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New Orders For Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Resume In U.S.

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-150x150U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Communications Inc has resumed taking orders for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, after having stopped sales of the device earlier due to fire-prone batteries.

Samsung has recalled about 1 million Note 7 smartphones in the United States, offering to replace or refund the flagship phones. Their susceptibility to catching fire – with more than 100 cases reported across the globe – has damaged the image of the South Korean company.

Globally, the world’s top smartphone maker has recalled at least 2.5 million handsets, in a major setback for the company that is looking to claw back market share from rivals, including Apple Inc  that recently released its latest iPhones.

Samsung halted new sales ahead of the recall as it prepared replacement Note 7 devices with safe batteries.

The new Note 7 phones have been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for all purchases and exchanges, Verizon said on its website, adding it has the Samsung device available for sale starting Wednesday.

The largest U.S. wireless carrier warned that initial quantities could be limited.

Samsung said in a statement on Tuesday that it had shipped more than 500,000 new Note 7s to U.S. carriers and retailers and that affected users will be able to exchange their recalled phones starting by Wednesday at the latest. The statement did not specify when new sales would start.

Rival carrier Sprint Corp’s website also showed the Note 7 available for order, providing a list of stores where customers can pick up a new handset by appointment.

Samsung did not immediately comment on the U.S. sales plans.

The firm previously said it will resume new sales in South Korea starting Sept. 28 and that sales in Australia and Singapore would resume sometime in October.

 

Did Apple Really Drop The HeadPhone Jack To Gain Space?

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

It seems that Apple did not remove the headphone jack to allow it to provide more space after all.

When Apple killed off the speaker jack its CEO Tim Cook said, “that jack takes up a lot of space in the phone, a lot of space. And there’s a lot of more important things we can provide for the consumer than that jack.”

OK fair enough, so what did Apple do with the extra space? Well it turns out that the latest tear down carried out by iFixit found that Apple was doing nothing with the extra space it gained from getting rid of the headphone jack.

It wrote that in place of the headphone jack, is a component that seems to channel sound from outside the phone into the microphone. In other words, Apple has not put anything into the space at all, just some acoustics holes, which lead nowhere and molded plastic.

We somewhat cynically suggested that the reason that Apple got rid of the headphone jack was nothing to do with providing new functions on the iPhone 7. Instead we see it as a way to prop up its wireless headphone business .

It does appear that the tear down confirms this as it is unlikely that the iPhone 7 needed this fake plastic grill and acoustic holes. It appears to be a rather costly feature for the user who will now have to fork out a fortune for new headphones.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD’s Zen Rule The Server Space?

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster has told the world that AMD will become the top manufacturer when it comes to PCs and servers.

According to IDG, Papermaster said that the outfit will be making Vega 10 GPU available by first half of 2017. He added that AMD plans to release high-end PCs and servers which will be powered by the new Zen chip and the first Vega 10 GPU.

He thinks that this will gain market share in the gaming, virtual reality, other desktop applications, which will require high-performance GPUs. AMD is going to pitch Zen and Vega 10 GPU (possibly  AMD Radeon GTX 490) as being the best of the PC generation. Apparently that positive attitude will give Nvidia and Intel a good kicking.

AMD’s next GPU architecture powered by HBM2, which is proven to increase performance significantly while maintaining power efficiency. HBM2 is also reported to provide maximum throughput of up to 256GBps, thus it is capable of carrying out all existing powerful apps such as virtual reality, 3D rendering and many more.

This leaves the budget and mid-level PCs running Polaris.

Basically this means that AMD is carrying on the same business model it always has done – compete on cost against Nvidia and Intel. That does not mean that the quality is noticeably different, but it does mean that it will always be cheaper.

Courtesy-Fud

iPhone 7 Plus Outselling Smaller Version

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

iphone-7-plus-150x150Early data from U.S. sales of Apple’s latest iPhones suggested that the larger 7 Plus was outselling the smaller 7, according to market research data.

Of the iPhone 7 online pre-orders during the initial 48 hours of availability, 55% were for the 5.5-in. iPhone 7 Plus; the remaining 45% were for the 4.7-in. iPhone 7. That was the first-ever flip to the Plus size in the three annual cycles since Apple offered a big-screen iPhone in 2014.

According to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Slice Intelligence, U.S. buyers of the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus two years ago leaned toward the former in a split of 65% to 35%. The gap narrowed last year with the 6S and 6S Plus, when the smaller iPhone 6S accounted for 59% of the total, and the 6S Plus with 41%.

Slice based its data on a sampling of approximately 4 million U.S. consumers. Those people have opted in to Slice’s services or apps — including the same-named shopper’s assistant app for iOS and Android — or those of partners which license the firm’s technology, and so give Slice access to their email inboxes. Slice sniffs through the inboxes, then spots and copies emailed receipts for online orders.

Apple does not disclose the sales splits between iPhone models — or the various versions of its other hardware for that matter — but instead tallies all iPhones into a single number for each quarter.

Slice’s data hinted at a larger gross revenue number for Apple in the U.S. this launch cycle: The iPhone 7 Plus sells for $120 more than the iPhone 7.

Not surprisingly, Slice’s email receipts also showed that the iPhone’s new Black and Jet Black colors were the two most popular for pre-order customers, replacing the now-extinct Space Gray, which had been the top choice for the last two years. Nearly half of all iPhone 7 and 7 Plus orders (46% to be exact) were for the Black, said Slice, with another 23% were for the Jet Black.

Jet Black, a new highly polished finish, has been in short supply, high demand, or both: Apple ran out of that color almost as soon as pre-orders opened on Sept. 9. Currently, a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus will ship to U.S. buyers sometime in November, according to Apple’s e-mart, while a Jet Black iPhone 7 will ship three to five weeks after ordering.

 

PC Market Showing Signs Of Life

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

pcs-150x150The PC market is showing some signs of growth, with Intel boosting its revenue guidance based on improved chip shipments.

The chip maker has raised its revenue guidance for the third quarter to $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, an improvement from $14.9 million, plus or minus $500 million.

That’s due to PC makers replenishing laptop and desktop inventory, which means Intel is shipping out more chips. It’s likely in anticipation of the holiday season, when PC shipments rocket.

“The company is also seeing some signs of improving PC demand,” Intel said in a statement.

In the second quarter of the year, PC makers slowed down chip orders and were clearing out existing stock of laptops and desktops. PC shipments declined by 4.5 percent during that period, according to IDC.

Shipments of gaming PCs, 2-in-1s and Chromebooks are driving PC shipments. Microsoft’s free upgrade offer to Windows 10 has also ended, which means users are more likely to buy new PCs to get Windows 10.

Meanwhile, new laptops with Intel’s Kaby Lake chips are now available. All the top PC makers have announced new 2-in-1s and laptops with Intel’s new chips. New Kaby Lake chips for gaming PCs will be announced in January.

Intel also has started shipping Pentium and Celeron chips, both aimed at low-cost laptops, based on the same architecture and code-named Apollo Lake. Many Chromebooks are based on Apollo Lake chips.

 

Windows Apps Make It To The Microsoft App Store

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

microsoft-windows-store-150x150Developers now have the ability to add their Windows desktop apps to people shopping through Windows 10’s app store thanks to Microsoft’s latest update.

It’s a move powered by Project Centennial, which lets developers take older Windows apps (known in Microsoft parlance as Win32 apps), port them to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and then sell them on the Windows Store.

Making it easier for developers to port those apps to the Windows Store may help grow the catalog of apps available to users at a time when Microsoft is pushing the store as a new and better way to get software for Windows 10 devices. Several companies have Centennial-powered apps rolling out over the next few days, including Evernote, which ported its Windows desktop app to the store.

“We’re excited to bring our full-featured Evernote app to the Windows Store,” Seth Hitchings, Evernote’s vice president of engineering, said in a press release. “The Desktop Bridge vastly simplifies our installer and uninstaller.”

Evernote previously had a Windows Store app, but it didn’t have all of the features of its Win32 desktop app.

Project Centennial was first announced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco earlier this year. At that time, Microsoft executives said that there were 16 million Win32 apps out on the market, so this launch marks a major expansion of what the Universal Windows Platform can do.

To help with that, Microsoft is making its Desktop App Converter available to developers in the Windows Store, so it’s easy for them to stay up to date with changes to Project Centennial.

On top of that news, Microsoft is also working with the companies behind InstallShield, WiX and Advanced Installer to help build in UWP conversion with Project Centennial into their usual development workflow for building Win32 apps. In addition to building an MSI installer for older versions of Windows, those tools will also help developers build a UWP app that can be pushed to the Store.

 

Virtual Reality Appears To Be On The Ropes

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Those who thought that VR would be a cure for cancer will be disappointed to know that sales of the hardware have stalled already.

Earlier stock problems for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now over but no one is buying according to a Steam survey.

We had already suggested that the Rift and Vive would not have mass market appeal, mostly because the hardware requirements were too great. It looks like betting the farm on the tech was not a good idea.

With the Oculus Rift priced at $550 and the HTC Vive at $800, the price is obviously the main problem, with a Steam survey showing that only 0.18 per cent of users own an HTC Vive and only 0.10 per cent have an Oculus Rift.

HTC Vive sales grew only 0.3 per cent in July and were completely flat in August. Oculus Rift sales grew by the same amount in July and just 0.1 per cent in August.

To be fair the Oculus Rift has not officially launched in the UK until September 20, but it is hard to see how it will be more popular in the EU.

This does not mean that the technology is stuffed. It just means that the small number of early adopters who wanted to play with it already have one. Interest from the great unwashed is not happening. This is mostly because there are no games or anything interesting to play with.

This might change with the arrival of the PlayStation Neo console,that is specifically designed with the PlayStation VR headset in mind. Not only will it be cheaper, at £350 it also has significant software support from the rest of the games industry. Still it is an Atlas-like task for Sony to convince the world that VR is a good idea.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Samsung Ditch The Headphone Jack Too?

September 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-heaphoneaThe Apple Press is telling the world that Samsung is so impressed with Jobs’ Mob’s “brave move” to purge the headphone jack it is set to copy it.

However the basis of the story is one written by Digital Music News which interviewed some unnamed sources.

“News of Samsung’s strategic planning was supplied to Digital Music News this week from a pair of sources operating out of South Korea, both of whom are involved in the broader supply chain of Samsung’s smartphones. Both requested total confidentiality and limited identifying information, fearing sharp reprisals from Samsung, whose power within the South Korea technology and broader community is considerable and widely feared.”

The sources feared Samsung’s hit men so much that they declined from offering details on the actual proprietary ports and jacks under consideration.

But what they appear to be talking about is something connected to the development of the USB-C jack, which is already present on Motorola’s Moto Z and Moto Z Force devices. Those devices do not have a 3.5mm jack, and are far thinner. They also don’t have the problem of being wireless.

The cunning plan is that Samsung’s proprietary jack would be designed with all Android manufacturers in mind, with easy and cost-free (or extremely low-cost) licensing to encourage adoption.

This claims Digital Music News will kill off Beats and Apple because both would be too proprietary to be useful. Samsung’s phones would be proprietary but would see a greater adoption.The article does not mention that Samsung is going to go all wireless, in fact it does not appear to imply that it is copying Apple at all.

Courtesy-Fud

AMD’s Market Share Appears To Be Increasing

September 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has been on the blower to point out that figures from Mercury and Jon Peddie Research, show that it has been growing market share for the fourth consecutive quarter.

A spokesman for AMD said that for the last nine months, AMD has got its mojo back through its Radeon Technologies Group. During that time, the company has made significant investments in hardware, marketing, and software for the graphics line-up leading to four straight quarters of market share growth.

Mercury Research said that AMD gained three points of unit volume share in Q1 2016. The Mercury Research and Jon Peddie Research market share data for Q2 2016 shows AMD seeing its fourth consecutive quarter of desktop discrete GPU share growth, driven by AMD’s strongest quarter of channel GPU sales since 2015 and the commencement of shipping of the next generation Polaris GPUs.

In total discrete graphics, AMD gained 4.8 share points to 34.2 per cent of market by unit volume (based on Mercury Research). In desktop discrete sector, AMD saw a 7.3 share point increase, rising to 29.9 per cent market share.

“This is another positive testament AMD’s strategy is working as the company drives forward towards “Vega” offerings for the enthusiast GPU market, which AMD expects to bring to market in 2017 to complement our current generation of “Polaris” products,” the spokesperson said.

“AMD believes it is well positioned to continue this trend in market share gains with the recently launched Radeon RX 480, 470, and 460 GPUs that bring leadership performance and features to the nearly 85 per cent of enthusiasts who buy a GPU priced between $100 and $300,” she added.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Envisions A Big Market For Mixed Reality Headsets

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

intel-project-alloy-150x150Intel believes untethered headsets may be a new class of computers in the future, and the company may develop chips dedicated to those devices.

The chipmaker previewed its virtual and augmented reality plans last month with Project Alloy, a Microsoft HoloLens-type headset that can mix images from real and virtual worlds. Project Alloy will be available for PC makers to replicate, but Intel may also see a market for mixed reality headset chips.

Project Alloy is a prototype headset running on Microsoft’s Windows Holographic platform, and it could support other VR and AR platforms in the future.

The Alloy design and specifications will be open-sourced early next year. PC makers have expressed interest in making headsets based on the design.

Just like it has done with PCs, Intel is trying to provide guidance to device makers on how to design headsets, integrate hardware, and resolve camera issues, as well as provide ideas on production and productizing, said Venkata Renduchintala, president of the client and internet of things businesses and the Systems Architecture Group at Intel.

Mixed reality can generate a new class of VR/AR products and will probably generate “a custom piece of silicon built on the PC platform to exemplify and amplify the use case,” said Renduchintala, nicknamed Murthy.

The Project Alloy headset has a Skylake laptop chip, but as of now, the company has no dedicated chip for headsets that are also self-contained computers. Intel recently announced new 7th Generation Core PC chips code-named Kaby Lake but has no specific chip for all-in-one headset computers in that lineup.

VR is already catching on quickly, with products like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive — which need to be wired to PC with high-end GPUs — getting a lot of attention.

Spurred by HoloLens, there are efforts to develop untethered PC-style VR and AR headsets, but the makers need to address problems related to wireless connectivity and battery life. Mobile VR — in which smartphones are placed in headsets — is taking off with products like Samsung’s GearVR.

Analyst firms are projecting headset shipments to grow, and it makes sense for Intel to have VR-specific chips. IDC is projecting VR/AR headset shipments to reach 9.6 million units this year, and 110 million units by 2020.

Intel is backing more PC-style mixed reality experiences over mobile VR. Project Alloy provides a powerful mixed reality experience, and that’s the kind of market Intel wants to develop, Renduchintala said.

 

Samsung Urges Consumers To Turn In Their Galaxy Note 7 Phones

September 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is urging owners of its Galaxy Note 7 phones to turn in their handsets as soon as possible as part of a recall aimed at limiting the damage caused by the fire-prone devices.

The world’s top smartphone maker said last week it would exchange all Note 7 phones in 10 markets including South Korea and the United States, a costly setback for a company that was counting on the model to bolster sales momentum as rivals such as Apple Inc  launch new devices.

Reports that the phones’ batteries have combusted while charging or in normal use prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to stop using the Note 7 device.

Aviation authorities and airlines across the world have also issued bans or guidelines prohibiting passengers from turning on or charging the phone inside airplanes in response.

“We are asking users to power down their Galaxy Note 7s and exchange them as soon as possible,” Koh Dong-jin, head of Samsung’s smartphone business, said in a statement.

“We are expediting replacement devices so that they can be provided through the exchange program as conveniently as possible and in compliance with related regulations,” the statement added.

For Samsung, which prides itself on manufacturing prowess, the scale of the recall is unprecedented and deals a huge blow to its reputation.

Some 2.5 million of the premium devices have been sold worldwide that need to be recalled, the firm has said, and some analysts say the recall could cost Samsung nearly $5 billion in lost revenue this year.

The Korean company is offering to exchange all affected Galaxy Note 7 phones with a replacement device using a safe battery. Samsung has said replacement Note 7s will be available in some markets including South Korea and the United States from Sept. 19.

 

Is TSMC Experiencing Unusual Growth?

September 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

TSMC s expected to see a 10 percent revenue increase in 2016.

Company co-CEO Mark Liu said that while the fourth quarter could be a bit rough as customers start their inventory adjustments, TSMC’s sales for the quarter will still outperform those for the third quarter.

Talking to Digitimes Lui said that smartphone demand was affected negatively by macroeconomic factors in the first half of 2016. But apparently smartphone chip clients are ordering again in the second half of the year.

TSMC previously estimated its 2016 revenues would grow 5-10 per cent. The foundry expects to meet the high end of the growth guidance, Liu said. In his speech at the CEO Forum of SEMICON Taiwan 2016. Liu claimed that the foundry industry growth is being driven by the markets for smartphones, HPC, automotive and IoT.

Apps like Pokemon G will require more silicon chips used in mobile devices that will be another growth driver in the future, Liu said.

Courtesy-Fud

Google’s Safe Browsing To Provide Compromised Websites More Information

September 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

google-safe-browsing-logo-150x150Google is now providing more information to webmasters whose online properties are temporarily tagged as unsafe by its Safe Browsing technology as a way to help them fix the identified problems faster.

Google Safe Browsing is a technology used by Google’s search engine, the Google Chrome browser, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Android to steer users away from websites that host malicious or deceptive content.

On the back-end, Google uses robots to scan the web and build a list of websites that host malware, harmful downloads, or deceptive ads and pages. Software developers can then plug into an API to integrate this list into their own applications.

The problem is that many websites hosting malware or bad ads don’t do so intentionally but were hacked by attackers. The owners of those websites can ask Google to rescan their properties and have them removed from the Safe Browsing blacklist once the security problems have been corrected.

Unfortunately, the review process is not always straightforward, because some website owners might not completely understand the issues affecting their websites and often fail to completely clean the malicious content.

To help reduce the number of such cases, Google has now updated the information available in its Search Console service to provide clearer explanations about six types of security issues that could be detected on a website, the Google Safe Browsing Team said in a blog post Tuesday.

“These explanations give webmasters more context and detail about what Safe Browsing found,” the team said, “We also offer tailored recommendations for each type of issue, including sample URLs that webmasters can check to identify the source of the issue, as well as specific remediation actions webmasters can take to resolve the issue.”

Webmasters are encouraged to proactively register their websites in the Search Console even if those websites have never been affected by a security issue. This will save them time when something does happen because Google will send notifications through the service as soon as Safe Browsing detects a problem

Google estimates that more than a billion users are protected by its Safe Browsing technology, and more than 60 million of them encounter Safe Browsing warnings on a weekly basis.

New Apple Watch Focuses On Fitness

September 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

apple-watch-2-150x150Two years after rolling out the Apple Watch with apps and styles that courted every customer, Apple Inc has honed its marketing strategy, debuting a second generation product aimed squarely at the health and athletic audience.

The focus on fitness will enhance the watch’s appeal to its core audience but also cements its status as a niche device, analysts said.

“Apple is responding to what has resonated with customers,” said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “The problem is there are only so many people who want to wear a health and fitness device. If they want this to be really massive, they’re going to have to go broader.”

The first new device released under Chief Executive Tim Cook, the Apple Watch has not attracted a mass audience, selling 1.6 million units in the second quarter, down more than half from a year ago, in the run-up to the new version, IDC data showed.

Apple’s original pitch touted the ability to send doodles, make phone calls and track fitness, while the company described it as essentially a fashion accessory.

But at a San Francisco launch event on Wednesday, where the iPhone 7 also debuted, Apple Watch videos, advertisements and demos focused narrowly on features for health enthusiasts, with the notable exception of a Pokemon Go app.

The new Watch starts at $369, includes a GPS chip, and is waterproof. Apple designed a special edition with sports giant Nike Inc.

Exercise buffs on social media cheered the new features, particularly the internal GPS system designed for runners who want to track workouts without dragging along their phones.

“At last Apple Watch is something I can use as a runner,” Ian Bignell (@eyan_b) wrote on Twitter.

Still, the device is likely to remain a niche offering, said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners.

“It’s becoming a more interesting product, but it is not going to be able to meaningfully impact the bottom line if iPhones slow down,” Gillis said.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Banned By Australian Airlines

September 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-150x150Three Australian airlines have banned passengers from using or charging Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 7 smartphones during flights over concerns associated with the batteries catching fire.

Qantas, its budget unit Jetstar and Virgin Australia said they had not been directed to ban the use of the phone by aviation authorities, but did so as a precaution following Samsung’s recall of the phones in 10 markets.

Although customers will still be able to bring the phones on flights, the ban extends to the phones being plugged in to flight entertainment systems where USB ports are available.

The recall follows reports of the 988,900 won ($885) phone igniting while charging – an embarrassing blow to Samsung, which prides itself on its manufacturing prowess and had been banking on the devices to add momentum to a recovery in its mobile business.

Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone vendor, has sold 2.5 million of the premium devices so far.

“Following Samsung Australia’s recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 personal electronic device we are requesting that passengers who own them do not switch on or charge them in flight,” a Qantas spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Samsung Australia said in a statement that it had liaised with Qantas and Virgin Australia following the recall.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering its response to the Samsung recall and “working on guidance related to this issue,” according to a FAA statement quoted by technology website Gizmodo.

Airlines have previously banned hoverboards from planes due to battery-fire risks.

In February the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations’ agency, banned lithium-ion batteries from checked luggage following concerns from pilots and plane makers that they are a fire risk.

 

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