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Samsung Acknowledges Screen Rotation Issue With Galaxy S6 Edge Phones

April 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has finally acknowledged there is a screen rotation problem on a “very limited” number of Galaxy S6 Edge devices, which went on sale April 10.

The company said a solution is already available, but didn’t disclose whether it is related to the device’s hardware or software or both.

In a statement issued by email to Computerworld, a Samsung spokeswoman said: “Samsung is aware of an issue affecting screen rotation on a very limited number of Galaxy S6 Edge devices and a solution is already available. Owners who believe their device may be affected should call 1-800-SAMSUNG for support.”

The problem cropped up on the first day that Edge sales began 12 days ago. Dozens of users reported last week and this week on various online forums that photos they had taken with the phone and many apps would not rotate into landscape (horizontal) mode and were stuck in portrait (vertical) mode.

Some users said they returned the faulty Edge devices to the wireless carrier retail stores to get another Edge device, then found the auto-rotate problem cropped up, again, on the new phone.

The issue has also been reported on Edge devices on carriers outside the U.S., including New Zealand and Hong Kong. One user, Leon Chan, claimed on Android Forums on April 17 to have exchanged his Edge device three times due to the auto-rotation issue, but planned to get the cousin device, the regular Galaxy S6, the fourth time around. “I called Hong Kong Samsung and they seem to be unaware,” he wrote several days before Samsung issued its statement acknowledging the problem.

AT&T and Sprint both referred Computerworld to Samsung for comment on the concern. T-Mobile said it hasn’t seen any auto-rotate problems with Edge devices. Verizon didn’t respond to a request for comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Apple Watches To Arrive Ahead Of Schedule

April 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Some Apple Watch buyers who were told that they would have to wait until June to receive their new gadgets will get them sooner, according to a statement made by Apple.

When online pre-orders for Apple’s first smartwatch started on April 10, many customers were surprised to see delivery times as far out as June instead of on April 24, when the devices officially go on sale.

On Wednesday, Apple notified some buyers that they would not have to wait so long after all.

“Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received,” Apple said in a statement.

An Apple spokesman declined to say how soon the company would ship the watches or how many customers would be affected.

The Cupertino, California company previously predicted that demand would exceed supply at product launch. It has not said how many watches its customers have pre-ordered.

In a note to clients on Wednesday, FDR analyst Daniel Ives estimated Apple would take over 2 million pre-orders for the watch and ship 20 million of them in 2015.

“The longer-term consumer adoption curve for the Apple Watch remains a major ‘hot button’ question among tech investors as broad customer feedback is yet to be seen,” Ives wrote.

 

Will IoT Help The Semiconductor Industry Grow?

April 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Internet of Things (IoT) will be the semiconductor industry’s next growth driver, according to TSMC president and co-CEO CC Wei.

Wei believes that the healthcare chip market will reach US$6.8 billion in production value in 2017, said Wei. Meanwhile a family home could feature more than 500 smart devices by 2020.

He said that mobile devices have already replaced PCs as the major growth driver of the semiconductor market and in 2014, about 1.88 billion mobile phones were shipped with 1.2 billion of them being smartphones.

Technology is also enabling devices to progress. Taking PC as an example, the penetration rate of the devices has been pushed up thanks to more advanced chip-making technologies, Wei said.

Worldwide semiconductor R&D expenditures were as high as US$56 billion in 2013, with the US semiconductor industry contributing the most at US$33 billion. Taiwan’s R&D expenditures for the year came to about an impressive US$5 billion, Wei noted.

Among the industry’s top-10 R&D spenders in 2014, two Taiwan-based companies were listed, Wei disclosed. TSMC’s R&D spending for the year came to US$1.87 billion allowing the company to climb to fifth place in the ranking, while MediaTek moved up to ninth with total R&D expenditures of US$1.43 billion.

Courtesy-Fud

PayPal Is Going Biometric

April 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

PayPal has detailed a number of biometric security solutions that it believes could replace the conventional password.

The biometric solutions include embedded chip tattoos, vein recognition and even ingestible technology that would mean people no longer need to worry about fraudsters nicking their sensitive information or digital dosh.

The payments firm is flogging the idea via a presentation at various technology conferences entitled Kill all Passwords, where it claims that the rise of hacking and phishing targeting online banking services will lead people to use tighter security.

This next step, PayPal says, includes inserting security devices into the body to allow the use of unique internal characteristics to log-in to accounts.

It sounds a little far-fetched, but PayPal’s global head of developer advocacy, Jonathan LeBlanc, who is currently giving these presentations, doesn’t seem to think so.

He listed the most frequently used passwords, including ’123456′, ‘password’, ’12345678′, ‘qwerty’ and ‘abc123′, stating that a huge 40 percent of people have a password included in the top 100 passwords list and 14 percent have a password from the most used 10.

“As long as passwords remain the standard method for identifying your users on the web, people will still continue to use ‘letmein’ or ‘password123′ for their secure log-in, and will continue to be shocked when their accounts become compromised,” he said.

LeBlanc said that, after working with developers to uncover and trial new forms of secure account log-in, embeddable, injectable and ingestible devices are the future for mobile payments.

Devices that use some of this technology already exist, such as those used for medical applications including glucose detection, blood pressure monitoring and digestive health.

LeBlanc even went as far as to say that more recently developed online interactions using external bodily methods, such as fingerprints, used by the likes of Apple for its iPhones and iPads, are “antiquated” and will be phased out before services like PayPal will consider using them.

Sounding like something from a sci-fi film, another idea of PayPal’s is that a brain chip implant could allow humans to authenticate themselves online.

PayPal, which at the moment is still owned by auction site eBay, will become its own business again at some point this year following news of a split in 2014.

The numbers from eBay’s fourth-quarter and full-year financial statements last year explained that there will be a cull of about seven percent of staffers in the first quarter of 2015.

Meanwhile, PayPal faces challenges from established players and new entrants like Apple, which offers some kind of phone-based option.

Courtesy-TheInq

BlackBerry To Offer Security Function For IoT

April 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it will be offering a new certificate service that will help bring the security level it offers on smartphones to a slew of devices from cars to smart meters.

Certicom, a subsidiary of BlackBerry and an industry pioneer in elliptic curve cryptography, announced a new offering that it contends will secure millions of devices, expected to be part of the growing Internet of Things (IoT) sphere.

The company said it has already won a contract in Britain to issue certificates for the smart meter initiative there with more than 104 million smart meters and home energy management devices.

The service will make it much easier for companies rolling out such devices to authenticate and secure them, the company said.

Separately, BlackBerry also outlined a plan to expand its research and development efforts on innovation and improvement in computer security.

The initiative is being dubbed BlackBerry Center for High Assurance Computing Excellence (CHACE).

Increased network and device security has become a huge focus for large North American corporations in the face of costly and damaging security breaches.

U.S. retailer Target Corp is still recovering from a major breach in 2013 in which 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data such as email addresses and phone numbers were stolen.

Michaels Stores, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, said last year it had suffered a security breach that may have affected about 2.6 million payment cards.

BlackBerry said the fail-then-patch approach to managing security risk has become a widely accepted practice, but through CHACE it plans to develop tools and techniques that deliver a far higher level of protection than is currently available.

 

Samsung Projecting 70M Galaxy S6, Edge Phones To Be Sold

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has recently described the first week of Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge sales as “impressive” and predicted overall sales for both devices will break a record, passing 70 million globally for both.

That projection, offered by an unnamed Samsung executive in a recent Korea Times report from Seoul, would be welcome, indeed, after the company’s problems selling the Galaxy S5.

A Samsung spokeswoman could not immediately confirm the sales estimate. Both phones went on sale April 10 in the U.S. and other major markets.

The 70 million in sales for both phones would compare to reported sales of 70 million for each of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 phones. The Galaxy S5′s sales fell 40% below expectations, as measured last November, leading to an executive shakeup.

Samsung has been using the Edge device as a kind of promotion for both phones, which are reportedly sold to carriers in a ratio deal: When a carrier buys 10 Galaxy S6 phones to resell, the carrier gets the right to buy five Edge phones to resell.

The Edge is the first smartphone with two curved front display edges on either side, something Samsung expected would be a crowd pleaser. Some reports have said there were a record high 20 million pre-orders for both new phones and that some retailers sold out within a day of availability.

Samsung is apparently seeing good early sales despite user complaints of a problem with the auto-rotate feature on some Edge devices. Some images and apps remain stuck in the portrait mode (vertical) and won’t rotate as they should to landscape mode (horizontal), according to dozens of users in forums.

Samsung and U.S. carriers have offered no public explanation for the problem or its fix, nor have they said how many units are affected. Some customers have returned an Edge device only to have a second one fail. Sprint referred all queries on the matter to Samsung, while Verizon and AT&T have not commented.

 

Is Nokia Re-entering The Mobile Phone Market?

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia unloaded its mobile phone business to Microsoft last year, but now one of Nokia’s remaining business units is considering a return to the consumer mobile phone market next year.

Nokia Technologies, which controls thousands of technology patents, plans to re-enter the mobile phone market in 2016, according to unnamed sources cited by Re/code.

Such plans would be ambitious, especially given the super-competitive global smartphone and feature phone market. It isn’t clear precisely what Nokia Technologies is up to, and at least two analysts are skeptical it will work.

“People loved Nokia [in previous years], but I am not sure consumers will think that this is the same Nokia,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for Kantar WorldPanel ComTech via email. “From a business perspective, it will be hard to see how they can be competitive against white box players.”

It is also hard to see how devices will fit into Nokia’s overall business strategy, she said. Milanesi assumed the devices would be built on the Android platform, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

“The Nokia brand is a well-recognized brand, but I would think their re-entering the phone market is not going to happen,” added Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

“They certainly will be fighting an uphill battle,” said Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at IDC. “Nokia doesn’t have the brand catchet it once had and the phone market has gotten increasingly competitive as Chinese vendors like Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, etc., continue to gain share of wallet and mind, while driving down prices.”

Under terms of the $7 billion sale to Microsoft, Nokia can’t sell any phones under the Nokia brand through 2015 and can’t license the brand until the third quarter of 2016.

So far, it doesn’t appear that Nokia would manufacture any phones, but would instead design products and license those designs and the Nokia brand to other companies. The N1 Android tablet from Nokia Technologies was licensed to a Chinese manufacturer under that scheme.

 

 

Microsoft Strips Down Nano-Server

April 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is going great guns in the server market having recently announced the Nano Server, a “minimal footprint” Windows Server, and Hyper-V containers, which provide virtual machine isolation capabilities to containers.

Nano Server is even more stripped-down than Windows Server Core with the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components all being put in the dustbin.

You can’t do local logons, Remote Desktop and WMI and PowerShell are the only tools available to manage the creature.
Microsoft is also working on better remote tooling and is coming up with a set of management tools for the nano. It is planning work on PowerShell’s Desired State Configuration, file transfers and script authoring and debugging.

Cutting all this stuff out has made it more efficient, secure and availability. Redmond said that the Nano Server has 93 percent lower VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) size.

It also gets 92 percent fewer critical bulletins and requires 80 percent fewer reboots than a typical Windows Server. It is also a bit quicker to setup: from bare metal to running Nano Server takes 3 minutes.

Hyper-V containers also will offer the system a fair bit of isolation that was only available to “dedicated physical or virtual machines”.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung To Make Qualcomm’s New Snapdragon Chip

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. chip maker Qualcomm Inc plans to have its next-generation Snapdragon 820 mobile processors to be made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, tech news website Re/code reported, citing unnamed sources.

The move comes after Samsung opted to use its own Exynos processors for the recently launched flagship Galaxy S6 devices instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, prompting the U.S. firm to cut is financial outlook for the year.

Samsung and Qualcomm declined to comment on Re/code’s report. The report, dated April 20, did not say whether Qualcomm was looking at other manufacturers for the 820 processor besides Samsung.

The report suggests gathering momentum for Samsung’s system chips business, which investors and analysts expect will swing to profit this year. That could be negative for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), which analysts say has gotten the bulk of Qualcomm’s orders for high-end chips.

Samsung’s 14-nanometer manufacturing technology gives the firm an edge over rivals such as TSMC, as smaller chips are more energy-efficient and deliver better performance. Investors and analysts say the superior technology will lead to more outside orders for Samsung’s contract manufacturing business and further boost earnings.

Media reports say Samsung will make processors for Apple Inc’s new iPhones expected to launch later this year, and the firm also recently added Nvidia Corp as a contract manufacturing client.

 

 

Russian Hackers Going After Adobe And Windows

April 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Russian hackers have been taking advantage of vulnerabilities in popular Adobe and Microsoft software to gather government information, US security firm FireEye has claimed.

The company’s latest report said that it detected a limited advanced persistent threat campaign targeting zero-day vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Microsoft Windows which started on 13 April.

FireEye said that the group’s goal is to find information about government, military and security organizations which is “likely to benefit the Russian government”.

Researchers using the security firm’s Dynamic Threat Intelligence Cloud software detected the pattern of attacks through a “correlation of technical indicators and command and control infrastructure”, and believes that APT28 is “probably responsible” for this activity.

Adobe has since patched the CVE-2015-3043 vulnerability in APSB15-06.

Microsoft is aware of the outstanding local privilege escalation vulnerability in Windows, named CVE-2015-1701, but has not yet issued a patch.

FireEye said that updating Adobe Flash to the latest version will render the exploit harmless because it has seen CVE-2015-1701 in use only in conjunction with the Adobe Flash exploit for CVE-2015-3043.

The Flash exploit is served from unobfuscated HTML/JS. The launcher page picks one of two Flash files to deliver depending on the target’s platform, for example Windows 32-bit or 64-bit.

“The payload exploits a local privilege escalation vulnerability in the Windows kernel if it detects that it is running with limited privileges,” explained FireEye.

“It uses the vulnerability to run code from userspace in the context of the kernel, which modifies the attacker’s process token to have the same privileges as that of the system process.”

The APT28 attackers relied heavily on the CVE-2014-0515 metasploit module to conduct these new exploits, FireEye said.

CVE-2014-0515 exploits a vulnerability in Flash’s Shader processing, whereas CVE-2015-3043 exploits a vulnerability in Flash’s FLV processing.

Users are advised to patch their Flash software as soon as possible to protect against the vulnerability.

FireEye said last week that a Chinese hacking group called APT 30 spied on Asian governments for over a decade.

The group was discovered and detailed by FireEye in a report which claimed that it has been spying on Asia Pacific countries’ governments from as far back as 2004.

The security firm said that APT 30 takes a special interest in political developments in Southeast Asia and India, and is particularly active during Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits.

It also focuses on regional issues and territorial disputes between China, India and Southeast Asian countries.

Courtesy-TheInq

Sony Unveils New Xperia Smartphone

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sony Corp on Monday announced a new high-end Xperia smartphone featuring an aluminium frame and a 5.2-inch screen, showing it is still in the phone race even as it scales down its struggling mobile operations.

The launch of the new flagship model comes amid a painful restructuring at the Japanese consumer electronics giant which has thrown the future of its smartphone division into doubt, with top executives saying an exit cannot be ruled out.

But as the company focuses on cutting costs rather than growing its mobile market, the division still needs investment in new products and marketing to maintain Sony’s brand and hold off a more rapid deterioration.

Sony said the Xperia Z4 would be available in Japan around the middle of the year, though it did not provide a launch date, details on carrier partners or price. The handset would be available in four colours and was slightly thinner than the previous Z3.

Hiroki Totoki, who was appointed last year to turn around the mobile unit, said Sony was targeting the upper end of the market where rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc dominate.

“There’s a broad variety in the prices of smartphones, from around $100 to $1,400 at the upper end,” he told a news conference. “We want to focus in the upper half of that.”

Sony’s mobile division has fallen far behind high-end rivals such as Samsung and Apple, while at the low end it is battling pricing pressure from Asian manufacturers such as China’s Xiaomi Inc.

The company whose Walkman and Trinitron TV once played a critical role in the global entertainment industry has struggled in recent years to come up with trend-setting gadgets.

Sony announced in February that it would scale down its weaker operations such as TVs and mobile phones to focus instead on more successful products such as video games and camera sensors.

 

Insurance Companies Want Access To Your Fitbit Data

April 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Could a 15 minute work out save you 15% on your life insurance? If you sign up with John Hancock, it could.

The company has become the first to offer ratepayers a discount when they use Fitbit wristbands that enable exercise tracking.

For years now, consumers have been able to plug a dongle into their car’s onboard diagnostics port and send driving data to Progressive, State Farm, or other auto insurance firms who offer reduced rates for good driving.

Now, John Hancock policyholders who wear Internet-connected Fitbit can get discounts of up to 15% on their life insurance policy. The fitness-tracking service is part of Hancock’s partnership with Vitality, a service provider that integrates wellness benefits with life insurance.

“We are reinventing the consumer life insurance experience and changing the way people think about this critical component of their overall financial health,” John Hancock Financial Services President Craig Bromley said in a statement. “We believe this offering will make life insurance relevant for new generations of consumers and reinvigorate the entire category.”

Once signed up for the program, policyholders earn points for physical activity or other healthy living activities, and then apply those points for rate discounts or other rewards.

Each year, policyholders can earn Vitality Points for activities such as exercising, getting annual health screenings and not smoking.

Other than up to 15% rate discounts, policyholders can use points for gift cards, discounted hotel stays and airline travel.

Hancock’sVitality program also makes recommendations on how policy holders can increase their rewards points by exercising more, getting more frequent blood work for cholesterol and other indicators and by eating more fruits and vegetables.

“Most Americans know they need more life insurance, and our research shows that nearly all consumers feel they could be living a healthier life. Our new products enable them to achieve both of those goals with one simple, engaging solution,” Doughty said.

 

 

 

Apple Pay Headed To Canada

April 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc is gearing up to launch its electronic payments service in Canada in November, the first international expansion of Apple Pay, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The iPhone maker is in talks with Canada’s six biggest banks, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank , Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada, the people told the Journal.

The banks are open to an agreement, but are not happy with Apple’s fee proposals and are worried about security vulnerabilities like the ones that U.S. banks experienced, the Journal said, citing the people.

It was still unclear if all six Canadian banks would launch Apple Pay at the same time, the Journal said.

Apple launched the service, a mobile payment app that allows consumers to buy things by holding their iPhone6 and 6 Plus devices up to a reader, in the United States in October.

 

Microsoft Unveils Office Touch Apps For Windows Phones

April 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp has finally rolled out a long-awaited suite of touch-friendly Office apps that allow Windows phone users to work on Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on their phones with touch commands and to transfer them easily between devices.

Test versions of what Microsoft is calling its Office Universal apps are available to download immediately and full versions will be available by the end of the month, Microsoft said.

Many Office users have waited months for Microsoft to introduce the apps, which adapt their look and commands to the device being used, whether Windows Phone or tablet.

Microsoft, in a departure from tradition, has already released similar touch-friendly Office apps for Apple Inc’s  iPad and iPhone, and for tablets running Google Inc’s Android.

The company’s reasoning was that those popular devices, which have dominated mobile computing, represented a bigger and more lucrative market for its Office products than its own Windows mobile devices.

Basic functions are free for everyone, but for advanced editing features, users must pay for a subscription to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Office.

Microsoft is set to release a new version of Office for desktop PCs, and a new version of Windows, later this year.

 

 

IKEA Launches Wireless Charging Furniture Collection

April 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

IKEA has rolled out its Wireless Charging collection of furniture, which has built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers for compatible mobile phones.

In addition to offering bedside tables, floor- and table lamps, desks and simple charging pads, IKEA is also selling a DIY kit that lets users embed wireless chargers into furniture of their choice.

The furniture, and other items in IKEA’s wireless charging collection, ranges in price from $9.99 to $119.

The Wireless Charging collection will be rolled out globally, with U.S. stores seeing availability beginning in late spring, IKEA said today in a statement.

“With smartphones becoming such a natural part of our lives, we wanted the charging part to become a natural part of our homes,” Holly Harraway, IKEA’s lighting sales leader, said.

The furniture uses the most popular wireless charging specification, Qi, which is supported by brands such as Samsung and Energizer and has gotten an extension to its specification allowing it to charge devices at short distances

Users can check whether their mobile phone is compatible with the Qi standard at the Wireless Power Consortium’s this website.

The WPC with its Qi specification is up against two other industry organizations with their own wireless charging protocols: the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP.

The Qi spec transfers 5 watts of power for enabled mobile devices, such as the Galaxy S4 and S3, Nokia Lumia 1020, LG G2, Motorola Droid Maxx and Mini and the Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet.

If a smartphone does not have native wireless charging capability, such as an iPhone, users can purchase a VITAHULT charging cover (for Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy only), or other Qi-enabled covers for use with the IKEA wireless charging furniture.