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AT&T Plans To Launch 5G Wireless Service Later This Year

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

The next generation of cellular technology will deliver a massive boost in speed, more ubiquitous coverage and a responsiveness quick enough to handle remote surgery or autonomous vehicles. It’s supposed to the fuel that drives all other innovations at CES 2018. Despite the numerous company announcements and field trials from the wireless industry, we don’t seem to be that much closer to 5G, which is widely expected to roll out in a big way by 2019.

AT&T is hoping to speed up the timetable. The company said on Thursday that it plans to launch its mobile 5G network in a dozen markets in late 2018, along with a single device able to tap into that network. This is different from Verizon’s plan to offer 5G service as a replacement for home broadband service this year — AT&T’s 5G will look more like the typical cellular service you enjoy now.

If it meets its deadline, AT&T would be the first carrier in the US to launch a mobile 5G service, which has the ability to eventually transform our world through broader, faster and more reliable coverage. The promised speeds are far faster than what most people can get at home (download a season’s worth of “Stranger Things” in seconds), but 5G will also better power the growing family of connected devices in our lives. The launch of 4G gave us Uber, Snapchat and live-streaming video — 5G potentially opens the door even wider to new innovations.

That promise has the carriers engaged in a war of words over 5G. Verizon struck first in 2015 by saying it would the first to launch field trials of 5G, and is on track to deliver a type of fixed 5G service later this year. T-Mobile has mocked both Verizon and AT&T has fueling the hype and potentially disappointing customers. Now AT&T is looking up the timeline again.

AT&T, however, is light on details. Gordon Mansfield, vice president of radio access network and device design for AT&T, said that while there would be a single type of device able to tap into the 5G network, he wouldn’t comment on what the gadget would look like. Whatever the form, the device is expected to use 4G for most of its normal connection, and switch to 5G when the extra speed is appropriate — think a download, live-streaming video or another bandwidth-intensive app.

He also declined to say which markets would get 5G coverage. The company has rolled out the confusingly named “5G Evolution” markets over the past year — cities with the infrastructure for higher wireless speeds, but isn’t actually 5G. The company calls 5G Evolution the foundation for 5G, although Mansfield wouldn’t say if one of the 23 metro areas would be in the dozen 5G markets.

Here’s a list of the “5G Evolution” markets: Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Fresno, California; Greenville, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Louisville; Memphis; Nashville; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Tulsa and Sacramento, California.

Spotify Being Sued for Nearly $2B Over Copyright Infringement

January 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Music streaming company Spotify is bing sued by Wixen Music Publishing Inc. Allegations include using thousands of songs, including those of Tom Petty, Neil Young and the Doors, without a license and compensation to the music publisher.

Wixen, an exclusive licensee of songs such as “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty, “Light My Fire” by the Doors, “(Girl We Got a) Good Thing” by Weezer and works of singers such as Stevie Nicks, is seeking damages worth at least $1.6 billion along with injunctive relief.

Spotify failed to get a direct or a compulsory license from Wixen that would allow it to reproduce and distribute the songs, Wixen said in the lawsuit, filed in a California federal court.

Wixen also alleged that Spotify outsourced its work to a third party, licensing and royalty services provider the Harry Fox Agency, which was “ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses”.

Spotify declined to comment.

In May, the Stockholm, Sweden-based company agreed to pay more than $43 million to settle a proposed class action alleging it failed to pay royalties for some of the songs it makes available to users.

Spotify, which is planning a stock market listing this year, has grown around 20 percent in value to at least $19 billion in the past few months.

 

Will The Need For A.I. Researchers Slow Down The Progress

December 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A new report from Chinese tech giant Tencent said that there are only 300,000 “AI researchers and practitioners” worldwide, but the “market demand” is for millions of roles.

The report confirms what tech giants have been complaining about – apparently an AI engineer can demand a high salary for her or his skills. Those with a few years’ experience can expect base pay of between $300,000 and $500,000 while the very best can collect millions.

One independent AI lab said that there were only 10,000 individuals worldwide with the right skills to spearhead serious new AI projects.

Tencent’s new “2017 Global AI Talent White Paper” suggests the bottleneck here is education. It estimates that 200,000 of the 300,000 active researchers are already employed in various industries – not just tech – while the remaining 100,000 are still studying.

Attendance in machine learning and AI courses has rocketed in recent years, as has enrollment in online courses, but there is obviously a lag as individuals complete their education.

The report also speculates about the global competition to develop and deploy AI skilled. Experts in the US warning that America is falling behind rivals like China in the so-called global AI race.

The report itself identifies the US, China, Japan, and UK as key players, with Israel and Canada also warranting mentions. Canada, it says, has strong educational background (which has attracted many big companies to launch research labs there), while the UK is best on the “ethical and legal aspects” of AI, and Japan takes the lead in robotics.

The US is currently “far ahead” in terms of global talent, with more universities teaching machine learning and related subjects than any other nation, and more AI startups. The downside is that the US education system only teaches the rich (or the poor on sporting scholarships) who are not always the most intelligent nor the most numerous.

This means that eventually the US will eventually lose its lead to China.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Exploring Acquisition of Shazam

December 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple Inc is holding negotiations to acquire Shazam Entertainment Ltd, whose software helps users identify songs by pointing their phone at an audio source, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Shazam’s smartphone app is already tightly integrated with Apple’s Siri digital assistant. Users of Apple’s iPhone with the Shazam app installed can say: “Hey Siri, what’s that song?” and the app will identify it. But Shazam has other features, such as the ability to identify television shows, that do not yet work with Siri.

Tech news website TechCrunch reported the talks earlier, writing that Apple could pay about $400 million for Shazam and that a deal could be signed as early as next week.

Shazam did not respond to a request for comment.

Privately-held, UK-based Shazam has raised $143 million from DN Capital Limited, Institutional Venture Partners, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, among others, over its 18-year history, according to PitchBook, a firm that tracks private venture investments.

The price TechCrunch reported would fall far below Shazam’s most recent $1 billion valuation reported by PitchBook.

An acquisition of Shazam could help bolster Apple’s music efforts by making it easier for users to find songs and add them to playlists in its Apple Music service. As of mid-2017, Apple Music had 27 million subscribers, behind rival music streaming service Spotify’s 60 million users.

Apple’s iOS 11.2 Adds Apple Pay Cash

December 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s new iOS 11.2 software update became available on Saturday, adding Apple Pay Cash and faster wireless charging to supported iPhones.

For anyone with an iPhone 6 or later, the update’s Apple Pay Cash feature opens up the ability to send cash to friends and family over iMessage. While I didn’t see the feature immediately turned on after updating my own iPhone to iOS 11.2, when it does appear it should work similarly to Paypal’s Venmo service.

Anyone with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X can look forward to faster wireless charging, with the update release specifically noting improvements when using third-party chargers. That’s pretty much every Qi wireless charger currently out, as Apple’s own AirPower charging mat is planned for a 2018 release.

Other improvements and fixes listed by Apple include:

  • Improves video camera stabilization
  • Adds support in Podcasts to automatically advance to the next episode from the same show
  • Adds support in HealthKit for downhill snow sports distance as a data type
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Mail to appear to be checking for new messages even when a download is complete
  • Fixes an issue that could cause cleared Mail notifications from Exchange accounts to reappear
  • Improves stability in Calendar
  • Resolves an issue where Settings could open to a blank screen
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent swiping to Today View or Camera from the Lock Screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent Music controls from displaying on the Lock Screen
  • Fixes an issue that could cause app icons to be arranged incorrectly on the Home Screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent users from deleting recent photos when iCloud storage is exceeded
  • Addresses an issue where Find My iPhone sometimes wouldn’t display a map
  • Fixes an issue in Messages where the keyboard could overlap the most recent message
  • Fixes an issue in Calculator where typing numbers rapidly could lead to incorrect results
  • Addressed an issue where the keyboard could respond slowly
  • Adds support for real-time text (RTT) phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Improves VoiceOver stability in Messages, Settings, App Store and Music
  • Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from announcing incoming Notifications

Apple Delays Launch of HomePod Smart Speaker

November 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc has delayed the launch of its HomePod smart speaker, pushing it to early next year from December, the company said, missing the holiday shopping season as the market for such devices becomes increasingly competitive.

“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod … but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the U.S., UK and Australia in early 2018,” an Apple spokeswoman said via email.

 Apple introduced the voice-controlled HomePod in June. The speaker, which can make music suggestions and adjust home temperatures, takes aim at Amazon.com Inc’s Alexa feature and Echo devices.

Apple has forecast between $84 billion and $87 billion in revenue for the holiday – mostly driven by sales of its $999 iPhone X – so it’s unlikely that missing a few weeks of sales of its $349 speaker will affect its financial results, Bob O‘Donnell, founder of Technalysis Research, said.

People use voice assistants more often on smart speakers than on phones, so even if owners of Amazon or Google speakers also have an iPhone, there’s a good chance that they’re talking to Alexa or Google Assistant as much or more than Siri.

“Last holiday season, smart speakers were huge, and this season they’re going to be huge,” O‘Donnell said. With Apple’s delay, “there will now be some people who make a different choice. The market’s getting more and more competitive.”

Apple is also counting on HomePod to boost subscriptions to Apple Music and block the rise of rival Spotify. Smart speakers from Google and Amazon let users give voice commands to play Spotify, but Apple Music does not work on the rival devices.

Apple’s main pitch for its HomePod smart speakers was superior audio quality, but that advantage appears to be slipping: Sonos, which also pitches its speakers’ audio quality for music lovers, now features support for the Alexa voice assistant.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced the Echo Plus, a smart speaker with better audio quality, and Google confirmed to Reuters that its Home Max speaker with improved speakers will ship in December, though it has not given a specific date.

 But Apple could still have a surprise or two in store. The company gave scant details about its speaker in June, leaving it room to announce exclusive music content or other unexpected features, said Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner.

“When HomePod comes out, you’ll probably hear some great content from artists that are familiar and popular, and there’s probably going to be some other special aspects as well,” he said.

Qualcomm To Power Alibaba

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm and Alibaba have ported Alibaba Cloud Link One to run on the Qualcomm MDM9206 global multi-mode LTE IoT modem.

This is all part of a cunning plan to allow developers to quickly develop and deploy solutions that connect with the Alibaba Cloud using LTE IoT connectivity and client software running directly on the LTE system-on-chip (SoC).

Qualcomm pre-integrated the Alibaba Cloud Link One on to the MDM9206 modem, so that module manufacturers and IoT Tight and cost-effective integration between edge devices and the cloud.

The porting fixes a vast array of the existing and emerging LTE IoT use cases, including smart transportation (e.g. bike sharing), smart cities, as well as industrial IoT applications in areas such as smart grid, smart metering (e.g. electricity, gas, water), asset tracking and more.

It means that Qualcomm will have a foot in the door as more of our hardware becomes sentient and cloud based.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Echo Users Lean Towards Apple, Study Says

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

What does your choice of smart speaker reveal about your other preferences?

If you choose a Google Home speaker, does that mean you drift Android-ward? And what if you bought an Amazon Echo?

Well, let me tell you. I have just been made smarter by a piece of research from securities intelligence consultancy Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

It chatted with 300 Amazon Echo and Google Homeowners between July 11 and 27.

It concluded that those who own an Echo — which reminds me of the result of an ill-starred relationship between an air-purifier and a lipstick — have a penchant for Cupertino.

Of those surveyed, 55 percent of Echo users have an iPhone. The remainder have Android. Conversely, 75 percent of those who bought the oversized salt cellar known as Google Home are committed to Android phones.

Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP, insisted in a press release that the proportion of iPhone owners among Echo users was higher than the phone’s share of the US market. That stands at roughly 34 percent.

As for the proportion of Android users among Homeowners, that was merely consistent with Android’s share of the US phone market, he said. (Numbers vary as to how big Android’s share is. Some place it at around the 55 percent mark.)

Lowitz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

When it comes to tablets, Echo owners also skew toward Apple, says the research. 49 percent have an iPad, while 25 percent own an Amazon Fire tablet.

Vimeo Acquires Livestream

September 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Video-sharing website Vimeo announced intentions to acquire live video-streaming service Livestream and launch a new streaming service called Vimeo Live.

IAC-owned Vimeo didn’t disclose financial details for the acquisition of the Brooklyn-based company, which says it serves up live videos to 50 million viewers from customers such as Spotify and Dow Jones. Once the deal closes, Livestream’s technology will be integrated with Vimeo, allowing users to capture and stream live events.

“With the launch of Vimeo Live and the addition of Livestream’s impressive team and innovative product suite, we can empower a diverse range of creators to produce beautiful live experiences with professionalism and ease,” Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud said in a statement.

The acquisition makes possible a dramatic expansion for Vimeo, often known as a highbrow YouTube.

Like Google’s video site, Vimeo lets people upload clips. But its early dedication to high picture quality and its ban on video ads meant it was more likely to host film-festival fodder than cat clips.

The new direction comes on the heels of Vimeo shelving plans to launch its own video subscription site with original content. The site said in November it would help its creator community develop original content, and supplement it with licensed programming. Vimeo said in June it had abandoned those plans.

Will China Become The Leader In A.I.

September 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The CEO of China-based Horizon Robotics, Yu Kai, claims that China could become very important in the development of AI chips.

While it has been late to arrive in the PC processor world, that era is about to come to an end with the death of Moore’s law. Instead computers will obtain speed from AI chips and China is better equipped to develop these Yu claims.

Talking to the assembled throngs at the Artificial Intelligence Summit (CAIS) 2017, Yu said his company has set up an AI research and development center in Nanjing, focusing on developing embedded AI solutions for smart driving, smart living and smart cities.

Since the China government released a plan to promote new-generation AI development in early July 2017, all related sectors in the country have been gearing up for the development of AI technologies and applications, Yu said.

Yu said Moore’s Law was entering a new stage, featuring a gradual swift of logical computing to smart computing, with dedicated AI processors needed to handle smart computing and constituting a new business field which China firms can tap into.

China was also benefiting from the movement of computing from the center to the edge. Computing in the PC era was done locally, then massive computing was channeled through browsers and done in the cloud, and now cloud computing is moving slowly to terminal computing along with the Internet progressing to mobile network and then to Internet of Everything (IoE).

In the AI era, massive computing needs mainly come from the terminal side, but cloud computing could hardly satisfy the requirements for real-time and low latency computing as well as better user experience by the terminal side, Yu said.

The next thing which will happen is that edge computing technology will facilitate much faster, higher-volume AI computing. China boasts a great opportunity for developing embedded AI processors and algorithms, which can be applied to grant intelligence to terminal sensors and lenses used in self-driving cars and smart cities.

He said that Horizon Robotics was developing an embedded AI processor that features an extremely low power consumption of only 2W and is two to three times faster than its best counterpart available now in computing performance, yet at a cost of only one twentieth, according to Yu.

Courtesy-Fud

Will A.I. Replace Teachers

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

There are probably schools where any machines, including PCs and laptops, are regularly stolen because the kids have gone all Lord of the Flies. Things are probably not like that at Wellington College, which is where the prediction has come from.

In a report in The Independent, Sir Anthony Sheldon waxed lyrical about the potential and possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated teachers.

“School teachers will lose their traditional role and effectively become little more than classroom assistants” reports the paper.

“They will remain on hand to set up equipment, help children when necessary and maintain discipline.”

This sounds a bit like current teaching, where a television, overhead projector or computer can be wheeled into a classroom and turned on and left to teach.

Sheldon is convinced about this and is excited about the possibility of every kid getting the kind of education that money pays for.

“It certainly will change human life as we know it. It will open up the possibility of an Eton or Wellington education for all. Everyone can have the very best teacher and it’s completely personalised; the software you’re working with will be with you throughout your education journey. It can move at the speed of the learner,” he said.

“This is beyond anything that we’ve seen in the industrial revolution or since with any other new technology. These are adaptive machines that adapt to individuals. They will listen to the voices of the learners, read their faces and study them in the way gifted teachers study their students.

“We’re looking at screens which are listening to the voice of the student and reading the face of the student. Reading and comprehending.”

Courtesy-TheInq

YuMi Robot Conducts Italian Symphony

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

YuMi the humanoid robot showed that it was indeed up to the task on Tuesday night as it raised its baton to conduct the Lucca Philharmonic orchestra alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

The two-armed robot, designed by Swiss firm ABB, made its debut at Pisa’s Verdi Theatre to mark the First International Festival of Robotics in the Tuscan city.

“We basically had to find time to understand his movements. When we found the way, everything was pretty easy,” said the orchestra’s resident conductor, Andrea Colombini.

“It is absolutely fantastic. And the technicians were fantastic just to make everything perfect, especially in the length and in the speed of the gesture, which is very important,” he said.

YuMi, whose name is derived from the phrase ‘you and me’, was taught all the movements by Colombini, who held its arms in rehearsals so the computer could memorize the correct gestures. The robot is not able to improvise and any unexpected change in tempo from the musicians would have been ruinous.

The robot conducted three of the 18 pieces performed on Tuesday night, including the famous aria La Donna e’ Mobile, from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto.

Deezer Takes On Giants Of Music Streaming

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

From Brazilian gospel to Puerto Rican reggaeton and Dutch hip-hop, music streaming company Deezer is making waves all over the globe looking for markets where it can survive and thrive against Spotify and Apple.

The French firm has little hope of success going toe-to-toe with its far bigger rivals in the mass-market realms inhabited by the likes of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

Instead, it is focusing on local music genres in fast-growing, often non-English language markets, areas where it believes it can steal a march. It is targeting local listeners while also looking to position itself for a global audience as a “cool”, non-mainstream alternative.

As part of this strategy, launched this year and called Deezer Next, it is dispatching local teams of “editors” to identify talent in niche genres and create original content, Netflix-style.

The aim is not only to differentiate its catalog but also to reduce its reliance on the record labels that take the lion’s share of streaming services’ revenue. It has 40 editors globally and is looking to recruit more.

Deezer Chief Executive Hans-Holger Albrecht said he would target selected markets in Latin America, Asia, and Africa where Spotify was not already predominant. They include Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, Colombia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.

“I strongly believe in the localization of content,” he told Reuters. “While Spotify is mainly playlist-focused, we are betting on local differentiation, and this has helped us become number one in gospel in Brazil.”

But finding a path to profit represents a formidable task for the loss-making company.

It has a similar “freemium” to market leader Spotify, whereby it attracts users by offering advert-supported free access and charges a monthly fee of about $10 for the full service. However, it has only 12 million active users – about 9 million paying – compared with Spotify’s 60 million paying subscribers, and brings in just a tenth of the Swedish firm’s $3 billion annual revenue.

Deezer, controlled by billionaire investor Len Blavatnik, is nonetheless sinking tens of millions of euros into this local music drive. Its strategy is based on a bet that music streaming will continue to grow rapidly to eventually eclipse all other forms of music listening.

The paid streaming market is expected to grow 16 percent to $28 billion by 2030 in terms of annual revenue, according to Goldman Sachs

“Streaming is a very young market, with just about 10 percent penetration globally, so there is a lot of potential still,” said Albrecht.

Is Sony Facing Another Class Action Lawsuit

August 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

A US Federal Court has approved a class action lawsuit against Sony for ‘deceptively advertising’ its Xperia smartphones and tablets as “waterproof”. 

The lawsuit, first reported on by The Verge, alleges that Sony’s Xperia devices have been misrepresented as “waterproof” as they are not designed for or capable of ordinary underwater use and are more on the “water-resistant” level of protection.

“Sony exploited certain international water resistance ratings in order to launch a deceptive marketing campaign promoting the devices,” the lawsuit claims. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Sony’s dodgy “waterproof claims”. Back in 2015, the Japanese firm warned buyers of its Xperia Z5 that, despite having advertised the smartphone as ‘waterproof’, getting it wet could void the warranty.

The class action seeks a 12-month warranty extension for recently purchased devices or a reimbursement of up to 50 per cent off the affected device’s suggested retail price, which means owners of an Xperia Z4 Tablet, for example, could receive a $300 reimbursement.

However, The Verge notes that “this may not be the final value the company is liable to refund”, as Sony will still need to settle with the court again on 1 December and agree on final terms.

The lawsuit is also calling for Sony to make changes to its packing, labelling and advertising. 

Devices included in the class action include the Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z3 Tablet, Compact Xperia Z4 Tablet, Xperia M2 Aqua, Xperia M4 Aqua, Xperia ZR Xperia Z Ultra Xperia Z1, Z1s, Z1 Compact Xperia Z2 Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3+, Xperia Z3+ Dual, Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Compact.

The class action only applies to customers in the US. Those eligible and interested in taking part of the claim can sign up here by 30 January 2018. Affected customers will need to have a record of their interactions with Sony or they will not be eligible.

Courtesy-TheInq

New Mazda, Toyota Vehicles To Share Infotainment System

August 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Future Mazda and Toyota vehicles will share the same infotainment underpinnings as part of a joint development effort between the two automakers, Nikkei reports. Toyota first developed the Linux-based guts of its new Entune 3.0 infotainment system, but it brought in Mazda for additional streamlining because of a lack of software developers in Japan’s auto industry.

The system will first reach the public by way of the 2018 Toyota Camry, which is already on sale in the US. It should land in Mazda’s stable when the redesigned Mazda3 debuts in the near future, although that has not been officially confirmed. Nikkei claims other vehicles from these manufacturers will receive the updated platform in stages.

Now, bear in mind this doesn’t refer to the whole infotainment system, this only covers the platform off which it’s built. Mazda’s version will undoubtedly look different, and each company will be responsible for developing the features and applications that will live in each system.

Both systems, though, will be able to make use of Toyota’s new Wi-Fi hotspot, which utilizes a cellular network connection to deliver over-the-air updates and new apps without requiring the owner to provide the connection. Toyota’s hotspot can accommodate up to five devices simultaneously on the 2018 Camry.

While this new infotainment system will be rather flexible thanks to a library of available third-party apps like Slacker or Pandora, it should be noted that the system still does not support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — or, at least it doesn’t on the 2018 Toyota Camry. Hopefully that will change with other models, but Toyota has a historical aversion to this sort of phone mirroring.

 

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