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App makers on deadline as Google drops 32-bit support

Google has given app developers six months to get 64-bit compliant or be kicked out of the Play Store, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Google’s Play Store will no longer accept 32-bit-only apps from August 2019, and will require developers to submit 64-bit versions of all apps. 

In a statement sent to developers, Google advised them that they may continue to submit 32-bit apps, on condition that it is alongside an identical 64-bit version.

What does it mean for the consumer?

The company made it clear that it will not cut support for 32-bit devices outright, but would rather deliver optimised apps to 64-bit devices. Most high-end and some mid-range smartphones released after 2014 are likely to be 64-bit devices.

Apps that are optimised for 64-bit devices are likely to start up faster, run smoother, and provide better battery efficiency than their 32-bit counterparts. This is possible through the processor’s design — 64-bit processors handle more “instructions” at once, which uses less power and reduces the number of times the processor needs to go back to memory. 

Apple made a similar move in 2015 when it announced to developers that late 2017 would mark the end for 32-bit apps on its App Store. With the release of iOS 11, it cut support for new 32-bit apps on the App Store, and removed the ability to install or run legacy 32-bit apps. The company was safe to make this move because all iPhones and iPads that ran iOS 11 had embedded 64-bit chips, which made that the iOS app ecosystem 64-bit optimised with a major version release.

This isn’t as easy for Android, because it covers a much larger range of devices, and old devices are not updated to new versions of Android. Hardware makers need to optimise, skin and/or brand every major Android release for the hardware on their devices, which means major version release timelines are variable.

The Android Developers Blog reported in December 2017 that “over 40% of Android devices coming online had 64-bit support, while still maintaining 32-bit compatibility”. Major app makers like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Uber have been releasing 64-bit versions since the Android Development platform introduced it in 2014. 

Click here to read about Google’s timeline for phasing out 32-bit apps.

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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