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IBM Partners With Box

June 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM and BOX have signed a global agreement to combine their strengths into a cloud powerhouse.

The star-crossed ones said in a joint statement: “The integration of IBM and Box technologies, combined with our global cloud capabilities and the ability to enrich content with analytics, will help unlock actionable insights for use across the enterprise.”

Box will bring its collaboration and productivity tools to the party, while IBM brings social, analytic, infrastructure and security services.

The move is described as a strategic alliance and will see the two companies jointly market products under a co-banner.

IBM will enable the use of Box APIs in enterprise apps and web services to make a whole new playground for developers.

The deal will see Box integrate IBM’s content management, including content capture, extraction, analytics, case management and governance. Also aboard will be Watson Analytics to study in depth the content being stored in Box.

Box will also be integrated into IBM Verse and IBM Connections to allow full integration for email and social.

IBM’s security and consulting services will be part of the deal, and the companies will work together to create mobile apps for industries under the IBM MobileFirst programme.

Finally, the APIs for Box will be enabled in Bluemix meaning that anyone working on rich apps in the cloud can make Box a part of their creation.

Box seems to be the Nick Clegg to IBM’s ham-faced posh-boy robot in this relationship, but is in fact bringing more than you’d think to the party with innovations delivered by its acquisition of 3D modelling company Verold.

What’s more, the results of these collaborations should allow another major player to join Microsoft and Google in the wars over productivity platforms.

It was announced today that Red Hat and Samsung are forming their own coalition to bring enterprise mobile out of the hands of the likes of IBM and Apple which already have a cool thing going on with MobileFirst.

Courtesy-TheInq

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.

 

 

 

Ford Creates Global Team To Focus On Self-driving Cars

June 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co is finally ramping up its efforts to roll out self-driving cars, according to company executives.

The U.S. automaker will expand advanced safety technology, including automatic braking, across its global vehicle lineup over the next five years, they said. Such systems, the precursors of fully autonomous vehicles, enable hands-free operation of cars under certain conditions by automating such basic functions as steering, braking and throttle.

Ford has lagged behind competitors, notably General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors Inc, which have all announced plans to begin offering semi-automated driving systems over the next 18 months.

On Tuesday, Ford said it had created a global team to develop self-driving vehicles, with 29-year company veteran Randy Visintainer as director.

The move elevates a low-key research effort to a higher-profile advanced engineering project, and signals Chief Executive Mark Fields’ intent to accelerate Ford’s presence in the area.

“During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup (and) continue to increase automated driving capability,” Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief, said Tuesday in Palo Alto, California.

Nair said the move is “another step closer to production” of fully autonomous vehicles. He declined to say when such vehicles would reach the market, but other companies have targeted 2020.

Much of the engineering development work will take place at Ford’s recently opened research and innovation center in Palo Alto in northern California’s Silicon Valley, where the company expects to have 125 employees by year-end.

More than a dozen global automakers and suppliers have teamed up with tech startups and established companies in the area to develop advanced safety and self-driving systems.

Automatic braking and pedestrian detection, which are available on Ford’s Mondeo sedan in Europe, will debut next year on one of its U.S. vehicles and in most Ford products globally by 2019.

A key supplier of pedestrian-detection technology is Mobileye NV, which is working with Ford, GM, Tesla and other automakers to bring such advanced safety systems to market.

 

 

Google Launches Free Streaming Music Service

June 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Inc has unveiled a free version of its music streaming service, as it sought to upstage the debut of Apple Inc’s rival service next week.

Google Play Music has offered a $9.99 per month subscription service for two years but Tuesday’s launch is the first free version of the streaming service. It is available online and will be available on Android and iOS by the end of the week, Elias Roman, Google product manager, said.

Apple said earlier this month it would launch a music streaming service on June 30 for $9.99 per month along with a $14.99 per month family plan, with a free three-month trial.

As with other streaming services, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, Google Play Music curates playlists. Users can tailor playlists based on genre, artist or even activity, such as hosting a pool party or “having fun at work.”

“We believe this is a play that will expose a lot of people to the service,” Roman said in an interview.

Unlike Google’s subscription music service, the free service will carry ads, be unavailable offline and exclude certain songs.

Roman said millions of people look at Google Play Music each month but are not ready to pay for a subscription. By offering a free version of the service, he said, the search engine hopes more people will be compelled to pay for an upgraded version.

Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic, a digital entertainment consultancy, said the timing of Google’s launch was strategic.

“It’s a smart time to do it with all the attention around Apple,” Cohen said. “If they did it absent the Apple service, it wouldn’t be the same story.”

Google declined to say how many subscribers it has but said they more than doubled in 2014 from the previous year. But rivals Pandora, Spotify and Beats Music had far more mobile downloads than Google Play Music in 2014, according to data from analytics firm App Annie

.

 

Oracle To Extends Cloud Offerings, Takes On Amazon

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Oracle Corp founder and Executive Chairman Larry Ellison announced that his database company is expanding its cloud-computing offerings, bringing Oracle into more direct competition with Amazon.com Inc.

“We’re prepared to compete with Amazon.com on price,” said Ellison in a webcast presentation, after announcing that Oracle would offer online storage and capability for customers to run their applications entirely in Oracle’s cloud.

The expansion is a major new step for Oracle, which is shifting its traditional database and customer relationship management businesses to the cloud.

“This is a really big deal,” said Ellison, who stepped aside in 2014 as chief executive of the company.

Amazon Web Services is the market leader in providing cloud computing capability to customers, followed by Microsoft Corp’s Azure service and International Business Machines Corp.

Oracle, which calls its cloud offering the Oracle Cloud Platform, will provide a cost-effective alternative to Amazon, said Ellison.

“Our new archive storage service goes head-to-head with Amazon Glacier and it’s one-tenth their price,” said Ellison. Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment.

Oracle’s cloud business is growing quickly, running at a rate of about $2.3 billion a year in revenue, based on last quarter’s figures.

By comparison, Amazon and Microsoft get about $6.3 billion each in cloud revenue per year.

 

 

Google Seeking Testers For Jump Virtual Reality Video Camera

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

If you’re an aspiring virtual reality content producer, Google is looking to give you a chance to test the Jump camera system it developed for recording video to be used in VR environments.

Individuals that are interested in trying their hand at capturing 360-degree video with Jump can fill out a form Google posted on Monday that asks basic biographical questions as well as details on how they would use the system.

Google didn’t say how many “select creators” it would chose, but those who are picked will be able to start using the 16-camera rig this summer.

Google seems especially interested in people with creative backgrounds. The jobs that people can select in the form’s occupation section include filmmaker, director, artist and production staff — but there is an “other” section that allows write-ins if none of the above apply.

There’s also a section where applicants can explain why they want to test Jump — and “awesome answers might put you at the top of the list,” Google said.

Google worked with GoPro to build Jump, which has 16 of the company’s Hero4 cameras attached to a circular frame. Jump’s price and availability weren’t provided when the rig was shown at Google’s I/O developer’s conference in May. However, given that a Hero4 camera retails for approximately US$500, initial Jump buyers will likely have deep pockets.

The first videos created with Jump will appear on YouTube this summer, Google said at I/O. People will be able to experience them via the Google Cardboard viewer.

 

 

SoftBank’s Personal Robot With Emotions Already Sold Out

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Any lingering doubt about whether people were excited to get their own personal robot has been removed.

SoftBank Robotics Corp., an international company based in Japan, put 1,000 personal robots, priced at $1,600, on sale last Saturday. Within one minute, they were sold out. Customers also must pay a $120 per month cloud connection fee and and monthly insurance of $80.

It was the first time that SoftBank had allowed people to put in orders for the robot, dubbed Pepper.

There has been high interest in the robot’s launch because its creators say Pepper not only can read and respond to human emotions but it will have its own emotions. According to SoftBank, the robot can autonomously generate emotions by processing information from its cameras and sensors.

SoftBank said more sales will be announced next month.

“With this emotion function, Pepper’s emotions are influenced by people’s facial expressions and words, as well as his surroundings, which in turn affects Pepper’s words and actions,” the company said in a statement. “For example, Pepper is at ease when he is around people he knows, happy when he is praised, and gets scared when the lights go down.”

The robot is designed to raise its voice or can sigh depending on its emotions at the moment. Pepper also will show its emotions – based on different colors and motions – on a chest display.

The robot also has an ecosystem of more than 200 apps.

Last week, SoftBank announced a deal to team deal to team with Foxconn Technology Group, an Apple manufacturer, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to build and sell robots for the home and enterprise worldwide.

SoftBank will retain 60% of its company but for an investment of $118 million U.S. each, both Foxconn and Alibaba will receive 20 percent stakes in the robotics maker.

 

 

 

Apple Watch Expected To Dominate Smartwatch Market

June 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Watch is expected to capture nearly two-thirds of the smartwatch market for all of 2015, according to a new forecast from market research firm IDC.

IDC had said two weeks ago that Apple will ship to retailers about 21 million Apple Watches in 2015. That’s in the mid-range of other analyst forecasts of 15 million to 30 million for the new device.

Then last week IDC said that all smartwatches and a small number of other smart wearables will total 33.1 million shipments in 2015, putting Apple Watch at 63% of that total. Smart wearables are defined by IDC as devices capable of running third party apps, such as Apple Watch and Android Wear watches like the Moto 360.

The IDC prediction comes amidst some other striking analyst forecasts for the Apple Watch, but also amid questions about the overall value of smartwatches.

Financial analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald recently declared the Apple Watch will “prove to be the best selling product in Apple’s history (within the first 12 months.)” Various estimates say it took one day of pre-orders to sell 1 million Apple Watches, while it took Apple 74 days to sell 1 million iPhones and 28 days to sell 1 million iPads.

Research firm Slice Intelligence told Reuters that about 2.8 million Apple Watches were sold through mid-June, nearly two months after the device first went on sale. Apple hasn’t reported how many Apple Watches it has sold and is not expected to separately report that number in the future. Slice gets its insights by mining e-mail receipts. The entry-level Apple Watch costs $349 and is the most popular in sales, Slice said.

About 20% of Apple Watch customers are also buying a spare watch band, with the entry-level sports band selling for $49, Slice noted.

 

 

 

Microsoft To Tweak Windows 10 Preview Program

June 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft announced that it would soon tweak the Windows 10 preview program as its engineers push toward the July 29 launch of the final code to customers.

As of the next build to the Windows Insider program, Microsoft will require that participants associate their Microsoft Account — typically the same username and password combination for accessing company services such as Outlook.com, OneDrive and Skype — with the preview on their PC.

“You’ll need to connect the MSA [Microsoft Account] that you registered for the Windows Insider Program with (and accepted the ‘Microsoft Windows Insider Program Agreement’) in order to continue receiving new Windows 10 Insider Preview builds (both Fast and Slow rings) from Windows Update,” wrote Gabriel Aul, the engineering general manager for Microsoft’s operating system group who regularly blogs about the preview.

Most testers have already done so, but those that haven’t need to toe the line. “We’re introducing new infrastructure in Windows Update to help us deliver new builds more effectively to Windows Insiders, and ensure that we’re flighting builds to people who have registered and opted in to the program,” said Aul.

Part of that move is due to the impending release of Windows 10, another to the fact that Microsoft will — contrary to past practices with beta programs — continue Insider after the initial launch.

Insider will then become Windows 10′s fastest release “branch” — Microsoft’s label for the multiple update cadences it will offer users — and receive new features, functionality and UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) changes before those on other tracks. Within Insider, users can select from different “rings” — subsets that denote how rough-edged the builds are — as they will be able to do if updating on the other tempos, “Current Branch” and “Current Branch for Business.”

Aul also reiterated what he had said previously on Twitter, that Insider participants would receive the July 29 first stable release starting that day.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Apple Discontinues Sales Of Original iPad Mini

June 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple has quietly discontinued offering the original iPad Mini, the 7.9-in. tablet that debuted in 2012.

The smaller sibling to the 9.7-in. iPad no longer appears on Apple’s online store, a fact first reported by 9to5Mac.com on Friday.

The iPad Mini had been superseded by a pair of follow-ups, including the iPad Mini 2 in 2013 and the iPad Mini 3 last year. Both of those tablets, while sporting the same-sized screen as the original, boasted so-called “Retina” high-resolution displays.

Apple initially priced the iPad Mini at $329, but as its successors appeared, dropped the price, first to $299 in 2013, then to $249 with the appearance of the $399 iPad Mini 3.

Apple confirmed the discontinuation of the non-Retina iPad Mini.

“The non-retina iPad Mini model is no longer available,” an Apple spokesman said. “Now all models of iPad Mini and iPad Air have 64-bit Apple-designed CPUs and high-resolution Retina displays.”

The original iPad Mini relied on a 32-bit A5 system-on-a-chip (SoC). Both successors were powered by the A7 SoC, which featured a 64-bit architecture. The larger iPad Air 2, Apple’s current top-of-the-line tablet, runs on a 64-bit A8X SoC. Also still available from Apple: the original iPad Air, which uses a 64-bit A7 SoC.

As Apple’s spokesman noted, the four remaining iPad models — Air 2, Air, Mini 3, Mini 2 — all feature Retina-quality screens and 64-bit processors.

Most analysts expect that Apple will again expand the iPad line, probably this year, with a larger-screen tablet in the 12-in. range. Several new features in iOS 9, this year’s annual upgrade, including a split-screen mode, have signaled a likely turn to a bigger iPad.

 

 

 

Box Integrate Microsoft’s Office Online With Its Storage Service.

June 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Box followed competitor Dropbox to integrate Microsoft’s Office Online with its cloud storage service.

“Today, we’re introducing Box for Office Online, making it easier than ever for our customers to create and manage their Word docs, PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets securely from anywhere and on any device, right from Box,” said David Still, Box’s chief of mobile products, in a post to his company’s blog.

Like the ties between Dropbox and Office Online — the latter is Microsoft’s browser-based app trio of Excel, PowerPoint and Word — Box lets customers open documents from within its service, edit and then save back to the cloud. Box users will also be able to create new Office Online documents.

Dropbox added the same functionality to its browser-based UI in April, part of a broader partnership with Microsoft that kicked off in November 2014.

Still also promised future Box moves to bring it more on par with Dropbox. “Later this year, [Box and Microsoft] intend to further collaborate on integrations with native Office clients on iOS, Android, and Windows,” Still wrote.

He did not provide a release window for updates to Box’s mobile apps.

Microsoft added Dropbox support to its Office apps on iPhone, iPad and Android late last year, and Dropbox released a Windows Phone app in January.

Box took advantage of Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud Storage Partner Program, an initiative by the Redmond, Wash. developer to extend the influence of Office by letting third-party cloud storage services connect to Office Online and Office for iOS. Box signed up with the program in mid-February.

“By opening up Office Online, Microsoft is showing an amazing amount of proactive enablement for moving the future of work this direction,” said Box CEO Aaron Levie in a separate post.

Although Microsoft competes with both Dropbox and Box with its own OneDrive cloud storage service, the company has aggressively moved toward a more agnostic outlook, whether regarding rival platforms or competitive services.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Greek Crisis Driving Bitcoin Surge

June 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Bitcoin continues to surge and is on track for its longest winning streak in 18 months, as fears that Greece could exit the euro drove speculators and Greek depositors into the decentralized digital currency.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lashed out at Greece’s creditors on Tuesday as he defied a string of warnings that Europe is preparing for a “Grexit”. The debt-stricken country faces 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in repayments to the International Monetary Fund by the end of June.

Bitcoin, a web-based “cryptocurrency” invented six years ago, is not backed by or controlled by any government or central bank and floats freely, fluctuating according to user demand.

Though bitcoin’s value has previously been highly volatile, it has stabilized over the past six months and is increasingly treated as a legitimate and potentially valuable asset by major financial institutions, and even by governments such as Britain’s.

Joshua Scigala, co-founder of Vaultoro.com, a firm that holds bitcoin for its customers and allows them to exchange it for gold and vice versa, said that Greeks were buying the currency as their trust in the authorities waned. It is also unclear what currency would be used if a Grexit does occur — another potential factor driving Greek demand for bitcoin.

“Some people aren’t waiting for the government to figure out an exit plan and are doing it for themselves,” said Scigala.

“You have people worrying about their families’ wealth or their life savings, and worrying that their money might be locked up in banks … They’d rather hold money in a private asset like gold or bitcoin.”

Scigala said over the past two months, with Greece locked in talks with its creditors, the company had seen a 124 percent pick-up in inflows from Greek IP addresses – numerical labels that identify computers and other internet-enabled devices.

Bitcoin traded as high as $252.05 on the Bitstamp exchange on Tuesday, its strongest in over two months, before easing a little to $245.21, still up around 4 percent on the day. That marked its sixth straight session of gains — its best run since January 2014.

 

 

Amazon Considering Non Courier People To Deliver Packages

June 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon Inc is currently working developing a mobile application that would pay ordinary people, rather than professional courier companies, to deliver packages en route to other destinations, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon would enlist brick-and-mortar retailers in urban areas to store the packages, likely renting space from them or paying a per-package fee, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company’s timing for the service, known internally as “On My Way”, could not be learned, the Journal reported.

The service could give Amazon more control over the shopping experience and help limit shipping costs, the report added.

Shipping costs at the Seattle-based e-commerce giant rose 31 percent in 2014, outpacing sales growth of 19.5 percent.

Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment.