Posts

Showing posts from March, 2017

Windows 10 Creators Update Confirmed For April 11, Available April 5 If You're In A Hurry

Image
Microsoft will start delivering the latest major version of Windows 10 to customers from April 11, following its standard pattern of phased releases biased towards newer devices which it is confident will handle the upgrade without problems.
However Microsoft's desire to make the upgrade seamless for as many users as possible (and with close to half a billion out there it doesn't take too many problems to bring the house of cards down) means that the update will be available via its Update Assistant from April 5.
For technically competent and impatient users this is an opportunity to get out ahead of the pack and enjoy the new features Microsoft have packed into this release.
The early feedback will be more than useful in assisting Microsoft in ironing out any little niggles which remain after the extensive Windows Insider testing it has undertaken.

SSL Won't Protect You From ISP Snooping

Image
The US Government signed through a change which effectively allows ISPs to sell American's internet browsing history or use it for its own ends.
Apart from being a significant privacy risk, there are also security implications. Your password secured accounts are potentially wide open to abuse. Forget HTTPS as a defence mechanism. Your ISP undoubtedly has the tools to perform a man in the middle attack and extract any information they want from your emails, social media accounts and instant messaging.
Did you think your SSL encrypted sessions were secure? Unfortunately not. SSL interception appliances like Blue Coat ProxySG, IBM Datapower or even Microsoft's own Forefront Threat Protection allow an ISP to effectively proxy any secure connection and inspect packets passing through.
In corporate environments this is achieved by creating a trusted certificate authority on corporate PCs. For an ISP creating its own CA and relying on user's ignorance of the certificate warnings…

Samsung DeX: Continuum Revisited

Image
It's hard to argue that Microsoft got the Continuum concept spot on when it launched the Lumia 950 with Windows 10 Mobile. It really is a phone that could be your PC - for very small values of PC anyway.
As expected, Samsung has replicated the feature for the new Galaxy S8 with a desktop dock called DeX. The video above shows it in action and its very Continuum-like in its operation. There is one big advantage to Samsung's implementation though. Instead of forcing, unsupported phone-only apps to run on the phone itself, Samsung has allowed them to run as windows on the main display. Which suggests most, if not all Android apps will support this feature.
Microsoft missed this trick first time out, lets hope that the changes to Continuum promised for the Creators update brings this particular feature. Even if the imminent death of Windows Mobile means hardly anyone will ever use it.

Samsung Galaxy S8 – It’s All About The Screen, Maybe

Image
Samsung's first high-profile, big money launch since the Note 7 happened today and it's odds on that every review you read over the next few days will make some reference to the battery. Samsung has gone to great lengths to ensure that the battery won't combust, or at least is no more likely to do so than other smartphones. However it has also gone to some length to make sure the launch conversation is about anything but the battery. The screen, for example, which cloaks 83% of the device's face. It's slightly weird 18.5:9 ratio is designed to support multitasking. It’s a standout feature which should achieve Samsung’s desire to lead the discussion back to what it does best.And what it undoubtedly does best is screens.Aside from the aspect ratio, the HDR playback for video and the usual SAMOLED wonderfulness, there's also the bezels to consider. You'll need to find  them first of course. The curved edge of the screen is present, as on Galaxy Edge devices of…

SoftBank's Autonomous Bus Service Isn't The Answer To Rural Transportation

Image
SoftBank subsidiary SB Drive has been selected to undertake trials of an autonomous transport system for the Okinawa region. The service is being run as part of an investigation into the feasibility and social acceptability of autonomous transport by Japan's cabinet office and will take place in an area of Nanjo City's Azama Suns Beach.
From the positioning video above its clear to see that SB Drive is targeting the movement of older people from rural to urban centres. 
Whilst the application of technology is interesting, I'm not sure it's entirely appropriate. In this instance a bus driver does more than just drive the bus. There's the elements of social interaction, passenger care, safety and security to consider too.
And given the number of passengers and frequency of the service, how much does the cost of adding a driver make to the whole solution anyway?
As I've mentioned before, buses are effectively self-driving forms of transport. For urban transportat…

Samsung To Offer Refurbished Note 7

Image
Samsung will look to reduce the environmental impact of its Note 7 recall by selling refurbished units sporting a physically smaller battery pack designed to have a less aggressive charge capacity.
The refurbished units will sell in restricted markets and probably sport a new name to distinguish itself from the original unit, which is still subject to flight bans globally.
Is this a good idea? Well from a disposal process it makes sense. Financially it will probably be a break even move from Samsung. That is, they'll neither increase nor decrease the losses of the first two recalls.
It is a high risk strategy though. Battery fires on the Note 7 for the third time would damage its reputation beyond repair.
Having previously declared the Note 7 the most capable smartphone ever built would I buy one at a cut-down price? Very probably. Although I'd just as likely wait for the Note 8 and remove all of the risk.
How the various restrictions on usage are handled is going to be inte…

F1: Vettel Victory Means Nothing Without Context

Image
Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Melbourne was a source of real joy for everyone in F1. After three years of tedious Mercedes processions, barely interrupted by breakdowns and inter-team tangles, the sight of a Ferrari out-racing Mercedes was widely welcomed.It is being heralded as a new dawn for F1, the end of Mercedes dominance. It wasn’t, and we could still be in for another season of the same old Silver Arrow procession.The real relative performance between the cars was better indicated by the Bottas / Raikonnen battle. The Ice Man was never in contention.There are two things which make me wary of heralding a new dawn. Vettel should have won this race last year, but for a botched Ferrari strategy call. Mercedes went on to dominate the rest of the season. This year Vettel’s victory rested on a mistake by Hamilton and Mercedes. By running on used ultra soft tyres in qualifying two, Hamilton was forced to start on rubber that had at least six laps of use. Those tyres wore much more quic…

F1: McLaren Needs Honda More Than It Needs Alonso

Image
I spent the last week in Melbourne enjoying the start of a new era in F1. In amongst the excitement of Mercedes being beaten (mostly on merit) and the better looking, faster and more racy cars,one of the things that becomes immediately apparent: McLaren is in trouble.The company has struggled to find a title sponsor (not something new admittedly) and its performance has been relatively poor. Reliability, speed, consistency. All things missing from the current McLaren-Honda package.Fernando Alonso has been particularly outspoken on the topic. His comments have strongly hinted that if the performance issue isn’t fixed he will leave, either the team or the sport.McLaren have also been rumoured to have been in touch with Mercedes about a customer engine option, an opportunity presented thanks to a break clause in the contract with Honda.To abandon Honda would be madness. Acceptance of a customer Mercedes engine would put McLaren in the pack with Williams and Force India with no hope of ev…

Do You Really Think This Is The First Time Tim Cook Used A Surface Pro?

Image
Pictures doing the rounds from the China Developer Forum in Beijing show a Surface Pro 4 apparently setup for Tim Cook to use at his seat. The Net is more than a little excited about the idea of Apple's CEO using Microsoft's hybrid.

However I'm absolutely positive this is far from the first time Cook has used a Surface Pro and it probably won't be the last.

Having initially been dismissive of Microsoft's hybrid concept Apple has been scrambling to catch up. That is strongly suggestive of Cook and his team trying early Surface devices and finding them to be weak products, missing the effect they would have on the tablet market and then changing their minds having tried later, more capable versions.

Any CEOs not paying careful attention to the work of their rivals is going to find themselves in a heap of trouble.  I don't think Cook is that sort of CEO.

More worrying for Apple is that a high profile event like this, in a key market like China, should  close to sta…

What Does Apple's Workflow Purchase Mean For IFTTT

Image
Apple has purchased iOS automation software Workflow for an undisclosed price, bringing the company under its own development team and removing the entry barrier to use by making the app free.

Integration of the app into iOS is sure to follow, as will wider adoption by third parties who previously held back from signing over access to the Web interfaces.

This is good news for everyone, except perhaps IFTTT. With a limited ability to monetise it's application a big buyout was probably the only way the service's founders and investors could have exited gracefully.

With more than half its user base likely to switch teams to Workflow over the next eighteen months that becomes less likely.

For the moment Workflow's iOS focus means IFTTT users have some additional capability, but I'm guessing Apple will erode that by the time it comes to give automation the big push into the public eye, possibly as early as WWDC next year.

LastPass Quickly Fixes Security Hole - Doesn't Fix Managers In General

Image
Google uncovered a security vulnerability in the LastPass password manager. One that LastPass quickly fixed. That's good, but I'm not sure that it is anywhere near good enough.
Just a week ago I wrote about the attractiveness of password manager services to bad actors. This is exactly the reason why.
Discovery of a vulnerability like this potentially opens the doors to every service vaulted inside. Bank, credit card, share dealing accounts, retail, email and any other account of value. All unlocked by one vulnerability in an unrelated service.
A better demonstration of keeping all your eggs in one basket I haven't seen.
This isn't a criticism of LastPass itself, but we've seen in the past how difficult it is to keep a service secure. When the service holds such critical information that risk becomes unpalatable.
There are many other ways of securing passwords. Using one of those instead would seem a very sensible decision indeed.

New iPads Don't Materialise After All, Price Drops Suggest Why

Image
So no new iPads arrived today, despite the rumour mill pumping out stories of updated iPad Pro models and an all new screen size. In fact one new iPad arrived today, but rather than being a refresh or a new range topper it's a new entry level aimed at persuading older iPad owners to upgrade. It's prime selling point is that it's quite cheap for an iPad.
What happened elsewhere was a substantial price drop on the iPad Pros we already had, some boosted storage configurations (which also made their way to the iPhone SE) and a lot of tumble weed. 
iPad sales have been slumping for quarter after quarter and whilst a price drop should help overall sales, it's likely to result in a lowered Average Selling Price and lower profits for the iPad reporting line. 
On the back of a substantial iPad advertising campaign it really does suggest that Apple is struggling to shift iPad stock. It raises the question of whether Apple has indulged in some channel stuffing in order to boost …

Microsoft Leaks Mac To Surface Migration Tool

Image
Earlier today users were briefly able to download a tool to assist the migration from Mac to Surface. It was later pulled, presumably because Microsoft wasn't ready for it to go public. 
It's very existence speaks volumes for the progress Windows has made against Mac OS. For whilst the tool is branded for Surface owners there's no reason why Windows owners of any hardware persuasion shouldn't benefit from it. 
The idea that users would be migrating from Mac to Windows in sufficient numbers to make a tool worth developing would have been laughable even three years ago. 
Now it seems a perfectly logical thing to do, as Microsoft's Surface has helped drive the PC market in new directions. 
Whilst Apple has lagged, with lacklustre upgrades to its desktop and laptop ranges, customers have been finding more and more reasons to switch to a PC. 
Having bucked the trend on PC growth for a while, Apple now find itself stuck with no real entry in the growing hybrid market. 

Confused Of Cupertino, What Does Apple Have Planned For New iPad Range

Image
Over the last couple of months we've been hearing more and more rumours about a three device iPad launch for the end of March. The crux of which is that the two iPad Pro models will get a refresh and a new, edge to edge screen iPad, sporting a 10.5" display in the same size chassis as the smaller iPad Pro, will join the line-up.
I've already written about my disappointment in the apparent abandonment of the iPad Mini. Now the credibility of these rumours needs to be called into question.
The iPad Pro was the focus of a big push into the booming hybrid market. It hasn't been an unqualified success. Possibly because the iPad Pro has a much more focused market than an equivalent Windows 10 hybrid.
Customers weighing up the possibility of having one device to cover all of their computing and tablet needs are increasingly finding that the right answer is a Windows detachable - of which there are a variety of choices and prices which cover many more use cases than the limi…

Google Is The New Microsoft - And Not In A Good Way

Image
In the quarter which Android surpassed Windows to become the biggest operating system on the planet, Google chose to annouce major changes to its Hangouts app. This following the recent launch of two new messaging products. Which itself followed the previous release of a number of other messaging products.
The symmetry with Microsoft of the past is interesting - and should be raising major warning signs for Google.
Windows has been number one for decades. Really since the launch of Windows 95 every other platform has been a rounding error compared to the breadth of Microsoft's number one platform's installations.
That strength allowed Microsoft to reap phenomenal rewards and see of competition by either buying them out or starving them of oxygen in their market space. The story of Stacker is illuminating here, probably as much as the more high profile Internet Explorer / Netscape story.
Microsoft initially missed the bus on the internet and then had to scramble to catch-up. T…

Hamburg Police Increases Windows Mobile Deployment - But It Isn't Sustainable

Image
Hamburg Police has joined a number of other German police forces in equipping its officers with Microsoft Lumia devices, leveraging the power of the Universal Windows Platform to run the same business apps across phones and PCs.
The concept is sound and in this very tightly defined use case Windows phones are far ahead of Apple or Google in providing a secure, flexible and, above all, enterprise focused solution.
However the size of these deployments raises concerns as to the long-term viability of such projects. Hamburg's deal for 900 handsets at 100,000 euros amounts to just 111 euro per device. So not a particularly high end choice. 
So when Microsoft runs out of Lumias who is going to step in and fill the void? A low-end handset only works for an OEM if it can be sold in volume. There aren't enough government contracts around the world to guarantee the numbers an OEM would need to commit to a volume production run.
Which would normally mean the price per device would have to r…

Apple Taxes An Issue In NZ Now

Image
Kiwis found out this week just how much Apple have been shortchanging them in the tax department. Over the last ten years Apple has claimed $4.2bn in revenues but paid nothing in taxes. Based on the company's reported profit margins it would have a liability of more than $350m. Given Apple's many billions in its cash pile this might seem like a small hill of beans, but it says a great deal about the way Apple treats small economies like New Zealand's. That $350m works out to around $900 for every man, woman and child in New Zealand today. Whether the news that Apple plays fast and loose with its tax obligations affects sales remains to be seen, it certainly hasn't in other territories.

Sony Recieves NFC Power Sharing Patent, Just Made For Companion Devices

Image
Wireless charging is great. All it needs is ubiquity to free us from the tyranny of power banks and travel chargers. Until that day comes we need an alternative that reduces range anxiety and supports clever usage.
Sony seems to have just the thing: a new patent which describes a way of sharing power between two devices wirelessly, using just NFC.
Most sites are talking about how you could potentially leech power from a friend's phone when your battery dies.
I suspect this is not the intention of Sony's engineers at all.
Instead consider how it changes the utility of companion devices such as smartwatches and wireless headphones. You use them exclusively with your smartphone, so it's a perfect place for them to grab a quick charge. Rest your wrist on your smartphone for five minutes to boost its battery for a couple of hours.
It's a far more interesting solution than just making your phone into another portable power bank. It does rely on your phone having enough cha…

Is It Time For An Xbox Phone?

Image
The Surface Phone has become something of a mythical device in the Windows Mobile world. This much rumoured half-phone, half-PC is coming to bring the good fight to Android and iOS.
I believe I have heard that one before.
I fear that Microsoft has no customer loyalty - or credibility - to allow it to re-launch a Windows phone back into the market. A few loyal enterprise customers may retain Windows 10 phones but sales aren't going to be troubling the bean counters any time soon.
However, the successful launch of the Nintendo Switch shows that there remains some demand for a mobile console, even as Sony abandoned the PS Vita. Maybe now is the time for a mobile Xbox. One that packs smartphone capabilities.
One of the promises that Microsoft made when Windows Phone 7 launched was that it would be the Xbox phone. That never happened in any useful way. It was a missed opportunity then, but the idea was a little ahead of its time. Even so, Microsoft failed to bring any blockbuster ga…

Android Wear Works Best On Premium Watches, Bizarrely

Image
This is the latest Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch, the Montblanc Summit. It's expensively assembled and priced to match. Montblanc launched it today, just hours after TAG-Heuer revealed the second version of their successful Connected smartwatch.Where more traditional mobile phone manufacturers have struggled to gain traction it seems traditional Swiss watch companies are finding a market. That's bizarre, because the traditional view of expensive watch owners is that they would own an iPhone - yet Apple struggled with its more expensive Watch versions. I think part of the answer is that people who will spend upwards of $1,000 on a watch have some very traditional views on watch manufacturers and who had earned the right to a place on their wrists. An Apple Watch is just another Apple Watch. The TAG and Montblanc are a different kettle of fish entirely. This might be a rich seam for Google to mine. If a TAG works, why not an Omega or Rolex? Or other more rarified brands for people…

Windows 10 Update Will Ignore Metered Connection Setting

Image
Windows 10's update tool isn't it's most popular feature - by some measure - even though it has gone a long way to making Windows a stable and secure platform. 
With the incoming Creators Update Microsoft is going to hand its critics a big stick to beat it with and at the same time create a lot of negative noise, damaging some of the brand credibility it has managed to restore in recent years. 
How is it going to do this? By making Windows Update ignore your metered connection settings and continue with some downloads which it determines you must have at any cost. 
The prospect of these downloads eating through your data allowance are probably quite slim and one hopes that Microsoft would apply some common sense to the downloads it forces through on these connections. 
Nevertheless there is a risk that by delivering these updates on a pay-to-use connection Microsoft ends up costing users significant data fees with their service providers. 
It's a risk that Microsoft d…

Microsoft Replanning Its Surface Book Design, New Focus For Reliability?

Image
Digitimes is reporting that Microsoft's Surface Book 2 has entered production and will be targeting a simpler design and a cheaper price point when it reaches market.
The Surface Book is a unique product whose various engineering and manufacturing innovations support its premium pricing. As a halo device for the whole of the PC kingdom it performs an admirable job.

There are other Windows machines which you can pull out in a meeting room full of MacBooks and get envious glances, but only the Surface Book renders even the priciest of MacBook Pros ordinary.

So why would Microsoft change the design?

I don't think it's related to sales - I'm sure the Surface Book performance isn't being based on sales numbers. However the design of the hinge does suggest to me a weak point in the reliability and longevity of the machine. That implies a support cost which Microsoft might not wish to bear in a newer version of the Surface Book.

So a simpler hinge is likely to be in the …

The Crazy Japanese Cult Of Windows Mobile

Image
Kantar Worldpanel released its latest figures for smartphone sales worldwide and the news confirms what every other survey has been indicating for the last eighteen months. Windows 10 Mobile is a dead man walking.
Android and iOS have created a (mismatched) duopoly. Windows phone sales are down massively everywhere, a trend that is now six quarters old.
Everywhere? Well, not quite.
In Japan, Windows Mobile posted its best ever month, obtaining its highest ever proportion of Japan's smartphone market. Year on year Windows phone sales trebled. Sequentially the growth was 750%, quarter to quarter.
So I think it's safe to say that something out of the ordinary his happening in Japan. A strange  and secretive organisation is moving to Windows phone, or somebody has bought remaining stock to place as gifts in noodle packages.
Either that or the Vaio name has sufficient pull to bring customers rushing with their credit cards to pick up one of the company's devices.

Yahoo Breach A Spearphishing Fail - How Vulnerable Are You?

Image
So it's looking like simple social engineering against a single employee was all it took for Yahoo's billion users to have their security breached. This sort of attack is difficult to prevent if individual employees aren't on their guard. No amount of training can legislate against that one unguarded moment, that mistake by a targeted person.
Yahoo will pay the penalty. Initially that's a $400m reduction in its sale price to Verizon. Whether there will be further consequences remains to be seen.
It's a cautionary tale for those who rely on other services too. Have a password manager which syncs your password file across devices? You might be next.
Password managers offer lots of convenience, and for those who struggle with the task of managing passwords across multiple services, they can be something of a godsend.
However if I were the sort of person keen to get their hands on user credentials that would unquestionably be my first point of attack. One win gets y…

Windows Could Have Defined The Future Of Computing, But For Microsoft's Mobile Failure

Image
Android apps on Chromebooks, Chromebooks that act like tablets or hybrids, a Touchbar on MacBook Pros, an iPad that wants to be your computer and tablet, all whilst leveraging commonality and communication with your phone.
It all sounds a bit familiar doesn't it?
This was the roadmap Microsoft outlined when it launched Windows 8, and substantially delivered on through 8.1, 10 and subsequent updates.
It was a roadmap driven by the Universal Windows Platform. A construct which would see developers able to deliver software running on the whole range of platforms, from Windows PCs, through smartphones and consoles; with future products - like HoloLens - joining the party from the get go.
The idea is sound. The software we use should be available on any device we want to use it on, and we should be able to interact with it in the most suitable way for the device and configuration at the time.
Despite offering a potential market of 400m users Microsoft just hasn't been able to get …

Why I'm Holding Out For A Mini iPad Pro

Image
Samsung appears to have killed the 8" version of its range topping Galaxy Tab S Android tablet, whilst it's looking unlikely that Apple will show the smaller iPad much love when it gets around to revamping its tablet line. Microsoft killed the 8" Surface before it got to market and Sony has only the older Z3 tablet available if you'd like your Xperia in the 8" variety.
It seems that OEMs have seen enough from sales figures to be persuaded that this market segment has been killed off by larger phablets.
With Xiaomi and Asus pushing the boundaries of screen size of their 'phones' that's understandable. For most people a large phone and a large tablet make perfect sense together.
Of course it's at this point the question of utility raises its head. Put even a 6" phablet up against an 8" tablet and you'll find that there is no comparison in usable screen space. That's true of any tablet to phablet comparison. But whilst a larger 10…

The Rewards Of Failure? About $23m Apparently

Image
Yahoo wasn't in a good place when it hired Marissa Meyer. Having secured the high-profile, former Google executive to its CEO role, it's probably a given that Yahoo's board weren't expecting to be staring down the barrel of a gun less than five years later.
Nevertheless, through a tenure that has seen value wiped from the business at an astonishing rate, out of control spending with wild bets on companies with no track record of success, multiple security breach scandals and massive job losses; Mayer has massively underperformed expectations; leaving the company in exactly in that position.
So the news she will pocket a handsome $23m payoff when Verizon takes control and replaces her must stick in the throat for out of pocket shareholders and former employees alike.
It's entirely possible that Yahoo was beyond saving when Mayer took control, however it's hard to see how her playbook could have done anything more to damage the business.
Having foregone her bonu…

Rechargeable Batteries Catch Fire And Explode - Still Comfortable With Your AirPods?

Image
What's the one thing we've all become a lot more aware of in the last twelve months? For my money it has to be the volatility of Li-ion batteries. Whilst the Galaxy Note 7 was something of a full on disaster for Samsung it alsocalled out the industry wide problem with battery combustion.
A web search for exploding phones will return just about every OEM's handsets smoking away.
Now it most cases the problems relate to impact damage to the battery inside the combusting device. However Li-ion batteries and impact damage aren't restricted to just smartphones.
Most challengingly: wireless headphones - and especially those wireless headphones that cram most of their bulk into your ear. Apple's AirPods are the most obvious of these, but there are plenty of other versions, most of which don't have the backing of Apple's design and testing teams.
The consequences of a pair of these going up in flames are... well deafening. Not too mention disfiguring, especially a…

Hey Apple, That First Touchscreen Mac Design Is In Your Back Catalogue

Image
This is the Apple iMac G4, a design known throughout the Mac world as the iLamp. It's a thing of beauty, far more so then the later iMacs that followed it. I bring this up because Apple needs to come up with a touchscreen Mac and this design is already most of the way there.
Microsoft's Surface Studio re-invigorated the desktop PC market, but in many ways it takes cues from the iLamp.
Now imagine what Apple could do with a 2017 version of this desktop, rocking 2017 specs and a 2017 screen. Tweak the arm slightly to support touch and stylus positions and you fix the perception that Apple has given up the desktop to Microsoft.
Think that Mac OS isn't built to support touch? You'd be wrong. Apple has supported graphics tablets for graphic designers and artists since the early OS X days. You've even got an impressive handwriting engine in Inkwell. Not to mention all of the apps written specifically to take advantage of graphics tablets as their primary source of input…

Apple Is Updating The iPhone SE - But How Far Will It Go?

Image
Uncharacteristically large discounts on Apple's iPhone SE are a clear marker for an incoming update to the classic 4" iPhone design, whether it arrives with Apple's clutch of new iPads or in a separate dedicated launch event.
The SE is seeing discounts of up to 30% - a clear sign of retailers clearing shelves ready for an updated model.
It's an odds on certainty that Apple will give its smallest phone a storage boost - that 16GB / 64GB range is looking more than a little outdated. 32GB and 128GB models are likely to form the range once Apple reveals its new baby iPhone.
Will Apple go any further with the updates though? 
Changes that Apple could easily make relate mostly to the cameras. The rear camera is crying out for the OIS that the 4.7" iPhone got last year, whilst the 1.2mp front facing camera is laughable in 2017. Neither upgrade should prove too taxing for Apple's engineering team.
Replacing the older Touch ID sensor with the new force touch version …

Ouch! HP Slams Lumia 950 With Tiny Trade-in Valuation

Image
HP's Elite x3 is an enterprise focused smartphone, however HP clearly wants to attract some consumer interest as well and as a result is offering up to £500 trade-in against a new x3.

Consumer interest because this isn't the sort of thing which generally works for enterprise customers.
There are some real gotchas in this trade-in offer though. Like the top level £500 value being available against an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7. I'm struggling to see why anyone with one of these devices would even begin to consider such an offer, even given the x3's prowess as a Windows 10 Mobile.

Clearly this is a ruse to allow HP to offer the £500 headlibe trade-in value.
More realistically, how does it work for Windows Mobile fans and their Lumia 950/XL phones? This seems like the perfect target group for a trade-in offering, given the customer loyalty angle.
If you're a British Lumia 950 owner its probably best to look away now. HP values your eighteen month old device at just  £125…

Playstation Now Will Go Head To Head With Xbox On PC Gaming

Image
Sony has confirmed its Playstation Now service will add PS4 game streaming on PCs in the near future. It currently only offers games from the PS3 back catalogue. Coming so soon after Microsoft's announcement of Xbox Game Pass it's clear Sony views Microsoft's close integration of Xbox and PC as a threat to the dominance of its PS4 system.
It's not an unexpected move, however it does offer PC gamers new and interesting choices. 
Microsoft's offering runs on the Xbox only - for now at least. There's no confirmation that Play Anywhere titles will be included in the subscription. Sony has taken a step further. Playstation Now becomes a Netflix-like service for PS4 games on PC or PS4.
Will it materially affect buyers choices in the future? Probably not. However Microsoft and Sony are in a battle for supremacy which dictates each maintain feature parity with the other.
Being able to extend your gaming to your PC is just the latest area where this is manifesting.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Release Date Set For... June 1? That's Too Late

Image
Sony Xperia XZ Premium picked up a lot of awards and even more mind share after its MWC launch a couple of weeks ago. Today Sony started taking pre-orders for its newest flagship on Amazon UK - but the expected shipping date is June 1st.
That's far too long a wait. By the time Sony actually starts getting devices into customers hands most will have completely forgotten about it.
This isn't a new problem for Sony, who's cycle of announce... delay... release... announce successor caused more problems for its Xperia Z line of flagships than any competitor did.
I know in this case there are mitigating circumstances - availability of the Snapdragon 835 CPU which powers the XZP, as a result of Samsung hoarding them all to themselves. That was hardly an unknown vector though and Sony should really have had the nous to hold back on the announcement until is was at least in the ball park of a shipping date.
The ideal time to announce the XZP would have been some time in early May,…

Crowdfunding Is A Mess, So Where Are The Regulators

Image
Crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are shop fronts masquerading as investment opportunities. Their success rate is somewhere short of terrible and the business model they promote is open for abuse by the sort of people who have no qualms about ripping off the little guy.
Currently ZX Spectrum clone producer RCL is making all the wrong headlines for its late Indiegogo campaign for the Vega+. Cancelled it may be, but only after raking in around $500k in pledges.
There's no scrutiny of a project's ability to deliver the product or service it is seeking funding for. Yet because of the way that these projects are presented, when they do fail it is the investor who is left to carry the can, even though their investment amounts to no more or less than a transfer of property. Or what we usually call a purchase.
It's about time regulators on both sides of the Atlantic started taking an interest in the activities of crowd funding sites, which by virtue of their fee b…

Fingerprint Readers May Not Be Your Most Secure Option

Image
Fingerprint readers are a quick, reliable and convenient method of encouraging users to secure their devices. At a time when we trust more and more of our essential and personal data to our smartphones it becomes more and more important to keep them locked to deter the sort of thief who is after more than just the monetary value of the phone itself.
However well they deter the opportunistic they also open an attack vector to the more determined miscreant: forced fingerprint use.
How easy is it to force someone to unlock their device with a fingerprint? Very easy indeed.
Take a look at all the information you currently access via your phone. Bank accounts, medical records, email accounts which open the door to dozens of other systems via password resets or two-factor authentication.
In future I don't believe a fingerprint will be a sufficiently robust form of security on its own. Especially given the success researchers have had in lifting fingerprints from physical items and even…

Supplier Chain Malware, There's A Bigger Story Here

Image
Checkpoint released a report last week detailing how it had discovered malware installed onto devices belonging to a telecomms company and a technology provider. The handsets, all Android devices, had been tampered with somewhere in the supply chain.
That is important here. The malware wasn't part of the official build nor had it been downloaded by users, it arrived on the handsets but wasn't there when it left the manufacturer.
This is being painted as a weakness in Android - because the flexibility for software to do more means that bad actors have access to more tools when infecting a system.
That's a very small part of this story, which should actually be about industrial espionage. Someone - and I'm assuming its a someone of significant size and resources  - has been able to gain access to these devices somewhere between the manufacturer and customer to install this malware. 
What kind of organisation is able to target devices with such precision and skill, that&…

Microsoft Office, iPhone And Facebook: Game Over, We Have Our Winners

Image
There comes a time in every maturing market that a single player emerges to dominate a market, leaving its opponents nowhere to go but small niches populated by enthusiastic loyalists who fight for the underdog.
Think back thirty years or so, to the recently birthed PC market. Competition was rife. DOS based PCs fought for market share with Macs, Amigas, STs, and a whole host of other machines. For a while Amstrad's CP/M based PCW range cornered 60% of the UK market and seemed set to carve a sizeable market all to itself. Of course we all know what happened next. Microsoft launched Windows 3 and suddenly the world went crazy for Windows. When Windows 95 arrived the battle for PC dominance was done and Windows has reigned supreme ever since.
The size of the Windows installed user base gave it a power no competitor could challenge. Even Apple only survived by first taking investment from Microsoft and then effectively moving its business away from PCs.
Now, in the post-PC era we ar…

Will Apple Deliver A Universal App Platform?

Image
Developers are deserting the Mac App Store, the iPad is losing customers and Apple is zagging towards a more services led business model. It really needs to consider a unified platform that allows developers to code once and publish to an iPad and Mac app store seamlessly.I know that the UWP has been less than successful for Microsoft but at least part of that is down to Microsoft's reliance on a single platform to validate its offer to write once, run anywhere.At the moment there are around 450 million devices running UWP capable operating systems. 420 million of those are running Windows. Those 420m PCs, plus the billion others running older versions of Windows, create their own de facto universal platform: Win32. If you're writing software for profit this is the place to be, the rest (Xbox, Windows Mobile, HoloLens) amounts to little more than a rounding error.Apple is rather different. There are rather more iPads in use than Macs. The proportions are much more even though.…