Lenovo plans on rolling out new Yoga tablets and hybrids in time for the end-of-year holiday season, with actor and venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher having a hand in the design and development of the products.
The “innovative and stylish” Yoga products “will become very popular presents for the holiday season,” said Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s CEO, during a call on Monday.
Lenovo is holding an event in London on Oct. 9 to announce the new products, with Kutcher joining the announcement by satellite. Kutcher holds the title of “product engineer” with Lenovo.
Product details weren’t shared, but hints have already started popping up on Lenovo’s website. One product on tap could be the Yoga 3 Pro, with a product page saying “Shhh. Can’t talk now.” The Yoga 3 Pro will succeed the Yoga 2 Pro laptop-tablet hybrid, which has a 13.3-inch screen attached to the base. That’s unlike other hybrid designs in which the screens are detachable.
Lenovo offers Yoga tablets and hybrids with screen sizes between 8 and 13.3 inches. The 8- and 10-inch Yoga tablets have Android, while the 11.6- and 13.3-inch hybrids have Windows.
Also on the way could be new Yoga tablets with different screen sizes and upgraded processors. Intel has started shipping new Core M chips based on the Broadwell architecture, which Lenovo has used in the new ThinkPad Helix announced earlier this month. The Yoga tablets with Android have been criticized for poor performance and could use processor upgrades.
Yuanqing’s comments were made on a call about Lenovo’s plans to soon complete the acquisition of IBM’s x86 server business for US$2.1 billion. The transaction is expected to close on Wednesday.
Lenovo is also expected to complete the acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $2.91 billion by the end of the year. Lenovo sells its smartphones mostly in China, Europe and Asia, and the Motorola Mobility acquisition will provide a pathway to the U.S. smartphone market.
Hardware will remain Lenovo’s key focus in the coming years, but the company is also building its software, services and security portfolio to go along with devices, Yuanqing said.
Airline passengers traveling on European airline flights will be able to leave their cell phones and other mobile gadgets on throughout the entire flight, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Friday.
European airlines can allow any kind of electronic devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones to remain switched on for the entire trip without having to use the airplane mode. Switching to airplane mode was mandatory until now.
“This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or WiFi services,” EASA said in a news release.
It is up to the airline to decide whether to allow the use of electronic devices. In order to do so, they will have to go through an assessment to ensure the aircraft systems are not affected by device transmission signals in any way.
However, to ensure safety on board, passengers will likely be asked by the cabin crew to stow their devices during taxi on the runway and take-off, an EASA spokesman said, adding that airlines can still set rules on when devices can be used.
The product is a redesigned version of Atlas Advertiser Suite, an ad management and measurement platform that Facebook bought from Microsoft Corp last year.
It is expected to help marketers target Facebook users more effectively by measuring which users have seen, interacted or acted upon ads that appear on Facebook’s services and on third-party websites and apps.
The product will also provide a tool for marketers to buy ads to target Facebook users across the Web.
Microsoft took on Atlas with its $6.3 billion acquisition of digital ad agency aQuantive in 2007. Unable to make it work for its own purposes, Microsoft wrote off $6.2 billion of the aQuantive deal’s value in 2012.
The world’s No.1 Internet social network, which lags behind market leader Google Inc in U.S. market for online display ads, did not reveal how much it paid for the technology.
Facebook counts 1.5 million advertising customers and the company’s ad business saw strong growth across all of its geographic regions, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters in July.
Mobile advertising revenue grew 151 percent year-over-year, accounting for roughly 62 percent of Facebook’s overall ad revenue in the second quarter.
The change comes courtesy of an update to Facebook’s news feed algorithm announced Thursday, focused on giving users “more timely stories.” It affects posts both from users’ friends and from pages to which they’re connected.
Facebook wants more of its users to engage on the site when they might be watching the same sports game or TV show — something that already happens on Twitter — and then brush their posts under the carpet when the event is over or the topic fizzles out.
Facebook routinely tweaks its news feed algorithm, but this update has the potential to advance the company’s efforts in the area of news delivery. It’s a departure from the site’s roots as a means for solely keeping in touch with family and friends.
The update is built around two changes. First, posts that are related to trending topics will appear higher and faster in the feed, Facebook said. When a friend or a Page to which you’re connected posts about something that’s currently a hot topic of conversation on the site, the post is more likely to appear higher in the feed.
Facebook users can already get a sense of what’s popular on the site by looking at the “trending” topics section in the right-hand column, which Facebook rolled out earlier this year. On Thursday, some of the topics listed included Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, pop singer Gwen Stefani and the video game Final Fantasy XV.
Posts that aren’t as relevant to what’s hot, in other words, will get less priority.
Secondly, Facebook said it would be considering not just the number of likes that posts receive in determining their placement, but when people choose to like, comment and share. If a lot of people are interacting with a post right after it was posted, but the activity drops off a few hours later, “this suggests the post was most interesting at the time it was posted,” Facebook said. As a result, that post would get promoted higher early on and less later.
A Stanford engineering team has built a radio, equipped with sensors, computational units and antennas one-tenth the size of Wi-Fi antennas, that is able to gain all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. No batteries are required.
These radios, which are designed to compute, execute and relay commands, could be the key to linking gadgets together in the increasingly popular idea of the Internet of Things.
Today’s radios generally are the size of a quarter, according to Amin Arbabian, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and a researcher on the radio project. These new radios are much smaller. They’re 3.7 x 1.2 millimeters.
Radios that small could be added to everything from $100 bills to medical gauze, Band-Aids and home appliances. At just pennies per radio, that means a myriad of products could easily and cheaply become part of a linked network.
“This could be very important,” Arbabian told Computerworld. “When you think about the Internet of Things, you’re talking about needing a thousand radios per person. That counts all the radios and devices you’d need around you in your home and office environments. With 300 million people in the U.S., we’d have 300 billion radios.”
A Bluetooth-type radio works fine for smartphones but is too big and expensive to connect most of the objects in users’ lives.
“We needed the cost and size to go down, and you need scale,” said Arbabian, who began working on the project in 2011. “Do you want to put something the size of a Bluetooth radio on a Band-Aid? It’s too big. It costs a lot. The technology we have today for radios doesn’t meet any of these requirements.”
He explained that a tiny radio with a temperature sensor could be put on a bandage or piece of adhesive that’s applied to every patient that enters a hospital. The radio and its sensor would enable the medical staff to continuously track every patient’s temperature, a key health indicator, effortlessly and cheaply.
Sensors also could be used to measure air quality, to track medications from the manufacturer to the end user and to even keep track of tools and supplies in an operating room. For instance, Arbabian noted that a radio, encased in bio-safe material, could be attached to gauze or medical tools. With them, everything in an operating room could be tracked to ensure that nothing is left inside the patient at the end of surgery.
The radios also could be attached to every day products inside the home, including appliances, doors and windows.
Intel demoed its “no wires future” of wireless gigabit docking at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in California.
Intel wireless gigabit docking is a fully cable-free experience that includes wireless docking, wireless display and wireless charging. Intel demonstrated a reference design based on a next generation 14nm Intel processor on stage during its opening keynote on Tuesday.
Intel hopes to implement this technology by the end of 2015.
“Not only your wireless display, but storage, keyboard and mouse – all the other peripherals you have that have been weighing down our backpacks or strewn across our desk, we’re eliminating with one technology, and that’s wireless gigabit,” said an Intel expert on stage.
“It’s not only a secure and also localised connection – so you can use it in high dense areas such as in an office – but also extremely fast performing at over three times the performance of today’s WiFi.
“But while that’s cool we still have one more cord in our bag and let’s get rid of it: ditch that brick. That last thing that’s weighing us down is [resolved by] wireless power; the ease of use and installation it has is really going to be an advantage using the wireless resonance technology.”
The technology works over a simple receiver that goes into client devices, along with a resonance board that acts as a dock, which creates its own wireless hotspot.
Intel demonstrated how the standard will work using a laptop that automatically powered up and charged as soon as it reached the surface of the table due to the magnetic charging field built into the desk surface.
Intel said that this technology could also charge wireless Bluetooth earpieces, wearable devices, tablets and notebooks. However, it doesn’t have to be built into devices to work, as Intel said it can also be retrofitted into the cases of the devices we are carrying around.
Intel’s wireless gigabit technology is another push towards the firm’s vision of a cable-free future, meaning there’ll be no annoying wires or leads connecting computers to monitors, laptops to plug sockets or tablets to projectors.
The semiconductor giant first announced this view in August, saying that it’s looking to change the enterprise IT market with a strategy that will offer “three major experiences” in the office, that is, wireless display connectivity, wireless docking and wireless charging.
Working with Fujitsu and NEC, the Japanese telecommunications giant verified the digital coherent optical transmission technology for distances of several thousand kilometers to 10,000 km. With it, a single wavelength of light can carry 400 Gbps, four times the capacity of previous systems. Each fiber can carry multiple wavelengths, and many fibers can be bundled into one cable.
The approach could more than double existing capacity to meet ever-increasing bandwidth demand, especially by heavy data users.
The technology could be used in the next generation of backbone links, which aggregate calls and data streams and send them over the high-capacity links that go across oceans and continents. The fiber in the network would stay the same, and only the equipment at either end would need to change.
While the current capacity on such links is up to 8Tbps (terabits per second) per fiber, the new technology would make a capacity of 24Tbps per fiber possible, according to NTT.
“As an example of the data size, 24 Tbps corresponds to sending information contained in 600 DVDs (4.7 GB per DVD) within a second,” an NTT spokesman wrote in an email. “The verification was done using algorithms which are ready to be implemented in CMOS circuits to show that these technologies are practically feasible.”
To compensate for distortions along the optical fiber, researchers from the consortium developed digital backward propagation signal processing with an optimized algorithm. The result of this and other research is that the amount of equipment required for transmissions over long distances can be reduced, meaning the network could consume less electricity.
“We are extremely excited to show this groundbreaking performance surpassing 100 Gbps coherent optical transmission systems,” Masahito Tomizawa, executive manager of consortium leader NTT Network Innovation Labs, wrote in an email. “This new technology maintains the stability and reliability of our current 100 Gbps solutions while at the same time dramatically improving performance.”
The consortium said it is taking steps toward commercialization of the technology on a global scale but would not say when that might happen.
With transactions increasingly taking place on computers and mobile devices, retailers and banks are pouring resources into finding ways to make that experience as simple and easy as possible.
“It’s a digital tsunami,” said Eran Vanounou, chief executive of LivePerson Israel. “The big brands understand this big time. They understand they have to create a meaningful connection with consumers, not just a transaction.”
LivePerson, whose 8,000 plus clients include Bank of America and Home Depot, is headquartered in New York, though most operations are handled in Israel.
Its product, among other things, allows businesses to chat with customers and put together online campaigns. It also helps businesses “learn the behavior of online surfers”, Vanounou said, allowing them to better cater to their needs.
The company just finished four years of consecutive quarterly growth, he said. It posted second quarter revenue of $51.1 million, up from $43.2 million a year earlier. It also increased its 2014 outlook to $204-$207 million, from a previous $199-$204 million.
It had a $1.2 million quarterly net loss, compared to $1.8 million in 2013, which Vanounou said stemmed from a $50 million investment in an upgraded, browser-based platform the company is now launching.
“What you saw over the past year and a half, when our stock was up, down and again up now, although the company grew, it took and invested the money in building this platform. A huge investment,” he said.
In other words, laptop users won’t have to carry power bricks, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group. Skaugen spoke during a webcast keynote Friday at the IFA trade show in Berlin.
In a few years, wireless charging will be common in PCs, much like wireless communications are today, Skaugen said, adding that users will be able to charge mobile devices and PCs at the same time.
“This is a big, big deal. In the next several years you will see hundreds of thousands of charge stations,” Skaugen said. “Intel’s desire is that wireless charging evolve from wearable to the phone to the tablet to the PC.”
Intel is developing circuitry required for wireless charging in laptops. PC makers like Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Panasonic are backing the idea, and more are expected to offer wireless charging in PCs, Skaugen said.
Intel is backing wireless technology from a standards organization called A4WP (Alliance for Wireless Power), whose magnetic resonance technology turns surfaces like tables into wireless charging stations. Intel is developing circuitry for 20 watt to 50 watt wireless charging, which won’t be enough to recharge power hungry large-screen and gaming laptops but will suffice for general-use computers.
A4WP has more than 100 members, with some prominent names among them, including Qualcomm and Samsung.
Wireless charging is part of Intel’s larger plan to free PCs of wire clutter. Intel is working on technologies to eliminate cables for keyboards, mice, monitors and external hard drives.
For example, Intel next year will ship a docking station based on WiGig wireless technology, which will be able to stream 4K images wirelessly to high-definition displays. WiGig is 10 times faster in wireless data transfers than 802.11n, and three times faster than the latest 802.11ac, according to Skaugen.
The WiGig dock could eliminate the need to plug HDMI or DisplayPort cables into laptops. The dock will provide USB 3.0-like data transfer speeds to external storage devices.
The chips will be in five to seven detachable tablets and hybrids by year end, and the number of devices could balloon to 20 next year, said Andy Cummins, mobile platform marketing manager at Intel.
Core M chips, announced at the IFA trade show in Berlin on Friday, are the first based on the new Broadwell architecture. The processors will pave the way for a new class of thin, large-screen tablets with long battery life, and also crank up performance to run full PC applications, Intel executives said in interviews.
“It’s about getting PC-type performance in this small design,” Cummins said. “[Core M] is much more optimized for thin, fanless systems.”
Tablets with Core M could be priced as low as US$699, but the initial batch of detachable tablets introduced at IFA are priced much higher. Lenovo’s 11.6-inch ThinkPad Helix 2 starts at $999, Dell’s 13.3-inch Latitude 13 7000 starts at $1,199, and Hewlett-Packard’s 13.3-inch Envy X2 starts at $1,049.99. The products are expected to ship in September or October.
Core M was also shown in paper-thin prototype tablets running Windows and Android at the Computex trade show in June. PC makers have not expressed interest in building Android tablets with Core M, but the OS can be adapted for the chips, Cummins said.
The dual-core chips draw as little as 4.5 watts, making it the lowest-power Core processor ever made by Intel. The clock speeds start at 800MHz when running in tablet mode, and scales up to 2.6GHz when running PC applications.
The power and performance characteristics make Core M relevant primarily for tablets. The chips are not designed for use in full-fledged PCs, Cummins said.
“If you are interested in the highest-performing parts, Core M probably isn’t the exact right choice. But if you are interested in that mix of tablet form factor, detachable/superthin form factor, this is where the Core M comes into play,” Cummins said.
For full-fledged laptops, users could opt for the upcoming fifth-generation Core processor, also based on Broadwell, Cummins said. Those chips are faster and will draw 15 watts of power or more, and be in laptops and desktops early next year.
New features in Core M curbed power consumption, and Intel is claiming performance gains compared to chips based on the older Haswell architecture. Tablets could offer around two more hours of battery life with Core M.
“What we really care about is connecting everyone in the world,” Zuckerberg said at an event in Mexico City hosted by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
“Even if it means that Facebook has to spend billions of dollars over the next decade making this happen, I believe that over the long term its gonna be a good thing for us and for the world.”
Around 3 billion people will have access to the Internet by the end of 2014, according to International Telecommunications Union (ITU) statistics. Almost half that, 1.3 billion people, use Facebook.
Facebook, the world’s largest social networking company, launched its Internet.org project last year to connect billions of people without Internet access in places such as Africa and Asia by working with phone operators.
“I believe that … when everyone is on the Internet all of our businesses and economies will be better,” Zuckerberg said.
The tablet, which runs on Google’s Android 4.4 OS, has Intel’s quad-core Atom chip, code-named Bay Trail. The chip is capable of running PC-class applications and rendering high-definition video.
The 8-inch S8 offers 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution, which is also on Google’s 7-inch Nexus 7. The S8 is priced lower than the Nexus 7, which sells for $229.
The Tab S8 is 7.87 millimeters thick, weighs 294 grams, and runs for seven hours on a single battery charge. It has a 1.6-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel back camera. Other features include 16GB of storage, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. LTE is optional.
The Tab S8 will ship in multiple countries. Most of Lenovo’s tablets worldwide with screen sizes under 10 inches run on Android.
Lenovo also announced its largest gaming laptop. The Y70 Touch has a 17.3-inch touchscreen, and can be configured with Intel’s Core i7 processors and Nvidia’s GTX-860M graphics card. It is 25.9 millimeters thick and is priced starting at $1,299. It will begin shipping next month.
The company also announced Erazer X315 gaming desktop with Advanced Micro Devices processors code-named Kaveri. It can be configured with up to 32GB of DDR3 DRAM and 4TB of hard drive storage or 2TB of hybrid solid-state/hard drive storage. It will ship in November in the U.S. with prices starting at $599.
The products were announced ahead of the IFA trade show in Berlin. Lenovo is holding a press conference at IFA where it is expected to announce more products.
Competing forces are affecting humans who staff help or service desks. One is that tools to automate IT support are continually improving, and advocates say those tools can replace Level 1 and 2 support staff. At the same time, the number of help desk tickets is rising each year, and that puts more demand on the service desk.
These crosscurrents in the industry make it hard to predict the fate of some IT jobs. A Pew survey, released in August, of nearly 1,900 experts found a clear split on what the future may bring: 52% of the respondents said tech advances will not displace more jobs than they create by 2025, but 48% said they will.
Either way, a push toward automation is certain. In the help desk industry, the goal is to keep as many calls as possible at either Level 0, which is self-help, or Level 1. It’s called “shift-left” in the industry.
“It costs way more to have a Level 3 or Level 2 person to resolve an issue, and it also takes a lot more time,” said Roy Atkinson, an analyst at HDI, formerly known as the Help Desk Institute. To keep costs down, help desks are increasingly turning to automation and relying on improvements in technologies such as natural language processing, he said.
A Level 1 worker will take an initial call, suggest a couple of fixes, and then — lacking the skill or authority to do much more — escalate the issue. The Level 2 worker can do field repair work and may have specific application knowledge. A Level 3 escalation might involve working directly with application developers, while Level 4 means taking the problem outside to a vendor.
Among the companies developing automation tools is New York-based IPsoft, a 15-year old operation with more than 2,000 employees. It develops autonomic technology and couples it with management services.
A majority of IT infrastructure will eventually be “managed by expert systems, not by human beings,” said Frank Lansink, IPsoft’s CEO for the European Union. The company says its technology can now eliminate 60% of the labor required to handle infrastructure tasks.
The social network is responding to a firestorm of user anger that erupted when it appeared that Facebook was forcing people to load its Messenger app in a veiled attempt to usurp their privacy.
Now Facebook is trying to set the record straight.
“You might have heard the rumors going around about the Messenger app,” Facebook said in a message to users that popped up on the network’s mobile app. “Some have claimed that the app is always using your phone’s camera and microphone to see and hear what you’re doing. These reports aren’t true, and many have been corrected. Still, we want to address some concerns you might have.”
The message is one way Facebook is trying to spread the word about Messenger.
“We’re testing ways of explaining Messenger to people, and as part of that, a percentage of people will receive this notice,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in an email to Computerworld. “We felt it was important to offer more information, particularly in light of false reports that have spread over the last couple of weeks.”
The trouble started earlier this month when users first complained that Facebook was making them use a separate app to send messages, photos and videos to their friends via their mobile devices.
Matters heated up when reports surfaced alleging that Facebook could use the app to surreptitiously take over users’ smartphones to take photos or even make phone calls.
Much of the confusion stemmed from reviews of the app in the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store.
On Google Play, a user identified as Ty Owen wrote, “Look very closely at the permissions before downloading. The permissions state they can make calls and send texts without you even knowing. By doing this it will cost you money and god noes [sic] what other info they are getting.”
The problem snowballed and the rumors spread, leading some users to either not download Messenger or to uninstall it.
According to Facebook, those comments do not reflect reality.
“If you want to send a selfie to a friend, the app needs permission to turn on your phone’s camera and capture that photo,” the company said in its message to users. “We don’t turn on your camera or microphone when you aren’t using the app.”
After four years of double- and triple-digit growth, worldwide tablet shipments this year will grow by just 6.5% over last year, according to IDC. The research firm had previously forecast 12.1% growth.
The tablet market is maturing and long-term trends are becoming clearer, said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets.
More money is being spent on cheap laptops, smartphones or wearables, and people are keeping tablets longer than expected, Bouchard said.
“We originally thought the [ownership cycle] was two years. We realized it was closer to three years,” he said.
In addition, users aren’t discarding older tablets and are instead handing them down to their kids.
Meanwhile, laptop prices are also coming down fast, and putting pricing pressure on tablets, especially in Europe, Bouchard said.
In the last month a plethora of sub-$250 tablets running Microsoft Windows 8.1 with Bing started shipping. Microsoft is helping PC makers build cheap laptops to battle threats from Chromebooks, Android and iOS and is offering the OS royalty free.
Interest is swaying in the direction of smaller-screen tablets, and those looking for larger screens are moving to laptops, Bouchard said.
“As you move up in screen size, you move towards productivity. The keyboard is becoming more important,” Bouchard said.
Tablet shipments will continue to grow in emerging markets, at a 12% rate, driven by small screen, low-cost tablets from Chinese companies. Shipments in mature markets, where buyers are moving to larger-screen devices, remain flat.
Buyers are increasingly considering wearables and smartphones versus tablets, but more data generated by small-screen devices could ultimately help tablet shipments, Bouchard said.
“Long to medium term, it’s a positive thing, it creates a halo effect, it will generate more data, and you’ll need more screen to visualize the data,” Bouchard said.
IDC’s tablet forecast also accounts for 2-in-1 devices, which can be used as laptops or tablets.