Huawei and Linaro launch the HiKey 970 development board with the Kirin 970 SoC

The Raspberry Pi was a groundbreaking device as it showed users what could be possible with a $35 development board. In the years since, we have seen plenty Raspberry Pi alternatives arrive in the market. Huawei and Linaro launched the HiKey 960 development board last year at a price tag of $239. The board featured the HiSilicon Kirin 960 system-on-chip, and was positioned as a high-end alternative to the Raspberry Pi.

Now, Huawei and Linaro have launched the HiKey 970 development board at the Linaro Developer Conference. The board looks like the Raspberry Pi, but it is significantly more powerful. This is because it’s based on the HiSilicon Kirin 970 system-on-chip, which features four ARM Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 2.36GHz and four ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz, paired with the Mali-G72MP12 GPU.

The Kirin 970 has dedicated hardware for AI in the form of a Neural Processing Unit. The HiKey 970 board has 6GB of RAM along with a microSD slot. It supports 4K displays via HDMI 2.0a, has 2 USB 3.0 and 2 USB Type-C ports, and runs Ubuntu, Debian, and Android.

Huawei HiKey 970

The development board is designed for creating apps, particularly on Android apps. It uses the same chip as the Huawei Mate 10 / Mate 10 Pro, and the Honor View 10, meaning that its performance is on par with a high-end Android smartphone. It also comes with Huawei’s HiAI SDK.

The HiKey 970 thus comes with higher computing power, and it also supports AI stacks. Its energy efficiency is said to be up to 50 times more than that of CPU operations, while performance is up to 25 times more. It has heterogeneous resource management, and its dedicated NPU can enable developers to develop deep learning algorithms, smart robots, automobile software and smart cities.

The board will be open to developers for sale in mid-April. Its price hasn’t been revealed yet, but it’s fair to expect it be on par with the HiKey 960’s $239 price tag, on account of its high-end specifications.

Via: GizmoChina

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X, Xiaomi Mi Max, and more receiving MIUI 9.5 Global Stable ROM

In November, Xiaomi launched the global version of MIUI 9. The update began rolling out to the first batch of phones in the same month, starting with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. Then, in January, the company started rolling-out the MIUI 9.2 Global Stable update to supported devices, including the Redmi Note 3.

Five months after its launch, Xiaomi India Managing Director Manu Kumar Jain stated that the MIUI 9 Global Stable ROM has been released for all supported Xiaomi India devices, including nearly four-year-old phones such as the Redmi 1s and the Xiaomi Mi 3.

Now, Xiaomi has announced that MIUI 9.5 Gobal Stable ROM has started rolling out for the Redmi Note 3 Qualcomm variant, Redmi Note 3 Special Edition, Redmi Note 4 Qualcomm variant (Redmi Note 4X), Mi Max and Mi Max Prime. The OTA update is being rolled out gradually, and the company mentions that it will release the update to all users as soon as possible.

The MIUI 9.5 Global Stable update finally brings notifications in MIUI on-par with stock Android. In December, we saw the MIUI Developer ROM had added support for Android Nougat’s inline replies in notifications, bundled notifications, and one-finger gesture to expand notifications. Three months later, the update has arrived in the Global Stable ROM.

Xiaomi has also released the release schedule for MIUI 9.5 Global Stable ROM. This month, the update will be rolled-out to the Redmi 3S, Redmi 4 Prime, Redmi 4A and Redmi Note 4 MediaTek variant as well. The second and third batch of devices will get the update in early April and late April respectively. The full release schedule is detailed below.

1. Late March: Redmi Note 3 Special Edition, Redmi Note 3 Qualcomm, Redmi Note 4 Qualcomm/Redmi Note 4X, Mi Max, Mi Max Prime, Redmi 3S, Redmi 4 Prime, Redmi 4A and Redmi Note 4 MTK

2. Early April: Redmi Note 5A Prime/Redmi Y1, Redmi Note 5A/Redmi Y1 Lite, Redmi 5A, Redmi 5 Plus, Redmi Note 5, Redmi 5, Mi Max 2, Mi 5, Redmi 4X, Mi 6 and Mi MIX 2

3. Mid April: Mi Note 2, Mi 5s, Mi MIX, Mi Note 3, Mi 5s Plus, Redmi Note 2, Redmi 3, Redmi 4, Mi 3, Mi 4

Huawei Mate 10 series receiving Face Unlock and Smart Lock Screen Notifications in China

Android has had its own face unlock feature built into the platform for years, but it wasn’t until Apple introduced Face ID that people started to care. Since then, smartphone OEMs have started utilizing the feature in a way that is faster and more secure than it used to be. It still isn’t as accurate as the iPhone X due to it using specialized hardware, but it gets the job done. We’ve seen companies like OnePlus and Honor adding this feature to their current and past devices. Now the Huawei Mate 10 series is receiving this feature and smart lock screen notifications in China.

For OnePlus, their Face Unlock feature debuted on the OnePlus 5T but then the company ported it down to both the OnePlus 5 as well as the OnePlus 3/3T. Honor is another OEM who has been working hard to add Face Unlock to their devices with the feature coming to the Honor 9 Lite, Honor 10 View, Honor 7X, Honor 9. There’s even been a port from the developer community here at XDA that brings it to the Honor 8 and Huawei P10 Plus.

As you can tell, facial authentication has been a highly requested feature and has made its way to a number of devices throughout the industry. We have just learned that the entire Huawei Mate 10 series will all be receiving an update in China that brings this Face Unlock feature. It’s coming alongside a big update that will bring the device up to EMUI version This authentication feature is only possible with the screen is awake, though, so Huawei has added a raise to wake feature as well.

Once enabled, when the device detects that the phone has been raised up, it will display the lock screen. This way, if you have the Face Unlock feature enabled it can instantly start the scanning process to authenticate the user. This feature raised concerns about sensitive data being seen on the lock screen, so there’s a feature that allows you set notifications on the lock screen to a hidden mode. That way you can see which applications have notifications waiting on you, but you won’t see the contents of that notification until you unlock the device.

Source: MyDrivers

Google Play Store now allows developers to set an internal test channel for 100 trusted users

Up until now, developers could either release apps directly to users on the Google Play Store, or test them via an alpha or beta channel. The alpha and beta channels allow users to test new versions of an app and report bugs before its official release.

Now, Google has announced a new test channel on the Play Store which precedes the alpha channel. This channel, named “test channel” is specifically made for internal tests. It lets developers quickly release their new app or app updates to select users through the Play Store. Instead of developers having to manually send APK files to internal testers, they can now use the test track.

The new test channel lets developers invite up to 100 trusted users by email for internal testing. Developers can create a tester list by selecting the option in the left menu of the Dev Console > Settings > Manage testers. To start a test, they can go to Release management > App releases and select Manage internal test select next to the internal test track. The full details of the procedure are detailed in the source link. After creating a test, developers will get a URL link to their app to share with their testers.

Internal tests are available to users from any location or device, even if the app is officially distributed to them. Also, internal testers can install paid apps for free. Testers have to pay for in-app purchases, however. To let them try out in-app purchases for free, developers need to add them to a license testers list.

In our view, Google’s announcement of a new test channel on the Play Store is great news for developers. They can now use the new test channel for internal testing, instead of having to manually share APKs of their new apps/app updates with their chosen testers.

Source: GoogleVia: Android Police

HTC Desire 12 and Desire 12+ are mid-range devices with 18:9 displays and dual cameras

HTC is not expected to release many smartphones this year. The HTC U12+ (code-named “Imagine”) will be the company’s flagship phone, but the company hasn’t stopped releasing mid-range phones. The HTC Desire 12 and the Desire 12+ have been in the rumors for the past couple of months and HTC officially launched the two “mid-range” devices on Tuesday.

In the past few years, the company hasn’t been known for providing exceptional value in budget or mid-range phones. Competitors have outperformed them in this area. The HTC Desire 12 and the Desire 12+ are HTC’s latest attempt to make competitive mid-range phones, so let’s take a look at the specifications.

HTC Desire 12

HTC Desire 12

On first glance, the HTC Desire 12 looks similar to flagship HTC phones with an acrylic back. It has a 5.5-inch HD+ (1440×720) IPS display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The display’s resolution is arguably too low for its size, although it’s worth noting that the screen area of a 5.5-inch 18:9 display is less than that of a 5.5-inch 16:9 display.

The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6739 system-on-chip, which is the successor to the MT6737m. There is not much to say here as the MT6739 is an entry-level SoC raises doubts about the “mid-range” nature of the Desire 12. The SoC has only a single quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 cluster, and the PowerVR GE8100 GPU isn’t anything to boast about either. RAM is either 2GB or 3GB, paired with either 16GB or 32GB internal storage, along with a microSD card slot.

The Desire 12 has a 13MP rear camera with a f/2.2 aperture, and it can record Full HD video. The phone has a 5MP front camera with a f/2.4 aperture.

It’s powered by a 2730mAh battery, and it runs HTC Sense on top of Android Nougat. Strangely, the phone does not have a fingerprint sensor. This is a poor decision on HTC’s part when considering the fact that even $100 phones have fingerprint sensors these days. The pricing of the Desire 12 ranges between €185 and €199, depending on the market.

HTC Desire 12+

HTC Desire 12+

The Desire 12+ has the better specifications of the duo. It has the same design as the Desire 12, but features a bigger 6-inch HD+ (1440×720) 18:9 IPS display. The display resolution is certainly too low for its size here.

The phone also features a better SoC: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450. This is considerably better than the MediaTek MT6739, as it’s a downgraded variant of the popular Snapdragon 625. The chip comes with eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz paired with the Adreno 506 GPU. There is 3GB of RAM paired with 32GB of storage along with a microSD card slot.

The Desire 12+ has dual rear cameras. The primary camera is 13MP with a f/2.2 aperture, and there is a 2MP depth-sensing secondary camera. On the front, there is an 8MP front camera with a f/2.0 aperture.

The phone does have a rear fingerprint sensor, which is another upgrade over the Desire 12. In terms of software, it’s powered by HTC Sense on top of Android 8.0 Oreo – which means it’s required to have Project Treble support.

Both phones have 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, micro-USB port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack (which is absent on HTC’s flagship phones). The Desire 12+ is powered by a 2965mAh battery. It is already said to be on pre-order, and it costs between €235 and €249, depending on the market.

Our view: HTC’s new phones look nice from a design perspective. The presence of 18:9 displays is also a plus point. However, the specifications of both devices are weak in the face of strong competition in the budget and mid-range price segments. The Desire 12 shows a series of regrettable decisions made by HTC, ranging from the lack of a fingerprint sensor to the inclusion of MediaTek’s entry-level MT6739 SoC. The software on the Desire 12 is also a disappointment as the phone will launch with Android Nougat, while the Desire 12+ comes with Android Oreo.

The prices of the two devices aren’t competitive with the likes of Xiaomi and Honor, so it remains to be seen how well they will perform in the market.

Source: HTC