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Yahoo Unveils Livetext Mobile Messaging App

July 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Yahoo unveiled a mobile messaging app that combines texting with live one-on-one video.

The app, named Livetext, is video calling with a twist: there’s no audio. To communicate, users type texts and emojis that are overlaid onto the screen during the call.

The app’s format might sound restricting, but Yahoo says Livetext will help users to communicate more freely. The lack of audio, the company says, removes inhibitions that people might feel when they otherwise receive video calls in public.

“We wanted to bridge the gap between the simplicity and ease of texting, with the live feeling of calling,” said Adam Cahan, senior vice president of video, design and emerging products at Yahoo, during the app’s unveiling at an event in New York on Wednesday that was webcast.

Livetext was developed from scratch at Yahoo. Its development was aided by Yahoo’s acquisition last year of mobile messaging app MessageMe, the company said Wednesday. It’s yet another messaging app in a sea of competitors like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Still, Livetext is the latest attempt by Yahoo to provide a messaging app that resonates with users. It became available to download for free on Thursday for iOS and Android, in the U.S., U.K, Canada, Ireland, Germany, France, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Users will be able to text in English, French, German and Chinese using the app.

The app streams video only when two people are connected through the app at the same time. Users can search for friends in the app through their Livetext user name, or through the contacts list on their phone.

There is no time limit on calls placed through the app, and no way to save or archive the sessions. The video quality will depend on the strength of the data connection, although connections at 3G and above should suffice, Yahoo said.

It’s available on Android and the desktop, but not on iOS.

 

 

 

 

Samsung Plans Price Cut For Galaxy S6 Phones

July 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Lukewarm demand for its flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone and higher marketing costs led Samsung Electronics to another quarter of declining sales and profits in the April to June period.

In the key smartphone market, an area led by Samsung until recently, the popularity of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets and the rise of lower-cost phones from Chinese vendors squeezed Samsung at both the high and low end of the market.

The company said Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge sales were lower than expected.

It still managed to make money but not nearly as much as the same time last year. Operating profit for the quarter was 2.8 trillion won, down about 38 percent on the same period of 2014.

The results come against a backdrop of continuing record quarterly results at smartphone rival Apple. It sold 47.5 million phones in the quarter and recorded sales of $49.6 billion and a quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion — both squarely ahead of sales and profits at Samsung.

For the rest of this year, Samsung said it will attempt to boost smartphone sales by reducing the price of the Galaxy S6 and introducing new large-screen models. This time more than ever before, the company is under intense pressure to score a hit with a new phone to help turn around its declining business.

 

 

Can OSX Make Macs Vulnerable To Rootkits?

July 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The software genii at Apple have redesigned their OSX software to allow malware makers to make designer micro-software that can infect Macs with rootkits.

Obviously the feature is one that Apple software experts designed specifically for malware writers, perhaps seeing them as an untapped market.

The bug in the latest version of Apple’s OS X allows attackers root user privileges with a micro code which could be packed into a message.

Security researcher Stefan Esser said that this was the security hole attackers regularly exploit to bypass security protections built into modern operating systems and applications.

The OS X privilege-escalation flaw stems from new error-logging features that Apple added to OS X 10.10. Plainly the software genii did not believe that standard safeguards involving additions to the OS X dynamic linker dyld applied to them because they were protected from harm by Steve Job’s ghost.

This means that attackers to open or create files with root privileges that can reside anywhere in the OS X file system.

“This is obviously a problem, because it allows the creation or opening (for writing) of any file in the filesystem. And because the log file is never closed by dyld and the file is not opened with the close on exec flag the opened file descriptor is inherited by child processes of SUID binaries. This can be easily exploited for privilege-escalation,” Esser said.

The vulnerability is present in both the current 10.10.4 (Yosemite) version of OS X and the current beta version of 10.10.5. Importantly, the current beta version of 10.11 is free of the flaw, an indication that Apple developers may already be aware of the vulnerability.

An Apple spokesman said that engineers are aware of Esser’s post of course they did not say they would do anything about it. They will have to go through the extensional crisis involved in realising that their product was not secure or perfect. Then the security team will have to issue orders, signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to an internal inquiry, lost again, and finally bury it in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.

Courtesy-Fud

Best Buy To Begin Selling Apple Watch In August

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Watch will go on sale at stores of Best Buy Co Inc, the largest U.S.consumer electronics chain, starting Aug. 7.

The Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models will be sold at more than 300 Best Buy stores in time for the holiday shopping season, a spokeswoman for Apple Inc  said.

“Customers love Apple Watch, and we are thrilled to begin offering it at Best Buy,” she said in an email.

Best Buy is the first retailer to sell the watch outside of the Apple retail store.

“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” Jason Bonfig, senior category officer, said on the Best Buy website.

The company said the product will also be available on its online store BestBuy.com.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Apple watch was coming to Best Buy.

Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters earlier this month that sales of the Apple Watch had beat the company’s expectations. He said in the nine weeks since its launch in late April, the device had sold better than either iPhones or iPads over a similar period after their launch.

 

 

Apple Offering Free Beats Headphones For Back-to-school Promo

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple launched its annual back-to-school promotion in the U.S., switching the deal to a free pair of Beats headphones for customers who buy eligible Macs.

The promotion launched later this year than in the past: In 2014, for example, Apple started its back-to-school campaign July 1.

Buyers who purchase a qualifying Mac between now and Sept. 18 receive a $199.95 credit toward a a pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear Headphones, which list for that amount. Alternately, the credit can be applied to a pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, which run $299.95, making the out-of-pocket expense $100.

The promotion launches today in Apple’s retail stores and participating authorized on-campus stores but won’t appear on the company’s e-store until Aug. 6.

9to5Mac.com first reported on the promotion earlier today.

This year’s back-to-school promotion gives parents of college students and incoming freshmen, and teachers and staff members of all grade levels — including K-12 — the credit when they buy a new iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Unlike years past, iPads and iPhones do not qualify.

For the last four years, Apple has handed out gift cards and maxed the amount of the offer at $100. Before that, a more generous Apple gave rebates of up to $300 toward the purchase of an iPod Touch.

Educational discounts on the hardware also apply. MacBooks and MacBook Airs are reduced by $50 for parents of students and for faculty and staff. The discounts on other products are $100 on MacBook Pros, $100 to $200 on Retina 5K iMacs, $50 to $100 on iMacs, and $200 to $300 on Mac Pros.

 

 

 

Microsoft Unveils ‘Send’ Mobile App

July 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft unveiled a mobile-minded alternative to email that’s focused primarily on short, quick messages.

Named Send, the new tool aims to deliver a simple experience much like that offered by text messaging or instant messaging software but without the need to know a co-worker’s mobile number or username. Instead, Send lets users quickly fire off a message to any co-worker using just their email address; no subject line, salutations or signatures are required.

“On my way,” might be one example, or “Are you in the office today?”

The app connects to Office 365 business and school email accounts to find frequent and recent contacts; users need only tap on one to start a conversation. A “Quick Reply” option allows for speedy responses.

That Office 365 connection, meanwhile, also means conversations are synced with Outlook, letting users continue them from anywhere. Messages sent using Send are treated internally like any other work email and comply with an organization’s email compliance policies, Microsoft said.

Send is now available free for iPhone through the Microsoft Garage in the U.S. and Canada. Versions for Windows Phone and Android are coming soon, as are additional IT controls. Currently the app works with Office 365 business and school email accounts, but Microsoft plans to make it more broadly available in the coming months, it said.

 

 

 

Court Says ‘Pocket-dialed’ Calls Are Not Private

July 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A federal appeals court in Ohio has ruled that a person who accidentally “pocket dials” someone shouldn’t expect any part of that conversation to be private.

The case involves the chairman of the Airport Board in Kenton, Kentucky, which oversees the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The chairman, James Huff, was on a business trip in Italy with his wife and a colleague when he accidentally pocket-dialed the secretary of the airport’s CEO back in the U.S.

The secretary, Carol Spaw, said “hello” a few times and soon figured out the call wasn’t meant for her. But she overheard Huff and his colleague talking about personnel matters, including the possibility that the airport’s CEO — Spaw’s boss — might be replaced. The inadvertent call continued after Huff got back to his hotel room with his wife.

The call lasted 91 minutes and Spaw stayed on the line the entire time, court records show. Spaw claims that she thought Huff was discussing a plan to illegally discriminate against the CEO, a woman. She says she felt obliged to record the call and report it.

Spaw took handwritten notes for most of the call, but managed to record the last four minutes after a colleague brought her an iPhone. By that time, Huff was back in his hotel room, where he discussed personal matters with his wife Bertha but also shared some details of the personnel discussion from earlier.

Huff and his wife sued Spaw, alleging she had breached their privacy by violating a law often called the Wiretap Act, which prohibits interception of “wire, oral or electronic communications.”

However, the catch is that the law applies only where people can show they had a reasonable expectation of privacy. And that’s not case with pocket-dialed calls, the appeals court ruled, upholding in part a lower court’s decision.

Citing case law, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said people must “exhibit” that they have an expectation of privacy, by taking reasonable steps to ensure their conversation won’t be overheard.

 

 

 

ZTE To Offer High-end Axon Smartphone In U.S.

July 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Chinese mobile brands don’t normally stir much interest in the U.S., so when ZTE teased its newest smartphone, the Axon, it initially didn’t mention the company at all.

The company’s online promotions in advance of the launch featured a mysterious high-end Android device. The marketing scheme paid off, according to Adam Zeng, CEO of ZTE’s mobile devices business, sparking media interest. It even caused some to wonder if the product was Korean-made, since Chinese brands have a low-end image to U.S. consumers, according to Zeng.

ZTE was happy to clear up any preconceived notions. “Chinese brands can also come out with top-tier products,” Zeng maintained.

The Axon is a premium handset that the company claims can rival flagship phones from Apple, Samsung and LG.

It is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in early August, and is already available for pre-order, with a no-contract price of $449. That’s about $200 less than an iPhone 6 when bought without carrier subsidies. But consumers are still getting the latest in smartphone technology.

For the Axon, this includes a 2560 by 1440 screen, an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, all fitted in a sleek metal case with leather on the back cover.

Zeng noted that it took ZTE 18 months to develop the product. The company wanted to make sure it had everything, such as the ability to shoot 4K video, and a rear-facing camera with dual lenses.

ZTE kept pushing the phone’s launch date back to include more features, Zeng said. It also tapped talent from North America, hiring Seattle-based design firm Teague and former BlackBerry employees to help build the product.

ZTE has been expanding in the U.S., although competition remains stiff. In this year’s first quarter, it was ranked as the U.S.’s sixth largest smartphone vendor, with a 4.5 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. Industry leaders Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, have a combined market share of 62 percent.

 

 

 

 

Is ARM Being Hurt By Apple?

July 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Investors in ARM are deeply worried about its close relationship to the fruity cargo cult Apple.

ARM released its results which looked great, but investors were looking at its close ties to Jobs’ Mob which posted results which were disappointing.

Shares dropped 3.1 per cent on the back of Apple’s results. Apple uses ARM’s processor designs in its range of iThings.

It seems odd as ARMs Revenues rose 22 per cent to $17.5m for its second quarter, while pre-tax profits increased 32 per cent to $90.9m, compared with the same period last year.

The chip designer signed 54 processor licences for the three months, a “record” number.

Simon Segars, ARM chief exec, said a diverse range of companies chose to license ARM’s latest processors in the second quarter and physical IP for future product developments.

“ARM has been investing in advanced technology products for mobile devices, automotive applications and enterprise infrastructure, and in Q2 ARM signed licences for many of these new products. This licensing activity will help to grow the royalty revenue opportunity for years to come,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Google + Photos To End On August 1st

July 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Bad news for Google+ Photos, the photo-sharing service that’s part of the company’s social network.

Google will begin closing down the service on Aug. 1 on Android, with the Web and iOS devices to follow soon after.

For a time, Google touted the service as a key element in Google+, with a range of editing tools and image enhancement technologies rolled out over the years.

But Google hinted that its days might be numbered when the company rolled out its new Google Photos service at Google I/O in May.

The closure of Google+ Photos is likely to prompt more questions about the future of Google+, which has struggled to rival the success of Facebook.

Photos and videos stored in Google+ Photos will be moved to Google Photos. People who don’t want to use the new service can download their images using Google Takeout, the company said.

Google Photos provides free, unlimited photo and video storage in Google’s cloud, along with tools to organize the media.

 

 

 

SanDisk Debuts New Wireless Streaming Thumb Drive

July 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

SanDisk has released the newest addition to its wireless storage line – the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick.

The Connect Wireless Stick ranges in capacity from 16GB to 128GB and in price from $30 to $100.

SanDisk’s first Wireless Stick, the Connect Wireless Flash Drive, was released two years ago and it came in 16GB and 32GB capacities and was priced at $49.99 and $59.99, respectively.

As its predecessor did, the new wireless thumb drive also uses a USB 2.0 (480Mbps) connection to upload content before being able to stream it over Wi-Fi. SanDisk claims the Connect Wireless Stick has enough bandwidth to stream high-definition movies and music to up to three devices at the same time.

The drive is capable of supporting a single video stream for up to 4.5 hours on a single charge, SanDisk said.

The new flash drive is controlled via the SanDisk Connect app, which is free and downloadable from SanDisk’s or or Amazon.com’s website.

The Connect Wireless Stick is compatible with iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android devices, Windows PCs and Apple computers. It works with iOS version 8.0 or higher, Android 4.2 or higher, Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS 10.6 or higher, and via web browser for other Wi-Fi enabled devices, according to SanDisk.

The thumb drive is 3.03-in x 0.75-in x 0.43 in. in size and comes with a one-year warranty.

 

 

Security Firm Recognizes That Macs Are Not So Safe

July 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Security gurus at Malwarebytes have been working on anti-malware software for Macs to ensure that Apple computers are protected from the latest online threats.

In what is perhaps more evidence that Macs should no longer be viewed as immune from malware, the release of Anti-Malware for Mac represents Malwarebyte’s first product dedicated to what the firm calls “underserved Mac user communities”.

The new product is designed to detect and remove malware, adware and potentially unwanted programs, capabilities that Malwarebytes said have been repeatedly requested by customers.

The release also sees Malwarebytes acquiring AdwareMedic by The Safe Mac, which will see AdwareMedic creator and owner Thomas Reed joining the company as director of Mac offerings. The security firm said that this will lead to a growing team of Mac developers and researchers.

“We’ve had repeated requests from our customers and community for malware protection on the Mac, and are now proud to unveil the first version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac,” said Chad Bacher, VP of products for Malwarebytes.

“Our vision is to provide protection across all devices, regardless of type or operating system.”

Macs have traditionally been seen as immune from viruses, but Malwarebytes seems to think it’s pretty important that they are protected.

The firm said that there has been a proliferation of new adware in the past two years, including Genieo, Conduit and VSearch, that inject ads and pop-up hyperlinks in web pages, change the user’s homepage and search engine, and insert unwanted toolbars into the browser.

Other features of the Malwarebytes software include the removal of malware, including Trojans, quick virus scanning and simple program management.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac 1.0 is available as a free consumer download from today. Small business and enterprise versions will be unveiled later this year, the firm said.

Courtesy-TheInq

Enterprise Customers May Save Faltering Tablet Market

July 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

With global tablet sales waning, there is a bright spot for hardware manufacturers: Business purchases of tablets for workers in jobs such as retail sales or field work.

Forrester predicted that tablets used for enterprises will grow to 20% of the entire market by 2018, up from 6% in 2010. These include Apple iPads as well as Windows and Android tablets that are generally purchased and managed by a company on behalf of workers, either for solo use or shared with others.

That level of growth is impressive compared to the recent sales dip for the iPad, which sold 12.62 million iPads in the second quarter, a drop of 23% compared to the same period a year ago, Forrester analyst JP Gownder noted in a blog.

“Clearly, all is not well in tablet-land,” Gownder said.

In a separate report, Gownder noted a nose-dive in Android tablet prices, which recently went from below $200, then to less than $100 and even under $50 — “stripping away profit margins.”

Forrester and other analyst firms have noted the general tablet decline, attributed mainly to consumers keeping older tablets and to the growth of bigger smartphones with displays that are larger than 5-in., sometimes called “phablets,” that reduce the need for smaller tablets. The Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus are examples of such smartphones.

IDC noted the tablet slowdown last October, and predicted slowing growthfrom 2016 through 2018.

The bright spot — tablets purchased by companies — is being driven by various factors, Gownder said, including a vendor focus on enterprise services and apps. Microsoft and Dell, among other partners, will benefit with Windows 10 on tablets, while the Android for Work initiative will help address Android security concerns with tablets, he said. And Apple has partnered with IBM to provide iOS apps for tablets that matter in workplaces.

The desire by workers to use tablets and bring their own devices to work has helped push company purchases, he said. The tablets are being used in various ways by different workers, including package delivery drivers, sales associates and field technicians and even by restaurant customers to review menus at their tables.

 

 

Car Companies Limiting Data They Share With Technology Partners

July 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Automobile manufacturers are limiting the data they share with technology partners Apple Inc and Google Inc through new systems that link smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers do in their cars.

Auto companies hope that the vehicle data will one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they are just beginning to form strategies for monetizing the information. Apple and Google already make money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems will almost certainly extend their reach.

But as infotainment systems such as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto become more widespread, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.

Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle’s functional systems – steering, brakes and throttle, for instance – as well as information about range, a measure of how far the car can travel before it runs out of gas.

“We need to control access to that data,” said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co’s executive director of connected vehicle and services. “We need to protect our ability to create value” from new digital services built on vehicle data.

Consultant AlixPartners estimates global revenues from digitally connected cars will grow in value to $40 billion a year worldwide by 2018, from $16 billion in 2013, and auto companies would like to hold on to as much of that money as possible.

“The risk is, if you give up control and somebody else figures out that business model, then you lose the future revenue stream,” said Friedmar Rumpel, vice president in AlixPartners’ automotive practice.

 

 

 

Is BlackBerry Getting Closer To Building Android Devices?

July 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd , which has been tight-lipped about its plans to make a mainstream Android smartphone, fueled more speculation about its plans this week when it scooped up two Android-related domain names.

Several blog posts in the last two days have noted that the Canadian handset maker bought the domain names “AndroidSecured.com” and “AndroidSecured.net” this week. That spurred more chatter that it intends to build a device powered by Google Inc’s  Android platform, which powers the vast majority of smartphones sold across the globe.

The purchase of the domain names is particularly interesting since BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has declined to confirm a June Reuters report that said the company was planning an Android phone.

Speculation that BlackBerry will embrace Android was also spurred this week by a Digitimes report that said the company plans to roll out several models of Android-based phones.

In the past three weeks, however, Chen has said at least twice that he would only build an Android phone if he can “secure Android”.

BlackBerry downplayed the significance of its domain name purchases in an email on Friday, saying: “BlackBerry frequently registers domain names to support the breadth of our cross-platform portfolio. Android is an important part of our cross-platform enterprise software strategy.”

Indeed, one of the domains, “AndroidSecured.com”, currently redirects users to a BlackBerry enterprise-focused site.

But that has not stopped a barrage of chatter on tech blogs about the purchases being part of BlackBerry’s plan to build its own secure Android, going beyond supporting existing Android phones on its BES12 device-management system. BES12 allows corporate and government clients to secure Android-, iOS-, Windows- and BlackBerry-powered devices on their networks.

Under the leadership of Chen, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company has been pivoting toward software and device management as its recent devices, powered by its BlackBerry 10 software, have failed to win mass appeal. Analysts and tech gurus believe a move to Android could give BlackBerry’s device arm a new lease on life.