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Apple Pulls The Plug On Thunderbolt Display

June 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple announced that is will discontinue its Thunderbolt Display, the high-resolution external display that users of the MacBook and other Macs could use to get a better picture and work with more apps.

The company said Thursday that the 27-inch widescreen display with LED backlight technology will be available on Apple’s online store, in Apple retail stores and from authorized resellers while supplies last.

The Thunderbolt Display currently retails on the Apple online store at $999. It has a 2560 x 1440 resolution.

It isn’t clear whether Apple plans to follow with newer versions that use 5K resolution displays at 5120 by 2880 pixels, which is the display technology Apple uses on its high-end iMac. There was speculation earlier that a new version would be announced at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference this month.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Apple planned to offer a refresh to the display.

Apple said in an emailed statement that “there are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users.”

 

 

Apple Begins Testing Of Safari 10 Browser

June 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has begun testing Safari 10 with developers running the 2014 and 2015 editions of macOS, gearing up for a fall release of the updated browser to users of Yosemite and El Capitan.

Safari 10 was introduced earlier this month as part of macOS Sierra, this year’s operating system upgrade.

Apple typically supports its newest browser on three editions of macOS: The latest version and its two predecessors. The now-current Safari 9, for example, receives updates, including security patches, on last year’s El Capitan, 2014′s Yosemite and 2013′s Mavericks.

Safari 10 will be supported on Sierra, El Capitan and Yosemite. Meanwhile, Mavericks will remain on Safari 9.

The Safari 10 preview is currently available only to registered Apple developers, who pay $99 annually for access to early builds, development tools and documentation.

The general public will get its first look at Safari 10 next month after Apple opens up its broader-based public beta program for Sierra. Those who have signed on to the beta preview will also be able to download preliminary versions of Safari 10 for El Capitan and Yosemite, running the preview browser but sticking with their older, more stable operating systems.

Some of Safari 10′s signature features will be available only within macOS Sierra, including web-based Apple Pay — where payment is authorized with an iPhone or Apple Watch — but others will be supported by older versions of the operating system. Among the most notable are the new ability for developers to distribute and sell Safari add-ons in the Mac App Store, and easy portability of iOS content blockers to macOS.

If Apple replicates last year’s beta schedule, it will release the first public preview of macOS Sierra and Safari 10 around July 14.

 

 

AMD Goes 32 Cores Zeplin

June 27, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A few months back Nick wrote about AMD Zen processor  found in a Linux Kernel Mailing List confirming that Zeppelin had  support for eight bundles of four cores on a single chip, or 32 physical processing cores.

This tied in with a story written in August of 2015 about a MCM Multi Chip module that featured a Zeppelin core, a super-fast 100GB/s interconnection via 4 GMI links and Greenland (Vega) high performance GPU with 4+ TFlops of performance. This APU will still happen, it will just be a bit later – the end of 2017.

Now we have a few more details about Zeppelin cluster and this is proving to be another “Fudzilla told you so” moment.  Apparently you can put up to four Zeppelin CPU clusters on a one chip and make a 32 core chip. This will be connected via coherent interconnect (coherent data fabric).

Each Zeppelin module has eight Zen cores and each Zen core has 512 KB of L2 cache. Four Zen cores share 8MB or L3 cache making the total amount of L3 cache per Zeppelin cluster 16 MB.

Each Zeppelin cluster will have PCIe Gen 3, SATA 3, and a 10GbE network connection. A server version of the chip has the server controller hub, DDR4 memory controller and AMD secure processors.

AMD will have at least three pin compatible versions of the next generation Opteron using Zeppelin cluster of Zen cores. There will be a 8 core versions with single Zeppelin cluster, dual Zeppelin cluster version and a quad Zeppelin version, that one that we have called Naples which will have 64MB L3 cache. All this sounds rather a lot.

We are expecting to see Zen-based Opterons in eight, sixteen and thirty two core versions for servers in 2017.

Courtesy-Fud

 

BlackBerry Says Device Business Is Top Priority

June 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd’s top priority this year is to make its devices business turn a profit, its chief executive said, even as it weighs the future of its hardware operation.

“The device business must be profitable, because we don’t want to run a business that drags onto the bottom line,” Chief Executive John Chen told investors at the company’s annual meeting. “We’ve got to get there this year.”

Chen has previously said a decision would be made by September on the future of the unit, which has suffered a sustained drop in sales in recent quarters.

But at the meeting, attended by around 100 people, he said he sees better opportunity in providing services that enable increasingly commoditized hardware to do more.

“I don’t personally believe handsets will be the future of any company,” he said.

BlackBerry, once the smartphone market leader before being displaced by Apple Inc and competitors run on Alphabet Inc’s Android platform, has worked to reposition itself as a software and service provider focused on device management for large organizations.

In its presentation to investors, the company said it expects the broader market for types of software it is producing to expand to $17.6 billion by 2019, from $525 million in 2012 and below $4 billion in 2015, powered by growth in medical, legal, financial and automotive industries.

But some of those in attendance were skeptical about BlackBerry’s ability to deliver on its strategic pivot.

“The first word that comes to mind is lackluster,” said one shareholder at the meeting who declined to give his name. “Time is running out.”

Chen reiterated that BlackBerry wants to grow its software revenue by 30 percent in this fiscal year, which he estimated would be double overall market growth, and to notch positive free cash flow.

BlackBerry is due to report first quarter results on Thursday.

Chen took up the CEO role in 2013 with a reputation as a turnaround artist. But the company’s stock has only risen modestly since then, with many investors waiting for signs the now-smaller company will be able to carve out new opportunities.

“I appreciate the strategy,” said Ken Tota, an investor in BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. He said he was optimistic a renewed focus on security could help reinvigorate BlackBerry over the next five years.

“It’s a niche, but it’s a worldwide niche,” he said.

 

 

Twitter Moves Further Into Video With New ‘Watch Mode’ Feature

June 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is looking to compete even more with Facebook. The platform is moving into video in a major way with 140-second clips in both Twitter proper and Vine, a new video section called Watch Mode, and video recommendations for other videos to watch. The network’s most popular users, like President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber, are getting a stand-alone app called Engage, which sounds a lot like Facebook Mentions.

Twitter is making video a huge priority by extending video length from 30 seconds to 140 seconds (staying on-brand, of course). Those longer videos are also coming to Vine, but don’t worry, the popular app for creating hilarious video loops isn’t changing its 6-second limit. Instead, you can post 140-second clips alongside your Vines.

You won’t have to watch these longer videos in-tweet. Now tapping on a video in your timeline will launch a new full-screen viewing mode with recommended clips surfaced just below. The same experience applies to longer videos on Vine.

The new features are rolling out soon on Twitter for iOS and Android.

Twitter Engage launched Tuesday on iOS to help video creators and other important people see metrics on their clips, including likes, retweets, mentions, and views. They can also see demographics for their videos and a feed of what their fans are talking about.

Unlike Facebook Mentions, Engage isn’t solely aimed at celebrities. But the two apps are similar in that they show mentions from so-called “influencers” and filter comments from fans.

Twitter has to try new things, especially since its user growth has stalled at 310 million monthly active users and Wall Street isn’t happy about it. To compare, Instagram just announced it has more than 500 million monthly active users, 300 million of whom check the app on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

AMD Finally Confirms Polaris Specs

June 21, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

In an official slides that have leaked, AMD has confirmed most of the specifications for both the Polaris 10 and the Polaris 11 GPUs which will power the upcoming Radeon RX 480, RX 470 and RX 460 graphics cards.

According to the slides published by Computerbase.de, both GPUs are based on AMD’s 4th generation Graphics Core Next (GCN 4.0) GPU architecture, offer 2.8 perf/watt improvement compared to the previous generation, have 4K encode and decode capabilities as well as bring DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 and HDR support.

Powering three different graphics cards, these two GPUs will cover different market segments, so the Polaris 10, codename Ellesmere, will be powering both the Radeon RX 480, meant for affordable VR and 1440p gaming as well as the recently unveiled RX 470, meant to cover the 1080p gaming segment. The Polaris 10 packs 36 Compute Units (CUs) so it should end up with 2304 Stream Processors. Both the RX 480 and RX 470 should be coming with 4GB or 8GB of GDDR5 memory, paired up with a 256-bit memory interface. The Ellesmere GPU offers over 5 TFLOPs of compute performance and should peak at 150W.

The Radeon RX 470 should be based on Ellesmere Pro GPU and will probably end up with both lower clocks as well as less Stream Processors and according to our sources close to the company, should launch with a US $179 price tag, while the RX 480 should launch on 29th of June with a US $199 price tag for a reference 4GB version. Most AIB partners will come up with a custom 8GB graphics cards which should probably launch at US $279+.

The Polaris 11 GPU, codename Baffin, will have 16 CUs and should end up with 1024 Stream Processors. The recently unveiled Radeon RX 460 based on this GPU should come with 4GB of GDDR5 memory paired up with a 128-bit memory interface. The Radeon RX 460 targets casual and MOBA gamers and should provide decent competition to the Geforce GTX 950 as both have a TDP of below 75W and do not need additional PCIe power connectors.

According to earlier leaked benchmarks, AMD’s Polaris architecture packs quite a punch considering both its price and TDP so AMD just might have a chance to get a much needed rebound in the market share.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Does Qualcomm Need Apple?

June 21, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The fanboys aka the Apple Press has been running down Qualcomm since its favourite company announced it was buying chips from Intel, but there are good reasons why the American chipmaker should not care that much.

As we have been saying for ages, Jobs’ Mob is no longer exclusively going with Qualcomm to provide modem chips for the upcoming iPhone 7. The deal, while large, is tailored for some of Apple’s partnerships. Intel gets AT&T phones and Qualcomm remains the supplier for Verizon network phones and for China.

The press has been claiming that it is terrible news for Qualcomm. But it appears Qualcomm knew it was coming and had already factored in the loss of the business into its results. The reason Qualcomm is not losing any sleep over the deal is because the most Intel is going to get is a third of the iPhone modems. This is what in financial terms is considered a “pisser” but hardly a reason to jump off any buildings over.

Other good things are happening to Qualcomm which more than balance out what has been lost to Intel. Firstly its latest Snapdragons are selling extremely well and secondly the shine is starting to go off its number one rival MediaTek.

For a while, naysayers have been predicting that MediaTek was going to sink Qualcomm. In fact there was even a suggestion that Qualcomm should get out of chipmaking and become a patent troll.

MediaTek had been luring away Qualcomm customers with cheaper chips, which combined with Apple, Samsung and Huawei making their own chips was creating a perfect storm of doom.

Now there is a suggestion that MediaTek’s growth wagon might have stalled. MediaTek’s sales fell 9.4 per cent annually last quarter to $1.7 billion. Its operating margin halved from 16 per cent last year to eight per cent. The reason was due to higher expenses across the board. This meant that its net income fell to $136 million. MediaTek is still more profitable than Qualcomm’s chipmaking division has a wafer thin 5 per cent last quarter.

Analysts expect MediaTek to post double-digit sales growth fuelled by rising demand for 4G smartphone chips in China. But its margins are also expected to keep contracting due to tough competition from Qualcomm and Spreadtrum.

Another risk for MediaTek is its dependence on China. Taiwan just got rid of the pro-unification KMT party, which controlled the presidency for the past eight years, in favour of the pro-independence DPP party.

MediaTek needs direct investments from mainland China to fight off Qualcomm, but it is finding that the Taiwanese government is blocking that sort of investment cash.

All this is giving Qualcomm a fighting chance in the area where it makes a lot of its cash. Sure its margins might be lower, but it still making more money. Enough so that it does not have to worry about losing a small about of dosh to Intel.

Courtesy-Fud

 

AT&T Expands Wi-Fi Calling To LG G4

June 17, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T revealed that it will support calling over a Wi-Fi network from the LG G4 phone, with other Android devices to follow.

Wi-Fi calls recently became available to customers usingiPhones and other iOS 9.3 devices on all four major U.S. carriers, which includes AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. That iOS update first became available March 21.

Wi-Fi calling is ideal for places were there is limited or no cell coverage. Many indoor spaces don’t provide good cellular connections, so Wi-Fi calling is a suitable alternative. Travelers abroad can reduce roaming costs by using Wi-Fi calling as well.

“Wi-Fi calling is a feature that customers want, so that’s the most important reason for carriers to do it,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.

T-Mobile advertised Wi-Fi calling as a replacement for inconsistent cellular service as early as 2007 before getting a permit from the Federal Communications Commission to do so.

AT&T explained that its Wi-Fi calling requires a compatible device and a postpaid wireless account set-up for HD Voice as well as the Wi-Fi connection.

Users on AT&T’s Wi-Fi calling system can make and receive calls and texts and keep the same phone number. The bill for a call is based on the number being called. For AT&T customers, making a call on a U.S. number to another U.S. number is free, even if the customer is overseas, according to an AT&T blog and a separate online description.

 

 

UberEATS Launches In London

June 17, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ride-hailing company Uber debuted its meal delivery service app UberEATS in London on Thursday, the second European city where users will be able to order food to their home, entering a burgeoning British market.

The service, which is currently available in 17 cities around the world including Paris, will compete with rivals such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, which have advertised heavily in the capital in recent months.

Britons will be able to download the app on their iPhone or Android handset from midday on Thursday and order meals from restaurants which will be delivered by Uber drivers.

Deliveries will be made to customers in central London from over 150 eateries between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. with plans to expand further away from the center in the coming weeks.

Uber has faced months of protests from drivers of the capital’s long-dominant black cabs but earlier this year transport bosses rejected options which could have imposed strict new restrictions on how it operates.

 

AMD Touts Zen

June 17, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has released a short video where its lead system engineer Louis Castro running Doom on its Summit Ridge, Zen-based processor.

This means that the silicon is in good shape and the processor was taped our probably late last year with no major issues. AMD’s CEO Lisa Su has already said that the desktop version shall arrive first, and this was the CPU demonstrated in the video.

Summit Ridge is not an APU and doesn’t have a GPU core. AMD engineers were using a discreet GPU probably from one they found out the back.

The Summit Ridge is an FM4 socket processor and half dozen of them are shown in the video.

 

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Adds Panic App To Apple Watch

June 16, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple took the idea of a quick wireless call for help one step further with the announcement of the SOS feature for Apple Watches, coming this fall in the new watchOS 3.

SOS will quickly let a user call for help by pressing and holding the side button on an Apple Watch running watchOS 3 “no matter where they are in the world,”according to Apple publicity.

The call is made via cellular wireless through an iPhone connected by Bluetooth to the watch or through Wi-Fi if the watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network. The call will go to local emergency services, such as 999 when a user is in Hong Kong and 911 in the U.S., according to Kevin Lynch vice president of technology at Apple.

After the call is made, the watch will automatically send a map and a message to a user’s emergency contacts so they know where the user is. There will also be the ability to add a user’s medical ID to the watch, with information such as age and allergy information, he added.

“We’re finding people who wear an Apple Watch wear it all the time,” Lynch said, which gives the SOS feature the ability to be a quick-response app, referred to in the industry as a panic app.

Lynch and Apple certainly didn’t headline SOS in presenting the various watchOS 3 improvements, and it is mentioned only in passing on the Apple web site. The biggest and most promoted improvements to watchOS 3 include quicker interactions, such as an app launch time that’s seven times faster than before.

 

 

Apple’s Next iPhone Will Use Intel Modem Chips

June 13, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc’s next iPhone will use modems chips from Intel Corp, taking the place of those made by Qualcomm Inc in some versions of the new smartphone, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Intel’s modem chips will be in iPhones used on AT&T Inc’s U.S. network and some other versions of the smartphone for overseas markets, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

However, iPhones sold in China will use Qualcomm chips, and iPhones on Verizon Communications Inc’s network will also stick with Qualcomm, Bloomberg added.

Qualcomm’s shares fell 1.7 percent on Friday, while Intel’s stock was up 0.3 percent. Apple shares were down 0.5 percent in morning trading.

On an earnings call in April, Qualcomm Chief Executive Officer Steve Mollenkopf said he was assuming that a major customer would switch to multiple suppliers.

An Intel spokeswoman declined to comment on the story. Qualcomm and Apple were not immediately available for comment.

 

Has The Bubble Busted For Smartphones?

June 13, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Uncategorized

After sliding its slide-rules, flicking its abacus, and counting its toes, the bean counters at Gartner have decided that the smartphone business bubble has burst splattering in the face of those who depend on it.

Big G says the market will shrink from 14.4 per cent growth in 2015 to just 7 per cent in 2016 — with only 1.5 billion smartphone units being shipped globally this year. Compair this with 2010, when Gartner notes the market grew 73 per cent.

However the signs have been obvious for about a year. Mature Western markets saturated, China’s growth engine slowing as demand has topped out and other markets unable to afford the higher margin gear. The smartphone has come to the end of its ability to provide new technology too with companies only able to offer incremental upgrades. Carriers are moving away from subsidizing upgrades which means that them wasting their own profits to prop up the likes of Apple are over.

In emerging markets it says the average lifetime of premium phone is between 2.2 and 2.5 years, while basic mobiles have an average lifetime of three years and up.

Gartner sees the biggest remaining opportunity for smartphone growth in India, noting that sales of feature phones — aka dumbphones — accounted for a majority (61 per cent) of total mobile device sales last year, leaving plenty of scope for upgrades as smartphones continue to become more affordable.

It is estimating 139 million smartphones will be sold in India this year, growing 29.5 per cent year-over-year. It notes the average selling price of mobiles in the country remains below $70, and it expects smartphones priced under $120 to continue to contribute around half of overall smartphones sales there this year.  Apple’s hope that it can save its flailing business numbers by selling into India show the complete lack of understanding of how that market is working. It is tending to favor small local smartphone makers like Intex.

China is going to offer Apple no help either Gartner is expecting “little growth” in the region in the next five years. IT says it is “saturated yet highly competitive” market. Smartphones represented 95 per cent of total mobile phones sales last year.

Gartner analyst Annette Zimmerman said that “non-traditional” vendors in China could do well and thinks that by 2018 at least one such phone maker will be among the top five smartphone brands in the country.

“Chinese internet companies are increasingly investing in mobile device hardware development, platforms and distribution as they aim to grow their user bases and increase user loyalty and engagement,” she said.

The Sub-Saharan African region is also couched as an attractive region for smartphone vendors, with smartphone sales only overtaking mobile phones sales there for the first time last year. Nokia brand licensee and newly formed smartphone OEM HMD will want to take note, given it has paid for the right to build feature phones (and smartphones) bearing the previously iconic Nokia brand name.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Rolls Out A Revamped App Store

June 10, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc announced a series of long anticipated enhancements to its App Store, but the new features may not ease concerns of developers and analysts who say that the App Store model – and the very idea of the single-purpose app – has seen its best days.

The revamped App Store will let developers advertise their wares in search results and give developers a bigger cut of revenues on subscription apps, while Apple said it has already dramatically sped up its app-approval process.

The goal is to sustain the virtuous cycle at the heart of the hugely lucrative iPhone business. Software developers make apps for the iPhone because its customers are willing to pay, and those customers, in turn, pay a premium for the device because it has the best apps.

The store is now more strategically important than ever for Apple as sales of the iPhone begin to level off and the company looks to software and services to fill the gap. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on a recent conference call that App Store revenues were up 35 percent over last year.

But the store is also a victim of its own success. Eight years after its launch, it is packed with more than 1.9 million apps, according to analytics firm App Annie, making it almost impossible for developers to find an audience – and increasingly difficult for customers to find what they need, as some 14,000 new apps arrive in the store each week.

“The app space has grown out of control,” said Vint Cerf, one of the inventors of the internet and now a vice president at Alphabet Inc’s Google, who was speaking at a San Francisco conference on the future of the web on Wednesday. “We need to move away from having an individual app for every individual thing you want to do.”

 

 

The IoT Move Appears To Be Short On Security

June 8, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The IOActive IoT Security Survey has shone a light on the shoddy side of connected devices and warned that all those things you’ve welcomed into your home will let you down at some point.

They are vulnerable because they connect to things, and anything that can be connected can also be interrupted and interfered with.

The one in 10 number comes from a panel of senior security professionals interviewed by IOActive about the rise of the IoT. These people are concerned that security is lacking in everything from wearables to household appliances.

Half of respondents believe that under 10 per cent of IoT products offer adequate ass coverage, while a staggering 85 per cent believe that less than half of products are secure.

Around two thirds felt that the security was probably better than you get on other products, but we don’t care about them right now.

“Consensus is that more needs to be done to improve the security of all products, but the exponential rate at which IoT products are coming to market, compounded by the expansive risk network created by their often open connectivity, makes IoT security a particular concern and priority,” said Jennifer Steffens, chief executive of IOActive.

“According to Gartner, 21 billion connected things will be in use by 2020. It’s important for the companies that develop these products to ensure security is built in. Otherwise hackers are provided with opportunities to break into not only the products, but potentially other systems and devices they’re connected to.”

The problem is that security is not considered early enough in the design process so it has to be dealt with later, or presumably not at all. Steffens explained that a security stitch in time saves nine.

“Companies often rush development to get products to market in order to gain competitive edge, and then try to engineer security in after the fact,” she said.

“This ultimately drives up costs and creates more risk than including security at the start of the development lifecycle.”

 

 

Courtesy-TheInq