1. Samsung Listened
Cries were heard throughout the blogosphere when Samsung removed features from its Galaxy smartphone range. In a bid to push boundaries and remain competitive, the brand did away with elements that the majority may not have cared about, but enthusiasts did. Samsung apparently heard the ranting and did the unthinkable – they listened. And, even better, they returned those beloved features to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. Both devices are rated IP68 for dust and water resistance. Sealed from the inside out, the S7 can survive spills, splashes and even brief drops into water. Expandable memory is back too. The phones have a hybrid slot that can house an additional SIM or microSD card with up to 200 GB of additional storage space. Well done, Samsung.
2. HTC Broke the Bank
HTC ran a successful VIVE live tour that left the world awaiting it’s completed consumer version. Alas, the announcement was made at MWC 2016 but did you hear what it costs!?! While this VR system raises the bar with room scale gameplay, motion tracking and handheld controllers, it’s still expensive to own. I just can justify shelling out $799 USD (AED 2,950) for a first edition when there are other viable VR headset options that are more pocket-friendly.
3. Mark Zuckerberg Took the Mic and Said…Nothing
Mark Zuckerberg was yet another Samsung surprise when he joined DJ Koh, President of Samsung Mobile, on stage during his keynote address. Zuckerberg was there to announce a groundbreaking partnership between Facebook and Samsung and well, that’s all he did. He spoke passionately about the the future of VR and the gains made by Oculus, a Facebook owned company that also partners with Samsung. When his speech was over I knew that Facebook was committed to developing 360 video in a social context. That’s about it. No specifics were given. I later learned that Facebook has created a dedicated social VR team and developed a more efficient way of delivering 360 videos by showing only the pixels you’re actually looking at in the highest quality, instead of delivering the entire 360 video in high resolution. To make this work, Facebook creates dozens of variants for every 360 video that gets uploaded to the site, each tailored to a specific viewing angle, and then as you watch the video, they rapidly adjust which variant is displayed based on where you’re looking. Doing this has quadrupled the resolution quality of 360 streaming video in VR by reducing the amount of required network bandwidth by 4x — so videos look clearer and play faster. Why couldn’t he just say that?