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Kuddle, Microsoft To Launch Child Safe Tablet

September 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Kuddle, a Norwegian photo-sharing app created for children, plans to roll out a child safe tablet with Microsoft on Dec 1, and expects to sign funding deals with several venture capital firms within weeks, its chief executive said on Monday.

The Oslo-based company said it was on track to reach its goal of one million users by year-end and plans to soon raise another $5 million of fresh funds on top of the nearly $6 million it has already raised.

“We are working with Microsoft on several child safe devices which will be sold on our online store,” Chief Executive Ole Vidar Hestaas said. “The first device will be an Ipad Mini sized tablet prized under $100 that will be ready ahead of the Kuddle Store launch.”

“This is a child friendly device and it is not possible to download games like GTA (Grand Theft Auto) or apps like Snapchat,” Hestaas said.

Kuddle, which bills itself as a rival to Instagram, lets parents monitor what their children publish and keeps access to content restricted, preventing strangers from seeing and sharing pictures. There are no hashtags or comments to prevent online bullying and “likes” are anonymous.

Hestaas said the company also is in talks with Samsung and Microsoft’s Nokia phones unit on similar cooperation, and that it was also working on deals with European telecoms operators Telenor and Vodafone for child safe Kuddle SIM cards to be sold separately or linked up to one of its devices.

The app, which has a target of 1 million users by the end of 2014, is now available in 7 languages. The most significant growth has recently come from Brazil and the US.

Hestaas said he expects to conclude funding deals with several major international venture capital funds within weeks.

The firm’s present investors include Norwegian golf ace Suzann Pettersen.

 

 

Mobile Devices OK’d For In-flight Use In Europe

September 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Airline passengers traveling on European airline flights will be able to leave their cell phones and other mobile gadgets on throughout the entire flight, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Friday.

European airlines can allow any kind of electronic devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones to remain switched on for the entire trip without having to use the airplane mode. Switching to airplane mode was mandatory until now.

“This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or WiFi services,” EASA said in a news release.

It is up to the airline to decide whether to allow the use of electronic devices. In order to do so, they will have to go through an assessment to ensure the aircraft systems are not affected by device transmission signals in any way.

However, to ensure safety on board, passengers will likely be asked by the cabin crew to stow their devices during taxi on the runway and take-off, an EASA spokesman said, adding that airlines can still set rules on when devices can be used.

 

 

Every Three Minutes A Mobile Device Is Wiped, Says Fiberlink

September 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

One mobile device is wiped every three minutes as part of a corporate security compliance, according to a study of 130,000 devices managed by MaaS360, the Fiberlink mobile device management platform.

Fiberlink, an IBM company, manages millions of mobile devices for businesses worldwide through the MaaS360 platform. The company said today that a study of data from 2013 revealed that, on average, businesses wipe 10% to 20% of their entire device population every year.

Everyone wipes. Fiberlink’s data showed businesses from every vertical and size are clearing data from mobile devices to address security concerns.

Remote mobile data wipe capability has become a controversial, if not de facto, standard among corporate privacy policies and is a key feature offered by mobile device management (MDM) platforms. Even cloud storage service providers are offering the capability today.

Corporate attitudes toward bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are often poorly formed and can, in general, fall into one of three categories: There’s no official BYOD policy, devices are banned or no one talks about it.

As more companies embrace BYOD and the lines continue to blur between personal and professional use, companies are finding new ways to balance security concerns with employee productivity. One method is to have employees agree to a remote wipe policy, which can sometimes mean personal data on the phone is lost as well.

One method of dealing with the sensitive personal data that employees don’t want deleted is “dual persona” mobile devices, or smartphones and tablets that run two separate mobile operating systems that allow disparate instances.

Dual-persona capability allows businesses to lock down corporate data on one OS, while allowing users to take advantage of whatever apps they want to run on the other “personal” OS.

According to Fiberlink’s study of its own clients, 63% of devices are partially wiped and 37% are fully wiped.

Additionally, 49% of wipes are done automatically and 51% are done by someone at the organization.

The most common reasons for automatic wipes are because devices have been jailbroken or because companies are enforcing enrollment and application compliance policies, Fiberlink’s data showed.

 

Lyft Car-Sharing Service Acquires Rival Hitch

September 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Car-sharing service Lyft has purchased Hitch, a startup in the mobile app-enabled car-pooling business, to integrate the service with its own shared rides business that it set up last month.

“Similar to Lyft, Hitch has always believed the shared rides experience is inherently social, and we’re excited that they’re joining the team to accelerate this movement together,” Lyft wrote in a blog post Monday.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hitch co-founders Snir Kodesh and Noam Szpiro will join the Lyft team as the company expands personal transit to more cities across the U.S. Hitch offers its service in San Francisco.

“We observed too many empty cab seats and noticed that public transit could be improved with the addition of dynamic routing,” the Hitch co-founders wrote in a blog post. “We built an app, a sophisticated engine optimized for pairings, and started to grow our platform–with new users and drivers alike.”

The Hitch platform will close for drivers and passengers starting Tuesday. Current Hitch drivers will move to the Lyft community, to which many are already signed on as ride-sharing drivers, Lyft said.

The company said it had seen “incredible” growth and demand for its shared rides business Lyft Line in San Francisco, which launched in August. Lyft Line held out the promise that it would connect people with a ride already going the same way for up to 60 percent less than an original Lyft ride. Lyft Line would roll out first in San Francisco on iOS, with support on Android and services in other cities to follow, the company said at launch.

Rivals Uber and Sidecar have also begun similar car-pooling services.

 

 

 

Facebook Set To Unveil New Advertising Platform

September 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is gearing up to introduce a new advertising platform to improve effectiveness of online ads, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The product is a redesigned version of Atlas Advertiser Suite, an ad management and measurement platform that Facebook bought from Microsoft Corp last year.

It is expected to help marketers target Facebook users more effectively by measuring which users have seen, interacted or acted upon ads that appear on Facebook’s services and on third-party websites and apps.

The product will also provide a tool for marketers to buy ads to target Facebook users across the Web.

Microsoft took on Atlas with its $6.3 billion acquisition of digital ad agency aQuantive in 2007. Unable to make it work for its own purposes, Microsoft wrote off $6.2 billion of the aQuantive deal’s value in 2012.

The world’s No.1 Internet social network, which lags behind market leader Google Inc in U.S. market for online display ads, did not reveal how much it paid for the technology.

Facebook counts 1.5 million advertising customers and the company’s ad business saw strong growth across all of its geographic regions, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters in July.

Mobile advertising revenue grew 151 percent year-over-year, accounting for roughly 62 percent of Facebook’s overall ad revenue in the second quarter.

 

 

HTC To Make the Next Google Nexus Tablet

September 23, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Inc has chosen HTC Corp to develop and deliver its upcoming 9-inch Nexus tablet, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Google had been mulling HTC as a potential Nexus tablet partner since last year and HTC engineers have been flying to the Googleplex in Mountain View in recent months to work on the project, the report said.

Google’s decision to pick HTC reflects its long-term strategy of building a broad base of partners from device to device to prevent any one manufacturer from gaining a monopoly, the report said.

That may also be one of the reasons why Google chose HTC over bigger rivals Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, maker of the Nexus 10 tablet.

Google and HTC declined to comment on the report.

 

 

Facebook To Promote Posts Tied To Trendy Or Popular Topics

September 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook users begin to see more posts higher in their feeds tied to popular events or topics of conversation, with less popular posts getting pushed further down.

The change comes courtesy of an update to Facebook’s news feed algorithm announced Thursday, focused on giving users “more timely stories.” It affects posts both from users’ friends and from pages to which they’re connected.

Facebook wants more of its users to engage on the site when they might be watching the same sports game or TV show — something that already happens on Twitter — and then brush their posts under the carpet when the event is over or the topic fizzles out.

Facebook routinely tweaks its news feed algorithm, but this update has the potential to advance the company’s efforts in the area of news delivery. It’s a departure from the site’s roots as a means for solely keeping in touch with family and friends.

The update is built around two changes. First, posts that are related to trending topics will appear higher and faster in the feed, Facebook said. When a friend or a Page to which you’re connected posts about something that’s currently a hot topic of conversation on the site, the post is more likely to appear higher in the feed.

Facebook users can already get a sense of what’s popular on the site by looking at the “trending” topics section in the right-hand column, which Facebook rolled out earlier this year. On Thursday, some of the topics listed included Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, pop singer Gwen Stefani and the video game Final Fantasy XV.

Posts that aren’t as relevant to what’s hot, in other words, will get less priority.

Secondly, Facebook said it would be considering not just the number of likes that posts receive in determining their placement, but when people choose to like, comment and share. If a lot of people are interacting with a post right after it was posted, but the activity drops off a few hours later, “this suggests the post was most interesting at the time it was posted,” Facebook said. As a result, that post would get promoted higher early on and less later.

 

 

Yelp Settles FTC With FTC Over Child Privacy Violation Charges

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yelp has agreed to pay $450,000 to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to settle charges that the firm accepted registrations to its services from children under 13 through its apps.

The FTC had earlier on Tuesday lodged a complaint against the service that connects people with local businesses, stating that it had violated a number of rules, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Before 2009, users could only register through the website, where Yelp had a screening mechanism to prohibit users under the age of 13 from registering. However, in 2009, Yelp introduced a registration feature in its app, allowing users to register for new accounts through the application but failed to implement a working age-screen mechanism in the feature, according to the FTC complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

As a result, both the iOS and Android versions of the app accepted registrations and collected information from users who entered dates of birth indicating that they were underaged, the complaint added. This went on until April 2013.

Yelp said in a blog post earlier this week that it had reached a settlement with the FTC regarding the bug in the mobile registration process that failed to disallow registrations from individuals under 13. Birth dates on Yelp are optional in the first place, so users are always free to register without one, it noted.

The FTC charged Yelp with violating the COPPA Rule by failing to provide notice to parents of its information practices, and to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children.

Under the proposed settlement, Yelp has to destroy the personal information of children under 13 who registered with the service within 30 days of the entry of the order, in most cases.

Yelp said that only about 0.02% of users who actually completed the registration process during the time period provided an underage birth date, “and we have good reason to believe that many of them were actually adults.”

The company had an average of about 138 million monthly unique visitors in the second quarter of this year.

 

 

Amazon Expands Kindle Lineup, Increases Pricing

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc continued its push into hardware with the debut of six new or upgraded devices, including a high-end $199 e-reader called the Kindle Voyage and its cheapest-ever touch-screen tablet.

The No. 1 U.S. online retailer also revamped its basic Kindle e-reader to include a touch screen. It will cost $79, about 15 percent more than the current basic model.

Other new devices unveiled on Wednesday are a $99 Kindle Fire HD tablet, which includes a smaller, six-inch screen as well as a tablet designed for kids that starts at $149. Amazon also upgraded its 7-inch and 8.9 inch Fire tablets.

All the upgraded and new devices start shipping in October.

The expanding Kindle lineup underscores Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ commitment to developing devices as a way to retain users and bolster its core business of retail and shopping.

This year alone, Amazon has launched a set-top box, a grocery ordering wand and a Fire smart phone, which debuted in July to lackluster reviews.

Amazon, which entered the hardware sector with the 2007 launch of the Kindle, has adopted a strategy of selling the devices at cost, and it profits when users buy content or goods.

It has been investing heavily in content, inking a deal this year to stream some HBO shows including “The Sopranos” and “The Wire” to members of its Prime subscription program.

“The vast majority of people are still using the tablets,” David Limp, vice president of devices for Amazon, said during a briefing with reporters in New York.

Executives touted the Kindle Voyage as the thinnest device Amazon has ever made. The company hopes heavy readers might adopt the device, which more closely mimic a paper book.

 

 

Ericsson Exiting Modem Business

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ericsson, the world’s largest mobile network equipment manufacturer, is shutting down its modem business, shutting a loss-making unit with the departure of about 1,000 staff.

The decision comes amid falling prices of modems, rising demands on research and development and a shrinking market as more smartphone makers buy modems and processors, which Ericsson does not make, together.

The Swedish company had said it would evaluate the future of the business within 18 to 24 months of taking it on in 2013 when joint venture partner STMicroelectronics pulled out.

Ericsson’s chief executive said on Thursday the rapidly changing market meant the company had concluded it would be too expensive for the business to succeed.

“In addition, we believe we can use this money in a better way,” Hans Vestberg told Reuters.

The Swedish company said the decision to end the development of modems would mean it could shift resources to developing radio networks.

Ericsson had targeted a top three market position for its modems business, which employs around 1,600 people, alongside U.S. firms Qualcomm and Intel.

The move to stop developing new modems would mean around 1,000 staff leaving Ericsson, Vestberg said.

Some of the other employees would find work at a new research and development unit within Ericsson’s core radio networks business that will be set up in Sweden’s Lund and employ 500 in total.

Some would also continue working with the M7450 modem which was launched in August, Vestberg said, although it was hard to say for how long Ericsson would go on making it as that would depend on the success of the smartphones in which it sits.

In total, Ericsson employed slightly more than 115,000 at the end of the second quarter.

Ericsson said it expected the move to lead to significant cost savings, without specifying. In the three quarters since the modems business was integrated in Ericsson, it had racked up 1.7 billion Swedish crowns (238 million) in operating losses.

 

 

Will Intel Debut NUC This Year?

September 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Everyone is not too happy with Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) brand that the company came up with for its small form factor desktop replacements at IDF 2012. Intel started shipping these small desktops in early 2013.

NUC started off with Sandy Bridge-based parts codenamed Ski Lake (DCP847SK) and with the Celeron 847 it got quite a lot of attention thanks to more affordable pricing. A year after Intel launched multiple Core i3 based SKUs with Ivy Bridge and this year it introduced models based on Wilson Canyon platform and Haswell CPUs. Affordable Bay Trail models appeared as well.

The latest Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK measures tiny 116.6mm x 112mm x 34.5mm and sells for about 370 USD in states and 300 Euro in Germany or £278 in the UK. Back at IDF 2014, Intel’s biggest developer conference some people close to NUC projects told us that since the launch the project has been success.

It started with 250,000 shipped units in the first generation and grew to half a million units with second generation products. There is a chance that this year Intel might sell as many as one million units as an ultimate goal but shipments in the 750,000 to 1 million range might be more realistic. Even if Intel sells around 750,000 units, it will mean that they managed to triple the market within rather short time.

There will be Braswell and Broadwell fourth generation NUCs coming in 2015, but Intel needs to launch 15W TDP part Broadwell and this happens in Q2 2015 as far as we know. We don’t know if the Braswell NUC comes as soon as Broadwell-U or a bit later, but it is in the works.

This Braswell NUC should be really affordable and should replace the Bay-Trail M based DN2820FYKH powered by the Celeron N2820. Have in mind that this entry level Celeron costs a mere $144 at press time and only needs some RAM and an HDD to work. At its lowest spec 2GB SODIMM sell for as low as $10 and Toshiba has MSATA 62GB drive for as low as $24.95.

This means a small, power efficient machine that can run Windows goes as low as $179. No wonder that they are so popular.

Courtesy-Fud

Sharp To Manufacture Low-power Mobile Displays

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sharp has targeted 2017 for mass production of a new display it says will reduce power consumption in mobile phones and tablets.

The MEMS-IGZO display, being developed under a 2012 tie-up with Qualcomm subsidiary Pixtronix, could be used in smartphones and tablets as well as larger displays.

Compared to current LCDs, MEMS-IGZO technology can operate without blurring the image in temperatures as low as -30 C (-32 F), offers better color purity and gamut, and has ultra-low power consumption.

Depending on usage, devices could run for twice as long using the new displays instead of LCD, said Pixtronix President Greg Heinzinger.

The “programmable display” can change power usage depending on whether the user is looking at a video or an e-book, for instance, Heinzinger said, adding that most display technologies use the same power regardless of the content. Color gamut, depth and fidelity can also be modified depending on use.

Power efficiency will become a crucial feature of next-generation displays because resolution has basically reached the limits of perception of the human eye, Sharp Devices Group Chief Officer Norikazu Hohshi told the briefing.

The company is licensing MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology from Pixtronix. Qualcomm has long been trying to make the technology popular, and commercialized its related Mirasol low-power display in its Toq smartwatch last year.

MEMS displays work in a fundamentally different way than LCDs. Thousands of miniature shutters, as tiny as one per pixel, modulate light emitted from RGB LEDs to produce different colors. It takes only 100 microseconds for the shutters to move and the system has a faster reaction time than LCD pixels, which are each paired with a color filter to allow either red, blue or green light to pass.

IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) refers to Sharp’s semiconductor technology used with the MEMS shutters. The MEMS-IGZO displays can be built using existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure, which would be a cost benefit.

 

 

Google Launches Android One Program

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc rolled out in India on Monday the first smartphones under its Android One project, pricing them at around 6,399 rupees ($105) to capture the low-cost segment of the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.

The Mountain View-Based company tied up with Indian mobile players Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles to launch the affordable phones, which are powered by its operating system and aimed at emerging markets.

After launching in India, Google said it plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015.

Google outlined the pricing and expansion details in a marketing document seen by Reuters. The company is due to host an official media event later on Monday.

India is seen as a lucrative market for low-cost smartphones because many people are buying the devices for the first time. Just 10 percent of the India’s population currently owns a smartphone, brokerage Nomura said in a recent research note, and that figure is likely to double over the next four years.

Google, however, is not the only company jostling for a share of the Indian market.

There are at least 80 smartphone brands in India and analysts say the Android One phones must offer customers more than just affordability if it wants to compete with similarly priced devices made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Motorola and China’s Xiaomi.

“The initial pricing never sticks but it’ll be tough for them to compete if they don’t come down further,” said Neil Shah, research director for devices and ecosystems at Hong Kong-based technology research agency Counterpoint Research.

In June, Google had announced the launch of the Android One project, which aims to boost demand for low-end Android smartphones by vastly improving their quality.

 

Ericsson Acquires Fabrix Systems For $95M

September 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The distinctions between TV and mobile services continues to merge and in many cases that occurs in the cloud.

That’s the logic behind Ericsson’s planned $95 million acquisition of Fabrix Systems, which sells a cloud-based platform for delivering DVR (digital video recorder), video on demand and other services.

The acquisition is intended to help service providers deliver what Ericsson calls TV Anywhere, for viewing on multiple devices with high-quality and relevant content for each user. Cable operators, telecommunications carriers and other service providers are seeing rapid growth in video streaming and want to reach consumers on multiple screens. That content increasingly is hosted in cloud data centers and delivered via Internet Protocol networks.

Fabrix, which has 103 employees in the U.S. and Israel, sells an integrated platform for media storage, processing and delivery. Ericsson said the acquisition will make new services possible on Ericsson MediaFirst and Mediaroom as well as other TV platforms.

Stockholm-based Ericsson expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter. Fabrix Systems will become part of Ericsson’s Business Unit Support Solutions.

Other players usually associated with data networks are also moving into the once-specialized realm of TV. At last year’s CES, Cisco Systems introduced Videoscape Unity, a system for providing unified video services across multiple screens, and at this year’s show it unveiled Videoscape Cloud, an OpenStack-based video delivery platform that can be run on service providers’ cloud infrastructure instead of on specialized hardware.

 

 

Twitter Wading Into Online Shopping Market With ‘Buy’ Button

September 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is trying out a new way for its users to purchase digital music and other products through the social networking application, with the goal of making mobile shopping easier, the company said in a blog post.

A “small percentage” of U.S. Twitter users will soon begin to see tweets that will include a “buy” button from some of the company’s partners, group product manager Tarun Jain wrote in the blog post published Monday. The percentage of Twitter users seeing the marketing tweets will grow over time, Jain wrote.

“This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile phones convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” Jain wrote.

Twitter’s partners in the e-commerce effort include digital marketing companies Musictoday, Gumroad, Fancy and Stripe, Jain said.

The e-commerce test will include products from several musicians, including Brad Paisley, Eminem, Keith Urban, Megadeth, Pharrell Williams and Soundgarden. Other organizations featured will including Burberry, the Home Depot, the Nature Conservancy and DonorsChoose.