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Health Insurer Aetna To Offer Discount On Apple Smartwatches

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

aetna-and-apple-150x150Health insurer Aetna Inc said it would provide some customers discounts on Apple Inc’s smartwatch, marking the first deal made by the tech giant with an insurer for its devices.

Aetna, which has about 23 million members in the United States, will also give away the Apple Watch for free to its nearly 50,000 employees, Aetna said in a statement on Tuesday.

The deal could help Apple boost the appeal of its Watch to potential customers as the company looks to target health and fitness conscious users with its new device.

Aetna will discount a significant portion of the cost, and will offer users monthly payment options to pay off the remaining amount.

The discounts on the devices will vary for customers, according to Aetna spokesman Ethan Slavin.

However, reaction to the second edition of the Apple Watch has been muted since its launch earlier this month with the device likely to remain a niche offering, according to some analysts.

Apple shipped 1.6 million units of the original Apple Watch, in the second quarter, down by 56.7 percent from last year, according to research firm IDC.

In comparison, Fitbit Inc shipped 5.7 million units in that period.

Aetna is also developing health applications for Apple’s devices that will remind users to take their medications, order refills for prescriptions and message or call their doctor.

The applications, which will use Apple Wallet to allow customers to pay their bills, will be available early next year.

Digital Map Company HERE Partners With Automakers To Share Traffic Data

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

here-maps-150x150German digital map maker HERE plans to roll out a new set of traffic services this week that allows drivers to see for themselves what live road conditions are like miles ahead using data from competing automakers, an industry first.

The Berlin-based company, owned by Germany’s three premium automakers, will provide four services in which drivers share detailed video views of traffic jams or accidents, potential road hazards like fog or slippery streets, traffic signs including temporary speed limits and on-street parking.

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen will all contribute data to the service, making their first big collaboration since they bought HERE for 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) late last year from mobile equipment maker Nokia of Finland.

Other automakers are expected to join the project later and contribute data from their vehicles, HERE said.

The new live traffic services are set to hit the road in the first half of 2017, HERE said on Monday before the opening of this week’s Paris Motor Show.

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles from the three German automakers are set to begin feeding visual data into the HERE system supplying these services, with millions of vehicles expected to contribute live traffic feeds by the end of 2018, HERE said.

“You have competing brands which are putting their data together to create very unique services which were not possible before,” Bruno Bourguet, HERE’s global head of sales, said in an interview.

Data collected from vehicles participating in the network, drawn from brakes, windshield wipers, headlights, location systems, cameras and other sensors, are translated into alerts on driver dashboards using the HERE services.

Collecting sophisticated data from millions of cars on the road promises to give HERE a substantial lead over technology rivals such as Google , Apple, Tesla and TomTom , which have access to data from far fewer vehicles to collect so-called crowd-sourced data, analysts say.

“Crowd-sourced data is crucial for live traffic/maps and the size of the user base will be key to differentiation,” UBS said in a recent report.

As other automakers contribute data for these services, an increasingly comprehensive view of road conditions around the world will be built to aid human drivers and, eventually, computer systems for autonomous cars, for which real-time road data is a pre-condition for replacing human drivers.

Can Qualcomm Win The 5G Race?

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf has been telling the world how it is going to win the 5G war which will bring about a bold new world based around the Internet of Things.

Writing in his bog, Mollenkopf claimed that Qualcomm was leading the way to 5G for the next 10 years and beyond.

He said that there will be 3G and 4G connected people, but 5G is going to connect everything.

“It’s a unifying, more capable communications fabric that will take on a much bigger role than previous generations of mobile technology. It’s a layer of connectivity that will become fundamental to our cities, jobs and ourselves. It’s the foundation of the next technological revolution.”

Lately 5G has been a bit of a buzz word lately, although there are no common standards issued yet. However if Mollenkopf is right, it will transform our daily lives once and for all by revolutionizing the way people interact with the world and with each other.

Hard to see how it can be any different. It might be faster, it might have different ways of connecting, but we will still have to talk to people. Mollenkopf said that 5G will expand mobile networks and technologies into a much wider range of industries.

“It will enable smart cities that can sustain tomorrow’s urban growth, automobiles that communicate with each other and traffic lights to save lives, VR headsets that allow us to experience the world in new ways, body sensors that monitor our health and make dietary recommendations, and so much more.”

Mollenkopf added that making this 5G connected world a reality is incredibly complex.

“ You need a new kind of mobile network to meet an expanding and radically diverse set of connectivity requirements – high throughput and low latency, high security and low power, high reliability and deep coverage. This will require new technology innovations that build upon the foundation that we have already created … Qualcomm is an invention company. We’ve been developing these 5G building blocks for years just as we pioneered many of the building blocks for 3G and 4G. Making one cutting-edge technology work well is difficult; making many of them work together is even harder. But that’s what Qualcomm does,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Super Carmaker McClaren Denies Rumors Of Apple Takeover

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mclaren-and-apple-150x150McLaren shot down a reports that Apple Inc had made an approach for the British Formula One team owner and supercar maker.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,” a McLaren spokesman said.

“As you would expect, the nature of our brand means we regularly have confidential conversations with a wide range of parties, but we keep them confidential.”

The Financial Times newspaper, citing three sources it said had been briefed on negotiations, had reported that Apple had made an approach for a strategic investment or a potential buyout.

It reported that the automotive group could be valued at between 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) and 1.5 billion pounds.

Reports have suggested that Apple, which had no immediate response to the Financial Times story, is working on a self-driving car. The iPhone maker has hired dozens of automotive experts over the past year and is exploring making charging stations for electric cars. Apple also invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing earlier this year.

The McLaren Formula One team is partnered by Honda, who provide the power units. The team is the second most successful after Ferrari in terms of race wins and titles but has not won a grand prix since 2012.

Google Launches AI Chat App Allo

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

allo-1-150x150Google-parent Alphabet Inc rolled out Allo, a messaging app that integrates Google’s search feature and a chatbot that uses machine learning to “improve” itself over time.

The new messaging service, which was unveiled in May, will compete with Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp and Messenger. The much-anticipated launch comes a month after Google rolled out Duo, its video calling app.

Allo features a chatbot powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant like Apple Inc’s Siri.

Users can call up the assistant in a chat by typing “@google” followed by a search query and the results will be displayed in the chat itself.

“The more you use it, the more it improves over time,” Amit Fulay, group product manager, wrote in a blog post.

The app has a “Smart Reply” feature that suggests responses to chats and can be send with just a tap.

“If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like ‘aww cute!’,” Fulay wrote.

Users can also use stickers and scribble on photos before sending them.

Allo will have end-to-end encryption only while chatting in “Incognito” mode. Whatsapp chats have end-to-end encryption.

Google has started rolling out Allo and said the app would be available worldwide in the next few days.

4K TV Sales Growing Fast

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Despite having limited content, 4K Ultra HD televisions are expected to double sales to 15 million units in the US in 2016.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association said that the next-generation TVs are now being adopted at a faster rate than predecessor high-definition TVs. Sales of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players are also selling at a fast rate.

Shapiro said that 62 percent of consumers plan to buy a consumer electronics viewing device in the next year while a third will buy a smartphone, and 29 percent plan to buy a TV.

“Consumers are showing a strong preference for 4K,” which has four times as many on-screen pixels as HDTVs. It’s faster and more robust than HDTV.”

By 2017, 4K UHD TV sales will hit 20 million a year in the U.S. That number will grow to 23 million in 2018, and 26 million by 2019. The 2016 growth rate is 105 percent above the units sold for 2015, he said.

More than 700,000 4K Blu-ray players have been sold so far in 2016, Shapiro said. Blu-ray is now 10 years old as a technology, launched in support of HDTV content. Now all of the major studios are releasing content on the 4K UHD format. Netflix is also streaming movies in 4K formats online. More than 500,000 4K Blu-ray discs have been sold so far, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

Shapiro said that 4 out of 10 TVs that ship this year will be 4K UltraHD, so sales of HDTVs remain strong as well. Almost every TV set over 50 inches diagonal is a 4K set, Shapiro said.

Prices are dropping too. The average 4K TV price in 2015 was $1,048, and that is dropping to $861 in 2016. Shapiro said that the new ATSC 3.0 television standard is being finalized for 4K transmission over Internet Protocol and on mobile devices, and he expects to see TVs that use the standard at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2017.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Announces Goes All In On Renewable Energy

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

apple-renewable-energy-150x150Apple announced that it has committed to powering all of its data centers and corporate offices off of renewable energy, joining a group of other corporations committed to the same clean energy goal.

Apple said it has joined RE100, a global initiative by influential businesses committed to using 100% renewable electricity. To date, RE100 has amassed membership from 77 corporations.

Other RE100 members include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, VMware, Rackspace and Wells Fargo.

Apple’s announcement is mostly symbolic at this point. The company is already powering its operations in the U.S., China and 21 other countries with 100% renewable energy, and, in 2015, powered 93% of its operations around the world with renewable energy.

Apple has invested in renewable energy for several years. Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president for Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, said Monday that the company completed construction on its latest renewable energy project — a 50-megawatt (MW) solar farm in Arizona, Apple worked with local utility Salt River Project on the solar array, which will provide renewable power to Apple’s global command data center in Mesa, Arizona. The solar farm provides power equal to the energy use of more than 12,000 Arizona homes.

Last year, Apple announced it would invest $850 million in a solar power plant through a partnership with First Solar, one of the nation’s largest photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers and a provider of utility-scale PV plants. Through a 25-year purchasing agreement, Apple will get 130MW (megawatts, or million watts) from the new California Flats Solar Project.

The First Solar deal rocketed Apple past Walmart as the largest corporate user of solar power.

 

Intel Goes Bullish

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

It is starting to look like the PC market is picking up and Intel has raised its quarterly revenue forecast for the first time in more than two years.

Shares in Intel as much as 4.1 percent to a more than 15-year high on the back of the news which indicates the PC depression might be finally coming to an end..

Sales in the company’s PC business declined three percent to $7.3 billion in the latest quarter. The unit includes sales of chips for mobile phones and tablets. But Intel said that the green shoots of recovery are here.

Firstly HP said last month that revenue in its computer business rose 7.5 percent in the third quarter from the second as sales of notebooks improved. At the time FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said commentary from Intel and HP suggested that PCs were “not as dead as people were thinking.”

Research firm IDC said in July global PC shipments fell less than expected in the second quarter, helped by strength in the United States.

Intel now says it expected third-quarter revenue to be $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, compared with its prior forecast of $14.9 billion, plus or minus $500 million.

That implies the highest-ever quarterly revenue for Intel. Wall Street analysts on average were expecting $14.90 billion.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani said the pre-announcement was a good first step to the PC story stabilising at Intel. Shares of rival AMD were up about 1 percent, while those of Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) and HP were marginally higher.Shares in Intel had shot ip up 2.6 percent at $37.53

Courtesy-Fud

iPhone 7 Plus Outselling Smaller Version

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

iphone-7-plus-150x150Early data from U.S. sales of Apple’s latest iPhones suggested that the larger 7 Plus was outselling the smaller 7, according to market research data.

Of the iPhone 7 online pre-orders during the initial 48 hours of availability, 55% were for the 5.5-in. iPhone 7 Plus; the remaining 45% were for the 4.7-in. iPhone 7. That was the first-ever flip to the Plus size in the three annual cycles since Apple offered a big-screen iPhone in 2014.

According to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Slice Intelligence, U.S. buyers of the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus two years ago leaned toward the former in a split of 65% to 35%. The gap narrowed last year with the 6S and 6S Plus, when the smaller iPhone 6S accounted for 59% of the total, and the 6S Plus with 41%.

Slice based its data on a sampling of approximately 4 million U.S. consumers. Those people have opted in to Slice’s services or apps — including the same-named shopper’s assistant app for iOS and Android — or those of partners which license the firm’s technology, and so give Slice access to their email inboxes. Slice sniffs through the inboxes, then spots and copies emailed receipts for online orders.

Apple does not disclose the sales splits between iPhone models — or the various versions of its other hardware for that matter — but instead tallies all iPhones into a single number for each quarter.

Slice’s data hinted at a larger gross revenue number for Apple in the U.S. this launch cycle: The iPhone 7 Plus sells for $120 more than the iPhone 7.

Not surprisingly, Slice’s email receipts also showed that the iPhone’s new Black and Jet Black colors were the two most popular for pre-order customers, replacing the now-extinct Space Gray, which had been the top choice for the last two years. Nearly half of all iPhone 7 and 7 Plus orders (46% to be exact) were for the Black, said Slice, with another 23% were for the Jet Black.

Jet Black, a new highly polished finish, has been in short supply, high demand, or both: Apple ran out of that color almost as soon as pre-orders opened on Sept. 9. Currently, a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus will ship to U.S. buyers sometime in November, according to Apple’s e-mart, while a Jet Black iPhone 7 will ship three to five weeks after ordering.

 

Is The iPhone 7 Selling Well In Europe?

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-i7Apple has been accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus since the September 9 and today, five days later you can get an iPhone 7 128GB or 256GB shipped in six to eight days. 

Since’ve we followed iPhone 6S launch and availability closely, after some 24 hours the iPhone 6S was sold out and it took two to three weeks of waiting to get either a iPhone 6S or 6S Plus.

Apple seems to be selling the 32GB well but there are plenty of 128GB and 256GB available –  expect the diamond black one that is only available in 128GB and 256GB. Both of them will ship in three to five weeks as with this new color, everyone will know you have the new iPhone. It is still impressive that Apple can take away some features and come up with a new color and call it a feature. It seems that too many Apple customers are watching way too much keeping up with the Kardashians.

The iPhone 7 Plus seems to be doing a bit better as for most colors you need to wait two to three weeks and the jet black version will only be available in November.

Most Fudzilla readers do realize that  customers can help companies to find the way to go. Apple’s iPhone that sells for $649 + tax in the US suddenly started selling for €759 in the EU with VAT. The US price doesn’t include the tax since it varies from 1.75 percent in some states such as Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon while in some places in rich Cupertino or Santa Clara, California you end up paying 8.75%.  

In the worst case, if you get your 32GB iPhone 7 black in Cupertino you will end up paying $705.78 or €628.90. The difference between the €759 that European Union countries pay and €628.90  is a whopping €130.1 difference. This should be called a EU stupidity tax.  

The UK gets slightly a better deal as the actual difference today is £68 but bear in mind that the pound has dropped significantly since the Brexit vote.

The good thing is that the European Union, despite being slow, bureaucratic and inefficient in many ways ended up fining Microsoft and Intel for monopolistic behavior. It will probably collect the tiny 13.5 billion that Apple robbed from 500 million people in the European Union.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Urges Consumers To Turn In Their Galaxy Note 7 Phones

September 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is urging owners of its Galaxy Note 7 phones to turn in their handsets as soon as possible as part of a recall aimed at limiting the damage caused by the fire-prone devices.

The world’s top smartphone maker said last week it would exchange all Note 7 phones in 10 markets including South Korea and the United States, a costly setback for a company that was counting on the model to bolster sales momentum as rivals such as Apple Inc  launch new devices.

Reports that the phones’ batteries have combusted while charging or in normal use prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to stop using the Note 7 device.

Aviation authorities and airlines across the world have also issued bans or guidelines prohibiting passengers from turning on or charging the phone inside airplanes in response.

“We are asking users to power down their Galaxy Note 7s and exchange them as soon as possible,” Koh Dong-jin, head of Samsung’s smartphone business, said in a statement.

“We are expediting replacement devices so that they can be provided through the exchange program as conveniently as possible and in compliance with related regulations,” the statement added.

For Samsung, which prides itself on manufacturing prowess, the scale of the recall is unprecedented and deals a huge blow to its reputation.

Some 2.5 million of the premium devices have been sold worldwide that need to be recalled, the firm has said, and some analysts say the recall could cost Samsung nearly $5 billion in lost revenue this year.

The Korean company is offering to exchange all affected Galaxy Note 7 phones with a replacement device using a safe battery. Samsung has said replacement Note 7s will be available in some markets including South Korea and the United States from Sept. 19.

 

Intel Gives McAfee The Boot

September 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has sold the Intel Security business for $3.5bn less than it paid for it six years ago.

Intel Security, previously and better known as McAfee, has been sold to private equity firm TPG for $4.2bn, despite Intel paying $7.7bn for it in 2010. 

The chip firm will receive $3.1bn in cash as part of the transaction and retain a 49 per cent minority stake. TPG will take control with a 51 per cent stake, and will invest $1.1bn in the company.

Intel Security is based on the McAfee business and was renamed two years ago. The company will revert to the better known McAfee brand, despite John McAfee reportedly suing Intel over the use of his name.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017, and Chris Young, general manager of Intel Security Group, will become CEO of McAfee.

Young described TPG in an open letter to stakeholders as a “seasoned technology investor” that was “attracted to our current momentum and long-term potential”.

He claimed that McAfee currently protects “more than a quarter of a billion endpoints” and more than 200 million consumers, and is present in two thirds of the world’s 2,000 largest companies.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich claimed that, despite the sale, security “remains important in everything we do at Intel”.

“We will continue to integrate industry-leading security and privacy capabilities in our products from the cloud to billions of smart, connected computing devices,” he added.

Bryan Taylor, a partner at TPG, said that the company had “long identified the cyber security sector, which has experienced strong growth due to the increasing volume and severity of cyber attacks, as one of the most important areas in technology”.

Intel’s acquisition of McAfee Security in 2010 was intended to enable the company to beef up security around PCs and sell McAfee antivirus and other security software around its core business.

However, the combination never worked as the money to be made in the security business became increasingly focused on the data center and cloud computing.

Courtesy-TheInq

Google’s Safe Browsing To Provide Compromised Websites More Information

September 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

google-safe-browsing-logo-150x150Google is now providing more information to webmasters whose online properties are temporarily tagged as unsafe by its Safe Browsing technology as a way to help them fix the identified problems faster.

Google Safe Browsing is a technology used by Google’s search engine, the Google Chrome browser, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Android to steer users away from websites that host malicious or deceptive content.

On the back-end, Google uses robots to scan the web and build a list of websites that host malware, harmful downloads, or deceptive ads and pages. Software developers can then plug into an API to integrate this list into their own applications.

The problem is that many websites hosting malware or bad ads don’t do so intentionally but were hacked by attackers. The owners of those websites can ask Google to rescan their properties and have them removed from the Safe Browsing blacklist once the security problems have been corrected.

Unfortunately, the review process is not always straightforward, because some website owners might not completely understand the issues affecting their websites and often fail to completely clean the malicious content.

To help reduce the number of such cases, Google has now updated the information available in its Search Console service to provide clearer explanations about six types of security issues that could be detected on a website, the Google Safe Browsing Team said in a blog post Tuesday.

“These explanations give webmasters more context and detail about what Safe Browsing found,” the team said, “We also offer tailored recommendations for each type of issue, including sample URLs that webmasters can check to identify the source of the issue, as well as specific remediation actions webmasters can take to resolve the issue.”

Webmasters are encouraged to proactively register their websites in the Search Console even if those websites have never been affected by a security issue. This will save them time when something does happen because Google will send notifications through the service as soon as Safe Browsing detects a problem

Google estimates that more than a billion users are protected by its Safe Browsing technology, and more than 60 million of them encounter Safe Browsing warnings on a weekly basis.

New Apple Watch Focuses On Fitness

September 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

apple-watch-2-150x150Two years after rolling out the Apple Watch with apps and styles that courted every customer, Apple Inc has honed its marketing strategy, debuting a second generation product aimed squarely at the health and athletic audience.

The focus on fitness will enhance the watch’s appeal to its core audience but also cements its status as a niche device, analysts said.

“Apple is responding to what has resonated with customers,” said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “The problem is there are only so many people who want to wear a health and fitness device. If they want this to be really massive, they’re going to have to go broader.”

The first new device released under Chief Executive Tim Cook, the Apple Watch has not attracted a mass audience, selling 1.6 million units in the second quarter, down more than half from a year ago, in the run-up to the new version, IDC data showed.

Apple’s original pitch touted the ability to send doodles, make phone calls and track fitness, while the company described it as essentially a fashion accessory.

But at a San Francisco launch event on Wednesday, where the iPhone 7 also debuted, Apple Watch videos, advertisements and demos focused narrowly on features for health enthusiasts, with the notable exception of a Pokemon Go app.

The new Watch starts at $369, includes a GPS chip, and is waterproof. Apple designed a special edition with sports giant Nike Inc.

Exercise buffs on social media cheered the new features, particularly the internal GPS system designed for runners who want to track workouts without dragging along their phones.

“At last Apple Watch is something I can use as a runner,” Ian Bignell (@eyan_b) wrote on Twitter.

Still, the device is likely to remain a niche offering, said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners.

“It’s becoming a more interesting product, but it is not going to be able to meaningfully impact the bottom line if iPhones slow down,” Gillis said.

 

Samsung Goes Bigger With New Gear S3 Smartwatch

September 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung-Gear-3-150x150Samsung Electronics introduced two new smartwatches which boast a range of digital features while also promising up to four days of battery life, seeking to outshine the Apple Watch.

The world’s biggest maker of consumer electronic products introduced its new line of Gear S3 watches ahead of this week’s opening in Berlin of the IFA, Europe’s biggest annual trade fair for consumer electronics and domestic appliances.

The new Gear S3 Frontier model has a rugged outdoor look, while the Gear S3 Classic has a more refined appearance, but both watches feature large faces that are likely to appeal mainly to male consumers.

The Frontier model has its own cellular radio chip to connect to high speed 4G mobile networks so it does not need to be “tethered” to the wearer’s smartphone in order to make calls or send and receive data, unlike Apple watches, which require an iPhone to remain nearby for their connections.

Apple, the current market leader in smartwatches, is expected to introduce its new Apple Watch 2 line-up a week from now, on September 7, along with new phones and computers.

Gadget news sites have reported that Apple is considering introducing smartwatches with their own cellular radio in 2017, but won’t offer such a feature in its upcoming models fearing it would further drain their batteries, which typically last around 24 hours in current models before needing to be recharged.

The latest Samsung smartwatches offer always-on color displays, dust and water resistance features, a built-in speaker and GPS location-finding technology. They also enable users to make mobile payments in countries where Samsung Pay is available.

Pricing was not disclosed for the new Gear S3 watches, which are due to go on sale before the end of the year.

 

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