Tuesday in CE: Apple's $349 HomePod (Finally) Gets a Ship Date, Facebook Invents New Time Unit for VR
Finally. Apple's long-awaited answer to the headlock Google and Amazon are putting on the market is here, or at least it will be, come February 9th, with pre-orders accepted this Friday, January 26.
Apple was originally slated to release the speaker before the end of 2017 but pushed the release back for unclear reasons, in mid-December. Despite knee-jerk reactions, missing the holiday season is maybe not the worst problem to have.
Yes, Google and Amazon have had a headstart but the smart speaker market is just heating up. On that same note, the HomePod has always been gearing up to take on Sonos' agnostic Play:1 that launched with high praise among industry experts. Again, it might seem like a problem that Amazon and Google swept the holidays with a line of affordable smart speakers, but that was never a market Apple wanted to enter in the first place.
However, there is still an elephant in the room and her name is Siri. The original voice assistant has fallen behind the likes of its competition and could be a huge problem for consumers looking for something more functional. On a wider scope, Apple's exclusivity when building an ecosystem may suffer the same fate. Details are limited as HomePod gets closer to release. For instance, if the speaker is focused on making music sound good, can it play third-party streaming apps like Spotify and iHeartRadio? Will it play nice with Android phones, or even work at all with them? Does Apple already need to expand it's use cases following a wave of success from the premium options in Google Home Max and Echo Plus?
I guess we will find out in the next WWDC.
Facebook Engineer Invents New Unit of Time
Dubbed a 'flick', Facebook has created a new unit of time according to a description on the code-sharing site GitHub. "This unit of time is the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond," the description "and can, in integer quantities, exactly represent a single frame duration for 24hz, 25hz, 30hz, 48hz, 50hz, 60hz, 90hz, 100hz, 120hz, and also 1/1000 divisions of each."
We've launched Flicks, a unit of time, slightly larger than a nanosecond that exactly subdivides media frame rates and sampling frequencies. https://t.co/w9SDBznXRE
— Facebook Open Source (@fbOpenSource) January 22, 2018
Okay, but why should we care? Firstly, because it is awesome. I mean someone invented a unit of time.
Secondly, the flick is kind of like the metric system for virtual reality. It is a play off the word 'frame-tick' and is used to measure individual frame duration for frame rates. So despite the listed video refresh rates, flicks can sync anything from 24hz to 120hz. This is especially important because screen sizes and refresh rates can change dramatically between screens when a computer and VR component talk to each other.
The last and most important point is the tangible proof that VR is getting to be important, if not influential. This is an advancement of the VR world meaning that companies, like Facebook, are taking the future of this market very seriously.
The Best of the Rest of the Nest
- Twitter Inc. Chief Operating Officer Anthony Noto has resigned to accept the role of chief executive officer at financial technology company Social Finance Inc. Twitter’s shares slipped the most in almost two months.
- DJI hasn’t done a great job keeping its drones under wraps. As with the last couple of devices, the Mavic Air leaked out just ahead of today’s official unveiling.
- Integral Memory’s new 512GB microSD card is the biggest microSD card yet.