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AVAST To Seek An IPO In 2018

November 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

AV outfit Avast has hired Rothschild to prepare the business for an initial public offering (IPO) which could value the firm at as much as $4 billion.

CVC Capital Partners, which took control of the Prague-based company in 2014, could seek a London listing for Avast in the first half of next year if market conditions allow.

If successful, Avast’s float would represent the largest ever UK technology IPO. However it would have to navigate a tough market, which has seen a number of planned London listings pulled in recent weeks.

CVC hired Rothschild after talking to a series of banks as part of a contest in October, the sources said, adding Rothschild will carry out the preliminary work for the deal which includes the selection of global coordinators and bookrunners.

Avast, which previously attempted to float on Nasdaq in 2012, has Summit Partners among its minority investors alongside Czech entrepreneurs Pavel Baudiš and Eduard Kuera who founded the company in 1991.

Courtesy-Fud

Nintendo Not Happy With Super Mario

November 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Super Mario Run has now been downloaded 200 million times worldwide, and yet Nintendo still isn’t satisfied with how much money it has made.

Mario’s mobile debut launched in December last year, and it hit 150 million downloads at the end of April. However, despite adding a further 50 million downloads in the six months since then, Nintendo expressed disappointment in how profitable the game has been.

In an investor briefing, the company said that “we have not yet reached an acceptable profit point” with Super Mario Run, and emphasised the amount it has learned that can be used in its future mobile releases. Nintendo is still updating and promoting the game, including a new game mode, Remix10, which was added in September, and a “special price offer” to coincide with the update.

Nintendo saw better performance, relatively speaking, from a different mobile title: Fire Emblem Heroes, which launched in February and, notably, employed a free-to-play business model. In that case, an ongoing program of updates means it is, “on track to meet our overall business objectives, including our profit objectives.”

This difference is arguably evident in the strategy for Nintendo’s next major mobile release, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which will also use a free-to-play revenue model based on a soft currency called “Leaf Tickets.” Nevertheless, Nintendo described Animal Crossing’s business model as “free-to-start” when presenting to its investors.

“There will be Leaf Tickets, which can be used in a variety of situations within the game, as consumable items. They will be available for free as the game advances but players can also purchase these. Our objective is to offer a service that allows even consumers who do not normally play games on a regular basis to have a little fun each and every day.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Nintendo Stock Hits A High Road

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo shares have hit a ten-year high following the announcement that Switch production is being increased to two million units per month.

As reported by Digitimes, the Switch is upping production from a previous undisclosed number, estimated to be between 800,000 and one million.

Nintendo shares are now trading at their highest value since March 2008 after rising 2.66% in Tokyo on Friday, gaining a total 77% since the beginning of 2017.

The Switch, which was already Nintendo’s fastest selling console, is expected to sell 20 million units by the end of the year, a source told Digitimes, far exceeding the 13 million predicted earlier this year.

The news comes amid speculation that the Switch could soon be released in China following the announcement that the smash-hit mobile game Honour of Kings was coming to western markets via the Switch.

Honour of Kings reportedly accounts for around 50% of publisher Tencent’s mobile revenue and has over 200 million users in the region. By managing to strike a deal with Tencent, Nintendo could be well positioned to release in China, and the portable format of the Switch plays into the handheld dominated market where the Xbox One and Playstation 4 enjoy little success initially.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Google Assistant Comes To Bose Premium Headphones

September 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Last month Bose accidentally leaked shots in a newsletter of what appeared to be a new version of its top noise-canceling headphone, the QuietComfort 35. The tip-off was an extra button on the headphones that tech sleuths speculated had something to do with a possible voice assistant.

Now Bose has officially announced the not-so-secret QuietComfort 35 II or QC35 II and told us that the new “Action” button on the left ear cup allows you to connect to your Google Assistant without “having to grab your phone, unlock it, and find the app.” And that wasn’t the only Bose news of the day: It also introduced the SoundSport Free, a set of totally wireless Apple AirPods competitors.

Aside from that new button on the QC35 II, nothing has changed, Bose says. The price is still $350 (£330, AU$500). The headphone sounds the same as its predecessor, has the same noise canceling and battery performance (up to 20 hours) and the same controls on the right ear cup — audio volume and the multi-function button for incoming calls and accessing Siri.

Google Assistant is available for Android and iOS devices and is similar to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Instead of talking to your phone to access Google Assistant, you just press and hold the Action button on the QC35 II and issue commands. The QC35 II’s advanced microphone system “picks up voices with remarkable accuracy, so commands are understood,” Bose says. And the headphone’s noise cancellation “dramatically reduces sound around you,” making the Google Assistant experience more personal and immersive.

Tomer Amarilio, product manager for Google Assistant, posted a blog about the first headphones that are “optimized for the Assistant” where he details some of Google Assistant’s potential uses with the QC35 II. Presumably, other Assistant-optimized headphones are in the works.

The Bose QC35 II is available now in black and silver. Bose notes that the QC35 II’s Action button will access the Google Assistant only in markets where Google Assistant is available. In other markets, the Action button will control noise settings only.

Apple’s iOS 11 Has ‘Cop Button’ Feature

August 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has added a brand new feature to easily disable Touch ID in iOS 11.

The feature, which is designed to aid calls for emergencies, allows users to quickly tap the power button five times to call 911 on an iPhone 7.

While this won’t automatically dial emergency services, it brings up the option to call 911 or temporarily disable Touch ID until the iPhone’s owner enters their passcode.

The new setting was first discovered by Twitter users in the iOS 11 public beta. They’ve since nicknamed the feature a “cop button,” notably after the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to unlock an iPhone used by Syed Farook, who killed 14 people in a 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.

The incident led to a highly publicized war of words last year between the tech giant and the US government over security and privacy. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

AT&T Offers ZTE’s Blade Spark Smartphone For Only $99

July 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

These days, low-cost and durable smartphones that will stretch your dollar aren’t too hard to find. Case in point is the newest offering from AT&T and ZTE: the Blade Spark.

Available as a prepaid phone, the Blade Spark features a fingerprint reader, a 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor and Android Nougat 7.1.1. Given that it only costs $99, too, the phone is a good deal for anyone looking for a budget phone.

The Blade Spark (which has a design that reminds me a lot of 2014’s Motorola Moto X from the back) also has a 5.5-inch display, a 13-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter that has its own dedicated button on the edge of the phone to fire off the shutter.

Other devices to consider around this price range is the $185 Motorola Moto G5 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy J3, which starts at $110. For more about budget phones, check out our top 10 picks for cheap phones we love.

Microsoft Gives Cortana For iOS A Facelift

March 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft gave its Cortana app for iOS a makeover, replacing its old black and blue aesthetic with a new look that puts the assistant’s key features at users’ fingertips.

The app now features Quick Actions, so that users can tap a couple of buttons and get Cortana to create an alarm, set a reminder, or tell them a joke. That means users can get at key features without having to talk or type queries, and it also gives them a framework for what they can do with the app, without them having to discover it on their own.

The virtual assistant market is a crowded one, between Cortana, Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant all competing for users’ time and interest. Microsoft’s assistant is built deeply into PCs with Windows 10, but the company also needs to keep its apps for other mobile platforms up to date in order to meet users where they are.

In addition, the app’s phone call and messaging functionality got a facelift, so users who want to text using Cortana can do so, in a move that makes it even more competitive with Apple’s Siri.

Cortana’s messaging and calling capabilities got a redesign as well. When users ask Cortana to make a call, the app will fire up the iPhone’s dialer. Sending a message pulls up a view of the built-in messaging app.

The redesign is similar to one that the company gave Cortana’s Android app in December of last year.

Facebook Testing A ‘Dislike’ Emoji

March 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook executives have been mulling over the idea to introduce a dislike button, or something similar to it, for years.

Now it seems the social network is taking a big step in possibly giving users something similar to the dislike button they’ve been asking for.

A spokesperson for Facebook’s Messenger app confirmed to Computerworld today that they are running a small test of something akin to a dislike option.

“We’re always testing ways to make Messenger more fun and engaging,” she said. “This is a small test where we enable people to share an emoji that best represents their feelings on a message.”

The test is centered around what basically are thumbs up or a thumbs down emojis being added to the list of Facebook’s other emoji reaction options, like love, laughter, wow, sad and angry.

The new emoji options could be used if a group of friends is deciding on whether to order a pizza or to meet at a particular restaurant or park.

There’s no sign yet that Facebook executives are considering testing out the new like and dislike options on the Facebook website or app.

If the emotion options are pushed through, it would be the first additions since Facebook moved beyond just the “like” button in February 2016. That’s when the world’s largest social network added the haha, wow, sad, love and angry reactions.

If a dislike option is added, it would be a departure from what Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said about it in the past.

In a September 2015 town hall forum, Zuckerberg said they were working on adding to the single like option at the time but he was hesitant to give users a dislike option.

“It took us a while to get here because we didn’t want to just build a dislike button because we don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts,” he said at the time. “That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create.”

And in 2014, at another town hall event, Zuckerberg also voiced concern about the toxicity that a dislike button could spread on the social network.

Now it seems that the company is hoping people will use the thumbs up and down emojis as more of a way to vote on something, rather than to show their displeasure with someone’s post. Of course, there’s no stopping people from using the thumbs down or dislike button for any reason they choose.

Apple Being Sued Over Bricked Phone Issue

February 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Five individuals have filed suit against Apple and asked a federal court to designate the case as a  class action because their iPhones were allegedly “bricked” after they had either repaired their smartphones themselves or went to a third-party shop for repairs.

According the complaint the five were represented by the Seattle, Wash. law firm Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amala (PCVA).

The complaint was based on “Error 53,” an error message that has appeared on iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus and 6S Plus devices. It appears when a do-it-yourself owner or a third-party shop has replaced the Home button — which includes the Touch ID sensor — and/or the connecting cable. Once the error appears, the iPhone is “bricked,” or rendered unusable.

Error 53 is triggered when users update or upgrade to a new version of iOS, and the operating system detects that components have been changed in the iPhone.

Apple has said the error message and subsequent crippling of the iPhone are “security checks designed to protect our customers.” If iOS sniffs out a new Home button or cable, Touch ID, the fingerprint-based authentication technology used by the iPhone, is disabled. “This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used,” Apple said in a statement Tuesday.

A recently published support document on Apple’s website provided additional information about the circumstances that can trigger Error 53, including a screen replacement. “An unauthorized or faulty screen replacement could cause the check to fail,” the support document stated.

PCVA attorneys for the five plaintiffs — who include one each from Arizona, California and Oregon, and two from Florida — sued Apple for alleged negligence, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and violation of California’s unfair competition and false advertising laws.

“Plaintiff DeNoma decided to replace the screen himself after researching how to do so,” the lawsuit said, referring to John DeNoma of Oregon. “While replacing the screen, he broke the ribbon cable that connected the Touch ID to the device, so he ended up replacing the entire home button. The iPhone worked great after the repair.

“Sometime in or around December 2015, Plaintiff DeNoma updated the iPhone to iOS 9.1.2. Halfway through the process, the device froze and the Error 53 code appeared. Plaintiff DeNoma would not have attempted to install the Operating System update had he been warned or notified by Apple that Error 53 might occur and/or that his device might be rendered inoperable and unusable.”

Much of the potential class-action lawsuit relies on charges that Apple failed to tell iPhone owners that if they had their devices repaired by anyone other than Apple, the smartphone might not work after an iOS update or upgrade.

 

 

Nintendo Keeps Drop Year Over Year

February 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo’s finances took a dip in the company’s third quarter report for FY 2015 – sales stayed relatively stable with just 3.9 per cent shrinkage to 427.7 billion Yen ($3.5bn), but profits dropped by 32 per cent year-on-year to 40.5 billion Yen ($336m).

Although the bottom line failed to excite, plenty of familiar faces performed well for the publisher’s software arm, as well as a few new names. Top seller was Child friendly Wii U shooter Splatoon, shifting over four million units. Super Mario maker wasn’t far behind on 3.34 million, whilst Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer reached 2.93 million. Collectively the 3DS family sold 5.88 million units of hardware and 38.87 million games. The Wii U totalled 3.06 million consoles and 22.62 million pieces of software. 20.50 million Amiibo figures were sold, and approximately 21.50 million Amiibo cards.

Those eagerly awaiting news of either the new NX system or the company’s first smartphone game will be disappointed – neither was mentioned in the company’s forward looking statements. Instead, the publisher focused on relatively known quantities.

“For Nintendo 3DS, we will globally release a special edition hardware pre-installed with Pokémon title(s) from the original Pokémon series on February 27 which marks the 20th year since the original Pokémon series release,2 read the accompanying statement.

“Furthermore, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and key titles from third-party publishers are scheduled for release. For Wii U, we will strive to maintain the attention level of Splatoon and Super Mario Maker, which are continuing to show steady sales, while introducing new titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Meanwhile, for Amiibo, we will continue to expand the product lineup in order to maintain momentum. At the same time, we will aim to further expand sales by offering new gaming experiences with the use of Amiibo. In addition, the first application for smart devices, Miitomo, is scheduled for release.”

The company has maintained its full year target of 35 billion Yen in profit.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Microsoft Updates Sway App, Adds Recycle Bin

January 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Users of Microsoft’s new Sway presentation app no longer have to worry about their work getting accidentally deleted, thanks to a set of new features the company recently released.

When people delete a Sway that they’re working on, it’s sent to the service’s Recycle Bin, where it can be recovered for 30 days, rather than disappearing forever right off the bat. It’s good news for people who put hours of work into creating presentations using Sway, only to have them disappear in the blink of an eye when users clicked or tapped the wrong button.

People who are sure that they want to delete things in the Recycle Bin can choose the Empty Recycle Bin button to permanently delete all of the Sways that are on the chopping block.

People who use Chromebooks and Office 365 also have an easier way of getting access to Sway, which is now available from the Chrome Web Store. That makes it easier for Chrome OS users to get access to Sway Online from their Chrome browser homepage and the Chromebook launcher, and is particularly valuable for educators and students who use Google’s operating system but have access to Office 365 through their institution.

Microsoft also made it easier for folks who are already tied into its Office ecosystem to create Sway presentations with a new beta Add-in for the PC version of OneNote that automatically generates a Sway based on a OneNote page. All users have to do is click a button in OneNote, and Sway will generate a presentation for them based on the content of their notes.

It’s an interesting competitive move that puts Sway and OneNote on par with Evernote, which also supports creating a presentation from a note or group of notes.

Sway for Windows 10 also now supports dragging and dropping images from the file explorer into a presentation. It’s a feature that makes it easier for users to take pictures that they’ve found online or shot themselves and turn them into a part of the presentation that they’re building.

The app also now supports natively viewing presentations in full screen, something that previously required people to use a browser that’s capable of entering full screen mode.

 

 

 

Microsoft Rolls Out New Updates For iOS, Android Outlook Apps

January 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Outlook users who need to initiate a videoconference will have an easier time with new updates Microsoft announced for the app on iOS and Android.

The updates will allow users to tap a Skype call toggle inside the app’s event creation screen, which will automatically generate a link to a video conference for invitees. When the conference time comes, people who are supposed to participate just need to tap on the Skype link, and the video chat app will open up on their devices.

For those people who don’t have a Skype app installed, Microsoft’s recently released Skype for Web will let them join in on the call, even if they don’t have Skype accounts.

The improvement isn’t all that surprising, given what Google has done with its own calendar invites. When creating an event in Google Calendar, there’s a “create video call” button that allows users to spawn a meeting link through Google Hangouts that works in much the same way as the Skype link.

The updates come on the heels of Microsoft announcing yesterday that it will be rolling out free video conferencing to all users of the Skype mobile apps.

Outlook’s calendar view also received a number of improvements, as the product team works to integrate the features of Sunrise Calendar into the app before closing down that dedicated application. Users can now see their full schedule at a glance by scrolling up or down on the two-week view that’s in the calendar screen. There’s also a new three-day view that lets users see a quick side-by-side look at any three days on the calendar.

Android users got a little extra love with this update, which gives them a quick navigation bar at the bottom of the app that lets them quickly navigate among the different mail, contacts, calendar and files tabs inside the app.

 

Microsoft Launches Office Insider, New Preview Program

November 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has launched a new preview program for consumers who subscribe to Office 365 that will give them an advance preview of new features slated to be added to the subscription service in the next one to three weeks.

Office Insider was opened to subscribers of Office 365 Home, Personal and University — the third is a four-year deal available only to college students — who are running Office 2016 on a Windows device. Office 365 subscribers who instead work with Office 2016 on a Mac are excluded for now, although Microsoft said they would be added in the “coming months.”

Like the already-established Windows Insider, Office Insider will serve as a feedback source for Microsoft’s developers.

Differences abound, however: Office Insider is accessible only to consumers and students with an Office 365 rent-not-own subscription — not to the general population as is Windows Insider — and more importantly, will preview new features just weeks, not months, away from landing on the production track. For example, the tools Microsoft touted as now available only to Insiders — including a pair of features for PowerPoint, and new “Send As” options for Word and PowerPoint — are slated to ship this month.

Windows Insider typically previews changes to Windows 10 that are as much as six to nine months away from reaching everyone in the next upgrade.

“The features are typically only 1-3 weeks out from general release and just need a bit of fine-tuning before becoming more widely available,” a company spokeswoman said in an email reply to questions.

Microsoft has committed to shipping monthly upgrades to Office 365 customers, something the company reiterated today. “Every month, the Office engineering team ships updates across the Office apps (mobile, desktop and Office Online), to include new functionality,” the spokeswoman added.

Subscribers to the eligible Office 365 SKUs (stock-keeping units) may join Office Insider by downloading the preview edition of Office 2016 from a new section of their Office 365 account dashboard, dubbed “Additional Install Options.”

 

 

 

Facebook To Widen Safety Check Tool Feature

November 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook’s Safety Check tool to alert friends and family about their safety was activated for the first time after the terror attack in Paris on Friday, with a large number of users reporting they had benefited from it.

But that move drew widespread criticism online that the company had been partial, as it had not activated the feature in other locations recently hit in terror attacks, notably the twin attacks in Beirut on Thursday.

The social networking company was also criticized for releasing a photo filter that allowed users to show support for the people of Paris using the colors of the French flag on their profile pictures, with some people online charging the company with double standards for not releasing similar filters for the terror attacks in Beirut and other locations. One user, Hubert Southall, offered to design filters for users, saying that Facebook “needs to include all affected nations.”

Facebook’s current travails highlight the minefields a global company can encounter as it tries to accommodate sensitivities across the countries it operates in, where users’ priorities can be different and there is often the tendency for certain groups to feel they are not important enough for a giant multinational.

In the wake of the controversy over the activation of Safety Check in Paris, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured its users that the tool would be turned on more frequently in the future during human disasters. “Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

The Safety Check tool asks users believed to be in the location of an emergency if they are safe and lets them inform their friends by clicking a button. People also can check in on users who they believe are in the emergency area. The tool was first used in a “very early version” in Tokyo during the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster and later after recent earthquakes in Afghanistan, Chile and Nepal as well as Tropical Cyclone Pam in the South Pacific and Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines.

 

 

Facebook Moves Into E-commerce With Shopping Feature

October 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc wants its users to buy clothes and other products from their mobile phones without ever leaving its app.

In an effort to move further into e-commerce and compete with Amazon Inc’s retail offerings, Facebook announced that it is testing several ad features that allow users to shop directly through its app.

Few users make purchases on mobile phones because it is slow and cumbersome, but Facebook hopes to win over more ad dollars by smoothing the process. Mobile purchases make up less than 2 percent of all retail sales, according to research firm eMarketer.

“We’re looking to give people an easier way to find products that will be interesting to them on mobile, make shopping easier and help businesses drive sales,” said Emma Rodgers, Facebook’s head of product marketing for commerce.

Among the new features are ads that take a user through a specific brand’s products without redirecting them to another site. For example, a user who clicks on an ad from a boutique could see an expanded page that displays numerous clothing items.

Businesses on Facebook will also be able to display products for purchase directly on their own pages. And users will be able to purchase products directly on Facebook through a “buy now” button that will be more widely available.

The 1.5-billion-member social network has also added a new section on its app that takes users directly to a shopping page where they can browse among numerous brands from a select group of small businesses that will gradually expand.

“From Facebook’s perspective, they’re addressing a pain point for retailers,” said Catherine Boyle, an analyst at eMarketer. “They will attract serious ad dollars with this offering.”

 

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