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Project Fi Will Allow Google To Amass More User Data

April 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

As Google jumps into the Wi-Fi and cellular network services business, some are wondering what’s behind it.

Google, known for its dominant search engine and Android operating system, has been stretching boundaries with newer projects like autonomous cars and robotics. Now it’s competing with the likes of wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T in the data and cellular market.

While the latest Google move may look confusing, Project Fi is feeding Google’s long-term strategy — getting more data about its users that it can turn into ad sales and greater revenue.

“I’m not sure they’re trying to become a big-time wireless player,” said Brian Haven, an analyst with IDC. “But by becoming a wireless service, it allows Google to gain a lot more data from new end points with users. Data is what drives them. Regardless of whether or not they can generate a nice revenue stream, the data will still feed into the other things they do.”

Google just last week announced that it’s working with Sprint and T-Mobile to come out with its own wireless network, dubbed Project Fi.

The company is asking would-be customers to sign up online for an invite to what it calls an Early Access Program for the service; Fi will only be available to Nexus 6 smartphone users at the start.

The company, which makes most of its money on search and related advertising, is known for trying out various ideas and technologies. Not all of them work out, but Google doesn’t seem afraid to try.

“Google’s strategic imperative is always to drive usage of Google services and applications,” said Bill Menezes, an analyst with Gartner. “Their core business is never going to be cellular service provider. Their core mission is to get more people to click on Google ads, to use Google Docs, to watch YouTube videos. This new service plays in perfectly with that.”

Menezes agrees with Haven that Project FI will enable Google to gain insights into consumer behaviors — and amass more user data.

 

 

 

 

Google Glass Gets Makeover By Luxottica

April 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Luxottica, the Italian eyewear designer that owns Ray-Ban and Oakley, is working with Google to create a new version of Glass, according it its CEO.

The disclosure is a further indication that Google Glass, which is still being sold to business, will be revived at some point as a product for consumers.

Luxottica is working with Google on a second version of Glass, and the online giant is also rethinking how a future model might look, Massimo Vian, one of Luxottica’s two CEOs, told shareholders in Milan.

“In Google, there are some second thoughts on how to interpret version 3 [of the eyewear]. What you saw was version 1. We’re now working on version 2, which is in preparation,” Vian said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

He didn’t give details about the product or say when it might be introduced.

Launched in 2013, Glass became popular among technology enthusiasts, but its $1,500 price tag held back wider adoption. Many also felt awkward about wearing a computer on their face in public, and the device’s ability to record video surreptitiously sparked privacy questions.

Google, though, believes the headset has potential for consumers but that it needs to be reworked. In the meantime, it’s still selling the device to businesses, which have found uses for it in the workplace.

In 2014, Google enlisted Luxottica to help make Glass more stylish.

Vian traveled to California recently to meet with the new Glass team, the Journal said. The group working on Glass was revamped after Google ended consumer sales of the device in January. The personnel changes included giving Tony Fadell, head of Google’s Nest connected home division, oversight of Glass’ development. His role would be to get Glass “ready for users,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said in March.

Luxottica, which is one of the world’s largest eyewear manufacturers, is also working with Intel on a device that will come out next February or March, the Journal said.

 

 

Alibaba, China Telecom Partner Up To Sell Mobile Phones

April 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and state-owned ChinaTelecom Corp Ltd have developed a partnership to offer low-cost smartphones aimed at boosting mobile commerce in smaller cities and rural areas.

The phones, dubbed “Tianyi Taobao Shopping Handsets”, will come installed with either an app for easy access to Alibaba’s flagship Taobao online shopping platform or its home-grown YunOS mobile operating system, it said in a statement late on Friday. Buyers will be eligible for four months of free 2G data service.

The partnership is a bid to deepen Alibaba’s e-commerce base in less developed parts of the country and promote its mobile operating system in a shrinking, cut-throat handset market.

Six models produced by Coolpad, Hisense and TCL would come with the Mobile Taobao app pre-installed. Mobile Taobao is China’s most popular mobile shopping app with more than 200 million monthly active users, it said.

Another eight models, made by lesser-known brands including Uniscope, Ctyon and Kingsun, will run YunOS, providing buyers with an Alibaba account for shopping and cloud-based storage, and other preloaded services, it said.

Some 557 million people in China access the internet via mobile devices, according to government data. But shipments in China were 389 million phones in 2014, down from 423 million the previous year, according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Still, mobile shopping is on the rise.

In January, Alibaba said the number of mobile monthly active users nearly doubled in the third quarter from the same period the previous year to 265 million. The proportion of gross merchandise volume derived from mobile also grew.

Alibaba says it has an 86 percent share of China mobile commerce market.

In February, Alibaba announced that it was taking a $590 million stake in Meizu, a relatively obscure domestic smartphone maker as it tests ways to expand its mobile operating system.

 

Samsung Tease Of A New Gear Smartwatch

April 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd dropped hints that there may be a new version of its Gear smartwatch on Friday, the same day that rival Apple Inc’s long-awaited wearable devices went on sale.

The South Korean tech giant’s official blog post showed images of smartwatch with a round face – which would be a first for Samsung – and naming several partners, including Baidu Inc, Yelp Inc and CNN.

Samsung also said it would release a wearable software development kit for third-party developers ahead of the launch.

The blog post came as the Apple Watch went on sale without the fanfare typical of the U.S. firm’s major product rollouts.

Apple’s offering is still expected to sell much better than any rival products to date. Researcher IHS expects shipments of more than 19 million Apple Watches this year, more than five times the number of all smartwatches shipped globally in 2014.

Samsung has launched six smartwatches since 2013 to build an early lead in the nascent market, but sales have been modest. IHS estimates that Samsung accounted for nearly 1 million of the 3.6 million smartwatches shipped globally last year.

The South Korean firm gave no other details on the new Gear smartwatch, such as when it may start selling, though the head of the firm’s mobile business said earlier in April that Samsung would launch products in the near future.

 

Dell Working On 120Gbs Deep Packet Inspection Firewall

April 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Dell’s security division has announced that it is working on a next-generation Firewall (NGFW) that it claims is the first to deliver deep packet inspection (DPI) speeds of up to 120Gbps.

The company will demonstrate these speeds at the RSA conference in San Francisco this week, and said that the NGFW cluster enables an “easy migration path” for the future growth of enterprise networks.

Dubbed a “firewall sandwich” of high DPI performance, better security efficiency and N+1 resiliency, the NGFW architecture is also said to lower the cost of demanding data centre operations.

“SSL decryption and inspection are critical NGFW capabilities required to effectively uncover malware deeply hidden inside encrypted web sessions and provide deeper perimeter network security,” said Dell.

“In this network design, the Dell SuperMassive NGFW with onboard SSL decryption can be incrementally deployed and horizontally scaled infinitely to address SSL performance loss and increase SSL decryption and inspection performance.”

The company will show off the technology at RSA in collaboration with Array Networks and Spirent Communication to give a demo of a highly-resilient, scalable, ‘Open Firewall Sandwich’ layer 3 architecture.

Dell will be joined by Ixia in demonstrating a network-based model for scaling the NGFW with DPI speeds of above 100Gbps.

Dell also unveiled several updates to the SecureWorks offering, which it claims will help firms increase network security and grow their business.

Updates include improved services in Dell Secure Mobile Access (SMA) solutions to increase mobile productivity for remote workers while protecting critical data from cyber threats.

The new SMA 11.2 release adds secure access to more resources using a standard HTML 5 browser, which Dell said allows easier access for most smartphone, tablet and laptop users while reducing reliance on Java and ActiveX components.

The new release adds HTML 5 browser access to Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp ICA support.

Dell said that new SMA 6200 and 7200 appliances also offer increased scalability. The SMA 6200 entry-level platform supports up to 2,000 concurrent users, while the SMA 7200 mid-range platform supports up to 10,000 concurrent users.

The SMA updates arrive six months after Dell revealed the SuperMassive 9800 firewall, which it claimed would protect against high-profile bugs such as Shellshock and Heartbleed.

Touted at the time as the most powerful in the SuperMassive 9000 line-up, the 9800 offered Dell’s Reassembly-Free DPI single-pass threat prevention engine, and advanced DPI with speeds up to 20Gbps. That’s a whopping 100Gbps less than the speed it is about to go for at RSA.

Courtesy-TheInq

Samsung Acknowledges Screen Rotation Issue With Galaxy S6 Edge Phones

April 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has finally acknowledged there is a screen rotation problem on a “very limited” number of Galaxy S6 Edge devices, which went on sale April 10.

The company said a solution is already available, but didn’t disclose whether it is related to the device’s hardware or software or both.

In a statement issued by email to Computerworld, a Samsung spokeswoman said: “Samsung is aware of an issue affecting screen rotation on a very limited number of Galaxy S6 Edge devices and a solution is already available. Owners who believe their device may be affected should call 1-800-SAMSUNG for support.”

The problem cropped up on the first day that Edge sales began 12 days ago. Dozens of users reported last week and this week on various online forums that photos they had taken with the phone and many apps would not rotate into landscape (horizontal) mode and were stuck in portrait (vertical) mode.

Some users said they returned the faulty Edge devices to the wireless carrier retail stores to get another Edge device, then found the auto-rotate problem cropped up, again, on the new phone.

The issue has also been reported on Edge devices on carriers outside the U.S., including New Zealand and Hong Kong. One user, Leon Chan, claimed on Android Forums on April 17 to have exchanged his Edge device three times due to the auto-rotation issue, but planned to get the cousin device, the regular Galaxy S6, the fourth time around. “I called Hong Kong Samsung and they seem to be unaware,” he wrote several days before Samsung issued its statement acknowledging the problem.

AT&T and Sprint both referred Computerworld to Samsung for comment on the concern. T-Mobile said it hasn’t seen any auto-rotate problems with Edge devices. Verizon didn’t respond to a request for comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARM Appears To Be On The Rise

April 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Chip designer ARM reported a 36 per cent rise in first-quarter net profit amid strong demand for its technology.

The British company said that expects 2015 revenue to meet the expectations of the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street.

ARM recorded net profit of $126.7 million for the three months to March 31 and revenue rose 22 percent.

Shares in ARM, which makes money by licensing its designs to chip makers, then collecting royalty revenue when the chips ship, were up by more than 5 per cent on the back of the news.

Processor-royalty revenue in dollar terms, a much-watched figure, rose 31 per cent on the year, the company said, adding that it has signed 30 processor licenses for a broad range of applications.

ARM CEO Simon Segars said: As the world becomes more digital and more connected, we continue to see an increase in the demand for ARM’s smart and energy-efficient technology, which is driving both our licensing and royalty revenues.@

Processor-licensing revenue was down 2 per cent in the quarter, which was in line with expectations following strong growth previously. Chief Financial Officer Tim Score told journalists he expects it to grow in future quarters.

Aside from smartphones and tablets, ARM said it is also seeing demand for its processors to be used for servers and networking and for the “Internet of Things”, a term used for the growing tendency for more items to be wirelessly connected.

ARM expects to benefit from the growth of the Internet of Things in areas such as health and in cars, Score said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Samsung Projecting 70M Galaxy S6, Edge Phones To Be Sold

April 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has recently described the first week of Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge sales as “impressive” and predicted overall sales for both devices will break a record, passing 70 million globally for both.

That projection, offered by an unnamed Samsung executive in a recent Korea Times report from Seoul, would be welcome, indeed, after the company’s problems selling the Galaxy S5.

A Samsung spokeswoman could not immediately confirm the sales estimate. Both phones went on sale April 10 in the U.S. and other major markets.

The 70 million in sales for both phones would compare to reported sales of 70 million for each of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 phones. The Galaxy S5′s sales fell 40% below expectations, as measured last November, leading to an executive shakeup.

Samsung has been using the Edge device as a kind of promotion for both phones, which are reportedly sold to carriers in a ratio deal: When a carrier buys 10 Galaxy S6 phones to resell, the carrier gets the right to buy five Edge phones to resell.

The Edge is the first smartphone with two curved front display edges on either side, something Samsung expected would be a crowd pleaser. Some reports have said there were a record high 20 million pre-orders for both new phones and that some retailers sold out within a day of availability.

Samsung is apparently seeing good early sales despite user complaints of a problem with the auto-rotate feature on some Edge devices. Some images and apps remain stuck in the portrait mode (vertical) and won’t rotate as they should to landscape mode (horizontal), according to dozens of users in forums.

Samsung and U.S. carriers have offered no public explanation for the problem or its fix, nor have they said how many units are affected. Some customers have returned an Edge device only to have a second one fail. Sprint referred all queries on the matter to Samsung, while Verizon and AT&T have not commented.

 

Microsoft Strips Down Nano-Server

April 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is going great guns in the server market having recently announced the Nano Server, a “minimal footprint” Windows Server, and Hyper-V containers, which provide virtual machine isolation capabilities to containers.

Nano Server is even more stripped-down than Windows Server Core with the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components all being put in the dustbin.

You can’t do local logons, Remote Desktop and WMI and PowerShell are the only tools available to manage the creature.
Microsoft is also working on better remote tooling and is coming up with a set of management tools for the nano. It is planning work on PowerShell’s Desired State Configuration, file transfers and script authoring and debugging.

Cutting all this stuff out has made it more efficient, secure and availability. Redmond said that the Nano Server has 93 percent lower VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) size.

It also gets 92 percent fewer critical bulletins and requires 80 percent fewer reboots than a typical Windows Server. It is also a bit quicker to setup: from bare metal to running Nano Server takes 3 minutes.

Hyper-V containers also will offer the system a fair bit of isolation that was only available to “dedicated physical or virtual machines”.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Intel Downgrade Itanium?

April 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The last processor released was Poulson that was pretty advanced for its time, but is now getting so old that parts of the chip are haunted.

The Itanium 9500 series processors were designed for scalability in mind and targeted at the HPC market and Intel has been pretty quiet about a replacement.

KitGuru cornered an Intel suit and asked them if they were planning to can it completely, but the suit denied it.

“Intel remains committed to the Intel Itanium product line and to the delivery of the next-generation Intel Itanium processor, code named ‘Kittson’. [It] will be manufactured on Intel’s 32nm process technology and will be socket compatible with the existing Itanium 9300/9500 platforms, providing customers with performance improvements, investment protection, and a seamless upgrade path for existing systems,” the spokesman said.

Hang on a minute. Kittson was originally supposed to be on the 22nm process, so the downgrade to 32nm is a bit of a shock.

The only one still trying to flog the Itanium ecosystem is HP. However, HP is in process of transitioning to the x86-64 ecosystem as well, and once it does that, there will be virtually no demand.

Intel has also made it very clear that they have not announced any product after Kittson – which means Kittson will be the end of that branch of the evolutionary tree.

It is sad really IA64 was interesting and had some legs for businesses taking them away from x86 land. It just seems that it was a Betamax.

Courtesy-Fud

Mozilla’s Firefox Coming To iPhone

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mozilla will offer Firefox for Apple’s iPhone “soon,” according to a company announcement of an open marketing position.

As the senior mobile marketing manager, the candidate will “lead marketing for Firefox on both Android and iOS,” the listing stated, adding that “a new Firefox for iOS application [will be] arriving soon.”

Mozilla, which had previously staunchly declined to create a version of its iconic browser for iOS, changed its tune last December, when a company manager said that the open-source developer would “get Firefox on iOS.”

Although Mozilla confirmed that it was working on Firefox for iOS, at the time it gave no hint of a timeline. “We are in the early stages of experimenting with something that allows iOS users to be able to choose a Firefox-like experience,” Mozilla said in a Dec. 2 blog.

The phrase “Firefox-like experience” was crucial: Apple allows only those browsers into the App Store that are built atop its own rendering and JavaScript engines, WebKit and Nitro, which power Safari. Mozilla relies on its own technologies for both. Firefox on iOS, then, will be a user interface (UI) layer atop WebKit and Nitro.

Mozilla’s Github repository for iOS Firefox confirmed that.

The reasons for Mozilla’s renewed interest in iOS likely stemmed from Firefox’s decline in browser user share. Over the last 12 months, Firefox has shed 31% of its desktop user share by metrics vendors’ Net Applications count, and now has less than half the share of Google’s Chrome.

Mozilla has put its shoulder behind other mobile initiatives. But Firefox OS, an open-source mobile operating system based on the browser, has not yet gained significant traction and its Firefox browser for Android hasn’t moved the needle. According to Net Applications, Firefox’s usage share on mobile was just 0.7% last month, or about one sixty-sixth that of Safari.

 

 

 

Sony Unveils New Xperia Smartphone

April 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sony Corp on Monday announced a new high-end Xperia smartphone featuring an aluminium frame and a 5.2-inch screen, showing it is still in the phone race even as it scales down its struggling mobile operations.

The launch of the new flagship model comes amid a painful restructuring at the Japanese consumer electronics giant which has thrown the future of its smartphone division into doubt, with top executives saying an exit cannot be ruled out.

But as the company focuses on cutting costs rather than growing its mobile market, the division still needs investment in new products and marketing to maintain Sony’s brand and hold off a more rapid deterioration.

Sony said the Xperia Z4 would be available in Japan around the middle of the year, though it did not provide a launch date, details on carrier partners or price. The handset would be available in four colours and was slightly thinner than the previous Z3.

Hiroki Totoki, who was appointed last year to turn around the mobile unit, said Sony was targeting the upper end of the market where rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc dominate.

“There’s a broad variety in the prices of smartphones, from around $100 to $1,400 at the upper end,” he told a news conference. “We want to focus in the upper half of that.”

Sony’s mobile division has fallen far behind high-end rivals such as Samsung and Apple, while at the low end it is battling pricing pressure from Asian manufacturers such as China’s Xiaomi Inc.

The company whose Walkman and Trinitron TV once played a critical role in the global entertainment industry has struggled in recent years to come up with trend-setting gadgets.

Sony announced in February that it would scale down its weaker operations such as TVs and mobile phones to focus instead on more successful products such as video games and camera sensors.

 

Qualcomm Gives Snapdragon More Umph

April 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has released a new Trepn Profiler app for Android which will profile Snapdragon processors and tinker with them.

The Trepn Profiler app identifies apps that overwork the CPU or are eating too much data. The app will pinpoint which of the apps drain the battery faster.

All data that will be obtained by this app can provide information you need to know which program is slowing down your phone.

Most Android phone users will not give a damn, but developers will find it useful. Those who are interested in testing roms, custom kernels, and their own apps can use the data gathered by the Trepn Profiler.

Developers can measure optimisation and performance on Snapdragon-powered mobile devices. Data are real-time include network usage, battery power, GPU frequency load, and CPU cores’ load. Key features also include six fast-loading profiling presets, and an advanced mode to manually select data points and save for analysis.

The Advanced Mode allows profiling a single app or device, offline data analysis, and increasing of data collection interval. This special mode also allows longer profiling sessions, displaying two data point in one overlay, and viewing of profile data.

All up this should enable developers to come up with more Snapdragon friendly apps.

Courtesy-Fud

AMD To Power Samsung’s Digital Media

April 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Embedded R-Series accelerated processing unit, previously codenamed “Bald Eagle,” is powering Samsung’s latest set-back-box digital media players.

AMD’s Embedded R-Series accelerated processing unit, previously codenamed “Bald Eagle,” is powering Samsung’s latest set-back-box digital media players.

Bald Eagle was designed for high performance at low power with broad connectivity but mostly for digital signage.

It seems that new Samsung SBB-B64DV4 is intended for demanding signage applications that transform Samsung SMART Signage Displays into digital tools for a wide range of business needs.

The chipmaker claimed that by using its Embedded R-Series APUs, Samsung SBB media players for digital signage can manage HD graphics performance and support multivideo stream capabilities up to two displays, in a power efficient and ultra-compact form factor.

Scott Aylor, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD Embedded Solutions said that digital signage is a key vertical for the AMD Embedded business.

“The AMD Embedded R-Series APU enables leading digital signage providers to harness high levels of compute and graphics performance within a low-power design envelope. AMD Embedded Solutions help designers at Samsung achieve aggressive form factor goals and drive down system costs while providing the rich multimedia their digital signage customers’ demand,” he said.

The AMD Embedded RX-425BB APU combines an x86 CPU with an integrated, discrete-class AMD Radeon R6 graphics processing unit in a low-power configuration to minimize heat dissipation constraints and meet energy efficiency requirements.

The processor uses AMD’s latest Graphics Core Next architecture, created for advanced graphics applications and parallel processing capabilities.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Unveils Office Touch Apps For Windows Phones

April 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp has finally rolled out a long-awaited suite of touch-friendly Office apps that allow Windows phone users to work on Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on their phones with touch commands and to transfer them easily between devices.

Test versions of what Microsoft is calling its Office Universal apps are available to download immediately and full versions will be available by the end of the month, Microsoft said.

Many Office users have waited months for Microsoft to introduce the apps, which adapt their look and commands to the device being used, whether Windows Phone or tablet.

Microsoft, in a departure from tradition, has already released similar touch-friendly Office apps for Apple Inc’s  iPad and iPhone, and for tablets running Google Inc’s Android.

The company’s reasoning was that those popular devices, which have dominated mobile computing, represented a bigger and more lucrative market for its Office products than its own Windows mobile devices.

Basic functions are free for everyone, but for advanced editing features, users must pay for a subscription to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Office.

Microsoft is set to release a new version of Office for desktop PCs, and a new version of Windows, later this year.