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Do Lenovo PCs Have Serious Security Issues?

July 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo has issued an official response to a security researcher’s claim that the company is shipping more bad software with its hardware.

Lenovo has accepted the problem and shunted it onto another party. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here.

The problem, according to a security researcher called Dymtro Oleksiuk, is that Lenovo is shipping a flaw that undermines Windows security protocols.

Oleksiuk has posted details of the Lenovo ThinkPad System Management Mode flaw on GitHub, and has published a blog about his work.

“The new 0day vulnerability in Lenovo firmware allows arbitrary SMM code execution on a wide range of Lenovo models and firmware versions including the most recent ones,” he said.

“Exploitation of the vulnerability may lead to the flash write protection bypass, disabling of UEFI Secure Boot, Virtual Secure Mode and Credential Guard bypass in Windows 10 Enterprise and other evil things.”

Lenovo has tackled this, in a way. The firm is getting used to discussing problems with its products having given a wide selection of devices a dose of Superfish. The company claimed that it tried to get in contact with Oleksiuk before he went public, but failed.

“Lenovo’s Product Security Incident Response Team is fully aware of the uncoordinated disclosure by an independent researcher of a BIOS vulnerability located in the System Management Mode (SMM) code that impacts certain Lenovo PC devices,” said Lenovo in a security alert.

“At this point, Lenovo knows that vulnerable SMM code was provided to Lenovo by at least one of our independent BIOS vendors (IBVs). These are software development firms that specialise in developing the customised BIOS firmware that is loaded into the PCs of original equipment manufacturers, including Lenovo.”

The firm added that this is common and that it will be difficult to identify the source.

“Following industry standard practice, IBVs start with the common code base created by chip vendors, such as Intel or AMD, and add additional layers of code that are specifically designed to work with a particular computer. Lenovo currently works with the industry’s three largest IBVs,” the firm added.

“The package of code with the SMM vulnerability was developed on top of a common code base provided to the IBV by Intel. Importantly, because Lenovo did not develop the vulnerable SMM code and is still in the process of determining the identity of the original author, it does not know its originally intended purpose.

“But, as part of the ongoing investigation, Lenovo is engaging all of its IBVs as well as Intel to identify or rule out any additional instances of the vulnerability’s presence in the BIOS provided to Lenovo by other IBVs, as well as the original purpose of the vulnerable code.”

Some GitHub users tested their systems and found that the problem could be common to other OEM devices, which backs up Lenovo’s statement about the third-party problem.

@d_olex Yep, found SmmRuntimeManagementCallback() function in HP dv7 4087cl (from ~2010, HM55) with Insyde EFI pic.twitter.com/M5jrsrAO8d — Alex James (@al3xtjames) July 2, 2016

“Lenovo is committed to the security of its products and is working with its IBVs and Intel to develop a fix that eliminates this vulnerability as rapidly as possible,” the company said.

“Additional information regarding the fix will be posted as soon as it is available on the Product Security Advisory web site.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Is Intel Going To Dump McAfee

June 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Intel has run out of ideas about what it is going to do with it its security business and is apparently planning to flog it off.

Five years ago Intel bought McAfee for $7.7bn acquisition. Two years ago it re-branded it as Intel Security. There was talk about chip based security and how important this would be as the world moved to the Internet of Things.

Now the company has discussed the future of Intel Security with bankers, including potentially the outfit. The semiconductor company has been shifting its focus to higher-growth areas, such as chips for data center machines and Internet-connected devices, as the personal-computer market has declined.

The security sector has seen a lot of interest from private equity buyers. Symantec said earlier this month it was acquiring Web security provider Blue Coat for $4.65 billion in cash, in a deal that will see Silver Lake, an investor in Symantec, enhancing its investment in the merged company, and Bain Capital, majority shareholder in Blue Coat, reinvesting $750 million in the business through convertible notes.

However Intel’s move into the Internet of Things does make it difficult for it to exit the security business completely. In fact some analysts think it will only sell of part of the business and keep some key bits for itself.

Courtesy-Fud

 

QLogic Gets Acquired

June 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

ARM Chip outfit Cavium has written a cheque for QLogic, a semiconductor firm which specialises in server and storage networking.

In what it calls a drive further into the data centre market. Cavium has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding QLogic common stock in a deal worth approximately $1.36 billion.

The acquisition adds Qlogic’s Fibre Channel and Ethernet controllers and boards to Cavium’s line up of communications, security and general-purpose processors making Cavium a full-line supplier to data centres.

It also means that Cavium can take on storage and networking with Broadcom, Intel and Mellanox.  The deal also gives Cavium a mature software stack in storage and networking and operational savings expected to amount to $45 million a year by the end of 2017.

Both companies sell to server makers and large data centers with a customer overlap of more than 60 per cent. Qlogic’s customer base is highly concentrated with nearly 60 per cent of its business for the last several years to HP, Dell and IBM.

Courtesy-Fud

 

IBM Funds Researchers Who Create KiloCore Processor

June 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering have developed 1000-core processor which will eventually be put onto the commercial market.

The team, from t developed the energy-efficient 621 million transistor “KiloCore” chip so that it could manage 1.78 trillion instructions per second and since the project has IBM’s backing it could end up in the shops soon.

Team leader Bevan Baas, professor of electrical and computer engineering said that it could be the world’s first 1,000-processor chip and it is the highest clock-rate processor ever designed in a university.

While other multiple-processor chips have been created, none exceed about 300 processors. Most of those were created for research purposes and few are sold commercially. IBM, using its 32 nm CMOS technology, fabricated the KiloCore chip and could make a production run if required.

Because each processor is independently clocked, it can shut itself down to further save energy when not needed, said graduate student Brent Bohnenstiehl, who developed the principal architecture. Cores operate at an average maximum clock frequency of 1.78 GHz, and they transfer data directly to each other rather than using a pooled memory area that can become a bottleneck for data.

The 1,000 processors can execute 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating only 0.7 Watts which mean it can be powered by a single AA battery. The KiloCore chip executes instructions more than 100 times more efficiently than a modern laptop processor.

The processor is already adapted for wireless coding/decoding, video processing, encryption, and others involving large amounts of parallel data such as scientific data applications and datacentre work.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will AMD’s Naples Processor Have 32 Cores?

June 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Zen chip will have as much as 32 cores, 64 threads and more L3 cache than you can poke a stick at.

Codenamed Naples, the chip uses the Zen architecture. Each Zen core has its own dedicated 512kb cache. A cluster [shurely that should be cloister.ed] of Zen cores shares a 8MB L3 cache which makes the total amount of L3 shared cache 64MB. This is a big chip and of course there will be a 16 core variant.

This will be a 14nm FinFET product manufactured in GlobalFoundries and supporting the X86 instruction set. Naples has eight independent memory channels and up to 128 lanes of gen 3 PCIe.  This makes it suitable for fast NVMO memory controllers and drives. Naples also support up to 32 SATA or NVME drives.

If you like the fast network interface, Naples supports 16x10GbE and the controller is integrated, probably in the chipset. Naples is using SP3 LGA server socket.

The first Zen based server / enterprise products will range between a modest 35W TDP to a maximum of 180W TDP for the fastest ones.

There will be dual, quad, sixteen and thirty-two core server versions of Zen, arriving at different times. Most of them will launch in 2017 with a possibility of very late 2016 introduction.

It is another one of those Fudzilla told you so moments. We have already revealed a few Zen based products last year. The Zen chip with Greenland / Vega HBM2 powered GPU with HSA support will come too, but much later.

Lisa Su, AMD’s CEO  told Fudzilla that the desktop version will come first, followed by server, notebook and finally embedded. If that 40 percent IPC happens to be across more than just a single task, AMD has a chance of giving Intel a run for its money.

 

Courtesy-Fud

 

VMware Launches TrustPoint, Aims To Enhance Network Security

June 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

VMware is aiming to help businesses get a better handle on the security of the computers their employees use. The new TrustPoint product the company announced Monday uses software to make it possible to track and manage computers easily and quickly, without taking up a whole bunch of data.

The software allows companies to detect what devices are on their networks, along with which ones are being managed by IT. That helps businesses understand if they have machines operating outside the reach of their security systems, which could be a problem for protecting company data.

In addition, businesses will also be able to use TrustPoint to handle operating system imaging with VMware’s technology, so it’s easier for them to patch systems that are managed with TrustPoint.

It’s all part of VMware’s ongoing push into the enterprise endpoint management market, which has proved increasingly popular as employees bring their own devices to work and security threats have intensified.

TrustPoint is powered by technology from Tanium. In addition to detecting unmanaged devices, TrustPoint can block those devices from connecting to company networks, so they don’t get access to key data.

Computers running TrustPoint communicate with other devices near them that are running the software, so that it’s possible for a group of computers to all get a software update by having pieces of it pushed to several different devices using TrustPoint. Once the pieces of the update have been downloaded, TrustPoint can coordinate the transfer of information between computers so that each one gets a complete update.

VMware has said that TrustPoint is particularly well-suited to rolling out Windows 10, which more and more companies are gearing up for. As part of that transition, the system can upgrade a device with a consumer Windows 10 license to Windows 10 Enterprise, so people can use other administration tools to manage it, too.

 

 

 

 

Slate Tablet Market Continues Downward Spiral

June 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Demand for slate-shaped tablets is losing steam even faster than expected.

For all of 2016, global tablet shipments will drop by 9.6% over 2015, market research firm IDC forecast this week, marking the second straight year of decline. In March, IDC had forecast a decline of 6% for this year.

The decline will occur even when newer detachable tablets, often called 2-in-1s, are included with slate tablets, IDC said.

“The impact of the decline of slates is having a bigger impact, faster than we thought. They are not coming back,” said IDC analyst Jean Phillippe Bouchard in an interview.

But Bouchard was quick to add that slates are not disappearing entirely. There will continue to be a robust market for small slate tablets, under 8 inches, that are sold for less than $125 by Amazon and others, primarily for use by children.

“There will also continue to be a slate market for commercial uses in healthcare, education and hospitality, so there are a lot of use cases for slates saying that slates are not going away,” he said. “There will still be a need for slates but not as great as in 2010.” IDC said well over 100 million slate tablets will ship annually through 2020.

As IDC and others have said in the past, slate tablets have saturated the market. “Everyone wanting a slate has one, and there’s very little reason to replace it or upgrade it,” Bouchard added.

IDC pegged the total tablet market of both slates and detachables at 207 million units shipped in 2015, but that figure will decline to about 187 million in 2016. IDC didn’t release its forecast for years beyond 2016, but said the market will continue to decline in 2017 before having a “slight rebound in 2018 and beyond, driven by detachable tablet growth.”

 

 

In Partnership Deal, Microsoft Sells Patents To Xiaomi

June 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Software giant Microsoft Corp is selling about 1,500 of its patents to Chinese device maker Xiaomi, a rare departure for the U.S. company and part of what the two companies say is the start of a long-term partnership.

The deal will also include a patent cross-licensing arrangement and a commitment by Xiaomi to install copies of Microsoft software, including Office and Skype, on its phones and tablets.

Both companies declined to discuss financial terms of the deal.

“This is a very big collaboration agreement between the two companies,” Wang Xiang, senior vice president at Xiaomi, said by telephone ahead of the deal.

Analysts said Xiaomi’s ambitions to be a major player outside China were hampered by weak patent protection and a fear of a prolonged legal battle.

“This deal might just give them enough of a patent trove to move to Western markets,” said Sameer Singh, a UK-based analyst. “Their position in China has been under constant attack from even lower-end Android vendors, so moving overseas is now a necessity.”

Shipments of Xiaomi phones fell 9 percent year-on-year in China in the first quarter, according to Strategy Analytics, and its market share dipped to 12 percent from 13 percent, squeezed not only by Huawei and Samsung Electronics but also smaller contenders including Oppo and Vivo.

Wang said the acquisition of Microsoft patents, which included voice communications, multimedia and cloud computing, on top of some 3,700 patents the Chinese company filed last year, were “an important step forwards to support our expansion internationally.”

Xiaomi launched its first U.S. device earlier this month, a TV set-top box it developed in cooperation with Alphabet Inc’s Google, which owns the Android operating system it and most Xiaomi devices run on. Xiaomi has also launched a tablet which runs a version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Jonathan Tinter, corporate vice president at Microsoft, said the company was keen to tap into Xiaomi’s young, affluent and educated users by having its products pre-installed on their devices. He declined to go into detail about the patent deals, but said the overall deal was something “we do only with a few strategic partners.”

Microsoft has cut licensing deals with many Android device makers over the years, but has had less luck with Chinese manufacturers.

Florian Mueller, a patents expert who consulted for Microsoft in the past, said it was rare for Microsoft to actually sell its patents, adding “it’s possible Microsoft found it easier to impose its Android patent tax on Xiaomi as part of a broader deal that also involved a transfer of patents.”

 

 

 

Are Transparent Displays On The Horizon?

May 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Almost every sci-fi telivision program has tablets and monitors which are transparent and it seems that Samsung has finally build them. The only problem is that they are not that great to use.

Samsung unveiled the first commercial installation of its cutting-edge mirror display at an upscale hair salon in Seoul, South Korea. The 55-inch display units act as a mirror while playing media over the mirrored image.

The display represents a (90%) transparent layer over an underlying mirror, and is a genuinely transparent display. The Planar LookThru OLED Series offered something similar but cost too much for the great unwashed to use.

Using Intel 3-D camera technology, Samsung’s displays can also show customers in different hair styles, colors and trends, allowing the hairdressers at the Leekaja Hairbis’ Jamsil salon to provide customized, interactive consultations with their clients. Samsung expects mirror displays to be used in retail, interior design, furniture and fashion markets in the future. Similar 55-inch Samsung mirror displays will be available for purchase worldwide in fall 2016.

The Samsung mirror display ML55E provides 90 per cent  transparency and 55 per cent reflectivity, designed to minimize visual distraction and provide clarity, both in the reflective mirror surface and in the media content overlays.   It has been suggested that the technology could be a money spinner –  one study shows the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays is expected to rise to $16 billion by 2020, with TV and industrial/professional use to make up half of the market share.

But the tech is still pretty expensive. One unbranded transparent OLED screen will set you back $1190.00. But there is another problem. Transparent OLED displays might work in sci-fi movie directors, but that is because they allow the camera to interact better with actors in a hard to film situation. Practically though see-through displays which have no touch capability are all really only useful in the exhibition sector.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft To Make Switching Between IE11 And Edge Browsers Easier

May 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft announced that it will introduce changes in this summer’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update to simplify switching from Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) to Edge, and back.

The changes will be aimed at enterprises, the only customer group Microsoft recommends running IE11 in the new operating system.

“We recognize that some enterprise customers have line-of-business applications built specifically for older web technologies, which require Internet Explorer 11,” the company said in a blog post.

Previously, Microsoft included “Enterprise Mode” in Windows 10, a feature that lets an IT staff limit IE11’s operation to specific legacy websites or web apps.

Starting with the Anniversary Update — Microsoft’s name for the one major upgrade it will deliver for 10 this year — the “interstitial” page, one that pops up between running Edge and IE11 when Enterprise Mode kicks in, will vanish.

Currently, a switch from Edge to IE11 opens a page that states, “This website needs Internet Explorer 11” before IE11 fires up. With the Anniversary Update, the interstitial will no longer appear: IE11 will simply open atop Edge when the user steers to a site or app on the Enterprise Mode whitelist.

The same no-interstitial-page behavior will take place when a worker running IE11 types in an URL that is not on the list: Edge will open without a pause.

Microsoft will also introduce a new group policy for IE11 that will limit the browser’s use to only those sites on the whitelist, barring users from running IE11 for the bulk of their browsing. “Enabling this setting automatically opens all sites that are not included in the Enterprise Mode Site List in Microsoft Edge,” Microsoft said.

IE and Edge have a rapidly-shrinking share of the browser market, but the former will remain important to businesses with older apps and customized internal sites, which unless rewritten will require the older browser. Together, IE and Edge were run by 41.3% of the world’s users in April, a new low that dropped Microsoft into second place behind Google’s Chrome browser.

 

 

 

Is Qualcomm Getting Into Drones?

May 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

It looks like that Qualcomm wants to make drones smarter and the company plans to use the Snapdragon developer board to do so. We had a chance to see the proof of concept drones that are capable of knowing and mapping environment.

Hugo Swart, Sr Director, Head IoE-consumer electronics at Qualcomm, has explained that the general direction in smart drone market at this time is the consumer electronic. Swart confirmed that the first drones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone platform technology should be commercially available very soon.

The company see drones as flying cameras, as most of sold drones have being used for video or aerial photography purpose. The drone we saw demonstrated at Qualcomm San Diego campus were powered by Snapdragon 410c developer board and this is one light device. The drone weights just bel 250 grams and it is made from composite materials. It packs a few cameras, four rotors and a Snapdragon 410 based developer board that makes the drone smart.

The actual weight is an important detail, as drones that are less than 250 grams do not have to be registered by the aviation authorities in the US. The demo showed a drone that used multiple camera to map the world around it, and it is aware of its surroundings.

The operator would use the tablet to fly the drone and the software had some nice features, like the use of the GPS to mark the position, and when necessary, the operator would just press the button and drone would find its way back to the marked position.

Since the drone would be using multiple cameras to map the world around it, it would be able to find a new path and avoid possible obstacles on its fly path. The demonstration we saw was done in a controlled environment with a huge rock in the middle of the environment, and the drone was avoiding the rock just as you would expect it.

The drone was able to detect a wall, and it would not let you fly in it and damage it. Drone would simply stop and would not crash and break no matter how hard you would try. The other nice feature was that the drone would be able to find its own way to the position market by GPS. It would not have to fly the path that you already flown, it would be able to find a shorter part to the mark position too.

Adding Snapdragon SoC on the drone would definitely make the flights safer and help you avoid damaging the drones or stuff around you. If you fly big drones for example with big cameras, you do not actually want to crash it and potentially destroy hundreds of dollars worth equipment.

Swart does believe that drones using Snapdragon Fly technology will first find its way in “flying camera drones” while later there might be a commercial applications with the Snapdragon Fly drones. Yes, at some point in the future, drones powered with this technology should be able to deliver packages. That is one of potential areas.

The only downside of this super lightweight drone was the fact that it had a small battery that would let it fly for six to eight minutes. Of course, if you make a larger drone with a larger battery, you would be able to fly it longer, but as we said this is a proof of concept designed to show the capabilities of this flying cameras. Qualcomm will have customers who will make the actual devices, the drone we saw in the demo room, was just to show the capabilities of the platform.

Partners will design its own drones and use the developer board (or integrated Snapdragon platform in an actual drone). The important part is the software who makes the synergy of the flying hardware and the visual compute in one Smart flying drone. If you are into drones, that this will definitely improve the overall experience.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Did Microsoft Delay The Surface Book 2?

May 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

On Thursday, sources within Microsoft’s upstream supply chain have reported that the second-generation refresh to the company’s Surface Book is expected to be delayed. The sources cited “design issues” for the launch setback, indicating that the company could be preparing to redesign some critical areas to the final consumer product before launch.

The sources report the device will launch sometime after 2016, but do not specify whether design-related issues are hardware or software related. They they also confirm that the second-generation Surface Book will be upgraded from a 3000x2000p display to a 4K UltraHD (3840x2160p) display, perhaps in an effort to adopt a more industry-standard resolution that scales well across connected displays.

The second-gen Surface Book, or “Surface Book 2,” will also feature at least one Thunderbolt 3 port based on Intel’s Alpine Ridge controller. This will provide up to 40Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth and the ability to daisy-chain up to six devices simultaneously – including up to dual 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 5K display (5120x2880p) at 60Hz.

Microsoft’s original Surface Book design

The current Surface Book’s design was influenced by the variety of 2-in-1 convertible tablets that have hit mainstream retail shops since they emerged as an industry trend at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Microsoft developed a special hinge on the keyboard that would maintain the device’s weight-to-balance ratio, a move that allows the device to be used similarly to a clipboard and as a traditional notebook.

The Surface Book and Surface Pro series are both constructed using a magnesium metal “glass” that is melted in an oxygen-free environment and rapidly cooled to prevent crystallization. Of course, general chemistry tells us that magnesium catches fire when exposed to air. With this design, however, some claim the devices would need to be heated to between 500 and 600C to see any real effects, and these temperatures are far outside the rated device operating specs.

Perhaps Microsoft’s reported sign issues with the second-generation Surface Book have more to do with cosmetics, hinges and weight ratios than the construction material, but this is only an educated guess.

Current Surface Book Specifications

The current Surface Book, released in October 2015, measures 12.3 x 9.14 x 0.9 inches (312.4 x 232.2 x 22.9mm) and weighs 3.34 pounds (1.51kg) as a laptop, or just 0.3 inches thick (7.62mm) and 0.76kg (1.6 pounds) as a detachable tablet.

The device features a 13.5-inch 3000x2000p display (267ppi) and includes either a 2.4GHz Core i5 6300U (Skylake) or 2.6GHz Core i7 6600U (Skylake) CPU, 8 or 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM, an optional Geforce 940M 1GB GPU, 128GB to 1TB of SSD storage, dual-band 802.11n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, a Mini DisplayPort, an SDXC card reader, an 8-megapixel rear 1080p camera, a 5-megapixel front camera, dual microphones, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and is compatible with a variety of stylus pens.

Surface Book vs. Surface Pro sales still unknown

In January, Microsoft reported that it sold 2.5 million Surface-series devices in Q4 2015 (October through December), or $888 million dollars’ worth. However, we are unsure how many of these sales are specifically Surface Book units versus Surface Pro 3 and 4 units. In total, the company sold 6 million Surface series devices in 2015. This is compared with a previous 4 million sale estimate for the year, according to sources in the upstream supply chain.

Couresty-Fud

 

 

Mozilla Resurrects Firefox Feature-esting Program

May 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla introduced Test Pilot — restoring a 2015 project with a name from 2009 — to collect feedback on proposed new features for its flagship Firefox browser.

Test Pilot, which Mozilla dabbled with six years ago, was then aimed at gathering data on how people were using the web in general, Firefox in particular. In its original format, Test Pilot used a Firefox add-on to collect browsing and usage data, and provide tools to answer feedback questions.

Mozilla’s goal this time around the Test Pilot block is different.

“Test Pilot is a way for you to try out experimental features and let us know what you think,” Nick Nguyen, vice president of Firefox, wrote in a post to a company blog.

In fact, while Test Pilot is the project’s name, it’s actually based on a 2015 concept that Mozilla called “Idea Town.” Mozilla renamed Idea Town as Test Pilot in January.

Idea Town was billed as a way for Firefox users to try out new features, and for developers to evaluate user reaction before deciding whether to stick the proposed tools into the browser.

The first three features run through Test Pilot were a visual-heavy new tab page, dubbed “Activity Stream,” that displayed thumbnails of both frequently-visited sites and selected past pages from the browser’s history and bookmark lists; “Tab Center,” which shoved tabs into a vertical stack on the left rather than show them along the top; and “Universal Search,” which combined Firefox’s current dual search fields.

Other browsers adopted a single search field long ago; Firefox was the last of the top five to stick with the old-school split search.

Desktop Firefox users, whether running the browser in Windows, OS X or Linux, can participate in Test Pilot by downloading the add-on. A Firefox Account — typically used for synchronizing the browser across multiple devices and platforms — is required.

Nguyen warned users to expect problems with the features put through the Test Pilot mill. “As you’re experimenting with new features, you might experience some bugs or lose some of the polish from the general Firefox release, so Test Pilot allows you to easily enable or disable features at any time,” he said.

 

 

 

What Can We Expect From Smartphones In The Future?

May 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

The smartphone market has hit a bit of a lull. Sure, they’ve got bigger and faster (that’s what she said) but it’s been hard to get really excited about new phones recently beyond the fact that, well, they’re new.

The iPhone 7 may – or may not – change this, but it’s more likely to be a new design, a slightly faster processor and maybe a new iOS version.

But what if we look further into the future, say 2020 or 2021, and devices like the iPhone 9 or Galaxy S9? What will hit the market then to get excited about? Mind-control text capabilities? Full 360-degree video filming? Bendable screens? Week-long battery life?

Battery life
Well, let’s start with the battery. Sadly, week-long battery life on a smartphone seems unlikely even by 2020, as Dr Kevin Curran, reader in Computer Science at Ulster University and a senior member of the IEEE, explained to the INQUIRER.

“On average, we only see improvements in capacity of six per cent per annum. So by 2020 we can only really expect a 25 per cent improvement in battery life,” he said.

However, while 25 per cent may sound good, Curran warned that these improvements tend to be offset by the fact the battery has to work harder as devices get more powerful and have higher density pixel displays.

Headlines proclaim major breakthroughs with battery technology, but Curran believes it’s unlikely that battery life will improve significantly, although there is work being done to change this.

“There are promising breakthroughs with regards to lithium-sulphur, supercapacitors, hydrogen fuel cells, solid state batteries and others, but history should tell us to be cautious about any new dramatic claims in having solved the problem of packing energy into a battery,” he said.

OK, so forget battery life. Surely there must be other new and exciting features to look forward to? Well, one technology is thermal imaging.

This was actually unveiled recently on the Cat S60 (pictured below), and Curran believes that other manufacturers will add this to their phones in time.

“This allows for a multitude of use cases, including detecting heat loss around windows and doors, spotting moisture and missing insulation, identifying over-heating electrical appliances and circuitry, and seeing in complete darkness,” he explained.

“This additional sensor allows much better control and depth in the photos you can take,” Curran added.

Meanwhile, analyst house CCS Insight has predicted that wireless charging will be standard by 2020, given that Apple is likely to include this technology in the iPhone 7.  That should save scrabbling around for charging points.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Makes Edge, Bing The Only Search Box Options For Cortana

May 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft began blocking competitor’s browsers and search providers from using Windows 10’s Cortana search box, the operating system’s prime search real estate.

“To ensure we can deliver the integrated search experience designed for Windows 10, Microsoft Edge will be the only browser that will launch when you search from the Cortana box,” said Ryan Gavin, general manager of search marketing, in a post to a Microsoft company blog.

The Cortana search box — at the lower left of the Windows 10 desktop — relies on Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Gavin defended the move by saying that “some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana.” When that happens, Gavin said, users get a “compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable.”

While Gavin didn’t name names, Mozilla’s Firefox modified Windows 10 so that when that browser was made the operating system’s default, Firefox’s selected search provider generated results from in-Cortana queries, with the ensuing pages appearing in Firefox, not Edge. Other browsers, such as Google’s Chrome, did not go that far, but third-party extensions available in the Chrome Web Store did.

The changes won’t affect the basic functionality of non-Microsoft browsers, Gavin pledged: Chrome, Firefox, Opera and others will continue to work as before and will still default to their set search providers when queries are made from within those browsers.

But the Cortana search box is now Bing-and-Edge-only territory.

Microsoft has good reason for staking out Cortana as its exclusive turf, and not simply because of the disruption to Cortana’s delivery of personalized results that Gavin mentioned. The Redmond, Wash., company has bet that Windows 10 will generate revenue outside the traditional licensing fees that OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) pay.

Not only does Microsoft want to push users toward Edge as much as possible, but it’s expecting new revenue from increased use of Bing, which is tightly integrated with Windows 10. The Cortana-Bing scenarios that Gavin cited — buying concert tickets, clothes and pizzas — presumably produce revenue for Microsoft.

 

 

 

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