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HTC takes aim at smartwatch business with One Wear, report says

The handset maker reportedly could launch its smartwatch in late August or early September.


Sarah Tew/CNET

HTC might be the next mobile firm to get into the smartwatch space.


The handset maker is working on a new smartwatch it will call the One Wear and launch in late August or early September, tech blog TKTechNews is reporting on Friday, citing people who claim to have access to the device. According to the site, it received a demo of the device, though details on its functionality and software were slim.


Smartwatches have quickly become the next frontier in the mobile market. Google has a new Android Wear platform designed for smartwatches and other wearable devices, Motorola recently unveiled the Moto 360 with a round screen that runs on Google's software. Samsung's latest Galaxy Gear is also competing in the space, though that's running on the company's Tizen software. Apple, too, is expected to get into the mix at some point with a smartwatch rumored to be called iWatch.


With so many companies rushing into the smartwatch scene, analysts expect considerable growth in the coming years. While just 1.9 million smartwatches shipped worldwide last year, according to Strategy Analytics, shipments accelerated at the breathtaking rate of 250 percent in the first quarter of this year.


Android is the leader in the space, running on 61 percent of all smartwatches that shipped last year. According to TKTechNews, the HTC One Wear will take on the Moto 360 and also includes a round display and Android Wear integration, which should only boost Google's cred in the market. But with Apple and Microsoft expected to be joining the space sometime this year, and Samsung increasingly investing in Tizen, the balance of power in smartwatch operating systems could shift dramatically.


CNET has contacted HTC for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.


HTC takes aim at smartwatch business with One Wear, report says

The company could launch its smartwatch in late August or early September, according to the report.


Sarah Tew/CNET

HTC might be the next mobile firm to get into the smartwatch space.


HTC is working on a new smartwatch it will call the One Wear and launch in late August or early September, tech blog TKTechNews is reporting on Friday, citing people who claim to have access to the device. According to the site, it received a demo of the device, though details on its functionality and software were slim.


Smartwatches have quickly become the next frontier in the mobile market. Google has a new Android Wear platform designed for smartwatches and other wearable devices, Motorola recently unveiled the Moto 360 with a round screen that runs on Google's software. Samsung's latest Galaxy Gear is also competing in the space, though that's running on the company's Tizen software. Even Apple is expected to get into the mix at some point with a smartwatch rumored to be called iWatch.


With so many companies getting into the smartwatch space, it should perhaps be no surprise that analysts expect the space to grow considerably in the coming years. Indeed, last year, just 1.9 million smartwatches shipped worldwide, according to Strategy Analytics. That figure is expected to grow substantially between now and 2018 as more companies and platforms join the fray.


Android is the leader in the space, running on 61 percent of all smartwatches that shipped last year. According to TKTechNews, the HTC One Wear will take on the Moto 360 and also includes a round display and Android Wear integration, which should only boost Google's cred in the market. But with Apple and Microsoft expected to be joining the space sometime this year, and Samsung increasingly investing in Tizen, the balance of power in smartwatch operating systems could shift dramatically.


CNET has contacted HTC for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.


What the iPhone 6 Could Look Like Next to Its Top Rivals

The Apple iPhone 6 release date is rumored for September which means that we may not get our first official glimpse at the iPhone 5s successor for several months. However, thanks to leaks and designers, consumers have been treated to a possible glimpse at the rumored iPhone 6 design and a look at how it might compare to top smartphones including the iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.


As we approach next week's WWDC 2014 conference in San Francisco, we've started to hear a whole lot about Apple's plans for 2014, plans that the company's Eddy Cue says represent Apple's best product pipeline in the last 25 years. The company's plans are said to include OS X 10.10 for Mac, iOS 8 for iPhone and iPad, the elusive iWatch, an iPad mini with Retina 2, an iPad Air 2, and of course, a brand new iPhone that's currently being called the iPhone 6.


The names iPhone 6, iPhone Air and iPhone Pro have all been thrown around in recent weeks but the story is the same. The next iPhone will reportedly come with a brand new set of features aimed at toppling Apple's main rivals.


iPhone 6 rumors point to a brand new A8 64-bit processor. A camera that will supposedly be equipped with image stabilization features for enhanced video. A sapphire display that could be virtually unbreakable. Two new high-resolution screen sizes. And a design that will supposedly be thinner than the iPhone 5s and closely resemble the iPod touch.


It's those last two features that are of great interest to consumers. The display sizes would represent the largest iPhone screen sizes to date. If true, we'd likely see the iPhone grow in size from the 4-inch iPhone 5s. We've heard from many people who are excited, skeptical, and angry about the potential size change. They're also curious.


Curious about how a larger iPhone 6 will stack up next to the iPhone 5s. Curious about how it might compare to top rivals like the Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Galaxy Note 3. And while we don't have all of the answers, iPhone 6 leaks have supplied us with an arsenal of photos and videos that show what the iPhone 6 could look like next to some of these current smartphones.


iPhone 6 vs. iPhone 5s

Consumer are extremely interested in how the iPhone 6 will compare to the iPhone 5s, Apple's current model. The iPhone 5s features a 4-inch Retina Display and a design the measures 7.6mm thin and weighs just 112 grams. The concern is that a larger iPhone 6 might dwarf the iPhone 5s.


While the iPhone 6 will almost certainly have to be larger to accommodate a larger display, rumors suggest that Apple will be doing all it can to keep the size difference to a minimum.


Rumors suggest that Apple could deliver an iPhone 6 that is up to 26% thinner than the iPhone 5s. A recent leak from Ukrainian website suggests Apple is aiming for a smartphone as thin as 6mm, but Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities believes a 6.5 - 7mm thickness is easier for the company to achieve. Recent leaks agree with Kuo's assessment and point to an iPhone 6 that could measure right around 7mm thin.


In a note shared by , Kuo also says that he believes that the iPhone 6 will indeed come with a power button on the right and bezels that are narrower than those found on the iPhone 5s. In other words, this model lines up with current iPhone 6 rumors, though as we've pointed out, it's possible that these mockups are off base.


These changes have been visualized in a number of ways. First, we've seen designers try their hand at illustrating the potential changes. deuxani, a user on the MacRumors forum, offered a collection of images that show just how a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 might compare to the iPhone 5s.


We've also seen supposed iPhone 6 dummy units compared to the iPhone 5s. The image below comes from Moscoat who took photos of the model next to the iPhone 5s. The photo shows just how thin the iPhone 6 might be compared to the iPhone 5s.


These iPhone 6 dummy units have also been shown off on video next to Apple's current iPhone. The video below, from , goes into great detail about the potential differences between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6 design.


We've also seen how a much larger iPhone 6 might compare to the iPhone 5s. Rumors suggest that Apple is working on a 5.5-inch version of its next iPhone. The photo below from Nowhereelse shows the potential size difference between the iPhone 5s and an iPhone sporting a 5.5-inch display. Like the 4.7-inch model, the 5.5-inch version is expected to be thin and rounded.


iPhone 6 vs. iPhone 5

Later this year, many iPhone 5 users will be coming off contract, looking for a new phone. Many we've spoken to are interested in Apple's iPhone 6 and how it might compare to the size of the iPhone 5.


Well, given that the iPhone 5s borrowed from the iPhone 5′s design, the differences could mirror those seen above in the comparison to the iPhone 5s.


Those looking for a quick comparison can find one over on Sonny Dickson's website. He compared the iPhone 6 dummy to all of Apple's iPhones, including the iPhone 5. This iPhone 6 concept from Arthur Reis though offers a much more detailed look at how the new iPhone could compare to the 2012 model.


Reis' concept is based on the iPhone 6 rumors that have emerged in recent months. It depicts a realistic looking 4.7-inch iPhone 6 next to the iPhone 5. Once again, we see how thin the iPhone 6 might be compared to the old design. We also get another glimpse at the other design changes, including the oval buttons.


iPhone 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is Samsung's latest flagship and it's a device that almost certainly is going to be around when the iPhone 6 arrives. In fact, we've heard from many consumers who are debating between the two. We haven't seen the real iPhone 6 compared to the 8.1mm thin Galaxy S5.



deuxani cooked up another illustration that shows us how a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 might compare to the 5.1-inch Android flagship. The iPhone 6 is noticeably smaller than the Galaxy S5, something that we've seen depicted in other photos and video.


Earlier this month, Macitynet posted photos that appear to show the iPhone 6 model next to the real Galaxy S5. The two photos show the potential size difference between two possible rivals.


9to5Mac also recently posted a video that shows the iPhone 6 dummy unit on film next ot the Verizon Galaxy S5. The comparison doesn't offer anything new but it's a much cleaner look at how the iPhone 6′s design could match up.


iPhone 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

If Apple does release a 5.5-inch iPhone 6, the device will have to contend with the well known Samsung Galaxy Note series from Samsung. We expect the company to have a Galaxy Note 4 ready by the time the iPhone 6 arrives on shelves but the Galaxy Note 4 design hasn't leaked out just yet.


Instead, consumers will have to settle with the image above that comes from Business Insider. While the image isn't too detailed, it shows what the 4.7-inch and what the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models could look like next to Samsung's current Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lineup. The Galaxy Note 3, which comes with a 5.7-inch display, is larger than Apple's 5.5-inch model.


iPhone 6 vs. HTC One M8

The 5-inch HTC One M8 is HTC's current flagship smartphone and a device that should greet the iPhone 6 when it arrives later on this year. Like the iPhone 5s, the HTC One comes with a beautiful aluminum design that puts most Android smartphone designs to shame. It's not as thin as the iPhone 5s, 9.35mm compared to 7.6mm, and that means that the iPhone 6 could have at least one distinct advantage.


Three photos tell the story. The first two come courtesy of Sonny Dickson and they show just how much bigger, and thicker, the 5-inch HTC One M8 could be.


The other comes courtesy of Moscoat and it gives us another look at the alleged size difference between the two flagships. The smartphone on the far left is the iPhone 5s.


iPhone 6 vs. LG G2 vs. Nexus 5

deuxani's illustrations give us a look at how the iPhone 6, the 4.7-inch model, could compare to the 5-inch Nexus 5 and the 5.2-inch LG G2.


The LG G2 was recently replaced by the 5.5-inch LG G3, but price cuts should keep the LG G2 relevant until the iPhone 6 release. As for the Nexus 5, it will almost certainly be on shelves as a top Android rival.


Rumors suggest that Google has killed the rumored Nexus 6 and that its next big smartphone release, said to be Android Silver, may not come until next February.


iPhone 6 vs. Moto X

The 4.7-inch Moto X will be replaced this summer but there is a chance that it could stick around as a budget option for consumers. Here is how Motorola's current 4.7-inch flagship might compare to the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.


The iPhone 6 seen here is much longer than the Moto X. It's also longer than the LG G2 Mini, a smaller version of the 5.2-inch LG G2.


Take


Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick revealed yesterday during a Cowen and Company analyst conference (covered by GameSpot) that a new Red Dead Redemption game is on the way and that BioShock is not dead.


The future of the BioShock franchise has been up in the air since Irrational founder Ken Levine announced that the studio would close and he would form a smaller development team within 2K. But yesterday Zelnick said that the franchise will live on and made clear that it was still a priority for the company.


'We haven't given any color on how you should think about it yet except we do believe it's beloved; we think it's important [and] certainly something that we're focused on; something 2K Marin will be responsible for shepherding going forward,' he told the Cowen and Company analyst conference.


You may recall that Take-Two essentially closed the Australian studio. But apparently Take-Two plans on rebuilding a team there to handle future BioShock games.


'I think there's a lot of upside in that franchise,' continued Zelnick on the subject of BioShock. 'It hasn't necessarily been realized yet. And the question for the future, assuming we decide to answer the question, would be 'How do you stay true to that creatively?'; 'How do you do something exciting?'; and 'How do you do expand the market?'. That would be the natural drill. We're starting from a good point on it. And certainly it's been a great piece of business for us; it's been a profitable piece of business.'


He closed by saying that the public could count on future installments in such series as GTA, Red Dead, Borderlands, and the company's line-up of NBA games.


How to install Chrome extensions manually

​Not finding the extension you need on the Chrome Web Store? Despite Google's recent process change, third-party extensions can still be installed with just a few steps. Read on to learn how.


The Chrome Web Store may not always have the extension you need. In the past, you could easily install an extension from a third-party website, and everything ran smoothly as though you were installing from the official channel. Unfortunately, this created a lot of opportunities for makers of malicious extensions to take advantage of unsuspecting users.


As a result, Google decided to more thoroughly analyze extensions hosted in its Web Store and also change the process for installing third-party extensions. This new process puts the responsibility for risking data in your hands. If you're still willing to take the risk, there's an easy way to manually install extensions from third parties. Here's how:


Before heading into the steps, make sure you are using the most recent version of Chrome. Click the three-line button in the top right-hand corner and choose Help. If you need to update, Chrome will do so automatically and then ask you to relaunch the browser.


Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 1: Download the *.CRX (Chrome extension) file from the third-party website. A pop-up will appear along the bottom of Chrome asking you to Continue or Discard the download, click Continue. You will not be prompted to install it.


Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 2: Click the three-line button in the top right-hand corner and go to Tools > Extensions. Add a check to the box next to Developer mode at the top of the page.


Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 3: Locate the *.CRX file on your computer, then drag and drop it onto the Extensions page. A pop-up will appear showing you the permissions the extension will have, and asking you to confirm the install. Click Add to finish the installation.


Now you will be able to install extensions that are not hosted in the Chrome Web Store. However, please do so at your own risk, and make sure to read permissions for each extension very carefully. If you need to remove an extension, you can do so by clicking the trash can icon next to it on the Extensions page.


Latta introduces bill to restrict FCC

Saturday, May 31, 2014 12:00 AM



WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ohio 5th District Congressman Bob Latta says he is out to stop the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from writing new regulations to control Internet service. On Wednesday, Latta introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to limit the FCC's authority to regulate broadband Internet service. The bill was introduced after the FCC released a proposal to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service instead as an information service. 'In light of the FCC initiating yet another attempt to regulate the Internet, upending long-standing precedent and imposing monopoly-era telephone rules and obligations on the 21st Century broadband marketplace, Congress must take action to put an end to this misguided regulatory proposal,' said Latta. 'The Internet has remained open and continues to be a powerful engine fueling private enterprise, economic growth and innovation absent government interference and obstruction. My legislation will provide all participants in the Internet ecosystem the certainty they need to continue investing in broadband networks and services that have been fundamental for job creation, productivity and consumer choice.' The agency has claimed it would impose a policy known as net neutrality, but some analysts have pointed out that under the FCC's version, each Internet service provider (ISP) could determine what rate to charge web services to deliver data over the net, and which programming should be sent first and fastest to consumers. 'At a time when the Internet economy is thriving and driving robust productivity and economic growth, it is reckless to suggest, let alone adopt, policies that threaten its success. Reclassification would heap 80 years of regulatory baggage on broadband providers, restricting their flexibility to innovate and placing them at the mercy of a government agency. These businesses thrive on dynamism and the ability to evolve quickly to shifting market and consumer forces. Subjecting them to bureaucratic red tape won't promote innovation, consumer welfare or the economy, and I encourage my House colleagues to support this legislation, so we can foster continued innovation and investment within the broadband marketplace.'


Take


Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick noted Red Dead among the company's 'permanent franchises' at the Cowen and Company's Technology, Media and Telecom Conference this week. 'It's obvious that GTA is a permanent franchise as long as we keep delivering this incredible quality; it seems quite obvious that Red Dead is a permanent franchise, again with the same caveat,' he said. The Rockstar Games-developed series has two entries: 2004's Red Dead Revolver and 2010's Red Dead Redemption, and the CEO's phrasing strongly indicates that another Red Dead game is on the way.


'But not everything is going to be a permanent franchise,' Zelnick added. 'We can do very well even if it's not. I would like to see us grow with a couple more great franchises in the next couple years and we're launching , we have very high hopes for that.'


Zelnick also commented on the BioShock series, saying the publisher thinks it is 'beloved, we think it's important [and] certainly something that we're focused on, something 2K Marin will be responsible for shepherding going forward.' 2K Marin suffered layoffs in October following the launch of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, prior to reports that the studio was on the verge of shuttering entirely. The developer launched in 2010 between the two entries created by the Ken Levine-led studio Irrational Games. Irrational downsized to a small team of 15 in February, at which point Levine said the developer was 'handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative.'


Apple is still an iPhone story, for now


SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - What a difference a year makes.


Last year, when Apple Inc. hosted its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, its shares were trading around $439. One year later, as investors gear up again for another highly anticipated keynote, its shares are up 42%, surging again beyond the $600 level.


Some excitement has been building up in the recent weeks, partly in anticipation of next week's developer conference, where Apple often releases software upgrades or gives previews of new products. Last week, the stock hit a 52-week high In addition, fueling the stock were the persistent rumors that Apple would buy the well-known headphone maker, Beats Electronics and its music service Beats Music, which it confirmed on Wednesday, for $3 billion.


Apple did not respond to a request for comment. The company does not comment on unannounced products.


Apple buys Beats Electronics for $3 billion

Can Apple get its mojo back with its $3 billion purchase of Beats? Plus, a look at Q1 GDP and what it means for the broader U.S. economy, a look at the markets, and more.


Apple's announcement in April that it will split its stock, increase its dividend payment and boost the number of shares in its stock buyback plan has also driven investor enthusiasm. Its stock will begin trading after its seven-for-one stock split on June 9, a split that will surely make its shares more affordable to retail investors, and could further drive interest in its shares. As Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote in a note Tuesday, the stock split 'could psychologically make it easier for the stock to climb and its affordability could also broaden retail ownership.'


Even if Apple launches products in a major new product category, as Chief Executive Tim Cook has declared it will, the stock will likely remain an iPhone story, for the near-term.


One factor is that two of the potential product areas - the much rumored iWatch and software for a connected home - are nascent markets, and it is not clear whether or not an Apple foray would upend those emerging areas, as it did in digital music, smartphones and tablets. And its much-speculated upon entry into television with an actual TV may never happen, and it may not expand beyond its AppleTV set top box.


Over the weekend, the Financial Times reported that Apple will unveil new software that will put the iPhone at the center of control for a 'smart home' with apps on your phone that can control the heating, lighting, security systems, garage doors, music and kitchen appliances in your house. This futuristic view of the all-connected home is not going to happen overnight, however.


'The tech pundits will have you think we will have the all-dancing, all-magic house tomorrow,' said Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research. 'That's not gonna happen. What's happening is we are doing this one device at a time.'


In addition, for this vision to become widespread, Apple will need to forge partnerships with a vast number of other companies that develop home appliances, an attribute that Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies noted the famously secret and insular company it is not known for .


'Things have to be standardized,' Kay said in an interview. 'Apple might say 'We do Bluetooth, we do WiFi, we will have our own apps and our own ecosystem.' And you can get the Whirlpool app for your iPhone that talks to your dryer and your frig...Then you own stuff from multiple vendors and it works well with Apple stuff but it doesn't work well with others. This market may be diffused enough that Apple cannot be dominant.'


Some on Wall Street are expecting that the iWatch will be Apple's new product category. Sacconaghi wrote that the 'iWatch is the most likely new product category with availability in [calendar] CQ4.' While an iWatch 'may not have a significant impact on EPS, a strong product offering and smooth rollout could generate incremental enthusiasm about Apple's ability to innovate under CEO Tim Cook.'


Still, many are hoping that the most tangible news at WWDC is a possible preview of a larger screen iPhone, dubbed by many as the iPhone 6. Apple investors have been hoping for many months that the company will catch up to rival Samsung and offer an iPhone with a 5-inch screen. Sacconaghi wrote in his note, in which he raised his price target to $700, that a larger screen iPhone 6 was one of five reasons he continues to be bullish on the stock.


It is not a given that Apple will launch a new iPhone at WWDC. Last year, Apple did not introduce the iPhone 5C at WWDC, which was launched in September just before it went on sale. However, if the company is going to offer a larger screen version, it might want to give software developers time to fine tune their apps for the larger screen format so that the most popular apps will run whenever the phone is actually launched. Apple typically launches a slew of new products before either the back-to-school shopping season or the holidays.


Whatever Apple does on Monday during its develope conference, investors will be able to watch themselves. In a rare move, the company is going to live stream the keynote Monday morning. It's not an overstatement to say that many investors will now be watching so they can judge for themselves.


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WWDC 2014: Meet Apple's software and services mash

Summary: Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference keynote speech is expected to unveil a melding of software and services, as the company continues to flesh out its cloud platform.


Apple prepares the Moscone West ahead of its annual developer conference (Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)


Apple's international developer powwow will start with a bang on Monday when the technology giant announces, among other things, the latest in its software line-up.


On deck, we're expecting the next versions of its mobile and desktop operating systems, iOS 8 and OS X 10.10, at the company's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote speech.


All in all, WWDC is an event for developers to get their hands on the company's software, in order to prepare for upcoming iPhone and iPad releases later in August and November. Expect little - if any - hardware bits to be announced.


The big focus will be on software, the company's ever-expanding portfolio of cloud-based services, and the thread that ties its platforms together. While its iCloud service was initially the sync-service that kept devices in its hardware range talking and sharing with each other, it still hasn't become the Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services that are capable of not just sync and storage, but active computational power.


Will that thread run deeper? Will we be seeing more of the software and services push from Apple? For its benefit, it has to - not least in anticipation of any device that becomes the centerpiece to its future hardware portfolio. But also in an effort to remain competitive ahead of its rivals in the cloud space.


Here's what we're expecting, anticipating, and not likely to see:


OS X 10.10

Apple's next-generation desktop software for the Mac, MacBook, and iMac is expected to be unveiled for the first time.


'After seven months without an event, we expect Apple to focus its announcements on new software updates and innovations that expand the reach of its digital matrix.'


It's expected to sport much of the same visual interface as previous iterations of OS X 10, with improvements and new features.


That said, according to Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White in a note to investors, he expects Jony Ive, who took up the design effort for the desktop software, to 'wield his talents,' and give OS X 10.10 the facelift it needs.


Currently, Apple has 7.6 percent of the desktop operating system market, according to Net Applications, compared to Windows, which has about 90 percent.


iOS 8

The company's money-maker resides in its iPhone unit, which will run the latest software, expected to be unveiled in front of thousands of developers at its keynote. As the software underwent a radical user interface overhaul in iOS 7, expect largely the same visuals. Rumors and leaks point to software additions, notably Healthbook and the possibility of a mobile payments service.


Apple's software and services unit, which comprises mostly iTunes and App Store purchases, makes up exactly 10 percent of the company's revenue as of the fiscal second quarter.


While the company's cloud-based platform is certainly gaining traction, any way to advance this will help bolster its wider cross-platform efforts.


Healthbook (iOS 8)

As part of its new iOS 8 feature set, Apple is expected to dish out a health platform, dubbed Healthbook. Previous reports have suggested this may not be an app just for iPhones and iPads, but a wider platform to track activity, exercise, and other facets of a user's lifestyle.


What's key is that this will have a major impact on the wearable tech market - but don't expect to see an 'iWatch' any time soon. Apple typically holds its hardware events just before or after the December fiscal quarter.


Mobile payments (iOS 8)

Rumors suggest that Apple may dish out its own mobile payments system - again, another hook to its software and services unit - which would be a boon to the ever-growing division. Apple chief executive Tim Cook previously called this space 'intriguing,' and a 'big opportunity on the platform,' according to our sister-site CNET.


Apple isn't expected to issue an iPhone with near-field communications (NFC) any time soon - though that may change in the coming device iteration, expected in August or September, according to Reuters.


Exactly how this mobile payments system may work remains unclear, but its target - cab rides, coffee purchases, and so on - would be a no-brainer. However, it may be a software-based system to target the existing hardware-based mobile payments market, including the likes of PayPal, Square, and Intuit.


Internet of Things: Hello, smart home?

The melding of the Apple platform could rest in the smart home, such as Internet-connected thermostats, light bulbs, plant feeders, and other household gadgetry.


(Image: Apple)


Earlier rumbles pointed to a more grandiose affair that might see iPhone and iPad users able to control any online appliance and accessory from a simple panel on their handheld screen.


Exactly what Apple will dish out remains - obviously - unclear, until company executives take the stage. Later reports pointed to a 'Made for iPhone' system that would allow devices to easily connect through Wi-Fi rather than home automation. Either way, expect more integration rather than strictly home automation.


Beats acquisition: Meet the team?

Following Apple's acquisition of Beats, the headphone maker and music streaming service, for $3 billion in cash and stock, we can expect to meet the new additions to the Apple team on Monday.


Founded by rapper Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine - both will join Apple under the company's Internet chief Eddy Cue - Beats will be offered through Apple retail outlets and resellers. But there's no further indication of exactly how it will be integrated into Apple's product line, and online services, such as iCloud and the App Store.


Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, in his note, added: 'If Apple is serious about the purchase of Beats, as reported by the Financial Times this month, we believe WWDC is an ideal venue to introduce the team.'


On the hardware front...

Apple's hardware announcements typically kick off following the release of its software, so developers can tie their new apps to the new features or technologies.


There have been some minor iterative updates to the MacBook Air earlier this year, but the MacBook Pro and iPad line-up have yet to see any major changes. Expect some more hardware events later this year, with the possibility that the iPad Air, the latest update to the tablet, won't see a refresh until early next year.


Certainly don't hold out for an 'iWatch' wearable, or an Apple-branded television set. While the former could land later this year, the jury is still out on whether Apple wants to break into the consumer appliances sector.


If we are to see anything, we may see a new Apple TV set-top box. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs called Apple TV a 'hobby' business; incumbent chief executive Tim Cook upgraded its status, saying the device was 'a little more difficult to call [Apple TV] a hobby,' at its annual gathering of shareholders in February.


Should the company wish to further bring e-commerce to the living room, particularly by branching out to apps and games, we could see the company's revenues climb even further than previously expected. As Apple TV relies on software, not just an accompanying television set, we may see something Apple TV related on Monday.


We'll have it all as it happens on Monday, starting 10am PT (1am ET; 6pm GMT).


Snapchat CEO Emails Reflect Silicon Valley Culture and Other Fascinating ...

May 29, 2014 1. This Doesn't Reflect My Views

It's been a long week for Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. A collection of his 'cringeworthy' college emails to fellow frat members were leaked and Spiegel quickly responded with a statement: 'I'm obviously mortified and embarrassed that my idiotic emails during my fraternity days were made public. I have no excuse. I'm sorry I wrote them at the time and I was jerk to have written them. They in no way reflect who I am today or my views towards women.' There are a few reasons why these leaked emails are big news. Spiegel's college days were recent. His company is massive (people send more than 700 million snaps a day). And it confirms the belief among some that Spiegel ' is kind of an ass.' But there is a broader cultural trend to consider here. Increasingly, much of what we say or write - including the stuff that would mortify and embarrass us - is being recorded. Are we all ready to be judged by our 'private' conversations? (Just in case, I'd like to preemptively state that certain comments I made following a keg stand in 1989 detoured significantly from my actual views.)


2. Riling for Dollars

Could there be a connection between privately-exchanged offensive comments and big pay days? Snapchat recently turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook and Donald Sterling is about to gain an enormous profit from the sale of the Clippers. From Bloomberg: Clippers sale deserves Harvard study on idiocy profits.


3. Coal Position

On Monday, President Obama will use his authority under the Clean Air Act to introduce new rules requiring power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions. It could be the most significant effort to confront climate change in the country's history.


+ Here's a bit more detail on the plan from Vox.


+ Oh wait, did I say climate change? I meant global warming. When it comes to public opinion, it makes a big difference.


4. Come Heavy or Not At All

It turns out it's not such a small world after all. According to a large study, a third of the world's population is either overweight or obese. 'Worldwide, prevalence of overweight and obesity combined rose by 27% for adults and 47% for children between 1980 and 2013. The number of overweight and obese individuals increased from 857 million in 1980, to 2.1 billion in 2013.'


+ The Mediterranean diet isn't all that popular in the Mediterranean. Greece and Italy have the world's most overweight kids.


+ The Economist's Daily Chart: Peak Fat.


5. The Music Man

'My life changed because Bruce Springsteen got on a mic in front of me. That continued in my life over and over again, so I get the joke now. Artists have to be represented properly, and paid properly.' Meet Jimmy Iovine, the first Silicon Valley mogul to get his start fetching tea for John Lennon (and probably the only dude on the planet who can pull off wearing blue suede high tops).


+ The epic visual history of Beats by Dre.


6. On a Ping and a Prayer

A month ago, pings heard somewhere beneath 329 square miles of the surface of the Indian Ocean gave searchers hope that the remains of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 would be found. Today, Australia called off the search in that area.


7. For Example...

On Wednesday, NPR's David Schaper was conducting an interview related to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new gun control plan when a gunman opened fire nearby. The plan calls for 'video recordings of every gun purchase and a limit of one gun per customer per month.' (But don't worry, there's always your birthday...)


+ Deputies seized 7 guns and 1,000 rounds of ammo from (another) UC Santa Barbara student's home after one of the guns was accidentally discharged.


8. A Fair Share?

'But sharing businesses aren't just creating new income streams from nothing. In 'disrupting' even troubled markets - the taxi industry has had this coming for a long time - the glory of the peer economy comes at the expense of other workers' livelihoods.' Susie Cagle makes the case against sharing and tries to give some context to what we mean when we say share. (My kids now accept credit cards or PayPal when sharing their toys.)


9. Reinventing the Waffle

'As soon as the team started to see it, there was this instant excitement, this buzz that this is a cool idea, this is a big idea.' That's Heather Mottershaw reflecting on the invention of the Waffle Taco. Venessa Wong takes you inside Taco Bell's secret recipe for new products.


+ You're eating a lot of nanoparticles.


+ The science behind the smell of bacon.


+ 'Artisanal gefilte fish. Slow-fermented bagels. Organic chopped liver. Sustainable schmaltz.' Oy Vey ...


Imagine If Half of All Tech Inventions and Startups Came From Women

Frat bros like the Snapchat CEO who say sexist things grow up to run tech companies, where women feel unwelcome.

On Wednesday, emails sent by SnapChat CEO Evan Spiegel to his fraternity brothers about four years ago when he was in college leaked on the Internet. They were filled with misogynistic comments like, 'Hope at least six girls sucked your d***s last night,' calling sorority girls 'frigid' and planning to feed them as much alcohol as possible.


What do you expect from a frat? It might be easy to dismiss these emails with a 'boys will be boys' mentality. Spiegel's exchanges certainly are not unique among college men in frats. Spiegel apologized. He's (slightly) older now and maybe sort-of wiser.


But frat bros like Spiegel grow up to become heads of companies that dominate the tech industry like SnapChat. The people creating the apps and devices we use and that shape our society are mostly 20-something males, many of them formerly in frats. And they don't grow up that fast: Just look at the RapGenius co-founder who was ousted from his company over the weekend after making annotations on alleged UCSB killer Elliot Rodger's misogynist manifesto that including calling Rodger's sister 'smokin hot.'


Men who have made sexist remarks to a large group are all over the tech landscape, and that deters women from tech. That's a problem for three reasons: women are the majority of the tech consumers, and we need women engineers to build apps women would actually use; tech companies are more successful when women are helping to manage them; and we don't have enough computer science grads to fill all the jobs opening up in this sector, so we need to recruit the other 50 percent of the population purely for economic reasons.


Imagine what apps would look like if more women helped develop them. SnapChat was conceived as a sexting app but has turned into a new social media phenomenon, thanks in part to women simply adapting the app to their own needs. A great article in Fast Company tells the story of one all-male development team that built an app for finding babysitters (great idea) but designed it such that women with long fingernails-i.e. a significant number of their potential customers-could not use it.


Titstare is the most notorious example of too much testosterone at a startup. Elissa Shevinsky, CEO of Glimpse Labs, felt uncomfortable when she was forced to watch a pitch for an app called Titstare that allows you to take photos of yourself staring at pictures of breasts at TechCrunch Disrupt. She became angry when her business partner, Pax Dickinson, then took to Twitter to defend the Titstare founders against accusations of misogyny: 'It is not misogyny to tell a sexist joke, or to fail to take a woman seriously, or to enjoy boobies.'


After 14 years in the tech world, she decided she'd had enough and wrote a treatise about the sexism in the industry called, 'That's It - I'm Finished Defending Sexism in Tech.'


She points out that sexism isn't a problem at every company, but it's bad enough that women have to be picky about where they work. 'Sexism isn't evenly distributed throughout the industry. Some companies are much better (and worse) than others. The experience of at working at a company like The Knot (which is all about weddings) or even at Facebook is going to be different than a young company run with a primarily male workforce like GitHub,' she tells TIME. 'Obviously we want to get to a point where women don't have to make these close examinations to figure out if an environment will be professional.'


If it seems that products like 'Titstare' are increasingly out of touch with consumer needs, it's because a relatively small demographic is coming up with the newest tech ideas.


Studies have shown that startups with diverse teams are more likely to succeed than those run exclusively by men: researchers at the University of Michigan and Cornell University found that companies with more gender diversity delivered better results from IPOs by as much as 30 percent. Another study by the London School of Economics found that women-led startups failed less often than men.


And yet only 20 percent of software developers are women. By contrast, women make up 56 percent of the people in business and finance jobs, 36 percent of doctors and 33 percent of lawyers. As of last spring, Google-which has a better female to male ratio than startups partially because it has an HR department unlike fledgling tech companies-said only a fifth of its engineers are women.


Which brings us to the last problem: we simply need more engineers. 'I really do believe that this is the most important domestic issue of our country. Seventy-one percent of the STEM jobs are in computing, and less than 18 percent of computer science degrees are given to women when we make up 56 percent of the labor force. That is an economic disaster, and we are doing nothing to fix it,' Reshma Saugani-founder of Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors-told TIME. 'In fact we're emphasizing in the post- Social Network, everyone wants to be Mark Zuckerberg world, we're emphasizing even more to young girls that this world is not for you.'


Of the women who do join the tech field, 56 percent leave mid-career, according to Harvard Business School research. A third of the women who leave move to non-tech jobs-jobs where the climate is more welcoming to women.


'I've been harassed, I've had people make suggestive comments to me, I've had people basically dismiss my expertise,' Ashe Dryden, a programmer who now consults on diversity in technology, told the New York Times. 'I've gotten rape and death threats just for speaking out about this stuff.'


Even women who endure this harassment or are lucky enough to avoid it, must fight to be taken seriously simply because of their gender. Researchers at Wharton, Harvard and MIT found that when they played investors two recordings of the exact same sales pitch-one read by a man, another read by a woman-the investors preferred the man's voice two to one. This 'boys club' atmosphere bars women from success.


Spiegel's emails matter because they represent a greater problem in Silicon Valley: few women will want to work with men like Spiegel when they could go somewhere else.


Motorola Mobility's US Moto X Assembly Plant To Close By End Of Year


Part of the sales pitch for Motorola Mobility's (then Google-owned) Moto X smartphone was that it was partly U.S.-made; an assembly plant to put together the Moto X opened in Fort Worth, Texas in May 2013. That plant will close by the end of this year, Motorola confirms to TechCrunch, however, as sales of the smartphone and operational costs have resulted in it being too expensive to continue to operate.


Currently, the plant employs about 700 workers who build the Moto X specfically for U.S. sales, according to a spokesman speaking to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news. Motorola was recently sold to Lenovo from Google, which is the company that spearheaded the Moto X project, but Motorola tells the WSJ that this closure isn't related to the sale and was tied only to the fact that the 'north American market was exceptionally tough' when it comes to device sales.


Moto X production won't stop entirely; devices will continue to come out of Chinese and Brazilian assembly plants, as well as other locales. Motorola also plans to continue to attack the value end of the market with devices that have thinner margins but are priced below those of its competition, the company confirms.


TrueCrypt Encryption Software Shut Down, May Be Compromised


Independent encryption software TrueCrypt is apparently not as secure as many thought. Yesterday (May 28), the TrueCrypt homepage was suddenly replaced with a notification that read 'WARNING: Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues.'


TrueCrypt is used by many security-minded people, including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, to turn a storage device, such as a flash drive or hard drive or a partition of such a device, into an encrypted volume, protecting the documents stored in that volume from prying eyes.


But TrueCrypt's creators never revealed their true identity, which caused others to be skeptical of its integrity. TrueCrypt was recently the subject of an independent security audit examining TrueCrypt's code for flaws, bugs or backdoors.


MORE: Best PC Antivirus Software 2014

TrueCrypt's abrupt warning was accompanied by instructions for how to transfer TrueCrypt-encrypted files to BitLocker, the Microsoft-owned service built into Microsoft Vista Ultimate and Enterprise, Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise, and Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise versions.


The warning suggested that TrueCrypt was intended to be used on Windows XP, Microsoft's earlier operating system, which lacks a built-in encryption option.


'The development of TrueCrypt was ended in 5/2014 after Microsoft terminated support of Windows XP,' the warning read. 'Windows 8/7/Vista and later offered integrated support for encrypted disks and virtual disk images. Such integrated support is also available on other platforms.'


But the TrueCrypt software had versions for the more recent Windows operating systems, as well as for Mac OS X, Linux and Android (the latter via third-party apps). Many security-minded people valued TrueCrypt for its perceived independence from major software companies, even though the creators' identities were never revealed.


Some have speculated that TrueCrypt may have been pressured to close down in the face of government scrutiny, as encrypted-email service Lavabit was in 2013.


Others suggested that TrueCrypt's website might have just been hacked, or defaced as part of a prank. But independent security expert Brian Krebs says that appears unlikely; he looked at the site's records and found 'no substantive changes recently' to its hosting, DNS or WHOIS records.


It seems to be that the mysterious people behind TrueCrypt simply decided to end the project.


'Whether hoax, hack or genuine end-of-life for TrueCrypt, it's clear that no security-consciuous users are going to feel comfortable trusting the software after this debacle,' wrote independent security expert Graham Cluley on his blog. 'It's time to start looking for an alternative way to encrypt your files and hard drive.'


So could the fact that it was being audited have anything to do with TrueCrypt shutting down? The first round of the audit, which looked at TrueCrypt's bootloader, found it to be secure. The next round, to be completed this summer, was to examine the cryptography used in the software.


The organizer of the TrueCrypt audit was Matthew Green, a security expert and cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.


'Last I heard from Truecrypt: 'We are looking forward to results of phase 2 of your audit. Thank you very much for all your efforts again!'' Green tweeted today.


Green says the audit will continue. He also suggested that other independent cryptographers might be able to continue the TrueCrypt developers' work, but the product's ambiguously worded license will probably make that difficult.


'I was starting to have warm and fuzzy feelings about the code, thinking [the developers] were just nice guys who didn't want their names out there,' Green told Krebs in an interview on the latter's blog. 'But now this decision makes me feel like they're kind of unreliable. Also, I'm a little worried that the fact that we were doing an audit of the crypto might have made them decide to call it quits.'


Until more is revealed, TrueCrypt users should probably stop using the software.


Email jscharr@tomsguide.com or follow her @JillScharr and Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.


Surface Pro 3: A brilliant, quirky, nearly flawless laptop replacement

Summary: Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is a gorgeous piece of hardware, hugely improved from its predecessors. It's not for everyone, but is it right for you?


If you're in the market for a Windows-based laptop replacement, the Surface Pro 3 should be on your short list.


Image credit: Microsoft


Microsoft's third shot in the tablet-that-can-turn-into-a-portable-PC category represents a huge improvement over its earlier attempts. I called the first Surface Pro, released in February 2013, 'brilliant, quirky, and flawed,' and argued that it 'has enough flaws that many potential buyers will either say no outright or play wait and see.'


Last fall's Surface Pro 2, released in conjunction with Windows 8.1, was basically just a spec bump that added a Haswell processor (improving battery life) and gave the trademark Surface kickstand a second angle.


Surface Pro 3, on the other hand, is a complete redesign that maintains the original Surface Pro vision (and a few of its quirks), while tackling its biggest flaws head-on.


Like its predecessors, the Surface Pro 3 isn't for everyone. It's also hard to categorize. Lining it up next to a conventional laptop or a full-size tablet results in an odd set of comparisons and, inevitably, reviews that focus on the mismatches.


I attended last week's launch event in New York City and came home with a sample of the Surface Pro 3, provided by Microsoft, which I've used extensively for the past 10 days. As I did with the original Surface Pro, I'm writing this review in Q&A format, with the goal of helping you figure out whether the newest Surface Pro is a match for your working style.


What's new in Surface Pro 3?

Conceptually, the new model shares key design features with previous Surface Pro versions. In its simplest form, it's a tablet, but it has the guts of a premium Windows 8.1 Ultrabook, with a fourth-generation (Haswell) Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processor, 4 or 8 GB of LPDDR3 memory, and up to 512 GB of flash storage. (For more details about the Surface Pro 3 configurations, see Which CPUs will you find in the Surface Pro 3?)


The Surface Pro 3 has a light magnesium finish, like that of the Surface Pro 2 and unlike the fingerprint-attracting dark matte finish of the older Surface Pro models. The Surface logo is etched on the back.


In its physical dimensions, the Surface Pro 3 is dramatically different from its predecessors. At 9.1mm, it's a hair (or two) thinner than an iPhone 4S and 33 percent thinner than the slab-like Surface Pro 2.



The shape is different, too. The Surface Pro 2 has a 10.6-inch (diagonal) screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a native resolution of 1920x1080. The Surface Pro 3 has a 12-inch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2160x1440. That gives you 50 percent more onscreen pixels in a physical screen that is about 10 percent larger.


Amazingly, despite the bigger screen the Surface Pro 3 is actually 120 g lighter than its predecessor. The combination of less weight, a thinner package, and a more balanced shape means the Surface Pro 3 is significantly more portable than older models. It feels very comfortable in the hand.


The single USB 3.0 port, mini-DisplayPort adapter, and Micro-SDXC card slot are familiar, but the 802.11ac wireless adapter is an upgrade, as are the front and rear 5MP cameras and the digital compass. The TPM 2.0 chip is an upgrade from the TPM 1.3 chip in older models.


The Surface Pro's trademark hinge now supports a continuous range of positions instead of the one or two in the previous designs. With the hinge fully extended, the Surface Pro 3 is propped up at a slight angle, for drawing or watching a movie.



Every Surface Pro comes with a pen, but this pen is different. It's an active device, battery-powered, with a top button that you can click to wake the device and open OneNote. Microsoft says the new pen is a 'platform,' which presumably means other apps besides OneNote will be able to programmatically connect to it as well.


The Surface Pro 2 speakers were rightly criticized for not being loud enough. Those speakers are moved to the front on the Surface Pro 3 (you'll have to look very carefully to see them), and they deliver an impressive amount of volume.


The system software has matured also. Windows 8.1 Pro is installed, and this edition supports Connected Standby, which means it wakes up in a fraction of a second and can hold a charge for much longer than the Surface Pro 2 while still performing background tasks in low-power mode.


How does it perform? And how long does it last when disconnected from AC power? I answer those questions on the next page.


How practical is Google's driverless car?

Google has been teasing consumers with tidbits about its driverless cars for several years now, but it wasn't until this week that it revealed what this futuristic technology would actually look like.


The prototype is a subcompact car that looks like a computer mouse, has no steering wheel or gas and brake pedals and reaches a maximum speed of roughly 40 kilometres an hour.


Google hopes to have 100 of these vehicles on the road by next year.


At the Code Conference in Los Angeles this week, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the self-driving car concept 'is about changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today.'


The futuristic car clearly has its backers, but some analysts, while intrigued, are skeptical about whether this concept is as game-changing as Google thinks.


While they acknowledge a driverless car would have immediate benefits for seniors and the disabled, a self-driving car raises a number of legal and regulatory issues.


Here's a look at some of the applications - and complications - of putting Google's driverless car on the road.


Increased mobility for seniors and people with disabilities

The prototype, which was revealed on Tuesday, has buttons that a passenger presses to begin and end the ride. The passenger sets the route by identifying the destination on a map or by using spoken commands.


In lieu of human operation, the vehicle is outfitted with sensors and cameras mounted on the roof that allows it to analyze what surrounding cars are doing and react accordingly.


The most obvious beneficiaries of a self-driving car would be seniors or the disabled, who may not be able to operate a conventional automobile.



A car such as this would go a long way in restoring some independence for someone with a physical disability, says Tony Dolan, chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and a partial quadriplegic.


As a person with disabilities, he says, 'you're always striving for that ability to live as normally as you can.' And often as cheaply as you can.


Dolan owns a retrofitted Dodge Caravan minivan, which has a powered ramp, a modified driver's seat, hand controls for acceleration and braking, and a spinner knob on the steering wheel.


It cost him $43,000 US, and he says he had to buy it in the U.S. because the cheapest comparable vehicle he could find in Canada would have cost $68,000 CDN.


Dolan acknowledges that Google's self-driving car would alleviate some of the issues that prohibit many disabled people from driving, but he is concerned about the potential cost. (Google hasn't announced a price tag.)


'The first thing a person with a disability would say about the Google car is, Oh, that's great - but can I afford it? How am I going to pay for that?'


Not necessarily a fun ride

Thilo Koslowski, an automotive analyst with the Gartner consultancy group, says that with a current top speed of 40 km/hr (25 mph), the Google car would not make a particularly effective or fun consumer vehicle.


While there is undoubted curiousity about a car that drives itself, most people still prefer to drive themselves. Koslowski cites a recent poll that showed 35 per cent of respondents would be interested in purchasing such a vehicle, while the rest still preferred a traditional car.


Koslowski says he sees a greater potential for the Google car as an automated taxi or a means to transport goods. He also believes that it could be a valuable mode of transport in low-traffic areas, such as universities, factories or airports.


'There is an opportunity for these kinds of self-driving vehicles to be used at lower speeds on campuses or very specific city areas,' says Kozlowski.


And while there may well be greater consumer interest in the future, he suggests those vehicles 'would have to look very different from the prototype that was shown' this week.


Street legal?

Champions of driverless cars say they would nullify speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving, the prime causes of automobile accidents.


However, there are currently very strict regulations governing the use of these sorts of vehicles on the streets in both Canada and the U.S.


Koslowski points out that the state of California recently announced that in order for a self-driving car to be on the street, there must be two certified engineers sitting in the front seat in order to assume control in case things go awry.


Peter Henein, a product liability lawyer and partner at the Toronto firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell, also sees a number of liability issues with a concept such as this.


Because the vehicle is wholly automated, Henein says the most obvious concern is computer error or failure. As well, because the car relies on an internet connection to identify and navigate to its destination, a drop in the signal could bring the car to a halt - possibly in a very precarious situation.


'If the map is being updated remotely, and there's a lack of connectivity, the car may not know where to go and then the car may not move,' says Henein.


Henein also points out that the current prototype is a small car with little apparent safety protection, and would be unlikely to survive a collision with a large truck.


'That doesn't make the [driverless] vehicle dangerous, but it means you have to carefully regulate where it can be driven.'


Another question with the car is the liability when a vehicle such as this gets into an accident - would it be the fault of the passenger, the owner or the manufacturer?


A spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada says it's 'too early for us to comment on the insurance implications of the Google driverless car.'


Henein says determining liability in the case of an accident between a driverless car and a conventional car would be no different than a collision between two conventional automobiles.


It would require an investigation of the specific circumstances and a determination of whether the accident was created through the actions of the people in the vehicle or a malfunction of the vehicle itself.


'A whole other set of data'

Because the car is fully automated and reliant on geo-location information to determine its routes, the vehicle's computer - and, by extension, Google - will inevitably gather data on passengers habits, Matt Braga, a Canadian tech journalist, told CBC News.


Google currently collects data on consumers through its search engine and email services, which it sells to third parties. Braga says that the self-driving car could provide Google with even more personal information.


'You have this company that already knows things like your purchasing behaviour and who you talk to.


'They'll now have this extra data. They'll know things like, 'Stacy goes to the gym every Thursday,'' Braga said.


'It's a whole other set of data that could be exciting or terrifying.'


Sony doubles up on the titles available through PS Plus

Sony has announced a change to their PS Plus programme and they're now offering more free games every month. Starting from next month there will be two games available each on PS4, PS3 and PS Vita.


The first double for the PS4 will be the excellent PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate and the Lost Vikings-inspired Trine 2: Complete Edition. PS3 gamers get access to 2K's supreme basketball title NBA 2K14 and the PS3/PS Vita Cross-buy enabled psychological horror title Lone Survivor: Director's Cut.


Vita gamers will get their hands on medieval fantasy advennture Dragon's Crown and neon-tinged puzzle game Surge Deluxe.


The outgoing titles for this month are Stick It To The Man on PS4, Payday 2 and Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons on PS3 and Muramasa Rebirth and Everybody's Golf on PS Vita.


Google makes webform for removal of search results after European ruling


A woman walks past the Google offices near the city centre in Dublin July 8, 2013.Cathal McNaughton


Google has already been receiving requests to remove objectionable personal information from its search engine after the Court of Justice of the European Union's ruling that requires Internet search services remove information deemed 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.'


'We're creating an expert advisory committee to cultivate a public conversation about these issues,' a Google representative said in a statement.


Google will also work with data protection authorities and others as the company implements this ruling, the representative said.


(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco and Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)


Uber taxi row goes to court in UK

Rich Trenholm/CNET

Uber is being taken to the highest court in Britain in a battle between the popular e-hailing app and angry cabbies. With taxi drivers planning to gridlock city streets next month, London's transport authorities want to clear up the controversy once and for all.


Transport for London, which licenses taxi and private hire operators in the British capital, is referring Uber to the High Court in order to get a definitive ruling on certain aspects of the service.


Uber is an app that enables you to order and pay for a car on your phone. Now picking people up in 35 countries, the app has proved enormously controversial with taxi drivers and existing private hire operators, sparking demonstrations around the world. London cabbies plan to protest by blocking streets on 11 June.


Uber's arrival has shaken up the industry in a way that gives consumer's easier access to cabs, but cabbies argue that the playing field isn't level. The controversy could bring the city to a standstill, and authorities are taking notice.


'There are lots of challenges around disruption, and there are challenges for us as a city as well as for taxi drivers,' London's deputy mayor Kit Malthouse told CNET today. '(In London) we have a set of rules carefully constructed over the last 200 years by which the city operates, and those rules have been designed to minimise conflict so we can all get along together and industries can prosper.


'Some of these companies that are coming along, like AirBnB and Uber, are calling into question those long-standing and settled regulatory environments,' explains Malthouse. 'It's a challenge for us as a city, and what the taxi drivers are doing is highlighting that. They're saying 'You can't have it both ways -- if Uber come along and operate without regulation, then we should be able to compete without regulation or they should have the same regulations.' That's a fair question which we as a city are going to have to tackle.'


The controversy in London is around the definition of what counts as a meter. Only taxis, the drivers of which must be individually licensed at their own expense, can use a meter to determine a fare. Other vehicles, like minicabs and limos, are run through licensed private hire companies and set fares without a meter.


Taxi drivers argue that the app used by Uber drivers on their smartphones is essentially a meter, as it uses GPS to measure the time and distance of a journey and organise payment accordingly. TFL disagrees, but in light of growing discontent the transport body is referring the problem to the courts for a definitive binding ruling one way or the other.


TfL says 'The rapid pace at which smart phone based technology has been developing in recent years has led to a need for clarity about what is required in order for apps to comply with the regulatory framework in London.'


Although it has given Uber the green light to operate in London, TfL adds that it 'remains concerned about certain technical aspects of Uber's operating model,' which it is discussing with the company. At the time of writing, TfL was unavailable to expand on what those technical aspects might be.


Uber was unavailable to comment, but earlier this week defended its practises with a statement arguing 'We are bringing competition to an industry that hasn't evolved in years.'.


Google Maps Adds Driving Directions for North Korea


On the list of 'fun tourist destinations that we'd love to just rent a car and drive through,' the lush landscapes of... North Korea... don't really come to mind.


There's the whole ' totalitarian state' thing, which might make one's trip a bit difficult. But on the off chance that you do happen to get your hands on a car while touring around North Korea, or you're a friendly North Korean citizen reading this article using the country's Internet services (how are you doing that, by the way?), then you're in luck!


Google has officially debuted driving directions for North Korea on its Google Maps service — assuming, of course, that the company has been able to map out the roads between wherever you are now and wherever your final destination might be.


Interestingly enough, the driving directions that are available in North Korea are not, themselves, available in what one might consider the 'freer' country of South Korea. According to the website North Korea Tech, it's thought that some kind of internal restrictions related to security have forced Google to pull the option for the entirety of the country.


And, no, don't even think about trying to plot driving directions between North and South Korea.


'If you take a close look, you'll see that Google doesn't have any data for South Korea's civilian control zone, the area by the border with North Korea that appears as a grey blank. The closest the system can get is Imjingak and even then only public transport information is available,' writes North Korea Tech.


You also can't plot routes between North Korea and its other neighbors — there goes that weekend drive to Beijing, we suppose. Also don't expect to be able to see how your driving time compares against North Korea's public transportation. Due to the lack of available data (or at least, data that can be accessed by Google), there are no timetables for public transportation on Google Maps for North Korea.


It's unclear whether Google was the sole provider of information that allowed it to finally craft up driving directions within the country, or whether Google's attempts to crowdsource its maps of North Korea — starting in January of last year — was the driving force (pardon the pun).


Netflix CEO Hastings: Comcast wants 'the whole Internet to pay them'


Richard Brandt, Contributor


Netflix CEO Reed Hastings really hates paying money to Comcast in order to make sure Netflix subscribers get uninterrupted access to 'House of Cards.' And he's dead set against Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable.


At the Re/Code Code conference today, Hastings warned that allowing Comcast to acquire Time Warner Cable would be a blow to net neutrality, adding that decreased competition in the high-speed Internet market would mean Comcast could increase its fees to businesses like Netflix.


'If [they] charge a little bit now, they'll charge more and more and more,' Hastings said. 'They want the whole Internet to pay them for when their subscribers use the Internet.'


He added that he was forced to agree to the fees because the alternative of slow access to Netflix movies was a worse alternative.


He also said he would prefer not to have the government create and enforce net neutrality rules, but that would require the cable companies and Internet providers to write contracts that ensure net neutrality. 'We don't have anything close to that level of agreement,' he said.


Hastings may be having some impact. Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler said in a hearing on May 20 that he would look into complaints from Netflix and others about Internet content delivery. That hearing came a week after release of an FCC net neutrality proposal that would allow broadband Internet suppliers to charge the content companies for fast-lane service.


At the conference he also said that Netflix has neither the money nor the bandwidth to start delivering sporting events. And he said he's content with the fact that the company's stock price has settled in at about $400 per share, after complaining last fall that its 400 percent price increase in a year was too much 'euphoria.'


Hastings wrote a blog explaining his concerns about net neutrality in March.


Samsung unveils prototype health device a week before Apple's expected ...

One week before Apple's World Wide Developer Conference, where the company is widely expected to announce its rumored Healthbook app, Samsung hosted an event called Voice of the Body in San Francisco to show off a couple of digital health projects.


The two new digital health projects included Simband, an 'investigational device' - not a product - that is stocked with a variety of health sensors and room for third party developers to add their own. Samsung also unveiled Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions, or SAMI, which it described as a 'data broker' that future devices based on the Simband and other third party health tracking devices could upload data to that could then be used by app developers to create new apps.


During his presentation Samsung Electronics' Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer of device solutions at the company, said that consumer-driven digital health has had three generations so far. The last five years were all about smartphone health apps, while the second generation - the one we're in now - is focused on connected fitness devices. Next, digital health is moving into the wearable sensor era.


While Sohn said the current generation is fitness devices, he also hinted that Samsung will launch fitness devices in the future.


Ram Fish, Samsung's VP of mHealth, presented and demo'd the company's new projects on-stage at the event. Fish founded Blue Libris, which Numera Health acquired for an undisclosed sum in early 2012. Fish spent about a year at Apple before joining Samsung in his current role last summer.


Fish talked up future sensors that could be integrated with Samsung's Simband in the future, including acoustic sensors, optical sensors, and others that will be able to sense the air around us and even blood glucose levels, according to the live reporting on the event from CNET.


While Fish admitted that the wrist is not an ideal location for a health sensor-laden device from a biomedical perspective, his team concluded that it is the way most people will be comfortable wearing such a device 24/7. To facilitate that kind of all-day, all-night wearability, the Simband makes use of a 'shuttle battery' that magnetically clips onto the Simband and charges it while the wearer sleeps.


Simband includes WiFi- and Bluetooth-connectivity and Samsung says the sensors and 'potential applications' for the device include:


Multiple photoplethysmogram: A PPG sensor will shine light on your skin to measure changes in blood flow at the microvascular level and monitor physiological phenomena, such as heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs. We're working on a PPG sensor that uses two lights-both red and green at various wavelengths-for even better accuracy.


Electrocardiogram: Simband's ECG will measure the rate and regularity of your heartbeat. The ECG sensor is designed to work with the PPG sensor to map pulse arrival time into an estimation of blood pressure.


Bioimpedance: Simband will be the first open reference design platform in the world that is designed to leverage bioimpedance to monitor everything from blood flow to body fat. [In one of Samsung's promotional videos for the device it also suggests this sensor could be used for hydration tracking, which is a controversial claim.]


Galvanic skin response: GSR sensors will measure the electrical conductivity of the skin. This could be useful in measuring your stress levels.


Temperature: Simband will measure your skin temperature and uses a set of algorithms designed to parse that information to estimate core temperature. This information may be useful in monitoring calorie expenditure and the state of your nervous system.


While Samsung didn't give any specifics around when its partners could begin working with the Simband device or creating apps that tap into SAMI, it said that SAMI's beta roll out will launch by yearend.


Samsung's mobile health team is already working with UCSF, IMEC, and the University of Chicago to develop and validate Simband and SAMI. It has also partnered with health tracking data platform TicTrac.


Finally, Samsung announced a $50 million fund that it will use to back startups and other companies developing new health sensors and algorithms, to validate digital health technologies, and to fund partners helping it build out Simband and SAMI.


Exclusive: A Microsoft Smartwatch Is Coming

(Photo via Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Microsoft is the latest technology giant preparing to jump into the wearables market, with plans to offer a sensor-rich smartwatch that measures heart rate and synchs with iPhones, Android phones and Windows Phones, Forbes has learned.


It's a surprising development in the ongoing conversation about wearables that till now has been dominated by Samsung and Apple.


The device will draw on optical engineering expertise from Microsoft's Xbox Kinect division to continuously measure heart rate through the day and night, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company's plans, while the battery will last for two days, roughly on par with Samsung's Gear Fit.


The timeline for the watch's release date is unclear but Microsoft could be gunning for as soon as this summer.


Crucially, it appears the smartwatch won't just tie in with Windows Phone devices, but will also work with both iPhones and Android smartphones.


A spokesman for Microsoft would not comment on the details. 'We have nothing to share,' he said.


Still, early indications suggest the smartwatch may already be a step ahead from current fitness trackers like the Gear Fit, which requires users to turn on its heart-rate monitor. Microsoft's device will track continuous heart rate over the course of a person's day, sources say. The watch will look similar to the Samsung Gear Fit and feature a full-color touch screen about the size of half a stick of gum, positioned on the inside of the wearer's wrist. The unorthodox screen-placing appears to be aimed at making it easier and more private to view notifications.


A cross-platform smartwatch would represent another bold move by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to create a product that works across other rival platforms, not just Windows. His first public unveiling of a product in April was of a suite of Microsoft Office products that worked, for the first time, on Apple's iPad.


Microsoft's software and services need to be available on 'all devices,' Nadella also said at a conference earlier this week. 'It's time for us to build the next big thing.'


While going cross platform may diminish the power of Microsoft's software ecosystem, it does make business sense: Windows Phone has struggled to make a dent in smartphones and is forecast to have a 3.5% share of the global smartphone market by the end of 2014, while Android will dominate with 80.2% and Apple's iOS with 14.8%.


'Microsoft needs to run across Apple and Android platforms,' said a recent research note from Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund which collated advice from industry peers on how Nadella should 'fix' Microsoft. The company, which derived about half of its 2013 sales of $77.8 billion from Windows and Office software products, needs to make shifts as fundamental as IBM's move towards becoming a services business, Sherlund said.


Moving into the wearables space would barely register on Microsoft's bottom line for some time, but the market is just starting to heat up, with Apple poised to announce its first iWatch later this year and Samsung expected to launch a smartwatch in the summer that can independently make calls. Wearable device companies like Fitbit are Jawbone are meanwhile commanding valuations in the billions of dollars, with Jawbone having recently become the subject of acquisition rumors.


Though Microsoft's hardware products have a spotty history, executives will be hoping a sensor-rich smartwatch can replicate the success of the company's Xbox and Kinect divisions, rather than the failure of the Zune music player and struggles of Microsoft's Surface tablet.


Optical engineers from Microsoft's Kinect division, designers and data scientists have created a software platform to go with the smartwatch that will correlate data from the device's sensors, according to sources, giving a more accurate read on heart rate and fitness.


Samsung Electronics is currently making a Big-Data push for health and wearables too. On Wednesday the South Korean company revealed further details on its open biometric data platform SAMI, which developers can access later this year to correlate data from wearable devices like the Gear, Fitbit and Jawbone.


Microsoft may want to do something similar with the data its smartwatch generates about wearers, perhaps taking advantage of insights in can glean from Outlook email and calendar traffic.


The company also appears to be going more mainstream with its first wearables play than initially thought. Reports surfaced two years ago showing Microsoft had been granted a patent for a wearable EMG device, and they suggested a band that senses muscle movements in the arm to control a wearer's mobile devices.


Salesforce CRM apps coming to Windows and Windows Phone

Summary: Salesforce and Microsoft have agreed to tighten ties between Salesforce's CRM apps and platform and Microsoft's Windows and Office.


Salesforce.com is building new Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 CRM apps, and integrating its CRM technology more tightly with Office and Office 365.



Microsoft and Salesforce officials announced terms of their new partnership on May 29, hours after a Bloomberg report noted that the two were collaborating on a partnership involving Microsoft's Azure cloud.


Based on the Microsoft press release, it doesn't look like Azure ended up being part of the package -- other than possibly indirectly.


But the pair did announce the following deliverables:


Salesforce1 for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1. A preview is planned to be available in fall 2014 with general availability in 2015. Salesforce for Office 365 interoperability. Users will be able to 'access, share, edit and collaborate on Office content from within Salesforce and on Salesforce1 using Office Mobile, Office for iPad and Office 365.' They also will be able to access OneDrive for Business/SharePoint Online for storage options. A new Salesforce app for Outlook Integration enabling Salesforce data to be connected to Excel and Microsoft's Power BI for Office 365 (Developing story. More to come.)

Microsoft Preparing To Jump Into The Wearables Market With Its Own Smartwatch

(Photo via Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Microsoft is the latest technology giant preparing to jump into the wearables market, with plans to offer a sensor-rich smartwatch that measures heart rate and synchs with iPhones, Android phones and Windows Phones, Forbes has learned.


It's a surprising development in the ongoing conversation about wearables that till now has been dominated by Samsung and Apple.


The forthcoming smartwatch will draw on optical engineering expertise from Microsoft's Xbox Kinect division to continuously measure heart rate through the day and night, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company's plans, while the battery will last for two days, roughly on par with Samsung's Gear Fit. The timeline for the watch's release date is unclear but Microsoft could be gunning for as soon as this summer.


Crucially, it appears the watch won't be tied to Windows Phone devices only, but will also work with both iPhones and Android smartphones.


A spokesman for Microsoft would not comment on the details. 'We have nothing to share,' he said.


Still, early indications suggest the smartwatch may already be a step ahead from current fitness trackers like the Gear Fit, which requires users to turn on its heart-rate monitor. Microsoft's device will track continuous heart rate over the course of a person's day, sources say. The watch will look similar to the Samsung Gear Fit and feature a full-color touch screen about the size of half a stick of gum, positioned on the inside of the wearer's wrist. The unorthodox screen-placing appears to be aimed at making it easier and more private to view notifications.


A cross-platform smartwatch would represent another bold move by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to create a product that works across other rival platforms, not just Windows. His first public unveiling of a product in April was of a suite of Microsoft Office products that worked, for the first time, on Apple's iPad.


Microsoft's software and services need to be available on 'all devices,' Nadella also said at a conference earlier this week. 'It's time for us to build the next big thing.'


While going cross platform may diminish the power of Microsoft's software ecosystem, it does make business sense: Windows Phone has struggled to make a dent in smartphones and is forecast to have a 3.5% share of the global smartphone market by the end of 2014, while Android will dominate with 80.2% and Apple's iOS with 14.8%.


'Microsoft needs to run across Apple and Android platforms,' said a recent research note from Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund which collated advice from industry peers on how Nadella should 'fix' Microsoft. The company, which derived about half of its 2013 sales of $77.8 billion from Windows and Office software products, needs to make shifts as fundamental as IBM's move towards becoming a services business, Sherlund said.


Moving into the wearables space would barely register on Microsoft's bottom line for some time, but the market is just starting to heat up, with Apple poised to announce its first iWatch later this year and Samsung expected to launch a smartwatch in the summer that can independently make calls. Wearable device companies like Fitbit are Jawbone are meanwhile commanding valuations in the billions of dollars, with Jawbone having recently become the subject of acquisition rumors.


Though Microsoft's hardware products have a spotty history, executives will be hoping a sensor-rich smartwatch can replicate the success of the company's Xbox and Kinect divisions, rather than the failure of the Zune music player and struggles of Microsoft's Surface tablet.


Optical engineers from Microsoft's Kinect division, designers and data scientists have created a software platform to go with the smartwatch that will correlate data from the device's sensors, according to sources, giving a more accurate read on heart rate and fitness.


Samsung Electronics is currently making a Big-Data push for health and wearables too. On Wednesday the South Korean company revealed further details on its open biometric data platform SAMI, which developers can access later this year to correlate data from wearable devices like the Gear, Fitbit and Jawbone.


Microsoft may want to do something similar with the data its smartwatch generates about wearers, perhaps taking advantage of insights in can glean from Outlook email and calendar traffic.


The company also appears to be going more mainstream with its first wearables play than initially thought. Reports surfaced two years ago showing Microsoft had been granted a patent for a wearable EMG device, and they suggested a band that senses muscle movements in the arm to control a wearer's mobile devices.


Samsung announces open source digital health platform and hardware


SAMSUNG ANNOUNCED a major digital health initiative on Wednesday with the introduction of a cloud-based digital health tracking framework and a reference design for advanced wearable technology.


Samsung unveiled the initiative at an event in San Francisco, announcing both open software and hardware efforts, along with a $50m fund dedicated to innovative start-ups and technologies in the digital health field.


On the software side, the firm outed the Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interations (SAMI), an open source cloud-based framework aimed at collating users' fragmented health data for more useful analysis. This, Samsung explained, will allow multiple devices - such as the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Fit - and sensors to securely store data in the cloud, data that will be made available so applications and services are able to provide better insights into users' health and wellbeing.


'SAMI will allow data to be controlled by the individual generating it and not by third-parties, so that personal health data can be better protected,' Samsung added.


The firm also announced the Samsung Simband, a reference design wearable device 'capable of integrating the most advance sensing technologies in the world'. According to the firm, this open hardware will allow innovation in areas such as battery life and non-invasive sensor technology to advance wearable technology. The firm said that it will not sell the Simband commercially, but it likely will make its future wearable devices more appealing.


Samsung president and chief strategy officer Young Sohn said, 'Samsung's Digital Health Initiative provides an exciting opportunity for the brightest minds in the technology world to come together to develop the products that will, for the first time, put individuals in the driver's seat in understanding their own health and wellness.


'At a time when healthcare spending is at record levels and when the number of people over the age of 60 worldwide is expected to exceed more than 1.2 billion by 2025, digital health is an incredibly important area for innovation. We believe this initiative is an essential first step and we invite developers and partners across the globe to join us in creating the technologies of the future that will help make people's lives healthier.' ยต


Super Smash Bros. Wii U Works with GameCube Controllers

Nintendo tweets an image of a GameCube adapter and even a special Smash Bros.-themed controller.



Like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl before it, this year's Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be playable with GameCube controllers. ' Get excited!,' Nintendo said on Twitter about the announcement.


The Wii U does not have GameCube controller ports like the Wii does, so how is that going to be possible? As shown in an image today, Nintendo will offer a special adapter, though there's no word yet on how much this will cost or if Nintendo will release a bundle that includes it.


There's also a special Smash Bros.-themed GameCube controller in the image, suggesting that Nintendo might offer that for purchase as well. We have reached out to a Nintendo representative and will update this story with anything we hear back.


Super Smash Bros. for 3DS launches this summer, with the Wii U version to follow this winter. You don't have to wait that long to play the game, however, as Nintendo has partnered with Best Buy to let gamers play a special four-person Wii U demo at stores across the country in June.


Nintendo will hold a special Smash Bros. Invitational event at E3 2014 next month, where 16 top Smash Bros. players will duke it out for the title.


Filed under: Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 3DS Wii U Nintendo

​Are your streams buffering? YouTube wants to help

YouTube releases the Google Video Quality Report, a tool which shows you how your video streaming quality compares to your neighbors.


Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

YouTube wants more people to watch its videos in high-definition, so to further that goal Google's video giant has released a new tool that analyzes your video stream quality on Thursday.


The Google Video Quality Report is available to people in the US and Canada, where it launched in January. It comparesyour streaming video quality to three standards: HD Verified, when your provider can deliver HD video consistently at a resolution of at least 720p without buffering or interruptions; Standard Definition, for consistent video streaming at 360p; and Lower Definition, for videos that regularly play at less than 360p or often are interrupted.


YouTube said in the blog post announcing that the tool's US availability that they are respectful of its users' privacy, and anonymize the data gathered. The ratings are 'centered around networks, not users,' no user data is stored, and samples are anonymized, the report says of its methodology.


Google says that it will expand the report's range to more countries in the coming months, although perhaps the real solution to the problem will be the expansion of gigabit Internet access in the coming years. For now, the report suggests seven tips for improving your streaming video quality, including some common sense measures such as making sure your roommates aren't hogging your bandwidth and moving closer to your Wi-Fi router.


Google

Tablet Slump Predicted as More People Buy Phablets


Following a bigger-than-expected decline in demand during the first quarter, research firm IDC on Thursday announced it has lowered its 2014 worldwide tablet forecast.


IDC now predicts shipments of 245.4 million units this year, down from 260.9 million. The new projection represents a 12.1 percent year-over-year growth rate, but that's 'notably lower' than the 51.8 percent year-over-year growth in 2013.


The adjustment comes after IDC earlier this month announced that worldwide tablet and 2-in-1 device shipments fell 35.7 percent in the first quarter. Tom Mainelli, program vice president of devices and displays at IDC, pointed to two major issues causing the tablet market to slow down.


'First, consumers are keeping their tablets, especially higher-cost models from major vendors, far longer than originally anticipated. And when they do buy a new one they are often passing their existing tablet off to another member of the family,' Mainelli said in a statement. 'Second, the rise of phablets - smartphones with 5.5-inch and larger screens - are causing many people to second-guess tablet purchases as the larger screens on these phones are often adequate for tasks once reserved for tablets.'


In the last year, phablet demand has more than doubled, IDC said. In the first quarter of 2013, phablets accounted for 4.3 percent of total smartphone shipments. Fast forward a year, and that figure grew to 10.5 percent, representing 30.1 million units.


It isn't all bad news for tablets, though. IDC expects things to start looking up as tablet-makers turn their attention towards even larger-screen devices, such as Microsoft's 12-inch Surface Pro 3 .


'The shift back toward larger screens will mark a welcome sea change for most vendors as the average selling price for these devices will remain roughly 50 percent higher than the average sub-8-inch device,' said Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst for IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. 'Microsoft is also expected to benefit from this shift as the share for Windows-based devices is expected to double between now and 2018.'


In a separate report, IDC predicted a 23.1 percent increased in smartphone shipments this year over 2013. Leading the pack will be Android-based phones with 80.2 percent of the market, followed by iOS with 14.8 percent, and Windows Phone at 3.5 percent.


For more, see PCMag's roundup of The 10 Best Tablets.


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