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Intel’s Updated USB Type-C Designed To Replace Headphone Jacks

April 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Intel this week unveiled plans to make an upgraded USB Type-C connector that would enable audio input and output, potentially replacing the long-standard 3.5 millimeter headphone jack used in today’s electronic devices.

Intel, which revealed its plans during a lecture at its Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in Shenzhen, China, also believes USB Type-C would simplify connections of multi-channel audio equipment to various devices.

Unlike the traditional 3.5mm analogue audio jack, a USB Type-C interface could charge a device in addition to transmitting sound and data. For example, it could transfer health and fitness data from a mobile device.

The USB Type-C connectors are reversible, so orientation isn’t an issue when plugging something into a device. The USB 3.1 Gen1 specification offers up to 5Gbps of data throughput; the Gen2 specification offers up to 10Gbps.

USB Type-C cables and connectors would replace the last analog receptacles on computers and mobile devices. Intel’s strategy was first reported by AnandTech.

In Intel’s presentation, it described USB C-Type connectors as being able to support both analog and digital musical content. But the upgraded connector would “promote” a changeover from analog to digital as users would see “improved digital headset features.”

A USB Type-C connector that supports audio feeds would also enable new form-factors, improve user experience and “provide a future path for USB technologies,” Intel said in the presentation.

 

 

 

Is Nintendo Making A Mistaking With The NX?

April 29, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo has confirmed that its next-gen console, the Nintendo NX, will launch in March 2017.

Causing many to screw up their Christmas lists, the company told shareholders during its earnings call on Tuesday: “For our dedicated video game platform business, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed ‘NX’ with a brand-new concept. NX will be launched in March 2017 globally.”

Probably also causing some to cancel a trip to Los Angeles, Nintendo said that the NX will not be demonstrated at the upcoming E3 video games conference in June, despite speculation that Sony plans to show off its so-called PlayStation 4.5 console.

Nintendo’s keynote at the games show will focus instead on the next Legend of Zelda game, which will launch simultaneously on the Wii U and Nintendo NX in 2017. Rumour has it that Smash Bros 4, Splatoon and Super Mario Maker are all set to receive an NX makeover too.

A launch is now less than a year away, but we still don’t know much about the Nintendo NX, which Nintendo confirmed this week is just a codename for the incoming console. However, rumour claims that it will arrive as a hybrid between a home console and a mobile games console to sit alongside the New Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo president and CEO Tatsumi Kimishima reiterated in December last year that the company is “not building the next version of Wii or Wii U” and that the device will be something “unique and different”.

News of the Nintendo NX’s launch date no doubt came as the firm looked to play down the fact that its profits fell 61 per cent year over year. Worked, didn’t it?

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Microsoft Kicks Off Two-for-one Lumia Phone Sale

April 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft announced the launch of a two-for-one deal for its Windows-based smartphones, tossing in a free Lumia 950 when customers buy a $649 unlocked top-tier Lumia 950 XL.

The give-away will run until May 1, or while supplies last, Microsoft said on its e-store.

Last week, Microsoft told Wall Street that sales of its Lumia devices — virtually the only smartphones powered by Windows 10 Mobile — plummeted 73% in the March quarter compared to the year before, falling from 8.8 million in 2015 to 2.3 million in 2016. Revenue from its phone division fell 47%, to $662 million, in the first three months of this year.

More to the point of the two-for-one sale, on Thursday, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, Amy Hood, said, “Sell-through of our Lumia products was weak, and we exited the quarter with relatively high channel inventory.” Simply put, poor sales left more than the expected number of devices in stores and warehouses.

The buy-one-get-one-free deal may be Microsoft’s way of flushing out the current overstock.

Buyers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will receive a $549 unlocked Lumia 950 when they purchase an unlocked Lumia 950 XL. The latter is Microsoft’s top-of-the-line Windows 10 Mobile smartphone, which went on sale in November 2015.

The offer is limited to two Lumia pairs per customer.

Microsoft’s smartphone business continued to drag down the Redmond, Wash. firm’s overall revenue outlook. While Hood did not pin a dollar amount to Lumia’s impact on the June quarter, Microsoft’s final in its 2016 fiscal year, she acknowledged that, “We expect year-over-year revenue declines to steepen in Q4 as we work through our Lumia channel position.”

 

 

 

T-Mobile Revenue Up, Continues Attracting New Customers

April 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US Inc reported a better-than-expected 10.6 percent rise in quarterly revenue and raised its forecast for customer additions in 2016 as popular discounts aided the No.3 U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers attract more business.

T-Mobile has been offering cheaper leasing plans and free music and video streaming to lure customers away from larger rivals Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.

T-Mobile, controlled by Deutsche Telekom, said it added 2.2 million customers on a net basis in the first quarter ended March 31.

That easily topped the average analyst estimate of 1.72 million, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

The company said it expected to add 3.2 million to 3.6 million postpaid customers on a net basis in 2016, compared with its previous forecast of 2.4 million to 3.4 million.

T-Mobile’s 10.6 percent jump in quarterly revenue to $8.6 billion suggested its strategy to boost revenue was working. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $8.43 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In comparison, market leader Verizon’s operating revenue rose just 0.6 percent to $32.17 billion.

AT&T is scheduled to report results later on Tuesday.

T-Mobile reported net income of $479 million, or 56 cents per share, for the first quarter, compared with a loss of $63 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.

 

Survey Reveals The Depth Of Digital Crime In Germany

April 26, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

More than two-thirds of German industrial companies have falling prey to digital crime in the past two years, according to a survey carried out by Bitkom, Germany’s IT, telecoms and new media industry association.

The most common offence was the simple theft of equipment such as computers, smartphones or tablets, but a fifth of companies surveyed reported that sensitive documents, components or designs had been stolen, while 18 percent said their production had been sabotaged with the aim of damaging or paralyzing it.

Such crimes cost German manufacturing industry more than 22 billion euros ($25 billion) a year, Bitkom estimated following its survey of 504 German manufacturing companies with at least 10 employees.

“With the digitization of production and the networking of machines over the Internet, new contact points arise that are vulnerable to attack,” Winfried Holz, a Bitkom executive committee member, said in a statement issued at the Hannover Messe industry trade fair.

“German industry, with its numerous hidden champions, is an attractive target for cybercriminals and foreign intelligence services,” he added. Germany has hundreds of small and medium-sized family-owned manufacturers that are world leaders in their niche.

Bitkom said the 69 percent of manufacturing companies affected by cybercrime was a far higher proportion than the 51 percent average for German companies in general.

About 70 percent of the machinery and equipment manufacturers surveyed said they had been victims, 68 percent of chemicals and pharmaceuticals producers, 65 percent of electronics makers and 61 percent of carmakers.

Cybercriminality was most often found in production or assembly, with 36 percent of reported cases, followed by 30 percent in warehousing and logistics, 29 percent in IT and 23 percent in research and development.

 

 

Sirin’s Ultra High-end Smartphone To Retail For $20,000

April 26, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A British-Israeli start-up is making plans to offer a mobile phone next month that will provide users unprecedented levels of technology and security — and retail for close to $20,000.

Sirin Labs AG said on Monday it had raised $72 million in private funds to launch the device, which would be aimed at executives. It plans to open its first store, in London’s Mayfair, in May.

“(Our) smartphone …brings the most advanced technology available – even if it is not commercially available – and combining it with almost military-grade security,” said Sirin co-founder and president Moshe Hogeg.

The phone will be based on the Android operating system and run otherwise unspecified technology two to three years in advance of the mass market, he said.

Hogeg told Reuters the phone would sell for less than $20,000.

He believes thousands of executives in the United States and Europe will pay that sort of price, since the cost of being hacked could be more expensive in terms of information lost.

Hogeg put the value of the global luxury phone market at about $1.1 billion, a fraction of total mobile phone sales. Most top end phones sold are more for status – regular phones with gold and diamonds.

Britain’s Vertu sells phones in that category from $10,000 to $300,000, while Apple’s iPhone 5 Black Diamond sold for $15.3 million.

Sirin’s financing came from Israeli venture capital fund Singulariteam – which Hogeg co-founded and included backing from Kazakh investor Kenges Rakishev – and Chinese social networking company Renren.

The idea for the start-up came about after Rakishev’s phone was hacked in 2013. He asked Hogeg why he couldn’t find a mobile phone that would ensure privacy and why new technology seen in tech shows and publications was not available in consumer devices.

“There were no good solutions that combined high-end technologies with maximum security,” Hogeg said.

 

Corning Goes Vibrant With Gorilla Glass

April 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Corning Glass has announced that its already tough Gorilla Glass has evolved into something a bit more colorful.

Dubbed “Vibrant Gorilla Glass” it is a way for Corning to print permanent images onto the glass panels with “outstanding resolution and sharpness.”

Corning hasn’t stated when the Vibrant Gorilla Glass will actually be available to manufacturers. But it shouldn’t be too far out. Vibrant Gorilla Glass could be important. Basically it means that smartphone makers will be able to customize phones to a greater extent.

It means that we might start getting themed phones which are more than just a single colour, but could have images of your favorite TV show. Corning says that the Vibrant Gorilla Glass can be used on “smartphones, tablets or notebooks.” Which means we might soon see tablets and notebooks with their own images pre-stuck on.

Don’t expect to see this on Apple gear though; Corning is in pretty thick with Samsung which signed a deal to ensure its supply until 2023.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Did Researchers Create Batteries That A Lifetime?

April 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) have accidentally – yes, accidentally – discovered a nanowire-based technology that could lead to batteries that can be charged hundreds of thousands of times.

Mya Le Thai, a PhD candidate at the university, explained in a paper published this week that she and her colleagues used nanowires, a material that is several thousand times thinner than a human hair, extremely conductive and has a surface area large enough to support the storage and transfer of electrons.

Nanowires are extremely fragile and don’t usually hold up well to repeated discharging and recharging, or cycling. They expand and grow brittle in a typical lithium-ion battery, but Le Thai’s team fixed this by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and then placing it in a Plexiglas-like gel to improve its reliability. All by accident.

The breakthrough could lead to laptop, smartphone and tablet batteries that last forever.

Reginald Penner, chairman of UCI’s chemistry department, said: “Mya was playing around and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it.

“She discovered that just by using this gel she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity. That was crazy, because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”

The battery-like structure was tested more than 200,000 times over a three-month span, and the researchers reported no loss of capacity or power.

“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” Thai said. “This research proves that a nanowire-based battery electrode can have a long lifetime and that we can make these kinds of batteries a reality.”

The breakthrough also paves the way for commercial batteries that could last a lifetime in appliances, cars and spacecraft.

British fuel-cell maker Intelligent Energy Holdings announced earlier this year that it is working on a smartphone battery that will need to be charged only once a week.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Qualcomm’s Appears To Be Slowing

April 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm predicted a third-quarter profit below analysts estimates as it expects to ship fewer chips, including those for smartphones, its biggest business.

Qualcomm, whose customers include Apple and Samsung expects chip shipments to fall 13-22 percent to 175-195 million in the current quarter with its  expects 3G and 4G devices to increase to eight percent at the midpoint in this quarter, lower than its previous estimate of about 10 percent growth.

Besides slowing smartphone sales, Qualcomm is also being squeezed by competitors making chips that rival its own in price and performance, and the likes of Samsung and Apple increasingly making their own components for smartphones.

Research firm Gartner expects global smartphone sales to grow in single digits in percentage terms for the first time ever this year, while Apple in January also forecast its first revenue drop in 13 years.

The uncertainty in the smartphone business seemed to show in the company’s third-quarter revenue forecast of $5.2-$6.0 billion, which implies revenue could be between 11 percent lower and 3 percent higher than the year-ago quarter.

However, while Qualcomm’s chip business is the bigger contributor to revenue it makes most of its dosh by licensing its chip technology. But the outfit has sufferd from delays in closing licensing agreements in China, its biggest market.

Qualcomm, which has recently signed new deals with several companies including Lenovo and it was still in talks with key Chinese smartphone makers to sign agreements.

Revenue at Qualcomm’s chipmaking division and its licensing business fell, 25 percent and 12 percent respectively, in the latest quarter, dragging down total revenue for the fourth quarter in a row. However, the 19.5 percent drop, to $5.55 billion, in the three months ended March 27, was less than the nearly 23 percent drop analysts were expecting. Net income attributable to Qualcomm rose 10.5 percent to $1.16 billion, or 78 cents per share.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple To Pay Nearly $25M In Siri Patent Lawsuit Settlement

April 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has agreed to shell out $24.9 million to a patent holding firm to resolve a 5-year-old lawsuit accusing Siri of infringing one of its patents.

Apple will pay the money to Marathon Patent Group, the parent company of Texas firm Dynamic Advances, which held an exclusive license to a 2007 patent covering natural language user interfaces for enterprise databases. Marathon reported the settlement in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

In response to the settlement, Magistrate Judge David Peebles of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit against Apple filed by Dynamic Advances and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where the natural language technology was created.

A trial had been scheduled to begin early next month in Syracuse, New York. Dynamic Advances first filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in October 2012.

A “portion” of the settlement will go to RPI, Marathon said in its SEC filing. The company believes “other voice recognition services also infringe patents involved in the settled action,” it said in the filing.

The natural language technology covered in the patent was invented by Cheng Hsu, then a professor of decision sciences and engineering systems, and Veera Boonjing, then a doctoral student at RPI, according to an amended complaint filed in June 2013.

The patent covers “novel methods” for processing natural language, wrote lawyers for the plaintiffs. The technology gives computer and smartphone owners “the ability to input search queries or commands in language they would use in conversation with another person,” they wrote in the complaint.

Apple’s Siri voice-enabled digital assistance service encourages users to use technology that “processes natural language inputs” as claimed in the patent, the complaint said. Since the first lawsuit in 2012, “Apple has known that, or has been willfully blind to the fact that” its customers are infringing the patent, the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote.

 

 

Are Thunderbolt Based SSD’s The Next Big Thing?

April 22, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

As UHD tellies promise that huge amounts of data will need to be shifted the question of how to do it fast enough is being answered by a new generation of SSDs based around Thunderbolt.

This week two new drives were announded. One by Sonnet and the other by Akitio  and both combine Thunderbolt 3 and the latest PCIe SSD technology.

Sonnet’s CEO Robert Farnsworth said:

“The Fusion Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Flash Drive can sustain the ultra-high file transfer speeds required for just about any 4K workflow – whether users need an ultra-fast shuttle drive or a take-anywhere scratch drive for editing high frame rate 4K video at offsite shoots.”

The 512 GB storage unit is compatible with Windows 7 and 10 machines, and features the latest PCIe Gen 3 flash memory technology and a 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 interface on the end of an included 0.5 m (1.6) cable. Sonnet claims it can manage data transfer speeds of up to 2,100 MB/s.

The drive is 2.8 in (70 mm) wide, 4.1 in (103.2 mm) deep and 1.25 in (31.5 mm) high, and placed in an aluminum enclosure. The Fusion Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Flash Drive is available at the end of this month for a suggested retail price of $799.

Akitio’s Thunder3 PCIe SSD is not as portable. It is 9.17 x 5.96 x 2.99 in (233 x 152 x 76 mm) dimensions and will need to be powered via the an adapter. However it has 1.2 TB of storage capacity using a PCIe Gen 3 Intel 750 Series SSD. It has two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a DisplayPort video output for connection a 4K monitor. It claims to ahve a data transfer speeds of a 2,500 MB/s.

The Akitio drive is housed in an aluminum enclosure, comes with a 40 Gbps cable included and is compatible with Windows 7 or newer computers. It can also be daisy chained to up to six other units.

Courtesy-Fud

 

EU Charges Google With Antitrust Violations Over Android OS

April 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The European Union charged Google with abusing the dominant position of its Android mobile operating system, opening a second front against the U.S. technology giant that could lead to hefty fines.

European Union antitrust regulators said that by requiring mobile phone manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and the Google Chrome browser, the U.S. company was denying consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and stifling innovation.

Google is already facing EU charges over the promotion of its shopping service in Internet searches at the expense of rival services, in a case that has dragged on since late 2010 despite three attempts to resolve the issues.

The stakes are higher for Google in the Android case as it made about $11 billion last year from advertising sales on Android phones through its apps such as Maps, Search and Gmail, according to estimates by financial analyst Richard Windsor.

“A competitive mobile Internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

“We believe that Google’s behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players,” she said.

Internet Explorer-browser maker Microsoft Corp declined to comment.

Suppliers of browsers including Mozilla, which is behind Firefox, as well as Apple, with its Safari browser, and Norway’s Opera Software were not immediately available to comment.

The European Commission said about 80 percent of smart mobile devices in Europe and the world run on Android, the operating system developed by Google.

Google, which has 12 weeks to respond to the charges, said in a statement that Android was a remarkable system based on open-source software and open innovation.

“We look forward to working with the European Commission to demonstrate that Android is good for competition and good for consumers,” Google’s general counsel Kent Walker said.

FairSearch, the lead complainant, said Google had launched Android as an open source project, but was now hindering the development of versions that might lead to new operating systems able to compete with Android.

The Commission alleges Google has breached EU antitrust rules by making phone manufacturers pre-install its search function and Chrome browser, and by preventing them from selling mobiles running competing operating systems based on the Android open source code.

 

Intel To Cut 12,000 Jobs As PC Market Slowdown Continues

April 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Intel Corp announced that it will eliminate up to 12,000 jobs globally, or 11 percent of its workforce, as it refocuses its business towards making microchips that power data centers and Internet connected devices and away from the declining personal computer industry it helped found.

Tech companies including the former Hewlett Packard Co and Microsoft Corp have reorganized in the face of the PC industry decline. Many new tech users around the world turn to mobile phones for their computing needs, and corporations increasingly rely on big machines rather than desktop models to run their businesses. Global personal computer shipments fell 11.5 percent in the first quarter, tech research company IDC said on Monday.

Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, lowered its revenue forecast for the year. It now expects revenue to rise in mid-single digits, down from its previous forecast of mid- to high-single digits.

Most of Intel’s factories are in the United States, although it did not identify where cuts would be focused geographically. It said it would record a pretax restructuring charge of $1.2 billion in the second quarter and expected annual savings of $1.4 billion per year starting mid-2017.

The company also said Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith will move to a new role leading sales, manufacturing and operations. Intel said it would begin a formal search process for a new CFO.

Smith said that Intel now expects the PC market to decline by a percentage in the high single digits in 2016 versus a prior forecast of a mid single-digit decline. Declines in China and other emerging markets are also leading to greater than anticipated reductions in worldwide PC supply chain inventory, Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich said on a conference call.

 

 

Google Wins Approval To Test 3.5GHz Wireless Network

April 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has received approval to  begin testing innovative 3.5 GHz wireless capabilities by using antennas on light poles and other structures in eight areas of Kansas City, Mo.

It will be the first large-scale test of its kind in the nation, following a framework created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a year ago for the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service, which uses 3.5GHz spectrum and allows for dynamic spectrum sharing.

The test could last up to 18 months and result in fast, short-range wireless connections to serve areas not reached by Google Fiber. FCC officials have called the 3.5GHz band the “innovation band,” noting it could evolve into a new flavor of Wi-Fi or even an LTE Unlicensed band.

The commercial potential for the 3.5GHz band is large, both for Google and for its customers. “Yes, 3.5GHz is pretty innovative and could help Google create a city wide broadband network in KC,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.

Google could use the service in many ways, although new smartphones and tablets would require 3.5GHz antennas for access to the band. However, a simple dongle inserted into a laptop’s USB port could provide a 3.5GHz antenna, Entner noted.

Theoretically, wireless speeds of up to 300Mbps could be supported, compared to many 4G LTE average speeds of just 10Mbps to 20Mbps, Entner said. The 3.5GHz spectrum could also be used by Internet of Things devices for wireless connections.

Google Fiber first installed 1Gbps Internet connections in homes in the Kansas City area in 2012 and now reaches businesses on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the metro area. Google won’t divulge how many subscribers it has.

“If Google is successful in the 3.5GHz test and goes on to provide commercial services, KC will become the most wirelessly connected gigabit region to benefit from new advanced wireless services,” Assistant City Manager Rick Usher said in an interview.

 

 

Is the Apple SE A Hit?

April 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Remember when some analyst  told us that the world wanted to go back to small phones and that the iPhone SE would be a money spinner? It turns out that we were not the only ones who thought that idea was rubbish – Apple does not believe it either.

Apple has continued to have a limited production run of iPhones in the quarter ending June. According to the  Nikkei business daily this will be the second quarter that Apple will run reduced production of its main bread and butter – the iPhone. Practically it means that not is well behind Apple’s Walled Garden of Delights. It also suggests that the iPhone SE is as pants as we expected.

For those who came in late, Apple re-released its iPhone 5C with a slightly better chip and called it the SE. This old design was tiny in comparison to later models and clearly out-of-date.  This has been a bad time for Jobs’ Mob the Nikkei reported in January that the technology giant was expected to cut production of its iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models by about 30 percent in the quarter ended March, but production was expected to return to normal in the current quarter. Clearly it didn’t and the SE failed to interest anyone.

Apple’s shares fell 1.8 percent to $110.05 and some of its partners went the following way. The production cut could last longer than the one it implemented in 2013, when Apple cut production orders for its cheaper iPhone 5C a month after its launch.

Apple has told parts suppliers in Japan and elsewhere that it will maintain the reduced output level in the current quarter, the Nikkei report said.

In January, Apple said it expected a fall in revenue for the quarter ending March – its first forecast for a revenue drop in 13 years – as the critical Chinese market showed signs of weakening. It also reported the slowest-ever increase in iPhone shipments.

Courtesy-Fud