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McAfee’s Biometric Authentication Software Coming By End Of The Year

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A McAfee security product that will use biometric technology to authenticate users will be available for download by the end of the year, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, last week.

“Your biometrics basically eliminate the need for you to enter passwords for Windows log in and eventually all your websites ever again,” Skaugen said.

Further product details were not immediately available. But one of the major inconveniences in using PCs and tablets is remembering passwords, which biometrics can tame.

An average user has about 18 passwords and biometric authentication will make PCs easier to use, Skaugen said.

Biometric authentication isn’t new. It’s being used in Apple Pay, where fingerprint authentication helps authorize credit card payments through the iPhone or iPad. Intel has been working on multiple forms of biometric authentication through fingerprint, gesture, face and voice recognition.

McAfee is owned by Intel, and the chip maker is building smartphone, tablet and PC technology that takes advantage of the security software. Intel has also worked on biometric technology for wearable devices like SMS Audio’s BioSport In-Ear Headphones, which can measure a person’s heart rate.

Intel also wants to make PCs and tablets easier to use through wireless charging, display, docking and data transfers. Such capabilities would eliminate the need to carry power brick and cables for displays and data transfers. Such capabilities will start appearing in laptops next year with sixth-generation Core chips code-named Skylake, which will be released in the second half.

 

 

StoreDot Says It Can Recharge Mobile Phone In 30 Seconds

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

An Israeli firm claims it has developed technology that can charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and an electric car in minutes, advances that could transform two of the world’s most dynamic consumer industries.

Using nano-technology to synthesize artificial molecules, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot says it has developed a battery that can store a much higher charge more quickly, in effect acting like a super-dense sponge to soak up power and retain it.

While the prototype is currently far too bulky for a mobile phone, the company believes it will be ready by 2016 to market a slim battery that can absorb and deliver a day’s power for a smartphone in just 30 seconds.

“These are new materials, they have never been developed before,” said Doron Myersdorf, the founder and chief executive of StoreDot, whose investors include Russian billionaire and Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich.

The innovation is based around the creation of “nanodots”, which StoreDot describes as bio-organic peptide molecules. Nanodots alter the way a battery behaves to allow the rapid absorption and, critically, the retention of power.

The company has raised $48 million from two rounds of funding, including backing from a leading mobile phone maker. Myersdorf declined to name the company, but said it was Asian.

With the number of smartphone users forecast to reach 1.75 billion this year, StoreDot sees a big market, and some experts think that — with more work — it could be on to a winner.

“We live in a power hungry world … people are constantly chasing a power outlet. StoreDot has the potential to solve this real big problem,” said Zack Weisfeld, who has worked with and evaluated ventures in the mobile phone sector globally.

“They still have some way to go, to deal with size of battery and power cycle rounds, but if solvable, it’s a very big breakthrough,” he told Reuters. A power cycle round refers to the number of times a battery can be re-charged in its lifetime.

Myersdorf said a fast-charge phone would cost $100-$150 more than current models and would ultimately be able to handle 1,500 recharge/discharge cycles, giving it about three years of life.

 

 

Sony To Slash Mobile Phone, TV Product Lines

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japan’s hemorrhaging technology giant Sony Corp plans to slice its TV and mobile phone product line-ups to cut costs, counting on multi-billion dollar revenue surges for its buoyant PlayStation 4 and image sensor businesses over the next three years.

Having lost ground to nimbler rivals like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in consumer electronics, Sony said on Tuesday its goal for TV and smartphones is to turn a profit, even if sales slide as much as 30 percent.

“We’re not aiming for size or market share but better profits,” Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s newly appointed chief of its mobile division told an investors’ conference. A poor showing by its Xperia smartphones has weighed heavily on recent earnings and Sony said more detail on plans for the unit will be unveiled before end-March.

Under its new three-year electronics business plan, Sony said it was aiming to boost sales for its videogame division by a quarter to as much as 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 billion). It said that will be helped by personalized TV, video and music distribution services that should lift revenue per paying user.

At its devices division, which houses its image sensor business, Sony said sales could increase 70 percent to as much as 1.5 trillion yen. Sony’s sensor sales are already robust, with Apple using them in its iPhones while Chinese handset manufacturers are increasingly adopting them.

In a similar event last week for its entertainment units, the conglomerate said it was aiming to lift its movie and TV programming revenues by a third over the next three years.

 

 

Apple Pay Enjoys Success As More Retailers Jump Onboard

November 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. consumers have been leery of in-store mobile payments for years, but Apple Pay is making gains in that area just a month after the service launched Oct. 20.

Apple’s latest success with Apple Pay includes the addition of support from hundreds of grocery stores within six major chains in the past week: BiLo Holding, 830 stores; Harvey’s and Winn-Dixie, 530; Albertson’s and Jewel-Osco, 180; Shaws and Star Markets, 150; United Food Stores, 60; and Associated Food Stores, 135. Wegmans and Whole Foods were already part of the original 35 retail chains offering Apple Pay in an estimated 225,000 stores, about 5% of all possible U.S. retail locations.

In addition, on Thursday, American First Credit Union said its Visa card now supports Apple Pay, joining more than 500 U.S. banks already supporting the service through Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards.

In the past week, SunTrust and Regions Bank added their support.

McDonald’s has confirmed that more than 50% of its in-store mobile payments at 14,000 restaurants were made with Apple Pay in its first month. Whole Foods recently said it processed more than 150,000 Apple Pay transactions in the first three weeks of the service. And Walgreens, the national drug store chain, said in-store mobile payments had doubled since Apple Pay launched.

 

 

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.