Kodi’s coming home to Xbox to play your music and movies as a universal Windows app

The popular open source media manager Kodi is coming home. During Microsoft’s Developer Day event on Wednesday, Microsoft announced that the XBMC Foundation is bringing Kodi to the Xbox One as a Windows Store (UWP) app, as first reported by Neowin.kodibig

The Developer Day event touted the advantages of the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update to developers. We expect the Creators Update to launch in late March or early April, based on indications tied to the ship dates of Microsoft’s Surface Studio and Dell’s Canvas monitor.

Kodi began life as the Xbox Media Center, an application for original Xbox consoles that were modded to allow unauthorized software. Just as Kodi does today to PCs, XBMC turned the Xbox into a media streaming device. The program eventually became known as XBMC and left the Xbox platform to focus on PCs instead. Since then, XBMC has become the open source project Kodi, which is managed by the XBMC F

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Kodi is already available in the Windows Store but as a Centennial app. That means the Kodi Team took the traditional desktop program (known as a Win32 app) and ran it through Microsoft’s mostly automated conversion process to turn it into a Windows Store app. Microsoft’s conversion allows developers to do almost nothing to turn their desktop programs into Windows Store apps, but as they still use Win32 code, Centennial apps will only work on Windows 10 desktops and tablets.

No one from the Kodi development team or the XBMC Foundation appeared on stage at Microsoft’s conference. During the Developer Day Keynote, however, Microsoft’s Kevin Gallo said the Kodi Team would convert their code base to a native Windows Store app. “Since we published the app to the store we’ve been able to reach over one million users worldwide,” Kodi Team Lead Martijn Kaijser said in a statement that Gallo displayed during his talk. “Today we are announcing we will convert our entire Win32 codebase to UWP and publish on Xbox soon.”

This story, “Kodi’s coming home to Xbox to play your music and movies as a universal Windows app” was originally published by TechHive.

Apple’s iPhone declines in China, and this year could be a struggle

Perhaps the next iPhone 8 will be Apple’s next shot at achieving greatness in China.iphone mac pixabay

The current iPhones aren’t helping Apple gain market share in China, according to Canalys. Markets like China and India are at the top of Apple’s agenda to grow the iPhone business.

China accounts for a third of worldwide smartphone shipments. Buyers in the market are leaning toward local brands like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, which formed the top four smartphone vendors in China in 2016, according to Canalys.

Apple was in the fifth spot, and Samsung doesn’t figure in the top five.

In 2016, Apple’s phone shipments in China totaled 43.8 million units, a drop of 18.2 percent compared to 2015. It’s not looking any better for Apple in 2017.

“This year, the outlook remains bleak for Apple to get its China performance back to its heyday of 2015,” said Jessie Ding, a research analyst at Canalys.

The decline in China hit Apple’s worldwide shipments hard, with a net effect of about a 7 percent decline in the number of iPhones shipped globally, Ding said.

But the Chinese buyers are “awaiting the 10th anniversary of the iPhone with very high expectations,” Ding said.

The iPhone 8 may succeed, but it may not change a long-term trend of Chinese smartphone buyers buying local brands.

In many smaller Chinese cities, Huawei, Vivo, and Oppo smartphones are selling well. Those companies are also investing heavily in branding in top-tier cities, posing a further threat to Apple, Ding said.

Apple faces a similar problem in India. The iPhone brand awareness is limited to urban areas, and the handsets are priced too high for most of the population. Apple recently made a move to start assembling smartphones in India.

Many Chinese companies are launching new handsets this year with a focus on cameras and screens. One such smartphone is Huawei’s Mate 9 Pro, which was shown at CES. Huawei—known for networking gear—also makes its own chips, like Apple and Samsung.

Other Chinese brands like LeEco are also emerging and growing internationally. LeEco has particularly interesting smartphone designs. The company came out with a smartphone without a headphone jack ahead of Apple.

It’s a tight race among the top three Chinese smartphone makers. Huawei in 2016 shipped 76.2 million units, Oppo shipped 73.2 million units, and Vivo about 63.2 million units. Xiaomi’s market share tumbled, declining by 21 percent to 51.4 million units.

A survey released by IDC this week also noted a down market for iPhone in China, but placed the company in the fourth spot, ahead of Xiaomi. According to IDC, total smartphone shipments in China were 467 million units in 2016, growing by 8.7 percent.

But Apple’s shipments declined by 23.2 percent that year, totaling 44.9 million units. The top three Chinese smartphone makers were Oppo, Huawei, and Vivo, according to IDC.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad P71 packs 7.5 pounds of Xeon power for VR creators

Lenovo’s ThinkPad P71 is one superfast laptop that can work with HTC’s Vive and the Oculus Rift VR headsets.thinkpad p71 hero shot manufacturing 0005

It’s technically a workstation and is targeted at professionals creating VR content, editing movies, or running engineering applications. Headsets are needed to create VR content.

The laptop, which weighs 7.5 pounds, has a 17-inch screen and is equipped with Intel’s latest Xeon E3-v6 mobile chips, based on the Kaby Lake architecture. It can be configured with an Nvidia mobile Quadro GPU like the P5000M, which aid in the content creation and virtual reality experiences.

It supports up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and up to 2TB of storage via four slots. It also has a USB 3.0 port, Mini-DispayPort 1.2 slot, HDMI 1.4, and Gigabit Ethernet slots.

The ThinkPad P51 is similar to the P71 with a 15-inch screen, but it isn’t VR ready. The P51’s price will start at $1,399, and it will ship in April.

Lenovo also introduced the ThinkPad P51s, which has a 15-inch screen and will run on Intel’s 7th Generation Core processors based on Kaby Lake, a step down in performance compared to Xeon. It has Thunderbolt 3 technology, and it can be configured with a Quadro GPU and a 4K screen. It will ship in March starting at $1,049.

Quicken shifts to software subscription model, but there’s a big catch

Quicken last month moved to a software-by-subscription model for Canadian customers, and may do the same for those in the U.S. who rely on the personal finance program.qkn15mac 2d 100648502 orig

Unlike a pilot program that launched in April 2016, the Quicken subscription is not a pure cloud-based service, but relies on software installed locally on a Windows personal computer.

The two subscriptions available to Canadian users cost $40 a year (Quicken Cash Manager) and $90 annually (Quicken Home & Business). The core software must be installed on a Windows device, and will, Quicken said, be updated “to make sure you’re always on the newest version.”

More importantly, however, is that the subscription offers one year of what Quicken dubbed “Connected Service,” the back end that supports transaction downloads from banks, credit card companies and other financial organizations.

Like most vendors offering software subscriptions, Quicken will automatically ding the customer’s on-file credit card for renewals.

But if customers do not renew their subscription, they will lose more than just access to downloads from their bank. “While you can continue to access your data and run reports, you’ll no longer be able to download transactions, or add manual transactions [emphasis added],” a FAQ said in reply to a question about what happens when access to Connected Service ends.

The restriction is no different than what other subscription services place on customers. Users who stop paying for Office 365, for instance, can no longer create new or edit existing documents.

But the idea that they could not continue to track finances by manually entering transactions fueled push-back from Quicken customers.

“If the subscription isn’t renewed, manual access and updates to the data need to be allowed, otherwise the company will be perceived to be holding the customer’s data hostage,” argued Dan Glynhampton in a message posted to a Quicken support forum.

“Quicken is supposed to help me manage my finances, not prevent me from managing my finances,” added mshiggins on the same thread.

When a Quicken representative intervened on the forum to say that the only real difference between a subscription and the older licensed software is “that manual transactions can’t be added” when the former expires, users were quick to respond.

“If at the point the subscription ends my data essentially becomes frozen in time then that makes the program absolutely useless to me,” asserted Perculiar_Investor.

Quicken had long used a similar “sunset” policy, as after three years a licensed version of the software would stop downloading transactions from online sources or letting users pay bills electronically. Even then, though, customers could add transactions manually.

In another answer to a question in the FAQ, Quicken implied that all versions, including those aimed at U.S. consumers, would be offered solely as subscriptions. “All future Quicken products will be subscription products,” the FAQ said.

The move to subscriptions is not a surprise. Last year, Quicken CEO Eric Dunn said that the company — which had just split from its parent firm, Intuit — was investigating a subscription model for the software. “We’re open to that. It could make sense,” Dunn said in April 2016.

Quicken did not immediately reply to questions, including whether the subscription would be the only option for U.S. users, and if so, when.

This story, “Quicken shifts to software subscription model, but there’s a big catch” was originally published by Computerworld.