Imagination Technologies Up For Sale After Apple’s Breakdown

The future of Imagination Technologies has become uncertain after Apple’s declaration on April 3. The iPhone maker had informed their long-time GPU partner that they will be winding down their use of Imagination’s Intellectual Property and designs. After considering a few different options, the U.K. based chipmaker put itself up for sale after seeing a decline in its stock value.

Imagination’s decision to sell itself is not surprising to anyone following the company’s success, given Apple was the main customer of Imagination Technologies for a decade. Shortly after Apple’s announcement, Imagination’s share prices collapsed by nearly 70 percent (!) and since then, they have struggled to recover. The difficult circumstances left the chipmaker no choice but to put itself up for sale and hope to find a buyer soon

In a press release, the British chipmaker said:

Imagination Technologies Group plc announces that over the last few weeks it has received interest from a number of parties for a potential acquisition of the whole Group. The Board of Imagination has therefore decided to initiate a formal sale process for the Group and is engaged in preliminary discussions with potential bidders.

The company, established in 1985, is looking at potential buyers such as Intel, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, Google and of course Apple as Imagination’s PowerVR GPU IP would be very valuable to all major SoC vendors. The company has not specifically named any suitors, but the aforementioned companies are in positions where they can take good advantage of this purchase.

Imagination Technology is divided into three major divisions: MIPS, which produces low-power CPUs for mobile devices, wearables and IoT devices; Ensigma, which offers technologies for wireless IP connectivity; and PowerVR, its graphics processor (GPU) division. Potential buyers could either purchase the whole group or individual divisions, depending on their needs and the resulting negotiation agreements.

The estimated value of the company is about $528 million, jumping as much as 21 percent on Thursday when the selling announcement was made. The final price tag for a buyer would be higher, as a sale would almost certainly come with a premium over the company’s current stock price.

While the company looks for buyers, they are also continuing their dispute with Apple. As last reported, the companies were still going through their contractual dispute resolution process. It’s not certain whether this process would be completed before Imagination finds a suitor.


Source 1: Anandtech Source 2: Reuters

Dual camera optical zoom technology explained

Dual camera smartphone technology certainly isn’t new anymore, but we are seeing a new trend emerge whereby manufacturers are offering “optical zoom” capabilities inside their smartphones. Two notable models touting this feature are Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus and the new OnePlus 5. If you’ve been wondering exactly how this technology works and it these phones really offer optical zoom capabilities, then you’ve come to the right article.

The smartphone zoom problem

Before delving into the specifics of how this works, it’s probably best to recap why manufacturers have felt the need to offer optical zoom capabilities inside a smartphone. Unlike DSLR lenses with variable focal length lenses or point-and-shoot cameras with zoom lenses, smartphone cameras are stuck with small, fixed lenses. This means that a smartphone camera’s focal length is fixed, leaving no option but to rely on digital zoom to close in on details in an image.

However, digital zoom isn’t much good for more than minor zoom-ins, as we are stuck with a limited resolution and set field of view for near and far details, meaning that a pixel can only capture so much detail at a distance. This limitation is why images appear pixelated as you zoom in, and it’s exactly the same as simply magnifying the image in a gallery app post shutter.

Variable lenses, such as those found in DSLR setups, allow for an adjustable focal length and therefore field of view too. A longer focal length narrows the camera’s field of view, but this means that the same limited resolution image sensor captures its detail over a smaller area, so each pixel represents a finer point in space. So optical zoom doesn’t suffer from the same pixelation problems as digital zoom.

When it comes to measuring a camera or lens zoom, we need a reference or starting point for the camera or lens we’re talking about. To find any zoom level we divide the current focal length by the minimum available. So moving from 25 mm to 50 mm is equal to a 2x zoom, as is moving from 18 mm to 36 mm. Zoom is a relative term, but it has a direct relationship between two focal lengths.

Panasonic

Dual lenses offer a hybrid solution

When it comes to dual camera smartphones with a “telephoto” lens, we’re actually looking at two sensors, each with a lens pairing that offers up a still set but different focal length. For example, one may offer a 24 mm focal length and the other 36 mm, giving us 1.5x worth of optical zoom potential. The sensor sizes, pixel sizes, and lens aperture may also vary between sensors, which of course will have their own influences on image quality from each camera.

Optical zoom smartphones don't have a variable focal length, instead the two cameras have their own fixed focal length (zoom level).

Looking at the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple has opted for one 28 mm and one 56 mm lens, offering up a 2x optical zoom potential. This means that we can capture close up shots with a 28 mm 1x zoom, and then simply switch to the 56 mm 2x zoom lens and capture pictures with at greater distances without any loss in detail.

Not only that, but this second camera also improves the image quality of 4x and higher zoom levels too. Because we’re starting at full resolution at 2x (rather than already halving it as we would be if we digitally zoomed in from 1x), we only lose half the information where we’d normally be losing three quarters of it at 4x. In other words, we shouldn’t reach that horribly pixelated look so quickly as we have more resolution for distant details.

See also:

OnePlus 5 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs Huawei P10: The Portrait Battle

4 days ago

It’s a similar state of affairs with the OnePlus 5, which offers up 1.6x optical zoom capabilities on the second lens before cropping down a 20 MP image to achieve a 2x zoom, and then relying on digital thereafter. OnePlus says that this is part of its Smart Capture software that takes the best information from multiple frames and stitches them together, which clearly isn’t optimal but it’s an intriguing hybrid approach. Even though the camera is throwing away some data to achieve a 2x zoom, the quality should still be improved over the old digital zoom method.

As well as offering up more detail at a distance, these dual camera setups also allow for advanced HDR processing that we’ve seen from other multi camera configurations. Even if the exact image details aren’t being shared with the final image, additional light and dark data can be used to bolster dynamic range processing, improving the look of the final image regardless of zoom level.

The results aren’t perfect

You may have realized that this still isn’t a perfect solution though. We need digital zoom if we want to venture beyond the maximum focal length, but what happens when we want to use a midway zoom level, such as 1.2, 1.3, or 1.5x?

The obvious solution is to simply rely on a digital zoom for these minor levels, as the degradation in quality won’t be too notable in most circumstances. Eventually, it will be possible to switch over to the second camera’s fixed optical zoom level, but this has the downsides of meaning that the zoom levels just below the switch will offer the worst quality.

It appears that dual camera setups are using powerful ISPs to judge which camera will give the best results in any given situation. So digital zoom is being used for shots in between the two cameras' fixed focal lengths

So for example, 1.1x through 1.6x could be a digital zoom, then switching over to the second camera at 1.7x. This may explain why we’ve seen companies only opt for modest zoom distances, as the system is still reliant on digital zoom and too large a gap between lenses would produce a notable dip in quality.

See also:

How smartphone cameras work – Gary explains

May 8, 2017

To make this method a little smarter, the exact point of switchover doesn’t have to be set in stone. An image signal processor (ISP) could monitor the noise level of each camera and decide to make the switch to the secondary camera only if it will produce better results. We believe that both the iPhone 7 Plus and OnePlus 5 are using a system similar to this.

OnePlus’ Smart Capture method of combining data from multiple higher resolution images takes this one step further. By using multiple frames worth of higher resolution data, noise can be averaged out when zooming to those in between values like 1.2 or 1.8x. Although technically this can be done with just a single lens camera.

Simple camera switching isn’t really ideal though, and is clearly nowhere near matching the zoom capabilities insinuated by “optical zoom” advertising taglines. A possible solution is to turn to some more powerful image analysis algorithms in order to stitch up a picture from both cameras. Unfortunately this still has drawbacks compared with real optical zoom lenses though, as averaging and stitching is seldom as good as the real thing.

Today’s’ high-end ISPs are capable of merging together data from cameras with different focal lengths. This is already done for advanced HDR techniques and is taken a step further by ideas light the multi-lens Light L16 camera. This type of technique can take high frequency detail from the higher zoom lense and crop and stitch this information into the center of the picture that’s more zoomed out. So at 1.5x, the center on the image will contain extra detail, while the edges will be digitally zoomed in from the 1x standard lens. It wouldn’t be perfect, but your subject matter will look sharper and retain some extra detail when compared with single sensor smartphone cameras.

While this sounds simple enough in theory, such an algorithm would be highly processor intensive and would mean much longer times between clicking the shutter and viewing the final image, which is clearly no good for fast action shots or burst modes.

Furthermore, this type of processing would be further complicated by the different sensor pixel sizes and apertures between the dual cameras, which will alter the light capture characteristics. If the zoom camera isn’t capturing enough light, as it typically has smaller pixels, then it will suffer from more noise and would make image stitching a pointless task.

The inclusion of dual cameras is no guarantee of superior quality or better zoom results. This depends heavily on other camera specifications and the particular shot.

Based on the results we’ve seen so far, it’s unlikely that any smartphone OEM has achieved this level of complexity yet. The closest disclosed technology to this would probably be Huawei’s “Hybrid Zoom”, which takes fine detail data from the 20 MP camera and colors it using RGB data from the 12 MP sensor, allowing for superior 2x digital zoom.

In summary, making the most of dual camera potential is much more complicated than it first seems, and it requires a variety of sophisticated processing techniques… not to mention that the results are going to be heavily dependent on the shooting environment.

Wrapping up

Although dual camera technology represents a notable step forward for smartphone photography, we should be aware that there are some major caveats right now. The first being that even dual cameras are still limited to fixed focal lengths and are therefore incapable of offering up the true range of optical zoom capabilities that the marketing might lead us to believe.

That being said, there are notable benefits to this technology over a traditional digital zoom, including superior quality zoom at long distances. You also get the option to enable superior post processing effects, including digital bokeh and advanced HDR. And let’s not forget the creative freedom that these configurations offer photography enthusiasts.

See also:

OnePlus 5 vs Galaxy S8, HTC U11, XZ Premium, Pixel XL, LG G6: What’s the best Android camera?

5 days ago

This technology is still in its infancy, and we’ll no doubt see notable improvements to camera quality and zoom functionality after second-gen products hit the market. Do you highly rate dual camera technologies, or are you happy with your existing single sensor setup?

How to Downgrade macOS High Sierra Beta to macOS Sierra

How to Downgrade macOS High Sierra Beta to macOS Sierra is a post by Josh Smith from Gotta Be Mobile.

It’s easy to go from the macOS High Sierra beta to a stable version using this macOS High Sierra downgrade to macOS Sierra tutorial. If you tried the macOS 10.13 beta and found that it doesn’t deliver the performance or app compatibilities that you need, or there are simply too many macOS High Sierra beta problems, you should consider downgrading.

This is an easy process, but you will need to set aside some time, especially to restore from a Time Machine backup made on macOS Sierra, which will get you back to your setup right before you installed the macOS High Sierra beta. This includes apps, documents, and other files. This will help you downgrade from macOS 10.13 to macOS 10.12.

While it is a straightforward process, you may want to make another Time Machine Backup on macOS High Sierra just so you have that handy. You can check this in your Time Machine options. Go to System Preferences -> Time Machine and make a backup.

How to Downgrade macOS High Sierra Beta to macOS Sierra

How to downgrade macOS High Sierra to macOS Sierra.
How to downgrade macOS High Sierra to macOS Sierra.

You should connect your Mac to power for this process since it will take some time and use a lot of system resources. If you don’t have the time set aside to do this and a good place to do it, wait until you are able to connect to power and have a good internet connection as well as your backups. This guide assumes you installed the macOS High Sierra beta on your primary drive and not in a dual boot configuration.

Erase Your Mac

  1. Restart your Mac using the Apple menu in the upper right.
  2. When it is restarting hold Command and R until the Utilities menu appears.
  3. Choose Disk Utility
  4. Click Continue and then Click on Startup Disk.  Often labeled Macintosh HD
  5. Click Erase.
  6. Choose the Mac OS Extended file format from the list and click on Erase.

Reinstall macOS Sierra

It will take a few minutes to erase the drive. Once completed, you can start installing macOS Sierra.

  1. On the main macOS Utilities screen, choose Reinstall macOS.
  2. Click Continue and then Agree to any terms and conditions.

Wait for the Mac to restart and then you are back on macOS Sierra.

Restore from a Time Machine Backup

Choose your Time Machine Backup.
Choose your Time Machine Backup.

Now you can restore your backup to your Mac so that all of your files and programs are back to where they were. You can also skip this step and start over fresh if you prefer to go that route.

  1. You’ll want to restart your Mac again and hold Command and R to get back to macOS Utilities.
  2. Choose the Restore From Time Machine Backup option. and Click Continue
  3. Click Continue. Then choose the backup that you want to restore from. You will need to connect to WiFi if you have a wireless Time Machine drive or plug in if it is on an external drive.
  4. Click Continue after you choose the latest backup and then wait for the restore to complete.

This will take a little time and you should just step away from the Mac while this completes. Again, make sure you plug into power while you do this part of the downgrade. When it completes, you will be back on macOS Sierra and you will have your files back ready to go.

macOS High Sierra vs macOS Sierra: What’s New in macOS High Sierra

macOS High Sierra Photos Upgrades

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macOS High Sierra Photos Upgrades

Apple delivers major upgrades to the macOS High Sierra Photos app. With the new update you will be able to edit your photos in new ways right inside of Photos, and if you use PhotoShop or Pixelmator your changes there will sync back to your Photos library. 

Inside Photos, you can now edit with more controls than ever including a Curves editor to dial in your photo just right. A new sidebar on the left offers fast access to important albums and options. new selection options show you what you've picked and allow you to organize photos better. 

You can edit Live Photos to set a key photo that looks amazing. The Photos app also now lets you trim live photos to the perfect length. Once that is done, you can choose a new effect that lets you loop the action or bounce it back after it completes. There's also a new Artistic effect that can create long exposure filters to live photos with impressive results.  

When you are on a FaceTime video call, you can take a Live Photo that is saved directly to your Photos library and then you can edit it using these new tools. 

Upgraded Memories options detect special events better including babies, outdoor events, performances, weddings, birthdays, sporting events and more. There is even a new Memory that can find your pets. 

When you tell the Photos app who a person is, the face recognition will sync across your iCloud Photo Library so that it is always handy. 

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How to Downgrade macOS High Sierra Beta to macOS Sierra is a post by Josh Smith from Gotta Be Mobile.

iPhone 7 Problems: 5 Things Users Need to Know

iPhone 7 Problems: 5 Things Users Need to Know is a post by Adam Mills from Gotta Be Mobile.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are excellent smartphones but they’re far from perfect. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus problems continue to popup every day.

Since their launch in September we’ve been hearing and seeing complaints about various iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus problems Some users are running into minor bugs, others are running into more serious issues with their device.

Apple’s refined its software with bug fixes and patches but iOS 10.3.2, the most up-to-date version of iOS 10, is causing problems for many users.

Today, we want to take a look at the current state of iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7 problems. We also want to make sure that you’re prepared for the future, just in case you run into an issue with your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. iPhone issues can popup out of nowhere.

This roundup offers a look at the issues themselves and some steps to take if you do happen to run into a problem with your device.

iPhone 7 Problems

The earliest iPhone 7 problems centered around iCloud Restore and Activation issues. These were the same issues that affected the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus at launch.

Complaints about these issues have died down in the months since the iPhone 7 launch but if you do happen to run into an activation or iCloud Restore problem, head here for more on these problems and potential fixes.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus problems go beyond iCloud Restore and activation issues. We’re also seeing complaints a variety of other bugs.

We’re hearing about odd battery drain, issues connecting to Wi-Fi, problems connecting to Bluetooth (which is a big problem given the two phones don’t come with a 3.5mm headphone jack), touchscreen issues, an odd hissing issue, problems with various applications, issues syncing photos, and more.

It’s impossible to predict what you might run into during your time with the iPhone 7 so you’ll want to occasionally make a backup of the files stored on your phone.

iphone-7-jet-black-15

If you don’t know how to do that, we’ve put together a guide that will take you through the backup process using Apple’s iTunes software.

If you don’t want to use iTunes, we also have a guide that details the backup process via Apple’s iCloud service.

We’ve also put together a list of things to do before installing a new iOS update on your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus and it’s worth a look if you’re new to iOS and iPhone or if you simply need some additional help.

Where to Find Feedback

If you need additional help, there are a number of other places to look for fixes and feedback about iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus performance.

We’ve taken a look at reasons to and not to install the iOS 10.3.2 update. Start there. We’ve also put together our impressions of the iPhone 7 iOS 10.3.2 update and it’s a great resource if you want to keep tabs on performance.

We've taken a look at iOS 10.2 performance on the iPhone 7.
We’ve taken a look at iOS 10 performance on the iPhone 7.

We also recommend keeping an eye on YouTube, Apple’s discussion forums, social media sites like Twitter/Facebook, and the MacRumors forums for additional feedback about Apple’s iPhone 7 and its iOS 10 updates.

How to Fix iPhone 7 Problems

If you do run into a problem with your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, there’s no need to panic. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to fix the issue from the comforts of your computer chair.

You can fix iPhone 7 problems from home.
You might be able to fix your iPhone 7 problem from home.

We’ve put together a list of fixes for common iPhone 7 problems and it offers fixes for battery life issues, problems with Wi-Fi, issues with Bluetooth, and more. We’ve also put together some tips to help you improve performance.

It’s important to note that some iOS-related iPhone 7 problems will likely dissipate after a couple of days of use.

For instance, battery life tends to settle after a few days with a new device or iOS update. If you continue to experience problems with battery life or something else after more than two days of use, you’ll want to take action.

If you’re experiencing cellular data problems on your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, and you failed to download the iOS 10.0.3 update, you’ll want to download the iOS 10.3.2 update.

The iOS 10.0.3 update delivered “fixes bugs including an issue where some users could temporarily lose cellular connectivity.” This fix is baked into Apple’s iOS 10.3.2 update for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

The iOS 10.2 update could fix your Bluetooth issues.
The iOS 10.3 update could fix your Bluetooth issues.

If you’re running into Bluetooth problems on your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus note that Apple’s iOS 10.1 update improved Bluetooth connectivity with third party devices.

If you failed to download iOS 10.1, the iOS 10.3.2 update will bring these bug fixes to your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.

Your last line of defense is Apple itself. If you can’t fix your iPhone 7 problem on your own, you have a couple of options.

You can get in touch with Apple on Twitter and see if its support can help. You can also get in contact with Apple Support via the company website.

If customer service can’t help you, and you still can’t fix your issue, you might think about taking your phone into an Apple Store.

Make an Genius Bar appointment and have them run diagnostics on your device to see if they can pinpoint the problem. Your iPhone 7 is under warranty so they might offer you a replacement if they can’t fix the issue.

Downgrade

If you recently downloaded an update on your iPhone 7 and you start experiencing problems problems, you might be able to downgrade back to an older version.

Downgrading isn’t a guaranteed way to fix performance issues but it’s an option if you decide you’ve had enough of your device’s poor performance.

Apple typically keeps the downgrade loophole open for a week or two after a new update’s release so you’ll need to act quickly if you want to make the move back down.

The downgrade is currently open. Apple is currently signing off on iOS 10.3.1 which means you can downgrade from iOS 10.3.2 if it starts giving you trouble.

For more on the downgrade process, please take a look at our guide.

What’s Next

Help from Apple should arrive soon.

Apple’s confirmed a new update for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus called iOS 10.3.3, and it’s currently in beta ahead of an unknown release date.

The iOS 10.3.3 update should be a maintenance upgrade which means it will probably come with patches and bug fixes for lingering issues.

An iOS 10.2.1 update is confirmed for iPhone 7.
An iOS 10.3.3 update is confirmed for iPhone 7.

If you want to test the iOS 10.3.3 update’s performance on your device, you can do that via the iOS 10.3.3 beta. If it causes problems, you can always drop back down to iOS 10.3.2 or iOS 10.3.1.

For more on the iOS 10.3.3 update and its beta, take a look at our walkthrough. It will take you through everything you need to know ahead of its release.

4 Reasons Not to Install iOS 10.3.2 & 9 Reasons You Should

Install iOS 10.3.2 If You Want Better Security

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Install iOS 10.3.2 If You Want Better Security

If you value your security, you'll want to seriously consider downloading the iOS 10.3.2 update on your iPhone or iPad. 

iOS 10.3.2 brings (by our count) 23 security patches for a potential exploits. That's a ton for a small maintenance update and a great reason to install iOS 10.3.2 in the near future.

Your iOS 10.3.2 update will bring even more security features if you failed to download previous versions of iOS.

If you skipped iOS 10.3.1, your iOS 10.3.2 update will bring its security patch. If you skipped iOS 10.3, iOS 10.3.2 will also bring its monster list of patches as well. 

The iOS 10.3 update delivered over 60 known patches for potential exploits. That's substantial, even for a milestone upgrade. The previous version of iOS 10, iOS 10.2.1, brought 14 known patches.

If you skipped the iOS 10.2.1 update and/or the iOS 10.2 update, know that iOS 10.3.2 brings their security patches with it as well. Again, the iOS 10.2.1 update had 14 important patches on board. You can see them all right here

If you failed to install Apple's iOS 9.3.5 update, iOS 10.3.2 will also bring the three crucial security patches it delivered last year. These patch up serious security problems that could potentially expose your calls, contacts, texts, and emails.

These patches enhance the security on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch making them ideal for those of you who store sensitive files/data on your device. 

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iPhone 7 Problems: 5 Things Users Need to Know is a post by Adam Mills from Gotta Be Mobile.