. How do you track down someone when you don’t know who they are? I start with the only lead I have. The first woman to contact me had attached a screenshot of the catfisher’s Instagram account when he had the username @jjmason90. This account was now inactive, meaning I couldn’t find it through a normal Instagram search. But after searching the username on Google, I was able find an unofficial Instagram site redirecting from @jjmason90 to @johnnysanders90. He had switched his name to John Sanders, creating a new page while keeping all the same photos. He was using a recently taken photo of me as his avatar. This account is private John follows 1,900 people and, terrifyingly, has 280 followers. That’s 280 people who think he’s me. But it’s his bio that really takes the piss: Simple, laid-back and educated guy who enjoys having fun, trying new things and meeting new people it reads. Get to know me. He has posted 153 photos, but his profile is private. If I’m going to find out what he has been doing with my photos, he would have to accept my follow request. But if I add him from my account, he could end up blocking me and changing his handle again, meaning I may never stop him. Getting a friend to add him would also be too risky – he might see a photo of us together. That’s when it dawns on me: I’m going to have to catfish him. I contact Facebook, which owns Instagram. Is it OK to catfish a catfisher? “Misrepresenting yourself is against our policies,” their spokesperson replies. “We have a dedicated team that’s tasked with helping to detect and block this kind of activity.” But will I be banned if I pose as someone else to stop an abusive catfisher, ie do it for the good of the internet? “I get what you mean,” the spokesperson replies. “I just want to clarify here, that any impersonation – no matter the motive – will be dealt with the same.” OK. So, I can’t impersonate a person but … what if I invent a fake business that caters directly to his interests? From what I’ve gleaned, my catfisher is from Oklahoma and likes beautiful and sexy, women. (I know this because I have found comments he has left on random women’s Instagram posts. One says beautiful, the other sexy). With my bot army in formation, my next move is to up the ante with John, and start geo-targeting him – a feature of Instagram used mostly by brands to advertise their posts to their target customers. So I pay Instagram $64 (£50) and it pushes a post targeting men between the ages of 18 and 30 in a 15-mile radius of Oklahoma city centre. Some men take the bait. One even comments, writing: Im from okc wus poppin. But John isn’t among them. I give up trying to make him follow me, and request to follow him. He never accepts. Defeated and getting desperate, I decide to go on my Tinder account and change my gender to female and my location to Oklahoma City. I swipe through hundreds of straight men looking for someone with my face, on the off chance John is still using my photos. But it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack or, more accurately, a catfish in an ocean of topless men with names such as Brad and Tyler. But then I remember the beautiful and sexy comments he left on two women’s accounts. What if they had followed him back after he randomly added them? I find their profiles – they’re public – and search who they follow. And sure enough, he’s there. This could be it. I finally have a solid lead. One of the women who follows John and has access to his account messages back and sends me screenshots, showing photos of me dispersed among dozens of random memes, like Kanye West with Trump's hair and a frog clinging onto a stick. This account is private Each scroll brings a new wave of dread and confusion. Who would steal someone’s baby photos and pass them as their own? I decide I need help from an expert. I contact Social Catfish, a social media investigation service based in California. They have an image search tool – like Google Images but more powerful – which can help me find any other accounts my catfisher has set up with my photos. Linnie is assigned to my case. She says she dealt with 1,300 catfishing cases in 2018, and that 95% of them were financial scams on women between the ages of 50 and 75, mainly from men based in Nigeria. According to her, catfishing scammers get their photos from Googling terms such as “intelligent man with glasses” or “white man in suit”. In my case she thinks my catfish just wants to be able to talk to women and say whatever he wants. But why my face? I ask. She pauses awkwardly. “Because … you’re attractive,” she says. Thanking her, I explain that there’s no way I can mention that in my article. I send Linnie my photos and she puts them through Social Catfish’s search tool to see if John has been using them anywhere else besides Instagram. He hasn’t, but what I discover is even more disturbing. Another guy is selling sneakers as me in Ohio. Another man is putting out a casting call on a crowdsourcing website with my face. Two men have written Yelp reviews with, yep, my face as their avatars. Unfortunately, Social Catfish can’t figure out John Sanders’ true identity either. I thank them, and start to think I should give up.But before I do, I have one final go. I start by going back over all the women’s messages to make sure I haven’t missed anything. And … it turns out I have. My catfisher’s real name has been sitting in my Twitter inbox all along. In the flurry of messages I had forgotten the first woman had actually guessed his name. I feel so stupid, but when she had first contacted me I had never intended to write anything about it. I was confused, and it was months before I decided to do anything. How did she know who he was? John added me, then Chris added me. John would message me for a while, then Chris would. They were the only mutual friends that I had with either of them April 2018 I Google Chris’s full name and find two Facebook accounts and his Instagram. They’re all private. But then I come across a Google+ group. It has been set up to expose abusive behavior online. In 2016, someone posted screenshots of Chris. Post in Google+ Group Whistleblower Discussion Please help me get this around. This guy was really vulgar and nasty to my friend. Things get even more disturbing. A few months later, a young woman called Lizzie responded to the post. Lizzie Chris, my best friend! He's a really good person! Some low-life trolls are trying to smear him by posting vile messages from his account that was HACKED! He didn't write them, so leave him alone! Along with the post she has uploaded 33 photos. They’re all of Chris, and most of them are selfies where he’s smiling or goofing around. As I scroll through them, an opening ceremony of red flags marches through my head. I upload her photo to the Google Images search tool, and this headline comes up: “She went missing from a sheriff’s station. Now the state wants answers.” The photo is of Mitrice Richardson, a 24-year-old grad student from California. She went missing in 2009, and her remains were found a year later. I don’t think Chris has murdered anyone. But he has used a dead woman’s photo to defensively catfish people accusing him of abuse. I give Social Catfish Chris’ name and the photos I can find of him. From public records they’re able to get his home address. He lives in the midwest and, from public records, they are able to find his phone number. “Chris, I’m calling because someone has been using my photos on the internet and, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I heard it was maybe ... you?” “No, it definitely wasn’t me. I have my own profile with my own pictures.” I try to reassure him so he doesn’t hang up. I’m not trying to get him into trouble. I’m writing a piece about what he has done, but I won’t be using his real name. I just want to talk, get some closure. “There’s quite strong evidence you’ve been using my photos, so I just want to talk to you. I’m not angry or anything,” I say. He denies it again, but then slips up. “I have my own social media profiles, my own Facebook, my own Instagram,” he says. “I was friends with somebody who it turned out that they were using someone else’s pictures, because I thought it was a real profile so I was friends with them for a bit. But then I reported the account when I found out it was fake.” “That may be true,” I say, “but my understanding is that you created an account called Jim Mason, and then it evolved to John Sanders.” He interrupts me and continues denying any involvement. We go round and round in circles. What about the woman who he followed around the exact same time as the catfish? What are the chances of that? I follow a lot of accounts, he says. Over the next hour that’s his go-to defence. (He follows just under 7,500 people, the maximum allowed by Instagram.) I start to worry I’ll never get the satisfaction of a confession, but then I remember the memes he posted in between the many pictures of me. There were so many memes on the John Sanders Instagram page. Chris has a private account. What if he had posted the same memes on his personal page? After about half an hour of going back and forth, I casually ask Chris if I can follow him on Instagram. I can almost hear the calculations he’s making in his head over the phone. It could look suspicious if he says no, but can he remember what he has posted? Was it similar? Does he have time to check? He says yes, and I’m in. I make small talk while frantically taking screenshots of all of his photos. There’s more than 1,000. I hold my landline phone with my right hand and my iPhone with my left, while using my right elbow to click the button on its side, going down his entire grid. Before we end our conversation, I try pleading with him. Just tell me, I say, it will be between us. I won’t use your real name, I just need the closure. He denies everything. But I have my smoking gun. On Chris’ account and the catfisher’s account are four of the exact same memes, all posted in the same order, around the same time. This account is private I message Chris to see if he’s free to talk again. He says I can call him later that evening. There’s no way out for him now. I can’t wait for him to finally confess. But then there’s a shift. He seems to sense something. An hour before we’re due to talk, he messages again. “After giving it further thought I’ve decided that I no longer wish to be contacted regarding the story you’re doing or any other matter. I feel that I have given more than enough information and answered a ton of questions last time we spoke. Please respect my privacy and do not attempt to contact me further. Thank you.” Our conversation disappears. He has blocked me. I wanted him to know what he did has consequences, for me and all the women he tricked and abused. There’s little I can do now he has blocked me, but he knows I’m writing this, and I’m almost certain he’s going to read it. I hope he can become a better person, rather than feeling like he has to be someone else completely. At almost the exact same moment Chris blocks me, I receive a message in my “other” inbox on Instagram, where messages from accounts you don’t follow go. It’s from an obviously fake account with a young blonde woman as its avatar. Her username is a garble of letters. “Hi! How are you?” she asks. I start to reply. The timing is so suspicious. Could this be another rabbit hole Chris sends me down? But then I catch myself. I’m done. I don’t need to do this. I close Instagram and put my phone away. The names of the catfisher and his victims have all been changed If you're a victim of online abuse, here's a helpful guide to identify the particular form of harassment you’re experiencing and offer resources for addressing that particular abuse
Read More