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Can Qualcomm Compete With Intel In The Server Space?

November 21, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has confirmed that it will branch out from offering its Snapdragon mobile chips and will soon launch a line of server processors.

The firm’s CEO, Steve Mollenkopf, has remained tight lipped about the plans so far but, according to The Wall Street Journal, said during a meeting with financial analysts in New York on Wednesday that the company is working on chips for the data centre.

There’s no timing yet, either, although Mollenkopf said that his firm is currently “engaged with customers”.

Qualcomm is already the world leader in ARM chips for smartphones, and we assume that the company will develop server chips based on ARM’s 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture as rivals such as AMD have done.

The move will place Qualcomm in competition with chip giant Intel, which is currently one of the biggest server chip makers.

Qualcomm announced last month that it had acquired Cambridge-based chipmaker CSR for a hefty $2.5bn (£1.6bn), as the company looks to push further into the Internet of Things (IoT).

The buyout, which comes two months after CSR rejected a takeover bid from Microchip Technology, will see Qualcomm using the British company to push further into the IoT, automotive and mobile communications markets.

CSR rejected an initial bid from Microchip, but reports claim that the firm has until 5pm UK time today to make a better offer.

However, CSR’s board of directors has unanimously accepted Qualcomm’s offer of 900p a share. The closing price at the time of the offer was 660p.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

 

Apple To Bundle Beats Music Into iOS

November 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc will bundle the subscription music service it acquired from Beats into its iOS operating system early next year, according to an article by the Financial Times.

The inclusion of the paid-for Beats service in an iOS software update, which would instantly make it available on millions of iPhones and iPads, could happen as early as March, the daily reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The move will mark the company’s first big push into subscription music, at a time when downloads from its iTunes are in decline, the paper said.

The service, which is likely to be rebranded under the iTunes label, will compete with music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud.

Google Inc said last week that YouTube is rolling out a long-awaited paid monthly music subscription service called YouTube Music Key.

Apple, which bought music streaming and audio equipment company Beats in May for $3 billion, could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

 

Nokia Launches N1 Tablet

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Finland’s Nokia unveiled a new brand-licensed tablet computer which is designed to rival Apple’s iPad Mini, just six months after the company sold its underperforming phones and devices business to Microsoft for over $7 billion.

Nokia, a name which was once synonymous with mobile phones until first Apple and then Samsung Electronics eclipsed the Finnish company with the advent of smart phones, said the manufacturing, distribution and sales of the new N1 tablet, will be handled under license by Taiwan’s Foxconn.

The aluminum-cased N1, which runs on Google’s Android Lollipop operating software but features Nokia’s new Z Launcher intelligent home screen interface, is due to be in stores in China in the first quarter of next year for an estimated price of $249 before taxes, with sales to other markets to follow.

Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia’s Technologies unit, said the company was looking to follow up with more devices and will also look into eventually returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing.

“With the agreement with Microsoft, as is customary, we have this transition and we can’t do smartphones … We have a time limit. In 2016 we can again enter that business,” Nystrom told Reuters.

“It would be crazy not to look at that opportunity. Of course we will look at it.”

Microsoft last week dropped the Nokia name on its latest Lumia 535 smartphone, which runs on its Windows Phone 8 operating system, but still uses the brand for more basic phones.

After the Microsoft sale Nokia was left with its core network equipment and services business plus its smaller HERE mapping and navigation unit and Nokia Technologies, which manages the licensing of its portfolio of patents and develops new products such as the N1 and the Z Launcher.

 

 

WhatsApp Adds End-to-End Encryption

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Stepping up efforts to keep its users messages safe from prying eyes, WhatsApp announced that it now supports end-to-end encryption for messages sent between users.

The end-to-end encryption comes thanks to a collaboration between WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems, an open-source development company focused on secure communications.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has more than 600 million users who log in monthly, making Open Whisper’s encryption deployment the largest ever in the area of end-to-end encrypted communication, Open Whisper said.

The encryption is on by default. It’s only available for Android right now, though the companies are working to roll out support for other platforms.

End-to-end encryption has gained attention following the disclosures about government surveillance last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Meanwhile, the flood of cyber attacks targeting retailers and Internet companies alike have highlighted the need for better data security.

Edward Snowden himself has called end-to-end encryption the best possible form of encryption, because it keeps people’s data encrypted even while it’s on company servers. The data, in theory, can only be decrypted on people’s personal devices. That means outside groups must target individuals’ machines if they want to access the data.

Some other mainstream services like Google have released products to facilitate end-to-end encryption. And along with Apple, Google’s also working to make encryption the default on smartphones.

But end-to-end encryption still is primarily offered by lesser known companies that don’t rely on people’s data for advertising.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption uses Whisper’s TextSecure protocol, which encrypts text messages over the air and on people’s phones.

WhatsApp declined to comment further on the encryption deployment.

 

 

IBM Unveils Verse, New Enterprise Email Product

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

IBM is going up against cloud-app juggernauts Google and Microsoft with its next generation e-mail client, called Verse, designed to enrich email with social media and analysis.

“We felt we could leverage analytics to build an experience that understands your priorities,” said Jeff Schick, general manager of IBM social solutions, of the app that launched as a private beta on Tuesday. “We had the opportunity to reduce clutter and create priority, and to help people be more efficient in how they master their inbox.”

The company plans to offer Verse in the first quarter of 2015 as a hosted service though the IBM Cloud Marketplace. IBM will also issue apps for both iOS and Android that can access all the same features as the desktop browser version.

“They are addressing known problems, inbox clutter, prioritization and the ability to access different modes of communication, from an integrated user experience,” Rob Koplowitz, research analyst at Forrester who covers collaboration software, wrote in an e-mail.

IBM first announced the new e-mail software in January, under the working name of Mail Next.

Like IBM’s Notes e-mail client, Verse relies on the IBM Domino e-mail server. Unlike Notes, which was built on a client-server architecture, Verse is entirely Web-based. Going forward, IBM will encourage customers to use Verse as an enterprise email client, except for those organizations that have built their own applications on Notes’ Eclipse-based development platform, Schick said.

The company did not reveal pricing of Verse, other than state it will offer a no-cost “freemium” version that would be available for individual users. A version of the software that can be run on-premise will be released later in 2015.

 

 

Snapchat To Offer Mobile Payments Service

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile messaging company Snapchat is rolling out a new service that wil allow users to send money to each other, in a partnership with online payments company Square.

The service, dubbed Snapcash, allows Snapchat users to link their debit cards to their account and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone, typing in a dollar sign and an amount and hitting a green button, Snapchat explained in a post on its official blog.

The move marks the latest sign of expansion plans for Los Angeles-based Snapchat, which lets users exchange photos that automatically disappear after a few seconds. The company has been valued at $10 billion in its most recent fundraising effort, according to media reports, and is considered a growing threat to Web companies including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.

“We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you’re dealing with money,” Snapchat said in the post.

The company said that debit card information will be stored by Square and that Square will process the payments, transferring money between bank accounts. Snapchat said that Snapcash is available in the United States for users aged 18 and above.

 

 

Apple Finally Offers A Way Out From iMessage

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has finally published a tool that lets iPhone owners sever the link to iMessage, iOS’s texting service, when they leave the company’s circle of devices for Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone.

The tool, which allows former owners to disable iMessage even after they’ve disposed of their iPhones, was the first self-service option Apple has offered.

Because iMessage is enabled by default — and is the standard texting service for iOS-to-iOS communication — iPhone owners who had changed smartphones and kept their numbers were not getting texts from other iPhone owners. Apple, unaware that the user had deserted iOS for a rival smartphone ecosystem, was still routing iOS-originating texts to the recipient’s now-unused Message app.

Some called it “iMessage purgatory,” while others referred to it as the “iMessage black hole.”

The problem had existed since 2011, when Apple introduced iMessage and the companion Message app, and was partly technical: Texts sent between iOS devices via iMessage don’t transit a carrier’s SMS (short message service) network, but instead are sent over the Internet.

iMessage’s inability to reroute texts from iOS users — and since 2012′s OS X Mountain Lion, from Mac owners as well — prompted at least one federal lawsuit.

The new tool aims to solve the purgatory problem by letting former iPhone owners, even if they have disposed of the device, route texts to non-Apple smartphones. After entering the phone number for the Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone device, the user must enter the confirmation code sent to the smartphone into the Web form.

 

 

Apple Ramping Up Enterprise Its Enterprise Strategy

November 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Apple Inc is embarking on its most aggressive push yet onto enterprise IT turf, hiring a dedicated sales force to talk with potential clients like Citigroup Inc and working in concert with a dozen or so developers, two sources familiar with its plans say.

Experts say the company hopes to offset a gradual deceleration in growth – highlighted by iPad sales that have declined three straight quarters – by expanding its footprint in the workplace.

Three months after unveiling a partnership with IBM to develop apps for corporate clients and sell them on devices, the iPhone maker’s plans to challenge sector leaders Hewlett-Packard, Dell Inc , Oracle and SAP are starting to take shape.

Details remain scant, but some industry experts say that the tie-up with Big Blue gives Apple an opportunity to begin to challenge Hewlett Packard’s and Dell’s dominance of office IT, and Oracle and SAP’s command of work applications. Depending on its progress, it may hamper Microsoft, Samsung’s or Google’s own efforts in the nascent market for mobile work applications.

Apps developers and other sources familiar with Apple’s plans who could not speak publicly provided additional details on how the iPhone maker is working behind the scenes.

The iPhone maker has worked closely with a group of startups, including ServiceMax and PlanGrid, that already specialize in selling apps to corporate America. The two people familiar with the plans, but who could not speak publicly about them, say Apple is already in talks with other mobile enterprise developers to bring them into a more formal partnership.

The iPhone maker may be trying to replicate the model that served the iPhone well: hook the client on the software and content, then keep them coming back for the hardware, which is what drives the lions’ share of Apple’s bottom line.

 

 

 

Is Your Privacy At Risk With The Emergence Of SuperCookies?

November 11, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Pressure is on US phone companies Verizon and AT&T who have been caught tracking customer’s online activity with so-called “supercookies” to increase advertising revenue. What is more shocking is that the system has been in place for two years and no one has noticed it before.

The companies create unique ID numbers that tag every piece of web traffic generated by the user. Simply, the phone carriers know what websites you’re visiting even if you’re surfing under the veil of a privacy mode. It means that web advertises can look at the identifiers and do a reverse look-up and figure out who you are and where you’ve been going across the web and build up a profile of your life.

“Verizon does offer an opt-out, but the problem is while it’ll opt you out of their advertising program, it doesn’t actually stop them from putting this ID onto your information. AT&T’ say if you opt out, they will stop putting that ID on there, but ultimately there’s no easy way to flip it off.

Apple also has similar tracking techniques for advertising, but no one talks about them because Apple owns the press. In any event, the Apple settings can be disabled in a user’s privacy settings.

Courtesy-Fud

Office For iPad Tops Downloaded Apps List

November 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps surged in download popularity last week, topping the App Store’s U.S. chart the day after the Redmond, Wash. firm handed consumers more functionality free of charge.

On Friday, Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for the iPad were ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, on the App Store free download list.

Two days earlier, those same apps were ranked Nos. 14, 39 and 44 in the U.S., according to AppAnnie, a company that tracks app store market data for developers. Distimo, which AppAnnie acquired in May but still maintains its own listings, pegged Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad at Nos. 12, 39 and 48 on the same day, Wednesday, Nov. 5.

The rankings surge was triggered by announcements by Microsoft that it was moving the boundary line between free and paid on the Office for iPad apps. Previously, consumers without an Office 365 subscription could use the Office for iPad apps only to view documents. Under the new rules, consumers may now also create and edit documents, although features Microsoft labeled “advanced editing,” as well as the unlimited OneDrive storage space, remained available only to Office 365 customers.

Businesses must still pay if their employees want to use Office for iPad, Office on iPhones and Android smartphones, and almost certainly Office on Android tablets when that ships early next year.

Office apps on the iPhone also pushed to near the top of the App Store chart on Friday: Word was No. 1, Excel No. 4 and PowerPoint No. 8. Those apps were new, so no direct comparisons were possible.

The iPhone trio had been spun off Microsoft’s earlier app, Office Mobile, which debuted in mid-2013. Initially tied to Office 365 — as was the iPad  – the link was broken in March when Microsoft allowed consumers to download and use all Office Mobile features free of charge on their iPhones.

 

 

Microsoft’s First Lumia Phone Without Nokia To Arrive Tuesday

November 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft’s first Windows smartphone since it axed the Nokia brand will arrive on Tuesday, and a teaser from the company hints that it will be a new low-end model.

The teaser promises a smartphone for everyone, the most popular way to position a budget device. The teaser doesn’t offer many details beyond the Nov. 11 launch and an image of what looks like an orange smartphone with a front-facing camera, a feature missing from other low-cost Lumias. Rumored specifications include a 5-in. screen and a 5-megapixel camera.

The screen will not only be bigger but also better than the 4-in. screen on the Lumia 530. However, not too much can be expected of a 5-inch screen with a resolution of 960 by 540 pixels. Another must-have is 1GB of RAM, which would be an improvement over the 512MB in the Lumia 530 and Lumia 630.

Because growth is mainly in the low end of the market, continuing to push into that segment makes sense for Microsoft. This year it has already shipped the Lumia 530 and Lumia 630, and set up partnerships with Indian smartphone manufacturers Micromax and Karbonn.

But success won’t come easily for the company as competition is getting increasingly heated. For example, Google has launched the Android One program to make it easier for vendors to develop smartphones with a $100 price tag. Samsung Electronics is also poised to focus more on cheaper smartphones to boost its ailing fortunes.

The third quarter saw Microsoft’s and Windows Phone’s share of the global smartphone OS market drop from 4.1 percent to 3.3 percent year-on-year, according to Strategy Analytics. Shipments grew by 200,000 units to 10.5 million, which wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with overall market growth of almost 27 percent.

 

Researchers At MIT Devleop Edible Batteries

November 10, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

MIT has come up with a technique which allows terminally dim children, begat of stupid parents, to swallow batteries. Apparently year, nearly 4,000 children go to emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries which can cause burns that permanently damage the esophagus, tears in the digestive tract, and in some cases, even removing the kid from the gene pool.

Boffins at MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital have devised a new way to coat batteries with a special material that prevents them from conducting electricity after being swallowed. In animal tests, they found that such batteries did not damage the gastrointestinal (GI) tract at all, the only tricky thing was finding an animal (other than a dog) which was dumb enough to eat them.

David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), and Department of Chemical Engineering said that once the battery was swallowed, they start interacting with water or saliva. This creates an electric current that produces hydroxide, a caustic ion that damages tissue.

Quantum tunnelling composite (QTC), an off-the-shelf material commonly used in computer keyboards and touch screens, fit the bill perfectly. QTC is a rubberlike material, usually made of silicone, embedded with metal particles. Under normal circumstances, these particles are too far apart to conduct an electric current. However, when squeezed, the particles come closer together and start conducting. This allows QTC to switch from an insulator to a conductor.

Very clever, still no cure for cancer but some more stupid children will live to buy Apple products, walk into lamp-posts while texting and watch reality TV.

Courtesy-Fud

Dell Expresses Optimism About Consumers Interest In Windows 10

November 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Windows 10 is set to replace the heavily criticized Windows 8 next year and some forward-thinking Dell customers are already excited about the possibilities of the new OS.

Dell customers who are exploring Windows 10 believe that the new OS takes care of some issues that Windows 8 failed to address, said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets at Dell.

The biggest advantage of Windows 10 is the ability to run programs across devices, be they mobile or desktop, Hand said.

“The ability to create applications that are super-scalable from phone to tablet to PC is the big step in a lot of ways,” Hand said.

Dell is in the early stages of testing Windows 10 with its customers and Hand said it’s premature to say whether the OS will succeed. Dell runs Windows on most of its PCs and will likely adopt Windows 10 for its tablets and PCs next year.

Microsoft previously offered different versions of the Windows OS for mobile phones, desktops and servers, but Windows 10 is designed to unite all those editions.

Microsoft also offers separate versions of Windows 8 for its Surface 2 and Surface Pro tablets, which run on different instruction sets. Programs written for Surface 2, which is based on ARM, won’t run on Surface Pro 3, which is based on an Intel chipset. Windows 10 will eliminate any such incompatibilities and also make it easier to write and export programs from one device to another.

“Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices — from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens — some have 80 inch screens — and some don’t have screens at all,” said Terry Myerson , executive vice president at Microsoft’s Operating Systems group, in a blog entry.

Windows 8, with its all-new tablet user interface, presented a radical transition at the time of its release two years ago and enterprise customers preferred to go with the older Windows 7. Business users, who are Dell’s target base, have mostly skipped Windows 8 and are still upgrading PCs to Windows 7.

However, Microsoft had the right idea in mind with Windows 8, which was to prepare customers for mobile, Hand said.

 

 

Microsoft To Focus On Integrating Bing Into Other Apps, Products

November 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft’s director of search admitted that its Bing search engine doesnt’ compete well with Google search in a full-on faceoff, but the company will focus instead on search applications.

Stefan Weitz, who leads Microsoft’s search efforts, told an audience at the Web Summit conference in Dublin that he’s less interested in Bing as a stand-alone search engine and more interested in integrating the technology into the company’s other products.

“The question is, where is search really going?” Weitz said, according to areport in The Register. “It’s unlikely we’re going to take share in [the pure search] space, but in machine learning, natural language search… and how we can make search more part of living. For us, it’s less about Bing.com, though that’s still important. It’s really about how we can instead weave the tech into things you’re already doing.”

By integrating search into different applications, Microsoft should be able to grab more search market share in the future, Weitz said, according to The Register.

“For pure keyword search, we’re around 30% in the U.S. — not so much in Europe,” he said. “But search in different areas of life? That mix is to be determined. I’m committed to making sure we have our fair share of search in the future.”

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, toldComputerworld that Microsoft would be smart to focus less on a head-to-head competition with Google search and more on working Bing-based technology into Windows products.

“At the end of the day that isn’t a battle that can be fought right now,” Shimmin said. “It’s a matter of how inured we are with Google. It’s now become the, ‘Pass me a Coke or hand me a Kleenex.’ Our cultural norm has evolved around Google. It’s not just a search engine. It’s a knowledge engine that helps you find your way home or what time the Dodgers play.”

Five years after Microsoft released Bing, the search engine has not been the challenger to Google that Microsoft hoped it would be. While Bing hasn’t gained significant market share in those five years, it still remains second in search only to Google.

Earlier this year, Internet tracker comScore Inc. reported that Google still held 67.5% of the search market, while Bing had 18.6% and Yahoo, 10.1%.

 

 

 

New Malware Targeting Apple Devices Uncovered

November 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Palo Alto Networks Inc  has uncovered a new group of malware that can infect Apple Inc’s  desktop and mobile operating systems, underscoring the increasing sophistication of attacks on iPhones and Mac computers.

The “WireLurker” malware can install third-party applications on regular, non-jailbroken iOS devices and hop from infected Macs onto iPhones through USB connector-cables, said Ryan Olson, intelligence director for the company’s Unit 42 division.

Palo Alto Networks said on Wednesday it had seen indications that the attackers were Chinese. The malware originated from a Chinese third-party apps store and appeared to have mostly affected users within the country.

The malware spread through infected apps uploaded to the apps store, that were in turn downloaded onto Mac computers. According to the company, more than 400 such infected apps had been downloaded over 350,000 times so far.

It’s unclear what the objective of the attacks was. There is no evidence that the attackers had made off with anything more sensitive than messaging IDs and contacts from users’ address books, Olson added.

But “they could just as easily take your Apple ID or do something else that’s bad news,” he said in an interview.

Apple, which Olson said was notified a couple weeks ago, did not respond to requests for comment.

Once WireLurker gets on an iPhone, it can go on to infect existing apps on the device, somewhat akin to how a traditional virus infects computer software programs. Olson said it was the first time he had seen it in action. “It’s the first time we’ve seen anyone doing it in the wild,” he added.