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If you’re interested in consumer technology, you’re interested in what’s going on in Las Vegas this week. After all, CES 2019 is upon us.

The trade show runs January until Friday this week, and there’s lots going on.

TVs and more TV

There’s always lots of television news at CES and this year is no exception.

  • LG has a 4K OLED television that disappears when you’re not using it. It’s the Signature OLED TV R, and the screen rolls up into a box. You can also have a quarter of the screen exposed for smart home controls and notifications.
  • Sony showed off 85- and 98-inch LED screens that have an 8K resolution (nearly 8,000 pixels horizontally; two times bigger than 4K) and can reportedly upscale 4K content to 8K; the company also has OLED screens in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch sizes.
  • Samsung, meanwhile, is updating its line of excellent screens, and adding something nobody thought possible: iTunes. Yes, you’ll be able to access your iTunes movies and TV shows on your Samsung television. You’ll also be able to stream content from your Apple devices to Samsung screens with AirPlay 2.

Folding smartphones

  • While Samsung briefly showed a folding smartphone last November, the company did not have anything to say about the device during a briefing at CES. It was showing the device to select media behind closed doors, however. While no name has been announced, Galaxy Fold and Galaxy X have both been rumoured as possible. According to media who saw the device in Vegas this week, the Samsung folding smartphone has an outside screen that is 4.5 inches. When unfolded, the display becomes 7.3 inches.
  • Royole FlexPai is actually in the wild already, and the company is showing off the foldable smartphone in Vegas. Reports out of CES are that the foldable screen is very interesting, but that the device itself is far from being ready for primetime.

Smart homes and digital assistants

  • Almost all new smart home technology at CES is supporting Amazon’s Alexa. From cleaning robots to mesh networking platforms, from smart plugs to LED arrays to speakers, every tech company wants to work with Alexa.
  • Google, meanwhile, is pushing its Google Assistant hard by creating an entire ecosystem for it, in the same way Amazon has with Alexa. And tech companies are creating products for Assistant to work with. Case in point is the Lenovo alarm clock which works with Google Assistant (and doesn’t have a camera).

Samsung profit down, too

Just a few days after Apple revised its earning guidance, Samsung revealed an estimated 30 percent profit drop leading from “stagnant” smartphone sales and weak demand for its processing chips.

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This week, Apple’s best things for your iOS devices even while the company shares fall because they aren’t selling enough iPhones, Deloitte predicts what technology will bring in 2019, and why Netflix’s Bandersnatch is not a game. But first, what will you do about Facebook this year?

Is it time to delete Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg must be glad to have 2018 behind him, but the truth is that 2019 might not be any better for Facebook. Just consider that in December, there were two more revelations of errors the social media company made: allowing developers to see personal data of users, and a glitch that exposed private photos of nearly 7 million users.

There are good roundups of Facebook’s many mistakes of 2018 by Ad Age and The Guardian.

Apple’s best things for your iPads and iPhones from 2018

Every year, Apple collates the data from users of its devices and shares the list of things we’ve spent our time with.

In 2018, most of the free apps being downloaded for iPad and iPhone were the software we used to access our social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Also in the top 10 were content services Netflix and Spotify Music.

When it came to games, Fortnite and PUBG Mobile were, unsurprisingly, among the most popular free-to-play titles, while Minecraft and Plague Inc. were in the top paid games.

I note with interest that when looking only at paid iPad apps, four of the top 10 were interactive experiences designed for kids by Toca Boca, which indicates that lots of people out there are giving their iPads to their toddlers to play with.

Deloitte’s predictions for technology in 2019

Every year, Deloitte has its smart employees think about what’s coming up in the next year in fields of technology, media, and communications.

The latest predictions are out, and among the highlights are:

  • This will be the year that 5G mobile networks really become available to general consumers
  • Artificial intelligence – mostly machine learning – will become more available to all of us
  • eSports is poised to take off

Apple revises Q1 2019 earnings prediction down by up to $9 billion

Apple isn’t selling as many iPhones as it expected, and it’s led the company to reduce its guidance to investors. Apple CEO Tim Cook made the announcement in a public letter issued today.

In an interview with CNBC, Cook said that the “shortfall” is primarily a result of changes in China, from a slowing economy and also “the trade tensions between the United States and China”.

Netflix’s Bandersnatch is about a game, but it isn’t a game itself

You may find yourself using a game controller to interact with Netflix’s Black Mirror experiment, Bandersnatch, but that doesn’t mean that you’re playing a game.

Instead, Bandersnatch is an interactive narrative. It’s a fancy choose-your-own-adventure. It’s intriguing and compelling and very aligned with the Black Mirror series, but it’s not a game.

Games are also interactive entertainment, but they have systems and structures – rules – that players learn and master, and there are often challenges to undertake and some kind of goals and achievements.

Bandersnatch is a fictional creature from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, which is part of his novel, Through the Looking-Glass. The term has come to represent horrific and dangerous things that have mysterious or unknown origins.

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