Here’s your daily tech digest, by way of the very-good-never-bad DGiT Daily newsletter, for Tuesday, April 16, 2019! Please do subscribe. 100,000 others might be wrong, but …they’re more likely right?

1. Apple and Qualcomm together at last, as Intel fails to deliver

A 5G modem from Intel. Intel

The great fight between Apple and Qualcomm is over. Let’s first start with some flavor from the very moment it happened.

  • The abrupt truce between Qualcomm, a major chip supplier, and Apple, a major chip requirer, ended mid-court case.
  • It ended just as Apple’s attorneys, I kid you not, likened Qualcomm chips to fried chicken.
  • From Reuters: “Apple attorney Ruffin Cordell likened Qualcomm’s policy to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that refuses to sell a bucket of chicken to customers.”
  • “You first have to go over to this different counter, KFL – Kentucky Fried Licensing,” Cordell said. “You have to go pay that ‘eating license’ fee before they’ll sell you any chicken.”

Apparently, Qualcomm’s 5G modem offering was too tasty to resist.

Or, more seriously, Apple’s need to offer iPhones with 5G, with Intel unable to deliver, was more important than an expensive and expansive legal fight, that crossed multiple jurisdictions and included battles over patents, component costs, and royalties. It had already lasted two years before the abrupt end.

A short history of Apple and 5G

  • Previously, Qualcomm and Intel modems were used to share connectivity duties in Apple’s iPhones.
  • Qualcomm owns many patents in this area and is a leader in 5G or fifth-generation wireless network modems for consumer devices, as well as 4G and older.
  • Intel has its own 5G patents, but these are mostly at the network infrastructure level.
  • When Apple and Qualcomm fell out, depending on which company you believe, Apple either stopped buying Qualcomm modem chips, or Qualcomm stopped selling them to Apple – which saw the iPhone XS range rely entirely on Intel.
  • That status-quo was feasible until 5G grew too large on the horizon to ignore, and Intel appears to have consistently failed to demonstrate working 5G modem chips.

Qualcomm vs Intel? No competition:

  • Qualcomm already debuted two 5G chips, including the X50 and the X55, coming in commercially available phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
  • With reports that Intel continued to miss deadlines on delivery, further reports suggested even Apple’s 2020 iPhones would not be able to offer 5G.
  • (Some went much further than a suggestion, including this post at SemiAccurate which highlights Intel using Photoshop to “demonstrate” new hardware, painting the whole thing as farcical)

You probably won’t get 5G in 2019, but by 2020…

  • 5G is in its earliest stages of rolling out in 2019. We’ve seen Verizon offer hugely limited 5G in Chicago and Minneapolis, while AT&T’s 5G is available in 19 cities, limited to just a few blocks.
  • It’s clear iPhone owners aren’t missing out on 5G just yet, and probably won’t be too jealous of Android flagships that offer 5G in 2019.
  • But by late 2020, that might change – if not in the U.S. then certainly in other countries where 5G is important.
  • Evidently, Apple agreed.
  • Or, it was pushed. Intel announced shortly after that it will exit the 5G smartphone modem business completely, and may even sell its IP in this area. Forget the timing of announcements – it’s much more likely that Intel’s continued problems with proving it could produce the hardware forced Apple’s hand. That is, if Intel could produce the goods, we wouldn’t be here.
  • Qualcomm shares jumped more than 20 percent at the news.
  • Finally, the FTC’s case against Qualcomm over concerns raised by Apple may or may not continue. Joshua Landau over at Patent Progress argues it should, if you want nitty-gritty.
  • And Bloomberg has a deep dive into the backstory, too.

Quick takes:

  • Apple getting onboard to more rapidly offer devices with 5G should benefit us all.
  • By offering an iPhone with 5G, consumer expectations will increase and force more comprehensive 5G availability and competition.
  • Take Chicago as an example. There’s no mistaking that the tiny footprint of early 5G rollout in Chicago includes the Motorola headquarters, where 5G devices including the first device – the Frankenstein-ish Moto Z3 with Moto Mod 5G can be purchased and used for 5G speeds.
  • The analysis of fault will be next. Did Tim Cook and Apple fight with Qualcomm too hard, and too long? Did Qualcomm stick to its guns, or was it behaving like a monopoly?
  • For end consumers, Apple not being able to offer the latest and greatest smacks of second-best. For now, that path is being corrected.

2. Console news

If you’re not hugely invested in the fortunes of global corporations, you might still be interested in the PlayStation and Xbox news that came yesterday.

What to expect from Sony’s Next-Gen PlayStation

  • Meanwhile, on the Sony side of gaming, Wired had a big exclusive on Sony’s next-gen PlayStation – with lots about the hardware revealed, and lots still to learn.
  • Sony’s been building it for four years.
  • It will include a new AMD CPU at the heart of the device and a new GPU with ray tracing support which will dramatically change gaming performance and visual fidelity.
  • There’s support for 8K visuals, 3D audio, and a bunch of talk about a new dedicated solid-state drive for faster game loading.
  • It will be backward-compatible and include some kind of VR support, and will still support physical media – take that, Xbox.
  • No talk about cloud gaming, or next-gen VR support, and it’s not coming in 2019.

Xbox One S All-Digital Edition – coming May 7th

  • There’s a new Xbox One S. See, in the photo above? It’s the one on the right.
  • It’s exactly the same as the Xbox One S already, but as the name suggests, doesn’t offer a disc-drive.
  • That means you can’t use physical games. Which is interesting, and Microsoft is shaving $50 off the retail price down to $249, so it’s officially the cheapest option.
  • Buuuut there are bundles and deals all the time from retailers, so it’s likely the original Xbox One S that can play discs can be found cheaper.
  • Also, physical copies are often cheaper as well – especially if you consider the second-hand market.
  • So who would want this digital-only edition?
  • Well, Microsoft is enticing people by bundling in Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 3 in with it.
  • But, honestly, right now, I don’t know why you’d buy it. Having a digital copy of a game instead of a physical copy makes sense for a lot of people, but there’s no obvious reason why you’d buy a more expensive console that doesn’t even give you an option.
  • What am I missing?
  • Ars Technica has more exploring that exact 249 dollar problem.

3. DealRefurbished 64GB and 128GB Pixel 3 handsets are available from $463, via an exclusive promo code here at Android Authority. Save around $350 off RRP – not bad!

4. Google Play Store finally testing simultaneous app downloads (AA).

5. Also, Google promises quicker and more detailed Play Store decisions for developers after growing complaints over the opaque process, automated decisions, and slow responses (AA).

6. Here’s something from me: “Expecting water resistance from the Samsung Galaxy Fold is ridiculous” (AA). (Remember, it’s pioneering technology, not just another flagship).

7. Wired explores 15 months of hell at Facebook, which reveals much including why the Instagram founders quit, as summarized at The Verge.

8. How 5G is likely to put weather forecasting at risk (Hackaday). The problem is satellites use sensitive sensors to detect water vapor, and 5G frequencies will interfere.

9. Report finds hundreds of people have died while taking selfies (Outside Outline).

10. What’s the most infuriating first world problem? (r/askreddit).

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