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1. The foldable PC is here!

Lenovo has unveiled a prototype… PC something. It has no name, yet, but it is some kind of ThinkPad X1. The company isn’t even calling it a laptop, instead calling it a foldable.

What we know:

  • It’s a 13.3-inch OLED display, made by LG, with 2K resolution and a 4:3 aspect ratio.
  • It folds down to the size of a hardcover book, or so, folding inwards like a regular laptop, but it can display in portrait and landscape, and flip to whatever you need.
  • The foldable runs on an Intel processor with Windows as the operating system, has USB-C ports, stereo speakers, Lenovo has promised it will have “all-day” battery life, according to Gizmodo. More details weren’t offered such as RAM, internal storage, etc.
  • It folds inwards, like a regular old laptop, meaning the hinge technology is a critical component.
  • But there’s no physical keyboard, making the device both less practical and more open to ideas. You could use half of it as a touch keyboard, or like a giant Apple Mac touch bar. Or you could hook up an external keyboard and go for full-screen real estate.

Lenovo fold PC

(Image credit: Gizmodo)

  • Lenovo says it’s been working on the prototype for three years before yesterday’s big teaser reveal, aiming for the best portability it can manage.
  • The company says the finished device is coming in 2020.

Quick take:

  • Will it work? Is it useful? I’m not sure.
  • Everyone knows that typing on a touchscreen keyboard just doesn’t work, yet, and most people I’ve spoken with are stuck on that point.
  • But I love the idea of a super-portable, foldable display that can extend my current laptop. Or become my main screen while working from my smartphone with an external keyboard. A touchscreen
  • There’s enough of a road warrior culture that a large group of busy people will be paying attention to this thing, that’s for sure.

2. Apple’s threat to its walled garden

Apple has a fight on its hands. A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Apple yesterday, disagreeing that the Cupertino company could dismiss an antitrust lawsuit brought by a group of iPhone users regarding its App Store practices.

What happened?

  • The group of iPhone owners alleges that Apple’s 30% commission on App Store sales is passed along to users, representing unlawful and unfair monopoly power.
  • Apple device owners can only buy apps through the App Store. Apple takes a cut of some of the sales made there. The suit accuses Apple of monopolistic practices.
  • The Supreme Court didn’t make a decision on that; it hasn’t decided if Apple’s practices actually violate the nation’s antitrust laws.
  • What it decided is high-stakes though: Apple’s defence pointed to an old Supreme Court precedent that held that only the “direct purchasers” of a service were eligible to bring such an antitrust lawsuit.
  • Apple argued that consumers were buying their apps from the developers — not from Apple itself.
  • The court didn’t agree: “We disagree,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “The plaintiffs purchased apps directly from Apple and therefore are direct purchasers.”
  • That may now open up all tech companies – including the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, to similar lawsuits. “I would expect a bunch more cases to be filed against a bunch more companies,” said Avery Gardiner, a top competition expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, to the Washington Post. “There are other people who have app stores. Google has an app store. Somebody is going to be looking hard for practices that might have had effects on the prices in the Google app store.”

What’s it mean?

  • So from the legal machinations comes the overarching battle: Is Apple helpfully offering a curated marketplace that keeps everyone safe, with a fee for business, or is Apple’s walled garden untenable, given the way in which it charges fees, which makes apps cost more, and limits competition as well?
  • Spotify, by the way, is arguing similarly in an EU antitrust case we covered after Spotify launched its “Time To Play Fair” website, noting it has to charge consumers more because of the 30% Apple “tax”. However, Spotify’s approach in the EU is more about fair competition in the market.

What they’re saying:

  • Rene Ritchie, Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com and known as an Apple analyst and technology critic, shared his thoughts with DGiT Daily:
  • “I still haven’t had much time to look into it but my general thoughts are the U.S. has always looked at consumer pricing as the be-all, end-all, as opposed to the EU, which has prioritized market competition.
  • “The case still has to go to court, but I find it hard to believe Apple can be accused of monopoly abuse in keeping app prices high while also being blamed for a race to the bottom where almost all apps are now so cheap or free developers struggle to feed their families.”

Here’s Apple’s statement in response:

  • “Today’s decision means plaintiffs can proceed with their case in District court. We’re confident we will prevail when the facts are presented and that the App Store is not a monopoly by any metric.
  • “We’re proud to have created the safest, most secure and trusted platform for customers and a great business opportunity for all developers around the world. Developers set the price they want to charge for their app and Apple has no role in that. The vast majority of apps on the App Store are free and Apple gets nothing from them. The only instance where Apple shares in revenue is if the developer chooses to sell digital services through the App Store.
  • “Developers have a number of platforms to choose from to deliver their software — from other apps stores, to Smart TVs to gaming consoles — and we work hard every day to make our store the best, safest and most competitive in the world.”

3. Everything we know about the OnePlus 7 series before launch, and we really know a lot (Android Authority).


4. Update your WhatsApp now to avoid this dangerous hack, which starts just from a phone call even if you didn’t answer (AA).


5. Google explains why the Pixel 3a has a headphone jack (AA).


6. The U.S.-Chinese Trade war means either Apple’s stock will drop or iPhone prices will rise (Gizmodo). Or both. Meanwhile, Samsung phones made in Vietnam and Korea will be largely unaffected.


7. Grindr’s Chinese owner has to sell the app by June 2020 (Engadget).


8. NASA and the White House will ask Congress for an extra $1.6 billion in next year’s budget to accelerate human missions to the Moon (The Verge).


9. Meanwhile, the SpaceX static fire that precedes the Starlink satellite launch mentioned yesterday went as per normal, all set for Wednesday launch (Twitter). The test was spotted, too.


10. Tesla’s screen saga shows why ‘Automotive Grade’ matters (thedrive.com + HN discussion).


11. “What is, in your opinion, the biggest flaw of the human body?” (r/askreddit).


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