Posts tagged wants
After last year’s incessantly buggy iOS releases, Apple appears ready to do anything to sniff out glitches before they hit users en masse—including letting them volunteer as guinea pigs to test pre-release iPhone software.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple will give users an early look at iOS 8.3 by releasing its very first public beta of the software in mid-March. That seems like a bit of a jump, since the current iOS release is version 8.1.3. Apparently Apple is sticking with its traditional test-and-release path for iOS 8.2, now in the hands of developers. The report also claims that Apple will follow up with a public beta release for iOS 9 in the summer.
Though the chronology may seem confusing, the overall move itself would make sense in several ways—namely, turning a previous P.R. nightmare into a win.
Spinning A Fail Into A Win
Last fall, iOS 8 brought a world of hurt to users. Various bugs bricked some phones and messed up photo syncing, messages and more on others. None of the problems really hurt iPhone sales, but the company could clearly do without more stumbles of that magnitude.
A public beta gives Apple a golden opportunity to find bugs while also giving fans an early peek at new features. The additional participants would also make for an extra large swath of beta-testers—all the better to really put the software through its paces and boost the odds of finding problems early. Essentially, Apple could give itself an exceptionally large mallet for its whack-a-mole game of bug squashing.
There would be, of course, one more obvious benefit for the company. With a public beta, Apple would have a built-in excuse, should a hail of glitches rain down devices: “Hey, it’s beta software! You knew that going in.”
The public betas will be a first for iOS, though Apple has gone this route before for Mac OS X. The company made beta versions of “Yosemite” (OS X 10.10) available ahead of its October 2014 final release, granting the first one million people who signed up access to the early software. (It’s on track to do the same with the upcoming OS X version 10.10.3.)
iOS eligibility may not be quite so wide open, according to the 9to5Mac story, which says the company will only accept 100,000 iOS testers to maintain an air of “exclusivity.”
Nicknamed “Stowe,” developer versions of iOS 8.1 went out earlier this month. It included some bug fixes and improvements, along with support for wireless CarPlay.
Lead image adapted from artwork courtesy of Library Of Congress
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Flurry gives Yahoo massive mobile reach and developer access.
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Wireless charging’s technology goes back a long, long way—all the way back to 1891, when Nicola Tesla successfully transferred power wirelessly. More than 100 years later, the tech still remains a non-starter.
Samsung wants to change all that. A post by Samsung’s top engineer for IT and mobile, Seho Park, suggests that the company’s upcoming Galaxy S6 may offer built-in support for the technology, which would be a first for the company.
Samsung, of course, has dabbled in wireless charging before. Typically, those efforts required accessories like charge mats and swappable backplates. Park writes that his company’s first commercial wireless charging mat launched in the U.S. in 2011 as the Droid Charge. Since then, the tech giant has continued to look for ways to squeeze all that tech into the phone itself.
Shoot Out At The Wireless Corral
Back in 2009, when Palm still had a horse in the mobile race, its Pre phone line and its wireless Touchstone charging dock grabbed the public’s attention. Now Palm is dead in the water—though not done for quite yet—and the state of wireless charging has come to resemble a Mexican standoff. Three major, but incompatible standards have been jockeying for the top spot.
All three essentially do the same thing: They use electromagnetic fields to charge a battery from a (usually short) distance, allowing you to ditch the charging cable. None have emerged victorious, although consumers have clearly been the losers.
According to Park, Samsung—which belongs to all three organizations—has had enough. It’s been working on integrated components that can work with all the wireless-charging standards, Park writes:
We also discovered new ways to merge and combine components in a more efficient way, which allowed our technology to generate more power and take up less space…. We also focused on finding new ways to make the components themselves smaller and thinner.
If that effort works, one day you might toss a Samsung device on a charging mat and it would just charge, without you giving a moment’s thought as to whether your phone works with that particular brand of mat (or transmitter table or charging bowl).
It is, of course, possible that the warring standards might have eventually gotten their act together on their own. Last year, two of them joined forces, agreeing to support each other’s technology. One of those groups also partnered with Starbucks, whose cafés now feature charging tables and bars.
Promising steps—but they still leave out the the third, and arguably most popular, wireless-charging standard, known as Qi. (It’s a lot like being the biggest ant in the hill.) Currently, Qi technology is available in hundreds of consumer products, and if you hunt for the, you can find charging locations at a few dozen McDonald’s joints in Europe.
Instead of waiting for a miracle to occur, Samsung looks ready to take matters into its own hands.
Smartphones Are Just The Start
The timing of Park’s meditation on wireless charging is no coincidence. He strongly implies the new Galaxy phone will have built-in support, but he stops short of promising that—perhaps to preserve “the wow factor” for Samsung’s Unpacked media event in Barcelona in a couple of weeks.
Portable power and charging has been a vexing matter for the whole mobile industry, with players like Motorola, Apple and Samsung (of course) offering fast-charging technology to take some of the irritation out of juicing up. If the cable finally goes away and charging installations become more publicly available, it could go a long way toward easing the long wait for bigger and better batteries.
Park explains that Samsung has been working on the wire-free charging conundrum for the last five years. Samsung apparently figures the time is ripe now to stuff wireless charging directly into its phones, to drive adoption of the technology—and, of course, its own devices. And the company could use a hit.
Those efforts could have even greater significance beyond phones.
In addition to IT companies, leading brands from a wide range of industries, such as consumer electronics, semiconductors, mobile services, automotive, furniture, software and others have joined the effort and are working closely together.
Samsung, of course, has its fingers in several of those pies—including smartwatches and fitness bands, home theater equipment and kitchen appliances. With its SmartThings acquisition last year, it has a stake in smart homes and the broader movement dubbed the “Internet of Things.”
The Samsung global conglomerate has its hand in even more than that, from hospital-grade medical equipment to industrial machines, and many of the gadgets that hook into them. Anything not nailed down by a charging cable could get a boost from streamlined charging technology.
But Phones Are a Crucial Start For Samsung
Support for the various industries could be Samsung’s long game. For now, however, its focus is on phones, where it has been struggling recently.
For mobile consumers to flock to wireless charging, the process needs to be fast and convenient. Given that, there’s one curious tidbit in Park’s post:
Two or three years ago, wireless charging was only twenty to thirty percent as efficient as wired charging. But since then, we have been able to double the charging speed.
It’s tough to tell if Park is referring to Samsung’s work or wireless charging as a whole. If it’s the latter, then Daniel Schreiber, president of Powermat Technologies, might take some exception to this. He told me last November, when his group’s Starbucks initiative launched, that those wireless charging speeds rival cabled connections. I didn’t clock the action when I tried it, but at the time, the charging seemed pretty speedy.
If Park is talking about Samsung’s work, then the tech—slow as it seems to be—still has a ways to go. Because by my math, if the cable-free version is 30% as efficient as traditional charging, and the company can achieve twice that speed, it’s still much slower than physically plugging in.
So it may be a bit too early for Galaxy customers to completely ditch the cord. Samsung’s wire-free tech could be somewhat handy, since it may come built into those Galaxy S6 phones. But it might not be the secret sauce that saves Samsung’s mobile business.
Palm Pre/Touchstone photo by PatrickMoorhead; Starbucks photo by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite
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After the kludgey mess of iOS 8’s buggy updates and the swarm of negative user sentiment they triggered, Apple has reportedly gone all out to make the next version of its mobile operating software rock solid.
According to sources cited by 9to5Mac, Apple engineers made bug fixes a “huge” priority in iOS 9. Instead of throwing all of their effort into brand new features, they concentrated on nixing the main issues that plagued the previous version—namely bugs, erratic performance and file sizes that choked software updates or forced users to delete data from their devices to make room.
See also: Apple Really Needs To Get It Together
None of those problems should plague iOS 9—or so, at least, Apple appears to hopes. Because there’s a lot at stake with this update—including its upcoming smartwatch and the fate of Apple’s last 4-inch phone.
You Can’t Build On A Shaky Foundation
Apple software updates come in different shapes and sizes, from mere bug fixes to the bigger introduction of all-new functions—like the introduction of Apple Pay and HealthKit features, both launched among iOS 8’s rapid-fire releases.
Too bad the software updates were often frustrating to install and, once running, frequently glitchy. As device performance tanked, so did Apple’s reputation for simplicity and ease of use.
If the latest report is true, then it’s clearly Apple’s attempt to restore some good faith in its users—which may be key during a year that will launch a new, $350 Apple Watch into the market. No one wants to spend a large chunk of change on an unproven gizmo that hinges on glitchy software.
iOS 9: Bad News For Apple Phablet Haters?
That’s not to say iOS 9 won’t be anything but a glorified patch. The next major update could fill in other gaps in Apple’s software ecosystem, including transit information and indoor maps.
As for improving stability and performance, 9to5Mac notes that the task could be easier if Apple retires its older devices. For instance, if the iPhone 5c, first iPad mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch get the old heave-ho this year, there would be no dusty older gadgets to keep humming. The devices left would be newer ones with advanced processors, allowing iOS 9 engineers to focus on getting the most out of modern 64-bit A7 and A8 processors.
See also: Apple’s 4-Inch iPhone May Be Doomed
That would be great news for owners of later-model iPhones, iPads and iPod touches, as well as the new Apple Watch. But it would also mean there’s only one option remaining for people who don’t want a phablet: the iPhone 5S.
Put another way, iOS 9’s release could also mark the end of the last 4-inch Apple smartphone. Hopefully the software update will be worth it.
Photo by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite
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Joyent officially remains optimistic that IO contributors will eventually return to the fork’s master branch. But it’s not taking any chances that IO might start catching fire. Its latest strategy: Set up a startup incubator with major benefits for developers who stick to using Node.
The company’s Node.js Incubator Program is designed for companies, startups, and individuals doing interesting things with Node. Members will receive Joyent’s training and support, $25,000 worth of services in Joyent Cloud Hosting, tools and debugging, access to Node project leader Timothy J Fontaine, plus marketing and networking opportunities.
One more thing: Developers using IO instead of Node are, well, not invited.
“IO.js, what’s that?” asked Joyent CEO Scott Hammond in response to my query about whether projects based on the fork would be able to enter. “This is a Node.js project for Node.js innovations.”
Hammond said applicants will be considered first and foremost on the originality of their projects, from “Web apps to robotics to Internet of Things applications.” Applicants will be able to connect with Joyent at the Node Summit, to be held February 10-11 in San Francisco, and participants in the incoming class will be selected and announced shortly afterward.
When companies are choosing whether to consider Node or IO, this incubator may sway their opinions toward the former.
“[The incubator is about] evangelizing Node.js, finding faster on-ramps for other projects to evaluate Node.js to see if it fits their platform requirements, and help educate the community,” Hammond said. “It’s a knowledge transfer. We want to open Node up widely to show how well it runs.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Pinterest is looking to change its female-oriented reputation by expanding its search functionality to include more topics that it thinks will appeal to men.
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If security is the first, second and third priority for your business, then does a Vancouver startup have a collaboration suite for you.
Witkit, founded three years ago by serial entrepreneur Sean Merat, aims to offer multiple enterprise software functions—messaging, groups, file-sharing, etc.—under one roof. Most important, it plans to do so securely, by encrypting your data so that neither the company nor anyone else can read it.
Why a suite? Merat said that in the course of running prior companies, he felt overwhelmed by the number of disparate solutions for work collaboration.
“There were too many solutions,” he said in an interview with ReadWrite. “Stuff like Hipchat, Dropbox, Evernote…. Individually they’re all great, but the problem becomes when you’re trying to juggle too many things.” So together with two co-founders, Sohrab Merat and Ma’en Haq, Merat started Witkit.
This concept isn’t brand new—Huddle, for instance, is also based on an all-in-one functionality. Where Witkit plans to make a name for itself is security—in particular, by encrypting all data on the user end (using a technique the company too-cutely calls “Witcrypt”) and storing it on the Witkit server in protected fashion.
What that means, a Merat explained in a Witkit press release (no link), is this:
Witcrypt technology ensures that the encryption and decryption of user data is only done on user devices locally. All data that is sent to the Witkit servers is fully encrypted and can only be decrypted by the user’s WitCrypt passphrase.
In his interview with ReadWrite, Merat argued that end-to-end encryption for all functions of a work suite—file sharing, group discussions, calendars, cloud storage, instant messaging, etc.—is Witkit’s main selling point. With all data encrypted, he said, a company or organization could have online group discussions with members from outside that company as well as internal discussion channels without worrying about compromising security. Witkit calls these virtual discussion spaces “kits.”
Locked In A Box
Of course, the drawback of any suite like this one is that you have to be happy with all the components. If you like Witkit’s security and calendar but aren’t crazy about its messaging, you’re still stuck with it. And at this point, it’s impossible to say how Witkit’s individual services stack up.
But Navid Soofi, the founder and president of Qube Film studios in Vancouver, has been using Witkit in a beta form for several months. The security aspect of it has been the primary allure.
“Cyber security has been a very prominent concern in my industry the past few months,” Soofi said in an email interview, making an obvious allusion to the major Sony hack in December. He continued:
My team and I have been actively looking for secure ways to sync files, records, documents and conversations. I can confidently say that Witkit fitted the bill perfectly. Our IT team has gone through the security code that has been made public by Witkit and reassured me that our conversations, contracts and footage would be as secure as keeping everything offline.
Merat said Witkit is in the process of having its code, which it has also posted on Github for public perusal, audited by another company for any vulnerabilities. Witkit has no definite plans for making money quite yet. Right now, all the features and storage will be free.
“We can confidently say that we’re not going to charge for what we’re offering today,” Merat said. “The base functionality up to 50GB will always be free.” He said the company would wait to develop a strong user base and develop revenue streams based on their feedback. Witkit has received $5 million in funding so far.
Lead photo by Anonymous Account; photo of Sean Mirat courtesy of Witkit
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British Prime Minister David Cameron will enlist President Barack Obama’s help in accessing user info on Facebook and Twitter’s when the world leaders meet in the Oval Office on Friday, the Guardian reports. Good luck with that.
Cameron proposed on Monday banning encrypted messaging apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime that are inaccessible to Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) eavesdropping center. (Good luck with that, too.)
As the first world leader to meet with Obama following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Cameron will ask the president to urge U.S. Internet companies such as Facebook and Twitter to surrender user communications upon request. “Comprehensive legislation” expanding electronic surveillance in the hunt for terrorists is a major part of Cameron’s re-election campaign. And it’s one he’s pushing to gain traction on following the terrorist attack on the Paris office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
“The prime minister’s objective here is to get the U.S. companies to cooperate with us more, to make sure that our intelligence agencies get the information they need to keep us safe,” a U.K. government source told the Guardian. “That will be his approach in the discussion with President Obama–how can we work together to get them to cooperate more, what is the best approach to encourage them to do more.”
It’s an ambitious goal, given the ongoing revelations from Edward Snowden about the extent of government surveillance on U.S. citizens, as well as other world leaders. Since Snowden first shared classified information from the the National Security Agency (NSA), tech companies continue a public relations offensive to distance themselves from government interference. Published transparency reports detailing government requests for information are now de rigueur in Silicon Vally.
Last May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed on his Facebook page a phone call he made to Obama to tell the president he is, “confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”
Whats more, Cameron’s requests run somewhat counter to Obama’s own call for tech security. On Monday, while Cameron demanded access to Snapchat and the like, Obama called for stronger cybersecurity laws in connection to data breaches, including the recent attack on Sony. The president also champions better communication between corporations and the government in detecting cyber threats.
Lead image courtesy U.K. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Here is your chance to give feedback to Google in order to improve both Google Web Search and their Google Webmaster Tools product. Don’t miss out on sharing your two-cents.
The post Google Wants Webmaster Feedback On Web Search & Webmaster Tools appeared first on Search Engine Land.
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Samsung has supposedly approached BlackBerry in a $7.5 billion takeover bid, reports Reuters. Its sources say that executives from both companies were in talks as recently as last week—presumably during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
If true, the deal could offer relief to the venerable but ailing smartphone maker. It would also presumably give the South Korean tech giant a slew of patents covering everything from enterprise technology, security and to Internet of Things initiatives, where BlackBerry has recently been making its push.
Samsung’s mobile business also had a dismal earnings year. Now it appears to be pursuing mid-tier devices, including its just-announced Z1 smartphone in India, the company’s first handset powered by its own homegrown Tizen software. Samsung hopes to turn the open-source mobile operating system into a platform for its own take on the Internet of Things. A BlackBerry acquisition might help it strengthen its position.
BlackBerry has been struggling back to relevance in recent years, though its stock has jumped 29% on the heels of the Reuters report.
Screen shot of BlackBerry press conference captured by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite
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