Apple Inc. Stories January 13, 2016

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Apple for a time led the tech market in education, even making education-specific Mac models. More recently, the company made a big push on iPads, signing a $30M deal (that would eventually have been worth a quarter of a billion dollars) in 2013 to equip every student in the LA Unified School District with an iPad.

If that program had succeeded, it would have created a template for rolling out similar ones across the whole of the USA. Instead, it failed catastrophically, and it now appears that Chromebooks are winning where iPads have failed.

CNBC reported last month that Chromebooks now make up more than half of all devices in U.S. classrooms, while Apple’s share of classroom purchases more than halved between 2012 and 2015. Why is that, and what – if anything – can Apple do to reverse the trend … ?

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Apple Inc. Stories December 17, 2015

Apple Music Android app updated with Beats 1 fix, Sonos support and more

Apple has updated the Apple Music Android app with a bug fix and a couple of new features.

This update fixes an issue that prevented listening to Beats 1 without an Apple Music membership. It also includes support for the upcoming beta of Apple Music on Sonos, and for playlist folders created in iTunes.

It also includes stability and performance improvements.

Apple first offered the app to Android users last month, and offers a three-month free trial, after which an individual subscription costs $10/month while a family of up to five can share a $15/month subscription.

Check out our setup and first impressions video for a taster.

Apple Inc. Stories October 23, 2015

Xiaomi reportedly plans to join Samsung in offering iPhone 6s-style pressure-sensitive touchscreens

Following Synaptics’ announcement that it would be offering pressure-sensitive touchscreen controllers to allow Android manufacturers to offer features similar to 3D Touch on Apple’s latest iPhones, it appears that Xiaomi will be adopting the technology.

It has previously been suggested that Samsung plans to use the Synaptics system in next year’s flagship Galaxy handsets.

The report from a well-known Chinese tipster says that Xiaomi has patented a technology similar to 3D Touch, notes GforGames. It’s unclear whether Xiaomi plans to use the Synaptics controller or has created its own technology.

Apple Inc. Stories October 7, 2015

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Lobbying group Citizens for Tax Justice has called out Google, Apple and Microsoft and others for what it described as “accounting tricks” in which companies “pretend” to be based overseas for tax purposes. The claims were made in a report entitled Offshore Shell Games 2015.

Many multinational corporations use accounting tricks to pretend for tax purposes that a substantial portion of their profits are generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox. Multinational corporations’ use of tax havens allows them to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year.

Google’s overseas tax arrangements came under fire in the UK back in 2013 when it was revealed that the company paid just £6M ($9.4M) on a UK turnover of £395M ($620M), claiming that all its advertising sales were made by staff in Ireland (a claim later challenged) …

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Apple Inc. Stories September 10, 2015

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Leading up to Apple’s eagerly anticipated keynote presentation last night, Sony had a jab prepared for the iPhone-makers before they unveiled the iPhone 6s, Apple TV and iPad Pro. It seems, however, Sony wasn’t the only manufacturer attempting to rain on Apple’s parade. Arguably Apple’s biggest competitor, Samsung had a few of its own jibes to share with us and took to its UK Twitter handle to publish them…

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Apple Inc. Stories September 9, 2015

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In one of the most ambiguous rebuttals of recent memory, Samsung has denied reports claiming it is looking to reduce its workforce by 10%. It’s not reducing its workforce, it says, but “relocating” them. One of Samsung’s high-ranking officials spoke to Yonhap News, claiming that it will “only be relocating workers”, denying rumors that it was looking to move on 10 percent of its management staff in sales and PR. What it didn’t say was what “relocating” actually means, leaving us speculating a number of possible translations for the phrase…

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Apple Inc. Stories September 7, 2015

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Battered mobile technology manufacturer HTC has a new press event scheduled for September 29, to be held in Hankone, Japan, where a “double flagship” device will be released. That’s according to an image spotted by popular Twitter user @upleaks, who says in his tweet that the image was posted to HTC’s account on Weibo, the Chinese social networking equivalent to Twitter… expand full story

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The WSJ is reporting that Amazon is going to strip down a 6-inch tablet and sell it for $50 for the holidays. What’s amazing is that the theoretically color tablet was cheaper to make than even an ebook display version:

Mr. Bezos had set an internal goal of the $50 price tag for versions of both the Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader, viewing the rock-bottom prices as a crucial lure for a more cost-conscious group of buyers, the people said. But the e-reader screen technology from its vendors ultimately proved too expensive to drop the retail price, the people said. Amazon’s cheapest Kindle sells for $79.

It is likely that the $50 Tablet will be a pared down version of the already minimalist $99 6-inch Kindle which has gone on sale for as little at $69 in recent months. The report cites a mono speaker as one of the cost cutting initiatives but the company will likely drop things like cameras, display quality and battery life.

What might be more interesting to me is that Amazon is said to have fired many from its FireOS group in the wake of the Fire Phone flop and subsequent $170M writedown… expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories September 2, 2015

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The latest data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that Samsung and Apple continue to dominate the U.S. smartphone market, taking a massive 64% of the total market share between them, and accounting for nine of the ten best-selling models.

If share alone was not enough to demonstrate market dominance, our data also shows that these two vendors sold nine of the top ten best-selling smartphones in the three months ending July 2015 – with LG making a cameo appearance in the ranking.

Android increased its U.S. market share by 1.7% in the 12 months ending in July this year, though dropped 7% in Japan and 4.1% in Europe …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories August 31, 2015

Android Wear finally has iOS support after Google pushed its iPhone-compatible software to the App Store. This means that Android has beaten Apple Watch to the cross-platform game. Or, at least it would, if iOS didn’t restrict it to a state of almost uselessness. The only device officially supported is the LG Watch Urbane although — as we previously revealed — the older generation Android Wear watches do work. I got it set up with my Moto 360, and have been mostly disappointed by my experience so far.

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Apple Inc. Stories August 25, 2015

IDC: China slowdown cuts smartphone forecast, Android will continue to hold lead through 2019

IDC released an updated forecast today lowering its expectations for worldwide smartphone shipments this year with a continuing slowdown of growth in China cited as the biggest contributor to the lower than expected shipments. It also shared some insight into the future of Android, expecting its current 81% share of the global smartphone market as of 2015 to hold strong through 2019, citing continued price sensitivity in the markets with the biggest growth potential (read: China, India, and everyone else in the Asia-Pacific region).

Apple Inc. Stories August 20, 2015

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New data from Gartner suggests that Samsung saw its worldwide sales fall by 5.3% year-on-year, its market share dropping from 26.2% in Q2 2014 to 21.9% in the same quarter this year. The company lost ground to both Apple and Chinese brands Huawei and Xiaomi.

Despite the launch of new S6 models, Samsung’s premium phones continued to be challenged by Apple’s large-screen iPhones. Samsung lost 4.3 percentage points in market share and declined 5.3 percent in unit sales in the second quarter of 2015.

Samsung was hit hardest by Huawei, which saw sales growth of 46.3%, followed by Apple, which increased its sales by 36% …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories August 19, 2015

9to5Toys Lunch Break: Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones $79, 2TB portable hard drive $69, more

Keep up with the best gear and deals on the web by signing up for the 9to5Toys Newsletter. Also, be sure to check us out on: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

TODAY’S CAN’T MISS DEALS:

 

Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones: $79.95 shipped with promo code EMCAWKX23 (Orig: $149.95) 

Sony (SRS-X3) Portable Bluetooth NFC Speaker: $71.99 shipped with promo code EXTRA (Orig: $149.99) 

Xbox One bundle + $50 Xbox gift card + Assassins Creed Unity: $399 shipped (Orig: $460+)

MORE DEALS FROM TODAY:

WD Elements 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive: $69.99 shipped (Orig: $110) 

Kitchen/Home Oral-B 1000 electric toothbrush $29 (Orig. $60), Deep Sweep 5000 $113 (Orig. $133+), more

Amazon has the Oral-B PRO 1000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun for $29 with free shipping for Prime members (free trial) or on orders over $35. Be sure to clip the $5 coupon on the listing page. That’s about 35% under the original listing, $5+ under the average selling price.

You’ll also still find the Oral-B Deep Sweep 5000 w/ Bluetooth Electric Toothbrush for $113 shipped with the $20 on-page coupon (Reg. $133+) and up to $30 off Oral-B toothbrushes, brush head re-fills and more.

DEALS STILL ALIVE:

NEW PRODUCTS & MORE:

 

Never lose your keys again with the new-and-improved Tile Bluetooth tracker

Train to be a Jedi with this oversized Yoda toy you will

The new AfterShokz headphones bring bone conduction audio to Apple Watch

Apple Inc. Stories August 11, 2015

HTC One Max fingerprint sensor data left unsecured for apps to see

A report from FireEye Labs (a security firm) reveals that some smartphones with fingerprint sensors aren’t as secure as we’d like them to be. The one device named specifically was the HTC One Max which was supposed to store fingerprint data in a secure enclave that no one could get to. Turns out, that wasn’t the case and any app could have potentially gained access to the fingerprint data and even recreated a bitmap image of the fingerprints stored. Thankfully, HTC fixed the gaping hole “in all regions” before the report went public.

FireEye shared images they managed to gain access to inside the HTC One Max, and cropped them to protect the identity of the owners. What you see to the left is just a small portion of someone’s fingerprint. Data obtained through the One Max’s supposedly ‘secure’ enclave. If there’s one small comfort to be taken from this, it’s that the HTC One Max isn’t the most popular phone around, and by now, it’s also relatively old. What’s more, HTC told The Verge that the flaw was only present in the HTC One Max, and doesn’t effect any of its other phones or devices.

While the One Max is the only device specifically named in the vulnerability report, the company does suggest devices from other manufacturers suffer(ed) with the same issue. What’s more, another issue present in a number of devices was a vulnerability which could potentially allow any app to interrupt the fingerprint scanning process as a user was using the sensor. If taken advantage of, this would see software with the ability to take fingerprint data as it’s being read, in real-time.

All devices mentioned (including the Galaxy S5) and others hinted at, have all be locked down since the vulnerability was discovered. When it comes to fingerprint data, we like to think that the information is being treated with paramount focus. Once someone gets your fingerprint data, there’s not a lot you can do about it. You can’t change it like a PIN, password or pattern.

Apple Inc. Stories August 10, 2015

Google is working on launching an affiliate program for Google Play similar to the one Apple runs for its own digital content stores, a source briefed on the matter has told 9to5Google.

The affiliate program, which is said to still be in its early stages of development and could get called off or change significantly between now and its time of launch, is said to be powered by Performance Horizon Group, the same company which in 2013 began supporting Apple’s affiliate program.

Our source, who requested to remain anonymous, said the program will initially cover only content sold through Play Movies and Music but eventually expand to include apps and even hardware, presumably those devices sold through the Google Storeexpand full story

OnePlus 2 shipments delayed 2-3 weeks for United States and Canada

OnePlus may have increased manufacturing capacity this year in preparation for the launch of its successor to the OnePlus One, the OnePlus 2, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely ironed out its processes: North American customers will have to wait a little longer to receive their phones.

In a post to its community forums, a staff member of OnePlus today said that “due to production schedules,” shipments to the United States and Canada will begin 2-3 weeks after shipments to Europe. We’re not sure exactly what this means and why it’s the case, but hiccups in the manufacturing process happen regularly before the release of new products, even to large companies like Samsung and Apple.

OnePlus says that customers in North America will still be able to place their orders starting tomorrow, August 11th, though. That’s if you even have an invite to buy one, which you’ll need. The waitlist to get yourself an invite if you weren’t an early adopter of the OnePlus One is 3 million people strong, however, so these shipment delays shouldn’t even impact you if aren’t fortunate enough to have one. Sans-invite purchases will open up at some point weeks or months after the phone goes on sale tomorrow.

Apple Inc. Stories August 7, 2015

Research firm comScore today released its report on United States smartphone subscriber market share for the three month period ending in June. The report, released monthly, tracks the rankings of the top smartphone OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and operating systems by consumer adoption. Month-to-month fluctuations in market share aren’t often major, but the data gives us more context around how the top players are doing as we eek towards the 2015 holiday season.

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Apple Inc. Stories August 6, 2015

Kantar: Samsung and LG account for 78% of US Android smartphone sales

Consumer insights and research firm Kantar Worldpanel has released its smartphone sales data for the second quarter of 2015, which runs from April through June, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag for Android. Growth in the United States and China, but declines in Europe. Android also saw market consolidation stateside during the three month period.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. In the second quarter, Kantar says Android posted its “strongest year-on-year share drop in Germany” since the beginning of 2015. 81% of all smartphones sold in Germany during the same period last year were powered by Android, compared to 75% this year — other smartphone operating systems have seen gains in the country during the same period.

Apple Inc. Stories August 5, 2015

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Android is notorious in the developer community for its rampant fragmentation. Developing an app for Google’s platform means wrestling to make the app work optimally on the ecosystem of thousands of devices in different shapes and sizes. And according to a new report out today giving us a look at the state of Android fragmentation as of this month, August 2015, there’s both some bad and good news: There are more devices than ever before, but fewer users that are spread out across different operating system versions.

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Apple Inc. Stories July 17, 2015

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Popular iOS and Android apps from companies like Walmart, ESPN, Slack and SoundCloud have been found vulnerable to password cracking, according to a recent report from AppBugs. The security firm found that dozens of the most popular apps are lacking, in that they allow you to make any number of attempts to login without restriction. These clearly opens up a gap for attackers who have the means to guess those passwords and gain access to your accounts.

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Apple Inc. Stories July 14, 2015

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By now we’ve heard multiple rumors and reports on Samsung’s next generation phablet. In today’s latest report from SamMobile, the publication claims that it knows when the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ will be unveiled and released to the public. Citing its “insiders”, the report states that the Galaxy Note 5 will be announced on August 12th and be available to buy shortly afterwards on August 21th.

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Apple Inc. Stories July 10, 2015

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The existing Galaxy Note 4

Samsung is planning to bring forward the launch of the Galaxy Note 5 from September to August, according to the WSJ. It’s believed the change in schedule is designed to get the device on sale ahead of Apple’s anticipated September launch of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, which is likely to dominate tech media coverage that month.

Samsung has always previously launched its Note models on the eve of the IFA conference, which takes place in Berlin in September. The WSJ cites only a single source for the claim, but it’s not the first time we’ve heard suggestions that the company may bring forward the launch this year …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories May 19, 2015

Google among those asking Obama to reject calls for government access to encrypted data

Google and Apple have co-signed a letter calling on President Obama to reject any government proposal to allow the government backdoor access to encrypted data on smartphones and other devices. The Washington Post says the letter, due to be delivered today, is signed by more than 140 tech companies, prominent technologists and civil society groups.

The signatories urge Obama to follow the group’s unanimous recommendation that the government should “fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards” and not “in any way subvert, undermine, weaken or make vulnerable” commercial software.

The FBI has been pushing increasingly hard to require tech companies to build in backdoor access to their encryption systems to allow access by law enforcement, even going so far as to say that Apple could be responsible for the death of a child. a NY District Attorney has also cited public safety as justification for demanding access to encrypted data.

The letter calling on Obama to reject this argument is also signed by five members of a presidential review group appointed by Obama in 2013 to assess technology policies in the wake of leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Many in the tech industry have pointed out that, aside from the obvious concerns over government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens, any backdoor used by the government could potentially be discovered and exploited by hackers and foreign governments.

Apple Inc. Stories May 18, 2015

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4

Samsung has in the past taken the cover off new additions to its Galaxy Note line of phablets the day before IFA Berlin, held in early September, but according to a new report out today the successor to the Galaxy Note 4 might be coming a bit sooner…

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Apple Inc. Stories May 7, 2015

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comScore today released a new U.S. smartphone manufacturer and platform market share report for the three month period ending in March. The data suggests that while the continued strength of iPhone 6 adoption has resulted in market share gains for Apple, Android is still the most popular smartphone platform in the United States.

During the measured period, comScore reports that 187.5 million people in the United States owned smartphones, which equates to 77 percent of the total population. Of that, Apple was the most popular OEM (original equipment manufacturer) with 42.6 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers (up 1% from December), followed by Samsung with 28.3 percent market share (down 1% from December), and LG taking third place with 8.4 percent (up 0.4% from December).

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Apple Inc. Stories March 30, 2015

Want to work for Google in the US? Here are the five main jobs for which foreigners are hired

If Google’s recent job listings for Google Glass has tempted you to consider a move to the US, data from the Office of Foreign Labor Certification may provide a guide to your chances. Applications for H-1B visas–those allowing overseas workers to accept job offers in the US–reveal that top tech companies like Google mostly sponsor the visas for five main roles, reports TechCrunch.

By examining the most common professions among H-1B applicants for Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, five consistent career paths emerged across each company. Software engineers, systems software engineers, financial analysts, computer systems analysts and marketing managers make up a large part of H-1B visa applications.

The salary data shows that the average salary paid to foreign workers employed in the USA by the five tech companies is highest at Facebook, at $135k, with Google second-placed at around $127k.

Apple Inc. Stories March 27, 2015

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Update: A class action suit has now been funded by a major US law firm, allowing any qualifying UK user to join the action at no cost. You can complete a qualifying questionnaire here.

A not-for-profit company, Google Action Group Ltd, has been set up to manage the case which is seeking to win between £400 and £4000 in compensation for each claimant who used a .  It has appointed Hausfeld, Europe’s leading claimant firm, to challenge Google on behalf of all those Apple users in England and Wales who used the Safari browser on Apple computers, iPod Touches, iPads, and iPhones during the infringing period of Summer 2011 to about 17th February 2012.
The Google Action Group is seeking more members of the public to sign up for the legal action.  The public can join the action for  free, because the costs will be met by a £2.5m pot of money being put up by a major US litigation funding firm.

UK Apple users have been given the go-ahead to sue Google for continuing to drop cookies on their devices even after they had refused permission through their Safari browser settings.

It was revealed in 2012 that Google bypassed the setting in Safari which instructed sites not to drop cookies, enabling it to deliver personalized ads. The FTC in the US fined the company $22.5M for the practice, with millions more in additional fines levied by 38 US states. There was no government action in the UK, but a group of British iPhone users took Google to court, seeking compensation for breaching their privacy.

Google had attempted to have the case dismissed, claiming that there was no case to answer as the plaintiffs had not suffered any financial harm, but the UK’s Court of Appeal has rejected this argument, allowing the case to proceed …

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Apple Inc. Stories March 19, 2015

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While Android Wear has not yet set the world alight, Google is not sitting idly by while Apple grabs all the media attention with its Apple Watch. The company has announced a deal with Tag Heuer and Intel to create a smartwatch version of one of the watchmaker’s best-selling models, the Carrera.

TAG Heuer, Google and Intel have announced a partnership to launch a Swiss smartwatch powered by Intel technology and Android Wear. The effort signifies a new era of collaboration between Swiss watchmakers and Silicon Valley, bringing together each company’s respective expertise in luxury watchmaking, software and hardware.

While the company did not go into details, Reuters reports that the watch “will be a digital replica of the original Tag Heuer black Carrera, known for its bulky, sporty allure, and will look like the original.”

Sincere or not, Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver says that he welcomes the launch of the Apple Watch …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories February 11, 2015

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Bloomberg is reporting that the Samsung Galaxy S6 will be released in two versions, one of them with a wraparound screen similar to the Note Edge but curving around both left and right sides of the display.

Samsung Electronics Co. plans to release two new versions of its top-tier Galaxy smartphone next month, including a model with a display covering three sides, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter […] The second model to be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Spain will only have a front-facing display.

Earlier claimed renders had also suggested a curved screen, though with some confusion about whether the wraparound would be on only one side, like the Edge, or both sides as now claimed by Bloomberg …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories January 30, 2015

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We noted 18 months ago that Android could be on track to ship a billion devices in 2014, tablets included, and Strategy Analytics has just revealed that the tablets weren’t needed: more than a billion Android smartphones were sold last year.

Android shipped 1.0 billion smartphones worldwide in 2014, rising from 0.8 billion units in 2013. Android has become the first ever smartphone operating system to ship more than 1 billion units in a single year. Android accounted for a huge 81 percent share of all smartphones shipped globally in 2014.

Putting the number at 1.0427B handsets, the research company said that emerging markets like China were key to the growth. The figures show that the Android smartphone market has doubled in size since 2012 …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories January 28, 2015

Google Play Store saw 60% more downloads than iOS App Store, though Apple made more money

Android apps from the Google Play Store were 60% higher than those from the iOS App Store, reports mobile analytics firm App Annie in its 2014 retrospective. Total Android downloads will be higher when other app stores are figured in.

Recent data from AppFigures also showed that the Play Store now has more apps and more developers than iOS. iOS apps did, though, make more money, the data showing that Apple’s app downloads generated around 70% more revenue.

App Annie’s data, which is generated by analytics from more than 700,000 apps, showed that just three countries generated more app revenue than the rest of the world combined–the USA, Japan and Korea–while the so-called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, China and India) were not surprisingly the fastest-growing regions.

Apple Inc. Stories January 27, 2015

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Chinese manufacturer Huawei has announced record-breaking results for 2014, with smartphone sales up 45% to 75 million and revenue up 30% to $12.2B. The numbers aren’t too great a surprise, as Reuters came pretty close to calling them in a piece posted on New Year’s Eve.

The dramatic growth in sales could see Huawei threatening the rankings of both LG and Xiaomi in the next round of market share estimates after recently being knocked down into fifth place …

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Google exec chairman Eric Schmidt says can easily name his hero: Steve Jobs

Asked at a tech conference to name his hero, Google exec chairman Eric Schmidt told interviewer Sal Khan (of Khan Academy) that the answer came immediately to mind.

For me, it’s easy: Steve Jobs […] When I look at what he achieved in terms of impact on society, we could all aspire to be a small percentage of Steve.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California’s Silicon Valley event , Schmidt said that while the competition between Google and Apple had not always made things easy, it worked out because they shared a mutual respect. Jobs was, he said, an exceptional person, and they are always worth spending time with “because there’s a good chance they’ll change the world.”

Schmidt served on Apple’s board from 2006 to 2009, at which point he resigned due to increasing competition between the two companies.

Apple Inc. Stories January 26, 2015

Rumored fingerprint reader in Nexus 6 was real until Apple killed it, reveals former Motorola CEO

The fingerprint reader widely rumored before the launch of the Nexus 6 was indeed part of the plan, confirmed former Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside. Speaking to the Telegraph, Woodside said that the dimple on the back of the handset was originally intended to be a fingerprint reader, but they were stymied by Apple’s purchase of biometrics company AuthenTec back in 2012.

Indeed, the 6-inch Nexus 6, he can now admit, was stymied by just one of those big players. A dimple on the back that helps users hold the device should, in fact, have been rather more sophisticated. “The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition, and Apple bought the best supplier. So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren’t there yet,” says Woodside.

It’s believed a fingerprint reader was included in internal prototypes, before it was abandoned. Woodside’s comments provide the explanation, Motorola originally intending to buy or license the sensor from AuthenTec. Motorola of course pioneered the smartphone fingerprint reader with the “Atrix” in 2012.

Apple Inc. Stories January 23, 2015

Google Play services ceasing in Crimea on 1st February, AdSense & AdWord blocks underway

Google has started to block AdSense and Adwords accounts in Crimea, and Google Play services will cease on 1st February, reports TechCrunch. The moves are being made in order to comply with sanctions on the Crimea region of the Ukraine imposed by the US Government.

Free services, like search, maps and gmail are all expected to remain unaffected, but all services involving payment to or from Google will cease, said Russian site Lenta.ru.

 “Google’s prohibited from providing paid services in the Crimea,” a source at Google told Lenta.ru. “In addition, Google cannot make payments to anyone in the Crimea. It is now technically impossible, as almost all international banks have ceased to make payments.”

The US joined the EU in imposing economic sanctions in protest at Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which legally remains part of the Ukraine. TechCrunch notes that the political conflict could escalate, with the possibility that Russian government may retaliate by blocking the sale of US imports into Russia–an important market for many US companies, including Google.

Apple terminated its own agreements with app developers in the region earlier this week, and has announced that all sales of Apple products and services will cease as of 1st February. Other companies are similarly ceasing business in the region, including both Steam and PayPal.

Apple Inc. Stories January 22, 2015

Google-London-Lede

Two of the biggest tech companies in the world–Google and Apple–couldn’t be more different in their philosophies. Apple has always believed in doing a very few things very well, famously saying no to a thousand things for every time it says yes. Google, in contrast, has tried to do– well, almost everything, including things well in the realms of science fiction.

Steve Jobs and Larry Page spoke about this difference shortly before Jobs died, with the Apple co-founder urging Page to “figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up.” Jobs expressed the view that, without focus, Google was in danger of turning into the next Microsoft, creating a large number of ok products but none of them with any wow factor …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories December 31, 2014

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Reuters has pre-empted Huawei’s financial results, due to be released next month, citing an internal memo showing a 40% year-on-year increase in smartphone sales, with divisional revenue up almost a third to $11.8B.

The division shipped about 75 million smartphones in 2014, according to the year-end memo to employees sent by Richard Yu, the head of Huawei’s consumer business. Although that represented a more than 40 percent year-on-year increase, the figure lagged behind Huawei’s previously stated sales target of 80 million units.

While the company started life making low-end handsets, it later branched out into high-end smartphones, including the recently-announced Honor 6 Plus, closely modelled on Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories December 16, 2014

Samsung is planning to launch its own mobile payment service next year, in competition to both Google Wallet and Apple Pay, reports Re/code. It suggests that the company is in talks with LoopPay, a startup which describes itself as “the most accepted mobile wallet on the planet.”

The technology would allow people with certain Samsung phones to pay in the vast majority of brick and mortar stores by waving their phones instead of swiping with a credit card or cash […]

The talks between Samsung and LoopPay come as the idea of paying for goods in stores using a phone was rekindled in the U.S. thanks to the launch of Apple Pay.

The plan would allow Samsung’s mobile payment service to work with all cards and all payment terminals right out of the box … expand full story

Google updates Wallet app for iOS, adds Touch ID login and bill-splitting function

Apple Pay may be grabbing all the mobile payment attention right now, but Google isn’t neglecting its iPhone-owning Google Wallet users. It’s just updated its iOS app to support Touch ID, add optimization for the iPhone 6/Plus and enable users to split bills between friends.

One thing it can’t yet do, however, is allow contactless payment on the iPhone. Apple is for now keeping access to the NFC chip on the phone all to itself, so Touch ID only logs you into the Google Wallet app.

Version 8.174.19 of Google Wallet also allows access to loyalty and gift cards while offline. The app is a free download from iTunes.

It was last month revealed that Google Wallet appears to be benefiting from the publicity generated by Apple for mobile payment solutions, the number of users doubling since Apple Pay was launched. The company also launched a ‘Buy with Google’ promotion offering discounts at 14 different retailers if you use their app and pay with Google Wallet.

Apple Inc. Stories December 2, 2014

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Google’s diminutive and cheap Chromecast is making strong headway against its competitors according to a report today by Parks Associates. Priced at $35 but now going for just over $20, the dongle, which is controlled by Apps on iOS and Android devices rather than a traditional remote has passed the almost forgotten Apple TV and is closing in on the king of streamers, the Roku.  Roku and AppleTV represented two thirds of the market last year but with entrants like Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV/Stick, the two dropped to around half the market.

The research finds Roku is still the leading brand with 29% of sales, but Google Chromecast (20%) has supplanted Apple TV (17%) in second place. New entrant Amazon Fire TV is in fourth place with 10%. Consumer content choices are also increasing, with Showtime and Sony planning to launch their own OTT video services to compete with Netflix and HBO.

“Nearly 50% of video content that U.S. consumers watch on a TV set is non-linear, up from 38% in 2010, and it is already the majority for people 18-44,” said Barbara Kraus, Director, Research, Parks Associates. “The market is changing rapidly to account for these new digital media habits. Roku now offers a streaming stick, and Amazon’s Fire TV streaming stick leaves Apple as the only top player without a stick product in the streaming media device category.”

Sticks are where it is at it would seem. Conversely, Google’s Nexus Player, introduced in October, has yet to make a blip but it might also show up in results next year.

Apple Inc. Stories November 27, 2014

From 9to5Toys.com where we are rounding up all the best Black Friday deals we have two huge headliners on the almost never discounted Nest product line (that Google picked up along with iPod-father Tony Fadell earlier this year):

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The Nest Learning Thermostat (2nd generation) for $199 shipped. That’s $50 below list and the best price we’ve ever seen.

You can find it at Amazon, Best Buy, Lowes and Abt for $199 for a limited time.

  • The Nest Learning Thermostat remembers what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you’re away and can be controlled from your smartphone, tablet or laptop
  • Auto-Schedule creates a personalized schedule for your home by remembering when you adjust the temperature
  • Auto-Away automatically turns Nest thermostat down when there’s nobody home so you don’t waste energy heating or cooling an empty house
  • Remote control Nest thermostat over Wi-Fi from your smartphone, tablet or laptop
  • Energy History shows you how much energy you’ve used and what affects your energy use most

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The Dropcam Wireless HD Video Monitoring Camera can be found for $99.99 with free shipping. That’s $50 below list and the lowest price we have ever seen on this cloud-based camera/recording system.

Available for $$99 ($50 off) at Amazon and Best Buy.

With a 107° degree field of view and 4x zoom, Dropcam keeps you connected with people, places and pets in sharp 720p HD video.

  • 60 Second Setup – Use your computer to find your Wi-Fi network, live stream in under a minute.
  • High Quality Video – Get into the details with 720p high-definition video.
  • Fast and easy setup – online and securely streaming 720p HD video in 60 seconds.
  • Field of View – 107 degrees diagonal, plus Night Vision and Zoom, means you don’t miss a thing.
  • Cloud Video Recording (CVR) – Review footage and make clips with optional secure offsite recording.
  • Stay connected with Two-Way Talk, Intelligent Alerts, Scheduling and Mobile & Web apps.

Head over to 9to5Toys for the Best Black Friday deals on the web. A little more background on Nest: expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories November 20, 2014

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Google, according to a report out of Reuters, has agreed to settle all of its patent litigation with the Rockstar consortium, which consists of a variety of tech companies including Apple, Sony, BlackBerry and Microsoft. The Rockstar consortium paid $4.5 billion for Nortel Network Corporation’s huge patent portfolio in 2011, outbidding Google at the time. The Rockstar consortium originally sued Google and a handful of Android manufacturers in October of 2013, claiming that the companies infringed on seven Nortel patents.

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Apple Inc. Stories November 13, 2014

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Samsung has announced Flow, providing seamless transfer of content, work in progress and phone calls between different Samsung devices.

People today use multiple devices in their daily activities: phones, tablets, laptops, smart watches, TVs, and more. But the way we work is still device-centric. We still use one application, within one device, with data that is tied to that application and device.

Samsung Flow is a platform that enables developers to create seamless transitions across devices, so that people can change devices in the midst of an activity and continue right from where they left off.

Flow is compatible with anything that works with Android’s Share feature: if content can be shared with other apps, Flow can be used to to hand it off to other devices …  expand full story

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Samsung has announced its own location-based alerts system, designed to allow businesses to send alerts to your smartphone. These highly-localized messages could range from offers on products in the section of the store you are in, to directions to your seat in a stadium or theater.

Called Proximity, the service is based on Bluetooth LE beacons and will work in a similar fashion to Apple’s iBeacon service already in use in stores like Macy’s, American EagleThe Bay, Lord & Taylor and Walmart – along with such diverse locations as MLB stadiums and airports …  expand full story

Apple Inc. Stories November 12, 2014

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Xiaomi, the Chinese Android manufacturer which heavily bases its product designs and marketing on Apple products, is to invest $1B in the Chinese YouTube equivalent, Youku.

Xiaomi has long been aware of the importance of an integrated hardware-and-services offering, initially selling its smartphones at cost-price in order to build market share, relying on its app store to generate profits. A tie-in with a video service makes similar sense – smartphones and tablets providing an audience for video content, and video content driving demand for devices on which to view it – but the move is likely to be primarily driven by Xiaomi’s move into the smart TV market …   expand full story

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