CES 2013: Phones to Tout Quad Cores, 1080p and Flexible Screens

The smartphone continues to grow in popularity and power as the always-on processing unit of choice. Quad-core units, phones with screen displays of 1080p and outsized “phablets” are expected to take center stage at the 2013 International CES. There’ll be a wow-factor, like the 5.5-inch flexible screen Samsung prototype, and a now-factor, like wireless pocket chargers from Energizer and Lilliputian that provide up to 20x life. Continue reading CES 2013: Phones to Tout Quad Cores, 1080p and Flexible Screens

Apple and Samsung Tighten Control of U.S. Smartphone Market

Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the U.S. smartphone market, according to a new report from Tavis McCourt, technology analyst for financial services firm Raymond James. While iPhone retention remains roughly 86 percent, Samsung is consolidating the Android space domestically as it has already successfully achieved in much of the European market. Continue reading Apple and Samsung Tighten Control of U.S. Smartphone Market

CES 2013: Windows Phone 8 Devices and Hybrid from Huawei

Huawei may possibly launch its long-awaited Windows Phone 8 handsets during CES in January. There is also speculation that the company will debut a 5-inch smartphone/tablet hybrid featuring a 1080p screen. “Huawei was one of the hardware partners listed by Microsoft when it revealed its new operating system in June, however despite a few leaks, the premier device from the Chinese manufacturer hasn’t officially appeared yet,” reports Digital Trends. “This could all change at CES, and Huawei could spearhead the second wave of phones running Windows Phone 8 with two new devices.” Continue reading CES 2013: Windows Phone 8 Devices and Hybrid from Huawei

Malware Shift: Android Overtakes Windows as Top Security Threat

  • In the 2013 Security Threat Report from security firm Sophos, it’s been revealed that Android is now the top market for hackers, beating out previous frontrunner Microsoft’s Windows OS.
  • “The security firm found that during a three-month period this year, 10 percent of Android-based devices experienced some form of malware attack. Just 6 percent of Windows PCs, meanwhile, were hit by an attack,” according to Technology Review.
  • Cybercriminals understand more than ever that the technological future is in mobile, making this an issue of high concern considering over 100 million Android devices shipped worldwide in the second quarter of 2012, notes the report.
  • Because Android is fairly new, especially when compared to Windows OS, users are not yet conditioned to security concerns and will click on links or open unknown apps.
  • “To make matters worse, the anti-malware tools available in the Android ecosystem just aren’t as strong as they could be,” explains the article. “Security firms are behind the times a bit. And until they catch up, we’re all at risk.”
  • According to the Saphos report, in order to stay safe, users should only surf the Web to known sites and should not download anything that could be dangerous.

Windows App Store on the Horizon: New Competition for Apple?

  • Apple’s App Store may face some competition now that Microsoft is planning a digital store of its own.
  • “Microsoft has been firming up its answer to Apple’s user-friendly and easily navigable platform for digital computer downloads,” reports TG Daily. “When Windows 8 comes out next year, it will have a standardized outlet for consumers who want to buy direct downloads of PC applications.”
  • The Windows App Store (not a confirmed name) will be offered some time next year, and developers will be able to post free and premium applications for downloads.
  • “As of now, it appears this digital storefront will be focused on new software, so legacy programs and applications will not be available,” indicates the post. “It’s just one of many major overhauls expected out of Windows 8.”
  • Microsoft has a media event scheduled in San Francisco, where additional details are expected to be released.

Windows 8 Public Beta Slated for Early 2012: Will We See a CES Demo?

  • Sources close to Microsoft have told The Next Web that the company’s Windows 8 beta will be released in late February.
  • However, WinRumors says the release may be ready one month earlier, and is expected to make its debut at January’s CES.
  • “Recently leaked screenshots indicate that Microsoft will allow users to change the Start Screen color and the Start Screen background image in beta copies of Windows 8,” reports WinRumors. “Users will be able to create, name and rearrange Start Screen groups as well as navigate with the Windows 8 Apps screen in a better way. Microsoft is planning to group applications to make it easier for users to identify them in Windows 8 beta. Windows Media Center will also return to Windows 8 beta alongside the typical Windows games, DVD creator and .NET 3.5.”
  • In a related post by The Verge, a preview of MS Office 15 is also expected for CES: “The update is supposed to have a redesigned touch-friendly interface and a Metro Style hub for navigating to documents — we’d expect to find cues from the Metro style UI throughout the software to make it more usable with Windows 8 on a tablet.”
  • The rumor mill is also dropping hints of new Windows 8 devices. Nokia already announced it would have a Windows 8 tablet ready by June.

Video Chat Gets Software Update that Adds Skype-to-Facebook Calls

  • Skype has released new versions for Mac and Windows that features the ability to connect to social networker Facebook.
  • “After installing Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac or Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows, users can click the Facebook icon on the left side of the screen and authorize Skype to access Facebook data through the Facebook Connect button,” reports Digital Trends.
  • Facebook Connect includes text and video chat functionality. “When a call is placed through the Skype software, the user on Facebook can accept the call and a video chat window pops-up on the Facebook screen,” explains the post. “Ideally, this will eventually allow Facebook users to place calls to anyone running an active version of Skype rather than being logged into Facebook at the time.”
  • Microsoft, which recently acquired Skype for $8.5 billion, is expected to integrate the Windows Phone platform with Skype and possibly include Skype in its upcoming social network called “Soci.”
  • Soci is expected to include a video chatting “party” feature for friends.

New iOS 5 Requires that Users Upgrade to iTunes 10.5

  • Apple’s much anticipated iOS 5 launches this week and will require an upgrade to iTunes 10.5 in order to download.
  • According to TechCrunch, the new version of iTunes includes integration with iTunes Match: “For $25 a year, iTunes Match will give you legal digital access to any songs you own (be it through legal means or not). Match won’t actually launch until late October, but support is built into 10.5.”
  • The updated iTunes also “patches a number of Windows-specific security issues,” offers “Wi-Fi syncing support (when paired with iOS 5)” and provides “purchase history (for books, apps, etc.) through iCloud.”
  • For those planning to install the new version, visit the iTunes download page.

Flash Player 11 and AIR 3: For HD Video and 3D Gaming on Multiple Platforms

  • Adobe announced this week Adobe Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3 software to enable “console quality” 2D and 3D games and scientific visualizations for multiple platforms including Android, Apple iOS (via AIR), BlackBerry Tablet OS, Mac OS, Windows, connected TVs and others.
  • Adobe touts 1,000 times faster rendering performance over Flash 10 and AIR 2 enabling 60 frames per second rendering and console-quality games on Mac OS, Windows and connected TVs. A production release for mobile is coming.
  • Content protection is available using Adobe Flash Access 3 on supported platforms — “including support for mobile platforms,” explains the press release — with support for rental and subscription options “to more than 80 percent of the U.S. pay TV subscribers.”
  • HD full frame video quality can be displayed on iOS devices using H.264 hardware decoding to deliver 7.1 channel surround sound.

Video: Metro-Inspired Dashboard for Xbox Live Running in Windows 8

  • Digital Trends is among the sites currently featuring a 10-minute video shot from the audience (courtesy of Joystiq) during Microsoft’s recent Build developer’s conference.
  • The video shows what the upcoming Metro-inspired dashboard for Xbox 360 running in Windows 8 will look like.
  • “Microsoft confirmed last week that the upcoming Metro-styled update for the Xbox 360 dashboard will appear in Windows 8 as the user interface you’ll use to access Xbox Live from your PC,” reports Digital Trends.
  • From an earlier article on the same site: “Based on the ‘Metro’ design of WP7, ‘Immersive’ will be the name of a secondary User Interface (UI) you’ll be able to select when you boot up Windows 8.”
  • This video was first brought to our attention via Engadget, submitted by ETCentric staffer Dennis Kuba who commented: “The focus at Build 2011 was on the social and gaming aspects. They also mentioned that they will be talking in the future about content services such as video and music.”
  • “We get the feeling that Microsoft’s thinking this one through; rather than just shoehorning a gaming element in, things like ‘cloud saves’ and dedicated Music/Video panes will be around to enjoy,” reports Engadget. “Moreover, participation in the Xbox Live development program will purportedly be free, and if [Microsoft’s Avi] Ben-Menahem has his way, this will bring ‘everything you know and love on Xbox 360 and Xbox Live to Windows.'”

The Real Motivation Behind the Motorola Mobility Acquisition

  • An intellectual property analyst makes the case that the reason Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion last month was not to provide patent protection for Android as most believe. It was to prevent Motorola Mobility from making one or more key moves that would have weakened Android’s patent situation even more.
  • For example, Motorola Mobility could have taken a patent license from Microsoft signaling a surrender that would have affected every other Android licensee.
  • It could have started work on a Windows Phone as a way to help it deal with a Microsoft infringement case, suggests the FOSS Patents blog. It also could have attacked other Android licensees to collect royalties.
  • And finally, it could have sold off its patent portfolio to one of Google’s competitors.

Windows 8: Viable Solution for the New Post-PC Era?

  • For the first time in many years, Microsoft is facing a serious challenge to its Windows desktop monopoly — not in the form of any operating system, but in the new computing concept of “post-PC.”
  • “The worry is that upstart tablets threaten to drive the computer out of the home, taking the Windows operating system with it,” reports Ars Technica.
  • Microsoft has been in the tablet business longer than anyone, but it has always been an add-on to Windows. Windows 8 will give the company another opportunity to create something new — a full featured PC that not only works on the desktop but on a post-PC device as well.
  • Windows 8 will work with touch devices and not require a stylus. It will support real multitasking. It will run on power-efficient ARM processors. It will still have a huge legacy of software, including Office. It will support a myriad of hardware and accessories.
  • In short, it will be able to do everything the tablet can and much more. Ars Technica concludes: “Still, this tablet-as-a-PC model hasn’t worked well despite 20 years of trying. Microsoft’s decision to stick with it might look like a mistake — why would this approach start working now when it hasn’t before? — but signs suggest it might be more successful this time around.”

Muse: Adobe Promises Creative Code-Free Web Site Design (Again)

  • Adobe has released a preview of Adobe Edge, which uses HTML5 technologies to bring “Flash-like animation and interactive development tools to the Web.”
  • The company also unveiled a beta version this week of its new Web publishing tool (code-named “Muse”) that is intended to enable users to design and publish Web sites without the need to write HTML code.
  • According to Digital Trends, the Muse tools will be familiar to those familiar with Adobe InDesign and will be implemented via the Adobe Air desktop application framework.
  • For those interested in additional information, the article outlines Muse by its four steps of production: Plan, Design, Preview, and Publish.
  • Adobe Muse is currently available in beta for Windows XP or newer and Mac OS X 10.6 or newer (Adobe Air 2.7 framework must be installed). Pricing has yet to be announced for the 1.0 release expected in early 2012.

Mac OS Surpasses Linux in Popularity Amongst Developers

  • Apple’s Mac operating system has reportedly edged past Linux in popularity amongst developers in North America.
  • Windows OS remains the clear frontrunner for development with 80 percent of developers. However, while 5.6 percent of developers said they prefer Linux, Mac OS has taken second place with 7.9 percent.
  • “Apple has made tremendous strides in the last few years with innovative products and technologies. [As such], it’s quite reasonable to see developers adopting the Mac and its OS as a development environment,” explains Evans Data CEO Janel Garvin. “Linux has lost some of its luster after years of only single digit adoption.”
  • Mac OS X is based on the Unix operating system. The latest iteration — Mac OS X Lion version 10.7 — features a redesigned UI to help bridge Apple’s iOS for mobile devices and Mac OS for desktop computers.

Review: Apple Lion Operating System by Walt Mossberg

  • Walt Mossberg offers his take on the new Lion OS, what he coins as Apple’s “most radical new Macintosh operating system version in years.”
  • The $30 operating system, released this week, allows installation on as many Macs as an individual owns.
  • Mossberg describes the OS as “a giant step in the merger of the personal computer and post-PC devices like tablets and smartphones,” while retaining traditional computer features.
  • The thorough review provides details related to upgrading, migrating, new features and more.
  • Although he questions the changes made to scrolling (which work the opposite of previous versions by pushing the page up), Mossberg provides a positive bottom line: “The past two major computer operating system releases, Windows 7 and Snow Leopard, were incremental. Lion is very different. It’s a big leap, and gives the Mac a much more modern look and feel for a world of tablets and smartphones. If you are willing to adjust, it’s the best computer operating system out there.”

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