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Study Finds Android Apps Frequently Using Permissions Granted

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Android apps really take advantage of those permissions they ask for to access users’ personal information: one online store records a phone’s location up to 10 times a minute, French researchers have found. The tools to manage such access are limited, and inadequate given how much information phones can gather.

In a recent study, ten volunteers used Android phones that tracked app behavior using a monitoring app, Mobilitics, developed by the French National Institute for Informatics Research (INRIA) in conjunction with the National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL). Mobilitics recorded every time another app accessed an item of personal data — the phone’s location, an identifier, photos, messages and so on — and whether it was subsequently transmitted to an external server. The log of the apps’ personal information use was stored on the phone and downloaded at the end of the three months for analysis.

The volunteers were encouraged to use the phones as if they were their own, and together used 121 apps over the period from July to September. A similar study last year used a special iOS app to examine the way iPhone apps access users’ personal data.

Many apps access phones’ identifying characteristics to track their users, the researchers said. One of the few options users have to avoid this tracking is a switch in the “Google Settings” app to reset their phone’s advertising ID. That’s not much help, though, as apps have other ways to identify users. Almost two-thirds of apps studied in the three-month real-world test accessed at least one mobile phone identifier, a quarter of them at least two identifiers, and a sixth three or more. That allows the apps to build up profiles of their users for advertising purposes.

Location was one of the most frequently-accessed items of data. It accounted for 30 percent of all accesses to personal information during the test, and 30 percent of the apps studied accessed it at some point. The Facebook app recorded one volunteer’s location 150,000 times during the three-month period — more than once per minute, on average, while the Google Play Store tracked another user ten times per minute at times. Often, the only use apps make of such information is to serve personalized advertising, as was the case with one game that recorded a user’s location 3,000 times during the study.

 

 

LG Plans On Rolling Out Quantum Dot TVs In 2015

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc will roll out a new range of high-tech TVs in early 2015, expanding its line-up while it strives to cut costs that make its prized light-emitting diode (OLED) sets too expensive for most consumers.

A spokesman for the world’s No. 2 TV maker after domestic rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Tuesday LG will start selling products using quantum dot technology early next year. He didn’t disclose details including pricing.

The technology incorporates a film of tiny light-emitting crystals into regular liquid crystal displays (LCD), boosting picture quality. LG will have 55-inch and 65-inch ultra-high definition quantum dot TVs on display at the major CES trade show next month in Las Vegas.

Japan’s Sony Corp is so far the only major TV maker selling quantum dot models.

LG was widely expected to launch quantum dot TVs next year, having declared its intention to use the products in a dual-track strategy as the firm and its affiliate LG Display Co Ltd try to push OLED prices down. Analysts say it may take the LG firms several years to meet that goal.

The OLED TV sets remain expensive: a 65-inch ultra-high definition model launched in Korea earlier this year was priced at 12 million won ($10,993). A comparable Sony quantum dot TV costs about $3,799, according to the Japanese firm’s website.

Samsung Electronics has said quantum dot is one of many technologies it is considering. Analysts expect Samsung Electronics to launch quantum dot TVs next year, and believe it could be more aggressive in pushing the products than LG, which remains committed to OLED.

The LG spokesman said Dow Chemical Co is supplying quantum dot material. Dow Chemical confirmed the supplier relationship in an emailed statement.

Dow is building a quantum dot factory in South Korea using technology from partner Nanoco Group Plc, with production starting in the first half of 2015.

 

 

Microsoft Opens Up Halo

December 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Project Orleans, the cloud engine that powers Xbox hits Halo Reach and Halo 4, is being taken open source.

The engine, which has also played a vital role in the development of Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform, will be released under an MIT licence next year by Microsoft Technologies after being trailed at this year’s Microsoft Build Conference.

This is the latest in a long line of open-source announcements by Microsoft this year as the company tries to reinvent itself for the age where its stranglehold on the market has reduced and a wide variety of non-proprietary alternatives exist.

At the same Build conference, the company also announced that it will open source the .NET framework, on which most Windows applications depend.

The project, as described by the team itself, is “an implementation of an improved actor model that borrows heavily from Erlang and distributed objects systems, adds static typing, message indirection and actor virtualisation, exposing them in an integrated programming model”.

The team added that, whereas Erlang is a pure functional language with its own custom virtual machine, the Orleans programming model “directly leverages .NET and its object-oriented capabilities”.

One example available to try is an analysis of Twitter sentiment gauging reaction to a given hash-tag based on the language around it and creating visual representations of the mood of the web.

The code will be available as an extension to Microsoft Studio 12 or 13 with samples and supporting documentation already available, including for the Azure implementations. Non-Azure users can grab a free trial version before they buy.

Courtesy-TheInq

Ford Selects BlackBerry’s QNX For In-Vehicle Infotainment

December 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Ford has announced that it has moved from Microsoft for Blackberry’s QNX OS for its in-vehicle infotainment system known as Sync.

Like other infotainment systems, Sync allows users to make hands-free telephone calls, control music choices and perform other functions with the use of voice commands. Ford’s Sync head unit also upgraded to the latest Texas Instruments OMAP 5 processor.

As with Ford’s announcement about the new Sync rollout,Ford spokesperson Alan Hall declined to say why the automaker chose QNX over Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive OS for its third-generation product.

Negative press and feedback and criticism from Consumer Reports likely spurred Ford rethink its choices, said Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski.

“Having that automotive expertise and understanding the programs they have in place, how they work from an engineering perspective, the UI and getting applications into the head unit makes QNX very strong,” Koslowski said in an earlier interview with Computerworld.

Ford’s Sync IVI system has never been recommended by Consumer Reports magazine.

By turning to the open-source QNX platform, Ford gets a full community of developers to support and update the software. QNX also supports the ubiquitous HTML5 markup language and other native user interface toolsets.

Before being purchased by Blackberry in 2010, QNX Software Systems was owned by audio and infotainment equipment company Harman International. It’s been used in more than 200 different car models, so it has been well vetted.

Ford’s third generation, QNX-supported Sync uses a more natural language speech-recognition technology from Nuance, according to Hall.

“What we did with the data set was allow it to use a more conversational way that you’d refer to something. So P.F. Chang’s is how you’d refer to the restaurant, but the official name of the restaurant is P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro. In the past, you had to know the official name for the system to be able to find it,” Hall said. “That wasn’t very helpful because no one calls it P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro.”

 

 

 

Google To Offer Grants For Internet Of Things Development

December 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

As part of a new effort to generate more Internet of Things development, Google is planning to hand out a number of grants to facilitate pioneering research in this esoteric field of computing.

“While the Internet of Things (IoT) conjures a vision of ‘anytime, any place’ connectivity for all things, the realization is complex given the need to work across interconnected and heterogeneous systems, and the special considerations needed for security, privacy, and safety,” co-wrote Google chief Internet evangelist Vint Cerf, in a blog post announcing the research program.

The ”Internet of Things” is technical shorthand describing what is expected to be a mass wave of portable devices and sensors that will gather information and send it over the Internet for purposes of analysis and monitoring. Over 50 billion things will be connected to the Internet by 2020, Cisco has estimated.

Google plans to issue two sets of awards, both meant to fuel work to be carried out over a year.

One set of grants will be for larger team projects that Google will pay between $500,000 and $800,000 to see completed. Google expects that the work could be undertaken either by an academician leading a team of researchers or by a graduate student “willing to dedicate a substantial portion of their research time to this expedition,” according to Google’s request for proposals document.

A smaller set of grants, ranging from $50,000 to $150,000, will also be given out. For these grants, Google is looking for “new and unorthodox solutions” in user interface and application development, in privacy and security, and in systems and protocols research, according to the blog post.

 

 

Samsung Finally Starts 14nm FinFET

December 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A company insider has spilled the beans in Korea, claiming that Samsung has started Apple A9 production in 14nm FinFET.

The A9 is the next generation SoC for Apple iPhone and iPad products and it is manufactured on the Samsung – GlobalFoundries 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. In the other news, Samsung’s Ki-nam, president of the company’s semiconductor business and head of System LSI business has confirmed that the company started production of 14-nanometre FinFET chips.

The report mentions Austin as a possible site for Apple products but we wonder if the GlobalFoundries Fab 8 in New York State could become one of the partners for the 14nm FinFET manufacturing. Samsung didn’t officially reveal the client for the 14nm FinFET, but Apple is the most obvious candidate, while we expect to see 14 / 16nm FinFET graphics chips from AMD and Nvidia but most likely in the latter half of 2015 at best.

Qualcomm is likely to announce new LTE modem based on 14nm FinFET and the flagship SoC Snapdragon 810 is a 20nm chip. Qualcomm is manufacturing its 810 chips as we speak to meet demand for flagship Android phones coming in Q1 2015. Flagship Samsung, HTC and LG phones among others are likely to use Snapdragon 810 as a replacement for this year’s Snapdragon 801, a high end chip that ended up in millions of high-end phones.

Samsung / GlobalFoundries14nm FinFET process is 15 percent smaller, 20 percent faster, and 35 percent more power efficient compared to 20nm processors. This definitely sounds exiting and will bring more performance into phones, tablets, GPUs and will significantly decrease power consumption. The move from 28nm is long overdue.

We believe that Qualcomm’s LTE modem might be the first chip to officially come with this manufacturing process and Apple will probably take most of the 14nm production for an update in its tablets and phones scheduled for 2015.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Shows New IoT Platform

December 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel showed off a new platform which it claims makes it easier for companies to create Internet-connected smart products using its chips, security and software.

Intel’s platform is like Lego and based on the chipmaker’s components and software for companies to create smart, connected devices. The only difference is that you can’t enact your own Doctor Who scene from it.

Doug Davis, head of Intel’s Internet of Things business, said at a launch event in San Francisco it will make it a doddle to connect to data centres in order analyse data collected from devices’ sensors.

Intel’s chips should compute capability in end-point devices that scale from its highest performance Xeon processor to the Quark family of products.

Intel’s Internet of Things Group had $530 million in revenue in the September quarter. That accounted for just 4 percent of Intel’s total revenue in the quarter, but it grew 14 percent over the previous year, which was faster than the company’s PC business.

Dell, SAP, Tata Consultancy, Accenture and other companies are working with the new reference model, Davis said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Ericsson Goes After Xiaomi

December 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Ericsson has thrown a spanner into Chinese firm Xiaomi’s expansion plans, and has reportedly stopped it from selling handsets in India.

According to reports, this is already happening. We have asked Ericsson to confirm its role and what it wants to say about it. It told us that the reports are true and that it is ready to defend itself.

“It is unfair for Xiaomi to benefit from our substantial R&D investment without paying a reasonable licensee fee for our technology. After more than 3 years of attempts to engage in a licensing conversation in good faith for products compliant with the GSM, EDGE, and UMTS/WCDMA standards, Xiaomi continues to refuse to respond in any way regarding a fair license to Ericsson’s intellectual property on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms,” it said in a statement.

“Ericsson, as a last resort, had to take legal action. To continue investing in research and enabling the development of new ideas, new standards and new platforms to the industry, we must obtain a fair return on our R&D investments. We look forward to working with Xiaomi to reach a mutually fair and reasonable conclusion, just as we do with all of our licensees.”

Xiaomi has responded to Bloomberg but it declined to say too much until it has access too all of the information.

“Our legal team is currently evaluating the situation based on the information we have,” said the spokesperson. “India is a very important market for Xiaomi and we will respond promptly as needed and in full compliance with India laws.”

The banning on the sale of devices was approved by a court in Delhi India, according to reports, and is based on an Ericsson claim on eight patents that it owns.

Xiaomi has bold plans for its own future and sees itself competing against rivals like Samsung and Apple. It has given itself between five and 10 years to do this, and will presumably want to include the Indian market in those plans.

Courtesy-TheInq

Intel Unveils Internet of Things Platform

December 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Intel Corp on Tuesday showed off a new platform to make it easier for device makers to create Internet-connected smart products using its chips, security and software.

Intel’s platform is like a set of building blocks based on the chipmaker’s components and software for companies to create smart, connected devices, Doug Davis, head of Intel’s Internet of Things business, said at a launch event in San Francisco.

It also aims to make it easier to connect to data centers in order analyze data collected from devices’ sensors.

“We’re creating compute capability in end-point devices that scale from our highest performance Xeon processor to the Quark family of products,” Davis said, referring to Intel’s chips.

After moving slowly in recent years to adapt its personal computer chips for smartphones and tablets, Intel is determined to make sure it is on the leading edge of future computing trends, industry experts and company executives have said.

Adding processors, sensors and web connectivity to devices from soccer balls to industrial machinery, an emerging trend dubbed the Internet of Things, has become a new battleground for Intel, rival Qualcomm and other technology companies.

The install base of wireless gadgets will more than double by the end of the decade, with most of the growth coming from smart devices other than PCs and smartphones, according to market research firm ABI Research.

Intel’s Internet of Things Group had $530 million in revenue in the September quarter. That accounted for just 4 percent of Intel’s total revenue in the quarter, but it grew 14 percent over the previous year, which was faster than the company’s PC business.

Dell, SAP, Tata Consultancy, Accenture and other companies are working with the new reference model, Davis said.

 

 

Can SSD’s Last Longer Than Manufacturers Estimate?

December 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

An uninterrupted test of solid state disc (SSD) drives has revealed that many modern devices could stand being rewritten for far longer than expected.

SSD drives, while being significantly faster than their traditional spindle counterparts, are generally believed to have a shorter lifespan because the memory only has a finite number of rewrites.

Indeed most SSD manufacturers only offer guarantees of a few years before the device becomes unwritable and the data that remains becomes permanently etched.

But researchers at The Tech Report have discovered that some brands of SSD are capable of lasting hundreds of years, with two devices involved in the ongoing project reaching the 2 petabyte milestone.

In all, six devices were originally involved in the test, but only two – the Kingston HyperX 3K and Samsung 840 Pro – are still functioning.

Already in the great SATA interface in the sky are another Kingston and another Samsung device, a Corsair and an Intel which, like a character from Logan’s Run, is designed to take its own life if it gets too old.

Of the two survivors, only the Samsung is yet to report any errors whatsoever, but the Kingston has been able to move data about from damaged sectors without any data loss, so far, and is still in the running.

However, even the losing drives have a lot to be proud of. All have managed to carry on long after their expected lifespan, and had they not been turned into digital Solomon Grundys (Google it), there is little doubt that they would all be working long after we’ve moved on to quantum computing with data stored in invisible light particles; or swam back into the ocean.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will We See Major Changes In Bluetooth 4.2?

December 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

New versions of wireless technology standards aren’t often a big deal, there are far too few car chases and full frontal nudity, but the latest Bluetooth 4.2 is apparently going to change that. The new spec allows Bluetooth devices to connect to the Internet through newer home routers supporting IPv6. This should drastically simplify home automation, as it would avoid the need for dedicated Bluetooth hubs or devices with built-in Wi-Fi.

This will bring about some significant changes. Home automation plans are stuffed up by the fact that each service sells its own proprietary hub for connecting smart light bulbs, switches and sensors. This adds to the cost and complexity of home automation, because users may need multiple hubs to connect all the devices they want.

Bluetooth 4.2 should cut down on the overhead, so that even if two groups of products don’t talk to one another, you won’t need separate hardware. Bluetooth 4.2 includes new protections against Beacons, which can locate and send notifications to nearby Bluetooth devices.

Some retailers have been using Beacons to track and alert their shoppers, but with Bluetooth 4.2, users will have to opt in to the specific alerts they want to see. This works by having users download an app that effectively whitelists the store in question. Bluetooth 4.2 also uses new encryption and hash algorithms to protect wireless communications.

The systems data transfer should be up to 2.5 times faster, and connections over Bluetooth Smart and should be even more power efficient than before. Some of the new features (including Internet connectivity) won’t be around until later this month or early next year. In any case, we probably won’t start seeing phones, tablets and smart devices with Bluetooth 4.2 on board until later next year.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel’s Security Exec Jumps Ship

December 8, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

Michael Fey has left Intel Security Group to become chief operating officer at Blue Coat. Blue Coat is apparently not the traditional garb of a British Holiday Camp entertainer, but apparently a privately owned network security company.

Fey was one of the few top McAfee managers to stay with the company after it was bought by Intel in 2011. McAfee is now part of Intel Security Group, where Fey had been chief technology officer. Fey said that his role at Blue Coat would be “very similar” to his old job but he was allowed to focus on the cloud and the advanced threats space more.

“Blue Coat had tremendous growth behind the scenes and now I get to focus on taking that growth and trying to get it to the billion-dollar revenue mark,” he told Reuters.

Since the $7.7 billion acquisition by Intel, McAfee has lost senior managers and key talent in technology development, research and sales. At Blue Coat, Fey will replace David Murphy, who will stay on as a strategic adviser to the board.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung To Jump In The GPU Arena Next Year

December 8, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung is having another crack at building a GPU.

This is not company’s first attempt to make a GPU and this time it is meant to be used with its SoC and not in graphics cards. Samsung has announced last year that it wants to make its System on Chips based on in-house 64-bit architecture but we still have to wait and see one eventuate.

Samsung is trying to make a GPU for years and enter this already crowded GPU IP market. Qualcomm uses Adreno, Nvidia uses Geforce and wants to license it to others. Apple uses PowerVR while Mediatek uses ARM owed Mali graphics for newer processors while using PowerVR for some older parts. Intel is using PowerVR G6430 for its mobile processors such as Atom Z3580 Moorefield while AMD has its own graphics that it can use for future SoCs and APUs. Intel owns Intel HD graphics that dominates the integrated CPU market especially for notebooks.

Samsung currently uses Mali graphics but this might change. If its team is successful, it might come with its own graphics and jack them under the bonnet of its own Exynos processor by the next summer.

All the sudden Nvidia’s lawsuit against Samsung makes more sense.

Samsung is trying to get into Nvidia space and the company doesn’t like it. Even if Samsung manages to make a successful GPU, the competition is hard. Even with years of trying Samsung is mostly using Exynos for its own tablets and some phones. Most Samsung high end phones use Qualcomm Snapdragons as these tend to have better LTE modems and are widely available.

According to the Korean ZDnet the company might talk about the GPU as early as February at the Solid Circuits Society (ISSCC) conference with the official announcement scheduled for summer 2015.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is The Semiconductor Industry Really Growing?

December 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization released its autumn 2014 industry forecast on Tuesday, predicting that the semiconductor market will continue to grow next year.

The WSTS reported that the global semiconductor market will see nine percent growth year over year in 2014 to $333bn, driven mainly by double digit growth in memory shipments and supported by growth in all other product categories.

The trade group said that the highest rates of growth this year are in memory products (17.3 percent), discrete products (12.3 percent) and analogue devices (10.3 percent).

Semiconductor shipments grew in all geographical regions this year, according to the WSTS, driven largely by strong demand in the smartphone and automotive markets.

Assuming that the global economic recovery will continue into 2015 and beyond and the strong semiconductor markets will continue to mature, the WSTS forecasts continuing steady, although moderating, market growth in all product categories and regions next year.

The WSTS forecasts that the worldwide semiconductor market will increase 3.4 percent in 2015 to $345bn, and 3.1 percent in 2016 to $355bn.

The automotive and communications product categories will show stronger growth than the global market as a whole, while consumer and computer product shipments will remain almost flat in the forecast period.

Asia-Pacific, which already accounts for nearly 60 percent of the global market, will continue to show the fastest growth in 2016, reaching a value of $209bn, according to the predictions.

In June, Gartner predicted that the global semiconductor market would increase to $336bn in 2014, which it reckoned would be 6.7 percent growth for the year.

The WSTS produces semiconductor industry forecasts in May and November each year.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Intel To Replace Texas Instruments As Chip Maker For Google Glass

December 3, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Recent speculation began surfacing that Google was abandoning Glass, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that Intel Corp. is going to supply chips for the wearable device.

“Presumably, Intel would not get involved if Glass was a dying product,” said Scott Strawn, an analyst with IDC. “The really positive indication is if this comes along with an intention [by Intel] to invest and make new technologies that will solve a lot of the problems associated with Glass. That would be meaningful.”

The Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that Texas Instruments Inc., which made the processor for the Glass prototype, is out and Intel is in. Intel plans to push Glass into vertical industries like healthcare networks and manufacturers.

Google did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Intel would only say, “We work closely with Google across a number of areas, but we are not commenting on speculation.”

The report comes at a propitious time for Google, though, since it will quell talk of the company shelving Glass because of problems or lack of user interest.

Speculation heated up last month when Reuters reported that it had contacted 16 Glass developers and found only seven were still working on software for the wearable computer. The other nine had stopped working on their apps or ditched the project all together.

It didn’t help that Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who is frequently seen out sporting a pair of Glass, showed up at an upscale event without the computerized eyeglasses.

The implication was that Google was giving up on Glass — and the more than 10,000 early adopters who paid $1,500 for their wearable were out of luck.

At the time, Google pushed back, saying the company remains committed to pushing Glass forward, though there is no publicized launch date.

Analysts argued that while Google might be rethinking some Glass features or even tinkering with the form factor, it’s unlikely Google was giving up on the project — especially when it had just invested in Magic Leap Inc., an augmented reality company.