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Dubai Police Department Debuts Robocop

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Known for glitz and cutting edge technology, Dubai has deployed a first-of-it’s kind robotic cop. The Robocop has started its duties as part of a new police program.

The Robocop is a customized service robot from Pal Robotics that will be posted in malls and tourist attractions, and people can use the touchscreen embedded in its chest to report crime, pay fines and get information.

“Now most people visit police stations or customer service, but with this tool we can reach the public 24/7 and it won’t ask for any sick leave or maternity leave,” Brig Khalid Al Razooqi, Dubai Police director general of smart services, said in a statement.

The robot has built-in cameras that will stream video back to the police command center. The next batch will be used to tackle crimes, and the police force has plans for a 3-meter tall robot piloted by a police officer from the inside for travel up to 80 kilometers per hour and carrying heavy equipment.

Brig Al Razooqi said the Dubai police plan to add robots until they reach around 25 percent of the force by 2030, allowing the human members of the police to focus their attention on other areas.

Bitcoin Hits Yet Another Record In Value

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Digital currency bitcoin blew past yet another record high this week, surging above $2,400, as demand for crypto-assets soared with the creation of new tokens to raise funding for start-ups using blockchain technology.

Blockchain, the underlying technology behind bitcoin, is a financial ledger maintained by a network of computers that can track the movement of any asset without the need for a central regulator.

Bitcoin hit a record of $2,409 BTC=BTSP on the BitStamp platform and was last up 4.3 percent at $2,363. So far this year, the price of bitcoin has more than doubled.

A key reason for bitcoin’s dominance in the nefarious online underworld, say technologists and cybercrime experts, is its size – the total value of all bitcoins in circulation is more than twice that of the nearest of hundreds of rivals.

Also, a big part of bitcoin’s recent surge is the increase in demand for other digital currencies being sold in so-called “initial coin offerings”, or ICOs. Under ICOs, blockchain start-ups sell their tokens directly to the public to raise capital without any regulatory oversight.

“Bitcoin up 100 percent in under 2 months. Shanghai down almost 10 percent same timeframe, compared to most global stocks up. Probably not a coincidence!”, Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive at DoubleLine Capital tweeted on Tuesday.

Strong demand for bitcoins in Japan has also fueled the rise of the virtual currency that can be moved like money around the world quickly and anonymously without the need for a central authority.

Lenovo Return To Profit, Despite Losses In Mobile Business

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

China’s Lenovo Group Ltd, the world’s largest personal computer (PC) manufacturer, has returned to profitability, but said rising component prices may put pressure on its bottom line this year as supply shortages extend to batteries.

Profit reached $535 million in the year to March on revenue that fell 4 percent, just missing analyst estimates. The news sent Lenovo shares up as much as 6 percent in Hong Kong trade.

The result comes as Lenovo navigates a PC market that has shrunk markedly since the advent of tablet computers. According to researcher Gartner, global PC shipments fell for the 10th consecutive quarter in January-March, dipping below 63 million units for the first time since 2007.

Lenovo’s annual shipments fell 1 percent versus a market decline of 3 percent, with its share rising 0.4 percentage point to a record 21.4 percent. Revenue in its PC and smart devices unit – which makes up 70 percent of the total – fell 2 percent.

The company blamed the declines on transition in its smartphone and data center businesses, as well as on a difficult macro environment and component supply constraints.

Memory shortage is likely to continue this year, particularly solid-state drives (SSD), pushing up parts costs, said Corporate President and Chief Executive Officer Gianfranco Lanci at an earnings briefing.

“We are starting to see shortage in batteries,” Lanci added. “That is mainly because of cars consuming many more batteries than before.”

Lanci said it could take a year for battery suppliers to catch up with demand and for prices to normalize, having risen by a single digit percent so far this year.

Lenovo’s mobile business, which accounts for 18 percent of revenue, booked a loss which widened somewhat to $566 million, though the firm said it was enjoying strong growth in Latin America and Western Europe.

T-Mobile Offers To Pay For Your Verzion iPhone, Google Pixel Device

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile has upped the ante regarding Verizon Wireless customers.

The company announced that it will cover the payments left on your Apple iPhone or Google Pixel if you bring it over from Verizon. Since they work equally well on both networks, the hope is that customers will just keep their phones when using T-Mobile service. The offer is a limited promotion that starts on May 31.

It’s the latest push by T-Mobile to extend its lead over rivals by getting you to make the jump. The competition has heated up with every carrier offering an unlimited plan, but T-Mobile has continually shaken things up with new offers. The carrier teased that this was the first of three announcements as it rolls into summer.

Initially, you will still have to pay off the balance of what you owe on the phone before you switch. After 15 days on T-Mobile’s service, the carrier will send you a digital prepaid MasterCard for that same value. If you have an early termination fee, T-Mobile said it will cover that as well. To ward off scammers, T-Mobile will only accept Verizon customers who have an established account for at least 60 days.

Families of up to five will be able to take advantage of this deal.

“We want all phones on all carriers to have complete freedom,” said Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert. “We think it’s the start of a trend.”

The offer only works with iPhones and Pixels. Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said he is working with other manufacturers to ensure their phones are easily switchable, “but we’re not there yet.”

AT&T and Sprint customers aren’t completely left out. T-Mobile will likewise cover the cost of your phone if you switch, but you’ll have to buy a new device on T-Mobile. Sievert said that it takes a longer time to port a phone from those two carriers over to T-Mobile, so there isn’t an instant switch like with Verizon devices. Those customers will be able to sell that phone or use it for another account once it’s paid off. T-Mobile had previously required that customers trade in that device.

Apple And Nokia Resolve Patent Dispute, Sees Future Collaboration

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has resolved a patent fight with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia and agreed to purchase more of its network products and services.

The deal means Nokia will get bigger royalties from Apple for using its mobile phone patents, helping offset the impact of waning demand for its mobile network hardware.

Such legal battles are common in the industry but can drag on for years and analysts had not been expecting such a quick resolution to the dispute that started in December.

Under the deal announced in a joint statement from the companies on Tuesday, Nokia will also supply network infrastructure products to Apple, and Apple will resume sales of Nokia’s digital health products in retail and online stores and look at further collaboration in health.

Digital health is one of the areas Nokia is targeting as it tries to develop new businesses to offset the industry-wide slump in demand for network equipment. Last year, Nokia bought France’s Withings S.A., a small firm with products such as activity trackers and baby monitors built on digital platforms.

“There could emerge big future value from this as Apple could become an important distribution channel,” said Handelsbanken analyst Daniel Djurberg, who has an “accumulate” recommendation for Nokia shares.

“I have not given any value so far for Nokia’s digital health business, but might apply an option value to it.”

Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told the company’s annual general meeting later on Tuesday that the deal would help expand network sales beyond telecom operators to global internet and technology giants.

“(The deal) involves a business collaboration … in particular in areas of IP and optical equipment, which is quite key to webscale players when they build their data centers,” he said. “It’s a good deal, a multi-year licensing deal, and I love it that it has an industrial deal and aspect to it.”

Under the patent license agreement, Nokia will receive a “significant” upfront cash payment and additional revenues from Apple starting from the current quarter. The companies did not give further details but analysts said the revenue was likely to be far higher than a previous deal.

Inge Heydorn, fund manager at Sentat Asset Management, said it was a smart move to collaborate on digital health products.

“It’s interesting for Nokia in a five- to 10-year perspective since I think it will be hard to be profitable within mobile infrastructure,” said Heydorn, whose firm does not hold any shares in Nokia.

Intel Goes AMD GPU Inside

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

We can now confirm the rumors that Intel has given up on Nvidia because it has written a checkto license AMD’s graphics.

It looks like veteran GPU editor Kyle Bennet was right when he first reported the rumor, however wild it sounded. We didn’t contemplate it but wrote about it  several times. Intel needs a GPU licence and the Nvidia – Intel licensing agreement ended on March 17 2017, so Intel doesn’t have a license. It is more likely that Intel has a licencee from AMD but neither company has officially announced it.  

Apple is licensing GPU tech from Imagination Technologies at least for the next eighteen to twenty four months until it gets its own. Samsung, MediaTek use ARM or Imagination Graphics IP but even without these two have good desktop / notebook graphics. Qualcomm acquired a huge set of IP from ATI when it was known as Imagion, and was the foundation for the Adreno today.

Nvidia Intel’s shotgun wedding ends in divorce

If you are in Intel’s shoes,there are two options, Nvidia or AMD. We know that Nvidia sued Intel and forced it into a settlement and now that the shotgun wedding is over, Intel wants out. Nvidia and Intel had many  disagreements over the Nforce chipset and the licensing, that resulted with $1.5 Billion settlement that Intel agreed to pay for five years. It does tend to sour a marriage somewhat if you go to court BEFORE the honeymoon, or indeed the marriage. Or the copulation – oh sorry we didn’t mean to menion sex.

AMD  needs money and licensing is a healthy revenue stream that will keep it going for numerous quarters. The licensing money usually positively affects gross margins, again something that AMD desperately needs to improve.

AMD loves Intel

Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group worked at Apple and worked closely with Intel too. He probably played an important role in these negotiations.

It remains to be seen when it will be formally announced and when it will start affecting AMD’s bottom line. The cooperation and agreement will allow Intel to access AMD’s graphics Intellectual Properties and most things Radeonish.

AMD will  weaken its position to fight Intel on in the integrated solutions, but licensing money should help overcome that issue. Despite that fact that these companies  compete, they are close when it comes to graphics.  

Of course, when we came to know the existence of the deal, we will dig much harder  to get the many more details about potential new products and if the Radeon will get inside of the future Intel CPUs. Intel takes a lot of time to implement a new architecture.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The MP3 Codec Finished?

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The MP3 digital audio coding format has now been officially confirmed as dead by its inventors.

The Fraunhofer Institute officially terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents, in a move widely interpreted by tech experts as MP3’s “official death warrant”.

It is all symbolic, you can still use MP3 files if you want to, but the removal of support for the format signals an official shift in the industry.

Basically there are better quality formats that offer more efficient compression and more functionality are now the standard. With cheaper and faster hard-drives you also have more space for less compressed higher quality music.

The Fraunhofer Institute said in a statement said that although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers.

“However, most of the latest media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs, such as the AAC [Advanced Audio Coding] family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is a division of a German research institution that contributed to the development of MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC.
It said AAC was now the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones”.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Update Now Allows Mac Users To Install Windows 10 Creators Version

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple has updated macOS Sierra to version 10.12.5 with more than three dozen security patches, and a change that allows users install Microsoft’s latest version of Windows 10 on their Macs.

Sierra 10.12.5 “adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp,” the update’s brief release notes read. Creators Update was the name Microsoft assigned to Windows 10 1703, the upgrade issued last month.

Boot Camp, which is baked into macOS, lets Mac owners run Windows on their machines. A Windows license is required. Boot Camp, while not virtualization software like VMware’s Fusion or Parallels International’s Parallels Desktop, serves the same purpose: Running Windows applications, including custom or mission-critical corporate software, on a Mac personal computer.

Previously, Mac users were forced onto a circuitous road to put Windows 10 Creators Update into Boot Camp. According to a Microsoft support document published before the upgrade was released, Mac owners first had to install an .iso of 2016’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka 1607, to Boot Camp. Once 1607 was in place, they could then upgrade Windows 10 to 1703 from within Boot Camp.

Monday’s macOS update voids that workaround: Mac owners may instead directly install a disk image — in .iso format — of Windows 10 1703 into Boot Camp.

Sierra 10.12.5 also patched 37 vulnerabilities in macOS. Apple also released security updates for Sierra’s two predecessors, 2015’s macOS El Capitan and 2014’s macOS Yosemite.

India Woos Apple Expansion, Offers Tax Concessions

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

India has proposed letting Apple Inc import mobile handset components intended for use in local manufacturing tax free, a top government official said.

The tax concessions will be subject to the condition of increasing local value addition over a period of time.

Apple Inc wants to expand its contract manufacturer’s facility in the southern Indian tech hub of Bengaluru, a federal minister said , as the iPhone maker seeks a bigger share in one of the world’s biggest smartphone markets.

Cupertino, California-based Apple last week started making iPhone SE at its Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron’s plant in Bengaluru..

Apple, which sold over 50 million iPhones in the March quarter, down 1 percent year-on-year, is looking for new markets as its sales in China have weakened.

Among a set of tax concessions, Apple had initially sought a 15-years tax holiday for all components that it would import for setting up a manufacturing facility in India.

A panel of ministries rejected that demand and has offered a phased program to increase the share of local production in the manufacturing, Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary at the Ministry of Electronics and IT said.

“We have offered them tax exemptions on those components which could not be manufactured in India,” Sundararajan told Reuters, adding that local manufacturing component would have to be increased gradually.

Apple has agreed to increase local share in production over a period of time, but there was a difference between the plans of the two sides, she said.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

India wants Apple to raise value addition share in phases of 3,5,7 and 10 years as the local capacity builds up, part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to boost manufacturing.

Industry estimates the phased manufacturing program could increase local value addition in mobile phones manufacturing to 40-50 percent in the next three years.

Earlier, Ravi Shankar Prasad, the federal minister for Electronics and IT said government officials were in touch with Apple and other mobile phone manufacturers about expanding facilities and setting up new plants.

“It will be a little early to say that India and Apple have agreed on the common ground,” said the official, adding India was ready to work out a roadmap to encourage manufacturing.

Industry estimates total value of mobile phones produced in India touched near 900 billion Indian rupees ($13.90 billion) compared with 540 billion rupees in the previous year.

“We are waiting for Apple to come back,” said Sundararajan.

Expedia Now Accepting Online Reservations For Cuba

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. online travel services company Expedia announced that it had started offering online booking for hotels in Communist-run Cuba, looking to capitalize on a boom in tourism to the Caribbean island.

Expedia joins a dozen U.S. airlines and cruise operators that have already ventured into the Cuban market since the United States announced a detente with its former Cold War foe in 2014 and eased travel and trade restrictions.

“I see a lot of potential. We are talking about the largest country in the Caribbean with significant hotel expansion plans,” Veronica Vega, Expedia area manager for Caribbean, said in an interview.

The number of visitors to Cuba rose 13 percent to a record 4 million in 2016, driven by a 74 percent jump in U.S. travelers. A survey recently showed the number of American visitors alone could multiply sevenfold to 2 million by 2025.

Expedia’s move comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration conducts a full review of U.S. policy toward Cuba. During his campaign, Trump had threatened to roll back the normalization of relations.

That does not seem to have dampened U.S. interest in the Cuban market. Analysts and corporate executives said it was hard to imagine Trump, a former businessman, taking measures that would harm U.S. companies already in Cuba.

U.S. law still bans general tourism to Cuba, but former President Barack Obama’s administration allowed Americans to travel more easily to Cuba for educational, cultural and other authorized purposes without having to go on organized group tours.

Expedia said Americans would simply have to certify that their trips fell under one of the 12 categories of authorized travel.

“We are very excited about being able to facilitate travel and give people the independence to select their itinerary,” said Vega.

Expedia said it would offer both hotel and BnB options and that customers would be able to pay online at the time of booking.

Is Nintendo’s Zelda Going Mobile?

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Zelda will be the next Nintendo IP to get the mobile treatment, according to sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal, with the new title expected to follow the Animal Crossing later this year.

The WSJ’s sources indicated that Animal Crossing is expected to launch in the second half of calendar 2017, with The Legend of Zelda to follow. However, the sources said that the order of the releases could still change, with Zelda arriving first.

With games based on Fire Emblem and Super Mario Bros. already released and Animal Crossing on the way, a version of Zelda was arguably inevitable. However, the success of Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch has bolstered public interest in the IP; in its recent financial results, Nintendo said that Breath of the Wild had sold 2.76 million units on Switch by March 31, despite the console only selling 2.74 million units.

One crucial detail that remains unclear is how the Zelda mobile game will be sold. Nintendo has talked openly about its reluctance to implement a traditional free-to-play model with its iconic franchises, opting for a free-to-try approach with Super Mario Run that ultimately carried a $10 in-app purchase to unlock the full game.

However, in March this year Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said the company was disappointed with the revenue earned from Super Mario Run. Fire Emblem Heroes uses a more typical version of the free-to-play model, but a Nintendo representative described it as “an outlier.”

“We honestly prefer the Super Mario Run model,” the company said. Whether that holds true for Zelda on mobile remains to be seen.

Nintendo and DeNA, which is involved with the game’s development, both resisted the WSJ’s request for comment.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Unveil Cloud IoT Core Services For Businesses

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Google has launched a cloud platform service to help organizations collect vital data from billions of Internet of Things devices.

The service, Google Cloud IoT Core, is designed to help enterprises, including utilities and transportation agencies, securely connect globally distributed devices to the Google Cloud Platform. There, the data can be centrally managed and integrated with Google’s data analytics services, said Indranil Chakraborty, cloud product manager at Google.

One customer who has been testing the new service for two months is Energyworx, a company of 40 workers that has used Google cloud services since 2014. Energyworx provides data analytics to utilities to help them plan better and improve performance.

The new Cloud IoT Core has been deployed by Energyworx to get real-time data readings from thousands of solar inverters and electric vehicle charging ports that have been deployed in California and other locales, said Edwin Poot, founder and visionary for Energyworx, in an interview. He said he expects to expand the test of Cloud IoT Core to include collection of data from millions of smart utility meters used to measure water and gas in coming years.

Cloud IoT Core provides a communications bridge between Google analytics and devices in the field, Poot said. Many of the devices, including solar invertors, rely on distinct or arcane data protocols that Google services can translate without manual intervention. (A solar inverter converts the variable direct current of a solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current that can be fed into the commercial electric grid.)

With the service, utilities can send control commands to meters, turning them on off, he said.

Energyworx only pays Google for the IoT devices it uses to receive data, Poot said, which should keep costs low. Overall, Poot said Google cloud services have cost a 10th what Energyworx was paying to Amazon Web Services, which it used prior to 2014.

“We’re seeing the power of cloud will grow fast and this [Google IoT] approach will be scalable,” Poot said. “We don’t install anything and don’t maintain anything. We just program it and use it and don’t worry about anything else.”

Samsung On The Hunt For Acquisitions

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to continue their hunt for acquisition opportunities, a company executive said on Monday, as the firm seeks to build software and services to further differentiate its products.

“We are going to be bullish on finding companies that fit our strategy,” Peter Koo, a senior vice president for Samsung’s mobile division, said during an investor event in Hong Kong. He did not elaborate on specific targets or technologies that Samsung is looking to acquire.

The world’s top maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions has grown more aggressive in acquiring companies in recent years, breaking from its past preference to rely on its own talent and use its cash for capital expenditures amid intensifying competition from the likes of Apple Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

In addition to buying firms such as Viv Labs and LoopPay, deals that bolstered Samsung’s existing efforts for artificial intelligence and mobile payments services, Samsung is also spending money to break into new businesses.

The firm completed an $8 billion acquisition of Harman International Industries early this year, its biggest ever deal, in an attempt to speed up its entry into the automotive components industry and develop a new growth engine.

Koo said Samsung’s aim with software and services is to primarily make its products more attractive to consumers, and that the firm will look for partnerships as well as acquisitions to bolster its offerings.

Angry Birds Movie To Get A Sequel, Says Rovio Entertainment

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games and animation studio Rovio Entertainment approved plans to proceed with a sequel to its Angry Birds movie, it said on Monday, aiming for release in September 2019.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 will be produced with Columbia Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures, Rovio said.

The first Angry Birds movie, released last year, earned about $350 million at the box office and gave a boost to Rovio’s game sales, helping the company to swing to an annual profit after years of falling earnings, job cuts and divestments.

Rovio said the new movie will be directed by Thurop Van Orman, the creator of animated TV series “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack”.

The original Angry Birds game — in which smartphone players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs — became a phenomenon in 2009, but the franchise faltered in the following years amid tough competition.

Alongside the movie plan, Rovio is looking to reduce its dependence on Angry Birds — earlier this month it launched “Battle Bay”, the firm’s first multiplayer game which does not carry the Angry Birds name.

Ford To Use Over-the-air Updates For Vehicle Software

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co announced that it would enter into the growing arena of “over-the-air” software updates, adding Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to its Sync 3-equipped 2016 vehicles for the first time via a wireless software update.

The latest upgrade to Sync 3, Ford’s interactive touch-screen system, will be accomplished through an over-the-air (OTA) update using Wi-Fi, not unlike how new software gets uploaded to smartphones by manufacturers.

After Tesla Inc’s early lead in 2015 introducing OTAs, traditional automakers are slowly beginning to embrace the new technology, within limits. Concerns about security and resistance from dealers worried about losing service revenue have hampered its adoption.

Thus far, established automakers have not used OTAs for safety systems, only for non-critical systems like infotainment.

Customers can also get the update via the traditional means of visiting their dealer or using a USB drive, Ford said.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are operating systems from Alphabet’s Google and Apple Inc that allow drivers to connect their smartphones to their vehicles’ dashboard.

Ford’s first use of OTAs comes about two months after it said it would hire 400 engineers to work on connectivity, mostly from Blackberry Ltd’s shuttered phone handset business. Blackberry QNX powers Ford’s Sync 3 system.

Besides being more convenient for customers, OTAs can bring automakers cost savings, as a substantial percentage of warranty repair issues and recalls can be corrected through OTAs.

 

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