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Google Offer Phone Trade-in Policy In Time For New Pixel Device

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

With the Google Pixel 2 gearing up to launch in about two weeks, you may be ready to retire your current phone in anticipation.

All signs point to Google trying to make the process smoother. The company launched a trade-in program (scroll down on the right-hand side of the page for details) for those who send in their old phone when buying a new Google Pixel(here’s our review of the first Pixel). Even though this comes ahead of the Pixel 2 launch, it’s likely Google will extend this deal to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (if those turn out to be their final names) when those phones become available for preorder.

For the full list, head to the Google Store.

It’s common for carriers and phone manufacturers to offer trade-in deals when new phones are released, and Google offers a wide range depending on the phone’s current condition. Whether you get $61 or $363 for an iPhone 7 is a big difference, but keep in mind that a phone in good working order is far more valuable than one with a cracked screen.

Still, if you’re serious about trading in your old phone you may want to check additional options like Gazelle or NextWorth for some perspective. You may be able to get a little bit more — for example, Gazelle will give you up to $390 for an iPhone 7, while NextWorth’s prices top out at around $350). Or if your phone is in good enough condition and you have the patience, you may want to try your luck on eBay, where popular phones typically fetch higher prices.

Google doesn’t currently assign a trade-in value for the original Pixel, but that may change when the Pixel 2 is announced. Google did not respond to a request for comment, but stay tuned to CNET when the Pixel 2 becomes official on Oct. 4.

T-Mobile, Sprint Edge Closer To Merger

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

 T-Mobile US Inc is has moved closer to agreeing on tentative terms to merge with Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers.

The transaction would significantly consolidate the U.S. telecommunications market and represent the first transformative U.S. merger with significant antitrust risk to be agreed since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump in January.

The progress toward a deal also indicates that T-Mobile and Sprint believe that the U.S. antitrust enforcement environment has become more favorable since the companies abandoned their previous effort to combine in 2014 amid regulatory concerns.

The latest development in the talks between T-Mobile and Sprint comes as the telecommunications sector seeks ways to tackle investments in 5G technology that will greatly enhance wireless data transfer speeds.

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, which controls Sprint, and other Sprint shareholders will own 40 to 50 percent of the combined company, while T-Mobile majority owner Deutsche Telekom and the rest of T-Mobile shareholders will own the majority, the sources said.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son met with Trump late last year and said in February that the Japanese firm should benefit from Trump’s promised deregulation.

Once terms are finalized, due diligence by the two companies will follow and a deal is expected by the end of October, though talks may still fall through, the sources said.

Google Acquiring Pixel Smartphone Making Unit of HTC

September 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Alphabet Inc’s Google confirmed that it would pay $1.1 billion for the division at Taiwan’s HTC Corp that develops the U.S. firm’s Pixel smartphones – its second major foray into phone hardware after an earlier costly failure.

The all-cash deal will see Google gain 2,000 HTC employees, roughly equivalent to one fifth of the Taiwanese firm’s total workforce. It will also acquire a non-exclusive license for HTC’s intellectual property and the two firms agreed to look at other areas of collaboration in the future.

While Google is not acquiring any manufacturing assets, the transaction underscores a ramping up of its ambitions for Android smartphones at a time when consumer and media attention is largely focused on rival Apple Inc.

“Google has found it necessary to have its own hardware team to help bring innovations to Android devices, making them competitive versus the iPhone series,” said Mia Huang, an analyst at research firm TrendForce.

The move is part of a broader and still nascent push into hardware that saw Google hire Rick Osterloh, a former Motorola executive, to run its hardware division last year. It also comes ahead of new product launches on Oct. 4 that are expected to include two Pixel phones and a Chromebook.

Pixel smartphones, only launched a year ago, have less than 1 percent market share globally with an estimated 2.8 million shipments, according to research firm IDC.

Google will be aiming not to repeat mistakes made when it purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in 2012. It sold it off to China’s Lenovo Group Ltd for less than $3 billion two years later after Motorola failed to produce appealing products that could compete with iPhones.

This time around, however, the deal price tag is much smaller and the lack of manufacturing facilities also minimizes risk.

T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Talks Heat Up

September 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile and Sprint are a hot topic in the world of wireless.

The nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers are in active discussions for a merger, according to a person familiar with the talks. It could take anywhere between three and five weeks before the deal might be made official, although there’s no guarantee it will go through. CNBC’s David Faber was the first to report on the talks.

A merger would mark the culmination of years of flirting between T-Mobile and Sprint. The combined company would have a shot at shaking up the industry, sizable enough to compete with larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T. But opponents of a deal say the presence of four carriers has resulted in stiffer competition, lower prices and better deals for consumers.

Both companies have made their impact felt on the industry over the last few years. T-Mobile eliminated contracts and phone subsidies and last year led the push to bring unlimited plans back to the industry in a bigger way. Sprint introduced the concept of a phone leasing plan and this year began offering a year of its service for free.

They’ve tried to merge before. Sprint’s parent, Japanese carrier SoftBank, tried to strike a deal with T-Mobile majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom back in 2014, but dropped its attempt when the government signaled that it favored four national competitors. But with a more business-friendly White House in place, the companies are attempting to get together again.

Under the proposed deal, Deutsche Telekom would be the majority shareholder, and T-Mobile CEO John Legere would run the company with his management team. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son would have a minority stake in the combined company.

Wall Street analysts and industry players have long called for the two to combine in an effort to challenge Verizon and AT&T. A combination would mean a heftier customer base and could lead to more retail outlets across the country and greater oomph in bargaining for network equipment at a lower price.

Will The iPhone X Hurt Hurt Apple’s Partners

September 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple suppliers’ shares have taken a hammering after the launch of the iPhone X because European investors are concerned that the phone will not be a success.

While Apple’s shares were not badly affected by the launch, investors are concerned about what it cost its suppliers to stay on the supply list. Apple has been famously leaning on suppliers to reduce their prices to keep its margins wide. That would be ok for the suppliers if the iPhoneX was a success, but Wall Street is not so certain.

The Tame Apple Press claims that shareholders are punishing suppliers for making their phone late. The iPhoneX has been blighted with production problems, however most of these have been due to the yields on the screen and not the other iPhone suppliers.

In fact, it was the chipmakers supplying to Apple were among the worst performers, with AMS down 3.2 percent, while Dialog Semiconductor slipped 1.7 percent and STMicro fell 1.1 percent.

Chipmakers have been the best-performing among Europe’s tech stocks this year, accounting for a large chunk of the sector’s out-performance. AMS shares have gained 165 percent in the year to date.

Courtesy-Fud

Nokia Set To Enjoy Benefits Of Smartphone Patents

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia will additional income from the current quarter after a ruling by an arbitration court on payments from South Korea’s LG Electronics for using its smartphone patents.

The Finnish company said it would also get a one-off payment, although it did not disclose any of the sums involved. The companies had started the arbitration in 2015.

“We believe that this award confirms the quality of Nokia’s patent portfolio. We continue to see potential for additional licensing opportunities,” said Nokia Chief Legal Officer Maria Varsellona in a statement.

 The ruling was made by the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Nokia has recently signed deals with larger phone makers Samsung Electronics and Apple, as well as China’s Xiaomi Technology.

Nokia’s patent unit had sales of 616 million euros (541.47 million pounds) in the first half of the year — just 6 percent of the group’s total revenue. However, licensing payments are highly profitable while Nokia’s core business, telecom networks, is suffering an industry-wide slump.

“Nokia has been quicker than expected to clinch deals in the patent side… The next interesting scalp will be Huawei,” said analyst Mikael Rautanen from research firm Inderes, with an “accumulate” rating on the stock.

He said, however, that the revenue of the LG deal will be clearly smaller than that from the Apple agreement, which he estimated to bring around 250 million euros ($298 million)annually.

Nokia sold its once-dominant phone business to Microsoft in 2014 but retained its patent catalog covering technology that reduces the need for hardware components in a phone, conserves battery life and increases radio reception, among other features.

LG has a global market share of around 4 percent in smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics.

Can The IoT Market Grow By 30 Percent YoY

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Internet of Things (IOT) platform market is expected to grow 35 percent annually to $1.16 billion by 2020, according to Verizon’s State of the Market: Internet of Things 2017 report.

The report finds that the biggest growth will be in business-to-business applications which can generate nearly 70 percent of potential value enabled by IoT.

More than 73 percent of executives either researching or currently deploying IoT. Manufacturing, transportation and utilities make up the largest percent of investments, while insurance and consumers represent the fastest areas of spending growth.

Currently there are 8.4 billion connected “things” in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and network technology, cost reductions and regulatory pressures driving adoption, business leaders are not only paying attention, they’re getting in the game the report said.

While the opportunity for revenue growth is the biggest factor driving IoT adoption, regulatory compliance remains a driving factor behind enterprise IoT implementation. Standards, security, interoperability and cost make up over 50 percent of executive concerns around IoT. These uncertainties are holding businesses back from full IoT deployment, with many still in proof-of-concept or pilot phase.

Early adopters seem focused on proving out simple use cases to track data and send status alerts, just starting to realize the full value IoT has to offer in driving growth and efficiencies across business, the report said.

The report’s author Mark Bartolomeo, VP of IoT Connected Solutions at Verizon said: “Over the past year, industry innovators in energy, healthcare, construction, government, agtech and beyond have not only piloted, but in many cases, deployed IoT technology to improve business inefficiencies, track and manage assets to drive value to the bottom line. In 2017, advancements in technology and standards, coupled with changing consumer behaviours and cost reductions, have made IoT enterprise-grade, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg in driving economic value across the board.”

Courtesy-Fud

Wireless Charging Pads For New iPhones Go On Sale

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The new phones, unveiled during a special event at Apple’s new headquarters, will finally include wireless charging, a first for the iPhone line-up.

An Apple-designed charging pad, called AirPower, will be available in 2018; it will offer a large charging area that will allow up to three devices, including Apple Watch Series 3 and a new optional wireless charging case for AirPods, to power up simultaneously.

While add-on, external iPhone covers have allowed wireless charging for some time, the new line-up natively contains the wireless charging receiving coils.

As Apple was releasing the news around its new iPhones, Belkin and Mophie were making their own announcements about new iPhone-compatible wireless charging pads. The new chargers are small, round disks designed to charge one iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X at a time and no other devices.

Belkin announced its Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad, while Mophie released the wireless charging base for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Both charging pads will we be available on Apple.com and in Apple stores, as well as on Belkin’s and Mophie’s websites for $59.95.

It’s unclear why Apple would release its own charging pad well after third-party manufacturers have beaten the company to the wireless punch.

Will The iPhone 8 Have A Smooth Launch

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The iPhone 8 is supposed to be released on September 12, but according to the Wall Street Journal there are signs that all is not well behind the reality distortion field.

Production glitches in the manufacturing of the iPhone 8 earlier this summer could mean supply shortages and shipping delays when customers start putting in orders for the new device later this month.

The Journal said that if shortfalls last beyond the initial sales period expected to kick off September 22, it could lead analysts to lower estimates for the key holiday period, the paper said.

The glitches led to a setback to the manufacturing timetable of about a month. Foxconn, the contractor that assembles iPhones at factories in China, has been ramping up production and is offering bonuses to employees who help bring in new hires.

Apple is saying nothing of course. But there have been rumours of production delays connected to the screens and a higher number of phones being rejected for quality reasons.

We suspect that Apple will use the shortage to drive up hype for the new iPhone which is expected to be rather expensive as Apple boosts its margins to try and prolong the life of its cash cow. It could all backfire, of course, if a large number of phones arrive and develop faults, er unique features.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Aims For Foldable Smartphone In 2018

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung is making plans to launch a foldable phone in 2018, says Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business at Samsung Electronics.

As reported by the Associated Press, Koh told Korean reporters that once the company surmounted “some problems,” it would launch the product. He did not say what the problems were.

Samsung has been experimenting with foldable displays for a while now. The company first showcased a flexible phone display prototype in 2013. Before that, Samsung was making flexible displays, sans phone, way back in 2011.

Koh also confirmed that the company is working with auto-systems maker Harman on a smart speaker. Samsung acquired Harman, based in Stamford, Connecticut, in 2016. No further details about the smart speaker were revealed on Tuesday.

Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 Pre-orders Sets Record

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd announced that pre-orders for its Galaxy Note 8 premium smartphone have hit the highest-ever for the Note series, surpassing its predecessor Note 7 over five days by about 2.5 times.

Samsung is banking on the device to protect its market dominance as it competes with Apple Inc’s  latest iPhones due to be unveiled later on Tuesday. Note 8 sales begin in the United States, South Korea and elsewhere on Friday.

Pre-orders reached about 650,000 Note 8 handsets over five days from about 40 countries, making the initial response “very encouraging,” DJ Koh, president of Samsung Electronics’ mobile communications business, said at a media event.

The device succeeds the short-lived Note 7, whose battery fires resulted in Samsung pulling the device from the market after just a couple of months at a cost of billions of dollars.

Its reputation tarnished, the world’s biggest smartphone maker by market share nevertheless decided to retain the Note brand after a survey showed 85 percent of 5,000 Galaxy Note users expressed brand loyalty, Koh said.

The Note 8’s U.S. price of $930 to $960, including dialing and data plans, begins an era of premium-priced handsets which analysts expect to be joined by $1,000-plus iPhones.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a special edition iPhone commemorating 10 years of the handset, equipped with edge-to-edge screen and augmented reality, that will compete with the Note 8 for pre-holiday season sales in Western markets.

In China, the Note 8 is tasked with reviving fortunes in the world’s biggest smartphone market where local handset makers such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi Inc reduced Samsung’s market share to 3 percent in April-June, showed data from Counterpoint Research.

Koh said it will take time to recover in China but expects changes this year such as appointing a new mobile chief, restructuring and focusing on key buyers to be effective.

Qualcomm Develops New Chipset For Autonomous Cars

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has introduced a new Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) chipset and reference design that aims to bring automakers one step closer to deploying the communications systems necessary for fully autonomous vehicles.

Ford, Audi, the PSA Group and SAIC are all endorsing the new chipset which means that it will get out there. 

Qualcomm says that the 9150 C-V2X chipset will be available for commercial sampling in the second half of 2018, and is based on specs from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). This is a collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations.

Qualcomm’s C-V2X reference design will feature the 9150 C-V2X chipset, an application processor running the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) V2X stack, as well as a Hardware Security Module (HSM). C-V2X technology encompasses two transmission modes: direct communications and network-based communications. It’s key for both safety features and for implementing autonomous driving capabilities.

Its direct communications capabilities improve a vehicle’s situational awareness by detecting and exchanging information using low latency transmissions. Relying on the globally harmonized 5.9 GHz ITS band, the 9150 C-V2X chipset can relay information on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) scenarios without the need for a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM), cellular subscription or network assistance. On top of that, C-V2X network-based communications – designed for 4G and emerging 5G wireless networks – supports telematics, connected infotainment and a growing number of advanced informational safety use cases.

Courtesy-Fud

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 Moving Into The Camera Space

September 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon enables 360-degree 4K video capture and live-streaming, spatial “surround-sound” audio recording.

When launched in 2013, the Ricoh Theta was the world’s first 360-degree, single-shot camera, which easily let users capture and express themselves in new and unique ways. 360-degree still photos and videos redefined photography by giving the viewer the ability to control what he or she sees in a scene. In addition, the resulting 360-degree images were easily shared with others, allowing them to virtually experience a scene.

Today, Ricoh Imaging announced its latest update in the 360-degree camera line, the Ricoh Theta V camera, offering 360-degree 4K video capture and live-streaming, spatial “surround-sound” audio recording and high-speed image transfer.  The Theta V can connect to and be controlled by any Android or iOS-based smartphone or tablet using the Theta S app. The first type of connection is either via Bluetooth low energy (BLE), which enables an “always on” connection between a camera and phone.  The second uses Wi-Fi.  Supporting two connections allow for  greater flexibility in how they wirelessly control the camera and upload images through the Theta S app. The processor powering the camera is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, and makes use of the Qualcomm Connected Camera Platform.  There is 19GB of built-in storage which allows for up to 4,800 stills and approximately 40 minutes of 4K (H.264) video to be stored.

In addition to standard features, the Ricoh Theta V is the first Street View Mobile Ready camera to be certified by Google. This distinction means that Ricoh Theta V owners will be the first to experience the all-new auto mode, which lets you create Google Street View imagery while you walk, bike or even drive.

The Ricoh Theta V is available for pre-sale today for $429.95 at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com and retail outlets in the USA. The 3D Microphone TA-1 is also available today for $269.99, and the Underwater Case TW-1 will be available in October for $199.95.

Courtesy-Fud

WhatsApp Unveil Messaging App For Businesses

September 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has revealed plans to develop standalone versions of its mobile app aimed at connecting businesses and their customers more easily.

WhatsApp Business will be free for small businesses, with a paid-for enterprise version targeted at those with a global customer base – an indication of one way Facebook plans to monetize the app, which now has a billion daily users.

In a blog post the company said the proposed enterprise app will allow large organizations including airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks to contact customers with notifications, such as “flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates”.

Pricing information was not disclosed, though The Wall Street Journal reported that the corporate tool will require a fee.

WhatsApp has been steadily enhancing its business-to-consumer capabilities for some time now. Last week, the firm announced a business verification system, with a green badge indicating WhatsApp has confirmed a phone number belongs to an authenticated business account – similar to Facebook’s own grey badge for business pages. WhatsApp has previously announced plans to allow businesses to contact customers with marketing messages.

In its blog post, WhatsApp said it will work with business users as part of a closed pilot program to test additional new services ahead of a wider launch.

One of the companies testing the enterprise service, UK-based e-commerce firm Yoox Net-a-Porter, said in a blog post that many of its customers prefer to use WhatsApp rather than email to complete transactions and get product suggestions. The company, which also has operations in the U.S., said it has completed single item sales of up $104,000. WhatsApp is now integrated with its order management system application and is being tested as a notification system for order shipping confirmations.

The announcement serves to highlight the growing acceptance of the consumer messaging app by business users. WhatsApp claimed that many small businesses are already using its platform to interact with customers, though acknowledged that kind of connection is “pretty rudimentary.”

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for approximately $22 billion and has been attempting to find ways to generate revenue streams from the popular messaging app.

YouTube Live Updated, Streaming Simplified

September 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

YouTube is aiming to make your livestreaming more about the moment and less about the technicalities.

New launched updates to YouTube Live will bring more streaming power to your iPhone or iPad, help you moderate comments, and stream with less of a delay, Kurt Wilms, product lead for YouTube Live, said in a blog post.

“Whether it’s solar eclipses, NBA superstars, the hottest music artists, pro gamers, creators donating to charity, or the world’s most famous giraffe, creators use live to connect with fans during the moments that matter,” Wilms said.

The additions come as more celebrities, YouTubers and regular folks experiment with broadcasting video via their phones. It helps that there are myriad options, including Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope. The tech giants behind livestreaming all hope that when you feel the need to broadcast in real time, you’ll pick them.

YouTube’s updates include making it simpler to stream from your Apple iPhone and iPad. Although you can already livestream from certain apps via the YouTube Gaming app, the feature will now come to the main YouTube app so you can use your phone’s microphone and front-facing camera to add audio and video commentary to your stream.

No matter what you’re streaming, you’ll be doing it with lower latency, or less of a delay between when you broadcast the video and when people actually see the feed. The new feature is called ultra-low latency and cuts down on lag so you can answer questions or get viewer response faster. It’s a step toward real-time interaction with folks watching your live video.

Finally, there are also several new tools aimed at chat moderation. One lets you pause the chat to moderate by pressing and holding “alt/option.” Another lets you check for inappropriate messages and hold them for approval. The system, if you opt in to it, learns over time what you want to hold for review. Another tool is shared hidden user lists, which let moderators use the same hidden user lists for comments and live chat. A hidden user list consists of people a creator does not allow to comment.

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