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Is The Mobile Space Drying Up?

May 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

According to Digitimes, heading into the second quarter of 2015, Taiwan touch panel makers have sudden got conservative outlooks and some are even predicting that their revenues will drop another 15-20 per cent.

he reason is that consumers don’t want game changing tablets and despite the claim that they are moving over to phablets instead the smartphone market is still pretty pants.

While Taiwan’s overall shipments are expected to grow in the second quarter, with makers expected to ship 41.579 million smartphone-use touch panels, increasing 23.5 per cent on quarter but decreasing 22.3 per cent on year. The 8.941 million tablet-use units, are up 7.2 per cent on quarter but down 15 per cent on year.

Tablet makers are hurting the most. Those who focus on the application such as TPK are expected to see a 15-20 per cent decline in revenues during the second quarter before rebounding in the second half of the year when product mixes are adjusted and new orders from customers arrive.

Young Fast Optoelectronics company chairman Pai Chih-chiang said that they were also having to face price competition and this will get worse.

Young Fast aims to reduce spending and cut costs in order to react to this trend, which arose largely due to competition from China. The company will also focus on developing larger-size products in addition to wearable solutions while increasing utilization rates, said Pai, adding it will lower its emphasis on consumer-based products.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Tablets Stage A Comeback?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Analyst at IDC have consulted their tarot cards and are predicting that tablets will survive in the business area.

The overall tablet market in Western Europe remained challenged in the first quarter of 2015, declining 10.5 percent on year with shipments totaling 8.5 million units. The contraction, was the result of consumers realising that tablets were a fad and had no actually use at all.

But IDC sees a feature for the technology in the commercial space with volumes increasing 51.3per cent  from the same period in 2014. This is particularly in the area of 2-in-1s which are essentially a re-incarnation of netbooks with a touch screen.

In terms of product category, the share of 2-in-1s, albeit growing, remains in single-digit territory at 5.9 per cent. Nevertheless, the popularity of these devices continued to increase among consumers as well as enterprises, driving shipments up 44.4 per cent.

Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing said that the fact there were no major product launches, the beginning of 2015 failed to stimulate stronger consumer demand.

“Growth opportunity, however, clearly continues to come from enterprises and professional segments. Vendors have significantly expanded their product portfolio with devices optimized for business usage. Demand for 2-in-1 devices is gathering momentum driven by improved hardware offers as well as adjusted price points that are attracting private users as well as professionals,” she said,

Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing claimed that tablet usage for professional purposes was a reality.
“Deployment is no longer limited to a few early adopting countries or businesses. Adoption is far from being mainstream but we now see companies of all sizes choosing tablets and 2-in-1s to support their normal business activities.

The UK, France, Germany, and Northern Europe countries remain at the forefront of this trend as tablet adoption has become part of mobility and digital strategies in the private as much as public sector.

Windows 10 is likely to resolve most of the infrastructure legacy and integration problems that have so far hindered tablet and 2-in-1 adoption in some existing enterprises. The growth of the commercial segment is therefore expected to continue in the coming quarters, supporting overall market volumes in 2015 and beyond.”

Android devices account for the majority of the market thanks to the large number of vendors offering tablets running on this OS. The largest vendor, Samsung, under-performed the market in the consumer segment in the first quarter of 2015, but showed strong commercial results.

The rest of the market is represented by Windows devices, which posted strong double-digit growth for the third quarter in a row.

Courtesy-Fud

Bing Follows Google In Favoring Mobile-Friendly Sites

May 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft is changing how it ranks Bing search results for mobile users, prioritizing sites that display better on smaller screens to accommodate the increased use of mobile search.

The changes, announced Thursday, come less than a month after Google started prioritizing mobile-optimized sites in its search results. Both companies are looking to attract more users by providing a better search experience on smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft said it expects to roll out the changes in the coming months. Sites that display well on smaller screens will also be flagged with a new “mobile friendly” tag.

In the U.S. last year, Bing had roughly 6 percent of the mobile search market, compared with Google’s 83 percent, according to figures from StatCounter.

The changes don’t mean mobile-optimized sites will necessarily appear at the top of results. “You can always expect to see the most relevant results for a search query ranked higher, even if some of them are not mobile friendly,” Microsoft said.

It considers a variety of elements to decide which sites display best on smartphones and tablets. For example, sites with large navigational elements that are spaced well apart will be prioritized, as well as sites that don’t require a lot of zooming and lateral scrolling. Bing will also favor sites with mobile-compatible content. That means pages with Flash content, which doesn’t work well on iOS devices, might get demoted.

Microsoft highlighted Fandango’s mobile site as one that will be prioritized under the changes, more so than Movies.com.

The company has also developed a tool to help webmasters assess the mobile friendliness of their sites. It will be made available in a few weeks.

 

 

 

 

CoroNet Software Detects Fake Wi-Fi Networks

May 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

An Israeli company has designed a product that it claims is capable of determing if a mobile device connects to a fake cellular base station or Wi-Fi access point, potentially protecting critical data from falling into the hands of hackers.

Two large European carriers are testing the product, which is expected to come to market in early 2016, said Dror Liwer, chief security officer and co-founder of CoroNet, based in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

CoroNet’s software addresses one type of attack that was long thought to be too expensive to conduct. It involves creating a fake base station that has a stronger signal than a real one. Mobile devices are designed to connect to the station with the strongest signal.

Once a device has connected, it’s possible for a hacker to figure out a person’s approximate location and possibly steal data or listen to calls.

Such attacks were thought to be only possible by governments and intelligence agencies, but the software needed to create a base station,OpenBTS, is open source, and the cost of the needed hardware has dropped dramatically, Liwer said.

In the U.S., there has been increasing concern over police departments using such devices, sometimes referred to as IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catchers, without court approval.

A technically skilled person could probably build a fake cellular tower for around $350, while a non-technical person could assemble one for around $1,500, Liwer said. For enterprises with sensitive data, the lower barrier to intercepting mobile communications poses yet another risk to data.

CoroNet’s software is a lightweight agent that runs on an Android or iOS device or on a laptop. It is programmed to detect behaviors and characteristics of a base station, as well as those of Wi-Fi networks.

It turns out that fake ones leave a lot of clues that they’re probably bogus. Liwer said there are many signs that CoroNet analyzes.

 

 

 

Apple Products Still Dominant For Enterprise Users

May 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple products are still the most popular mobile devices among enterprise users, but competitors are erasing the company’s lead, especially in the tablet market.

Those are the findings from enterprise mobility management vendor Good Technology, which issued a report that measured mobile device activations among its business customers. Good says its technology serves more than 6,200 companies.

In the first quarter of 2015, 72 percent of all smartphones activated globally ran iOS. Compared to 2014′s fourth quarter, that’s a 1 percent decrease. Android device activations, meanwhile, reached 26 percent, increasing 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. Windows Phone activations remained steady at 1 percent, the same as the previous six quarters, said the report.

Apple lost significant ground in the tablet market. In the first quarter of 2015, iPads had an 81 percent market share in activations, down from 92 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to the report. Tablets running Android and Windows increased their market share to 15 percent and 4 percent, respectively. According to Good, Microsoft Surface devices, which Microsoft manufactures, as well as Windows tablets sold by third-party makers, were both in demand.

The iPhone 6 was the most popular smartphone for businesses, comprising 26 percent of all smartphone activations in the first quarter of 2015. The Samsung 5 was the most activated Android smartphone. Together, 28 of the top 30 selling smartphones came from either Apple or Samsung, the report said.

The industries with the most iOS activations were education (83 percent), the public sector (80 percent) and financial services (76 percent), the report said. Android activation was prevalent in the tech (47 percent) and energy (44 percent) industries.

Windows device activations, meanwhile, stood out in the retail and entertainment and media markets. In retail, Windows tablets claimed a 5 percent market share while in the media and entertainment industry, 7 percent of device activations were for Windows Phone.

 

 

MediaTek Shows Off Helio X20

May 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek has announced a 10-core processor which it claims is the world’s first mobile processor with three processor clusters.

The Helio X20 is expected to make its way into devices in early 2016, and will “revolutionise” mobile processors, according to MediaTek.

This is down to its ability to reduce power consumption significantly by altering the number of cores working at any one time depending on the power needed to complete tasks.

MediaTek said that this has been made possible by the firm’s new Tri-Cluster CPU architecture that has three processor clusters each designed to handle different types of workloads more efficiently.

“If a user needs heavy performance, [the Helio X20] will invoke 2, 4, 8 cores, intelligently looking at the workload to decide how many it needs,” said MediaTek’s senior director of corporate sales for EMEA, Chet Babla, in a briefing with The INQUIRER.

“There will be a dramatic drop in power consumption compared to big.LITTLE architecture because of this.”

The Tri-Cluster CPU consists of one cluster of two ARM Cortex-A72 cores running at 2.5GHz for high performance, and two clusters of four ARM Cortex-A53 cores, one running at 2GHz for medium loads and one running at 1.4GHz for light activities.

MediaTek has also integrated a CorePilot 3.0 heterogeneous computing scheduling algorithm which controls which threads are allocated to the cores.

CorePilot 3.0 schedules the tasks for all CPUs and GPUs while managing power and thermal effects so that extreme performance can be attained while creating less heat.

This is said to reduce power consumption by 30 percent compared with conventional dual-cluster architectures on top of the increase in energy efficiency thanks to Helio X20′s supported ARM Mali-T880 GPU.

“With the integration of MediaTek’s WorldMode Category 6 LTE modem with carrier aggregation and upgraded CorePilot 3.0 advanced scheduling algorithm, the Helio X20 is set to revolutionise the mobile processor industry and address the global demand for flagship mobile devices,” MediaTek said.

The Helio X20 also has several features designed to increase device display performance and multimedia experiences.

These include support for dual main cameras with a built-in 3D depth engine for a faster shot-to-shot experience, multi-scale de-noise engines for higher quality images, a 120Hz mobile display refresh rate for crisper and more responsive browsing, and an integrated ARM Cortex-M4 low power sensor processor to support always-on applications such as MP3 playback and voice activation.

Courtesy-TheInq

Hallmark Launches First eCard App

May 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Hallmark, one of the world’s oldest and best-known greeting card companies, launched its first Hallmark eCard app for the iPhone and iPad last week.

The new app, which will eventually make it to Android devices, isn’t just about ecards. It’s part of a broader mission within the Hallmark eCard division to help users connect more deeply through mobile devices and social networks than they do today, said Dan Kessler, general manager of Hallmark eCards.

“We’re talking about depth versus breadth” of social communications, Kessler said an interview. “If you post ‘Happy Birthday’ on somebody’s Facebook wall, at the end of the day you’re really just a number, a little red number at the top of somebody’s Facebook page. What we’re trying to provide artistically and technologically is a way to communicate more deeply.”

Facebook, WhatsApp and other social networks often provide social interactions without much meaning, he said.

“We’re entering a golden age for the greetings business,” Kessler said. “There’s an ongoing backlash against soulless communicating, and people are going back to a time of where it matters to say ‘Happy Birthday.’ I could just write it on somebody’s wall or [instead] send a card or an ecard.”

Kessler’s description of a ‘golden age’ might be an exaggeration. Still, there’s little question that mobile devices are opening a big door for ecards, said Natasha Rankin, executive director of the Greeting Card Association in Washington, which has 150 members, including Hallmark and American Greetings as its largest members.

“As with every company, Hallmark is recognizing wisely that to stay relevant, expanding into mobile is essential,” Rankin said in an interview. “There’s definitely an expansion toward leveraging technology.”

Ecards are still relatively small compared to paper cards, with about $274 million in revenues for U.S. ecard companies, according to the analyst firm IBISWorld.

 

 

 

MediaTek Becomes The Second Largest LTE Chip Manufacturer

May 8, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek has established itself as the world’s second-largest maker of Long-Term Evolution (LTE)-enabled cellular baseband processors in 2014.

Beancounters at market research firm Strategy Analytics have added up the numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that the industry has a new number two.

While everyone knows that Qualcomm, has near total dominance of the high-growth LTE baseband segment in the past and had a 95 per cent share in 2013 a battle has been going on behind the scenes.

Other LTE baseband suppliers had too little of a share to be ranked behind Qualcomm, MediaTek had enough of an impact in the market in 2014 to get a second-place ranking from Strategy Analytics.

The research firm predicted that MediaTek will continue to gain shares in the LTE baseband segment thanks to increased traction in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market.

“Growing revenue contributions from LTE basebands will lift MediaTek’s baseband revenue share over the next few quarters,” said Christopher Taylor, director of the Strategy Analytics RF and wireless component service.

In 2014 revenue from LTE baseband sales overtook revenue from 3G baseband sales for the first time, thanks to a strong push from the industry, the research firm said.

The global market for cellular baseband processors, which are used in mobile devices to process wireless communication, grew an impressive 14.1 per cent year-over-year to reach $22 billion in 2014.

Qualcomm, MediaTek, Spreadtrum, Marvell and Intel grabbed the top-five cellular baseband revenue share spots in 2014, the research company said.

Qualcomm had a 66 per cent revenue share of the cellular baseband processor market, followed by MediaTek with a 17 per cent share and Spreadtrum with a 5 per cent share, according to Strategy Analytics.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Smartwatches Causing Accidents?

May 7, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple’s latest nice looking over priced junkware is getting it into a spot of legal bother.

A lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Apple (but also Samsung, Google, and Microsoft) demands that the companies bankroll a billion dollar programme to educate drivers about the dangers of using smartwatches while driving.

The Coalition Against Distracted Driving(CADD)’a Stephen Joseph filed the complaint on April 18.

Joseph is “acting in this case in the public interest” while recognizing “potential injury to himself caused by the possibility of being hit by a driver who cannot see the road because he or she is using a smartphone or smartwatch,” the suit states.

Driving while using smartphones is dangerous and smartwatches can be more dangerous, reports the lawsuit.

Looking at notifications from smartwatches “creates a far greater distraction than smartphones” because it is more difficult to ignore notifications, given that the device is strapped to one’s wrist, the suit states. The temptation to view the notifications is “irresistible” and while looking at smartwatch “the road becomes invisible to the driver.”

The $1 billion cost of a national education program, “is a tiny fraction of profits that defendants receive from the sale of smartphones and smartwatches,” the suit states.

The suit argues that smartwatches with smartphones are nuisance while driving and the companies fail to issue warnings. A new ruling found that nuisance cases could be brought “to make such criminal activity … less likely through the imposition of operating conditions.”

Courtesy-Fud

Sumsung Finally Updates Tizen

May 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung has been updating its operating system which sounds like a sneeze – Tizen.

Samsung users of the Z1 mostly in India and Bangladesh have noticed a new update provided this week marks the beginning of a new chapter for Tizen.
The over-the-air (OTA) update was 16.1MB and normally would not have been a big deal but it seems to bring Samsung’s Tizen-powered smartphone to Z130HDDU0BOD8.

OK the update does not do much, but it does prove that keeping Tizen running fast and smooth is at the forefront of Samsung’s plans.

Samsung bought the update having rolled out the Tizen store globally, with 182 new countries added to the list of Tizen store-accessible locations (Netherlands, UK, US, France, Russia, Australia, Malaysia, Serbia, Croatia, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa, UAE, and others).

Global Z1 users can access the Tizen store and free apps, they cannot access paid apps at the moment.

The expectation is that Samsung prepping its Tizen store for a global rollout, and will start to roll out Tizen-powered devices worldwide in the months to come.

This brave new world might arrive with a Z2 or perhaps some more Tizen based smartphones.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Confirms Tattoo Interference Problems With iWatch

May 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Dark tattoos may interfere with the Apple Watch’s ability to montor and report a person’s heart rate, Apple confirmed on the device’s product support page.

“Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance. The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings,” Apple said.

Some watch functions require direct contact with the skin to work. If the device can’t detect a pulse, it assumes it isn’t being worn, shutting downs apps and requiring people to enter their passcode. Turning off the wrist-detection function solves the issue, but prevents people from using Apple Pay.

Reports emerged this week that people with dark wrist tattoos were experiencing problems with their Apple Watches. One watch owner with a tattoo on his left wrist said the device would lock, preventing him from receiving notifications. He initially thought the device’s sensors were defective.

But when he placed the watch on his hand, which isn’t tattooed, he was able to get text notifications.

Green LED lights and photodiode sensors on the back of the watch measure the amount of blood flowing through a person’s wrist, using a technology called photoplethysmography, according to the support page. Blood absorbs green light, and by flashing the LED lights, the watch can measure blood flow and then calculate a person’s heart rate. When the watch is unable to get a read, it increases LED brightness and sampling rates, Apple said.

Apple reminded users that Bluetooth-equipped external heart rate monitors, like chest straps, can be connected to the watch to obtain vital readings.

Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for further comment.

 

 

Microsoft To Allow Android, iOS Apps To Be Ported To Windows Phones

May 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp is will remove obstacles for apps written for rival Google Inc’s  Android and Apple Inc’s iOS systems to work on Windows phones, in a bid to attract users to its unpopular mobile devices, the company’s operating systems chief said.

The move marks a radical shift in strategy for the world’s biggest software company, which still dominates the personal computer market but has failed to get any real traction on tablets and phones, partly because of a lack of apps.

Microsoft has found itself in a circular trap, as many developers will not build apps for Windows phones which have few users, and few people want the phones which have fewer apps than Android or Apple phones.

Getting apps built for Android and iOS onto its phones and tablets could be a shortcut to breaking out of that trap.

“Microsoft is making a major play to win back developers,” said Forrester analyst Michael Facemire. “They’ve opened up the once-impenetrable castle walls.”

Speaking at Microsoft’s developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Executive Vice President Terry Myerson said developers will be able to use the vast majority of their Android code to turn their apps into Windows-compatible versions, which will work on Windows phones running a special subsystem.

The apps will technically be Windows apps and available only through Microsoft’s online app store. The apps would automatically use Microsoft’s services such as Bing maps, rather than Google’s services, as an app would on an Android phone. That is a crucial distinction because Google gets revenue from ads on services rather than from the Android system itself.

Myerson also announced a surprise move to make it easier for iOS developers to make Windows apps, saying that Microsoft’s developer software will be compatible with Objective C, the main programming language used by Apple.

Microsoft, which bought Nokia’s handset business last year, has only 3 percent of the global smartphone market. By contrast, Android phones, led by Samsung, control 81 percent of the market and Apple 15 percent, according to Strategy Analytics.

 

 

 

Best Buy Changes Course, Decides To Accept Apple Pay

April 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Best Buy said its customers could start using Apple Pay from Monday to shop using its app through the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, thus appearing to break ranks with a group of leading U.S. merchants who are backing an alternative payment system.

“The acceptance of Apple Pay in the Best Buy app is the latest enhancement for our mobile platform,” the giant retailer said in a statement on Monday. Best Buy stores in the U.S. will start accepting Apple Pay later this year, it added.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced during an earnings conference call Monday that Apple Pay would be supported on the Best Buy app now and in stores later this year.

The move by Best Buy is significant as the retailer is part of Merchant Customer Exchange, a merchant’s association that backs its own mobile payments platform called CurrentC. MCX members Rite Aid and CVS stopped accepting Apple Pay at their stores a week after the launch of the Apple system, in a move that was seen as reflecting the rivalry between the two payment systems.

Best Buy could not be immediately reached for comment on whether it would support both CurrentC and Apple Pay once the MCX payment system is available.

The retailer, however, seemed to suggest in its statement that it will support both options. “Today’s consumers have many different ways to spend their money and we want to give our customers as many options as possible in how they pay for goods and services at Best Buy,” it said.

Apple Pay got another big win on Monday when card issuer Discover Financial Services said its card members in the U.S. would be able to make contactless payments using Apple Pay at participating stores, through the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. Discover card members will also be able to make purchases through apps on the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3.

 

 

 

 

 

MediaTek Goes 20nm For 10 Cores

April 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

While everyone is rushing to 10nm process technology for smartphones, fabless chipmaker MediaTek is about to create a 10 core SoC using TSMC’s 20nm process tech.

According to Digitimes the outfit is about to enter volume production of its 10-core SoC series for smartphones in the third quarter of 2015.

Dubbed Helios X20, the SoC will be targeted at Chinese based smartphone makers who want to upgrade their flagship devices.

Marketing will begin in the middle of the second quarter. When it gets into the shops it will be the world’s first 10-core chip.

The Helios X20 uses a 2+4+4 design, delivering 40 per cent more performance than eight-core chips. While this will give a lot of power to a smartphone, it is not clear what it will do for battery life or the size of the beast.

Still it is nice to see that someone has found a new way of getting more life out of the 20 nm process and do something good with it.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Unveils Free Video Calling For Its Messenger App

April 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Users can now place free video calls with Messenger, as Facebook continues to broaden its app’s reach beyond simple text-based chats.

With the feature, Facebook is also going aftert competing products like Apple’s FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype and Google Hangouts. Facebookpreviously allowed video calling through its site on the desktop, but not within its Messenger app.

The video calling feature is available in the iOS and Android Messenger apps. iOS users will be able to video chat with Android users, and vice versa. It began rolling out Monday in the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries including Mexico, Nigeria and Uruguay, with availability in more regions slated for the coming months, Facebook said in a blog post.

The feature arrives as Facebook makes Messenger a platform for a variety of digital tasks. Other app developers can now integrate their software into Messenger, and users will soon be able to interact with businesses via the app to check the status of their orders. In March, Facebook began letting Messenger users send each other money through the app.

Messenger already handles more than 10 percent of all Internet-based voice calls, according to Facebook. The company sees video as an important extension of its functionality, especially when a voice call won’t do.

To start a video call, users tap the video camera icon in the upper right corner of the chat window.

With Messenger now available on the desktop, the feature could become a useful communications tool for businesses. It’s designed to work over Wi-Fi and LTE even when the signal strength is low.

With more than 600 million users who log in monthly, Messenger is one of Facebook’s most popular apps.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp, meanwhile, supports voice calling, but does not yet offer video calling.