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Google May Launch ‘Android Auto’ For Cars

December 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google may be planning to roll out a version of Android Auto for vehicle infotainment centers — also known as head units — that will eliminate the need for a smartphone to be connected, giving native access to the Internet and mobile applications.

Currently, Apple’s CarPlay, or open source standards such as MirrorLink or GENIVI, enable vehicle infotainment centers to mirror a version of a smartphone OS onto a vehicle’s head unit, thereby enabling the driver to use specific applications, such as Google Maps or iTunes. Google also announced Android Auto earlier this year, which when available next year, will mirror a connected Android smartphone to the car’s head unit.

The difference with what Google may be planning, according to one report, is that Android Auto would be native on the head unit, and a driver would no longer necessarily need a smartphone to connect to those applications and the Internet.

Thilo Koslowski, a vice president at industry research firm Gartner, said what Google may be planning should be no surprise as executives talked about it when they announced the formation of the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) earlier this year. The OAA includes Google, Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and processor chip company Nvidia.

During the initial OAA announcement, Google talked about the car eventually becoming another device platform, Koslowski said.

The difference, according to the Reuters report, is that the upcoming version of Android Auto (or whatever Google decides on calling it) won’t be mirroring an application interface from a connected smartphone; it will have that interface natively.

 

 

 

How About A Self-destructing BlackBerry?

December 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd  is collaborating with Boeing Co on Boeing’s high-security Android-based smartphone, the Canadian mobile technology company’s chief executive said last Friday.

The Boeing Black phone being developed by the Chicago-based aerospace and defense contractor, which is best known for jetliners and fighter planes, can self-destruct if it is tampered with.

The Boeing Black device encrypts calls and is aimed at government agencies and others that need to keep communications and data secure.

“We’re pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen said on a conference call held to discuss its quarterly results.

“That, by the way, is all they allow me to say.”

The BlackBerry Enterprise Service, or BES 12, will allow clients such as corporations and government agencies to manage and secure not just BlackBerry devices on internal networks, but those that run on rival operating systems such as Google’s  Android and Apple’s iOS.

The Boeing phone uses dual SIM cards to enable it to access multiple cell networks and can be configured to connect with biometric sensors and satellites. Boeing has begun offering the phone to potential customers.

 

T-Mobile Rolls Out ‘Data Stash’ Plan

December 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile has announced a monthly data rollover plan for consumers and business customers called “Data Stash,” but the plan still will not allow workers to share their data with others in a work group.

Data Stash works much the same way for users who have a Simple Choice plan (or Simple Choice for Business Value Plan) and have purchased 3GB or more of LTE data per month for smartphones and 1GB or more for tablets.

T-Mobile will give those existing customers, as well as new customers, 10GB of free LTE data in January. The data must be used by the end of 2015, and once it’s gone, each month of unused data in a plan can be rolled over monhtly for up to a year.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere described data rollover as a high priority for customers, noting that they asked on Twitter in 2014 more than 40,000 times for such a program. And Legere bashed rivals like AT&T and Verizon Wireless who don’t offer such a program, contending that $50 billion annually is lost by wireless customers who have paid for data but then see it disappear at the end of the month when it doesn’t roll over.

“We’re putting an end to this appalling industry practice today,” he said.

Even so, Data Stash won’t let workers share their data allotments with other workers in a group, as T-Mobile describes on its Web site: “Our data plans are specific to the person, so businesses aren’t wasting time and effort tracking everyone’s usage. In other words, this is not a shared data option.”

 

 

Stanford University Researchers Builds ‘High-rise’ Chip

December 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Stanford University researchers have developed a multi-layered “high-rise” chip that could significantly outperform traditional computer chips, taking on the hefty workloads that will be needed for the Internet of Things and big data.

Utilizing nanotechnology, the new chips are built with layers of processing on top of layers of memory, greatly cutting down on the time and energy typically needed to move information from memory to processing and back.

Max Shulaker, a researcher on the project and a Ph.D candidate in Stanford’s Department of Electrical Engineering, said they have built a four-layer chip but he could easily see them building a 100-layer chip if that was needed.

“The slowest part of any computer is sending information back and forth from the memory to the processor and back to the memory. That takes a lot of time and lot of energy,” Shulaker told Computerworld. “If you look at where the new exciting apps are, it’s with big data… For these sorts of new applications, we need to find a way to handle this big data.”

The conventional separation of memory and logic is not well-suited for these types of heavy workloads. With traditional chip design, information is passed from the memory to the processor for computing, and then it goes back to the memory to be saved again.

In relative terms, that takes a lot of energy and time – way more than the computation itself.

“People talk about the Internet of Things, where we’re going to have millions and trillions of sensors beaming information all around,” said Shulaker. “You can beam all the data to the cloud to organize all the data there, but that’s a huge data deluge. You need [a chip] that can process on all this data… You want to make sense of this data before you send it off to the cloud.”

The researchers, led by Subhasish Mitra, a Stanford associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and H.S. Philip Wong, a professor in Stanford’s school of engineering, used carbon nanotube transistors instead of silicon and replaced typical memory with resistive random-access memory (RRAM) or spin-transfer torque magnetic random-access memory (STT-RAM). Both use less power and are more efficient than traditional memory systems.

 

 

 

Manufacturer Coolpad Has Built Backdoor Into Android Devices

December 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad has created an extensive “backdoor” into its Android devices that can track users, serve them unwanted advertisements and install unauthorized apps, a U.S. security firm alleged today.

In a research paper released today, Palo Alto Networks detailed its investigation of the backdoor, which it dubbed “CoolReaper.”

“Coolpad has built a backdoor that goes beyond the usual data collection,” said Ryan Olson, director of intelligence at Palo Alto’s Unit 42. “This is way beyond what one malicious insider could have done.”

Coolpad, which sells smartphones under several brand names — including Halo, also called Danzen — is one of China’s largest ODMs (original device manufacturers). According to IDC, it ranked fifth in China in the third quarter, with 8.4% of the market, and has expanded sales outside of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan to Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Western Europe.

Tipped off by a string of complaints from Coolpad smartphone users in China and Taiwan — who griped about seeing advertisements pop up and apps suddenly appear — Palo Alto dug into the ROM updates that Coolpad offered on its support site and found widespread evidence of CoolReaper.

Of the 77 ROMs that Palo Alto examined, 64 contained CoolReaper, including 41 hosted by Coolpad and signed with its own digital certificate.

Other evidence that Coolpad was the creator of the backdoor, said Olson, included the malware’s command-and-control servers — which were registered to domains belonging to the Chinese company and used, in fact, for its public cloud — and an administrative console that other researchers had found last month because of a vulnerability in Coolpad’s backend control system. The console confirmed CoolReaper’s functionality.

 

 

Suit Brought Against Sprint For Cramming

December 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has filed a lawsuit against Sprint Corp over unauthorized charges on customers’ cellphone bills, a practice known as cramming, in the agency’s first foray into mobile payments.

Marking the third cramming-related government enforcement action this year, the CFPB alleges that from 2004 through 2013, the wireless carrier allowed third parties to charge consumers tens of millions of dollars for services like ringtones or text-message horoscopes that consumers had not requested, while keeping 40 percent of the gross revenue.

The Federal Communications Commission is weighing a $105 million cramming fine against Sprint.

“Sprint mistreated consumers egregiously by creating a billing system that invited illegal third-party charges and processed them in a highly irresponsible manner,” the CFPB’s director, Richard Cordray, said.

Sprint expressed disappointment in being the target of the CFPB’s lawsuit and disputed the accusations, listing various steps it said it took to monitor third-party charges, such as hiring an outside compliance vendor and vetting billing companies.

“We strongly disagree with (the CFPB’s) characterization of our business practices,” Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge Walsh said in a statement.

“It appears the CFPB has decided to use this issue as the test case on whether it has legal authority to assert jurisdiction over wireless carriers,” she said in an email.

In July, the Federal Trade Commission sued T-Mobile US Inc over similar billing issues, and in October, the FCC and the FTC settled such a case with AT&T Inc.

For the CFPB, which oversees consumer financial products such as mortgages and credit cards, this case marked the first public action coordinated with the FCC.

“If a company is processing payments over a mobile network, that’s something that the bureau has jurisdiction over,” the CFPB’s deputy enforcement director, Jeff Ehrlich, told reporters. “We’ll take action against anyone who violates the consumer financial protection laws.”

FCC spokespeople said the FCC and the CFPB have agreed to continue close cooperation “on this and other cases on behalf of wireless customers nationwide.”

 

 

Will ARM Have A Profitable 2015?

December 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

British chip designer ARM could cash in on the mobile industry’s rush to transition to 64-bit operating systems and hardware.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Matt Ramsey argues that ARM is still a ‘Buy’ stock, as it’s trading at $43, while his price target is $54 to $56. Ramsay is upbeat for a number of reasons and the 64-bit craze is one o them.

He pointed out that sales of ARMv8 chips are raping up and are no longer limited to Apple. Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 810 is also based on ARMv8, along with all other upcoming 64-bit SoCs. Ramsey named Qualcomm, MediaTek and Samsung as the three biggest contributors to ARM’s 64-bit business.

In addition to smartphones, ARMv8 designs are finding their way into enterprise networks and servers, creating even more opportunities. This is good news for ARM, as its royalties for processor designs based on the ARMv8 instruction set are significantly higher than for venerable 32-bit parts.

Courtesy-Fud

Study Finds Android Apps Frequently Using Permissions Granted

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Android apps really take advantage of those permissions they ask for to access users’ personal information: one online store records a phone’s location up to 10 times a minute, French researchers have found. The tools to manage such access are limited, and inadequate given how much information phones can gather.

In a recent study, ten volunteers used Android phones that tracked app behavior using a monitoring app, Mobilitics, developed by the French National Institute for Informatics Research (INRIA) in conjunction with the National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL). Mobilitics recorded every time another app accessed an item of personal data — the phone’s location, an identifier, photos, messages and so on — and whether it was subsequently transmitted to an external server. The log of the apps’ personal information use was stored on the phone and downloaded at the end of the three months for analysis.

The volunteers were encouraged to use the phones as if they were their own, and together used 121 apps over the period from July to September. A similar study last year used a special iOS app to examine the way iPhone apps access users’ personal data.

Many apps access phones’ identifying characteristics to track their users, the researchers said. One of the few options users have to avoid this tracking is a switch in the “Google Settings” app to reset their phone’s advertising ID. That’s not much help, though, as apps have other ways to identify users. Almost two-thirds of apps studied in the three-month real-world test accessed at least one mobile phone identifier, a quarter of them at least two identifiers, and a sixth three or more. That allows the apps to build up profiles of their users for advertising purposes.

Location was one of the most frequently-accessed items of data. It accounted for 30 percent of all accesses to personal information during the test, and 30 percent of the apps studied accessed it at some point. The Facebook app recorded one volunteer’s location 150,000 times during the three-month period — more than once per minute, on average, while the Google Play Store tracked another user ten times per minute at times. Often, the only use apps make of such information is to serve personalized advertising, as was the case with one game that recorded a user’s location 3,000 times during the study.

 

 

Is Borderlands Headed To The Xbox One And PS4?

December 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Sources are sighting a rating seen on the Australian classifications that seem to point to an upcoming Remastered Edition of Borderlands is coming for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. So far this has remained unconfirmed by publisher 2K and franchise developer Gearbox.

The new remastered version is expected to be simply called “Borderlands Remastered Edition”, but with no confirmation from 2K and Gearbox it is difficult to say what all it might contain or if it is simply a converted and compiled version of the first three games for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Bottom line if it is in fact a complied remastered release of the first three games, the reality is that this could actually be a good thing for those that own the new consoles.

Courtesy-Fud

Patent Disputes Putting Xiaomi Smartphone Growth Plans In Jeopardy

December 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Patent wars have become commonplace with smartphone vendors across the world, and now Xiaomi is no exception. The Chinese company announced it had halted its product sales in India, due to a patent dispute with Swedish network equipment vendor Ericsson.

The legal troubles throw a wrench in Xiaomi’s international expansion, and could open the company to even more lawsuits from other patent holders, analysts warn.

In Ericsson’s case, the company said it had spent more than three years complaining to Xiaomi about the alleged patent infringement, which relates to the telecommunications technology used in the company’s phones.

“Ericsson, as a last resort, had to take legal action,” the company said in an email, which claimed that Xiaomi had declined to pay a fair licensing fee for the technology.

In response, Xiaomi said it was working with Ericsson to resolve the matter, without elaborating. But doing so will probably come at some financial cost.

Xiaomi has enjoyed an almost meteoric rise, becoming China’s top smartphone maker this year. However, the company was only founded in 2010, and doesn’t possess an extensive patent portfolio that so many older technology firms like Ericsson wield.

Although Xiaomi declined to comment on its patent activities, analysts expected that the company would eventually run into intellectual property matters at some point in its international expansion.

“It’s possible lawsuits will be filed in other countries, and not just from Ericsson, but other vendors that want to use patents as a weapon against Xiaomi,” said Wang Jingwen, an analyst with research firm Canalys.

Xiaomi, which still sells most of its phones in China, made India a focus of its international efforts. The company still has a small market share in the country, but its phones have been selling like hot cakes there.

It could simply end up paying Ericsson and other companies for access to their patents, but that could mean paying a hefty price.

“If Xiaomi is willing to pay for the licensing fees to Ericsson, the issue can be resolved,” said Xiaohan Tay, an analyst with research firm IDC. “But the higher cost for smartphones may be passed on to consumers, and Xiaomi may not be able to offer phones at such a low cost to consumers anymore.”

 

 

Intel To Add Broadwell To Its Next Unit Computing Series

December 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is planning to update its rather successful NUC (Next Unit of Computing) series and as you can expect, they will come with Broadwell CPUs inside.

Intel isn’t hiding the external design of the new cases and there is a dominant yellow connector at the front of the new NUC, and this one should be providing charging power even when the device is turned off.

The board comes with either M2 storage or single SATA and there will be two different designs one exclusively for M2 drive and the second taller that will be able to take 2.5 inch SSD or HDD as well.

We will probably learn more details at CES 2015 that is about to start in less than three weeks from now, but the Broadwell in this small form factor will get a speed boost and some future prove technologies such as M2 SSD support.

We are running Core i5 4200 powered NUC with Windows 10 and it really works great powered by 240GB Kingston mS200 mSata SSD and Impact SO DIMM memory. These machines takes less than half an hour to assemble and boot into windows, including Windows 10 and make a perfect choice for the lovers of quiet computing.

The new version will obviously run at least slightly faster than the one we are testing and the marketing is excluding about “the one with the yellow USB connector”.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Shows New IoT Platform

December 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel showed off a new platform which it claims makes it easier for companies to create Internet-connected smart products using its chips, security and software.

Intel’s platform is like Lego and based on the chipmaker’s components and software for companies to create smart, connected devices. The only difference is that you can’t enact your own Doctor Who scene from it.

Doug Davis, head of Intel’s Internet of Things business, said at a launch event in San Francisco it will make it a doddle to connect to data centres in order analyse data collected from devices’ sensors.

Intel’s chips should compute capability in end-point devices that scale from its highest performance Xeon processor to the Quark family of products.

Intel’s Internet of Things Group had $530 million in revenue in the September quarter. That accounted for just 4 percent of Intel’s total revenue in the quarter, but it grew 14 percent over the previous year, which was faster than the company’s PC business.

Dell, SAP, Tata Consultancy, Accenture and other companies are working with the new reference model, Davis said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Instagram Still Gaining Users, Surpassed Twitter

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Photo-sharing site Instagram is reporting  that its active monthly user base reached 300 million, a dramatic 50% increase in the past nine months.

Instagram, which launched in 2010, edged past 8-year-old Twitter and its reported 284 million monthly active users.

Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, has nothing to worry about. In September, the social network reported that its own active monthly user base had hit 1.35 billion.

“Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day,” wrote Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom in a blog post. “We’re thrilled to watch this community thrive and witness the amazing connections people make over shared passions and journeys.”

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said Instagram’s impressive growth stems from its popularity with millennials, who have a strong connection with social networking, selfies and images.

“The younger generation, in particular, is a very visually oriented group that loves selfies,” Kerravala said. “Pictures just say more — they’re fast and easy. Instead of saying, ‘What a great view of the Grand Canyon,’ snap a photo and upload it.”

He noted that Twitter users can upload photos and short videos to the micro-blogging site, but the site is mainly used for its 140-character or less messages.

“I think Twitter is more for information dissemination, where Instagram is more about sharing content,” Kerravala said.

 

 

Microsoft Expects To Release Windows 10 Next Autumn

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft Corp expects to have begin offering its Windows 10 operating system to the publict by autumn 2015, slightly later than previous comments had suggested.

Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told Japanese news service Nikkei on Wednesday that the new system would be released “early next fall.”

Microsoft has not publicly set a firm timetable for the release of Windows 10, but only last week suggested the possibility of an earlier release.

“By next late summer and early fall we’ll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That’s the current plan of record,” Turner told the Credit Suisse Technology Conference last Thursday.

An autumn release would put Windows 10 on track for launch three years after Windows 8, which got a mixed reception as it confused many traditional PC users with a design more suited to tablets.

Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.

An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.

Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide, according to tech research firm Gartner.

 

 

Ericsson Goes After Xiaomi

December 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Ericsson has thrown a spanner into Chinese firm Xiaomi’s expansion plans, and has reportedly stopped it from selling handsets in India.

According to reports, this is already happening. We have asked Ericsson to confirm its role and what it wants to say about it. It told us that the reports are true and that it is ready to defend itself.

“It is unfair for Xiaomi to benefit from our substantial R&D investment without paying a reasonable licensee fee for our technology. After more than 3 years of attempts to engage in a licensing conversation in good faith for products compliant with the GSM, EDGE, and UMTS/WCDMA standards, Xiaomi continues to refuse to respond in any way regarding a fair license to Ericsson’s intellectual property on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms,” it said in a statement.

“Ericsson, as a last resort, had to take legal action. To continue investing in research and enabling the development of new ideas, new standards and new platforms to the industry, we must obtain a fair return on our R&D investments. We look forward to working with Xiaomi to reach a mutually fair and reasonable conclusion, just as we do with all of our licensees.”

Xiaomi has responded to Bloomberg but it declined to say too much until it has access too all of the information.

“Our legal team is currently evaluating the situation based on the information we have,” said the spokesperson. “India is a very important market for Xiaomi and we will respond promptly as needed and in full compliance with India laws.”

The banning on the sale of devices was approved by a court in Delhi India, according to reports, and is based on an Ericsson claim on eight patents that it owns.

Xiaomi has bold plans for its own future and sees itself competing against rivals like Samsung and Apple. It has given itself between five and 10 years to do this, and will presumably want to include the Indian market in those plans.

Courtesy-TheInq