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EA Appears To Be Going HD With Old Games

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Electronic Arts has one of the deepest back catalogs in the industry, but to date it has steered clear of mining it for new revenue through remastered and HD editions. That’s likely to change soon, according to a Game Informer interview with EA Studios executive VP Patrick Soderlund from last week at Gamescom. When asked if anything in EA’s stance on remasters had evolved in the last year, Soderlund tipped the publisher’s hand.

“What’s changed is that there is proof in the market that people want it, maybe more than there was when we spoke [previously],” Soderlund said. “There were some that did it before, but I think there is even more clear evidence that this is something that people really want. The honest answer is that we are absolutely actively looking at it. I can’t announce anything today, but you can expect us most likely to follow our fellow partners in Activision and other companies that have done this successfully.”

Soderlund added that if EA were to remaster games, it would “have to be careful in choosing the right brands for the right reasons at the right time.” Part of that would be ensuring the company handles the remasters properly instead of just selling quick and dirty ports.

That attitude is a pretty clear pivot from where the company’s thinking was just a year ago. Last October, Peter Moore said EA wasn’t interested in remakes and remasters because “it feels like pushing stuff out because you’ve run out of ideas,” adding, “I don’t know where we find the time to do remakes. We’re a company that just likes to push forward.”

While EA hasn’t been especially aggressive with remastered games, it has produced HD versions of older games like American McGee’s Alice and Crysis, primarily as preorder incentives for sequels in those series.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Hyundai, Google Discussing Self-driving Car Deal

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hyundai-Motor-150x150Hyundai President Jeong Jin Haeng said that his company is holding discussions with Alphabet’s Google unit about helping it develop a self-driving car.

The world’s fifth largest automaker hopes to enter into a symbiotic relationship, where it will bring its manufacturing prowess to Google and the Silicon Valley giant will help the automaker’s autonomous technology development.

“Hyundai is lagging behind the competition to develop autonomous vehicles,” Ko Tae Bong, senior auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities Co, told Bloomberg News. “It’s not a choice but a critical prerequisite for Hyundai to cooperate with IT companies, such as Google, to survive in the near future.”

At a news conference with Korea’s Minister of Trade on Wednesday, Haeng said that “because Google is not too familiar with vehicles” his company can help with the execution of Google’s self-driving vehicle, which is one of the most advanced in the market.

The two companies are already connected in that Google’s self-driving vehicle project is being led by John Krafcik, the former CEO of Hyundai Motor America; Krafcik left Hyundai in 2013.

Hyundai also has been among the most aggressive automakers adopting Alphabet’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, which allow the iPhone and Android smartphones to connect wirelessly to car infotainment systems.

Google’s self-driving vehicle division has also joined forces with major carmakers and ride-sharing services to form a coalition to lobby lawmakers and regulators for faster adoption of self-driving car technology.

In all, five companies — Alphabet, Ford, Lyft, Volvo and Uber — formed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets coalition. Its mission: to spur the federal government to usurp a “patchwork” of state driving laws that could hinder autonomous vehicle acceptance.

 

The OvRcharge Levitates And Charges Your Smartphone

August 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

A Canadian design company is selling a mobile device stand that not only wirelessly charges your phone or tablet but levitates the device at the same time.

The OvRcharge, by 15-year-old AR Designs Canada, combines magnetic induction charging with electromagnetic suspension to levitate your Android or iOS mobile device a few centimeters above a square, wooden platform.

The charger comes in two sizes: the smaller OvRcharge platform is about 5.5 inches square for smartphones, and the larger OvRcharge Ultra,for tablets, is about 6.75 inches square. Both wood platforms are around 1 3/8 inches thick.

The charging stand comes in three colors, Dark, Walnut and Cherry.

Besides the size, the only difference between the two charging models is the output current rate: the OvRcharge uses a ~500mAh charge and the OvRcharge Ultra provide ~700 mAh.

The wireless charger both suspends a mobile device at a fixed height and slowly rotates it for an aesthetic appeal.

The charger works in conjunction with an AR Designs smartphone or tablet case that’s included and can be ordered with either a Lightning or micro-USB connector for an iPhone or Android device. The unit is powerful enough to levitate a device that’s up to 21.1 ounces (600 grams) in weight.

The early bird price for the OvRcharge stand and mobile device case is $239 (the $199 and $209 offers have already sold out); the price for the OvRCharge Ultra is  $259. After two weeks on Kickstarter, the campaign has raised more than $25,000 of a $30,000 goal.

The devices are expected to ship to early bird buyers by December.

The iPhone cases can be ordered to fit iPhone 5 or later models. The Android cases fit Samsung, LG, Sony and Huawei devices.

 

 

 

Smartphone Market Showing Signs Of Growth Again

August 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

The smartphone market appears to be picking up steam again, if only slightly, with shipments up nearly 1 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.

The research firm, which had reported a 3 percent drop in the market in the last quarter, said that there are indications that the market had bottomed out in the first half of this year. Multiple new product launches from vendors including Samsung Electronics and Apple could create an improving growth outlook for the second half of the year.

Another research firm, Canalys, reported that smartphone shipments had returned to modest growth in the second quarter after a disappointing first quarter.

Around 340.4 million smartphones were shipped in the second quarter, said Strategy Analytics, which added that the market had seen saturation in major markets like China and been effected by political events such as Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.

The largest smartphone maker — Samsung –recently reported its most profitable quarter in two years, driven by increased sales of its flagship products such as the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. The company’s mid-to low-end smartphone portfolio, including the  Galaxy A and J series, also contributed to improved profitability, it said.

Samsung said the smartphone business would stay buoyant in the second half, but warned that competitors are expected to launch newer models in the period. The company faces competition from Chinese brands at the low end and Apple’s phones at the high end, but hopes to strengthen its high-end with the release in the third-quarter of a new large-screen flagship smartphone.

Profits are expected to be largely driven by its  components business, including demand for storage like solid state devices (SSDs), which is expected to pick up in the second half as smartphone makers launch new products.

The South Korean company reported a revenue increase of 4.9 percent year-on-year to 50.9 trillion won ($44.7 billion) in the second quarter while operating profit rose 18 percent to 8.1 trillion won.

“Apple continues to face iPhone fatigue among consumers and the new iPhone SE model has not been able to stem that trend,” said Strategy Analytics’ analyst Neil Mawston, in a statement.

Samsung led the market, with an increased share of 22.8 percent for 77.6 million smartphones shipped, while second-place Apple’s share dropped to 11.9 percent, Strategy Analytics said. The next three places were taken by Chinese vendors Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, in that order.

 

 

Microsoft Launches Pix, iPhone Camera App

July 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

There’s a new iPhone camera application available that claims to take better pictures than the one Apple ships with its phones, and it’s built by Microsoft.

The company’s research arm on Wednesday launched Pix, which enhances the photos that users take in a variety of ways. The app is  designed to make photos look better and even improves on Apple’s Live Photos ability to capture scenes that have moving elements in them.

It’s part of Microsoft’s continued push to build applications for platforms beyond those that it directly controls, especially iOS and Android. The free app was built by members of Microsoft Research and released for free on the iOS App Store.

Pix is particularly well-suited to take photos of people and is built to make adjustments to a photo on the fly as the scene changes. That way, the exposure of an image should always be tuned to the right conditions. It recognizes faces and uses Microsoft’s Hyperlapse technology to stabilize video made with the app, too.

When users press the shutter button, the app will take a burst of photos and then pick out the best ones for final use. That burst is also used to power Pix’s Live Image feature, which creates a short moving picture when there’s motion in a burst.

That’s an improvement on Apple’s Live Photos feature, which captures video before and after every photo is taken. Microsoft touts its feature as a way to get the best parts of Apple’s moving picture functionality without requiring as much storage space and stabilizing the result.

 

Apple Begins Testing Of Safari 10 Browser

June 27, 2016 by  
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.

 

 

Patent Dispute May Hamper Apple’s iPhone 6 Sales In China

June 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus face a looming sales ban in China over a patent dispute with a little-known local company.

The phones infringe a design patent held by Chinese device maker Shenzhen Baili, a Beijing intellectual property office ruled, according to a notice posted Thursday.

The office ordered Apple and its partners to halt sales of both products, though Apple has appealed and the phones are currently still on sale there.

“We appealed an administrative order from a regional patent tribunal in Beijing last month and as a result the order has been stayed pending review by the Beijing IP Court,” Apple said Friday in an email.

The iPhone 6 models violate an “exterior design patent” held by Shenzhen Baili. The company was granted the patent in China in July 2014, shortly before Apple released the iPhone 6.

Shenzhen Baili used the patented design to make smartphones under its 100+ brand. The devices start at only 799 yuan, or about US$120, while the iPhone 6 initially sold for 5,288 yuan.

Shenzhen Baili warned Apple in 2014 that it might sue for patent infringement.

It’s not Apple’s first legal challenge in China. In 2012 the company battled a different company there which claimed ownership of the iPad trademark. Apple ended up paying US$60 to resolve that dispute – not a huge sum considering the importance of the Chinese market.

Earlier this year, in April, Chinese regulators shut down Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBooks services without publicly stating why. Those services appear to be still offline.

China is the world’s biggest smartphone market but Apple products face stiff competition there from local handset makers. In the first quarter this year, Apple ranked fifth among smartphone makers in China, according to research firm Canalys.

“‘Local vendors, such as Huawei, Vivo and Oppo, are eating into the premium segment that Samsung and Apple considered their own,” Canalys said at the time.

 

 

 

 

UberEATS Launches In London

June 17, 2016 by  
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.

 

Apple Adds Panic App To Apple Watch

June 16, 2016 by  
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 Pay Being Updated To Allow Online Purchases

June 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Consumers will soon be able to make purchses with Apple Pay over the web from a Mac desktop or laptop, with the transaction being authenticated via a buyer’s fingerprint scan on their iPhone or a touch on their Apple Watch.

The new Apple Pay capability will be released as part of the free, rebranded (from OS X) macOS Sierra upgrade coming sometime this fall, Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering, announced at the Worldwide Developer Conference held in San Francisco on Monday.

Currently, shoppers can pay for merchandise using Apple Pay via an app on an iPhone or Apple Watch at hundreds of thousands of point-of-sale merchants in the U.S. and five other countries — Canada, the UK, Australia, China and Singapore. Hong Kong, France, Spain and Switzerland are getting the service soon, Apple said recently.

Although a leader in mobile payments, Apple Pay, as well as other other mobile payment technologies, have not caught on as well as expected.

Putting Apple Pay on Mac computers will greatly expand the number of purchases made with the service, analysts said. It will also put Apple in competition for web payments with companies like PayPal.

“Extending Apple Pay to the web is a really big deal because up to this point, there have been no secure methods to buy over the web that used biometric technology without sending your credit card information to the e-tailer,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

To use the service, an Apple Pay on-screen button will be available at a participating online retailer when a person shops via a Safari browser, Apple said in a statement. Apple showed dozens of participating retailers on a slide during the WWDC presentation.

 

 

Apple Rolls Out A Revamped App Store

June 10, 2016 by  
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.”

 

 

Is Apple Pay Really A Hit With Consumers?

June 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

While the Tame Apple Press claimed that Apple’s moves into the finance world with its Apple Pay service would be “game-changing” “super” and “great” we had grave doubts it would make much impact – it looks like we were right.

After 18 months, Apple Pay has only made a tiny dent in the global payments market. This is partly because it was networking, which means Apple stuffed it up with technical problems, partly because the banks would not sign up to Jobs’ Mob’s bizarre customer contract but mostly because customers never wanted it.

Some banks did go ahead with it, but only after demanding that Apple sling its hook with its demands for a cut which would make them rich while the banks got very little.

The service is available in six countries and failed to gain much traction outside the US. Apple Pay usage totalled $10.9 billion last year and that was mostly in the US. Although the figure looks high it is really bugger all when you consider how much cash is moved around in mobile payments.

In comparison Alibaba and Tencent made an estimated $1 trillion worth of mobile transactions last year.

What it appears is that Apple Pay is only popular with the hard-core Apple fanboys which we estimate total six million worldwide and are mostly based in the US. Even the more rational Apple users are ignoring service.

Apple Pay transactions were a fraction of $84.5 billion in iPhone sales for the six months to March and the service is not making as much as Jobs’ Mob hoped. Shops have also been complaining that the hardware they have to use to run Apple pay is about as reliable as Apple IIc. In Australian payment machines supported by one mid-sized bank reported frequent failures.

The business model was also flawed. While it makes sense that banks and even the bigger stores have their payment systems, it made no sense to put a phone maker between the transaction. As a result banks and stores are coming up with their own payment schemes which effectively rules Apple out of the equation.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Pay Struggling To Gain Traction Outside U.S.

June 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Over a year ago after Apple Pay took the United States by storm, the smartphone giant has made only tiny ripple in the global payments market, hindered by technical challenges, low consumer take-up and resistance from banks.

The service is available in six countries and among a limited range of banks, though in recent weeks Apple has added four banks to its sole Singapore partner American Express; Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in Australia; and Canada’s five big banks.

Apple Pay usage totaled $10.9 billion last year, the vast majority of that in the United States. That is less than the annual volume of transactions in Kenya, a mobile payments pioneer, according to research firm Timetric.

And its global turnover is a drop in the bucket in China, where Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent dominate the world’s biggest mobile payments market – with an estimated $1 trillion worth of mobile transactions last year, according to iResearch data.

Anecdotal evidence from Britain, China and Australia suggests Apple Pay is popular with core Apple followers, but the quality of service, and interest in it, varies significantly.

To use Apple Pay, consumers tap their iPhone over payment terminals to buy coffee, train tickets and other services. It can be also used at vending machines that accept contactless payments.

Apple Pay transactions were a fraction of the $84.5 billion in iPhone sales for the six months to March, which accounted for two-thirds of Apple’s total revenue.

Apple has leveraged its huge U.S. user base to push Pay, but has met resistance in Australia, Britain and Canada where banks are building their own products.

“Payments in general is such a complicated system with so many incumbent providers that revolutionary change like this was not going to happen very quickly,” said Joshua Gilbert, an analyst at First Annapolis Consulting.

The upshot: Apple has rolled out Pay in a dribble, adding countries and partners where it can – Hong Kong is expected to be added next – resulting in an uneven banking landscape with users and retail staff not always sure what will work and how.

 

 

 

Can eSport Be Used A Promo Tool?

May 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

While some publishers establish their own eSports divisions and appoint chief competition officers, Take-Two is approaching the competitive gaming trend with a bit more caution. Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz in advance of the company’s financial earnings report today, CEO and chairman Strauss Zelnick said the field was promising, but still unproven.

“eSports we find very interesting,” Zelnick said. “It is, however, still more a promotional tool than anything else. And most people see eSports as an opportunity to increase consumer engagement in their titles, and depending on the title, to increase consumer spending within the title.”

To date, Take-Two’s biggest eSports endeavor has been an NBA 2K tournament with 92,000 teams competing for a $250,000 prize. The final 16 teams are set to compete in a single-elimination tournament this weekend, with the finals taking place during the NBA Finals next month.

“It’s just the beginning for us,” Zelnick said of the tournament. “It’s very gratifying so far, but we have yet to see it as a stand-alone profitable business. We see it more as an adjunct to consumer engagement in our titles.”

Zelnick also addressed the company’s digital revenues, which for the first time made up more than half of its revenues for the year. While the industry has shifted heavily toward digital in recent years, Zelnick doesn’t see this as some sort of tipping point or a harbinger that physical goods are in for declines from here on out.

“This year was a little different because we had a very significant portion of this year’s revenue through digital distribution,” Zelnick said. “And that’s a reflection of the power of titles like Grand Theft Auto Online as well as PC titles, 90 percent of which are digitally delivered. With frontline console releases, your numbers are more like 20 percent from digital distribution. So physical distribution remains the lion’s share of our revenue.”

While Zelnick acknowledged the growth of digital distribution is a good thing for Take-Two, he specified that it wasn’t a strategy for the company because it’s ultimately out of his hands.

“We want to be where the consumer is, and we’re not really the ones who vote,” Zelnick said.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Apple To Open Maps Product Development Center In India

May 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Moving forward with his attempt to attract Indian customers and developers, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced that the company was setting up a new development center for its Maps product in Hyderabad in south India.

Apple earlier on Wednesday announced it would set up by early next year a facility in Bangalore to focus on helping developers on best practices and to improve the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform.

Cook is on his first visit to India, where the company saw a 56 percent year-on-year growth in iPhone sales in the first quarter even as its global iPhone sales and overall revenue dropped.

Apple’s new center will focus on the development of Maps for Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. The investment will accelerate Maps development and create up to 4,000 jobs, the company said.

The Cupertino, California, company did not disclose the size of its investment in the center though some reports have placed the figure at $25 million.

A large number of U.S. companies, including Texas Instruments, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM, have set up software, chip design and product development centers in India, to tap the country’s large pool of engineers.

“The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations,” Cook said in a statement.

India is the third-largest smartphone market in the world, after China and the U.S., according to Gartner research director Anshul Gupta.

 

 

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