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With the Surface Pro, Microsoft Is Trying To Recreate the PC Market

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the can't-lose-if-you-don't-fight dept.

Microsoft 379

An anonymous reader writes "An opinion piece at ReadWriteWeb makes an interesting suggestion: Microsoft's efforts in the tablet market aren't aimed at competing with the iPad or any of the Android tablets, but rather inventing a new facet of the PC market — one Microsoft alone is targeting. Quoting: 'Microsoft wants everyone to think the Surface Pro 3 is a tablet, but its pricing gives the game away. Microsoft wants to recreate the lucrative PC market that made the company billions of dollars by repackaging a PC into tablet clothing and then hammering away at the Surface product line until everybody believes that PCs never really went anywhere, they just got a touchscreen and a cellular connection.' This is also supported by the lack of a smaller Surface tablet, which many analysts were predicting before this week's press conference. Microsoft is clearly not pursuing the tablet-for-everyone approach, but instead focusing on users who want productivity out of their mobile computing device. The Surface Pros are expensive, but Microsoft is hoping people will balance that cost against the cost of a work laptop plus a personal tablet."

Why I'm Sending Back Google Glass

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the you're-not-cool-enough dept.

Handhelds 166

Lucas123 (935744) writes "After using Google Glass for several weeks, Computerworld columnist Matt Lake had plenty of reasons to explain why he returned them, not the least of which was that they made him cross-eyed and avoid eye contact. Google Glass batteries also drain like a bath tub when using either audio or video apps and they run warm. And, as cool as being able to take videos and photos with the glasses may be, those shots are always at an angle. Of course, being able to do turn-by-turn directions is cool, but not something you can do without your smart phone's cellular data or a mobile hotspot. The list of reasons goes on... Bottom line, if Google Glass is in the vanguard of a future class of wearable computers, the future isn't the present."

Silicon Valley To Get a Cellular Network Just For Things

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the apparently-this-is-happening dept.

Wireless Networking 42

An anonymous reader writes "MIT Technology Review reports that French company Sigfox will soon roll out a cellular data network in the San Francisco Bay Area aimed exclusively for low-bandwidth, low power devices such as household appliances and sensors. It's the U.S. debut for a technology already in use in France. The network uses the 900 MHz unlicensed spectrum used by cordless phones. Sigfox says that and their technology's very low bandwidth makes it possible to connect devices significantly more cheaply than with conventional cellular modems and service."

Surface Pro 3 Has 12" Screen, Intel Inside

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the touch-it dept.

Handhelds 316

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Microsoft unveiled its Surface Pro 3 tablet at a press event in New York this morning. The device has a larger 12" screen with a 2160x1440 display resolution and a novel 3:2 aspect ratio. Intel Core processors provide the horsepower, starting with the Core i3 in the base model and extending all the way up to Core i7 in pricier variants. The tablet is just 9.1 mm thick, which Microsoft claims is the thinnest ever for a Core-based device. Microsoft developed a new radial fan that's suppose to distribute airflow evenly inside the chassis without generating audible noise. The tablet weights 800 g, shaving 100 g off the Surface Pro 2, and it's supposed to have longer battery life, as well. Microsoft has also rolled out new keyboard accessories, a pressure-sensitive stylus, and a docking station that supports 4K video output. The Surface Pro 3 is scheduled to be available tomorrow with prices starting at $799." Update: 05/20 17:12 GMT by T : Mary Jo Foley points out at ZDNet that one thing not announced today is an ARM-powered Mini version.

The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call In the Bahamas

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the listen-up dept.

United States 205

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country's cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the 'full-take audio' of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month."

Why Cheap Smartphones Are Going To Upset the Industry

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the call-me-when-they're-disposable dept.

Cellphones 234

An anonymous reader writes "Just when people got used to good smartphones costing $200 with a 2-year contract, they also started to realize that those 2-year contracts were bad news. Still, it's often more palatable than fronting $600 for good, new hardware. But that's starting to change. Cell phone internals are getting cheap enough that prices for capable devices have been creeping downward below $200 without a contract. We ran into something similar with the PC industry some years back — previous-gen chips had no trouble running next-gen software (excluding games with bleeding-edge graphics), and so the impetus to keep getting the latest-and-greatest hardware disappeared for a lot of people. That revolution is underway now for smartphones, and it's going to shake things up for everybody, including Apple and Samsung. But the biggest effects will be felt in the developing world: '[F]or a vast number of people in a vast number of countries, the cheap handset will be the first screen, and the only screen. Their primary interface with the world. A way of connecting to the Internet where there are no telephone lines or coaxial cables or even electricity. In nations without subsidized cell phone contracts or access to consumer credit, the $50-and-you-own-it handset is going to be transformative.'"

Apple To Face Lawsuit For iMessage Glitch

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the false-barriers dept.

Communications 238

An anonymous reader writes "We've all heard about iPhone users switching over to Android-powered phones and no longer being able to receive text messages from friends and family still using iPhones. Well, a woman with exactly this issue has filed a lawsuit against Apple, complaining that '[p]eople who replace their Apple devices with non-Apple wireless phones and tablets are "penalized and unable to obtain the full benefits of their wireless-service contracts."' To be specific, '[t]he suit is based on contractual interference and unfair competition laws.' She is seeking class action status and undetermined damages."

Apple and Google's Motorola Unit End Patent War

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the lawyers-everywhere-in-mourning dept.

Patents 46

An anonymous reader writes "Reuters reports that Apple and Google's Motorola Mobility unit are settling all patent lawsuits over smartphone tech. The settlement 'does not include a cross license to their respective patents,' and the companies will work together for patent reform. According to Reuters, 'The two companies informed a federal appeals court in Washington that the cases should be dismissed, according to filings on Friday. However, the deal does not appear to apply to Apple's litigation against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, as no dismissal notices were filed in those cases. The most high-profile case between Apple and Motorola began in 2010. Motorola accused Apple of infringing several patents, including one essential to how cell phones operate on a 3G network, while Apple said Motorola violated its patents to certain smartphone features.'"

For US Customers, Text Access To 911 Slowly Rolls Out

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the omg-send-3+-ambos-&-type-0-blood-pls-lol dept.

Communications 58

SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "After it was long rumored and discussed about, the ability to text 911 in case of emergency is slowly rolling out in the United States to subscribers of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. For the time being, the service is available in areas of Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. According to the FCC, the service will gradually roll out to more areas and by the end of this year, virtually anyone with a cellphone and enough service will be able to make use of it. Which means that all carriers will support it." TechCrunch has a deeper article that explains why "you probably can't use it yet," and links to the FCC's own explanation of the service.

Apple's Revenge: iMessage Might Eat Your Texts If You Switch To Android

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the computer-says-no dept.

Android 415

redletterdave (2493036) writes "When my best friend upgraded from an iPhone 4S to a Galaxy S4, I texted her hello. Unfortunately, she didn't get that text, nor any of the five I sent in the following three days. My iPhone didn't realize she was now an Android user and sent all my texts via iMessage. It wasn't until she called me about going to brunch that I realized she wasn't getting my text messages. What I thought was just a minor bug is actually a much larger problem. One that, apparently, Apple has no idea how to fix. Apple said the company is aware of the situation, but it's not sure how to solve it. One Apple support person said: 'This is a problem a lot of people are facing. The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it. There are no reliable solutions right now — for some people the standard fixes work immediately; many others are in my boat.'"

Phil Zimmermann's 'Spy-Proof' Mobile Phone In Demand

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the protecting-against-all-but-the-dumbest-users dept.

Cellphones 107

An anonymous reader writes "BlackPhone was designed by Phil Zimmermann (inventor of PGP). The 4.7" display phone features a 2 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 4i ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor with 60 GPU cores, 1GB RAM and 16GB storage [more specs]. The OS is a customized version of Android called PrivatOS which offers encrypted calls, texts and emails that can't be unscrambled even by spy agencies. It also offers built-in resistance against malicious software which will be most welcomed for users worried about free Apps that are becoming increasingly invasive, if not pure data collection spyware for unknown 3rd parties. It's coming out this June, and many Fortune 50 companies have already ordered the phone to protect against industrial espionage."

BlackBerry To Allow Rivals To Manage Its Smartphones

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the source-code-and-we'll-talk dept.

Blackberry 43

jfruh (300774) writes "BlackBerry broke its longstanding business model recently by announcing that its BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 management platform would be able to manage not just BlackBerry devices, but Android and iOS gadgets as well. Now, in a new announcement, the company is also exploring the flipside of that coin, allowing software from other companies to manage BlackBerry phones. The moves acknowledge a world in which fewer and fewer people are interested in a vertical BlackBerry solution — but also seem to kill the last things that make BlackBerry special."

Why Mobile Wallets Are Doomed

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the all-about-the-mobile-benjamins dept.

The Almighty Buck 272

redletterdave writes: "The other shoe has dropped for Square. The once-hyped mobile payments company is killing off its Wallet payments app and replacing it with a new app called Order, which will allow users to order food and beverages ahead of time at their favorite cafes and restaurants. For entrepreneurs, the concept of a mobile wallet seems so logical that the payments industry looks like it's ripe for disruption. If everybody is always carrying around a powerful computer in their pockets, it's natural to consider loading payment information onto that secure device as an alternative to cash or plastic cards. The problem comes when this logical entrepreneurial spirit merges with an industry segment that is classically illogical. The payments system in the United States is a mess of entrenched interests, fragmented business opportunities, old infrastructure (like point-of-sale systems), back room handshakes and cut throat competition. This behavior is not going to change any time soon, which means mobile wallets like Square are going to continue to struggle — at least until a more legitimate, easy-to-use and cost-effective solution comes along."

7.1 Billion People, 7.1 Billion Mobile Phone Accounts Activated

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the borrowing-the-mcdonalds-model dept.

Stats 197

Freshly Exhumed (105597) writes "Tomi Ahonen's newly released 2014 Almanac reveals such current mobile phone industry data gems as: 'The mobile subscription rate is at or very very nearly at 100%. For 7.1 Billion people alive that means 7.1 Billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide.' Compared with other tech industries, he says: 'Take every type of PC, including desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs and add them together. What do we have? 1.5 Billion in use worldwide. Mobile is nearly 5 times larger. Televisions? Sure. We are now at 2 Billion TV sets in use globally. But mobile has 3.5 times users.' Which mobile phone OS is the leader? ''Android has now utterly won the smartphone platform war with over 80% of new sales. Apple's iPhone has peaked and is in gradual decline at about 15% with the remnant few percent split among Windows, Blackberry and miscellaneous others.'"

US Navy Develops World's Worst E-reader

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the I-want-one dept.

Government 249

First time accepted submitter Dimetrodon (2714071) writes "It is an unspoken rule of military procurement that any IT or communications technology will invariably be years behind what is commercially available or technically hobbled to ensure security. One case in point is the uncomfortably backronymed NeRD, or Navy e-Reader Device, an electronic book so secure the 300 titles it holds can never be updated. Ever."

Ericsson Trial 10Gbps 5G Mobile Broadband Network in Japan

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the greased-lightning dept.

Japan 53

Mark.JUK (1222360) writes "Japanese mobile operator NTT DOCOMO has announced that they'll make use of Ericsson's advanced antenna technologies and radio base stations in order to conduct one of the world's first trials of a possible 5G based Mobile Broadband technology in Yokosuka (Japan), which aims to deliver downstream speeds of more than 10 Gigabits per second using the 15GHz radio spectrum frequency. But this is just one possible candidate for 5G connectivity and many organizations are still working to try and define an official standard, while most countries don't expect the first services to be deployed until around the year 2020."

$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the one-USB-per-child-project dept.

Android 201

dryriver sends this BBC report: "The USB flash drive is one of the most simple, everyday pieces of technology that many people take for granted. Now it's being eyed as a possible solution to bridging the digital divide, by two colourful entrepreneurs behind the start-up Keepod. Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi aim to combat the lack of access to computers by providing what amounts to an operating-system-on-a-stick. In six weeks, their idea managed to raise more than $40,000 (£23,750) on fundraising site Indiegogo, providing the cash to begin a campaign to offer low-cost computing to the two-thirds of the globe's population that currently has little or no access. The test bed for the project is the slums of Nairobi in Kenya. The typical income for the half a million people in the city's Mathare district is about $2 (£1.20) a day. Very few people here use a computer or have access to the net. But Mr Bahar and Mr Imbesi want to change that with their Keepod USB stick. It will allow old, discarded and potentially non-functional PCs to be revived, while allowing each user to have ownership of their own 'personal computer' experience — with their chosen desktop layout, programs and data — at a fraction of the cost of providing a unique laptop, tablet or other machine to each person.'"

How Free-To-Play Is Constricting Mobile Games

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the optimizing-for-the-wrong-thing dept.

Cellphones 115

An anonymous reader writes "Mobile gaming is crystallizing around one concept: games must be free-to-play. As an industry, it seems to work — there's no shortage of players willing to drop money on microtransactions and in-app purchases. But for making compelling or unusual games, this is a problem. 'Pitch a title that isn't games-as-a-service to publishers or investors and they'll practically install new doors to slam in your face. ... Free-to-play advocates naturally think their model is dominant because "that's what mobile gamers want," explaining that in-app purchases are just the players way of saying they care. If they've entertained the more dull notion that free-to-play is popular because... well, it's free? They seem not to let on. ... Recent data shows 20 percent of mobile games get opened once and never again. 66 percent have never played beyond the first 24 hours and indeed most purchases happen in the first week of play. Amazingly only around two to three percent of gamers pay anything at all for games, and even more hair-raising is the fact that 50 percent of all revenue comes from just 0.2 percent of players. This is a statistically insignificant amount of happy gamers and nothing that gives you a basis to make claims about "what people want."'"

Firefox OS 1.3 Arrives: Dual SIM Support, Continuous Autofocus, Graphics Boost

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the onward-and-upward dept.

Mozilla 68

An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today released Firefox OS version 1.3 to its partners for implementing in their smartphones. There are many new features for both users and developers, and the first phone to feature them is the ZTE Open C, which is available for sale as of today on eBay. First and foremost, Firefox OS users can expect dual-SIM dual-standby (DSDS) support, which gives you two lines on compatible phones, a popular feature in emerging markets. DSDS lets dual-SIM devices individually manage two different SIMs for calling, texting, or data through the 'SIM Manager' interface."

Take a Picture: Snapchat Settles With FTC Over "Dissapearing" Claims

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the if-it-reaches-an-output-device-it-can-reach-an-input-device dept.

Communications 51

The New York Times is one of many outlets reporting that Snapchat has agreed to settle with the FTC about the gap between promises made about the company's "disappearing" communications system and reality. "The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said Snapchat had agreed to settle charges that the company was deceiving users about the ephemeral nature of the photos and video messages sent through its service. The messages were significantly less private than the company had said, the commission said. In marketing the service, Snapchat has said that its messages “disappear forever.” But in its complaint, the commission said the messages, often called snaps, can be saved in several ways. The commission said that users can save a message by using a third-party app, for example, or employ simple workarounds that allow users to take a screenshot of messages without detection." Besides the monetary side of the settlement (details of which are promised soon on the FTC's site), the company has agreed to operate for the next 20 years with special supervision of a new privacy program; it seems a little optimistic as a timeframe for any social-media related business. Here are the FTC's charges (PDF).

Apple Can Extract Texts, Photos, Contacts From Locked iPhones

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the as-a-public-service dept.

Iphone 202

Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "If law enforcement gets hold of your locked iPhone and has some interest in its contents, Apple can pull all kinds of content from the device, including texts, contacts, photos and videos, call history and audio recordings. The company said in a new document that provides guidance for law enforcement agencies on the kinds of information Apple can provide and what methods can be used to obtain it that if served with a search warrant, officials will help law enforcement agents extract specific application-specific data from a locked iOS device. However, that data appears to be limited to information related to Apple apps, such as iMessage, the contacts and the camera. Email contents and calendar data can't be extracted, the company said in the guidelines."

In SF: an App For Auctioning Off Your Public Parking Spot

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the markets-in-everything dept.

The Almighty Buck 427

trbdavies (979982) writes 'Only in San Francisco' used to refer to issues like whether public nudity should be restricted to certain hours of the day. Now I hear it most often in connection with the interplay between the city and tech companies. SF Weekly reports on one such development: 'Anyone who's visited San Francisco for 35 minutes knows that easy parking is a rare find. Enter Paolo Dobrowolny, an Italian tech bro who decided San Francisco was the perfect spot to test out his new experiment. Here's how it works: You find a parking spot, revel a little, let Monkey Parking know where you're located, and watch the bidding begin. Finally, give your spot to the wealthiest victim willing to pay the highest price for your spot. Drive away that much richer.'" Update: 05/08 15:52 GMT by T : I suspect that Dobrowolny's a tech pro, rather than bro, or at least that's what I suspect the Weekly meant to say.

Samsung 'Smart' Camera Easily Hackable

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the for-generous-definitions-of-the-word-smart dept.

Security 62

An anonymous reader writes "The op-co.de blog has a post about the incredibly poor job Samsung did securing its new NX300 'smart camera.' One of the camera's primary features is that it can join Wi-Fi networks — this lets it upload photos, but it also lets you use your smartphone to access the photos on the camera directly. You can also connect with NFC. Unfortunately, the way they set it up is extremely insecure. First, there's an NFC tag that tells the camera where to download the app, and also the name of the access point set up by the camera. 'The tag is writable, so a malicious user can easily 'hack' your camera by rewriting its tag to download some evil app, or to open nasty links in your web browser, merely by touching it with an NFC-enabled smartphone.' Things aren't much better with Wi-Fi — a simple port scan reveals that the camera is running an unprotected X server (running Enlightenment). When the camera checks for new firmware, it helpfully reports your physical location. Its software also sets up unencrypted access points."

The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the phones-of-middling-intelligence dept.

Cellphones 243

zarmanto writes: "The numbers have been telling us for a while now that (formerly expensive) feature phones have been slowly displaced by more feature-rich, high-end smartphones. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the other end of the market is also receiving active encroachment by low-end smartphones. Now, ARM is suggesting that it's actually quite conceivable for OEMs to produce a 'smartphone' for as little as $20 — as long as you compromise a bit on those things which actually make it a smartphone in the first place. So, is this just more graying of the line between smartphones and feature phones? Or is this an indication that the feature phone (as we used to know it) is finally well-and-truly dead?"

Foursquare Splits To Take On Yelp

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the what's-app-with-that? dept.

Social Networks 24

InformationWeek reports that check-in app Foursquare is splitting into two pieces. One of them -- the part that will retain the Foursquare name -- is actually losing the original check-in functionality, in favor of local reviews and recommendations; a second app called Swarm will get the who's-where-right-now part of the Foursquare functionality. From the article: "Foursquare isn't the first company to unbundle its features into new apps. Last month, Facebook announced that it will separate in-app messaging from its official iOS and Android apps and require users to download Messenger to chat with friends. Users will have two weeks to download Messenger before the service in the main Facebook app disappears, the company said. ... Foursquare's changes also aim to capitalize on a mobile app trend: Taking online friendships offline to meet up in person. Most recently, Facebook announced its opt-in Nearby Friends feature, which will display your friends' locations on a map and track, store, and share your location with others."

Death Wish Meets GPS: iPhone Theft Victims Confronting Perps

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the charles-bronson-not-involved dept.

Crime 664

theodp (442580) writes "Thankfully, no one's gone full-Charles-Bronson yet, but the NY Times reports that victims of smartphone theft are using GPS to take the law into their own hands, paying visits to thieves' homes and demanding the return of their stolen phones. "The emergence of this kind of do-it-yourself justice," writes Ian Lovett, "has stirred worries among law enforcement officials that people are putting themselves in danger, taking disproportionate risks for the sake of an easily replaced item." And while hitting "Find My iPhone" can take you to a thief's doorstep, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith urges resisting the impulse to do so. "It's just a phone," he said. "it's not worth losing your life over. Let police officers take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have.""

Google Shifts Editing From Drive to Docs and Sheets In 'Confusing' Switch

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the conditionally-readable-headline dept.

Software 89

GottaBeMobile offers a better explanation than many other reports of a recent Google upgrade (some users would say more of a lateral move) that makes offline document creation and editing a first-class option for users of Google's office apps, but removes editing capabilities from Google Drive per se. Instead of creating or editing documents directly through Drive, users will instead be able to do this (including offline) with a dedicated app called Docs and Sheets. The article explains a few ways in which the new configuration is confusing, including this one: "Splitting out the editing functionality from Google Drive into the new Apps certainly seems odd given that fundamentally there are no new or different editing features offered in the new Google Docs and Google Sheets standalone Apps. Some users won’t appreciate having to download the new stand alone Apps to replace previous functionality, especially limited functionality."

Can You Tell the Difference? 4K Galaxy Note 3 vs. Canon 5D Mark III Video

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the but-magic-lantern dept.

Cellphones 201

Iddo Genuth (903542) writes "Photographer and videographer Alec Weinstein was in the market for a new smartphone. He realized that the new Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Note 3 both have 4K video recording capabilities and decided to compare those to his 1080p 5D MKIII pro DSLR camera – the results are extremely interesting — Can you tell the difference between a Canon 5D MKIII shooting 1080p video and a Samsung Galaxy Note III smartphone shooting 4K video?"

iOS 7 Update Silently Removes Encryption For Email Attachments

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the giveth-and-taketh-away dept.

Bug 68

An anonymous reader writes "Apple has removed encrypted email attachments from iOS 7. Apple said back in June 2010 in regards to iOS 4.0: 'Data protection is available for devices that offer hardware encryption, including iPhone 3GS and later, all iPad models, and iPod touch (3rd generation and later). Data protection enhances the built-in hardware encryption by protecting the hardware encryption keys with your passcode. This provides an additional layer of protection for your email messages attachments, and third-party applications.' Not anymore."

Figuring Out the iPad's Place

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the glued-to-the-ceiling dept.

Handhelds 333

An anonymous reader writes "One of the most interesting notes from Apple's recent quarterly report was that iPad sales are down. Pundits were quick to jump on that as evidence that the iPad was just a fad, but there were still more than 16 million units sold. iPads, and the tablet market as a whole, clearly aren't a fad, but it's also unclear where they're going. They're not convincingly replacing PCs on one end or phones on the other. Meanwhile, PCs and phones are both morphing into things that are more like tablets. New form factors often succeed (or fail) based on what they can do better than old form factors, and the iPad hasn't done enough to make itself distinct, yet. Ben Thompson had an insightful take on people demanding desktop functionality from the iPad: 'This sounds suspiciously like the recommendation that the only thing holding the Macintosh back was its inability to run Apple II programs. It's also of a piece with the vast majority of geek commentary on the iPad: multiple windows, access to the file system, so on and so forth. I also think it's misplaced. The future of the iPad is not to be a better Mac. That may happen by accident, just as the Mac eventually superseded the Apple II, but to pursue that explicitly would be to sacrifice what the iPad might become, and, more importantly, what it already is.'"

Google Hit With Antitrust Lawsuit Over Default Search on Android Phones

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the same-problems,-different-decade dept.

Google 221

itwbennett writes: "A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday (PDF) accuses Google of strong-arming device manufacturers into making its search engine the default on Android devices, driving up the cost of those devices and hurting consumers. The suit does not argue that device manufacturers entered Mobile Application Distribution Agreements involuntarily, but that the market power of Google compels them to. 'Because consumers want access to Google's products, and due to Google's power in the U.S. market for general handheld search, Google has unrivaled market power over smartphone and tablet manufacturers,' says the suit."

Canonical (Nearly) Halts Development of Ubuntu For Android

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the go-all-the-way dept.

Cellphones 55

rjmarvin (3001897) writes "In a since-removed bug report on Launchpad, Ubuntu's issue tracker, Canonical's Matthew Paul Thomas stated that Ubuntu for Android is no longer in active development. In a statement, Canonical stated that while the project is not completely dead, Canonical is currently focusing on pushing Ubuntu for Phones. The company is open to working with partners on Ubuntu for Android, but will not proceed with further U4A development unless they can form a partnership with an OEM partner to launch it. The Ubuntu for Android project was first announced in early 2012."

Really, Why Are Smartphones Still Tied To Contracts?

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the be-the-change-you-want-to-see-in-the-world dept.

Cellphones 482

Bennett Haselton writes: "It's not trivial to explain why cell phone companies find it profitable to sell phones at a deep up-front discount and make it back over a two-year contract. Why don't other companies sell similarly-priced goods the same way? (And why, for that matter, has T-Mobile found it more profitable to do the opposite, selling the phone and the service separately?) I'm trying to come up with an explanation that makes realistic and consistent assumptions about the stupidity of the buying public, and still makes sense." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

Report: 99 Percent of New Mobile Threats Target Android

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the not-the-market-share-you-want dept.

Android 269

MojoKid writes: "Google's open source Android platform has the distinction of being the most popular mobile operating system in the world. That's great in terms of dominating the market and reaping the rewards that come with it, but it's also for that very reason that Android finds itself the target of virtually every new mobile malware threat that emerges. According to data published in F-Secure's latest Mobile Threat Report (PDF), over 99 percent of the new mobile threats it discovered in the first quarter of 2014 targeted Android users. To be fair, we're not taking about hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands, or thousands of malware threats — F-Secure detected 277 new threat families, of which 275 honed in on Android."

Distracted Driving: All Lip Service With No Legit Solution

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the problems-we-don't-really-want-to-solve dept.

Transportation 184

redletterdave writes: "April was National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Unfortunately, the recognition of this month for distracted driving was a hollow gesture — just like the half-hearted attempts at developing apps that prevent cell phone use while driving. After a week of trying to find an app that prevents me from all cell phone use from behind the wheel entirely, I've given up. The Distracted Driving Foundation lists about 25 apps on its website — there are a few more on Apple's App Store — but I couldn't find a single one that was easy to use. Most were either defunct, required onerous sign-up processes, asked for subscription plans, or simply didn't work as advertised."

Why Does Amazon Want To Sell Its Own Smartphone, Anyway

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the pay-to-be-the-product dept.

Businesses 60

curtwoodward (2147628) writes "Amazon is well-established as an e-commerce and cloud computing pioneer. So why do its ambitions include a bigger push into consumer electronics, including a long-rumored leap into the very competitive smartphone market? In a word, control — of data, consumer profiles, and royalties on purchases."

Microsoft Continues To Lose Money With Each Surface Tablet It Sells

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the when-temporary-strategies-become-permanent dept.

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DroidJason1 writes: "Revealed from a 10-Q filed by Microsoft with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft has been losing $300 million and counting for the Surface in the last nine months. Data from Strategy Analytics has also revealed that Microsoft's Windows-powered tablets now own a 6% global tablet share, in Q1 of 2014. Android, on the other hand, remains at the top with a 66% global share. Apple's iOS fell to 28%."

FCC Proposes $48,000 Fine To Man Jamming Cellphones On Florida Interstate

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.

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New submitter freddieb writes: "An individual who had been jamming cellphone traffic on interstate 4 in Florida was located by FCC agents with the assistance of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies. The individual had reportedly been jamming cellphone traffic on I-4 for two years. The FCC is now proposing a $48,000 fine for his actions. They say the jamming 'could and may have had disastrous consequences by precluding the use of cell phones to reach life-saving 9-1-1 services provided by police, ambulance, and fire departments.'"

AMD Beema and Mullins Low Power 2014 APUs Tested, Faster Than Bay Trail

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the make-'em-fight dept.

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MojoKid (1002251) writes "AMD has just announced their upcoming mainstream, low-power APUs (Accelerated Processing Units), codenames Beema and Mullins. These APUs are the successors to last year's Temash and Kabini APUs, which powered an array of small form factor and mobile platforms. Beema and Mullins are based on the same piece of silicon, but will target different market segments. Beema is the mainstream part that will find its way into affordable notebook, small form factor systems, and mobile devices. Mullins, however, is a much lower-power derivative, designed for tablets and convertible systems. They are full SoCs with on-die memory controllers, PCI Express, SATA, and USB connectivity, and a host of other IO blocks. AMD is announcing four Beema-based mainstream APUs today, with TDPs ranging from 10W – 15W. There are three Mullins-based products being announced, two quad-cores and a dual-core. The top of the line-up is the A10 Micro-6700T. It's a quad-core chip, with a max clock speed of 2.2GHz, 2MB of L2, and a TDP of only 4.5W. In the benchmarks, the A10-6700T quad core is actually able to surpass Intel's Bay Trail Atom platform pretty easily across a number of tests, especially gaming and graphics."

Verizon's Plan To Snoop On Its Customers

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the part-and-parcel dept.

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digitalPhant0m writes: "A story at the L.A. Times details how Verizon Wireless has started pushing the envelope (or downright abusing it) when it comes to tracking users without their knowledge. The company said, 'In addition to the customer information that's currently part of the program, we will soon use an anonymous, unique identifier we create when you register on our websites. This identifier may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to websites from your desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network.' While newsworthy, the rate of privacy abuse revelations over the last few years makes it unsurprising."

Microsoft/Nokia Deal Closes

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the dotted-the-s-and-crossed-the-u dept.

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Last September Microsoft announced it would be purchasing Nokia's Devices and Services business. The terms have been worked out, the shareholders gave approval, and the regulatory issues were hurdled. As of today, it's official: Nokia's phone business is now Microsoft Mobile. The final price is around $7.5 billion, and 30,000 employees are transferring to Microsoft. "The purchase of the unprofitable division makes Microsoft the world’s second-largest maker of mobile phones with about 14 percent of the market, according to researcher IDC." Here's Nokia's official statement, and a rather more personal one from an employee. According to The Verge, "Nokia's Android handsets are the most intriguing part of the deal, as they shed some light on how Microsoft might approach the messy and complex nature of shipping devices that don't run the company's Windows software. The Nokia X introduces a new "forked" version of Android that’s akin to what Amazon does with its Kindle Fire line, but it also includes a Windows Phone-like UI and an Android store that's separate to Google Play. Microsoft has the chance to control another app store, but also a solid opportunity to push its own cloud-based services." One interesting note: Nokia's phone manufacturing plant in India is not part of the deal because of an ongoing tax dispute. Nokia will continue to operate it as a contract manufacturing unit for Microsoft.

Google Mulling Wi-Fi For Cities With Google Fiber

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the what-can-we-do-to-make-this-sale-happen? dept.

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alphadogg (971356) writes "Google is considering deploying Wi-Fi networks in towns and cities covered by its Google Fiber high-speed Internet service. The disclosure is made in a document Google is circulating to 34 cities that are the next candidates to receive Google Fiber in 2015. Specific details of the Wi-Fi plan are not included in the document, which was seen by IDG News Service, but Google says it will be 'discussing our Wi-Fi plans and related requirements with your city as we move forward with your city during this planning process.'" And while Google's had some experience running large-scale WiFi, and adding WiFi seems a much lower burden than providing fiber to the home, floating an idea (as AT&T did, to accusations of "smokescreen") is not the same as turning the switch to "On."

iPad Fever Is Officially Cooling

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the over-it dept.

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Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Christina Bonnington reports that the public is not gobbling up iPads like they used to. Analysts had projected iPad sales would reach 19.7 million but Apple sold 16.35 million iPads, a drop of roughly 16.4 percent since last year. 'For many, the iPad they have is good enough–unlike a phone, with significant new features like Touch ID, or a better camera, the iPad's improvements over the past few years have been more subtle,' writes Bonnington. 'The latest iterations feature a better Retina display, a slimmer design, and faster processing. Improvements, yes, but enough to justify a near thousand dollar purchase? Others seem to be finding that their smartphone can do the job that their tablet used to do just as well, especially on those larger screened phablets.'

While the continued success of the iPad may be up in the air, another formerly popular member of Apple's product line is definitely on its way to the grave. The iPod, once Apple's crown jewel, posted a sales drop of 51 percent since last year. Only 2.76 million units were sold, a far cry from its heyday of almost 23 million back in 2008. 'Apple's past growth has been driven mostly by entering entirely new product categories, like it did when it introduced the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010,' says Andrew Cunningham. 'The most persistent rumors involve TV (whether a new Apple TV set-top box or an entire television set) and wearable computing devices (the perennially imminent "iWatch"), but calls for larger and cheaper iPhones also continue.'"

OnePlus One Revealed: a CyanogenMod Smartphone

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the new-kit-on-the-block dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "Spec-wise, OnePlus One will go toe-to-toe with the latest flagship phones like the Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8), and Sony Xperia Z2. In some areas, it even surpasses them, and at a price point of $300. The One has the same 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC SoC as the Samsung Galaxy S5, build quality similar to the HTC One (M8), and the large 3000+ mAh battery and Sony camera of the Xperia Z2. It also runs CyanogenMod 11S, which is based on Android 4.4."

How Much Data Plan Bandwidth Is Wasted By DRM?

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the phoning-home-adds-up dept.

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Bennett Haselton writes: "If you watch a movie or TV show (legally) on your mobile device while away from your home network, it's usually by streaming it on a data plan. This consumes an enormous amount of a scarce resource (data bundled with your cell phone provider's data plan), most of it unnecessarily, since many of those users could have downloaded the movie in advance on their home broadband connection — if it weren't for pointless DRM restrictions." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

The $5,600 Tablet

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the go-big-or-go-home dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "Tablets have come a long way in the past few years, and it has become possible to find a capable device for under $200. But what about the tablets pushing toward the high end of the spectrum? Xplore Technologies sells a line of tablets that top out at $5,600. Who on earth would pay that much? The military, of course. 'The DMSR models both have handles and are encased in tough protective covers. They can be dropped more than 2 meters onto a plywood floor and 1.2 meters onto concrete, and can operate in temperatures between -30 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to 60 degrees Celsius). They've been tested to the U.S. military's tough MIL-STD-810G standard for extreme conditions. The tablets run Windows and come with Intel's latest Core i5 or i7 Haswell processors. Solid-state drive options extend to 480GB. ... They display images at 1024 x 768 resolution. That's less than some cheaper Windows tablets, but Xplore claims to offer excellent LCD visibility in sunlight thanks to a display luminescence of 1,300 NITS. The tablets have internal fans but can still run for up to eight-and-a-half hours on a 10-cell battery, Xplore said. They weigh a hefty 2.4 kilograms.'"

Google's Project Ara Could Bring PC-Like Hardware Ecosystem To Phones

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the without-the-liquid-cooling-i-hope dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "Now that Google's modular phone effort, Project Ara, looks a bit less like vaporware, people are starting to figure out its implications for the future of cellphones. One fascinating possibility is that it could transform the cellphone purchasing process into something resembling desktop computer purchasing. Enthusiasts could search out the individual parts they like the best and assemble them into cellphone Voltron. People who just want a decent phone with no hassle could look at pre-built offerings — and not just from Apple, Samsung, and the like. It could open up a whole new group of phone 'manufacturers.' Of course, this comes with drawbacks, too — if you think fragmentation is bad now, imagine trying to support thousands of different hardware combinations."

How Apple's Billion Dollar Sapphire Bet Will Pay Off

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the sapphires-now-require-proprietary-connectors dept.

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alphadogg writes: "Apple is making a billion dollar bet on sapphire as a strategic material for mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and perhaps an iWatch. Exactly what the company plans to do with the scratch-resistant crystal – and when – is still the subject of debate. Apple is creating its own supply chain devoted to producing and finishing synthetic sapphire crystal in unprecedented quantities. The new Mesa, Arizona plant, in a partnership with sapphire furnace maker GT Advanced Technologies, will make Apple one of the world's largest sapphire producers when it reaches full capacity, probably in late 2014. By doing so, Apple is assured of a very large amount of sapphire and insulates itself from the ups and downs of sapphire material pricing in the global market."

Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the give-your-mom-an-easter-bokeh dept.

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New submitter katiewilliam (3621675) writes with a story at Hardware Zone about a new feature that Google's working on for Android phones' built-in cameras: the illusion of shallow depth of field in phone snapshots, which typically err on the side of too much in focus, rather than too little. Excerpting: "The Google Research Blog [note: here's a direct link] revealed that there's quite a fair bit of algorithms running to achieve this effect; to put it in a nutshell, computer vision algorithms create a 3D model of the world based on the shots you have taken, and estimate the depth to every point in the scene."

Samsung's Position On Tizen May Hurt Developer Recruitment

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the don't-change-horses dept.

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CowboyRobot sends in an article about how Samsung's constantly shifting plans for its smartwatches are making it hard for developers to commit to building apps. Quoting: "Samsung's first smartwatch, released in October last year, ran a modified version of Google's Android platform. The device had access to about 80 apps at launch, all of which were managed by a central smartphone app. Samsung offered developers an SDK for the Galaxy Gear so they could create more apps. Developers obliged. Then Samsung changed direction. Samsung announced a new series of smartwatches in February: the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit. Unlike the first device, these three run Samsung’s Tizen platform. ... This week, Samsung made things even more interesting. Speaking to Reuters, Yoon Han-kil, senior vice president of Samsung’s product strategy team, said the company is working on a watch that will use Google’s Android Wear platform. In other words, Samsung will bring three different watches to market with three different operating systems in under a year."

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