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McAfee’s Biometric Authentication Software Coming By End Of The Year

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A McAfee security product that will use biometric technology to authenticate users will be available for download by the end of the year, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, last week.

“Your biometrics basically eliminate the need for you to enter passwords for Windows log in and eventually all your websites ever again,” Skaugen said.

Further product details were not immediately available. But one of the major inconveniences in using PCs and tablets is remembering passwords, which biometrics can tame.

An average user has about 18 passwords and biometric authentication will make PCs easier to use, Skaugen said.

Biometric authentication isn’t new. It’s being used in Apple Pay, where fingerprint authentication helps authorize credit card payments through the iPhone or iPad. Intel has been working on multiple forms of biometric authentication through fingerprint, gesture, face and voice recognition.

McAfee is owned by Intel, and the chip maker is building smartphone, tablet and PC technology that takes advantage of the security software. Intel has also worked on biometric technology for wearable devices like SMS Audio’s BioSport In-Ear Headphones, which can measure a person’s heart rate.

Intel also wants to make PCs and tablets easier to use through wireless charging, display, docking and data transfers. Such capabilities would eliminate the need to carry power brick and cables for displays and data transfers. Such capabilities will start appearing in laptops next year with sixth-generation Core chips code-named Skylake, which will be released in the second half.

 

 

Apple Pay Enjoys Success As More Retailers Jump Onboard

November 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. consumers have been leery of in-store mobile payments for years, but Apple Pay is making gains in that area just a month after the service launched Oct. 20.

Apple’s latest success with Apple Pay includes the addition of support from hundreds of grocery stores within six major chains in the past week: BiLo Holding, 830 stores; Harvey’s and Winn-Dixie, 530; Albertson’s and Jewel-Osco, 180; Shaws and Star Markets, 150; United Food Stores, 60; and Associated Food Stores, 135. Wegmans and Whole Foods were already part of the original 35 retail chains offering Apple Pay in an estimated 225,000 stores, about 5% of all possible U.S. retail locations.

In addition, on Thursday, American First Credit Union said its Visa card now supports Apple Pay, joining more than 500 U.S. banks already supporting the service through Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards.

In the past week, SunTrust and Regions Bank added their support.

McDonald’s has confirmed that more than 50% of its in-store mobile payments at 14,000 restaurants were made with Apple Pay in its first month. Whole Foods recently said it processed more than 150,000 Apple Pay transactions in the first three weeks of the service. And Walgreens, the national drug store chain, said in-store mobile payments had doubled since Apple Pay launched.

 

 

Apple To Bundle Beats Music Into iOS

November 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc will bundle the subscription music service it acquired from Beats into its iOS operating system early next year, according to an article by the Financial Times.

The inclusion of the paid-for Beats service in an iOS software update, which would instantly make it available on millions of iPhones and iPads, could happen as early as March, the daily reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The move will mark the company’s first big push into subscription music, at a time when downloads from its iTunes are in decline, the paper said.

The service, which is likely to be rebranded under the iTunes label, will compete with music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud.

Google Inc said last week that YouTube is rolling out a long-awaited paid monthly music subscription service called YouTube Music Key.

Apple, which bought music streaming and audio equipment company Beats in May for $3 billion, could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

 

WhatsApp Adds End-to-End Encryption

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Stepping up efforts to keep its users messages safe from prying eyes, WhatsApp announced that it now supports end-to-end encryption for messages sent between users.

The end-to-end encryption comes thanks to a collaboration between WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems, an open-source development company focused on secure communications.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has more than 600 million users who log in monthly, making Open Whisper’s encryption deployment the largest ever in the area of end-to-end encrypted communication, Open Whisper said.

The encryption is on by default. It’s only available for Android right now, though the companies are working to roll out support for other platforms.

End-to-end encryption has gained attention following the disclosures about government surveillance last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Meanwhile, the flood of cyber attacks targeting retailers and Internet companies alike have highlighted the need for better data security.

Edward Snowden himself has called end-to-end encryption the best possible form of encryption, because it keeps people’s data encrypted even while it’s on company servers. The data, in theory, can only be decrypted on people’s personal devices. That means outside groups must target individuals’ machines if they want to access the data.

Some other mainstream services like Google have released products to facilitate end-to-end encryption. And along with Apple, Google’s also working to make encryption the default on smartphones.

But end-to-end encryption still is primarily offered by lesser known companies that don’t rely on people’s data for advertising.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption uses Whisper’s TextSecure protocol, which encrypts text messages over the air and on people’s phones.

WhatsApp declined to comment further on the encryption deployment.

 

 

IBM Unveils Verse, New Enterprise Email Product

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

IBM is going up against cloud-app juggernauts Google and Microsoft with its next generation e-mail client, called Verse, designed to enrich email with social media and analysis.

“We felt we could leverage analytics to build an experience that understands your priorities,” said Jeff Schick, general manager of IBM social solutions, of the app that launched as a private beta on Tuesday. “We had the opportunity to reduce clutter and create priority, and to help people be more efficient in how they master their inbox.”

The company plans to offer Verse in the first quarter of 2015 as a hosted service though the IBM Cloud Marketplace. IBM will also issue apps for both iOS and Android that can access all the same features as the desktop browser version.

“They are addressing known problems, inbox clutter, prioritization and the ability to access different modes of communication, from an integrated user experience,” Rob Koplowitz, research analyst at Forrester who covers collaboration software, wrote in an e-mail.

IBM first announced the new e-mail software in January, under the working name of Mail Next.

Like IBM’s Notes e-mail client, Verse relies on the IBM Domino e-mail server. Unlike Notes, which was built on a client-server architecture, Verse is entirely Web-based. Going forward, IBM will encourage customers to use Verse as an enterprise email client, except for those organizations that have built their own applications on Notes’ Eclipse-based development platform, Schick said.

The company did not reveal pricing of Verse, other than state it will offer a no-cost “freemium” version that would be available for individual users. A version of the software that can be run on-premise will be released later in 2015.

 

 

Is nVidia Winning The GPU War?

November 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

According to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), Nvidia has managed to claw back market share from AMD in the second quarter of 2014. JPR found that AMD’s overall unit shipments decreased 7% sequentially, while Intel and Nvidia gained 11.6% and 12.9% respectively. The ‘attach rate’ is almost flat at 155% (up 2%). A total of 32% of PCs tracked last quarter had discrete graphics, while 68% did not.

The PC market grew 6.9% sequentially, but it was down 2.6% year-on-year. Shipments of desktop graphics cards were up 7.8% from last quarter.

“Q3 2014 saw a flattening in tablet sales from the first decline in sales last quarter. The CAGR for total PC graphics from 2014 to 2017 is up to almost 3%. We expect the total shipments of graphics chips in 2017 to be 510 million units. In 2013, 454 million GPUs were shipped and the forecast for 2014 is 468 million,” JPR said.

Shipments of AMD APUs were up 10.5% over the last quarters, but AMD lost 16% in the notebook market. AMD’s discrete GPU shipments were down 19%, but notebook discrete shipments were up 10%. AMD’s overall graphics shipments were down 7%.
Intel’s desktop GPU shipments were stagnant (down 0.3%), but notebook shipments were up by 18.6%.

Nvidia’s desktop discrete shipments were up 24.3% sequentially, while notebook shipments increased 3.5% for an overall increase of 12.9%.

“Year-to-year this quarter AMD’s overall PC shipments decreased 24%, Intel increased 19%, Nvidia decreased 4%, and the others essentially are too small to measure,” the report found.

“Total discrete GPU (desktop and notebook) shipments from the last quarter increased 6.6%, and decreased 7.7% from last year. Sales of discrete GPUs fluctuate due to a variety of factors (timing, memory pricing, etc.), new product introductions, and the influence of integrated graphics. Overall, the trend for discrete GPUs has increased with a CAGR from 2014 to 2017 now of 3%.”

At the moment, an estimated 99% of all Intel chips ship with integrated graphics, compared to 66% of AMD non-server processors.

Courtesy-Fud

Will nVidia Or AMD Ever Produce A 20nm GPU?

November 14, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like we might never see 20nm GPUs from either Nvidia or AMD. From what we know, both companies spent a lot of time looking into the new 20nm manufacturing process and they have decided that it is simply not viable for GPUs.

Yields are not where they are supposed to be and from a business perspective it doesn’t make sense to design and produce chips that would end up with very low yields. At this point we do not expect to see any high-end chips in 20nm, as there are obvious manufacturing obstacles and both companies might even skip the 20nm process altogether and move directly to 16nm FinFET.

16nm FinFET GPUs coming in 2016

We expect 16nm FinFET based GPUs sometime 2016 and this manufacturing process will bring some rather innovative products worthy of an upgrade.

One might ask why Apple doesn’t appear to have problems with its 20nm A8 and A8X chips and we might have a partial answer for you. The Apple A8 chip has to stay under 2.5W TDP, the A8X used in the iPad Air 2 A8X has a maximum TDP of 4.5W.

GPUs such as Maxwell- and Hawaii-based parts used in the Geforce GTX 980 and Radeon R9 290X have TDPs in the 150-250W range and the size of the modern GPU is an order of magnitude bigger than the size of an iPhone SoC.

Die size conundrum

The Apple A8 has a die size of 89mm2 and while we can only assume that the more powerful A8X measures over 100 mm2. Nvidia’s 28nm Maxwell GM204 die measures 398 mm2, which is about four and a half times bigger in terms of sheer die size.

To put things in perspective, in a single 20nm 300mm wafer you can place more than 700 A8 dies, while Nvidia can get about 140 Maxwell 204 chips from a 28nm High K 300 mm wafer and in 20nm manufacturing it would be able to get more, as the individual die would be significantly smaller.

However, these 150-250W chips are completely different than low-power SoCs with TDPs of less than 5W. They are worlds apart and one can assume that with the high performance and clock of discrete GPUs, coupled with their sheer size, result in higher leakage and other issues. Making a chip 4.5 times bigger means that there is much more room for potential issues, leakage and yield problems.

Don’t despair, 28nm still has some life in it

Not all is lost. We all saw that Nvidia pulled off a small miracle with the 28nm Maxwell GM204 chip, as this 5.2 billion transistor chip has a TDP of just 165W.

Its predecessor, the Geforce GTX 780 based on the GK110 chip, ended up with a 250W TDP with 7.08 billion transistors and a massive 561mm2 die size. Maxwell is also faster than Kepler, at least in this iteration, yet they are both 28nm products.

We expect that AMD’s upcoming Fiji GPU to be substantially more efficient than the Hawaii XT chip used in last year’s Radeon R9 290X. However, the new part is coming in 2015.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Finally Offers A Way Out From iMessage

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has finally published a tool that lets iPhone owners sever the link to iMessage, iOS’s texting service, when they leave the company’s circle of devices for Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone.

The tool, which allows former owners to disable iMessage even after they’ve disposed of their iPhones, was the first self-service option Apple has offered.

Because iMessage is enabled by default — and is the standard texting service for iOS-to-iOS communication — iPhone owners who had changed smartphones and kept their numbers were not getting texts from other iPhone owners. Apple, unaware that the user had deserted iOS for a rival smartphone ecosystem, was still routing iOS-originating texts to the recipient’s now-unused Message app.

Some called it “iMessage purgatory,” while others referred to it as the “iMessage black hole.”

The problem had existed since 2011, when Apple introduced iMessage and the companion Message app, and was partly technical: Texts sent between iOS devices via iMessage don’t transit a carrier’s SMS (short message service) network, but instead are sent over the Internet.

iMessage’s inability to reroute texts from iOS users — and since 2012′s OS X Mountain Lion, from Mac owners as well — prompted at least one federal lawsuit.

The new tool aims to solve the purgatory problem by letting former iPhone owners, even if they have disposed of the device, route texts to non-Apple smartphones. After entering the phone number for the Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone device, the user must enter the confirmation code sent to the smartphone into the Web form.

 

 

Apple Ramping Up Enterprise Its Enterprise Strategy

November 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Apple Inc is embarking on its most aggressive push yet onto enterprise IT turf, hiring a dedicated sales force to talk with potential clients like Citigroup Inc and working in concert with a dozen or so developers, two sources familiar with its plans say.

Experts say the company hopes to offset a gradual deceleration in growth – highlighted by iPad sales that have declined three straight quarters – by expanding its footprint in the workplace.

Three months after unveiling a partnership with IBM to develop apps for corporate clients and sell them on devices, the iPhone maker’s plans to challenge sector leaders Hewlett-Packard, Dell Inc , Oracle and SAP are starting to take shape.

Details remain scant, but some industry experts say that the tie-up with Big Blue gives Apple an opportunity to begin to challenge Hewlett Packard’s and Dell’s dominance of office IT, and Oracle and SAP’s command of work applications. Depending on its progress, it may hamper Microsoft, Samsung’s or Google’s own efforts in the nascent market for mobile work applications.

Apps developers and other sources familiar with Apple’s plans who could not speak publicly provided additional details on how the iPhone maker is working behind the scenes.

The iPhone maker has worked closely with a group of startups, including ServiceMax and PlanGrid, that already specialize in selling apps to corporate America. The two people familiar with the plans, but who could not speak publicly about them, say Apple is already in talks with other mobile enterprise developers to bring them into a more formal partnership.

The iPhone maker may be trying to replicate the model that served the iPhone well: hook the client on the software and content, then keep them coming back for the hardware, which is what drives the lions’ share of Apple’s bottom line.

 

 

 

Office For iPad Tops Downloaded Apps List

November 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps surged in download popularity last week, topping the App Store’s U.S. chart the day after the Redmond, Wash. firm handed consumers more functionality free of charge.

On Friday, Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for the iPad were ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, on the App Store free download list.

Two days earlier, those same apps were ranked Nos. 14, 39 and 44 in the U.S., according to AppAnnie, a company that tracks app store market data for developers. Distimo, which AppAnnie acquired in May but still maintains its own listings, pegged Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad at Nos. 12, 39 and 48 on the same day, Wednesday, Nov. 5.

The rankings surge was triggered by announcements by Microsoft that it was moving the boundary line between free and paid on the Office for iPad apps. Previously, consumers without an Office 365 subscription could use the Office for iPad apps only to view documents. Under the new rules, consumers may now also create and edit documents, although features Microsoft labeled “advanced editing,” as well as the unlimited OneDrive storage space, remained available only to Office 365 customers.

Businesses must still pay if their employees want to use Office for iPad, Office on iPhones and Android smartphones, and almost certainly Office on Android tablets when that ships early next year.

Office apps on the iPhone also pushed to near the top of the App Store chart on Friday: Word was No. 1, Excel No. 4 and PowerPoint No. 8. Those apps were new, so no direct comparisons were possible.

The iPhone trio had been spun off Microsoft’s earlier app, Office Mobile, which debuted in mid-2013. Initially tied to Office 365 — as was the iPad  – the link was broken in March when Microsoft allowed consumers to download and use all Office Mobile features free of charge on their iPhones.

 

 

Microsoft’s First Lumia Phone Without Nokia To Arrive Tuesday

November 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft’s first Windows smartphone since it axed the Nokia brand will arrive on Tuesday, and a teaser from the company hints that it will be a new low-end model.

The teaser promises a smartphone for everyone, the most popular way to position a budget device. The teaser doesn’t offer many details beyond the Nov. 11 launch and an image of what looks like an orange smartphone with a front-facing camera, a feature missing from other low-cost Lumias. Rumored specifications include a 5-in. screen and a 5-megapixel camera.

The screen will not only be bigger but also better than the 4-in. screen on the Lumia 530. However, not too much can be expected of a 5-inch screen with a resolution of 960 by 540 pixels. Another must-have is 1GB of RAM, which would be an improvement over the 512MB in the Lumia 530 and Lumia 630.

Because growth is mainly in the low end of the market, continuing to push into that segment makes sense for Microsoft. This year it has already shipped the Lumia 530 and Lumia 630, and set up partnerships with Indian smartphone manufacturers Micromax and Karbonn.

But success won’t come easily for the company as competition is getting increasingly heated. For example, Google has launched the Android One program to make it easier for vendors to develop smartphones with a $100 price tag. Samsung Electronics is also poised to focus more on cheaper smartphones to boost its ailing fortunes.

The third quarter saw Microsoft’s and Windows Phone’s share of the global smartphone OS market drop from 4.1 percent to 3.3 percent year-on-year, according to Strategy Analytics. Shipments grew by 200,000 units to 10.5 million, which wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with overall market growth of almost 27 percent.

 

New Malware Targeting Apple Devices Uncovered

November 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Palo Alto Networks Inc  has uncovered a new group of malware that can infect Apple Inc’s  desktop and mobile operating systems, underscoring the increasing sophistication of attacks on iPhones and Mac computers.

The “WireLurker” malware can install third-party applications on regular, non-jailbroken iOS devices and hop from infected Macs onto iPhones through USB connector-cables, said Ryan Olson, intelligence director for the company’s Unit 42 division.

Palo Alto Networks said on Wednesday it had seen indications that the attackers were Chinese. The malware originated from a Chinese third-party apps store and appeared to have mostly affected users within the country.

The malware spread through infected apps uploaded to the apps store, that were in turn downloaded onto Mac computers. According to the company, more than 400 such infected apps had been downloaded over 350,000 times so far.

It’s unclear what the objective of the attacks was. There is no evidence that the attackers had made off with anything more sensitive than messaging IDs and contacts from users’ address books, Olson added.

But “they could just as easily take your Apple ID or do something else that’s bad news,” he said in an interview.

Apple, which Olson said was notified a couple weeks ago, did not respond to requests for comment.

Once WireLurker gets on an iPhone, it can go on to infect existing apps on the device, somewhat akin to how a traditional virus infects computer software programs. Olson said it was the first time he had seen it in action. “It’s the first time we’ve seen anyone doing it in the wild,” he added.

 

 

 

Microsoft, Dropbox Team Up For Online File-sharing

November 6, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft and Dropbox announced a collaboration that will integrate each company’s corporate offerings — Office 365 on Microsoft’s part, Dropbox for Business on Dropbox’s — with the other’s services.

The two firms, which have been competing in the cloud storage and file sync market — Dropbox’s bread and butter, a feature rather than a business for Microsoft — will now team up, first on tablets and smartphones, then next year online.

Some analysts called it advantage Microsoft in the partnership, but still thought Dropbox got an important win. “What Dropbox gets out of this is survival,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analysts at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Microsoft will revamp its Office mobile apps — Excel, PowerPoint and Word on the iPad, iPhone and Android smartphones — in the coming weeks so that users can connect to their Dropbox accounts from within those apps. In 2015, Microsoft will add the same capability to the Office Online apps, the Web-based versions of its primary applications.

Meanwhile, Dropbox will modify its mobile app — available now for Android and iOS — so that Excel, PowerPoint and Word documents stored on its service can be opened using the Office apps. Dropbox also said it would create a native Windows Phone app, something it’s declined to do previously, that would offer the same connectivity to Office.

“That [commitment to a Windows Phone app] shouldn’t be undersold,” said Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft. “That’s a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.’”

In the first half of 2015, Dropbox’s Web-based interface will tie into the Office Online apps.

Both Microsoft and Dropbox touted the partnership, with the latter contending “an even more seamless experience on all platforms” would be the result.

 

 

Jawbone Unveils Latest Fitness Trackers

November 6, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Wearable device maker Jawbone launched a set of new fitness trackers called “UP Move” and “UP3″ that track details of workouts, hours slept and heart rate.

Up Move, which comes with an LED display to view the number of steps and time taken, will be available at $50, and UP3 will be available at $180, the San Francisco-based company said.

UP3, a wrist band equipped with sensors on the strap, keeps track of the physical activity and heart rate as well as provides recommendations on daily lifestyle using UP App.

Up Move, which is powered by MotionX technology, connects wirelessly with Jawbone’s UP App via bluetooth.

While Up Move is ready for pre-order from Wednesday, UP3 will be available later this year, the company said.

Jawbone unveiled its software named UP in September, that can incorporate health and fitness data from any gadget, from Apple Inc’s iPhone to Google Inc’s android wear device.

 

 

 

Sprint Clings To 3rd Place, Wards Off T-Mobile Advance In Latest Quarter

November 5, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint had 55 million wireless “connections” at the end of the third quarter, allowing it to barely retain the title of third largest U.S. carrier, just ahead of T-Mobile.

Some analysts had predicted Sprint would fall to fourth place behind T-Mobile, which has 53 million wireless customers, due to Sprint’s losses of postpaid phone subscribers. Those customers pay monthly bills after using a wireless service, as opposed to paying in advance.

In the company’s earnings call late Monday, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announced a loss of 500,000 postpaid phone connections during the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That’s down from a loss of 620,000 in the second quarter and 693,000 in the first quarter. For the first nine months of the year, Sprint has lost about 1.8 million postpaid customers.

Still, Claure said that Sprint has worked to stabilize is subscriber base with new family service plans and special pricing for the iPhone 6, which he said has been the best iPhone launch by Sprint ever. He cited record sales, but did not disclose any numbers.

“I have now completed 85 days [as CEO], and couldn’t be more excited about the progress made in those short weeks…,” Claure said. “We have started a transformation, while the company faces headwinds. ”

The biggest determining factor in a carrier’s success is postpaid phone customer growth, Claure noted.

Sprint’s wireless customer base includes 29.9 million postpaid connections (for all devices, not just smartphones); 15.1 million prepaid connections; and another 9.9 million connections made from Sprint affiliates, wholesale customers and devices of various types.

In contrast, T-Mobile said last week it had added 2.3 million subscribers in the same quarter, giving it 52.89 million customers.

With the benefit of wholesale and affiliate connections, “we still have the third most [connections],” Sprint spokesman Scott Sloat noted in an email.

Remaining in third place gives Sprint bragging rights, but it wasn’t something anyone at Sprint highlighted, given T-Mobile’s strong surge in recent quarters and Sprint’s problems.

Despite the overall third quarter customer losses, both September and October saw year-over-year improvements — the first such improvements in 2014, Claure said.