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Amazon has unveiled the Fire Phone. It runs a modified version of Android, and it will launch exclusively for AT&T's network. The screen is a 4.7" IPS LCD (they tested from 4.3" to 5.5", and decided 4.7" worked best for single-hand use), with an emphasis on brightness. It runs on a quad-core 2.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, and an Adreno 330 GPU. It has a rear-facing, 13-megapixel camera using an f/2.0 five-element lens with image stabilization. There's a dedicated physical button on the side of the phone that will turn it on and put it into camera mode when pressed. The phone comes with dual stereo speakers that produce virtual surround sound. Amazon wants the phone to be distinctive for its ability to provide video content, both from a hardware and software perspective.
The Fire Phone runs Mayday, Amazon's live tech support service for devices. They also demonstrated Firefly, software that recognizes physical objects using the phone's camera, as well as TV shows and songs it hears. It runs quickly, often identifying things in less than a second (and it pulls up an Amazon product listing, of course). It can even recognize art. Firefly has its own dedicated physical button on the phone, and Amazon is providing a Firefly SDK to third parties who want to develop with it. Another major feature of the Fire Phone is what Amazon calls "dynamic perspective." Using multiple front-facing cameras, the phone tracks the position of a user's head, and uses that to slightly adjust what's displayed on the screen so content is easier to see from the new angle. It allows for gesture control of the phone — for example, you can tilt the phone to scroll a web page or move your head slightly look around a 2-D stadium image when browsing for available seats. Putting your thumb on the screen acts like a mute button for the head tracking, so it isn't confused when you look up from the screen or turn your head to talk to somebody. It's an impressive piece of software, and they've made an SDK available for it.
Taco Cowboy writes: The net neutrality issue has become a hot topic recently, but on the mobile side, net neutrality rules are absent. Why? The wireless companies successfully convinced regulators four years ago to keep mobile networks mostly free of net neutrality rules. Now that FCC officials are looking into whether wireless networks should remain exempt from net neutrality rules, the mobile carriers are lobbying hard to maintain the status quo. "Wireless is different ... it is dependent on finite spectrum," said Meredith Attwell Baker, the new head of CTIA, the wireless industry's lobbying arm. Baker previously served as an FCC commissioner. On the other side of the issue, net neutrality advocates are "hoping to convince regulators to include wireless networks more fully under any new proposed rules. They are pushing for the FCC to re-regulate broadband Internet under a section of the law (called Title II), which was written with old phone networks in mind. ... The FCC will be taking public comments about what it should do about new net neutrality rules through the end of July." You can comment by emailing to email@example.com or go to file a Consumer Informal Complaint on the FCC's wesbite. Meanwhile, AT&T says that strong net neutrality regulations will ruin the internet.
Nerval's Lobster writes: If rumors prove correct, Amazon will unveil a smartphone at a high-profile June 18 event in Seattle. According to a new article in The New York Times, Amazon's willing to take such enormous risks because a smartphone will help it sell more products via its gargantuan online store. In theory, a mobile device would allow customers in the midst of their daily routines to order products with a few finger-taps, allowing Amazon to push back against Google and other tech companies exploring similar instant-gratification territory. But a smartphone also plays into Amazon's plans for the digital world. Over the past several years, the company has become a popular vendor of cloud services and used that base to expand into everything from tablets to a growing mobile-app ecosystem. A smartphone could prove a crucial portal for all those services. If an Amazon smartphone proves a hit, however, it could become a game-changer for mobile developers, opening up a whole new market for apps and services. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has succeeded in the digital space largely by opening up various platforms—whether Kindle self-publishing or the Amazon app store—to third-party wares. It'll be interesting to see whether he does something similar with the smartphone. Early reports suggest Amazon's phone will be exclusive to AT&T.
jppiiroinen writes: At the end of 2007, when Nokia still had huge market share with Symbian devices, they failed to disclose that somebody had stolen their encryption keys and extorted them for millions of Euros. The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation has not been able to figure out who did it. "The blackmailer had gotten hold of the Symbian encryption key used for signing. The code is a few kilobytes in size. Had the key been leaked, Nokia would not have been able to ensure that the phones accept only applications approved by the company."
alphadogg (971356) writes "In the hunt for more spectrum to speed up mobile networks, Vodafone and Huawei Technologies have successfully tested a technology that lets LTE and GSM share the same frequencies. The speed of future mobile networks will depend on the amount of spectrum mobile operators can get their hands on. The more they get, the wider the roads they can build. One thing they can do to get more space is to reuse frequencies that are currently used for older technologies such as GSM and 3G. But that isn't as easy as sounds, as operators still have a lot of voice and messaging traffic in those older networks. However, using a technology called GL DSS (GSM-LTE Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) Vodafone and Huawei have shown a way to allow GSM and LTE to coexist."
v3rgEz (125380) writes "Collaborative investigative news site MuckRock is trying to take a national look at Stingray usage across America, and is looking for people to submit contact information for their local police departments and other law enforcement groups for a mass FOIA campaign. The submissions are free, but the site is also running a crowdfunding campaign to cover the cost of stamps, etc. on Beacon Reader." This comes after news broke that the federal government has been pushing for local police to avoid disclosing their use of Stringray devices.
An anonymous reader writes in with news about proposed rules regarding mapping technology used in cars.Many are in favor of rules that prevent texting while driving, but in-car navigation is a murkier legal area — how do you minimize distractions without limiting the ability to get from point A to point B? Like it or not, the US government may settle that debate before long. The proposed Grow America Act would let the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set rules for dash-mounted GPS units, smartphone mapping apps and anything else you'd use for driving directions. While it's not clear what the NHTSA would do with its power, the Department of Transportation's voluntary guidelines ask for limits on eye-catching visuals (think videos) and interaction times; don't be surprised if these enter the rulebooks.
jfruh writes The European Commission and the South Korean government announced that they will be harmonizing their radio spectrum policy in an attempt to help bring 5G wireless tech to market by 2020. While the technology is still in an embryonic state, but one South Korean researcher predicts it could be over a thousand times faster than current 4G networks.
Steve Patterson (2850575) writes It's rumored that Amazon will launch its own 3D smartphone on June 18. While it may be compelling, a sexy 3D feature won't catapult Amazon into the lead of the cut-throat smartphone category. If this were true, the EVO 3D, introduced two years ago by HTC and the W960, introduced by Samsung four years ago, would have been top sellers rather than niche products. However, a smartphone that renders 3D images does present an internet retailing opportunity for Amazon. It would be useful to Amazon in selling tangible consumer merchandise, just like Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet was designed to improve Amazon's merchandising of ebooks and video streaming products. What else would you like to use a 3D phone for?
lpress (707742) writes "Google, along with Facebook, is a founding partner of Internet.org, which seeks "affordable internet access for the two thirds of the world not yet connected." Google is trying to pull it off — they have projects or companies working on Internet connectivity using high-altitude platforms and low and medium-earth orbit satellites. These extra-terrestrial approaches to connectivity have been tried before, without success, but Google is revisiting them using modern launch technology (public and private), antennas, solar power, radios and other electronics, as well as tuning of TCP/IP protocols to account for increased latency. For example, they just acquired Skybox Imaging, which has a low-earth orbit satellite for high resolution video imaging. In the short run, Skybox is about data, video and images, but the long range goal may be connectivity in developing nations and rural areas — substituting routers for telescopes. Skybox plans to operate a constellation of low-earth orbit satellites and that sounds a lot like Teledesic's attempt at providing connectivity in the mid 1990s, using the technology of 2014."
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Google is planning to release a new product called Google Fit that will aggregate health data from various devices and apps, according to a report Thursday from Forbes. Fit will use available APIs to pull biometric information together into one place, but it's unclear whether it will be a standalone app or part of the Android OS. Reports of Fit come on the heels of Apple's announcement of HealthKit in iOS 8, a system that also interacts with apps and APIs to curate and present health data like steps walked, calories consumed, and heart rates logged. Fit also follows the announcement of Sami, Samsung's health platform for culling health-related info."
jones_supa sends word that Apple has launched an exchange program for European iPhone USB power adapters. The company says its A1300 adapters were bundled with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S models, and were also sold on their own from Oct. 2009 to Sept. 2012. The reason for the recall is that the adapters "may overheat and pose a safety risk." No further details are provided (a YouTube video shows a teardown of the device).
schwit1 (797399) writes with this story from the Associated Press, as carried by Yahoo News: The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned. Citing security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment. Federal involvement in local open records proceedings is unusual. It comes at a time when President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance and called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified federal surveillance programs.
Lucas123 (935744) writes Starbucks today announced that after beta-testing wireless charging in several locations, it will roll it out to all of its cafes in the U.S. Unfortunately, the Powermat wireless chargers they chose to use doesn't support the overwhelming number of mobile devices that are enabled for wireless charging using the Qi standard. Of the 20 million consumer devices estimated to have shipped in 2013 with wireless charging capabilities, nearly all were built with the Qi specification, according to IHS. The majority of the Qi technology was built into devices such as the Google Nexus 4 and 5 smartphones, Google's Nexus 7 second-generation tablet and a number of models in Nokia's Lumia smart phone range. The battle between the three wireless charging consortiums is expected to continue to adversely impact adoption of the technology.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox browser, has announced it will start selling low-cost smartphones in India within the "next few months". Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the firm's chief operating officer suggested the handsets, which will be manufactured by two Indian companies, would retail at $25 (£15) [note: full article paywalled]. They will run Mozilla's HTML5 web-based mobile operating system, Firefox OS. The firm already sells Firefox-powered phones in Europe and Latin America. Firefox OS has come a long way even in the year since we saw a tech demo at Linux Fest Northwest.
capedgirardeau writes: An update to the Google Play store now groups app permissions into collections of related permissions, making them much less fine grained and potentially misleading for users. For example, the SMS permissions group would allow an app access to both reading and sending SMS messages. The problem is that once an app has access to the group of permissions, it can make use of any of the allowed actions at any time without ever informing the user. As Google explains: "It's a good idea to review permissions groups before downloading an app. Once you've allowed an app to access a permissions group, the app may use any of the individual permissions that are part of that group. You won't need to manually approve individual permissions updates that belong to a permissions group you've already accepted."
New submitter green453 writes: 'As a Houston resident with limited home broadband options, I found the following interesting: Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle reports (warning: paywalled) that Comcast plans to turn 50,000 home routers into public Wi-Fi hotspots without their users providing consent. Comcast plans to eventually convert 150,000 home routers into a city-wide WiFi network. A similar post (with no paywall) by the same author on the SeattlePI Tech Blog explains the change. From the post on SeattlePI: "What's interesting about this move is that, by default, the feature is being turned on without its subscribers' prior consent. It's an opt-out system – you have to take action to not participate. Comcast spokesman Michael Bybee said on Monday that notices about the hotspot feature were mailed to customers a few weeks ago, and email notifications will go out after it's turned on. But it's a good bet that this will take many Comcast customers by surprise."' This follows similar efforts in Chicago and the Twin Cities.
schwit1 (797399) writes 'It wasn't touted onstage, but a new iOS 8 feature is set to cause havoc for location trackers, and score a major win for privacy.As spotted by Frederic Jacobs, the changes have to do with the MAC address used to identify devices within networks. When iOS 8 devices look for a connection, they randomize the MAC address, effectively disguising any trace of the real device until it decides to connect to a network.'
An anonymous reader writes "Wireless security researcher Michael Ossmann asked himself: 'Could I make the gadgets that the agency uses to monitor and locate mobile phones, tap USB and Ethernet connections, maintain persistent malware on PCs, communicate with malware across air gaps, and more, by just using open source software and hardware?' In this podcast he shares his insights on what to use — and how — to duplicate hardware devices found in the ANT catalog."
theodp writes: "Where have you gone, Mavis Beacon? A nation of smartphone and tablet typists could use your help. You've seen people type fast-and-furiously on smartphones and tablets, so you know it can be done, but how exactly do these one- and two-fingered wonders (YouTube video) manage to do so? Is it their reaction time? Technique? Both? Back in the day, touch-typing teachers showed kids the secrets to higher word-per-minute scores on their Smith Coronas. Later, typing tutor software got kids up-to-speed on PCs. So, with over 1 billion smartphones and 200 million or so tablets shipped in 2013, what are the best software and tutorials that teach mobile typing techniques? And what platform specific features — iOS, Android, WP8/Win8, BB — do you find make your mobile typing life a whole lot easier?"
redletterdave (2493036) writes 'Apple has purchased Spotsetter, a social search engine that uses big data to offer personalized recommendations for places to go. Spotsetter was designed to combine recommendations from friends with trusted reviews and other data to create more social maps. It would show you which friends were 'experts' in a given area, and you could tag your friends as experts (like LinkedIn) to boost the influence of their recommendations. You could also discover new places by browsing Spotsetter's maps to see where your friends have been and what they've recommended. Spotsetter's app, which was available on iOS and Android, officially closed down just six days ago.'
An anonymous reader writes "Wildly popular video game Tetris launched 30 years ago today, and continues to capture the hearts of folks around the world. Topping best-of video game lists for years, the colorful block puzzle has sold an estimated 170 million copies—about 100 million of which are played on mobile devices."
An anonymous reader writes 'A routine request in Florida for public records regarding the use of a surveillance tool known as stingray took an extraordinary turn recently when federal authorities seized the documents before police could release them. "This is consistent with what we've seen around the country with federal agencies trying to meddle with public requests for stingray information," Wessler said, noting that federal authorities have in other cases invoked the Homeland Security Act to prevent the release of such records. "The feds are working very hard to block any release of this information to the public." ... "We've seen our fair share of federal government attempts to keep records about stingrays secret, but we've never seen an actual physical raid on state records in order to conceal them from public view," the ACLU wrote in a blog post today.'
reifman (786887) writes 'Last week, AT&T shut down my data service after I turned roaming on in Canada for one minute to check Google maps. I wasn't able to connect successfully but they reported my phone burned through 50 MB and that I owed more than $750. Google maps generally require 1.3 MB per cell. They adamantly refused to reactivate my U.S. data service unless I 'agreed' to purchase an international data roaming package to cover the usage. They eventually reversed the charges but it seems that the company's billing system had bundled my U.S. data usage prior to the border crossing with the one minute of international data roaming.'
jfruh (300774) writes "Imagine you've spent years making credit card purchases in your home state of California, and suddenly a bunch of charges appear the card in Russia. Your bank might move to shut the card down for suspected fraud, which would be great if your account number had been stolen by hackers — but really irritating if you were on vacation in Moscow. AT&T is proposing a service that would allow customers to let their bank track their movements via their cell phone, to confirm that you (or at least your phone) and your credit card are in the same place."
stephendavion (2872091) writes 'Passengers can now access free Wi-Fi at the world's busiest airport. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has dropped its $5 fee to access Wi-Fi in its terminals. "Now, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and airport officials plan to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of the amenity at the airport Wednesday," reports Kelly Yamanouchi of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ... Interm airport manager Miguel Southwell tells Yamanouchi officials believe dropping the Wi-Fi charge will alleviate a "competitive disadvantage" for Hartsfield-Jackson.' I'm puzzled sometimes that so many airports do not yet offer free Wi-Fi, especially ones loaded with businesses (like Starbucks and McDonalds) that have made this a big draw in their non-airport locations. On the other hand, given a captive audience and the temptation for exclusive contracts, maybe I should be grateful that so many do have at least limited free coverage, and that the trend seems positive.
Linnen writes "Sony has started the process of phasing out its PSP handheld console. From The Guardian: 'Shipments to the U.S. ended this year, and they are closing in Japan soon. European stores will see their last arrivals toward Christmas. Launched in Japan in December 2004, it is almost 10 years old – not a bad achievement for a handheld that was almost written off early in its lifespan. ... The console struggled with high piracy levels of its titles, which meant the likes of EA, Activision and Ubisoft were reticent about committing to major development projects. However, the ease with which hackers were able to break the device's security system also meant that it became a favorite with the homebrew development scene, and amateur coders are still producing games and demos for the platform. Some look back on the machine as a failure beside the all-conquering Nintendo DS, but this is unfair. The console sold 80m units, a figure boosted by a series of excellent hardware and featureset updates, including the slimmer PSP-2000 and PSP-3000 models. '"
First time accepted submitter Viv Savage (3679171) writes "I live in the U.S. but my daughter will be attending college overseas next year (Scotland specifically). I need to purchase a new phone for her and I'm curious what the Slashdot community would recommend. I understand that a GSM world phone supporting 850/900/1800/1900 MHz frequencies would give her the best voice support. There doesn't appear to be a solution for getting high-speed data (i.e., 4G) here and abroad with one phone. Have any worldly Slashdotters figured this out?"
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Apple CEO Tim Cook during his keynote said that around 130 million customers have purchased their first Apple device in the last twelve months. He states, 'Many of these customers were switchers from Android,' he said. 'They had bought an Android phone by mistake, and then had sought a better experience and a better life.' He added that almost half of those who have purchased an iPhone in China since December have switched from Android. However, it is worth noting that iPhones were not actually available in China until December, when pre-orders began, so it is unclear how much of the device's popularity there is simply down to the novelty factor, rather than a burning desire to flee from Android."
As The Next Web reports, Samsung is finally bringing to market (in Russia, to start) a phone, the Samzung Z, running the Tizen OS. Like Android, Tizen is based on the Linux kernel, but it's intended for HTML5 apps rather than Android apps. It's not Samsung's first Tizen device, though; the second-generation of its Gear smart-watches are running Tizen as well. "Samsung earlier revealed plans for its first Tizen smartphones to be launched during its second quarter of business in 2014, which runs April to July, so it seems like smartphones other than Samsung Z could still be on their way. The Samsung executive said that Tizen devices could account for as much as 15 percent of Samsung’s mobile shipments per year, but Android will still be its main business."
PC Mag reports that an upcoming laptop from HP (one that was prematurely announced in April, and now official) has decent-to-good specs — under 4 pounds, battery life more than 8 hours, Tegra processor, and a 1928x1080 touch screen — but an unusual operating system, at least for a laptop. The SlateBook 14 will run Android, rather than Windows (or ChromeOS, for that matter), which helps keep it relatively cheap, at $400. According to the article, Android is "a lot cheaper for HP to implement in a laptop; ChromeOS, in contrast, comes with more stringent system requirements that would cost HP a bit more." Ars Technica's mention in April includes a screenshot taken from a video (note: video itself appears to be disabled) which shows the keyboard layout and which reveals some Android-specific changes. Update: 06/01 19:23 GMT by T : Here's an alternative link to the promotional video.
Mark.JUK (1222360) writes "Chinese ICT developer Huawei has confirmed that it was able to achieve a record transmission data rate of 10.53Gbps on 5GHz frequency bands in laboratory trials of their new 802.11ax WiFi (WLAN) wireless networking standard. The testing, which was conducted at Huawei's campus in Shenzhen, used a mix of MIMO-OFDA, intelligence spectrum allocation, interference coordination and hybrid access to achieve the result and the new technology could hit the market during 2018."
An anonymous reader writes "After only one year in operation, Google's Moto X factory in Fort Worth, TX, is scheduled to close at the end of 2014. The decision to close apparently has nothing to do with Google's decision to sell Motorola Mobility to Lenovo and everything to do with poor sales numbers and high labor and shipping costs in the U.S. The factory had, at one point, employed 3,800 people. Their ranks now number at about 700. Moto E and Moto G, newer and cheaper iterations of Moto X, have sold in more profitable numbers overseas, so Google's original rationale of building phones nearer to the largest customer base to decrease time between assembly and delivery to end user will unsurprisingly force the closure of the U.S.-based factory and transfer labor overseas as well."
DeviceGuru writes: "An open-spec COM that runs OpenWRT Linux on a MIPS-based Ralink RT5350 SoC has won its Indiegogo funding. The $20, IoT-focused VoCore measures 25 x 25mm. How low can you go? Tiny computer-on-modules (COMs) for Internet of Things (IoT) applications are popping up everywhere, with recent, Linux-ready entries including Intel's Atom or Quark-based Edison, Ingenic's MIPS/Xburst-based Newton, Acme Systems's ARM9/SAM9G25 based Arrietta G25, and SolidRun's quad-core i.MX6-based MicroSOM. Now, an unnamed Chinese startup has raised over six times its $6,000 Indiegogo funding goal for what could be the smallest, cheapest Linux COM yet."
colinneagle (2544914) writes "What if you could transmit data without link layer flow control bogging down throughput with retransmission requests, and also optimize the size of the transmission for network efficiency and application latency constraints? In a Network World post, blogger Steve Patterson breaks down a recent breakthrough in stateless transmission using Random Linear Network Coding, or RLNC, which led to a joint venture between researchers at MIT, Caltech, and the University of Aalborg in Denmark called Code On Technologies.
The RLNC-encoded transmission improved video quality because packet loss in the RLNC case did not require the retransmission of lost packets. The RLNC-encoded video was downloaded five times faster than the native video stream time, and the RLNC-encoded video streamed fast enough to be rendered without interruption.
In over-simplified terms, each RLNC encoded packet sent is encoded using the immediately earlier sequenced packet and randomly generated coefficients, using a linear algebra function. The combined packet length is no longer than either of the two packets from which it is composed. When a packet is lost, the missing packet can be mathematically derived from a later-sequenced packet that includes earlier-sequenced packets and the coefficients used to encode the packet."
Bismillah (993337) writes "An interesting study by WilmerHale lawyers and Intel's assistant general counsel Ann Armstrong looked into how much royalty payments and demands actually amount to per device, and found the cost so high it threatens industry profitability and competitiveness. 'As the bank robber Willie Sutton is reported to have said, he robbed banks 'because that's where the money is' - so too of smartphones for patent holders,' the authors wrote."
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Developers need access to device running the platform for which they develop. Nexus was Google's reference device and now Mozilla is coming out with its own device. Mozilla has opened pre-order for Flame, its Firefox OS reference devices for $170 including free shipping." Specs are, of course, modest: a dual core 1.2GHz snapdragon, 1G of RAM, 8G of flash, an 854×480 4.5" screen, and a 5MP camera. Now, if only they would release a device with a keyboard.
lpress (707742) writes "Amazon's Kindle is a good e-reader and they've sold around 40 million units, but it is far from perfect. It could be significantly improved with speech recognition for commands and text entry, a well-designed database for marginal notes and annotations, and integration with laptop and desktop computers. Google, Apple and Microsoft all have device design and manufacturing experience as well as stores that sell books and other written material. A Kindle-killing e-reader would be low-hanging fruit for Apple, Google or Microsoft — think of the competition if they each built one!" Handwriting as an input method would be nice too; a friend in college had one of the experimental Windows XP tablet PCs, and it was great for note taking and document annotation.
oztechmuse (2323576) writes "Samsung has just released an updated version of its health software for the Samsung Galaxy S5 that measures stress levels. Using the heart rate sensor on the back of the phone, the S5 will calculate a measure of stress from low to high. Although this may seem far-fetched to some, the phone is actually using a measure of the heart rate to calculate something called 'heart rate variability' or HRV. HRV has been shown to be related to a range of clinical conditions that include problems with the heart but also mental issues of stress and anxiety. Athletes have also used HRV as a measure of over-training and so use heart rate monitors to check if they need rest days. Samsung seems to be claiming the ground in terms of innovation in health-related sensor technology. In addition to the built-in pulse oximeter sensor used for the HRV measurements, Samsung phones now support direct connections to heart rate straps using the Ant+ protocol as well as through Bluetooth. Apple and others have a long way to go to catch up."
Ars Technica reports that HP is back in the $100 tablet market, and this time with a tablet that's intended to be priced there instead of just a fire sale. The new offering lacks Bluetooth and GPS, among other features you might wish for in a tablet, and the screen is surrounded by a hefty bezel, but manages a pretty good list of features. Ars summarizes: "For $100, you can't expect much of the spec sheet. The HP 7 Plus has a 7-inch 1024x600 IPS display, a 1GHz quad-core Cortex A7 processor (made by a company called "Allwinner"), 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, 802.11 b/g/n, a microSD slot, and a 2800 mAh battery. The biggest downside HP could have fixed at this price point is the software: it's only running Android 4.2.2. Android versions are free, HP." Having an avaialble microSD slot beats some more expensive options, too.
Bloomberg reports that after Apple's patent victory in court last week over smart-phone rival Samsung, Apple is seeking a sales ban on several specific phones from Samsung; none of them are currently flagship devices. "The nine devices targeted by Cupertino, California-based Apple for a U.S. sales ban include the Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S3 and Stratosphere." Getting the competition blocked from the marketplace over patent claims is something that Apple's tried before in connection with its beef with Samsung, and the company has had mixed results, depending on jurisdiction. Last week's decision in favor of Apple hints that the jury didn't think the company deserved the entire $2.2 billion it was seeking, awarding (a mere) $120 million, instead.
TechCrunch's video introduction (not intended as a full review) to the recently introduced Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has mostly good things to say about the device. Reviewer Alex Wilhelm compares it to his MacBook Air, and though he's not sure that the Surface is a better fit for all-day typing than the 11" Air (slightly larger, slightly heavier than the Surface), he says the Surface does a good job of integrating input options (both finger and stylus input) that the Air -- and most laptops -- just don't have. The Washington Post's Hayley Tsukayama also compares the Surface to the Air, rather than to an Android or Apple tablet, writing, "It's heavy for a tablet, sure, but light for a laptop at 1.7 pounds. And while it doesn't have the array of ports that laptops do, you can make do with the two that it does have, a mini-display port that's good for presentations and a USB 3.0 that's good for, well, everything else. You will probably need a hub to get everything you want of this, though. (Or you could go to using Bluetooth accessories, which the Surface Pro 3 will also support.)" Ars Technica has an informative hands-on review as well, but one which parts from these by emphatically describing the Surface as a tablet, not a laptop; Ars reviewer Peter Bright gives high marks for many aspects of the design and materials, though he says his experience with the included pressure-sensitive pen was "problematic." (His initial sample pen had to be replaced, and even when it did work, it lacks tilt sensing.) Troubling for anyone who would prefer to use it as a laptop, Bright says the Surface 3 is better than its forebears but still an awkward fit for using on an actual lap, and that despite the improvements Microsoft's made it therefore isn't quite the system he's looking for.
jfruh writes "For years for cell phone companies, one specific kind of data — voice calls placed by dialing a traditional telephone number — was entirely different from all the other kinds of data a phone used. But in the U.S., that's finally starting to change, as all the major carriers are planning shifts to voice over LTE. The carriers promise sharper call quality and quicker connections."
An anonymous reader writes "Engadget reports that Samsung is working on virtual reality technology to compete with the Oculus Rift. Their work is fairly far along, and it's expected to be announced this year. It's being built to function in tandem with Samsung's flagship mobile devices, most likely their upcoming Galaxy phones and tablets. From the article: 'We're told it has an OLED screen, as good or better than in the second Rift dev kit; it's not clear how the headset connects to your phone/tablet, but we're guessing it's a wired connection rather than wireless. ...This is a device meant for use with games. What type of games? Android games! Sure, but which ones? That's certainly the question. Great games make the platform, and VR games are especially tough to crack given the newness of the medium. One thing's for sure: most major games won't work on VR as direct ports.' The report also suggests Samsung is targeting a lower price point than its competitors. True or not, it will hopefully help drive down prices for all upcoming VR tech." Meanwhile, DARPA is experimenting with the Oculus Rift for cyberwar visualization.
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."
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."
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."
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.
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."