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Twitter Stock Jumps on Soaring Revenue, but Growth Remains a Concern

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter reported a jolt of growth in the second quarter, driven in part by heavy use of the service during the World Cup soccer tournament. The strong results surprised Wall Street, and prompted investors to send the company's shares up 30 percent in after-hours trading.

Revenue soared 124 percent, and the average number of people using the microblogging service in June was up 6 percent from March.

However, Twitter faced continuing problems getting people to return to the service, with the average user refreshing his or her Twitter feed 792 times a month on average during the quarter, less than the first quarter and last year's second quarter.

Still, Twitter has demonstrated an ability to extract more advertising revenue from each user, and it is adding new products that also allow it to sell ads in other companies' mobile applications.

For the quarter that ended June 30, the company reported revenue of $312 million, up from $139 million a year ago. Analysts had expected the company to post revenue of $283 million.

Twitter reported a net loss of $145 million, or 24 cents a share, compared to a loss of $42 million, or 32 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding certain stock-based compensation and acquisition costs, the company had a profit of $15 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $16 million, or 12 cents a share, a year ago. On that adjusted basis, analysts had expected the company to report a loss of 1 cent a share.

'Our strong financial and operating results for the second quarter show the continued momentum of our business,' Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief executive, said in a statement. 'We remain focused on driving increased user growth and engagement, and by developing new product experiences, like the one we built around the World Cup, we believe we can extend Twitter's appeal to an even broader audience.'

Twitter said its users made 672 million tweets during the entire monthlong World Cup - more than any other event in its history.

Ever since it first sold stock to the public last November, Twitter has been struggling to find ways to make its service more compelling. The average number of users in a given month, a key figure used by Wall Street to measure all social networks, has grown by single-digit percentages from quarter to quarter since Twitter first sold stock to the public in its initial public offering last November.

In June, Twitter said, it had 271 million monthly average users, up from 255 million in March.

Equally troubling for the company's long-term prospects is that existing users seem to be spending less time on the service.

In June, Americans spent an average of 7.2 minutes a day on Twitter's mobile apps, down from 9.2 minutes a year ago, according to comScore data analyzed by the brokerage firm Cowen & Company.

That 22 percent drop was the worst showing of any major social app. Pinterest, a visually oriented social network, saw its mobile usage double during that time, and Facebook, the largest and most mature social network, squeezed out a 3.3 percent gain.

Twitter executives have argued that such figures understate the service's true reach, since many of its messages, known as tweets, are embedded on other websites and apps and appear in mass media outlets like television.

Indeed, the company may highlight other measures of growth during a conference call with investors to discuss its results late Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Costolo acknowledged the company's usage problems in February, but since then, he has offered few clues about his strategy for improving engagement and persuading newcomers to stick around.

Mr. Costolo has publicly signaled his dissatisfaction with Twitter's progress, however, by pushing out several key executives this year, including Ali Rowghani, the chief operating officer; Christoper Fry, the senior vice president for engineering; and Michael Sippey, the head of product.

A few weeks ago, he also brought in a new chief financial officer, the former Goldman Sachs investment banker Anthony Noto, to help persuade investors that the company has a bright future. Before the results were released, Twitter's stock ended the day at $38.59, well below its close on its first day of trading on Nov. 7 and half of the all-time high reached in December.

In after-hours trading, however, shares topped $50.

Whatever Twitter's challenges in drawing in users, its advertising platform is attracting a lot of interest from advertisers, according to James Borow, chief executive of Shift, a company that helps advertisers like Marriott and Toyota conducts social marketing campaigns.

'They are defining a tweet as a self-contained bit of media and they are distributing that all over the Internet,' Mr. Borow said. 'Twitter sees its value as truly native advertising, in-stream advertising, anywhere.'

EA unveils new Xbox One subscription service called EA Access

On the heels of digital subscription models like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, Electronic Arts has revealed its own Xbox One-exclusive subscription platform called EA Access.

For $5 a month or $30 a year EA access gives subscribers access to the publisher's biggest Xbox One titles like Battlefield 4, Peggle 2 and Madden NFL 25. Unlike similar services like Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, EA told Game Informer that they have no plans to remove games from their 'vault.'

An EA rep. tells us that the company has no plans to remove games from The Vault. Also, progress is saved if you lapse and later re-up.- Game Informer (@gameinformer) July 29, 2014

In addition to free older games, EA's new subscription plan gives members 10 per cent discounts on digital Xbox One games as well as access to titles five days before their official release date. Early access is apparently confined to a 'limited trial' version of the game and Titanfall unfortunately isn't included in EA Access. EA previously offered a similar early access program called season ticket that gave subscribers early access to titles and discounts on in-game micro-transactions.

While it hasn't been confirmed yet, it's believed an Xbox Live Gold Subscription, priced at $59.99, is also required to subscribe to EA Access. While the service might be useless for people who already own EA's lineup of titles, it's a great deal if you missed some of the publishers bigger titles this year.

As downloading digital games and subscription services like EA Access and streaming platforms like PlayStation Now become increasingly popular, the days of owning physical copies of games are certainly numbered. There's no word yet on whether EA Access will eventually make its way to other gaming platforms like the PlayStation 4.

If you're interested in signing up for EA Access you can sign up at this link.

EA's $5/Month Plan on Xbox One Will Grant “Unlimited Access”

I adore the concept of 'unlimited.' I pay for unlimited data with my mobile carrier. My college dining hall offered unlimited meals at a flat rate. All-you-can-eat sushi is a crucial part of my existence. But there are some unlimited plans I remain wary of, and EA's recent announcement of unlimited access to its games on Xbox One is one of them.

The plan, officially named 'EA Access,' will run gamers $4.99 per month, and will start with a beta of four games: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. According to EA's statement, there are 'more titles being added soon.'

In addition to unfettered access to the company's 'vault' of titles, the program will also award subscribers 10% discounts on all EA digital purchases, as well as advanced access to new titles before they're released. The early access may be up to a week in advance, game saves will carry over, and the 10% discount will still apply to said titles. Games currently slated for early access include Madden NFL 15, NHL 15, FIFA 15, NBA Live 15, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. That's the second time I've typed a list of sports games with one blockbuster at the end.

If EA Access appeals to you, then you can head to Xbox Live or your local GameStop to check it out. I'll admit, for people who buy every new edition of each EA Sports title, the program is a compelling offer. Otherwise, there won't be too much time to mull it over - the service launches in North America and Europe 'soon.'

Via: GameSpot

Microsoft Enhances OneNote for Mac, iOS

(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Building on CEO Satya Nadella's newly installed emphasis on non-Windows products, Microsoft announced several updates Tuesday for OneNote for Macs, iPads, and iPhones. Aimed chiefly at Mac and iOS users who have Office 365 accounts, the updates add not only richer note-taking tools, but also better collaboration between Apple products and Windows PCs.

[Are iPads still the top tablets? Read Apple iPad Loses Tablet Market Share.]

A part of Microsoft's Office suite, OneNote offers free-form note taking, including the ability to place text anywhere on the page and to insert and annotate links, PDFs, images, and other files. The app is organized in a binder-like format, with notebooks that contain tabs that contain pages. It is free across all platforms, but to collaborate and sync files across devices, you'll need an Office 365 account.

Tuesday's additions are particularly crucial to the Mac version of OneNote. When it launched last March, it has lacked many of the features in the Windows editions. Education and enterprise Office 365 users previously couldn't use the Mac version to access notebooks stored on OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online, for example, which made the app an arguable nonstarter for serious collaboration. Thanks to Tuesday's update, however, Mac users can now connect to these repositories, just as Windows users can.

'We want to make sure OneNote is available for everyone on every platform,' David Rasmussen, group program manager for OneNote, told InformationWeek. 'If someone has a Windows PC and an iPhone, or vice versa, we don't want to have a barrier to usage.'

Tuesday's update gives Mac, iPhone, and iPad users another feature already available to Windows-based OneNote users: the ability to insert and view files such as PDFs, PowerPoint slides, and Word docs. Mac users can simply drag and drop files into their notes. On an iPad or iPhone, users have to press down on the file, such as an email attachment, and then select 'Open in OneNote' from the resulting menu. PDF files can also be inserted in printout view for easier annotations.

Apple-based users can also view password-protected sections. This corrects an omission that limited the apps' use in security-minded environments. Mac, iPad, and iPhone users can now review and edit restricted notes and then relock the section when they's done. For added security, if the user forgets to lock the document, OneNote will do so automatically.

Microsoft rounded out the updates with a new feature that makes it easier to move elements within a page; an expanded copy-paste function that now support rich text, rather than just plain text; and the ability to send notes to collaborators both as PDF attachments, and in the message body of Outlook or Apple's Mail app.

The updates continue Nadella's focus on cross-platform products, which now notably include Office for iPad and the Enterprise Mobility Suite. Just last week, for example, Microsoft released OneNote for Amazon's Fire Phone and Kindle Fire tablet. The app is also available as a smartphone-optimized Android app, though it has not been released for the OS in tablet-specific form.

Microsoft isn't just releasing products; it's also working to update them frequently. When OneNote for Mac launched this year, many users complained that it lacked the Windows versions' mature features. But Microsoft acted quickly to address customer criticism. It added a host of features in a May, highlighted by support for printing, before adding the newest round of updates this week.

Rasmussen said that, to iterate so quickly, the OneNote team sometimes has to reallocate resources, because development for one version might be unexpectedly superseded by development for another. Even so, he said, a subgroup works for the most part on OneNote for Apple products, and it also operates within the single larger team.

OneNote for one platform has to look and feel familiar to users. At the same time, each version is also built around features unique to its native OS. Partly to facilitate this balance, 'a huge amount of code is shared,' Rasmussen said. 'Ninety-four percent of code is common, shared code between Mac and PC platforms. That 6% is still a lot of code and [involves] unique aspects for Mac.'

Cybercriminals wielding APTs have plenty of innovative techniques to evade network and endpoint defenses. It's scary stuff, and ignorance is definitely not bliss. How to fight back? Think security that's distributed, stratified, and adaptive. Get the Advanced Attacks Demand New Defenses report today (free registration required).

Microsoft's investing more resources than ever in software for Apple devices, but to Mac users relying on Office 365, Microsoft is still neglecting one of its cross-platform flagships -- Office for Mac. On Windows devices, Office 365 customers have access to Office 2013, the newest version. But Mac users are still stuck with Office 2011, which launched back in the fall of 2010.

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

BlackBerry ups mobile security ante with Secusmart buy

Roger Cheng/CNET

NEW YORK -- BlackBerry said Tuesday that it will acquire Secusmart, a German mobile security company. The purchase highlights how BlackBerry is doubling down on the enterprise as well as mobile security.

The two companies have been partners since 2009. The plan is for Secusmart, known recently for its anti-eavesdropping software, to become a core component of BlackBerry's security portfolio and enterprise mobility management pitch.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen announced the deal at the company's BlackBerry Summit. Secusmart CEO Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle said the company's informal goal is to put its software in the hands of every chancellor and president in the world.

'There should be no need to wait to get to a secure landline,' said Quelle. Quelle's point is that voice needs to be better secured. He pointed out that any call can be monitored via computer systems or eavesdropping. 'It's easy to listen in and easy to create transcriptions,' he said. 'You need to protect voice. It's as important as PowerPoint.'

The Secusmart Security Card is the centerpiece of Secusmart's technology. The smart card is a mini-computer integrated into the micro-SD card. This system contains the NXP SmartMX P5CT072 crypto-controller with a PKI coprocessor for authentication. An additional high-speed coprocessor encrypts voice and data communication using 128 bit AES. The upshot: Text messages, emails, and voice communications are secure.


BlackBerry's purchase of Secusmart highlights the company's strategy to focus on the enterprise as well as security. In New York, CEO John Chen said everything the company does -- enterprise mobility management, the Internet of Things, and in- car platforms -- revolves around security.

Chen also noted that the company is focused on regulated industries such as government, finance, energy, and health care. 'Those markets equate to half of IT spending in mobile,' said Chen.

As for the acquisition of Secusmart, Chen said that the two partners will integrate BlackBerry devices and security software to create security for 'classified communications for the country's highest public officials.'

The EMM plan

At BlackBerry's security powwow, held in a small theater at The Museum of Arts and Design, Chen reiterated the company's strategy and how the latest BlackBerry Enterprise Server -- which will manage the company's devices as well as Android and iPhone ones -- is critical to the company.

'We have a good set of customers and testimonials,' said Chen, referring to the mobile management and security space. 'We have huge enterprise customers who have relied on us and expect us to do more.'

Doing more -- to Chen and BlackBerry -- revolves around security and regulated industries. With the acquisition of Secusmart, BlackBerry can boast top security and reference customers such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The two companies have provided Secusmart-equipped BlackBerry smartphones to German government agencies, ministries and leaders.

Chen acknowledged that BlackBerry has had its struggles in North America, but the company's strategy is global. Chen said EMEA has been strong, as has Asia.

BlackBerry's strategy with its security message as well as trophy customers such as Merkel is to differentiate itself in a crowded market.

VMware has acquired AirWatch. IBM and Apple have forged an alliance that uses Big Blue's mobile device management tools. Citrix is a enterprise mobility management player, as is Microsoft; and there are dozens of other vendors ranging from Good to MobileIron.

BlackBerry's challenge is to convince enterprise buyers that the company can manage and secure their mobile devices, applications, and messaging.

The uber-secure message assumes that security and managing risk will be the winning selling point for BlackBerry. After all, if BlackBerry can nail security for regulated industries it'll be good for all enterprises.

BlackBerry boasts customers that include all G7 governments, 16 of the G20 governments, 10 out of 10 of the largest global enterprises in the pharmaceutical, legal, and automotive industries, and the five largest oil and gas companies. The big question is whether those governments and enterprises see BlackBerry as a legacy provider or innovation partner for the future.

How is important security?

BlackBerry's core pitch is that its security is better than what the competition can provide for enterprise mobility.

How much does security matter for enterprise buyers?

Consider the directions that various mobility players are going. BlackBerry is making security its core pitch. A panel of execs from regulated industries and BlackBerry customers talked about how bring your own device (BYOD) doesn't fly on the security front.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry execs outlined the company's security approach and how the company's security technology can protect corporate reputations. To wit:

Charles Eagen, vice president software foundations technology, touted a technology called Guardian that protects devices from Android applications. Guardian scans applications on device via BlackBerry's deal with Amazon's App Store. John Sims, head of Global Enterprise Services, made the case that BES 12 would have helped prevent a high-profile breach such as the one suffered by Target. Sims said that the point-of-sale systems were essentially an unmanaged end point. 'BES 12 could extend security beyond the smartphone to what goes on at the end points,' said Sims. Chen noted how BlackBerry adds security to the Qualcomm processors its devices use. Identity management is a core pillar for BlackBerry security and Sims said it aims to use BES 12 as a way to control heterogeneous environments.

Here's the problem: Other EMM players are focused on collaboration, document management, and productivity. Everyone from Citrix to Microsoft highlights how mobility management is also about collaboration on the fly. BlackBerry lacks a story on the collaboration and document container fronts.

If enterprise buyers go with the argument that you can never have enough security and risk management, BlackBerry has a pitch. If companies believe security is good enough and collaboration is the win, then BlackBerry may struggle.

BlackBerry and Chen's strategy appears to cede the collaboration argument a bit. There's a reason that BlackBerry is focused on the big four regulated industries where security matters more. It remains to be seen if enterprise leaders will buy BES 12 because they want to be as secure as Germany's Angela Merkel.

This story originally appeared as 'BlackBerry acquires Secusmart, ups voice security ante' on ZDNet.

Google's Android Has a Fake ID Problem

Photograph by Denis Doyle/Bloomberg

Google Inc.'s Android operating system has a security flaw that could allow hackers to impersonate trusted applications and potentially hijack your phone or tablet, according to research released today.

The basic issue is the way in which Android checks, or rather does not check, that certain applications are what they say they are, according to Bluebox Security, the company that identified the vulnerability. Hence the catchy name 'Fake ID.'

Verifying identity is one of the most fundamental issues online. Is someone logging into a bank account really the owner of that account? Is an application really what it claims to be? San Francisco-based Bluebox helps companies secure their data on mobile devices, and its staff members work to research and understand the architecture of the mobile operating systems that Bluebox builds onto, says Jeff Forristal, chief technology officer.

Each Android application has its own digital signature, an ID card, in essence. Adobe Systems, for example, has a specific signature on Android, and all programs from Adobe have an ID that's based on that signature. Bluebox discovered that when an application flashes an Adobe ID, for example, Android does not check back with Adobe that it's an authentic one. That means that a malicious actor could create malware based on Adobe's signature and infect your system. The problem isn't specific to Adobe; a hacker could create a malicious application that impersonates Google Wallet, and access payment and financial data. The same issue applies to administrative software present on some devices - allowing full control of the entire system.

'We basically discovered a way to create fake ID cards,' says Forristal. 'There are different vectors. They all come down to, I can create a fake ID card. The question is, which fake ID card do I create?'

The flaw affects Android systems from 2.1 (released in January 2010) on up, though the latest version, 4.4 or KitKat, has closed the hole as it relates to Adobe, according to Bluebox. To give an idea of scale: Between 2012 and 2013, about 1.4 billion new devices shipped with the Android operating system, according to Gartner Inc. Gartner estimates that 1.17 billion more will ship this year.

The revelation of this particular vulnerability illustrates how security researchers and Google handle the discovery of flaws in software or programs. It also shows the complexity of handling a vulnerability affecting Android, since fixes require adjustments from not only Google but also from various app developers and device makers.

Bluebox concluded its research in late March and submitted the bug to Google by March 31, according to Forristal. The Android security team developed a fix in April and provided the patch to vendors, who had 90 days to implement it before Bluebox publicized its findings, he says. Bluebox has tested about 40 Android-based devices out of more than 6,300 in the market, and so far the company knows of only one vendor that has a patch out, he adds.

Google did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Bluebox plans to discuss its findings at the Black Hat convention in Las Vegas next week. Expect a lot more troubling security news before then - Black Hat tends to bring it out.

Stanford Researchers Report Battery Breakthrough

A research paper published in Sunday's online edition of Nature Nanotechnology could signal the beginning of a revolution in battery technology. The paper, 'Interconnected Hollow Carbon Nanospheres for Stable Lithium Metal Anodes,' was published by a team of researchers from Stanford University that have been working on developing an anode made of pure lithium.

A pure lithium anode has been referred to as the 'holy grail of battery science.' The discovery could lead to longer-lasting cell phones and electric cars capable of traveling longer distances.

The Lithium Standard

All batteries have three basic components: an electrolyte, which sits between a negatively charged anode and a positively charged cathode. Current battery technology works by allowing positively charged ions to collect on an anode made of materials such as silicon or graphite. In existing lithium-ion batteries, lithium is present in the electrolyte as the source of electrons, which are discharged by the anode and received by the cathode.

An anode of pure lithium would be the ideal design and result in an enormous boost in efficiency.

'Of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential. Some call it the Holy Grail,' said Yi Cui, a Stanford University professor of Material Science and Engineering and leader of the research team. 'It is very lightweight and it has the highest energy density. You get more power per volume and weight, leading to lighter, smaller batteries with more power.'

However, a pure lithium anode has so far been impossible to build due to challenges presented by lithium's physical properties. Like all anode materials, lithium ions expand as they gather during charging. But lithium's expansion is 'virtually infinite' compared with the expansion experienced by other materials. That expansion causes cracks and pits to form on its outer surface, allowing the lithium ions to escape and form structures known as dendrites on the surface of the anode. The dendrites then short circuit the battery and shorten its life.

To overcome those limitations, researchers built a protective layer of interconnected carbon domes that sits on top of the lithium anode surface, dubbed 'nanospheres' by the researchers. The coating resembles a honeycomb that is flexible, uniform and chemically unreactive, protecting the anode from chemical reactions with the electrolyte.

Cheaper, Longer, Better

The development represents an enormous step forward toward commercialization, according to the researchers. In practical terms, the discovery could yield enormous cost savings for electronics devices in which the battery usually represents the majority of the cost and weight.

'You might be able to have cell phone with double or triple the battery life or an electric car with a range of 300 miles that costs only $25,000 -- competitive with an internal combustion engine getting 40 mpg,' said Steven Chu, a former U.S. Secretary of Energy and Nobel laureate and member of the Stanford research team.

'Battery life has been managed to date by a combination of chipset efficiencies, software intelligence and the growth in the size of smartphones,' said Nick Spencer, senior practice director at ABI Research. 'The battery technology itself hasn't improved in many years.'

The increased density that a pure lithium battery would provide would lead not only to greater battery life, but also design flexibility for wearable electronics, making that market much more viable, Spencer said.

Battery anxiety also affects smartphone usage, with many handsets shutting down all functions except voice and text when devices fall below 20 percent or 10 percent battery life, according to Spencer.

'Improved battery life would also increase developer options in terms of application design, which are constrained by batteries to date,' he added.

According to Cui, the technology could find its way to the market soon.

'We're close and this is a significant improvement over any previous design,' Cui said. 'With some additional engineering and new electrolytes, we believe we can realize a practical and stable lithium metal anode that could power the next generation of rechargeable batteries.'

Diamond Encrusted Brikk Lux iPhone 6 Costs A Fortune And You Have To Wait ...


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If you're after a new iPhone 6 but you think paying around £600 is just well... too cheap, then this is the phone for you.

This is the Brikk Lux diamond-encrusted handset available for pre-order although you will have to wait a month longer than the general release while they stick all the shiny things to it.

As well as precious stones it comes in a choice of 24-carat yellow gold, 24-carat pink gold or pure platinum.

All this completely unnecessary and non-functional embellishing will cost between £2647 and £5179 depending on how bling you want to go.

A lot of work goes into each one - every phone is actually disassembled before being hand polished and plated in up to seven different metal layers.

After the diamonds are applied they are then put back together and tested before being shipped.

Your new phone will have no extra features but will be extra shiny and visible when walking the streets at night.


Apple refreshes MacBook Pro with Retina display lineup, drops prices

Summary: Today sees Apple refresh its premium MacBook Pro with Retina display lineup, bumping the CPU speeds and RAM options, as well as dropping the prices of the high-end models, ahead of the release of OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

(Source: Apple)

Today sees Apple refresh its premium MacBook Pro with Retina display lineup, bumping the CPU speeds and RAM options, as well as dropping the prices of the high-end models, ahead of the release of OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Prior to this upgrade the base version of the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display featured a 2560-by-1600 resolution at 227 pixels per inch retina display, 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM, and 128GB of PCIe-based flash storage, and it had a price tag of $1,299. For the same price this model now comes with a 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5 chip and 8GB of memory.

The base version of the beefier 15.4-inch with Retina display model came with a 2880-by-1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch display, 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage, all of which would have set you back $1,999. Following the refresh this now comes with a 2.2GHz CPU and 16GB of RAM.

Apple has also rejigged pricing, with the higher-priced 15.5-inch model featuring a discrete Nvidia GPU now down from $2,599 to $2,499.

The 13.3-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro with 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 still starts at $1,099.

This update to the MacBook Pro line comes ahead of the release of OS X 10.10 Yosemite, which is scheduled for release this fall, and brings a number of new features to users, including much closer integration between Mac and iOS devices.

LG D635 With 5

Looks like Microsoft's announcement of LG as one of its Windows Phone 8.1 OEMs is finally taking some shape. An as yet unannounced LG smartphone, running WP8.1 OS, has been spotted online in the database of AdDuplex, a 'cross-promotional network for Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps'.

The news comes from a Twitter post by Alan Mendelevich, Founder of AdDuplex. According to the post, a WP8.1-based LG codenamed LG D635 appears to have been spotted on the AdDuplex network, and feature a 5-inch screen with an HD (720x1280 pixels) resolution. 'AdDuplex Stats teaser: LG D635, WP 8.1, 720p, 5' spotted,' states Mendelevich's post. Nothing more has been mentioned about the smartphone.

The LG D635 device may be a test unit, and may not make it to the market in the precise form it's been spotted in. LG has not disclosed any plans for making a Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone until now, and the above information can be taken with a small pinch of salt.

Microsoft announced LG as one of its Windows Phone 8.1 OEMs back in February during MWC. The Redmond-based software giant had also confirmed India's Karbonn and Xolo as future Windows Phone hardware partners, along with Foxconn, HTC, Huawei, JSR, Lenovo, Longcheer, Nokia, Samsung, and ZTE.

LG is not new to the Windows Phone OS ecosystem as the Korean firm has previously made Optimus 7 running Windows Phone 7 back in 2010.

In related news, an image of the alleged LG Uni8, a smartphone running Windows Phone 8.1 OS, was leaked online in May by serial tipster @evleaks. However, later LG reportedly said that the smartphone shown in the image would not release this year.

While LG is yet to make a WP8.1 OS smartphone, other OEMs have already started introducing their devices in the market. Last week Xolo released its Xolo Win Q900s smartphone running Windows Phone 8.1 OS in India for Rs. 11,999.

Last month, Micromax also announced its Canvas Win W092 and Canvas Win W121 smartphones running WP8.1 OS out-of-the-box.

It is worth noting that Windows Phone 8.1 comes with several new features including the Cortana voice-based virtual assistant. Microsoft is also expected to soon roll-out the first update for Windows Phone 8.1 devices that will bring support for app folders and smart flip cases, amongst other new features.

Report: Suns' P.J. Tucker arrested for 'super extreme' DUI


Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker was reportedly arrested in May for a DUI with an astoundingly high .22 blood-alcohol content, Paul Coro of reported Monday night. Police charged Tucker, 29, with a violation for running a stop sign as well as four separate counts of varying DUI charges. If prosecuted and found guilty, Tucker could face a standard penalty of up to 45 days in jail or some form of house arrest.

Curiously, the Suns signed Tucker to a new three-year, $16.5 million contract just last week. The DUI arrest occurred in May. It is unclear if the Suns knew of the arrest before offering him the contract.

Tucker averaged 9.4 points per game for the Suns during the 2013-14 season and emerged as a starter.

The police report stemming from the arrest, which was reported for the first time today by, describes Tucker's alcohol level as 'super extreme,' an apparent legal classification of any blood alcohol content level above .20.

The belated news of the alcohol-related arrest and DUI charge came just minutes after it was revealed Arizona Cardinals all-pro linebacker John Abraham was charged with a DUI in June.

More: Eric Bledsoe, Suns not close to reaching agreement

- Will Green

Facebook Is Now Forcing Everyone Download Messenger If They Want To Chat ...

Facebook Is Now Forcing Everyone Download Messenger If They Want To Chat On Mobile

Over the next few days, Facebook will stop allowing messaging in its main iPhone and Android apps, and force all its users around the world to download its standalone Messenger app. Facebook first started forcing users in a few countries in Europe to use Messenger in April, but after seeing 'positive results' in terms of engagement, its rolling out the plan to the everyone. Facebook tells me Messenger is about 20% faster, and not supporting multiple version of mobile chat will help it make both its main apps and Messenger better.

Facebook for Android, iPhone to lose Messenger support in the coming days

If you regularly chat on Facebook and don't already have Facebook Messenger installed, you may want to head into your platform's app store and get to downloading, because you'll soon need the dedicated messaging app to keep chatting with your pals.

Facebook has confirmed to TechCrunch that in the coming days, it plans to kill the main Facebook app's support for Messenger on Android and iPhone, forcing those users to install Facebook Messenger for their FB chat needs. Those that use Facebook on the mobile web, desktop, iPad, Windows Phone and Paper app will be able to continue to chat in the main Facebook app for now.

Facebook users on Android and iPhone will get notifications about the change in the coming days. The alert will tell them what's going on and include 'Remind Later' and 'Get App' options. After a few delays, though, Messenger will stop working in the Facebook app.

So why the change? Facebook says that ripping Messenger support out of the main Android and iPhone Facebook apps will make all of its apps better. Whether or not that'll end up being the case remains to be seen, but this move could upset quite a few folks and end up causing some of them to ditch Facebook Messenger altogether. After all, there's no shortage of cross platform chat options available, including BBM, WhatsApp and Snapchat. It'll definitely be interesting to see how Android and iPhone react to this change in the coming days.

Via TechCrunch, Facebook Messenger: Android, iPhone

Yosemite's traffic share triples after public beta debuts

But still puny, at 0.6% of all Macs, or 6 out of every 1,000 in North America

Computerworld - Even though some users were unable to download Apple's OS X Yosemite public beta last week, the preview's debut resulted in a tripling of the upgrade's share of online traffic, an ad network said today.

According to Chitika, Yosemite's share of U.S. and Canadian Mac traffic on the company's online ad network more than doubled from July 24, the day Apple released the beta, to the next day, July 25.

By Friday, July 26, Yosemite's share had climbed to about 0.7% of all Macs, up from Wednesday, July 22, when the work-in-progress OS accounted for about 0.2%.

On Sunday, July 27, Yosemite's share took a dip to just over 0.6%, still triple that of the day before the beta's launch. The 0.6% would represent 60 out of every 10,000 Macs, or 6 out of every 1,000.

The increase in usage occurred in the face of problems some encountered last week in downloading the public beta from Apple's Mac App Store.

Several reports, kicked off by ZDNet blogger Ed Bott, referenced claims on Twitter, Apple's support forum and other third-party discussion groups that people had been stymied in their attempts to grab the free public beta last Thursday and Friday.

Not everyone encountered problems -- Computerworld staffers were able to grab the beta without issues -- and large-scale complaints were not sustained through the weekend, according to checks on several prominent forums, including the heavily-trafficked MacRumors.

Even so, Chitika believed that Yosemite's share of all Macs would not grow much beyond the small portion it accumulated by Saturday. 'Assuming that most of the 1 million redemption codes have been claimed, it's unlikely that Yosemite's share of total Mac OS X Web traffic will grow much further beyond current usage rates while the OS remains in beta,' a company spokesman said in a Monday email.

It doesn't appear that Apple has exhausted its self-limited supply of redemption codes; as of 2 p.m. ET Monday, Apple was still giving out codes to new registrants.

When compared to Microsoft's last preview of a brand new OS, however, Yosemite has done very well.

On the evening of Sept. 13 2011, Microsoft launched what it called 'Windows 8 Developer Preview,' a build that, contrary to its name, was a free download available to everyone, not only developers. Within four days -- the same post-debut timeline as Chitika's measurements for OS X Yosemite today -- the Windows 8 preview's share of all Windows-powered machines topped out at around 0.035% -- or 35 out of every 100,000 PCs -- about one-seventeenth the share of all Macs for Yosemite as of Sunday.

(Chitika was asked to provide Windows 8 traffic data for February 2012, when Microsoft launched the Windows 8 Customer Preview -- analogous to a beta, and so a better match for Yosemite's sneak peek -- but the company said it did not have access to archived statistics from that month.)

But comparisons between OS X and Windows, even those that rely on shares of each platform, are risky at best: Windows runs on 1.5 billion machines worldwide, while OS X's global user base is approximately 80 million, giving the former a 19:1 edge. That means it is much tougher to move the needle on Windows since 19 times more users must have adopted a specific edition, or preview, to reach the same share as a version or preview of OS X.

Apple has not revealed a release date for Yosemite, but most outside observers, including Computerworld, expect the Cupertino, Calif. to ship the finished version in the second half of October, the same timeline used for OS X Mavericks in 2013.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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Read more about Mac OS X in Computerworld's Mac OS X Topic Center.

Pivotal, Hortonworks Collaborate On Hadoop Management

(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Pivotal announced an alliance of sorts with Hortonworks on Monday, pledging to collaborate on development of the Apache Ambari project, open-source software used by Hortonworks to manage and monitor Hadoop clusters.

Pivotal said its pledge to collaborate with Hortonworks on Ambari is in keeping with its open source credentials and contributions to Cloud Foundry, Redis, Spring XD, and RabbitMQ, and with its 'deep commitment' to Apache Hadoop.

[Want more on Pivotal's Hadoop plans? Read Pivotal Subscription Points To Real Value In Big Data.]

'Pivotal is committed to supporting multiple approaches of installation technologies that will vary by use case, environment, and infrastructure decisions and requirements,' said a Pivotal spokesperson in an email exchange with InformationWeek. 'Ambari is one such use case. This is an example of Pivotal contributing to open source efforts to enable the entire Hadoop community and drive enterprise adoption.'

For now, Pivotal will continue to offer and develop Pivotal Command Center, which is the management software currently included with its Pivotal HD Hadoop distribution. Pivotal's spokesperson said the company will issue a detailed roadmap for Ambari and Pivotal Command Center in the third quarter.

Despite all the talk about open-source support, Pivotal also offers proprietary add-ons for Hadoop including HAWQ, a SQL-on-Hadoop option based on the Greenplum database, and GemFire XD, an in-memory SQL analysis on Hadoop option based on GemFire and SQL Fire. Both of these modules are managed by Pivotal Command Center.

'Ambari is extensible and we do plan to provide extensions to manage our proprietary offerings in the future,' said the Pivotal spokesperson.

Pivotal's commitment is a boon to Hortonworks, which develops and promotes Ambari and includes it in its all-open-source Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) Hadoop distribution. Hortonworks rivals Cloudera and MapR, by contrast, have proprietary management consoles that support certain commercial software components that are exclusive to their Hadoop distributions.

When selecting servers to support analytics, consider data center capacity, storage, and computational intensity. Get the new Hadoop Hardware: One Size Doesn't Fit All issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest today (free registration required).

'We fundamentally believe the efforts of a vibrant open source community under the governance of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) [are] the fastest path to innovation for Hadoop,' said Shaun Connolly, Hortonworks' VP corporate strategy, in blog post.

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

FTC Recommends Mobile Industry Changes to Combat Mobile Cramming

Details Created on Monday, 28 July 2014 14:25 Written by IVN

Washington, DC - In a report issued today, the Federal Trade Commission staff recommends steps that mobile carriers and other companies should take to prevent consumers from being stuck with unauthorized charges on their mobile phone bills, an unlawful practice known as mobile cramming.

The report focuses on the multi-billion dollar business known as carrier billing, which refers to the placement of charges for goods and services of third-party merchants on a mobile phone bill. 'Mobile Cramming: An FTC Staff Report' includes five recommendations aimed at mobile carriers, merchants who offer goods and services charged directly to mobile phone bills, and billing intermediaries known as aggregators who facilitate the placement of such charges on mobile phone bills.

'Mobile cramming is an issue that has affected millions of consumers, sticking them with charges they did not authorize, and the FTC has worked hard to combat it,' said Jessica Rich, the Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. 'The best practices recommended in our report build on the FTC's active enforcement in this area and would give consumers needed protections to rein in the problems we have seen.'

While the report notes that mobile bills can include legitimate add-on third-party charges such as charitable contributions, others may be crammed onto consumers' bills by scammers. The report notes that while the full scope of mobile cramming is not known, just three cases brought last year by the Commission against mobile crammers led to more than $160 million in judgments. One participant in the FTC's roundtable on mobile cramming participant called it 'almost the perfect scam.'

Based on findings from the Commission's 2013 mobile cramming roundtable and other public evidence, the report follows a number of enforcement actions brought by the Commission in in the last year against mobile cramming. Specifically, the report calls for:

Giving consumers the right to block third-party charges. FTC staff calls on mobile phone carriers to give consumers the right to block third-party charges on their mobile bills altogether, and to inform consumers clearly and prominently of that right. Carriers should inform consumers of this right not only when consumers create their account, but also on an ongoing basis.

Ensuring that advertising, marketing, and opt-in processes for charges are not deceptive. Advertising, marketing, and opt-in processes for third-party mobile account charges should be clear about how much and how often a consumer will be charged. Mobile carriers should closely monitor the merchants placing charges through their bills to scrutinize whether they are risky or suspicious, and if so, take steps to prevent them from placing charges.

Getting express, informed consent before charging consumers. Consumers' express, informed consent must be obtained before placing charges on their mobile phone bill, and reliable records of that consent should be kept. Carriers should closely monitor refund rates, consumer complaints and other signs of possible cramming and take action where necessary.

Clearly displaying third-party charges on bills. Mobile bills should clearly and conspicuously show third-party charges. Carriers should consider steps to make third-party charges more prominent, such as separate billing lines for third-party charges that make it clear to consumers which charges are directly from a carrier and which are from a third party. In addition, mobile carriers should give consumers using pre-paid calling plans who do not otherwise receive bills from their mobile carrier to receive specific notification that a third-party charge is being deducted from their account.

Creating an effective process for resolving disputes. Finally, mobile carriers should put in place an effective dispute resolution process that gives clear information to consumers about how to dispute suspicious charges and seek refunds for unauthorized charges. As the report notes, consumers have often complained that carrier refund processes are difficult and inconsistent. In addition, the report calls on carriers, where possible, to give consumers who were crammed refunds of recurring monthly charges including previous months, and when a third-party is stopped from billing due to cramming, to notify consumers whose bills were charged so they can seek refunds for those charges.

In addition to these recommendations, the report notes that after the Commission's 2013 mobile cramming roundtable and FTC and state enforcement actions to combat mobile cramming, there has been a move away from premium SMS billing, which typically relies on text messages ostensibly sent to consumers to initiate charges. In place of premium SMS billing, the report notes a trend toward what is called direct carrier billing, in which charges can be placed on a consumer's mobile bill through a mobile website or app. While major carriers have moved away from premium SMS, the report notes that the recommended consumer protections should apply to direct carrier billing or any other mechanism for placing third-party charges on mobile phone bills.

As noted in the report, the FTC is joined by important partners in its efforts to protect against mobile cramming, including state attorneys general and the Federal Communications Commission.

The Commission vote to issue the report was 5-0.

HTC Makes A Samsung GALAXY S4 Owner Very Happy

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HTC Makes A Samsung GALAXY S4 Owner Very Happy After not receiving any reverts from Samsung for his burnt GALAXY S4, HTC leaps to the rescue.

Nokia is pretty much famous for doing this in the past, but now HTC seems to be bringing a touch of goodness to the smartphone world and the world of customer service as well. A simple gesture can indeed make a world of a difference, especially on Reddit where the world is watching and listening.

Reddit user TweektheGeek has posted on the website that his Samsung GALAXY S4 caught fire and that upon contacting Samsung, the Korean company said that they would replace it. Samsung listened initially but then later began ignoring the users requests. Its been months since the incident and the user took to Reddit to post the above and surprisingly caught the attention of another reddit user who happened to be a Product Manager from HTC.

The Manager agreed to give TweektheGeek a brand new, free HTC One M8 on one condition. If Samsung would ever send TweettheGeek a replacement GALAXY S4 (ever), then he should sell it off and give the money to charity as the handset does cost a lot (even if its made of plastic).

Samsung's ignorance is HTC's gain. Clearly, one of the best examples of customer service that HTC can deliver because its not just one user out here that they have pulled aboard Team HTC, but the 1772 commenters as well.


TAGS: Mobile Phones, HTC, Samsung

LG's Snappy G3 Phone Is Poised to Test Rivals

LG Electronics has a strong product on its hands with its new smartphone, the LG G3. It is a powerful phone with a beautiful display, great camera and a pleasant, uncluttered Android operating system interface.

But will enough people notice? Smartphone headlines are dominated by Apple and Samsung, and few customers in the United States think of LG as a maker of high-end phones.

They should. Last year's LG G2 was a good phone that got people's attention, and the LG G3 could make the company a serious challenger. It features the same top-of-the-line processor found in the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One (M8), its top Android competitors, and it does not skimp on any specifications.

The price of the LG G3 ranges from free to $200 with a new contract, depending on your carrier, or just under $600 with no contract. It is available on all four major carriers in the United States; all offer it in black or white except Sprint, which offers it in black or gold.

Its possible drawback is its size: With a 5.5-inch screen, the LG G3 may prove too bulky for some. And because of its big, power-hungry screen, battery life is not great. But in almost all other areas, the phone shines.

Like its two top Android competitors, the G3 includes camera innovations, such as using a laser for autofocus, which measures the distance between camera and subject and supposedly leads to faster focusing. Also like its rivals, the G3 includes the ability to refocus parts of an image after you have taken the photo.

The 13-megapixel camera produced impressive images. Close-up focusing seemed quicker than with the Galaxy S5, and low light performance was very good - but not if the subjects were moving. Wiggly children came out as blurry as ever.

Perception of the camera's quality is helped by the G3's remarkable display, which is called Quad HD and has higher resolution than the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One (M8); it is higher even than the iPhone 5S with its Retina display. It also has more pixels per inch - a measure of visual quality - than any of its competitors.

The resolution and pixels per inch improvements can't actually be detected by the naked eye, but the G3's colors are realistic and vivid, and video, photos and games look excellent. And LG enhances the experience with an extremely thin bezel, so the phone appears to be almost all screen.

The screen is bright without being garish, and LG's chosen backgrounds and minimal changes to the standard Android interface give the whole experience an elegant, subtle feel.

The elegance extends to the phone's design. In addition to its nearly invisible bezel, the G3 has no physical buttons on the front or sides. The power and volume buttons are on the back of the phone.

That is confusing at first; more than one curious friend could not figure out how to turn it on. But the placement eventually feels natural and even preferable.

In addition, LG introduced a feature in earlier devices that lets you turn on the phone's screen by tapping twice. It is so convenient that it makes other phones' power buttons feel downright annoying.

You can even set up a specific knock code to unlock the phone, instead of a personal identification number or swipe pattern.

Although the back of the G3 is plastic, a brushed-aluminum effect makes it look premium, and it has an authoritative heft (some might call it heavy).

The G3 offers two welcome improvements over the G2. It has a microSD card slot, so you can add storage and hold more photos, videos and apps, and its battery is removable.

That last is important because you might find yourself needing to carry a spare. The phone's battery barely powers a day of normal use, and you will have some anxiety by afternoon. If you are on your phone a lot, you will need an extra charger.

For calls, the G3's quality was good but not excellent. The phone seemed to have low volume, all the way around. Part of the problem is that it's so big, you have to move it around a bit to situate the speaker over your ear.

The G3's large size also made it hard to operate one-handed. For quick tasks, it can be frustrating, although male users did not seem to have a problem, other than fitting it into a pants pocket.

The only other disappointment is the G3's 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera, which produced decent but not outstanding selfies and group shots.

Over all, the LG G3 was a test phone I was loath to give up. Its design, performance and just the right amount of extras from LG make it arguably the best Android phone on the market right now. Hopefully, phone buyers will notice.

Amazon and Greenpeace in war of words over cloud power

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Greenpeace have become embroiled in another slanging match over the cloud provider's green credentials, due its supposed lack of energy-efficient data centres to power its services.

In recent weeks rivals to Amazon such as Apple and Microsoft have been praised by Greenpeace for plans to utilise renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, while at the same time Greenpeace criticised Amazon for failing to follow suit.

Now, in its most recent attack, senior energy campaigner at Greenpeace David Pomerantz, has used the availaibility of the Amazon Fire Phone to criticise the company, calling it a 'stone-age' machine with regards how its cloud-hosted services are powered.

'Cloud-based storage of photos and other smartphone data doesn't have to harm the environment: Apple, in stark contrast to Amazon, is powering its iCloud with 100 percent renewable energy,' he said.

'If Amazon wants to offer its customers a modern phone, it could start by powering its operations with modern, renewable forms of electricity like the wind and solar power currently being employed by its competitors.'

However, Amazon hit back, telling V3 that Greenpeace's information is 'inaccurate and misleading' and ignores the facts Amazon has already provided.

The firm said: 'AWS has been and continues to be committed to working hard on our own, and together with our power providers all over the world, to offer AWS Cloud services in an environmentally friendly way.

'AWS operates efficient and highly utilised data centres across 10 different regions globally, two of which (Oregon and GovCloud regions) use 100 percent carbon-free power.'

This is not the first time the two organisations have disagreed this year, after a Greenpeace report in April slammed Amazon for its lack of green energy use. At the time AWS hit back, accusing Greenpeace of ignoring key data.


Anything Sprint tries to do, T-Mobile is determined to try to do better. T-Mobile on Monday unveiled a new family plan that will cost $100 per month for four separate lines and offer a total of 10GB of LTE data, or 2.5GB per line. In contrast, Sprint's most comparable 'Framily' plan costs $160 per month and offers a mere 4GB of data total, or 1GB per line. You can get an unlimited-data Sprint 'Framily' plan, of course, but it will cost a total of $240 per month since the unlimited option costs an extra $20 per line.

The T-Mobile plan also looks pretty good when compared to similar plans from AT&T and Verizon - both of those carriers will give you 10GB of data total for four lines but they'll charge you $160 per month for it. The one big caveat to the T-Mobile plan is that while Verizon and AT&T let you share your data across all your lines as you see fit, T-Mobile is restricting it to 2.5GB per line, meaning that if you go over 2.5GB on your line you'll get throttled down to slower speeds even if others on your plan are well under their 2.5GB thresholds.

All the same, T-Mobile won't charge you overage fees for exceeding your data caps so this plan really does seem like a sweet deal no matter how you slice it. Be sure to check out T-Mobile's chart comparing deals across different carriers below.

Report: Apple to Buy News Radio App Swell for $30M

Apple may be looking to boost its radio game. The Cupertino tech giant is in talks to purchase talk radio app Swell for $30 million, Re/code reported.

As part of the deal, Apple will shut down the Swell app this week, the site said, citing 'multiple' unnamed sources.

For the uninitiated, Swell is kind of like Pandora for news radio - you listen to what it plays, and if you don't like it you can swipe to move on. The app learns your preferences over time, offering a personalized listening experience with unlimited streaming audio from iTunes, NPR, ABC, ESPN, BBC, CBC, TED, and more.

According to Re/code, Swell boasts high-engagement among users, but has failed to gain a huge following.

Most of the Swell team will reportedly move over to Apple following the acquisition. Swell, which is available on Apple devices running iOS 6 or later, had been beta testing an Android app, but never released it to the general public.

The deal follows a string of acquisitions Apple has made over the past couple of months, including its $3 billion purchase of Beats this May. Apple also last week confirmed it has acquired BookLamp, a company that greatly enhances the book recommendation process, for around $10 to $15 million.

During a recent earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company had 'completed 29 acquisitions since the beginning of fiscal year 2013, including five since the end of the March quarter,' not including Beats, its biggest yet.

Apple can certainly afford it. During that same earnings call, the company said it had about $164.5 billion in cash.

In June 2012, Apple released a standalone podcast app that provides one-stop access to the podcasts currently available via iTunes. The app hit one billion subscriptions a year ago, but hasn't been a big hit with users, earning just 1.5 out of 5 stars in the App Store.

Samsung indefinitely puts the brakes on Tizen launch

Summary: It's the Android-rival mobile operating system that never was. At least for now, anyway.

(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

Samsung is holding off its debut launch of its home-grown mobile operating system that aimed to rival Android.

Tizen, which was set to launch in Russia with the Samsung Z smartphone in the third quarter, will now not go on sale as the South Korean-based electronics giant aims to drum up support for its developer platform.

The software (and smartphone) was due to be paraded at a developers' conference in Moscow, but the device was scrapped, leaving developers unsure of the platform's status.

Samsung said in a statement:

'To further enhance Tizen ecosystem, Samsung plans to postpone the launch of Samsung Z in Russia. Samsung will continue to actively work with Tizen Association members pursuing to further develop both Tizen OS and the Tizen ecosystem.'

In a nutshell, Tizen hasn't quite mustered up the support Samsung would have hoped, particularly with the developer community charged with building apps and services for the breakaway platform.

Samsung currently relies on Android as its sole device platform for its smartphones and tablets. But Samsung has been pushing hard for its own platform in order to gain greater share in the mobile operating system market. Also, by planning to transition from Android to Tizen, it reduces Samsung's overall reliance on the platform while being able to carve out its own feature set of services for its users.

It's not to say that Tizen hasn't already been a success, as such. Samsung has already dished out prototype devices, such as televisions and smart watches, running the platform.

And it's not the first time Tizen has struggled to get off the starting line.

Earlier this year, Japan's NTT DoCoMo pulled its support and called off plans for a Samsung smartphone running the Tizen software. Some European operators have also toned down their support rhetoric in recent months.


Summary: The European Commission saw no major barriers to the iPhone and iPad maker snapping up the headphone and music subscription service for $3 billion in cash and stock.

(Image: Apple)

The European Commission has approved Apple's acquisition of Beats for $3 billion in cash and stock.

On Monday, the Brussels-based executive body said in a statement that the merging of the two businesses 'did not raise competition concerns because the combined market share of Apple and Beats Electronics is low.'

It also said that the two companies are 'not close competitors' because the headphones they sell are markedly different in functionality and design.

Apple bought the company in May for $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock, after weeks and months of rumors. Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple as mid-level executives deal, Apple said in a statement at the time.

Also scrutinized was the streaming service Apple would acquire as part of the deal, which was said to have raised eyebrows across the music industry. The Commission said that though Apple's iTunes is available in Europe's 28 member states, Beats is currently not.

'The Commission concluded that Apple faces several competitors in the EEA such as Spotify and Deezer, making it implausible that the acquisition of a smaller streaming service that is not active in [Europe] would lead to anticompetitive effects,' the statement read.

So long as the deal does not result in Apple shutting out the streaming services from access to its iOS platform, the deal was cleared.

Chief executive Tim Cook said on the company's third-quarter earnings conference call that he expects the Apple-Beats deal to close in this fiscal quarter, ending mid-September.

HTC One (M8) Starts Receiving Android 4.4.3 KitKat Update

HTC has officially started rolling-out the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update with Sense 6 UI for its One (M8) developer edition, and update which should hit other variants of the device soon. The company updated users via its official Twitter account on Thursday.

As also posted by a member at XDA developers' forum, the developer edition Android 4.4.3 KitKat OTA update is 592.17 MB in size. The user has also shared the zipped update file on the forum, and additionally suggested the update will be coming soon to the other unlocked versions of HTC One (M8) smartphones.

( Also see: HTC One (M8) in Pictures | Review)

Earlier HTC's Vice President of Management, Mo Versi, had tweeted the update would arrive OTA early last week, and would incorporate security fixes from Android 4.4.4 KitKat in the current Android 4.4.3 KitKat update for the HTC One (M8).

HTC has also updated the HTC One (M7) developer edition with Android 4.4.3 KiKat. Last Tuesday, the company even tweeted out the Kernel source code along with the HTC One (M8)'s source code for Sprint wireless carrier devices. The other US carriers devices are also expected to receive the update soon.

( Also see: HTC One (M7) in Pictures | Review)

Also it seems that other variants of the HTC One (M7) will not receive the Android 4.4.3 or Android 4.4.4 update, as Versi replying to a user's question had written that One 'M7 will go directly to L release for next update.'

Notably, HTC had rolled out the first Android 4.4 KitKat OS update for its One (M7) smartphone back in February, and a 670MB Sense 6 UI update in May.

Lithium could Replace Lithium Ion for in Batteries, Thanks to Research at ...

Lithium ion batteries are everywhere, your stopwatch, the alarm clock that wakes up your six-year-old, and even the extra battery for your phone. But your phone still only contains lithium ion batteries, not lithium batteries. The difference is small in name, but the impact and effect they have is vastly different. Lithium ion batteries are inefficient compared to lithium batteries, but the latter is not even a quarter as stable. The lithium batteries in use today cause problems, and can overheat to the point of combustion, which causes the fires in Tesla cars, as well as the Boeing Dreamliner planes. But what makes them so much less stable?

Lithium batteries have a single glaring issue and difficulty in the creation and actual making of the cell. Today, a battery consists of an electrolyte, a chemical to provide ions (negatively charged electrons), an anode (which discharges the charged particles), and a cathode (which gets the anode's ions). But that seems simple, and it sort of is. Not with lithium though. Lithium has been problematic in that it is unstable and highly reactive. Researchers globally have found that lithium would act as the best anode, but find it too unstable to use right now, so most anodes are made of graphite (carbon) or silicon.

Lithium would, as an anode, expand during the charging process. All anode materials do though, but Lithium does so unevenly, so it might expand more in certain areas, and not in others, which could cause a rupture. Lithium also, according to researchers, can essentially expand to whatever size it allowed, but the unevenness causes problems. But why is there this talk of negative and Debbie-downer type material? Because this is all true and tested, but a breakthrough by a team of researchers at Stanford may have some promising future for lithium batteries.

The Stanford team of researchers has managed to, supposedly, create a more stable and viable option for lithium battery construction. The difference between previous and current batteries and the new battery from Stanford lies in carbon nanospheres. The interlocked mesh of tiny carbon domes keep the unstable and reactive lithium anode in check, since the layer is both uniform and nonreactive, two of the main problems faced with uncovered lithium anodes before. The layer is strong enough to keep the lithium in check when charging, flexible enough to allow the necessary charging expansion, as well as being nonreactive, so the lithium doesn't react violently with it and create danger and cause harm.

The breakthrough in the technology has many possible outcomes, and all of them result in or relate to battery life. It could allow four times the capacity of a battery, and therefore two or three times the battery life and usability for your favorite smartphone or tablet. It could make an electric car with a 300-mile range more affordable for the consumer. It does, however, have time to go until it's ready for actual production and use commercially, this new technology. The Stanford team notes how though they are up to 99% efficiency after 150 charging cycles, they are still going to work on choosing a more optimal electrolyte, as well as improve the technology in general. So expect some new batteries to get some limelight in the next year or so, and be sure to stay tuned in to get the latest on that limelight.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 Could Bring Support for Folders and Smart Cases

It seems Microsoft will soon roll out the first update for Windows Phone 8.1 devices, as the Redmond giant has already shipped it to manufacturers. A report quoting sources has claimed the update will bring support for app folders and smart flip cases, amongst other new features.

According to Nokiapoweruser, the Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 - as the first update to Windows Phone 8.1 is called - is being tested by manufactures, the first 'public' step in the lifecycle of an update. The report claims the update brings Android and iOS-like feature to create folders for simpler management of apps. Users will be able to drag and drop tiles on top of other tiles to create a folder. This is not completely unexpected, since last month the company accidentally made live one of the webpages detailing steps for creating a folder on Windows Phone 8.1.

Another feature in Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1, as per the report, will be support for smart flip cases for devices. Smart cases have become rather popular these days with the likes of HTC dot case, LG Quick-Circle case, Samsung S-view case, and more; and it seems Windows Phone will get support for them.

( Also see: Windows Phone 8.1 'Cyan' Update Now Rolling Out to Lumia Users)

Additionally, the Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 update change log obtained by the website suggests it will include Voice over LTE (VoLTE) support, dual-SIM support for both GSM and CDMA networks, a medium Live Tile for the Store app, a phonebook entry for virtual assistant Cortana to enable integration with car's navigation system, support for 7-inch devices and WXGA 800x1280 pixels resolution devices.

The next logical question is on the timing on the update, and while the original report is silent on the subject, The Verge says Microsoft plans to release Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 to developers within this week, failing which, it will happen next month (August).

The Last of Us Remastered makes the end of the world even more beautiful

The Last of Us Remastered releases on the PlayStation 4 this Tuesday. The mature-rated title is a bid by Sony to show everybody how much more powerful - and emotional - games on the PlayStation 4 can be.

The Last of Us on PlayStation 3 was my favorite release of 2013 - and my favorite game of all time. It won more than 200 Game of the Year awards, including one from GamesBeat. If you didn't catch it the first time around, The Last of Us Remastered is a great opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. It's also a great way to take in the experience again for those who loved the original on PS3.

The PS4 version has better graphics that fully render the title's post-pandemic world in the way it was meant to be seen. You'll immediately notice a difference in the quality of the visuals and the realism of the characters when you play the survival-action offering.

The Last of Us tells the story of survivors who try to outrun a deadly fungus that turns people into the Infected - or zombies. Humans became infected via bites or deadly spores in the air, which turned them into beastly killers. The virus spreads and renders the world into a wasteland. The remaining cities become quarantine zones under martial law.

But The Last of Us Remastered is not just another zombie-shooting title. It is a melancholy portrait of the dying human race, besieged by growing numbers of the Infected. The first 15 or so minutes are hands down the best opening for a video game that I have ever seen. It invoked the fear of an outbreak and harsh reaction to it as if you were inside an Oscar-winning film.

Watching that scene again, this time with my daughter, was even more engrossing. The graphics are so much better on PS4. The world and characters are more fleshed out, with increased details, better lighting, and spooky shadows. As you're running through the apocalypse, the realistic flames leap out at you. Once the story moves to 20 years after the pandemic, you know enough about Joel to understand why he behaves as he does and how protective he is when he meets Ellie.

As I wrote last year, I can't say that I've ever come across a character as compelling as Ellie, the 14-year-old heroine played by actress Ashley Johnson. Details like the freckles on her face and the cuts on her skin reveal an intense focus on realism. She's a normal teenager, not a superhero. It is such a welcome relief to find a person like this in a video game. Her interaction with Joel, an aging tough guy who has walled himself off from feeling emotions, becomes the emotional crux of the experience.

The characters that Ellie and Joel meet in their journey aren't cannon fodder. They often make a difference in how Ellie and Joel see the world and each other. As I met all of these people and saw them disappear, I had a growing sense of dread. What would happen if Ellie or Joel didn't make it? It was an overriding fear that stayed with me as I played, and it showed me how much I had come to love these characters and the way they related to one another.

The remade release includes native 1080p resolution, 60 frames per second, higher-resolution character models, improved shadows and lighting, longer draw distances, and an enhanced level of detail.

Controls are slightly different. You can press the touchpad on the PS4 controller to open and close Joel's backpack.The light bar changes color to reflect the player's health during combat. The speaker emits flashlight sound effects and tape recorder audio. And the share button lets you easily capture in-game moments from the single-player campaign.

Player progress from The Last of Us PS3 multiplayer will not carry over to the PS4 version. That means players get a level playing field in Factions mode. But you will get a supply bonus to boost your Factions mode progression in The Last of Us Remastered. All downloadable content, such as head items and weapons, which you have purchased for the PS3 will be available in the PS4 version.

The disc includes four new assets: the Abandoned Territories map pack, Reclaimed Territories map pack, The Last of Us: Left Behind, and grounded difficulty mode.

The remastered title has extras like a documentary, 'Ground: The Making of The Last of Us,' a photo editing mode for rendering shared screenshots, and higher-quality shadows while in 30-frames-per-second lock. It also has some bug fixes and a faster install speed from disc.

Additionally, The Last of Us Remastered includes director's commentary of in-game cinematics from the main narrative. The commentators include director/writer Neil Druckmann, voice actor Troy Baker (Joel), and the aforementioned Johnson (Ellie).

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AAA Michigan: Gas prices fall 14 cents

DEARBON, Mich. (AP) -- AAA Michigan says gasoline prices in the state dropped about 14 cents in the last week, the fourth straight week they've fallen.

The auto club says that the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was $3.49 on Sunday. That's about 17 cents less than one year ago.

Dearborn-based AAA Michigan surveys fuel costs at 2,800 Michigan gas stations daily. It says the cheapest price was $3.39 a gallon in the Lansing-East Lansing area and the most expensive was $3.68 in the Marquette area.

Nationwide, it says gasoline averaged $3.53 a gallon Sunday, compared with $3.58 last week and $3.64 last year.

AAA Michigan attributes falling U.S. gasoline prices to abundant refinery production and stable international oil markets despite the Russian-Ukrainian and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.

Miracle Gas Price Drop in the Heat of Summer Vehicle Madness

U.S. refineries are working overtime to ensure that gas prices stumble a little bit in the middle of a season that peaks in the number of cars on the road.

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps dropped 9.04 cents in the last two weeks. Prices are now around 3.5795 a gallon. This information is based on information gathered from about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, Calif.-based Company.

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Refineries process more petroleum then they ever had since 1989 causing retail prices o decline.

'It's really a mid-summer gift,' Trilby Lundberg, the president of Lundberg Survey, said on Sunday. 'Refiners have been on a kick to run more crude, run at high rates and to cut price.'

'There is an abundance of gasoline, inventories are high, and refiners are cutting to chase those summer sales,' Lundberg said. 'We can expect gas prices to keep migrating down, though maybe not to this extent.'

The highest price of gasoline was found in the lower 48 states. In San Francisco, it was priced at around $4.03 a gallon, and in Tulsa, Okla., it was priced at an average of $3.23.

Regular gasoline averaged $3.83 in Long Island, N.Y., and $3.96 in Los Angeles.

The average price for gasoline is about 10 cents less than it was a year ago. It's a rare drop considering the rise in the price of global crude oil.

On the week that ended after July 18, Refineries processed over 16 million barrels a day. Plants are taking advantage of this boom. Gasoline futures on the Nymex dropped 1.5 percent, to 2.8653 a gallon in the two weeks that ended Friday, July 25.

Crude inventories also dropped, for the fourth straight week actually, to 371.1 million in the seven days that finished the week of July 18.


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