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Samsung Galaxy S8 Reveal



Samsung Galaxy S8

It’s here. It’s finally here. After all the leaks and rumors and even more leaks, the Galaxy S8 is finally here. Earlier today, Samsung held its Unpacked event where it revealed the future of its flagship smartphones. Samsung also introduced several new and updated products that continues its ecosystem building. But of course, we have to talk about the star of the show, the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S8 represents a pivotal moment for Samsung. After the disastrous battery debacle of the Galaxy Note 7, this is Samsung’s chance to regain the trust of consumers while trying to innovate and add new features to outdo its’ competition. Back in January, Samsung announced an 8-point battery check to ensure that exploding batteries would never happen again. As Samsung is the foremost Android OEM, the S8 needs to be a success to thwart would be powerhouses like LG, HTC, and even OnePlus and Huawei. Let’s check it out shall we?

Galaxy S8/S8+

galaxy s8Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Like LG, Samsung has opted to go for an almost completely bezel-less display with the sides spilling over the edge similar to the Galaxy S7 Edge. Samsung calls it an “infinity display” which is an apt description as there is almost no delineation between the screen and the device. Samsung says the display is also HDR capable. The smaller S8 has a 5.8” 2960 X 1440 display (570 ppi) and the larger S8+ has a 6.2” display with the same resolution at 529 ppi. Having a near bezel-less display also means sacrifice and that means no more physical home buttons. The navigation buttons are all in software now, however, Samsung has implemented haptic feedback where the home button although it doesn’t seem to be as nuanced as Apple’s Taptic Engine. The loss of the physical home button also means the loss of the fingerprint sensor. Samsung chose to move the fingerprint sensor next to the camera. This is somewhat unfortunate because it makes it much easier to get fingerprint smudges all over the camera lens. Fortunately, the iris scanner returns on the S8 along with a face scanner. Early reports seem to indicate that it’s pretty fast. However, face scanning is probably less secure than using iris or fingerprint scanning.

As far as the other specs, the phones will either feature a Snapdragon 835 or a Exynos Octa core CPU depending on the region. Both phones will have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage with expandable SD card support. Battery-wise, the S8 will have a 3,000mAh battery and the S8+ will have a 3500mAh battery. That doesn’t seem particularly large considering the size and resolution of the screens. Samsung has said that they’ve tweaked the battery chemistry to last longer after about a year or so. On the bright side, both phones will support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge and both PMA and Qi wireless charging standards. Surprisingly, the rear camera is the same in the S7 although Samsung says they’ve changed the software to get better photos. However, the front facing camera is upgraded to 8 megapixels and supports autofocus.

On the software side, the S8/S8+ both ship with Android Nougat although the usual caveats remain regarding updates. The unlocked S7 still doesn’t have Android Nougat while the Verizon version just got Nougat a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Android O has already been released for developers. Samsung has chosen a new design language for its TouchWiz skin that is supposed to evoke the smooth, rounded corners of the actual handset. Although Samsung is notorious for bogging down their phones with bloatware, the new interface is surprisingly restrained. Hopefully this means smooth performance for the life of the phone as Samsung phones in particular have been known to slow down during the lifetime of the phone.

Microsoft is trying to make the smartphone a desktop computer with Windows Continuum. Samsung is trotting down the same path with DeX. DeX is a feature like Continuum that enables the S8 to become a pseudo-desktop computer when plugged into a specialized dock. Once docked, it allows the Android apps to be used similarly to desktop apps. During the presentation, the presenter edited a PowerPoint presentation and then dragged the file directly into an email before sending it off. Unfortunately, Android apps haven’t been great when it comes to scaling to monitors. Regardless, this seems like a valiant attempt by Samsung to leverage the power of the S8.

galaxy s8

Finally, there’s Bixby. Bixby is Samsung’s personal assistant. Yes, yet another personal assistant. That makes Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and now Bixby. Samsung thinks they can differentiate their assistant by focusing on being able to use your device versus being able to ask random questions. Samsung’s goal is ambitious though as Bixby is marketed as “anything you can control with touch, you can also control with voice.” At the moment, however, it only works with Samsung apps and apps written to support Bixby. It’s more assistant but less artificial intelligence. Moreover, because the Galaxy S8 still runs Android, it will be hard for Samsung to dissuade users from simply using Google Assistant which potentially has much more utility simply due to the vast amount of data that Google has. Samsung is so confident of Bixby, however, that the S8 features a dedicated button just for Bixby. A short press takes you to Bixby Home, a long press activates the voice features, and there is a small icon in the camera app to use Bixby’s augmented reality features. The sheer popularity and ubiquity of Amazon Alexa and overall intelligence of Google’s Assistant may overshadow Bixby’s usefulness but someone living in the Samsung ecosystem could definitely benefit from using Samsung’s solution.

The Galaxy S8/S8+ will come in gray, silver, and black in the United States. International customers will get gold and blue. They’ll be available for preorder on March 30th with an official release on April 21st. There is no word on cost as it’s up to the wireless carriers to determine that. Rumors point to a starting price of $720. Overall, this looks to be one of the best Android phones and a worthy successor to the Galaxy S7….and yes, it still has a headphone jack.



You Need To Know What Happened To Snapchat Stock



snapchat stock

Released in September 2011, Snapchat brought time-sensitive photos to the social media realm. It encouraged users to rely on those images to show their friends interesting, funny or memorable things. March 2018 data reveals Snapchat stock is down more than 15 percent compared to the previous month, leading some people to wonder if it’s too risky to own Snapchat shares. Well-known pop culture stars can capture the attention of people all over the world by posting material on social media. Snapchat got reminded of that twice recently. What’s happened with the brand recently to cause the downward trend in Snapchat stock? And what’s likely ahead for the app?

The App Got a Recent Redesign

In November 2017, Snapchat revamped the application’s interface, but that decision caused an uproar among some users. Despite the pushback, Snapchat is sticking with the new look. Before rolling it out, site representatives acknowledged some users find Snapchat “difficult to understand or hard to use”. The app partially prompted a different layout that allows people to sort the content they see, among other things. Snapchat clearly aims to keep the service fresh and exciting for current and potential users. But, besides the new layout that’ll reportedly be tweaked throughout this year, what else can people expect?

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel spoke favorably about the facelift, saying, “While we are still very early in the rollout, we are optimistic about the potential to unlock additional growth with the redesign of our application. As expected, it will take time for our community to get used to the changes, but overall, we are pleased with the initial results and will be making the redesign available to our entire community in the first quarter.”

Indeed, it does take time for people to adjust to change, and user bases often aren’t happy when their favorite social media sites debut significant changes. That’s why I expect this displeasure about Snapchat’s evolution will blow over soon. However, that’s not the only problem the service has dealt with lately, and you can see it in Snapchat stock.

Unfavorable Mentions From Two High-Profile Celebrities


First, in February 2018, Kylie Jenner confessed she doesn’t open Snapchat anymore and asked if anyone else had stopped using it. Afterward, Snapchat stock prices sank 6.1 percent, causing a loss of $1.3 billion in market value.

kylie jenner

Then, less than a month later, Snapchat came under fire again for allowing a phone game advertisement to run that asked viewers if they’d rather “slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown.”

Many angrily took screenshots of the offensive ad and recalled the 2009 incident, which involved Rihanna and then-partner Chris Brown. He was arrested after an assault on her that occurred the night before that year’s Grammy Awards ceremony.

Soon, Rihanna posted a response on her Instagram feed. It’s no longer visible there, but people quickly took screenshots of it while reporters quoted the singer’s irate words.

Rihanna Snapchat

In a quote given to the BBC, Snapchat said, “The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines. We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware. We are sorry that this happened.”

The apology did not stop people from accusing Snapchat of allowing content that made light of domestic violence. The site might be doomed after Kylie Jenner and Rihanna’s comments. After Rihanna’s statement, Snapchap stock plunged again by nearly 5 percent.

Also, people chimed in to say if Rihanna advised people to delete their Snapchat accounts, they would. The hubbub even caught the attention of former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, who called the ad “just awful” in her own tweet.

It’s also likely there will be more sudden action with Snapchat stock prices. Despite the plunges due to Kylie Jenner’s and Rihanna’s comments, the company had the biggest one-day jump in Snapchat stock history this February due to news it added nearly 9 million more daily users.

Snapchat Bans ICO Ads

Snapchat announced a ban of all advertisements for initial coin offerings (ICOs). They’re following the lead of fellow social media site Facebook, which outlawed all cryptocurrency ads of a non-educational nature. The news came in mid-March shortly after the Rihanna incident. T could cause some people to wonder if the site is cracking down on other kinds of advertising.

That recent occurrence is not the only evidence that suggests the two social media sites pay attention to each other’s actions. Last spring, Facebook began letting people post content that disappears after 24 hours, just like Snapchat stories. Users could also personalize the Facebook content with stickers and filters, which Snapchat offers too.

New Features Are Continually Available

At the end of January 2018, Snapchat announced a way for people to depend on visual references from selfies while creating their Bitmojis. They are Snapchat avatars that represent site users. Snapchat calls the feature “Bitmoji Deluxe.” It lets people study selfies to make their bitmojis as realistic as possible.

A couple of years ago, Snapchat dropped hints about the possibility that people could create Bitmojis automatically with help from facial recognition technology. There’s no sign of that ability in this latest update. But since an increasing number of today’s gadgets identify people by their faces, it makes sense Snapchat might offer it relatively soon. They’re already focusing on making the Bitmojis better.

When Snapchat made the Snap Map feature available last summer, it attracted attention while catering to people’s desire to know what’s happening in real time. Although some might say Snap Map triggers FOMO, other people think the location-sharing feature is cool. Those who don’t want to use it have the option to stay in “Ghost Mode.”

Snapchat Merchandise

I think Snapchat will incorporate a much more stringent ad-screening process based on the recent Rihanna fiasco. Plus, 2018 could be the year Snapchat re-enters the physical merchandise realm after its 2016 foray that saw it offering glasses that take pictures from a first-person perspective and let people upload them to Snapchat.

The company is reportedly currently developing new versions of those spectacles that are water-resistant. They come in more than one color and could be available as soon as this fall. That effort for the company to diversify makes sense, especially if Snapchat wants to profit from indirect income streams.

Google recently debuted its Cilps camera, which uses artificial intelligence to decide when to snap photos that seem most interesting. Similarly, there are rumors Spotify wants to start selling products such as speakers.

The months ahead will be action-packed for people who use Snapchat regularly. Those who are curious about the performance of this social media service will be following closely. If the service can achieve the growth it seeks from the redesign and continual rollout of features, it’ll likely be in the headlines even more than usual.

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Why Amazon’s Second HQ Should Choose Nashville



Amazon's Second HQ

Nashville is amongst 20 cities being considered for Amazon’s second headquarters site. The “Country Music Capital of the World” hopes to boost their state’s job market with the new Amazon Headquarters. Amazon’s second HQ expects to invest more than $5 billion to build the 8-million-square-foot facility and promises to create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs over the next 15 years. Before any decisions are made, the company created specific requirements to be met for each city. Some of the requirements include a metropolitan area with over a million people, a time distance of 45 minutes from an international airport, direct access to public transportation, and to be able to expand 8 million square feet in the next decade.

The Unemployment rate is on the rise in Nashville. City officials have their sights set on the on the jobs that Amazon’s Second HQ will provide for 50,000 residents. “It is going to increase the size of the economy,” University of Tennessee Economist Bill Fox stated, “It is going to bring in a really highly skilled labor force that is not already there, a lot of community leaders. To have somebody with the worldwide vision of Amazon look at Nashville and say, ‘This is the place we want to be’ is really good for the brand.”

The aspect of new jobs may not be enough for some to welcome the online retailer with open arms. Residents of Nashville fear the new site would affect the housing market for low income families  in the process. “If you look at the size of Nashville, a headquarters like this bringing tens of thousands of jobs, it’s going to radically affect what the housing landscape looks like,” said Javier Vivas,’s director of economic research. Amazon’s decision creates an atmosphere for the conservation of gentrification not only for Nashville, but the other 19 cities in the running. “We have a housing crisis now and all this would do is throw gasoline on the fire,” said John Summers, a former Metro Council member who now leads the Coalition for Nashville Neighborhoods. “We cannot build affordable housing to replace what’s being lost by the rapid gentrification in all of our inner-city neighborhoods.”

The community of Nashville are now able to broadcast their opinions on Amazon. While state officials deal with the financial benefits, agencies and businesses within Nashville are now able to give insight on their city as well. This is why Amazon’s second HQ should choose Nashville.

If you are an agency from Nashville, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here:

*Sponsored by Penji

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Why Amazon’s Second Headquarters Should Choose Northern Virginia



Amazon’s second headquarters

Among the top 20 shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters, Northern, Virginia is not a stranger to the massive tech company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have frequently conducted business in the region. Bezos is known to own The Washington Post and Amazon’s cloud service AWS is situated in a huge data center in the northern Virginia region. It is no surprise that Northern, VA is listed on the list. This region proved to be a safe home for Bezos’ businesses, it would only make sense that Northern, VA is the next home for HQ2.

While the nation waits for the announcements of Amazon’s second headquarters, speculations rise as Amazon employees crowd The local news-source for Arlington Virginia have reported major traffic from an internal Amazon site. The article reporting the county’s green building council had received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 visitors from an Amazon web page that is only visible to Amazon employees. Amazon’s interest in the community’s dedication to sustainability is predicted to help the company’s future development of a sustainable building of their own.

The area is surrounded by copious international airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Richmond International Airport for Amazon’s consideration  of transportation. The bid for Amazon had reports of the Hub property as a potential site for Amazon’s second headquarters. This 85-acre undeveloped location is near the Dulles Airport, perfect for Amazon’s demands.

Amazon’s second headquarters

Amazon announced that they are developing a second headquarter of up to 8 million square feet in order to accommodate 50,000 workers. The plan to bring in 50,000 lucrative jobs to the new location will create billions of dollars in investment for the community. This opportunity for economic expansion does not come often, but neither does a perfect business location in Northern Virginia that is close to Bezos’ other businesses.

A possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters is on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Metro’s Silver Line. “We are very excited that Northern Virginia is included on the short list as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” spoke the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova. “Fairfax and Loudoun counties are able to offer a great quality of life coupled with an innovative and business friendly culture for future Amazon corporate neighbors and employees. With our highly educated and talented workforce and a location close to Dulles International Airport and a new Silver Line train station, we hope we will have the opportunity to welcome Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.”

Small businesses and agencies within Virginia are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Virginia.

If you are an agency from Virginia, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here:

*Sponsored by Penji

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