The smartphone company in Waterloo, Ontario, said in a statement over the weekend that it had decided to consolidate its device software, hardware and applications business, “impacting a number of employees around the world.”
The company said that as it moves into the next stage of its turnaround, it aims to reallocate resources in ways that will “best enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all facets of our business.”
The company had 6,225 full-time employees as of Feb. 28 this year, the end of its last fiscal year.
BlackBerry launched in the fiscal year four new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, including the Classic, Passport, Z3 and the Porsche Design P’9983, but the share of the BlackBerry OS has been on the decline, and was 0.3 percent of the market in the first quarter of this year, according to research firm IDC.
The company is trying to expand in new businesses beyond devices, such as enterprise markets and security. It launched, for example, BES12, a cross-platform enterprise mobility management technology, and announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics to integrate BES12 with Galaxy smartphones and tablets that are embedded with Samsung’s Knox security technology. It also unveiled the BlackBerry IoT Platform, initially targeting the automotive and asset tracking industries, in a bid to get a share of the market for small wirelessly-connected devices.
BlackBerry said in March it was completing its transition to an operating unit organizational structure consisting of the device business, enterprise services, business technology and messaging, as it builds its higher margin businesses.
The Lenovo Z51 is a 15-inch Windows 8.1 notebook that’s meant to be both a workstation and a home entertainment center, the company said Wednesday. The PC also has room to fit an optional RealSense camera, which can offer gesture controls like ones found in Microsoft’s Kinect gaming device.
The Z51 has a 1080p display, and can be configured to have up to a fifth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of HDD or SSHD (solid-state and hard drive combination) memory. It weighs 2.3 kilograms (approximately 5 pounds) and offers 4 hours of battery life. It can be upgraded to include an AMD R9-M375 graphics card.
The Z51 has a smaller sibling called the Z41 that has a 14-inch screen, but no support for Intel’s RealSense camera. Both products will have a starting price at $499.
But the Z51, when configured with the RealSense Camera, and equipped with a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, will start at $599.
Consumers wanting an even cheaper alternative can look at Lenovo’s ideapad 100, which the PC maker also introduced on Wednesday.
The ideapad 100, comes in both 14 and 15-inch display versions, and will start at $249. The affordable laptop runs an Intel BayTrail-M N3540 processor, which has four cores. It can have up to 128GB of SSD (solid-state drive) memory, runs Windows 8.1 and has a 1366 by 768 screen.
It has a battery life of 4 hours, and the 15-inch version weighs 2.3 kg, while the 14-inch version comes at 1.9 kg (approximately 4.2 pounds). The SSD memory can also be swapped for 500GB of HDD memory.
Canadian wearable tech company Recon is on the verge of being bought by Intel.
The dark satanic rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which suggests that Intel wants the Vancouver-based startup, which builds heads-up displays and other sports products.
In 2013 Intel Capital, made a “significant investment” in the company which supported Recon’s product development, marketing, and global sales expansion.
At the time Mike Bell Intel’s Vice President and General Manager of the New Devices Group said that Recon Instruments had compelling technology and a solid strategy to capitalize on the wearable revolution.
It looks like he was right. Recon has been quietly cornered the sport and outdoor wearable HUD market since its first product launch in 2010.
Now it seems that all the risk has gone out of it, and the outfit has some sensible tech, Intel can set about writing a check for the firm.
The OS will be in the spotlight at Google’s massive I/O conference in San Francisco later this week. As well as pushing into home appliances, it could also be extended to play a deeper role in virtual reality, allowing Android developers to build apps for smartphones or VR headsets.
Google hasn’t confirmed any of those plans yet, but as usual, the rumor mill has been in motion. Extending Android to even more devices could help Google draw more people to its online services, and by putting the software in home appliances, Google could gather further valuable insights into people’s behavior.
Google already has its Works with Nest program, which lets appliances talk to its thermostat and smoke alarm for certain energy-related tasks. But according to a report last week in The Information, Google is developing new technology called Brillo that will run on low-powered devices independent of Nest with as little as 64MB or 32MB of memory.
That means just about any appliance around the home — the lights, the air conditioner, a Crock-Pot — could be running Brillo and hooked up to the Web, so you could control them remotely from a smartphone or a PC. It’s a well-worn path that Microsoft and many other vendors also are treading, as they try to provide software and connectivity for tomorrow’s Internet of Things.
At I/O, Google may also push Android deeper into virtual reality. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was developing a VR version of Android.
There will likely be a version of Android that runs virtual reality applications. Such a system could make it easier for developers to use the sensors and other capabilities in smartphones to create VR apps, or else support multiple displays for an immersive experience. The Google I/O schedule lists some sessions focused on designing and developing VR apps.
For years people have been moaning that Firefox keeps taking their RAM and refusing to give it back, well now it appears that Chrome suffers from a similar problem.
Chrome creates a new process for each tab and instance of the browser opened. This can make the browser sluggish on some machines and a battery life nightmare for mobile users.
However Google is aware of the problem and is coming up with a fix, Speaking during a Reddit AMA session a Chrome for Android engineer said: “We are actively working on reducing battery usage and we are looking into when Chrome is in the foreground and in the background.”
“Since its inception Chrome has been focusing on security and performance of the web across all supported platforms. Performance sometimes has come at the cost of resource usage, but given the importance of the mobile platform this is one of the top things we are looking into.”
On the desktop side, Google is currently trying to fight memory leaks: “We are profiling Chrome to improve our start-up speed and proactively fighting memory bloat and memory leaks. For example, this year the first gesture latency and mean input latency has decreased steadily.”
The Openstack Framework is rapidly maturing into a business IT platform that is ready for enterprise-grade deployment, according to firms involved in the OpenStack community, including Intel which announced a technology called Clear Containers to secure containerized apps.
The OpenStack Foundation lined up a succession of organisations and vendors at the first OpenStack Summit of 2015 that are working to improve the platform or are already successfully operating it.
Some are using it on massive scale. eBay disclosed that its infrastructure already contains over 300,000 processor cores managed by OpenStack.
The message from many of those using and helping to develop OpenStack is that the platform has come a long way since it started as a joint project between Nasa and Rackspace back in 2010, and has become stable and mature enough for production purposes in a wide variety of use cases.
However, there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to areas like setting up and updating an OpenStack cloud, according to Imad Sousou, general manager of Intel’s Open Source Technology Centre.
“At Intel, we believe that software-defined infrastructure is the cornerstone of the modern data centre, and OpenStack is the cornerstone of software-defined infrastructure, but there is lot more work to do on it and a lot of sceptics out there,” he said.
Sousou compared OpenStack with Linux, which has taken 20 years or so to mature to the point where organisations can buy something like Red Hat Enterprise Linux which is easy to install and operate.
“We need to get to that level with OpenStack and software-defined infrastructure, and there is a lot of work going on in the community to get there,” he said.
Intel also detailed at the summit how the company is working to improve the security of containerised applications by using the VT-x extensions in its processors to enforce isolation between containers.
This is called Clear Containers, and is part of Intel’s Clear Linux, a lightweight operating system intended for data centre operations with technologies such as container platforms.
“Intel’s approach with Clear Containers offers enhanced protection using security rooted in hardware. By using virtualisation technology features [VT-x] embedded in the silicon, we can deliver the improved security and isolation advantages of virtualisation technology for a containerised application,” said Sousou.
In addition, Intel’s Clear Linux is able to launch a Clear Container in under 200ms, and able to run thousands of them on a single server node, according to Sousou.
Other firms discussing their involvement with OpenStack at the summit included Yahoo, which powers its online services with “hundreds of thousands” of servers managed by OpenStack.
US retail giant Walmart, meanwhile, disclosed that it has about 140,000 cores managed by OpenStack in the infrastructure used to operate its e-commerce platform.
“As production scenarios go, it doesn’t get much more serious than Walmart on Black Friday,” commented OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce.
According to Digitimes, heading into the second quarter of 2015, Taiwan touch panel makers have sudden got conservative outlooks and some are even predicting that their revenues will drop another 15-20 per cent.
he reason is that consumers don’t want game changing tablets and despite the claim that they are moving over to phablets instead the smartphone market is still pretty pants.
While Taiwan’s overall shipments are expected to grow in the second quarter, with makers expected to ship 41.579 million smartphone-use touch panels, increasing 23.5 per cent on quarter but decreasing 22.3 per cent on year. The 8.941 million tablet-use units, are up 7.2 per cent on quarter but down 15 per cent on year.
Tablet makers are hurting the most. Those who focus on the application such as TPK are expected to see a 15-20 per cent decline in revenues during the second quarter before rebounding in the second half of the year when product mixes are adjusted and new orders from customers arrive.
Young Fast Optoelectronics company chairman Pai Chih-chiang said that they were also having to face price competition and this will get worse.
Young Fast aims to reduce spending and cut costs in order to react to this trend, which arose largely due to competition from China. The company will also focus on developing larger-size products in addition to wearable solutions while increasing utilization rates, said Pai, adding it will lower its emphasis on consumer-based products.
Reform Government Surveillance, an organization that represents technology giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft, is pushing the U.S. Senate not to delay reform of National Security Agency surveillance by extending expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.
The House of Representatives voted 338-88 last week to approve the USA Freedom Act that would, among other things, stop the controversial bulk collection of phone records of Americans by the NSA, including by placing restrictions on the search terms used to retrieve the records.
The bill has run into opposition in the Senate from some Republican members who are backing renewal of the current Section 215 of the Patriot Act that provides the legal framework for the phone data collection.
The urgency for Congress to pass legislation comes from the upcoming expiration on June 1 of certain parts of the Patriot Act, including Section 215. Under a so-called “sunset” clause, the provisions will lapse unless reauthorized in the same or modified form by legislation.
A bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020. To apparently buy time as pressure builds for reform, another bill has been placed on the Senate calendar to extend Section 215 and other expiring provisions in the current form up to July 31.
The technology companies said that the USA Freedom Act prevents the bulk collection of Internet metadata under various authorities, and provides for transparency about government demands for user information from technology companies, besides assuring that the appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms are in place.
Dropbox previously released its cloud storage service on Windows phones and tablets, and on Tuesday the company followed up with a universal app that expands the feature sets for both types of devices.
The update automatically adapts to the user’s screen size and delivers a number of new features, including the ability for Windows Phone users to upload videos directly from their devices.
In the interests of multitasking, Windows Phone users can also now upload multiple files at once. And they can download files straight to their device or SD card, making the information available for offline access; there’s a way to mark files as favorites for offline use as well.
The new update also brings the ability to save and open files to and from Dropbox while working within other apps.
On Windows tablets, Dropbox users can now invite new members to a shared folder from their contacts list and manage folder settings from their device. New keyboard shortcuts for selecting and searching enable a faster workflow.
Now available free for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.0 or 8.1, the software promises better performance as well, according to Dropbox.
Separately Tuesday, Dropbox rolled out new features for its main service that target designers and others who work frequently with images. Specifically, it debuted a new image viewer for better online previews as well as better support for Photoshop, Illustrator and scalable vector graphic files. Users can now also preview PostScript images in their browser rather than having to download them first.
China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, known for its telecom equipment, became the latest tech giant to present its own take on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), centered on an operating system designed to allow household and business appliances to communicate with each other online.
At an event in Beijing, Huawei executives showcased its “Agile IoT” architecture, including an operating system called LiteOS to control basic devices. This marks the firm’s most significant push into a sector that has lured heavyweights from Google Inc to Intel Corp and IBM into pushing their own standards and communication protocols.
Huawei executives touted Agile architecture as a free and open standard that would allow hardware designers to easily make connectable devices. Aside from its operating system, Huawei also showed off fully customizable wireless equipment that could be installed in business settings.
“Standardizing infrastructure will foster the development of Internet applications, including ‘IoT’ applications,” said Huawei’s chief strategy and marketing officer William Xu.
Huawei’s latest expansion comes at a time when consumer-oriented firms such as Xiaomi Inc and Apple Inc, anticipating an explosion of Internet-connected home appliances and consumer devices, have sought to build ecosystems around their popular handsets.
Last month, Tencent Holdings Ltd unveiled its own operating system for Internet-connected devices such as TVs and watches that is open to all developers, taking on domestic rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, JD.com Inc and Xiaomi Inc in the smart hardware space.
Scammers are running wild through British oil company networks without needing to use malware, according to Panda Security.
Hacking is not new, stealing information and data from firms is not new, but doing so without using malware is unusual.
Panda has dubbed the scam Operation Oil Tanker (PDF), which it said has made its way into systems through a socially engineered email and a lone staffer. The security firm said that antivirus systems failed to stop the attacks, but that its own demo software did.
Panda explained that a worker called Susan at a company called Black Gold Ltd was presented with an email on a Monday morning.
The email contained a 4MB attachment apparently related to the oil market which the employee clicked on and opened. While this could have been big trouble, it was not. Why? Because of Panda.
“Neither the mail server antivirus nor the antivirus on her workstation had
found anything anomalous in it. Susan double-clicked the attachment. A blank PDF opened,” the firm explained.
“1,700km away from Susan’s computer, an alarm was triggered. An unknown threat had just been detected and blocked when it tried to steal credentials from Susan’s computer and send them out.”
Panda, which was the blocker, said that there are some 250,000 malware threats a day, but that this one was special.
“There was something really unique about this threat: it didn’t use any kind of malware. That’s why we decided to call it the ‘Phantom Menace’,” it added.
Panda studied the incident, picking apart the email and its PDF and finding that it included an executable. That executable showed no suspicious behaviour, so was not picked up in regular scans. However, it ran a file called dcp.exe, which allows for file encryption.
Files are picked up at the target and sent to a remote location. Panda found files dating back to 2013, and reported that it had gone undetected for some six months. The scammer was able to use the information to fraudulently broker oil sales.
“In short, the scam works like this: the scammer contacts a broker/middleman and offers them a large amount of BLCO [Bonny Light Crude Oil], one to two million barrels, at a very competitive price,” said Panda.
“To close the deal, the buyer must pay a significant amount of money – from $50,000 to $100,000 – in advance. However, once they pay the money they
are met with the nasty surprise that there is no oil.”
Panda has contacted the Spanish National Guard with its evidence and discoveries.
The security firm said that the force has a good history in dealing with cybercrime, and has worked with Panda before. However, it added that no victims are prepared to come forward. Which does not help anyone.
The Openstack Foundation has announced new interoperability testing requirements for OpenStack-branded products and is claiming rapid adoption of the federated identity service introduced in the latest OpenStack release that makes it easier to combine private and public cloud resources.
Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce said at the first OpenStack Summit event of 2015 that the vision for the OpenStack project was to create a “global footprint of interoperable clouds” that would enable users to seamlessly mix and match resources from their own data centre with those of public cloud providers, delivering a so-called hybrid cloud model.
To this end, Bryce announced new interoperability testing requirements for products that are branded as ‘OpenStack Powered’, including public cloud and hosted private cloud services as well as OpenStack distributions.
“This is a big milestone and introduces common code in every distribution that brands itself as OpenStack, and common APIs that have been tested and validated,” he said.
In practice, this means that, along with an OpenStack Powered logo, products will carry a badge to show certification.
This currently applies only to some of the platform’s core modules, such as Nova (compute), Swift (object storage), Keystone (identity service) and the Glance image service.
But it is intended as a guarantee to users that a certified product contains a set of core services consistent with all other OpenStack products that are similarly certified.
Vendors already offering certified products include HP, IBM, Rackspace, Red Hat, Suse and Canonical, but the list is set to expand this year.
“During 2015, this will go across all products that are OpenStack. You will be able to know what you are getting in an OpenStack Powered product, and you will be able to count on those as your solid foundation for cloud,” Bryce said.
Meanwhile, the Kilo release of OpenStack, available since last month, added the Keystone service as a fully integrated module for the first time.
Despite this, OpenStack said that over 30 products and services in the OpenStack application catalogue support federated identify as of today, and that many OpenStack cloud providers have committed to supporting it by the end of this year.
Together, these two announcements are significant for OpenStack’s hybrid cloud proposition, as they will make it much easier to link a customer’s private cloud resources with those of a public cloud provider.
OpenStack Powered certification means that users can count on a consistent environment across the two, while Keystone provides a common authentication system that can integrate with directory services such as LDAP.
One company already taking advantage of this is high-tech post-production firm DigitalFilm Tree which has been working with HP and hosted private cloud firm Bluebox to build a totally cloud-based production system for film and TV content.
The firm demonstrated at the summit how the system enables footage to be captured and uploaded to one cloud, then transferred to another cloud for processing.
Bryce explained that this is just one example of how OpenStack is driving new use cases and expanding what people can do across a variety of industries.
“Interoperability means you can share your cloud footprint. It shows the power of the ‘OpenStack planet’ we are trying to build,” he said.
The Zenfone 2, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, starts at $199. It will began shipping on Tuesday with Google’s Android 5.0 mobile operating system.
A model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage goes for $299, while the $199 model has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The smartphone is shipping as an unlocked device, meaning it will work with multiple carriers.
It has an Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor code-named Moorefield and a PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, which is capable of handling 1080p video rendering.
The Zenfone 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as two SIM slots.
Asus wants to make a mark in the U.S, and with this smartphone it hopes to find an audience, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a press event in New York.
The ZenFone 2 is already shipping in 15 countries worldwide. For the U.S. market, Asus has tweaked the smartphone with some new features including a better LTE modem.
Other features include 802.11ac wireless and LTE-Advanced capabilities. The device supports carrier aggregation, and LTE data transfers can touch up to 250M bps (bits per second).
This is also a big product release for Intel. The Zenfone is the second smartphone in the U.S. that uses one of its chips. It’s also Intel’s first smartphone in the U.S. with the XMM 7260 LTE modem. An Intel chip is already being used on Asus’s Padfone X Mini, which is primarily a 4.5-inch smartphone that turns into a 7-inch tablet with an accessory.
Apple, which has been focusing efforts on beefing up its mapping technology since ditching Google Maps in 2012, has acquired Coherent Navigation, a startup offering a high-accuracy GPS navigation service.
Coherent’s navigation system is used in the Iridium satellite network, according to the LinkedIn profile of Paul Lego, who was CEO of the company before going to work for Apple. Coherent, which was founded in 2008 and is based in the San Francisco area, counts the U.S. government as a customer and had been aiming its technology at the mining, construction, energy and agriculture industries. Coherent had fewer than 10 employees, according to its LinkedIn page, which states that the company “has ceased operations.”
Coherent joins a string of businesses Apple has purchased in recent years to beef up its mapping service. Until 2012, Apple’s mapping technology was based on Google Maps. Other mapping and location companies Apple has acquired include PlaceBase, Locationary and BroadMap.
In a statement released to the media, Apple said it occasionally purchases small companies and doesn’t discuss its acquisition plans. The timing, price and terms of the deal, which was first reportedby MacRumors, weren’t disclosed.
However, several former Coherent executives became Apple employees in recent months. Coherent CEO Paul Lego began working at Apple in January while co-founders William Bencze and Brent Ledvina joined the company in April, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Lego is on the Maps Team and Bencze and Ledvina work on location technologies.
AT&T Inc is preparing to bring connected car users exclusive content such as videos and games that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, AT&T’s senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose said.
“It’s no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle,” Penrose said.
AT&T has signed up eight automaker partners, including General Motors Co, Audi AG and Ford Motor Co, to hook up cars with Internet access. The goal is to offer free or paid content exclusively for connected car users and sell more data, Penrose said in a recent interview.
AT&T is talking to its auto industry partners and content companies to bring new content like “special” shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said. This would be in addition to subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix that users can already stream on mobile devices.
Most Americans already own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning to connected cars and devices for growth. Besides being the essential pipes that deliver data, telecom players such as AT&T are looking to extract revenue from content.
GM has begun testing new content on its OnStar in-vehicle service best known for connecting drivers to live operators for directions or emergency help.
The subscription-based service, which also sells data to drivers, has special offers and some exclusive content on apps such as Famigo, an educational app for kids, and TumblebooksTV, a children’s digital books app. It also has retail partnerships with Dunkin’ Donuts and travel booking site Priceline.com for location-based deals.
AT&T is exploring business models that include revenue share for data, content and advertising with automakers, content and retail partners, Penrose said without sharing specific details.
AT&T is working with automakers to design a landing page or a portal for users to log in to access content, get vehicle service updates and buy data, he said.