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Showing posts from August, 2016

How Microsoft Missed Its Chance To Disrupt Smartphones

Windows Mobile handset sales have crashed through the floor in the last twelve months, after half a decade of slow but steady growth. Whilst the platform might live on, realistically any hope of turn the current two vendor smartphone market into a three-way battle disappeared when Satya Nadella took over the reins.There was only an outside chance of it happening anyway.The problems that platform faces today – dropping sales, lack of vendor engagement, limited third party hardware support and massive disinterest from the rest of Microsoft – don’t just stem from Nadella’s decision to make smartphones a low priority item. They are the result of five years of missed opportunities.Today the smartphone market has reached a plateau. iOS and Android are mature and match each other feature for feature. There are reasons why an individual might choose an Android over an iPhone or vice versa, but in the main both platforms do everything you might want from your smartphone. As a result a third en…

Microsoft's Next Big Acquisition Should Be Spotify

Microsoft has been throwing cash around recently, Nokia, LinkedIn, Minecraft... it's a diverse set of purchases and that's not anything close to an exhaustive list. There's one more purchase it needs to make and that's Spotify.
Microsoft hasn't managed to get significant traction with its Groove Music service - despite the widest platform compatibility list in the game. It needs Spotify's subscribers to boost its position in a market where, excepting only Apple, it has the biggest upsell capability.
With Office 365, Xbox Live and OneDrive subscribers Microsoft has a large cohort of customers already tied into a subscription model. Bundling in a music service makes absolute sense and I believe that's exactly what Amazon is seeking to do with Prime, once it negotiates contracts with rights holders.
So Microsoft has a great reason to buy but why would Spotify sell?
Simply put, Spotify is in a no-win position, despite the success its having in adding subscribe…

Apple Gets Hit With Back Taxes, But Where’s The Punishment For Irish Government Collusion?

So the EU has given its verdict on Ireland’s tax breaks for Apple and they are damning. Effectively significant amounts of state aid given to Apple in order to bring a limited number of jobs to Ireland and in the process allow Apple to dodge its tax liabilities across the whole EMEA region.Despite Tim Cook’s protestations it is clear that Apple knew what it was doing here, taking advantage of a weak (and apparently desperate) Irish Government in order to pocket billions of Euros in unpaid tax liabilities. That it has been told to repay the missing taxes should not be a surprise. That it will appeal shouldn’t be either. Let’s hope the EU stands up for the people and endorses this decision.The US has been making threatening noises about this judgement going against Apple. It needs to sit down and shut up. These are taxes that were mainly due in Europe and should be paid in Europe. If the US hasn’t worked out how it can tax Apple for its offshore holdings then it should be supportive of …

Spigen Leaks iPhone 7 Images – Might Not Get Early Access In Future

Well there’s the answer to all your questions about the iPhone 7. No headphone jack, dual camera setup and what looks suspiciously like a physical home button.Steve Jobs would be trashing an office somewhere (probably at Spigen actually) if this had happened back in the day.I’m guessing next time around Spigen might have to wait until the actual phone launch before it gets its hands on devices to allow it to create cases.In the meantime the iPhone 7 looks just as underwhelming as the two iPhones that preceded it. Let’s hope the internals (and especially that camera) hold up to greater scrutiny.

Windows 10 Mobile Strength Through Third-Parties Plan Takes A Blow

One of the reasons for Microsoft’s extraction from the phone hardware business was that it didn’t need to be competing with OEM partners who were trying to sell phones into the same markets. The plan apparently being to end Lumia’s greater than 90% domination of the Windows Phone market and allow others to flourish in its absence.Others like BLU for example, who sold a range of consumer facing Windows Phone handsets.Sold being the operative word. The company refreshed its website this week and of its Microsoft powered phones there is no mention. Safe to say that’s because the company has abandoned the market in favour of Android.How can this be? Surely Satya Nadella’s plan to open the market for partners was fool proof? Not really. The impact of Microsoft’s equivocation on the future of its Windows Mobile handsets has been read by the market as a damning prophecy of the lack of future for the platform. Customers have disappeared – sales were down 75% year on year when the last quarter…

How Long Until Apple Drops A Fitness Band?

With Apple Watch 2 likely to arrive with the iPhone 7 next week, is it time to start thinking about the way that Apple has approached the wearable market and how it might improve its poor sales in this area?
The Apple Watch is rumoured to have sold between ten and twenty million units. Against annual iPhone sales around two hundred million that's a pretty poor record for an add-on. Especially when you consider the half a billion current iPhone owners who are part of the rtarget market for the Watch.
I think the reason that the Watch has sold so poorly is that it is a watch. Just not a very good one. Battery life is too short and the use cases that Apple has targeted too niche and not well served by the product on the table.
What Apple needs is a fitness band. These things outsell the Apple Watch comfortably. Both Samsung and Microsoft have produced capable and reasonably discreet fitness bands that can be worn with a normal watch, in the same way a Fitbit or Jawbone can be worn.

Invite Confirms iPhone 7 Name, Focus On... Focus

The iPhone 7 will get its unveil in just over a week, possibly joined by the new Apple Watch with Apple's invitations hinting at the new feature that will be grabbing all the headlines when it arrives.
The dual camera setup, expected to arrive on the bigger 5.5" model(s) is hinted at by the bokeh effect lighting that forms the Apple logo on the invite. This won't be the first time that a dual camera setup has been used to try and simulate the depth of field effects that fast lenses achieve on real cameras. Will Apple's version be more capable than HTC or Huawei's?
No doubt Apple will demonstrate that it is - and the company does have a remarkable track record of delivering top quality image capture and processing software on iPhones, something that suggests that it will make the configuration work much better than previous implementations.
The Apple Watch will also get its share of the limelight next week according to the rumours, with GPS likely to feature in th…

An Apple Snapchat Service Could Mean Curtains For… Snapchat

If Apple’s hardware business is on its way down, its services business is definitely on the way up, led by Apple Music, but with other services in tow. Now it’s being suggested that Apple is planning a photo sharing service in a similar vein to Snapchat, with a mix of Instagram’s photo feed.That’s bad news for both services – more so for Snapchat, which is already playing in a busy marketplace and can ill afford the competition that an Apple entry will inevitably bring.Instagram has the backing of Facebook and could probably weather the storm, but its social features, tied to users Facebook accounts seem like a much more difficult service for Apple to build. On the other hand taking users from Snapchat would be trivial, given that its whole service is little more than an add-on to iMessage or Facetime.I imagine there will be a nervous few months ahead as Snapchat awaits Apple’s entry into its market. Almost inevitably to be followed by a (yet another) new messaging service from Google…

Putting Diesel Scandal Behind It, VW Aims To Revolutionise Electric Cars

With several billions of dollars of fines and compensation hanging over it, Volkswagen has revealed its plans for putting Diesel-gate behind it. Inevitably that involves truly emission free vehicles and electric versions of its current range feature heavily.However VW wants to go a step further by building an electric car that condemns combustion engines to history. A Passat-sized vehicle with 300 mile range and a recharge time of just 15 minutes.By dealing with both range anxiety and recharge delays in one fell swoop VW really would be creating a world changing vehicle. If it delivers this new car at the same price as an oil burning equivalent as it promised in an interview with Autocar it surely means the end of the internal combustion engine.If it comes to fruition then we should see this revolutionary new VW in 2018.

Spotify Hitting Back Against ‘Unfriendly’ Artists

Artists who sign exclusive deals which cut Spotify out of their new music are finding that they are the target of retaliation from the company in the form of buried search results and being denied a place on featured playlists according to this report on Bloomberg.It’s inevitable that there are going to be these sorts of manoeuvres when artists are trying to get the best return on their work, whilst services are trying to get access to the best music for their subscribers.The rights and wrongs of exclusive deals and Spotify’s response to them really depend on which side of the fence you sit on. Given Spotify’s massive subscriber base, artists need to weigh the value of the exclusivity payment from Apple or Tidal against the long term impact of Spotify’s retaliations.As a subscriber there’s inevitably going to be some fallout, as long as you don’t have a desperate need to have music the day it’s released it shouldn’t impact your choice of service.For Spotify though it’s soon going to b…

Why I Bought A Lumia 950 Instead Of A Nexus 6P This Week

I think I can say without too much fear of contradiction that whatever happens to Window 10 Mobile in the future there's unlikely to ever be another Lumia device released to the market. Whether that's because Microsoft is ceding the smartphone space to its OEM partners or has just decided to go all in on the rumoured Surface Phone.
So it may sound crazy that I bought a new Lumia 950 this week. Doubly so when you learn that I had the option to get a 64GB Nexus 6P for the same price.
For the moment the Nexus 6P is the king of the Android world. The most powerful Nexus device and guaranteed to get timely updates. In fact the Android 7.0 release is available to download already. There seems no logical reason to get the Nexus over the Lumia, but it turns out there are many.
The Nexus has an okay camera, but the Lumia’s is arguably the best you can get on a phone right now. Not a clear, outright, no competitor comes close winner like previous Lumias, but at the front of the pack no…

Time To Update Your iPhone

Apple released iOS 9.3.5 today, apparently in response to reports that the platform’s security had been compromised by a number of zero day vulnerabilities. An agency called the NSO – a supplier to governments apparently – has managed to daisy chain these vulnerabilities to create a relatively sophisticated attack vector able to take ownership of your iPhone and capture all communications undertaken on the device.As the root of this attack was an SMS carrying a weblink to a site which utilised the weakness to install the covert surveillance app the lesson here is simple. Text messages from unknown contacts should always be treated as suspicious and links of dubious origin never clicked.Stick to that advice and you’ll remove most of the risk of having your iPhone hacked.

Apple iPhone 6 Devices Have Touch Controller Problems

It appears that a poor design decision, compounded by the iPhone 6 'Bendgate' weakness, is leaving large numbers of Apple iPhone owners with a hefty repair bill. As iFixit's video above details, the problem is one which is becoming more of an issue as these devices get older.

The fault appears to have two direct causes and both relate to design decisions in the iPhone's manufacturing and quality control areas. It seems likely that Apple realised its mistake as both were rectified in the iPhone 6S range.

The touchscreen controller on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is attached to the logic board using balls of solder, which breakdown over time. Torque applied to the main board (as a result of the weakness in the iPhones metal case) accelerates this degradation.

The net result is an iPhone with a faulty touchscreen. And an iPhone owner with an expensive repair bill as the problem can't be cured with a replacement screen and the whole logic board needs to be replaced. There'…

Microsoft Garage Releases 'Cache' - But Really Kills UWP Myth In The Process

Remember OneClip, the Microsoft Garage project that created a cross-device scrap book that linked your PC and smartphone together? It died before it ever reached a customer's device.Now there's a new and not entirely unrelated app from the same team that does more or less the same thing - but only between a PC and an iPhone. Now the fact that it doesn't work with Windows 10 Mobile is immaterial here: Edge already allows this cross device sharing through its Reading List component. Instead we have the disappointment of Microsoft once again failing to follow through on one of the strategies it's pushing at developers. In this case the development of Universal AppsIt seems to me that if the development of a Universal App is so little additional effort over the creation of a PC app that the Garage team should have built one whether it added any value or not. Firstly because it sends a message to developers, secondly as a fillip to existing Windows Mobile customers and fina…

FIFA Mobile Coming To Windows 10 Mobile

EA is currently running up the hype machines for the launch of FIFA 17 on consoles, however in amongst the talk of new features and game modes was the news that FIFA Mobile is also incoming.The new game, with some new modes specifically crafted for game play on the move, is expected to arrive in the Autumn. More importantly, that’s in the Autumn for iOS, Android and Windows 10!A concurrent release for such a high profile title would be a great fillip for loyal Windows users.Whether this marks a new phase in EA’s engagement with Microsoft’s mobile platform remains to be seen. Let’s see whether EA follows through on this announcement and how good the product turns out to be.

How Will Software Upgrade Availability Affect Your Next Smartphone Purchase?

Android Nougat arrived yesterday, the latest version of the best selling smartphone platform arriving at a time when its predecessor has only achieved a 15% adoption amongst Android owners.
With the news of the software's release came a slew of reports from manufacturers telling us which of their phones will get upgraded and which are being cut free from the mothership to die in the cold lonely depths of space.
These lists should be required reading for anybody thinking of buying a new phone any time soon.
This post was prompted by Sony's announcement that it will only be upgrading the new Xperia X models and the Z3+ and Z5. So the two year old flagship Z3 and the one year old mid-range M5 aren't worth investing in for Sony. Other OEMs have made similar announcements or are keeping quiet, but their past record on updates speaks volumes.
Can you imagine the uproar if Apple announced that neither the iPhone 6 nor iPhone SE would be getting iOS updates in the future? It woul…

Microsoft Deals With Another Android OEM

Microsoft and Lenovo have announced a patent cross licensing deal which completes another phase of Microsoft's planned takeover of Android services. As a result Microsoft apps and services will be preloaded onto Lenovo and Motorola Android smartphones.
This was once an income stream for Microsoft, at one stage reporting over $1bn in annual income from licensing agreements with Android OEMs. 
However, at this point I suspect that it's no longer about the money for Microsoft and the company is willing to forego patent transgressions in exchange for an open-ended agreement to pre-install Office and OneDrive to infringing company's devices.

Does Your Samsung Lose Its Performance As It Ages?

A post on XDA Developers website claims that the Galaxy Note 7, like other Samsung products, suffers from significant and measurable performance degradation as it ages and calls into question the rationale behind Samsung’s TouchWiz Android overlay.I can’t speak for others, but I can say that having owned several Samsung devices over the last five years, that I have never come across this phenomenon. Yes, earlier versions of TouchWiz had a bigger impact on system performance than current versions, but over the life of the devices I owned I never once felt that they performed worse than when they were new.That doesn’t mean that the post on XDA isn’t valid. It appears that those responsible have taken some time to measure performance using tools that can identify dropped frames in animations, amongst other abstract claims – app opening times being one.This is a perfect demonstration of the utter pointlessness of using benchmarks to try to simulate real world performance. Will any Samsung…

Where To For Windows 10 Mobile Users Now?

As part of the sell off of the various manufacturing, design and sales operations that used to form Nokia's phone division it appears Microsoft has ended the manufacture of smartphones. The Lumias that sit on retailers shelves and in warehouses are all that remains of the company's smartphone ambitions.
An when they're gone, they're really gone.
Microsoft's strategy to have third-parties fill in the gap hasn't been wildly successful. Between the expensive HP Elite X3 and the handful of entry-level devices there's very little choice.
For the moment that means a discounted Lumia 950, or a Lumia 650 if you can live without iris scanning and Continuum; (chances are good that you can) are the only options for Windows Phone users looking to upgrade.

What becomes apparent is that customers aren't upgrading. Under two million Windows devices reached customers last quarter - a 75% fall from the previous year.

Microsoft has made it very easy to switch to other p…

Dual SIM Smartphones Have Some Catching Up To Do

Dual SIM smartphones are very popular in many parts of the world - although I don't recall ever seeing one whilst still in Europe. Perhaps the European market is sufficiently competitive to render them unnecessary.
In other places though, being able to separate voice and mobile data contracts on separate SIM cards in the same phone is an absolute must-have.
And it's here that OEMs are letting customers down. In many of those same parts of the world the late arrival of mobile networks (or the early rationalization of broadcast spectrum) has meant that 3G is the minimum network connectivity available on some networks.
Dual SIM phones fail, with support for only one 3G connection at a time. If your second network doesn't support GSM anymore you aren't able to use it even just as a voice connection.
To my knowledge the only smartphone that might be able to use two 3G connections at once is the Xiaomi Mi 5. Although given its lack of availability in NZ I've been unable…

Why Is Apple Putting The Squeeze On Suppliers?

According to Digitimes Apple has been looking to give its suppliers a 20% haircut on component pricing, presumably in order to try and boost profit margins and retain overall profitability as it brings the iPhone 7 to market. The recent falls in Apple's smartphone sales have impacted its bottom line in recent financial reports.
By reducing costs in the supply chain Apple can obviously earn bigger profits per unit sold, offsetting the impact of lower sales. It's a solid plan in all but one area: it relies on suppliers having the ability to either reduce margins or improve efficiency sufficiently that they can meet Apple's demands.
The interesting sub-text here is that Apple is looking for ways to mitigate further falls in iPhone sales which would mean it sees a lukewarm reception for the iPhone 7. Based on the leaks we've seen thus far it wouldn't be an entirely surprising outcome.
So if Apple expects the iPhone 7 to be disappointing, is it already working on a re…

Amazon Returns To Windows 10 Mobile

Amazon’s app wasn’t missing from the Windows Mobile Store for very long. Having shuttered the older Windows Phone app earlier in the week, a new Universal app for desktop and mobile arrived today, restoring the retailers presence on Windows 10 Mobile.

The app is effectively a wrapper around the Amazon website and its okay for that. The best feature of the older Windows Phone app has gone missing as you can no longer pin a barcode scanner to your Start menu and use it to quickly get an Amazon price for products in the real world.

Part of me feels like the app was quickly hashed up in response to the unexpected backlash against the announcement of the death of the earlier app. I mean how long could it take to put together a UWP from a website?

However the optimist in me hopes that this is just a starting point and at least the barcode scanner functionality might return in the future.

With Updates To Edge Microsoft Finally Has A Class-Leading Browser

Internet Explorer managed to earn itself a bad name over the years, its de facto status as the Internet's primary browser made it a target for every kind of attack. Its soft underbelly and bad decisions by Microsoft compounded that by exposing users with limited technical knowledge (i.e. exactly the sort of users who would stick with IE) to the worst excesses of the web.
Even as later versions improved and fixed many of those issues, IE's popularity continued to decline and as Google and Mozilla continued to make strides forward in compatibility and functionality IE got left behind.
Microsoft's fix was to abandon work on IE and launch a new, lightweight, smarter and more compatible browser with Windows 10. It was a step in the right direction, but lacked enough functionality to prevent it being the first choice browser for the platform.
The changes implemented in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update have closed that gap and Edge is now capable of being the only browser you&#…

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Is The Best Phone You Can Buy – So How Does Apple Respond?

I’m not going to go into a long and lengthy review of the Note 7… everyone is talking about it at the moment and there are plenty of place where you can get that sort of detail. However I will tell you that right now, today, as things stand, the Galaxy Note 7 is the best phone you can buy. Unequivocally. It outdoes the competition in every way. If money is no object and you absolutely have to have the best then this is the phone for you. It’s eye wateringly expensive (for an Android phone anyway) but that is just a sign that Samsung no longer has to play second fiddle to Apple, no longer has to use pricing to justify the purchase of a Galaxy over an iPhone. And that’s true right across the range.Normally at this point I would point out that the new iPhone is just a few weeks away and that the Note’s stay at the top of the tree is likely to be short. This year I don’t think that will be true. Unless Apple has managed to conceal something amazing from all the leakers it seems likely tha…

Hey IFTTT, Your Skype Bot Is On Backwards

Actually I’m not sure this shouldn’t be aimed at Microsoft rather than IFTTT, but between them the two have managed to fumble a great opportunity to put together a truly magnificent demonstration of the power of Skype, Bots and automation.Currently IFTTT supports no triggers from the Skype or Skype IFTTT Bot service. Surely that’s missing the whole point of the service.Skype Bots are great, and there are some real pearls in the currently available beta group. IFTTT could have been the one sitting at the top of the tree. If only you could trigger actions from the Skype Bot instead of just being a passive recipient of actions from other services.Still, the service is still in Beta, so there’s ample opportunity for IFTTT and / or Microsoft to rectify that mistake.

Microsoft Takes Potshots At The iPad Pro In New Ad

For a while now Microsoft's main thrust for advertising its Windows PC products has been aimed at the iPad. The Surface and Surface Pro (as well as some third-party Windows laptops) based ads have generally followed the same format, a conversation between Siri and Cortana that goes badly for Apple's girl.
This latest version of the theme takes aim at the iPad Pro, and whilst it makes some valid points I'm not sure that the ads do anything to persuade the casual buyer that the Surface Pro 4 is a computer and the iPad Pro isn't.
The presentation and scripting of the ad is weak, but more importantly Microsoft are trying to get across a message in counterpoint to Apple's own 'the iPad Pro is a computer' message. That's a problem because Apple got there first with its message and Microsoft has a large credibility gap with large swathes of the consumer market, especially when it's arguing against Apple..
More time demonstrating the Surface Pro's capa…

Apple Looking To Revamp iPad Line-up?

If rumours are to be believed Apple is on the point of releasing a new iPad size, with a 10.5” screen joining the current 8”, 9.7” and 12.9” line-up. Why would Apple need a line-up that covers such a small market sector with so many different models? I mean there are already over eighty different SKUs for the iPad.Its a long way away from the one size fits all of the iPad’s heyday. Its not so very long ago that Apple fans mocked Samsung for the wide variety of tablets that it had on offer. However as Samsung has slowly wound down its tablet business, Apple has been doing everything possible to broaden its own. That’s likely a function of the iPad’s very high profit margin, which means that Apple can (and needs to) chase every sale it can, even in a market that is slowly collapsing.However it seems highly unlikely that Apple will retain the same iPad line-up over four screen sizes. With the smaller iPad Pro only arriving a few months ago it isn’t due for replacement until next year at …

Microsoft Might Finally Be Working Out This Marketing Thing

NFL is probably the biggest sport there is in the US, and Microsoft's partnership with the league to provide the teams with Surface Pro tablets to bring the management of tactics and playbooks up to date could have been a work of marketing genius.
Only this being Microsoft it completely failed to capitalise on the deal it had struck. Even the official TV commentators spent most of last season referring to the devices as iPads.
It looks like someone at Microsoft finally sat down and started to think about how it could leverage the deal to create some sales - generally the whole purpose of marketing  at companies other than Microsoft - and as a result we now have this range of branded NFL team Surface Type Covers.
Each team in the NFL has their own and at $160 it isn't an expensive way to pimp out your Surface Pro to show your allegiance.
As a counterpoint, can you imagine the marketing mileage that Apple would have got out of this deal? Microsoft still has a long way to go bef…

Edge Browser Tab Casting Makes Miracast Work Properly

Windows 10 Anniversary Update brought plenty of additional functionality to the Edge browser, not least the ability to cast media from tabs to Miracast or DLNA receivers. Miracast has been something of a disappointment up until now, with plenty of lag making screen projection a very hit and miss (mostly miss) affair.Now with Edge tab casting Miracast actually works and works well. Media is cast to your connected screen and you can continue to use your laptop for other purposes. All the benefits of a Chromecast without any of the performance issues.Functionality isn’t limited to Edge either, the Films & TV app also has support for media casting, and presumably third party software will be able to take advantage of this feature too. Its a little disappointing that the ability to cast didn’t make it into the Photos app, although that could potentially arrive with a future update. That oddity aside, its a handy piece of functionality that promises to get plenty of use.

Windows Phone Users Find Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Microsoft handset sales are in the gutter, despite buy one get one free offers and steep discounts, nobody seems keen to invest in a new Lumia whilst the platform's future remains in question.
However Windows usage numbers are holding up well in the mobile space, with its share of the market declining slowly if at all.
Whilst Android and iPhone owners are upgrading their phones, Windows users seem to be keeping hold of theirs.
For good reason too, because despite their broader application catalogues there are too many Windows Phone features the other platforms can't replicate and are difficult for users to say goodbye to.
One example is text messaging. On Windows you'll have to make no effort to have them read it too you when you're connected to Bluetooth. You can then reply to the message without ever touching your phone. The reply feature is intelligent enough to support editing and changes to parts of your message. It's a feature that just works, and works well…

When Internet Celebs Fight

Om Malik, John Gruber. Two names that helped define blogging. Allegedly friends. Currently involved in a blog-based war of words across their respective mouthpieces relating to a recent iCloud outage. In question: should Eddy Cue have been at a sports game when iCloud was suffering what turned out to be a six hour outage?In the red corner Malik, suitably enraged on be half of Apple customers afflicted by the downtime and forced to endure the spectacle of the man responsible for the service enjoying his spare time whilst their iPads refused to sync. In the grey corner Gruber, a man so far up Apple's backside he could clean their metaphorical teeth for them. Naturally he's running defense.It's a pointless argument but still useful to see how even internet bigwigs lose their priorities and ability to just let something go.Why is it a pointless argument you ask? Because iCloud is such a steaming pile of smelly brown stuff that if Eddy Cue were to cancel his private plans every…

Windows Mobile Apps Still Disappearing

The struggle to maintain Windows Mobile handset sales in the face of apparently limited internal support for the platform continues to cause casualties in the Windows Store catalogue.
Over the course of the weekend we've learn of another two high profile losses, driven by poor adoption rates, themselves a function of the drop in handset sales. MyFitnessPal was the first to announce that it would be shuttering its Windows Phone app, or rather it failed to announce the closure, killing its app and then responding to customers with the information that the app had been cut only after they reported being unable to log in.
A lack of demand and technical difficulties were given as the reasons for the closure and customers were directed to the mobile website as an alternative.
It was a similar story for Amtrak passengers, although they at least got some notice of the closure - some being a leaked internal memo detailing the closure today and directing customers to the mobile website.…

HP X3 Ad Shows 10 Windows Mobile And Workspace At Their Best For Business

HP's Elite X3 Windows 10 Mobile is just a few weeks away from reaching customers and the company has now started to release more marketing material for the device. This ad is clearly focused on enterprise customers and demonstrates some of the key selling points for the X3 over and iOS or Android device.
The appearance of HP's Workspace tool means we get to see some more of the app virtualisation subscription that enterprise's will be able to leverage to push Win32 apps into the mobile space, including a side by side snapped view for desktop apps.
The voice over isn't particularly well scripted and comes across as quite cheesy, so things aren't entirely rosy.
In the end the Elite X3 will live or die but its appeal to enterprise customers, but I'm still struggling to see the sort of demand that would lift Windows Mobile out of the doldrums.

HP Workspace May Deliver On The Promise Of Windows 10 Mobile Continuum

Windows 10 Mobile’s biggest feature is the ability to plug into a keyboard, mouse and screen and work like you’re on a PC. For a small subset of applications anyway. The problem is that Continuum support needs to be baked into an app for it to work and for most applications that’s just never going to happen. Either because they will never make the transition from Win32 to Windows Store apps, they won’t be published as UWP or there won’t be enough demand for them to be updated to Continuum support.With the HP Elite x3 promising to deliver a whole new user experience to enterprise customers you’d think this might be seen as an enormous drawback. Well it would be, apart from a new cloud product that will be available to enterprise customers who choose to take advantage of the X3’s abilities.Leveraging app virtualisation (Azure or Citrix apparently) enterprises will be able to give X3 users access to Win32 business applications whilst they are in Continuum mode.Suddenly HP’s decision to a…

No Lock Is Secure, But Some Are More Insecure Than Others - Part One

The rapid explosion of IoT devices has already come in from much criticism from security experts, with some manufacturers taking a pretty lax approach to security. Something that should be of great concern to you as a consumer. Having your PC locked with ransomware is annoying and potentially frustrating.
But how about being locked out of your house?
Apparently the proliferation of Bluetooth enabled door locks has made this a possibility. Security researcher Anthony Rose told DefCon the findings of his research into the subject yesterday and the news isn't good.
Of sixteen locks that he tried twelve were trivial to bypass - four sent its pass key in clear text and one of those sent the admin key too, potentially allowing a third-party to disable your own key.
No lock is completely secure and if somebody intends to gain access to your property chances are they will find a way however good your security. Bluetooth locks trade convenience for security. It looks like too many manufac…

Does Apple Even Need The Mac Any More?

What's most interesting about the leaks suggesting a new MacBook Pro is imminent is their proximity to the criticism of Apple's PC line as being old and outdated.
Apple has had two product lines that haven't really shown significant growth over the last four or five years: iPads and Macs. Whilst the iPad grew significantly over the first two or three years of its life it has suffered as a result of a shrinking tablet market and growing competition from Android and Windows devices.
The Mac has managed to buck the trend of PC market shrinkage for most of the last three years. However in recent quarters we've seen those sales numbers start to fall faster than the market in general.
Both are relatively unimportant to Apple's bottom line, where the iPhone is king.
For the iPad, that's a benefit, it shares an OS and has helped to grow the iOS market to around one billion devices. Apple's costs to keep the iPad competitive are incidental, given that the driver b…

Time For Laptops To Standardise Chargers

Many years ago the EU mandated a standard for smartphone chargers, micro USB. As a result the vast majority of smartphones in use today share a common charging port. So if you're ever short of a charge there's a good chance that someone around you will have a charger you can use to give your battery a boost.
The exception is of course Apple, which achieved compliance by adding a micro USB adapter option for Lightning cables as an accessory item.
For laptops things have been rather different. A variety of use cases, designs and power requirements has meant a whole host of different connector types, even for laptops from the same manufacturer.
The arrival of new machines with USB-C type connectors offers an opportunity for laptop users to reap the same benefits - if the standard proves robust enough and manufacturers get on-board.
Currently a smattering of machines are already using USB-C, although these are mostly lightweight machines running Intel's Core-M processors. How…

Apple To Flesh Out iPhone Launch with New MacBook Pro?

With the launch of the next iPhone just a few weeks away attention is turning to a potential refresh of the MacBook Pro. More than one source is confirming rumours of a new touch panel, fingerprint sensor and (no surprise here) an even thinner build, perhaps made possible by a switch to USAC for changing and connectivity.The only point of contention is the date that the new machine will launch. The suggestion being that the new iPhone is going to be so underwhelming it will need something else to bolster its launch keynote.I'm sceptical.It's unlikely that Apple would want to draw attention away from its number one product, even more so given the state of the smartphone market and the iPhone's recent sales trend. Similarly it is unlikely to want to bury the new MacBook Pro under the weight of new iPhone coverage. Finally the concept of Apple admitting that even the smallest upgrade to the iPhone was anything less than magnificent is completely ridiculous.No, expect any new …

Samsung Focuses On Battery Life In New Ad

Samsung has clearly identified battery life as one of the differentiating factors which will allow it to see off the challenge of competitors with their cut price 'flagships'.
This add features Danny Glover in the least suspenseful action movie bomb defusal ever, thankfully the battery life of his S7 Edge prevents him getting bored whilst waiting for the timer to get down to something more exciting.
The ad itself is pretty clever (unlike the Christopher Waltz Note 7 one) but is perhaps most interesting when compared to the Wallhuggers ads it aired in the past. That was focused directly at Apple. This ad demonstrates that Samsung sees other Android OEMs as a bigger threat than Apple.

Google Confirms Quadrooter Vulnerability Addressed In Play Store

The Qualcomm specific vulnerability which exposes Android owners to potential data and security losses through privilege escalation may not affect as many devices as first thought.Google has confirmed that its Verify Apps tool, switched on by default in all Jelly Bean and later devices running Google Play Services of Android, will prevent apps leveraging the vulnerability from installing.That means more than 90% of Android phones running Google’s services are protected. Of course those phones running some variant of AOSP aren’t. Given that many of these phones run non-Qualcomm processors that’s still a significant reduction from the original number.Google’s Verify Apps feature is available on older versions of Android, it just isn’t the default option. Leaving just a small subset of non-Google and older Google Android phones at risk from Quadrooter.So whilst the problems of keeping a larger percentage of Android devices up to date are real, at least for Quadrooter, they aren’t adding …

OnePlus Buries Samsung In Fast Charge - Off

Samsung's adaptive fast charging has been a winner since it launched with the Galaxy S6, delivering incredibly useful rapid replenishment of a depleted devices battery. Samsung promises that it will all you to juice up your phone to 50% within half an hour of plugging it in.
OnePlus has its own version of fast charging technology, dubbed Dash Charge, and its pretty proud of what it has been able to achieve with the new OnePlus 3, its so-called flagship killer.
So much so in fact, that it has this demonstration that shows that in the same half-hour that the Galaxy S7 on test here reaches 50% charge the OnePlus 3 hits 64%. An appreciable difference on two devices with identically sized batteries.
But it really gets interesting when OnePlus demonstrates what comes next. Screen on charging is a walkover for the OnePlus 3...

Skully Story Gets A Little More Embarrassing For Crowd-funding Services

TNW has a report of a lawsuit filed against the founders of the Indiegogo motorcyle helmet scam... venture that sought to bring smarts to the essential piece of safety equipment.
If the lawsuit is to be believed most of the money pledged during the campaign went to fund a truly lavish lifestyle for the Weller brothers and their families.
I can't say that this really surprises me, there are no background checks completed on any of the ventures seeking capital on any of the popular crowd-funded sites, no attempt is made to understand whether the product is viable or that the team behind it is capable of bringing it to market within the budget proposed.
Right now the quickest method for getting rich would be to found a company, mock up a particularly desirable piece of technology and market it to death on social networks in the hope that one or two of the big tech blogs pick it up and generate the buzz that gets the backers rolling in.
Then pay yourself, friends and family tremendou…

Qualcomm Driver Vulnerability Exposes Androids Aplenty

Problems with driver software for Qualcomm's Snapdragon mobile processor, its memory and graphic processor are reported to expose more than 900 million Android users to the threat of privilege escalation and device takeover, all from the installation of a compromised application that requests no access permissions.
The flaw was exposed by Check Point and works as a pretty handy marketing tool for the company's Threat Detection software.
However the bigger concern here is that a significant proportion of those 900m devices are never likely to get fixes for the exposure. Even big name suppliers like Samsung, Sony and HTC have pretty sketchy records of delivering security patches and the result will almost certainly be hundreds of millions of users at risk.
Android's end to end update process is so clunky and riddled with delays and reviews that even after Google delivers a fix, the need for manufacturer and carrier approval can delay its release to even the devices that do …

Google Goes Big On Photos Push

For devices without expandable memory options the amount of free storage space is always a concern, especially if you're a heavy camera user. Google's latest add for its Photos service promises that it will reduce that concern, although it pushes that promise with a message heavy on FUD.
How many users really run out of storage on their devices at the crucial time? There's generally plenty of warning before the worst happens.
Still, Photos ability to push Photos to the cloud and then remove them from your Android phone is a pretty simple way of managing the amount of space given over to your image storage.
Better support for expandable storage is a much better one though.