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Is The Linux Desktop Gaining In Popularity

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Linux fanboys were dancing in the streets when NetMarketShare’s desktop operating system analysis, which showed Linux leaping from 2.5 percent in July, to almost five percent in September.

The news was seen as living proof that 2017 was the year of the Linux desktop and that things would only get better for next year.

Sadly, though, it was all a terrible mistake Vince Vizzaccaro, NetMarketShare’s executive marketing share of marketing has said that the reported Linux share was incorrect.

“We are aware of the issue and are currently looking into it”, he said.

According to the US federal government’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) that shows desktop Linux, as usual, hanging out in “other” at 1.5 percent.

Windows, as always, is on top with 45.9 percent, followed by Apple iOS, at 25.5 percent, Android at 18.6 percent, and macOS at 8.5 percent.

The figures are US-based so they over emphasis Apple. Linux tends to do better in poorer parts of the world where people must justify spending money on more important functions such as power, stability rather than just the logo on the case.

The article does, however, acknowledge that Linux’s real market share is probably a little higher this month.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Makes Upgrades Simpler With ‘Subscription Activation’ Feature

November 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has upped the Windows subscription ante by allowing enterprise IT to dispense with the traditional wipe-and-image OS deployment method in favor of an automatic-on-reboot metamorphosis from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Enterprise.

The new feature, dubbed “Subscription Activation,” works with Windows 10 1703 – the April 2017 feature upgrade – or later, and requires access to Azure Active Directory (AAD). (The more common, on-premises Active Directory will serve in a pinch, as long as it’s synced with AAD.) It also, more obviously, demands a subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise, such as those included in the Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 plans, or the newer Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 deals.

Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, saw one sure-fire advantage to Subscription Activation. “The place that is interesting [to me] is for businesses repaving PCs when they get them,” said Miller in a recent interview. “Say you get a new Surface, but it’s just running [Windows 10] Pro, because OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] cannot ship Enterprise.”

Typically, IT personnel take that new device, wipe the Windows 10 Pro operating system from the system, then load the corporation’s customized Windows 10 Enterprise image onto the personal computer. Subscription Activation makes all that moot.

JPMorgan Launches New Accounts Mobile App

October 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

In its first offering of online bank accounts, JPMorgan Chase & Co on Monday officially debuted a new smartphone app that it hopes will attract new depositors, many of whom are young and may live far from any of its branch offices.

The app, named Finn by Chase, allows people to use a phone to open a bank account, make deposits, issue checks, track spending and set up savings plans, bank officials told Reuters last week. Finn debit cards will come by mail for access to cash from 29,000 ATMs.

The bank is starting with an initial test of the app account for Apple phone users with ZIP codes in St. Louis, where Chase has no branches, which might influence the trial.

 The bank, the biggest in the United States, with $2.56 trillion in assets, plans to market Finn in other U.S. cities and for Android phones next year. Later this year it will offer mobile enrollment nationwide for its standard checking and savings accounts.

“Finn lets us reach new customers and new markets,” Thasunda Duckett, chief executive of Chase Consumer Banking, said in an interview. The app account, she said, “was built by millennials for millennials.”

Catering to them is seen as way to keep from losing business to big Internet and computer companies and financial rivals, such as Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and PayPal Holdings Inc.

At JPMorgan, the app could also show Chief Executive Jamie Dimon how he can take the bank’s consumer deposit business well beyond the 23 states where it has branches.

Dimon has repeatedly postponed his years-long dream to expand into new states by opening a cluster of branches to gather more customers. That would be expensive, would require approval of regulators and could be especially risky when people use branches less often.

JPMorgan is too big to win government approval to buy another bank to reach more depositors, Dimon has acknowledged.

Duckett’s team developed the Finn app after interviews with about 250 potential millennial customers since July 2016. It found that many yearn for a lower-stress way to control their spending than trying to set budgets that they often fail to obey.

The interviews led Chase to build the app with simple ways for people to sort their spending with emojis tagging what made them feel good or bad, as well as what was necessary or just desired.

For example, the bank found millennials generally do not want the app to display on the same screen as spending account balances that show how much money they have in their savings accounts, lest they spend that, too.

About two-thirds of Chase customers continue to visit branches at least once every three months. “This is for a different set of customers,” said Melissa Feldsher, head of Finn.

 Some of the features are similar to those that have been produced by fintech companies, such as Moven, which has supplied money management software for TD Bank to offer its depositors. But such efforts have not resulted in strictly online accounts of the scale that JPMorgan imagines.

Duckett said JPMorgan designed Finn from scratch, without relying on what fintech companies have created. “We always look at what is going on, but we lead with what customers were telling us,” Duckett said.

BlackBerry Settles Patent Dispute With BLU Products

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it inked a new license agreement with BLU Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-end Android phones, that would end patent disputes between the two companies.

Canada’s BlackBerry filed lawsuits against BLU in 2016, as part of the handset-maker-turned-software-company’s move to make cash off a bunch of technology patents it had collected in its heyday.

Thursday’s agreement will include on-going payments from BLU to BlackBerry, the companies said, but did not give further details.

The settlement will allow Blackberry “to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market,” said Jerald Gnuschke, senior director of Intellectual Property Licensing at BlackBerry.

BlackBerry, which holds about 40,000 worldwide patents and applications, has been long been focusing on software sales and licensing after its once-popular phones lost out to Apple and others in the smartphone industry.

Will Microsoft Put The Surface To Rest

October 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft will drop its Surface laptop line-up by 2019, if remarks made by Canalys CEO Steve Brazier are to be believed.

As reported by The Register, which attended the Canalys Channels Forum, Brazier said that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is a “software guy, a cloud guy”, hinting that the firm’s bork-ridden Surface laptops and tablets are likely to go the same way as the firm’s all-but-defunct smartphone division.

“The Surface performance is choppy; there are good quarters and bad quarters, overall they are not making money. It doesn’t make sense for them to be in this business,” Brazier remarked.

“When the capital expenditure challenge that Satya Nadella has taken Microsoft down becomes visible to Wall Street, everyone will ask him ‘Why have you gone to a low margin business?'”

Brazier has a point. Last quarter, Microsoft’s Surface revenue was down 2 per cent, and dropped a massive 26 per cent year-on-year in the previous quarter. The devices have been plagued with issues, too, which Microsoft has blamed on Intel’s Skylake chips.

Passing the buck didn’t stop Consumer Reports yanking its “recommended” label from the Surface line-up, though. It slammed the hardware “significantly less reliable than most other brands” after finding that one in four Surface owners were being plagued with  “problems by the end of the second year of ownership.”

Brazier’s predictions were backed up by Gianfranco Lanci, corporate VP and COO of Lenovo, who joined the Canalys CEO on stage.

“Microsoft is making a lot of money on cloud, making a lot of money on Windows and Office, but losing a lot of money on devices,” he said.

“Frankly speaking, it is difficult to see why they should keep losing money. For them it is a very difficult exercise to run hardware products business, they need to be careful about every single detail as the margin on this is so thin.”

Courtesy-Fud

BlackBerry Announces New Motion Smartphone

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The all-touchscreen BlackBerry Motion was officially unveiled at an electronics trade show in Dubai, just days after images of the new phone leaked online.

The new handset features a 5.5-inch HD display, 4GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery with support for QuickCharge 3.0. The Motion, which was unveiled at the GITEX 2017 trade show, is also rated IP67 for dust and water resistance.

The BlackBerry Motion is a follow-up to the KeyOne, the first phone released under a licensing agreement TCL has with BlackBerry to build and sell the devices. BlackBerry has detached itself from the hardware side, focusing on business security and software.

TCL, best known for making budget televisions and phones (under the Alcatel OneTouch brand), hopes to win some business customers of its own with its take on the BlackBerry family. The Motion is intended to show that the KeyOne isn’t a one-off product, and that TCL intends to create a new portfolio of products with the BlackBerry name.

The BlackBerry Motion will initially launch in the Middle East.

 

Amazon, Google Take Feud Public

September 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

In a rare public feud between titans of technology, Amazon.com Inc said on Tuesday its Echo Show devices could no longer play videos from YouTube because the site’s parent, Google, stopped supporting the service.

The spat is the latest in Silicon Valley in which competitive tensions stood in the way of customers. Amazon and Google square off in many areas, from cloud computing and online search, to selling voice-controlled gadgets like the Echo Show.

In a statement, Amazon said, “As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.”

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, said instead that the development was no surprise.

 “We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms,” it said in a statement. “Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon.”

The Echo Show had displayed YouTube videos without integral features, from video recommendations to channel subscriptions. Google has been in a similar dispute with Microsoft Corp in the past.

It was not clear how many customers were affected. Amazon only started selling the Echo Show in June, which comes with a touchscreen and responds by voice command.

Amazon’s suite of Echo devices, including the Echo and Echo Dot, have outsold the voice-controlled Google Home, according to research firm eMarketer. Amazon has ambitions to make it normal for people to control computers by voice – and to place orders for its online retail business by voice, too.

“It’s a bit of a blow to Amazon,” said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “YouTube is one of the big video services that they had in addition to their own. For that to disappear means a big chunk of the possible video content you could watch on Echo Show is now gone.”

The Verge, a technology news website, earlier reported the news.

Google Assistant Can Now Control Your LG Appliances

September 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

LG is urging you to communicate with your appliances. You are now officially able to use the Google Assistant to command 87 different Wi-Fi connected LG appliances — including washers, dryers, refrigerators and even vacuums. To mark the occasion, LG’s also giving away a free Google Home smart speaker if you buy a Wi-Fi enabled LG appliance from participating retailers between October 8 and 25.

Give a voice command to the Google Home, or any phone with the Google Assistant built-in, and you’ll be able to check on the status of your washer, turn off your oven, change the temperature of your air conditioner, change the settings of your fridge and more.

LG’s smart suite of appliances already worked with Amazon’s assistant Alexa, and smart appliances from other companies such as Whirlpool and GE have also added functionality for both Alexa and the Google Assistant. LG’s bringing voice controls to a wider variety of appliances than its competitors for now, and hopefully, the available voice commands will be intuitive and offer enough options to be useful.

You can control your smart LG appliances with the Google Assistant now. You’ll need to link your Google account with your LG SmartThinQ account to get started. If you don’t have a smart LG appliance, you might want to wait until October 8 to purchase a new one so you can get a $130 (£130, AU$199) Google Home for free along with your purchase. Head to LG’s site to see if a retailer near you is participating in the promo.

Google Offer Phone Trade-in Policy In Time For New Pixel Device

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

With the Google Pixel 2 gearing up to launch in about two weeks, you may be ready to retire your current phone in anticipation.

All signs point to Google trying to make the process smoother. The company launched a trade-in program (scroll down on the right-hand side of the page for details) for those who send in their old phone when buying a new Google Pixel(here’s our review of the first Pixel). Even though this comes ahead of the Pixel 2 launch, it’s likely Google will extend this deal to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (if those turn out to be their final names) when those phones become available for preorder.

For the full list, head to the Google Store.

It’s common for carriers and phone manufacturers to offer trade-in deals when new phones are released, and Google offers a wide range depending on the phone’s current condition. Whether you get $61 or $363 for an iPhone 7 is a big difference, but keep in mind that a phone in good working order is far more valuable than one with a cracked screen.

Still, if you’re serious about trading in your old phone you may want to check additional options like Gazelle or NextWorth for some perspective. You may be able to get a little bit more — for example, Gazelle will give you up to $390 for an iPhone 7, while NextWorth’s prices top out at around $350). Or if your phone is in good enough condition and you have the patience, you may want to try your luck on eBay, where popular phones typically fetch higher prices.

Google doesn’t currently assign a trade-in value for the original Pixel, but that may change when the Pixel 2 is announced. Google did not respond to a request for comment, but stay tuned to CNET when the Pixel 2 becomes official on Oct. 4.

Samsung Aims For Foldable Smartphone In 2018

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung is making plans to launch a foldable phone in 2018, says Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business at Samsung Electronics.

As reported by the Associated Press, Koh told Korean reporters that once the company surmounted “some problems,” it would launch the product. He did not say what the problems were.

Samsung has been experimenting with foldable displays for a while now. The company first showcased a flexible phone display prototype in 2013. Before that, Samsung was making flexible displays, sans phone, way back in 2011.

Koh also confirmed that the company is working with auto-systems maker Harman on a smart speaker. Samsung acquired Harman, based in Stamford, Connecticut, in 2016. No further details about the smart speaker were revealed on Tuesday.

Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

New Mazda, Toyota Vehicles To Share Infotainment System

August 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Future Mazda and Toyota vehicles will share the same infotainment underpinnings as part of a joint development effort between the two automakers, Nikkei reports. Toyota first developed the Linux-based guts of its new Entune 3.0 infotainment system, but it brought in Mazda for additional streamlining because of a lack of software developers in Japan’s auto industry.

The system will first reach the public by way of the 2018 Toyota Camry, which is already on sale in the US. It should land in Mazda’s stable when the redesigned Mazda3 debuts in the near future, although that has not been officially confirmed. Nikkei claims other vehicles from these manufacturers will receive the updated platform in stages.

Now, bear in mind this doesn’t refer to the whole infotainment system, this only covers the platform off which it’s built. Mazda’s version will undoubtedly look different, and each company will be responsible for developing the features and applications that will live in each system.

Both systems, though, will be able to make use of Toyota’s new Wi-Fi hotspot, which utilizes a cellular network connection to deliver over-the-air updates and new apps without requiring the owner to provide the connection. Toyota’s hotspot can accommodate up to five devices simultaneously on the 2018 Camry.

While this new infotainment system will be rather flexible thanks to a library of available third-party apps like Slacker or Pandora, it should be noted that the system still does not support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — or, at least it doesn’t on the 2018 Toyota Camry. Hopefully that will change with other models, but Toyota has a historical aversion to this sort of phone mirroring.

 

Samsung Galaxy 8 Pre-orders May Include Extra Goodies

August 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung may dole out some extra goodies for consumers who pre-order the Galaxy Note 8 phone, according to frequent mobile tipster Evan Blass.

Samsung is set to unveil its next Galaxy phone on August 23. Some serious pressure is surrounding the Samsung event after the last Note phone, the Galaxy Note 7, shipped with faulty batteries that caused explosions and led to two separate product recalls. Since then Samsung has vowed better batteries and recommitted to the Note brand.

With the grand announcement coming on August 23, Note 8 preorders may start as soon as the next day.

The rumor claims that a 256GB microSD card will come with Note 8 preorders, plus a choice of either a convertible wireless charger (a now-standard feature in Samsung’s top phones) or a 360-degree camera. Although Samsung’s Note 8 phone is likely to cost more than the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, Samsung seems to be carrying on the tradition of offering a bundle to sweeten the deal. The bundle represents hundreds of dollars in saving if you were to buy the pieces separately.

Last year Samsung released the Gear 360 camera, which paired well with Samsung’s Galaxy phones, and since then it released a refreshed 2017 Gear 360 camera. Regardless if you are an aficionado of 360-degree video, the camera would make a nice little supplement if included with your new Note.

If you’re a European customer, you may get a different bonus with your Note order. Instead of a microSD card, wireless charger, or 360 camera you may get a Samsung DeX dock as your “pre order gift,” according to a second tweet from Blass.

It isn’t clear if Samsung would also offer original Note 7 buyers a discount for buying the Note 8, but that’s something we’d like to see.

Although the alleged preorder date is August 24, the Note 8 might not release until September 15, Blass tweeted separately. Samsung has said it will sell the Note 8 in September and October, depending on the region.

 

Samsung Confirms Size Of New Galaxy Note 8 Phone

August 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung’s big unveiling of the Galaxy Note 8 — scheduled for next week — will put the big questions about its rumored specs to rest. Now, Samsung is teasing us with a video that is unmistakably Note 8.

The teaser video shows off plenty of vague buzzwords, but it also centers around the S-Pen stylus, the Galaxy Note series’ defining feature. A blue animation of the S Pen, flies in from the left to cross out concepts like “big” and point to a more ambitious concept, like “bigger.” So, “step” becomes “leap” and “think” becomes “do.” At the end, Samsung calls out the August 23 Unpacked event in New York and supplies a hashtag: #DoWhatYouCant.

There’s no doubt that the Note 8 is an important phone. Not only is it Samsung’s most premium phone for power users, but it could also help determine the fate of the Note line. Last year’s Galaxy Note 7 was recalled twice after faulty batteries caused the phone to catch on fire. Now Samsung has to use the Note 8 to prove that its phones are safe and that it can make top-tier phones are ready to face the of Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 8 and LG’s premium V30. Google is also expected to unveil the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

The Note 8 is rumored to get premium features like dual-rear cameras, a 6.4 (or 6.3)-inch display, and now dual-SIM compatibility. One Samsung-watching blog reported a dual-SIM Note 8 in Samsung Austria’s support page. The report claims that the Note may house a SIM/microSD tray that can hold a SIM card and microSD or two SIM cards, giving you the option of expandable storage or an extra SIM.

The rumor also suggests that the Note 8 will get a European launch, which would be a welcome change after the Note 5 never made it to Europe, and the Note 7’s European release was cut short by the recall.

Microsoft’s Surface Tablets Not So Reliable, Says Consumer Reports

August 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The breakage rate for Microsoft Corp’s Surface devices significantly outpaces that of other manufacturers’ laptops and tablets, Consumer Reports said, adding that it was removing its “recommended” designation for Surface products.

The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday.

“If you are very concerned about how long your products are going to last, it might be better for you to go with a brand that has a higher predicted reliability,” Jerry Beilinson, electronics editor at the consumer goods testing publication, said in an interview.

Microsoft disputed the study, saying the company’s return and support rates differ significantly from the Consumer Reports study.

“We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said.

Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said.

Microsoft entered the hardware market with its first Surface tablet in 2012. Since then, the company has released a series of new Surface tablets and laptops, including the well-reviewed Surface Pro, which launched in May.

The Surface devices serve as a face for the company and exemplify how Microsoft’s manufacturing partners can build hardware around the Windows 10 operating system. However, Surface is a small part of Microsoft’s overall revenue, and Surface revenue has declined year-over-year for the past two quarters.

T-Mobile Launching Its Own Branded Smartphone

August 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

In a jump back in time when carriers differentiated themselves by branding and selling exclusive phones, T-Mobile confirmed Wednesday that it’s launching its very own budget Android phone called the Revvl.

The Revvl, which runs on Android Nougat, offers pretty basic specs: a 5.5 inch HD display, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. But it also throws in a fingerprint sensor and will cost T-Mobile customers just $5 a month with no down payment through the company’s Jump! upgrade program.

It goes on sale Thursday.

T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert said in a blog that the company is catering to those who want the latest smartphone technology but can’t afford to pay for high-end devices. He added that the Revvl was built specifically for T-Mobile customers who, according to the company, use more data and upgrade their phones faster than those with other carriers.

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