Showing posts with label technology news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technology news. Show all posts

Saturday, August 16, 2014

World’s first smartphone turns 20

The first ever smartphone — a $900 clunky IBM Simon mobile phone —turned 20 on Saturday.
The phone with a battery life of one hour was developed by IBM and the American cellular company BelSelf and went on sale in 1994.

At around 23 cm long and weighing half a kg, it was about half the size of a house brick. “It was called Simon because it was simple and could do almost anything you wanted,” the Irish Times reported.
With its green LCD screen, Simon had touch screen technology. Its software allowed users to write notes, draw, update their calendar and contacts and send and receive faxes, as well as allowing calls.
“It has all the components of a smartphone, including a slot in the bottom to insert different applications such as mapping ones, spreadsheets and games. So it was really a forerunner to the iPhone,” Charlotte Connelly from the London’s Science Museum was quoted as saying. Around 50,000 handsets were sold.
In October, the relic phone will go on display as part of a permanent exhibition on the history of communication and information technology at London’s Science Museum.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cell phones can be charged using sound

                       A device now can generate five volts, which is enough to charge a phone

Soon you can use traffic noise, music, chants from a football ground and even your own voice to charge your cell phone.
Scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Nokia have created an energy—harvesting prototype (a nanogenerator) that could be used to charge a cell phone using everyday background noise — such as traffic, music, and our own voices.
The team used the key properties of zinc oxide, a material that when squashed or stretched creates a voltage by converting energy from motion into electrical energy, in the form of nanorods.
The nanorods can be coated onto various surfaces in different locations making the energy harvesting quite versatile. When this surface is squashed or stretched, the nanorods then generate a high voltage.
The nanorods respond to vibration and movement created by everyday sound, such as our voices. Electrical contacts on both sides of the rods are then used to harvest the voltage to charge a phone, ‘’ reported. Researchers first developed a process whereby they could spray on the nanorod chemicals — almost like nanorod graffiti — to cover a plastic sheet in a layer of zinc oxide.
When put into a mixture of chemicals and heated to just 90 degrees C, the nanorods grew all over the surface of the sheet. Secondly, gold is traditionally used as an electrical contact but the team were able to produce a method of using cheap and cheerful aluminium foil instead.presented by smarttechies
Five volts
The ultimate device generates five volts, which is enough to charge a phone.
“Being able to keep mobile devices working for longer, or do away with batteries completely by tapping into the stray energy that is all around us is an exciting concept,” said Dr Joe Briscoe from QMUL’s School of Engineering and Materials Science.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Google unveils new modular smartphone designs at Ara Developers Conference

Google at its first-ever Ara Developers' Conference, being held from 15 April to 16 April, showed off new modular smartphone designs and revealed more details about its first modular smartphone.

Mashable quotes Project Ara chief Paul Eremenko who said that two more developer conferences are scheduled for this year in July and September. Eremenko revealed that the first Project Ara modular smartphone can be expected to ship next January.

Further, Eremenko added that by the end of this year, ahead of the launch of modular phones, Google will be rolling out an update for Android that will add support for Ara's modular components.

Eremenko confirmed that the first modular phone will be a generic device dubbed 'gray phone', something we heard back in February, and will be available for developers for $50.

The report says the Project Ara team also showed off the Ara Configurator, which is a tool for customizing each module of the phone. Users would have the privilege of designing their own modular phone.

Google announced the dates of its first Ara Developers' Conference in February and is notably, live streaming the event.

Earlier, Google ahead of the Ara Developers' Conference, released the Project Ara Module Developers Kit (MDK). The released MDK version 0.10 covered guidelines for developers for designing Project Ara smartphones, creating valid module dimensions, components and layout for power pads.

For those unaware, the Project Ara design scheme comprises of what Google calls an endoskeleton (endo) and modules. The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place, while a module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter or some other customizable hardware unit.

Prior to this, Google gave the world its first glimpse of the Project Ara modular prototype smartphone at the 'Launch' event in San Francisco.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nokia Lumia 630 to arrive with Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft has recently shared few details about the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 software update. The new Windows Phone 8.1 update is expected to bring support for more mobile chipsets and on-screen menu buttons. Meanwhile, EVLeaks has now shared image of the upcoming Lumia 630 smartphone that showed on-screen menu buttons, which points towards the Windows Phone 8.1. No further details were shared but the smartphone is expected to be released sometime later this year.
Nokia had introduced the Lumia 620 smartphone last year with monoblock unibody design and rounded corners. The Lumia 620 had a removable back panel and demonstrated the minimalistic design approach.
In the image, the time stamp shows 6:30 which typically points at the model number - just like images of many other Lumia devices. Even the display seems to have got some bump and we are expecting a 4-inch screen size here.
The home screen shows some pre-installed apps such as Instagram, Vine, and WhatsApp. The Nokia Camera app is also visible to the Lumia 620 and it is quite expected to arrive with minimal set of features. Other noticeable feature of the Lumia 630 is Microsoft OneDrive icon and the Office suite shortcut on the homescreen.

Nokia introduced the Lumia 620 in India for Rs 14,999 and we expect similar pricing for the Lumia 630 as well. More from The Mobile Indian
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Monday, February 24, 2014

Forget 3D glasses: New movie puts you directly in the action

Oscar-nominated documentarian Danfung Dennis believes the next evolution in filmmaking will be to surround viewers with images in 360 degrees -- directly on their noggins.
Dennis, whose gripping 2012 film "Hell and Back Again" told of a soldier's battle with post-traumatic stress disorder, is creating his next film project especially for the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset still in development. The device provides wearers with an immersive, wrap-around view that doesn't make them queasy.
So far, the prototype technology has mostly been tinkered with by video game developers and is a year or two away from being available to consumers.
"This is obviously going to take off," said Dennis, who founded the visual technology company Condition One. "No one who tries this denies it's going to work, but there's a potential it could just stay with gamers. There needs to be experiences that don't require you to know how to use a 20-button gamepad. Everyone knows how to look around in a world."
Enter Dennis' documentary "Zero Point," which is set on a computer-generated space station with each room transporting viewers to different realms representing various developments of VR technology, akin to the fictional holodeck from "Star Trek."
The film will be available later this year to developers working with the Oculus Rift. Dennis hopes the project will position Condition One as the first provider for premium content to owners of the Oculus Rift, once it's released.
After a demonstration of three clips from "Zero Point" -- a sweep of the space station, a glimpse inside a mock Afghan village and a stroll through a crowded convention hall -- Dennis discussed the challenges of creating a film in 360 degrees:
Associated Press: How do you compose shots when everything is surrounding the viewer?
Dennis: All the traditional rules of cinematography and editing are gone. The frame no longer exists. You're inside the frame. The cut -- the most basic technique of editing -- is too abrupt and doesn't work here. If you try to cut from one scene to another, it's too disorienting. Nowhere in our waking life do we teleport, except make when we wake up. I'm finding that a new generation of storytellers inspired by gaming and cinema will have to create a new visual language with the syntax and grammar of how to tell a story with this technology. We're just beginning down that path right now.
AP: "Zero Point" is a documentary, but could you see this technology being used for a fictional film?
Dennis: Absolutely. I think a fictional narrative film is probably an easier place to start. You have to really think about each shot to be able to convey a narrative, instead of just a pure experience. There needs to be a lot of thought about where the camera is and what type of cues can be used to guide people through a story. I think audio will be key to drawing people where to look. Otherwise, they might miss something. The challenges in setting up a scene would be incredible, but it would still be easier than the documentary method of shooting hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage to edit later.
AP: As a filmmaker, it seems like you have to give up a large amount of control to the viewer. How do you manage that creatively?
Dennis: It's less about what the viewer sees and more about their position. As storytellers, we have to deliver viewers a raw experience and let them decide what the frame will be. They're going to choose what's interesting to them within that vantage point. We won't know where they're going to look. Yes, you do lose control as a traditional filmmaker, but I think what's going to happen is that it'll be more like gaming.You can still have deep narrative in first-person games. Ultimately, I think this shift will give birth to an entirely new medium communicated through virtual reality.
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Saturday, February 8, 2014

9 factors creating a ‘perfect storm’ driving the Internet of Things to $14.4 trillion

The first computer, ENIAC, cost $6M in 1946 and had less power than a $5 animated greeting card you buy today and throw away tomorrow. That kind of technology innovation is powering the coming internet of things, and turning it into what Cisco Canada CTO Jim Seifert says will be a key component in $14.4 trillion of economic activity within the next decade.
“In 50 years, 90 percent of what we know will have been discovered in the last 50 years,” Seifert said today at the Wavefront Wireless Summit in Vancouver. “And by 2050, $1,000 worth of computing will have the power of all the human brains on the planet.”
Change in nine key areas is driving the internet of things, according to Cisco. Those nine areas are:
  1. Standardization of IPv6, providing vastly more IP addresses
  2. The mainstreaming of cloud and “fog” computing (fog computing is Cisco’s phrase for smart things, distributed widely, reaching up to the cloud)
  3. Pervasive collaboration of people and professionals via technology
  4. The explosion of apps for everything
  5. The trend of app developers to push intelligence from the app layer to the network layer, or the cloud
  6. Growing big data and analytics
  7. Ever-increasing network capacity at higher speeds and ever-cheaper rates
  8. The consumerization of enriched experiences with things
  9. Nanotechnology
All together, those nine changes are bringing about the fourth phase of the internet, in Cisco’s view.
The first phase was simply getting people connected … and the second phase was creating a networked economy by bringing businesses and transactions online. The third phase, evident in telepresence and gaming, was “immersive experience,” according to Seifert.
Of course, we’ve been hearing about the internet of things for years — including billion-node global networks. But for most of us, our cars still don’t talk to our phones, and our homes don’t brighten and warm in anticipation of our imminent arrival, and our lawns don’t automatically water themselves. Our cities aren’t very smart yet: the police departments in most locations don’t automatically know when crowds form, and the transportation systems don’t quickly react to changing transit and commuter needs.
But science fiction author William Gibson’s comment that “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed,” has never been more true. And that’s the case, apparently, for the internet of things as well.
Examples of the internet of things already in existence include projects that are very much functioning, but simply not widespread yet … such as the usage-based insurance via car-embedded sensors that State Farm is testing, and smart cars such as the Nissan Leaf that tells you how much energy you use, and when to plug in to make your recharges cheaper. Electrical utilities, such as BC Hydro in Canada, are using smart metering to improve grid efficiency and making billing more accurate, and airports such as Copenhagen International are using data from free WiFi services to track passengers’ entrances, exits, stops, and backlogs, all in order to improve flow and experience.
Other examples include remote healthcare, which is more than just voice and video.
“It lets me listen to a person’s heartbeat 1,000 miles away,” a doctor participating in a Cisco trial, which adds instrumentation to remote health services, said.
Even cows are being tracked with UHF RFID, which allows farmers and ranchers to track and locate cattle without having to round them up, and also enables better health care for the animals. And the promise of smart cities, with street lighting that activates when needed and turns off when not in use, has the potential to save significant dollars. Most cities, Seifert said, spend 40 percent of their energy budget on lighting.
All together, there’s already hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity that is affected by the first fruits of the internet of things. But not all is pink and rosy.
“There are some problems,” Seifert admitted. “I don’t know if you heard about the internet-connected fridge that sent out over 750,000 spam emails … apparently it caught a PC virus.”
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Galaxy S5 reveal coming soon? Samsung sends out invites to ‘Unpacked 5′ event

Android lovers craving a phone upgrade might want to stave off the temptation for another month or two.
Samsung recently sent out press invites to a special presentation at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 24. The invitation also includes a link to the company’s YouTube channel, suggesting that the event will be livestreamed at 11 a.m. Pacific.
Could this be the Galaxy S5′s welcome party? It certainly looks that way, as last year’s “Unpacked” event introduced us to the S4. If the phone does appear, expect the S5 to hit stores around late March or early April, as Samsung tends to hype up its new phones for a month after the reveal.
The device’s rumored specs include a higher-res screen of 2,560-by-1,440, 4GB RAM (which would make it the only smartphone with that much memory), Android 4.4, and a fingerprint scanner. Whether all, some, or none of these features make it onto the S5 will become apparent in three weeks
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Here are the 10 stupidest things you’re doing with your smartphone

By now, we’re sure you know that your phone is basically a physical briefcase for your digital identity. Yet so few of us treat it that way.
As hackable as our phones are — and as mind-numbingly ignorant as most of us are about social media privacy settings — we still manage do commit a multitude of sins with our devices.
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dark matters: the reason your smartphone photos are better than ever

If 2013's going to be remembered for one thing in the smartphone world, it's as the year where cameras got good. Almost any device you'd care to name now has a shooter that takes more-than-decent photos in daylight.
That leaves only one battleground where smartphone cameras don't fare so well – in the dark. On some of the biggest phones of the year, the main boasts haven't been about processing power or even the number of megapixels in the camera; but rather how good they are at taking photos once the sun goes down.
The HTC One, for example, was launched in March with only a 4MP camera, but one with much larger pixels (what HTC calls 'Ultrapixels). The reasoning behind that was clear: larger pixels means less noise, better light-gathering and all-round superior low-light performance.
Nokia, as well, has been focused on low-light performance, with both theLumia 925 and Lumia 1020 featuring innovations like optical image stabilisation and oversampling to improve the phone's low-light performance.
Even Apple put a wider lens and better flash into its iPhone 5S, innovations that are almost exclusively geared towards taking better photos in the dark.
These approaches are a little different from those taken by other manufacturers: Sony is a prime example, with both of its 2013 flagships, theXperia Z and Xperia Z1, sporting cameras that were big on the megapixel count, but suffered badly compared to the competition once things got dark.
The number one reason why 'proper' cameras – DSLRs – are so much better at taking photos in the dark is that they're a lot bigger. The camera's sensor, the little rectangle that 'sees' the outside world and turns light into electrons, is orders of magnitude larger in a professional full-frame camera like the Nikon D3S, or even a more enthusiast-level mirrorless camera like the Sony NEX C-3.
That matters because the bigger the sensor, the more light that hits it, and the brighter the picture is. It's like leaving a Post-It and an A3 sheet of paper out in the rain – far more water's going to hit your giant sheet of paper.
The end result is that low-light photos, like the one taken above, look great with a large-sensored DSLR, but are a poor-detailed mess on smartphones. In addition to just not being bright enough, there's another problem that plagues smartphone photos taken in the dark: noise.
To compensate for the small sensor size, smartphones often increase the sensitivity of their sensors, a value often referred to as ISO – the higher the ISO setting, the more sensitive the sensor is to light.
However, higher ISOs also generate 'noise', random pixels that light up or change colour, making the photo look grainy and downright horrible. It's not unlike turning your speakers up past where they were meant to – everything turns into a muddy mush.
Bigger (and more expensive) sensors can generally go up to much higher ISO settings without noise, which is one of the reasons DSLRs can shoot much better in low light. Whereas an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy can dial up to around ISO 3200, the very best DSLRs go all the way to 204,800, and even more pedestrian mirrorless cameras hit an ISO around 25,600 with ease.
To get around the problems of noise at higher ISO levels, manufacturers – in particular Nokia – have been turning to clever software tricks. Thanks to the 41MP sensor in the Lumia 1020, Nokia are able to employ oversampling, a trick that essentially combines pixels, reducing the overall megapixel count of the camera, but in turn cutting out those rogue pixels that cause noise.
According to Juha Alakarhu, Head of Imaging Technologies at Nokia: "With oversampling, we can avoid many of the problems that traditional cameras have, and we not only overcome the problems but make things much better".
Another factor in capturing good low-light images is the quality and size of the lens. For light to actually get to the sensor in the first place, it has to go through the optics, and for low-light photography, one number is important above all others: the aperture size. This number, measured as an f-stop (where, bizarrely, smaller is bigger), determines how wide the aperture on the lens goes at maximum, and therefore how much light goes through to hit the sensor.
Again, aperture size is something phone manufacturers are pushing hard. Whereas the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S2 both featured aperture sizes of around f2.7, the iPhone 5S goes all the way down to f2.2 – and Nokia goes even bigger, with even its midrange phones like the Lumia 720sporting a f1.9 lens. That's close to the performance of full-sized cameras, where even the best lenses, costing thousands of pounds, rarely get beyond f1.4.
In addition to the aperture size, there's something else manufacturers can play with: optical image stabilization. The reason many hardcore photographers use tripods to capture images in the dark is that by increasing the exposure time (how long the shutter's open for), you increase how much light hits the sensor. Sadly, long exposures also mean one other thing: blur, from our ever-fallible shaky human hands.
Optical image stabilization is a means of staving off blur: by essentially giving the lens a bit of suspension, minor shaking can be eliminated, and slightly longer – and brighter – exposures can be taken. Although optical image stabilisation has been a staple in high-end camera lenses for around a decade, it's a relatively new (and welcome) addition to the smartphone world, with Nokia adding it since the Lumia 920, and the HTC One following close behind.
However, optical image stabilisation, being a physical process, adds bulk to phones – one of the reasons the camera is so prominent on phones like the HTC One and Lumia 925. That's the reason why many manufacturers are now looking to a software solution to low-light photography – post-processing.

Just as Photoshop can fix red-eye and a wonky horizon, software can also fix the noise: it's just a matter of processing power. With phone processors now routinely quad-core monsters like those packed into the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Lumia 1520, processing power is abundant – and image processing, historically a task out of reach of mobile devices, is now pretty simple.
Nokia has been "building its own propriety imaging algorithms", and it's now even added support for the lossless RAW image format, which is far more friendly to post-processing on computers. Hopefully, that means upcoming smartphones will hit higher ISO levels with less noise, all meaning there's a better chance of you getting a half-decent selfie in the next bar you choose to frequent.
Across the board, then, there's no indication of the low-light improvements slowing down. Although some things – like the size of the aperture – are almost as good as they can physically get, there's constant improvement across the board, all minor changes that promise major rewards in the near future.
According to Nokia, "The overall image quality is the combination of all these things coming together, and we continue to work hard and push the boundaries in all of these areas".
But with the best cameras still costing thousands of pounds, not to mention being larger than a whole flock of iPhones, the challenge is reducing these breakthroughs down to a size – and more importantly, price – where they can be crammed into our pockets.
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Qualcomm picks up Palm, truck-load of other mobile patents from HP

 A Qualcomm spokesperson sent over the following rather lengthy statement in response to TechRadar's queries. She clarified some points, explaining more about what these patents cover and what Qualcomm plans to do with them:
"The acquisition further enhances the strength and diversity of our industry-leading mobile patent portfolio and will enable the company to offer even more value to current and future licensees. The patents and patent applications acquired by Qualcomm in this transaction cover many different aspects and features of mobile operating systems (such as rejecting an incoming call with a text and using location as a trigger for reminders), as well as several other technologies used in mobile products such as smartphones and tablets.
"The technologies covered by these patents complement the technologies covered by Qualcomm's existing patents, which include, for example technologies related to cellular and other wireless transmissions of voice and data, semiconductor design technologies, display technologies, and wireless charging technologies in addition to mobile operating system technologies.
"The purchase of these patents signals Qualcomm's commitment to its partners to remain at the forefront of wireless technology in our licensing business as well as our product businesses. Patent acquisitions such as this, along with Qualcomm's continued investment of a large percentage of its revenue in R&D, enable Qualcomm to provide additional value to its licensing customers over time. In addition, Qualcomm generates several billion dollars in annual product sales. We are not and have no plans to become a 'non-practicing entity.'"
Original story below…
Qualcomm has purchased a large batch of patents from HP, raising a number of questions for one company while seemingly wiping the hands for another.
In a press release, the companies said the sale was aimed to "further enhance the strength and diversity of Qualcomm's Incorporated's industry-leading mobile patent portfolio."
The portfolio includes roughly 2,400 granted patents and pending applications related to HP's Palm, IPAQ and Bitfone technologies. Most of those - 1,400 - are from the US, while 1,000 are from other countries.
However, they didn't spill the beans on how much Qualcomm paid for the IP.

Big plans, maybe

The announcement says most of these patents cover technologies like "fundamental mobile operating system techniques."
There are no clues as to what Qualcomm plans to do with these patents, besides the press release's vague promise that they "will enable the company to offer even more value to current and future licensees."
Qualcomm has been riding high in recent years, as its Snapdragon brand processors are powering top smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, theHTC One, and many others.
HP meanwhile has done its darndest to wash itself of Palm. The companysold its operating system, webOS, to LG early last year. There's no word on how Qualcomm's purchase will affect LG's webOS-based Smart TVs, if at all.

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Games may be all the rage with new Apple TV set-top box

Apple may be good for one more set-top box before it launches its long-rumored Apple iTV, and the new device may be all about fun and games.
The fourth-generation Apple TV is rumored to include a redesigned operating system more akin to the the one found on iOS 7 devices, according to sources who spoke with 9to5Mac.
That could mean the Cupertino company's self-describedhobby box will open itself up to an increased number of apps to give TV
watchers more to do on their big screen.
Currently, all Apple TV set-top boxes lack an official App Store and instead stick with pre-installed apps and stream iOS app content via AirPlay.

There's a Game Store app for that

The rumored Apple TV App Store may actually be more of a "Game Store" in the end with an update that adds games natively by March or earlier, according to iLounge's industry sources.
Game developers are said to testing out Bluetooth controllers that could be used in conjunction with gameplay. That would lend the Apple TV to handle more serious game experiences.
Right now, the set-top box uses the iPhone and iPad as a controller for streaming games through AirPlay. There's always been an uncomfortable amount of lag in the process.
Controller or no controller, opening up Apple TV to an app or game store could give the device the shot in the ARM processor it needs to compete with Roku 3, Chromecast and Amazon's rumored Firetube.
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Friday, January 24, 2014

What's up with the 'Lucas Uses Venmo' ads?

Venmo is a mobile payment app that lets you easily send and receive money -- but you might not know that from the company's ads.
The "Lucas Uses Venmo" campaign -- featuring a photo of a man, presumably Lucas, and a phrase about something Lucas does -- has caused a stir around parts of New York, inspiring plenty of parodies and its own Tumblr page.
Venmo co-founder Iqram Magdon-Ismail explained the concept to Fox Business' Lauren Simonetti:
"Lucas is an engineer that works at Venmo, and we thought it would be cool to showcase someone who works at the company that just uses Venmo on a daily basis," Magdon-Ismail said.
"We felt like other people would be able to relate to that, and we decided if we just put something out there, just a little statement about Lucas and Lucas uses Venmo, maybe it would catch on."
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Facebook could lose 80 percent of users by 2017, report claims

Interest in Facebook has peaked and the social network could lose up to 80 percent of its users by 2017, researchers say.
Academics at Princeton University used theories on the spread of disease combined with Google Trends data on searches for Facebook to predict the demise of the world's largest social network.
"Facebook has already reached the peak of its popularity and has entered a decline phase," they concluded. "The future suggests that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.
Facebook is worth $139 billion and has more than one billion users worldwide.
Researchers looked at the number of Google searches for Facebook, and found that they peaked in December 2012. A similar spike in searches was observed for Myspace months before it hit its peak in 2008, before heading into terminal decline.
The report said that every user who joins a social network expects to stay indefinitely, "but ultimately loses interest as their peers begin to lose interest."
They compared the decline of social networks to the spread of disease, adding: "Eventually, users begin to leave and recovery spreads infectiously as users begin to lose interest in the social network."
Professor Daniel Miller, of University College London, said simpler social networks such as Twitter and Snapchat would replace Facebook.
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Apple promises fix for iOS 7 'screen of death'

If you’re one of several iPhone users that have encountered iOS 7’s “black/white screen of death,” it looks like a fix is finally coming soon.
Apple recently confirmed that it will address the bug that has been plaguing users since its latest mobile software version launched back in September.
The problem has been causing phones to randomly shut down and reset for no apparent reason. Apple has since tried to fix the issue with subsequent software updates, but iPhone users have continued to report these unanticipated iPhone resets.
MORE: Face-Off: Apple iPad Air vs. Microsoft Surface 2
“We have a fix in an upcoming software update for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash,” a spokesperson from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company told Mashable.
Based on complaints from Apple smartphone owners, the color of the “screen of death” depends on the color of your iPhone. For instance, if you own a White & Silver smartphone the screen will turn white, if it’s a Black & Slate handset it will appear black. This is similar to the “blue screen of death” that iPhone 5s owners have been reporting, which also causes the phone to randomly restart. This is believed to be a separate issue triggered by the Numbers app in the iWork suite.
Apple’s bug fix is expected to come with its iOS 7.1 update, which is now in its fourth beta with developers.
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Monday, January 20, 2014

Mobile World Congress 2014 preview

The Consumer Electronics Show may have just shut its doors for another year, but in just over a month one of the biggest events in the mobile business opens its doors.
Mobile World Congress will see almost every big name in smartphones descend on Barcelona, Spain. Think of it as the mobile world’s E3 or Geneva Motor Show.
So what can you expect from the big names of the industry? We’ll, we’ve rounded up what we know – and what we think we know – will be on show.


After taking the wraps off a new range of tablets, you would be forgiven for thinking Samsung has nothing else to show off – aside from the Samsung Galaxy S5.
However, it does look like the South Korean company will be launching a number of devices at the show in Barcelona.
Among the handsets rumoured to be debuting at the show are shrunken versions of its existing smartphones and tablets, including a Galaxy Note 3 Lite and Galaxy Tab 3 Lite.
We might also see a mid-level variant of the Samsung Galaxy Grand, dubbed the Galaxy Grand Neo.
In addition to the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite, there’s talk that Samsung could still have a couple of tablets up its sleeve ahead of the event. One of those could be a huge 13.3-inch Android/Windows dual boot tablet.
And as if that wasn’t enough, some reports have suggested that Samsung may even show off multiple Tizen devices.
However, one thing you can be sure of is that Samsung won’t be launching the Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress.
Comments from a vice president at Samsung pretty much put pay to any suggestion that we’ll see the follow up to Samsung’s flagship smartphone before March.


This year’s Mobile World Congress will be the first since Microsoft completed its purchase of Nokia.
It’s also a pretty significant one for Nokia in other ways. The last 12 months have seen it slowly but surely increase its market share in Europe, largely at the expense of BlackBerry.
So what can you expect from Nokia this year? Aside from a multitude of slides reinforcing its growing market share, there is talk it will unveil the Lumia 1820 and Lumia 2020.
The latter is Nokia’s rumoured 8-inch tablet, while the 1820 is said to be a 5.2-inch smartphone with a 2K display, 3GB of RAM and a Lytro-style camera.
Mobile World Congress is also likely to be where we get to see Windows Phone 8.1 Blue pre-loaded on smartphones for the first time.
It comes with a multitude of updates to Windows Phone’s notification system, multitasking options and a voice-based personal assistant.


Last year HTC broke with tradition and unveiled the HTC One ahead of the event. Previous years saw it using the event to launch its flagship smartphones – could 2014 be a return to form?
If it is, you can almost be certain it will show off the successor to its award-winning HTC One smartphone – currently known by its development name, theHTC M8.
Rumours have suggested that the HTC M8 will come with a five-inch 1080p display, a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and Android 4.4 preloaded.
To be honest, we’re kind of disappointed. HTC really rocked the boat last year when it unveiled the HTC One, but the M8 is shaping up to be pretty run of the mill.
Add into the mix that it is likely to come without Beats Audio and there are a number of questions that will have to be answered at the event.
We have our fingers crossed that HTC has something up its sleeve when it does show off the device.


After a couple of years of dud handsets, LG is back in the top league of smartphone makers.
Its LG G2 smartphone has won praise from the media and is currently selling well.
However, it isn’t just the critics heaping praise on LG. Its winning of the contract to produce the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 have shown to the world that Googlebelieves in its ability to produce high quality handsets.
So what can you expect from LG? Well, if last year is anything to go by, there will be a mix of high-end and low-end devices.
There is a strong possibility that we may get our first glimpse of the LG G3. The phone is rumoured to feature a similar fingerprint scanner as the one found in theHTC One Max.
One of the handsets rumoured to be making an appearance is the LG G2 Mini.
But perhaps the biggest debut from LG might not be on its own stand…


Rumours of a new Google Nexus 10 just haven’t gone away. There are also suggestions that LG has won the contract to produce the 10-inch tablet on behalf of Google.
Other than the Nexus 10, we don’t expect there will be any new phones or devices at Google’s stand. It’s much more likely that the company will focus on attracting even more companies to develop Android smartphones.


Could Sony do the unthinkable and launch the Xperia Z2 at Mobile World Congress? The Xperia Z1 has only been on sale since September – not very long for a flagship phone.
However, with @evleaks putting its weight behind the rumour, there is a strong possibility that Sony may choose to show off its next flagship smartphone a couple of months before it launches.
As for other devices, there isn’t really anything we’re aware of in the pipeline.


Chinese smartphone maker ZTE is rumoured to be working on its first phablet. If true, Mobile World Congress would be the perfect place for it to launch such a device and get the world’s attention.
The company is also said to be prepping a smartwatch, which may also debut at the event.


The other big name in Chinese smartphones Huawei is also rumoured to be prepping to launch a smartphone at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
The Ascend P6S is the follow up to its current flagship the Ascend P6. Little is known about the smartphone, other than it is said to come with a full octa-core processor from MediaTek.

Who you won't see

Two of the big names that won’t be making the trip to Barcelona are Apple and BlackBerry – though not for the same reasons.
Apple is notorious for avoiding events where it may have to share the limelight. For example, Apple has never attended Mobile World Congress since it entered the industry with the original iPhone.
It also has a habit of stealing its rivals thunder. Two years ago, it sent out invites for the iPad 3 launch just hours before the show opened its doors. That move took the edge off the debut of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
BlackBerry’s absence is for another reason altogether. The company has already confirmed that it will be focusing on a number of smaller events around the world as it looks to rekindle people’s desire for its smartphones.
It also won’t have much to show. Many of its existing phones are already stigmatised as failures, and it has confirmed it will not be launching any new smartphones until April at least.
That wraps up what we're expecting to see - but keep tuned to as we'll bring you all the latest news from Barcelona once the show gets underway on February 24.
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

You May Soon Be Able To Buy And Sell Products Directly On Twitter

Soon, businesses may be able to sell products directly on Twitter as the company is reportedly in the final stages of making a deal with payments startup Stripe.
This according to Re/Code, citing people familiar with the deal, which is not yet complete.
Neither company is commenting, but this would be a move that we’ve seen coming from Twitter for months, if not years.
All the way back in 2011, CEO Dick Costolo spoke about commerce opportunities for Twitter. He talked about how the San Diego Chargers had used Twitter to quickly sell 1,000 tickets to a game that would have otherwise been blacked out.
“There’s a commerce opportunity there for us to take advantage of if we want,” Costolo said. “How can we remove friction from the process?”
That was over two years before Twitter went public. Now, it needs revenue streams more than ever, and it looks like they’re ready to make a move in that direction.
More recently, this past August, Twitter announced that it had hired former Ticketmaster boss Nathan Hubbard as its new Head of Commerce (Twitter really has a thing for tickets apparently). Bloomberg quoted him as saying:
“We’re going to go to people who have stuff to sell and help them use Twitter to sell it more effectively.”
“One of the hallmarks of Twitter’s entire approach has been partnering. We’re going to take the same approach with owners of physical and digital goods.”
Earlier in the year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to let cardholders use Twitter to buy things using hashtags.
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Here’s What’s About To Hit Netlfix

As you know, content comes and goes on Netflix. Each week, we’re bringing you a list of titles that you’ll be able to stream in the U.S. in the coming days.
We don’t have a huge list for you this week, but probably most noteworthy is the addition of Netflix’s Oscar-nominated documentary The Square. Netflix is apparently also releasing an Aquarium video that you can keep on your TV similar to the Fireplace For Your Home title theyoffered for the holidays
The Square (2013)
Inspiring and intense, this critically praised documentary chronicles the popular uprising in Egypt that captivated the world with scenes of courage and freedom in the face of violent opposition, igniting a history-making revolution.

Kaijudo: Clash of the Duel Masters: Season 2
In this animated action-adventure series, supernaturally gifted Ray and his pals Gabe and Allie join the brave Duel Masters to battle the Choten, an evil genius bent on subduing freedom-loving creatures and dominating the Earth.
Informant (2012)
What turned Brandon Darby from an outspoken radical to a right-wing FBI informant in only three years? This doc gets the story from the man himself. Darby explains the shift in his allegiances that made him one of activism’s most maligned figures.
And While We Were Here (2012)
Kate Bosworth, Iddo Goldberg, Jamie Blackley, Claire Bloom
Jane accompanies her cellist husband to Naples and spends her days trying to shake a case of writer’s block while he’s in rehearsal. She hoped the trip would help their troubled marriage, but she finds unexpected romance with a young American ex-pat.

Rent (2005)
Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs
Chris Columbus’s faithful adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical set in New York’s East Village boasts a slew of stars from the show’s original Broadway cast, including Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs and Jesse L. Martin. Based on Puccini’s opera “La boheme,” the story follows a group of scrappy bohemians who face true love, broken hearts, drug addiction and AIDS — and paying rent to high-powered oppressors.

Aquarium for Your Home: Goldfish
Fun to watch or just to enjoy as an atmospheric background display on your screen, this mesmerizing virtual aquarium features a collection of energetic fish having a bubbling good time.
Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)
Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan, Jack Doolan, Georgia King, Ashley Thomas
In an attempt to save their granddad’s old age home, slacker Cockneys Terry and Andy team up with three friends to rob a bank. But their caper goes awry when they run afoul of a horde of hungry zombies, who then do battle with the feisty pensioners.

Unfinished Song (2012)
Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston, Vanessa Redgrave, Anne Reid
With his wife Marion terminally ill, 72-year-old Arthur sees a future that’s nothing but grim. But when he takes Marion’s place in their church’s very unconventional choir, he begins to find joy in life again..
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Apple’s Going to Start Repairing Your Cracked iPhone 5c Screens In-Store

Good news, clumsy iPhone 5C owners. The next time you smash the screen of your iPhone 5c in a tragic drunken texting accident, you’ll soon be able to walk into an Apple Store and have your screen repaired or replaced in about an hour. And since you won’t have to swap your trusty device for a brand new phone, you can avoid all of the hassle of re-apping.
9to5 Mac is reporting that Apple will soon begin to repair busted iPhone 5C displays in-store – as early as next week. Apple’s been working on fitting all their stores with this ability for months, and now it’s about to go live.
The on-site repair will take the place of the current most-common fix for a totally-shattered iPhone screen, which is simply swapping out the busted device for a new one. That can be costly, of course.
Even at $149 (the estimated screen repair cost for those not covered), it’s still less money and less of a hassle than having to get a brand new phone.
If you’re an iPhone 5s owner – sit tight. You’re next.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vizio shows off a giant 120-inch Ultra HD TV

If you thought the LG 105-inch UHD TV was huge, Vizio's 120-inch UHD set should really make an impression. The TV, which won’t hit until the back half of the year, is part of a new Reference series of Ultra HD TVs, which have full-array LED backlights with local dimming, plus 5.1-channel soundbar speaker systems that include a separate powered subwoofer.
Despite its size—the set is about 6 feet high and 9 feet wide—the TV is stylish, mounted on a sturdy, attractive stand. One pointed difference, though: The TV’s soundbar speaker system stretches across the bottom of the set. The modular design of the stand lets you remove the integrated soundbar speaker system and wall-mount it or place it on a display table. The TV also comes with separate, powered subwoofer.
Find the right television for you with our TV buying guide and Ratings.
Pricing hasn't yet been announced for the Reference sets, which will be available in both 65- and 120-inch screen sizes. The TVs are loaded with features, including a full-array LED backlight with local dimming for 384 zones, which in conjunction with Dolby’s new High Dynamic Range technology, is said to deliver very high contrast.
They'll support 10-bit color and a wider color gamut, and include Vizio's Spatial Scaling Engine for upconverting 1080p content to the TV’s higher 3840x2160 resolution. The TVs use what Vizio calls a new V6 six-core processor, which pairs a quad-core graphics processor with a dual-core CPU for faster smart TV and graphics performance, the company claims.
Other features include dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi with support for 802.11 a/c, plus Vizio’s VIA Plus smart TV platform. The TVs have HDMI 2.0 inputs for 60-frames-per-second, plus built-in support for the new, more efficient HEVC (H.265) video format that will be used for streaming 4K content.
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Toshiba debuts 'Cloud Portal' smart TV platform on new flagship TVs

Calling UHD "the new premium" LCD TV, Toshiba hit CES 2014 today with two Ultra HD TV series, plus a new flagship 1080 line that will include a new Cloud Portal smart TV platform. Premium sets will also get Radiance, a new full-array LED backlight system with local dimming.
Toshiba also said that its current L9300-series UHD sets will be getting a free firmware update that will make the inputs HDMI 2.0 compliant so the TV can accept 60 frames-per-second video.
Toshiba's new flagship TVs will be in the L9400 series, offered in 58-, 65-, and 84-inch screen sizes. The TVs will use "Radiance 4K" panels, with a thin poster-frame design and an angled stand. The sets, which will arrive in the June-July time frame, claim to have twice the brightness of most conventional sets for better contrast and more vibrant colors. The TVs will have the full-array LED backlights, which Toshiba calls Quantum Black technology.
Jus below the L9400 sets is the L8400 series, offered in 50- and 58-inch screen sizes. Like the flagship models, these sets will Toshiba’s Cinema Quality (CQ) 4K upscaling engine, plus HDMI 2.0 inputs and built-in decoding of the new, more efficient H.265 (HEVC) video format. The TVs will also have Bluetooth and voice control capability over basic controls and functions.
Find the right set for your needs and budget with our TV buying guide and Ratings.
Those not looking for a UHD TV this year can consider Toshiba's flagship L7400 1080p series, which will arrive in March with a choice of either 47- and 55-inch screen sizes. Like the UHD TVs, these sets get the Radiance LED backlights, plus the new Cloud Portal smart TV platform. (Toshiba will also have a lower-level smart TV platform as well.) In addition, all TVs in these three series get a new “labyrinth” speaker system, which seems to use a folded-horn technology to improve audio performance, something that was generally lacking s been lacking in the Toshiba TVs we tested last year.
The TVs also feature something called sonic separation, which purports to separate voices from background sound to improve the intelligibility of dialog. But the technology, which operates via a sliding control, can also be adjusted to eliminate vocals as well, providing the TVs with a karaoke feature.
We're looking forward to getting some of these new Toshiba sets into our labs for testing, especially to see how the sound enhancements work out. 
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