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New Internet Browser Vivaldi Launches

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Well known software developer Jon von Tetzchner has launched a new internet browser, offering an interface for high-volume users who “have problems fitting all their open tabs on one screen”, he said in a Reuters interview.

Known as Vivaldi and available on desktop computers from Tuesday, the browser’s initial launch covers the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

“A mobile phone and a tablet version are in the pipeline. We are working on it, but they won’t be out until they’re ready,” said von Tetzchner, who owns 90 percent of the company’s shares and has paid for the development.

“At some point it will need to fund it self and to reach that point we will need a few million users. I have no doubt that we will reach that number quite easily,” he added.

With features like personalized notes, bookmarks with small screen shots and speed dials with options for multiple groups and folders, Vivaldi hopes to attract high-volume users.

Despite tough competition from the likes of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Corp’s Firefox and Opera Software’s browser, von Tetzchner believes there is still room for more.

“We welcome everyone, but this is first of all a browser for people who expect and need more,” he said. “There is without a doubt a demand for this type of browser even though I don’t expect it to take more than a few percent of the total market.”

Vivaldi has signed a few affiliation deals ahead of the launch and is in talks with several potential partners for functionalities like search and online shopping.

“We have made several deals and have started a dialogue with others. But because some of these are potential competitors, we’ve wanted to go live with the browser first.”

Named after the 18th century composer Antonio Vivaldi, the name carries an inescapable reference to von Tetzchner’s previous role as co-founder and long-time head of browser and mobile phone technology firm Opera Software.

 

Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

 

 

Rumors Say Samsung Is Quietly Seeking To Buy Blackberry

January 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

For a while, the rumor mill has manufactured hell on earth yarns claiming that Samsung is set to buy the Canadian smartphone maker Blackberry.

The deal always seems to fall through, and in any event has never happened.

However the Financial Post has found evidence that this time Samsung is actively pursuing a plan to take over or buy a significant stake in BlackBerry.

The story is still a rumour because both companies have denied such a plan may be in the works, but a document obtained by the Financial Post, prepared for Samsung by New York-based independent investment bank Evercore Partners, outlines the case for, and the potential structure of a possible purchase of BlackBerry.

The paper is a little elderly and was written in the last quarter of 2014, but a source familiar with the matter said that Samsung remains very interested in acquiring all or part of BlackBerry for the right price.

J.K. Shin, Samsung’s co-chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal that his company is in talks to use some of BlackBerry’s technology in the South Korean company’s devices, but is not interested in an acquisition. “We want to work with BlackBerry and develop this partnership, not acquire the company.”

But it appears that Samsung was caught off guard by a Reuters leak earlier this week. It had hoped it could move in quickly on BlackBerry, and the company’s share price would stay low. When the news went up and the share price rose its bid looked a little weak.

BlackBerry appears to have learned of the price Samsung was hoping to pay through the Reuters leak, before the company could make a formal offer. This is the sort of thing Samsung wanted to avoid.

In five years, BlackBerry thought the return on their turnaround strategy as implemented by John Chen was going to do better than the cash they will be receiving today.

Still, the source maintains that Samsung is still keen on making a deal happen. The talk earlier this week about Samsung extending its cooperation with BlackBerry, which was notably lacking in specifics, is “just setting it up,” the source said. “Samsung hasn’t walked away” from an acquisition. “They’re leaning towards it.”

Courtesy-Fud

Xiaomi Unveils The Mi Note, Challenger To iPhone 6 Plus

January 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

China’s Xiaomi Inc further challenged Apple Inc on Thursday as the world’s third-biggest smartphone maker and most valuable tech start-up unveiled the flagship Mi Note, its answer to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.

Chief Executive Lei Jun introduced the Mi Note in Beijing with a breakdown of the large-screen phone’s technical features, with multiple comparisons to Apple’s equivalent. At 2299 yuan ($371) for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory, the Mi Note will retail for almost two-thirds less than the iPhone 6 Plus.

Just three years after Xiaomi sold its first smartphone, a $1.1 billion round of fundraising announced in December valued the firm at $45 billion. The privately held company has risen to become the world’s No. 3 smartphone maker and is challenging Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd as well as domestic rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd .

Xiaomi takes efforts to play down comparisons with Cupertino, California-based Apple, though it is commonly called the ‘Apple of China’.

“The Mi Note is shorter, thinner and lighter than the iPhone,” Lei told his audience of thousands gathered in the north of China’s capital.

Lei wore a light-blue shirt, eschewing his previously favoured black top, jeans and sneakers, reminiscent of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ trademark black turtleneck and jeans.

“Xiaomi is an innovative start-up company, with a short history,” said Lei. The company has been frequently criticised for allegedly copying other tech companies, most notably Apple. “In 10 years we will have tens of thousands of patents.”

Lei also laid out Xiaomi’s strategy to connect its smartphones with Xiaomi-branded home appliances, allowing phone users to remotely control washing machines, air purifiers and surveillance cameras.

 

 

 

 

Is Dailymotion Going After Twitch?

January 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Dailymotion has hopped onto the game streaming juggernaut and launched a game streaming service.

Dailymotion Games will put the firm into a market that so far includes Twitch, a streamer that has cemented its place as a gaming add-on and a coveted option on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.

The Dailymotion information does not dwell on Twitch, which has been a feature of many a gushing press release from console makers such as Sony, but it does say that the live streaming gaming platform has some decent credentials.

For example, the promotional information says that the platform is backed with “industry leading video and live streaming technology”.

The firm also reminds us that it has some history here, and has been e-gaming for some time.

“Since 2011, with the first Dailymotion Cup on Starcraft, Dailymotion has accompanied e-sport growth on the internet,” said Martin Rogard, Dailymotion’s chief operating officer.

“Dailymotion Games is entirely dedicated to e-sports fans and streamers who come together every evening to form an amazingly talented and gregarious community.

“Over the coming months, we will significantly increase our investment in the e-sports domain to ensure worldwide recognition of all our talented content producers.”

Dailymotion said that live streamers will be able to monetise their content, which Microsoft recently confirmed is fine for its users, and that streamers could run their own “controlled video advertisement” and any number of social tools including search and real-time communications. Android and iOS apps are available.

The service is currently in beta. Dailymotion said that it serves some 180 million game videos a month.

 
Courtesy-TheInq

Is Samsung In Pursuit of BlackBerry?

January 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics recently offered to purchase BlackBerry Ltd  for as much as $7.5 billion, hoping to acquire its valuable patents as it battles Apple in the corporate market, according to a person familiar with the matter and documents seen by Reuters.

South Korea’s Samsung  proposed an initial price range of $13.35 to $15.49 per share, representing a premium of 38 percent to 60 percent over BlackBerry’s current trading price, the source said on Wednesday.

Representatives from the two companies, which are working with advisers, met last week to discuss a potential transaction, the source said, asking not to be identified because the conversations are private.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said in a statement that it “has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry. Shares of BlackBerry, which soared nearly 30 percent following the Reuters report, fell back about 15 percent in after-hours electronic trading following the statement.

Samsung also told Reuters in Seoul that it has no plans to acquire Blackberry. “Media reports of the acquisition are groundless,” a company spokeswoman said.

Separately on Wednesday, Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail reported BlackBerry has shunned a handful of takeover overtures in recent months as its board and largest investor think its restructuring strategy will deliver greater shareholder value than current acquisition offers.

 

 

Will 2015 Be The Year Of 4K?

January 15, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

We had a few dozen meetings at CES 2015 with many interesting people and close friends over the last week and we came to a conclusion that 4K and Virtual Reality will play a big role in 2015 and the future of computer graphics.

The GPU industry is making huge steps forward to make higher resolution gaming more popular. The reason behind is rather simple, as 4K has four times the pixel count of 1080p and needs four times the GPU power to deliver superior image quality gets better. The GPU industry simply needed more pixels in order to continue selling the better graphics cards.

There will be a two popular choices in 2015 – one will be a 60Hz 4K, 3840×2160 gaming monitor for people who like the higher resolutions at the expense of lower refresh rates and WQHD 2560×1440 at 144Hz, where you will need to render more frames.

Despite the choice, 4K will be a great tool for selling more new graphics cards and this trend is happening right now. Nvidia has G-Sync while AMD has FreeSync and we believe that these technologies will help in making the gaming experience better in 2015 and beyond. We will come back to this in another, more extensive report.

The other big thing is Virtual Reality, VR for short. Oculus Rift is the most prominent member of this movement, but all VR companies need GPU players as well. It is a fight between AMD, Nvidia and
Qualcomm.

While AMD and Nvidia know how to push more pixels, Qualcomm has sparked Samsung’s interest with the Gear VR that works with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 phablet. We have tried the Developers Kit 2 while a few prominent members of the industry have said that they had a chance to try Crescent Bay, the next generation prototype. It is a leap forward but there is still a lot to be done in order to have a VR chat with your buddies via Oculus in Facebook, or play good VR games.

Crescent Bay got better, but this is not something that is ready for retail, at least this is what a couple of people told us. AMD and Nvidia are now racing in order to get VR right. Oculus and Facebook are great, but we don’t think that they can get to a cool VR experience without Nvidia and AMD. There will be a lot of focus on these two technologies and we cannot wait to see how this plays out.

The pixel count needs to increase, the resolution per eye needs to go up and latency has to go down in order to fool our brain we are actually inside the VR world (and to prevent annoying headaches). This is the future of visualization, but we are not sure it is the right answer for all gaming, as you won’t be able to walk around with Oculus VR inside a bus or train, at least not in the short run, as you need cables, lot of GPU power and you need to see where you go.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Granted Patent For Wearable Cameras

January 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc has been issued a patent for a wearable camera that could possibly challenge action cameras made by GoPro Inc.

The patent, which cites specific weaknesses in GoPro’s cameras, includes details about a camera system that can be mounted on bike helmets or scuba masks, Apple said in an application filed with the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office.

Shares of GoPro, whose cameras can be mounted on helmets, surf boards, bikes and dog harnesses, fell as much as 15 percent.

Apple’s newly patented camera system can also be used under water to take pictures and record sounds, according to the application.

A potential entry by the iPhone maker into the action camera market could also put pressure on privately held Polaroid Corp, which makes the small and colorful Cube cameras.

JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna, however, said it was premature to assume that Apple would soon launch a wearable camera.

“It does not seem to me that launching an action camera accessory is the most logical product extension for Apple to pursue right now,” Gauna said.

Apple declined to comment, while GoPro was not immediately available for comment.

“I think that it will have about the same impact on GoPro as the iPhone has had on camera makers and that impact is that there are fewer cameras sold but the number isn’t zero,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

Videos shot with GoPro’s cameras have created a buzz on the Internet, attracting millions of views on YouTube.

Olympic gold medal winning snow boarder Shaun White and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater are among well-known athletes who have endorsed the cameras.

Intellectual property blog Patently Apple reported earlier in the day that Apple’s patent, which was filed by the company in 2012, incorporates some intellectual property from Eastman Kodak Co that the company acquired in November 2013.

 

 

Facebook, Xiaomi Discuss Potential Partnership

January 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mark Zuckerberg and Xiaomi Inc CEO Lei Jun held talks about a potential investment by Facebook in China’s top smartphone maker ahead of its $1.1 billion fundraising last month, but a deal never materialized, several people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The discussions, at a private dinner when Zuckerberg visited Beijing in October, were never formalized, three of those people said, as the two CEOs weighed the political and commercial implications of Facebook - which has been banned in China since 2009 – buying into the Chinese tech star now valued at $45 billion.

One individual with direct knowledge of Xiaomi’s fundraising said the mooted Facebook investment was “not huge,” but the talks underscore how ties between U.S. and Chinese companies have deepened as China’s tech industry matures.

A Facebook investment in Xiaomi would have raised the international profile of the popular handset maker dubbed “China’s Apple” by its fans and linked it to a U.S. social networking phenomenon with more than 1.3 billion users.

Facebook, for its part, has long harbored ambitions to expand into the world’s most populous country, potentially with partners. One of the individuals said Facebook and Xiaomi began discussing a possible investment in mid-2014.

Xiaomi’s Lei was partly put off by the potential for political fallout at home of selling a stake to Facebook while the U.S. social network is still banned in China, two of the people said, adding Xiaomi also feared a tie-up with Facebook could threaten its relationship with Google Inc, a crucial business partner. Xiaomi’s phones are built on Google’s Android operating system.

Xiaomi ultimately announced last month it raised $1.1 billion from investors including Hong Kong-based tech fund All Stars Investment; DST Global, a private equity firm that has invested in Facebook and Alibaba Group; Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC; Chinese fund Hopu Management; and Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital.

The fundraising valued Beijing-based Xiaomi at $45 billion just three years after it sold its first smartphone. The company had revenue of close to $12 billion in 2014.

Zuckerberg has eyed China as a critical piece of his vision to connect the global population. But, like Google and Twitter, the social networking giant has been blocked by China’s internet censors, who cite national security concerns.

 

 

 

LTE-Advanced Leading To Faster 4G Speeds

January 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile device owners around the world are getting faster wireless broadband as LTE-Advanced and smartphones that can take advantage of the technology finally start to take off.

A year ago, LTE-Advanced was only available in South Korea, but it’s now available in 31 countries (including Australia, France, Germany, U.K. and the U.S.) and more are on the way, according to industry organization GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association).

“There is a lot of activity at the moment,” said Alan Hadden, president at GSA.

LTE-Advanced is a collection of different technologies, but the one mobile operators are implementing first is called carrier aggregation. It lets operators treat up to three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one and send data to users at higher speeds.

Bandwidths at up to 300Mbps are possible, though not all LTE-Advanced networks and devices can muster that. For example, Apple’s new iPhones use a version of carrier aggregation that tops out at 150Mbps, and not all operators have the spectrum to offer that.

However, regardless of which version of LTE-Advanced a network or device supports, the technology offers users higher speeds than ever before.

Chances are greater that you’ll get access to LTE-Advanced if you live in a big city. For example, U.S. operator AT&T has so far upgraded its network in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Honolulu, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Houston.

The technology has been held back due to a lack of supporting devices, but that will change this year thanks to a greater variety of modems from Qualcomm and Intel.

 

 

Is the Snapdragon 810 Being Throttled?

January 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm is facing overheating and other technological problems with its latest mobile processor.

The Snapdragon 810 was first seen in April 2014 and was designed as a 20-nanometer flagship mobile processor for high-performance smartphones. Its first outing was under the bonnet of its new flexible smartphone, the G Flex 2 at CES.

On paper it appears brilliant. It has an octa-core processor with four ARM Cortex-A57 high-performance central processing units (CPUs) and four ARM Cortex-A53 low power-consumption units that support 64-bit commands for data processing.

Its Adreno 430 graphic processing unit, which has a 30 percent increase in performance and consumes 20 percent less power than its Adreno 420 predecessor. It also supports the 4K displays.

The only problem is that it overheats at certain voltages and performance degradation caused by memory controller problems have been reported, and its clock rate, an index representing a processor’s performance, was estimated to be lower than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 805.

According to the Korean Times to prevent the chip catching fire, the designers have throttled the bejeesus out of it to a point where it limits the graphic processing performance when it overheats.

The Snapdragon 810′s Adreno 430 graphic processing unit and the 64-bit command support also needs more optimization as currently they are known to be incompatible with the G Flex 2.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Snaps Up Voice Recognition Company

January 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has purchased a company that makes voice recognition technology for wearable devices and Internet- connected appliances, the latest sign of its goal to extend its reach beyond computers and smartphones.

Facebook said it acquired wit.ai on Monday, without providing a price for the deal. The 18-month old company, based in Palo Alto, California, makes software that can understand spoken words as well as written text phrased in “natural language.”

A Facebook representative declined to provide details on how Facebook planned to use the technology or with which group within Facebook the wit.ai team would work.

The deal comes as technology companies are racing to bring Internet connectivity to a new crop of devices, from watches to washing machines. Voice recognition, the technology that helps power services such as Apple Inc’s Siri, is considered a key building block for the new devices to earn mainstream consumer appeal.

Facebook, the world’s largest Internet social network, with 1.3 billion users, is increasingly looking beyond the PCs, tablets and smartphones currently used to access its service. In March, it acquired virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR for $2 billion.

The deal for wit.ai is likely to have been significantly smaller. Wit.ai announced in October that it had raised $3 million in a funding round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

 

 

Customers Suing Apple Over Device Storage Space

January 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Two Florida men have filed a lawsuit against Apple for allegedly misrepresenting the amount of storage room available to owners of 16GB iPhones and iPads.

The two, Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara, accused Apple of “unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business acts or practices,” including false advertising, and asked a California federal judge to designate the lawsuit as a class action so that others can participate.

n the complaint filed Dec. 29, Orshan’s and Endara’s lawyers claimed Apple failed to tell buyers that a fifth of the 16GB in low-end iPhones and iPads is occupied by the operating system and pre-installed apps, leaving consumers less than the full amount for their own content, such as apps, photos and other files.

“Reasonable consumers do not expect this marked discrepancy between the advertised level of capacity and the available capacity of the devices, as the operating system and other storage space unavailable to consumers occupies an extraordinary percentage of their devices’ limited storage capacity,” the complaint stated.

By the plaintiffs’ calculations, a 16GB iPhone 6 had 13GB of space available to the user, while the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus and 16GB iPad Air had 12.7GB and 12.6GB, respectively. The portions of the 16GB inaccessible to users ranged from 19% to 21%.

The lawsuit also charged Apple with a Machiavellian strategy that used the disparity between the advertised and actual user-available storage space to push customers into paying for iCloud premium plans. “Using these sharp business tactics, defendant gives less storage capacity than advertised, only to offer to sell that capacity in a desperate moment, e.g., when a consumer is trying to record or take photos at a child or grandchild’s recital, basketball game or wedding,” the lawyers wrote.

Apple charges $0.99 per month for an additional 20GB — above the free allotment of 5GB — with other plans ranging from $3.99 monthly (for 200GB) to $19.99 per month (for 1TB).

 

 

 

Will Intel Assist Apple In The 3-D Transistor Space?

January 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Apple is apparently having problems getting its partners to make 3-D transistors that go.

Drexel Hamilton’s chip analyst Rick Whittington [no really] made a comment that Intel might be getting ready to bail Apple out while he was having a chat about Micron. In passing, Whittington noted problems had by Taiwan Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics trying to produce 3-D transistors in any useful yield.

He noted that Intel has mastered 3-D transistors, and said that it would be very good for Intel if neither Samsung or TSM can do FinFET this next year; puts them in line to supply Apple’s internal foundry needs.

However he admitted that it was more that TSM/Samsung would operate FinFET under very low yield output and keep capacity tight.

Of course if Jobs’ Mob don’t want that they can always rush into the loving arms of Chipzilla – again. As happened with Saphire glass Apple has shown that it can dump a partner quickly if it does not move fast enough.

Courtesy-Fud

Huawei Smartphone Sales Growth Eclipse Bigger Rivals

January 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Huawei Technology Co Ltd’s smartphone sales increased by almost a third to $11.8 billion in 2014, according to an internal memo, detailing the Chinese telecoms firm’s continued ascent in the global handset wars.

The division shipped about 75 million smartphones in 2014, according to the year-end memo to employees sent by Richard Yu, the head of Huawei’s consumer business. Although that represented a more than 40 percent year-on-year increase, the figure lagged behind Huawei’s previously stated sales target of 80 million units.

Huawei spokeswoman Maggie Qi said the company does not comment on internal memos.

The results, which are due to be publicly announced in the coming weeks, reaffirm Huawei’s place among a small coterie of rising smartphone makers, including Xiaomi Inc and LG Electronics, whose growth rates are eclipsing those of industry leaders.

Pressured by low-cost vendors, top ranked Samsung Electronics Co is likely to see its shipments nearly unchanged this year, while second-ranked Apple Inc may have posted around 20 percent growth after launching the iPhone 6, analysts estimate.

Those growth rates, however, pale in comparison to the expansion of Xiaomi, which sold 26 million handsets during the first half of 2014.

If it reaches its sales target of 60 million for the year, Xiaomi will have more than tripled its 2013 sales of 18.7 million. Private investors believe it will continue to soar: the Beijing-based company announced this week a new round of equity financing at $45 billion valuation, making Xiaomi the most highly valued private technology company in the world.

Meanwhile, close rival LG Electronics Inc may have seen its smartphone shipments rise around 26 percent this year, according to analysts.

Trendforce analyst Alan Chen said in a research note this month that Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo Group Ltd, which recently purchased Motorola from Google in a $2.91 billion deal, will battle to be the top Chinese smartphone vendor in 2015.