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Showing posts from October 9, 2016

UWP Cuts Both Ways: Instagram Arrives In The Windows 10 Store

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The main beneficiaries of the Universal Windows Platform have been Windows 10 Mobile and Xbox users who have seen desktop applications make their way to across the platform divide. However UWP isn’t a one way street and as a result Windows Mobile apps can be released in the desktop too.Instagram is probably the first high profile app to make its way to the desktop from Mobile, updating its Store offering to include a PC version as well as the existing mobile app. In theory there’s no reason why it couldn’t arrive on Xbox too at some stage in the future.Facebook has done a particularly good job of supporting Windows 10, whether that up to date releases of its main Facebook app, Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp. Not sure whether this is indicative of an agreement with Microsoft or a grab for Windows users abandoned by other social networks. Either way its a positive thing for all Windows users to hold on to.

Email Hack May Cost Yahoo Its Verizon Wedding Day

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Reuters is reporting comments from Verizon’s General Counsel, suggesting that the impact of the Yahoo email hack is so significant it may trigger a clause in the pre-sale agreement allowing Verizon to withdraw from the purchase.This shouldn’t come as a surprise, the fallout from the news that Yahoo had been hacked has been significant and the business has been bleeding users ever since.The deal looked pretty shaky from the day it was signed, with the news of email hacks and collusion in government spying on users breaking since the sale was announced I’d suggest that Verizon will be looking at every possible option to cut and run from this particular marriage service.

Samsung Begins The Healing – $100 Credit For NZ Note 7 Customers

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Samsung’s efforts to minimise the impact of the Galaxy Note 7 problems in New Zealand have been relatively successful, with loan phones being given to customers who were waiting for replacements under the original recall (I’ve heard of Note 5 and S7s being used for this purpose) and people I know who had purchased the phone were all keen to have a replacement rather than a refund.Unfortunately the decision to terminate the device means this can’t happen.Recognising that customers have been inconvenienced as a result of the recall / replacement / termination Samsung NZ is offering customers a $100 credit  as a gesture of goodwill. Details are here and are apparently related to the purchase location, although there’s no information on whether its a $100 Samsung Store credit, a credit for the store they purchased the Note 7 from or some form of money card.Until the extent of Samsung’s generosity has been made completely clear this remains a gesture. Still, it’s good to see that Samsung h…

For Galaxy Note 7 Customers There's More Pain To Come

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You'd think that having bought what promised to be the best smartphone on the market, finding out it was a fire hazard and needed to be replaced, getting it replaced and finding out it was still a fire hazard and needed to be returned to never be seen again; that Galaxy Note 7 customers have endured all the suffering that this episode could bring.Not so. There's a further mess to be sorted out and this time it's going to be rather more widespread and much more difficult to address.Accessories.Inevitably the purchase of a new smartphone means the purchase of new accessories too... more so for Note 7 buyers as for the first time for Samsung, it featured a USB-C port which likely meant a whole slew of new add-ons to purchase. New case, extra sync cables, new car charger, for some users a VR headset... and that means a whole host of third party retailers will have been involved.So whilst those who bought from established outlets like Amazon should be able to tee up a refund wi…

An Early Release Of The Galaxy S8 Is Not The Answer That Samsung Needs Right Now

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A number of sources are claiming that Samsung will seek to fill the hole left in its range by the loss of the Galaxy Note 7 by doubling down on Galaxy S8 development with a view to having the new phone launched at the beginning of 2017.That's a mistake, for two reasons.Firstly, speed is one thing Samsung does not need to demonstrate right now. A excess of care in all aspects of its next flagships gestation is critical here. If senior members of the chaebol, its shareholders and employees think the fallout from the Note 7 episode is bad, just wait until the point when another phone goes bad. There is no leeway for Samsung here, the next phone must be bulletproof. Completely. Absolutely. Without question. Bulletproof.Secondly, the current Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are still new devices and with the Note out of the picture resume their places at the head of the smartphone queue. Samsung previously had the three best smartphones you could buy in their portfolio. That is now two, but two …

HP Launches New Envy AIO, What Does That Say About Microsoft’s Rumoured Surface?

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This is the HP Envy all-in-one desktop computer, HP’s take on a designer desktop PC and quite obviously aimed at the iMac. It looks a nice enough piece of kit and given HP’s current run of form, is likely to be as good on the inside as the outside.Windows 10 works very well on an all-in-one device. Touch has been so well integrated into the user interface its hard to imagine using any PC without a touchscreen.The Envy is far from the first AIO desktop to integrate touch – in fact I have a Vaio Tap 20, which was a Windows 8 launch device, running Windows 10 very well indeed – in fact every mainstream manufacturer offers a selection of them, in all price ranges.Which raises the question: Why has Microsoft expended the effort to deliver a Surface AIO (if that is indeed what it plans to do in a fortnight’s time) when it has said that it doesn’t intend to compete with its partners except in under-served market segments?Either Microsoft has something ground-breaking to show or it has change…

Hololens In Six More Countries

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Microsoft is expanding the reach of its AR headset Hololens, with availability now confirmed for six new countries- UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Two versions of the headset are now available, a developer edition and a commercial edition. The later is about 80% more expensive than the former.Microsoft’s push into commercial makes sense. This  is, despite the demos of battles with non-existent aliens – a technology which naturally supports commercial applications. One of the early deployments for laptops and later tablets, was to support maintenance personnel who were able to switch from bulky manuals to gradually smaller, more capable technology solutions with advantages like search and video support.Hololens offers a significant step forward in guiding the actions of particular maintenance activities and, where desirable, validate that they’ve been correctly completed. I’d expect airlines to be especially interested in this sort of application.Whether the t…

HP Misses Sweet Spot With Elite x3 Lap Dock Pricing

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The dumb laptop, a keyboard, battery and screen masquerading as a lightweight ultra book, gained plenty of interest when HP revealed it as part of the accessory set for its Elite x3 Windows smartphone. The Lap Dock would finally deliver on Windows 10 Mobile's Continuum promise and consolidate all your computing into one device.The solution is very obviously aimed at HP's enterprise clients and as a result the expectation was that this would be top notch hardware at a premium price.Which it certainly is.However the price of the Lap Dock is such that I find it hard to believe that even HP's staunchest customers will stomach it. At $599 the Lap Dock is the price of a decent laptop; and with the phone costing another $799 it seem an expensive way of going about business.If you allow for a 15-20% discount based on volumes (hah!) this remains a $1200 PC setup that can't do everything a PC can do without relying on virtualisation technology.If the whole bundle came in around …

The Strange Case Of Apple, Dash And App Store Review Manipulation

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You may have heard of the popular iOS app Dash, before last weekend I hadn't, however it's popular enough that it's removal from the App Store and subsequent developer's complaints were interesting enough to get the media interested.Without evidence to conclusively prove things one way or another I'd say it's impossible to establish the truth here. Either Apple has followed through on its policies around developer behaviour and penalised a successful developer for something he hadn't done and then refused to back down out of stubbornness; or the developer is a compulsive liar.The crux of the matter is whether the expelled developer had been manipulating reviews or whether he was ensnared in a weak piece of governance enacted by Apple in the registration of developers.Apple claims the developer was guilty of several years of review manipulation across multiple apps and development accounts. The developer claims that the account responsible for the abuse was …

Galaxy Note 7 Saga Should Give All Phone Manufacturers Pause For Thought

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The cancellation of production of the Galaxy Note 7 is a disaster in every way that the word can be applied to a business. It will take Samsung years to recover the loss of reputation that this failure has caused. Other OEMs may derive some short term benefits in sales increases resulting from user caution towards Samsung, but longer term there's a lesson here for everyone.The Note 7 was rushed to market according to sources within the company. This was driven entirely by a perceived need to beat the iPhone 7 to market and benefit from the negative pre-launch publicity Apple was picking up. In doing so it looks like mistakes were made. It may have been in the manufacture of the battery, it may not. At least one report suggests that there were other problems contributing to the fire and explosions which endangered Samsung's customers.The need to build smartphones with more and more technology stuffed into smaller and smaller spaces drives a requirement to spend more time testin…

Gartner Reports PC Sales Down Again

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PC sales fell again for the sales quarter ending on September 30th, with less than 70 million new PCs finding new homes, a drop of 6% year on year.Apple and Acer had a particularly bad quarter - both saw double digit falls in market share and sales falls of around three quarters of a million units. On the positive side HP, Dell and Asus posted upticks in sales, with HP closing in on Lenovo for top dog in PC sales.With new MacBook Pro and Air models apparently in the wings, Apple's fall off may be temporary, but the PC market as a whole is showing no signs of having hit the bottom. If anything the way that Windows 10 performs on older hardware is likely to allow users to further delay the purchase of new PCs.For those hardware vendors who aren't in the top five, the rate of sales decline should be worrying. The ability to survive on much smaller volumes is going to be a key survival strategy for those smaller brands. If they are unable to revise their business models to suit th…

Yahoo Will Try To Make Users Stay, Whether They Want To Or Not

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Yahoo’s recent problems with leaked user accounts and information sharing with US Government agencies has inevitably resulted in a flood of users seeking to abandon the platform. As it has little more than its user base to sell to Verizon at this point the company is obviously keen to prevent that happening. As a result it has started to make the process of abandoning Yahoo more difficult than it was before.Email forwarding, a key step is easing the transition to a new mail service, has been disabled by Yahoo, although users who currently have it in place will find it still works. Whilst Yahoo says the service is in development, the only logical reason for this move was to halt a significant movement of users to other services using this tool.If you have previously enabled POP access on your Yahoo account you can still use this service to get email collected by another service – both Gmail and Outlook.com support POP access to other mailboxes.

Galaxy Note 7 Is Done, Production Permanently Halted

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The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Samsung has confirmed a permanent end to production of the Note 7. What started out as the most impressive, most capable smartphone ever built is ending with a damaged brand, a scarred reputation and stockpiles of devices that look like they’ll need to be destroyed.The Note 7 may well be remembered as the smartphone that made the biggest impact since the iPhone originally launched, just not in a good way.

This Quarter’s Smartphone Sales Numbers Are Going To Be All Over The Place

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The third quarter of any calendar year is generally the quiet one in smartphone sales terms. iPhone shipments are affected by the lag in sales in early part of the quarter and then the massive rush towards the end, which defines the arrival of a new iPhone.Normally that means that Samsung has an easier time of it, with its latest Galaxy phones well established and a new Note device arriving mid-quarter.So when reports for sales in the quarter just ended come in, numbers are going to be affected by a number of external factors.For starters, the Note 7. We know that 2.5 million of them shipped and upwards of one million have been replaced. In some countries users were given other Samsung handsets to tide them over until their replacement arrived. Even without the impact of the cessation of sales (which happened after the quarter had ended) how is anyone supposed to reflect all these shipments as sales? Was 2.5 million, 3.5 million or 5 million? Then there’s the iPhone 7, a sedate upgrad…

Samsung Owners: Don't Bother Trying To Use Your Phone Inflight

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One of the most obvious side effects of the Galaxy Note 7's initial recall was the way in which airlines effected an almost blanket ban on Samsung phones being used or even turned on when onboard.
For Samsung owners it was a pain. It isn't going to get any better now that sales of the Note 7 have been suspended (permanently?)
For Samsung the publicity couldn't get any worse. For Samsung owners it's going to be a time when their loyalty to the brand is sorely put to the test. Being shamed for your choice of expensive phone – even though it's completely faultless - isn't the sort of experience that will keep customers coming back.
Exploding phone jokes are bad enough, exploding phone companies are another thing altogether.
Samsung has to find a way to work with the airlines to fix this before the reputational damage becomes to big for it to ever recover from.

New Galaxy Note 7 Fires May Not Be Battery Related

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Samsung has halted manufacturing and sales of the Galaxy Note 7 and is advising those who have a handset, replacement or otherwise, to return it to their retailer for a refund / replacement with an alternate device. The news comes as a response to reports of replacement Note 7 handsets catching fire.A story in The Guardian reports South Korean officials as identifying a new fault in the handset, unrelated to the battery. Without prejudging the issue one has to assume that if its not the battery it must be related to the charging circuits – perhaps the fast charging capability that Samsung and many other handset manufacturers have been implementing recently.For Samsung this is a significant blow to their smartphone business. One, in of itself it speaks of a worrying inability to diagnose the problem properly and a rush to get replacement handset; and two it comes at a time when Google has thrown down a marker for ownership of the Android premium market. On top of what would otherwise b…

Use Continuum To Make Windows 10 Mobile Mimic Messaging Everywhere

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I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if you’re packing a Windows 10 Mobile with Continuum support, like the Lumia 950, HP Elite x3 or Acer Jade Primo; you’ve found it to be useful in a pinch, a nice technology demonstration but of limited real world use. As a result you’re still carrying a laptop for your normal day to day tasks.Continuum isn’t just for projecting to a big screen or faking a PC setup with your phone and dock, you can project the screen to your Windows 10 laptop, which may not be an intuitive thing to do, but can be useful in the right place.For example, when you need the functionality originally promised by Messaging Everywhere, but now delayed to a future update of the Skype client.Whilst it has become commonplace for attendees to bring laptops to meetings and seminars, checking your phone for messages and replying isn’t good manners. In some organisations texting during the working day is frowned upon.  Connect your phone to your laptop and fire up th…

The Proxy War Is Over: Google Needs To Front Up To Apple Now

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For the last eight years Google has been engaged in a proxy war with Apple, using OEMs like Samsung, Sony and HTC to prevent its Cupertino rival from taking over the mobile space and damaging its advertising business in what was the next big technology growth area.With the launch of the Pixel, the damage that Samsung has taken from the Note 7 scandal, the winding back of Sony’s ambitions and the disappearance of HTC as a market force Google has put itself directly in the firing line. I don’t believe that it intended to do this quite so quickly.In the past Google has been happy to load the bullets for Android OEMs to target Apple, its a strategy that has worked well for both sides. OEMs like Samsung and Huawei have grown massive smartphone businesses with much less effort than would have been required to start from scratch. Google has been able to hide from Apple’s lawsuits, which have had to target OEMs.Of course the arrival of the Pixel and the changes wrought in Android over the las…

With The Note 7 Disaster, Can We Finally Put The Metal Unibody Myth To Bed Now

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Samsung’s problems with the Note 7 don’t look like they’re ending anytime soon and that’s disappointing for what is such a desirable device. However, as I said when the news of the battery problems first broke this problem is partially a result of Samsung moving to a metal unibody design and sealing in its battery.Yes, it’s true that the problem isn’t a result of the non-removable battery per se, however if we were talking about a device with the Note 4 design – that is a removable back cover and user replaceable battery – the problem wouldn’t have been half as difficult for Samsung to fix, would have cost  a fraction of the costs that Samsung has burnt through so far and would have left the Samsung brand in a far better place.The argument for metal unibodies has been that they add a premium feel to a device. The solid, single piece of cut aluminium feels like an expensive watch or tool. That’s a ridiculous assertion. Good design will make a phone feel great to hold irrespective of th…

Windows 10 Mobile Dies With The HP Elite x3

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Writing for PC Magazine, Sascha Segan suggests that the HP Elite x3 should be the last Windows phone. It isn’t a difficult supposition to agree with. Microsoft have managed to fail at mobile for so hard and for so long that eventually it has to give up. And its not always been the product’s fault.Right now Windows 10 Mobile is at least as good a mobile platform as iOS and Android, save for its lack of third-party support and the stigma of Microsoft’s name and Windows Mobile / Windows Phone’s past failings; it would have a reasonable uptake.It’s impossible to wipe away that app gap and that history though. Too much baggage and not enough delivery.Microsoft will continue to deliver Windows 10 Mobile updates, in fact it is iterating its mobile platform far faster than either Google or Apple. There may even be other Windows phones that make it to market, despite evidence that Microsoft’s partners have already given up. They will be as relevant as newly launched Symbian devices are today.W…

Google Pixel Changes The Smartphone Landscape For Everybody

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Next time you buy a new smartphone the decision you make might well be influenced by Google’s decision to launch the Pixel, whichever smartphone you’re currently using. The Pixel splits the Android platform into two tiers and Google is the only company currently allowed into tier one.Pixel only features mean that were you to consider a new Android smartphone from Samsung, Huawei or Sony; you’d be missing out on key capabilities that Google is hanging onto for itself. For now those missing features are a small part of the Android feature set, but this looks like a trend that will continue as Google matures its hardware platform and integrates software that it doesn’t want to make available to partners.For Samsung this is probably least challenging. It has its own voice assistant – S-Voice – which does a better job than Google’s in some areas. It also has a strategic partnership with Microsoft that it can leverage, although that would probably be at the cost of damaging its relationship…

Samsung’s Questionable Response To ‘Safe’ Note 7 Fire

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There are now five reports of fires involving Galaxy Note 7 handsets that had been replaced and were claimed to be safe by the manufacturer, which is a disturbing number (with the proviso that we don’t know for sure if any of these handsets are actually replacement devices).Rather more interesting is a text alleged sent by mistake to one of the owners of a burnt Note 7, which suggests that Samsung is either not taking the issues seriously or believes the customer in question is trying to shake them down.The text reads: “Just now got this. I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it”So, what was the customer in question threatening to do? Why would Samsung seek to slow him down and what does that say about the handset. It’s claimed that Samsung has X-rayed the Note 7 in question but not taken possession of it.What is clear is that if you want to cause your smartphone to go up in flames it is relativ…

Khan Academy Leaves Windows Store

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Another day, another high-profile name announces the end of support for Windows. In this case its the Khan Academy education app which abandons the Windows desktop, leaving users the web version as their only resource.
Just for a change there's no abandonment of Windows Mobile, because a Windows Phone app never existed.
A blog post on the not for profit's community web site announced the shuttering of the app, blaming high costs and low user numbers. Given that Windows 10 accounts for 400m users and the various flavours of Windows 8 another 50-100m, it seems surprising that user numbers aren't there.
Perhaps the failure here is in publicising the app, rather than in the app itself.

New MacBooks Inbound October 27?

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Apple has moved its quarterly earnings call forward a couple of days to October 25th, leaving the originally planned October 27th date free. Free for what though?
It seems that the clever money is on a refresh of both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, with the expected upgrades including newer Intel CPUs, an OLED touchscreen mounted rearward of the keyboard to form a virtual function key row, a thinner body for the MacBook Pro and USB-C ports all round.
Some more interesting ideas include a Touch ID sensor incorporated into the power button. I'm not sure on this one, after all the ability to unlock a Mac with an Apple Watch has just been introduced... why make that new feature redundant when it's one of the biggest reasons for investing in an Apple Watch?
The second rumour has the MacBook keyboard making its way to the bigger machines. The MacBook keyboard is awful, but I think that's as a result of its implementation. The lack of key travel robs the MacBook's keyboard…

Should Samsung Call Time On The Galaxy Note 7?

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Ordinarily the failure of three or four smartphone batteries wouldn't be a particularly interesting news story, however when those three or four smartphones are Galaxy Note 7 handsets and, furthermore, are Galaxy Note 7 handsets which have the new, safe battery; there's more than a little to pique the interest.
Let's wind back a little first though. Of the original reports of Galaxy Note 7 fires a large number were found to be mistaken, either honestly or maliciously, so until its confirmed otherwise I'd take the reports of 'safe' Note 7 fires with a large pinch of salt.
Unsurprisingly, any smartphone fire is going to be called a Note 7 fire and any Note 7 fire is going to be a failure of a replaced handset. News sites are here to sell news and the Note 7 is a big ticket item for them right now.
Samsung's best option for getting this stain off their reputation is to recall all of the Note 7 devices and give customers refunds. That might not be the option S…