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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Should Encryption Be The Norm?

November 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Encryption should be a matter of priority and used by default. That’s the message from the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the worldwide body in charge of the internet’s technology infrastructure.

The IAB warned in a statement that “the capabilities and activities of attackers are greater and more pervasive than previously known”.

It goes on to say: “The IAB urges protocol designers to design for confidential operation by default. We strongly encourage developers to include encryption in their implementations, and to make them encrypted by default.

“We similarly encourage network and service operators to deploy encryption where it is not yet deployed, and we urge firewall policy administrators to permit encrypted traffic.”

The purpose, the IAB claims, is to instill public trust in the internet after the myriad high-profile cases in which computer traffic has been intercepted, ranging from bank details to email addresses and all points in between.

The news will be unwelcome to the security services, which have repeatedly objected to initiatives such as the default encryption in iOS8 and Android L, claiming that it is in the interest of the population to retain the right to intercept data for the prevention of terrorism.

However, leaked information, mostly from files appropriated by rogue NSA contractor Edward Snowden, suggests that the right of information interception is abused by security services including the UK’s GCHQ.

These allegations include the collection of irrelevant data, the investigation of cold cases not in the public interest, and the passing of pictures of nude ladies to colleagues.

Courtesy-TheInq

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.

 

 

A Mobile Phone That Can Spot Counterfeit Goods?

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Spotting counterfeited goods could become a question of simply taking close-up photos with a smartphone, according to a new NEC technology.

The electronics maker has developed an authentication system that compares images snapped with a phone with those in a cloud-based database. Images of the authentic product from the manufacturer would need to be registered beforehand.

The “object fingerprint authentication technology” is the first such system that can identify individual objects, according to the company.

The know-how makes use of fine patterns in the grain of metal or plastic that occur naturally during manufacturing and are invisible to the human eye.

The system can be used to find pirated goods, trace the origin and distribution through the marketplace of authentic goods and manage components in industrial applications such as maintenance and repair work, making sure they’re being used correctly.

The technology, which can also work with tablet cameras, allows for objects to be identified at low cost and without special processing, according to NEC.

The accuracy of the system depends on the material in question, but NEC said its tests on bolts yielded an equal error rate (EER) of less than one in 1 million. The EER is an accuracy measurement used in biometrics in which lower figures suggest more accurate devices.

At a demonstration in Tokyo on Monday, NEC staffers fitted 3D-printed close-up lens attachments, developed by NEC, to standard smartphone cameras.

Then they photographed objects, such as the zipper pull tab on a luxury handbag and the head of a screw, in extreme close-up. By querying a cloud database of images and related information through an NEC smartphone app, the system ran a pattern-matching check and quickly identified the parts to confirm their authenticity.

“This is a continuation of NEC’s work on fingerprint recognition,” said Toshihiko Hiroaki, a senior manager at NEC Central Research Laboratories. “The growth of the biometrics market had stalled, so we were looking for a new business opportunity.”

 

Yahoo Adds Another Purchase, Acquires BrightRoll

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo has agreed to purchase the video advertising platform BrightRoll for $640 million, in a move that could help to offset declines in its traditional display ad business.

The deal was announced on Tuesday and is one of Yahoo’s largest acquisitions since it bought Tumblr last year for just over $1 billion.

Yahoo already runs video ads on properties like Yahoo Screen, but BrightRoll’s system gives marketers a way to buy ads in real time across thousands of websites and mobile apps.

“Online video advertising is increasingly fragmented across thousands, if not millions, of sites and mobile apps,” the companies said. Advertisers want ways to buy video ads at scale and across many sites in fewer, simpler transactions.

The deal is expected to close by March and will make Yahoo’s video advertising platform the largest in the U.S., they said.

Yahoo has struggled to grow its ad business and compete better against Google and Facebook. It may have made some progress lately, reporting in its earnings call last month that its native ads are doing well on mobile.

It’s been struggling in the area of traditional display ads on the desktop, however. But it contended Tuesday that video ads are the new display advertising.

“Video is display 2.0,” CEO Marissa Mayer said in a post on Tumblr.

“Its what brand advertisers love. Its a format that elegantly and easily transitions from broadcast television to PC to mobile and even to wearables,” she said. “This is why video is a key part of our strategy.”

It can also replace the branded banner ad, according to Mayer.

Digital video advertising is increasing at “an eye-popping rate,” eMarketer said recently, although spending on TV ads still outpaces it.

BrightRoll’s revenues are expected to exceed $100 million this year, Yahoo said. The company expects to retain its team of roughly 400 employees.

 

 

 

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.

 

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%.

 

 

 

Will Google’s Smartglasses Be A Hit?

November 7, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A new report by Juniper Research found that shipments and adoption of smart glasses were slower than expected due to fewer ending up in the market.

The report, Smart Glasses: Consumer, Enterprise and Healthcare Strategies and Forecasts 2014-2019, estimated that shipments were unlikely to exceed 10 million per annum until 2018.

Juniper Research expects sales to be buoyed slightly by fresh releases by several key players in 2015-2016, including Samsung, Recon Instruments and the Microsoft-owned Osterhout Design Group.

The report thinks that greater utility within the enterprise and healthcare segments is likely to spur development until the devices catch on outside these markets.

Smart glasses continue to raise privacy and safety concerns from many consumers and government bodies. It argued that these need to be addressed or assuaged before the devices become accepted, although prices and their status as supplementary devices mean that smart glasses will remain niche for the medium-term.

According to the report, smart glasses development is at a comparable stage to smartphones in the early 2000s, primarily focused on the enterprise sector. As workplaces are likely to share devices between users, rather than purchase devices in bulk for all their employees, this will result in high investment but low shipment volumes to the enterprise for the next five years.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Opens Up The Core M

November 6, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has extended its Core M range of fanless mobile chips by adding four models to the three initial Core M processors launched at the IFA trade show in September.

Like those first fanless models, Intel’s new Core M processors are dual-core chips that support Hyperthreading in up to four threads and have thermal design power (TDP) ratings of 4.5W.

They’re faster than the initial Core M chips, with base clock speeds ranging from 800MHz to 1.2GHz and Turbo Boost speeds from 2GHz to 2.9GHz.

The firm’s initial Core M chips were also rated at 4.5W TDP but topped out at 1.1GHz and 2.6GHz under Turbo Boost.

These additional fanless mobile chips are configurable by system designers, in that OEMs can scale the chip speeds and power consumption up or down depending on the purpose and configuration of the device.

A compact tablet or notebook can conserve power by limiting processor speed, while a larger device can offer higher speed at the cost of higher power draw and heat.

Thus, these new Core M chips can be configured from 600MHz base clock speed and 3.5W TDP to 1.4GHz base clock speed and 6W TDP in the fastest model.

Intel has also boosted the integrated graphics processors in these latest Core M chips, offering GPU base clock speeds ranging from 300MHz to 900MHz, whereas the initial models supported 100MHz to 850MHz.

The detailed specifications of all of Intel’s Core M mobile processors are available on the firm’s website.

Intel said that these new fanless Core M processors will start hitting the market early next year.

Courtesy-TheInq

Sprint Clings To 3rd Place, Wards Off T-Mobile Advance In Latest Quarter

November 5, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint had 55 million wireless “connections” at the end of the third quarter, allowing it to barely retain the title of third largest U.S. carrier, just ahead of T-Mobile.

Some analysts had predicted Sprint would fall to fourth place behind T-Mobile, which has 53 million wireless customers, due to Sprint’s losses of postpaid phone subscribers. Those customers pay monthly bills after using a wireless service, as opposed to paying in advance.

In the company’s earnings call late Monday, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announced a loss of 500,000 postpaid phone connections during the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That’s down from a loss of 620,000 in the second quarter and 693,000 in the first quarter. For the first nine months of the year, Sprint has lost about 1.8 million postpaid customers.

Still, Claure said that Sprint has worked to stabilize is subscriber base with new family service plans and special pricing for the iPhone 6, which he said has been the best iPhone launch by Sprint ever. He cited record sales, but did not disclose any numbers.

“I have now completed 85 days [as CEO], and couldn’t be more excited about the progress made in those short weeks…,” Claure said. “We have started a transformation, while the company faces headwinds. ”

The biggest determining factor in a carrier’s success is postpaid phone customer growth, Claure noted.

Sprint’s wireless customer base includes 29.9 million postpaid connections (for all devices, not just smartphones); 15.1 million prepaid connections; and another 9.9 million connections made from Sprint affiliates, wholesale customers and devices of various types.

In contrast, T-Mobile said last week it had added 2.3 million subscribers in the same quarter, giving it 52.89 million customers.

With the benefit of wholesale and affiliate connections, “we still have the third most [connections],” Sprint spokesman Scott Sloat noted in an email.

Remaining in third place gives Sprint bragging rights, but it wasn’t something anyone at Sprint highlighted, given T-Mobile’s strong surge in recent quarters and Sprint’s problems.

Despite the overall third quarter customer losses, both September and October saw year-over-year improvements — the first such improvements in 2014, Claure said.