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  1. Apple is reportedly working on three iPad models for this year, Digitimes reports, with the company expected to ship 80 million to 90 million iOS tablets in total in 2014. According to unnamed market sources, apple is “likely” to launch a bigger, 12.9-inch “iPad Pro” by the end of the third quarter “at the earliest.” Apple is rumored to have already asked production partners and component suppliers “to develop new models of 7.9 - and 9.7-inch tablets,” the publication writes. In addition to iPads, the report also mentions Samsung tablets, with the South Korean Android device maker expected to ship 60-70 million tablet units in 2014. Apple and Samsung are going to remain the top two players in the tablet business this year. Many reports have suggested that Apple is working on a bigger iPad model, sometimes dubbed as the “iPad Pro,” in addition to bigger iPhone versions. However, some reports claimed the 12.9-inch tablet would be launched early this year, while others said it will hit stores in late 2014. Source
  2. Apple and Samsung once again top the ranks of smartphone sales, ending Q4 of 2013 with increased numbers from the previous year. Overall, Apple lifted themselves up by 7% from 2012, grabbing 42% of all US smartphone share in Q4 of 2013. Samsung had increased numbers as well, and grew their users by 4% from 2012, grabbing 26% of all US smartphone share in Q4 of 2013. While these numbers aren’t leaps and bounds over their previous year, increases are increases, and that’s more than can be said for other manufacturers. A report from The NPD Group shows the most recent figures from the fourth quarter of last year, and while Apple and Samsung had gained users of their popular handsets, those users had to come from somewhere, and it seems that they came from Motorola, HTC, and Blackberry. NPD notes that six out of ten cell phone users in the US owned a smartphone by the end of Q4 in 2013, making up 56% of all cell phone users in the US. That’s an overall lift from 52% in 2012. As smartphones offer us more and more tools to enhance our daily lives, more and more people are realizing the benefits that they can offer. Smartphone ownership wasn’t the only thing that increased over the last year though. With increased number of smartphone users came an increased amount of data usage, with more people taking advantage of the web connected apps and features that their devices offer them. In Q4 of 2012, smartphone users were racking up 5.5GB of data usage each month, while in Q4 of 2013 smartphone users had increased that amount to about 6.6GB each month. While lots of things on the smartphones of today offer web connected features, one of the biggest factors in the data usage increase can attributed to streaming music, with 52% of smartphone owners in Q4 of last year using a music app to stream their favorite tunes, as opposed to storing their own music locally on the device. By those numbers, it would seem that music streaming could be one of the highest data consumption features we use. Source
  3. Apple employees received a note from the man in charge, Tim Cook, that the company has settled with the US Federal Trade Commission over the issue with in-app purchases. The dispute came about when parents complained that it was too easy for children to click on in-app purchases and unknowingly spend money. In the email, Cook stressed that one of Apple's primary concerns is the security and privacy of customers who use the app store. He also pointed that Apple has gone out of its way to assist customers who have suffered from unintentional in-app purchases. Check out a snippet of his staff email below: Team,I want to let you know that Apple has entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. We have been negotiating with the FTC for several months over disclosures about the in-app purchase feature of the App Store, because younger customers have sometimes been able to make purchases without their parents’ consent. I know this announcement will come as a surprise to many of you since Apple has led the industry by making the App Store a safe place for customers of all ages.From the very beginning, protecting children has been a top priority for the App Store team and everyone at Apple. The store is thoughtfully curated, and we hold app developers to Apple’s own high standards of security, privacy, usefulness and decency, among others. The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable, and we’ve continued to add ways for parents to protect their children. These controls go far beyond the features of other mobile device and OS makers, most of whom don’t even review the apps they sell to children. Source
  4. By Ben Zigterman on Jan 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM Two ex-Googlers just received $18 million from Accel and Google Ventures for a vague-yet-ambitious-sounding project called Nextbit that has something to do with mobile. Its basic website doesn’t reveal much more and only says that it is “looking to build something bigger” and that it is “building the groundbreaking technology that will take (mobile) to the next level.” Nextbit co-founder Tom Moss told Re/code that mobile computing so far as only advanced from the equivalent of the typewriter to the Apple IIe. “It’s just starting,” Moss explained. He also called the project a “moon shot,” using Google’s term for its most ambitious projects that have included self-driving cars and Google Glass. It sounds like Nextbit could be building anything from a fancy new app to an entirely new operating system. Whatever it is, Re/code says it “involves more than just Android.” Nextbit has an impressive team to build whatever it is building. Both co-founders worked on Android when it was in early development, and it has engineers from Google’s Android team, Apple’s iOS team, Dropbox, and Amazon’s AWS team. http://bgr.com/2014/01/15/nextbit-mobile-software-project-google
  5. 15 January 2014 Last updated at 18:18 GMT Parents whose children made in-app purchases without their knowledge will be refunded Apple will refund customers at least $32.5m (£19.9m) after a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The refund agreement settles long-standing complaints over in-app purchases made by children without their parents' consent. Apple will also be required to change its billing procedures to make sure customers have given consent before they are charged for in-app purchases. The company said it had settled rather than take on a "long legal fight". "This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple's unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you're doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a statement. "You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize." 'Tens of thousands' The FTC's complaint alleged that Apple failed to inform parents that by entering a password they were approving a single in-app purchase and also 15 minutes of additional unlimited purchases their children could make without further consent. It also said that Apple often presented a password prompt screen for parents to enter their details without explaining that this would finalise any purchase made in the app. The FTC also noted that Apple received at "least tens of thousands of complaints" about unauthorised in-app purchases by children. One woman said her daughter had spent $2600 in one app. This refund settlement only covers customers who have made purchases through Apple's US app store but the BBC's technology editor Rory Cellan-Jones says Apple has previously almost always refunded parents in the UK who have complained about big bills from their children's in-app purchases. The changes to Apple's billing process, which means express consent must be obtained before in-app charges are made, must be in place by 31 March, said the FTC. In an internal email obtained by the website 9to5Mac, chief executive Tim Cook told Apple employees that the FTC's proposals were in line with the company's own intentions. "The consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren't already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather that take on a long and distracting legal fight," he said. Promise He also explained that Apple began setting out a process to refund customers last year. "We wanted to reach every customer who might have been affected, so we sent emails to 28 million App Store customers - anyone who had made an in-app purchase in a game designed for kids. "When some emails bounced, we mailed the parents postcards. "In all, we received 37,000 claims and we will be reimbursing each one as promised." Apple's App Store offers many games for children, a large number of which allow in-app purchases to be made. These purchases can include virtual items or currency, and typically allow faster progression in the game. In-app purchases can range in cost - from 99 cents to just under $100. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25748292
  6. (Reuters) - Apple Inc does not use patented technology owned by Google unit Motorola Mobility in making its iPhones, an appeals court said on Friday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a decision by the International Trade Commission in April that Apple did not violate a Google patent to make the popular iPhone. The smartphone industry has seen dozens of lawsuits on several continents as Apple vies for market share with companies that make smartphones using Google's Android software. "We're disappointed in this decision and are evaluating our options," Google unit Motorola said in a statement. Apple had no comment on the decision. Motorola Mobility accused Apple in 2010 of infringing on six of its patents covering technology such as reducing signal noise and programming the device's touch screen so a user's head does not accidentally activate it while talking on the phone. The ITC ruled in April 2013 that Apple did not violate any of the six. The appeals court addressed just one of the six patents. Google acquired the patents in the case - and the lawsuit - when it purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in 2012, partly for its library of telecommunications patents. Google's Android software, which the company lets handset makers use for free, has become the world's No. 1 smartphone operating system, ahead of the iOS software used on Apple iPhones. The ITC, a U.S. trade panel that investigates patent infringement involving imported goods, is a popular venue for patent lawsuits because it can bar the importation of infringing products and because it issues decisions relatively quickly. The case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is Motorola Mobility LLC v. International Trade Commission and Apple, Inc. The case is No. 2012-1666. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Sandra Maler) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/10/us-apple-google-patent-idUSBREA090SZ20140110
  7. Encrypted chat service Cryptocat has spent the past two years blocking outsiders from reading private conversations, and now it's facing a block of its own trying to get onto Apple's App Store. Developer Nadim Kobeissi took to Twitter today to blast the iPhone and iPad maker for unjustly rejecting Cryptocat for iPhone, software that was announced earlier this month. Kobeissi says he's under a non-disclosure agreement as part of the Apple developer program and cannot go into specifics, but claims that the reasons the company gave for its rejection were "illegitimate," and could threaten similar apps. "One of the reasons for Cryptocat for iPhone's rejection by Apple strongly implies that any other encrypted group chat app can be rejected," Kobeissi said in a follow-up tweet. Cryptocat made waves for offering a simple way to let two people chat while using end-to-end encryption. The service gained international attention (and some notoriety) in light of government eavesdropping, and its use in countries where free speech was limited. That's come with some costs: Kobeissi says he's gone through extra security screenings when traveling; and fearing intrusion from the Canadian government earlier this year, he moved Cryptocat's entire network to a Swedish nuclear bunker. One thing that makes all this curious is that Cryptocat's already available on Apple's App Store for OS X, which has similar content guideline requirements. Developers need to meet those rules before software can be distributed to users, though unlike on desktop machines, Apple does not allow users to buy or install software from elsewhere on iOS. Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the rejection, which Kobeissi says he might legally challenge. Source
  8. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in November greenlighted Apple’s appeal to a U.S. district court ruling which had originally rejected the company’s request to ban accused Samsung products from the U.S. market. Last month’s Appeals court ruling has prompted Judge Lucy Koh to reconsider her original decision and has opened door to a permanent sales ban on more than twenty different Samsung smartphones and tablets. Sure enough, Apple yesterday renewed its motion to permanently halt the sales of these devices in the United States, even though Samsung no longer offers none of the devices in question… Lawyers for Apple are requesting that a separate injunction trial be held on January 30, 2014 and separately from the already scheduled infringement retrial, reports patent expert Florian Müeller on his blog, FOSS Patents. Back in August 2012, Samsung’s Galaxy devices were found to violate Apple’s three utility software patents covering the iPhone’s Multi-Touch user interface: the famous rubber-banding invention that bounces back content when a user scrolls past screen edges, tap-to-zoom and perhaps the most famous of all patents – the pinch-to-zoom invention that early Android versions did not have (at Steve Jobs’ request). On the other hand, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tentatively invalidated Apple’s ‘915 patent for pinch-to-zoom functionality, prompting Apple to file a notice of appeal with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Judge Lucy Koh had rejected a Samsung ban within the United States during the original Apple v. Samsung trial in 2011 on the basis that Apple failed to present compelling evidence that it would suffer irreparable harm should Samsung be allowed to continue selling these products. However, now that Apple has successfully appealed her ruling, Judge Koh is forced to reconsider her decision. It is important to mention that none of the accused Samsung products – such as the Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Tab - are no longer relevant. Still, Apple wants to impose a sales ban in order to prevent the South Korean giant from selling them again in the future. Bloomberg has this excerpt from Apple’s filing: Samsung’s claim that it has discontinued selling the particular models found to infringe or design around Apple’s patents in no way diminishes Apple’s need for injunctive relief. Because Samsung frequently brings new products to market, an injunction is important to providing Apple the relief it needs to combat any future infringement by Samsung through products not more than colorably different from those already found to infringe. This is why Apple’s proposed injunction seeks to also cover “any other product not more than colorably different from an Infringing Product as to a feature found to infringe,” according to court documents. By the way, Bloomberg reminds us that the two frenemies so far spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” in legal fees on claims of copying each other’s features. Source
  9. According to reports, Apple has finally signed a deal with China Mobile, the world's largest mobile phone carrier with over 750 million subscribers. The multi-year deal will allow consumers on China Mobile's network to purchase the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, and the phones will be sold in China Mobile and Apple retail stores starting January 17th. This news comes only a week after the carrier's announcement that they would be spending $13 billion to launch what will be the world's largest 4G network with over 500,000 base stations, bringing 4G access to over 340 cities in China. And according to NASDAQ, the deal will benefit both Apple and China Mobile greatly -- the carrier has nearly 500 million more subscribers than the two largest in America combined and a majority market share in China, a demographic which has largely been untapped by Apple. In October leaked documents from TENAA, a Chinese telecommunications organization, showed that iPhone 5 phones had passed certification and radio compatibility for use on China Mobile's networks, a move which strongly hinted towards a future launch. With the deal now in ink, Apple has secured a strong place in the Chinese market, which may allow them to gain the upper hand against rival competitors such as Samsung and HTC. Source
  10. geeteam

    Google sues Rockstar

    Apple led Rockstar is a group of tech companies seeking to protect a portfolio of patents that it jointly purchased last year from defunct Canadian tech giant BlackBerry Nortel. On Tuesday, Google announced that it is taking Rockstar to court in an attempt to stop litigation which it says has "placed a cloud on Google’s Android platform," in particular, on Google's Nexus range of devices. Google is trying to save many companies that use the open source Android OS, such as Asus, HTC, Huawei, Pantech, Samsung, LG and ZTE, from having to waste precious financial resources and time, defending themselves in courtrooms. The companies that make up Rockstar include Android rivals such as Apple, BlackBerry and Microsoft. In 2012, Rockstar spent $4.5 billion ($2.5 billion came from Apple) to buy a number of patents owned by Nortel. Rockstar has no operations and employs Canadian engineers whose sole job is to scour the operations of other companies, looking for something that might infringe on its IP portfolio. Google's filing claims that the patent troll has focused on 100 companies and Rockstar's CEO claims that Facebook, LinkedIn and almost every major tech company is infringing on the patents that it has purchased from Nortel. Google does not relish the idea of having to spend time and money defending itself and its customers. It is asking the court to rule that the "the Nexus 5, Nexus 7, or Nexus 10 devices sold by Google, directly or indirectly" do not infringe on the seven patents owned by Rockstar and MobileStar. The latter is a shell company that apparently was created to help Rockstar win in court. The patents owned by Rockstar deal with basic smartphone functions such as "mobile hotspot functionality," and "Messaging and Notification." Still, Rockstar has not been successful trying to license the patents it purchased and now the consortium faces the prospects of losing the $4.5 billion investment made by its members. Unless, of course, it can generate income the good old American way, by suing for it. But precedent might not be on Google's side. Early this year, a court ruled that Cisco could not sue to prevent its router customers from litigation. Google could find the courts unwilling to allow it to protect its customers from the patent troll. Rockstar is getting desperate. No one, not even Apple, is happy with having to write off a multi-billion dollar investment. It is this desperation that has Google concerned about the depths that its rivals will go to in order to see some sort of return on the purchase of the Nortel patents. Source
  11. In a recent rush of iOS 8 rumours, it has come to light that Apple will include versions of TextEdit and Preview, existing stock Mac apps, on the iPhone and iPad. This will help consolidate their vision of the file system that they have been introducing through iCloud. 9to5Mac, who are renowned for their sources, published a report with specifics on Apple's plans for iCloud today, followed by confirmation that leaked screenshots are in fact 'legitimate'. They claim Apple want to push their vision of cloud services through these apps, as currently there is no way to access documents saved to iCloud on a Mac on an iOS device. While allegedly still in early stages of development, the apps are said to built for viewing, not editing, these documents. The screenshots clearly only include placeholder icons for TextEdit and Preview, but our first glance at a seemingly completed Healthbook icon confirms reports that it will share UI elements with Passbook, an existing app with a similar icon. The 'tips' app remains a mystery addition, but we can speculate that it is some form of reminders app, a user guide, or just an internal application. Apple's Senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi has spent much of the past year converging the iOS and OS X software teams, so that they work in tandem across projects, which may be one of the reasons apps are being carried over between the two. At the same time Eddy Cue, who heads up Apple's internet services has been leading his team to develop new cloud storage systems to improve reliability in addition to helping developers integrate iCloud features into their apps. Previous reports into iOS 8 have said that the Maps app will also receive an overhaul, which will be a welcome change. The full range of features, however, will likely be announced this summer in Apple's WWDC. Original source: 9to5Mac Image credits: Weibo Additional credits: Neowin
  12. According to Horace Dediu, a mobile market analyst that is familiar with Apple's financial strategies, Samsung and Apple together take hold of 87.9% of the profits, generated in the smartphone industry for the past 6 years. From the total of $215 billion, accumulated by the phone industry for the given period, roughly $189 billion went to the said duo, Dediu claims. However, it seems that Apple holds the upper hand, as it has generated significantly more profits than the Korean manufacturer - $132.87 billion went to Cupertino, while Samsung earned no more or less than $56.11 billion. The remainder of $26 billion is split between Nokia, BlackBerry, HTC, and LG. According to Dediu, Nokia's earnings for the last 6 years account for a total of $20.5 billion, which grants the Finnish company the third place among the most profitable smartphone manufacturers. HTC, on the other hand, lands on the fourth place with 2.8% of the total industry earnings, whereas BlackBerry and LG take the 5th and 6th place. Sony balances the books with 0% earnings, but Motorola scores an unpleasant financial result of -2.8%, which means that the company lost significantly more than it earned. $215b: Net phone operating profits earned last 6 yrs. Moto: -2.8% Sony: 0 LG: 1.2 HTC: 2.8 RIM: 1.9 Nokia: 9.5 Samsung: 26.1 Apple: 61.8 — Horace Dediu (@asymco) March 18, 2014 Source
  13. Apple today released an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c. This new variation of the device is competely identical with the 16GB and the 32GB versions of the smartphone, except for the obvious difference in the internal storage space. The device is already listed in some of Apple's online stores across the globe. The latest addition to the iPhone 5c family is also available with most of the major mobile carriers in Europe. For example, O2, the second largest carrier in the UK, offers the iPhone 5c with several conracts. These start from $21.63 (£13) with an upfront cost of $682 (£409.99), but you can also opt to get Apple's "affordable" device for $71 (£43) a month with no upfront payment. As a comparison, O2 has put a $782 (£469.99) price tag on the 16GB version of the iPhone 5c off contract, whereas the older iPhone 4s will set you back $598.95 (£359.99). SFR, another carrier that already offers the just-released iPhone 5c 8GB, will let you get the Apple-branded smartphone off contract for as much as $834.47 (EUR599). You can also claim the device for $41.78 (EUR 29.99) a month with a contract. Apple's move most probably aims to boost up the sales of the iPhone 5c, which is everything but a bestseller device, because consumers usually opt for the slightly more expensive, but more premium iPhone 5s. We already told you that the Cupertino company purportedly stockpiled at least 3 million units of the iPhone 5c, 2 million of which stashed at Pegatron, one of Apple's contract manufacturers. We are expecting the iPhone 5c 8GB to hit all of Apple's online stores pretty soon. The price of the device in the USA will probably be around the $500 mark for the unlocked version. Would you consider getting one? Source
  14. According to performance monitoring by Crittercism, a mobile solutions firm, the freshly-released iOS 7.1 has a crash rate of only 1.6%. This is the best stability achievement in iOS's recent history, with versions from 6 to 7 having crashes of above 2%. For example, iOS 7.0.4 had an app crash rate of 2.1%, which means that either testing went over really well, or Apple has done an impressive work of optimizing the latest installment of iOS. Reportedly, a significant number of iOS 6 users who hesitated to upgrade to iOS 7 have now switched to version 7.1. Also notable is how quickly the update was adopted. Ad network and analysis agency Chitika claims that 12% of the devices that accessed its ads were running iOS 7.1 about 45 hours after its release. That's all fine and dandy, but Apple customers have been complaining of poor battery life, drops in connectivity, and random reboots since installing the update. Other users, meanwhile, have been enjoying their iDevices as usual. Either way, Apple has not yet commented on the situation. Source
  15. Apple may be trying to compete with phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note III if a new rumor that the iPhone 6 will have two different screen size options is accurate. The Japanese newspaper Nikkei has reported that Apple suppliers in East Asia have already started to manufacture sensors and display ports for this new addition to the Apple family, which could be released as soon as September. Nikkei's report claims the phone will likely be released in 4.7- and 5.5-inch variants, which would both be noticeably larger than the current iPhone's 4-inch screen. Many have speculated that, because of the battle of screen sizes, Apple might be creating a new iPhone with a screen larger than 5 inches, although a well-connected analyst by the name of Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities says otherwise. Kuo, an accurate source of similar information in the past, claims that Apple won’t actually increase the size of the iPhone’s screen, but instead Apple is continuing its focus on making product that can be easily used with one hand. Although the new iPhone’s screen won’t be bigger, Kuo claims that the screens resolution will be “significantly higher” than the current Retina Display's of 326 PPI. Many companies, such as Sharp, Japan Display and LG, are expected to take part in producing the iPhone 6’s Retina Display. Along with rumors such as a higher resolution Retina Display, the new iPhone is rumored to have a sapphire-coated display, reduced bezel design (such as the Galaxy S4), along with other far-fetched rumors, though little concrete evidence has been provided. Source: Nikkei via AppleInsider | Image via TechFaster
  16. Microsoft has a pretty generous installation policy for people who want to use the full version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Apple's iPad. People who have an Office 365 Home Premium subscription are allowed, via Microsoft's End User License Agreement, to install and use the full versions of those apps on up to five iPads, in addition to up to five Windows and Mac PCs, for the price of $9.99 a month or $99.99 for 12 months. However, as CNet reports, it looks like anyone with a Microsoft account and a paid Office 365 subscription can simply pass that login information to others in order to activate more Office on iPad apps beyond the five tablet limit. In fact, there seems to be no restrictions on just how much an Office 365 subscription can be shared. In a statement, Microsoft admits, "Similar to our commercial use rights, we do not strictly enforce the limit on tablet installations, but trust that our users respect and understand the device limits outlined in the EULA." The company did say that it tracks the number of tablet installs on each Office 365 account so in theory someone who abuses the limit could be discovered. Of course, unlike a stand-alone software product purchase, Office 365 subscriptions could not be renewed by the original account holder so if that happens all those Office for iPad installs will revert back to "read only" mode. Source: CNet
  17. geeteam

    Android twice as stable as iOS

    The latest report coming out of mobile app management company Crittercism indicates that in looking at recent versions of the two most popular mobile OSs, Android and iOS, it’s the Google OS that’s actually the more stable one. The study is done by measuring the crash rate of app across both platforms, which Crittercism has published in its first ever Mobile Experience Benchmark. The report, which studied crash reports from 1 billion mobile users over a one month period, heartily dismisses the stigma that iOS is the more stable OS. While iOS 6, 7.0, and 7.1 crashed 2.5%, 2.1%, and 1.7% of the time, respectively, Android versions performed better across the board, going back to Android 2.3 with a 1.7% crash rate, and all versions since 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich had just 0.7% crash rates. Crittercism says that tablet versions of apps tend to be less stable than their smartphone counterparts, an area where Android developers are lagging behind iOS ones. This means that Android should see even more of an improvement as more developers optimize their apps for tablet usage. When it comes to actual devices, Samsung droids had the lowest crash rates among both tablets and smartphones, while the iPhone 5 surprisingly beat out the iPhone 5s as the more stable device. Source
  18. Fortune has come out with its annual list of the world’s most admired companies and it looks like big tech companies are once again the envy of the world. The survey, which asked corporate execs to name the companies that they admire the most, placed Apple, Amazon and Google in the top 3 spots while companies such as Samsung (No. 21), Microsoft (No. 24) and Facebook (No.38) also found spots on the list. Apple’s place atop Fortune’s list isn’t surprising since it’s occupied that spot for 7 straight years now. The one chink in Apple’s armor, says Fortune, is that investors are getting nervous waiting for the company to release its “next big thing,” although that shouldn’t be too much of a concern for a company that hauled in $171 billion in revenues last year. As for Amazon, Fortune says that it’s used both “customer-centric culture and super-convenience” to “gobble up brick-and-mortar stores left and right.” Even better, Fortune says that Amazon’s “ambitions show no signs of abating: it recently jumped into the art market, and has started producing video, music, and literary content.” And finally, Fortune writes that Google “continues to find ways to make life easier (sometimes creepily so) via mind-blowing Internet products” while also spending lots of resources on “moonshot” projects such as Google Glass and self-driving cars. Source
  19. The 86th Academy Awards will be streamed live this Sunday to those using the Watch ABC app. But ABC will only offer the entire program to those who are subscribers to certain cable-TV networks in specific markets. Those cable networks taking part in the live stream include AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Midcontinent Communications and Verizon FiOS. The locations where the live stream will be available include Los Angeles; San Francisco; Fresno, Calif.; Houston; Chicago; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Philadelphia and New York. Samsung Galaxy will be sponsoring once again, the "Oscars Backstage" which is open to all Watch ABC users whether or not they are subscribers to the participating cable networks mentioned above. There will be three channels with 15 cameras that include the "thank-you cam," winners’ walk and the press room. Video highlights and the "Oscars Backstage" clips will be available 5 to 10 minutes after they air live. Verified users will have "on demand" access to the entire telecast for three days after the live show. ABC has also decided to take down its dedicated Oscars app, which first launched in 2011 to stream backstage and red carpet action. As we said, those with the Watch ABC app will be able to view those activities free. ABC will start its telecast of the Academy Awards Sunday, March 2nd at 7pm EST. The Watch ABC app is available at Oscar.com, ABC.com, and WatchABC.com. It is also available via iOS and Android apps found at the App Store and Google Play Store respectively. Besides the Oscars, those with authenticated access to Watch ABC will be able to view the Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars special, which will be streamed live this Sunday after local news on the East Coast and at 10pm PST in the West. Source
  20. Google has released a major update to the iOS version of the Hangouts mobile app. Whereas the previous app left a lot to be desired and didn’t look or work as you’d expect from an app on iOS, the updated version completely changes that and also adds some new features. One of the most noticeable changes in the new version is the new UI redesigned for iOS 7. The conversation list view is different and you’ll see your profile right up top. Click on it and you’ll get options related to your profile, such as account settings and snooze settings. The chat list looks different and you can now swipe on an item in the list and get options to favorite, video call the contact, mute or archive the conversation. All of this works with silky smooth fancy new transition animations. The chat view is different, too, and much classier than before. There is now an attachment button next to the text box that lets you add an image, location (previously available on Android but now on iOS as well) and a new addition, stickers. Yes, Hangouts finally gets support for stickers and the iOS app is the first one to have them. This feature is not yet available on Android app or the Chrome extension, although you can still view them since they are simply animated GIFs. The stickers in question are just animated versions of the Hangouts/Android KitKat emoji. The iPad version gets the bulk of the UI changes with a new split screen mode that makes better use of the larger screen. The previous Hangouts app would just fill the whole screen and looked like a stretched mobile app but the new one splits the screen into conversation list on the left and chats on the right. If you go landscape you’ll also see a video call button on the right. To start a video call, simple drag the button across the screen towards the left. The iPad app also gets picture-in-picture video calling, the way you do on desktop Hangouts. Lastly, there is also a new ten-second video clip feature, that lets you record and send ten-second clips to your contacts instead of doing the whole video call thing. The new Hangouts app for iOS is finally a legit app that offers the quality that you expect from an app on iOS, with a high level of polish and good design decisions. It’s out on the App Store now and if you use Hangouts you should definitely update to it immediately. -|Download Link|-App Store Source
  21. By Mary Jo Foley February 14, 2014 19:40 GMT Microsoft's Office for iPad, codenamed Miramar, isn't dead. In fact, it just might beat Microsoft's own touch-first Office implementation for Windows to market. It must be a slow news day. I see a number of folks trying to parse recent statements by Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller -- who described Microsoft's approach to balancing its Windows and cross-platform plans as "thoughtful" -- as meaning Microsoft plans to drag its feet on Office for iPad. Office for iPad -- which I've recently heard is codenamed "Miramar" -- isn't dead. In fact, it's likely to make it to market ahead of Microsoft's touch-first version of Office (codenamed "Gemini") according to a couple of my sources. Here's a quick recap on what I've heard from Microsoft officials, as well as my own contacts, about Office for iPad. Microsoft officials have acknowledged, in a somewhat roundabout way, that it exists and is coming. Last we heard, it sounded from ex-CEO Steve Ballmer that it was going to arrive some time after Microsoft's own touch-first, "Gemini" implementation of Office. Gemini is Microsoft's Metro-Style/Windows Store versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. But I hear Ballmer and the senior leaders of the company may have had a change of heart towards the end of last year. According to one of my contacts, Ballmer OK'd the suggestion by the Office team that they'd bring Office for iPad to market as soon as it was ready, even though that would likely mean before the Windows 8 version. I'm hearing that new date for Office for iPad is some time in the first half of calendar 2014. (My sources last summer were hearing Office for iPad wouldn't debut until Fall 2014.) I still haven't heard exactly how Microsoft will make Office for iPad available. I've heard it's likely to require some kind of Office 365 subscription (either corporate or Home Premium, depending on the use case). If I were a betting woman, I'd count on it saving files by default to OneDrive (the soon-to-be-renamed SkyDrive) or OneDrive for Business, with options to save locally. The Office 365 tie-in isn't hard to imagine, given Microsoft has made Office Mobile available for iPhones and Android phones, with an Office 365 subscription requirement. As you might expect, Microsoft officials are declining to comment on anything having to do with Office on iPad. But don't believe the naysayers: Office for iPad is coming. And sooner than many think. http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-office-on-ipad-its-alive-and-coming-sooner-than-most-think-7000026372
  22. In case you missed it, yesterday we exclusively reported that OneDrive is getting a new “co-owned folders” feature. But the good news doesn’t stop here, as we have received more exclusive information regarding what’s to come with OneDrive. LiveSide has learnt that OneDrive will offer up to an extra 8 GB of storage for users when they complete certain tasks. Below is a screenshot showing the welcome screen outlining how you can get this extra storage: We understand that when OneDrive launches, there will be two bonus offers for users to get extra free storage, these include: Referral bonus – Users will be able to earn up to a maximum of 5 GB of extra storage by referring their friends to join OneDrive. For every friend you invite and actually joins OneDrive, both you and your friend will get an extra 500 MB of storage. You can only refer up to 10 friends for this offer. Camera roll bonus – Users will be able to earn 3 GB of extra storage by simply choosing to sync photos from their camera roll to OneDrive using the OneDrive app for iOS, Android, or the built-in Windows Phone function. We understand that these bonus storage will be in addition to the free 7 GB of storage that all new users get (or if you were one of the early SkyDrive adopters, 25 GB), and that they do not expire. As always, whilst we’re certain that the information is accurate at the time of posting, things may change between now and when OneDrive gets released. But this should be welcoming news to many – after all who wouldn’t like some extra free storage? Source
  23. By Ina Fried 8, 2014, 9:00 AM PST Tim Cook has made it abundantly clear that Apple will be going into some new market segments this year. He said it on last month’s earnings call, and reiterated it this week in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “There will be new categories and we’re working on some great stuff,” Cook told the Journal this week, adding, of course, “We’re not ready to talk about it.” Whatever it is Apple has cooking (and many expect a watch, or possibly a more serious entry in the television space), it can’t come soon enough. While smartphones continue to grow, most of that growth is in the low-end and mid-tier of the market — areas Apple has continued to eschew in favor of producing premium iPhone models. In its earnings report this week, chipmaker ARM Holdings forecast that the high-end part of the smartphone market — the only part in which Apple currently competes — will grow only an average of four percent over the next five years. The overall market is set to grow 10 percent, fueled by growth at the low end. “Anybody in the premium space has to be careful,” ARM Executive VP Antonio Viana said in an interview this week. Apple is most definitely in that space, with the iPhone generating $32.5 billion last quarter, more than half of Apple’s total sales. And while Apple isn’t alone in that area, it is the only company that sells phones exclusively at the high end. Rival Samsung has a particularly diverse portfolio of smartphones, with a model at almost every price and screen size. Apple hasn’t ruled out moving into other price segments, but Cook has said Apple won’t do so unless it can do something up to its high standards, a point he reiterated with the Journal. Where it comes to true smartphones, Cook said Apple is typically No. 1 or No. 2 in the market. “Would I like to be one in the places where we are two? You better believe it,” he told the Journal. “If there is a way we can do that without changing where our line is on a great product, then we’re going to do it. But what we’re not going to do is we’re not going to make junk.” http://recode.net/2014/02/08/this-one-chart-shows-why-apples-new-categories-cant-come-soon-enough
  24. By Caleb Garling on February 6, 2014 They keep disappearing. In 2012 it was BitPak. Last November it was Coinbase. Earlier this month it was CoinJar. And on Wednesday it was Blockchain. Apple has been eliminating apps in its App Store that process or deal with the popular cryptocurrency bitcoin. Cupertino allows plenty of other payment apps like PayPal, Venmo and a variety of banking apps, so the exception for those dealing in bitcoin has raised questions why Apple has been zeroing in on the controversial currency. The US Justice Department has said virtual currencies aren’t illegal. In typical style, Apple did not return a request for comment. But there are two main theories here: the first is that Cupertino wants to eliminate nascent competition for its own payment platform. Apple executives have recently had discussions with outside companies over payments for physical goods and services on its devices, according Wall Street Journal sources. The company has filed for a patent for something resembling iMoney. The other theory is that Apple doesn’t want to deal with a technology with such a murky legal and regulatory future. When it eliminated Coinbase Apple said it needed to “comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users,” an echo of its App Store review guidelines. But after its banishing, Blockchain fell into the crush-the-competition camp. “Offering no explanation and no opportunity to address any issues, without any apparent change in circumstances other than the growing popularity of the independent and competitive payment system, Apple has eradicated their payment competition on iOS,” wrote CEO Nicolas Cary after quoting Apple’s famous ode to the crazy ones and the misfits. “We need [bitcoin users] to take a stand against Apple, make noise, complain, and show Apple that there will be consequences to their actions.” Some obliged. A string of videos appeared on YouTube of bitcoin enthusiasts smashing their iPhones. One guy even used a high-powered rifle (see below). A Reddit user had promised them a replacement Nexus 5, which runs Google’s Android and allows bitcoin apps, if they went through with the protest. (It’s not clear if the promise was made good.) But Cary’s cry was a noticeable departure from the previous bitcoin apps that had been nixed, which have (publicly) fallen in the second camp or opted for silence. To put it mildly, bitcoin’s place in the future of finances is unclear. The government has said bitcoin has benefits and is not illegal, but hasn’t taken much action otherwise. But major markets like India and China have expressed greater concerns over bitcoin, and Apple’s terms and service do note that an app must be legal whereever it’s offered. Bitcoin has hit the spotlight over the past year for the right and wrong reasons. It was the only currency accepted on Silk Road, a digital underground marketplace mostly of illegal goods like drugs and stolen goods. But at the same time large corporations like Overstock.com have started accepting bitcoin — though immediately flips it to the more stable dollar. Bitcoin’s exchange rate has been, again putting it mildly, volatile. Messaging app Gliph allowed users to attach bitcoins to messages until Apple stepped in and told them to remove the capability. “There wasn’t any negotiation other than them saying what was going to be allowed or not allowed,” says CEO Rob Banagale. (Here’s a copy of Gliph’s appeal letter.) Yet despite the one-way negotiation, Banagale doesn’t buy the idea that Apple is trying to squash nascent payment competition or hurt the growth of bitcoin. Apple’s lawyers have been getting plenty of work these days. The company is fighting a huge intellectual property suit against Samsung. The Justice Department has been pursing Cupertino for collusion on pricing its e-books. The government is starting to take a harder look at offshore tax havens used by big tech companies. So with the murky regulatory future of bitcoin, he speculates the company just wants to nip a problem in the bud. When CoinJar was nixed, the company said much of the same. In the grand scheme of Apple’s app ecosystem, Blockchain’s 120,000 users and a handful of petition signers are a rounding errors. “I think the primary reason is the company has bigger fish to fry,” Banagale says. But he is a full-throated supporter of bitcoin as part of the future of payments. “It’s a little strange to have Apple be on what feels like the wrong side.” San Francisco’s Coinbase, which provides the software to manage bitcoins, has recently integrated with financial management software Mint, processes payments for Overstock and has taken over $30 million in investments from Andreessen Horowitz and others. While the future value of bitcoin is highly debatable, this is no fly-by-night operation. The company declined comment. You can find other bitcoin apps in the App Store, but the only ones I could find monitored exchange rate — they didn’t actually trade the currency, a notable difference. Google’s Play Store, the equivalent of the App Store on Android phones, has versions of Coinbase and Blockchain. Though the company has never been known for a long attention span, a recent story in Forbes indicated Google is showing signs that it will embrace the cryptocurrency. Though speculation is hot on Apple’s opaque motives, it is clear Bitcoin is not going anywhere. Here’s the dude destroying his iPhone with a rifle http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2014/02/06/apple-bitcoin
  25. By Zal Bilimoria, Partner, Andreessen Horowitz February 6, 2014, 7:30 AM PST Back in 2011, I was having an all-consuming love affair with tablets. At the time, I was the first-ever head of mobile at Netflix. I saw tablets in my sleep, running apps that would control homes, entertain billions and dutifully chug away at work. Tablets, I was convinced, were a third device category, a tweener that would fill the vacuum between a phone and a laptop. I knew that was asking a lot — at the time, however, I didn’t know just how much. I wasn’t the only one swooning in the presence of the iPad and its imitators. Everyone was getting in on the love fest. The typically sober analysts over at Gartner were going ballistic with their shipment predictions for the iPad, and a flurry of soon-to-be-launched Android tablets. Amazon (Kindle Fire), Barnes & Noble (Nook Tablet), HP (TouchPad running webOS) and even BlackBerry (PlayBook) all rushed into the market to take on Apple, which commanded 70 percent of the tablet market one year after Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPad. On the software side, startups like Flipboard, tech giants like Adobe and even large enterprises like Genentech were quickly assembling teams to take advantage of this new platform. Now — three years and 225 million tablets later — I’m starting to see how misplaced that passion was. The tablet couldn’t possibly shoulder all the expectations people had for it. Not a replacement for your laptop or phone — but kinda. Something you kick back with in the living room, fire up at work and also carry with you everywhere — sort of. Yes, tablets have sold in large numbers, but rather than being a constant companion, like we envisioned, most tablets today sit idle on coffee tables and nightstands. Simply put, our love for them is dying. In some ways, I shouldn’t be surprised — the tablet has let me down before. A decade ago, I was at Microsoft trying to convince both consumers and big companies to buy tablets. A number of hardware manufacturers were partnering with Microsoft to finance and market the development of devices running Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition — a mouthful, yes, and not many customers were interested in even taking a bite. We teamed up with HP, Toshiba, NEC and Fujitsu, all of whom spent millions alongside Microsoft, and failed to create a bona fide category at the time. Why? “Tablet PCs,” as they were known, required a stylus (versus today’s touch-interaction model), and more importantly, only had a few tablet-optimized apps. We now know that’s a recipe for disaster. But a few years later, it seemed that the world had changed, and the tablet was finally going to live up to all its promise. At Netflix, the tablet was stealing time from the browser with increasing speed month after month. To take advantage of that shift, I focused our entire team’s efforts on a complete redesign of the tablet app. We introduced a slew of features that took advantage of the screen size and touch interface. It was, if I may say, beautiful. Post-launch, the new app significantly increased retention and streaming hours. It won reviewer praise, barely missing out on winning the Best Tablet App of 2011 at the Crunchies — it was a hit. And then it seemed, as soon as it had arrived, the tablet lost its momentum. At Netflix, we witnessed a dramatic increase in phone usage for the streaming service — all that binge-watching of “Sons of Anarchy” and “House of Cards.” The reason was obvious: As phone apps improved in terms of quality and speed, users abandoned their tablets for the device in their pocket that could access the Web anywhere and anytime from Wi-Fi or cellular connections. Conversely, only 12 percent of tablets have cellular connections, instantly making them non-mobile devices. And very few people will shell out for a second wireless plan in addition to their phone. Based on the momentum of the phone, Netflix decided to merge the tablet and phone UIs. Even the awards circuit lost interest in the tablet. The year after our tablet app premiered, the Crunchies ditched the Best Tablet App award. They haven’t brought it back since. What I realize now is that it has been the phone all along. What we are witnessing today is a merger of phones and tablets, not just at Netflix but everywhere, which is why this decade’s attempt at tablets is nearing its death — just four years after Jobs launched the original iPad. It comes down to size. The vast majority of the hundreds of millions of people who use tech every day are just fine with having two primary computing devices: One for your pocket and one for your desk. Tablets are trying (and failing) to be portable enough to go everywhere, yet large enough to be multipurpose. Despite all the keyboard origami and elaborate ways to make your tablet into a laptop, it isn’t one. Stop trying. Consumers know it — the latest sales data has shown that worldwide tablet sales may have already peaked. PCs took a full three decades to reach market saturation, whereas tablets may have already topped off at the four-year mark. So, how do tablets evolve from here? What we’ve seen Apple do is shrink the tablet and stretch the phone. Rumors abound that it will launch a five-inch phone later this year, which would follow in the path of successfully launched products from Samsung, HTC and dozens of other Asian phone manufacturers. Follow the trend to its logical conclusion, and it’s quite possible that the two categories will merge this decade. I’m not saying that tablets will disappear completely. Tim Cook believes that tablet growth will recover as enterprise adoption accelerates and CIOs become convinced of the merits of the platform. But it’s also possible that tablets may simply evolve into single-purpose devices found in kitchens, schools and other situations where keyboards are cumbersome and large screens are preferred. That’s not quite the revolution that we all originally had hoped for. More to the point, China and the rest of Asia may teach the world that convergence to a single five-inch device that fits in your pocket or purse will be the best route to profits. “Phablets” like the Oppo N1 running Cyanogen may have already launched the third and final wave of “tablet” innovation. Cue the sad music for the tablet we all loved, and that many still do. Except now as I glance over at my original iPad, iPad mini, Kindle Fire and Motorola Xoom, acting like paperweights, I realize I don’t miss them — especially when I am curled up with my five-inch phone fitting comfortably in one hand. Love is harsh, the pace of technology innovation is harsher, but the future certainly does look phabulous. http://recode.net/2014/02/06/our-love-affair-with-the-tablet-is-over
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