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New watchOS and AR was the Focus at Apple’s WWDC

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Apple made a series of announcements at its WorldWide Developer Conference, including a new iOS with a big focus on augmented reality (AR) as well as the watchOS 4 and a new iPad range. “With iOS 11, we’re delivering the biggest AR platform in the world,” proclaimed Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering.

Similar to Facebook’s ‘Camera Effects Platform‘, Apple introduced ARKit for developers to help them bring high-quality AR experiences to iPhone and iPad using the built-in camera, powerful processors and motion sensors in iOS devices.

ARKit allows developers to build detailed virtual content on top of real-world scenes for interactive gaming and immersive shopping experiences, among other use cases. “Apple may be late to augmented reality, but it stands to deploy ARKit just as the technology hits an inflection point. Apple will play a big part in taking AR to the masses and defining the user experience,” said Geoff Blaber, VP research Americas at CCS Insight.

According to Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, Apple is embracing AR: “as an immediate first-party opportunity while keeping VR at arm’s length when it comes to mobile platforms, in contrast to Samsung and other smartphone vendors. Because Apple isn’t seeing AR as just for filters or lenses on selfies, the opportunity on iOS is arguably much broader than on other platforms like Facebook, especially in the near term.”

Apple also introduced a feature called CoreML which gives developers on-device machine learning capabilities so they can make apps which will predict, learn and become more intelligent. Meanwhile Siri will now have new male and female voices which are “more natural and expressive, adjusting intonation, pitch, emphasis and tempo while speaking” and can translate English words and phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish.

Users can also send money and get paid right in Messages, or tell Siri to pay someone using Apple Pay. The functionality will also be available on watchOS 4. A developer preview of iOS 11 is available to iOS Developer Program members and a public beta program will be available to iOS users later this month.

WatchOS 4
A standout feature of the watchOS 4 was a “proactive” Siri watch face which personalises information based on a user’s need throughout the day. For instance, in the morning it may show commute times and details of a wearer’s first meeting of the day.

“With each raise of the wrist, the information on the display dynamically updates based on the time of day, daily routines and data from apps such as activity, alarms, breathe, calendar, maps, reminders and wallet,” the company explained. An updated workout app now includes auto-sets for pool swim workouts, and new motion and heart rate algorithms for high intensity interval training workouts.

Interestingly, Apple plans to enable data exchange with gym equipment, so when a user taps their watch on the NFC reader of, say, a treadmill, the watch will be able to send data such as heart rate to the machine and receive information from the machine such as incline and speed to improve data accuracy.

Apple is partnering with gym equipment manufacturers with the new machines set to launch later in the year. CEO Tim Cook described the new OS as “more intuitive and intelligent than ever before”.

iPad
Meanwhile the iPad Pro tablet now comes in a new size – 10.5-inch – along with a 12.9-inch version. The iOS 11 was described as “the biggest release for the iPad ever”. Features will include a new files app, customisable dock, improved multitasking and deeper integration of Apple Pencil.

“These are by far the most powerful iPads we’ve ever created with the world’s most advanced displays featuring ProMotion, the powerful new A10X Fusion chip and the advanced camera system of iPhone 7,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s VP of Product Marketing.

The devices come in silver, space gray, gold and rose gold, with prices starting at $649. Both models will be available next week in Apple Stores in 38 countries including the US, Australia, Canada and China, with more regions to follow. The App Store was also revamped, designed to make discovering apps and games easier.

According to Dawson, Apple had its most hardware-centric WWDC keynote in many years, with a focus on professional users, not least because of the HomePod, a smart speaker for the home.

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Events

HP Igniting Next-Gen UAE Talent in Esports and Game Development

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HP has announced the winners of this year’s GameOn with the HP Gaming Garage hackathon at an event that took place at the HP Gaming Garage Lab at Rochester University in Dubai. Part of HP’s commitment to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people globally by 2030, the GameOn with HP Gaming Garage hackathon fosters creativity and innovation among aspiring game developers between the ages of 13-18 in the UAE. This year’ s hackathon concluded last week with Dubai Gem Private School, GEMS Wellington Academy School -Silicon Oasis, GEMS Founders School, Barsha selected as the big winners for their Golden Horizons, Circle Quest, and Code Crusaders Game projects respectively.

“As the Online Games market in the United Arab Emirates thrives, HP remains dedicated to building talent and innovation through initiatives like the HP Gaming Garage. With the UAE market projected to reach a revenue of US$50.60 million in 2024 and an anticipated user base of 1.3 million by 2027, the UAE’s emergence as a gaming hub highlights the importance of empowering the next generation of gamers and developers” said Peter Oganesean, Managing Director Middle East and East Africa, HP.

The HP Gaming Garage initiative is designed to inspire and empower students across the globe to develop the skills required for success in the gaming and esports sectors. With backing from HP, this initiative offers an online Gaming Garage education course platform available in various languages, including English and Arabic. Registering in the free courses offered in Game Development and Esports Management that are available via the HP Gaming Garage curriculum, individuals have the opportunity to enhance their abilities and flourish in the digital landscape.

One of this year’s highlights of the HP Gaming Garage initiative is the GameOn hackathon, providing students in the UAE with the possibility to apply their skills and creativity to highlight, celebrate and thereby preserve culture with the guidance of experienced mentors. Students between 13 and 18 years old who completed 70% of at least one of the HP Gaming Garage courses were presented with the opportunity to participate in this year’s hackathon, which kicked off on March 29th, 2024. The goal is for the participating teams to cultivate their own gaming concepts and ideas, infusing them with cultural diversity and richness.

“Gaming has become a powerful trend, with the younger generation seeking connection and bonding through gameplay, fostering relationships in new and innovative ways. We believe that the GameOn with HP Gaming Garage hackathon offers students a unique opportunity to showcase their technical skills while exploring and celebrating their cultural heritage through the immersive medium of gaming,” commented Lavina Punjabi, Sustainability Lead Middle East and Africa, HP.

In collaboration with AMD, HP launched the HP Gaming Garage Lab at Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai in February 2021. Serving as a hub for gaming and esports enthusiasts, the Lab provides students with state-of-the-art gaming equipment and access to industry leaders, fostering skill development and networking opportunities. Equipped with cutting-edge PCs, monitors, and peripherals, students are welcome to use the facility to study and create while curated programs and industry encounter sessions offer valuable insights and connections, and competitions like online gaming tournaments and hackathons provide exciting opportunities for participation and growth.

The winners of this year’s GameOn Hackathon presented their projects at the HP Gaming Garage Lab to a committee of esteemed gaming, education and technology experts consisting of Dr. Omar Abdul Latif, Assistant Professor at RIT-Dubai, Girish Dhyani Chandra, Sales Lead for the Middle East market at AMD, Rishabh Khanna, Founder & Board Member of International Teachers University, USA, Salman Razzaq, Business Development Leader at HP, Maxim Komlev, HP HyperX and Nisreen AlKhateeb, Trade Compliance at HP who selected the big winners. The winning teams were awarded remarkable prizes and recognition for their cultural creations, alongside mentorship opportunities from HP experts.

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MediaTek CEO to Take Center Stage at COMPUTEX 2024 Keynote

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TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade Development Council) has announced that Dr. Rick Tsai, Vice Chairman and CEO of MediaTek, will be a keynote speaker at COMPUTEX 2024 on June 4. Dr. Tsai will explore how the latest silicon advancements and connectivity standards are making AI ubiquitous.

Today AI is already delivering more personalised and intuitive computing experiences. Dr. Tsai will share how generative AI will continue to transform mobility, transportation, smart homes, enterprises, and industrial environments in the future. He will also emphasize the need to make AI more accessible to open up new opportunities for people around the world.

MediaTek is bringing advanced AI capabilities to a wide variety of connected devices. MediaTek powers more than two billion devices a year and is the No. 1 provider of chipset technology for smartphone SoCs, smart TVs, voice assistant devices (VAD), Arm-based Chromebooks, and Android tablets, along with the leading Wi-Fi supplier across broadband, retail routers, consumer electronics devices, and gaming. MediaTek also offers a complete product portfolio for intelligent, always-connected vehicles.

COMPUTEX 2024 with the theme “Connecting AI,” is set to take place from June 4th to June 7th. The event will feature 1,500 exhibitors using 4,500 booths, showcasing six major themes: AI Computing, Advanced Connectivity, Future Mobility, Immersive Reality, Sustainability, and Innovations.

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Events

Channel Summit MENA Celebrates Innovation and Excellence in Consumer Technology

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Channel Summit MENA, the premier B2B event for consumer technology in the MENA region, is thrilled to announce the winners of its prestigious annual awards. The awards are a highlight of the Summit, which operates on an exclusive ‘invitation-only’ basis, ensuring a gathering of senior-level executives and decision-makers from the industry. Arabian Reseller and Gadget Voize were the official media partners of the event.

“We are proud to host these awards and celebrate the incredible achievements of these companies that work in this sector,” said Farouk Hemraj, Founder of ChannelHub, the organisers of Channel Summit MENA. “The Channel Summit MENA awards are not just a recognition of success but also a testament to the innovative spirit that drives the consumer tech industry forward.”

This year’s awards are set to recognize the outstanding achievements across a range of categories, including Best Vendor in various categories such as Audio, Entertainment, Gaming & Computing, Lifestyle, IT Peripherals & Accessories, Mobile Product, and Electronics & IoT; Best Distributor Awards covering segments like Broadline Distributor, Lifestyle, Mobile Accessories, IT Peripherals & Accessories, Electronics & SDA (small domestic appliances), and Gaming; Best Product Launch Awards for UAE, Saudi, Egypt, and GCC regions and, for the first time this year, special recognition for the Best E-waste initiative.

Each category has been carefully selected to highlight the diverse range of products and services that are driving the consumer tech and IT markets forward. The awards celebrate the creativity, product attractiveness, and overall performance of the participating companies.

The winners were determined through a live voting process by buyers attending the event, ensuring a fair and transparent selection. The criteria for shortlisting the awardees include a combination of product presentation, business potential, and team interaction during the event. This approach underscores Channel Summit MENA’s commitment to recognizing truly innovative and impactful contributions to the industry.

The full list of award winners includes:

Best vendor – Audio: Marshall

Best vendor – Entertainment: GoPro

Best vendor – Gaming & Computing: HP/HyperX

Best vendor – Lifestyle: Riley Scooters

Best vendor – IT Peripherals & Accessories: Logitech

Best vendor – Mobile Accessories: Belkin

Best vendor – Electronics & IoT: Nutricook

Best Distributor – Broadline Distributor: Redington

Best Distributor – Lifestyle: Shift

Best Distributor – Mobile products: Lime Concepts

Best Distributor – IT Peripherals & Accessories: Monster

Best Distributor – Electronics & SDA: Al Futtaim

Best Distributor – Gaming & Computing: Geekay

Best Product Launch UAE: Nothing Phone 2 Launch with Sharaf DG

Best Product Launch GCC: The CASIO G-SHOCK GBD-200-9ER Launch with Al Seeb Technical Est. (SARCO) Ltd

Best Product Launch GCC: The SONY INZONE Launch with Store 974

Best Product Launch GCC: SAMSUNG S24 Launch with Best Electronics

Best E-waste initiative: E-WASTE INITIATIVE – eXtra

Channel Summit MENA, which took place from 19 to 21 February 2024, brought together industry leaders from across 16 countries to celebrate excellence and innovation in the consumer technology and IT sectors. This unique event format offers a blend of pre-scheduled meetings, keynote presentations, workshops, and networking opportunities, aimed at fostering growth and collaboration in the tech and IT channels.

Hemraj added, “We have brought back the format that was a winning formula behind our DISTREEE events and we have had overwhelming feedback from the community – both vendors and retailers. We are pleased to add value to the sector with focused events like Channel Summit MENA.”

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