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Say hello to Microsoft’s new $3,500 HoloLens with twice the field of view

Microsoft unveiled the latest version of its HoloLens ‘mixed reality’ headset at MWC Barcelona today. The new HoloLens 2 features a significantly larger field of view, higher resolution and a device that’s more comfortable to wear. Indeed, Microsoft says the device is three times as comfortable to wear (though it’s unclear how Microsoft measured this).

Later this year, HoloLens 2 will be available in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand for $3,500.

One of the knocks against the original HoloLens was its limited field of view. When whatever you wanted to look at was small and straight ahead of you, the effect was striking. But when you moved your head a little bit or looked at a larger object, it suddenly felt like you were looking through a stamp-sized screen. HoloLens 2 features a field of view that’s twice as large as the original.

“Kinect was the first intelligent device to enter our homes,” HoloLens chief Alex Kipman said in today’s keynote, looking back the the device’s history. “It drove us to create Microsoft HoloLens. […] Over the last few years, individual developers, large enterprises, brand new startup have been dreaming up beautiful things, helpful things.”

The HoloLens was always just as much about the software as the hardware, though. For HoloLens, Microsoft developed a special version of Windows, together with a new way of interacting with the AR objects through gestures like air tap and bloom. In this new version, the interaction is far more natural and lets you tap objects. The device also tracks your gaze more accurately to allow the software to adjust to where you are looking.

“HoloLens 2 adapts to you,” Kipman stressed. “HoloLens 2 evolves the interaction model by significantly advancing how people engage with holograms.”

In its demos, the company clearly emphasized how much faster and fluid the interaction with HoloLens applications becomes when you can use slides, for example, by simply grabbing the slider and moving it, or by tapping on a button with either a finger or two or with your full hand. Microsoft event built a virtual piano that you can play with ten fingers to show off how well the HoloLens can track movement. The company calls this ‘instinctual interaction.’

Microsoft first unveiled the HoloLens concept at a surprise event on its Redmond campus back in 2015. After a limited, invite-only release that started days after the end of MWC 2016, the device went on sale to everybody in August  2016. Four years is a long time between hardware releases, but the company clearly wanted to seed the market and give developer a chance to build the first set of HoloLens applications on a stable platform.

To support developers, Microsoft is also launching a number of Azure services for HoloLens today. These include spatial anchors and remote rendering to help developers stream high-polygon content to HoloLens.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft never positioned the device as consumer hardware. I may have shown off the occasional game, but its focus was always on business applications, with a bit of educational applications thrown in, too. That trend continued today. Microsoft showed off the ability to have multiple people collaborate around a single hologram, for example. That’s not new, of course, but goes to show how Microsoft is positioning this technology.

For these enterprises, Microsoft will also offer the ability to customize the device.

“When you change the way you see the world, you change the world you see,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, repeating a line from the company’s first HoloLens announcement four years ago. He noted that he believes that connecting the physical world with the virtual world will transform the way we will work.

Watch Microsoft unveil the HoloLens 2 live right here

Microsoft is set to announce a brand new hardware device at MWC in Barcelona — the new HoloLens headset. The conference starts at 6:00 PM CET (5:00 AM GMT, 12:00 PM ET, 9:00 AM PT).

If you’ve ever tried the HoloLens, you know that this it is a magical device. But Microsoft quickly realized that it had more potential for industrial use cases. It is now positioned as a B2B device.

Let’s see what Microsoft has in mind with the second-generation HoloLens. The company is also going to talk about its mobile strategy when it comes to apps and services on iOS and Android.

You can check it out live via Microsoft’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of all the news coming out of MWC.

Watch HMD unveil Nokia phones live right here

HMD is holding a press conference at MWC in Barcelona to showcase some Nokia-branded phones. The conference starts at 4:00 PM CET (3:00 PM GMT, 10:00 AM EST).

HMD licenses the Nokia brand so that the company can release smartphones under the Nokia brand. It isn’t the company we used to know and love, but it still says Nokia. So get ready for some new Nokia phones running Android.

You can check it out live via HMD’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of all the news coming out of MWC.

Huawei unveils its 5G consumer solutions built on new 5G chipset

Today at MWC Barcalona Huawei launched its first consumer 5G products. Aside from its 5G Mate 20 X, the company also updated and new products that will bring 5G to people’s homes and devices through routers and connectivity options. Most consumers will first taste 5G not on a dedicated device like a phone, but through broadband-like services and these devices are aimed at that market.

Last year, Huawei announced the 5G CPE Pro but never took it to market. Then, last month, ahead of MWC Barcelona, Huawei announced a new version alongside its new Balong 5000 5G chipset, which is at the heart of its consumer 5G products.

Huawei’s Balong 5000 brings added connectivity options over the company’s previous 5G chipsets. Huawei claims the Balong 5000 is the first chip that supports both standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) network architectures for 5G allowing it connect to existing supercharged 4G networks as well as future 5G networks. It also packs the goods to support vehicle to every communication signaling Huawei’s commitment to infrastructure support.

The company says the Balong 5000 chip can achieve download speeds of 4.6 Gbps and 6.5 Gbps depending on if connected to Sub-6 GHz or high-frequency bands for extended spectrum.

The new 5G CPE Pro packs the Balong 5000 chip along with WiFi 6, which is key to serving 5G’s added speed to devices. With WiFi 6 the CPE Pro can deliver local network speeds of up to 4.8 Gbps.

The 5G CPE Win uses the same Balong 5000 chip and is being positioned as home receiver. It’s weather-proof and can be mounted to a wall, pole, or windowsill and serves network through the house through WiFi or Power Over Ethernet.
The 5G Mobile WiFi is an updated version of a product Huawei announced last year. Like the 5G CPE Pro, the product now features Huawei’s Balong 5000 allowing it connect to existing 4G networks and future 5G networks.

At this time the company did not reveal availability or pricing for any of the above products. Chances are though, giving the company’s legal issues in the States, these products likely will not be available in that market.

Huawei is bringing 5G to the Mate 20 X

Today at MWC Barcelona Huawei announced it will bring 5G to its flagship phone, the Mate 20 X. This marks the first 5G phone from the Chinese mobile giant. Huawei joins a growing list of companies introducing their first 5G phone in early 2019.

In the past week, Samsung, Oppo, and Xiaomi announced 5G versions of their flagship phones.

The company failed revealed any more details about the upcoming handset including price and availability. Chances are the Mate 20 X will feature a version of its do-it-all Balong 5000 chipset, the company’s latest 5G chip announced a few weeks ago.

Huawei’s Balong 5000 brings added connectivity options over the company’s previous 5G chipsets. Huawei claims the Balong 5000 is the first chip that supports both standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) network architectures for 5G allowing it connect to existing supercharged 4G networks as well as future 5G networks. This is key as carriers worldwide are looking to sell consumers on the benefits of 5G built on the networks of existing 4G networks.

The Mate 20 X is widely seen as one of the best phones available with an amazing camera, in-screen fingerprint reader, and a large, beautiful screen. Price and market availability