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Qualcomm To Wirelessly Charge BMWs

August 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has launched its new Official Safety Car for season two of the FIA’s Formula E Championship.

For those not in the know, the Formula E Championship is for electric cars, and they are no longer the milk floats that English people get stuck behind in narrow streets.

The new Official Qualcomm Safety Car is the BMW i8 but it will be charged wirelessly with an advanced Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system.

The Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system delivers twice the amount of energy to the BMW i8′s batteries per hour as compared to last year’s 3.6kW system.

This halves the full charge time, enabling the vehicle to fully charge in one hour. Employing Qualcomm Halo DD technology, with magnetic architecture optimization, ensures higher coupling coefficients and drives lower system currents, higher inefficiencies and the ability to support higher power levels.

A Qualcomm spokesman said that an open championship has encouraged teams to develop their own powertrain tech.

This ensures that the racing remains highly competitive, and it supports the goal of Formula E to advance the development of new technologies for electric vehicles and to bring those technologies, vital to sustainable mobility, to the attention of millions of people around the globe, a spokesman said.

Qualcomm’s general manager of wireless charging, Steve Pazol said Qualcomm was excited to continue its support of Formula E in this second season.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Report Reveals Hi-tech Vehicle Systems Are Rarely Used By Owners

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Although car makers are spending billions of dollars to install cutting-edge technologies in vehicles, a new report shows many owners don’t use them.

According to J.D. Power’s 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report, 20% of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of 33 of the latest technology features.

The 2015 DrIVE Report measures driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership.

The five features owners most commonly report that they “never use” are in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); heads-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%).

Additionally, there are 14 technology features that 20% or more of owners don’t even  want in their next vehicle. Those features include Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services and in-vehicle voice texting. When narrowed to just Gen Yers, the number of vehicle owners who don’t want entertainment and connectivity systems increases to 23%.

“In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human-machine interface (HMI) research at J.D. Power. “In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers.”

About the technology now offered in new cars, vehicle owners said they simply “did not find it useful,” adding that it “came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it.”

Vehicle owners who said their dealer did not explain a tech feature also had a higher likelihood of never using it, the survey found.

J.D. Power built its report on responses from more than 4,200 vehicle owners and lessees after 90 days of ownership. The report was conducted between April and June 2015.

 

 

 

Facebook Testing ‘M’, Personal Digital Assistant

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is testing a personal digital assistant called “M” within its Messenger service that is capable of answering questions with live human help and performing tasks such as buying gifts online and making restaurant reservations.

M is “powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” David Marcus, vice president of Messaging products, wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

Rival services like Apple Inc’s Siri, Google Inc’s Google Now and Microsoft Corp’s Cortana rely entirely on technology to answer questions.

M is a hybrid backed by a team of Facebook employees with customer service backgrounds, called M trainers, who can also make travel arrangements and appointments, Marcus wrote.

Facebook has introduced several functions inside Messenger, which boasts more than 700 million users, to transform it into a standalone platform. Earlier this year, it rolled out games exclusively on Messenger and launched products for businesses to directly connect with consumers.

 

 

Will Samsung Recall The Galaxy Note 5

August 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Days after Apple finally decided to replace faulty cameras on a batch of their premium phones, we find out that there’s a serious design flaw in Samsung’s newest flagship phablet with a pen.

You know how Apple invests a lot of effort into filming gorgeous-looking promotional videos for their overpriced products? And then, sometimes, they don’t really think the products all the way through, so you may end up having to return it for repairs within weeks from splurging on them? We wrote about the issues with the camera on the iPhone 6 plus here.

You know how Samsung was repeatedly accused of shamelessly coppying Apple for years? How there was even a multi billion dollar law suit and an almost equally large court sentence? Honestly, we thought that fining Samsung for going with rounded corners, just like Apple’s, was a bit over the top, but now we’re not sure if the companies aren’t tied together more than we would have believed.

Case in point: Samsung’s newest and arguably best designed phablet to date, the Note 5, seems to have a serious design flaw. And if you ever use the Note 5 pen while drunk, you might get to know that flaw intimately.

As Android Police discovered, it’s very easy to insert the pen into the Note 5 backwards. And if you do, there is a very high chance that you will irreparably break the phone. Namely, the pen clasping mechanism seems to grasp it so firmly, that even if you do manage to pry it out, the mechanism might not function any more. And maybe even more worryingly, the software on the phone won’t recognise the insertion or removal of the pen anymore. So none of that handy S Pen ease of use that Samsung has been so diligently designing over the years.

Well, we’re hoping to find out very soon what exactly Samsung intends to do to mitigate/resolve this little mess in the coming weeks. If we find out first, we’ll let you know asap.

Courtesy-Fud

Intelligent Energy Tests Hydrogen Powered iPhone 6

August 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A British company rumored to be working closely with Apple has created a hydrogen fuel cell for an iPhone 6 that allows the smartphone to last a week without recharging.

According to reports, Intelligent Energy has created a working iPhone 6 prototype that looks no different from any other iPhone 6 except for tiny vents in the rear that allow  imperceptible amounts of water vapor to escape.

The prototype contains both a rechargeable battery and its own hydrogen fuel cell, according to a report in the Telegraph.

Hydrogen fuel cells generate energy by combining hydrogen and oxygen; the only emission from the process is water.

Fuel cells supply hydrogen to a negative anode (an electrode through which electrical current flows), releasing electrons. The electrons then flow to a positive cathode (another electrode) to generate electricity. In addition, after releasing electrons, the hydrogen becomes a hydrogen ion moving to positive cathode and bonding with oxygen in the air, forming water.

Hydrogen is the simplest and most common molecule known to exist. Because of that, it is a part of almost every other substance, such as water and hydrocarbons. Hydrogen is also found in biomass, which includes all plants and animals.

Intelligent Energy has produced more than 2,000 patents related to fuel cells, which it has used to create batteries for cars and a portable recharger called the Upp. The Upp is a mini-hydrogen fuel cell that charges any USB-compatible mobile device, including smartphones, tablets, portable gaming consoles or digital cameras.

Like any fuel cell, the one in Intelligent Energy’s iPhone requires recharging with hydrogen gas. Intelligent Energy said that could be done through an adapted headphone socket.

Intelligent Energy is now working on a commercial version of the smartphone fuel cell that would be in the form of a small cartridge that fits into the bottom of a phone. The cartridge would supply power for a week and could be discarded after use.

 

 

 

 

Samsung Offering iPhone Owners A Test Drive Of New Galaxy Smartphones

August 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics is offering current iPhone owners the chance to test its latest Galaxy smartphones for 30 days for $1, as aims to make a dent in Apple’s dominance of the high end of the market.

The promotion lets iPhone owners choose between the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge or the Galaxy S6 edge+ without any obligations with their existing carrier. After the month is up, they can simply return it. Or, if the phone feels right, go ahead and upgrade, Samsung said.

In general, Android has been losing ground to Apple in the high-end segment of the smartphone market since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus where launched last year.

To give the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ more breathing room before new iPhones arrive, the company launched the devices earlier than its predecessors. With the so-called Ultimate Test Drive promo, the company is now trying to build some more momentum.

Even if the two newcomers and the Galaxy S6 edge are great products, it’s hard to imagine that the promo will have a meaningful impact on sales. Apple is expected to present new iPhones in less than three weeks.

For now, it seems the test drive will only be available in the U.S. Samsung in the U.K. and Germany didn’t immediately reply to questions whether the promo would be rolled out in Europe, as well.

 

Rovio Seeks Resurgence, Growth In Asia With ‘Angry Birds 2′

August 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Gaming

Finnish mobile gaming company Rovio Entertainment, popular for its high-flying “Angry Birds,” is hoping to rebound from a tough 2014 and to expand in Asia by tailoring its games to draw local consumers.

After reporting a 73 percent drop in its 2014 earnings due to a decline in the licensing of the “Angry Birds” brand, and cutting about 110 jobs, Rovio is focusing on going local, the company’s chief commercial officer Alex Lambeek told Reuters this week.

“(We have the) building capability to scale into parts of the world where we haven’t been strong in the past and a big part of that is actually working with partners, not trying to do everything ourselves,” said Lambeek, who joined the company from Fox International Channels in April.

“Angry Birds,” which was released in 2009 as a mobile game and fast became a hit, allowed players to fling an array of birds at pigs using a virtual slingshot.

“Angry Birds 2,” released last month, adds more characters, high-definition scenes, options to pick which bird to fling and the ability to compete with friends.

China accounts for a third of the nearly 40 million downloads of “Angry Birds 2″ since July 30, making it the top market. That is in line with the first “Angry Birds,” which Rovio said has seen nearly one billion Chinese downloads, out of what the company says is a total of 3 billion game downloads since 2009.

For Birds 2, Rovio partnered with Chinese mobile gaming company Kunlun Inc to make changes within the prompts and language used to target the way Chinese players are used to gaming, Lambeek said.

Chinese customers “want to be spoken to and listened to in their own language with their own specific humor,” he said.

Rovio hopes the new game renews interest in the brand ahead of May 2016′s “The Angry Birds Movie.”

 

 

 

Mozilla Unveils App For Creating Web Pages On Smartphones

August 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The Mozilla Foundation intends on insuring that the Web remains a platform where anyone can create content, rather than just a place to consume information and services created by others.

The non-profit organization has unveiled an easy-to-use app for Android devices, called Webmaker, that allows users to create Web pages and simple apps from their smartphones, which are quickly becoming the predominant technology used to use the Internet, especially in less wealthy countries.

“We want the next two billion people coming online to understand that the Web is theirs to read, write, and participate in,” said David Ascher, Mozilla’s vice president of products.

Currently, about 40% of the world’s population — or a little over 3 billion people – enjoys Internet access. Webmaker was designed to give these usersa way to create their own presence online. Webmaker also could set the stage for bringing more local content on the Web, Ascher said.

While social networking sites such as Tumblr and Instagram offer the ability to create content for mobile devices, Webmaker was designed to provide more flexibility in terms of how users can present information, by not locking them into a single format.

The foundation says it designed the software to be as easy to use as possible.

After signing in, users are provided with a blank page and the ability to add text, images or photos. Additional pages can be then be added. A user is given a map to stitch together pages in a way that best fits their needs.

When the app is finished, it is stored on the Webmaker.org site, where it can be accessed from either a phone or a computer browser.

Webmaker can run on smartphones with Android 4.0 or newer. Initially, Webmaker is available in four languages, Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, English and Indonesian. Additional languages will be supported in future releases.

 

 

 

Google Pushes Modular Smartphone Project To 2016

August 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google is pushing back the start of testing for its modular smartphone, known as Project Ara, to 2016.

The company plans to test the device in the U.S., according to several messages posted on Twitter by the Project Ara team. Neither the exact location nor precise timing of the tests was given.

“We are looking at a few locations in the U.S.,” one tweet said.

The Project Ara smartphone is designed to let users easily swap out its components.

The idea is that users purchase the hardware modules, like processors and sensors, themselves and snap them together to create a customized smartphone. In so doing, users could improve their device on their own terms, rather than buying a new phone outright.

Google had planned to commence initial testing in Puerto Rico this year, though those plans were scrapped as part of a ”recalculation,” announced last week.

The hastag #Yeswearelate was affixed to one of the tweets on Monday.

Google did not immediately respond to comment further.

 

 

Microsoft Tests News Reading App

August 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft is quietly working on an app thats geared toward people who want help keeping up with today’s barrage of news.

The app, called NewsCast, hasn’t been formally announced, but it was first spotted by Neowin’s Brad Sams. It takes in articles from around the Web and starts reading summaries of them to users in an ongoing playlist. Users can save articles for reading later and view the full text of any article NewsCast pulls in using a built-in browser or a distraction-free reading view.

It’s all designed to keep users up to date on the latest news while they’re commuting and don’t want to be staring at tiny text on their phone.

According to a publicly accessible webpage for the app, NewsCast is a proof-of-concept product from the Bing News and Speech teams and seems to be testing only inside Microsoft. The teams are “trying to validate several hypothesis”[sic] with the app, though it’s not clear what they’re testing. Collecting feedback from users is a major focus of NewsCast’s current build — tapping a feedback button in the app opens an email that includes a three-question survey about what users like, dislike and want from it in the future.

Microsoft isn’t the only tech company going after mobile news summaries. Facebook is reportedly testing its own Twitter-like news app, and Yahoo has received accolades for its News Digest app, which gives users bite-sized summaries about current events.

 

 

Was Android Used To Destroy Java?

August 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has added more allegations to its court filing against Google, claiming that it has “destroyed” the market for Java.

The case stems from the use of Java libraries in the original Android operating system design. While these are open source, a clueless judge ruled that the APIs allowing third parties to use the libraries are subject to copyright and it is those libraries which Google is accused of infringing.

As regular readers will know, we have labelled this what in journalistic circles we like to refer to as ‘a heap of old horse shit’ that sets a dangerous precedent for the whole industry. However, Oracle is continuing to glove-slap for satisfaction.

The latest papers filed, which Google is yet to contest the addition of, work best if dictated with a single violin playing somberly in the background.

“Although all of these new Android versions are dependent upon the infringing Java code, applications written for these new Android versions are not compatible with the Java platform, because they do not run on the Java platform or on devices implementing the Java platform,” the filing said.

“Similarly, applications written for the Java platform do not run on the versions of Android made available since October 2010. Accordingly, given the widespread dominance Android has achieved with its continued unauthorized use of the 37 Java API packages over the past few years, Android has now irreversibly destroyed Java’s fundamental value proposition as a potential mobile device operating system by breaking the ‘write once, run anywhere’ principle on which Java was built.

“Google’s increasing domination of the mobile device market with Android, and its continuing failure and refusal to make Android compatible with the Java platform, has destroyed the potential value of a licensed derivative version of the Java platform in the mobile device market.”

Cutting to the chase, what Oracle is basically saying is that Google used them, then spat them out, leaving them unappealing to others, which makes them sound like a fallen woman in a Thomas Hardy novel.

The defense is likely to be that Java is an ageing, exploit-ridden system that has to be regularly patched up, and that forking from it was the best thing to do for customers. But, as ever with these epic battles, it’s going to be down to who has the best lawyers. Or the biggest yacht.

Oracle argues that the meteoric rise of the Android platform, and its market dominance, based on thousands of lines of Java code and yielding billions in ad revenues, means that the Ellison yachting fund is due a top-up.

Google has consistently claimed that, even if the APIs are copyright-able, ‘fair use’ is at play. Twice the court has sided with Google, and twice the decision has been overturned on appeal by old men who probably smoke cigars but think that the World Wide Web gives you cancer.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Apple TV Live Service Delayed By Another Year

August 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc will push back rolling out its live TV service to at least next year, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the iPhone maker’s plans.

The company had planned to introduce the service, which is delivered over the Internet, this year.

Discussions with broadcasters such as CBS Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc to license programming are progressing slowly, and lack of content has led Apple to scrap plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event, Bloomberg said.

Apple also lacked the computer network capacity to ensure a good viewing experience, Bloomberg said.

The company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, which will be held in San Francisco.

Apple was aiming to price the new service at about $30 to $40 a month, media reports have said.

 

Dropbox Beefs Up Security

August 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Two-factor authentication is widely regarded as a best practice for security in the online world, but Dropbox has announced a new feature that’s designed to make it even more secure.

Whereas two-step verification most commonly involves the user’s phone for the second authentication method, Dropbox’s new U2F support adds a new means of authenticating the user via Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) security keys instead.

What that means is that users can now use a USB key as an additional means to prove who they are.

“This is a very good advancement and adds extra security over mobile notifications for two-factor authentication,” said Rich Mogull, Securosis CEO.

“Basically, you can’t trick a user into typing in credentials,” Mogull explained. “The attacker has to compromise the exact machine the user is on.”

For most users, phone-based, two-factor authentication is “totally fine,” he said. “But this is a better option in high-security environments and is a good example of where the FIDO standard is headed.”

Security keys provide stronger defense against credential-theft attacks like phishing, Dropbox said.

“Even if you’re using two-step verification with your phone, some sophisticated attackers can still use fake Dropbox websites to lure you into entering your password and verification code,” the company explained in a blog post. “They can then use this information to access your account.”

Security keys, on the other hand, use cryptographic communication and will only work when the user is signing in to the legitimate Dropbox website.

Dropbox users who want to use the new feature will need a security key that follows the FIDO Alliance’s Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) standard. That U2F key can then be set up with the user’s Dropbox account along with any other U2F-enabled services, such as Google.

 

 

 

Qualcomm Debuts NextGen Adreno

August 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has announced its next-generation Adreno GPU architecture, promising major improvements to performance, power efficiency and user experience in its upcoming Snapdragon processors.

The first two GPUs available on the new architecture, the Adreno 530 and Adreno 510, will be available integrated with the forthcoming Snapdragon 820 and Snapdragon 620/618 processors, Qualcomm said, and are claimed to “maximize battery life”.

The new GPUs are the successors to the Adreno 4xx family and are claimed to be the “highest-performance GPU ever designed by Qualcomm”, providing 40 percent lower power consumption and 40 percent faster performance for graphics and GPGPU compute when compared with the Adreno 430.

They will also support OpenGL ES 3.1+ Android Extension Pack, Renderscript, as well as the new OpenCL 2.0 and Vulkan APIs.

Other features include support for 64-bit virtual addressing, allowing shared virtual memory and efficient co-processing with 64 bit CPUs, along with improved fine-grain power management, and new rendering, compositing and compression techniques to enable higher performance at lower power consumption and reduced DRAM bandwidth.

The chip company also announced a new 14-bit Qualcomm Spectra image signal processing (ISP) unit, which will also debut in the Snapdragon 820. It is designed to support DSLR-quality photography and enhanced computer vision, Qualcomm said.

This will bring better camera and imaging technology to upcoming Android devices, Qualcomm said, such as more natural skin tones via 14-bit dual ISP units supporting up to three simultaneous cameras – for example, one facing the user, and two rear facing – and up to 25MP at 30 frames per-second with zero shutter lag.

Qualcomm VP of product management Tim Leland said: “Qualcomm Spectra ISP, together with our Adreno 5xx-class GPU, brings an entirely new level of imaging to smartphones, and is designed to allow Snapdragon-powered devices to capture ultra-clear, vivid photos and videos regardless of motion and lighting conditions and display them with the color accuracy that nature intended.”

Devices based on Snapdragon 820 that feature the new GPU and ISP are expected to be available in the first half of next year.

The specs for Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 820 mobile processor leaked last week ahead of its rumored launch later in August.

The chip was expected to be officially unveiled later this month, but an analyst called Pan Jiutang let the cat out of the bag, posting some slides on Weibo on Wednesday that revealed pretty detailed specifications.

The slides might not be 100 percent legit, but are in line with many other rumors circulating at the moment, and most likely accurate. It shows that the Snapdragon 820 sports the newer Hydra CPU which is claimed to be 35 percent faster than Qualcomm’s current 810 processor.

This better use of power is a result of the chip’s new 14nm manufacturing process, which is much smaller than with the 20nm Snapdragon 810.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Apple Release A Cheaper iPhone?

August 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Apple is about to spike plans to make a cheaper, plastic iPhone 6C.

The Tame Apple Press became all moist when the news that Apple was going to make a a plastic bodies and 4in screens in an iPhone 6C?  This would mean that Apple would not only have three phones coming out this year, but actually have one that it could put into cheaper markets.

We have heard that logic before, and it never really worked. And now it looks like Apple has abandoned the plan (if it even had it in the first place).

A marketing firm claims it has seen testing data for just two new iPhones, which strongly suggests that an iPhone 6C launch is not imminent.

Fisku, had access to data that shows identifiers for models in testing. Its logs recently showed two new iPhones, which showed up as “iphone8,1″ and “iphone8,2″ – most likely codenames for the upcoming iPhone 6s (or 7, depending on Apple’s choice of moniker) and the iPhone 6s Plus (or 7 Plus).

If the phone is launched it might be at a much later date, but so far it looks like Apple will stick to launching just two models.

Courtesy-Fud