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Google Continues Wooing Enterprise Users With Android For Work Launch

February 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc rolled out an initiative  to make smartphones running its Android software more appealing to corporations, a move that could help extend the Internet technology giant reach into workplaces.

Google said on its official blog that its Android for Work program will provide improved security and management features for corporations that want to give their employees Android smartphones. Smartphones supported by the new initiative will be able to keep an employee’s work and personal apps separate, and a special Android for Work app will allow businesses to oversee key tools such as email, calendar and contacts.

Google said it is partnering with more than two dozen companies including Blackberry Ltd, Citrix Systems Inc, Box Inc.

Google’s Android software is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, but many corporations, which have significant security and device management requirements, give their employees smartphones made by Blackberry or Apple Inc.

 

 

Will nVidia Put AMD Out Of Business?

February 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It would appear that the world is rushing to Nvidia to buy its latest GPU at the expense of AMD.

According to the data, NVIDIA and AMD each took dramatic swings from Q4 of 2013 to Q4 of 2014 with Nvidia increasing its market share over AMD by 20 per cent and AMD’s market share has dropped from 35 per cent at the end of 2013 to just 24 per cent at the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, Nvidia has gonr from 64.9 per cent at the end of 2013 to 76 per cent at the end of 2014.

The report JPR’s AIB Report looks at computer add-in graphics boards, which carry discrete graphics for desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments.

In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry using discrete chips and private high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.

On a year-to-year basis, total AIB shipments during the quarter fell by 17.52 per cent , which is more than desktop PCs, which fell by 0.72 percent .

However, in spite of the overall decline, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.

The overall PC desktop market increased quarter-to-quarter including double-attach-the adding of a second (or third) AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics-and to a lesser extent, dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD’s Crossfire or Nvidia’s SLI technology.

The attach rate of AIBs to desktop PCs declined from a high of 63 per cent in Q1 2008 to 36 per cent this quarter.

So in other words It is also clear that the Radeon R9 285 release didn’t have the impact AMD had hoped and NVIDIA’s Maxwell GPUs, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, GTX 970 and GTX 980 have impacted the market even more than expected.

This is ironic because the GTX 970 has been getting a lot of negative press with the memory issue and AMD makes some good gear, has better pricing and a team of PR and marketing folks that are talented and aggressive.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Acquiring Softcard’s Mobile Wallet Technology

February 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google announced it has reached a deal with three of the country’s major cellular carriers to acquire “technology and capabilities” from Softcard, a competing mobile wallet app created jointly by the telecom operators. But the deal appears to be less about technology and more about branding.

The biggest immediate change is that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile will begin pre-installing Google Wallet on new Android smartphones later this year — something that had been blocked before in preference for the Softcard app.

At their heart, both apps are based on the same contactless payment technology as Apple Pay and a new generation of payment cards from banks and credit unions. They use NFC (near-field communication) to complete a transaction once a payment card or phone is brought within a few centimeters of a terminal.

Apple Pay brought the technology widespread recognition when it launched late last year, but Google Wallet has been around since 2011. However a lack of support from carriers, retailers, card issuers and Google itself had relegated the technology to the sidelines.

While Google Wallet and Apple Pay share a technology base, there are key differences in how they work. Perhaps the biggest is that in Google Wallet, all transactions are routed through Google before being charged to the customer’s credit card.

That gives Google even greater insight into the lives of its users. In contrast, Apple doesn’t see any details of purchases made on its system.

Getting the Google Wallet app in front of more consumers could help reduce confusion over the different brands — an important consideration when the biggest Android phone maker is making moves of its own in mobile payments.

 

 

 

Visa Europe Announces New Mobile Payments Method

February 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Visa Europe has announced a new, more secure way for consumers to pay retailers usinng their mobile phones,a move that could set the stage for Apple’s  Apple Pay and rival mobile payment services to be introduced into Europe in the coming months.

Visa Europe said on Tuesday it would introduce to member banks by mid-April a “tokenization” service which substitutes random numbers for a user’s credit card details when a merchant transmits transaction data, reducing the risk of online theft.

Similar security from Visa Inc ,the former parent of Visa Europe, and rival card issuers MasterCard and American Express has been key to the success of Apple Pay since it was introduced in the United States last year, according to industry experts.

Apple Pay allows iPhone users to store their credit card details on their phones, then pay at the tap of a button. In its first three months, more than $2 out of every $3 which U.S. consumers spent using speedy new “contactless” systems at the three major credit card networks was done via Apple Pay, the company said last month.

Visa Europe’s move is one of several new services the London-based credit card giant is unveiling as it battles to retain its role as a middleman connecting banks and consumers in a fast-moving payments landscape being shaken up by major technology firms including Apple, Google  and eBay’s PayPal, as well as scores of ambitious start-ups.

These include a way for card customers to send money overseas to other Visa users via their social media profiles on sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Steve Perry, Visa Europe’s chief digital officer, said in an interview his association’s plan for secure credit card data transmission parallels what Visa Inc offers in the United States. But he declined to comment on whether Apple Pay had agreed to use his organization’s version in European markets.

 

Samsung Moving Toward Mobile Payments With LoopPay Acquisition

February 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has acquired U.S. mobile wallet startup LoopPay, signaling its intention to launch a smartphone payments service to compete with rival Apple Inc.

Mobile payments have been slow to catch on in the United States and elsewhere, despite strong backing. Apple, Google, and eBay Inc’s PayPal have all launched services to allow users to pay in stores via smartphones.

The weak uptake is partly because many retailers have been reluctant to adopt the hardware and software infrastructure required for these new mobile payment options to work. These services also fail to offer much more convenience than simply swiping a credit card, Samsung executives said on Wednesday.

LoopPay’s technology differs because it works off existing magnetic-stripe card readers at checkout, changing them into contactless receivers, they said. About 90 percent of checkout counters already support magnetic swiping.

“If you can’t solve the problem of merchant acceptance…, of being able to use the vast majority of your cards, then it can’t really be your wallet,” said David Eun, head of Samsung’s Global Innovation Center.

Injong Rhee, who is leading Samsung’s as-yet-unannounced payments project, said the Asian giant will soon reveal more details of its envisioned service. He would not be drawn on speculation the company may do so during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

He said new phones such as the upcoming, latest Galaxy would support the service.

Apple Pay, launched in September, allows iPhone users to pay at the tap of a button. Executives have lauded its rapid rollout so far, including the fact that more than 2,000 banks now support it and the U.S. government will accept Apple Pay later this year.

But Apple Pay requires retailers to install near-field communication and some have been reluctant. In addition, many retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and CVS Health Corp, back their own system, CurrentC.

Samsung had invested in LoopPay, along with Visa Inc and Synchrony Financial, before its acquisition. Terms of the deal, which Samsung negotiated over several months, were not disclosed.

It’s unclear how else Samsung could differentiate its service versus Apple’s or other rivals.

 

 

BlackBerry Files New Patent Complaint Against Typo

February 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry ramped up its battle with Ryan Seacrest’s Typo Products LLC, filing a new complaint that accusing the company’s new keyboard case for the iPhone of also infringes on its patents.

Last March, the Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone pioneer won an injunction against the first iteration of the Typo case made for some of Apple’s iPhone devices. BlackBerry is now seeking another injunction to halt sales of the redesigned Typo 2 case as well.

BlackBerry, in a new complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday, alleges that the company’s redesigned Typo 2 case for the iPhone 5, 5s and iPhone 6 models, also infringe on its patents, disputing the start-up’s claims to the contrary.

Earlier this month, the court ordered Typo to pay BlackBerry $860,600 in sanctions, plus attorneys’ fees and costs as it said that Typo had blatantly violated the court’s initial injunction.

At the time, a spokeswoman for Typo said the court order had no impact on its TYPO 2 product currently in the marketplace, or its other planned product releases.

Typo was not immediately reachable for comment on the latest complaint. BlackBerry declined to comment on the matter.

“Just as they did with the Typo Keyboard, defendants have again copied numerous proprietary BlackBerry designs and patents in the Typo2 Keyboard,” said BlackBerry in its complaint.

 

 

Will Sony Exit TV, Mobile Phone Markets?

February 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Corp hopes to increase operating profit 25-fold within three years by growing its camera sensors and PlayStation units, its chief executive said, laying out a strategy that could see the company exit the ultra competitive TV and smartphone markets.

CEO Kazuo Hirai said on Wednesday the Japanese consumer electronics firm would no longer pursue sales growth in areas such as smartphones where its has suffered competition from cheaper Asian rivals as well as industry leaders like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.

Sony would instead focus its spending on more profitable businesses such as camera sensors, videogames and entertainment as it seeks to return to growth after forecasting for this financial year its sixth net loss in seven years.

“The strategy starting from the next business year will be about generating profit and investing for growth,” Hirai told a briefing, adding that Sony’s units would be given greater autonomy to make their own business decisions.

Asked about the TV and mobile phone units, Hirai said he would not “rule out considering an exit strategy”, Sony’s clearest statement to date about the possibility of selling or finding partners for these struggling units.

Sony is in the midst of a restructuring that has so far seen it sell off its personal computer division and spin off the TV business. It has also axed thousands of jobs.

Sony shares have risen more than 80 percent over the past year as investors applauded the restructuring, which accelerated since Hirai appointed Kenichiro Yoshida as his chief strategy officer in late 2013.

 

 

Ford Wants To Partner With Tencent For Hi-tech Drivers In China

February 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Ford Motor Co  wants Tencent Holdings Ltd to customize its popular chatting app for the firm’s cars in China, as automakers in the world’s largest market woo drivers that care about high-tech features as much as engine size.

Rivals including Daimler and Nissan Motor Co Ltd are also looking at ways to give drivers safe, hands-free access to mobile apps in China, home to the world’s largest number of smartphone users. WeChat is China’s most prevalent chatting app, with about half a billion active monthly users.

“There’s a demand from our customers,” David Huang, a senior engineer who heads Ford’s Asia Pacific connected services unit, told Reuters. “People want to stay connected, stay informed and stay entertained all the time, even when they’re driving.”

Ford is in talks with Tencent over the business aspects of putting the app in its cars, Huang said. Tencent declined to comment.

Cars are becoming a key battleground for technology industry giants, including Google Inc and Apple Inc, as they seek to develop a market where drivers will be online while on the road. China could be on the front line of that battle as predominantly first-time car buyers in the country are also early adopters who understand more about technology than engine specifications.

Huang said Ford envisages drivers syncing their phone to the car’s software system and controlling specific WeChat functions, chosen by Tencent and then certified by Ford as safe, through voice commands or limited use of buttons.

Making WeChat and other apps convenient, safe and legal to use while driving could help automakers gain market share in China, especially as auto sales growth eases in a slowingeconomy. Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight, said connectivity was a key deciding factor for Chinese customers buying a car.

 

 

Mozilla Goes After Flash

February 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Mozilla has created a way of rendering Adobe Flash animations without all that pesky mucking about in Adobe Flash.

Shumway is an experiment designed to transcode .swf files into native HTML5 on the fly.

This means that users will get the experience, but won’t need to install Flash to do it, thus avoiding the clunky, slow, bug-ridden shonkbox that it has become.

Adobe has had to fix 37 zero-day vulnerabilities as a result of Project Zero research alone. But the technology, which is only months short of its 20th birthday, is proving increasingly difficult to secure, and keeping it moving is becoming reminiscent of Grommit laying out tracks in front of the runaway train.

Mozilla’s experimental but elegant solution is similar to Google’s way of securing photos in Gmail – remove the local rendering aspect of the offending plug-in.

However, at present the system works only with product demos for Amazon and using only the latest Nightly compiled version of Firefox.

However, a posting from Mozilla boffin Chris Peterson said: “The Shumway team has been improving compatibility with Flash video players and will whitelist more Flash video sites soon.”

Considering that Google’s Android and all Apple products already avoid Flash like the plague, it remains surprising how many sites still use the standard.

Google recently migrated YouTube videos to HTML5, but Flash is still available as a fallback and many older sites still render Flash, including a great number of classic internet memes which would become unplayable if everyone dropped Flash – the first digital 8-track tape player.

If you want to try it, download the Nightly desktop version of Firefox, go into the config menu and change the flag for shumway.disabled to false.

Google still embeds a Flash plug-in into the Chrome browser, while Internet Explorer continues to offer it as a separate add-on.

However, it seems that, with more and more problems and initatives like this, we’re one step closer to seeing Adobe Flash go the way of Old Yeller.

Courtesy-TheInq

Apple Wooing Windows Users With Free iWork For iCloud

February 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has opened the beta of its iWork for iCloud application suite to Windows-only users, letting people without an iOS device or OS X-powered Mac create an Apple ID needed to access the Web apps.

Apple in mid-2013 launched iWork for iCloud — the browser-based versions of its productivity apps Pages, Numbers and Keynote — requiring an Apple ID for access. Apple IDs are normally associated with an Apple-made device, such as an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Consumers who owned a Windows PC but also, say, an iPhone, had an Apple ID and thus were able to access iWork for iCloud.

This latest change gives anyone, including those without a stake in the Apple ecosystem, access to iWork for iCloud.

iWork for iCloud, which has been in beta for more than a year and a half, is Apple’s productivity answer to Microsoft’s Office. Starting in the fall of 2013, Apple began giving away the iOS and OS X iWork apps to new buyers of iPhones, iPads and Macs; iWork for iCloud is the browser-based side of those apps.

The availability of iWork for iCloud will tempt few if any Windows-only consumers: They have free access to Microsoft’s own Web apps, dubbed Office Online.

 

 

After Introduction Of Kill Switch, Smartphone Thefts Have Dropped

February 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The number of thefts and robberies of smartphones, particularly iPhones, is declining in New York, London and San Francisco, according to a recently released study.

Law enforcement officials, who have been at the forefront of demands to include a “kill switch” in all smartphones, hailed the news as proof that the technology is working as a deterrent.

In San Francisco, overall robberies and thefts dropped 22 percent from 2013 to 2014, but those involving smartphones were down 27 percent. Thefts and robberies of iPhones fell 40 percent. In New York, smartphone theft dropped 16 percent overall with iPhone figures down 25 percent. And London saw smartphone thefts from persons drop 40 percent in a year.

“The huge drops in smartphone theft that have occurred since the kill switch has been on the market are evidence that our strategy is making people safer in our cities, and across the world,” said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement.

The kill switch is a software lock that can be remotely activated when a phone is lost or stolen. It can wipe personal data from a phone and “brick it” so it can’t be reused or reprogrammed.

Law enforcement officials campaigned to make the technology standard in reaction to a growing numbers of thefts of robberies of smartphones on city streets across the U.S. and beyond. The assumption was that phones would be much less desirable targets if they could quickly be made useless.

Apple added a kill switch, called Activation Lock, to its iPhone in September 2013. Samsung followed in April 2014 with its Galaxy S5 and Google made it a standard feature of Android with the release of Lollipop.

Soon most smartphones sold will include a kill switch thanks to a new California law that mandates them in smartphones manufactured after July 1 this year and sold in the state. While the law only covers California, it’s leading to their introduction in phones sold worldwide.

 

 

Sony Getting Cozy With MediaTek

February 13, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Sony is expected to use more MediaTek application processors in upcoming Xperia smartphones.

According to Digitimes, the Japanese consumer electronics giant is planning to increase its reliance on MediaTek chips in entry-level and mid-range smartphones this year. There is still no word on high-end products, and it seems Qualcomm’s 800-series parts will continue to power Xperia flagships for the time being.

Sony is also working with a number of Taiwanese ODMs like Foxconn, FIH Mobile, Compal and Arima Communications. The company’s latest Xperia E4 smartphone was in fact outsourced to Arima.

As for Foxconn/FIH Mobile and Compal, they are said to be developing 4G models for Sony, which means they are supposed to cover the mid-range segment. Most of this new models are expected to be based on MediaTek’s new octa-core MT6752 processor, which packs 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores.

The affordable MT6752 has already found its way into a number of Chinese mid-range smartphones, as well big-brand devices like the HTC Desire 826 and Acer Liquid Jade S.

Courtesy-Fud

RapidShare Is Closing It’s Doors

February 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

File-sharing site RapidShare is closing its doors after a many a year of offering web storage, and is advising customers to clean up and get out.

RapidShare has weathered the storms of the copyright controversies and has even been able to withstand a number of legal approaches.

The firm has not given a reason for its decision, and has not given its users much time to react.

A note on the RapidShare homepage thanks customers for their years of support, and says that there are two dates to be aware of, one at the end of this month and one at the end of March, and that people ought to be done with its services by then.

“Dear RapidShare customers. Kindly note that RapidShare will stop the active service on March 31st 2015. Extensions of Standard Plus and Premium accounts will be possible until February 28th 2015,” the note says.

“We strongly recommend all customers to secure their data. After March 31st 2015 all accounts will no longer be accessible and will be deleted automatically.”

RapidShare has remained up while others have fallen, Megaupload for example, but has received the same kind of attention.

The company has fiercely denied allegations that it is a source of pirate booty, and defended a reputation that MarkMonitor was trying to dirty back in 2011.

“RapidShare is a legitimate company that offers its customers fast, simple and secure storage and management of large amounts of data via our servers.”

But it seems that RapidShare has had enough of the market, possibly because the paid-for cloud storage market is now mostly dominated by the free options. These include Mega, which came out of the ashes of Megaupload.

Courtesy-TheInq

Alibaba Looking To Push Own Mobile OS With Latest Deal

February 10, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is taking a $590 million stake in a little known domestic smartphone maker as the e-commerce giant explores ways to expand its mobile operating system in a shrinking, cut-throat handset market.

Extending a previously muted push into hardware, Alibaba said will acquire an unspecified minority stake in smartphone maker Meizu Technology Co. Dwarfed by rivals like Xiaomi Inc, privately owned Meizu’s slice of China’s smartphone market is estimated by analysts at below 2 percent.

The deal, unlike U.S. rival Amazon.com Inc’s foray into smartphones with its own-brand Fire Phone, is designed to help Alibaba push its mobile operating system within China through Meizu’s handsets. In return, Zhuhai, Guangdong-based Meizu will get access to Alibaba’s e-commerce sales channels and other resources, the companies said in a joint statement.

For China’s e-commerce king, with a market value of $213 billion market value, the $590 million price tag may be a costly entry fee. Meizu’s reach in China, and likely that of the Alibaba operating system, is severely blunted by domestic leaders Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Lenovo Group, as well as multinational giants Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

“You could say they’re spending $590 million to experiment a bit and see what happens – it’s an expensive experiment, right?” said Michael Clendenin, Managing Director at Shanghai-based RedTech Advisors.

“My concern is that some internet players are confusing being able to just spend a couple hundred million dollars to buy a piece of hardware that looks pretty cool but is essentially a copy of what Apple has done and what Xiaomi has done,” he said.

Together, the leading five brands accounted for nearly 60 percent of China’s smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2014, said Nicole Peng, a Shanghai-based analyst with data research firm Canalys.

Meizu has pumped up shipments from a few hundred thousand in previous years to under 2 million in the last three months of 2014, but it still had less than 2 percent of China’s smartphone market share in that quarter, said Peng.

 

 

 

New Spyware Infection Can Steal Pics, Data From iPhones

February 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A group of cybercriminals that target governments, the military and journalists has turned its attention to the iPhone, according to Trend Micro.

The computer security firm says it has discovered new spyware that infects iPhones, gathers large amounts of personal information and sends it to a remote server.

The spyware, called XAgent, is delivered via a phishing attack using a technique called island hopping. In that, the phones of friends and associates of the true target are first infected and then used to pass on the spyware link. It’s based on the assumption that the target is more likely to click on links from people they know than from strangers.

Once installed, XAgent will collect text messages, contact lists, pictures, geo-location data, a list of installed apps, a list of any software processes that are running and the WiFi status of the device. That information is packaged and sent to a server operated by the hackers. XAgent is also capable of switching on the phone’s microphone and recording everything it hears.

XAgent runs on both iOS 7 and iOS 8 phones, whether they’ve been jailbroken or not. It is most dangerous on iOS 7 since it hides its icon to evade detection.

On iOS 8 it isn’t hidden and needs to be manually launched each time the phone is rebooted — a process that would require the user to purposely reinfect their phone each time. For that reason, Trend Micro believes the spyware was written before iOS8 was launched last year.

While close to three quarters of Apple mobile devices are using iOS 8, a quarter are still running iOS7, according to data published by Apple this week.

“We’ve been monitoring the actors behind this for quite some time,” said Jon Clay, senior manager of Global Threat communication at Trend Micro, in a phone interview. “The criminals have introduced [the iOS app] as part of their campaign to move further into the [targeted] organization, using this rather than PC malware.”

While the identity of the hackers isn’t known, Trend Micro says it believes those behind what it calls “Operation Pawn Storm” to be a pro-Russian group. Past targets have included military organizations, defense contractors, embassies and media groups.