All posts in “Mobile”

Apple’s App Store revenue nearly double that of Google Play in first half of 2018

Apple’s App Store continues to outpace Google Play on revenue. In the first half of the year, the App Store generated nearly double the revenue of Google Play on half the downloads, according to a new report from Sensor Tower out today. In terms of dollars and cents, that’s $22.6 billion in worldwide gross app revenue on the App Store versus $11.8 billion for Google Play – or, 1.9 times more spent on the App Store compared with what was spent on Google Play.

This trend is not new. Apple’s iOS store has consistently generated more revenue than its Android counterpart for years due to a number of factors – including the fact that Android users historically have spent less on apps than iOS users, as well as the fact that there are other Android app stores consumer can shop – like the Amazon Appstore or Samsung Store, for example. In addition, Google Play is not available in China, but Apple’s App Store is.

Last year, consumer spending on the App Store reached $38.5 billion, again nearly double that of Google Play’s $20.1 billion.

As the new figures for the first half of 2018 indicate, consumer spending is up this year.

Sensor Tower estimates it has increased by 26.8 percent on iOS compared with the same period in 2017, and it’s up by 29.7 percent on Google Play.

The growth in spending can be partly attributed to subscription apps like Netflix, Tencent Video, and even Tinder, as has been previously reported.

Subscription-based apps are big businesses these days, having helped to boost app revenue in 2017 by 77 percent to reach $781 million, according to an earlier study. Netflix was also 2017’s top non-game app by revenue, and recently became ranked as the top (non-game) app of all-time by worldwide consumer spend, according to App Annie’s App Store retrospective.

Many of the other all-time top apps following Netflix were also subscription-based, including Spotify (#2), Pandora (#3), Tencent Video (#4), Tinder (#5), and HBO NOW (#8), for example.

And Netflix is again the top non-game app by consumer spending in the first half of 2018, notes Sensor Tower.

Game spending, however, continues to account for a huge chunk of revenue.

Consumer spending on games grew 19.1 percent in the first half of 2018 to $26.6 billion across both stores, representing roughly 78 percent of the total spent ($16.3 billion on the App Store and $10.3 billion on Google Play). Honor of Kings from Tencent, Monster Strike from Mixi, and Fate/Grand Order from Sony Aniplex were the top grossing games across both stores.

App downloads were also up in the first half of the year, if by a smaller percentage.

Worldwide first-time app installs grew to 51 billion in 1H18, or up 11.3 percent compared with the same time last year, when downloads were then 45.8 billion across the two app stores.

Facebook led the way on this front with WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook and Instagram as the top four apps across both the App Store and Google Play combined. The most downloaded games were PUBG Mobile from Tencent, Helix Jump from Voodoo, and Subway Surfers from Kiloo.

Google Play app downloads were up a bit more (13.1 percent vs iOS’s 10.6 percent) year-over-year due to Android’s reach in developing markets, reaching 36 billion. That’s around 2.4 times the App Store’s 15 billion.

Despite this, Apple’s platform still earned more than double the revenue with fewer than half the downloads, which is remarkable. And it can’t all be chalked up to China. (The country contributed about 31.7 percent of the App Store revenue last quarter, or $7.1 billion, to give you an idea.)

Sensor Tower tells TechCrunch that even if China was removed from the picture, the App Store would have generated $15.4 billion gross revenue for first half of 2018, which is still about 30 percent higher than Google Play’s $11.8 billion.

OnePlus in the process of renaming Dash Charge system to Warp Charge

oneplus 5 tips and tricks dash charge
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It seems that OnePlus may be changing the name of its Dash Charge charging system to “Warp Charge” — if a trademark application to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is granted.

OnePlus has been avoiding using the term “Dash Charge” in its promotional material and software ever since it was denied a trademark in the EU in March due to similarities with Bragi’s Dash Pro headset and Amazon’s Dash service. While OnePlus would still have been able to use the Dash Charge name in the U.S., it would have had to have changed the name specifically for regions within the EU — not exactly the easiest way of doing business.

Clearly not happy with the situation, OnePlus has been looking for a replacement for the “Dash Charge” name — and it seems it may have found it with “Warp Charge.” The trademark was submitted to the EUIPO on July 13, but don’t expect an answer particularly quickly. The trademark application for Dash Charge was begun when the OnePlus 3 was released in 2016, and the agency only got around to denying the application in March of this year.

Of course, it’s not a given that the trademark will be accepted yet, so it would be unwise for OnePlus to start the lengthy and expensive process of re-merchandising until the application is complete — but unless some major players within a similar industry pop up with another valid claim to the name, then it’s likely that the trademark will be accepted. We doubt a miniatures shop in Halifax has enough of a claim to block OnePlus here.

The charging method formerly known as Dash Charge has a strong history. It’s based on the VOOC charging tech of OnePlus’ owner, OPPO, and it increases ampage, rather than voltage, to deliver more power to a device. It’s considered one of the fastest methods of fast charging out there, and it’s something that OnePlus is proud enough of to have launched a marketing campaign around for the launch of the OnePlus 3T.

Having the trademark application rejected clearly hasn’t hurt OnePlus too much though — the release of the OnePlus 6 was completed without it, and we’ve highlighted that particular phone as one of our current favorites.

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6 pro tips for taking amazing portrait photos with the Huawei P10

The Huawei P10 has a dual-lens Leica camera on the back, just like the P9 and the Mate 9, but it also has several cool new software features — including a Portrait photo mode — and it has already impressed us with its ability. What’s more, the front camera has been given the Leica treatment, with a bokeh mode for some amazing selfies. A good camera is only part of the equation when it comes to taking great pictures. Your own ability, and a basic knowledge of how the camera app works, is just as important.

To prove it, and to show just what the P10 can do in the hands of a professional photographer, Huawei ran a “Photo Masterclass.” Hosted by Manfred Baumann, known for his striking celebrity portrait photos and use of monochrome, he helped us put the P10 through its paces, while sharing some valuable tips on composition and editing. We concentrated on taking pictures of people, using the new Portrait mode on the P10.

While we used Huawei’s new phone, the tips we’re going to share with you equally apply to the P9 and the Mate 9, along with most other dual-lens cameras with a manual mode. Don’t worry if manual mode seems complicated, we actually used auto for all the images shared here, and some post-production editing.

Get closer

Don’t be afraid of putting your camera in the subject’s face. Baumann would get in really close, almost filled the frame on several occasions, which worked very well shooting monochrome against a stark, featureless background. To take one particular portrait, he stood on a chair, about two feet in front of the subject. He experimented with different angles and stances, too.

Huawei P10 Photo Masterclass
Inez del Prado Photography
Inezdelprado Photography

If your camera has a bokeh mode, like the P10, it will blur out background detail. We took some spectacular photos in front of a window overlooking Barcelona, but it doesn’t over-power or detract from the person’s face in the picture. However, also try framing your subject against a featureless background — an alternative way of making them the focal point of the picture.

Ignore the camera

Yes it sounds like a cliché, but it really works. Baumann explained he shot a lot of celebrity pictures, but many are not models and wouldn’t automatically start posing for the camera. He’d have to choose his moments carefully, after getting the person to relax and act naturally. We were taking pictures of each other in a fun environment, and laughing about it produced fun, lively, and happy pictures. Standing back and just observing what’s going on around you, especially if people aren’t that comfortable around the camera, may end up giving the best results.

Monochrome

This is best experienced with the Huawei P10, the Mate 9, or the P9, due to its dedicated monochrome Leica camera lens. It produces amazingly detailed black and white pictures. However, pictures taken with other cameras will have filters that provide a similar effect. We were in a bright, airy room with a high ceiling, large windows, and neutral coloured walls. The afternoon light created shadows which could be used creatively when shooting with it behind the subject. We tried leaving parts of the face covered in shadow, for example.

Huawei P10 Photo Class

With the light in front of the subject, another option for classy pictures is to choose a dark or shaded background. The light ensures this comes out almost black, but the subject remains lit. The bokeh mode obscures any detail, pushing the subject to the forefront of the picture. We had particular success using this method, and took pictures in settings we’d never have considered before.

Highlights and shadows

Don’t get fixated on taking the best photo possible the first time. Take several, and then edit them. Most camera apps have extensive editing features that can change the end result after the picture has been taken. If you’ve been taking portrait or bokeh pictures on the P10, even the focal point can be altered. We came away with a really excellent tip, which transformed the way our monochrome images looked. Instead of changing the brightness and contrast settings, plays around with the highlights and the shadows. These settings exposed more detail, or made already moody shots even more effective.

Crop the picture in creative ways

Huawei P10 Photo Masterclass
Inez del Prado Photography
Inezdelprado Photography

It turned out we’ve been cropping our selfies and pictures of other people all wrong. Rather than centralising our subject, try cropping faces right down, and setting them at the side of a photo. Don’t always stick to a basic aspect ratio either, play around with the sizes. Baumann sliced the very top of our heads off, which surprisingly ended up looking superb. He’d also cut off backs of heads, shoulders, and minimize background detail. Yet all the time, he was bringing the subject of the photo into better view. It’s a simple, yet incredibly effective trick to learn, which can transform a mundane selfie into one worthy of a professional.

Don’t be shy

Perhaps the biggest tip we can share comes from our own experiences taking photos. Many of us (me included) probably don’t consider ourselves photogenic. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be photographed well. Through our experience with Baumann, we saw it’s not always about the subject; it’s about taking the right picture in the right way, in the right environment, then using the tools available to creatively compose an attractive final image. Like us, you may end up being genuinely surprised and very pleased with the final result.

We had a great afternoon learning about getting the most from the P10’s Leica camera, and hope these suggestions will help you get the most from it too. The great thing is, because dual-lens camera phones made for producing bokeh-effect pictures are plentiful today — from the iPhone 7 Plus and the Honor 6X, to the ZTE Blade V8 Pro and Xiaomi Redmi Pro — so you can apply them to taking portrait photos with many phones.

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Apple emoji will soon include people with curly hair, white hair and superpowers

In honor of World Emoji Day (yes, that’s a thing), Apple is previewing some of its upcoming emoji. Later this year, Apple’s emoji set will feature people with a variety of hairstyles and colors, including curly hair, red hair and white hair. What you’re about to see are simply Apple’s take on emoji that were previously approved by the Unicode Consortium’s emoji subcommittee.

Folks with curly hair, rejoice!

Let’s hear it for the red heads

Like white on rice

No hair? No problem

Other fun emoji include a freezing face, peacock, mango, lobster, nazar amulet, superheroes and kangaroo.

Back in March, Apple proposed new emojis to represent people with disabilities in Unicode’s next batch of emoji. Then in May, Unicode announced some of the draft candidates for its next emoji release in Q1 2019 to include some of Apple’s proposed emoji, which featured a guide dog, an ear with a hearing aid and more. If you want to hear more about what goes into emoji approval, be sure to check out this interview with Jeremy Burge, vice-chair of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee.

Tech Armor says its new screen protector improves iPhone performance. We tested it

tech armor enhance screen protector 1
Tech Armor Enhance Screen Protector Embedded with Clear Technology for iPhone X.

Tech Armor has a new screen protector for various iPhone devices called the Enhance, but the company claims it does more than protect your smartphone’s screen. The Enhance Screen Protector Embedded with Clear Technology reportedly shields your brain from cellphone radiation and improves the phone’s signal strength, while extending battery life in the process. Skeptical? So were we, so we decided to try it out and see if there are any truths to these promises.

Smartphones and radiation

But first, we need to talk about radiation. Smartphones emit radio frequency (RF) energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. There have been scores of studies exploring the health risks of exposure to this radiation from smartphones — such as whether you can get cancer from prolonged cellphone use — but the consensus from the scientific community suggests there is no evidence linking the two. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the following statement on its website:

“According to current data, the FDA believes that the weight of scientific evidence does not show an association between exposure to radio frequency from cell phones and adverse health outcomes. Still, there is consensus that additional research is warranted to address gaps in knowledge, such as the effects of cell phone use over the long-term and on pediatric populations.”

“Still, there is consensus that additional research is warranted to address gaps in knowledge.”

The Federal Communications Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, and the World Health Organization all provide similar statements, including that more research is needed.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission even has a website warning people of cellphone radiation scams, advising people against radiation shields as “there is no scientific proof that so-called shields significantly reduce exposure from these electromagnetic emissions.”

“In fact, products that block only the earpiece – or another small portion of the phone – are totally ineffective because the entire phone emits electromagnetic waves,” according to the FTC. “What’s more, these shields may interfere with the phone’s signal, cause it to draw even more power to communicate with the base station, and possibly emit more radiation.”

Tech Armor’s method

iphone x notch

The Enhance is a screen protector that’s available for the iPhone X, iPhone 6, iPhone 7, iPhone 8 (including all the Plus models), as well as the iPhone SE and iPhone 5S. It has the same defensive strength as Tech Armor’s other screen protectors, it looks ordinary, and it’s applied the same way. Tech Armor claims Enhance can do three additional things.

The first is it can redirect harmful radiation. The screen protector — which covers the entire phone — acts as a barrier between your head and the RF emissions (when you hold the phone up for phone calls). The embedded Clear Technology in the Enhance will redirect up to “100 percent” of those emissions away to the sides and rear of the phone, away from your brain.

The technology that enables this isn’t new — it’s called a band-pass filter, and it’s currently used in cellphone towers to reject frequencies within a certain range to filter out unwanted emissions, and pushes the signals towards a specified direction. Tech Armor told Digital Trends the folks at Clear Technology helped translate this tech into the screen protector using carbon nanotubes. These are microscopic in size and the team was able to print it on the screen protector glass in a transparent manner.

We have no way to test if the Enhance really does push away RF energy, but even if it does, the overwhelming consensus suggests there is no consistent link between RF energy from smartphones and health risks. That being said, if it provides some peace of mind for you, we can’t argue against it. We decided to test Tech Armor’s two other claims that stem from redirecting the RF energy: Better battery life and stronger cell signal.

The test

We slapped the Enhance screen protector onto an iPhone X on AT&T, and compared it with an iPhone X without any screen protector on the same network (and same plan). We went to various locations where we often had low signal to test whether cell signal improved with the Enhance. The idea is that the “redirected emissions concentrate the phone’s signal to provide a stronger signal for both calls and data downloads,” according to Tech Armor. Whereas Tech Armor’s claims are based on controlled lab environments, we used a real-world approach (minus the radiation testing, which we had no way of testing at press time).

Did it work? It’s hard to tell. In most of our test locations, we found a negligible difference of signal strength between the two; we’d often have the same amount of bars on both iPhone X devices.

tech armor enhance screen protector no signal difference
In one area where we frequently encountered low signal strength, the iPhone X with Enhance (right) showed no improvement. This was our usual experience.

But in one instance, the iPhone X with the Enhance screen protector fluctuated between three and four bars of connectivity, while the other iPhone stayed at 2 bars. The improved connectivity was sustained for more than an hour, so there very may well be some truth to this claim. Did we notice a difference in our day-to-day experience with the phone and screen protector? No, we didn’t start suddenly seeing a dramatic improvement in our cell signal everywhere.

tech armor enhance screen protector signal difference
Interestingly, in one spot where we consistently had two bars of service, the iPhone X with Enhance (right) did show significant signal improvement of three or four bars.

When your smartphone is struggling to find cell signal, it chews through more battery life. Tech Armor claims that since the cell signal is stronger with the Enhance, you should see up to 40 percent longer battery life. We set both our iPhone X devices to similar configurations, and played a 10-hour long YouTube video through a LTE data connection — this is when we noticed the slightly stronger service on the Enhance screen protector. The two iPhone devices consistently had a 2 percent difference in battery life, with the Enhance-covered iPhone X edging out ever so slightly. Still, the differences are negligible, and we don’t think you’ll see a drastic improvement in battery life here.

Should you buy it?

tech armor enhance screen protector 2

The Enhance screen protector costs $30 from Tech Armor’s website, and it’s available now. It’s more expensive than the bulk of screen protectors on the market, but you can also find ones from other manufacturers that cost $40 or more. (You can see a selection of our favorite iPhone X screen protectors, ranging from less than $10 to $30 and up.)

Stripping away all the claims Tech Armor makes, the screen protector itself is anti-smudge and anti-scratch ballistic glass, so it should keep your screen free from scratches. If you don’t care about cellphones and the RF energy they emit, or don’t particularly think the signal and battery improvements are worth the price, then there are far more affordable options you can buy. However, if you are concerned about potentially harmful radiation coming out from your smartphone, this screen protector should give you peace of mind if the price tag is agreeable. In the end, you are purchasing a high quality screen protector, and that should be the main draw.

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