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AT&T To Link Smart Homes With Connected Cars

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T Inc  will link its connected car and smart home technologies to expand its reach in the fast-growing market for Internet-connected devices, a new battleground for the telecom giant and its rivals.

The wireless company’s home security and automation service “Digital Life” and connected car service “Drive” will be integrated so users can control their homes from a dashboard in their vehicles, Glenn Lurie, chief executive of AT&T Mobility told Reuters last week ahead of the company’s announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“Once you’ve told your home when the car is (for instance)within 20 feet of the house to please open the garage door, put the lights on, turn the alarm off, move the thermostat up, you can have those inanimate objects, the home and your car, really taking care of you,” Lurie said.

With the two services linked up, a “Drive” car can control devices in the home, including security cameras, air-conditioners, coffee makers, stereo systems, door locks, alarm sensors on windows and sensors that detect leaks from water pipes.

Most Americans own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning for growth to connected devices.

AT&T said it had about 20 million connected devices from cars to cargo ship container sensors in 2014, up 21 percent from the year earlier. It has not yet revealed its revenue from its “Internet of Things” business.

Technology companies including Apple and Google are making their own plays. Mercedes-Benz has an application that lets drivers control thermostats from Nest, a company acquired by Google.

Analysts expect fast growth from the “Internet of Things”, or web-connected machines and gadgets. Connected car revenue is expected to be $20 billion annually by 2018 from $3 billion in 2013, and smart homes revenue is estimated to touch $71 billion by 2018, according to Juniper Research.

AT&T has deals with eight automakers from General Motors to Ford on connected car services. Lurie said it was still signing deals.

On the home front, it has partnered with home appliance makers such as Samsung and LG Electronics.

Customers will pay for the new service through AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plan. A user can add $10 to the monthly phone bill to share data across multiple connected devices such as wearables and cars, Lurie said. Or customers can opt for plans provided by their car manufacturer.

 

Qualcomm Goes Ultrasonic

March 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first ‘ultrasonic’ fingerprint scanner, in a bid to improve mobile security and further boost Android’s chances in the enterprise space.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint technology debuted during the chipmaker’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) press conference on Monday.

The firm claimed that the new feature will outperform the fingerprint scanners found on smartphones such as the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6.

Qualcomm also claimed that, as well as “better protecting user data”, the 3D ultrasonic imaging technology is much more accurate than capacitive solutions currently available, and is not hindered by greasy or sweaty fingers.

Sense ID offers a more “innovative and elegant” design for manufacturers, the firm said, owing to its ability to scan fingerprints through any material, be it glass, metal or sapphire.

This means, in theory, that future fingerprint sensors could be included directly into a smartphone’s display.

Derek Aberle, Qualcomm president, said: “This is another industry first for Qualcomm and has the potential to revolutionise mobile security.

“It’s also another step towards the end of the password, and could mean that you’ll never have to type in a password on your smartphone again.”

No specific details or partners have yet been announced, but Qualcomm said that the Sense ID technology will arrive in devices in the second half of 2015, when the firm’s next-generation Snapdragon 820 processor is also tipped to debut.

The firm didn’t reveal many details about this chip, except that it will feature Kryo 64-bit CPU tech and a new machine learning feature dubbed Zeroth.

Qualcomm also revealed more details about LTE-U during Monday’s press conference, confirming plans to extend LTE to unused spectrum using technology integrated in its latest small-cell solutions and RF transceivers for mobile devices.

“We face many challenges as demand for data constantly grows, and we think the best way to fix this is by taking advantage of unused spectrum,” said Aberle.

Finally, the chipmaker released details about a new a partnership with Cyanogen, the open-source outfit responsible for the CyanogenMod operating system.

Qualcomm said that it will provide support for the best features and UI enhancements of CyanogenMod on Snapdragon processors, which will be available for the release of Qualcomm Reference Design in April.

The MWC announcements follow the launch of the ARM Cortex-based Snapdragon 620 and 618 chips last month, which promise to improve connectivity and user experience on high-end smartphones and tablets.

Aberle said that these chips will begin to show up in devices in mid to late 2015.

Courtesy-TheInq

BlackBerry Announces Plans For Cloud Based Device Management

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced on Monday it has to plans to roll out a cloud-based version of its device management platform BES12, a move that will make the service more accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses that need to secure devices on their own networks.

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry has built a reputation around its device management and security capabilities, catering mainly to the needs of large government agencies and corporations. With data security needs becoming more critical, and a number of new entrants in the field nipping at its heels, BlackBerry said it is now broadening its offerings.

BlackBerry’s new BES12 platform manages and secures not only BlackBerry devices, but also those powered by operating systems such as Google Inc’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft Corp’s Windows platform. It can also manage and secure medical diagnostic equipment, industrial machinery and even cars.

By offering a less costly cloud-based version of the system, BlackBerry hopes to attract a wider range of small- and medium-sized businesses that need these capabilities, but do not have the capacity to install and manage expensive servers of their own.

“We are trying to broaden the enterprise mobility management space,” said BlackBerry Chief Operation Officer Marty Beard on a conference call with media. “And a cloud version really enables us to broaden our footprint.”

The new cloud-based offering, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, will be offered to customers later this month.

India’s Essar Group, a conglomerate with more than 60,000 employees spread across over two dozen countries, has signed up for a trial of the cloud-based version.

Beard said BlackBerry is seeing growing demand from smaller companies for cloud-based device management offerings, but is also getting demand from larger companies that have certain divisions or groups that need cloud-based capabilities.

 

Apple Watch To Replace Car Keys, Says Cook

March 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Watch will take the place of car keys and its battery will last the whole day, so says Apple Inc’s Chief Executive Tim Cook in an interview with the Telegraph.

The watch is designed to replace car keys and the clumsy, large fobs that are now used in many vehicles, Cook told the newspaper.

Its battery will last the whole day, and will not take as long to charge as an iPhone, the report quoted Cook as saying.

Apple Watch will also work as a credit card through Apple Pay, Cook told the paper, but did not mention how user verification will work with the watch.

The rollout of the watch might pose a challenge for Apple’s stores, which may involve “tweaking the experience in the store,” the Telegraph said, citing Cook’s conversation with the staff at Apple’s Covent Garden store in London.

Last March, Apple unveiled CarPlay, which lets drivers access contacts on their iPhones, make calls or listen to voicemails without taking their hands off the steering wheel.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the iPhone maker is looking at making a self-driving electric car, and is talking to experts at carmakers and automotive suppliers.

In the interview, Cook said that the Apple Watch will operate a special rewards system, track the user’s activity and “be correct to 50 milliseconds”.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

The company has scheduled a special event on March 9, where it is expected to showcase Apple Watch, which will be launched in April.

 

 

Google Continues Wooing Enterprise Users With Android For Work Launch

February 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc rolled out an initiative  to make smartphones running its Android software more appealing to corporations, a move that could help extend the Internet technology giant reach into workplaces.

Google said on its official blog that its Android for Work program will provide improved security and management features for corporations that want to give their employees Android smartphones. Smartphones supported by the new initiative will be able to keep an employee’s work and personal apps separate, and a special Android for Work app will allow businesses to oversee key tools such as email, calendar and contacts.

Google said it is partnering with more than two dozen companies including Blackberry Ltd, Citrix Systems Inc, Box Inc.

Google’s Android software is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, but many corporations, which have significant security and device management requirements, give their employees smartphones made by Blackberry or Apple Inc.

 

 

Are 100-Core ARM Processors On The Horizon

February 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Ezchip is planning to put 100 ARM-based 64-bit cores into a processor which it thinks will fill a hole in the networking market.

Dubbed the Tile-Mx, the multi-core processors are in development, but won’t be sampling until the second half of 2016.

Company officials said the chips high core count, mesh connectivity and hardware accelerators will fix the demands on data centre and carrier networks brought on by such trends as mobility, big data, social media, the Internet of things (IoT) and the cloud.

Ezchip thinks that it will all work well with software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) and open switches and white boxes.
The Tile-Mx chip family is EZchip’s first go with ARM architecture and means it is moving away from the proprietary designs Tilera used in building out its multi-core portfolio.

Tile-Mx will be based around Cortex-A53 cores and will be targeted at white-box networking vendors, servers that run high-performance networking applications and software vendors.

The new chip family also will include smaller versions of the chip armed with 36 and 64 ARM cores, officials said.
The new chips also will include a mesh core interconnect architecture to provide a lot of bandwidth, low latency and high linear scalability.

The chips will offer 200G-bit throughput and will be able to take advantage of the growing ARM ecosystem of open-source software vendors, officials said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Bad News For Lenovo Continues As Website Is Hacked

February 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Chinese PC and mobile phone maker Lenovo Group Ltd acknowledged that its website was hacked, its second security blemish days after the U.S. government advised consumers to remove software called “Superfish” pre-installed on its laptops.

Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on microblogging service Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors to lenovo.com to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails.

Lizard Squad posted an email exchange between Lenovo employees discussing Superfish. The software was at the center of public uproar in the United States last week when security researchers said they found it allowed hackers to impersonate banking websites and steal users’ credit card information.

In a statement issued in the United States on Wednesday night, Lenovo, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, said it had restored its site to normal operations after several hours.

“We regret any inconvenience that our users may have if they are not able to access parts of our site at this time,” the company said. “We are actively reviewing our network security and will take appropriate steps to bolster our site and to protect the integrity of our users’ information.”

Lizard Squad has taken credit for several high-profile outages, including attacks that took down Sony Corp’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Live network last month. Members of the group have not been identified.

Starting 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, visitors to the Lenovo website saw a slideshow of young people looking into webcams and the song “Breaking Free” from the movie “High School Musical” playing in the background, according to technology publication The Verge, which first reported the breach.

Although consumer data was not likely compromised by the Lizard Squad attack, the breach was the second security-related black eye for Lenovo in a matter of days.

 

IBM, ARM Team Up To Offer IoT Starter Kit

February 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

ARM and IBM want Internet of Things (IoT) enthusiasts to make their own connected devices in a matter of minutes with a new development kit that they have unveiled.

The ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit — Ethernet Edition will allow users to make cloud-ready Internet of Things products that could receive or transmit data for analysis or alerts. The development kit will come with ARM’s mbed OS and connect into IBM’s BlueMix cloud, which will help in the development of applications and services.

The kit is for those with little to no experience in embedded or Web development. Prototype designs will guide enthusiasts through the process of making a device and connecting to IBM’s BlueMix cloud service.

The starter kit will get data from “the on board sensors into the IBM cloud within minutes of opening the box,” said the product page on ARM’s website.

ARM and IBM hope to cash in on the mass adoption of IOT, which has led to a mesh of interconnected devices used in smart homes, smart city implementations and enterprises. The devices, which could range from weather sensors to health devices, already number 1.2 billion, and could touch 5.4 billion by 2020, according to a recent study by Verizon.

The IOT market is currently fragmented with a wide variety of hardware, operating systems and communication standards in use. Through the developer kit, ARM and IBM want to bring a level of consistency in hardware and software across IOT devices. Beyond making it easier for devices to talk one another, the developer kit could make it easier to push or pull data out of a larger number of cloud services.

ARM didn’t provide details on the pricing or availability of the starter kit. The first devices resulting from the development kit are expected to be released later this year.

 

 

Google Acquiring Softcard’s Mobile Wallet Technology

February 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google announced it has reached a deal with three of the country’s major cellular carriers to acquire “technology and capabilities” from Softcard, a competing mobile wallet app created jointly by the telecom operators. But the deal appears to be less about technology and more about branding.

The biggest immediate change is that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile will begin pre-installing Google Wallet on new Android smartphones later this year — something that had been blocked before in preference for the Softcard app.

At their heart, both apps are based on the same contactless payment technology as Apple Pay and a new generation of payment cards from banks and credit unions. They use NFC (near-field communication) to complete a transaction once a payment card or phone is brought within a few centimeters of a terminal.

Apple Pay brought the technology widespread recognition when it launched late last year, but Google Wallet has been around since 2011. However a lack of support from carriers, retailers, card issuers and Google itself had relegated the technology to the sidelines.

While Google Wallet and Apple Pay share a technology base, there are key differences in how they work. Perhaps the biggest is that in Google Wallet, all transactions are routed through Google before being charged to the customer’s credit card.

That gives Google even greater insight into the lives of its users. In contrast, Apple doesn’t see any details of purchases made on its system.

Getting the Google Wallet app in front of more consumers could help reduce confusion over the different brands — an important consideration when the biggest Android phone maker is making moves of its own in mobile payments.

 

 

 

ARM and IBM Join Forces On IoT

February 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

ARM has joined forces with IBM to launch its Internet of Things (IoT) mbed Device Platform as a starter kit with cloud support, offering developer tools with cloud-based analytics.

ARM’s mbed tool was announced last year and is primarily an operating system built around open standards to “bring internet protocols, security and standards-based manageability into one integrated tool” and make IoT deployment faster and easier and thus speed up the creation of IoT-powered devices.

ARM has launched the mbed IoT Starter Kit – Ethernet Edition today to coincide with the opening of Embedded World in Nuremberg. Partnering with IBM means that ARM’s mbed tool can channel data from internet-connected devices directly into IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform.

The IoT Starter Kit consists of an ARM mbed-enabled development board from Freescale, powered by an ARM Cortex-M4 based processor, together with a sensor IO application shield.

It also support standards such as Bluetooth Smart, 2G, 3G, LTE and CDMA cellular technologies, Thread, WiFi, and 802.15.4/6LoWPAN along with TLS/DTLS, CoAP, HTTP, MQTT and Lightweight M2M.

The mbed OS also features the mbed Device Server, a licensed software product that provides the server-side technologies to connect and manage devices in a more secure way. It also provides a bridge between the protocols designed for use on IoT devices and the APIs used by web developers.

“The combination of a secure sensor environment by ARM with cloud-based analytics, mobile and application resources from IBM will allow fast prototyping of new smart products and unique value-added services,” explained ARM.

Krisztian Flautner, general manager for IoT business at ARM, said that securely embedding connectivity into devices from the start will allow for cloud-connected products that are far more capable than we see today.

“Smart cities, businesses and homes capable of sharing rich information about their surroundings will be critical in unlocking the potential of IoT,” he said.

“The ARM IoT Starter Kit will accelerate the availability of connected devices by making product and service prototyping faster and easier.”

The first products developed using the kit are expected to enter the market later this year.

Future versions of the kit will run the new ARM mbed OS and use ARM mbed Device Server software to deliver a wider range of efficient security, communication and device management features.

Prototypes have been given to a few early adopters, including the Science and Technology Facilities Council which said that the kit and its connection to the IBM IoT Foundation will help businesses realise the value during the development and production phases of any venture.

The mbed software also comes with its own community, Mbed.org, a focus point for a more than 70,000 developers around the platform.

The website provides a database of hardware development kits, a repository for reusable software components, reference applications, documentation and web-based development tools. It is already up and running, ARM said.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Visa Europe Announces New Mobile Payments Method

February 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Visa Europe has announced a new, more secure way for consumers to pay retailers usinng their mobile phones,a move that could set the stage for Apple’s  Apple Pay and rival mobile payment services to be introduced into Europe in the coming months.

Visa Europe said on Tuesday it would introduce to member banks by mid-April a “tokenization” service which substitutes random numbers for a user’s credit card details when a merchant transmits transaction data, reducing the risk of online theft.

Similar security from Visa Inc ,the former parent of Visa Europe, and rival card issuers MasterCard and American Express has been key to the success of Apple Pay since it was introduced in the United States last year, according to industry experts.

Apple Pay allows iPhone users to store their credit card details on their phones, then pay at the tap of a button. In its first three months, more than $2 out of every $3 which U.S. consumers spent using speedy new “contactless” systems at the three major credit card networks was done via Apple Pay, the company said last month.

Visa Europe’s move is one of several new services the London-based credit card giant is unveiling as it battles to retain its role as a middleman connecting banks and consumers in a fast-moving payments landscape being shaken up by major technology firms including Apple, Google  and eBay’s PayPal, as well as scores of ambitious start-ups.

These include a way for card customers to send money overseas to other Visa users via their social media profiles on sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Steve Perry, Visa Europe’s chief digital officer, said in an interview his association’s plan for secure credit card data transmission parallels what Visa Inc offers in the United States. But he declined to comment on whether Apple Pay had agreed to use his organization’s version in European markets.

 

Antitrust Case Against Google Over Android Apps Dismissed

February 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A federal judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit that alleged Google harmed consumers by forcing Android mobile phone makers to use its apps by default. The plaintiffs were given three weeks to amend their complaint.

The two consumers who filed the suit failed to show that Google’s allegedly illegal restrictive contracts on manufacturers of Android devices resulted in higher prices on phones, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said in a Feb. 20 ruling.

The complainants, who were seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, said that Google required manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics, to set the search giant’s own apps as default options on Android-based phones, restricting access to competing software such as Microsoft’s Bing search engine. The complaint alleged that this practice limited competition in the search engine market, stifled innovation and resulted in higher prices for phones.

But Freeman ruled that the complainants failed to establish a link between software requirements and phone pricing, also noting that “there are no facts alleged to indicate that defendant’s conduct has prevented consumers from freely choosing among search products or prevented competitors from innovating.”

She gave the plaintiffs three weeks to amend the antitrust complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

 

 

Android Malware Fake Shuts Down Phones To Steal Data

February 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Next time you turn switch off your Android mobile phone, you might want to pop the battery out as an extra precaution.

Security vendor AVG has spotted a malicious program that fakes the sequence a user sees when they shut off their phone, giving it freedom to move around on the device and steal data.

When someone presses the power button on a device, a fake dialog box is shown. The malware then mimics the shutdown animation and appears to be off, AVG’s mobile malware research team said in a blog post.

“Although the screen is black, it is still on,” they said. “While the phone is in this state, the malware can make outgoing calls, take pictures and perform many other tasks without notifying the user.”

The malware requires an Android device to be “rooted,” or modified to allow deep access to its software. That may eliminate a lot of Android owners who don’t modify their phones.

But some vendors of Android phones ship their devices with that level of access, potentially making it easier for the malware to get onto a device.

This malware is unlikely to show up in Google’s Play Store, since Google tries to block applications that have malicious functions. But it could be a candidate for one of the many third-party app stores with looser restrictions.

 

YouTube Releasing New Kids App

February 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

YouTube is rolling out a new app for children next week, called YouTube Kids, which will run on smartphones and tablets and focus on kid-appropriate content.

The free app from Google Inc’s online video service will be available for download as of today, February 23rd, and will feature kid-friendly design, with big icons and minimal scrolling, according to details seen by Reuters.

The app, which will be separate from the mainstream YouTube mobile app, will also feature parental controls such as a timer that can be used to limit a child’s screen time.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the launch, saying the company is planning to announce the new app today at a children’s entertainment industry conference.

A YouTube spokeswoman confirmed the information.

In December, USA Today reported that Google was planning to roll out child-friendly versions of its most popular products in a bid to be “fun and safe for children.”

Internet companies such as Google and Facebook Inc do not offer their services to children under 13.

 

 

Samsung Moving Toward Mobile Payments With LoopPay Acquisition

February 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has acquired U.S. mobile wallet startup LoopPay, signaling its intention to launch a smartphone payments service to compete with rival Apple Inc.

Mobile payments have been slow to catch on in the United States and elsewhere, despite strong backing. Apple, Google, and eBay Inc’s PayPal have all launched services to allow users to pay in stores via smartphones.

The weak uptake is partly because many retailers have been reluctant to adopt the hardware and software infrastructure required for these new mobile payment options to work. These services also fail to offer much more convenience than simply swiping a credit card, Samsung executives said on Wednesday.

LoopPay’s technology differs because it works off existing magnetic-stripe card readers at checkout, changing them into contactless receivers, they said. About 90 percent of checkout counters already support magnetic swiping.

“If you can’t solve the problem of merchant acceptance…, of being able to use the vast majority of your cards, then it can’t really be your wallet,” said David Eun, head of Samsung’s Global Innovation Center.

Injong Rhee, who is leading Samsung’s as-yet-unannounced payments project, said the Asian giant will soon reveal more details of its envisioned service. He would not be drawn on speculation the company may do so during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

He said new phones such as the upcoming, latest Galaxy would support the service.

Apple Pay, launched in September, allows iPhone users to pay at the tap of a button. Executives have lauded its rapid rollout so far, including the fact that more than 2,000 banks now support it and the U.S. government will accept Apple Pay later this year.

But Apple Pay requires retailers to install near-field communication and some have been reluctant. In addition, many retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and CVS Health Corp, back their own system, CurrentC.

Samsung had invested in LoopPay, along with Visa Inc and Synchrony Financial, before its acquisition. Terms of the deal, which Samsung negotiated over several months, were not disclosed.

It’s unclear how else Samsung could differentiate its service versus Apple’s or other rivals.