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Davistech Adewumi (CEO DAVISLOADED) is a Nigerian news carrier blogger, writer, entrepreneur, SEO Expert, Tech Guru and a web developer. We bring you the Nigerian News, Music, Sport Talk and All Informative Messages On This Medium. Connect With Me Via: IG/Twitter: @davisloaded Call/Whatsapp: +2349038173068

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Slick New iMac, Muscular iPad Pro Headline Apple Event | Tech Buzz





By John P. Mello Jr.

Apr 21, 2021 4:00 AM PT

Apple introduced a new version of its iMac desktop and a powerful upgrade of its iPad Pro tablet at an online event Tuesday. Both new products are based on Apple’s new M1 chip.

“The whole thing about this event is broadening the use of the M1 chip across all Apple’s computers now — laptops, desktops and iPads,” Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in Campbell, Calif. told TechNewsWorld.

The new iMac is the first computer built by Apple for the M1 chip from the ground up, explained Ross Rubin the principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.

The new iMac is also remarkably thin. “Just as the iPhone is a sheet of glass you hold in your hand, the iMac is a sheet of glass on a stand on your desk.”

Spring 2021 iMac thin profile

“The M1 allowed them to shrink everything,” Bajarin added. “It was an impressive engineering feat that they brought to the iMac.”

Without the M1 chip, the new iMac’s form factor couldn’t have been produced, maintained Mark N. Vena, a senior analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, a technology analyst and advisory firm based in Austin, Texas.

“Apple silicon allows them to get a thin form factor because it has lower thermal demands and allows them to consolidate multiple chip sets into a single chip set,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Colorful Computers

The new iMac, which has a 24-inch display, also comes in an array of colors. The US$1,299 model, with 256GB of solid state storage, 8 GB of RAM, two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, is offered in blue, green, pink and silver. The $1,499 model, which also has two USB 3 ports, comes in three additional colors, yellow, orange and purple.

“The colors are a flashback to the original iMac,” observed Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst with Tirias Research, a high-tech research and advisory firm in
San Jose, Calif.

However, he sees some potential problems with being so colorful. “They want to differentiate the product more, but it’s going to be a problem for them to manage inventory because you’ve got to manage seven colors of computers, keyboards, Magic Trackpads and mice,” he told TechNewsWorld.

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Spring 2021 iMac

The new iMac is available in a variety of colors and is more compact than its predecessors.

Thomas Husson, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said the new iMac stands out in the PC market for a number of reasons.

“The M1 chip may look a bit techy, but it will drastically improve the end-user experience by boosting speed and performance,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The 4.5K retina display and the new design will also provide a best-in-class entertainment experience, while the addition of Touch ID and latest speakers and mics will put it on par with other devices from the Apple ecosystem,” he added.

Ordering for the new iMac starts on April 30 with shipments starting in the second half of May.

M1 Surprise

Upgrading the iPad Pro line to the M1 chip surprised some Apple followers. “A lot of people thought the M1 chip wouldn’t come to the iPad until later in the year,” Bajarin observed.

“The fact that it’s in the iPad now is an important thing because it impacts sales for the rest of the year,” he added.

Incorporating the M1 chip into the iPad Pro line brings Apple’s computers and tablets closer together. “It shows how the lines continue to blur between the Mac and the iPad, to the point that you’re using the same processor in both devices,” observed Rubin.

Still, there’s a line between the two, which can be frustrating to some users. “The design and technology are phenomenal, but it’s still running iPadOS, and you have to add accessories to make it more like a laptop,” Krewell said.

“Many people in the professional space just want a laptop,” he continued. “They want to know why Apple can’t deliver those phenomenal specs in a laptop with a touch screen?”

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Bringing the M1 chip to the iPad reveals the direction Apple wants to take the line, maintained Vena.

“Putting the M1 in the iPad Pro shows they’re trying to position it for creative professionals,” he said. “It’s not for the person doing some email and light graphical stuff.”

5G Added

In addition to offering a new 1TB model of the iPad Pro, Apple has also added 5G to the line.

“Adding 5G to the iPad Pro is a good idea because once we get out of our houses, 5G will be important for people working remotely with iPad Pros,” Krewell observed.

“I’d like to see 5G added to the MacBook line because people working remotely with MacBooks would love 5G connectivity as well,” he added.

iPad Pro with 5G

The iPad Pro is available with 5G. Models in the U.S. support millimeter wave to provide speeds up to 4Gbps.

Husson, though, maintained 5G is just a “nice to have” at this stage of the technology’s development.

However, he acknowledged that 5G is important to the iPad Pro’s target audience. “Professionals likely to pay a premium for such a device want to have the best-of-breed experiences and are more likely than average to use a tablet in a mobile context, on-the-go,” he explained.

“When in an office with fiber and advanced WiFi, the benefits will be limited but when traveling or in a static environment, the addition of 5G will be appreciated,” he added.

Pricing for the new iPad Pros, which come in silver and space gray, start at $799 for the 11-inch model with 128 GB of storage and $1,099 for the 12.9-inch model with 128GB.

As with the iMac, Apple will start taking orders for the units on April 30 and start shipping during the last two weeks of May.


Apple also announced AirTag at its event. The tags, which will sell for $29 each, can be attached to anything and tracked from an iPhone using the Find My app.

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AirTag Precision Finding

Precision Finding gives users the exact distance and direction to their AirTag, using a combination of sound, haptics, and visual feedback.

“The Find My app is one of the most used apps on all of Apple’s products,” Bajarin said. “Adding AirTags to the Find My feature is a natural evolution of Apple’s ecosystem.”

“It’s going to be Apple’s next billion-dollar business,” he added. “If they sold just 39 million AirTags this year, that would be $1.13 billion in new revenue. Selling 39 million AirTags will be a piece of cake for them.”

Apple TV Gets A12 Chip

An Apple TV upgrade was also revealed at the event. It received a new chip, the A12, and a revamp of its remote. “The new remote is really a big deal because it makes navigating through Apple TV so much easier, compared to the last remote,” Bajarin noted.

Apple TV 4K with Siri Remote

The new Apple TV 4K with the A12 Bionic chip and Siri Remote

“At the event, they said it will be sold with the new Apple TV, but it will also be sold separately and is backward compatible,” he continued.

“Making the new remote compatible to older hardware isn’t something Apple had to do, but it certainly makes owners of the current hardware much happier,” added Linn Huang, a senior research analyst with IDC.

“TVs are one of those areas ripe for innovation and a disruptive experience,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Putting something like an A12 into an Apple TV gives Apple a head start in moving toward that disruptive experience.”

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.


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DuckDuckGo Unwraps Google FLoC Blocker | Privacy





By John P. Mello Jr.

Apr 20, 2021 4:00 AM PT

DuckDuckGo has announced an add-on to the Chrome browser that blocks Google’s new scheme to provide marketers with information for targeting advertising at Internet users.

The scheme called FLoC — Federated Learning of Cohorts — is being tested in Chrome, in some cases without the knowledge of the browser’s users.

“If you’re a Google Chrome user, you might be surprised to learn that you could have been entered automatically into Google’s new tracking method called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC),” DuckDuckGo explained in a post on its website.

“It groups you based on your interests and demographics, derived from your browsing history, to enable creepy advertising and other content targeting without third-party cookies,” it continued.

After a short trial period,” it noted, “Google decided not to make this new tracking method a user choice and instead started automatically including millions in the scheme.”

DuckDuckGo, which makes a search engine that competes with Google, added that it has updated its Chrome extension designed to block Internet trackers to also block FLoC interactions on the Web.

Better Privacy?

FLoC is Google’s alternative to third-party cookies, which will soon become extinct in Internet browsers. Those cookies are used by marketers to target ads at users across the Web.

With FLoC, users are placed in “cohorts” based on their browsing history. When a user lands on a website, the FLoC ID can be used to target ads at them.

Google did not respond to a request for comment for this story, but in the past it
has said that not only is FLoC 95 percent as effective as the third-party cookies, but better preserves a user’s privacy.

DuckDuckGo disputes that claim. “While FLoC is purported to be more private because it is a group, combined with your IP address (which also gets automatically sent to websites) you can continue to be tracked easily as an individual,” it maintained in its Web post.

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“Although the cohorts you belong to over time are non-descriptive and represented by an anonymous-looking number, it won’t be long before people or organizations work out what FLoC IDs really mean, e.g. what interests and demographic information they are likely correlated with,” DuckDuckGo asserted.

“Google is wrapping a lot of questionable past behaviors in the language of privacy and altruism that a lot of people just don’t buy,” added Liz Miller,
vice president and a principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“That’s what you’re seeing with DuckDuckGo,” she added.

Meeting Resistance

Josh Crandall, CEO and cofounder of NetPop Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm in San Francisco, explained that DuckDuckGo’s value proposition is to protect users from further erosion of their privacy, especially from Google.

“By releasing the Chrome extension, DuckDuckGo continues to present its benefits to users who are concerned about Google’s use of their data,” he told TechNewsWorld.

FLoC seems to be meeting resistance from three camps, observed Charles King,
the principal analyst at Pund-IT, a technology advisory firm in Hayward, Calif.

“First, are organizations, like DuckDuckGo which want to eliminate or radically curtail online tracking of any sort,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Second are groups and individuals that reflexively distrust Google efforts of every sort,” he continued.

“Finally,” he added, “are companies that depend on traditional cookies and hope to keep those technologies or something like them around indefinitely.”

Advertisers Concerned

Advertisers also have some qualms about FLoC.

“Because FLoC does not provide any sort of ad targeting taxonomy, advertisers need to run their own research and data science to determine which FLoC IDs will perform on certain campaigns or to determine online behaviors,” explained Louis Ashner, executive vice president of technology at Engine Media Exchange, a media and marketing services company in New York City.

“By the time this analysis is run, users could have already been placed into a different FLoC as they browse to different websites,” he told TechNewsWorld.

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Constellation Research’s Miller added that a lot of advertising pushback against FLoC is from agencies that have been doing the kind of market segmentation Google is proposing to do with its new scheme.

“Those agencies not only understand data, but they understand the strategic and business goals of their clients’ brands,” she said. “They don’t trust Google to do that because its broad segments could create a negative customer experience for people consuming their ads.”

“That’s a real worry, and it should be for a lot of marketers,” she added.

What’s more, FLoC would give Google even more leverage than it already has in the digital advertising marketplace, maintained NetPop Research’s Crandall.

“By controlling the FLoC algorithms through which Internet users are segmented, Google would retain full visibility into user behaviors and the advertising that is targeted to them, while at the same time disintermediating other companies from receiving the same data,” he observed.

“In essence,” he continued, “FLoC puts Google even more squarely in the middle of the online advertising marketplace and increases its control of user data and insights.”

If FLoC Falters

If FLoC doesn’t gain the traction Google hopes it will gain in the market, what will digital marketers do?

“Universal ID approaches or fingerprinting will be pursued as they are being pursued today,” maintained Greg Sterling, vice president of market insights for
Uberall, a maker of location marketing solutions based in Berlin.

“There’s also contextual targeting and paid-search, which is arguably the safest and most effective form of digital advertising,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“I don’t think it’s a sky-is-falling moment for digital marketers,” he said. “The industry will survive. Most brands and retailers will need to develop much stronger first party data sets, which is a good thing to do in general.”

If FLoC fails, Miller predicted that advertising done with specific publishers or websites will pick up steam and gain importance.

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“Through individual publishers, you’ll be able to optimize efficiency of spend as well as effectiveness of targeting because you’ll be using first-party data that exists with the single site or publisher,” she explained.

“It starts to refunnel advertising into different places,” she continued. “You’ll start to see small and mid-sized advertisers invest in larger, walled gardens, like Facebook and Google. That’s not going to be a good thing for the industry.”

Threat to Open Web

It may not be a good thing for a more Open Web, either, asserted Brendan Riordan-Butterworth, a technology consultant in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“If you have a third-party cookie, you can identify my browser as being interested in a certain product or service,” he explained to TechNewsWorld. “Then, whether or not I’m on a website for that product or service, that website can get the CPMs for the product or service.”

“Third-party cookies can be a great normalizer for the advertising a publisher can get,” he continued. “It allows websites that are less commercially interesting to some advertisers to exist.”

“If you remove cross-site targeting through cookies, a bunch of websites not big enough to build their own first-party user targeting resources will no longer be viable,” he said. “They’ll either cease to exist or migrate to larger platforms like Facebook. That will centralize the system so everyone will be logged into a few walled gardens.”

“With FLoC, you’re going to have some consolidation, but without it, it’s even worse,” he added. “It’s a good way to promote the Open Web.”

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.


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Nvidia and the End of Movies as We Know Them | Emerging Tech





GTC21, this year’s Nvidia GPU Technology Conference, was terrific as always.

The alleged focus was on AI and autonomous cars. But, as I watched presentation after presentation from folks out of the entertainment industry, I realized that if you started putting some of these various elements together, they effectively predicted the end of movies as stand-alone, costly entertainment.

Instead, they were forecasting the emergence of movies as a linear, highly-automated process beginning with the idea, transitioning through books and games, and eventually becoming custom entertainment that could be different for everyone watching individually or in small groups. I think theaters will make less and less sense as we transition into this blended mixed reality, AI-driven, virtual movie future.

We are going to end with my product of the week, which this time isn’t something you can yet (or possibly ever) buy, but the most extraordinary SUV I’ve ever seen. In this instance, showcased by Audi at Nvidia’s GTC.

Let’s get started.

Movies, Actors, Movie Theaters Become Obsolete

What got me thinking of the end of movies was a technology Nvidia announced Friday called GANverse3D. It allows you to create realistic moving objects, like cars, and introduce them into a film in minutes.

An apparent early use would be if you had GM as your named sponsor in a movie but, for some reason, needed to replace them with Ford using GANverse3D. You should be able to, with a few clicks, replace each featured GM vehicle with its Ford counterpart.

What makes this possible is that this technology allows you to define an object, call that object a car, give it realistic movement automatically, and then apply a 2D car image to the figure. You instantly have a realistic-looking, moving automobile. No 3D modeling software or experience required. Check it out in this video:

Now you can’t do people yet, but that is coming, and this means that every image in a movie can be rapidly changed while retaining movement and realism. Granted, if you replaced a sportscar with a tank, you’d get a tank with unbelievable performance, so you’d also have to change the logic surrounding the tank’s movement. Still, even that could essentially be done with little additional work.

But it was Vicki Dobbs Beck from ILMxLAB that caught my attention. Vicki implied a future where a book could be automatically, using an AI, converted into a script, where that script could be automatically enhanced by a storyboard, where that storyboard could automatically be converted into an animated movie, and that animated movie could be upscaled into a photorealistic final product.

We aren’t there yet, but I feel that this capability isn’t decades off. It is more like single-digit years in our future.

Kathryn Brillhart, the director of virtual production at USC Cinematic Arts, introduced me to LED walls where, during production, these walls are used to define the stage (one of which is the ceiling) and then broadcast the digitally created world the movie is set in on those panels. This process places the actor and primary props in a virtual stage that looks like you are on location. Since the images can be rendered, that virtual location could be any place real or imagined in the universe.

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It is a ton easier to act like you are someplace if it feels like you are there instead of in front of a generic green screen. So actors can be anywhere and virtually travel to any place in the world or universe, imagined or real, just by using these vast LED walls and ceilings (for ambiance).

But blended within this are Nvidia’s Omniverse and Omniverse Mechanima efforts that allow you to make movies with game engines. Nvidia’s ray tracing capabilities allow upscaling of game-level images to a photorealistic upscaled alternative, providing a low-cost way to take a rabidly-created game quality image and upscale it.

With this upscaling capability coupled with AIs, you get the equivalent of non-player characters (NPC) becoming extras, if not actual actors, in the resulting movie or TV show — depending on the level of AI you are using.

Now let’s put this together and talk about the day in the life of a future movie producer/director/actor/owner.

Creating the Movie of the Future

You have an idea for a story and write a one-page outline including key plot pivot points. You feed it to a literary AI who takes that summary and writes an initial draft novel from it. You read the novel providing feedback on what you like or dislike, and feed this back to the AI, which modifies and completes the novel. You decide you want to turn that novel into a movie; so you tell the AI to convert the novel into a storyboard and turn it into a script. From the script, the computer creates a storyboard. The storyboard is used to pitch a new game based on the story.

Currently, there is an effort to use Nvidia technology to create virtual planet Earth. That virtual planet Earth becomes the virtual set, first for your game, then for your movie. First, the AI generates a game, and then users play the game with goals matched to the script elements and against the movie’s proposed plot. That gameplay is captured both from the camera’s perspective and from the player’s perspective, creating virtual movies the event’s entire gestalt.

You still will have to find someone to market and sell your game, and you need the game to get to the movie because the players may become your actors — and you could end up with multiple takes on the movie depending on which player perspective is more interesting. Like today’s role-playing games (RPG), the gameplay will follow your story, but the interactions between these players and NPCs will be captured, and the more they stay in character, the higher those interactions will be ranked.

You could then, if you wanted, make (much like people watch Twitch today) the result of the high-ranked players’ play viewable, and people could vote on which they like the best. The winning video would then either be turned into an animated movie or further upscaled into something photorealistic. Players that made it through this process would be compensated for it and likely become experts over time and the next generation of actors with one huge difference.

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That difference is that they would have, through mixed reality, experienced the movie as if they were in it rather than acting against a green screen or with cameras and takes. I think it would make acting for movies a ton more fun.

Why Acting Sucks

When I was younger, I spent four years trying to be an actor. I was a good-looking kid, good enough to be a model, and living near Hollywood, I knew many folks in the business. But I found I couldn’t wrap my head around two things: being rejected constantly happens when you start; and then seeing how movies were made, so I didn’t enjoy watching them.

That’s on top of the other problems the industry is infamous for, like infidelity, substance abuse, misogyny, and the thing that I later decided was highly troubling: people mix you up with the characters you’ve played, good or bad. People often can’t seem to separate who you are from the character you played on screen. I can imagine the heartbreak of falling in love with someone only to realize they don’t love you; they think they love who you played in a TV show or movie.

Back to Next Generation Movies

But this way, the progression to becoming an actor goes through playing the game, which should, assuming it is done correctly, be a ton more fun than standing in line for a cattle call. Also, in the game you are playing yourself. You might have the character name you are playing, but you are playing the character, not you trying to be them.

Granted, this would play better for movies like “Star Wars” or “The Avengers” than you’d think it would for a “Titanic” movie — though I can certainly imagine people wanting to play a game where they were the leads in that movie.

Now you’d also potentially get different versions. For instance, where the gender roles were either reversed or changed from heterogeneous to homogenous, allowing for versions of the movie that would appeal to a different audience and the starring people were playing these alternative roles; but where the orientation of the actor matched the changing orientation of the character.

I can even imagine where the version movie that you’d uniquely like, based on your past preferences, would be generated on the fly just for you — and there we have my death of the theater outcome, because theaters would not work if people prefer movies that are custom tailored, which they should, over the existing standard format.

Wrapping Up: It’ll Take a While

This unique viewer-focused outcome isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but I think we are in a ten-year window where this is possible and virtually certain within twenty years. Pretty much every industry remotely connected to technology will be undergoing massive change during this same period, with AI either enhancing or replacing people in critical jobs.

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But this would massively increase the engagement between those watching and those making movies, given one will bleed, through gaming, into the other. It should also improve the quality of the movie and reduce the pain of being an actor. I’ve gone from wanting to be an actor to just feeling sorry for those folks that still do this.

Indeed the outcome would be better, faster, cheaper, and far more customized and engaging than what we have today. Oh, and this is likely an interim step on our way to living in virtual worlds that we may choose not to leave.

Last week at GTC, I saw the future, and I’m kind of excited about what is coming because maybe I can have my acting cake and eat it too.

Rob Enderle's Technology Product of the Week

The Audi AI: Trail Prototype

I’ve been into cars since I was a kid. My first car was a souped-up Chevy Impala Supersport which never seemed to have enough power, and I’m currently fulfilling a wish I had as a kid to create a restomod XKE with a ton of power.

I have followed Audi’s autonomous driving efforts more than most and was invited early to observe some of their initial success with their self-driving Audi TT. Audi’s presentation at Nvidia’s GTC was one of the best car technology presentations in terms of content, performance, and graphics I’ve ever seen. When they got to the prototype cars, had they been available, I would have bought one.

For me, the most exciting of the bunch was the AI: Trail, an autonomous (Level 5) vehicle for off road use. Equipped with what appeared to be airless tires (they are coming), an aggressive futuristic (think new “Lost in Space”) design language, and three autonomous drones, this thing looked ready to tackle the most aggressive off-road adventures on Earth or Mars.

Audi AI: Trail

Audi AI: Trail

– click image to enlarge –

With the massive torque of its electric engines, the drones blazing the trail night or day, and the autonomous systems handling the tricky bits, you could pretty much go anyplace on land accessible by any vehicle, including those in the military class.

Typically, Audi doesn’t have the best reputation for bringing designs that are this aggressive to market, but they are, by 2025, changing how they are designing and building cars. Moving from designing their vehicles from the outside in, to the inside out, should result in something far closer to the AI: Trail. So there is hope that this fantastic vehicle will show up — and if it does, unless something better shows up by then, I’ll be buying another Audi.

I fell in love with Audi’s prototype AI: Trail, so it is my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.


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