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By Jay Bonggolto
Huawei to launch HarmonyOS and new devices on June 2
by Jay Bonggolto
Huawei unveiled HarmonyOS in 2019, its homegrown operating system designed to run on various smart devices including smartphones, wearables, wireless earbuds, laptops, tablets, and self-driving cars. A year later, the company announced a version of the OS specifically built for smartphones, dubbed HarmonyOS 2.0, though it was not meant for release until sometime in 2021.
Today, the Chinese phone maker posted a new video online teasing the upcoming launch of HarmonyOS and other products on June 2. The teaser was shared on Twitter.
It's not clear whether the event will be China-only or worldwide, but it's expected to mark a new milestone in Huawei's efforts to cut its reliance on Android after U.S. sanctions prevented Google from providing support to its mobile devices. Huawei didn't say as well whether it's launching a new smartphone in June, apart from indicating that it would unveil new products in addition to HarmonyOS.
Huawei positions the new operating system as a key step in addressing the impact of U.S. sanctions that adversely affected its business worldwide. Aside from the Google ban, Huawei's access to critical U.S. technology that's necessary to manufacture its own Kirin processor was blocked.
The company's solution is to focus on its software ecosystem. Huawei's founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, most recently called on employees to "dare to lead the world" in software in a move to counter the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to an internal memo. He said transitioning to software and services will give the company "greater independence and autonomy" as these are beyond the reach of U.S. control.
UK turning to legislation to get rid of mobile not-spots
by Paul Hill
The UK government has announced that it will propose law changes in an effort to boost mobile connectivity in rural areas to help those who live, work, and travel in those places. Under the legislation, mobile carriers will be allowed to make new and existing masts up to five metres taller and two metres wider to boost their range, it also allows operators to attach equipment that lets them be shared more easily.
The government believes that the change will encourage mobile carriers to improve their existing masts rather than build new ones. The increased size would still allow them to reach a similar number of users as building new masts, enabling innovations such as remote healthcare, self-driving vehicles, and smart home devices.
The legislation will give protection to protected areas such as national parks, the Broads, conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and world heritage sites but will allow for masts on buildings to be placed nearer to highways to boost coverage.
Commenting on the new legislation, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
While the new legislation will loosen restrictions, the government said that local authorities would still need to give their approval for masts and will have a say on where they’re placed and their appearance. The new plans will first go to consultation until 14 June 2021 to get feedback before starting the process of becoming law.
Xiaomi to begin making electric vehicles, says report
by Paul Hill
Reuters has reported that Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker, will begin building electric vehicles at Great Wall Motors' factory. In response to the report, Xiaomi said it wasn’t going to provide comments and Great Wall said, in an exchange filing on Friday, that it hadn’t discussed this with Xiaomi.
The information that Xiaomi will be using Great Wall’s factory came from three people who have direct knowledge of the matter who spoke to Reuters. Two of the sources said that the vehicles produced at the factory will carry Xiaomi’s branding and that they will be aimed at a mass market. To help speed things along, Great Wall Motors will provide Xiaomi with engineering consultancy. The third source said they believe that the partnership could be announced next week.
With technology companies getting closer and closer to the vehicle industry bringing entertainment systems and helping to boost automation it’s not very surprising to hear that Xiaomi is also looking to get into cars. This won’t be the company’s first foray into vehicles either as it already sells several electric scooters.
Following Reuter’s report, Xiaomi’s shares increased by 6.3% and Great Wall’s Hong Kong stock rose by 10.4% and its Shanghai shares grew by the maximum 10% daily limit. This indicates that investors believe the rumours are true but we will just have to wait a little longer to see whether they’re confirmed.
Rocket League is coming to smartphones as a 2D game called Sideswipe
by João Carrasqueira
Rocket League, the driving and soccer mashup game by Psyonix, is heading to mobile devices later this year - kind of. The developer today announced Rocket League Sideswipe, a new take on the Rocket League formula that's tailored to be played on smartphones (via Gamespot).
The biggest difference between Sideswipe and the original Rocket League is that it will play in a 2D perspective, with the players' cars and the ball being seen from the side. Because of the more limiting movement that comes with a 2D environment, the game will also support fewer players, so only 1-versus-1 and 2-versus-2 matches are supported. Matches will be shorter, too, lasting just two minutes.
Aside from those changes, the heart of Rocket League gameplay is still prominent here. Both the typical Soccar mode and Hoops mode can be played here, but in order to add some challenge to the former, goals are now raised from the ground, so scoring a goal isn't as simple as just pushing the ball forward. Rocket League Sideswipe also retains the heavy customization elements of the original, with different bodies, wheels, boost trails, and more to choose from.
Psyonix says the title will feature controls that are easy to learn, regardless of whether you've played the original or not. With Rocket League becoming free-to-play last year, one might have expected the full game to eventually come to mobile devices, but reworking the controls for that would likely have made it much more difficult to play. Plus, since matches are shorter and feature fewer players, cross-platform play would probably have been impossible anyway.
If you want to see for yourself what the experience feels like, you'll need to be in Australia and New Zealand so you can register for a time-limited alpha test on Android devices. The full launch is planned for later this year, both on Android and iOS, and more betas should show up in different regions before then.
Sky Mobile reveals how much data was saved due to lockdown
by Paul Hill
The Mobile Virtual Network Operator, Sky Mobile, has revealed that £174 million worth of data has been saved among its customers due to lifestyle changes brought around by lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s unsurprising that mobile data has dropped significantly due to people staying home and using their broadband connection more but it’s nice that Sky Mobile has been able to quantify the use reduction.
Customers that have continued to pay for their mobile usage over the last year have not lost access to the 55 million GBs of data that have been saved, instead, it’s stored in Piggybank for up to three years so many customers will have a lot of data to burn through once restrictions are lifted. Sky Mobile said that on average, customers have saved 43 GB of data which works out to about £136 of savings per person.
Commenting on the news, Paul Sweeney, Managing Director of Sky Mobile, said:
According to the firm, customers in Scotland saved the most data reaching 7.7 million GBs and saving £24 million. London came second with customers saving 4 million GBs of data which was worth £13 million.
While not one of the main providers in the UK, the service does have 2 million customers and it offers some interesting features including Piggybank and the recently announced ability to share spare data with those who may need it.