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Lenovo Announces 64-Bit Android Tablet For $129

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tablets running 64-bit Android haven’t been on the market forr long but prices are already projected to drop quickly.

Lenovo’s 8-inch Tab 2 A8 will ship in June starting at $129, with a 64-bit version of Android 5.0 and a 64-bit quad-core processor from MediaTek. It was one of three tablets Lenovo announced ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

Sixty-four-bit tablets have a few advantages. They can support more memory and therefore make light work of multimedia-intensive apps such as games, as well as apps that use encryption for security. More 64-bit Android apps are in development, so a 64-bit tablet also provides some future-proofing.

Only a handful of 64-bit Android tablets are on sale today. One of the best known is Google’s Nexus 9, which sells for $399.99 in the Google Play store. Many more are expected as vendors deploy Android 5.0 more broadly and as more 64-bit processors become available. Lenovo’s Tab 2 A8 could prompt other vendors to drive down prices for their own 64-bit Android tablets.

The Tab 2 A8 is 9 millimeters thick, weighs 360 grams and will offer eight hours of battery life, according to Lenovo. The $129 model has Wi-Fi only, while a $179 model will have integrated LTE. It doesn’t look like the LTE model will be offered in the U.S., however.

The tablet has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and 1GB of RAM. It has a maximum of 16GB of storage that can be expanded to 32GB with a Micro-SD card.

With a 720p screen, Lenovo has compromised on the display to keep the price low.

Tablet shipments flattened last year after years of strong growth, and the 64-bit Android tablets could spur people to upgrade from older models.

Apple had an early start in 64-bit tablets with the iPad Air, but the low-priced tablets could shift the market in Android’s favor.

Lenovo also announced the 10-inch Tab 2 A10, which has a 64-bit processor but will initially ship with a 32-bit version of Android, version 4.4. The tablet will start shipping in April and users will be able to upgrade their devices to Android 5.0 in June, Lenovo said.

 

 

 

Qualcomm Goes Ultrasonic

March 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first ‘ultrasonic’ fingerprint scanner, in a bid to improve mobile security and further boost Android’s chances in the enterprise space.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint technology debuted during the chipmaker’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) press conference on Monday.

The firm claimed that the new feature will outperform the fingerprint scanners found on smartphones such as the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6.

Qualcomm also claimed that, as well as “better protecting user data”, the 3D ultrasonic imaging technology is much more accurate than capacitive solutions currently available, and is not hindered by greasy or sweaty fingers.

Sense ID offers a more “innovative and elegant” design for manufacturers, the firm said, owing to its ability to scan fingerprints through any material, be it glass, metal or sapphire.

This means, in theory, that future fingerprint sensors could be included directly into a smartphone’s display.

Derek Aberle, Qualcomm president, said: “This is another industry first for Qualcomm and has the potential to revolutionise mobile security.

“It’s also another step towards the end of the password, and could mean that you’ll never have to type in a password on your smartphone again.”

No specific details or partners have yet been announced, but Qualcomm said that the Sense ID technology will arrive in devices in the second half of 2015, when the firm’s next-generation Snapdragon 820 processor is also tipped to debut.

The firm didn’t reveal many details about this chip, except that it will feature Kryo 64-bit CPU tech and a new machine learning feature dubbed Zeroth.

Qualcomm also revealed more details about LTE-U during Monday’s press conference, confirming plans to extend LTE to unused spectrum using technology integrated in its latest small-cell solutions and RF transceivers for mobile devices.

“We face many challenges as demand for data constantly grows, and we think the best way to fix this is by taking advantage of unused spectrum,” said Aberle.

Finally, the chipmaker released details about a new a partnership with Cyanogen, the open-source outfit responsible for the CyanogenMod operating system.

Qualcomm said that it will provide support for the best features and UI enhancements of CyanogenMod on Snapdragon processors, which will be available for the release of Qualcomm Reference Design in April.

The MWC announcements follow the launch of the ARM Cortex-based Snapdragon 620 and 618 chips last month, which promise to improve connectivity and user experience on high-end smartphones and tablets.

Aberle said that these chips will begin to show up in devices in mid to late 2015.

Courtesy-TheInq

BlackBerry Announces Plans For Cloud Based Device Management

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced on Monday it has to plans to roll out a cloud-based version of its device management platform BES12, a move that will make the service more accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses that need to secure devices on their own networks.

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry has built a reputation around its device management and security capabilities, catering mainly to the needs of large government agencies and corporations. With data security needs becoming more critical, and a number of new entrants in the field nipping at its heels, BlackBerry said it is now broadening its offerings.

BlackBerry’s new BES12 platform manages and secures not only BlackBerry devices, but also those powered by operating systems such as Google Inc’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft Corp’s Windows platform. It can also manage and secure medical diagnostic equipment, industrial machinery and even cars.

By offering a less costly cloud-based version of the system, BlackBerry hopes to attract a wider range of small- and medium-sized businesses that need these capabilities, but do not have the capacity to install and manage expensive servers of their own.

“We are trying to broaden the enterprise mobility management space,” said BlackBerry Chief Operation Officer Marty Beard on a conference call with media. “And a cloud version really enables us to broaden our footprint.”

The new cloud-based offering, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, will be offered to customers later this month.

India’s Essar Group, a conglomerate with more than 60,000 employees spread across over two dozen countries, has signed up for a trial of the cloud-based version.

Beard said BlackBerry is seeing growing demand from smaller companies for cloud-based device management offerings, but is also getting demand from larger companies that have certain divisions or groups that need cloud-based capabilities.

 

Lenovo To Offer Free McAfee Over Superfish Security Concerns

March 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

China’s Lenovo Group Ltd announced that it will offer free subscriptions to Intel Corp’s security software to customers who purchased laptops that were shipped with a program known as “Superfish,” which made PCs vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Lenovo, the world’s biggest personal computer maker, last week advised customers to uninstall the Superfish program.

Security experts and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended the program be removed because it made users vulnerable to what are known as SSL spoofing techniques that can enable remote attackers to read encrypted web traffic, steal credentials and perform other attacks.

Lenovo announced the offer to provide six-month subscriptions to Intel’s McAfee LiveSafe on Friday as it also disclosed plans to “significantly” reduce the amount of software that it ships with new computers.

Pre-loaded programs will include Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system, security products, Lenovo applications and programs “required” to make unique hardware such as 3D cameras work well, Lenovo said.

“This should eliminate what our industry calls ‘adware’ and ‘bloatware,’” the Lenovo statement said.

Adi Pinhas, chief executive of Palo Alto, California-based Superfish, said in a statement last week that his company’s software helps users achieve more relevant search results based on images of products viewed.

He said the vulnerability was “inadvertently” introduced by Israel-based Komodia, which built the application that Lenovo advised customers to uninstall.

Komodia declined comment.

 

 

Can MediaTek Give Qualcomm A Run For Its Money?

March 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

While Qualcomm’s 20nm Snapdragon 810 SoC might be the star of upcoming flagship smartphones, it appears that MediaTek has its own horse for the race, the octa-core MT6795.

Spotted by GforGames site, in a GeekBench test results and running inside an unknown smartphone, MediaTek’s MT6795 managed to score 886 points in the single-core test and 4536 points in the multi-core test. These results were enough to put it neck to neck with the mighty Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC tested in the LG G Flex 2, which scored 1144 points in the single-core and 4345 in the multi-core test. While it did outrun the MT6795 in the single-core test, the multi-core test was clearly not kind on the Snapdragon 810.

The unknown device was running on Android Lollipop OS and packed 3GB of RAM, which might gave the MT6795 an edge over the LG G Flex 2.

MediaTek’s octa-core MT6795 was announced last year and while we are yet to see some of the first design wins, recent rumors suggested that it could be powering Meizu’s MX5, HTC’s Desire A55 and some other high-end smartphones. The MediaTek MT6795 is a 64-bit octa-core SoC clocked at up to 2.2GHz, with four Cortex-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores. It packs PowerVR G6200 graphics, supports LPDDR3 memory and can handle 2K displays at up to 120Hz.

As we are just a few days from Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 which will kick off in Barcelona on March 2nd, we are quite sure that we will see more info as well as more benchmarks as a single benchmark running on an unknown smartphone might not be the best representation of performance, it does show that MediaTek certainly has a good chip and can compete with Qualcomm and Samsung.

Courtesy-Fud

Will DirectX 12 Allow AMD and nVidia To Play Together?

March 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

DirectX 12 looks set to bring Nvidia and AMD together, in a way that neither will be particularly happy about.

According to Toms Hardware one of the unexpected features of DirectX 12 is the ability to use Nvidia GPUs alongside AMD GPUs in multi-card configurations.

This is because DirectX 12 operates at a lower level than previous versions of the API it is able to treat all available video resources as one unit. Card model and brand makes no difference to a machine running DX12.

This could mean that the days of PC gamers having to decide between AMD or Nvidia could be over and they can pick their referred hardware from both companies and enjoy the best of both worlds. They will also be able to mix old and new cards.

However there might be a few problems with all this. Rather than worrying about your hardware optimization software developers will have to be on the ball to make sure their products work.

More hardware options means more potential configurations that games need to run on, and that could cause headaches for smaller studios.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Continues Wooing Enterprise Users With Android For Work Launch

February 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc rolled out an initiative  to make smartphones running its Android software more appealing to corporations, a move that could help extend the Internet technology giant reach into workplaces.

Google said on its official blog that its Android for Work program will provide improved security and management features for corporations that want to give their employees Android smartphones. Smartphones supported by the new initiative will be able to keep an employee’s work and personal apps separate, and a special Android for Work app will allow businesses to oversee key tools such as email, calendar and contacts.

Google said it is partnering with more than two dozen companies including Blackberry Ltd, Citrix Systems Inc, Box Inc.

Google’s Android software is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, but many corporations, which have significant security and device management requirements, give their employees smartphones made by Blackberry or Apple Inc.

 

 

Will nVidia Put AMD Out Of Business?

February 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It would appear that the world is rushing to Nvidia to buy its latest GPU at the expense of AMD.

According to the data, NVIDIA and AMD each took dramatic swings from Q4 of 2013 to Q4 of 2014 with Nvidia increasing its market share over AMD by 20 per cent and AMD’s market share has dropped from 35 per cent at the end of 2013 to just 24 per cent at the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, Nvidia has gonr from 64.9 per cent at the end of 2013 to 76 per cent at the end of 2014.

The report JPR’s AIB Report looks at computer add-in graphics boards, which carry discrete graphics for desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments.

In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry using discrete chips and private high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.

On a year-to-year basis, total AIB shipments during the quarter fell by 17.52 per cent , which is more than desktop PCs, which fell by 0.72 percent .

However, in spite of the overall decline, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.

The overall PC desktop market increased quarter-to-quarter including double-attach-the adding of a second (or third) AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics-and to a lesser extent, dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD’s Crossfire or Nvidia’s SLI technology.

The attach rate of AIBs to desktop PCs declined from a high of 63 per cent in Q1 2008 to 36 per cent this quarter.

So in other words It is also clear that the Radeon R9 285 release didn’t have the impact AMD had hoped and NVIDIA’s Maxwell GPUs, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, GTX 970 and GTX 980 have impacted the market even more than expected.

This is ironic because the GTX 970 has been getting a lot of negative press with the memory issue and AMD makes some good gear, has better pricing and a team of PR and marketing folks that are talented and aggressive.

Courtesy-Fud

IBM, ARM Team Up To Offer IoT Starter Kit

February 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

ARM and IBM want Internet of Things (IoT) enthusiasts to make their own connected devices in a matter of minutes with a new development kit that they have unveiled.

The ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit — Ethernet Edition will allow users to make cloud-ready Internet of Things products that could receive or transmit data for analysis or alerts. The development kit will come with ARM’s mbed OS and connect into IBM’s BlueMix cloud, which will help in the development of applications and services.

The kit is for those with little to no experience in embedded or Web development. Prototype designs will guide enthusiasts through the process of making a device and connecting to IBM’s BlueMix cloud service.

The starter kit will get data from “the on board sensors into the IBM cloud within minutes of opening the box,” said the product page on ARM’s website.

ARM and IBM hope to cash in on the mass adoption of IOT, which has led to a mesh of interconnected devices used in smart homes, smart city implementations and enterprises. The devices, which could range from weather sensors to health devices, already number 1.2 billion, and could touch 5.4 billion by 2020, according to a recent study by Verizon.

The IOT market is currently fragmented with a wide variety of hardware, operating systems and communication standards in use. Through the developer kit, ARM and IBM want to bring a level of consistency in hardware and software across IOT devices. Beyond making it easier for devices to talk one another, the developer kit could make it easier to push or pull data out of a larger number of cloud services.

ARM didn’t provide details on the pricing or availability of the starter kit. The first devices resulting from the development kit are expected to be released later this year.

 

 

Chrome Browser Now Has Early Warning Alert

February 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has added an early warning alert to Chrome that appears when users try to access a website that the search giant believes will try to trick users into downloading suspicious software.

The new alert pops up in Chrome when a user aims the browser at a suspect site but before the domain is displayed. “The site ahead contains harmful programs,” the warning states.

Google emphasized tricksters that “harm your browsing experience,” and cited those that silently change the home page or drop unwanted ads onto pages in the warning’s text.

The company has long focused on those categories, and for obvious, if unstated, reasons. It would prefer that people — much less, shifty software — not alter the Chrome home page, which features the Google search engine, the Mountain View, Calif. firm’s primary revenue generator. Likewise, the last thing Google wants is to have adware, especially the most irritating, turn off everyone to all online advertising.

The new alert is only the latest in a line of warnings and more draconian moves Google has made since mid-2011, when the browser began blocking malware downloads. Google has gradually enhanced Chrome’s alert feature by expanding the download warnings to detect a wider range of malicious or deceitful programs, and using more assertive language in the alerts.

In January 2014, for example, Chrome 32 added threats that posed as legitimate software and tweaked with the browser’s settings to the unwanted list.

The browser’s malware blocking and suspect site warnings come from Google’s Safe Browsing API (application programming interface) and service; Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox also access parts of the API to warn their users of potentially dangerous websites.

Chrome 40, the browser’s current most-polished version, can be downloaded for Windows, OS X and Linux from Google’s website.

 

 

Google Acquiring Softcard’s Mobile Wallet Technology

February 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google announced it has reached a deal with three of the country’s major cellular carriers to acquire “technology and capabilities” from Softcard, a competing mobile wallet app created jointly by the telecom operators. But the deal appears to be less about technology and more about branding.

The biggest immediate change is that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile will begin pre-installing Google Wallet on new Android smartphones later this year — something that had been blocked before in preference for the Softcard app.

At their heart, both apps are based on the same contactless payment technology as Apple Pay and a new generation of payment cards from banks and credit unions. They use NFC (near-field communication) to complete a transaction once a payment card or phone is brought within a few centimeters of a terminal.

Apple Pay brought the technology widespread recognition when it launched late last year, but Google Wallet has been around since 2011. However a lack of support from carriers, retailers, card issuers and Google itself had relegated the technology to the sidelines.

While Google Wallet and Apple Pay share a technology base, there are key differences in how they work. Perhaps the biggest is that in Google Wallet, all transactions are routed through Google before being charged to the customer’s credit card.

That gives Google even greater insight into the lives of its users. In contrast, Apple doesn’t see any details of purchases made on its system.

Getting the Google Wallet app in front of more consumers could help reduce confusion over the different brands — an important consideration when the biggest Android phone maker is making moves of its own in mobile payments.

 

 

 

Antitrust Case Against Google Over Android Apps Dismissed

February 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A federal judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit that alleged Google harmed consumers by forcing Android mobile phone makers to use its apps by default. The plaintiffs were given three weeks to amend their complaint.

The two consumers who filed the suit failed to show that Google’s allegedly illegal restrictive contracts on manufacturers of Android devices resulted in higher prices on phones, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said in a Feb. 20 ruling.

The complainants, who were seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, said that Google required manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics, to set the search giant’s own apps as default options on Android-based phones, restricting access to competing software such as Microsoft’s Bing search engine. The complaint alleged that this practice limited competition in the search engine market, stifled innovation and resulted in higher prices for phones.

But Freeman ruled that the complainants failed to establish a link between software requirements and phone pricing, also noting that “there are no facts alleged to indicate that defendant’s conduct has prevented consumers from freely choosing among search products or prevented competitors from innovating.”

She gave the plaintiffs three weeks to amend the antitrust complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

 

 

Android Malware Fake Shuts Down Phones To Steal Data

February 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Next time you turn switch off your Android mobile phone, you might want to pop the battery out as an extra precaution.

Security vendor AVG has spotted a malicious program that fakes the sequence a user sees when they shut off their phone, giving it freedom to move around on the device and steal data.

When someone presses the power button on a device, a fake dialog box is shown. The malware then mimics the shutdown animation and appears to be off, AVG’s mobile malware research team said in a blog post.

“Although the screen is black, it is still on,” they said. “While the phone is in this state, the malware can make outgoing calls, take pictures and perform many other tasks without notifying the user.”

The malware requires an Android device to be “rooted,” or modified to allow deep access to its software. That may eliminate a lot of Android owners who don’t modify their phones.

But some vendors of Android phones ship their devices with that level of access, potentially making it easier for the malware to get onto a device.

This malware is unlikely to show up in Google’s Play Store, since Google tries to block applications that have malicious functions. But it could be a candidate for one of the many third-party app stores with looser restrictions.

 

Microsoft Doubling Price For Those Who Still Want XP Support

February 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft will double the per-PC price of support for enterprises still holding onto Windows XP systems when the anniversary of the aged OS’s retirement rolls around in April, according to a licensing expert familiar with the situation.

The per-PC price for what Microsoft calls “custom support agreements” (CSAs) will increase to $400, the expert said after requesting anonymity.

CSAs provide critical security updates for an operating system that’s been officially retired, as Windows XP was on April 8, 2014. CSAs are negotiated on a company-by-company basis and also require that an organization has adopted a top-tier support plan, dubbed Premier Support, offered by Microsoft.

The CSA failsafe lets companies pay for security patches beyond the normal support lifespan while they finish their migrations to newer editions of Windows. Most enterprises have shifted — and are continuing to do so — to Windows 7 rather than adopt Windows 8.1.

Last year, just days before Microsoft retired Windows XP, the company slashed the price of CSAs to $200-per-device with a cap of $250,000.

Because a CSA is an annual-only program — and Microsoft limits each organization to just three years of post-retirement support — agreements must be renewed each year. The first renewals come due in less than two months.

Ideally, companies that signed up for a CSA last year will have retired large numbers of Windows XP machines in the interim. If a firm reduced the number of Windows XP PCs by half, it will pay the same as last year if it renews the agreement at the higher per-device price.

It’s difficult to gauge the persistence of Windows XP in commercial settings, but the operating system, which debuted in 2001, continues to appear in analytics firms’ tracking.

According to U.S.-based Net Applications, for example, the global user share of XP stood at 20.7% of all Windows-powered PCs in January, representing more than 300 million machines. Meanwhile, Irish metrics company StatCounter pegged XP’s usage share at 12% for January.

 

 

 

Samsung Moving Toward Mobile Payments With LoopPay Acquisition

February 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has acquired U.S. mobile wallet startup LoopPay, signaling its intention to launch a smartphone payments service to compete with rival Apple Inc.

Mobile payments have been slow to catch on in the United States and elsewhere, despite strong backing. Apple, Google, and eBay Inc’s PayPal have all launched services to allow users to pay in stores via smartphones.

The weak uptake is partly because many retailers have been reluctant to adopt the hardware and software infrastructure required for these new mobile payment options to work. These services also fail to offer much more convenience than simply swiping a credit card, Samsung executives said on Wednesday.

LoopPay’s technology differs because it works off existing magnetic-stripe card readers at checkout, changing them into contactless receivers, they said. About 90 percent of checkout counters already support magnetic swiping.

“If you can’t solve the problem of merchant acceptance…, of being able to use the vast majority of your cards, then it can’t really be your wallet,” said David Eun, head of Samsung’s Global Innovation Center.

Injong Rhee, who is leading Samsung’s as-yet-unannounced payments project, said the Asian giant will soon reveal more details of its envisioned service. He would not be drawn on speculation the company may do so during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

He said new phones such as the upcoming, latest Galaxy would support the service.

Apple Pay, launched in September, allows iPhone users to pay at the tap of a button. Executives have lauded its rapid rollout so far, including the fact that more than 2,000 banks now support it and the U.S. government will accept Apple Pay later this year.

But Apple Pay requires retailers to install near-field communication and some have been reluctant. In addition, many retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and CVS Health Corp, back their own system, CurrentC.

Samsung had invested in LoopPay, along with Visa Inc and Synchrony Financial, before its acquisition. Terms of the deal, which Samsung negotiated over several months, were not disclosed.

It’s unclear how else Samsung could differentiate its service versus Apple’s or other rivals.