Apple’s next-gen Face ID camera, Chromebooks outpaced Macs in 2020, and more

Here’s our curated list of important tech news from this week in byte size.

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Apple’s next-gen Face ID tech

Apple is working on a next-gen Face ID camera using a new indirect time of flight (iTOF) system that may be able to identify a user at a far greater distance from the camera, according to a report by Patently Apple. The present Face ID system used in Apple devices requires a user to hold the device fairly close to their face, for it to recognise and unlock the device. The new system, as revealed in a patent application, uses pulse modulation, which will be able to improve depth accuracy at short, mid and long-range distances even in challenging ambient light conditions, the report noted. The next-gen Face ID camera could be useful on iMacs, MacBooks and other Apple devices, as well as for augmented and virtual reality applications, it added. In another update, Apple was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a touch-based Pencil that has removable and exchangeable components.

Chromebooks outpaced Macs in 2020

Google’s Chrome OS-powered computers have outperformed Apple’s Mac devices to take the second position in the global PC market in 2020, according to a report by GeekWire. The market share of devices running on Chrome OS grew to 10.8% in 2020 from 6.4% a year ago, and market share of Mac devices increased to 7.5% last year from 6.7% in 2019, the report noted. Windows-based devices captured the majority of the PC market, however, experienced a decline in market share to 80.5% in 2020 from 85.4% a year prior. Market share of both Mac and Chrome OS-powered devices witnessed a rising trend in the first three quarters last year. While Chromebooks continued on the upward trajectory in the crucial fourth-quarter of 2020, market share of macOS-powered devices dropped in the quarter, as per the report. This week, Google rolled out a slew of new features for its education products to support learning as the pandemic accelerated the use of technology for education.

Google Drive’s limited sharing feature for admins

Google has started rolling out a new feature that will allow admins to define specific groups with whom their users can link-share Drive files. The feature can help to improve an organisation’s security posture by making it harder for information to be shared more broadly than is appropriate; guide users to share with more specific and appropriate audiences; save users time by reducing the need to manage sharing requests from multiple individuals; and make it easier for users to collaborate with their colleagues, Google noted in a blog post. Drive’s new feature will be available to Google Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Standard, and Enterprise Plus, as well as G Suite Business and Enterprise for Education customers, it added. In another update, Google Photos has added a new video editor with over 30 controls, similar to its photo editing tools.

Microsoft Flight Simulator UK & Ireland update

Microsoft has rolled out a new update for its Flight Simulator game which includes enhanced visuals, handcrafted scenery, custom airports, and new activities in the U.K. & Ireland. It features high-resolution 3D photogrammetry for the renowned cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, London and Oxford; five new hand-crafted airports; visual and logistical improvements to 85 more area airports; and improved digital elevation information across the U.K., Microsoft noted in a blog post. The free ‘World Update 3’ also includes three new activities: an Iconic Flight in the Northern Isles and two diverse Landing Challenges – one up north on the Shetland archipelago, and another far south in the turbulent skies over Southeast England, it added. In November, Microsoft had launched a world update with enhanced fight experience spread across diverse territories in the U.S. This week, the company launched a new Xbox Wireless Headset which promises to deliver a customisable audio experience for gamers.

1,000 apps on the Zoom App Marketplace

Zoom, the popular video-conferencing platform is now hosting over 1,000 apps and integrations for Zoom Meetings, Video Webinars, Rooms, Phone, and Chat on its app marketplace. The platform had about 200 apps in the market place, just over a year ago. Zoom offers integrations like Calendly, and Google Calendar for calendar and scheduling; G Suite, Microsoft Teams, and Spark for collaboration; Rev Live Captions, Docket, and Avoma for meeting transcriptions; NearPod, WeSchool, and Canvas LTI for education and learning development; and with CRM solutions, according to a blog post. The Zoom Developer Platform enables third-party developers and service providers to build applications and integrations for the video-conferencing platform. Earlier this month, Zoom had announced updates for some of its sharing, device management, and utility features to support hybrid workforces and help organisations re-enter office.

Windows 10’s next big update to focus on remote work

Microsoft’s upcoming semi-annual Windows 10 update will focus on improving remote work. The software giant said in a blog post, Windows 10, version 21H1 will have a scoped set of features improving security, remote access and quality. The update will bring multicamera support for Windows Hello, enabling users to log in to their devices using facial recognition via external cameras. It will also include security-related performance improvements. Microsoft has started releasing 21H1 builds to Windows Insiders in the Beta channel, and the update (21H1) will be broadly rolled out in the first half of this year, the company said. In another development, Microsoft and HPE have partnered to deliver edge computing, AI, and Azure cloud computing capabilities on the International Space Station.

You can read more at thehindu.com/technology

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