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02-10: Thailand has launched a Huawei 5G test bed; Apple’s French division said it has reached a deal with France to pay an undeclared amount of back-dated tax; etc.

Touch Display

Apple’s new design patent at WIPO shows a full-screen smartphone that packs a dual camera setup on the back just like every other full-screen phone. All four edges are curved both on the display end and the rear aspect. (CN Beta, LetsGoDigital, Digit, Gizmo China)

Memory

Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, de facto chief of chip giant Samsung Electronics, reportedly spent the Lunar New Year holidays in China as part of efforts to seek new strategies in the company’s memory chip business for 2019. Samsung has been operating a NAND flash plant in Xian since 2014 and is currently building a second with a USD7B investment, from 2018. (GizChina, IT Home, Korea Herald, Business Korea)

Biometrics

A recently published Apple patent application suggests that a future HomePod could feature support for 3D hand gestures, Face ID, and much more. The patent explains that the HomePod could identify users in the vicinity of the speaker using “facial recognition”, as well as measure the distance of users to the speaker.  (GizChina, TechRadar, Sina, Mac Rumors, USPTO)

Apple’s patent application titled “System and method for vehicle authorization” considers ways to have an iPhone to unlock and pay for a ‘Project Titan’ self-driving car. The first element it focuses on is positioning. A second key element is the use of biometric security, by performing some sort of authentication at the remote device end to confirm a person’s identity. (CN Beta, Cult of Mac, Apple Insider)

Connectivity

Thailand has launched a Huawei 5G test bed. According to Minister of Digital Economy Pichet Durongkaveroj, Thailand’s cooperation with Huawei on the test bed does not mean it is not concerned about security issues. Huawei is reportedly in talks with telecoms operators, such as Advanced Info Service Pcl and TRUE, to secure local partnerships ahead of a national rollout scheduled for Dec 2020. (VentureBeat, VOA Chinese, Reuters, CNBC)

As the “5G year”, 2019 is about to usher in a big wave of 5G mobile phones. ZOL has collected a list of manufacturers that are going to launch 5G mobile phones in 1H19 / 2H19. (ZOL, My Drivers)

Phone

According to Canalys, smartphone shipments in India were up by more than 12M at 137M in 2018, the best growth of any market in absolute volume terms. India now accounts more than 10% of the world’s smartphone market, up from 6% 5 years ago. Xiaomi took pole position for the first time in 2018, shipping 41M units to take 30% of the total Indian smartphone market. (GSM Arena, Canalys, press)

According to Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, only about 16% of Apple iPhone in use now are likely to be upgraded fiscal year 2019. He added that iPhone owners who bought them new are likely to hold on to them for at least 4 years, and the replacement rate could soon get even longer. (CN Beta, CNBC, Wallstreet CN, Apple Insider, Business Insider)

Apple’s French division said it has reached a deal with France to pay an undeclared amount of back-dated tax, which French media estimated at around EUR500M (USD571M). Apple’s French division confirmed the tax payment agreement, but did not disclose how much it had agreed to pay. (Apple Insider, Reuters, Sina, JRJ)

A report released by The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) reveals the amount of radiation emitted by some newer and older smartphone models. The data is released in watts per kilogram with the “safer” phones reporting lower scores. The handset that emits the highest level of radiation, according to this data, is the Xiaomi Mi A1, which releases 1.75 watts of radiation per kilogram.  (CN Beta, India Times, Phone Arena, Statista, Statista, BFS)

Google has announced it has paid out over USD15M since launching its bug bounty program in Nov 2010. In 2018 alone, the company distributed USD3.4M to 317 different security researchers, slightly up from the USD2.9M it gave to 274 researchers the year before. Google awarded 1H18’s rewards USD1.7M to researchers who found and reported vulnerabilities in Android and Chrome. (VentureBeat, 9t05Google, Business Insider, Google)

Automotive

Toyota has announced that the 2020 models of the 4Runner, Tacoma, Tundra, and Sequoia will feature Google Android Auto. The 2018 Aygo and the 2019 Yaris (in Europe) will also get Android Auto.  (CN Beta, Auto Home, Motor1, The Verge, Mac Rumors, Toyota)

Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors (GM), repeats its commitment to make its entire vehicle lineup “all-electric”, but provides with few details about those plans. However, GM is clear that its electric vehicles will not make money until “early next decade”. (CN Beta, CNBC)

Artificial Intelligence

Neil Kumaran, Product Manager for Counter-Abuse Technology at Google, reveals that TensorFlow helps the company expand its spam filters to additional types of unwanted emails that were not previously easy to catch. These categories include messages that use images to hide malicious content and emails that take advantage of new domains to hide spam within legitimate traffic. (Neowin, Google, IT Home, CN Beta)

Zoovu, a leading AI digital sales assistant platform, has announced that it has closed its Series B funding led by Target Global and Beringea, the latter of which previously led the Series A round. The company will drive further growth and expand into APAC, and increase investment in AI and behavioral analytics to drive human-level experiences across digital channels. (VentureBeat, Fierce Telecom, Business Wire)

Musiio, an AI-based digital music discovery and creation platform, has secured USD1M seed round from Singapore’s Wavemaker Partners. Joining the round is Exponential Creativity Ventures from U.S. and angels. Musiio focuses on reducing inefficiencies in music curation using AI that augments the human curators’ work.  (TechCrunch, Digital Music News, Yahoo)

CB Insights has published their third annual cohort of AI startups — a compilation of 100 of the most promising companies (whittled down from a pool of over 3,000) providing hardware and data infrastructure for AI apps, optimizing machine learning workflows, and applying AI across a range of industries.  (CN Beta, Business Wire, VentureBeat, CB Insights)

E-Commerce

Pinduoduo (PDD), an innovative and fast growing “new-ecommerce” platform and one of the leading Chinese e-commerce players, is raising more than USD1B in fresh capital just 6 months after it went public. PDD went public in Jul 2018 when it raised USD1.6B through a Nasdaq listing. PDD claims 385.5M active buyers with an annual GMV of CNY344.8B (USD250.2B), as of 3Q18. (TechCrunch, PDD, PDD, Wallstreet CN, Yicai, BJ News)

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