Tag Archive: Mobile



Samsung may be the next handset manufacturer to go for pressure-sensitive display technology for its next flagship, if a new report citing multiple industry sources is to be believed. Notably, Samsung’s pressure-sensitive display technology is expected to work same as Apple’s 3D Touch seen on iPhones.

The technology will be able to distinguish between a light tap and deep press, enabling access to more functions just by pressing harder. Notably, Samsung won’t be the first Android handset vendor to bring pressure-sensitive display technology to its phones as Huawei was the first to unveil the force touch tech. To recall, Huawei’s Mate S was the first Android smartphone featuring Force Touch technology.

The report by The Investor cites an official of a Samsung supplier who said, “Samsung is mulling to adopt the force touch technology partially from the S8 but the full adoption will come in one or two years. It is a matter of time before other major Android smartphone makers deploy the technology that will help enhance user interface.” The report also suggests that Samsung may utilise its own force touch tech developed by Samsung Display, which also supplies force touch displays to Huawei.

Additionally, Samsung’s Senior Executive at component division on condition of anonymity claimed that the South Korean company was working on the force touch tech “for the adoption in the near future.”

A recent report claimed that Samsung’s Galaxy S8 may launch in two screen size variants – 5.7-inch and 6.2-inch. Prolific phone tipster Evan Blass (@evleaks) claimed that the Samsung Galaxy S8 models will have model numbers SM-G950 and SM-G955 for 5.7-inch and 6.2-inch screen sizes respectively.

Based on preliminary leaks, Samsung Galaxy S8 will sport a 5.5-inch 4K (2160×3840 pixels) Super AMOLED display with impressive pixel density of 806ppi. It is further expected to pack company’s own Exynos 8895 SoC coupled with 6GB of RAM. Rumours so far have claimed that Samsung will launch the alleged Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone on the side-lines of MWC 2017 in Barcelona on February 26.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

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Troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry said it would raise about $605 million (roughly Rs. 4,062 crores) by selling convertible debentures to shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings and other investors.

The Canadian company will also redeem on September 2 roughly $1.25 billion (roughly Rs. 8,393 crores) worth of outstanding debentures carrying a coupon of 6 percent, it said on Friday.

The new debt that BlackBerry plans to issue will have a coupon of 3.75 percent and will be due in November 2020.

If all of the new debt is converted into stock, it will represent about 11.57 percent of BlackBerry’s outstanding shares, the company said.

FairFax, led by well-known contrarian investor Prem Watsa, is BlackBerry’s second largest shareholder with a stake of about 8.9 percent, according to Reuters data.

Once a dominant force in smartphones, BlackBerry now holds just a sliver of the global market.

BlackBerry said last month it would stop making its Classic model, raising further doubts about the future of the company’s money-losing handset business as it shifts focus to software.
In July, the company unveiled a second Android-based handset, which combines Alphabet’s popular software and broad app catalog with its security and productivity features at a lower price.

BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has expressed confidence that the company’s trimmed-down handset business can meet its September target to turn profitable.

Analysts, however, have urged the company to sell or shut down the unit.

BlackBerry’s US-listed shares were little changed at $7.96 in afternoon trading.

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


A US appeals court on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit accusing BlackBerry of fraudulently inflating its stock price by painting an upbeat picture of the prospects for its BlackBerry Z10 smartphone line that was misleading.

While the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the lawsuit failed to state a plausible claim, it ordered a lower-court judge to reconsider whether to let the plaintiffs amend their complaint in light of what they said was new evidence.

Neither BlackBerry nor a lawyer for lead plaintiffs Todd Cox and Mary Dinzik responded immediately to requests for comment.

BlackBerry launched its Z10 phone in January 2013 in a bid to recoup market share lost to Apple’s iPhone, and Samsung devices powered by Google’s Android.

The BlackBerry Z10 won positive reviews, but low sales led to a projected $930 million (roughly Rs. 6,240 crores) writedown for unsold inventory on September 20, 2013. BlackBerry shares lost about one-sixth of their value that day.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company ousted its chief executive officer, Thorsten Heins, less than two months later. The lawsuit alleged that BlackBerry attempted to conceal the poor performance of the Z10 in order to artificially inflate its stock price.

In Wednesday’s decision, the 2nd Circuit upheld US District Judge Thomas Griesa’s March 2015 dismissal of the lawsuit for the failure to allege that BlackBerry and its executives knowingly misled investors.

The three-judge appeals panel said the plaintiffs’ claims amounted to “fraud by hindsight” by saying that the defendants must have known the device would be unsuccessful.

The court nonetheless said the plaintiffs could try to persuade Griesa to let them amend their complaint in light of new legal developments and evidence that the plaintiffs said would support their claims.

The appeals court said if Griesa refuses to let the plaintiffs amend their complaint, he should explain his reasons, which he had not done before.

The case is Cox v. BlackBerry Limited, 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 15-3991.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Technology industry groups are pushing back against calls from law enforcement and intelligence officials to give the government more access to encrypted networks following the Paris terrorist attacks.

Concrete evidence has yet to emerge that the perpetrators of the attacks used encrypted networks to communicate, but officials have warned that terrorists are finding new ways to avoid surveillance. Some say requiring tech companies to design a backdoor in the devices would give law enforcement better access to encrypted communications.

“It is likely that encryption, end-to-end encryption, was used to communicate between those individuals in Belgium, in France and in Syria,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said last week. “It’s a wake-up call for America and our global partners that globally, we need to begin the debate on what we do on encrypted networks, because it makes us blind to the communications and to the actions of potential adversaries.”

Many tech companies have so far been reluctant to respond publicly to these calls, but a growing number of industry groups are coming out in defense of encryption, and a lobbying coalition called Reform Government Surveillance – representing Google, Apple and other tech leaders – has met with congressional staff and administration officials to discuss encryption policy.

“In the private sector, a lot of companies are already pushing back against” creating a back door, said Brian Finch, a lobbyist for cyber-security companies. “Tech companies are reemphasizing the point that they don’t think the back door is effective or all that useful for law enforcement, and it’ll do more harm than good in the long run.”

Among the industry’s main arguments is that there is no evidence that the Paris attackers communicated via encrypted systems, and if the government forces tech companies to weaken encryption, terrorists would simply start using devices or apps that aren’t subject to US laws.

“Tech industry’s pushback right now is, ‘(Law enforcement), you’re using this opportunistically, to your advantage,’ ” said a lobbyist for major tech companies who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to protect professional relationships. “There’s no proof that terrorists used encrypted networks. Law enforcement, you missed this, stop trying to blame us.”

On Tuesday, the Software Alliance (BSA) mounted a strong defense of encryption technology, saying it is a critical tool that protects users’ online privacy.

“That is not the case. Encryption – rather than something to be feared – is a valuable tool millions of people rely on every day to secure their online privacy,” the BSA said. “Government should not be pushing for solutions that would make the online environment less secure.”

Two other leading tech industry groups are echoing those sentiments, citing the role of encryption in protecting online banking, transportation security systems and other critical infrastructure, such as hospitals, from potential hackers.

Dean Garfield, the president of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the Washington-based group that represents some of the world’s largest hardware, software, mobile and search companies, said last week that weakening encryption technology “simply does not make sense.”

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), which represents the software and digital content industries, said strong encryption helps boost national security, not threaten it.

“Encryption protects not just government and commercial databases, but critical national infrastructure such as hospitals, airlines and nuclear power stations – exactly the targets terrorists would attempt to hack and destroy,” the group’s senior vice president of public policy, Mark MacCarthy, said last week. “If the US government gained backdoor access to encrypted material, it is possible that other governments and non-government actors would as well, and encryption would become useless.”

Representatives for Apple and Google did not return requests for comment or declined to comment.

Tech policy experts predict a renewed round of congressional hearings and possible legislation after Thanksgiving, but they aren’t convinced that the encryption debate will drastically change. It reached a standstill in October when the White House decided it wouldn’t seek legislation forcing tech companies to decode encrypted data for law enforcement.

Burr and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, have indicated that they want to revisit discussions with tech companies about the government’s access to secure communications, but legislation has yet to be drafted.

“I’m not convinced anything new will come out of it,” said the tech lobbyist. “But it’ll get a fresh look.”

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


If there’s one thing almost every smartphone user wants, it’s longer battery life.

While processors, memory and other components have advanced in leaps and bounds, progress in battery technology has been much slower over the last couple of decades.

All those people you see charging their phones at airports, coffee shops and other public places are a testament to how often batteries die out during the day. So while engineers are fighting against basic chemistry and physics to improve current Lithium Ion cells, is there a better way to recharge?

One answer might be fuel cells, which generate electricity through a chemical reaction and provide instant power anywhere. Unlike portable battery packs, they don’t need to be charged in advance. You just need a fuel cell cartridge.

The promise has been there for some time. A few years ago, electronics companies tried to popularize fuel cells based on methanol but they failed to take off. This time around, the focus is on hydrogen.

As hydrogen gas enters the fuel cell through a membrane, the electrons are stripped off and travel through an external circuit — that’s the flow of electricity. Upon exiting the fuel cell, the electrons are recombined with the ionized hydrogen and oxygen from the air, so the only by-product is water.

There’s already one hydrogen fuel cell on the market, with another promised for this year. Both were on show at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The main difference between them is in how the hydrogen is packaged so it’s safe to handle.

Intelligent Energy’s Upp stores it in a metal hydride compound that’s contained in a cartridge that snaps onto the fuel cell with magnets. Each cartridge is good for about 5 recharges of a smartphone and once exhausted should be returned to an exchange station for a fresh one.

The fuel cell, which is already on sale at Apple Stores in the U.K., costs £149 (US$228) and each cartridge is £6 (US$9). One downside: its heavy. The fuel cell and cartridges weigh 620 grams (1.3 pounds), and that’s not something you want to carry in your bag all the time.

The Jaq prototype from Sweden’s MyFC gets its hydrogen from a disposable cartridge that contains salts and water. It will cost around €75 (US$81) and the disposable cartridges will be about a euro each. Each will provide a couple of charges for a phone.

The MyFC appears a more attractive package and is cheaper, but its unproven technology. It wont be on sale until late 2015, so well have to see if it lives up to promises.

And talking of living up to promises, about 10 years ago, several major electronics companies were developing fuel cells that ran on methanol. The promise was the same: on-demand charging of gadgets no matter where you were.

Toshiba even put one on sale in Japan in 2009, but it all went no where. Getting people to buy them, and supplying the methanol, just wasnt as easy as charging a phone with a few AA batteries, or waiting until a power socket was available.

Those same challenges remain today. Ten years on, the newer technology and lower prices might make fuel cells more attractive, but whether they’ll really catch on appears just as uncertain.

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Mobile users have become a vital part of Yahoo’s recovery effort, and on Thursday it tried to woo developers with new tools to help them build better apps using its services.

The company held its first-ever mobile developer conference in San Francisco on Thursday, where it unveiled tools that help developers collect data about their apps and make money from them using Yahoo advertising services.

Many of the tools come courtesy of Flurry, a mobile analytics and advertising company Yahoo acquired last year. Flurry now has more than 200,000 developers using it’s tools, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said Thursday. Yahoo hopes to get even more developers on board by giving them new ways to see how their apps are performing and by baking Yahoo advertising options directly into Flurry.

Developers who use Flurry can now use the service to incorporate Yahoo search into their apps, for instance. And a new tool called Flurry Explore makes it easier for developers to track how users move through their apps and tweak them to increase engagement.

More than 1,000 people attended the one-day conference, many of them small or independent software developers. Several expressed interest in the new tools, but said they need time to assess how useful they were.

“If they’re easy to use like Yahoo says, lots more people might use Flurry,” said Ashley Fernandes, who works on prototype app designs at Intuit.

Using Flurry, developers at Tempo AI, a smart calendar app, were able to see a steep increase in engagement after they changed how their app presents alerts. That data helped confirm the change was a good move, cofounder Thierry Donneau-Golencer said.

Flurry’s analytics tools are free, but developers must pay if they want to advertise their apps in Yahoo’s own mobile products. Developers can also have ads placed by Yahoo within their own apps.

The goal is a mutually beneficial partnership: developers get tools from Yahoo to attract more users and make money, and Yahoo gets to sell more ads and perhaps gather data about mobile users along the way.

Mayer has spent nearly two years rebuilding Yahoo’s mobile products, which are a cornerstone of her efforts to make Yahoo a leader again in Silicon Valley.

“We’re continuing to invest to make our own apps great, but we want to take what we’ve learned, including monetization, and make it more broadly available,” Mayer said during a talk with the press.

Other developers at the show said they liked having the ability, within Flurry, to advertise their apps within Yahoo apps like Tumblr and the Yahoo News Digest. The ads, known as “native ads,” are meant to mimic the content around them.

The event could build awareness of the tools Yahoo offers, said Philipp Kuecuekyan, an independent app developer.

But Yahoo needs more than awareness if it wants to be “the most partner friendly company in Silicon Valley,” as Mayer put it Thursday. The company faces stiff competition for mobile developers from Facebook, Google and Twitter, which also provide tools for creating and monetizing apps.

“They’ve got their work cut out for them,” said Nikhil Modi, CEO at Whiz Technologies, which places ads in publishers’ apps. He pointed to Google’s AdMob as a powerful competitor to Flurry.

But, he said, “it’s good that Google’s got competition.”

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Google wants to sell its first Project Ara smartphones in style, and it’s drawing inspiration from food trucks. Later this year, it will deploy “mobile trucks” where customers will be able to design, print and assemble their own custom handset in under five minutes.

The first Project Ara smartphones will go on sale in Puerto Rico. The trucks will stop first in Old San Juan, moving south to Ponce, the island’s second-largest city, then through the rest of Puerto Rico, said Jessica Beavers, marketing lead with Google’s advanced projects division, at the Project Ara developer conference in Cupertino, California.

“We’ll slowly be rolling our truck across the island,” she said.

Project Ara is a bold project to let people assemble their smartphone from modular components to get the features they want. Google will sell a basic smartphone frame, and users will be able to add the features they choose by snapping them into the frame.

The idea was inspired by Lego, and Google is relying partly on external developers to make antennas, batteries, cameras and other components. If a camera or antenna stops functioning, the module can be swapped out, eliminating the need to buy a new phone.

Users will be able to design and assemble their smartphones in under five minutes at the mobile trucks, according to Beavers.

“We can cater to individual needs and preferences,” she said. “It’s your camera, your processor… it’s your Ara.”

For customers who don’t want to choose every feature themselves, Google will offer a “bento box” option with pre-selected components that users assemble at the point of sale.

And for those who can’t be bothered with the assembly process, a “ready-to-go” Ara with all the modules plugged in will be on sale. The pre-built phones will be based on themes like hiking, travel or photography.

“The trucks, experience, packaging, it’s all part of the Ara story,” Beavers said. “The intention is for the truck to be a single retail unit.”

Google chose Puerto Rico as its first location because of its high mobile penetration. More than three-quarters of smartphone users there are “mobile first,” meaning they access the Internet mainly their smartphones, Beavers said.

Internet penetration is around 60 percent, and more than 80 percent of smartphone users rely on social media for news, product purchases and other activities.

“All of this makes for a very interesting carrier landscape,” Beavers said.

Google will work with carriers such as Claro to bring Project Ara to Puerto Rico.

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AT&T on Wednesday announced that data will soon be rolled over to the next month for 50 million of its Mobile Share Value subscribers.

The rollovers will occur automatically as of Jan. 25 and will benefit an entire family or business across all smartphones and devices on the same Mobile Share Value plan.

The move comes less than a month after T-Mobile announced a rollover data plan called Data Stash. The T-Mobile plan doesn’t apply to business users as the AT&T plan does.

AT&T said the unused data from a single month must be used in the following month.

AT&T’s decision to roll over data is another example of T-Mobile’s impact on the wireless industry in the U.S.

“T-Mobile has shaken up the industry and the others have to respond, especially given T-Mobile’s net new customers,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. “The other carriers, including AT&T and Verizon and not just Sprint, are being affected by the aggressiveness of T-Mobile. For a long time, the big guys kind of ignored what T-Mobile did, but not anymore.”

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Twitter, hungry for new data to fuel its targeted advertising, will start looking at what other apps its users have downloaded.

Starting Wednesday, the company will begin collecting data on which other apps its users have on their iOS and Android smartphones. The data, Twitter says, will help it deliver better “tailored content” to its users. That’s sure to include ads, but maybe also better recommendations about whom to follow when users sign up, or more relevant first tweets in the feed, which could help Twitter hook people early.

It’s strictly a list of the apps users have installed, Twitter says, not data pertaining to what people do inside those apps. So Twitter would know if you have a ride-hailing app, but it wouldn’t see your rides taken with the app.

Twitter is not the only company to collect this sort of data — other major Internet companies like Google and Facebook do it too under certain circumstances. Facebook, if a developer has integrated its software kit, might use the data for mobile app ads.

Still, Twitter’s move stands to raise privacy concerns at least among some people, perhaps depending on which other apps are on their phones.

Twitter’s data collection will start automatically, unless users have already turned on the built in “limit ad tracking” or “opt out of interest-based ads” option on iOS or Android phones, respectively. Twitter users will be notified of the data collection, but they can turn it off at any time from within their app’s settings, Twitter says. If users turn it off, the data is removed from Twitter’s servers, the company says.

Twitter currently relies on several other types of data to target ads. This data include whom individual users follow on Twitter, the composition of their social network, how they tweet, and how they interact with other tweets. Ads might also be targeted using a person’s profile information, their location, or IP address.

Adding people’s downloaded apps to the mix could help Twitter add more smarts to its ad targeting. Or not. Twitter, again, won’t be tracking how people use the apps. So if someone has a bunch of apps sitting on their phone that they rarely use, it might not help Twitter all that much just to know that they’re there.

News of Twitter’s new app collection data was first reported by Re/code.

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Samsung Electronics is considering a key management overhaul that could see the company’s head of TVs and home appliances also overseeing its under performing mobile business, according to a news report.

Boo-keun Yoon, a co-CEO who looks after Samsung’s consumer electronics business, could also be given control of the mobile division, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter. The decision is, however, not final, the newspaper reported.

The market share of the South Korean smartphone maker fell to 23.8 percent in the third quarter from 32.5 percent a year ago, according to research firm IDC. The company said last week it planned to cut the number of smartphone models it makes by about 25 to 30 percent in 2015.

The company’s net profit fell 49 percent in the third quarter. Unsold inventory piled up in warehouses because Samsung overestimated demand for its flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone, the Journal reported, quoting people familiar with the matter.

The new management structure could help the company respond more quickly to competition in its smartphone business, particularly from low-cost Chinese players.

Yoon is also expected to help Samsung compete in the Internet connected home market, as he has been a key advocate of the company’s move in this direction, including by signing off on Samsung’s acquisition of SmartThings, according to the Journal.

Samsung said in August that SmartThings will operate as an independent company within Samsung’s Open Innovation Center group. The company’s strategy is to create an open smart home platform that brings together third-party developers, device makers, and consumers.

On Monday, Samsung said it would not comment on rumors or speculation, when asked to comment on the report of the management changes.

If one of the scenarios being considered is finally adopted, the current co-CEO who heads the mobile division, J.K. Shin, may be moved out of his role. A third co-CEO, Oh-Hyun Kwon, who is in charge of components like semiconductors and display panels, could stay in his job, the Journal said, quoting people familiar with the matter. The three CEO model was adopted last year.

The report of the discussion on leadership changes comes ahead of an annual year-end reshuffle, but this year it assumes significance after Samsung’s chairman Kun-Hee Lee was hospitalized in May after a heart attack. His son Jay Y. Lee, now a Samsung vice chairman, is widely expected to take over from him, though the timing of his appointment is not clear, according to the report.

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