Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 keeps your next phone more secure than ever

Qualcomm has announced the processor that will power many of next year’s Android flagship smartphones, the Snapdragon 845, and it boasts better performance, an improved graphics processor, helps phones process artificial intelligence on-device, and more. But there’s one feature that, in a year filled with major data breaches, could prove more important  — the addition of the “Secure Processing Unit.”

Apple’s iPhone has traditionally held security as an edge over Android smartphones. We hear about a new Android malware or Google Play vulnerability every single week. That’s not to say the iPhone is perfect — but Android’s fragmented ecosystem, where manufacturers and carriers don’t update phones to the most recent version of Android, presents serious security complications.

We hear about a new Android malware or Google Play vulnerability every single week.

That’s what Qualcomm is trying to change. The Secure Processing Unit (SPU) is an isolated security-focused processor embedded in the Snapdragon 845 system-on-a-chip. It’s built specifically to protect data that’s most important to you. Hacks and data breaches are becoming increasingly common — even biometric data could be stolen, like the fingerprint you use to get into your phone, or face data if your phone uses facial recognition technology like the iPhone X.

With the introduction of the SPU, Qualcomm wants to store all that biometric data in the vault-like environment, which is similar to what Apple does with the Secure Enclave on its A11 Fusion processor in the iPhone. The Secure Enclave Processor boasts its own microprocessor and encrypted memory, and it handles ultra-sensitive data like Face ID data and decryption keys. The SPU stores similar sensitive data, and it’s kept separate from other components on the Snapdragon 845 to prevent hacking.

It’s not just protecting biometric data, but also payment information, SIM information, and more. Eventually, it could help protect everything you do on your Android phone. When you take a photo on a phone with the Snapdragon 845, for example, the SPU will create an encrypted unique key that’s stored in the same place for decryption. It’s an added layer of protection, and developers like Facebook could use the SPU to generate keys for things like Facebook Messenger messages with your friends and family — all on-device.

snapdragon 845 security features

The SPU boasts its own little processor, its own memory, and it is even power-separated from other components on the chip, so it never needs to rely on other less secure components of the Snapdragon 845. Everything it does is in a locked, safe environment.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Snapdragon 845 SPU, but Qualcomm’s Product Director, Gary Brotman, said that’s a good thing — the less we know about it, the less the bad guys know about it. Will it make for a totally secure and hack-free phone? Probably not — but it’s a step in the right direction for Android devices, and most importantly, for consumers.

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Even Coinbase thinks you should maybe chill for a goddamn minute on Bitcoin

The good times will always be here!
The good times will always be here!

Image: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Bitcoin. It’s pretty great, amirite? But, ya know, could you maybe just chill the fuck out on it for a single goddamn second?

I mean, jeez, this rocket ship is on a one-way trip to the cryptocurrency moon — that much we know for sure — but, what if, and just bear with me here for a second ’cause this is gonna sound crazy, what if it’s not?

Sure, Bitcoin is hitting record highs seemingly every day now, and if there’s one thing spending BTC at dark-web marketplaces has taught me it’s that monumental highs feel like they’ll last forever. But perhaps it’s time to cut our unbridled exuberance with some downers. 

Thankfully, the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is here to do just that. In a Dec. 7 blog post, the company’s co-Founder and CEO Brian Armstrong reminded us to perhaps take a deep breath before we click that “buy” button. 

Titled “Please invest responsibly — an important message from the Coinbase team,” the message reads as part warning and part reminder that, much like with love, there are no guarantees in Bitcoin. A section titled “Be an educated investor” really drives this home. 

We also wanted to remind customers of some of the risks associated with trading digital currency,” writes Armstrong. “Digital currencies are volatile and the prices can go up and down. Due to the rapidly changing price of digital currencies, some customers may not have sell limits that are sufficient relative to the value of total digital currency they are storing on Coinbase.”

Sell limits are restrictions Coinbase places on your account limiting the amount (in terms of USD) that a person can sell in a given amount of time. You might, say, have a sell limit of $10,000 per week. If you’re holding onto $100,000 worth of BTC, and things take a sudden turn for the worse… well, you could be left holding a bag whose value quickly evaporates before your very eyes.

Coinbase really really really wants you to remember that.  

Oh, and also, while Coinbase is probably stoked that it’s the second most popular app in the App Store according to App Annie, popularity brings with it its own set of headaches. 

“The last few weeks has seen an unprecedented increase in the price of digital currencies,” explains Armstrong. “More people are engaging with our platform than ever and that bodes well for the future of the digital currency. At the same time, it does create extreme volatility and stress on our systems.”

That stress could manifest as “the inability to buy or sell for periods of time” — something that might present a problem during these aforementioned extremely volatile times. 

So breathe deeply, slow your Bitcoin trading roll, and cut it out with all the stress already. Your wallet will thank you. That it, unless, Bitcoin keeps increasing in value. Then it won’t thank you.  

Man, I really need to buy some Bitcoin.

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Nvidia just released the most insanely powerful graphics processor ever made

Nvidia just announced the Titan V, the most powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) of all time. 

This isn’t the type of graphics card your gamer friends all bought on Black Friday, either. This is a graphics card powerful enough for use on research in artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

The GPU contains 21.1 billion (yes, billion) transistors, and delivers 110 teraflops of horsepower, 9 times that of any other Nvidia processor. For perspective, the Xbox One X delivers only six teraflops, and that was really impressive when it was announced earlier this year.

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Don’t get any ideas, though — the Titan V is $3,000. Good gaming GPUs are usually $500-$600. 

But it could mean huge things for research into and development of artificial intelligence. In October, Google’s AI AlphaGo Zero became the best Go player in the world, in what was widely considered to be a massive leap forward in deep learning, using $25 million worth of computing hardware. 

With such a powerful and efficient GPU freeing up resources for other innovations, it’s exciting (and terrifying) to imagine what the next big AI will be able to do. 

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Apple is reportedly close to acquiring music recognition app Shazam

Apple is close to acquiring the music recognition app Shazam, according to TechCrunch. The purchase is the latest acquisition for the world’s largest tech company.  

First launched in 1999, Shazam has grown significantly over the last several years. Once specifically devoted to music recognition, Shazam now accepts audio and visual clips to identify songs, movies, and television shows. The service is the oldest of its kind, competing with Soundhound and Musixmatch.

While specifics on the deal are still sketchy, one source reported that Apple will approximately $400 million for the company. This estimate falls far beyond the company’s $1 billion  valuation from its last funding round in 2015. The discrepancy is likely due to Shazam’s struggle to become profitable.

In 2015, Shazam posted an annual loss of $22 million dollars. The company saw a major turnaround in 2016 with revenues at $54 million dollars and became profitable for the first time with a pre-tax loss of $5.3 million. Earlier in 2017, Shazam CEO Rich Riley hinted that the company’s ability to become profitable could make it an attractive acquisition target.

A big part of Shazam’s turnaround is due to its feature diversification. In its earlier incarnations, Shazam made money primarily from advertising revenues and linking customers to services like Apple Music. In 2016, the company added a new augmented reality feature, allowing users to scan branded Shazam codes to unlock deals and games on the app.

The new features allow Shazam to build more strategic partnerships and drive engagement with the app. Earlier in 2017, the company partnered with spirits company Beam Suntory, maker of Jim Beam, Sauza, and Hornitos tequila, to create a wildly successful AR marketing campaign. Since its partnership with Beam, Shazam has partnered with a number of other companies and artists to create similar AR campaigns within the app.

It’s uncertain what Apple plans to do with Shazam. Apple frequently purchases smaller tech companies to scrape the technology into its own products. Apple could opt to integrate Shazam into future versions of iOS or use the app in conjunction with Apple Music.

Neither Apple nor Shazam has confirmed a deal is in the works. Sources say the companies will announce the acquisition on Monday, December 11. We will update this story as we learn more.

Now that Jony Ive is done designing iPhone-inspired toilets, he could make Apple products great again

Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive is back in charge of the company’s product design teams, according to a Bloomberg report.

And that could mean really great things for the company’s future products.

In 2015, Ive, who was then senior vice president of design at Apple, was promoted to chief design officer. Richard Howarth and Alan Dye took over the teams for industrial design and user interface, respectively, and reported directly to CEO Tim Cook.

While Ive, no doubt, still played a role in shaping Apple’s new iPhones and MacBook Pros, his new position allowed him the freedom to work on other projects.

Like helping architect Apple Park, the company’s recently completed spaceship-shaped campus that reportedly has toilets inspired by iPhones.

And redesigning Apple Stores so that they’re more like town halls and, uh, have trees inside of them!

Or making expensive AF coffee table books filled with pretty pictures of old Apple products.

See? He’s been really busy.

Now that Apple Park is finished and they’re all but moved in, Apple’s top design guy is ready to take full control of the company’s design teams again. 

The Bloomberg report says Howarth and Dye and their product design teams now report to Ive rather than Cook. 

What does this mean for future Apple products when Mr. Alu-min-nee-um is back in the saddle instead of having one foot in the door?

Hopefully good things ahead. Like maybe focus on meaningful features that aren’t a step back from prior designs.

Here’s my wish list:

  • Kill the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro

  • Bring back MagSafe on all MacBooks

  • Add another USB-C port to the MacBook

  • Give us back our SD card slot

  • Bring back the headphone jack on iPhones

  • Chop off the huge-ass camera bump on the iPhone X

  • Move Control Center on the iPhone X to a place that makes sense

  • Make sure the new Mac Pro isn’t trash

  • Fix the terrible Siri remote on Apple TV

  • Redesign the Mac Mini

I don’t have a lot of confidence any of these things will happen, but no harm in wishing.

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Google brings play and pause buttons back to the Home Mini

Google is bringing play and pause buttons back to the Home Mini today, after initially removing them due to an issue that could cause the device to constantly record users.

Instead of tapping the top of the Home Mini to start and stop playback as had been originally planned, owners will now be able to long press the volume buttons on either side of the device to control whatever’s playing. That extends to music, news, alarms, phone calls, and so on. If it’s playing, you’ll be able to press and hold to stop it — which can be a lot more convenient than using your voice if you’re already right beside the device.

The update will roll out to Home Mini units that are enrolled in Google’s software preview program today, and it’s supposed to come to all units shortly after that.

It’s a simple and helpful fix to a kind of embarrassing problem — the fact that the Home Mini’s top button, on some units, could be accidentally triggered by the fabric. Originally, that button was going to be used for controlling playback and for letting people manually trigger the Assistant. But after Android Police noticed their unit recording nonstop, Google pulled the feature before the product could even ship.

This update suggests that Google couldn’t get around the fabric issue, since it’s using the side buttons instead of bringing the play/pause feature back to the top button. And while a long press isn’t quite as convenient as tapping the top surface of the Mini, it’s a handy addition that’s easy enough to remember and use.

Save up to $850 with these awesome holiday deals on smartphones

The holidays are here, and while Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, ongoing December deals give you more time to score some savings. With companies like Apple and Samsung recently rolling out new flagship devices, it’s your chance to take advantage of slashed prices and holiday sales. If your phone needs an update and you’re ready to score a discount on a new device, here are a handful of smartphone deals available right now. The list includes a few sales on unlocked smartphones, as well as some carrier offers that can save you as much as $850.

The carriers’ best smartphone deals

Cellular service providers regularly offer enticing incentives to get you to switch to their plans. So if you’re looking for a new carrier, you can save a good chunk of change and even score a free device by taking advantage of one of the best smartphone deals from Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon or AT&T:

The best unlocked smartphone deals

Carrier offers typically require you to sign up for a specific service or to trade in an old device to get your discount. These smartphone deals, on the other hand, let you enjoy big savings on these unlocked mobile phones when you buy them outright:

  • iPhone SE: If you want an iPhone for cheap and don’t want to buy a refurbished device, it’s hard to beat the compact iPhone SE. Amazon currently has the 32GB model for $303, a $97 discount.
  • Huawei Honor 8: The Huawei Honor 8 might not be the “flagship killer” that some hyped it to be, but it’s still a good, budget-friendly Android phone with solid hardware. The unlocked Honor 8 is compatible with GSM networks and normally retails for $450, but the 64GB model can be yours for $318 from Amazon, a $132 savings.
  • Moto G4: The Moto G is still one of the best budget Android smartphones on the market today, and B&H has the unlocked fourth-generation model on sale for $120 after a $60 discount. You can also grab the larger G4 Plus for $160 and enjoy a savings of $90.
  • LG G5: New flagships always come with big price cuts on last year’s models, so if you’re not fussy about having the latest bleeding-edge hardware, then the LG G5 is still a great Android phone. A brand-new unlocked one can be yours for only $250 ($280 off) from B&H.
  • LG V20: The carrier deals for the LG V20 (one of the best phones on the market if you’re a photography junkie) may have expired, but you can still grab an unlocked one for $300 from B&H and take $150 off.

Looking for more great mobile phone deals and other discounted electronics? Check out our DT Deals to score some extra savings on our favorite tech.

Update: Added the new Sprint Galaxy S8 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus, T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy, Verizon Google Pixel, AT&T Galaxy Note8, and unlocked iPhone SE smartphone deals. Removed expired offers and updated prices.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and choose what we cover carefully and independently. If you find a better price for a product listed here, or want to suggest one of your own, email us at dealsteam@digitaltrends.com.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

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Wear a camera on your wrist with the help of this Kickstarter project

Thanks to Fitbit and Apple Watch, wrist wearables have become almost as ubiquitous as smartphones. Sporting the latest wearable on your wrist signals to the world that you’re an early adopter who is on the cutting edge of tech.

A Kickstarter campaign is hoping you’ll ditch your fitness trackers and smartwatches to wear an HD wide-angle camera on your wrist instead. 

Cleep is an Italian-designed wrist wearable with an embedded 150º 13mp camera that snaps photos and videos whenever you want, no smartphone required. 

Here’s the plan for this product, which at press time has just 10 days to go and is about $2,000 away from its goal: Once you bring your arm up to chest height, Cleep’s camera turns on. You can then press the top button once to snap a picture or twice to record a nine-second video. Hold the button down to record for as long as you like. They’re automatically saved to the internal memory card and sent to your phone over Bluetooth. 

If you’re trying to choose between a wrist camera and a fitness tracker, Cleep’s got you covered. It also utilizes activity tracking to provide metrics like steps, miles traveled, and calories burned in the app. Check out their campaign video below for more details on how Cleep works:

According to the video, Cleep was born of a desire to capture moments while staying in the moment, i.e. without a phone in front of your face. If I’m being honest, I didn’t get the appeal of Cleep until I started thinking about it in that context. Especially when traveling, the desire to document your trip can be in direct opposition to the enjoyment of the experience. Sure, you may look a little silly holding your arm up like you’re blocking a punch, but no less silly than you look taking a selfie in front of the Mona Lisa.

Cleep’s Kickstarter headline claims that it’s “the world’s first wearable wrist camera” which a quick Google will tell you isn’t true, but it’s for sure the sleekest. Jet.com lists theirs as a “spy camera” that’s made to look like a fitness tracker, though it doesn’t appear to be app-enabled. Beoncam, another crowdfunded device, seems to be the most direct competitor with similar functionality. It’s much more bulky than Cleep, though, and is more like a wrist-mounted GoPro than strictly a wearable.

The Kickstarter campaign wraps up on December 18 and at the time of writing is tantalizingly close to its goal. You can pre-order a Cleep now, in a small or medium size, at the early bird price of €129 (about $152) which is 50% off retail price. Or, for €20 more, you can pick up the travel pack, which includes a case, power adapter, and an SD card to expand the memory.

If you can’t bear to give up your Apple Watch, maybe you can make stacking your wearables like bangles the cool new trend — or, you know, just wear it on the other wrist. You do have two after all.

Qualcomm Unveils Powerful New Snapdragon SoC

Qualcomm on Wednesday announced the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, a System on a Chip built for immersive multimedia experiences including extended reality (XR), on-device artificial intelligence and high-speed connectivity.

Qualcomm Unveils Powerful New Snapdragon SoC

The SoC will power next-generation Android flagship smartphones and Windows 10 notebooks based on ARM architecture.

Xiaomi reportedly will use it in its forthcoming Mi 7 flagship, to be released next year.

The SoC incorporates Qualcomm’s Spectra 280 image signal processor (ISP), its Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem, and the company’s secure processing unit (SPU), which enables improved biometrics security and user or application data key management.

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The 845 supports Google’s TensorFlow and Tensorflow Lite, and Facebook’s Caffe/Caffe2 frameworks, as well as the new Open Neural Network Exchange. It also supports Google’s Android NN application programming interface.

The Importance of AI

The 845 triples improvement in overall AI performance, simplifying the taking of photos and videos and enhancing VR games, according to Qualcomm.

AI support through both versions of TensorFlow and Caffe in the 845 is its most important standout feature, noted Werner Goertz, a research director at Gartner.

“As AI moves to end devices, the Q support for TensorFlow and Caffe implementations will support the all-important inference functions of AI,” he told TechNewsWorld.

That will enable local processing of AI-enabled experiences, “without requiring the round-trip of data to the cloud and back,” Goertz said, thus reducing latency, providing resilience against network outages, and offering the option of on-device models to protect private and confidential data.

What Makes the 845 Stand Out

The 845’s machine learning and augmented reality capabilities will have the most impact, suggested Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“The race to combine the real world and the digital world as AR is on,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This is one of the closer architectures bringing together multiple Qualcomm capabilities.

Support for Tensorflow and Caffe “also makes the execution of the two most popular ML frameworks easy,” Mueller said, “opening up a lot of use cases — voice, picture recognition, video and audio augmentation, for instance.”

While the 845’s capabilities are unique, “Apple and Samsung have similar capabilities,” he noted.

The new image signal processor, the secure processing unit, and the new cache structure are the most significant changes introduced, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Foveation Makes For Great Pix

The SoC uses foveation, which substantially reduces power consumption, improves visual quality, and boosts XR application performance.

The advancements on the new ISP, combined with foveation, “provide capabilities beyond even some of the best camera platforms,” McGregor told TechNewsWorld.

The 845 lets consumers capture cinema-grade videos. It captures 64 times more high-dynamic range color information for video capture and playback on Ultra HD Premium displays.

Foveal tracking also helps improve power efficiency, Gartner’s Goertz remarked.

“Tracking gaze and retinal focus areas on a screen or immersive display reduces power consumption without materially impacting the user experience,” he explained. “The processor can track in real time where the user’s attention is focused, and work hard at processing the relevant images while spending less energy on other areas.”

Skimps on Power

The 845 consumes up to 30 percent less power for video capture, games, extended reality applications and graphics, which “is huge,” McGregor said.

The cache structure has increased the 845’s power efficiency, because the central processing unit block has a Level 3 cache, and each Internet protocol block has a system cache, McGregor pointed out. Now, the IP blocks “just pass pointers to the data rather than copying it from block to block or from main memory.”

Improved Security

The SPU closes some significant gaps in device security, McGregor observed.

“Most biometric solutions aren’t secure,” he said, because of “where the information is stored or how it’s processed. Having a completely secure block prevents anyone from accessing the information.”

The 845 Mobile Platform is expected to show up in commercial devices beginning in early 2018.


Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

Check out the best green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance at finding a great deal. We’re talking about Green Monday, of course, which falls on December 11 this year. Though not as well-known as the other more prominent buying holidays, Green Monday has been around for quite some time and continues to grow in popularity. This online shopping phenomenon lands on the second Monday of December each year and is centered around the Christmas panic that always sets in when folks start realizing time is running out to buy gifts for their loved ones. With the holidays just a couple weeks away, Green Monday is one of the last days shoppers can be sure that whatever they order online will arrive on their doorstep in time for the big day.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing, buying online is the best way to ensure you save time and money while finding the right gifts for everyone on your list. If you’re looking to do some last-minute shopping, but don’t want to pay the in-store price, stick around as we round up best Green Monday deals this holiday season.

Where are the best Green Monday deals?

Finding the savings you seek isn’t always as easy as you think. With many different retailers offering discounts on tech, toys, clothes, and a variety of other items, having a guide to help navigate the frenzy is exactly what you need to ensure you find the best deals on the products you want. We’ll be working tirelessly to ensure we find you the deepest discounts to make that last-minute shopping easier than ever before.

Amazon Green Monday Deals

Amazon Black Friday deals

Though Amazon doesn’t currently have a Green Monday page, that doesn’t mean it won’t be participating this year like it has in the past. With savings on everything from 4K TVs to telescopes, the Amazon deals never really seem to dry up. Holiday shopping is pretty much as easy as the click of a button, and it’s even easier if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

You can take a look at the Amazon 12 Days of Deals, or the Amazon Prime Exclusive phones for deals available right now.

All Deals

Walmart Green Monday Deals

Walmart Green Monday

With the holidays inching closer, Walmart is competing even harder for your business online. The retail giant will have savings on drills, sporting goods, home products, and everything you need to survive the holiday season. The Walmart Green Monday deals haven’t arrived just yet, but you can check back after the weekend for all the savings and sales as they go live.

You can check out the Walmart Green Monday page in preparation, or stay tuned for more coverage as it goes live.

All Deals

Target Green Monday Deals

Target Green Monday

If you’re looking for savings on Keurig, electronics, and select home goods, Target will have you covered this Green Monday. With a variety of seasonal knickknacks and deep discounts, Target is a great place to find exactly what yo’re looking for this holiday season. Skip those long lines and order everything online this holiday season.

You can check out the Target Green Monday page to get ready, or bookmark this page for updates as they go live.

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Ebay Green Monday Deals

Ebay Green Monday

Ebay is celebrating its 10th Green Monday with deals on just about everything. Save on robot vacuums, smartwatches, drones, and so much more when you shop online at Ebay this holiday season. Though its Green Monday sales haven’t officially begun, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some great deals going on right now.

Check out the Ebay deals page for discounts going on right now, or come back on Monday for a more detailed list of savings.

All Deals

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and choose what we cover carefully and independently. If you find a better price for a product listed here, or want to suggest one of your own, email us at dealsteam@digitaltrends.com.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

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