Google didn’t elaborate on the price increase after announcing the Nexus 6, but several analysts said Google may be intending to push the Nexus as a premium brand that can compete with the iPhone 6 and other high-end phones.
Google originally developed Android to be inclusive and global, and indeed, it is the world’s largest OS by far. The company developed the Nexus line in 2010 to show Android phone manufacturers, and the public, how a pure Android phone could look and feel without the added features and bloatware installed by phone makers.
Meanwhile, the four national carriers are expected to sell the Nexus 6 with a subsidized price of as low as $200 with a two-year contract, and separate pricing for installment plans. AT&T will be a Nexus provider for the first time, and Verizon Wireless will carry the phone despite a spotty history with the Nexus line.
Such a carrier push to sell Nexus 6 phones with a subsidy seems to indicate that Google is intent on spreading wider adoption of its pure Nexus line that it so far hasn’t achieved. Google has long described Android as an operating system for all, but Google also wants to promote a more refined Android device, which it is trying to do with its Nexus line.
The $649 Nexus 6, which will run Android 5.0 Lollipop with support for 64-bit architecture, is a better phone than the $349 Nexus 5 that runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Nexus 6 also starts with 32 GB storage, double the capacity of its predecessor the Nexus 5. (A 64 GB Nexus 6 will run $699 unlocked on Google Play.)
But all the enhancements in the new Nexus 6, including its 5.96-in. Quad HD display and Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, still don’t fully account for the 86% increase in starting price for the unlocked model, analysts said.
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android at Google, noted in a blog post that wireless carriers will offer the Nexus 6 on monthly contracts or installment plans. A number of industry sources predicted the two-year contract price will start at $200, a common industry price for high-end smartphones, including the new iPhone 6.
The four major carriers, Google and Motorola, which is the Nexus 6 manufacturer, all refused to discuss the prices that carriers will charge. They also would not disclose the November release date.
Twitter Inc will allow users to play podcasts, music and other audio clips direct from their timelines, or message feeds, by using a new feature designed in partnership with Berlin-based audio-streaming service SoundCloud.
The online messaging service introduced what it dubbed “Audio Card,” through which users can listen to a variety of content whilst browsing their timelines.
For starters, Twitter has promised audio from SoundCloud’s partners, which include such diverse sources as NASA, the Washington Post, CNN, David Guetta, Coldplay and Warner Music.
But it’s trying to snag more content partners in future, Twitter said in a recent blog posting.
Twitter didn’t say how Audio Card might evolve, except to stress that it offers musicians a chance to post exclusive clips.
“Many more musical artists and creators will be able to share exclusive, in-the-moment audio to millions of listeners on Twitter,” the company added.
Twitter’s new feature comes after rivals from Apple Inc to Google Inc have jumped into the business of music-streaming, considered the fastest-growing segment of a music market dominated by iTunes.
Twitter had reportedly been in discussions to acquire audio-sharing website SoundCloud, which has been called the Youtube of music, as far back as June.
The credit-card company showed a prototype of the card in London on Friday along with Zwipe, the Norwegian company that developed the fingerprint recognition technology.
The contactless payment card has an integrated fingerprint sensor and a secure data store for the cardholder’s biometric data, which is held only on the card and not in an external database, the companies said.
The card also has an EMV chip, used in European payment cards instead of a magnetic stripe to increase payment security, and a MasterCard application to allow contactless payments.
The prototype shown Friday is thicker than regular payment cards to accommodate a battery. Zwipe said it plans to eliminate the battery by harvesting energy from contactless payment terminals and is working on a new model for release in 2015 that will be as thin as standard cards.
Thanks to its fingerprint authentication, the Zwipe card has no limit on contactless payments, said a company spokesman. Other contactless cards can only be used for payments of around €20 or €25, and some must be placed in a reader and a PIN entered once the transaction reaches a certain threshold.
Norwegian bank Sparebanken DIN has already tested the Zwipe card, and plans to offer biometric authentication and contactless communication for all its cards, the bank has said.
MasterCard wants cardholders to be able to identify themselves without having to use passwords or PINs. Biometric authentication can help with that, but achieving simplicity of use in a secure way is a challenge, it said.
Amazon.com Inc is add more territory to its online grocery delivery program to Brooklyn’s well-heeled Park Slope neighborhood, giving the No. 1 U.S. online retailer a foothold in one of the wealthiest and densest markets in the United States.
The AmazonFresh program, which offers same-day or next-day delivery on more than 500,000 items including fresh and frozen groceries, will soon expand to other areas in Brooklyn.
The move is part of Amazon’s slow build-out of its “Fresh” program, targeting one of the largest retail sectors yet to be upended by online commerce. Amazon declined to say if it will expand to Manhattan or other parts of the New York metro area.
“Currently, we are offering AmazonFresh in Brooklyn and will continue being thoughtful and methodical in our expansion,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in an e-mail.
Groceries have proven to be one of the toughest sectors for technology companies to manage, and Amazon faces competition from established companies like FreshDirect as well as fast-growing startups like Instacart.
But a successful foray in Park Slope could help Amazon cement customer loyalty and boost sales, especially among wealthy and middle-class families, analysts have said.
The top 10 to 20 percent of wealthiest Americans spend between 3 and 4 times more on food than the average American family, according to Bill Bishop, chief architect at Brick Meets Click, a consulting firm focused on retail technology.
“They are the sweetest of shoppers so anybody who attracts that business is taking the cream of the market,” Bishop said.
Amazon could also use its Fresh program to experiment with its own delivery service, analysts have said.
TSMC has announced that it will begin volume production of 16nm FinFET products in the second half of 2015, in late Q2 or early Q3.
For consumers, this means products based on TSMC 16nm FinFET silicon should appear in late 2015 and early 2016. The first TSMC 16nm FinFET product was announced a few weeks ago.
TSMC executive CC Wei said sales of 16nm FinFET products should account for 7-9% of the foundry’s total revenue in Q4 2015. The company already has more than 60 clients lined up for the new process and it expects 16nm FinFET to be its fastest growing process ever.
Although TSMC is not talking about the actual clients, we already know the roster looks like the who’s who of tech, with Qualcomm, AMD, Nvidia and Apple on board.
This also means the 20nm node will have a limited shelf life. The first 20nm products are rolling out as we speak, but the transition is slow and if TSMC sticks to its schedule, 20nm will be its top node for roughly a year, giving it much less time on top than earlier 28nm and 40nm nodes.
The road to 10nm
TSMC’s 16nm FinFET, or 16FinFET, is just part of the story. The company hopes to tape out the first 10nm products in 2015, but there is no clear timeframe yet.
Volume production of 10nm products is slated for 2016, most likely late 2016. As transitions speed up, TSMC capex will go up. The company expects to invest more than $10bn in 2015, up from $9.6bn this year.
TSMC expects global smartphone shipments to reach 1.5bn units next year, up 19 percent year-on-year. Needless to say, TSMC silicon will power the majority of them.
The latest version of the cloud computing stack contains 342 new features, 3,219 bug fixes, almost 500,000 lines of modified documentation and a new Architecture Design Guide.
1,419 unique contributors including representatives from 133 companies made it all happen over six months.
Last month it was revealed that HP had overtaken Red Hat in terms of overall contributions to Juno, and is closing in on Red Hat’s overall lead.
However, Red Hat has shifted focus more towards the cloud market in recent strategy announcements, so that lead could widen again.
The new version adds storage policies, data processing provisioning for Hadoop and Spark and takes the initial steps towards being a platform for Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) in a future release, meaning that it would be capable of managing a number of functions currently fulfilled by expensive software.
Other new features include Nova Compute, a rescue mode improvement with the option to boot from alternative images via locally attached disks, update scheduling and internationalisation updates.
For networking, the Neutron module includes IPv6 and third-party driver testing, plug-ins, and migration support from Nova to Neutron.
The Keystone identity service allows users to share credentials for private and public OpenStack clouds.
The Heat engine, which manages orchestration, includes advanced rollback options in the event of failed deployment and the option for administrators to delegate creation of resources to non-admins.
The Horizon Dashboard now offers Hadoop deployment in a few clicks, enabling rapidly scalable data processing with custom parameters.
Finally, the Trove database allows users to manage relational database servcies in the OpenStack environment.
Of course, OpenStack waits for no-one. With this release safely out, work now begins on the next version, codenamed Kilo, which is due in April 2015.
U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, on Friday, stated that U.S. regulators will look “to infinity and beyond” to harness new technology that can help build a new generation of mobile wireless connections.
The FCC on Friday voted unanimously to open a so-called “notice of inquiry” into what it and the industry can do to turn a new swath of very high-frequency airwaves, previously deemed unusable for mobile networks, into mobile-friendly frequencies.
The FCC’s examination would serve as a regulatory backdrop for research into the next generation of wireless technology, sometimes referred to as 5G and which may allow wireless connections to carry a thousand times more traffic.
“Today we’re stepping in front of the power curve,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said on Friday at the meeting.
In question are frequencies above 24 gigahertz (GHz), sometimes called millimeter waves, that have previously been deemed technically unweildy for mobile connections, though have the potential to carry large amounts of data and give the promise of lightning-fast speeds.
Millimeter waves work best over short distances and have required a direct line-of-sight connection to a receiver. They are now largely used for point-to-point microwave connections.
The FCC said it will study what technologies could help get around the technological and practical obstacles and what kind of regulatory regime could help a variety of technologies to flourish on those airwaves, including the potential for services other than mobile.
The U.S. wireless industry continues to work on deploying the 4G connections, though some equipment manufacturers, such as Samsung are already testing data transmission on the higher frequencies.
Frigid lakes bombarded by UV radiation and boiling, acidic springs are some of the otherworldly Earth environments where scientists plan to hunt for clues to life on Mars.
Funded by a new, five-year NASA grant, the researchers will tour the three ages of Mars on Earth — when Mars was cold, wet and habitable; the transition period when water disappeared; and the modern, dry period. The Mars-like environments include hot springs in California and Yellowstone National Park, permafrost on cold Arctic islands, some of Earth’s oldest rocks in Australia, and volcanic lakes and soils in Chile. [Out-of-this-World Photos: Finding Mars on Earth]
“We chose these environments because we want to understand the signature of life on Mars at different times,” said Nathalie Cabrol, the project leader and a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.
The SETI-led team will scope out “biosignatures,” or evidence of life, with instruments similar to those NASA plans to install on the next Mars rover, expected to launch in 2020. The car-size robot is designed to seek out ancient life.
On Mars, the clues could be concealed in rocks more than 3.5 billion years old. If the planet’s ancient environment was akin to that of early Earth, then the rover might discover fossils of microbial mats similar to stromatolites, which are some of Earth’s oldest fossils. Or primitive microbes could have left behind chemical calling cards, such as the altered minerals created by rock-eating bacteria known as chemolithotrophs. The rover may also find subtle shifts in carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen isotopes, trapped and preserved in rock layers, which can signal the presence of life. (An isotope is an atom of an element with a different number of neutrons.)
Cabrol and her team will practice searching for promising rocks from the air, by scanning sites with a quadcopter or octocopter, she said. They’ll also analyze samples in the field with portable instruments, and in a laboratory for more-precise measurements.
“Our goal is not to prove more efficient at finding biosignatures,” Cabrol told Live Science. “We want to get metrics and data that will lead us to detection.”
By honing their skilles in Earth’s extreme environments, the scientists will learn where and how to look for life for when the rover arrives at Mars. The research may also help narrow down the list of best landing sites for the rover.
“We’re not saying we’re going to detect life, but we’re increasing the chances we’re going to the right outcrop,” Cabrol told Live Science.
The $8 million grant is one of five awarded to seven research groups across the United States to study the origin of life. The teams will be affiliated with NASA’s Astrobiology Institute at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
Gartner and IDC both recently dramatically lowered their tablet shipment and sales estimates for 2014 and coming years, citing primarily the longer-than-expected time customers keep their existing tablets. (That phenomenon is called the “refresh rate.”)
Gartner said it had originally expected 13% tablet sales growth for the year globally; it has now lowered that growth rate to 11%. IDC’s forecast change was even more dire: In June, it predicted shipment growth this year would be 12.1%, but in September it cut that number to 6.5%.
In the U.S., things are worse, because more than half of households have a tablet and may hold onto it for more than three years, well beyond analysts’ earlier expectations.
IDC said in its latest update that tablet growth in the U.S. this year will be just 1.5%, and will slow to 0.4% in 2015. After that, it expects negative growth through 2018. Adding in 2-in-1 devices, such as a Surface Pro with a keyboard, the situation in the U.S. improves, although overall growth for both tablets and 2-in-1′s will still only reach 3.8% in 2014, and just 0.4% by 2018, IDC said.
“Tablet penetration is high in the U.S. — over half of all households have at least one — which leads to slow growth…,” Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in an interview. “A smartphone is a must-have item, but a tablet is not. You can do the same things on a laptop as you do with a tablet, and these are all inter-related.”
Tablets are a “nice-to-have and not a must-have, because phones and PCs are enough to get by,” added Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel.
In a recent Kantar survey of 20,000 potential tablet buyers, only 13% said they definitely or probably would buy a tablet in the next year, while 54% said they would not, Milanesi said. Of those planning not to buy a tablet, 72% said they were happy with their current PC.
At IDC, analyst Tom Mainelli reported that the first half of 2014 saw tablet growth slow to 5.8% (from a growth rate of 88% in the first half of 2013). Mainelli said the meteoric pace of past years has slowed dramatically due to long device refresh cycles and pressure from sales of large phones, including the new iPhone 6 Plus. That phone has a 5.5-in. display, which is close to some smaller tablets with 7-in. displays.
A comprehensive security audit of its ads code was recently completed, but Facebook “would like to encourage additional scrutiny from whitehats to see what we may have missed,” wrote Collin Greene, a security engineer, in a blog post. “Whitehats” refers to ethical security researchers, as opposed to “blackhats” who take advantage of vulnerabilities.
According to bug bounty program guidelines, Facebook pays a minimum of $500 for a valid bug report. Until the end of the year, that has been increased to $1,000.
Greene wrote that the majority of reports it receives concern more common parts of Facebook’s code, but the company would like to encourage interest in ads “to better protect businesses.”
Facebook’s ad tools include the Ads Manager, the ads API (application programming interface) and Analytics, which is also called Insights, Greene wrote. The company also wants close scrutiny of its back-end billing code.
“There is a lot of backend code to correctly target, deliver, bill and measure ads,” Greene wrote. “This code isn’t directly reachable via the website, but of the small number of issues that have been found in these areas, they are relatively high impact.”
Greene wrote that Facebook typically sees bugs such as incorrect permission checks, insufficient rate-limiting, edge-case CSRF (cross-site request forgery) issues and problems with Flash in its ads code.
Taiwan’s contract chipmaker TSMC surprised Wall Street by doing much better than expected. The outfit made a killing from its smartphone customers to record net profit in the third quarter.
TSMC earned a net profit of (US) $2.51 billion in the July-September period, versus expectations of $2.41 billion analysts expected. It also helped the company notch a 26 percent on-quarter rise in revenue from communication devices, even as computer-related revenue fell 6 percent. TSMC had reported net profit of $1.96 billion in the second quarter and $1.71 billion in the same three months of 2013.
Overall revenue of $6.88 billion in the third quarter also hit a record, eclipsing the $6.02 billion from the previous three months. Apple orders contribute about 6 percent of revenue for TSMC. Other TSMC clients such as Qualcomm and Broadcom supply Apple as well and Yuanta Securities analyst George Chang estimates that such second-hand orders contribute as much as another 15 percent to TSMC sales.
Qualcomm rival MediaTek whose chipsets are popular among low-cost smartphone vendors in emerging markets such as China, also counts TSMC as its main foundry partner.
Google Inc is gearing up to test new technology that may provide the foundation for a wireless version of its high-speed “Fiber” Internet service, according to telecommunication experts who scrutinized the company’s regulatory filings.
In a public but little-noticed application with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Monday, Google asked the agency for permission to conduct tests in California across different wireless spectrums, including a rarely-used millimeter-wave frequency capable of transmitting large amounts of data.
It is unclear from the heavily redacted filing what exactly Google intends to do, but it does signal the Internet giant’s broader ambition of controlling Internet connectivity. The technology it seeks to test could form the basis of a wireless connection that can be broadcast to homes, obviating the need for an actual ground cable or fiber connection, experts say.
By beaming Internet services directly into homes, Google would open a new path now thoroughly dominated by Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and other entrenched cable and broadband providers. It could potentially offer a quicker and cheaper way to deliver high-speed Internet service, a potential threat to the cable-telecoms oligopoly, experts said.
“From a radio standpoint it’s the closest thing to fiber there is,” said Stephen Crowley, a wireless engineer and consultant who monitors FCC filings, noting that millimeter frequencies can transmit data over short distances at speeds of several gigabits per second.
“You could look at it as a possible wireless extension of their Google Fiber wireless network, as a way to more economically serve homes. Put up a pole in a neighborhood, instead of having to run fiber to each home,” said Crowley.
Craig Barratt, the head of the Google Access and Energy division leading the effort to offer high-speed fiber networks in Kansas City and other locations, signed off as the authorized person submitting Google’s FCC application.
The world’s No.1 Internet search engine has expanded into providing consumers with services such as Internet access. The company said it wants to roll out its high-speed Internet service to more than 30 U.S. cities, and in 2013 it struck a deal to provide free wireless Internet access to 7,000 Starbucks cafes across America.
Earlier this year, technology news website The Information reported that Google was exploring ways to offer a full-fledged wireless service, with voice and Internet access, in markets where the company already offers its Fiber service.
“Earning an Oracle certification is a well-respected achievement,” the company said on its website. “However, as products age and are removed from Oracle standard support maintenance, the technology becomes less relevant, devaluing the associated credential(s).”
While that may seem like a reasonable enough conclusion, one question in a FAQ page on the site notes that “Oracle has stated that certification is permanent” and the policy change “seems to go against that.”
The change “helps maintain the integrity of our certification program and the value of your certification,” the site states.
The policy reflects certifications for Oracle database versions ranging from 7.3, which dates to the mid-1990s, up to 10g, which was released in 2003.
DBAs certified on those versions must recertify on a newer version of the database by either November 2015 or March 2016 if they want to keep their credentials in an “active” status. Oracle recommends that DBAs upgrade their certification to version 11g or later, the site states.
Oracle stands to benefit financially from the recertifications, given the fees charged to take the tests.
Still, one longtime Oracle DBA, who asked to remain anonymous, praised Oracle’s decision.
“It was never a good idea that certifications were permanent,” the DBA said via email. “Changes in features and architecture, for example 12c multi-tenant, should render previous certifications null and void. Will it ruffle some feathers? Yeah probably. Should it? No. In my opinion certifications should apply to a single release and nothing more.”
There could be more news on this front yet to come. A decision on whether to require all product certifications to be recertified is “currently under discussion,” according to the Oracle FAQ.
The Google Express service, which was earlier only available in certain parts of California and New York City, will be expanded to Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C., Google said in a blog.
Membership for the service, which was earlier called Google Shopping Express, will cost $95 a year, or $10 a month.
Online retailer Amazon’s same-day delivery service, called Prime, charges customers $99 per year, after a free one-year trial.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, at a public speech made in Berlin on Monday, called Amazon its “biggest search competitor”, the Financial Times and other media reported.
“Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon,” the FT quoted Schmidt as saying.
Schmidt said internet users are likely to go directly to the retailer if they are shopping.
The Linux Foundation has announced Dronecode, a new initiative to encourage cooperation on the peaceful use of drones.
Dronecode brings together existing open source code for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles under the auspices of a non-profit governance system.
There are already 1,200 developers working on the newly aligned projects, with over 150 code commits per day being added.
Among the drone designers already using the Dronecode standard are Skycatch, DroneDeploy, HobbyKing, Horizon Ag, PrecisionHawk, Agribotics and Walkera.
Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, about the project was the person who gave said information.
“Unfortunately when most people think of drones they think of military use, but drones are being used in a variety of cool, exciting ways – agriculture, search and rescue, realtime mapping, construction,” he said.
“Folks who design the software that powers these drones have the same problems as the people who create cloud computing servers. There’s a lot of software inside a drone.
“Creating the software stack by yourself seems a little bit crazy! The Linux Foundation is a place where we can grow these type of software communities.”
Drones are now so popular that they have their own storefront on Amazon.
Earlier this year we reported on the possibility of flyby hack attacks on internet-connected TVs using drones.
But contrary to what we learned from the recent series of Keifer Sutherland asthma-fest 24, the open source aspect won’t make drones more hackable.
“It actually makes it harder for them to be hacked, because if you have visibility to the source code itself you can audit it for security vulnerabilities, have peer reviews … and yes, you’ve been watching too much 24.”