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Huawei Goes After High-end Smartphone Market With Mate S

September 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

China’s Huawei Technologies has introduced a new smartphone , taking aim at the high end of the market, which is dominated by Apple and Samsung Electronics.

The Mate S, launched on the sidelines of Europe’s biggest consumer electronics show, IFA, in Berlin, has a 5.5-inch display, a 13 mega pixel rear camera and fingerprint security. Huawei says it is one of the first smartphones to include a Force Touch display, which can distinguish between a light tap and deep press, enabling access to more functions just by pressing harder.

Huawei became the world’s third-biggest smartphone company by sales last month, according to research firm Gartner, overtaking Chinese rival Lenovo, and aims to become the first Chinese firm to sell more than 100 million smartphones this year.

But it is still far behind Samsung, which had 21.9 percent of the market in the second quarter, and Apple, on 14.6 percent. Huawei’s share rose to 7.8 percent from 5.4 percent in the first quarter.

Huawei’s Mate S phone will retail for 649 euros ($732) — comparable to some higher-end Apple iPhone 6 series models — with a premium version for 748 euros, the Chinese company said.

“Huawei aspires to be the next Samsung, successful with both premium design and by shipping large numbers of smartphone models,” said IHS analyst Ian Fogg, who expects Huawei to ship about 109 million smartphones this year.

“2015′s Huawei smartphone launches show the company is finally coming close to meeting these market goals which Huawei set some years ago.”

The top of the smartphone market is a tough environment, as Samsung has experienced. While it remains the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Apple is reaping most of the rewards. The U.S. company is estimated by some analysts to earn 90 percent or more of the industry’s profits.

Huawei has its roots in telecoms equipment gear where it competes with the likes of Ericsson and Nokia, but it has invested heavily in consumer devices in recent years.

Its Mate S will be available in more than 30 countries including China, Germany, Israel,Japan, France, Germany and Spain and can be pre-ordered in Western Europe from Sept. 15.

 

 

 

 

Pentagon Partners With Apple And Boeing On Wearable Technology

August 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter granted $75 million to assist a consortium of high-tech firms and researchers develop electronic systems packed with sensors flexible enough to be worn by soldiers or molded onto the skin of a plane.

Carter said funding for the Obama administration’s newest manufacturing institute would go to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing , Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

The group will work to advance the development and manufacture of so-called flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform where they will be used.

“This is an emerging technology that takes advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and combines them with thinned silicon chips to ultimately produce the next generation of electronic products,” Carter said.

He was speaking at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The consortium, which will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, will add $90 million to the federal money. Local governments will chip in more, boosting the group’s total five-year funding level to $171 million.

Defense officials say the rapid development of new technologies around the globe is forcing the Pentagon to seek partnerships with the private sector rather than developing most of its technology itself, as it once did.

The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, which will be based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base.

 

 

Facebook Testing ‘M’, Personal Digital Assistant

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is testing a personal digital assistant called “M” within its Messenger service that is capable of answering questions with live human help and performing tasks such as buying gifts online and making restaurant reservations.

M is “powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” David Marcus, vice president of Messaging products, wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

Rival services like Apple Inc’s Siri, Google Inc’s Google Now and Microsoft Corp’s Cortana rely entirely on technology to answer questions.

M is a hybrid backed by a team of Facebook employees with customer service backgrounds, called M trainers, who can also make travel arrangements and appointments, Marcus wrote.

Facebook has introduced several functions inside Messenger, which boasts more than 700 million users, to transform it into a standalone platform. Earlier this year, it rolled out games exclusively on Messenger and launched products for businesses to directly connect with consumers.

 

 

Best Buy To Sell Apple Watch In All Stores By September

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Best Buy will offer the Apple Watch in all of its 1,050 retail locations by the end of September, responding to strong consumer demand for the wearable.

By Sept. 4, the Apple Watch will be available in 900 Best Buy stores, and it will appear in the retailer’s remaining locations by the end of the month, CEO Hubert Joly said.

Best Buy began selling the wearable in 100 stores as well as online on Aug. 7. The company had planned to expand availability to 200 additional stores by the Christmas shopping season.

However, “early momentum” from the Apple Watch “triggered” Best Buy to expand and accelerate the rollout, Joly said during a conference call to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings.

Joly didn’t say how many Apple Watches the chain has sold so far. Apple hasn’t shared watch sales data either.

During Apple’s third-quarter earnings conference call, CEO Tim Cook said customers would have more ways to purchase the smartwatch because the company expects it to be a popular Christmas gift. A few days later, Best Buy said it would carry the wearable.

Best Buy is the only major retailer to stock the Apple Watch. The device can also be purchased from Apple’s retail and online stores and from a few high-end clothing and department stores.

Joly also discussed plans to expand Best Buy’s relationship with Apple.

The Apple shop-in-a-shop sections of 740 Best Buy stores are getting a makeover, with new fixtures and larger display tables to show Apple hardware, he said. So far, Best Buy has remodeled 350 of those departments and will revamp another 170 by the holiday shopping season.

 

 

 

 

Amazon Expands Prime Now, Adds Alcohol Delivery

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc announced that it will begin delivering wine, beer and spirits to U.S. customers for the first time as part of its speedy delivery service, Prime Now.

The online retailer is expanding Prime Now, its one- and two-hour service, to Seattle, where the company is headquartered, and offering alcohol deliveries there.

Amazon Prime, the company’s $99 per year shopping membership program, offers free two-day delivery on millions of items. It is a key testing ground for the retailer’s new services, ranging from TV and on-demand video to fast delivery.

Amazon has said it has “tens of millions” of Prime subscribers. Analysts estimate the program to have around 40 million users worldwide.

The company has steadily expanded Prime Now since it launched the service in New York City last year. It facilitates integration of the retailer’s grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, which has been slower to expand to new markets.

On-demand grocery delivery is a growing and competitive market in the United States. Instacart, a grocery delivery company, announced on Tuesday that it had expanded to Indianapolis, its 17th city. Other startups, like Postmates, which focuses on meal delivery, also deliver personal care goods and alcohol for customers using a network of couriers.

Prime Now customers can order using an app available on both iOS and Android devices. Orders are shipped from smaller warehouses, or hubs. An Amazon spokeswoman said the company opened two facilities in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington, to handle Prime Now deliveries.

 

Intelligent Energy Tests Hydrogen Powered iPhone 6

August 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A British company rumored to be working closely with Apple has created a hydrogen fuel cell for an iPhone 6 that allows the smartphone to last a week without recharging.

According to reports, Intelligent Energy has created a working iPhone 6 prototype that looks no different from any other iPhone 6 except for tiny vents in the rear that allow  imperceptible amounts of water vapor to escape.

The prototype contains both a rechargeable battery and its own hydrogen fuel cell, according to a report in the Telegraph.

Hydrogen fuel cells generate energy by combining hydrogen and oxygen; the only emission from the process is water.

Fuel cells supply hydrogen to a negative anode (an electrode through which electrical current flows), releasing electrons. The electrons then flow to a positive cathode (another electrode) to generate electricity. In addition, after releasing electrons, the hydrogen becomes a hydrogen ion moving to positive cathode and bonding with oxygen in the air, forming water.

Hydrogen is the simplest and most common molecule known to exist. Because of that, it is a part of almost every other substance, such as water and hydrocarbons. Hydrogen is also found in biomass, which includes all plants and animals.

Intelligent Energy has produced more than 2,000 patents related to fuel cells, which it has used to create batteries for cars and a portable recharger called the Upp. The Upp is a mini-hydrogen fuel cell that charges any USB-compatible mobile device, including smartphones, tablets, portable gaming consoles or digital cameras.

Like any fuel cell, the one in Intelligent Energy’s iPhone requires recharging with hydrogen gas. Intelligent Energy said that could be done through an adapted headphone socket.

Intelligent Energy is now working on a commercial version of the smartphone fuel cell that would be in the form of a small cartridge that fits into the bottom of a phone. The cartridge would supply power for a week and could be discarded after use.

 

 

 

 

Are 4K TV’s Finally Taking Off?

August 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Worldwide Ultra HD (4K) LCD TV panel shipment volume grew 60.8 per cent sequentially in the second quarter of 2015, reaching around 9.2 million units despite the fact there is very little content out there.

Beancounters at MIC have added up the numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that Korean vendors’ shipment share rose to 61 per cent from 54 per cent. They have seen shipment volume growing 80 per cent sequentially.

Samsung Display had the highest sequential growth at 105 per cent and managed to flog 3.3 million of the beasties. It enlarged its gap with LG Display and became the world’s number one panel vendor for 4K LCD TVs. Most of Samsung’s shipped panels were 55- and 48-inch, together accounting for 70 per cent of total shipments, followed by 40-inch panels at 20 per cent.

MIC senior industry analyst Brian Chen said that the significant growth can be attributed to changes in the company’s pricing strategies for 4K TVs.

Samsung used to position 4K TVs as high-end products and a higher price than other brands. To enhance their shipment volume and market share, Samsung has lowered the prices of 4K TVs, leading to a significant increase in TV sales performance and thus panel shipments, he said.

LG has successfully increased its panel shipment volume with the launch of RGBW M+ 4K panels and has expanded its target market from China to worldwide. LG’s 4K panel shipments in 2015 are expected to grow as a result.

Taiwan’s panel vendors have focused on 50-inch panel shipments, which have made up nearly half of Taiwan’s 4K panel shipments. However they have lost a bit of ground to Korean suppliers.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Samsung Working On An 18 Inch Tablet?

August 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung is working on a huge Android-based tablet that could be used in living rooms, offices, or schools, presumably as a coffee table.

According to Sam Mobile the SM-T670, codenamed ‘Tahoe’, is an Android 5.1 Lollipop-based tablet with an 18.4-inch display.

It will have a TFT LCD screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and be powered by an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor. It will have a rather low 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, a microSD card slot and a 5,700 mAh battery.  Face it though a tablet this big is not going to spend a lot of time being carried about or needing a battery.

Apparently it will have an 8-megapixel primary camera and a 2.1-megapixel secondary camera. It will be 451.8 mm wide, 275.8 mm tall, and 11.9 mm thick.  Strangely no one has mentioned the things weight.

Samsung is also said to be working on a Windows 10-based tablet with a high-resolution 12-inch display, a 13nm Intel Core M chipset, 4GB RAM, and an S Pen.

Courtesy-Fud

Swatch To Beef Up Its Smartwatch Offerings

August 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Swatch is making plans to add to its new smartwatch range, the Swiss watchmaker’s chief executive stated in a recent newspaper interview.

The Biel, Switzerland-based company is competing with Apple and other watchmakers in the budding smartwatch market.

“Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine,” Nick Hayek was quoted as saying by Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. “The Touch Zero One is not the end of the progression.”

Hayek told the paper Swatch would launch Touch Zero Two at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Swiss company’s strategy appears primarily to revolve around including individual tech features in different models rather than going head to head with Apple to create all-in-one smartwatches combining many functions.

On top of its Touch Zero One, which can track the distance the wearer travels and help beach volleyball players measure the power of their hits, Swatch is planning to launch watches with an embedded “near field communication” chip this year.

 

LG Display To Focus On Next-Generatin OLED Screens

August 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

South Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd s announced on Monday it would focus investment on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, betting on the next-generation technology to steer it clear of price wars and ahead of the competition.

Through 2018, LG Display plans to put at least 10 trillion won ($8.47 billion) primarily into OLED displays for large products such as TVs, and flexible screens for smartphones and wearables. It will seek to expand OLED applications to signage and automobiles, and allocate some spending to premium liquid crystal display (LCD) products, the firm said in a statement.

LG Display and sister firm LG Electronics Inc have been the biggest proponents of OLED, which boasts improved color rendition and power consumption. The world’s top LCD maker hopes early investment in OLED will help it dominate when the technology becomes mainstream.

LG Display shares have fallen 34 percent this year, touching levels not seen since 2012 as investors see a future comprising sluggish LCD growth and profit-squeezing price wars with Chinese rivals. OLED, however, offers a market worth $28.3 billion by 2022 from $8.7 billion in 2014, said researcher DisplaySearch.

OLED is being increasingly adopted for premium smartphones and smartwatches, such as models from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc. But prices of goods sporting large, high profit margin OLED screens such as TVs are still far higher than comparable LCD products.

A 55-inch OLED ultra-high definition curved TV made by LG Electronics was on sale for $4,999 on Amazon.com Inc’s U.S. shopping site, marked down from $5,499.99. A comparable LCD set made by Samsung was priced $2,497.99, down from $3,999.99.

Samsung, the world’s biggest TV maker, has said OLED is still too expensive to produce for TVs.

As the two LG companies are the only major players pushing the technology for TVs, analysts and investors are skeptical whether they can by themselves create the economies of scale necessary to bring down prices enough for mass market adoption.

 

 

Microsoft Tests News Reading App

August 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft is quietly working on an app thats geared toward people who want help keeping up with today’s barrage of news.

The app, called NewsCast, hasn’t been formally announced, but it was first spotted by Neowin’s Brad Sams. It takes in articles from around the Web and starts reading summaries of them to users in an ongoing playlist. Users can save articles for reading later and view the full text of any article NewsCast pulls in using a built-in browser or a distraction-free reading view.

It’s all designed to keep users up to date on the latest news while they’re commuting and don’t want to be staring at tiny text on their phone.

According to a publicly accessible webpage for the app, NewsCast is a proof-of-concept product from the Bing News and Speech teams and seems to be testing only inside Microsoft. The teams are “trying to validate several hypothesis”[sic] with the app, though it’s not clear what they’re testing. Collecting feedback from users is a major focus of NewsCast’s current build — tapping a feedback button in the app opens an email that includes a three-question survey about what users like, dislike and want from it in the future.

Microsoft isn’t the only tech company going after mobile news summaries. Facebook is reportedly testing its own Twitter-like news app, and Yahoo has received accolades for its News Digest app, which gives users bite-sized summaries about current events.

 

 

Mozilla Working On Improving Stealth Mode For Firefox

August 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla has set a goal to make private browsing truly private.

The company is testing updates to private browsing in Firefox designed to block website elements that could be used by third parties to track browsing behavior across sites. Most major browsers, Firefox included, have a “Do Not Track” option, thoughmany companies do not honor it.

Mozilla’s experimental tool is designed to block outside parties like ad networks or analytics companies from tracking users through cookies and browser fingerprinting.

It’s available in the Firefox Developer Edition on Windows, Mac and Linux, and Firefox Aurora on Android, Mozilla said.

The tool is in pre-beta, although it might be incorporated into future versions of Firefox’s main browser.

The tool might cause some data-hungry websites to not load properly, Mozilla said. Users can unblock specific websites if they wish.

The enhancements also better identify unsafe browser add-ons that could install malware or collect user information.

“We’ve worked with developers and created a process that attempts to verify that add-ons installed in Firefox meet the guidelines and criteria we’ve developed to ensure they’re safer for you,” Mozilla said in a blog post.

Web tracking provides fuel to the lucrative business of targeted ads. A recent report showed that the usage of ad-blocking software is on the rise, costing publishers billions of dollars.

Other browser extensions designed to block tracking and targeted ads include Ghostery and AdBlock Plus.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, meanwhile, is trying to develop a new standard for the “Do Not Track” browser setting to make it more effective.

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft Announces Major Updates To Yammer

August 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft unveiled a bevy of improvements to its Yammer enterprise social network, focused on helping people connect more easily with their teams.

By default, people who access Yammer via their web browser will be taken to a new “Discovery” feed on the service’s home page that is supposed to better show them relevant content from their groups along with other public teams across their company’s network. It’s supposed to help keep people in closer touch with important discussions they may be missing on Yammer.

After users finish reviewing new content in one group, Yammer will display a pop up banner with a link to the next group they’re subscribed to that has new content. Yammer’s mobile apps will get similar functionality through a new Group Updates feed that lets users see a list of different conversations in various groups all on one screen. That way, they won’t have to look through individual groups to get the same information. That feature will begin rolling out on Android first before making it to Yammer’s iOS app.

In addition, Yammer is also tweaking the design of individual groups’ pages. Now, each group will have a full-width banner at the top of its page, and discussions within the group can now take up a wider space on the page to aid in lengthier discussions. The whole page has also been redesigned to focus users’ attention on important content.

Icons in the left-hand sidebar will show the users that are active in groups they are a part of, so they can stay up-to-date on where conversations are happening in real time. It’s a move that could make Yammer more competitive with popular chat solutions like Slack, which has been growing incredibly rapidly and was recently valued at $2.8 billion.

Yammer’s mobile app also gained support for attaching files from external storage services like OneDrive and Dropbox, inviting coworkers to a user’s network by email and mentioning people in comments.

There’s even more up Yammer’s sleeve on top of all these updates. The social network’s iPhone app will soon have a companion version for the Apple Watch that will let people interact with content from their coworkers.

The updates come at a time when Microsoft is putting more effort into improving its workplace collaboration tools.

 

 

 

Apple TV Live Service Delayed By Another Year

August 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc will push back rolling out its live TV service to at least next year, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the iPhone maker’s plans.

The company had planned to introduce the service, which is delivered over the Internet, this year.

Discussions with broadcasters such as CBS Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc to license programming are progressing slowly, and lack of content has led Apple to scrap plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event, Bloomberg said.

Apple also lacked the computer network capacity to ensure a good viewing experience, Bloomberg said.

The company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, which will be held in San Francisco.

Apple was aiming to price the new service at about $30 to $40 a month, media reports have said.

 

Will Apple Release A Cheaper iPhone?

August 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Apple is about to spike plans to make a cheaper, plastic iPhone 6C.

The Tame Apple Press became all moist when the news that Apple was going to make a a plastic bodies and 4in screens in an iPhone 6C?  This would mean that Apple would not only have three phones coming out this year, but actually have one that it could put into cheaper markets.

We have heard that logic before, and it never really worked. And now it looks like Apple has abandoned the plan (if it even had it in the first place).

A marketing firm claims it has seen testing data for just two new iPhones, which strongly suggests that an iPhone 6C launch is not imminent.

Fisku, had access to data that shows identifiers for models in testing. Its logs recently showed two new iPhones, which showed up as “iphone8,1″ and “iphone8,2″ – most likely codenames for the upcoming iPhone 6s (or 7, depending on Apple’s choice of moniker) and the iPhone 6s Plus (or 7 Plus).

If the phone is launched it might be at a much later date, but so far it looks like Apple will stick to launching just two models.

Courtesy-Fud