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Samsung To Launch For Tizen OS Phones This Year

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Behemoth smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to roll out more handsets running on its own Tizen operating system later this year, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Samsung will launch several Tizen smartphones at varying prices, the person said without disclosing other specifications.

The person declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokeswoman for the South Korean firm declined to comment.

Samsung aims to build its own ecosystem through Tizen, which powers its smartwatches and premium television sets. But the firm needs more handsets running on the system to expand its user base and attract third-party developers, analysts say.

The company launched its first Tizen smartphone, the Z1, in India in January and has since been selling the device in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has sold 1 million Z1s so far in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market.

The Z1 was the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh in January-March, researcher Counterpoint said in a May report.

 

 

Facebook Allowing Users Without An Account To Use Messenger

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has begun allowing users without an account to sign up for its Messenger app with a phone number, the social media company said on Wednesday, in another move to broaden the app’s reach and make it a standalone platform.

Earlier this year, Facebook opened up Messenger to developers, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to connect users directly with retailers, restaurants and other businesses.

With the latest update, users will be prompted by an option that says “Not on Facebook?” when they open the app. They can then sign up with their name, phone number and a photo.

The mobile messaging service, which has 600 million users, has added a number of new features in recent months, including games and video calling.

Facebook’s flagship social network has 1.4 billion users.

 

 

 

Facebook Gaining On YouTube In Video Ad Race

June 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is catching up to YouTube as a destination for big companies to market their products via online videos, the fastest growing category of Internet ads, a report published on Monday said.

The competition for video viewers opens up a new front in the clash between the two web giants that already compete in other types of advertising given their appeal to young and international consumers, Ampere Analysis said in a study.

London-based Ampere predicts a new advertising “arms race” between the two rivals, neck and neck in terms of audience sizes with around 1.4 billion to 1.3 billion monthly active users, respectively for Facebook and YouTube. That means consumers are likely to be forced to see more ads, but also enjoy a richer range of video programming as a result, it said.

The Internet will overtake TV advertising in 12 key markets, representing 28 percent of global ad spending by 2017, separate research by media-buying firm Zenith Optimedia said on Monday. Ad spending is projected to reach $531 billion this year.

Online video is now growing faster than any other digital category or subcategory, rising 33 percent in 2014, and is forecast to grow 29 percent a year through 2017, Zenith said.

The two reports were released as the week-long Cannes Lions international advertising conference opens this week.

Ampere Analysis argues that Facebook is morphing from a platform most advertisers use for building general brand awareness to one that can deliver “pre-roll” advertisements that marketing companies prefer for ensuring their messages are actually viewed.

Currently, YouTube remains a more flexible marketing platform, offering advertisers the full range of video ads which run before, during or after a video program is shown.

“If the social network’s own video ambitions are to be realized, and if it is to convince content owners it is a viable alternative to YouTube, it must deliver comparable returns,” Ampere Research Director Richard Broughton said.

 

 

Samsung To Fix Swiftkey Smartphone Security Flaw

June 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung agreed to update the security software on its Galaxy smartphones to fix a flaw that researchers warned could let attackers access people’s devices.

Last week, researchers at NowSecure, a mobile security company, identified the flaw in SwiftKey, a keyboard application that comes preloaded on Galaxy smartphones. The flaw could be exploited even when SwiftKey was not used as the default keyboard, NowSecure said.

On Thursday, Samsung said it would issue a fix that wouldroll out over the coming days to owners of the Galaxy S4, released in 2013, and later models. Those devices have Samsung’s Knox security platform installed by default and can receive over-the-air security policy updates. Users must have automatic updates activated in their phone’s settings, Samsung said on its website.

For earlier Galaxy phones that don’t come with Knox, Samsung said it was working on an expedited firmware update. Availability will vary depending on the model, region and service carrier.

SwiftKey’s app, which predicts words as users type, is also available from the Google Play and Apple App stores. But those versions of the app were not affected by the vulnerability, a SwiftKey spokeswoman said last Thursday.

 

Twitter To Add Auto-playing Videos In User Feeds

June 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter has come a long way from its foundation of 140-character messages. The site will now display videos that play automatically in users’ feeds.

Advertisers’ videos and those uploaded to Twitter natively through its new video recording tool will play automatically on the company’s desktop site and in its iOS app, with Android functionality coming soon, the company announced.

The changes also apply to videos recorded with Twitter’s Vine app and GIFs.

Autoplaying videos, though possibly annoying, will help Twitter compete against Facebook, which started placing autoplaying videos, including those from advertisers, in users’ feeds in 2013. Twitter makes the bulk of its money through advertising, and more Internet companies are looking to siphon video advertising dollars away from traditional TV.

On Twitter, the videos will start playing without sound unless they’re tapped on.

Twitter users who don’t want autoplaying videos can change their settings to revert to the click-to-play format. Users can also change their settings so videos only play automatically when they’re connected to Wi-Fi.

Users will not see auto-playing videos if they have a low bandwidth connection on their device, Twitter said.

Twitter is using the same amount of viewing time as Facebook to define a video “view”: three seconds.

Twitter began testing auto-playing videos earlier this year.

 

 

Is The iWatch Living Up To The Hype?

June 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

In a sign that the end is near for the iWatch, the New York Times has admitted that it is rubbish.

For those that came in late, the New York Times has a long history of writing pro-Apple stories and has been a key ally in promoting all of Jobs’ Mob’s products to its readers.

The fact that the New York Times which reviewed the watch and called it “bliss” has changed its mind is showing how much the product is slipping.

Vanessa Friedman told the world that after a few months trying to get the iWatch to do something useful she was giving up.

“The relationship was, despite all expectations, not what I needed. All the focus on San Francisco and Apple’s next big innovation this week (streaming!) made me realize it was not playing my tune,” she wrote. ”I wanted it to work. I wanted to fall in love, like so many of my friends. “It takes a while,” they said. “Don’t expect a coup de foudre. Let it build over time.”

Besides the fact I think you need to change your friends and your insistence on using pretentious French idoims, does this suggest that you gave the product too much credibility to start with?

According to Vanessa while she liked the way that people asked her about the watch, she didn’t like the fact that people pigeon holed her into a category.

We guess it meant that people started speaking to her slightly slower like she would not understand big words and assumed she always had more money than she knew what to do with. We would have thought she would have noticed that when she used her iPhone.

“It looked like a gadget… Every time I see it, I want to shriek, “Beam me up, Scotty,” she wrote. Which is coincidently what everyone else thinks when an Apple fanboy or girl comes into the room.

She was also disappointed to discover that people thought her mad trying to read things the size of a postage stamp on her emails, or ended up appearing to talk to her wrist.

“A phone is hand-held, and we are used to seeing people read things held in their hands. Like, say, books. But seeing somebody staring at her wrist (or merely sneaking a surreptitious glance at it) telegraphs something else entirely: (1) rudeness or (2) geekiness.”

Good point, but one was obvious long before you wrote an expensive cheque for the thing.

“The watch isn’t actually a fashion accessory for the tech-happy. It’s a tech accessory pretending to be a fashion accessory. I just couldn’t fall for it,” she summarised.

For once me and an Apple fangirl agree on something completely But it does mean that after a month of use, many iWatch users are giving up on Apple’s latest shiny toy.

 

 

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft, IBM And Others Support Centralized Patent Database

June 17, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

An Army of tech companies have joined forces to back a new system designed to keep the patent trolls at bay.

The Open Register of Patent Ownership (ORoPO) has been backed by key partners including IBM, Microsoft, ARM, BAE Systems, Shazam, Patent Properties, Conversant and Finjan.

ORoPO is voluntary and not for profit, and founder members’ patents are already available online.

The idea is to put the information currently stored in the world’s 180 patent offices in a central repository to avoid duplication, omission and inaccuracy, all of which can be pounced on by trolls.

Manny Schecter, chief patent counsel at IBM, said: “ORoPO is a simple solution to a complex and long-standing problem.

“Greater transparency around patent ownership is vital to eliminating transactional inefficiencies and enabling a patent system that runs optimally for every constituent in the system, from patent owners to innovators, licensees and the public.”

“Microsoft believes that patent ownership transparency continues to be an important part of a well-functioning patent system,” added Erich Andersen, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft.

“Microsoft has publicly listed all the patents the company owns since March 2013, and we will continue to do so via our participation in ORoPO.

“This voluntary effort, led by top patenting companies, will help to ensure that the patent system continues to promote and encourage innovation across our economy.”

ORoPO estimates that 25 percent of information held in patent offices is inaccurate, which is even more horrifying against the backdrop of intellectual property forming 70 percent of enterprise value.

ORoPO is to be led by Roger Burt as CEO with an advisory board consisting of key people from the technology and legal sectors.

The US Supreme Court acknowledged ‘patent troll’ as a valid term for the first time last month in a case investigating whether ‘good faith’ was an adequate defence in cases where a patent is assumed invalid.

Patent and intellectual property fights have been a mainstay of the IT industry, and the tussles between Apple and Samsung have taken center stage.

A peace accord seems to have been reached, but many existing cases are still sub judice.

 

Courtesy-TheInq

Is An Asus Bid For HTC In The Works?

June 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Asustek Computer is possibly putting together a bid for HTC, but HTC said it wants nothing do with it.

Last week, Asus Chairman Jonney Shih said he wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of buying HTC.

Such a move could help both companies: Asus has been trying to move beyond its traditional PC business into sales of Android smartphones, and acquiring smartphone maker HTC would boost its market presence. It could also provide support for HTC, which has seen its market share dwindle in the face of tough competition from Apple, Samsung Electronics and Chinese smartphone vendors.

Such arguments hold no sway with HTC, though.

“We didn’t contact Asustek, and will not consider the acquisition,” the company said in a posting to the Taiwan stock exchange on Monday.

With a deal out of the question — at least as far as HTC is concerned — both companies will need other strategies.

Asus is counting on organic growth in its smartphone business. This year it aims to ship 17 million phones, double last year’s total, but still a tiny fraction of the global market. It has already started selling phones in the U.S. in a bid to reach its target.

HTC’s future financial performance remains in question. Earlier this month, it revised its financial outlook for the second quarter, and said revenue would be down further than expected on slower demand for high-end phones. In the past three months, the company’s stock price has also dropped by almost half.

In March, HTC founder Cher Wang took over as CEO, with the hope of engineering a turnaround. She has said the company will cut operating costs, and look for opportunities outside selling handsets.

 

 

Line Enters The Music Streaming

June 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Messaging app maker Line Corp rolled out its music streaming service in Japan on Thursday, getting a head start in the virtually untapped business for mobile music subscriptions in the world’s second-biggest music market.

Line’s move marks the most ambitious attempt yet to reverse the declining market for digital music in Japan, where compact discs still account for more than 80 percent of total music sales. Hobbled by rights issues, foreign companies have yet to break into Japan’s music streaming business.

Available for Android and iPhone users, the service, called Line Music, will offer unlimited access to a library of more than 1.5 million songs initially for a monthly fee of 1,000 yen ($8.13), or 20 hours of access for half that. Line, Japan’s largest social network with 58 million registered domestic users, said in a statement it would offer the service for free for the first two months.

Line Music is jointly held by Avex Digital, Sony Music Entertainment and Line Corp, which itself is owned by South Korea’s Naver Corp. Universal Music Group is also scheduled to take a stake in Line Music.

Line said it plans to expand its library, featuring domestic and overseas artists such as Taylor Swift and Sam Smith, to more than 5 million songs by the end of this year, and over 30 million next year.

The global market for streaming music has grown in recent years, offering record companies a much-needed boost amid a steady slump in digital downloads. Apple Inc this week unveiled the $9.99-a-month Apple Music service, aiming to muscle into an industry led by Spotify, Pandora and others.

Despite its size, the Japanese music industry saw revenues of just 5 million yen ($40,660) from subscription-based mobile music streaming in 2014, according to the Recording Industry of Japan. Overall sales of digital music in Japan fell for the fifth straight year, to about $350 million, against a peak of $1 billion in 2009.

 

Apple Music Being Reviewed For Potential Antitrust Violations

June 11, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The attorneys general of New York and Connecticut are investigating Apple Inc’s negotiations with record labels to find signs of potential antitrust violations.

The attorneys general want to know whether music labels colluded or were pressured into favoring Apple’s paid music subscription service, which was released on Monday.

Apple launched Apple Music on Monday, a $9.99-a-month streaming music service that will likely alter the dynamics of how consumers listen to music as the music industry grapples with declines in downloaded songs and tries to figure out new ways to get people to pay for music.

In a letter to the New York Attorney General, Universal Music Group said it had no agreements with Apple or music companies like Sony Music and Warner Music that would impede the availability of free or ad-supported services, or prevent it from licensing its recorded music to any music streaming service.

Universal Music also said it offers limited exclusive content to some music streaming services where such exclusivity is not part of an agreement to restrain competition.

“This letter is part of an investigation of the music streaming business, an industry in which competition has recently led to new and different ways for consumers to listen to music,” said Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for the New York attorney-general, Eric Schneiderman.

“To preserve these benefits, it’s important to ensure that the market continues to develop free from collusion and other anticompetitive practices.”

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the investigation. Reuters could not immediately reach Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

 

 

PayPal Re-considering Robocalls, Unsoliticed Text Messages

June 9, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

After much criticism, PayPal seems to be re-thinking a plan to give itself unilateral permission to ping its users with robocalls and text messages.

The controversy started when PayPal recently indicated in proposed amendments to its user agreement and privacy policy its intention to engage in this type of communication with its customers. There, it also stated that the only opt-out recourse for those in disagreement with its plan would be to close their accounts.

The plan drew attention from critics who, in blogs and on social media, questioned the prudence and legality of the new policy, which is slated to go into effect July 1. If the changes are adopted, PayPal would be able to make autodialed and prerecorded calls, and send text messages using any telephone number account holders have provided to PayPal or that the company has “otherwise obtained.”

PayPal says it may contact users for numerous reasons, which include troubleshooting account problems, resolving disputes and collecting debts. But the calls may also be made to advertise offers and promotions, or to conduct user surveys.

Federal Communications Commission rules state that unsolicited robocalls are only legal if a company has obtained written or oral consent from consumers. In a post on financial education and services site Credit.com, syndicated columnist, book author and self-described consumer advocate Bob Sullivan questioned whether a change in PayPal’s terms legally constitutes consent.

Plus, the policy, as it reads, provides no way for users to opt out, aside fromclosing their account.

Now a PayPal spokesman’s tone has changed. “Our policy is to honor customers’ requests to decline to receive auto-dialed or prerecorded calls,” he said.

The spokesman wouldn’t say how users would be able to opt out, or when. He said the company is planning to provide more details and address this issue in a blog post, although he couldn’t say when that will be published.

The new stance comes as PayPal prepares to split from parent company eBay, and establish itself as an independent publicly traded company.

Federal regulators are also preparing to vote on new rules that would make it easier for consumers to say no to telemarketing and robocalling.

 

 

 

 

Netflix Has Expansion Plans For Southern Europe

June 8, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Internet television service Netflix has announced plans to enter into Italy and Portugal markets later this year, the company said on Saturday, as part of a bid to expand its popular streaming TV service to some 200 countries worldwide within two years.

The Silicon Valley-based company said that, starting in October, Internet users in Italy and Portugal would be able to subscribe to watch a selection of TV series and movies on TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices.

On Thursday, Netflix said it planned to enter Spain, also in October. Netflix is available in more than 50 countries worldwide, including 13 in Europe.

Its focus on international expansion comes as growth slows in the United States, where it has reshaped TV viewing habits since it was first launched in 2007.

 

 

FBI Seeking Wiretapping Laws To Cover Social Media

June 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Encrypted social networking tools are handicapping the FBI’s ability to track terrorists and recruiters who are appealing to young people in the U.S., an FBI official told lawmakers.

Congress must pass a new wiretap law that requires social media websites and operators of other Internet communication tools to share customers’ communications with law enforcement agencies the same way that telecom carriers do, Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, said Wednesday.

Congress should use the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) as a model for new rules focused on Internet-based communications, Steinbach told the U.S. House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee. His comments build upon the FBI’s call in recent months to expand CALEA to Internet communications tools. Agency Director James Comey first called for a CALEA rewrite to cover encrypted mobile phone data last October.

CALEA requires telecom carriers and equipment vendors to build wiretap capabilities into their products or networks, and critics have accused the FBI of wanting Congress to mandate encryption backdoors in technology products. But the FBI isn’t asking for backdoors, Steinbach said.

“We’re not talking about large-scale surveillance techniques,” he said. “We’re not looking at going through a backdoor or being nefarious; we’re talking about going to the company and asking for their assistance.”

Instead, the FBI wants access to stored or ongoing Internet communications after it shows evidence of criminal or terrorist activity and gets a court order, he said. The FBI needs help from Congress and from communications providers to make that happen, Steinbach said.

“We understand privacy,” he said. “Privacy above all other things, including safety and freedom from terrorism, is not where we want to go.”

 

 

 

Ford To Debut Blackberry OS-based Entertainment System In 2016 Cars

June 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

After announcing in December that it was replacing of Microsoft’s platform for Blackberry’s QNX OS on its infotainment systems, Ford has confirmed the first of the new systems will launch in 2016 models.

Ford said its new Sync 3 communications and entertainment system will first roll out in the 2016 Escape and Fiesta.

Both the new Escape SUV and compact hatchback Fiesta will be on sale this summer, and Sync 3 will migrate to all Ford vehicles in North America by the end of 2016.

The new system, which features all-new hardware and software, will have faster performance, conversational voice recognition, an intuitive smartphone-like touch screen and an easier-to-understand graphical interface, Ford said.

Tile-like icons dominate the interface, with a quick-access function tray along the bottom for a more straightforward user experience.

The new entertainment/communications system will also offer commands and smartphone-like gestures that including pinch-to-zoom and swipe, along with crisp, more modern graphics.

For example, phone contacts are searchable via a simple swipe of the finger to scroll through the alphabet. With One Box Search, users can look up points of interest or enter addresses in much the same way they use an Internet search engine.

With a simpler command structure, the new system will also minimize the number of steps needed to carry out commands, such as selecting music, making a call or searching for a destination.

Sync3 also includes a seamless integration of AppLink, Siri Eyes-Free capability, software updates via Wi-Fi and an enhanced, subscription-free 911 Assist.

More than 12 million Sync-equipped vehicles on the road globally use the Windows Embedded Automotive operating system, which Ford has been using since 2007.

While Ford has declined to talk about why it made the switch from Windows, negative consumer and industry feedback likely played a significant role, according to analysts.

 

 

 

BlackBerry, Typo Innovations Reach Settlement Over Keyboard Lawsuit

June 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry has reached a settlement with Typo Innovations, which manufacturers an accessory keyboard for iPhones that the mobile device maker said infringed its patents.

Under the settlement announced Monday, Typo, which was co-founded by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, is barred from selling keyboards for devices with screen sizes smaller than 7.9 inches.

BlackBerry sued Typo in 2014 after the company released a keyboard that fit the iPhone 5 or 5S like a protective case; BlackBerry claimed the keyboard copied those found on its own handsets. The keyboard is one of the differentiating features that has made BlackBerry loyalists cling to their old-school smartphones.

The settlement, at least for now, effectively bars Typo from making keyboards for Apple’s iPhones. The largest iPhone, the 6 Plus, has a screen size of 5.5 inches.

But Typo also makes keyboards for iPads, the current lineup of which all have screen size of at least 7.9 inches. Those keyboards can still be sold.

The settlement comes as BlackBerry works to cut costs in its devices business while trying to expand in new areas like business management services.

Typo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.