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Can Qualcomm Compete With Intel In The Server Space?

November 21, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has confirmed that it will branch out from offering its Snapdragon mobile chips and will soon launch a line of server processors.

The firm’s CEO, Steve Mollenkopf, has remained tight lipped about the plans so far but, according to The Wall Street Journal, said during a meeting with financial analysts in New York on Wednesday that the company is working on chips for the data centre.

There’s no timing yet, either, although Mollenkopf said that his firm is currently “engaged with customers”.

Qualcomm is already the world leader in ARM chips for smartphones, and we assume that the company will develop server chips based on ARM’s 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture as rivals such as AMD have done.

The move will place Qualcomm in competition with chip giant Intel, which is currently one of the biggest server chip makers.

Qualcomm announced last month that it had acquired Cambridge-based chipmaker CSR for a hefty $2.5bn (£1.6bn), as the company looks to push further into the Internet of Things (IoT).

The buyout, which comes two months after CSR rejected a takeover bid from Microchip Technology, will see Qualcomm using the British company to push further into the IoT, automotive and mobile communications markets.

CSR rejected an initial bid from Microchip, but reports claim that the firm has until 5pm UK time today to make a better offer.

However, CSR’s board of directors has unanimously accepted Qualcomm’s offer of 900p a share. The closing price at the time of the offer was 660p.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

 

Apple To Bundle Beats Music Into iOS

November 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc will bundle the subscription music service it acquired from Beats into its iOS operating system early next year, according to an article by the Financial Times.

The inclusion of the paid-for Beats service in an iOS software update, which would instantly make it available on millions of iPhones and iPads, could happen as early as March, the daily reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The move will mark the company’s first big push into subscription music, at a time when downloads from its iTunes are in decline, the paper said.

The service, which is likely to be rebranded under the iTunes label, will compete with music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud.

Google Inc said last week that YouTube is rolling out a long-awaited paid monthly music subscription service called YouTube Music Key.

Apple, which bought music streaming and audio equipment company Beats in May for $3 billion, could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

 

Nokia Launches N1 Tablet

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Finland’s Nokia unveiled a new brand-licensed tablet computer which is designed to rival Apple’s iPad Mini, just six months after the company sold its underperforming phones and devices business to Microsoft for over $7 billion.

Nokia, a name which was once synonymous with mobile phones until first Apple and then Samsung Electronics eclipsed the Finnish company with the advent of smart phones, said the manufacturing, distribution and sales of the new N1 tablet, will be handled under license by Taiwan’s Foxconn.

The aluminum-cased N1, which runs on Google’s Android Lollipop operating software but features Nokia’s new Z Launcher intelligent home screen interface, is due to be in stores in China in the first quarter of next year for an estimated price of $249 before taxes, with sales to other markets to follow.

Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia’s Technologies unit, said the company was looking to follow up with more devices and will also look into eventually returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing.

“With the agreement with Microsoft, as is customary, we have this transition and we can’t do smartphones … We have a time limit. In 2016 we can again enter that business,” Nystrom told Reuters.

“It would be crazy not to look at that opportunity. Of course we will look at it.”

Microsoft last week dropped the Nokia name on its latest Lumia 535 smartphone, which runs on its Windows Phone 8 operating system, but still uses the brand for more basic phones.

After the Microsoft sale Nokia was left with its core network equipment and services business plus its smaller HERE mapping and navigation unit and Nokia Technologies, which manages the licensing of its portfolio of patents and develops new products such as the N1 and the Z Launcher.

 

 

WhatsApp Adds End-to-End Encryption

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Stepping up efforts to keep its users messages safe from prying eyes, WhatsApp announced that it now supports end-to-end encryption for messages sent between users.

The end-to-end encryption comes thanks to a collaboration between WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems, an open-source development company focused on secure communications.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has more than 600 million users who log in monthly, making Open Whisper’s encryption deployment the largest ever in the area of end-to-end encrypted communication, Open Whisper said.

The encryption is on by default. It’s only available for Android right now, though the companies are working to roll out support for other platforms.

End-to-end encryption has gained attention following the disclosures about government surveillance last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Meanwhile, the flood of cyber attacks targeting retailers and Internet companies alike have highlighted the need for better data security.

Edward Snowden himself has called end-to-end encryption the best possible form of encryption, because it keeps people’s data encrypted even while it’s on company servers. The data, in theory, can only be decrypted on people’s personal devices. That means outside groups must target individuals’ machines if they want to access the data.

Some other mainstream services like Google have released products to facilitate end-to-end encryption. And along with Apple, Google’s also working to make encryption the default on smartphones.

But end-to-end encryption still is primarily offered by lesser known companies that don’t rely on people’s data for advertising.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption uses Whisper’s TextSecure protocol, which encrypts text messages over the air and on people’s phones.

WhatsApp declined to comment further on the encryption deployment.

 

 

Snapchat To Offer Mobile Payments Service

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile messaging company Snapchat is rolling out a new service that wil allow users to send money to each other, in a partnership with online payments company Square.

The service, dubbed Snapcash, allows Snapchat users to link their debit cards to their account and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone, typing in a dollar sign and an amount and hitting a green button, Snapchat explained in a post on its official blog.

The move marks the latest sign of expansion plans for Los Angeles-based Snapchat, which lets users exchange photos that automatically disappear after a few seconds. The company has been valued at $10 billion in its most recent fundraising effort, according to media reports, and is considered a growing threat to Web companies including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.

“We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you’re dealing with money,” Snapchat said in the post.

The company said that debit card information will be stored by Square and that Square will process the payments, transferring money between bank accounts. Snapchat said that Snapcash is available in the United States for users aged 18 and above.

 

 

Should Encryption Be The Norm?

November 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Encryption should be a matter of priority and used by default. That’s the message from the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the worldwide body in charge of the internet’s technology infrastructure.

The IAB warned in a statement that “the capabilities and activities of attackers are greater and more pervasive than previously known”.

It goes on to say: “The IAB urges protocol designers to design for confidential operation by default. We strongly encourage developers to include encryption in their implementations, and to make them encrypted by default.

“We similarly encourage network and service operators to deploy encryption where it is not yet deployed, and we urge firewall policy administrators to permit encrypted traffic.”

The purpose, the IAB claims, is to instill public trust in the internet after the myriad high-profile cases in which computer traffic has been intercepted, ranging from bank details to email addresses and all points in between.

The news will be unwelcome to the security services, which have repeatedly objected to initiatives such as the default encryption in iOS8 and Android L, claiming that it is in the interest of the population to retain the right to intercept data for the prevention of terrorism.

However, leaked information, mostly from files appropriated by rogue NSA contractor Edward Snowden, suggests that the right of information interception is abused by security services including the UK’s GCHQ.

These allegations include the collection of irrelevant data, the investigation of cold cases not in the public interest, and the passing of pictures of nude ladies to colleagues.

Courtesy-TheInq

Should AMD And nVidia Get The Blame For Assassin’s Creed’s PC Issues?

November 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Ubisoft is claiming that the reason that its latest Assassin’s Creed game was so bad was because of AMD and Nvidia configurations. Last week the Ubisoft was panned for releasing a game which was clearly not ready and Ubisoft originally blamed AMD for its faulty game. Now Ubisoft has amended an original forum post to include and acknowledge problems on Nvidia hardware as well.

Originally the post read “We are aware that the graphics performance of Assassin’s Creed Unity on PC may be adversely affected by certain AMD CPU and GPU configurations. This should not affect the vast majority of PC players, but rest assured that AMD and Ubisoft are continuing to work together closely to resolve the issue, and will provide more information as soon as it is available.”

However there is no equivalent Nvidia-centric post on the main forum, and no mention of the fact that if you own any Nvidia card which is not a GTX 970 or 980. What is amazing is that with the problems so widespread, Ubisoft did not see them in its own testing before sending it out to the shops. Unless they only played the game on an Nvidia GTX 970 and did not bother to test it on a console, it is inconceivable that they could not have seen it.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Goes Upscale With New MICA Bracelets

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Soon to be released bracelets with technology from Intel Corp and design cues from fashion brand Opening Ceremony will connect the wearer with Facebook, Google and Yelp via an AT&Tdata plan,no smartphone necessary.

Called My Intelligent Communication Accessory, or MICA, the snakeskin bracelets are aimed at fashion-conscious women and are an attempt by the two companies to stand out in a growing field of often-clunky smartwatches and fitness brands that have yet to catch on widely with consumers.

“We really approached this first and foremost about why would a woman want to wear this everyday, and how can it be incorporated into her wardrobe,” Humberto Leon, creative director at Opening Ceremony, said in a phone interview last week.

As well as lapis stones, obsidian and an 18k gold coating, the devices include a sapphire curved screen on the inside of the wrist that displays text messages, calendar items and events from Google and Facebook, and recommendations of nearby restaurants and stores from Yelp.

After Intel was late to smartphones and tablets in recent years, Chief Executive Brian Krzanich has been determined to make sure the top chipmaker is at the forefront of future trends in mobile computing.

Krzanich gave the green light for the chipmaker to develop the bracelet with Opening Ceremony after his wife wore a prototype for several days and liked it, he recently said.

Incoming alerts discreetly vibrate the bracelet instead of making a noise. Its $495 price tag includes a two-year data plan with AT&T, which means it does not rely on a smartphone for connectivity, as do most smartwatches, the companies said in a press release.

As well as working with Opening Ceremony, Intel in March bought fitness bracelet maker Basis Science and it has teamed up with watch retailer Fossil Group to develop other wearable computing devices.

 

Has Google Glass Reached The End Of The Line?

November 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

After two years of showing up at high-profile events wearing Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin arrived recently to a Silicon Valley event noticeably bare-faced. He’d left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product — he recently wore his pair to the beach.

But Brin’s timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market.

While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.

Of 16 Glass app makers contacted by Reuters, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects.

Plenty of larger developers remain with Glass. The nearly 100 apps on the official web site include Facebook and OpenTable, although one major player recently defected: Twitter.

“If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There’s no market at this point,” said Tom Frencel, the Chief Executive of Little Guy Games, which put development of a Glass game on hold this year and is looking at other platforms, including the Facebook Inc-owned virtual-reality goggles Oculus Rift.

Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations.

 

 

 

Microsoft Rolls Out Skype For Web

November 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft announced that it is launching a beta of Skype for the Web, allowing browser-based video chats that don’t require a separate app.

“We’ve made Skype available on computers, mobile phones, TVs and even games consoles,” wrote Jonathan Watson, Skype product marketing manager for Microsoft, in a blog post. “Expanding to different platforms has helped us grow to over 2 billion daily minutes (that’s over 33 million hours) of voice and video calls…. Now, not only can Skype be used on just about any screen you lay your hands on, but you can also enjoy Skype on a browser.”

Skype for Web, which is expected to roll out in the coming weeks, will be available via Internet Explorer, Chrome on Windows, Firefox or Safari.

“If you already use Skype, go to Skype.com and sign in to see all your contacts and latest conversation history,” wrote Watson. “We’re making Skype for Web available to small number of existing and new users to begin with, and gradually rolling out worldwide in the coming months — look out for an invite when you sign in to your Skype account on Skype.com.”

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said this is a good move for Microsoft because it opens Skype up to more users in more places.

“The requirement to have a client means one might not always be able to use Skype,” he said. “For example, if I’m on a shared computer, say in an airport, I can’t use Skype…. Maybe I can’t get on the airport Wi-Fi, but there’s a public Internet terminal or I might want to use a friend’s computer. But with Skype Web, now I can. So now Skype can be pervasive across all devices, not just ones that I happen to own.”

 

 

 

Oracle And SAP Settle Piracy Dispute

November 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has won a limited victory in its long-running lawsuit with rival SAP.

The action was taken in reference to events dating back to 2007, which saw employees of SAP’s TomorrowNow unit accused of illegally downloading Oracle software.

German company TomorrowNow was bought by SAP as a means to undercut Oracle’s internal tech support rates, with the ambition of getting customers to migrate to SAP solutions, reports Reuters.

In 2006, TomorrowNow started the process of undermining its parent’s position, offering cut-price support to users of the Siebel database and CRM.

Oracle was originally awarded $1.3bn back in 2010, but this was adjusted downwards on multiple appeals.

SAP acknowledged that its employees had been in the wrong, but disputed the damages awarded. SAP offered a $306m payment in 2012, but did so more in hope than expectation given its admissions.

Earlier in the year, a federal judge gave Oracle the option to settle for $356.7m or force a retrial, and the company has now decided on the former with a further $2.5m in interest.

“We are thrilled about this landmark recovery and extremely gratified that our efforts to protect innovation and our shareholders’ interests are duly rewarded,” said Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley.

“This sends a strong message to those who would prefer to cheat than compete fairly and legally.”

SAP agreed: “We are also pleased that, overall, the courts hearing this case ultimately accepted SAP’s arguments to limit Oracle’s excessive damages claims and that Oracle has finally chosen to end this matter.”

SAP announced a partnership with IBM last month to bring its HANA service to enterprise cloud users.

Courtesy-TheInq

Twitter Exploring Creation Of Additional Mobile Apps To Drive Growth

November 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc is exploring the creation of additional mobile applications beyond its core messaging service and ways of making it easier for newbies to use its service, as it competes with Facebook Inc and other social media for smartphone users.

Chief Executive Dick Costolo said Twitter also planned to speed up the pace of changes to its product and to add more functions to its private messaging service.

“I strongly believe private messaging virality is important to our long term growth,” Costolo said, a reference to when online content goes viral or is popularly shared. He noted that some of the new private messaging features would be introduced in the current quarter.

Executives said the company needed to do a better job helping new users understand how to use the service. An upcoming “instant timeline” will quickly provide new users with content without requiring them to search Twitter for individual users to follow.

Twitter, whose main service allows users to broadcast 140-character messages, appeared to be taking a page from rival Facebook, which in recent years has taken the approach of creating individual apps centered on news, for instance, and also recently beefed up its private messaging.

Twitter has been searching for ways to arrest dwindling user engagement and drive growth. It currently counts 284 million users, compared with Facebook’s 1.3 billion.

In October, Twitter reported that timeline views per user, a key measure of engagement, slid 7 percent globally in the third quarter.

 

 

 

Sony Announces PlayStation Vue Roll Out Plans

November 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Network Entertainment International LLC, a unit of Sony Corp of America, rolled out a new cloud-based TV service, PlayStation Vue, expected to be commercially launched during the first quarter of 2015.

The web-based television service allows users to access live TV and on-demand content without a cable or satellite service, the company said.

The service offers catch-up and on-demand TV. It makes the past three days of popular programming available without the need to schedule recordings, the company said.

During the invite-only beta, PlayStation Vue will initially offer around 75 channels per market from major programmers, such as CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom.

PlayStation Vue will begin an invite-only beta preview during November for select PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 owners, with a phased rollout starting in New York followed by Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the company said.

The service will also be available on iPad shortly thereafter, and later on to more Sony and non-Sony devices.

 

 

Apple Finally Offers A Way Out From iMessage

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has finally published a tool that lets iPhone owners sever the link to iMessage, iOS’s texting service, when they leave the company’s circle of devices for Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone.

The tool, which allows former owners to disable iMessage even after they’ve disposed of their iPhones, was the first self-service option Apple has offered.

Because iMessage is enabled by default — and is the standard texting service for iOS-to-iOS communication — iPhone owners who had changed smartphones and kept their numbers were not getting texts from other iPhone owners. Apple, unaware that the user had deserted iOS for a rival smartphone ecosystem, was still routing iOS-originating texts to the recipient’s now-unused Message app.

Some called it “iMessage purgatory,” while others referred to it as the “iMessage black hole.”

The problem had existed since 2011, when Apple introduced iMessage and the companion Message app, and was partly technical: Texts sent between iOS devices via iMessage don’t transit a carrier’s SMS (short message service) network, but instead are sent over the Internet.

iMessage’s inability to reroute texts from iOS users — and since 2012′s OS X Mountain Lion, from Mac owners as well — prompted at least one federal lawsuit.

The new tool aims to solve the purgatory problem by letting former iPhone owners, even if they have disposed of the device, route texts to non-Apple smartphones. After entering the phone number for the Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone device, the user must enter the confirmation code sent to the smartphone into the Web form.

 

 

A Mobile Phone That Can Spot Counterfeit Goods?

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Spotting counterfeited goods could become a question of simply taking close-up photos with a smartphone, according to a new NEC technology.

The electronics maker has developed an authentication system that compares images snapped with a phone with those in a cloud-based database. Images of the authentic product from the manufacturer would need to be registered beforehand.

The “object fingerprint authentication technology” is the first such system that can identify individual objects, according to the company.

The know-how makes use of fine patterns in the grain of metal or plastic that occur naturally during manufacturing and are invisible to the human eye.

The system can be used to find pirated goods, trace the origin and distribution through the marketplace of authentic goods and manage components in industrial applications such as maintenance and repair work, making sure they’re being used correctly.

The technology, which can also work with tablet cameras, allows for objects to be identified at low cost and without special processing, according to NEC.

The accuracy of the system depends on the material in question, but NEC said its tests on bolts yielded an equal error rate (EER) of less than one in 1 million. The EER is an accuracy measurement used in biometrics in which lower figures suggest more accurate devices.

At a demonstration in Tokyo on Monday, NEC staffers fitted 3D-printed close-up lens attachments, developed by NEC, to standard smartphone cameras.

Then they photographed objects, such as the zipper pull tab on a luxury handbag and the head of a screw, in extreme close-up. By querying a cloud database of images and related information through an NEC smartphone app, the system ran a pattern-matching check and quickly identified the parts to confirm their authenticity.

“This is a continuation of NEC’s work on fingerprint recognition,” said Toshihiko Hiroaki, a senior manager at NEC Central Research Laboratories. “The growth of the biometrics market had stalled, so we were looking for a new business opportunity.”