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Big Announcements From WWDC 2017

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A few weeks ago, Google held its I/O developer conference, where they laid out the vision for the future of Android and its various services. This week is Apple’s turn at their own World-Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). Apple usually uses the headlining keynote to outline updates to their major software platforms. This year they delivered those software updates as usual but with a few hardware surprises thrown in there. In the weeks leading up to WWDC, the internet was awash with rumors about a smart speaker to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home as well as a new iPad. Let’s dive in and check out the biggest announcements from WWDC:

iOS 11

The newest version of Apple’s most popular operating system, iOS 11, brings a slew of new features centered around social interactions. The Google Assistant, Siri, is now able to translate sentences into different languages. Siri can also use machine learning capabilities to gradually learn your habits and make suggestions automatically based on how the device is being used. The Control Center was also updated slightly to condense all of the controls to one page (hooray, no more swiping over for music controls!) and 3D Touch can be used to expand those controls.

iMessages was also updated with the ability to synchronize conversations between Apple devices, meaning that if you delete a conversation on your iPhone, it’s also deleted on your Mac as well. Apple is also integrating a peer to peer (P2P) payment system directly into iMessage. Previously, most people would use a third-party app such as Venmo or Square Cash to send payments to their friends or businesses. Now, you can simply use iMessage to send and receive money using Apple Pay. The payments are transferred to a special “Apple Pay Cash Card” which can then be transferred to your bank. Because this P2P payment system only works inside of iMessage, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to use it outside of the Apple ecosystem (sorry Android owners). However, it does make transferring money to family and friends who use Apple products that much easier without having to use a third-party service like Venmo.

Live Photos are updated with the ability to be edited. Now users can create small GIFs from the Live Photo. The photos themselves can also be edited with Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, showing off by changing a woman’s hat to a totally different color. Those changes in Photos can also be imported into third party photo editing apps such as Photoshop.

While Apple didn’t introduce any new features to CarPlay, they did introduce a new safety feature that is able to recognize if you are driving and will turn on the Do Not Disturb to prevent any distractions. The App Store has been completely redesigned and looks more in line with how Apple Music looks. The tabs at the bottom now have dedicated sections for Apps and Games. The redesign is supposed to improve app discovery and visibility.

For the past few months, Apple has been heavily touting the iPad as a tablet that can replace your laptop. How well it will do depends on the user but to further the point, iOS 11 introduces several new features specifically for the iPad to increase productivity. There is improved multitasking that allows users to drag an app from the dock and onto the screen for split screen. Information can also be dragged from one side screened app to another, with Federighi again showing a demo where he dragged texts and pictures from one app into the Mail app. Finally, Apple created a Files app that allows users to manage files similar to a desktop (the app itself was leaked a few hours before the event started though). Power users have wanted Apple to allow access to a file system for a long time and Apple finally gives some kind of desktop feature that allows that. The Files app can also connect to external cloud storage such as Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Apple also showed off the augmented reality (AR) capabilities of iOS 11 and is banking on AR being used more on mobile devices like phones and tablets rather than dedicated headsets. Apple is releasing ARKit to allow developers to create AR apps for iOS devices.

macOS High Sierra, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4

Unlike recent years where a new macOS introduced tons of new features, this year’s update featured at WWDC is more of an incremental update. In fact, the new version will be called High Sierra (which is similar to when Apple went from Leopard to Snow Leopard). With this new version, it comes with a new file system called Apple File System (APFS). APFS was first introduced in the iOS 10.3 update. Along with other improvements, this new file system speeds up file transfers with native encryption. The Photos app has additional editing features and Safari will automatically block web trackers to stop those annoying autoplay videos (I’m looking at you CNN). There is also a new Metal graphics API called Metal 2 that supports VR (and AR) and external AMD graphics cards.

Apple’s tvOS wasn’t particularly showcased at WWDC this year, however, Apple CEO Tim Cook did announce that the Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV. Most of the newer features of tvOS such as, new background modes and notifications, custom sound support, and automatic light/dark switching are buried in the release notes.

The Apple Watch operating system, watchOS 4, introduces a few new watch faces such as Siri and Toy Story characters. The Siri face will display information such as reminders as well as a feature dedicated complication to access Siri directly. Of course, being fitness focused, watchOS 4 also allows Apple Watches to pair with gym equipments in order to receive the most accurate workout and calorie information.

Hardware

Because WWDC is a developer conference, most of the announcements are centered on software. However, Apple took this time to introduce a few new surprising hardware announcements.

Apple unveiled a new 10.5 inch iPad Pro which features Apple’s new A10X CPU and a 12 core GPU. The screen supports HDR video and can run up to 120 Hz refresh rate. This is especially important for the Apple Pencil as the increased refresh rate allows much finer control and responsiveness. The refresh rate changes dynamically depending on what’s happening on screen in order to maximize battery life. The new iPad Pro starts at $650 for 64GB of storage and goes up to 512GB of storage.

In regards to the iMac, Apple is finally updating their all-in-one computer with Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake chips. The screens are 43 percent brighter and it displays more colors. The 21.5” iMacs get upgraded Intel Iris Plus GPUs while the 4K models get AMD Radeon Pro 555 and 560 graphics cards. The top end 5K 27” iMac  gets Radeon Pro 570, 575, and 580 graphics cards. These are the most significant updates to the iMac since 2015. But wait, there’s more! In addition to upgrading the existing iMacs, Apple introduced the all new iMac Pro at WWDC. Until the new Mac Pro comes out, the iMac Pro will be the most powerful computer Apple has ever made. It ships with an 8-core Intel Xeon processor which can be configured all the way up to a whopping 18 cores. It also features a 5K display and the new AMD Radeon Vega GPU. Save up your pennies because the entry level iMac Pro starts at $5,000. Apple also took the time to make minor spec bumps to the new Macbook line by upgrading them to Kaby Lake as well.

Apple also introduced the HomePod, it’s smart speaker is to compete with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home. Apple calls it a “breakthrough” speaker that will reinvent music like the iPod did. Those are pretty bold claims but sound-wise, the HomePod seems to deliver. Covered in a mesh material, the shape is reminiscent to the Mac Pro “trash can” look and features, an array of seven tweeters and a subwoofer. The A8 chip inside utilizes technology that Apple calls, “special awareness” that allows it to automatically tune the sound to match the makeup of whatever room it’s in. Naturally, it’s also integrated with Siri and Apple Music, the form of which has been upgraded to answer numerous music queries. Apple says that Siri is able to hear commands even when the music is blasting full tilt. Because Siri is built in, most of the abilities Siri has on iOS is also available here, such as asking for; weather, news, sending iMessages, and creating reminders and timers. HomePod also integrates with HomeKit for centralized control of your HomeKit devices. In an apparent dig at Amazon and Google, information sent to Apple is encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier. The HomePod doesn’t ship until December and will cost $350 when it releases.

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Events

Supercharge Your Online Business With Offline Meetups

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Online entrepreneurs forget about the importance of connecting with other people locally. These types of relationships are still one of the best ways to get the word out about your online business to supercharge your opportunities to the sky. Although online businesses run 100% in the digital world and can operate from anywhere in the world, building face to face relationships is still one the best techniques for business development and to get the word out about your brand. Although online businesses need many factors in place for them to succeed, offline meetups has been one of my secret weapons through my journey. Small live events can turn any business around, especially when you’re starting out! Whether you have a B2C or a B2B, meeting people in an offline atmosphere will get you much farther than cold calling or cold emailing.

In 2015 I used local meetup events to turn my side-business doing web design and SEO services into a team making 6 figures in the first 12 months. I also used these same tactics to turn my side-business selling matcha green tea into a 6 figure brand with a physical location inside a mall. Now, keep in mind I don’t live in Silicon Valley or any sophisticated city, but this applies to really anywhere in the world where there’s more businesses around you!

As crazy as this story sounds (it was in fact a crazy ride), local offline meetups play a big role on many success stories out there. These types of events allow you to connect not only with potential clients, but also with local media celebrities or can open the door to connect with somebody else that can give your online business a huge boost.

Go out and meet people

Although social media makes it easy to meet new people, it takes a long time to build trust with somebody you met online. It’s much more effective to connect off-line on small live gatherings than it is to spam or stalk somebody online.

Most offline meetups are between 50-100 people sharing a meal or a cup of coffee. Not only are they useful, but they are so much fun! Is not necessary to introduce yourself to every single attendee; you only need to connect with key people on that event.

For example, introducing yourself to a few attendees will give you a generic idea of what type of people are standing around you. Most times, when you share more about your story and your online business, people will guide you in the right direction on who you should be talking to. You never know who you might run into on the next meetup event. It’s common to run into local PR and media people that are looking for stories like yours which could get you featured on a local magazine or TV show. It’s also easy to run into that one person who can help you get into the next retail store or simply connect you with one of the biggest players in town that might need your services too.

Find local meetups in your area

As you know, thanks to all the majestic tools we have on the internet, we’re only a few clicks away from finding what we need. The best tools to find a local meetup gather is meetup.com, or you can also look them up on Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Groups. Start by looking for groups that are in your niche. If you’re into fitness, it’s very easy to find fitness gatherings or classes that you can attend. On the other side, if you’re looking to connect with other entrepreneurs, type in “business” or “entrepreneurs” + your city and I promise you will find at least 1 group close enough to you to attend this week. After you have found that perfect meetup gather that you want to attend, these are some of the tips and tricks you need to know to get the most out of your first (and every other) meetup events.

  1. Find more about the organizer of the offline meetups and reach out to them. Organizers are passionate about meeting people, so they will be thrilled to hear from you!
  2. Shoot the organizers a message in a non-salesy way and offer value to them by offering some of your tips or knowledge on an upcoming event. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them solve any of their problems.
  3. Assist the next meetup event they have without making it a sales tactic. Make sure you introduce yourself to the organizers in person as well. Ask the organizers if they know anybody in the room that you should be talking to about your online business. They will be happy to introduce you to the next contact that can open a new door for you.
  4. The key to this technique is to focus on building strong relationships and to create opportunities, without selling anything! The moment you start selling your products, people will start stepping away from you. Focus on building strong relationships by offering value to everyone you meet and when the moment is right, you will be able to pitch to them if they’re ready for it.

Most online entrepreneurs are afraid to go to offline meetups and meet people and for that reason they’re missing out on huge opportunities. For this same reason, you need to go out and meet as many people as you can.

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IFA 2017: Highlights Of The Newest Tech From Berlin

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IFA 2017

IFA is the largest consumer technology trade show in Europe. Each year in Berlin, thousands people flock to see some of the latest announcements from the some of the biggest names in the tech industry. Let’s take a look at the top five products to come out of IFA 2017:

LG V30

The star of the entire show at IFA 2017 was definitely LG’s successor to 2016’s V20. The V30 is an important milestone for LG. While LG’s earlier flagship, the G6, was a great phone it could not compete with the newer phones from Samsung and HTC. Apparently, even LG admitted that the G6 underwhelmed in sales. However, the V30 may end up being a serious contender among Android phones, especially with content creators.

The screen switches from an LCD to OLED. This results in vivid colors, sharp contrasts, and a screen that should result in better battery life. Like the G6 and almost every other flagship this year, the V30 has minimal bezels with an 82 percent screen-to-body ratio. Also like 2017 flagships, the V30 also has the latest Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB or RAM which makes everything snappy.

The camera is probably going to receive the most buzz. It sports an f/1.6 aperture lens as part of a dual camera setup that is the largest in a smartphone. A larger aperture allows more light to reach the sensor which ultimately leads to better low-light performance and better pictures.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

For the more fitness conscious among us, Garmin announced the new Vivoactive 3. This update to the former Vivoactive HR tries to turn it into a true smartwatch with a rounder body, NFC payments, and more. A new feature called “side swipe” allows users to scroll up and down the display and is activated by running a finger along the left side of the watch.

Garmin is also bringing Garmin Pay to the Vivoactive 3. Garmin Pay is powred by FitPay, a third-party developer of contactless payment systems. Like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, Garmin Pay works with Visa and MasterCard from select banks.

Sony LF-S50G Wireless Smart Speaker

Sony introduced quite a few number of products at IFA 2017. One of which was a wireless smart speaker called the LF-S50G which has the Google Assistant built in and looks suspiciously like Apple’s HomePod but costs much less.

Design-wise, the HomePod similarities are clear. A grey or black speaker mesh encircles the entire device while the sides have an LED clock display. The top contains various sensors that allow gestures for playback and volume control if using your voice isn’t feasible. The unit itself is a 360-degree, vertical two-way facing system that includes a dedicated subwoofer for bass along with an omnidirectional two-stage diffuser that provides “maximum sound coverage” in an average-sized room.

The LF-S50G can pair over Bluetooth, NFC or Wi-Fi and supports multi-room controls for audio. Users will also be able to control other smart home devices including wireless speakers that have an integrated Chromecast.

Sony is positioning the LF-S50G as a kitchen assistant and touts its superior audio as the primary differentiation from Google Home. Of course, other major players in the game such as Amazon and Apple will offer significant competition. However, given the LF-S50G’s price tag of $199, it may just sway over people who aren’t keen to live in Apple’s ecosystem or prefer the intelligence of Google over Amazon.

Moto X4

Not be left out, Motorola/Lenovo announced the Moto X4 at IFA 2017. Many astute readers may remember that the Moto X line used to be Motorola’s flagship line of smartphones. That title now belongs to the Z2 lineup. Instead, the X4 covers the midrange. The two new features on the X4 include a dual-camera setup and support for the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

Being a midrange phone, it doesn’t the latest and greatest specs but the included Snapdragon 630 chip and 5.20-inch, 1080p display is probably good enough for quite a few people. While it may not be as powerful as the high-end phones, Motorola claims that the X4’s 3,000mAh battery should last up to 24 hours of use. The TurboPower charger also provides six hours of use on just 15 minutes of charging.

The Moto X4 has a 12-megapixel camera paired with an 8-megapixel wide angle camera. This will allow depth of field effects such as selective focus and color. The front facing camera is 16-megapixels and has an “adaptive low-light mode” that trades better low light performance for resolution.

Samsung Gear Sport

After launching the excellent Gear S3 last year, Samsung is following up with the Gear Sport at IFA 2017. As implied by the name, this smartwatch is focused on fitness. As such it comes preloaded with the Speedo On app to enable recording of swimming sessions. Samsung partnered with Under Armour to give Gear Sport owners a yearlong premium membership as well as access to Under Armour’s suite of apps including MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun. The watch is also does the usual fitness tracker stuff like heart rate tracking, activity detection, and customizable fitness goals and alerts.

Like most of Samsung’s smartwatches, the Gear Sport runs on Samsung’s Tizen operating system instead of Android Wear. The watch itself has a 1.2-inch AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 and a 360 x 360 resolution. It also comes with a dual-core processor, 4GB of onboard storage, 768MB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC for Samsung Pay support. Samsung claims that the Gear Sport will last four days on a single charge although that’s without GPS. With GPS on continuously, that battery life number shrinks to 14 hours.

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Otakon Welcomes Writers Roland Kelts And Frederik L. Schodt

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Frederik L Schodt Roland Kelts

Roland Kelts, author of Japanamerica: How Japanese pop culture has invaded us, and writer, translator, and conference interpreter, Frederik L. Schodt have both joined as guests for Otakon 2017. Fans of the writers were thrilled for their appearance at the convention, as they share their most popular and influential works. Frederik writes exclusively on pop culture, technology, and history, while Roland is currently a 2017 Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, where he is currently working on a new book. Both Frederik and Roland are devoted writers, with similarities in expressing Japanese culture in their writings.

While living in Tokyo and New York City, Roland writes for a variety of well known publications that includes, “The New Yorker, Time,” “The New York Times,” “Harper’s Magazine,” “The Christian Science Monitor,” “Newsweek Japan,” “The Los Angeles Times,” “The Yomiuri” and “The Japan Times,” and is an authority on modern Japanese culture and media. His writings are spread throughout, though his recognition are from Japanese fans especially. Likewise, he is a frequent commentator on CNN, NPR, NHK and the BBC. With additional lectures for TED Talks in Tokyo and The World Economic Forum in Tianjin, Roland is looking for various opportunities to share his work, in order to spread awareness to the Japanese culture.

Otakon is an annual celebration of Japanese and East Asian popular culture, with a title of holding in one of the largest gatherings of fans in the United States. In the celebration of anime, manga, video games, and especially music from the Far East, Otakon attracts like minded fans. Created from devoted fans for fans, the staff is directed by an all-volunteer, unpaid staff. The conventions are solely for the purpose of celebrating and sharing Japanese and East Asian cultures.

Frederik is best known for his many works on manga that includes, “Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics” (1983), “Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga” (1996), and “The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution” (2007). He has won numerous awards for his talent in the past as a result. In 2009 especially, the emperor of Japan awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for his success in introducing Japanese popular culture to North America. His most influential work gave recognition to both him and to what Japan has to offer. As of recently in 2013, his book, “Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe: How an American Acrobat Introduced Circus to Japan—And Japan to the West,” won the Circus Historical Society’s Stuart Thayer Prize. Doing so, for the last three years, he has served on the executive committee of the Japan International Manga Award. Additionally, he is an active translator and has worked on many well-known manga series, as well as novels including Yoshiyuki Tomino’s “Mobile Suit Gundam” trilogy. Frederik has been involved in spreading Japanese culture and will continue as he attends Otakon 2017. The convention holds determined fans who wish to express their culture with other similar people. In Otakon 2017, writers Roland Kelts and Frederik L. Schodt are invited to continue the tradition. All while cementing their writings and work to Japanese culture, the awareness can now be shared in North America.

Otakon will be continuing their gatherings next year on August 10-12 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington D.C. 

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