Intel adds official support for Vulkan, but only for certain GPUs

From ExtremeTech: After months in beta, Intel has announced official Vulkan support for Skylake and Kaby Lake GPUs. Intel’s 15.45.14.4590 driver is the first release to add full Vulkan API support (previous releases were all various flavors of beta). In keeping with Intel’s previous remarks on OS support, the latest driver will only support Windows 10 on Kaby Lake, but sixth-generation GPUs are supported in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. That alone points to the artificiality of the restriction — as far as their graphics pipelines are concerned, Kaby Lake and Skylake use identical GPUs.

Apple granted patent for fingerprint-reading touchscreen

From CNET: The iPhone's home button may not be long for this world.

Apple has been granted a patent for an "interactive display panel with IR diodes" -- a method that would let users activate a device through a virtual home button placed within the touchscreen. The technology, described in a filing made public Tuesday by the US Patent and Trade Office, could replace the physical home button that's traditionally occupied the space below the iPhone's screen. The patent was first spotted by Apple-tracking site AppleInsider.

Toshiba Announces MN-Series HDDs: Up to 8 TB

From AnandTech: Toshiba has announced a new family of 3.5" hard drives for home and SOHO NAS devices. The new MN-series HDDs have up to 8 TB of capacity and support some of the features found in Toshiba’s enterprise-class hard drives. The performance of the new HDDs is similar to the performance of high-end hard drives from other makers, all due to increased areal density.

Apple smartphones outsold Samsung's in Q4

From InfoWorld: Apple has overtaken Samsung Electronics in smartphone sales for the first time in two years—but don’t count on it staying ahead for long.

Samsung sold 76.8 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, giving it a market share of 17.8 percent, but it was just beaten by Apple, which sold 77 million iPhones for a 17.9 percent share, according to figures from Gartner.

The fourth quarter is usually a strong one for Apple, boosted by holiday sales of the new generation of iPhones it releases each September, said Anshul Gupta, a research director at Gartner.

Amazon Chime goes after WebEx, Skype for Business, and GoToMeeting

From InfoWorld: Companies looking for a new video- and teleconferencing system have a fresh face to turn to in the market: Amazon Web Services.

On Monday, the public cloud provider announced the launch of Amazon Chime, a new service that’s designed to compete with the likes of WebEx, Skype for Business and GoToMeeting. It’s a powerful swing at some very entrenched enterprise software players by the public cloud provider.

Intel now supports Vulkan on Windows 10 PCs

From PC World: Intel is bringing more options to improve gaming and virtual reality experiences on Windows PCs with official support for Vulkan APIs (application programming interfaces).

Vulkan is similar to DirectX 12 and can be used for many applications, but it is most relevant to visual applications like games.

Nikon bails on advanced compacts and that's not good

From CNET: This morning I received the sad news: email notifications from B&H Photo breaking that Nikon was discontinuing its DL series of enthusiast-targeted fixed-lens cameras -- actually, discontinuing efforts to produce them at all. This is almost a year since the company announced them at CP+ 2016.

Google crams machine learning into smartwatches in AI push

From PC World: Google is bringing artificial intelligence to a whole new set of devices, including Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches and the Raspberry Pi board, later this year.

A cool thing is these devices don't require a set of powerful CPUs and GPUs to carry out machine learning tasks.

Google researchers are instead trying to lighten the hardware load to carry out basic AI tasks, as exhibited by last week's release of Android Wear 2.0 operating system for wearables.

Qualcomm's new 802.11ax chips will ramp up your Wi-Fi

From CNET: Your home Wi-Fi performance will soon get much better thanks to new Wi-Fi chips that Qualcomm announced today, the IPQ8074 system-on-chip (SoC) for broadcasters (routers and access points) and the QCA6290 SoC for receivers (Wi-Fi devices). They belong to the first end-to-end commercial Wi-Fi portfolio to support the all-new 802.11ax standard.

Valve finally replaces the faulty Steam Greenlight system with Steam Direct

From PC World: Steam Greenlight’s always been a compromise, at best. The system, which allowed users to vote on which indie games should be on Steam, marked the beginning of a transition from “Valve as Curator” to “Valve as Hands-Off Storefront.” And with the new Steam Direct, that transition appears complete. From the announcement:

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