This week's Lowdown: Foldables and 5G

Our roundup of the latest mobile tech news…
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This week's Lowdown: Foldables and 5G

Samsung’s foldable phone set for May

Last week, Samsung unveiled its incredible new folding phone at a special Unpacked event in London. We were bowled over by the Galaxy Fold, and we can’t wait to unfold it for ourselves. It’s one of the most powerful phones ever built – if you’re happy to call it a phone, that is. Would calling it a tablet be more accurate? Or smartphone/tablet combo, perhaps? Samsung doesn’t seem to have decided for itself yet, with Samsung America’s senior vice president Justin Denison saying: "We are giving you a device that doesn't just define a new category, it defies category."

One thing Samsung did seem sure about is that the Galaxy Fold will be something very special, with Denison describing it as a "a one of a kind luxury device". With three apps being able to operate simultaneously on its folded out 7.3-inch display, he suggested:

"You can watch a YouTube video of Hawaii, text your friend about it, and browse travel options all at the same time."

So, “when will the Samsung Galaxy Fold be available in the UK?” we hear you ask. At the moment, Samsung has given a European release day of 3 May 2019. We’ll keep you updated.

Microsoft is bringing mixed reality to an Android phone near you

Microsoft’s mixed reality has been available for a while now. If you own a Windows mixed reality ready PC and compatible headset, you have the power to combine virtual reality with our own real-life surroundings, and do stuff like this…

And, for its next move, Microsoft is offering some of its mixed reality magic to Android phone owners. No PCs or headsets required.

Sometime this spring, an Android version of its remote assistance feature is being released. It’s a productivity app aimed at professionals working on projects together, but it can be used by anyone wanting to share some specialist knowledge to someone far away. For example, a parent sitting at home could show their kids at uni how to change a plug, with handy on-screen notes and diagrams showing them how to avoid connecting the wrong wires to the pin. You get the picture.

Apple could be planning to make Siri more fun

Apple has made a move that should see Siri become smarter than ever. It’s just shelled out almost $100 million to purchase PullString, a startup with a solid background in working on AI voice-enabled products.

PullString has helped other brands create skills and apps for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Plus, they’ve done a fair bit of work in the children’s sector – providing the software behind the talking Hello Barbie doll, no less.

Although Apple hasn’t revealed details of what PullString will be working on, we’d expect that Siri’s set of skills will be transformed, with an emphasis on entertainment. If you’ve got an iPhone, iPad or HomePods, don’t be surprised if an exciting new range of fun new voice services becomes available soon.

Huawei leads the way on 5G readiness

Not only did Huawei steal the show at MWC with a folding phone, it also made some pretty bold claims about its 5G readiness. At a pre-MWC event in London last week, Ryan Ding, Huawei’s business group president, said: “If you are asking about how big our 5G lead is – you can ask our customers. I think our customers will be able to say that for 5G, Huawei is very far ahead of our competition.”

Huawei did more than just talk about 5G. The Chinese tech titan showed off some incredibly fast and powerful modems and 5G chipsets, along with a 5G-enabled drone designed to help emergency services search for people.

Huawei is more than ready for 5G then, it seems. Will other manufacturers be making equally bold claims on 5G over the next few months? What do you think?

When smart shoes play dumb…

Do you still reach down and tie your shoe laces with your hands? If so, relax – this article isn’t for you. But if you’re a self-lacing smart trainer wearer, prepare yourself for some shocking news…

Nike’s new self-lacing smart shoes aren’t always lacing up when told.

It’s true. Some Nike Adapt BB auto-lacing basketball shoes aren’t playing nice with the Android companion app. Is a technical glitch preventing the flow of information from app to shoe? Or have the shoes somehow become sentient, and are simply refusing to obey orders? All that Nike has said is: “We are seeing isolated connectivity issues related to the set-up of the Nike Adapt BB and are actively working to resolve it.” Probably just a glitch then.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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