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Yahoo Out, Google In For Firefox Corporate Browser

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet Inc’s Google picked up a previous location as the default search engine on Mozilla Corp’s Firefox Internet browser in the United States and other regions as the browser maker stunned Verizon Communication Inc’s Yahoo by canceling their deal.

Google confirmed the move but declined, along with Mozilla, to disclose revenue-sharing terms of the multiyear agreement. Google’s growing spending to be the primary search provider on apps and devices such as Apple Inc’s iPhone has been a major investor concern.

 Google will be Firefox’s default search provider on desktop and mobile in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said Denelle Dixon, Mozilla’s chief business and legal officer.

The decision was “based on a number of factors including doing what’s best for our brand, our effort to provide quality web search and the broader content experience for our users,” Dixon said. “We believe there are opportunities to work with Oath and Verizon outside of search.”

Verizon said Mozilla terminating the Yahoo agreement caught it off guard.

“We are surprised that Mozilla has decided to take another path, and we are in discussions with them regarding the terms of our agreement,” said Charles Stewart, a spokesman for Verizon’s Oath unit, which oversees Yahoo.

The search provider switch came as Mozilla announced Firefox Quantum, a faster, new version of the browser that company says is “30 percent lighter” than Google Chrome in that it uses less computer memory.

For a decade until 2014, Google had been Firefox’s worldwide search provider. Google then remained the default in Europe while regional rivals such as Yahoo, Russia’s Yandex and China’s Baidu Inc replaced it elsewhere.

Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer won a five-year contract with Mozilla in 2014 when Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser were battling for users.

 Chrome’s U.S. market share has since doubled to about 60 percent, according to data from analytics provider StatCounter, with Mozilla, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp browsers capturing the rest.

Yahoo paid Mozilla $375 million in 2015 and said that it would pay at least the same amount annually through 2019, according to regulatory filings.

Yahoo and Google aim to recoup placement fees by selling ads alongside search results and collecting valuable user data. Google said in October that contract changes drove a 54 percent increase in such fees to $2.4 billion in the third quarter.

 

Apple Boasts That iPhone X Pre-orders Are ‘Off The Charts’

October 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc swatted away concerns of muted demand for its iPhone X on Friday, saying pre-orders for the 10th-anniversary phone were “off the charts”.

The company’s shares, which have fallen steadily since it announced in early September it would launch two iPhones within two months, rose nearly 3 percent in response.

Pre-orders for the much-anticipated 10th-anniversary phone started from 12.01 am PT (0701 GMT) on Friday.

 “We can see from the initial response, customer demand is off the charts,” an Apple spokeswoman told Reuters.

“We’re working hard to get this revolutionary new product into the hands of every customer who wants one, as quickly as possible.”

IPhone X’s launch follows weeks of concerns among analysts about the production of the new phone, which for the first time includes new facial identification software to replace the fingerprint used on previous phones.

Analysts have cautioned that production of the phone was below target, due to difficulties in producing the TrueDepth camera system, which houses sophisticated cameras and sensors making it possible to unlock the phone using Face ID.

Wireless carriers in the United States and Canada have reported slow third-quarter customer upgrades.

Major promotions on the iPhone X from U.S. carriers have yet to materialize, and in some cases, the offers have been even less generous than what was available for the iPhone 8, said Walter Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG in a research note on Thursday. The base price for the phone is $999.

He noted that Sprint Corp’s iPhone X promotion of $350 in savings for trading in an eligible device was the most aggressive but still lower than what it offered for last year’s launch of the iPhone 7.

However, electronics retailer Best Buy Co is charging shoppers an extra $100, if they wish to buy an unactivated iPhone X outright.

 If customers order the phone on an installment billing plan, they will pay the same price charged by Apple and the carriers.

“Our prices reflect the fact that no matter a customer’s desired plan or carrier, or whether a customer is on a business or personal plan, they are able to get a phone the way they want at Best Buy,” Best Buy spokeswoman Carly Charlson said.

“Our customers have told us they want this flexibility and sometimes that has a cost.”

Drone Strikes Commercial Airplane In Canada

October 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

It was, says the Canadian Minister of Transport, the first time in Canada’s history.

In a statement, Marc Garneau revealed last Thursday, a Skyjet flight was struck by a drone as it approached Jean Lesage International Airport in Québec City.

“I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely,” said Garneau.

The Ministry of Transport told me that the aircraft was a Beech 100 King Air. The drone has not been identified.

Garneau told CBC that “it could have been much more serious” had the drone struck an engine or the cockpit.

He said the drone had been flying 3 miles from the airport at 450 meters (around 1,500 feet). This is 150 meters above the legal limit. There were eight passengers on the plane.

Since drones became commonplace, there have been increasing reports of the unmanned aerial vehicle endangering aircraft.

Some have been reported as near-misses. Some pilots have been convinced that a drone has struck their plane, although the actual presence of a drone was never confirmed.

Indeed, earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration declared that it had seen no verifiable evidence that a drone had ever struck a plane.

“Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft,” it said.

In September, however, two army helicopters were struck by a drone over Staten Island.

BlackBerry Settles Patent Dispute With BLU Products

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it inked a new license agreement with BLU Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-end Android phones, that would end patent disputes between the two companies.

Canada’s BlackBerry filed lawsuits against BLU in 2016, as part of the handset-maker-turned-software-company’s move to make cash off a bunch of technology patents it had collected in its heyday.

Thursday’s agreement will include on-going payments from BLU to BlackBerry, the companies said, but did not give further details.

The settlement will allow Blackberry “to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market,” said Jerald Gnuschke, senior director of Intellectual Property Licensing at BlackBerry.

BlackBerry, which holds about 40,000 worldwide patents and applications, has been long been focusing on software sales and licensing after its once-popular phones lost out to Apple and others in the smartphone industry.

BlackBerry Announces New Motion Smartphone

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The all-touchscreen BlackBerry Motion was officially unveiled at an electronics trade show in Dubai, just days after images of the new phone leaked online.

The new handset features a 5.5-inch HD display, 4GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery with support for QuickCharge 3.0. The Motion, which was unveiled at the GITEX 2017 trade show, is also rated IP67 for dust and water resistance.

The BlackBerry Motion is a follow-up to the KeyOne, the first phone released under a licensing agreement TCL has with BlackBerry to build and sell the devices. BlackBerry has detached itself from the hardware side, focusing on business security and software.

TCL, best known for making budget televisions and phones (under the Alcatel OneTouch brand), hopes to win some business customers of its own with its take on the BlackBerry family. The Motion is intended to show that the KeyOne isn’t a one-off product, and that TCL intends to create a new portfolio of products with the BlackBerry name.

The BlackBerry Motion will initially launch in the Middle East.

 

BlackBerry’s Focus On Software Pays Off

September 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd reported better-than-expected quarterly results and increased its fiscal-year revenue forecast after sales at its closely monitored software business hit a record, sending its shares up more than 7 percent in Thursday premarket trading.

The Canadian company, which last year stopped manufacturing the iconic BlackBerry smartphone to focus on software, reported a profit of 5 cents a share before special items for the second quarter ended on Aug. 31, compared with break-even per share a year earlier.

Revenue fell to $249 million from $352 million a year earlier but rose slightly from $244 million in the prior quarter.

Analysts had on average expected BlackBerry to break even on revenue of $220 million, excluding items, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income for the quarter was $19 million, or 4 cents per share.

Excluding restructuring costs and other items, BlackBerry said it expected fiscal-year revenue of $920 million to $950 million and positive earnings per share. It also forecast positive free cash flow.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company is aiming to notch 10 percent to 15 percent software revenue growth for its fiscal year, which runs until the end of February.

BlackBerry said software and services revenue reached a record $196 million in the quarter, more than the estimates of $174 million from RBC analyst Paul Trieber and $176.2 million from Macquarie’s Gus Papageorgiou.

Londoners Want Uber Back, Sign Petition

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Half a million people have signed an online petition in under 24 hours supporting Uber’s bid to stay on the streets of London, showing the company is turning to its tried-and-tested tactic of asking customers for help when it locks horns with regulators.

London’s transport authorities stunned the powerful start-up on Friday when they deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service for safety reasons and stripped it of its license from next week, although it can continue to operate while it appeals.

The regulator cited Uber’s failure to report serious criminal offices, conduct sufficient background checks on drivers and other safety issues, threatening the U.S. firm’s presence in one of the world’s wealthiest cities.

Uber immediately emailed users in London and urged them to sign a petition that said the city authorities had “caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice”.

By 1200 GMT on Saturday, more than 515,000 people had signed in support of Uber.

It counted 3.5 million active users in London in the past three months. Even if many tourists are probably included in the total, the figure represents a potential political force of commuters who face long journeys between their home and offices and who use Uber as a cheaper alternative to other taxi firms.

Turning to users for help is one of the first steps in Uber’s playbook. In Jakarta, Budapest, Toronto and Portland it asked riders to sign petitions and built online tools to contact lawmakers to show their support.

Regulators have at least partly relented in Portland, Toronto and Jakarta, but Budapest remains a work in progress.

Uber now faces a showdown with London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who this month said he wouldn’t let his teenage daughters use cabs like Uber on their own over fears for their safety.

Khan, a leading figure in the opposition Labour Party, said on Friday: “All private-hire operators in London need to play by the rules. The safety and security of Londoners must come first.”

As mayor, Khan is chairman of Transport for London, the regulator which stripped Uber of its license.

 London’s decision is the first major challenge for new Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over from co-founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick. He was forced out after internal and external investigations into sexual harassment complaints, the thwarting of government inquiries and potential bribery.

Is The Market For A.I. Chips Getting Hot

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

It is starting to look like the AI chipmarket is going to be a battle ground for chip development.

The AI market will be worth an estimated $59.8 billion by 2025 — up from just $1.4 billion last year. Nearly all major players in the IT industry have joined the race to develop AI chips and applications with the aim of establishing an early presence.

Currently mainstream products in the AI chip markets are those applied to machine learning and deep neural networks, including ASICs, GPU, FPGA and CPU chipsets. These have involved Nvidia, Intel, Qualcomm, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and IBM, Samsung, Huawei, Baidu and Tencent.

Nvidia is doing rather well with its GPU chipset series and has its foot on the development of a larger slice of development architectures. This includes Tesla Accelerator applied to cloud and supercomputers, Jetson fitted in robots and drones, and Drive PX adopted in automobiles. All of them share the same architecture to enable algorithm acceleration for deep learning.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said that his company has kept improving the design, system architecture, compiler and algorithm of its GPU solutions, and the deep neural network velocity has been already boosted by 50 fold within three years as a result, much faster than the time frame set by the Moore’s Law.

Intel is stepping up its AI blueprints ranging from network edges to datacenters, with AI chip platforms including Xeon, Xeon Phi processors and EPGA accelerators supporting the optimization of specific data load. The company has completed tests of its Lake Crest AI chipset designed to perfect neural network operation to improve deep learning efficiency.

Intel has its Myriad X, which can be applied to drones, smart cameras or AR (augmented reality) devices to sense and understand fast-changing external environments and facilitate interactions and learning.

The other force is Qualcomm with its newly released its Neural Processing Engine (NPE), with its software development kit (SDK) able to help developers optimise the AI performance on the firm’s Snapdragon 600, 800 series processors and support such AI architectures as Tensoflow, Caffe and Caffe 2.

NPE can manage image recognition, scene detection, camera filtration, and photo retouching. Facebook now uses it to accelerate the execution of the AR function of photos and real-time films through smartphone apps.

Google has its Tensor Process Unit (TPU) chipset for deep learning and algorithm, targeting AI developers and open for commercial and academic users through cloud services. Huawei has recently unveiled its Kirin 970 SoC, which is claimed to be the world’s first AI mobile chip fitted with neural processing unit (NPU).

The firm’s new-generation flagship smartphone models Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, set to hit the market in October, will carry Kirin 970 chipset, marking Huawei’s official entry into the AI arena. Baidu and Tencent are also actively developing customised AI chips.

AMD meanwhile has Vega to run cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning tasks—the kinds that fuel Siri and Alexa and are used by corporate giants like GE to analyze “big data” streams.

While investors are certainly optimistic about AMD, there’s little proof that the company can overtake NVIDIA in the AI at the moment. NVIDIA is already a self-driving car tech leader, is the go-to GPU maker for many AI servers, and has a clear understanding of its market potential in the AI space.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Releases Bixby In 200 More Countries

August 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

As with new movie releases and smart home electronics, Australia, the UK and other countries seem to be behind in getting new technology offerings packing the US market.

One of the latest is the Bixby voice feature in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus phones, Bixby being the assistant software similar to Siri or Google Assistant — which itself just arrived in Australia with the Google Home this July.

To install Bixby on your S8 or S8 Plus, press the dedicated Bixby voice key or swipe to Bixby Home and follow the update prompts. There are more than 200 countries now able to do that, including Australia, the UK, Canada, South Africa and more.

Then you’re ready to say, “Hi, Bixby” and begin familiarizing yourself with the features and commands that have been available to South Korean and US users since late July. You can start working on that here.

Non-Premium Spotify Users Can Now Stream On Google Home

August 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Spotify unveiled a nice suprise for those who use the music-streaming service for free.

Starting now, free users will be able to enjoy and control music through a Google Home device, just as premium subscribers have been able to do since the launch of the home hub, Spotify said Friday.

The news could nudge some free Spotify users toward investing in one of Google’s home hubs if they haven’t already. Especially if they’re trying to decide between Google Home and the rival Amazon Echo, which can still be used only by Spotify Premium subscribers.

Access through Home will be available to free Spotify users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, and Germany.

“We are incredibly excited that, from today, millions of Spotify’s free users will be able to enjoy Spotify in their homes through voice-activated speakers for the very first time, thanks to the Assistant on Google Home,” Mikael Ericsson, Spotify’s product director for platform and partner experience, said in a statement.

Using a voice-activated smart home hub with a speaker lets you simply tell the device what you want to hear, freeing you from having to search for tunes on your phone.

With a properly configured Spotify-Home setup, you can get your music going by using commands like “OK, Google, play Spotify,” “OK, Google, play Discover Weekly” and “OK, Google, play my Taylor Swift playlist.”

After that, you just have to hope no one in the room objects to your choice and gives Home different orders (the only downside we’ve discovered to voice-controlled music playback).

Will WhatsApp Face Competition From Amazon

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Just when you thought the messaging app market couldn’t get any more crowded, along come the rumors that Amazon wants a piece of the action.

According to AFTV News, Amazon has begun surveying customers about the new messaging service to gauge which features are most important them.

Called Anytime, the rumored app will apparently be a one-stop-shop focused on voice and video calls, alongside a photo sharing feature with @mentions, as well as some highly-original real-time filters for photos and video with “special effects and masks.”

So yes, that will almost definitely mean more basic dog-eared AR seflies *eyeroll emoji*.

If the rumors are true, the service would also keep chats private and allows users to “encrypt important messages like bank account details”, allowing them to converse with businesses, make reservations, and – in true Amazon style – virtually shop until they drop.

“Based on the images I’ve been provided, Anytime by Amazon seems to be an all-in-one feature rich service that could even rival social networks,” the AFTV report stated. “[It] will also provide tasks that can be done in groups, like playing games, listening to music, and ordering food.”

There’s no word on how long the app will take to get into the phone-wielding hands of the masses, but a customer said the survey implied it was “a ready product”.

Are you surprised that Amazon is making a move on the messaging app market? We’re certainly not. The firm is desperate to get in on any kind of action these days in its plan to take over the world and be the go-to for everything.

Don’t be shocked when the company launches its own dating service, where we would expect you could get a dinner date with Alexa as part of a Black Friday deal.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Amazon Announces Return Of ‘Prime Day’ Sales Bonanza

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

If you missed last year’s sales extravaganza, Amazon has good news for you.

The e-commerce titan has officially announced its third annual Prime Day will be July 11. The sales day will include hundreds of thousands of deals worldwide and run for 30 hours, starting at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on July 10. As usual, these deals will be available only to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year in the US and can sign up for £59 in the UK until July 3, for unlimited two-day shipping and other perks.

The sale will also expand to more countries to include Mexico, China and India, where Amazon launched its Prime membership program over the past year. The US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium and Austria are also included.

Amazon has found huge success creating the sales holiday in 2015 to mark its 20th anniversary. The company even broke its single-day sales record during Prime Day last year. But, as Amazon’s dominance continues to grow, Prime Day serves as another example of the online seller gobbling up more market share as traditional retailers file for bankruptcy or close stores. The company last year accounted for 43 percent of all online sales in the US, according to researcher Slice Intelligence.

Perhaps aware of its increased influence, Amazon mentioned in its announcement Wednesday that 40 percent of its “Lightning Deals” promotions on Prime Day will come from small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Since its first year, Prime Day has also gotten knocked for offering undesirable deals along with low inventories of the most popular items. Responding to that criticism, the company increased its stocks of big-name items last year and decided to embrace the sometimes oddball or unexpected nature of the deals offered. These changed seemed to work, with Adobe Digital Insights reporting that customer sentiments on social media was more positive last year than during the first Prime Day.

The company is also doing more this year to better organize deals and make it easier for customers to track and shop for sales.

Amazon will be continuing its “countdown deals” in the run-up to Prime Day, offering sales starting today. Those include discounts on memberships for Amazon Music Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited and Audible.

Australia Wants More Access To Encrypted Messages

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Australia has announce that it will seek greater powers to tackle the use of encrypted messaging services used by terrorists and criminals at an upcoming meeting of ministers from the “Five Eyes” intelligence network.

The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, will meet in the Canadian city of Ottawa next week, where they will discuss tactics to combat terrorism and border protection, two senior Australian ministers said.

Australia has made it clear it wants tech companies to do much more to give intelligence and law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications.

“I will raise the need to address ongoing challenges posed by terrorists and criminals using encryption,” Australian Attorney General Senator Brandis said in a joint statement.

“These discussions will focus on the need to cooperate with service providers to ensure reasonable assistance is provided to law enforcement and security agencies.”

Tech firms such as Apple and Facebook, which owns encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, have been criticized in the United Kingdom and United States for not doing enough to crackdown on so-called dark spaces where extremists can communicate.

Industry involvement in thwarting the encryption of terrorist messaging will be a priority for Australia at the gathering, Senator Brandis said.

Android Pay Adds First International Remittance Firm WorldRemit

June 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Cross-border money transfer service WorldRemit is teaming up Android Pay, making it the first international remittance firm to run on the Google payments system, the company said on Tuesday.

Connecting with Android Pay will enable WorldRemit customers in developed markets like Europe or North America to make instant international money transfers to reach the 112 million accounts available via WorldRemit’s network of payment channels.

London-based WorldRemit says it handles about three-quarters of mobile phone-based international money transfers, a small but fast-growing segment of the global $575 billion worldwide remittance market. Recipients using WorldRemit can up pick cash or deposit money in banks or mobile money accounts or top up mobile accounts.

Android Pay is a secure way for smartphone users to store credit, debit or loyalty cards to make payments online or in stores which Google has set up in about 15 of the world’s most advanced markets since launching it two years ago.

In effect, smartphone users where Android Pay is available will have a simple and secure way to make money transfers to the 125 countries where WorldRemit operates.

“Our customers often complete money transfer transactions while talking to family or friends on WhatsApp,” WorldRemit Chief Executive Ismail Ahmed said in an interview last week at the MoneyConf financial technology conference in Madrid. “Anything we can do to simplify that process is a big thing for us.”

Ahmed, a former United Nations development advisor from Somaliland, set up WorldRemit in 2010 and has raised nearly $150 million in equity funding from venture firms including Accel and TCV and another $45 million in debt financing.

Once Android Pay is set up, transfers can be done in five clicks via the WorldRemit service, the company said. Using this route, customers no longer have to re-enter credit card details or pass additional security tests that can derail transactions.

The cost of transfers via Android Pay are in line with other credit or debit card processing fees it charges – normally well under 5 percent – WorldRemit said.

WorldRemit makes money by charging basic handling fees and a small mark-up on foreign exchange rates, which typically undercut rates charged by traditional, agent-based transfer firms like Western Union and MoneyGram.

Online payments firm PayPal began offering Android Pay to U.S. customers for domestic shopping or other transactions in April, but has not expanded internationally.

ARM Dives Into The A.I. Market With The Cortex A75 And A55

June 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

ARM has taken to Computex to unveil the Cortex-A75 and A55 CPUs, which it claims are its most powerful to date.

The flagship Cortex-A75, which is based on ARM’s flexible and scalable Dymaniq microarchitecture and destined for high-end smartphones, offers a 22 per cent improvement in single-threaded performance compared to its Cortex-A73 predecessor and up to 50 per cent more performance in multithreaded use cases. What’s more, according to ARM, the CPU can use just 2W of power and offer a 30 per cent increase in performance on large-screened devices.

A timely leak suggests that Qualcomm’s as-yet-unannounced Snapdragon 845, set to debut inside the Galaxy S9, will be powered by Cortex-A75 cores.

Nandan Nayampally, VP and general manager of ARM’s CPU group, remarked: “I have been at ARM for over a dozen years and can’t remember being this excited about a product delivering such a boost to single-threaded performance without compromising our efficiency leadership.

“The Cortex-A75 delivers a massive 50 percent uplift in performance and greater multicore capabilities, enabling our partners to address multiple high-performance use cases including laptops, networking and servers, all within a smartphone power profile.”

The Cortex-A55 is described by ARM as its “most versatile high-efficiency processor”, and claims the new CPU offers 15 percent more power efficiency compared to its predecessor, in addition to 10 times more scalability, and two times the memory efficiency. 

As well as touting performance upgrades, ARM is – unsurprisingly – touting its new CPUs as optimised for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Both the Cortex-A75 and A55 put ARM feature dedicated instructions for AI performance tasks and set ARM, it claims, on a trajectory to deliver “50x AI performance increases over the next three to five years.”

ARM also on Monday launched the Mali-G72 GPU, which it claims further optimises its SoCs for AI and machine learning tasks. Touting it as its “most efficient yet”, the G72 claims a 1.4 times performance if the Mali-G71 before it and a 25 per cent boost in efficiency.

ARM expects that the first implementations of its new CPU and GPU technologies to appear either in Q4 2017 or Q1 2018. 

Courtesy-TheInq

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