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Google Targeting New Mexico To Test Internet Delivery Drones

September 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is gearing up to test Internet delivery by drone high above New Mexico, according to a government filing.

The company has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to use two blocks of frequencies for the tests, which are scheduled to last about six months and begin in October. They will be conducted above an area of more than 1,400 square kilometers in the center of New Mexico to the east of Albuquerque.

“Google recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems for high altitude, long endurance flights,” Google said in its application. “These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation.”

Google said its application for temporary permission to make the transmissions was needed “for demonstration and testing of [REDACTED] in a carefully controlled environment.”

The FCC allows companies to redact certain portions of their applications when they might provide too much information to competitors.

In the application, Google said it wants to use two blocks of frequencies, one between 910MHz and 927MHz and one between 2.4GHz and 2.414GHz. Both are so-called “industrial, scientific and medical” (ISM) bands typically used for unlicensed operations.

The application has not yet been approved.

It’s the latest in a series of moves by the company to trial Internet delivery from the skies.

The company unveiled its ambitious Project Loon last year, which uses a series of high-altitude balloons that float in winds at about 20 kilometers (65,000 feet) above the Earth. The first experiments with Loon involved using a transmission system based on WiFi, but earlier this year the company began experimenting with LTE cellular transmissions in a test site in Nevada.

Google acquired Titan Aerospace in April this year for an undisclosed price.

 

Apple iPhone 6 Pre-orders Sets Record With 4M On First Day

September 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc said many customers will have to wait until October for their new iPhones after a record 4 million first-day pre-orders were logged, double the number for the iPhone 5 two years ago.

The company said demand had outstripped supply of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which feature larger screens and longer battery life. Deliveries of pre-orders will begin on Friday and will continue through October.

Bumper first-day pre-orders point to first-weekend sales of up to 10 million units, analysts estimated.

“Assuming preorders are similar to the 40 percent of first weekend sales for the iPhone 5, this would imply iPhone 6/6Plus first weekend sales could be around 10 million,” Wells Fargo Securities analysts wrote in a note.

About 2 million pre-orders were received for the iPhone 5 in the first 24 hours after it went on sale in September 2012. Apple sold 5 million of these phones in the first weekend.

Apple sold 9 million iPhone 5Ss and 5Cs, which were launched last year, in the first three days in stores. The company did not reveal pre-order numbers for these phones.

Raymond James analysts said they expect sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to top 9 million in the first weekend.

“Apple will be selling every iPhone it can make, at least through October. Because of this, the first weekend sales are typically more indicative of supply than demand,” they said.

The company routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design.

Apple’s website showed last week that the larger 5.5-inch “Plus” models displayed a wait time of up to a month. The 4.7-inch version was available for delivery on Sept. 19.

Janney Capital Markets analysts said the large number of pre-orders was due to “pent-up demand” for bigger iPhone screens.

The brokerage raised its sales estimate for the latest iPhones to 37.4 million units for the current quarter and 60 million for the quarter ended December.

 

 

Stanford University Develops Ant-sized Radios

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Scientists at Stanford University have assembled ant-sized radios that could one day help track patients’ temperatures, turn on coffee makers in the morning and prevent forgery.

A Stanford engineering team has built a radio, equipped with sensors, computational units and antennas one-tenth the size of Wi-Fi antennas, that is able to gain all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. No batteries are required.

These radios, which are designed to compute, execute and relay commands, could be the key to linking gadgets together in the increasingly popular idea of the Internet of Things.

Today’s radios generally are the size of a quarter, according to Amin Arbabian, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and a researcher on the radio project. These new radios are much smaller. They’re 3.7 x 1.2 millimeters.

Radios that small could be added to everything from $100 bills to medical gauze, Band-Aids and home appliances. At just pennies per radio, that means a myriad of products could easily and cheaply become part of a linked network.

“This could be very important,” Arbabian told Computerworld. “When you think about the Internet of Things, you’re talking about needing a thousand radios per person. That counts all the radios and devices you’d need around you in your home and office environments. With 300 million people in the U.S., we’d have 300 billion radios.”

A Bluetooth-type radio works fine for smartphones but is too big and expensive to connect most of the objects in users’ lives.

“We needed the cost and size to go down, and you need scale,” said Arbabian, who began working on the project in 2011. “Do you want to put something the size of a Bluetooth radio on a Band-Aid? It’s too big. It costs a lot. The technology we have today for radios doesn’t meet any of these requirements.”

He explained that a tiny radio with a temperature sensor could be put on a bandage or piece of adhesive that’s applied to every patient that enters a hospital. The radio and its sensor would enable the medical staff to continuously track every patient’s temperature, a key health indicator, effortlessly and cheaply.

Sensors also could be used to measure air quality, to track medications from the manufacturer to the end user and to even keep track of tools and supplies in an operating room. For instance, Arbabian noted that a radio, encased in bio-safe material, could be attached to gauze or medical tools. With them, everything in an operating room could be tracked to ensure that nothing is left inside the patient at the end of surgery.

The radios also could be attached to every day products inside the home, including appliances, doors and windows.

 

 

 

Are Software Patents Going Bye Bye?

September 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like attempts to apply patents to software are being killed off by the US court system, after the Supreme Court ruled against certain aspects of the software being patented.

The Supreme Court’s June ruling on the patentability of software raised as many questions as it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn’t provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.

Now the lower courts appear to be bringing the ruling’s practical consequences into focus and it looks like software patents are getting a kicking. There have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court’s decision and each of them has led to the patent being invalidated.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Patent Office handed out a growing number of what might be called “do it on a computer” patents. These patents take some activity that people have been doing for centuries — say, holding funds in escrow until a transaction is complete — and claim the concept of performing that task with a computer or over the internet. The patents are typically vague about how to perform the task in question.

The Supreme Court invalidated a patent which claimed that it’s owners invented the concept of using a computer to hold funds in escrow to reduce the risk that one party would fail to deliver on an agreement. The Supreme Court ruled that the use of a computer did not turn this centuries-old concept into a new invention.

This has lead to lots of other patents being declared llegal. On July 6, a Delaware trial court rejected a Comcast patent that claimed the concept of a computerized telecommunications system checking with a user before deciding whether to establish a new connection. The court said that the patent could easily be performed by human beings making telephone calls.

Basically this means that you can’t take a normal human activity, do it with a computer and call it an patentable invention.

It would kill off the famous one click patent if that were ever challenged.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Launches Android One Program

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc rolled out in India on Monday the first smartphones under its Android One project, pricing them at around 6,399 rupees ($105) to capture the low-cost segment of the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.

The Mountain View-Based company tied up with Indian mobile players Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles to launch the affordable phones, which are powered by its operating system and aimed at emerging markets.

After launching in India, Google said it plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015.

Google outlined the pricing and expansion details in a marketing document seen by Reuters. The company is due to host an official media event later on Monday.

India is seen as a lucrative market for low-cost smartphones because many people are buying the devices for the first time. Just 10 percent of the India’s population currently owns a smartphone, brokerage Nomura said in a recent research note, and that figure is likely to double over the next four years.

Google, however, is not the only company jostling for a share of the Indian market.

There are at least 80 smartphone brands in India and analysts say the Android One phones must offer customers more than just affordability if it wants to compete with similarly priced devices made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Motorola and China’s Xiaomi.

“The initial pricing never sticks but it’ll be tough for them to compete if they don’t come down further,” said Neil Shah, research director for devices and ecosystems at Hong Kong-based technology research agency Counterpoint Research.

In June, Google had announced the launch of the Android One project, which aims to boost demand for low-end Android smartphones by vastly improving their quality.

 

Is Quickflix Trying To Block Netflix In Australia?

September 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Quickflix has sent an open letter to rival Netflix in which it accuses the competitor of not playing fair in the market and letting local users access US services.

The open letter is signed by Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford and addressed to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and the internet community. Langsford asks Netflix to Australia through the front door. He accuses it of ignoring backdoor access to its services, hauling in cash and stepping on Australian rightsholders.

“Netflix not only knowingly collects revenues from subscribers with unauthorised access to your US service, investing nothing in the Australian market nor paying for Australian rights to the content you make available, but also tacitly encourages Australian consumers to inadvertently breach the copyright of the content owners,” he said.

“Unlike yourself, Quickflix has obtained all necessary Australian rights to the content on its platform, faithfully meets all necessary security requirements, including geo-filtering imposed by the content rights holders, and continues to reinvest in its service with the goal of offering the very best service in the market to its customers.”

We have asked Netflix to comment on this, but so far it has not responded.

Langsford made some suggestions to Hastings about getting Netflix’s game in order, starting with a legal launch and a VPN lockdown.

“We challenge Netflix to play by the rules. It’s how we do it here in Australia. Stop turning a blind eye to the VPN services acting as a gateway to your service. Be honest and face up to the issue of unauthorised access to your US service,” he said in his sign off.

“Have the courage to limit your service only to the territories where you have legally obtained the rights to operate by abiding by the geo-filtering obligations required by your content license agreements. And do so immediately.”

The Quickflix CEO said that he looked forward to fair and square competition and the resulting benefits to Australians.

Courtesy-TheInq

HP Scoops Up Eucalyptus Software

September 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

HP is about to make one of its few purchases since it cocked up buying Autonomy in 2011.

HP wants to buy cloud software startup Eucalyptus Software which provides open-source software for building private and hybrid clouds, or Internet-based computing services.

It is not a big sale — HP is tipped to pay less than $100 million. The acquisition is expected to close in the fiscal fourth quarter, after which Eucalyptus Chief Executive Officer Marten Mickos will join HP as senior vice president and head of its cloud business. He will report to CEO Meg Whitman and be tasked to buy HP’s “Helion” cloud computing services. Martin Fink, who now leads the cloud business, will remain chief technology officer as well as director of HP Labs, which focuses on researching next-generation products.

Although it has been making losses, HP has a lot of cash in the bank. It ended the July 2014 quarter with $4.9 billion in operating company net cash. In August, Whitman told analysts HP was in a position to make acquisitions if needed, though it remains committed to returning half its cash to shareholders.

Courtesy-TheInq

HP May Be Looking To Unload Snapfish

September 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Hewlett-Packard Co is taking a look at putting its web-based photo sharing service Snapfish on the block, and has held discussions with multiple private equity and industry buyers, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Snapfish, which HP bought for more than $300 million in 2005 and currently sits within its printing and personal systems group, is considered non-core for the company, the person said, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.

A spokesman for HP declined to comment.

Last year, HP replaced the printing and personal business’ long-time head Todd Bradley with former Lenovo executive Dion Weisler. Bradley has since left the technology company, to join Tibco Software Inc as its president.

Some of the parties that have been eyeing Snapfish have also expressed interest in buying another online photo-sharing services provider, Shutterfly Inc, the person said.

Shutterfly hired Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners over the summer to find a buyer, and is expected wrap up its process in the next several weeks, people familiar with the matter have said previously.

 

 

iPhone 6 Plus Already Delayed Due To High Demand

September 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Customers may have to wait three to four weeks to get their hands on Apple Inc’s  iPhone 6 Plus, after a record number of orders for the company’s latest smartphones put a huge dent in the available supply.

The new iPhone 6 goes on sale on Sept. 19 in the United States but the company began taking online orders on Thursday. While the larger 5.5-inch “Plus” models now display a wait time of up to a month, the 4.7-inch version remains available for delivery on Sept. 19, Apple’s website showed.

Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint Corp, also showed shipment delays of up to six weeks on their respective websites. Apple said the pace of orders has so far outstripped any of its previous iPhones.

“Response to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been incredible, with a record number of pre-orders overnight. Pre-orders are currently available online or through the Apple Store App,” spokeswoman Trudy Muller said.

Apple routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design. The latest iPhones come with larger screens and some analysts had anticipated that production issues may keep a lid on initial runs.

Its suppliers had scrambled to get enough screens ready because the need to redesign a key component had disrupted panel production, supply chain sources told Reuters last month.

It was unclear whether the hiccup could limit the number of phones available to consumers, the sources said at the time. Apple declined to comment on supply chain issues.

In addition, Chinese customers may also have to wait until the year-end before they can buy the iPhone 6. Apple is yet to set a release date for China, the world’s biggest smartphone market.

The company unveiled its latest iPhones along with a watch and a mobile payments service last Tuesday.

 

T-Mobile Introduces Wi-Fi Un-leashed

September 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile USA is setting its sights on Wi-Fi, offering unlimited voice calls and text messaging over any Wi-Fi network on every new smartphone it sells, including on networks outside the U.S.

The new offering, called Wi-Fi Un-leashed, is open to all subscribers to the carrier’s Simple Choice plans. It could vastly expand the places those customers can exchange calls and text messages.

In addition to domestic use, it will allow calls into the U.S. from any Wi-Fi network outside the country, using the subscriber’s regular T-Mobile number and no additional apps. Starting Sept. 17, Wi-Fi Un-leashed also extends to flights on U.S. airlines — minus the voice calls — with unlimited text, picture messaging and visual voicemail through a partnership with in-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo.

Wi-Fi plays a growing role in mobile operator networks, bringing in extra capacity without sapping their expensive licensed spectrum, because Wi-Fi runs over unlicensed bands. Hotspots have been a key part of T-Mobile’s infrastructure for years, but the services unveiled on Wednesday go further than any major U.S. carrier to date. It’s the latest strategy by the nation’s fourth-largest carrier to grab market share from its larger rivals through unconventional plans.

The Wi-Fi calling feature lets users make high-definition calls over wireless LANs and keep those calls going as they switch over to T-Mobile’s LTE and 3G networks, CTO Neville Ray wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. T-Mobile introduced HD calling across its LTE network earlier this year using VoLTE (voice-over-LTE) technology.

Wi-Fi voice and text essentially extends T-Mobile’s coverage and network capacity without additional network deployments, and the company wants to help its subscribers make that possible. On Wednesday it introduced the T-Mobile Personal CellSpot, an access point that users can plug in anywhere they have a broadband connection, T-Mobile said. The Personal CellSpot will prioritize T-Mobile voice calls over other traffic going over the broadband link, Ray said. Starting Sept. 17, any Simple Choice subscriber with a Wi-Fi voice handset can get a Personal CellSpot free with a $25 deposit.

 

 

Intel Shows It’s Wireless Technology

September 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

Intel demoed its “no wires future” of wireless gigabit docking at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in California.

Intel wireless gigabit docking is a fully cable-free experience that includes wireless docking, wireless display and wireless charging. Intel demonstrated a reference design based on a next generation 14nm Intel processor on stage during its opening keynote on Tuesday.

Intel hopes to implement this technology by the end of 2015.

“Not only your wireless display, but storage, keyboard and mouse – all the other peripherals you have that have been weighing down our backpacks or strewn across our desk, we’re eliminating with one technology, and that’s wireless gigabit,” said an Intel expert on stage.

“It’s not only a secure and also localised connection – so you can use it in high dense areas such as in an office – but also extremely fast performing at over three times the performance of today’s WiFi.

“But while that’s cool we still have one more cord in our bag and let’s get rid of it: ditch that brick. That last thing that’s weighing us down is [resolved by] wireless power; the ease of use and installation it has is really going to be an advantage using the wireless resonance technology.”

The technology works over a simple receiver that goes into client devices, along with a resonance board that acts as a dock, which creates its own wireless hotspot.

Intel demonstrated how the standard will work using a laptop that automatically powered up and charged as soon as it reached the surface of the table due to the magnetic charging field built into the desk surface.

Intel said that this technology could also charge wireless Bluetooth earpieces, wearable devices, tablets and notebooks. However, it doesn’t have to be built into devices to work, as Intel said it can also be retrofitted into the cases of the devices we are carrying around.

Intel’s wireless gigabit technology is another push towards the firm’s vision of a cable-free future, meaning there’ll be no annoying wires or leads connecting computers to monitors, laptops to plug sockets or tablets to projectors.

The semiconductor giant first announced this view in August, saying that it’s looking to change the enterprise IT market with a strategy that will offer “three major experiences” in the office, that is, wireless display connectivity, wireless docking and wireless charging.

Courtesy-TheInq

BlackBerry Acquires Mobile Technology Start-up Movirtu

September 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry has purchased a U.K-based mobile technology start-up whose software allows multiple phone numbers on a single device, the Canadian tech firm said on Thursday.

The acquisition of Movirtu helps BlackBerry ramp up its portfolio of services to cater to the needs of its core base of corporate and government clients. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Movirtu’s virtual SIM technology allows an individual to have both a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number.

This allows employees to switch between work and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards.

“Clearly this fits nicely within the strategy we have so far articulated. We are building recurring revenue streams in value-added services and providing more value to enterprises,” the head of BlackBerry’s enterprise unit John Sims said in an interview.

Sims said Movirtu’s technology would allow IT administrators for example to restrict calls and emails to a work number after a particular time, without blocking personal calls or emails to the same device.

BlackBerry, which dominated the smartphone market in its infancy, has been reshaping itself over the course of the last year as its devices have lost ground to Apple’s iPhone and a slew of rival devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Under the leadership of its new chief executive John Chen, the company has moved rapidly to stabilize itself by selling certain assets, partnering to make its manufacturing and supply chain more efficient, and raising cash via the sale of its real estate holdings.

Chen, a well-regarded turnaround artist in the tech sector, intends to remain a competitor in the smartphone arena, but is focused on reshaping the company to build on its core strengths in areas like mobile data security and mobile device management.

The company has been making small acquisitions in the last few months, as it looks to build out its offerings for so-called enterprise clients made up primarily by large corporations and government agencies that are in many cases still major users of Blackberry devices.

 

4K Television Sales Finally Picking Up Steam

September 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Approximately 14 million ultra-high definition (UHD) 4K2K television sets have been shipped worldwide in 2014, penetrating 6-7% of the overall TV market, according to WitsView, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based market intelligence firm TrendForce.

Chinese vendors, including Skyworth, Changhong and Hisense, have the highest shipment rates. The six largest Chinese brands, which also include Konka, TCL and Haier, will achieve a 13-15% penetration rate in the UHD TV market this year, the firm projects.

The spec of 4K2K TV means 3,840 X 2,160 pixel resolution compared with HD TV, which has a resolution of 1,920 X 1,080. UHD TV has four times the resolution of HDTV.

“China’s six major 4K2K TV brands price their products very competitively,” Anita Wang, a research manager at WitsView, said in a statement. “Other vendors can’t offer such an attractive price proposition.”

Last month, the retail price difference in China between 65-in 4K2K 3D and HD 3D TVs was 32%, but in other markets it was as high as 63%, Wang said. As a result, Chinese consumers are more willing to purchase 4K2K televisions, Wang added.

One of the biggest issues facing the UHD TV market is a lack of “available” content. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of 4K movies and TV shows ready to be streamed to the public. Since 2004, the movie and television industry has been producing 4K content for the digital market.

“Broadcasters will always use the best equipment they can, because they want to be able to archive and repurpose that content in the future. But that’s a long ways from saying they have 4K content in the production chain,” said Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics Research at DisplaySearch.

Buying a 4K UHD TV today requires a leap of faith in two ways: You need to believe broadcasters will begin streaming 4K content soon and feel confident that the content will conform to a standard a new UHD TV can decode and process.

“Neither of those things are clear because there are no standards for 4K video,” Gray said.

LCD computer monitors are also starting to become available in UHD and feature attractive price tags, she said. For example, the 28-in 4K2K monitor retailed at an average of just $630 in August. In the coming months, panel makers will continue to introduce new 4K2K monitors in different sizes.

For example, Samsung is expected to launch a 23.6-in model that will be priced lower than the existing 23.8-in model. That will help to further drive down retail prices and stimulate 4K2K monitor demand.

Meanwhile, Apple is expected to release the 27-in 5K3K high-resolution iMac by the end of the fourth quarter of 2014.

 

 

 

Verizon Has A Deal To Offer Free iPhone 6

September 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications will give customers who trade in an old iPhone a free iPhone 6 in exchange for a two-year contract, the country’s largest wireless carrier announced hours after Apple Inc introduced the widely anticipated device.

The announcement came as critics speculated that Apple’s newest phone, starting at $199 with a two-year contract, would not be competitive as more carriers eliminate contracts and unbundle service charges from the cost of devices.

Analysts say that by making the cost of devices more transparent, equipment financing plans make expensive handsets like the iPhone less appealing. On the other hand, the plans allow customers to pay for devices in installments, making pricy devices like the iPhone more accessible.

Customers who trade in an iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5c or 5s in working condition will receive a $200 gift card to pre-order the 16-gigabyte version of the newer model, Verizon said in a statement. The offer does not apply to Apple’s other new phone, the larger iPhone 6 Plus.

Verizon has been more reluctant than competitors to dive into equipment financing, and its promotion indicates its attachment to the older contract model, which binds subscribers to the carrier for a fixed term, said Jan Dawson, analyst at JackDaw Research.

“There is an inherent risk in the shift to installment billing that it creates more loyalty to the device than to the carrier,” said Dawson.

“Verizon sees the value of the two-year contract in that tying a device to a two-year plan can prevent churn,” said Dawson.

He pointed out that new device releases are major factors for subscribers in deciding whether to switch carriers.

As the market for new smartphone customers shrinks, carriers have been competing aggressively for subscribers, slashing prices and engaging in creative promotions to poach each others’ customers.

On Monday, T-Mobile announced it would beat any other major carriers’ trade-in rates and give customers a $50 credit as well.

 

 

Twitter Wading Into Online Shopping Market With ‘Buy’ Button

September 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is trying out a new way for its users to purchase digital music and other products through the social networking application, with the goal of making mobile shopping easier, the company said in a blog post.

A “small percentage” of U.S. Twitter users will soon begin to see tweets that will include a “buy” button from some of the company’s partners, group product manager Tarun Jain wrote in the blog post published Monday. The percentage of Twitter users seeing the marketing tweets will grow over time, Jain wrote.

“This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile phones convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” Jain wrote.

Twitter’s partners in the e-commerce effort include digital marketing companies Musictoday, Gumroad, Fancy and Stripe, Jain said.

The e-commerce test will include products from several musicians, including Brad Paisley, Eminem, Keith Urban, Megadeth, Pharrell Williams and Soundgarden. Other organizations featured will including Burberry, the Home Depot, the Nature Conservancy and DonorsChoose.