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Phones 4U to fall into administration as loses EE deal


Retailer Phones 4U has fallen into administration putting 5,596 jobs at risk.


The chain, which is owned by private equity firm BC Partners, said its 550 stores would all be closed on Monday.


Phones 4U blamed mobile network EE's decision not to renew its contract - which came after Vodafone made a similar decision - for the move.


'If mobile network operators decline to supply us, we do not have a business,' said Phones 4U boss David Kassler.


Mr Kassler, chief executive of the firm, said it was a 'very sad day' for both customers and staff.


'A good company making profits of over £100m, employing thousands of decent people has been forced into administration,' he added.


The firm said EE and Vodafone's decisions not to renew their contracts had come as 'a complete shock'.


Phones 4U said it had only received EE's decision late on Friday, and as a result all its employees would report to work as normal on Monday.


It said they would then by briefed by management across all store locations as well as at head office.


It added that all staff would 'continue to be paid until further notice'.


The firm also said all mobile contracts previously bought at Phones 4U would remain unaffected.


It said PwC, which has been appointed as administrator, would decide on whether the business could be reopened for trading.


Windows 9 Notification Center popped up in a leaked video

Following the glance at alleged Windows 9 OS' Start Menu in action, now another video reveals a look of the alleged Notification Center of Windows 9 with pop-up features and allows the user to view and clear all notifications at once.


The Notification Center has been inspired by the Windows 8.1 OS in smartphones and is seen as an improvement to the notification center in Windows 8 that showed specific alerts. The new Notification Center will compile alerts from Windows apps and system notifications with time and app name. The video leaked by WinFuture shows Skype notifications with the app and time. The site also leaked a video showing the start menu in action.


The notifications pop-up on the screen every time there is a message from Skype and even appear in the combined Notification Center. There has been rumors that Windows 9 will be launched on Sep 30. Several features are likely to be added during the final release and this leaked video offers a preview of the new feature. Windows 9 will also include multi-desktops with different home screen windows for open programs.


However the video reveals that these notifications cannot be used to reply messages within the feature, though an actionable Notification Center is expected by the time of the release. The upcoming Windows Technical Preview will reveal the changes that Microsoft will deliver. The new notification Center will be an added benefit to Windows users with the company set to release the Windows Technical Preview by next month.


Check out the leaked video:

Earlier this week, the same guys posted a video of alleged Windows 9 operating system, which showed us the new 'Start' button and Start Menu in action. The Start Menu is being split into two sections, one of which looks close to the previous Windows versions and the other one looks more blank and can receive Metro apps on it. The moment users pins the Metro apps on the Start menu, the menu enlarges its size in order to give space for all those apps.


The size of the titles can also be squeezed or enlarged depending on your requirements. To the right of the Start menu is a Start screen where the Metro apps can be pinned. Hence, doing so, you will never have to revisit the Start Menu again. The desktop apps are not capable of doing the tricks that Metro Apps can do and hence, they are an important part of the Start screen... .


Want lithium

New research by a California-based team could change the way lithium-ion batteries are charged in consumer electronics products and electric cars, leading to longer lifetimes and more useful batteries.


The work, published on Sunday in the Nature Materials journal, challenges the commonly held notion that slowly charging a battery helps prolong its life and that it's damaging to a battery if a large amount of energy is withdrawn in a short time.


'We've always thought of a battery as a [single] device, but inside an iPhone battery there are a few trillion particles,' said William Chueh, a senior author of the paper and researcher at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, in an interview.


SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

An apparatus used to charge lithium ion coin cell batteries at various rates with different levels of current at the Stanford Institute for Materials Science and Engineering (SIMES).


'We, as a scientific community, have been looking at the macro level, at how the entire battery behaves, but our research looks at individual particles to come up with a model for how it works,' he said.


Chueh and the team used the particle accelerator at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park to observe the way individual nanoparticles behave when a battery is being charged and discharged. It's the first time such detail has been observed and recorded.


Rather than electrical current being evenly distributed so that all particles gradually get charged, it actually gets absorbed by single particles or small groups of particles for a short period of time until each is charged, then moves on to the next one. The battery is effectively charged particle-by-particle through a series of very fast charges. That surprised researchers, because rapid charging was also thought to be damaging to batteries.


SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Stanford University grad student Yiyang Li tests lithium ion coin cell batteries at the Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Sciences (SIMES).


'For the last 10 or 20 years, we've always been told to charge as slowly as possible, to trickle charge, so that heat is reduced in the battery and it lasts longer,' said Chueh. 'What we found in this paper is, that's not entirely correct.'


Armed with the new knowledge, the researchers are proposing several ways to charge batteries more uniformly, a change that could take the average life of a lithium-ion battery from a couple of years to around 10 years. More uniform charging, whether fast or slow, causes less localized heating that can degrade the battery.


They're also considering ways to enable faster charging or discharging while preventing damage to the battery.


This research could benefit, among other things, electric cars, which often require a charge lasting several hours. If that time could be reduced, drivers wouldn't have to endure lengthy pit stops while making long journeys. And for the electrical grid, storage batteries that are better at handling sudden surges in demand are also in the cards.


But first, the team needs to do more experimentation. In particular, they'll be running battery electrodes through thousands of charge-discharge cycles to simulate typical use and measuring the performance. Talks have already begun with companies in the consumer electronics and automotive industries.


The team included members from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sandia National Laboratories, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology America and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.


Samsung Accuses LG of Destroying its Products

Samsung Electronics accuses the senior executives of its rival LG Electronics of intentionally destroying its washing machines at retail stores in Germany and has called for an official investigation.


Samsung said on Sunday that it had asked the Central District Prosecutors' Office in Seoul, South Korea to investigate LG executives who it alleged seen destroying the washing machines of Samsung that were on displayed at shopping malls in Berlin in Germany.


The incident reportedly occurred at the time that the annual IFA electronics trade show in Berlin was underway.


LG Electronics denied Samsung accusation. Although the company admitted that some its executives and staff had visited a Berlin store and looked at various products, the company stressed that is common for its employees to look at their rivals' products sold overseas.


LG counter claimed that the model in question had frail binges, but it did not say whether its executives had damaged the machines.


Samsung said LG tainted both its brand image and its employees' reputation with claims that its washing machines were faulty.


Apple iPhone 6 Release Date to Bring Shipping Delays iPhone Trade

Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus has experienced a record breaking pre-orders release. Customers have flocked to every carrier website to get a guarantee of receiving the device. Unfortunately, customers are also receiving emails updating their shipping information to state the shipping will happen closer to mid or late November. Perhaps this is the reason the iPhone 5s never experienced pre-order sales. There is a lot of information to consume when it comes to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. While Viral Global News provided a what to know article before the pre-orders date, now it is time to prepare for the official release on Sept. 19th.


Shipping delays

Right now the iPhone 6 Plus is experiencing the most delays. All models are reporting a 30-60 day shipping delay. Start tracking that date on the official release date, not the date ordered. iPhone 6 16GB and 64GB versions are running up to 14-35 days in delay for shipping. The 128GB has better luck for the iPhone 6 which is closer to a max of 14 days.


Carriers cannot change shipping or make guarantees. That comes from only one source, and that is Apple. Apple employees also cannot guarantee shipping, since they do not sit near the big wigs, so try not to be so hard on customer service agents. They are swamped with trying to handle hundreds of customers throughout a shift.


It is possible shipping may change or become delayed, do not become alarmed by an email advising the news - expect it. Remember, this is the first larger iPhones with NFC technology.


The alternative? Start camping outside of stores, that is tradition!


iPhone trade-ins

Many carriers are offering trade-in promotions, such as gift cards or credits when trading in an iPhone. These may have time limits, so be sure to check with the carrier. Keep in mind, you may be without a phone if the trade-in is completed.


Carriers need the trade-in phone in hand to confirm and extend the credit, which can create a gap between the trade-in and when the iPhone 6 arrives. So, what to do? Nab an old phone from a friend or Amazon and activate it on the account in the interim. Some carriers are offering up to $300 in trade-in credit, it's worth moving over to the used phone on a temporary basis.


eBay is already cranking up

In a previous article, Viral Global News warned customers from hitting eBay to spend thousands on the new iPhone 6. That suggestion will come again. By late November or early December iPhones will be back in full swing without forever delays. Avoid spending the holiday vacation money on one phone purchase.


Patience works! Apple will fulfill all orders and then some. Customers can spend $849.99 no contract on the iPhone 6 Plus 64GB online with Apple (even less on a contract-$299.99) and wait. Or wait on an eBay seller, their order will be delayed too. Unless this seller's name is officially Tim Cook, it is unlikely he is getting his phone next week - if you take this step, please request a proof of purchase showing the time as close to possible to 12 a.m. PST or 3 a.m. EST on Sept. 12.



Shop smart, be patient and take advantage of trade-in credit.


Apple iPhone 6 Release Date to Bring Shipping Delays iPhone Trade

Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus has experienced a record breaking pre-orders release. Customers have flocked to every carrier website to get a guarantee of receiving the device. Unfortunately, customers are also receiving emails updating their shipping information to state the shipping will happen closer to mid or late November. Perhaps this is the reason the iPhone 5s never experienced pre-order sales. There is a lot of information to consume when it comes to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. While Viral Global News provided a what to know article before the pre-orders date, now it is time to prepare for the official release on Sept. 19th.


Shipping delays

Right now the iPhone 6 Plus is experiencing the most delays. All models are reporting a 30-60 day shipping delay. Start tracking that date on the official release date, not the date ordered. iPhone 6 16GB and 64GB versions are running up to 14-35 days in delay for shipping. The 128GB has better luck for the iPhone 6 which is closer to a max of 14 days.


Carriers cannot change shipping or make guarantees. That comes from only one source, and that is Apple. Apple employees also cannot guarantee shipping, since they do not sit near the big wigs, so try not to be so hard on customer service agents. They are swamped with trying to handle hundreds of customers throughout a shift.


It is possible shipping may change or become delayed, do not become alarmed by an email advising the news - expect it. Remember, this is the first larger iPhones with NFC technology.


The alternative? Start camping outside of stores, that is tradition!


iPhone trade-ins

Many carriers are offering trade-in promotions, such as gift cards or credits when trading in an iPhone. These may have time limits, so be sure to check with the carrier. Keep in mind, you may be without a phone if the trade-in is completed.


Carriers need the trade-in phone in hand to confirm and extend the credit, which can create a gap between the trade-in and when the iPhone 6 arrives. So, what to do? Nab an old phone from a friend or Amazon and activate it on the account in the interim. Some carriers are offering up to $300 in trade-in credit, it's worth moving over to the used phone on a temporary basis.


eBay is already cranking up

In a previous article, Viral Global News warned customers from hitting eBay to spend thousands on the new iPhone 6. That suggestion will come again. By late November or early December iPhones will be back in full swing without forever delays. Avoid spending the holiday vacation money on one phone purchase.


Patience works! Apple will fulfill all orders and then some. Customers can spend $849.99 no contract on the iPhone 6 Plus 64GB online with Apple (even less on a contract-$299.99) and wait. Or wait on an eBay seller, their order will be delayed too. Unless this seller's name is officially Tim Cook, it is unlikely he is getting his phone next week - if you take this step, please request a proof of purchase showing the time as close to possible to 12 a.m. PST or 3 a.m. EST on Sept. 12.



Shop smart, be patient and take advantage of trade-in credit.


New malware piggybacks on Twitch chat to bleed Steam Wallet dry


Twitch's user pool has been plagued by phishing from new malware that entices users to enter a phony raffle, so that it can leech funds from their Steam Wallets.


Twitch is video game-centric website on which users broadcast live streams of gameplay to others. After Google's failed bid, Amazon got the site and its approximately 50 million users, paying $970 million in cash.


The malicious bot that has been infiltrating Twitch chats may not seem out of place to regular visitors to the streaming site. Live streamers, who earn money through viewer subscriptions, often use bots in the chat area of their channels to encourage donations, attract followers and announce promotions.


After encountering the bot's sketchy proposition, a Twitch user reported the malware to digital security firm F-Secure. The Helsinki-based security company said the malware could clean out Steam inventories, which may contain rare digital collectibles, and it could rob Steam Wallets, which are sourced by real-world funds to buy games on Valve's popular distribution platform.


'This malware, which we call Eskimo, is able to wipe your Steam wallet, armory, and inventory dry,' says F-Secure. 'It even dumps your items for a discount in the Steam Community Market. Previous variants were selling items with a 12 percent discount, but a recent sample showed that they changed it to 35 percent discount. Perhaps to be able to sell the items faster.'


Eskimo asks users to follow a link in order to fill out a form for a raffle, which it claims offers them a chance to win digital weapons and collectibles for CounterStrike: Global Offensive, according to F-Secure.


F-Secure says Eskimo, once it has access to a Steam account, will take screenshots, add new friends on Steam, accept friend requests, trade with new friends, buy items with Steam funds, send trade offers and accept trades.


After all of a user's funds have been used to buy collectibles, the malware will trade all of the victim's digital items to their new 'friends.' The fence then sells the ill-gotten goods at deep discounts.


Because all of the fraudulent activity takes place locally, on the victim's computer, F-Secure has recommended that Valve add a new security measure to Steam's marketplace.


'It might be helpful for the users if Steam were to add another security check for those trading several items to a newly added friend and for selling items in the market with a low price based on a certain threshold,' said F-Secure. 'This will lessen the damages done by this kind of threat.'


iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus unleashed: Too little, too late?


Apple has finally unveiled its latest-generation iPhone after long months of hype. The rumor mill has got it right. Apple chief executive Tim Cook introduced two new smartphones on Tuesday, a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, which marks Apple's late foray into the phablet sector, one that it has previously ridiculed.


Since the death of its founder Steve Jobs in 2011, Apple has been conservative about introducing new changes to the iPhone, its flagship product that is responsible for bringing in around 70 percent of the company's profits. But with the introduction of the two new iPhones, Apple is hoping it can catch up with and surpass its rivals already racing ahead of the smartphone game.


Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus hold substantial upgrades over the iPhone 5, with a 64-bit A8 processor, better battery life and improved photo and video-recording capabilities. However, the biggest feature to watch out for is the screen size itself. Apple has long stuck to its claim that users don't want a smartphone they can't hold with just one hand, a claim that has been proven wrong by Samsung, which has lorded over the phablet market with its Galaxy Note series.


Research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) announced that manufacturers will sell 175 million phablets this year, well ahead of the 170 million units PC sellers are expected to ship. With Apple joining the phablet bandwagon, the phablet market is expected to grow to claim 32 percent of the smartphone market by 2018.


'With Apple expected to join the space in the coming weeks, we anticipate even more attention on phablets as larger-screen smartphones become the new norm,' says Melissa Chau, senior research manager at IDC.


On the display front, the iPhone 6 Plus offers 1920 x 1080 resolution with a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch (ppi), putting it on par with smaller smartphones. But although the iPhone phablet goes full HD, its display is overshadowed by Quad HD devices such as the LG G3, and the new Galaxy Note 4 from Samsung, which packs in a whopping 515 ppi on its Super AMOLED screen. iPhone 6 owners may feel ill-treated, though, as the 1334 x 750 resolution on the smaller iPhone is far behind the full HD displays on similar-sized phones, such as the HTC One introduced in early 2013. The numbers, however, do not tell it all, as Apple's Retina HD displays use a different technology from Android and Windows Phone devices. But in terms of real estate, the iPhone 6 is not the biggest phone to watch out for.


Perhaps the biggest surprise of the event was the sapphire glass display, which was a no-show despite rumors of the scratch-proof glass being manufactured by an Apple factory in Mesa, Arizona. The sapphire display, however, was found on the newly unveiled Apple Watch. Apple also says that both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have 'ion-strengthened' glass displays but didn't specify what that meant.


Another breakout feature to look out for is Apple Pay, Apple's long-rumored mobile payments system that gets rid of users' credit cards. Apple Pay makes use of near-field communications (NFC) to connect the iPhone, as well as the Apple Watch, with a special terminal so that users can purchase goods and services by simply tapping the iPhone's Touch ID fingerprint scanner.


The user's bank information will not be transmitted to the retailer's terminal. Instead, Apple Pay will generate a unique security code for each transaction that will allow the store's point-of-sale system to charge the user's credit card. When Apple launches its mobile payment system in October, users can expect the new payment standards to work in several major retailers, including McDonald's, Starbucks, Walgreens, Target and Macy's.


Apple also introduced a new built-in storage size of 128GB and better battery life. On paper, the new iPhones pale compared to the 3400mAh battery in the Lumia 1520 running on Windows Phone, but Apple says its new smartphones can handle up to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, up to 11 hours of video and up to 50 hours of nonstop music. This is particularly thanks to the fact that Apple produces its own components, which are all optimized to work well together, compared to off-the-shelf parts put together by other manufacturers.


The company says little about its new 64-bit A8 processor, only that it will generate 20% faster CPU performance and 50% better graphics. In the past, Apple's processors have seen a generational leap from their predecessors, but the A8 will definitely not slow down the iPhone 6. Users will know for sure when they get their hands on the new iPhone on Sept. 19. The iPhone 6 starts at $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for 64GB and $849 for 128GB. The iPhone 6 Plus charges an extra $100 for the 16GB, 64GB and 128GB variants.


At Sputtering Ferrari, Shake


At the Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, Italy, a few miles outside Modena, there is much to remind a visitor of the guiding principle set down by the company's founder, Enzo Ferrari, in the years after World War II. Ferrari decreed that the main business of his company would be racing, primarily in Formula One, and that success on the track would trump all else, including building and selling the production cars that have become icons of style and performance over the past 60 years that seemed to challenge the ethos set by the company's founder.


But the question now is whether that tradition - selling road cars to support the racing operations, rather than using the racetrack as a shop window to promote road car sales - will survive at Ferrari under the new, more hard-edge corporate era that seemed to be heralded this week after an inelegant management shakeup.


The dismissal last week of Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, 67, a protégé of Ferrari's who has run the company since 1991, points to a future in which Ferrari will be folded more conclusively into the corporate mammoth of its parent company, Fiat Chrysler, just as Fiat Chrysler opens itself up to increased market pressures with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, scheduled for Oct. 13.



Statements by the new Ferrari chairman, Sergio Marchionne, who is adding the Ferrari duties to his role as chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, have suggested that Ferrari will most likely be shorn of some of the go-it-alone idiosyncrasies that have survived since the cantankerous founder died at age 90 in 1988.The takeover by the Italian-born, Canadian-educated Marchionne, 62, also will mark the moment when Ferrari's fortunes pass, for the first time, into the hands of somebody who is not a pedigreed veteran of the company's Formula One operations.


That pedigree has been inescapable in the 23 years di Montezemolo has been in charge. Visitors to his office at Maranello have passed down a corridor hung with photographs of Ferrari's racing triumphs, some of them achieved when di Montezemolo was the Formula One team manager in the 1970s. As chairman, di Montezemolo demonstrated his commercial prowess by guiding the company to its most profitable years as a road car manufacturer, with sales (6,922 cars, a third of them in the United States, in 2013) and profits ($318 million) now at multiples of what they were when Enzo Ferrari died.


But the commercial success has coincided with more patchy results in the company's racing operation. In the Michael Schumacher years, a multinational team of engineers, designers and racing team principals assembled by di Montezemolo delivered five consecutive drivers' championships from 2000 and 2004, a record not even Ferrari himself could match. Overall, 118 of Ferrari's 221 Grand Prix wins have been achieved under di Montezemolo's chairmanship.


But the glory years have been followed with one of the worst chapters in Ferrari's racing history. The team has not won a driver's championship since Kimi Raikonnen's sliver-thin triumph in 2007, or a manufacturer's championship since 2008. Ferrari had only two wins in the 19 races in 2013, and none in the 13 run so far this year.


The urbane di Montezemolo has tried in vain to turn the team around. Last year he threatened to fire the Spanish driver Fernando Alonso after Alonso publicly belittled the cars Ferrari had prepared for him, and this season he brought back Raikonnen and replaced the longtime team manager, Stefano Domenicali, and the head of its engine department, Luca Marmorini, after Ferrari's hybrid V-6 turbo engines were woefully outclassed by those produced by Mercedes-Benz, which has won 10 of this year's 13 races.


But none of the moves were enough to save di Montezemolo in the face of continuing failure on the track. After Ferrari failed again at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, with Alonso retiring in a plume of engine smoke and Raikonnen's car finishing ninth, Marchionne told reporters that it was 'absolutely nonnegotiable' that Ferrari should win Formula One races and that the team's track successes were essential to the marketing plans of the Fiat Chrysler group.


On Wednesday, the guillotine dropped. Di Montezemolo, describing the decision as 'the end of an era,' accepted a $35 million severance package and said in a statement that he considered it appropriate that Marchionne should take the lead at Ferrari at a time when Fiat Chrysler was preparing to go public with its listing in New York.


What all this portends for Ferrari and its racing operations is unclear. Di Montezemolo had said that he favored capping Ferrari production at 7,000 cars a year, to protect the brand's exclusivity. That approach that has led to a two-year waiting list for Ferrari's models in the United States. Marchionne has spoken of increasing output to 10,000 cars a year. That basic shift in ethos could eventually affect the Formula One team.


According to Corriere della Sera, Italy's most influential newspaper, di Montezemolo has voiced fears that Ferrari's future would be sacrificed to the demands of mass manufacturing, American style. 'Ferrari is now American,' the paper reported him as having told friends. Others who know him have said that he fears that Ferrari, once fully integrated with Fiat Chrysler, will find the wings of its racing team clipped, with corporate concerns about profit coming before the freewheeling pursuit of engineering innovation.


Marchionne has responded by saying he wants Ferrari to succeed on the track, and he has cited the company's failures in Formula One as the primary reason for di Montezemolo's dismissal. But whatever personnel changes lie in store for the team, it seems clear that Ferrari will henceforth have to conform to Fiat Chrysler's corporate playbook, and that the accounting department's blue pencil may hover over the Formula One team, which outspends all its competitors with an 800-man work force - nearly a third of the Ferrari payroll - and a budget that is said to run to nearly $500 million annually, close to two years of Ferrari profits.


In an interview last month with the British magazine Autosport, the new team manager, Marco Mattiacci, who, like Marchionne, has a commercial background and no previous experience in Formula One, said that his vision for Ferrari was that success on the track would come only if it broke abruptly with its past. He gave few particulars, but he sounded an ominous hint that those who pined for the old ways would not last.


'We need a cultural change,' he said. 'To go back to the top, we need discontinuity.'


Is the Apple Watch a breakout product?

The rumors had swirled for months, and they materialized this week when Apple unveiled its first wearable device, the Apple Watch.


It's, of course, much more than a timepiece -- it's a fitness tracker with an accelerometer and heart rate monitor to follow your workout. It offers a bevy of apps as well as the ability to receive calls when linked to an iPhone.


But analysts are divided over whether it will prove a breakthrough product that will take smartwatches and wearables mainstream.


For the Apple Watch to match the success of the iPhone, first launched in 2007, the product will have to offer unprecedented functionality and convenience, and the market will have to be ready.


Matt Rosoff

Apple is a late-comer to the smartwatch and wearable market and joins established makers such as Samsung, Sony and Motorola.


It's an increasingly crowded space, with players vying for the top spot despite questions about whether there is enough consumer demand for Dick Tracy-style wrist accessories. After all, fitness bands can cover fitness tracking functions, and smartphones can cover the rest.


'So far, it has been a male tech-nerd market,' Pascal Koenig, managing director of Zurich-based research firm Smartwatch Group, wrote in an email. 'With an expected 30 million units to be sold in 2015 (out of 60 million smartwatches sold in 2015 overall), the Apple Watch will open a broader consumer market for the first time.'


That's a very rosy prediction. The Watch will have to prove an absolute smash hit when it goes on sale next year starting at US$349.


'Apple does a lot of things very well, and generating lust for its devices is one of them,' Ramon Llamas, a mobile devices analyst at IDC, wrote in an email. 'I still don't see how the Apple Watch is a 'need' like the iPhone is. Still, leave it to Apple to take this more mainstream than what we've seen so far.'


While Llamas doesn't see much in the Apple Watch that makes it stand out from rival products, other observers believe Apple has positioned the Watch as a new product category that will redefine the market, just as the iPhone did for smartphones.


'Most smartwatches to date have been experimental and have focused on one main area of functionality, either health/fitness or smartphone notifications, with secondary functions around mapping or communication,' IHS mobile analyst Ian Fogg wrote in an email. 'Apple is aiming to combine pretty much all of those capabilities in a device no larger than the competition, even though competitive devices have struggled to keep the size down and battery life high with a more limited set of features.'


Fogg cautioned that there are unknowns about the Apple wearable, particularly its battery life and the degree of third-party app support that it will have, that make it difficult to predict whether it can take smartwatches mainstream.


'It will take a while to tell what's really disruptive,' Richard Dasher, a Stanford University professor who studies innovation, said at a talk this week at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.


A successful smartwatch with fitness functions could impact lower-end fitness bands in the same way that camera-equipped smartphones eroded consumer demand for compact digital cameras, Dasher said.


By the same token, traditional watchmakers could also take a hit.


'In a very good way, I think the watch market could be disrupted in the sense that watchmakers should seriously consider how to make a smartwatch, or at least partner with a company to design and manufacture one,' Llamas wrote.


'Apple Watch is the most personal device we've ever created,' CEO Tim Cook said during the launch event.


Only time will tell whether users want to get that close to the Cupertino company.


Sorry Android users, Apple does it again


Believe it or not, I am relatively platform agnostic. I've never understood the need to pick a side. On the desktop front, I use Windows 8.1, OS X Mavericks and Fedora 20. My bedtime tablet is an iPad Air, my work tablet is a Surface Pro 3 and Android is typically my phone of choice. Unfortunately, many Android and Windows users seem to strongly dislike Apple, which I have never totally understood. How do you hate a successful, forward-thinking company that makes products people like? Even if you do not prefer its products, anger and hatred seem excessive.


Android has been dominating in smartphone marketshare, and many users of Google's platform have been salivating as they daydream about the iPhone losing relevance. Guess what? It isn't happening. Pundits have discussed whether the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus would be a success and today, we're one step closer to the answer. You see, Apple works its magic again, as the new iPhones set overnight preorder record.


According to an Apple representative speaking to BetaNews, 'response to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been incredible with a record number of preorders overnight'. Of course, actual numbers are a mystery for now, but iPhone 6 Plus preorders have already sold out on Apple's online store. Many people have wondered whether consumers would shy away from the very large, 5.5 inch 6 Plus. Well, while we do not know how many units were available or sold, selling-out and overall scarcity is definitely a sign of success.


If you want to score yourself the coveted iPhone 6 Plus, you aren't out of luck. You can still attempt to preorder from carriers directly. If you feel like like living on the edge, you can try your luck at going to the store on September 19th, but you may end up with a broken heart.


Which one did you preorder, the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus? Tell me in the comments.


Image Credit: Valentina Photos / Shutterstock


DARPA Jetpack Hopes to Get Soldiers in Full Gear to Run 4 Minute Mile


Arizona State University (ASU) is on a quest to get soldiers in full gear to run a four minute mile, and they hope to do it through a jet pack. While most people have the image of a jet pack letting people fly, the team at ASU is hoping it will keep its users grounded, but at enhanced speeds. The project is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and goes by the name of the 4MM project - with the 4MM standing for 4 minute mile. The goal of the project is to enable soldiers, even those who aren't particularly fast, to be able to run a 4 minute mile in full gear so they can get in and out of situations much more quickly.


The collaboration came together when former ASU student and mechanical engineer Jason Kerestes and Thomas Sugar who runs ASU's Human Machine Integration Laboratory teamed up on the project. Together, they were able to produce a prototype jetpack for DARPA which they're currently testing.


There s still a long way to go on the project, but the research is heading in the right direction. Even with the 11 pound jet pack on their backs, runners have started to shave seconds off their best running times.


In a video produced by ASU about the jetpack project (see below), Kerestes feels the project has the potential to save soldiers' lives. As he notes, 'If you think of a Navy SEAL or an Army soldier that has to get in somewhere quick and do whatever they've gotta do, but maybe get out of there just as quickly, so these devices can really help soldiers to not only accomplish their goals and succeed in their missions, but potentially save human lives as well...In a warfare type arena, this could potentially be the difference between life and death'


While still in the initial prototype stage, the ASU researchers believe that their four minute mile goal is achievable, and plan to continue to work on improving the design to reach that goal. Below is the ASU video on the 4MM project and the jetpack in use:


Heart to Heart: Apple Watch Hints at Future of Digital Flirting

Emoticons may have just been the beginning. The loving messages of the future could be much more intimate - and much stranger.


When Apple introduced its first smartwatch on Tuesday, Chief Executive Tim Cook highlighted some new features, including that the watch can send - among other kinds of messages - the wearer's heartbeat to someone else wearing an Apple Watch. But could wearing your heart just under your sleeve ever really catch on?



It's certainly possible. Analysts at IDC estimate that 2014 will see 19 million wearables shipped globally - and that number is expected to blow past 100 million in the next three years.


Apple's not the only one in the wearable game - in fact, it's late to the party. With devices from Samsung, Motorola, Nike, FitBit and half a dozen others, the wearable market is blowing up in both size and variety.


A human touch

'We're moving from a sort of inhuman kind of tech, reading text on a display, to something that fits the way human beings are designed - we feel things through our senses,' said J.P. Gownder, analyst at Forrester, in a phone interview with NBC News.


These devices started out as glorified pedometers, but the Moto 360 shows they can be fashion items, and the Apple Watch may demonstrate how they can be incorporated into the most intimate parts of our lives.



'Apple Watch is the most personal device we've ever created,' Cook enthused on stage while introducing the device. 'It's an intimate way to connect and communicate.'


The Apple Watch has what the company calls the 'Taptic Engine' inside, a fancy way of describing the watch's ability to produce a slight tap on your wrist. This can be used for notifications from apps, but you can also tap other people. It's not hard to imagine the amount of tapping that might take place between two teenage lovebirds equipped with the devices.


'You're giving someone probably very close to you a physical touch,' Gownder said. 'It's really more like an embrace.'


Oleg Kostour, co-creator of the app Couple, a sort of private social network for you and your partner, felt the same way. 'It gives you a sense of almost holding someone's hand, a sense of physical touch that right now doesn't exist.'



'A lot of people do things symbolically - like the ring, something that symbolizes their relationship,' he says. 'I wonder if we'll see people buying a pair of these together.'


This level of digital love may make some roll their eyes, but connecting online is a major part of many relationships these days.


Making a real connection

Not everyone is convinced, however.


'People say 'OK, it's innovative, it's cool.' But it'll last a very short time,' said Ramon Llamas, research manager at IDC, in an interview. 'Let's face it, once you've felt one heartbeat, you've felt them all. We're going to have to move this to much richer experiences.'


'Open, honest, detailed sexual communication face-to-face will always do more for your relationship ... and for your sex life.'


Sari Locker, sexuality educator and developmental psychologist at Columbia University, concurs: 'While the most poetic of partners may love this new twist on sexting, most lovers will have more to say than what can be expressed in a heartbeat.'


She added: 'Open, honest, detailed sexual communication face-to-face will always do more for your relationship ... and for your sex life.'


And while the novelty of pulsing each others' wrist may wear off quickly, the reality is that wearables and the 'Internet of Things' have already wormed their way into our lives.


How much is too much?

'All the things we love and hate about cellphones will be even more so,' said Justin Reich, an educational researcher and a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. 'When they are attached to your wrist it will be even harder to ignore those messages. You can leave your cellphone in your pocket, but you can't leave the watch in your pocket.'


Not everyone wants a device that tethers them to their phone and their contacts, but at the same time the convenience of a smartwatch or wearable is hard for some to deny.


'The market is still trying to figure out what everyone wants to have,' said Llamas. Part of that may be divorcing the wearable from the smartphone, which he points out is necessary for nearly every function on nearly every smartwatch.


Gownder, at least, is optimistic. Wearables, he says, 'keep your tech invisible until you really need it. I actually think this is a step forward in keeping people socially engaged.'


In the end, it's up to you to make sure the newest way to connect doesn't just leave you more disconnected.


Julianne Pepitone and James Eng contributed to this story.

First published September 13 2014, 8:54 AM


Devin Coldewey

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer at NBC News; he started his role in April of 2013. Coldewey is responsible for original reporting on a number of tech topics, such as photography, biotechnology, and Internet policy.Coldewey joined NBCNews.com from TechCrunch, where he was an editor covering a similarly wide variety of content and industries. His personal website is coldewey.cc.


Heart to Heart: Apple Watch Hints at Future of Digital Flirting

Emoticons may have just been the beginning. The loving messages of the future could be much more intimate - and much stranger.


When Apple introduced its first smartwatch on Tuesday, Chief Executive Tim Cook highlighted some new features, including that the watch can send - among other kinds of messages - the wearer's heartbeat to someone else wearing an Apple Watch. But could wearing your heart just under your sleeve ever really catch on?



It's certainly possible. Analysts at IDC estimate that 2014 will see 19 million wearables shipped globally - and that number is expected to blow past 100 million in the next three years.


Apple's not the only one in the wearable game - in fact, it's late to the party. With devices from Samsung, Motorola, Nike, FitBit and half a dozen others, the wearable market is blowing up in both size and variety.


A human touch

'We're moving from a sort of inhuman kind of tech, reading text on a display, to something that fits the way human beings are designed - we feel things through our senses,' said J.P. Gownder, analyst at Forrester, in a phone interview with NBC News.


These devices started out as glorified pedometers, but the Moto 360 shows they can be fashion items, and the Apple Watch may demonstrate how they can be incorporated into the most intimate parts of our lives.



'Apple Watch is the most personal device we've ever created,' Cook enthused on stage while introducing the device. 'It's an intimate way to connect and communicate.'


The Apple Watch has what the company calls the 'Taptic Engine' inside, a fancy way of describing the watch's ability to produce a slight tap on your wrist. This can be used for notifications from apps, but you can also tap other people. It's not hard to imagine the amount of tapping that might take place between two teenage lovebirds equipped with the devices.


'You're giving someone probably very close to you a physical touch,' Gownder said. 'It's really more like an embrace.'


Oleg Kostour, co-creator of the app Couple, a sort of private social network for you and your partner, felt the same way. 'It gives you a sense of almost holding someone's hand, a sense of physical touch that right now doesn't exist.'



'A lot of people do things symbolically - like the ring, something that symbolizes their relationship,' he says. 'I wonder if we'll see people buying a pair of these together.'


This level of digital love may make some roll their eyes, but connecting online is a major part of many relationships these days.


Making a real connection

Not everyone is convinced, however.


'People say 'OK, it's innovative, it's cool.' But it'll last a very short time,' said Ramon Llamas, research manager at IDC, in an interview. 'Let's face it, once you've felt one heartbeat, you've felt them all. We're going to have to move this to much richer experiences.'


'Open, honest, detailed sexual communication face-to-face will always do more for your relationship ... and for your sex life.'


Sari Locker, sexuality educator and developmental psychologist at Columbia University, concurs: 'While the most poetic of partners may love this new twist on sexting, most lovers will have more to say than what can be expressed in a heartbeat.'


She added: 'Open, honest, detailed sexual communication face-to-face will always do more for your relationship ... and for your sex life.'


And while the novelty of pulsing each others' wrist may wear off quickly, the reality is that wearables and the 'Internet of Things' have already wormed their way into our lives.


How much is too much?

'All the things we love and hate about cellphones will be even more so,' said Justin Reich, an educational researcher and a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. 'When they are attached to your wrist it will be even harder to ignore those messages. You can leave your cellphone in your pocket, but you can't leave the watch in your pocket.'


Not everyone wants a device that tethers them to their phone and their contacts, but at the same time the convenience of a smartwatch or wearable is hard for some to deny.


'The market is still trying to figure out what everyone wants to have,' said Llamas. Part of that may be divorcing the wearable from the smartphone, which he points out is necessary for nearly every function on nearly every smartwatch.


Gownder, at least, is optimistic. Wearables, he says, 'keep your tech invisible until you really need it. I actually think this is a step forward in keeping people socially engaged.'


In the end, it's up to you to make sure the newest way to connect doesn't just leave you more disconnected.


Julianne Pepitone and James Eng contributed to this story.

First published September 13 2014, 8:54 AM


Devin Coldewey

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer at NBC News; he started his role in April of 2013. Coldewey is responsible for original reporting on a number of tech topics, such as photography, biotechnology, and Internet policy.Coldewey joined NBCNews.com from TechCrunch, where he was an editor covering a similarly wide variety of content and industries. His personal website is coldewey.cc.


Apple Reportedly Works on a $1200 Gold Version of Apple Watch


Apple Inc is reportedly set to release a gold version of its recently launched Apple Watch in January 2015. According to sources, the giant technology firm is currently working on the special version of the highly anticipated and talked about smart watch.


But according to some jewelers who claim to be familiar with the basic material that Apple would be using to create the Apple Watch Edition pieces, the gold version of the smart watch could cost up to $1,200 when it is rolled out in retail. The estimate was based on the size the weight of the item. Other sources think the actual price could still be below that estimate.


By this time, it is still not clear whether the planned Apple Watch Edition would be gold plated or would be actually made of gold. But some jewelers reiterate that it would be sub-optimal if the watch would not be made of solid gold alloy. However, doing so would surely drive up its price tag.


Some other jewelers point out that an Apple Watch of its standard size and shape with 18 carat of gold would possibly cost about $600 to create. But they pointed out that the figure would not just be all about it. The manufacturer also has to spend on the electronics and overall markup, which could surely double that price.


The gold Apple Watch edition would logically be expensive as it is a common knowledge that gold is expensive. It would still be a little costly even if it only contains 18K and even it if it would be mixed with special alloys used by Apple.


Possible partnerships

But all other special versions of the Apple Watch are not expected to be as expensive. According to other sources, the company will also develop lower end sport versions that could possibly take price tags starting from as low as $349. Meanwhile, the standard version of the Apple Watch could be at a premium over the amount.


Analysts think that such special editions of Apple Watch could also pave the way for possible partnerships with other brands. For example, some luxury fashion brands could collaborate to make and release special editions of the smart watch. Sports brands could also be interested with sporty editions.


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