Next Generation Web: Will Siri Spark Machines Talking to Machines?

  • In a post that describes what should follow after Siri, GigaOM suggests, “Apple’s artificial intelligence is only the tip of the iceberg as we combine ubiquitous connectivity, sensor networks, big data and new methods of AI and programming into a truly connected network.”
  • The next generation of the Web will “connect machines to machines and connect those machines back to people” with advancements in low-power, cheap sensors and “better ways of programming computers so that they can understand data from several million end points.”
  • The necessary connectivity exists currently and improvements of sensors for tracking everything — weather, inventory, traffic conditions, etc. — will provide the necessary information.
  • From there, programming and better AI like Siri, “will allow machines to parse the data from billions of sensors and notify people to take action only when needed.”

Amazon Trade-In Program Now Accepts Kindles, Non-Amazon E-Readers

  • Amazon announced it has expanded its trade-in program to include the Kindle and other e-readers.
  • A used Kindle is reportedly worth $25 to $135, and the customer will receive an Amazon gift card in exchange.
  • To help encourage trade-ins, the company is also offering free shipping.
  • “With the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire on the horizon, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many e-reader owners take advantage of this program,” suggests TechCrunch. “Simply visit Amazon’s Trade-In page and enter in the name of your model.”

Sprint to Limit Unlimited 4G Mobile Broadband: Will Smartphones be Next?

  • Sprint announced it will replace its unlimited 4G mobile broadband for mobile hotspots and devices with three new tiered data plans.
  • Starting in November, “users of mobile hotspots, USB modems, tablets and notebooks will pay $45 for 3GB of combined 3G and 4G, $60 for 5GB and $90 for 10GB of combined data,” where before only 3G data had limits.
  • “Sprint was already showing signs that it couldn’t keep up the unlimited game forever,” reports GigaOM. “It announced last month that it was doing away with unlimited data for its smartphone hotspot feature and was capping data at 5GB a month.”
  • Some are concerned that this prefaces the end of Sprint’s unlimited data plans for smartphones, a differentiating factor from other providers and a selling point for the Sprint iPhone.

Amazon KF8 Format is Designed to Unleash the Power of HTML5

  • Looking for the flexibility and power of HTML5, Amazon has announced its new e-book format, Kindle Format 8 (KF8).
  • The new format will help take advantage of the richer features expected with its upcoming Android-powered, full-color Kindle Fire.
  • “HTML5 features such as CSS3 formatting, nested tables, SVG graphics, embedded fonts, and borders are all now supported,” reports Ars Technica. “The new format includes much richer layout options, including fixed layouts — essential for accurate reproduction of many children’s books — and panel-based layouts for comic books. Books can include sidebars and callouts, text overlaid on background images, boxes, drop caps, and more.”
  • KindleGen 2, the new KF8 publishing tool, is expected to be available soon.

New Report: 40 Million Mobile Users Access Social Networks Daily

  • The number of Americans who use social networks has grown 37 percent over the past year, according to comScore.
  • In August for example, 72.2 million Americans accessed social sites or blogs via mobile devices.
  • “Nearly 40 million U.S. mobile phone users, which accounts for more than half of the mobile social media audience, use social sites while on the go nearly every day,” reports Computerworld. “As a result, mobile devices are an increasingly important part of the burgeoning social media market.”
  • The new comScore study also indicates the number of mobile users who accessed Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn increased by at least 50 percent for each service in the past year.

Squashing Rumors: Why Apple Will Not Release a 7-inch iPad Mini

  • Recent speculation has suggested that Apple will produce an “iPad mini” to compete with the $199 price tag of the Amazon Kindle Fire, but many analysts doubt the possibility.
  • For one, if Apple is looking to compete with the Kindle Fire — which it has already denounced as a threat — it would have to compete in price, not size. A recent study showed that two-thirds of consumers want 10-inch devices while only 9 percent want a 7-inch tablet.
  • “We expect Apple to maintain its premium price point on tablets,” wrote Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. “Apple will not allow Amazon to dictate the terms of competition — Apple makes its own rules.”
  • Additionally, the new size would complicate the development of apps, which have been specifically designed for the 3.5-inch and 9.7-inch displays of current Apple devices.
  • And the final reason: “Steve Jobs emphatically stated that 7-inch tablets are too small for a pleasant touchscreen experience,” writes Wired.

Standing in Line, Woz Discusses How the iPhone 4S will Change His Life

  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak likes the excitement of a new product release and tries to be first in line, despite the fact that Apple will ship him products.
  • He was #1 on line at the Apple store in Los Gatos, California and stayed up all night tweeting about it.
  • TechCrunch interviewed “Woz” (on iPhone video) as he discussed his enthusiasm for Siri: “This is the way I want all mobile devices to be in the future.”
  • “I’m so tired of pushing buttons, tapping things to get the right things done on a phone,” he added. “I just want to talk my thoughts to it.”
  • He also notes that he no longer wants to be sent somewhere that might have answers: “Google is known for search engines. I say search engines should be replaced by answer engines.”

TV Viewers Like their Tablets and Phones: Stay Tuned for More Innovation

  • A new study from Nielsen shows that approximately 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners use their devices on a daily basis while simultaneously viewing television. The figures jump to 70 percent for users who do the same several times a week.
  • Most of these viewers are primarily checking email, followed by surfing information and accessing social networks, suggesting strong potential for second-screen applications.
  • The study suggests users are accessing social networks more than websites with information related to the TV program. “Unfortunately, the study doesn’t break down if people are 1) participating or just listening to social conversations and 2) if the conversations are related to the TV program at hand,” reports Lost Remote. “But it’s probably safe to say that more viewers are more inclined to talk about (or listen to) conversations about a TV show than proactively look up expanded content about it.”
  • Successful second-screen apps should bring together “social conversations, expanded content and interactive (even synchronized) advertising,” suggests the article. “Compelling second-screen experiences, in theory, will move the needle more in the ‘related’ direction, making TV viewers more engaged overall.”

Will Siri Serve as the Foundation for our Next-Gen Remote Controls?

  • If consumers take to the new virtual personal assistant technology Siri, featured in Apple’s iPhone 4S, we may see significant change to other devices such as the TV remote control.
  • Norman Winarsky, VP of ventures at SRI (involved in the development of Siri), told MIT’s Technology Review that, “within a decade, virtual personal assistants would be ubiquitous, integrated into the fabric of many devices,” and that their value could hike into the 100 billion dollar level.
  • “Wouldn’t it be nice to finally do away with the remote control, a device that begins to look so clunky and antiquated in our era of iEverythings?” asks Technology Review. “Apple has not announced any plans to bring Siri to devices other than the iPhone 4S, but the idea doesn’t seem so farfetched. It’s quite possible that the next refresh of the Apple TV could use a speedier A5 dual-core chip, speculates Cult of Mac — which would give the device the processing power necessary to run Siri.”
  • According to the article, Siri offers much more than just voice recognition: “Siri is good at parsing the words you say, but more importantly, its impressive artificial intelligence is able to discern their meaning, and take appropriate actions… As smart TVs become a next battleground for Internet-connected devices, let’s hope our remote controls get smarter, too.”

New Studies Make Predictions for the Future of Connected Devices

  • The GSMA released research this week that outlines the market opportunity and revenue potential for connected devices.
  • According to the press release: “The research shows that the number of total connected devices is expected to increase from approximately 9 billion today to more than 24 billion in 2020, and within that, mobile connected devices will grow 100 per cent from more than 6 billion today to 12 billion in 2020.”
  • This would create a $1.2 trillion market opportunity for the wireless industry, seven times what is expected for 2011.
  • “We are entering the next phase in the development of the mobile industry, one where we will see mobile connect everything in our lives,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer for GSMA. “In this new Connected Life, mobile will transform society and will have a profound effect on the way we interact not only with each other, but also with our surroundings.”
  • These opportunities include increased connectivity with appliances, consumer electronic devices, and across sectors such as the health and automotive industries.
  • In a related story, Jon Peddie Research predicts that 300 million tablets will ship in 2016. Also, the firm expects three quarters of a billion smartphones will ship in 2016 and there will be increases in handheld game consoles and e-book readers.
  • “The processors powering these devices will be truly amazing, consuming remarkably little power, built in the latest nanometer technology, and delivering unbelievable performance and functionality,” suggests the Jon Peddie report. “And although all of the devices will share some functionality and capabilities, no single device will kill any of the others…at least immediately. Each device will have a different form, primary function, and price. All will be connected all the time, and most will have 3D displays and cameras.”

Carriers May Help Close the Gap for Android Enterprise Adoption

  • While Android has so far trailed Apple in enterprise adoption, GigaOM reports that Motorola’s subsidiary 3LM, “has finally launched its security, management, and remote access platform for Android devices” that will enable:
  • “Device encryption of full memory and SD card data; selective encryption of corporate applications; remote wipe capabilities and whitelist/blacklist of applications; and control applications’ access to corporate resources.”
  • “Enhanced security and control of device, OS, and applications; remote installs of critical enterprise application; device tracking.”
  • “Secure remote access to enterprise resources and device health and status checking.”
  • The post also indicates that AT&T has announced “Toggle,” which allows Android users to separate professional and personal use by creating two different modes. This will help keep personal data private from IT managers.
  • Apple has made gains in the enterprise with iPad and iPhone integration, but this news suggests that “with better management tools that augment what already exists on Android, it may help boost Android’s acceptance in the enterprise…”

Why are Consumers Buying the iPhone 4S and not Waiting for Version 5?

  • Launch day pre-orders for Apple’s iPhone 4S have already reached capacity, according to Verizon, AT&T and Apple. The only remaining model that is available for pre-sale is Sprint’s 32GB model.
  • In just 24 hours, the iPhone 4S pre-orders reportedly beat the one million mark, despite disappointment regarding no announcement yet for the iPhone 5.
  • According to Forbes, people aren’t waiting for the iPhone 5 for five reasons: 1) Users just want the latest technology now and aren’t going to wait; 2) “Many believe that the iPhone 4S really is the iPhone 5” and that Apple simply decided to misname it; 3) Sprint users can now join the iPhone club; 4) The 8 megapixel camera; and 5) “People really need a personal assistant” — while Siri may not be a “revolution,” many consumers are interested in the voice-recognition software.
  • The iPhone 4S will be available on Friday. The new model will be available to purchase in-store on October 14th, but limited supplies ensure that they will sell out as well. Apple itself has already referred to the upcoming launch as “the most successful iPhone launch we’ve ever had.”

Cloud Battle Begins: Should Amazon take Lessons from Apple iCloud?

  • In order for Amazon to stay competitive in the cloud computing market, its S3 (Simple Storage Service) and EC2 (Elastic Cloud Computing) could take some notes from Apple’s iCloud (launching October 12).
  • Seamless integration “provides iCloud with huge scale advantages over Amazon,” suggests Forbes, by wirelessly storing content from iPhones, iPads, the iPod touch, Macs or PCs and automatically pushing content to all devices.
  • “Consumer-centricity” makes cloud-computing user-friendly with targeted features like iTunes Match. “This feature prevents the need to painstakingly upload music into the cloud as iTunes Match itself creates a library matching the user’s existing playlist.”
  • And pricing. “While the iCloud provides free 5GB-worth of storage for documents, mail, and back-up for iOS 5 users, Amazon’s S3 service charges users for even the first gigabyte of storage space.”
  • The article points that little is yet known about Amazon’s other competitor, Google’s GDrive.

Cheapest Tablet Launches in India: The Aakash is Finally Here

  • ETCentric previously reported that the Indian government had been promising the world’s most affordable tablet PC for quite some time. The wait is now over, and the Aakash tablet has finally launched.
  • Running on Android 2.2 and boasting 32GB of Flash memory, 256MB RAM, two USB ports, and a 7-inch screen, the tablet will be sold to students for $35 and the general public for $50-$70 (current reports vary).
  • The Indian government is subsidizing the tablets (about $50 per tablet) to make them affordable. The student version will reportedly not feature a SIM card though, meaning that student users will need to rely on Wi-Fi for the time being.
  • The government hopes this project will help bolster India’s connectivity, which is below 10 percent penetration and limits the online potential of the nation’s 1.2 billion citizens.

Apple Announces its iPhone 4S: Available October 14 Starting at $199

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook officially unveiled the company’s new iPhone 4S yesterday from Cupertino. The smartphone is expected to ship by October 14.
  • The new version features a dual core processor with up to 7x faster graphics performance, an 8 megapixel digital camera that can capture 1080P video, a GSM/CDMA radio with enhancements to speed data downloading and more.
  • The biggest news is possibly Siri, Apple’s voice-command assistant that can handle surprisingly complex commands and dictation (the name comes from a “virtual personal assistant” company that Apple purchased last year).
  • While some have expressed disappointment that Apple didn’t release the iPhone 5 this week, early reaction to the iPhone 4S features seem positive. The device’s new A5 processor, for example, is the chip used in the iPad 2, and packs an Apple-designed digital signal processor that helps with things like face detection. The phone also now supports the faster HSPA+ network.
  • The 8MP camera features backside illumination, allowing it to gather 73 percent more light and have 1/3 faster photo-snapping speed. It can also record higher-resolution 1080p high-definition video.
  • The iPhone 4S supports mirroring to a TV over AirPlay, Apple TV or a wired connection, while also packing iOS 5.
  • “The 4S will come in both black and white, starting at $199 for 16GB and $299 for the 32GB, but the big news is a new 64GB model coming in at a whopping $399,” reports Engadget.
  • Additionally, Sprint will now be offering the 8GB iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Sprint customers can place pre-orders for the device starting this Friday, October 7th.

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