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Samsung Bixby Arrives On Refrigerators

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Get ready for smarter appliances.

Samsung has announced the second generation of its Bixby digital assistant will be coming to its various non-mobile devices including its smart TVs in the US and Korea in 2018, as well as its Family Hub refrigerator. The company also announced a new SDK for developers to make apps that work with Bixby.

Bixby 2.0, Samsung’s answer to the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, is smarter than its first version, with deep-linking capabilities and improved natural language capabilities. It can better recognize individual users and better predict peoples’ needs. The update integrates predictive technology from Viv, which Samsung has said would help the software work with third-party apps.

At the Samsung Developer Conference on Wednesday, Koh Dong-jin, the head of Samsung’s mobile business, laid out the company’s vision for the future beyond the smartphone: everything connected.

“At Samsung we see a new era of seamless experiences that break the barrier of a single device,” Koh said.

Samsung made the announcements at its fourth annual developers conference, taking place this week in San Francisco. The event, which started off small at a San Francisco hotel, last year expanded to Moscone Center West, where Apple previously held its developer conference. This year, 5,000 people are attending SDC, Koh said. Last year, about 4,000 developers attended.

Samsung has had difficulty generating enthusiasm for many of its software products. The company leans on Google’s Android software to run the vast majority of its smartphones and tablets, while its own Tizen operating system has struggled to gain a foothold. Meanwhile, Samsung has scrapped many of the services it’s created, like the Samsung Media Hub and Milk Video.

But it keeps trying. Samsung introduced Bixby on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus earlier this year and has been pushing SmartThings. It’s also partnered with Facebook’s Oculus on virtual reality for mobile devices. For Samsung, getting developers to create unique apps for its broad range of products — from its televisions to its smartwatches — is key.

Google Rolls Out Advanced Protection Program For Gmail

October 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet’s Google Inc confirmed that it would introduce an advanced protection program in order to provide stronger security for some users such as government officials and journalists who are at a higher risk of being targeted by hackers.

The internet giant said that users of the program would have their account security continuously updated to deal with emerging threats.

The company said it would initially provide three defenses against security threats, which include blocking fraudulent account access and protection against phishing.

The program would include additional reviews and requests in the account recovery process to prevent fraudulent access by hackers who try to gain access by pretending they have been locked out.

The rollout of a suite of new email security services by Google follows a U.S. presidential election last year that was shaped in part by the disclosure of emails by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks belonging to associates of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that were obtained through phishing schemes.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that those hacks, which included a breach of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s personal Gmail account, were carried out by Russia as part of a broader cyber campaign to help President Donald Trump, a Republican, win the White House.

“If John Podesta had Advanced Protection last year, the world might be a very different place,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, who was briefed on the new features by Google.

Hall said the new features would grow the amount of high-risk consumers with strong protections against phishing campaigns, but that they would potentially create compatibility issues among some who already integrate custom security tools with their Gmail account.

Apple May Introduce Face ID To All iPhones By Next Year

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s Face ID will officialy debut on the iPhone X on November 3, and it looks like the new tech may be here to stay. According to KGI Securities analyst and known Apple commentator Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), all 2018 iPhones will likely have Face ID.

Thanks to Apple’s TrueDepth camera system, the X gets all sorts of new tricks like Face ID, AR, and (yes) Animojis. This makes facial recognition a standout feature on the phone and also one of the big differences between the X and the more traditional iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

Kuo suggests that iPhones released in 2018 are likely to abandon the fingerprint sensor, which might mean it’s the end of the line for Touch ID on the iPhone. Touch ID has been used for certain situations like unlocking your phone or Apple Pay, but if Face ID works as intended, we may see the end of Touch ID (at least in its current form).

Kuo also claims that the TrueDepth camera gives Apple a competitive edge and differentiates the iPhone X from other phones on the market. He says that Android competitors are still years behind with their facial recognition tech. Releasing more iPhones with this technology in the near future could help Apple bank on this advantage.

This doesn’t mean Touch ID is dead just yet. A handful of Apple products (like the MacBook Pro) still use Touch ID, but Kuo has predicted that soon other devices could start using Face ID — possibly the next iPad Pro.

It’s worth noting that the facial recognition tech is reportedly causing slowdowns in iPhone X production. If that’s the case, Apple will need to speed things up if it wants to include facial recognition in next year’s iPhones.

You’ll be able to test Apple’s facial recognition when the iPhone X hits stores Nov. 3.

Will RISC-V Finally Hit Linux Next Year

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Linux fanboys tend to announce a lot of “year of” events. There is the year of the desktop which appears to be every year and still never happens and now there is the year of RISC V Linux processor.

SiFive has declared that 2018 will be the year of RISC V Linux processor, so mark your penguin diaries accordingly.  In the UK there will be all sorts of events planned, including guess the weight of Linus Torvalds competitions, there will be penguin tossing at Slough, The over 80s Linux nudist club will be holding a bring and buy sale and there will be the open sauce bob sleigh event down the escalators of Covent Garden tube station.

SiFive released its first open-source system on a chip, the Freeform Everywhere 310, last year. At the time it said it was aiming to push the RISC-V architecture to transform the hardware industry in the way that Linux transformed the software industry.

This year it released its U54-MC Coreplex, the first RISC-V-based chip that supports Linux, Unix, and FreeBSD. This latest opens up a whole new world of use cases for the architecture and paves the way for RISC-V processors to compete with ARM cores and similar offerings in the enterprise and consumer space.

The outfit claims that next year companies looking to build SoC’s around RISC-V will throng to the new developments.

Andrew Waterman co-founder and chief engineer at SiFive said the forthcoming silicon is going to enable much better software development for RISC-V.

Waterman said that, while SiFive had developed low-level software such as compilers for RISC-V the company really hopes that the open-source community will be taking a much broader role going forward and really pushing the technology forward.

“No matter how big of a role we would want to have we can’t make a dent. But what we can do is make sure the army of engineers out there are empowered.”

Courtesy-Fud

BlackBerry Settles Patent Dispute With BLU Products

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it inked a new license agreement with BLU Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-end Android phones, that would end patent disputes between the two companies.

Canada’s BlackBerry filed lawsuits against BLU in 2016, as part of the handset-maker-turned-software-company’s move to make cash off a bunch of technology patents it had collected in its heyday.

Thursday’s agreement will include on-going payments from BLU to BlackBerry, the companies said, but did not give further details.

The settlement will allow Blackberry “to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market,” said Jerald Gnuschke, senior director of Intellectual Property Licensing at BlackBerry.

BlackBerry, which holds about 40,000 worldwide patents and applications, has been long been focusing on software sales and licensing after its once-popular phones lost out to Apple and others in the smartphone industry.

BlackBerry Announces New Motion Smartphone

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The all-touchscreen BlackBerry Motion was officially unveiled at an electronics trade show in Dubai, just days after images of the new phone leaked online.

The new handset features a 5.5-inch HD display, 4GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery with support for QuickCharge 3.0. The Motion, which was unveiled at the GITEX 2017 trade show, is also rated IP67 for dust and water resistance.

The BlackBerry Motion is a follow-up to the KeyOne, the first phone released under a licensing agreement TCL has with BlackBerry to build and sell the devices. BlackBerry has detached itself from the hardware side, focusing on business security and software.

TCL, best known for making budget televisions and phones (under the Alcatel OneTouch brand), hopes to win some business customers of its own with its take on the BlackBerry family. The Motion is intended to show that the KeyOne isn’t a one-off product, and that TCL intends to create a new portfolio of products with the BlackBerry name.

The BlackBerry Motion will initially launch in the Middle East.

 

Windows Phone Appears To Meet Its End

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Bill Gates ditched his Windows phone. HP is halting production of its flagship Windows handset. Now Microsoft has finally seen the writing on the wall — there aren’t enough people using Windows 10 Mobile or enough apps to make it viable.

Corporate vice president of Windows 10 and head of Microsoft’s “PC-Tablet-Phone” division, Joe Belfiore, said on Twitter Sunday that Microsoft will continue to support Windows 10 Mobile with bug fixes and security updates, but new features and hardware are no longer front and center.

Microsoft is no upstart in the mobile space. It produced versions of its software for mobile devices for more than 20 years — starting with Windows CE for personal digital assistants in 1996, and later with Windows Mobile in 2000.

But the ecosystem has struggled since the launch of Apple’s iOs in 2007 and Google’s Android operating system (launched in 2008). According to the most recent sales figures from Kantar Worldpanel, Windows phones account for just 1.3 percent of the market in the US, bested only by BlackBerry at 0.3 percent. Compare that with Android’s 64 percent share of new phone sales and 34 percent for iOS (figures that are closely matched in the UK and Australia).

Microsoft has attempted to leverage its legacy in the PC space to push further into mobile — Windows 10 Mobile was billed as the “everywhere OS” that would let users shift seamlessly between desktop, tablet and mobile.

But users have long complained that the lack of apps on Windows Mobile devices is a deal breaker.

While Belfiore said Microsoft has tried “very hard” to provide incentives for app developers to get apps onto Windows Mobile, the “volume of users is too low for most companies to invest” in the ecosystem.

Does Virtual Reality Devices Have A Future

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Analyst at IDC have been shuffling their tarot decks and reached the conclusion that AR and VR are going to continue to grow like crazy – despite the fact that other analysts are not so sure.

IDC is forecasting the combined augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset market to reach 13.7 million units in 2017, growing to 81.2 million units by 2021 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.1 percent. VR headsets will account for more than 90 percent of the market until 2019 while AR will account for the rest. In the final two years of forecast, IDC expects AR headsets to experience exponential growth as they capture a quarter of the market by the end of the forecast.

Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers said that AR headset shipments today are a fraction of where IDC expects them to be in the next five years, both in terms of volume and functionality. “AR headsets are also on track to account for over US$30 billion in revenues by 2021, almost double that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices with earlier adopters being the commercial segment. Meanwhile, most consumers will experience AR on mobile devices, although it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s ARKit- and Google’s ARCore-enabled apps make their way into the market.

“AR headsets are also on track to account for over US$30 billion in revenues by 2021, almost double that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices with earlier adopters being the commercial segment. Meanwhile, most consumers will experience AR on mobile devices, although it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s ARKit- and Google’s ARCore-enabled apps make their way into consumer grade headsets.”

While AR headsets are poised for long-term growth along with a profound impact on the way businesses and consumers compute, VR headsets will drive a near-term shift in computing. Recent price reductions across all the major platforms, plus new entrants appearing in the next month, should drive growth in the second half of 2017 and will help to offset a slow start to the year. Screenless viewers such as the Gear VR will continue to maintain a majority share throughout the forecast, although the category’s share will continue to decline as lower-priced tethered head-mounted displays (HMDs) gain share over the course of the next two years. Meanwhile, IDC is predicting that standalone HMDs will gain share in the outer years of the forecast.

Tom Mainelli, vice president, Devices and AR/VR at IDC said: “Virtual reality has suffered from some unrealistic growth expectations in 2017, but overall the market is still growing at a reasonable rate and new products from Microsoft and its partners should help drive additional interest in the final quarter of this year. As we head into 2018 we’ll see additional new products appearing, including standalone headsets from major players, and we expect to see a growing number of companies embracing the technology to enable new business processes and training opportunities.”

Courtesy-Fud

Is Apple Face-ID on The iPhone X Secure

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s face scanning software can be broken by anyone under the age of 13 and the fruity cargo cult has been forced to admit that it does not really work for kids.

Apparently, the Face ID facial recognition system thinks kids look the same – it’s fair enough really – I think they all look the same, and all babies look like Winston Churchill no matter what their mums think.

However, in a security guide, Apple recommends that children under the age of 13 do not use Face ID due to the probability of a false match being significantly higher for young children.

It is the kids’ fault of course. Apple says this was because “their distinct facial features may not have fully developed”. We assume they are talking about the children and not Apple’s face scanning software.

The Tame Apple Press claims that it does not matter as few young children are likely to be given a $999 iPhone, false matches are also more likely for twins and siblings. In all those situations, the company recommends concerned users disable Face ID and use a passcode instead.

Another area where Apple is having problems is facial coverings. Apple says that “Face ID is designed to work with hats, scarves, glasses, contact lenses and many sunglasses”. 

But if the coverings must be transparent to infrared light and the system can see the eyes, nose and mouth. While some fabrics are more transparent to infrared than they may seem, that means iPhone users who cover their faces may be forced to rely on a passcode when out and about.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Echo Users Lean Towards Apple, Study Says

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

What does your choice of smart speaker reveal about your other preferences?

If you choose a Google Home speaker, does that mean you drift Android-ward? And what if you bought an Amazon Echo?

Well, let me tell you. I have just been made smarter by a piece of research from securities intelligence consultancy Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

It chatted with 300 Amazon Echo and Google Homeowners between July 11 and 27.

It concluded that those who own an Echo — which reminds me of the result of an ill-starred relationship between an air-purifier and a lipstick — have a penchant for Cupertino.

Of those surveyed, 55 percent of Echo users have an iPhone. The remainder have Android. Conversely, 75 percent of those who bought the oversized salt cellar known as Google Home are committed to Android phones.

Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP, insisted in a press release that the proportion of iPhone owners among Echo users was higher than the phone’s share of the US market. That stands at roughly 34 percent.

As for the proportion of Android users among Homeowners, that was merely consistent with Android’s share of the US phone market, he said. (Numbers vary as to how big Android’s share is. Some place it at around the 55 percent mark.)

Lowitz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

When it comes to tablets, Echo owners also skew toward Apple, says the research. 49 percent have an iPad, while 25 percent own an Amazon Fire tablet.

FireFox Quantum Browser Coming In November

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

After being stuck in the slow lane for ages, Mozilla’s new Quantum browser is starting to look like it might be faster than Chrome.

A beta version of Firefox Quatum lets you test whether Mozilla’s newly named web browser, replete with changes built over more than a year, is a match for Google. We had a quick look and it managed to make Fudzilla’s esoteric CMS machine go like the clappers. Opera on the other hand keeps on insisting that it needs a password for every screen.

Mozilla CEO Chris Beard claims that the new browser is a “big bang” although we suggest that probably means he needs to get out more. Company executives have acknowledged they let Firefox languish but now it is ready to do better with its life.

Firefox 57 is faster at starting up and loading web pages, judged on page-load speed, “Firefox Quantum is often perceivably faster” while using 30 percent less memory, Nguyen said in a blog post Tuesday. And it’s twice as fast as Firefox a year ago.

The new Firefox revamp includes Quantum Flow, which stamps out dozens of performance bugs, and Quantum CSS, aka Stylo, which speeds up website formatting. Photon that kills Firefox’s rounded tabs and adds a “page action” menu into the address bar. It also builds in the Pocket bookmarking service Mozilla acquired and uses it to recommend sites.

All up, it does not appear too bad. The phrase “at bloody last” crosses my mind. It still needs its acid test – whether or not it can handle Mrs Farrell’s shopping, which for some reason requires 105 open tabs which must never be closed unless you want to be divorced.

Firefox Quantum will arrive in its final form on November the 14th.

Courtesy-Fud

Xiaomi Regaining Momentum, Shipped Over 10M Phones In September

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Xiaomi has a new record to boast about.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun announced on Chinese social media the company shipped more than 10 million phones in September alone, saying demand is so high that supply for some models remains tight.

“We have good news to share: More than 10 million Xiaomi phones were shipped in September, marking the first time in our history we have crossed 10 million units in a single month! This means our business has achieved a new level,” said Lei Jun.

Xiaomi isn’t a household name in the US (yet), but it years ago was the top-selling smartphone brand in China, which made it the fourth biggest smartphone company in the world. It’s dipped in Chinese popularity since then, but has found success in the growing India market.

The revelation comes just weeks after Xiaomi announced two new phones, the Mi Mix 2, a bezel-less phone with a ceramic back that is the company’s most expensive phone to date, and the Mi A1, a budget Android One phone created for developing markets such as India.

There’s still some catching up to do if the company wants to reclaim its top spot in its homeland, however. Huawei, a fellow Chinese phone manufacturer, globally outsold Apple in June and July, during which time it was second only to Samsung in sales. Huawei has shipped 73 million devices from January to June this year, an average of 12 million phones every month.

Still, 10 million in one month is nothing to scoff at, and a sign that Xiaomi is back on track after losing momentum in 2016. Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, called Xiaomi’s newest achievement a “phenomenal comeback.”

“This is driven by strong demand for Xiaomi’s phones in China and especially India (where demand is estimated to grow by almost 400 percent), as well as its expansion to new markets such as Russia, the Middle East and Latin America,” said Shah.

“These have helped Xiaomi to double its global smartphone market share to the highest ever — from four percent in September 2016 to nearly nine percent in September 2017 — though how long the momentum will last remains to be seen,” he added.

Google AI Scores Grade School Level Intelligence Rating

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google’s AlphaGo may have defeated Ke Jie to become the Go world champion but it’s no smarter than a kindergartner.

A recently published study showed Google’s artificial intelligence technology scored best out of 50 systems that Chinese researchers tested against an AI scale they created, although it’s still no smarter than a six-year-old, CNBC reportedMonday. At 47.28, it’s almost twice as smart as Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.

AI systems have developed so quickly that it’s been able to act as an assistant, take an exam and even outperform us at strategy games. But the results downplay the concerns of “AI worriers” who have been uneasy about how fast it’s progressing.

To evaluate how smart an intelligent system is (or has become), its ability to “acquire, master, create and feedback knowledge” has to be tested, wrote the researchers. The IQ of 50 AI systems including Google’s AI, Siri, and Chinese search engine, Baidu, as well as three humans aged 18, 12 and six, were rated in 2014. When the authors took the scores of the AI systems again in 2016, they found that Google was the smartest in years and had improved the fastest (from 26.5 to 47.28), but it wasn’t enough to beat even a six year-old who came in with a score of 55.5.

The test also rated Google’s AlphaGo, the search giant’s AI system developed to play Go, against the authors’ intelligence grade model. AlphaGo was found to be in the third grade, which the authors say is two grades lower than that of humans.

Notable “AI worriers” include physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, who both won the 2015 Luddite Award and were branded AI “alarmists.” Hawking is a firm believer that AI could pose a real danger depending on who controls it, and argues that it could outsmart us and end humanity. Musk agrees there’s significant risk and asked for regulation in July, going as far as to suggest AI could start World War III. Alibaba founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, thought companies could be helmed by AI systems in the next three decades.

CloudFlare To Launch Service To Protect Against Against DDoS Attacks

October 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Cloudflare is making protection against DDoS attacks free, regardless of how bad they are and claims that soon that method of bringing down a website will be history.

For those who came in late, Cloudflare is one of the bigger internet security firms and it wants to kill off distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks . The company announced Monday that every customer—including those who only use its free services—will receive a new feature called Unmetered Mitigation, which protects against every DDoS attack, regardless of its size.

Now every website can fight back against DDoS attacks for free. Previously, customers who bought less expensive plans from Cloudflare, or another security firm, were still vulnerable to larger scale DDoS attacks. Now, Cloudflare will use its resources to help everyone fight an attack, regardless of how much they pay.

Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said the standard practice in the industry for some time has been to charge more if you come under attack and will fire you as a customer if you’re not sort of paying enough and you get a large attack.

Prince said that Unmetered Mitigation has the power to render DDoS an activist tool of the past.

Prince sees the playing field of DDoS attacks as fundamentally uneven. “We should not create a system of vigilante justice where a single individual—because they are upset with someone—can shut them down,” he said. “What we are trying to do is say ‘regardless of what your resources are, we will keep you online.'”

He told Motherboard: “We can now absorb anything that the internet throws at us,” he said. DDoS attacks are going to become “something you only read about in the history books”.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Google’s Nest Playing Catch-Up

October 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Nest has announced a new range of products to help it limp back into the smart home market.

The smart home pioneer, has lost its mojo of late with so many competitors in the space and a string of security issues and is now playing catch up, with a smart door lock, made with Yale, who already have a range of them, an intruder alarm, of which there are myriad, and a video doorbell, which is essentially another camera with a button on it, and unlikely to be better than the Ring range which has a huge head start.

The company which made waves as the first popular ‘smart’ thermostat to reach the masses, went on to buy security firm Dropcam and has moved its focus towards home security, particularly focusing on cameras.

Also on the list was an outdoor version of its IQ facial recognition camera, with HDR recordings as you would find in a top-of-the-range telly (why?) however, unlike offerings from the likes of Netatmo, a subscription is required for facial recognition, and that’s on top of the over-the-odds pricing.

A Nest Secure starter kit will be $499 (£368) and on there are further charges if you want a mobile (SIM) backup system. It consists of “Detect” sensors, “Tag” keyfobs to arm and disarm and “Guard” which is a box that makes a noise.

It seems that Nest believes that it can trade on its name and its “Works with Nest” system, based on Google’s IoT infrastructure, but although the build quality of Nest products is excellent, the premium pricing will not be a lure to those being offered similar specs from other companies.

The big selling point is the ability to control everything from a single app, but there are plenty of ways to do that now for far less money, without being locked into a system.

The rest of the range has yet to be priced but will go on sale in November in the US. UK release dates are as yet unknown.

The most recent UK product was a camera (duh) with zoom and enhance capability.

Courtesy-TheInq

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