“We’ve found that users on Windows, Mac, and Linux prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome,” said Marc Pawliger, a Chrome engineering director, in a short post to a company blog Wednesday.
“Beginning in a few weeks, Chrome will no longer enable the launcher when users first install a Chrome app,” Pawliger added. “Anyone who currently has the launcher will receive a notice informing them that the launcher will be going away. In July, existing instances of the launcher will be removed.”
Chrome App Launcher debuted on Windows and OS in 2013, and on Linux the following year.
The launcher was separate from the Chrome browser, and added another user interface (UI) for customers to manage. At the time of its release, the launcher was seen as one more tactic Google used to try to subvert a machine’s actual operating system, and in places substitute the Mountain View, Calif. company’s own browser-based Chrome OS UI.
Chrome apps will not go away, Pawliger stressed: They can still be called from the browser itself via the multi-colored icon at the far left of the bookmarks bar, or by typing chrome://apps in the search field.
Web apps designed for Chrome can be downloaded and installed from Google’s Chrome Web Store, the only authorized distribution mart.
Pawliger did not indicate the specific version of Chrome that will automatically eliminate the app launcher, but it could be as soon as version 52, which under an every-six-week schedule, would release in early July.
Chrome’s production code, dubbed the “Stable” branch, now stands at version 49.
Acer plans to implement a corporate restructuring project and divide its business into three major segments – PC, cloud and data center management, and re-investment businesses.
According to Digitimes, the company may set up three entities to handle related businesses and then transform itself into a holding company to control the three subsidiaries.
Acer’s PC business should cover PCs monitors, projectors and servers, while the cloud and data center business will cover mainly Acer’s build your own cloud and e-Enabling Data Center business units.
The cunning plan is to give flexibility for Acer to either attract strategic investors or off-load businesses that are not making enough cash. The planned holding company may be formed in the second half of the year.
The U.S. government will grant Chinese telecom equipment and smartphone maker ZTE Corp a three-month reprieve on tough export restrictions it imposed this month, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.
The department on March 8 imposed some of the toughest-ever U.S. export restrictions on ZTE for allegedly breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran.
The agency said it would ease the restrictions until June 30.
Experts had said the restrictions would have caused disruption across ZTE’s sprawling global supply chain.
The restrictions would have banned U.S. companies from exporting to ZTE any technology, software or equipment such as chips and processors made in the United States.
The decision would also have prevented software makers from selling typical office applications like Microsoft Windows – or even providing updates.
The easing, which will suspend the restrictions as of Thursday, could be extended provided that ZTE was timely in performing undertakings and cooperates with the U.S. government in “resolving the matter”, the Commerce Department said. An agency spokesman declined to comment further.
Shenzhen-based ZTE said it continued to work with the U.S. government over the export curbs.
The restrictions have drawn protests from the Chinese government and rocked ZTE’s business.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had noted the statements from the U.S. Commerce Department and ZTE.
“We hope both parties appropriately resolve the issue via continuing to have dialogue and consultations,” she told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
The Commerce Department investigated ZTE for alleged export-control violations following Reuters reports in 2012 that the company had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars worth of American-made hardware and software to Iran’s largest telecoms carrier.
The rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn that claims that Apple is about to write a check for the British chip design company Imagination Technologies.
According to Ars Technica Imagination is denying the rumors, but that is probably because it signed one of Apple’s typical NDA which are so tough they make a masonic oath look lightweight.
There are loads of reasons why Apple would want Imagination Technologies. The outfit is known for its PowerVR line of GPUs, which Apple has used in its mobile A-series SoCs since the A4, which powered the iPhone 4 and 4th-gen iPod Touch. Imagination is also cheap and in trouble at the moment.
The company has unsuccessfully tried to get into other areas including specialised ray tracing GPUs, MIPS CPUs, and DIY/IoT stuff. In February it got rid of its long-time CEO Hossein Yassaie and announced it would be restructuring. In mid-March, the company announced that, as part of the restructuring, it would be axing 350 jobs and focusing on PowerVR.
Jobs’ Mob has been a key shareholder since 2008. In 2009, Apple bumped its ownership up to at least 9.5 percent. If Apple bought Imagination Technologies it could move its GPU design in-house, too. It would also make sure that it kept Imagination going.
Hole Rebirth Though the gravitational waves of the OJ287 black hole binary are too weak to be detected by the current generation of gravitational wave detectors (as the source is far too distant), the Nov. 18 brightening
This periodic close encounter stirs up the supermassive black hole’s accretion disk material, rapidly heating it twice in rapid succession. This is what causes OJ287′s strange brightenings every 12 years. With this binary black hole model in mind, the researchers were able to predict when the latest event was due to occur.
The last brightening happened on Nov. 18, 2015, only a few days before Valtonen’s prediction, confirming his team’s binary black hole model. But through these observations, the supermassive black hole’s spin could also be calculated and it’s fast. The team’s observations show that it is spinning at a third of the speed of light. Interestingly, from the historical data of OJ287, the team was also able to calculate how much energy is being lost from the system via gravitational waves. Of course, gravitational waves are currently a very hot topic, having been directly detected for the first time by the US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and announced last month.
That LIGO detection was the signature produced by 2 orbiting and merging black holes, a discovery that not only confirmed one of Einstein’s final predictions of general relativity, but also directly confirmed the existence of 2 black holes merging as one.
We Just Heard the Spacetime ‘Chirp’ of Black Hole Rebirth Though the gravitational waves of the OJ287 black hole binary are too weak to be detected by the current generation of gravitational wave detectors (as the source is far too distant), the Nov. 18 brightening of the quasar serves as a fitting celebration for Einstein’s theory that he presented almost exactly 100 years before on Nov. 25, 1915.
Microsoft reversed course from an earlier retirement date for Windows 7 and 8.1 support on newer hardware, saying that it would now support those OSes on PCs running Intel’s Skylake silicon until July 2018.
The decision is a partial rollback of a January announcement that Microsoft called a “clarification” of its support policy. Under the January plan, Microsoft would have ended support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on July 17, 2017, if the operating systems were powering machines equipped with its now-current Skylake processor family.
At the time, Microsoft credited the decision to Windows 7′s age and the hassle that Microsoft and OEMs would have to go through to ensure the 2009 operating system runs on Intel’s latest architecture.
“As partners make customizations to legacy device drivers, services, and firmware settings, customers are likely to see regressions with Windows 7 ongoing servicing,” Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s top Windows and devices executive, said in a Jan. 15 blog post.
Myerson’s solution: Shorten support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on the newest PCs by at least 30 months, and decree that, going forward, next-generation processors would require the “latest Windows platform at that time for support.” In other words, Windows 10.
The move was the first time Microsoft had mandated a broad restriction on what edition of Windows customers could run on which hardware. Some analysts saw it as yet another tactic in Microsoft’s strategy to coerce customers into adopting Windows 10.
Support for Windows 7 and 8.1 on certain Skylake PCs will now continue until July 17, 2018, a one-year extension from the original deadline. After that date, Microsoft and its computer-making partners will not guarantee that they will revise device drivers to support those editions of Windows on newer hardware.
The announcement triggered despair from long-standing Windows followers who have relied on Here’s mapping, public transit and direction apps on Microsoft’s mobile operating systems.
“There’s just no way to sugarcoat it: This is a huge loss,” wrote Paul Thurrott, a popular blogger who focuses on Microsoft and Windows.
Consumers who preferred Here’s Windows Mobile apps over Microsoft’s own were more outspoken, and at times stooped to playground taunts. “Here, you suck!” raged someone identified as “rakker91″ in a comment appended yesterday to Here’s announcement.
“Way to kick your loyal fans in the face,” said another commenter, “a5678,” today.
“This is a very short-sighted decision,” echoed “Peribanu” Wednesday. “Your most loyal ambassador customers are on the Windows platform. It’s suicide for a business to cut off their fan base in one fell swoop. Whoever took this decision should be fired. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Here, which Nokia sold to a group of German auto makers for about $3.1 billion last year, said it was yanking its Windows 10 apps from Microsoft’s mart on March 29. Those for Windows 8 will be updated only to patch critical bugs.
The Windows 10 apps — Here Maps, Transit and Drive — will continue to work on Windows 10 through June 30, at which time they will go dark.
“We made the Here apps compatible with Windows 10 by using a workaround that will no longer be effective after June 30, 2016,” the company claimed. “To continue offering the Here apps for Windows 10 would require us to redevelop the apps from the ground up, a scenario that led to the business decision to remove our apps from the Windows 10 store.”
British memory maker Kingston HyperX has just added some 16 GB DDR4 modules to its unfortunately named SODIMM lineup which means you can make memory kits up to 64 GB.
We have to admit we wonder what Kingston was smoking when it thought SODIMM was a good name for anything. It is as if someone said “management what you to come up with a new name for this range in ten minutes” and the marketing staff just said “Sod ‘em” and someone misheard it.
Nevertheless the range is rather good. There are few 16 GB DDR4 SODIMM memory modules in the market and Kingston is filling the gap with new HyperX modules.
The six 16 GB DDR4 SODIMM kids will exist in two flavours – three will be 2133 MHz and three will be 2400 MHz.
There will be a 16 GB kit consisting of a single module, a 32 GB with two modules, and 64 GB with three. The 16 GB and 32 GB 2133 MHz kits will have CL13 timings, whereas the 64 GB 2133 MHz kit will have CL14.
Prices range from $109.00 through $445.00, you can order them directly from Kingston immediately. This good kit. We are eagerly awaiting the follow-up range SODIMM and Gomorrah and the SODOFF range.
Qualcomm has thrown its hat into the virtual reality (VR) ring with the launch of the Snapdragon VR SDK for Snapdragon-based smartphones and VR headsets.
The SDK gives developers access to advanced VR features, according to Qualcomm, allowing them to simplify development and attain improved performance and power efficiency with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, found in Android smartphones such as the Galaxy S7 and tipped to feature in upcoming VR headsets.
In terms of features, the development kit offers tools such as digital signal processing (DSP) sensor fusion, which allows devs to use the “full breadth” of technologies built into the Snapdragon 820 chip to create more responsive and immersive experiences.
It will help developers combine high-frequency inertial data from gyroscopes and accelerometers, and there’s what the company calls “predictive head position processing” based on its Hexagon DSP, while Qualcomm’s Symphony System Manager makes easier access to power and performance management for more stable frame rates in VR applications running on less-powerful devices.
Fast motion to photon will offer single buffer rendering to reduce latency by up to 50 percent, while stereoscopic rendering with lens correction offers support for 3D binocular vision with color correction and barrel distortion for improved visual quality of graphics and video, enhancing the overall VR experience.
Stereoscopic rendering with lens correction supports 3D binocular vision with color correction and barrel distortion for improved visual quality of graphics and video, enhancing the overall VR experience.
Rounding off the features is VR layering, which improves overlays in a virtual world to reduce distortion.
David Durnil, senior director of engineering at Qualcomm, said: “We’re providing advanced tools and technologies to help developers significantly improve the virtual reality experience for applications like games, 360 degree VR videos and a variety of interactive education and entertainment applications.
“VR represents a new paradigm for how we interact with the world, and we’re excited to help mobile VR developers more efficiently deliver compelling and high-quality experiences on upcoming Snapdragon 820 VR-capable Android smartphones and headsets.”
The Snapdragon VR SDK will be available to developers in the second quarter through the Qualcomm Developer Network.
The launch of Qualcomm’s VR SDK comes just moments after AMD also entered the VR arena with the launch of the Sulon Q, a VR-ready wearable Windows 10 PC.
Contract prices of NAND flash memory chips fell by nine to 10 per cent in the fourth quarter due to oversupply conditions.
Beancounters at analyst outfit TrendForce report that the prices of eMMC and SSD products also fell by 10 to 11 per cent quarterly due to weaker-than-expected shipments of OEM devices such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks.
Overall fourth-quarter worldwide NAND flash sales were down 2.3% sequentially, the research group added.
Sean Yang, research director at DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce said that besides facing rapidly falling prices, the manufacturers have also reached a bottleneck in their process technology migration.
Memory makers that are developing or producing 3D-NAND flash are encountering yield rate issues, with Samsung being the sole exception. As the cost reduction advantage associated with technology migration diminishes, branded NAND flash suppliers posted significant quarterly declines in both their revenues and operating margins for the fourth quarter of last year.
Samsung was one of the few manufacturers that experienced revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2015 on account of its lead in 3D-NAND flash development and the rising sales of its high-density eMMC, eMCP and SSD products. In the fourth quarter, Samsung’s NAND flash business registered a quarterly bit shipment growth of 15% and a 10 to15% quarterly slide in the average selling price. The memory maker thus saw a quarterly revenue growth of 4.2 per cent as well as a slight decrease in its operating margin.
Toshiba’s NAND flash business was affected by market oversupply as well. Compared with the prior quarter, the memory maker’s average selling price was 13 to 14 per cent lower in the fourth quarter of last year. Toshiba only recently began the trial production of 3D-NAND flash. Moreover, the Japanese memory maker has found that its 15nm process offers limited cost reduction advantage. Thus, the company’s NAND flash business registered a decline in its operating margin for the fourth quarter.
SanDisk’s product mix adjustments have paid off as client and enterprise grade SSD sales make up an increasing share of the company’s total revenue. SanDisk also saw a 10 per cent quarterly drop in both the average selling price and the average unit cost of its NAND flash chips in the fourth quarter of 2015. As a result, SanDisk’s gross margin reached 43% in the fourth quarter – on par with the previous quarter.
Compared with the third quarter, SK Hynix’s fourth-quarter NAND flash revenue fell by 9.3 per cent to $841 million. The South Korean memory supplier also saw a 4 per cent bit shipment growth and a 15 oer cent slide in the average selling price. As tablet and smartphone shipments from strategic clients are expected to suffer a huge drop in the first quarter, DRAMeXchange projects SK Hynix to post a 10 per cent quarterly decline in bit shipments as well.
Set against the previous fiscal period, Micron’s bit shipments for the first fiscal quarter of 2016 (from September to November last year) registered a 6% quarterly increase, while its average selling price dropped by 7 per cent and unit cost fell by 6 per cent. Micron’s revenue for the first fiscal quarter of 2016 therefore arrived at $1.15 billion, up 1.9 per cent from the prior fiscal quarter.
Intel’s major Enterprise-SSD customers pulled inventory in advance during the third quarter. Consequently, Intel’s bit sales grew 10 per cent quarterly in the fourth quarter of 2015. However, the oversupply in the fourth quarter resulted in a steeper decrease in the average selling price, causing Intel’s revenue fall slightly by 0.2 per cent quarterly to $662 million.
Besides the fact that chip is pretty good, since the Qualcomm has been seen at all the fashionable places and all the right people promoting the chip heavily. As a result it will be adopted by Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, Xiaomi, Vivo and LeTV.
Qualcomm senior vice president for global marketing Tim McDonough has confirmed that more than 100 mobile devices powered by Snapdragon 820 chips are currently under development.
But mobile is only the tip of the iceberg for the Snapdragon 820 platform. It has been earmarked for VR (virtual reality) devices, robots and commercial drones. There will also be a Snapdragon 820A to enable automakers to develop driving assistance systems and telematics/entertainment systems for connected car applications.
All up this means that this year will be Qualcomm’s and more than make up for the embarrassment of last year’s over heating 810 fiasco.
Microsoft’s Edge browser notched some gains in users and usage share last month, but the default browser of Windows 10 remained the choice of a minority of users — according to some sources, a very small minority.
Edge, the designated default browser for Windows 10, grew its user share — a measurement by American analytics vendor Net Applications that represents the portion of users worldwide who run a specific browser — by nearly five percentage points in February, climbing to 30.7% of those running the new OS. That’s up from 26% in January.
It was the first time since Windows 10′s July 2015 launch that Net Applications showed an increase in Edge’s share of Windows 10′s audience. Prior to February, Net Applications reported month-after-month of steady declines from the 36% user share it reported in August, the first full month after 10′s public debut.
Another source, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) also portrayed an Edge increase, although it was smaller than Net Applications’ gain. DAP put Edge’s portion of the Windows 10 pool at 24.9%, a five-tenths of a percentage point increase over January.
DAP, which counts visits to more than 4,000 websites on over 400 different domains maintained by U.S. government agencies, is U.S.-centric, although some visitors access the sites from overseas.
StatCounter, an Irish metrics company, also put Edge’s U.S. usage share — a proxy for activity originating with a particular browser and thus a different measurement than either Net Applications’ or DAP’s — at slightly higher last month. For February, Edge’s U.S. share of all Windows 10 was 17.1%, a gain of three-tenths of a percentage point from the month before.
Intel is adapting its RealSense depth camera into an augmented reality headset design which it might be licensing to other manufacturers.
The plan is not official yet but appears to have been leaked to the Wall Street Journal. Achin Bhowmik, who oversees RealSense as vice president and general manager of Intel’s perceptual computing group, declined to discuss unannounced development efforts.
But he said Intel has a tradition of creating prototypes for products like laptop computers to help persuade customers to use its components. We have to build the entire experience ourselves before we can convince the ecosystem,” Bhowmik said.
Intel appears to be working on an augmented-reality headset when it teamed up with IonVR to to work on an augmented-reality headset that could work with a variety of operating systems, including Android and iOS. Naturally, it had a front-facing RealSense camera.
RealSense depth camera has been in development for several years and was shown as a viable product technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2014. Since then, nothing has happened and Microsoft’s Kinect sensor technology for use with Windows Hello in the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book knocked it aside.
Intel’s biggest issue is that it is talking about making a consumer product which is something that it never got the hang of.
RealSense technology is really good at translating real-world objects into virtual space. In fact a lot better than the HoloLens because it can scan the user’s hands and translate them into virtual objects that can manipulate other virtual objects.
Analysts have been anticipating a global slowdown in the rate of smartphone sales growth, partly because many regions have become heavily saturated with high-end models like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S phones.
Now, there is a report of an actual decline of 6% in smartphone sales, as measured in dollars, in the U.S. and all of North America in the fourth quarter of 2015. It is the first decline since early 2012.
That’s according to GfK, a major research firm based in Nuremberg, Germany, which uses actual retail sales and not the manufacturer shipments used by other research firms to tally results.
GfK reported today that smartphone sales reached $23.9 billion in North America for the fourth quarter, down from $25.6 billion for the fourth quarter of 2014. For the U.S. alone, sales were $20.5 billion, down from $21.8 billion for the same periods.
GfK also said there was a decline of 1.1% in the number of smartphones units sold in the fourth quarter in North America, dropping to 56.4 million units, compared with 57 million sold a year earlier. For the U.S. alone, 45.6 million units were sold in the fourth quarter, down 1% from a year earlier.
North America was one of two regions globally that saw actual declines in the fourth quarter. The other was Latin America, which saw a 23% reduction in sales dollars and nearly a 13% decline in smartphone units sold, GfK reported. GfK, with about 13,000 market research staffers, tracks consumer purchases in more than 90 global markets.
The U.S. and North America are among the most mature smartphone markets but still one of the most competitive in the world, said Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting for GfK, in an email. With the influence of wireless carriers, buyers are holding on to their smartphones longer than in the past, which reduces purchases, he said.
“More contract-free packages are coming to market, encouraging consumers to hold on to their handsets for longer in exchange for lower monthly” fees, Walsh said.”Value declines were worse than volume declines, as low-end smartphones outperformed the very saturated high-end market.”
Walsh said declines will continue in the U.S. until the fourth quarter of 2016, when major product launches from Apple and others are expected. GfK is forecasting a 9% increase in smartphone sales, by dollar value, in the fourth quarter.
Beancounters for IDC have added up the numbers, and divided by their shoe size, and come to the conclusion that Western Europe is getting more interested in detachable computers.
IDC said that in the fourth quarter of 2015 over 14 million tablets were shipped to Western Europe as the market volume declined 10.1 per cent on year. However, the decline was only 1.8 percent thanks to growing penetration of detachable tablets. In the fourth quarter of the year, 2.6 million tablets with a detachable keyboard were shipped, up from just over 800,000 units a year ago, accounting now for almost 20 per cent of the overall tablet market.
Daniel Goncalves, research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing said:
“As the detachable tablets available on the market become more powerful and better suited to business requirements, this form factor has been successfully adopted by professionals and executives as it perfectly addresses their mobility needs and is increasingly seen as a notebook replacement.”
Microsoft is the segment leader even as Apple entered the market with its cloned Surface product. Since then several industry players have recently launched or announced new detachable designs that in 2016 will compete in the commercial space and leverage the large opportunity created by enterprise mobility.
Marta Fiorentini, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing said:
“The arrival in Europe of these new designs based on Windows 10 and a more powerful generation of processors should support commercial shipments in the coming quarters as IT departments focus on increased security features, application costs, and device and application management.”
On the consumer side, preparations for Black Friday and the early Christmas promotions disrupted traditional seasonality trends as a number of vendors brought forward their shipments to the final weeks of the third quarter of 2015. The exception in the quarter was Amazon’s low-priced 7-inch device, which shipped almost a million units and increased pressure on entry-level and no-name products. Strong appeal from other consumer technologies, such as wearables, also dampened demand as users looked at alternatives for their year-end holiday presents. In the commercial segment, performances varied across geographies as macroeconomic factors and the varying levels of digital and mobility readiness in European countries influenced the pace of slate deployments.
“The new form factor mix helped increase market value. This is especially important in consumer, where slate tablet prices have been declining for a while without necessarily rekindling demand. This quarter, the danger of a sharp drop in value was very real but thanks to detachables, the average market price increased by 3.8% on year.”
Apple ended the year as market leader of tablets despite a strong contraction in iPad volumes which were only partially offset by shipments of the new iPad Pro. Samsung declined less than the overall market as it continues to target all market segments and on an annual basis strengthened its second position and closed the gap with Apple.
Amazon was in third place thanks to its Kindle Fire line, particularly the 7-inch device . Lenovo slipped to fourth place despite out-performing the market, but ended 2015 in third position while it prepares to strengthen its detachable offering. Asustek finished fifth in the fourth quarter of 2015, with the vendor focusing on profitable growth and increasing its foothold in products with higher specs, IDV said.
Imagination Technologies has announced the PowerVR Series8XE GPU family designed to bring more visual horsepower to mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
The first two GPUs released are the PowerVR GE8200 and GE8300, which offer two and four pixels per clock respectively.
The new architecture in the Series8XE family is claimed to improve the fill rate capabilities of the GPUs. This is the number of pixels a GPU can render on a screen per second.
Imagination said that this is a 60 to 100 percent boost in performance per millimetre squared for the Series8XE when compared with rival GPUs. Fighting talk.
Not content with speedier chips, Imagination has shrunk the microarchitecture of the Series8XE to make it 30 to 45 percent smaller than competing GPUs, yet retaining the improved fill rate performance.
Put simply, the latest series of GPUs allows Imagination to offer chips that can pump out more pixels and hit higher resolutions at a cheaper cost and power demand than the previous Series7XE family.
The size and performance of PowerVR GPUs means they can be used in cheap-as-chips car tech, smartphones and tablets.
But Imagination championed the Series8XE for use with set-top boxes and 4K TVs, highlighting how PVRIC3 and ASTC design options can improve lossy and lossless compression.
This reduces the memory bandwidth and system-level power consumption required for texture and render targets respectively in modern, chip-loaded televisions.
Native support for the YUV 10-bit video format also enables optimised integration with H.265 10-bit video coding formats.
Translating all that into non-tech-speak, the latest GPUs in the PowerVR XE range offer more graphics clout without hoovering up battery power and turning mobile chips into silicon soup.
The range also provides more application support, which pretty neatly positions PowerVR to have a stab at the IoT arena, which Imagination is already working on with its ‘IoT in a box’.
This looks like a sensible move, particularly as Imagination has sold off its Pure digital radio brand.