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Google Already Increasing The Price Of YouTube TV

February 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Alphabet Inc’s Google is increasing the price of its YouTube TV online service for new customers as it adds channels from Time Warner Inc’s Turner, National Basketball League, and Major League Baseball, the company said Wednesday.

Less than one year after launching YouTube TV, the company is increasing its pricing to $40 per month from $35 per month as it adds Turner’s channels, which include TNT, CNN, and TBS, and soon will be adding MLB Network and NBA TV, the company said.

Google is expanding its offering at a time when a growing number of competing services, such as Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirectTV Now and Hulu, are vying to win over the growing number of viewers who are canceling their cable subscriptions to watch their favorite shows online.

The four largest cable and satellite companies lost 1.5 million pay TV customers in 2017.

DirectTV Now has over 2 million subscribers, according to AT&T. Sling TV, Hulu, and YouTube TV do not disclose how many users they have, but research firm BTIG estimates they respectively had 2.1 million, 500,000 and 350,000 as of the end of 2017.

The costs for these competing offerings range from $20 for Sling TV’s most basic offering of 30 channels to $39.99 for Hulu’s one with more than 50 channels and its library of shows and movies, which costs $7.99 separately.

Google is betting that its strong sports offering will help win over more subscribers, said Heather Moosnick, director of content partnerships, YouTube TV.

“Sports is really one of the key offerings that a millennial would be willing to pay for a live TV service,” she said.

To that end, Google has targeted sports fans with its TV ads this year. Ninety-six percent of YouTube TV’s ads on television so far this year have appeared during sports programming, including the Super Bowl, according to iSpot.tv, which tracks TV ads.

When Google launched YouTube TV last April it was cautious with how much content it was offering so that it could keep the price low enough to entice cord cutters or people considering cutting the cord, Moosnick said.

At launch YouTube TV offered almost 50 channels in five markets. With these additions, YouTube TV will have almost 60 channels, and be in 100 markets, Moosnick said.

The new pricing will take effect for new users who sign up after March 13, the company said.

Will Qualcomm Succumb To Broadcom Higher Bid

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Broadcom plans to unveil a new $120 billion offer for Qualcomm to pressure the US rival to the negotiating table.

The move comes ahead of a Qualcomm shareholder meeting scheduled for March 6, when Broadcom is seeking to replace Qualcomm’s board of directors by nominating its own slate for election.

Broadcom is scheduled to meet with its advisers later to finalize an offer that values Qualcomm between $80 and $82 per share, two of the sources said. Broadcom’s previous $70 per share offer consisted of $60 per share in cash and $10 per share in stock.

Broadcom plans to offer Qualcomm a higher-than-usual breakup fee in the event regulators thwart the deal, according to the sources. Typically, such break-up fees equate to approximately three percent to foue percent of a deal’s size.

All this is off the record and Broadcom Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan may decide to significantly change the terms at the last minute.

Broadcom has said it is very confident a deal can be completed within a year of signing an agreement. Qualcomm has said that the regulatory review processes required around the world would take more than 18 months and be fraught with risks. Already Chinese companies have dropped hints to their politicians that they will be in trouble dealing if such a super company is formed.

Qualcomm has told its shareholders that Broadcom’s hostile bid is aimed at acquiring the company on the cheap.

Qualcomm reported quarterly profit and revenues last week that beat analysts’ expectations as demand surged for its chips used in smartphones and cars.

Qualcomm is also trying to clinch an acquisition of its own, proposing to buy NXP Semiconductors NV for $38 billion. The deal was approved by European Union antitrust regulators last month, and only China has yet to approve it. Qualcomm expects the government’s blessing later this month.
The NXP deal still faces an uncertain future as some of its shareholders, including activist hedge fund Elliott Management, have asked Qualcomm to raise its offer. Qualcomm is expected to decide later this month.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Illegally Collecting Personal Data, Says German Court

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A German consumer rights group revealed that a court had found Facebook’s use of personal data to be illegal because the U.S. social media platform did not adequately secure the informed consent of its users.

The verdict, from a Berlin regional court, comes as Big Tech faces increasing scrutiny in Germany over its handling of sensitive personal data that enables it to micro-target online advertising.

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzvb) said that Facebook’s default settings and some of its terms of service were in breach of consumer law and that the court had found parts of the consent to data usage to be invalid.

“Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy center and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register,” said Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the vzvb.

“This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.” The vzvb posted a copy of the ruling on its website. A court spokesperson confirmed that a judgment had been handed down but declined further comment.

Facebook said it would appeal, even though several aspects of the court judgment had been in its favor. In a statement, it said it had already made significant changes to its terms of service and data protection guidelines since the case was first brought in 2015.

“We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law,” Facebook said.

Further, Facebook would in the meantime update its data protection guidelines and its terms of service so that they comply with new European Union-wide rules that are due to enter force in June.

Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion users worldwide, already faces scrutiny from Germany’s competition authorities over its handling of its users’ personal data.

Ryzen Appears To Be Working For AMD

February 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Long-standing Intel competitor, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), appears from its first quarter results to be gnawing at Chipzilla’s ankles.

The Sunnyvale firm seems to be worrying investors in Intel (INTC) by showing better technology than the Santa Clara firm seems to offer.

We won’t know for a little while what the takeup from vendors is likely to be, but early indications – which Fudzilla has reported for quite a while  are that major vendors – like Dell and HP for example – are voting “yes” for AMD by being in the supply chain, commonly called in vendorspeak “the channel”.

Lisa Su, AMD’s CEO, said that her firm’s technology will marmelise Intel during 2018.

It is a question of margins, however.

Intel has a gross margin of nearly 64 percent on its products, while underdog AMD might manage 40 percent. But it is also a question of costs. Chipzilla has an enormous wage bill, while AMD – as always – has been a bit stingy, one might say careful, on every front.

That’s quite a sea change in fortunes – or misfortunes, as Intel might describe it.

Intel seems to have made miss upon miss over the last 10 years or so – particularly on the mobile front –  and has all the symptoms of a company retrenching from its formerly dominant position.  It has reduced staff, which has had an effect on its technology, has cut its PR, which has had an effect on its coverage, and has made several missteps which has forced it into second or third place in terms of “innovation”.

Still, Fudzilla has not really heard from AMD what its mobile strategy is.

Courtesy-Fud

SAP Goes Deeper Into The Clouds

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

The maker of expensive management software which is so esoteric few people know what it does has designed to invest $2.4 billion to get more practical about clouds.

SAP has announced a $2.4 billion acquisition of Callidus to help it boost revenues from its cloud platform and CEO Bill McDermott said it would streamline its overall business this year to bolster margins.

The German company is midway through a strategic transition, aiming to force the pace on developing its S/4 HANA cloud platform, which now counts 7,900 customers, and wean customers off software sold under license and installed at offices and factories.

The shift has squeezed margins in recent years because the cloud business model is based on subscriptions which take longer to pay off – in contrast to one-off, up-front software licence payments that was the thrust of its business for decades.

McDermott claimed his cloudy strategy was now bearing fruit after SAP broadly stabilised its operating margins in the fourth quarter at 35.2 percent.

Acquiring U.S. sales software firm Callidus will help SAP become the market leader in front-office software used in sales and marketing, building on its strength in back-office software that is used by companies to maintain control over far-flung multinational operations.

McDermott said SuccessFactors, the human resources application acquired by SAP for $3.4 billion in 2011, would be entirely migrated to the cloud this year.

“This year, the entire company will be on one platform,” McDermott told Reuters after SAP announced 2017 results that met its twice-raised guidance but came in just shy of analyst expectations.

He described Callidus as a “tuck-in” deal that would not move the needle on revenues but that he valued for the company’s market leadership and innovation.

As Callidus was on the cloud, it would help SAP achieve a 2020 goal of having “predictable” revenues of 70 to 75 percent of the total. These grew by one percentage point to 63 percent in 2017.

“We did that to get another cloud revenue stream in the mix,” McDermott said.

SAP reiterated a forecast for 2020 of non-IFRS operating profit of 8.5 to 9.0 billion euros on revenue of 28 to 29 billion euros.

The world economy is “about as good as it gets”, the 56-year-old American said, pushing back against fears that rising trade protectionism could hurt globally diversified businesses like SAP.

All of SAP’s regional businesses are growing at double digits, McDermott said, highlighting “hyper growth” in China.

SAP said it expected total non-IFRS revenue of 24.6 to 25.1 billion euros for 2018, in line with Wall Street Predictions.

But the outlook also highlighted that the company expects margins to increase faster in 2018. Revenue is set to grow by around 5 to 7 percent, excluding currency translation effects, it said while operating profit is poised to increase by 8 to 11 percent.

It forecast 2018 non-IFRS operating profit of 7.3 to 7.5 billion euros, adding that the implementation of IFRS 15, a new accounting rule on revenue recognition, would add 200 million euros to profits.

Courtesy-Fud

Reddit Finally Goes Two-Factor

February 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Reddit is finally getting two-factor authentication (2FA) to keep user accounts better locked down.

Reddit has been testing the use of 2FA for some time, but now it looks to be finally ready to push it out to all.

“You asked for it, and we’re delivering! Today, all Reddit users have the option to enable two-factor authentication for an additional layer of account security,” said the company in a Reddit post, naturally.

“We have been slowly rolling this feature out, starting with beta testers, moderators, and third-party app developers, to ensure a positive experience across devices. Your feedback has been incredibly valuable, from pointing out bugs to recommending features. Thank you to everyone involved in testing.”

“Two-factor adds more security to your Reddit account by requiring a second step to sign in. In this case, if you opt into 2FA, you’ll access a six-digit verification code generated by your phone after a new sign-in attempt. With two-factor enabled, even if someone else obtained your Reddit username and password, they still could not log in as you.”

If users lose their phone or the Reddit app has a case of the tech hiccups, Reddit will supply each user with 10 one-off codes to allow them to authenticate their accounts securely.

So that’s all good news for paranoid Reddit users who want to make sure any of the noise they spout on the site does indeed come from them and not someone else masquerading as an angry poser peeved at… well… pretty much everything under the sun.

While 2FA is enabled on desktop, mobile and third-party versions of Reddit, it needs to be turned on by users by accessing the ‘password/email’ tab in the desktop version.

One might wonder why 2FA isn’t switched-on automatically, especially for new Reddit users. But the reason for having it as an option could simply be for user ease-of-use in the same way two-factor authentication isn’t enabled by default in Google’s Gmail.

2FA isn’t the be all and end all of cybersecurity but it at least throws another hurdle in the way of have-a-go hackers.

Courtesy-Fud

Imagination Debuts New Furian Architecture Based GPU

February 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Imagination Technologies announces a new, high-performance GPU core that supports the multiple, ultra-high-resolution displays for cluster, Head-Up Display (HUD) and infotainment that automotive manufacturers will install in car interiors after 2018.

The outfit claims that it has an 80 percent fillrate density improvement over the previous generation, the Furian Architecture-based four-cluster PowerVR Series8XT GT8540 GPU can simultaneously drive up to six 4K screens with complex UIs at 60fps.

It comes with built-in hardware virtualization capability, which means Imagination’s automotive OEMs can power all the modern vehicle’s many displays.

Imagination claims that its PowerVR hardware virtualisation can provide a complete separation of services and applications, ensuring they remain secure against system intrusion or data corruption. The platform can support up to eight applications or services running in separate containers at once, and automotive OEMs can deploy and remove services at will without affecting others running at once.

The PowerVR four-cluster Series8XT enables automotive OEMs to design their systems to prioritise either graphics or compute-based applications. The Series8XT GT8540 can support compute workloads on a single Shader Processing Unit (SPU) for ADAS functions such as lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, and surround view, amongst others. Other tasks, such as infotainment and cluster, can run on the second SPU, using prioritising mechanisms to reach system performance targets.

Dominique Bonte, Managing Director and Vice President, ABI Research, said that Imagination Technologies is an automotive space leader which is a position becoming more important as the automotive industry moves closer to introducing Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicle. These need, powerful GPUs will be vital to power multiple high-resolution displays.Additional opportunities for advanced infotainment features including 5G-based 4K video streaming will emerge in the longer term.

Graham Deacon, Vice President PowerVR Marketing, Imagination Technologies, says: “PowerVR has a strong roadmap and this is reflected in the great success seen with the XT family and its selection by leading automotive players, such as Texas Instruments. We’re now targeting new markets with the rich features, such as safety and security through virtualisation.”

The PowerVR Series 8XT GT8540 is now ready for licensing. The PowerVR two-cluster Series8XT GT8525 has customers in segments including automotive and mobile.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Sega’s Sonic Game Leaking User Information On Android Devices

February 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

Sega has said it’s ‘investigating’ claims that its Sonic games for Android are leaking user data to dodgy servers.

Security firm Pradeo Lab said last week that it a trio of Sonic games – Sonic Dash, which has been downloaded between 100 to 500 million times, and Sonic the Hedgehog Classic and Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom, both of which have been installed between 10 to 50 million times – have been leaking users’ geolocation and device data.

Pradeo’s research shows that the three Android apps “geolocate users and relay their position,” “leak device data,” and “send data to an average of 11 distant servers.”

While the majority of these have a legitimate tracking and marketing purpose, three of the servers are uncertified, and two are linked to a variant of ‘Android/Inmobi.D’, which Symantec claims is an unwanted advertisement library that comes bundled with certain Android applications. 

In addition to geolocation data, the three Sonic apps are also said to be leaking mobile network information such as service provider name and network type, and device information including manufacturer, battery level, the maximum level of battery, and operating system version number.

As if that wasn’t bad enough considering the app shave been downloaded from Google Play up to 550 million times, Pradeo warns that the three apps contain 15 Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) flaws. 

“Among the vulnerabilities detected in the analyzed Sega apps, we identified two critical ones that make them highly vulnerable to Man-In-The-Middle attacks (X.509TrustManager and PotentiallyByPassSslConnection),” Pradeo said.

Related: Kaspersky uncovers ‘world’s most powerful Android spyware tool’

“The other OWASP vulnerabilities detected can result in denial of service, sensitive data leakage and clearly show encryption weaknesses.”

In a statement given to ZDNet, Sega has said it’s looking into the vulnerabilities and will take “prompt corrective action”.

“Sega works diligently to address any technical issues that could compromise customer data,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“If any third-party partners are collecting, transmitting, or using data in a manner that is not permitted by our agreement with the third party or Sega’s mobile privacy policy, prompt corrective action will be taken.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

IBM And Maersk Joing Forces For Blockchain Venture

January 26, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

IBM and Danish transport and logistics company Maersk are teaming up to create an as-yet-unnamed Blockchain-based shipping and supply chain company.

The move will commercialize Blockchain for all aspects of the global supply chain system, from shipping to ports, and banks to customs offices. Blockchain technology a provide control for the logistics industry since it can replace tedious and insecure paperwork with secure digital records that are also transparent.

Maersk’s chief commercial officer Vincent Clerc, who will serve as chairman of the newly formed board for the joint venture, said: “The potential from offering a neutral, open digital platform for safe and easy ways of exchanging information is huge, and all players across the supply chain stand to benefit.”

The company had promised to make delivery of the new project by the end of last year. The offering is the fulfilment of a year’s worth of planning by both companies, each of whom have invested in Blockchain in various other ways. The joint venture is hoping to start offering their software solutions by Q3 2018.

The global shipping industry has seen little innovation since the container was invented in the 1950s, and cross-border trade still leaves an enormous trail of paperwork and bureaucracy.

The success of the platform, which will be made available to the ocean shipping industry around mid-2018, depends on whether Maersk and IBM can convince shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, ports and customs authorities to sign up.

It will help manage and track tens of millions of shipping containers globally by digitizing the supply chain process from end to end, the companies said.

A shipment of refrigerated goods from East Africa to Europe can go through nearly 30 people and organizations and involve more than 200 different communications, according to Maersk. Documentation and bureaucracy can be as much as a fifth of the total cost of moving a container.

Customs and port authorities in the United States, Singapore, the Netherlands and China’s Guangdong province have shown interest in using the platform, and some other shipping companies are also interested, he said.

The move could also improve distribution security. A cyber-attack last year caused some of the biggest-ever disruptions to global shipping, displaying the vulnerability of outdated communication systems. Maersk’s container and port operations were hit for weeks, as it struggled to bring its IT systems including some 1500 applications back online.

Courtesy-Fud

Will 200nm Wafer Be A Supply Issue In 2018

January 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

A lack of foresight by semiconductor fabrication companies means they are holding to ransom their customers because tools and wafers are tight.

Malcolm Penn, at Future Horizons, and who used to play drums in the 60s group band Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames (pictured – Fame), said that an analysis of the market in 2016 – for which full figures are now available – showed that substrate suppliers were reluctant to add new capacities, despite the upturn in the worldwide economy that they failed, Fudzilla thinks, deliberately, didn’t see. Substrate manufacturers have something of a grip on firms that make semiconductor wafers, so it is a bit of a domino effect.

Chips are important for the immediate and maybe the long-term future to all of us, worldwide. Penn said at the conference in London this week that customers are “now paying a premium” just to get supplies of the wafers.

As Fudzilla reported earlier, semiconductor companies don’t seem to have a vision and just scrabble around, trying to make ends meet.

China, Penn claimed, is a wild card, as always.

CapEx forecast by region is a revelation, according to Future Horizons. 

Future Horizon estimates that in 2018, the biggest semi players will be China, Europe, Japan, Korea, the USA, SEA/ROW and, last, Taiwan. Korean firm Samsung will spend $14 billion this year, after spending $26 billion last year.

EUV lithography is almost upon us, but, perhaps more worryingly, this year, 200mm capacity will be very tight. Suppliers of tools and the fabs for 200mm are playing, Fudzilla thinks, a capacity game in order to up profits for themselves.  So, nothing changes, really. 

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Joins Forces With Xiaomi To Launch The Oculus In China

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Facebook’s Oculus has announced that is partnering with Chinese phone maker Xiaomi Technology in a deal to manufacture its new virtual reality headset.

Xiaomi has agreed to manufacture Oculus’s new headset, the Oculus Go, which was announced in October 2017.

As part of the deal Oculus has agreed to launch the Mi VR Standalone, a version of the headset exclusive to the Chinese market built with Oculus technology. Oculus has not detailed how the Mi VR Standalone will differ from Oculus Go, but said it will share the same core hardware features and design.

Oculus also revealed it is working with Qualcomm Inc. and will use the company’s Snapdragon 821 chipsets to power the mobile VR headset.

“We’ve worked closely with Qualcomm to deliver the highest possible level of performance to meet the high computing demands of the standalone VR product category,” said Oculus in a blog post.

The Oculus Go us set to release early this year, priced at $199.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Google Pulls Nearly 60 Apps With Pornographic Malware

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google yanked nearly 60 apps that contained hidden pornographic malware from its Play Store after a security research company found the code. Many of the games were aimed at kids.

Researchers at Check Point Software Technologies reported the malware last week. Dubbed AdultSwine, the malware displayed pornographic images that looked like ads but were designed to prompt users to download fake security software. The users were then encouraged to click on other links they would have to pay for.

Google moved immediately to kick the apps off of Google Play.

“We’ve removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers’ accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them,” Google said in an emailed statement. “We appreciate Check Point’s work to help keep users safe.” Google added that the issue doesn’t exploit vulnerabilities in its Android security, and that users’ devices weren’t affected.

The affected apps have so far been downloaded between 3 million and 7 million times, the researchers said, citing Google Play data.

Along with encouraging users to download scareware and pay for premium services, AdultSwine also stole credentials, according to Check Point.

It did this by contacting the developers’ Command and Control server once the app was downloaded, sending data about the infected device and receiving instructions on what to do next. The instructions include displaying the bogus ads, scaring users to install fake security apps and charging victims for services they didn’t request or receive.

It might, for example, show an ad saying “the user is entitled to win an iPhone by simply answering four short questions,” Check Point explained. “Should the user answer them, the malicious code informs the user that he has been successful, and asks him to enter his phone number to receive the prize. Once entered, the malicious code then uses this number to register to premium services.

Affected apps include Five Nights Survival Craft, with between 1 million and 5 million downloads, and Mcqueen Car Racing Game, which has been downloaded at least 500,000 times. A full list of apps can be found here.

Big Blue Still The Patent King

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

While the media attention has shifted away from Biggish Blue in the hardware world, there are signs that the company is still quietly getting on with it and inventing things.

IBM inventors received a record 9,043 patents in 2017, marking the company’s 25th consecutive year of U.S. patent leadership and crossing the 100,000-patent milestone. IBM is still the outfit which churns out that most patents. 2017 marks the 25th consecutive year that IBM has been named the leader in granted U.S. patents, with a record 9,043 patents

The new patents were granted to a diverse group of more than 8,500 IBM researchers, engineers, scientists and designers in 47 different U.S. states and 47 countries.

For example there was Maja Vukovic’s patent for a system that detects and counteracts cyber attacks.

Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO said that for the past 25 years, IBM’s patent leadership has changed the way the world works with advancements critical to the modern era of computing.

“Today, nearly half of our patents are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing – and all are aimed at helping our clients create smarter businesses.”

IBM inventors received in 2017 more than 1,900 cloud patents, including a patent for a system that uses unstructured data about world or local events to forecast cloud resource needs. The system can monitor data sources – including news feeds, network statistics, weather reports and social networks – to identify where and how cloud resources should be allocated to meet demand.

Another set of innovations helps solve one of artificial intelligence’s current limits: lack of personalization, which can hinder how AI communicates with people. Among the industry-leading 1,400 AI patents IBM inventors were granted in 2017 is a patent for a system that can help AI analyze and mirror a user’s speech patterns to improve communication between AI and humans.

IBM inventors also received 1,200 cybersecurity patents, including one for technology that enables AI systems to turn the table on hackers by baiting them into email exchanges and websites that expend their resources and frustrate their attacks. It could substantially reduce the security risks associated with “phishing” emails and other attacks.

IBM inventors also patented significant inventions in emerging areas like quantum computing, including a new way for improving a quantum computer’s ability to acquire and retain information – otherwise known as signal readout fidelity. This can lead to efficiency in the components necessary to build a quantum computing system.

Other patented innovations from IBM inventors in 2017 include:
• A machine learning system designed to shift control between an autonomous vehicle and a human driver as needed, such as in an emergency.
• A method that uses blockchain technology to reduce the number of steps involved in settling transactions between multiple business parties, even those that are not trusted and might otherwise require a third-party clearinghouse to execute.
• A technique that automatically elevates the security protection of a mobile device when it determines that device is located far from its owner and is likely under someone else’s control.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Accelerates Latest Windows 10 Upgrade

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has rolled out 2017’s final Windows 10 feature upgrade to customers faster than it did the year’s first revision, according to data from a Windows app ad network.

Data from AdDuplex, a Lithuanian company whose technology is embedded in thousands of Windows apps, showed that October’s Fall Creators Update (FCU) had been installed on about 54% of all measured Windows 10 personal computers by Dec. 20.

Windows 10’s FCU, also known as version 1709 in Microsoft’s yymmnumeric format, launched Oct. 17. In the nine weeks from then until Dec. 20, AdDuplex reported, more than half – 53.6% to be exact – had upgraded to FCU from an earlier version.

Other editions still proliferated on customers’ PCs. The April feature upgrade, dubbed Creators Update and labeled 1703, powered 34%. Even older versions, including 2016’s only feature upgrade, the Anniversary Update (1607) and the soon-to-be-retired-from-support 1511, accounted for 11% and 1%, respectively.

The quick shift to FCU stood in contrast to the lethargic transition to Creators Update earlier in 2017. Eleven weeks after Creators Update’s April 5 debut, AdDuplex measured its share of all Windows 10 PCs at just 36%, barely more than a third. Its predecessor, the Anniversary Update, or 1607, continued to power the majority of Windows 10 PCs (59%) at the time.

Microsoft controls the pace of Windows 10 feature upgrades adoption, at least in the opening months after each release. While some users do actively seek out the upgrade to download and install, most wait for Microsoft to offer it to their PC, at which point the rest is usually automatic.

The Redmond, Wash. developer has been clear that it does not open the upgrade spigot all the way at the start. Instead, it provides each feature upgrade to an increasing number of PCs as time ticks by, beginning with the subset of the newest systems that theoretically should have the fewest problems installing the code. The staged-release model – while not new, not even Microsoft’s invention – lets developers gauge installation success, correct any problems, and then continue the rolling release.

That the FCU was handed to customers faster than its predecessor could be explained several ways.

After five releases, Microsoft may have found its legs, able finally to get a majority of its Windows 10 users onto a feature upgrade in little more than two months, and thus prove that it can execute its rapid development and release strategy. Or the FCU was simply in better shape at launch than the spring’s Creators Update; the contrasting timelines reflected the better-quality FCU.

Android Games Tracks Users Viewing Habits

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net, Consumer Electronics

Yet another privacy violation has been found alive and well in the Google Play Store.

The New York Times reports that “hundreds” of apps are embedding a revenue stream-creating package called Alphonso that uses your smartphone microphone to track your TV viewing habits.

Games like ‘Pool 3D’, ‘Beer Pong: Trickshot‘, ‘Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin‘ and ‘Honey Quest‘ seem like innocent games but, in fact, have a secret agenda.

Now it’s important to emphasise that you have to actively give permission for an app to use your microphone in the first place, but so often we say ‘yes’ to that sort of thing when we don’t really know the consequences.

In this case, the NYT explains: “Using a smartphone’s microphone, Alphonso’s software can detail what people watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see.”

It’s a similar principle to Shazam, but without explicit permission. Plus it’s going to be kicking your battery life into submission we imagine.

However, Alphonso does have a deal with Shazam that means that when you Shazam something, the data is sent to Alphonso for analysis.

Alphonso says it does not record human speech, and that it only works with permission from the end user – but that permission needs only to be granted once.

“The consumer is opting in knowingly and can opt out anytime,” explains Ashish Cordia, CEO of Alphonso. The company declined to say just how many apps (some of which are on the Apple Store too) are being used, or which ones.

It also added that it didn’t approve of the kit being used in apps made for children, but this hasn’t stopped developers incorporating it anyway.

Apps like this often use embedded sounds hidden out of range in the TV signal which trigger the apps to record. This data can then be used by advertisers to set rates.

It’s all rather grim and creepy if we’re honest. But that’s just the way the world works now, seemingly. Pass the tinfoil.

Google has promised to improve warnings in the event that apps are harvesting data, whether the app is from inside or outside the Play Store.

Courtesy-Fud

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