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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Microsoft’s Windows Phone Given One More Chance

July 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft will continue making smartphones for its Windows 10 Mobile operating system, but the company has squashed the device strategy pursued by its former CEO and will probably give up entirely unless Windows 10 reverses years of missteps in mobile, analysts said.

After Microsoft wrote down $7.6 billion of its investment in Nokia and again reorganized, it will turn to a revamped, two-part strategy, one piece older, the other relatively new, the experts argued.

Microsoft’s smartphones will follow the trailblazing of the more successful Surface tablet line, which after two years with little return hit its stride in 2014 with the debut of the Surface Pro 3. “We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family,” CEO Satya Nadella told employees in an all-hands email recently.

In plain English, the Lumia line will be relegated to a peripheral position — the spot the Surface Pro 3 now occupies in comparison to the broader personal computing device market and best exemplified in smartphones by Google’s “hero” Nexus handsets.

“Microsoft will have something very similar to where the Surface line is now,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in a Friday interview. “The idea will be to create inspiring hardware that motivates their ecosystem. They’ll go after the ‘halo’ effect.”

Windows phones will not disappear. Not yet. “I am committed to our first-party devices including phones,” asserted Nadella, showing that, at least for now, Microsoft won’t scrub Windows smartphones from its portfolio.

The reality, however, is stark: Even with billions poured into mobile, Windows powered just 2.7% of the handsets shipped worldwide last year, down from 3.3% in 2013, according to IDC. And because Microsoft was responsible for more than 95% of all Windows smartphones in 2014, a pull-back by the firm means there’s little chance of changing the OS’s fortunes.

 

 

 

 

Apple Pay Launch In Britain Not Without Problems

July 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple rolled out mobile payments in Britain on Tuesday, hoping to make a splash with consumers familiar with using cards for tap-and-go purchases, as resistance from hold-out banks and stores appeared to evaporate.

Starting Tuesday, Apple Pay became available in 250,000 sites, from Tube stations to coffee shops, supermarkets and travel services, making it more widely available than when it was first introduced in the United States nine months ago.

Users first load their credit and debit card details into an app on their Apple phones or watches. To pay, customers hold the device near a contactless terminal with the user’s fingerprints confirming their identity.

The service is one of Apple’s biggest bets, a way of binding customers more tightly to its phones and new smart watches, as well as taking a small slice of every retail transaction.

Apple Pay will eventually be supported by all major British banks. The last hold-out, Barclays, confirmed on Tuesday its debit card users and Barclaycard credit card customers will be able to use Apple Pay in the future.

However, there also were some first-day teething problems. Another major bank, HSBC Holdings said it was having technical problems that will lead to a two-week delay before its clients in the United Kingdom can sign up to the service.

Morning subway commuters in the capital were greeted by advertisements from several major banks encouraging the fraction of their customers with the latest-model Apple phones, tablets and smartwatches to link their payment cards to Apple Pay.

Tube-operator Transport for London and big retailers Boots, the British pharmacy business of Walgreens Boots Alliance; Costa Coffee, a part of Whitbread; supermarkets Marks and Spencer and Waitrose all lined up to support Apple Pay.

So far, Apple has been reported to be working to introduce its mobile payments service in China, South Korea and Canada.

 

 

 

 

Samsung’s Profit Hurt By Galaxy S6 Shortage

July 8, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics expects to report lower-than-expected earnings for the second quarter after supply shortages weighed down sales of its Galaxy S6 mobile phone.

Operating profit for the quarter will likely be around 6.9 trillion won ($6.1 billion), Samsung said, below the 7.2 trillion won analysts had been expecting. Sales are estimated at 48 trillion won, below the 53 trillion won analysts had forecast.

Samsung issued the preliminary earnings on Tuesday in Asia. It’s due to report its full results later this month.

The Galaxy S6 isn’t only Samsung’s flagship smartphone. It’s also its main hope for reigniting demand for its handsets, which has cooled in recent quarters.

The phone has a distinctive display that curves around the right hand side of the device, and it’s that curved display that was in short supply last quarter, analysts have said.

Samsung is pinning its hopes on the S6 at a time when it’s being squeezed by Apple at the high-end and by Xiaomi and other Chinese vendors at the low-end. Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in particular have been big hits around the globe, taking away sales from Samsung.

 

 

IBM Partners With Box

June 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM and BOX have signed a global agreement to combine their strengths into a cloud powerhouse.

The star-crossed ones said in a joint statement: “The integration of IBM and Box technologies, combined with our global cloud capabilities and the ability to enrich content with analytics, will help unlock actionable insights for use across the enterprise.”

Box will bring its collaboration and productivity tools to the party, while IBM brings social, analytic, infrastructure and security services.

The move is described as a strategic alliance and will see the two companies jointly market products under a co-banner.

IBM will enable the use of Box APIs in enterprise apps and web services to make a whole new playground for developers.

The deal will see Box integrate IBM’s content management, including content capture, extraction, analytics, case management and governance. Also aboard will be Watson Analytics to study in depth the content being stored in Box.

Box will also be integrated into IBM Verse and IBM Connections to allow full integration for email and social.

IBM’s security and consulting services will be part of the deal, and the companies will work together to create mobile apps for industries under the IBM MobileFirst programme.

Finally, the APIs for Box will be enabled in Bluemix meaning that anyone working on rich apps in the cloud can make Box a part of their creation.

Box seems to be the Nick Clegg to IBM’s ham-faced posh-boy robot in this relationship, but is in fact bringing more than you’d think to the party with innovations delivered by its acquisition of 3D modelling company Verold.

What’s more, the results of these collaborations should allow another major player to join Microsoft and Google in the wars over productivity platforms.

It was announced today that Red Hat and Samsung are forming their own coalition to bring enterprise mobile out of the hands of the likes of IBM and Apple which already have a cool thing going on with MobileFirst.

Courtesy-TheInq

Box Integrate Microsoft’s Office Online With Its Storage Service.

June 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Box followed competitor Dropbox to integrate Microsoft’s Office Online with its cloud storage service.

“Today, we’re introducing Box for Office Online, making it easier than ever for our customers to create and manage their Word docs, PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets securely from anywhere and on any device, right from Box,” said David Still, Box’s chief of mobile products, in a post to his company’s blog.

Like the ties between Dropbox and Office Online — the latter is Microsoft’s browser-based app trio of Excel, PowerPoint and Word — Box lets customers open documents from within its service, edit and then save back to the cloud. Box users will also be able to create new Office Online documents.

Dropbox added the same functionality to its browser-based UI in April, part of a broader partnership with Microsoft that kicked off in November 2014.

Still also promised future Box moves to bring it more on par with Dropbox. “Later this year, [Box and Microsoft] intend to further collaborate on integrations with native Office clients on iOS, Android, and Windows,” Still wrote.

He did not provide a release window for updates to Box’s mobile apps.

Microsoft added Dropbox support to its Office apps on iPhone, iPad and Android late last year, and Dropbox released a Windows Phone app in January.

Box took advantage of Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud Storage Partner Program, an initiative by the Redmond, Wash. developer to extend the influence of Office by letting third-party cloud storage services connect to Office Online and Office for iOS. Box signed up with the program in mid-February.

“By opening up Office Online, Microsoft is showing an amazing amount of proactive enablement for moving the future of work this direction,” said Box CEO Aaron Levie in a separate post.

Although Microsoft competes with both Dropbox and Box with its own OneDrive cloud storage service, the company has aggressively moved toward a more agnostic outlook, whether regarding rival platforms or competitive services.

 

 

 

Apple To Release ‘Android-to-iOS-App’ This Fall

June 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple did not highlight it during the keynote address kicking off its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week, but the company will release an Android-to-iOS migration app alongside iOS 9 this fall.

The app, given the prosaic name “Move to iOS,” will help switchers defect Android for Apple’s iPhone or iPad.

“It securely transfers your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, [browser] bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs and books,” Apple asserted in its iOS 9 online marketing materials.

The migration app shouldn’t come as a surprise, said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel Comtech.

“Anything vendors can do to make it as pain-free as possible for users to make [a migration] is a good thing,” Milanesi said in an email. “We are in a very saturated market and sales will come from keeping your clients loyal and engaged, and attracting customers from your competitors.”

Apple’s focus on snatching customers from Android device makers isn’t new.

In a January call with Wall Street analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook trumpeted his firm’s ability to tempt consumers to dump Android. “The current iPhone line-up experienced the highest Android switcher rate in any of the last three launches in the three previous years,” Cook said.

Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones in the three months that ended Dec. 31, 2014, a 46% improvement compared to the same period the year prior. Analysts attributed much of that growth to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that Apple started selling in September 2014, when the Cupertino, Calif. finally offered smartphones with screens in sizes previously available only from Android ODMs (original device manufacturers) such as Samsung.

iPhone sales dropped to 61.2 million units in the March 2015 quarter, but that was still a 40% year-over-year increase.

While Cook did not peg an Android-to-iOS switch rate, outsiders have. In January, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) said its polling showed that 19% of U.S. iPhone customers confirmed they had switched from an Android phone.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Pay To Launch In The UK In July

June 10, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Pay will debut in the U.K. in July, where it will initially work at 250,000 retail locations and the London transit system — with credit card support from eight major banks, according to an Apple announcement.

Some observers had expected Apple Pay to launch in Canada as well, but company executives didn’t discuss plans for Canada during the keynote address at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Apple Pay first launched in the U.S. last October with more than 225,000 retailers and has steadily expanded. The mobile payment service will reach 1 million locations in the U.S. by July, said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Internet services.

She said 2,500 banks now support Apple Pay in the U.S. adding that Discover cards will be supported sometime in the fall.

While 1 million locations is considered impressive, the expansion to 90% of all 12 million retail locations in the U.S. could take five to 10 years, according to banking and credit card experts. Banks are already pushing retailers to upgrade their in-store payment terminals to support smart credit cards by October, and nearly all those new terminals also support NFC payments, like Apple Pay uses. But the rollout will still take years.

As expected, Bailey announced that Apple Pay will automatically process loyalty and rewards cards. In other words, customers automatically get coupons, rewards, loyalty points and special offers from a specific retailer — or from Apple itself — applied when a purchase is made from an NFC-ready iPhone or Apple Watch.

But Apple Pay will also support some store credit cards beyond just major credit cards Visa and MasterCard. Bailey named JC Penney, Kohl’s, Fandango and BJ’s store credit cards as those that will be supported initially.

“Apple Pay automatically presents the right card” during the payment process, she noted. The improvements she described will work with the coming update called iOS9 for iPad and iPhone, as well as Apple Watch. The update is expected in the fall.

 

 

 

GameStop Acquires ThinkGeek

June 4, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Last week it was reported how Geeknet Inc. was in the process of being bought out by retailer Hot Topic for $16 a share or $37 million in cash.

However we have just discovered that deal was squashed because Thinkgeek got a better deal from Gamestop.

GameStop offered $20 per share and Hot Topic wanted away. GameStop’s $20 per share deal also includes $37 million in cash and comes out to a total valuation of $140 million.

Geeknet must pay Hot Topic a three percent “break-up fee,” which GameStop has agreed to reimburse.

What this will mean is that ThinkGeek customers can pick up ThinkGeek merchandise in GameStop stores.

The press release also mentions the potential of offering GameStop PowerUp Rewards members “exclusive, unique and cutting edge merchandise related to their favorite entertainment.”

The deal should be concluded by the end of GameStop’s second financial quarter of 2015, which will happen in August.

Courtesy-Fud

Does The PS4 Have a Weak First Party Fall Line-up?

May 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

At Sony’s 2015 Investor Relations Day today, Sony Computer Entertainment president and global CEO Andrew House detailed the company’s strategy for the coming year, including how it will address some shortcomings.

House began his presentation on a positive note, talking up PlayStation 4 as “the fastest selling hardware platform in our history,” showing better-than expected growth and pushing PlayStation Plus subscriptions to twice what they were in fiscal year 2013. He said the company has a competitive advantage for the moment, and laid out three ways it hopes to maintain that. In addition to next year’s launch of the Project Morpheus virtual reality headset and continued cost reduction efforts, House said the company needs quality software.

“We are working very hard to continue very strong support from third-party pubs and devs,” House said. “Our first-party lineup is a little sparse this year, so I think this places even greater emphasis on getting good third-party support.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean exclusive third-party support. To date, House said Sony has been primarily trying to get multiplatform developers to simply take advantage of features the PS4 has over the competition, like SharePlay, or maybe include extra content in the PS4 version or give players early access to add-on content. Third-party exclusives are still an option, just not a frequently used one.

“I will admit that these are, in the current publishing landscape, few and far between, but we were able to announce a full exclusive around a franchise like Street Fighter so that Street Fighter 5 is a complete exclusive for PlayStation 4,” House said, adding, “Although given publishing dynamics and development costs, those are increasingly difficult to secure.”

House also talked about the decline in Sony’s other platforms. As much as the PS4′s growth has exceeded expectations, so too has the PlayStation 3′s decline. House said the system’s price simply isn’t as competitive in the market as the PlayStation 2 and PSone were after their successors launched, and added that the shift toward more connected console experiences has also made less capable offerings less attractive.

House also cast a dim view of the company’s handheld business. While he noted that the Vita platform remains “strong and vibrant” in Asia and Japan, his outlook for the current fiscal year included declines in the US and Europe. Additionally, he referred to the PlayStation Vita and its microconsole counterpart the PlayStation TV as “legacy platforms” when discussing a write-off of hardware components for the two.

“I would characterize 2015 as the beginning of a harvest period for the PlayStation 4 platform,” House said. “The beginning of a harvest period. That being said, we are also undertaking to invest in the future, and 2015 will also be a year of investment.”

That investment will be focused on a few areas. There’s the Morpheus, of course, as well as continued spend on original PlayStation entertainment content like the TV show Powers (which was recently greenlit for a second season). On top of that, House said Sony would be investing in the expansion of its PlayStation Vue television streaming platform and a continued re-architecture of its PlayStation Network with an eye toward increasing stability and reducing maintenance downtime.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Is Apple Being Dumped?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The dumping of Apple shares by top hedge funds is continuing to gather speed and now even the Tame Apple Press  is noticing.

Reuters took time out from its busy schedule of promoting Apple producst to report the surprise news that Top US hedge fund management firms, including Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management, continued to reduce or slash stakes altogether in Apple during the first quarter.

We say surprise news, but we had noticed it when it actually happened.

Coatue cut its holding of Apple by selling 1.2 million shares during the first three months of this year, but it remains the fund’s single biggest U.S. stock investment, with 7.7 million shares. Omega Advisors sold all of its 383,790 shares in Apple during the first quarter, while Rothschild Asset Management cut its stake by 107,953 to 938,693 shares, filings showed on Friday.

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital also cut its exposure in Apple during the first quarter, slashing its stake by 1.2 million shares to 7.4 million shares.

Reuters cannot understand why the hedge funds are dumping their shares. Apple shares rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter and have continued to increase, it moaned.

But the reality is that if hedge funds listened to what fanboys wanted they would not be making the huge amounts of dosh they do. Objectively Apple’s markets have peaked, sales of Tablets have slumped, its iPhone market is stable but has no real momentum and above all it has yet to come up with a new idea.

Courtesy-Fud

Sharp Pinning Hopes On In-car Displays

May 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Struggling display manufacturer Sharp, reeling from cutthroat competition in mobile phones, will push car makers to incorporate vehicle dashboards that have gestural commands, thin bezels and other next-generation features.

It’s hoping cars will be controlled, in part, through high-resolution displays that can fit any two-dimensional surface area, such as dashboard panels with rounded contours.

The company has shown off the wavy screens for cars and consoles in recent months, and has tried to woo automakers to use them. Under the firm’s new medium-term strategy, the push has taken on greater urgency.

Thin-bezel dashboard LCDs, as well as screens that can provide multiple views to different passengers in a car depending on their perspective, could prove to be a lifeline for Sharp, which hasn’t been able to command a dominant market position despite cutting-edge technology.

Sharp is an Apple supplier and is said to be a maker of iPhone 6 screens, along with Japan Display, and LG Display of South Korea.

Apple sources some of its screens from Sharp’s Kameyama plants in central Japan, which produce the maker’s flagship IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) transparent crystalline semiconductor displays. IGZO displays, which Sharp began producing for smartphones in 2013, have smaller pixels than conventional LCD screens and feature low power consumption.

Last month, Sharp showed off a 5.5-inch display with 3860 x 2160 or 4K pixel resolution, which was part of a 12.5-inch IGZO panel. But there were no immediate plans for mass production.

Sharp’s ability to generate dazzling phone graphics hasn’t saved its bottom line. The firm announced a US$1.7 billion bailout from banks this week, its second lifeline in three years, and posted a dismal earnings performance for the year to March 31 with a net loss of ¥222.3 billion ($1.8 billion). It blamed declining prices in small and medium-sized LCDs.

In contrast, Sharp sees prices for automotive and industrial automation displays as more stable because the barriers to market entry are higher due to the technological know-how that’s required. Now it needs to play for time.

 

 

Is the PS4 Open To Pirating

May 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Hackers from Brazil have managed to discover a new exploit for the PS4 which enables them to bypass the DRM on any software and games.

A couple of weeks ago, a number of electronic stores in Brazil had been advertising the means to copy and run a series of ripped retail games on the console.

At the time little was known about the hack back then, but information gradually began to trickle out from customers and make its way around the web. Please see below for commentary from Lancope.

Gavin Reid, VP of threat intelligence, Lancope said that Sony was playing an arms race against groups that benefit from the abilities to copy and share games.

The hack originates from a Russian website and has been pushed into the public by Brasilian retailers. The hack isn’t necessarily a jailbreak for the PS4, nor is it really a homebrew technique.

What they did was use a retail PS4, with several games installed on it, with it’s entire game database and operating system (including NAN/BIOS).  This was then dumped onto a hacked PS4 via Raspberry Pi.

The entire process costs about $100 to $150 to install 10 games and $15 per additional game.

“Open source groups like Homebrew with more altruistic motivations of extending the functionality of the console alongside groups selling modified consoles specifically to play copied games and of course the resell of the games themselves at fraction of the actuals costs. This has happened historically with all of the major consoles. It would be highly unlikely not to continue with the PS4,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud