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Raspberry Pi unveils $50 interchangeable-lens camera board

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Raspberry Pi new high quality camera doesn’t sport a fancy name—it’s actually called “High Quality Camera”—but it packs some new features do-it-yourselfers are sure to enjoy, and it’s being offered at Raspberry’s typical bargain-basement prices.

The camera includes a 12.3 megapixel Sony back-illuminated sensor, back-focus adjustment ring, lens and tripod mounts as well as adaptors for higher end C- and CS-mount lenses. The camera is available immediately for $50 from Raspberry Pi distributors such as Cana Kit and PiShop.us.

This is the first Raspberry camera to offer interchangeable lenses. Two lenses will be offered initially. A 10-megapixel resolution telephoto C-mount lens is available for $50. With a 16mm focal length and f 1.4-16 aperture, it provides better resolution and performs in lower-light scenarios than its predecessor. The $25 Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2 launched in 2016 offered a fixed-focus 3.04 mm lens and captured images up to 8 megapixel resolution.

The other lens available for use with the new camera board is a 6mm CS-mount CCTV lens for $15.

A Raspberry engineer explained that the company felt it was time to address a key drawback of earlier camera models.

“Versatile though they are, there are limitations to mobile phone-type fixed-focus modules,” said Raspberry Pi Foundation senior principal engineer Simon Martin. “The sensors themselves are relatively small, which translates into a lower signal-to-noise ratio and poorer low-light performance; and of course there is no option to replace the lens assembly with a more expensive one, or one with different optical properties.

The High Quality Camera is compatible with almost all Raspberry Pi models. Camera adaptors are available.

Raspberry Pi has also published a 132-page guide for the HQ Camera offering detailed instructions on how to create variety of projects. A hard copy of the book is $12.50 but a free PDF version is available from The MagPi magazine website.

Low-cost Raspberry Pi camera systems have allowed programmers to explore creative avenues that would have been difficult or impossible with costlier higher-end cameras.

Users can construct video-streaming cameras, smart doorbells, webcams, security cameras, face-recognition smart locks, a time-lapse photo setup and an irrigation system for vegetation. And, of course, someone came up with the idea of a low coffee-bean jar supply alert system because if there is one thing worse than being cooped up in your home for what may be an eternity, it’s running out of coffee.

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iPhones 2020: iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE, iPhone XR etc

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Apple’s iPhones are arguably the best phones available — with responsive performance, regular updates for years, compelling hardware designs, and an ecosystem that appeals to the masses.

We have seen improvements in battery life, advanced multi-camera functionality, and continued improvements to Apple’s iOS. The high-end iPhones are pricey, but Apple’s processor architecture has also proven to be the best in the smartphone world.

1. Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Must read:

While the only differences between the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are the display size and battery capacity, for the enterprise user there is a lot to be said about both of these features. It’s easier to work with documents and spreadsheets on a larger display and long battery life is always helpful to power through a day of work.

Apple has once again shown it bests all other phones in benchmarking testing with the Apple A13 Bionic chipset. The iPhone 11 Pro Max has a fabulous OLED screen, large capacity battery with a rating of five hours more than last year’s iPhone XS Max, and new camera hardware (with improved software) to make it a very compelling flagship. It continues to get regular updates and iOS apps are still better than comparable Android apps, despite the improvements in Android phones.

Face ID continues to be one of the fastest and most secure methods of maintaining security on your phone, and the version in the iPhone 11 Pro Max has been improved for better performance. 

The iPhone 11 Pro Max starts $1,099 for a minimal storage 64GB model. There are some attractive colors for enterprise users and compared to the iPhone 11, the Pro Max version is more focused on business users.

2. Apple iPhone 11 Pro

My full review of the Apple iPhone 11 Pro led me to almost award it my first perfect 10 score. I held back from that since Apple launched it with just 64GB of internal storage capacity, which I find unacceptable for a $1,000+ flagship phone with a triple camera system — the best video capture system on a phone.

The only differences between the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are the display size and battery capacity. After going full circle, it’s clear that the 5.8-inch model works best for me. There’s a lot to be said for a phone that is easily pocketable and capable of satisfying people with smaller hands. It’s usable with one hand.

The iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999 for a minimal storage 64GB model. The stainless steel body, professional business color options, improved battery capacity over previous iPhones, and continued support make it one of the best phones available today.$999 AT APPLE$999 AT AMAZON$1,000 AT BEST BUY

3. Apple iPhone 11

While this list starts with the most powerful, and expensive, phones available, ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani was right in stating that the Apple iPhone 11 is probably the best phone for most people. We typically see Apple keep prices the same, or increase them, each year, but with the iPhone 11, we actually saw a price drop of $50.

Unlike the terrible decision to launch the iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max with 64GB and then charge a massive premium to upgrade to the next level of 256GB, Apple lets iPhone 11 buyers go from 64GB to 128GB for just $50. Thus, the iPhone 11 with 128GB is an excellent option for most people.

The iPhone 11 has a size between the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max with long battery life, capable processor, several color options, and rear dual camera setup. The iPhone 11 has an ultra-wide angle and standard rear cameras but doesn’t have the 2x telephoto zoom lens found on the other new iPhone 11 models.

The iPhone 11 starts at $699 for 64GB with the 128GB model priced at $749. Six colors are available so there is one to appeal to everyone.$699 AT APPLE$699 AT AMAZON$700 AT BEST BUY

4. Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Apple isn’t known for making affordable phones, but the new Apple iPhone SE (2020) is a perfect option for those who want an iPhone experience without paying high prices. As a person who primarily uses Android phones, it is also a great option as a second phone for those times you want to use iOS.

The iPhone SE is smaller than nearly all other modern phones and looks like an iPhone 8 on the outside. However, it is the inside that matters here with the Apple Bionic A13 processor, high IP67 dust/water resistant rating, and very capable 12-megapixel camera. You won’t find a budget Android phone with all of these features at this price and it’s wonderful to see Apple offering up such a solid affordable option at this time.

Apple iPhone fans will still likely want an iPhone 11 or something greater, but this is a great option for a first iPhone and one for those who just don’t want to give up on a Touch ID button.$399 AT APPLE$394 AT AMAZON$400 AT BEST BUY

5. Apple iPhone XR

The last phone in this list still being sold directly from Apple is the iPhone XR, which is the mid-level predecessor to the iPhone 11. It starts at $599 from Apple, $100 less than the Apple iPhone 11.

The Apple iPhone XR has a 6.1 inch LCD display, six available colors, and also runs the latest version of Apple’s iPhone OS. It has a single camera on the back, capable of portrait mode shots of people.

Battery life is excellent on the iPhone XR and the size is similar to the iPhone 11. For $200 less, I would seriously consider the iPhone SE in lieu of the iPhone XR.$599 AT APPLE$749 AT AMAZON$600 AT SPRINT

6. Apple iPhone XS Max

Must read:

  • iPhone XS Max review CNET
  • Apple iPhone XS Max review

While the XS Max is no longer available directly from Apple, US wireless carriers still offer this phone. T-Mobile offers the 256GB model for $999.99, which is $250 less than the 11 Pro Max, so if you want a large iPhone then this is one way to save some money. You could use that savings to get the latest Apple AirPods Pro.

The XS Max has the same physical design features with a stainless steel body, glass back and front, wireless charging, Lightning port, and touch navigation feature with Face ID. There are three available colors.

The phone also has a dual-camera system, IP68 dust and water resistance, and will continue to be updated by Apple.$1,000 AT SPRINT$1,100 AT BOOST MOBILE$1,000 AT BEST BUY

7. Apple iPhone XS

Must read:

  • iPhone XS review CNET
  • Apple iPhone XS review

The Apple iPhone X was one of my favorite smartphones ever and it excited me more than any phone over the previous five years. Its successor, the Apple iPhone XS, is no longer available directly from Apple, but can be found from US carriers and other retailers, like Amazon.

Improvements in the XS over the X include a next-generation Apple processor, improved level of dust/water resistance, and slightly larger capacity battery. The same compact size and performance are present on the iPhone XS.

T-Mobile is offering the 512GB model for $849.99.

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Microsoft may have delayed Windows 10 May 2020 Update

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We’ve been waiting for Windows 10 May 2020 Update for a while and we thought the final build had been completed — until Microsoft released an unexpected update build. The company has never specified a date for the release of the final build, but there are suggestions that it has been delayed.

It is said that a zero-day exploit needs to be patched before Windows 10 version 2004 / Windows 10 20H1 / Windows 10 May 2020 Update can be released. The good news is that it should still be released soon enough to warrant including “May” in its name.

While there is no official word about the delay, Mary Jo Foley says that her sources inform her that a vulnerability needs to be patched before the update can be released to the public, and this is holding things up slightly. A previously unconfirmed release schedule suggested that Windows 10 May 2020 Update would be made generally available on May 12, but now this date is said to have been pushed back by a couple of weeks.

Writing on ZDNet, Foley says:

As I mentioned on the Windows Weekly podcast recently, these dates were pushed back by Microsoft, possibly because the team wanted to patch a zero-day exploit before pushing the code to OEMs and users. I hear OEMs now are set to get the code May 5; developers on May 12; and general availability is slated for May 28. Again, Microsoft has not announced this officially and these dates may change yet again.

If this revised schedule is correct, it’s now just under four weeks until Windows 10 gets its next feature update.

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WhatsApp Launches 8-Person Group Video Chat Option

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After it was previewed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg late last week, WhatsApp has now officially announced the launch of its new, 8-person, encrypted video chat option, which doubles the capacity of WhatsApp group video calls

whatsapp 8-person video calling

As explained by WhatsApp:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many of us are isolated from friends and family, and as a result, we’ve seen that people are turning to voice and video calling on WhatsApp more than ever before. Group calling has been particularly useful and our users have asked to connect with more people at once. Starting today, we’re doubling the number of participants you can have on a WhatsApp video or voice call from 4 to 8 people at a time.”

WhatsApp says that, like messages, all of its video calls are protected with end-to-end encryption. It’s also sought to build its expansion of group video calling with mobile data limitations in mind. Many WhatsApp users are in developing regions, where access to data is not as readily available, so it’s been working to minimize the system’s demands in order to ensure that as many people as possible will be able to utilize the feature to connect with family and friends face-to-face, in a virtual sense.

In addition to this, WhatsApp also notes that its group video calls are also available via Facebook’s Portal home speaker device

“We know people may want different ways to connect while they’re at home, which is why WhatsApp is also available on Portal – which many users have told us has been a great way to share their living room with family during quarantine.”

Sales of Facebook’s Portal device have grown by more than 10x during COVID-19 lockdowns, with Facebook now struggling to keep up with demand. That could have significant impacts and implications in the longer term, but right now, it’s interesting to note the various integrations and options being rolled out for Facebook’s in-home connection product.

Facebook says that, overall, group video chat options have seen a 10x increase in usage during COVID-19, so it makes sense for Facebook to add more tools, like expanded WhatsApp group chats, to meet that demand. The interesting thing, however, will be what that means for longer-term usage shifts.

Will group video calling become a new norm? Will live-streaming see a sustained resurgence? 

It seems, right now, like these options are having a moment, and more people are learning about the connective benefits of such, which could accelerate a broader digital shift.

From a business perspective, that’s worth considering – how can you utilize such tools to facilitate better connection with your audience, if you assume that people are now going to look to connect via video options like this more often in future?

It’s an interesting question, with a range of possibilities.

To use WhatsApp’s new 8-person group video calls, every participant within the video call needs to update to the latest version of WhatsApp.

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