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Facebook Joins Forces With Xiaomi To Launch The Oculus In China

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Facebook’s Oculus has announced that is partnering with Chinese phone maker Xiaomi Technology in a deal to manufacture its new virtual reality headset.

Xiaomi has agreed to manufacture Oculus’s new headset, the Oculus Go, which was announced in October 2017.

As part of the deal Oculus has agreed to launch the Mi VR Standalone, a version of the headset exclusive to the Chinese market built with Oculus technology. Oculus has not detailed how the Mi VR Standalone will differ from Oculus Go, but said it will share the same core hardware features and design.

Oculus also revealed it is working with Qualcomm Inc. and will use the company’s Snapdragon 821 chipsets to power the mobile VR headset.

“We’ve worked closely with Qualcomm to deliver the highest possible level of performance to meet the high computing demands of the standalone VR product category,” said Oculus in a blog post.

The Oculus Go us set to release early this year, priced at $199.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Google Pulls Nearly 60 Apps With Pornographic Malware

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google yanked nearly 60 apps that contained hidden pornographic malware from its Play Store after a security research company found the code. Many of the games were aimed at kids.

Researchers at Check Point Software Technologies reported the malware last week. Dubbed AdultSwine, the malware displayed pornographic images that looked like ads but were designed to prompt users to download fake security software. The users were then encouraged to click on other links they would have to pay for.

Google moved immediately to kick the apps off of Google Play.

“We’ve removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers’ accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them,” Google said in an emailed statement. “We appreciate Check Point’s work to help keep users safe.” Google added that the issue doesn’t exploit vulnerabilities in its Android security, and that users’ devices weren’t affected.

The affected apps have so far been downloaded between 3 million and 7 million times, the researchers said, citing Google Play data.

Along with encouraging users to download scareware and pay for premium services, AdultSwine also stole credentials, according to Check Point.

It did this by contacting the developers’ Command and Control server once the app was downloaded, sending data about the infected device and receiving instructions on what to do next. The instructions include displaying the bogus ads, scaring users to install fake security apps and charging victims for services they didn’t request or receive.

It might, for example, show an ad saying “the user is entitled to win an iPhone by simply answering four short questions,” Check Point explained. “Should the user answer them, the malicious code informs the user that he has been successful, and asks him to enter his phone number to receive the prize. Once entered, the malicious code then uses this number to register to premium services.

Affected apps include Five Nights Survival Craft, with between 1 million and 5 million downloads, and Mcqueen Car Racing Game, which has been downloaded at least 500,000 times. A full list of apps can be found here.

Ford Aims For 22 Electric Vehicles By 2022

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co will significantly increase its planned investments in electric vehicles to $11 billion by 2022 and have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model lineup, Chairman Bill Ford announced at the Detroit auto show.

The investment figure is sharply higher than a previously announced target of $4.5 billion by 2020, Ford executives said, and includes the costs of developing dedicated electric vehicle architectures. Ford’s engineering, research and development expenses for 2016, the last full year available, were $7.3 billion, up from $6.7 billion in 2015.

Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett told investors in October the automaker would slash $14 billion in costs over the next five years and shift capital investment away from sedans and internal combustion engines to develop more trucks and electric and hybrid cars.

Of the 40 electrified vehicles Ford plans for its global lineup by 2022, 16 will be fully electric and the rest will be plug-in hybrids, executives said.

“We’re all in on this and we’re taking our mainstream vehicles, our most iconic vehicles, and we’re electrifying them,” Ford told reporters. “If we want to be successful with electrification, we have to do it with vehicles that are already popular.”

General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG  have already outlined aggressive plans to expand their electric vehicle offerings and target consumers who want luxury, performance and an SUV body style – or all three attributes in the same vehicle.

Mainstream automakers are reacting in part to pressure from regulators in China, Europe and California to slash carbon emissions from fossil fuels. They also are under pressure from

 Tesla Inc’s success in creating electric sedans and SUVs that inspire would-be owners to line up outside showrooms and flood the company with orders.

GM said last year it would add 20 new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023, financed by robust profits from traditional internal combustion engine vehicles in the United States and China.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has promised investors the Detroit automaker will make money selling electric cars by 2021.

Volkswagen said in November it would spend $40 billion on electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by the end of 2022 – significantly more than when it announced two months earlier it would invest more than 20 billion euros on electric and self-driving cars through 2030.

Toyota is racing to commercialize a breakthrough battery technology during the first half of the 2020s with the potential to cut the cost of making electric cars.

Ford’s additional investments in electric vehicles contrasted with many of the vehicle launches at the Detroit show which featured trucks and SUVs. On Sunday evening, Daimler AG unveiled its new G-class SUV, a bulky off roader, in an abandoned movie theater in downtown Detroit once used as a set for the movie “8 Mile.”

Big Blue Still The Patent King

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

While the media attention has shifted away from Biggish Blue in the hardware world, there are signs that the company is still quietly getting on with it and inventing things.

IBM inventors received a record 9,043 patents in 2017, marking the company’s 25th consecutive year of U.S. patent leadership and crossing the 100,000-patent milestone. IBM is still the outfit which churns out that most patents. 2017 marks the 25th consecutive year that IBM has been named the leader in granted U.S. patents, with a record 9,043 patents

The new patents were granted to a diverse group of more than 8,500 IBM researchers, engineers, scientists and designers in 47 different U.S. states and 47 countries.

For example there was Maja Vukovic’s patent for a system that detects and counteracts cyber attacks.

Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO said that for the past 25 years, IBM’s patent leadership has changed the way the world works with advancements critical to the modern era of computing.

“Today, nearly half of our patents are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing – and all are aimed at helping our clients create smarter businesses.”

IBM inventors received in 2017 more than 1,900 cloud patents, including a patent for a system that uses unstructured data about world or local events to forecast cloud resource needs. The system can monitor data sources – including news feeds, network statistics, weather reports and social networks – to identify where and how cloud resources should be allocated to meet demand.

Another set of innovations helps solve one of artificial intelligence’s current limits: lack of personalization, which can hinder how AI communicates with people. Among the industry-leading 1,400 AI patents IBM inventors were granted in 2017 is a patent for a system that can help AI analyze and mirror a user’s speech patterns to improve communication between AI and humans.

IBM inventors also received 1,200 cybersecurity patents, including one for technology that enables AI systems to turn the table on hackers by baiting them into email exchanges and websites that expend their resources and frustrate their attacks. It could substantially reduce the security risks associated with “phishing” emails and other attacks.

IBM inventors also patented significant inventions in emerging areas like quantum computing, including a new way for improving a quantum computer’s ability to acquire and retain information – otherwise known as signal readout fidelity. This can lead to efficiency in the components necessary to build a quantum computing system.

Other patented innovations from IBM inventors in 2017 include:
• A machine learning system designed to shift control between an autonomous vehicle and a human driver as needed, such as in an emergency.
• A method that uses blockchain technology to reduce the number of steps involved in settling transactions between multiple business parties, even those that are not trusted and might otherwise require a third-party clearinghouse to execute.
• A technique that automatically elevates the security protection of a mobile device when it determines that device is located far from its owner and is likely under someone else’s control.

Courtesy-Fud

Kenmore’s New Washer,Dryer Allows Monitoring From Smartphone

January 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

The 5-cubic-foot washer is said to be able to wash a “full-size” load of laundry in just 29 minutes. It also offers a Rugged cycle designed to handle bulky items like blankets with steam and a longer cleaning time. Its Direct Drive Motor is supposed to have six different wash movements, which change based on the specific cycle you choose. And, Kenmore says its cold water setting cleans your laundry just as well as warm water.

The 7.3-cubic-foot dryer has an “EasyLoad” door that can open either from the top or the side — whatever’s easiest for you.

But the big news is the new smart capabilities these models have via the related Kenmore Smart app. Up until this point, Kenmore’s laundry appliances have had very limited smart functionality.

The Kenmore Elite Smart top-load washer and Front Control dryer cost $1,000 each and are available now (roughly £740 and AU$1,270 converted).

What to expect from the smart home at CES 2018: We take a look at the smart home and appliance trends we expect to see this year.

South Korea To Ban Crytocurrency Trading

January 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

South Korea’s government has announced it will ban cryptocurrency trading, sending bitcoin prices plummeting and throwing the virtual coin market into turmoil as the nation’s police and tax authorities raided local exchanges on alleged tax evasion.

The clampdown in South Korea, a crucial source of global demand for cryptocurrency, came as policymakers around the world struggled to regulate an asset whose value has skyrocketed over the last year.

Justice minister Park Sang-ki said the government was preparing a bill to ban trading of the virtual currency on domestic exchanges.

“There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and the justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges,” Park told a news conference, according to the ministry’s press office.

After the market’s sharp reaction to the announcement, the nation’s Presidential office hours later said a ban on the country’s virtual coin exchanges had not yet been finalized while it was one of the measures being considered.

A press official at the justice ministry said the proposed ban on cryptocurrency trading was announced after “enough discussion” with other government agencies, including the nation’s finance ministry and financial regulators.

Once a bill is drafted, legislation for an outright ban of virtual coin trading will require a majority vote of the total 297 members of the National Assembly, a process that could take months or even years.

The government’s tough stance triggered a selloff of the cryptocurrency on both local and offshore exchanges.

The local price of bitcoin plunged as much as 21 percent in midday trade to 18.3 million won (12,730.35 pounds) after the minister’s comments. It still trades at around a 30 percent premium compared to other countries.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP was down more than 10 percent on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp at $13,199, after earlier dropping as low as $13,120, its weakest since Jan. 2.

 South Korea’s cryptocurrency-related shares were also hammered. Vidente and Omnitel, which are stakeholders of Bithumb, skidded by the daily trading limit of 30 percent each.

Once enforced, South Korea’s ban “will make trading difficult here, but not impossible,” said Mun Chong-hyun, chief analyst at EST Security.

“Keen traders, especially hackers, will find it tough to cash out their gains from virtual coin investments in Korea but they can go overseas, for example Japan,” Mun said.

Park Nok-sun, a cryptocurrency analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said the herd behaviour in South Korea’s virtual coin market has raised concerns.

Indeed, bitcoin’s BTC=BTSP 1,500 percent surge last year has stoked huge demand for cryptocurency in South Korea, drawing college students to housewives and sparking worries of a gambling addiction.

“Some officials are pushing for stronger and stronger regulations because they only see more (investors) jumping in, not out,” Park said.

By Thursday afternoon, the Justice Ministry’s announcement had prompted more than 55,000 South Koreans to join a petition asking the presidential Blue House to halt the crackdown on the virtual currency, making the Blue House website intermittently unavailable due to heavy traffic, the website showed.

Amazon Alexa Arrives On Windows 10 PCs

January 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The expanding rivalry between Amazon and Google in the battle for virtual assistant dominance intensified at this year’s CES in Las Vegas.

While both have a strong claim as front-runners – with Amazon arguably leading the charge at this stage – it’s clear that Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are lagging. Case in point: Several major PC makers launched Windows 10 hardware and trumpeted Alexa support as a major selling point. (Cortana will, of course, also be available since it’s built into Windows 10, but it is the arrival of Alexa that was a key selling pitch.

The Windows 10 devices launched this week with Alexa built include HP’s small form-factor Pavilion Wave PC; Acer’s Aspire; Spin, Switch and Swift notebooks; Asus’ 2018 ZenBook and VivoBook laptops; and Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Carbon and Yoga devices.

With these laptop and PC launches, Alexa is finding its way into a wider array of devices as virtual assistants gain a foothold in the office.

Alexa has benefited from the slow burning success of Amazon’s Echo smart home speakers, but that was only the start. At last year’s CES, Alexa was showcased in a range of products, from fridges to robotic vacuum cleaners, part of Amazon’s plans to position Alexa as an all-pervasive virtual assistant.

Though Toyota and Lexus plan to install the voice-activated assistant in select vehicles, the launch of PCs with Alexa highlights its move from the consumer world to the enterprise – much as the iPhone in 2007 moved quickly from individual users to become a mainstay of the workforce. (The Alexa for Business launch last year – an arena that would seemingly be a natural home for Microsoft – only underscores Amazon’s plans.)

With 25,000 Alexa skills already available, including a growing list targeted specifically at business users, Amazon is already forging deals with corporate partners. A range of companies, including Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ring Central and ServiceNow all plan to integrate their applications with Alexa for Business.

“As we begin 2018, Alexa shows the strongest partner ecosystem – with the most hardware partners and the most skills – and an increasing presence in the office with Alexa for Business,” said Forrester vice president and principal analyst J.P. Gownder.

Business support for Alexa – both at work and in customer-facing spots like hotels – represents a huge opportunity for Amazon, said Gownder. And it has the momentum that other virtual assistants lack currently.

“Cortana hasn’t made enough headway to stave off an aggressive, growing Alexa in business contexts at this point,” he said.

Samsung Starts Mass Producing 10nm DDR4

January 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Samsung confirmed that it has started mass production of second generation 10-nanometer class, 8-gigabit (Gb) DDR4 DRAM.

Samsung claims that the new 8Gb DDR4 will offer the highest performance and energy efficiency for a DRAM chip.

Samsung Electronics’ president of Memory Business, Gyoyoung Jin, said in a statement: “By developing innovative technologies in DRAM circuit design and process, we have broken through what has been a major barrier for DRAM scalability. Through a rapid ramp-up of the second-generation 10nm-class DRAM, we will expand our overall 10nm-class DRAM production more aggressively, in order to accommodate strong market demand and continue to strengthen our business competitiveness.”

The fresh 10nm-class 8Gb DDR4 claims to be not only 30 percent more productive over the firm’s first-generation 10nm-class 8Gb DDR4, but boasts 10 percent better performance levels and 15 percent better energy efficiency. This, Samsung claims, is thanks to the use of an advanced, proprietary circuit design technology.

“The new [chip] can operate at 3,600 megabits per second (Mbps) per pin, compared to 3,200 Mbps of the company’s 1x-nm 8Gb DDR4”, the company said.

“To enable these achievements, [we have] applied new technologies, without the use of an EUV process. The innovation here includes use of a high-sensitivity cell data sensing system and a progressive ‘air spacer’ scheme.”

This newly devised data sensing system can be found in the cells of the new DRAM chip enabling “a more accurate determination” of the data stored in each cell, which apparently leads to a considerable increase in the level of circuit integration and manufacturing productivity.

The new 10nm class DRAM uses an air spacer that has been placed around its bit lines to decrease parasitic capacitance.

Samsung said that using the air spacer facilitates not only a higher level of scaling, but also rapid cell operation, advances that the firm plans to use in future chip developments and to accelerate faster introductions of next-generation DRAM chips and systems, including DDR5, HBM3, LPDDR5 and GDDR6.

These would be used in enterprise servers, mobile devices, supercomputers, HPC systems and high speed graphics cards, the firm said.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Looks To Expand Digital Whiteboard

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Samsung debuted its take on the collaborative digital whiteboard at CES, launching its Flip display.

Digital whiteboards are getting a lot of attention from a number of large vendors, including Google, Microsoft and Cisco. All aim to replace traditional flip charts and whiteboards with touchscreen-enabled hardware designed to ease collaboration during meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Up to four different participants can interact with a Flip whiteboard at the same time, using either their fingers or a stylus to create or annotate content. Designed for use in meeting rooms, the 55-in. 4K display can switch from portrait to landscape orientation depending on company needs. It includes USB ports to enable connection to PCs and mobile devices, as well as wireless connectivity.

An integrated screen-sharing capability allows Flip content to be viewed directly from PCs and mobile devices, which would be useful for remote workers, in particular. Flip runs the Tizen operating system used in a variety of Samsung products, including its smart TVs, and contains 8GB of internal storage.

Samsung set the retail price for the Flip at $2,699; rival digital whiteboards are more expensive. Google’s Jamboard for G Suite, released last year, retailed for $4,999 at launch, while Microsoft’s SurfaceHub costs $8,999 for the 55-in. version.

However, those devices offer integration with each company’s respective business software suite, providing them with an advantage over Samsung’s Flip. Meanwhile, Cisco’s Spark Board integrates with its Spark collaboration software and supports video conferencing.

“The meeting room has become the new battleground for business communications and collaboration,” said 451 Research senior analyst Raul Castañon-Martinez. “Samsung Flip will face tough competition from Google and Microsoft. These players have an advantage with their business and productivity suites, which they integrate into their respective whiteboard products.”

He noted that Google and Microsoft are strong contenders as software providers while Samsung is already present in meeting spaces, thanks to its PBX phone systems and smartphones.

Competing with other feature-rich products is just one hurdle for those offering digital whiteboards, said Larry Cannell, research director at Gartner. Digital whiteboards have been around in some form for years and vendors have yet to convince substantial numbers of users to swap tried-and-trusted tools for digital alternatives.

“The challenge with these products isn’t necessarily integration with back-end software,” said Cannell. “Rather, they are still competing with in-room physical whiteboards and large sticky flipcharts.

“From my experience, most digital whiteboards have ended up being most used as fancy digital projectors,” he said.

Despite the launch of new hardware by some major vendors in the past year, customer demand is “still building momentum,” Castañon-Martinez said. That is likely to change over the next year or two as hardware becomes increasingly integrated with collaboration and productivity software.

Can Samsung Sell Over 300 Million Smartphones In 2018

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

According to a fresh report, Samsung aims to sell a total of 320 million smartphones in 2018.

The South Korean The Investor, spotted by GSMArena.com, reported that Samsung plans to retain its lead in the smartphone market without increasing its targets from last year.

In addition to the high 320 million target for standard smartphones, the company also wants to flog 40 million feature phones, 20 million tablet units, and five million wearables.

The goal is similar to its last yearly target,  and the company reckons that it should be enough to keep the lead in the smartphone market, ahead of Apple, which sold around 200 million devices in 2017.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Smart TVs Ad Bixby Voice Assistant

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

While pretty much every TV manufacturer is collaborating with Amazon or Google (or both) to add voice capabilities, Samsung is sticking it out alone with Bixby.

Samsung’s digital assistant, already available on its phones, will appear on its 2018 TVs too. The company promised as much earlier in the month but confirmed new details on Sunday at its CES TV unveiling.

Pushing a button on the remote will summon Bixby and allow interactions similar to other assistants, such as searching for TV shows and movies, asking for a weather report, turning on the lights, playing a song from Spotify, showing photos from the cloud and even doing trivia.

Meanwhile, rival LG and Sony TVs use Google Assistant for voice capabilities (and can also work with Alexa). Vizio TVs work with Google Home, and Element and Westinghouse sell Amazon Fire TV Edition sets that have Alexa built-in. Compared to those systems, Bixby is a relative newcomer, with fewer compatible devices and capabilities.

Beyond voice, Samsung is putting a few other new strings to its 2018 Smart TV:

  • SmartThings App: A big-screen app lets the TV serve as the hub to control SmartThings smart home devices, from lights to thermostats to security cameras (SmartThings is owned by Samsung). You can receive notifications on the TV, for example, when a load of laundry is done. Samsung says the app can automatically find and connect to devices on the same network, and there’s no external dongle required for control.
  • Simplified setup with a phone: Samsung says the painful process of setup is made easier with the help of the SmartThing app. The TV can grab Wi-Fi credentials from your phone and also allow you to enter login info for apps, as opposed to using an onscreen keyboard. Similar features are found on Android TVs and streaming devices, and they do make setup a lot easier.
  • Universal Guide: A revamped program guide consolidates shows from streaming and cable sources in one place, and makes recommendations for new shows based on what you watch. Samsung says the guide can also read the contents of a DVR, and works with all major DVRs including TiVo, Verizon Fios, DirecTV, Time Warner and others. You can also receive alerts on your phone when your favorite teams play.
  • Xbox integration: Samsung is also expanding its partnership with Xbox to include new features that work between the TVs and consoles. When you connect an Xbox the TV can automatically recognize it and engage game mode, reducing input lag among other benefits.

Microsoft Accelerates Latest Windows 10 Upgrade

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has rolled out 2017’s final Windows 10 feature upgrade to customers faster than it did the year’s first revision, according to data from a Windows app ad network.

Data from AdDuplex, a Lithuanian company whose technology is embedded in thousands of Windows apps, showed that October’s Fall Creators Update (FCU) had been installed on about 54% of all measured Windows 10 personal computers by Dec. 20.

Windows 10’s FCU, also known as version 1709 in Microsoft’s yymmnumeric format, launched Oct. 17. In the nine weeks from then until Dec. 20, AdDuplex reported, more than half – 53.6% to be exact – had upgraded to FCU from an earlier version.

Other editions still proliferated on customers’ PCs. The April feature upgrade, dubbed Creators Update and labeled 1703, powered 34%. Even older versions, including 2016’s only feature upgrade, the Anniversary Update (1607) and the soon-to-be-retired-from-support 1511, accounted for 11% and 1%, respectively.

The quick shift to FCU stood in contrast to the lethargic transition to Creators Update earlier in 2017. Eleven weeks after Creators Update’s April 5 debut, AdDuplex measured its share of all Windows 10 PCs at just 36%, barely more than a third. Its predecessor, the Anniversary Update, or 1607, continued to power the majority of Windows 10 PCs (59%) at the time.

Microsoft controls the pace of Windows 10 feature upgrades adoption, at least in the opening months after each release. While some users do actively seek out the upgrade to download and install, most wait for Microsoft to offer it to their PC, at which point the rest is usually automatic.

The Redmond, Wash. developer has been clear that it does not open the upgrade spigot all the way at the start. Instead, it provides each feature upgrade to an increasing number of PCs as time ticks by, beginning with the subset of the newest systems that theoretically should have the fewest problems installing the code. The staged-release model – while not new, not even Microsoft’s invention – lets developers gauge installation success, correct any problems, and then continue the rolling release.

That the FCU was handed to customers faster than its predecessor could be explained several ways.

After five releases, Microsoft may have found its legs, able finally to get a majority of its Windows 10 users onto a feature upgrade in little more than two months, and thus prove that it can execute its rapid development and release strategy. Or the FCU was simply in better shape at launch than the spring’s Creators Update; the contrasting timelines reflected the better-quality FCU.

Android Games Tracks Users Viewing Habits

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net, Consumer Electronics

Yet another privacy violation has been found alive and well in the Google Play Store.

The New York Times reports that “hundreds” of apps are embedding a revenue stream-creating package called Alphonso that uses your smartphone microphone to track your TV viewing habits.

Games like ‘Pool 3D’, ‘Beer Pong: Trickshot‘, ‘Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin‘ and ‘Honey Quest‘ seem like innocent games but, in fact, have a secret agenda.

Now it’s important to emphasise that you have to actively give permission for an app to use your microphone in the first place, but so often we say ‘yes’ to that sort of thing when we don’t really know the consequences.

In this case, the NYT explains: “Using a smartphone’s microphone, Alphonso’s software can detail what people watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see.”

It’s a similar principle to Shazam, but without explicit permission. Plus it’s going to be kicking your battery life into submission we imagine.

However, Alphonso does have a deal with Shazam that means that when you Shazam something, the data is sent to Alphonso for analysis.

Alphonso says it does not record human speech, and that it only works with permission from the end user – but that permission needs only to be granted once.

“The consumer is opting in knowingly and can opt out anytime,” explains Ashish Cordia, CEO of Alphonso. The company declined to say just how many apps (some of which are on the Apple Store too) are being used, or which ones.

It also added that it didn’t approve of the kit being used in apps made for children, but this hasn’t stopped developers incorporating it anyway.

Apps like this often use embedded sounds hidden out of range in the TV signal which trigger the apps to record. This data can then be used by advertisers to set rates.

It’s all rather grim and creepy if we’re honest. But that’s just the way the world works now, seemingly. Pass the tinfoil.

Google has promised to improve warnings in the event that apps are harvesting data, whether the app is from inside or outside the Play Store.

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T Plans To Launch 5G Wireless Service Later This Year

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

The next generation of cellular technology will deliver a massive boost in speed, more ubiquitous coverage and a responsiveness quick enough to handle remote surgery or autonomous vehicles. It’s supposed to the fuel that drives all other innovations at CES 2018. Despite the numerous company announcements and field trials from the wireless industry, we don’t seem to be that much closer to 5G, which is widely expected to roll out in a big way by 2019.

AT&T is hoping to speed up the timetable. The company said on Thursday that it plans to launch its mobile 5G network in a dozen markets in late 2018, along with a single device able to tap into that network. This is different from Verizon’s plan to offer 5G service as a replacement for home broadband service this year — AT&T’s 5G will look more like the typical cellular service you enjoy now.

If it meets its deadline, AT&T would be the first carrier in the US to launch a mobile 5G service, which has the ability to eventually transform our world through broader, faster and more reliable coverage. The promised speeds are far faster than what most people can get at home (download a season’s worth of “Stranger Things” in seconds), but 5G will also better power the growing family of connected devices in our lives. The launch of 4G gave us Uber, Snapchat and live-streaming video — 5G potentially opens the door even wider to new innovations.

That promise has the carriers engaged in a war of words over 5G. Verizon struck first in 2015 by saying it would the first to launch field trials of 5G, and is on track to deliver a type of fixed 5G service later this year. T-Mobile has mocked both Verizon and AT&T has fueling the hype and potentially disappointing customers. Now AT&T is looking up the timeline again.

AT&T, however, is light on details. Gordon Mansfield, vice president of radio access network and device design for AT&T, said that while there would be a single type of device able to tap into the 5G network, he wouldn’t comment on what the gadget would look like. Whatever the form, the device is expected to use 4G for most of its normal connection, and switch to 5G when the extra speed is appropriate — think a download, live-streaming video or another bandwidth-intensive app.

He also declined to say which markets would get 5G coverage. The company has rolled out the confusingly named “5G Evolution” markets over the past year — cities with the infrastructure for higher wireless speeds, but isn’t actually 5G. The company calls 5G Evolution the foundation for 5G, although Mansfield wouldn’t say if one of the 23 metro areas would be in the dozen 5G markets.

Here’s a list of the “5G Evolution” markets: Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Fresno, California; Greenville, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Louisville; Memphis; Nashville; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Tulsa and Sacramento, California.

British Company Sues Uber, Alleges Ad Fraud

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A British mobile ad firm has filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc to force the ride-hailing company to pay millions of dollars of bills that Uber had refused to pay after claiming that ads being generated were fraudulent.

Fetch Media Ltd filed its lawsuit on Tuesday in the same California federal court where Uber had sued Fetch in September, accusing the agency of billing it for nonexistent, nonviewable or fraudulent ads, and failing to pass back rebates and commissions.

Uber voluntarily dismissed that lawsuit on Dec. 22, two weeks after the case was reassigned to U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, and said it would instead pursue related claims in a San Francisco state court.

Ad fraud, sometimes called click fraud, is a persistent issue in online advertising, occurring when automated programs mimic legitimate users by clicking ads.

Fetch, a London-based unit of Japan’s Dentsu Inc, suggested that Uber dismissed its federal case on concern it might lose after it was assigned to Rogers, who has overseen other litigation involving the San Francisco-based company.

 In Tuesday’s lawsuit, Fetch asked that Rogers be assigned to determine both companies’ contractual responsibilities, and direct Uber pay more than $19.7 million of invoices still owed for 2017.

“Fetch does not believe that Uber can avoid federal-court scrutiny of its incorrect contract theories so easily,” the company said.

Uber did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.

The Association of National Advertisers, a trade group, last May estimated that marketers would lose $6.5 billion in 2017 because of fake web traffic caused by “bots.”

Uber said in September that it had hired Fetch to place ads to encourage new riders to download the Uber app, and would pay for “legitimate clicks” that helped attract riders.

But it said Fetch wrongly claimed credit for app downloads that occurred without ads ever being clicked. Uber said it paid Fetch more than $82.5 million, but that Fetch’s failure to stop ad fraud contributed to at least $50 million of damages.

According to Uber, the alleged fraud surfaced in early 2017 as customers began complaining about where its ads appeared.

 Uber said, in one example, it had asked Fetch not to place ads on Breitbart.com, the conservative news website run by Steve Bannon, a former strategist for U.S. President Donald Trump, but that ads appeared there anyway.

In court papers, Fetch called Uber a “faithless business partner,” and said it had helped Uber monitor ad fraud despite not being contractually required. Fetch also said its work helped Uber register more than 35 million riders.

The case is Fetch Media Ltd v. Uber Technologies Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-00015.

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