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Showing posts from March, 2018

Microsoft Needs A New Surface To Compete In Education

The launch of the new 2018 iPad and Acer Chromebook Tab 10 expose a weakness in Microsoft's education line up. While the Surface Pro is a perfect machine for older children and, especially, those in tertiary education, it is completely outgunned in the market for younger students. It just can't compete on price.

Up until the end of 2016 Microsoft had a more entry level Surface in its line-up and it was a well received device. The Surface 3 was cheaper and more accessible than the Pro, being smaller, lighter and powered by a mobile phone compatible micro-USB charger.
Given that it was launched way back in 2015 it's something of a surprise that Microsoft hasn't felt the need to introduce a new model to compete in the same space.
There's talk of the new Andromeda device - a folding tablet with phone capabilities - being that new device, but I'm struggling to see how Microsoft could bring it to market anywhere near the $400 price ceiling for the schools and parent…

Clear Evidence Of Cellphones Causing Radiation In Rats Discovered

A two-year study of the effects of cell phones on rates, undertaken by the US National Toxicology Program has uncovered 'clear evidence' that cell phones cause cancer in rats. This troubling conclusion has been backed up by peer review and the numbers were determined to be statistically significant.
This study backs up the findings of a 2011 report based on research from a number of different institutions across many countries. That report found that heavy mobile phone usage was linked to brain cancers and led to the World Health Organisation calling for mobile phones to be labelled as carcinogenic.
With the whole world having moved to mobile phones for, well just about everything, this raises some serious questions about the damage smartphones are doing to our bodies. Just about everybody has their smartphone in close proximity to their body twenty-four hours a day.
The implications of this news if enormous. Potentially as large as the discovery, more then seventy years ago,…

Apple Homework: A Vision For iPads In The Classroom

You can't argue with the quality of Apple's marketing. This spot, released coincide with the new 2018 iPad and the company's re-focusing on the education market, makes a compelling argument for the iPad in and out of the classroom.
Whilst Chromebooks (and to a lesser extent Windows) continue to show success in the education market, it's hard to argue that the iPad is the more likely device to engage children with their subjects.
Which I suspect is exactly the point this video is trying to make.

Need Windows, Choose Windows, Love Windows... Dump Windows

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it is reorganising its business, de-emphasising Windows and moving further into the provision of cloud and services as it looks to the future. Terry Myerson, Windows Executive Vice President  will leave the company and the Windows team becomes just a component of the all-new Experiences and Devices Group in the business. That business now sits under the stewardship of the Microsoft Office Group.
This may seem like a simple reshuffling of a large business, but it's suggestive of Microsoft's view of the future under Satya Nadella's leadership. Windows becomes a necessary evil, retained only to serve enterprise customers with a platform for their legacy apps. Microsoft will be working to move those customers to Azure and Office 365 
So what happens to the desktop? 
Windows 10 will still exist for the foreseeable future and Microsoft is moving towards a version of Windows 10 which eschews legacy Win32 features and approaches the simplicity…

Formula E: Racing A Passenger Jet Plane Or Two

Formula E and Qatar Airways announced an agreement for the airline to be title sponsor of the Paris and New York races in season four.
To publicise the partnership, Dragon Racing and ex-F1 driver Jerome D'Ambrosio took his machine up against two of Qatar's jets at the Hamad International Airport in Doha.
With Qatar's involvement on sponsoring the series, I wonder how long it is before the streets of Doha join the calendar?

Tesla Confirms Autopilot Engaged In Highway Fatality

Tesla has confirmed that the Model X involved in last Friday's fatal accident was under the control of Autopilot. It also confirmed that the car's software had warned the driver to resume hands-on supervision of the steering several times in the run up to the crash.
This further strengthens the argument that Tesla has oversold the capabilities of its Autopilot system and as a result, drivers have become very comfortable - too comfortable - with allowing the computer to drive the car. The result is that, far from paying the attention that driving a car demands, attention is wandering and the result is that when something goes wrong, the results are disastrous.
Both fatalities, as well as a number of non-fatal accidents, plus the recent Uber pedestrian fatality, have had elements of driver inattention as part of the chain of events which caused the incidents.
Tesla needs to make additional efforts to ensure that drivers are paying attention to the vehicle they are driving, if t…

F1: Haas Performance Sets Rivals Tongues Wagging

The Haas F1 team had half of an exceptional weekend in Australia's season opening Grand Prix. Drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified well and were heading for a fourth and fifth place finish before wheel nut problems eliminated both cars.
For Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Force India - teams with more history and more budget to develop their cars - this came as something as a shock and members of all three teams have been accusing the American team of breaking the sport's rules around independence.
Haas buys all of the parts of its car it can from Ferrari. Its rivals are now claiming that the partnership goes beyond that, to the point where the Haas VF-18 is actually last year's Ferrari.
Team boss Gunther Steiner poured scorn on those claims immediately after the race - claiming the drivers and team principals involved were "talk(ing) without intelligence and without knowledge". A bold statement and one rather backed up by his point about the wh…

Uber In Settlement With Autonomous Accident Victim's Family

The Guardian is reporting that Uber has come to an undisclosed settlement with the family of Elaine Herzberg, the pedestrian killed in a collision with one of Uber's self driving Volvos. 

The haste with which the settlement has been reached is concerning for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it allows Uber to avoid litigation and thus difficult questions about the way it has been running its self driving tests?  And secondly, what potential liability did Uber's legal team seek to avoid disclosing if a civil action occurred?
I may be overly cynical, but when a corporation rolls over so quickly - especially one with such a contentious history as Uber - I really struggle to believe it's an altruistic move designed to spare the victim's family further suffering.
Whatever Herzberg's husband and daughter received in this settlement won't bring Elaine Herzberg back, but you can be sure it was an amount many time less than Uber was at risk of losing had a liability tria…

Nintendo Needs An Accessory Certification Program

Nintendo recently released an update for its Switch console and in the process bricked the devices of users of third party docks and some other accessories. With most units still under warranty and Nintendo committing to repairing them, the biggest loss will be some user data.

That said, the fact that a simple upgrade can cause such chaos must be of concern. The Switch uses a standard USB-C port for data and power transfer, it's inconcievable that Nintendo didn't realise customers would turn to the wide range of USB-C docks and chargers to fill in the gaps in Nintendo's limited accessory catalogue.

To avoid this problem in future Nintendo needs to work with third party accessory manufacturers to certify their products so that Switch owners can trick out their devices with confidence.
The Switch has been a surprise success for Nintendo, it would be a shame to spoil that by saddling it with a bad name for the sake of maintaining a few branded accessory sales.

Now Seems Like Really Bad Time For Sony To Be Considering A New Android Tablet

Yesterday we learned of two new tablets.  One,  the iPad,  was as expected; the other the Acer Chromebook Tablet 10, less so but still no great surprise. The Acer is the first of a new breed,  one which promises the imminent death of the Android tablet. So rumours that Sony is about to go big on Android tablets just seems a little bizarre. The company had a truly competitive Android tablet three years ago and did little with it. No marketing push,  no updates no refreshed hardware. So why jump back in just when the ship is about to sink? It seems extremely foolhardy. Examining the evidence I'd have to say this isn't going to happen. The story is based on some code in the Xperia XZ2 camera app which suggests the app is written to support both an 8" and 10" screen size. Sony may well have code in its camera app which suggests this,  but I'd guess that to be something more likely to be a development hangover from a time when Sony was working on Z3 and Z4 tablet code…

Uber, Tesla Self Driving Cars Need Better Humans To Prevent More Accidents

Aside from the issues with Uber's sensors and the capabilities of the automation software Uber is using, last week's pedestrian fatality highlighted one important issue: the human safety driver is a weak point in the testing process. 
The safety driver in the Tempe accident was clearly distracted - whether she could have prevented the accident or not is immaterial.
Tesla's fatal accident last year was also the result of the car's driver not paying attention - in this case he was watching a video when his car slammed into a truck, fatally injuring him. This despite some efforts from Tesla to warn drivers to retain control of their vehicles.
The weak point in self driving cars - especially those seeking to be fully autonomous and currently in testing  - is that they are good enough to lull the driver into a false sense of security. The boredom and routine of being driven around sets in and the driver's attention wanders. 
With fatal consequences.
Tesla has taken ste…

Unsurprisingly, Oracle And Google's Java Spat Is Headed To The Supreme Court

Oracle's purchase of Sun Microsytems back in 2010 set up a courtroom battle which is still no nearer resolution than it was then.The battle, over the use of Java APIs in Android just went through a further level of pointless decision making in the California Federal Court,  which rules Google did infringe Oracle's copyright, it wasn't covered by fair use and there were damages due to Oracle as a result.There are two possible next steps here. Google accepts the verdict and the case goes to the District Court to decide damages, or Google appeals to the Supreme Court.It's not hard to guess which one of those options is more likely. Whenever this gets a final decision - and three years seems to be a reasonable timescale - it will fundamentally change the way software development is undertaken.If Oracle prevails the likelihood is that we will see a whole new generation of copyright infringement cases.

Tesla Model X Involved In Possible Self Driving Fatality

Tesla and the NTSB are investigating an accident involving a Model X which occurred last week, resulting in the death of the driver of the vehicle.

Whilst the cause of the accident is still unknown and it isn't even clear whether Auto Pilot was in use or not, there's fairly solid evidence to suggest that poor highway maintenance of road furniture was responsible for the poor outcome. Whatever the cause this is unfortunate timing for all of those currently pursuing autonomous vehicles, coming so soon after Uber's incident.

The Model X appears to have driven straight into the end of a concrete lane divider, causing what Tesla is categorising as an unprecedented level of damage to the vehicle. Following the accident the Tesla's battery packs caught fire, although the slow burn characteristics of the batteries allowed rescuers to retrieve the victim before the fire reached him.

Tesla has show pictures of the site of the accident taken the day before the accident and some tim…

OnePlus In Damage Limitation Mode Ahead Of Launch Of New Flagship

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has been defending the design of the company's latest flagship device before it has even been unveiled. The company has apparently been stung by criticism of Android phones copying the iPhone X notch and is looking to get out ahead of the barrage of criticism it's sure to face when the OnePlus 6 actually arrives.

In this case it reached out to Verge staffer Vlad Savov, a vocal critic of the notch on Android phones, to try and explain the reasons for the notch, the chin and OnePlus's design decisions over the planning of the new phone.
The gist of what sounds like a long and whiny session is that OnePlus feels the extra screen estate which the horns of the screen enable are justification for putting a notch into its phone. Which would be believable if the company hadn't waited for Apple to get there first.

His case is not helped by admitting to taking inspiration for its gestures feature direct from iOS 11.

My problem with his claim of the ben…

Waymo Announces Jaguar Partnership

Google's autonomous car division, Waymo,  has announced a partnership with Jaguar Land Rover which will see the purchase of up to 20,000 Jaguar I-pace electric vehicles, which will be upgraded with Waymo's self driving technology ahead of the roll-out of the world's first autonomous taxi service in 2020.
Or at least that's the theory. In practice the unfortunate tragedy in Tempe last week might impact all autonomous vehicle plans, not just Uber's.
Arizona, the state in which Waymo intended to launch its service, has been the first to sanction Uber following the fatality. Uber is now no longer licensed to carry out autonomous testing in the state. That's likely to be followed by a broader review of the safety of self-driving cars in general. And Arizona has been chosen by these services because they had the most relaxed self-driving regulations in the US.
Waymo might just find that a rather higher standard of safety is required before any self-driving servic…

Lytro To Shut Down, No Google Deal

In a reversal of last week's news,  it appears that Google isn't acquiring Lytro after all. Instead some of the company's staff will be moving to the search giant. The bare statement in Lytro's website leaves a lot of questions unanswered. For example,  if the company is closing down,  what's happening to its patent portfolio and the technology which made light field photography a reality?It seems unlikely that it's just a handful of staff moving to Google unless it turns out that Lytro's patent portfolio is either weak or non-existant. In which case Google may have decided to just cherry pick some key staff.Either way,  after a decade it's a messy end to Lytro and its promises to change photography.

Is Battery Life Really A Big Win For Windows 10 PCs Running ARM

Just how much battery life do you need from your Windows 10 PC?  That's a question which will become a bigger part of any future buying decision as new Windows on ARM laptops start arriving,  claiming epic battery life and always connected capabilities. It's clear from looking at reviews of the first of these new Windows 10 PCs, there's a compromise to be made in performance, as well as some limitations on what can be run in x86 emulation mode. Would the promise of 20 hour battery life persuade you to accept these lower levels of performance? Should it even be a consideration? For most users I suspect that the additional battery run time will be of no consequence. A standard working day runs ten to twelve hours and current Intel designs can easily manage that. The m3 powered Surface Pro which I use day to day is a perfect example. It goes onto my desk at 8.30 in the morning with a full charge, driving two external monitors whilst connected to the wireless network. It does …

Huawei Mate RS Has In-display Fingerprint Scanner

As well as the P20, Huawei announced a new Porsche Design collaboration, the Mate RS. This high end phone packs an upgraded screen with a higher resolution and curved edges,  but more importantly embeds a fingerprint sensor under that display. As only the second phone with this technology and the first from a mainstream player this makes the Mate RS a landmark phone. Assuming the technology delivers,  which given its placement on such a high end device,  we should be able to take as read. For those concerned about performance or reliability, Huawei has also included a more traditional sensor on the back of the phone. Last point of note here is that Huawei has indeed upped the game on storage,  with a 512GB option available for those who want significant future proofing of their storage needs. With a price in the same region as the iPhone X, this isn't likely to be a volume seller,  even in the territories where it will be available.

Huawei P20 Pro Is A Work Of Genius

Huawei has upped its game over recent years, its phones will able to compete with Apple and Samsung. With the P20 Pro, Huawei has taken a step forward and down that it can innovate and deliver its own take on the premium smartphone, which not only doesn't draw on the others for inspiration, but offers new and fresh thinking.The triple camera pack is outrageously exciting, with it's 40mp camera delivering the same grouped pixel trickery as the Lumia 1020 to create a sensor which can see in the dark. The mono and telephoto  cameras should add to the photography experience.Huawei has also upped its game in the AI part of its camera suite. Including removing OIS in favor of a software replacement which the company claims will allow 5 second long exposures without a tripod. If that claim holds up Huawei goes straight to the top of the class.Then there's the notch. Huawei has given users two options. Have the extended screen or crop the display to remove the notch. As the P20 Pr…

New iPad Gains Pencil Support, Classroom Appeal

As expected Apple launched a new iPad today with updated processor and sensors, as well as support for the Pencil. New features for schools only, as well as some similarly restricted and highly targeted Logitech accessories make the iPad a much more rounded competitor in the education market.For consumers the new iPad looks to be an even bigger hit. The new iPad is effectively the previous iPad Pro 9.7" shorn of its smart connector but with added smarts.That makes it something of a bargain at its $329 launch price. Add a Pencil and a Bluetooth keyboard and you have a pretty good computer replacement. This looks like a big seller to me, and probably the most tightly focused product Apple has launched in years. Given the potential of Chromebook tablets it needed to be.The hoped for bump in the iPad Mini never happened, which means the iPad line currently contains the best and worst products in Apple's lineup today.

Xiaomi Intros Mi Mix 2S, Third Generation Bezel Free Smartphone

There aren't many devices which have had me drooling the first time I laid eyes on them, but the most recent was certainly the original Xiaomi Mi Mix. A 6.4" full screen smartphone which eliminated bezels almost completely. That front panel was jaw dropping in a way the iPhone X or Galaxy S8 never managed.
Yes the phone was hamstrung by the Xiaomi MIUI skin, the certain knowledge that it was never going to be upgraded and a pretty average camera. The positioning of the front facing camera at the bottom of the phone was challenging too, requiring you to invert the phone for any semblance of a decent selfie. But all that said, this was still one of the most stunning phones of 2016.
Xiaomi were ahead of the game with the Mi Mix and today it introduced the third generation of its bezel-free range topper.
Externally not much has changed compared to the Mi Mix 2, with only the new dual 12mp camera pack, which apes the iPhone X layout. The screen is still the smaller 6" versio…

Foxconn Wants Consumer Presence, Buys Belkin

Foxconn is the contract manufacturer for the iPhone, amongst other smartphones. It's business is very much reliant on the continued growth of the smartphone industry in general and the iPhone in particular.That represents a high level of risk, especially as the market matures and considerations of Peak Smartphone must be made. Foxconn needs to grow and diversify its business and, flush with cash as a result of its contract manufacturing endeavours, the company has found a target which will help them achieve that.Belkin.You might know Belkin most for its range of smartphone cases and accessories, but a major part of its business is Linksys network hardware and Wemo home automation devices. Which makes it an attractive purchase for Foxconn, but it isn't a deal which is sealed just yet. Foreign ownership of network infrastructure makes Americans jumpy. Chinese ownership of the same will have them leaping out of their chairs. Even if this is consumer rather than enterprise devices…

Box Kills Microsoft Store Apps

Cloud storage service Box is canning it's Microsoft Store apps, effectively thumbing it's nose at the idea that Windows 10 users will seek out those apps for security or stability purposes. That's a big problem for Microsoft, which failed to gain traction with Windows 10 S, whose users would have required these apps to use Box.With Windows 10 S now a fading memory, many more companies are going to be questioning the viability of their Store apps. After all around 40% of Windows users are on Windows 7 and won't benefit from the Store version of the app.Better to stick to Win32 apps which run in the desktop, run on a greater number of systems and can better service a user's synchronisation requirements.Given how few big names have arrived in the Store as a result of the launch of Windows 10 S, losing those that are there is going to hurt the credibility of S mode - Microsoft's shot at keeping Windows 10 S alive - creating a vicious circle that ends up with an emp…

Acer Brings A Chromebook To The Education Tablet Fight

With Apple about to bring a new low end iPad to the education market, current US market leader Google needed a response and, thanks to Acer, it has one. The first ever Chromebook tablet, no less.There's plenty to discuss with this announcement. Its timing, so close to an Apple event as to ensure nobody is in any doubt of its target. Chromebooks lead the education market in the US, based on a combination of price and reliability. With a cheaper iPad incoming, and the appeal of a tablet over a laptop, for certain groups of users, Google risked losing some of the momentum it has to Apple.The rumours that the iPad will also pack support for the Pencil have obviously reached Google and Acer, as the new Chromebook Tablet will pack a Wacom emr stylus, which has two massive advantages over the Pencil in the education space - it fits inside the tablet in its own silo and it never requires charging or battery replacement.Aside from competing with the iPad in education,  the Chromebook 10 si…

F1: ESPN Blows First Grand Prix Broadcast

F1 fans in the US had a new broadcaster to evaluate for the Australian Grand Prix. ESPN took over broadcasting duties from NBC and made a complete pig's ear of proceedings, leaving fans fuming.The list of problems was long and varied. From taking Sky's coverage feed without adding any local resources, then trying to squeeze in advertising to the ad-free feed from the UK.Predictably this didn't go well. The key moments of the race were lost to the ads and with no local commentary team to fill in the gaps viewers were left to draw their own conclusions from the missing minutes. For many, ESPN's effort looked like employing one person with a button to run a commercial break on a predefined schedule and nothing else. It wasn't good enough. ESPN has clearly received this message, it apologised once the extent of viewer's feelings became known on Sunday and now has a couple of weeks before Bahrain to make some improvements. Hopefully this will be a service which impr…

F1: Australia Was A Reminder Of Kevin Magnussen's Raw Speed

One of the driver's of the day in Australia was Dane Kevin Magnussen. The Haas driver qualified an impressive sixth place on the grid  and looked set for a fourth placed finish after a strong first stint where he had passed Red Bull's Max Verstappen into turn one and withstood pressure for the first ten laps, before Verstappen spun away his challenge.
Those first twenty-two laps were perhaps the finest of KMag's career thus far. Fast, aggressive and perfectly controlled.
Unfortunately, an as yet undisclosed problem caused the Haas to leave the pits with a loose wheel, causing an immediate retirement. A similar problem affected teammate  Romain Grosjean, who had inherited fourth place as a result of Magnussen's pit stop.
The pace of the Haas was pretty impressive and having an American team up at the sharp end of the grid won't hurt Liberty Media's plans for F1 in the future. More importantly it should give KMag the opportunity to show more of his capabilities …

New Zealand Is Over Complicating The Apple Tax Problem

Over the last decade Apple has paid no tax on its $4.2bn of sales in New Zealand. Along with other large internet multinationals - like Google and Facebook - it has used the global nature of its business to evade taxation. The New Zealand Government has decided time has come to end that practice and new tax regulation aimed at neutralising base erosion and profit shifting is current under review.
The regulation has a number of criteria, which if met by the company prevent some of the accounting tricks used to shift profit offshore, including loading the subsidiary with debt, manipulating the interest rate of loans and transfer pricing between domains.
It's going to be a difficult and expensive regulation to manage and maintain.
The EU's proposal is much simpler and far easier to implement. Firms with revenues over a certain threshold will be taxed as a percentage of revenue. That becomes an almost impossible tax to avoid.
NZ needs to look at the EU regulation and borrow from …

F1: Vettel Rides Luck To Win In Australia

Sebastien Vettel managed to take victory in the season opening Australian Grand Prix for the second year in succession, but unlike last year, where the Ferrari driver required a tactical mistake from Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team to steal victory, this year he needed both the tactical error and a virtual car intervention to sneak victory.
In both instances victory should have gone to Lewis Hamilton. Critically, the gap between Hamilton and Vettel was significantly larger than last year, but for the intervention of the Virtual Safety Car, Vettel would have finished third, behind team mate Raikonnen.
Once again the race was relatively free of overtaking. In the final fifteen laps we had Hamilton behind Vettel, Ricciardo behind Raikonnen and Verstappen behind Alonso; and even with the aid of double DRS, none were able to pass the slower car in front of them.
Compare that to the incredible races we've seen in Formual E already this season and you can see why Liberty Media is des…

Spotify's Freeloading Users Could Cause It Serious Problems

Spotify has announced that as many as two million of its ad-supported account users are using the service without ever hearing any ads. This is very likely to have an impact on the way Spotify runs its business in future.
How are these users bypassing the ads on the free service? Looks like its a workaround enabled by Spotify's API, which allows third parties to write software which interfaces with the service. Spotify makes no income from these users, but will still find itself liable for the fees due to the artists in question. Whether that has an impact on the company's bottom line rather depends on how its contracts with the rights holders is structured.
In the short-term Spotify will need to establish who the users are who are who have been stealing its service and disconnect them. It may even decide to pursue those users for the subscription fees they would have paid had they been using the service in line with the terms and conditions.
In the longer term, Spotify may d…

Hublot Joins The Smartwatch Game With 2018 World Cup Limited Edition

Hublot will join other premium Swiss Watch brands and release an Android Wear - Wear OS powered smartwatch.
In Hublot's case this will be a limited edition clock, with just 2,018 examples created, a number of which will be used by referees at the World Cup. The remainder of the batch will be made available to the general  public at a price of $5,000. Which is relatively cheap for a Swiss Watch made in such limited numbers, but rather more uncertain for a smartwatch of this type.
Whilst the watch will provide updates on match progress and scores, that seems an unlikely selling point, seeing as there are numerous options for setting up alerts for World Cup games, never mind just about every other sport in existence.
So what will the referees be using the watch for during the World Cup matches? Apparently it will be linked to the goal line technology to signal whether the ball has crossed the line in contentious plays.
It's likely that Hublot will join others like TAG-Heuer in b…

How Much Smartphone Storage Is Enough

Phone storage has become less of a hot topic than it once was. 32GB seems to have become the new default entry level, even for Apple, with many Android OEMs starting at 64gb.
With phone sensor sizes static in the 12 - 20mpx range and 4K video still not an absolute must do, the biggest draws on storage have stabilised. However, we're now hearing that 512GB might be the new high bar for on board storage. With this week's Huawei P20 launch set to lead the charge.
I wonder if this is a valid requirement or if it is just an attempt to drive up the average selling price of devices. After all, most Android phones come equipped with expandable storage which can accommodate micro SD cards up to 2TB in capacity. When they become available.
In the meantime it's entirely possible to pack your phone with sufficient storage to address your photo, video and app storage without paying over the odds for storage you might never actually use. 
For everyone except iPhone and Pixel buyers you…

Facebook Collection Of Android Call Data Was Opt-in

Yesterday we started to hear about a horrible abuse of access by Facebook, which had apparently been collecting user's contact, call and messaging information.Except that this was far from the truth. Facebook collects this information from users who choose to use their Facebook Messenger app as their primary SMS app. There are obvious advantages to doing this as it allows users to bypass SMS fees if their messages can be sent over the Messenger network.More importantly, and as pointed out by Facebook this morning, this was an opt-in-service. Users were told what would happen if they chose to use this service and if they decide to stop doing so their data is deleted. There is much that is wrong with Facebook, but trashing the company for what it is doing right is neither helpful nor reasonable.In this instance the user chose to share that data with Facebook in exchange for certain features. No foul by Facebook.

Microsoft's Shift Away From Consumers Is Being Reflected In Windows User Numbers

Microsoft has been backing away from consumer users for a while now, abandoning those products which don't appeal to corporate buyers. The net result is that the market for Windows - and by extension Windows hardware - is shrinking. Customers are finding that they need to use their PCs less often, because their smartphones or tablets do the job more conveniently.Those still buying are as likely to choose a Mac or Chromebook as a Windows laptop. The iPad itself is gaining more capabilities which allow it to better replace a laptop.Evidence for this shrinkage of the Windows user base has been uncovered by MSPoweruser which has parsed Microsoft's user numbers from its developer portal to show that overall Windows users have fallen from 1.5bn to 1.3bn.Whilst Enterprise demands will keep Windows 10 relevant for years to come, its number of active users will continue to fall, as consumers abandon the platform in greater numbers.

Qualcomm's Board Gets Re-elected, But Without Enthusiasm

After a torturous battle for independence was won in its hostile takeover battle with Broadcom, the ten Qualcomm board members who survived, have successfully been re-elected to their positions, even if they were given only lukewarm support.
The scale of the challenge is now clear. Qualcomm must prepare for further hostile attempts on it's independence, governed by a board with little support from shareholders and all whilst fighting a bitter patent and licensing dispute for Apple.
Broadcom may be gone, but there's a long way before Qualcomm can be said to be home and dry. To paraphrase the great Douglas Adams, you couldn't even say they were home and vigorously towelling off.

Google Discounts Pixel 2, PIxel 2 XL

If you're after a new Pixel 2 right now, Google has some good news for you. The smaller phone is discounted by $100, whilst the larger Pixel 2 XL has $200 off if you purchase in Google's interest-free payment plan.
This seems to be a direct response to the arrival of the Galaxy S9, which is cheaper and in a lot of ways (read everything but the camera and durability) better than Google's offering. The strongest argument the Pixel 2 makes against the Galaxy S9 is that it will get updated quicker when the next version of Android arrives.
Google sold just 3.9 million phones last year. That's not nearly enough - especially when the company has just ponied up $1bn for HTC's smartphone engineering team. Whether discounting the Pixel 2 is going to make a big difference to that number is open to question.
What would improve those sales numbers would be officially bringing the Pixel smartphone to the rest of the world. Until then Google will remain a bit-part player on the …

Never Again Should A Child Have Their Future Stolen Through A Lack Of Gun Control

Millions of schoolchildren came together to march for gun control in America this weekend, they were joined by parents who never want to face the spectre of losing a child in the way that parents in Columbine, Red Lake, Blacksburg, Newton or Parkland did.
In the last forty days, 24 American students have lost their lives to guns in schools. In my lifetime more than 450 schoolchildren have lost their lives to gun crime in schools.
This surely cannot carry on. We have said this before, and nothing has changed. With the rate at which gun deaths in schools is increasing though, now is the time to make it happen. That the very children exposed to this danger are the ones leading the campaign should be at once a source of great pride and great shame for every right thinking American.
And for those seeking to retain the status quo I have no words. 
#enough.
The poster above is part of a set commissioned by AdAge, to support the marchers this weekend. All have a strong message, this one for …

Will New iPad Support Apple's Pencil

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is being reported on several website today suggesting that the new non-Pro iPad will support the Apple Pencil. Which seems pretty counterintuitive given that feature is one of the defining items in the iPad Pro arsenal.

However, with the smaller iPad Pro having jumped to a larger screen and gained improved audio and display technologies, Apple may feel comfortable adding Pencil support on the basis that the smaller screened iPad is sufficiently differentiated from the Pro to not cannibalise sales.

Why would Apple want to offer Pencil support on its cheapest iPad? That would be for education appeal - which is why the new iPad might arrive at this week's education themed Field Trip event.

Whilst the prospect of a Pencil enabled standard iPad is appealing, I'd really like to see the same feature added to a refreshed iPad Mini. An 8" tablet with stylus support is something l would whole-heartedly embrace. Unfortunately l think I'm very…

China Trade Tariffs Promise Rocky Road For Technology Companies - Especially Apple

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order today, introducing up to $60bn of trade tariffs on Chinese goods. Whilst the exact details of what will and won't be included won't be known for fifteen days, high tech products are expected to feature highly on the list.
Which means that technology companies across the world are going to be quaking in their boots, given as most of their manufacturing has moved to China.
Apple would appear to be particularly heavily exposed, with a significant chunk of its China made iPhone, iPad and Mac sales coming from within the US. Other brands will be similarly hurt, especially Lenovo. 
For Apple pushing the price up on devices without making any extra profit will be painful and it's likely to look for alternative options for manufacturing US bound phones. It's recent partnership with Foxconn to start building iPhones in India would seem like a good candidate, if it can quickly expand to provide multiple product lines at volume…

Video Evidence From Autonomous Uber Fatality Suggests Technology Failure

Video captured by the self-driving Uber involved in last weeks pedestrian fatality suggests that the car in question should have been able to avoid the impact, even if the driver wouldn't necessarily have been able to.
The dashcam video is interesting for ascertaining the root cause of the accident, if not for apportioning blame - which in litigation happy America is likely to be the most important part of the police investigation.
As with many road fatalities there are a number of contributing factors which led to the accident. The pedestrian was pushing a bike across a road in near darkness, wearing no reflective clothing. She was in an area of heavy shadow and became visible only in the last two seconds before impact.
A human driver has a normal reaction time between 1.5 and 2.5 seconds in these circumstances. Which means only the very fastest reacting drivers may have had sufficient time to lose speed or take avoiding action to prevent a fatality.
The Uber Volvos are equipped…

Huawei Begins P20 Offensive By Picketing Apple Stores

Huawei's P20 needs to be a big success in Europe, now that the company has been shut out of the US as a result of concerns about the political implications of allowing a big Chinese OEM to gain a foothold in the country.
The UK has the most important mobile market in Europe and it looks like Huawei has targeted success here. At least its mobile billboards parked in prominent locations, coincidentally outside Apple Stores (and some Samsung ones) suggest so.
Huawei has been making great strides in getting its smartphones to compete directly with Apple and Samsung - its partnership with Leica in particular bearing fruit in camera quality. The Mate 10 - current range topper - manages to be close to the best from Samsung and Apple in all respects, whilst remaining 25-30% cheaper.
That saving comes at the expense of timely updates and this remains the final step which Huawei needs to address before it can claim to match the big two as a premium brand.
At which point it can probably giv…

Blackberry QNX To Underpin Jaguar Land Rover In Car Systems

Blackberry, the company which doesn't make smartphones anymore, as opposed to Blackberry the name licensed to TCL to market its smartphones, has one good string left in its bow, QNX.That real time, Linux based OS is finding a new market for Blackberry - in car systems. The latest will be from Tata of India brands Jaguar and Land Rover who have announced a partnership which will see in car and security systems from the premium brands powered by Blackberry's platform. The success of its non-smartphone operations may have an impact on the smartphone business in the future. I can definitely see a time when Blackberry rebrands it's business and sells the Blackberry name to TCL.

Nintendo Switch Had A Record Breaking First Year, So Where To Now

With first year sales expected to top fourteen million units, Nintendo's Switch just displaced the Wii and PS4 as the most successful console launch of all time. It's an amazing turnaround from the disaster which was the Wii U. That console managed fewer sales in its near six year lifespan than the Switch has achieved in just one year.
A successful second year is going to be entirely dependent upon support from third party publishers and their willingness to bring big name titles to the Switch. Games that standout at the moment include FIFA 18, Minecraft, NBA2k18 and Doom. It's nowhere near enough.
Still, Nintendo's success thus far has been a pleasant surprise, so who knows what it can achieve in year two?

Huawei Being Forced Out of The US

Having been dumped by both AT&T and Verizon, apparently at the behest of the US Government, Huawei has been relying on retail sales through stores like Best Buy to maintain a presence in the country. 
That may be about to change, as Best Buy has been reported to be dropping the brand. Leaving direct imports as the only method for fans to get their fix of phones like the Mate 10 and P20. 
There's a question outstanding over how this will affect the Honor sub-brand. Logic would suggest that it will, given the Government's concerns with Huawei's links to the Chinese Government. 
With America blocked off to it, Huawei's plans to dominate the smartphone market will have to go on hold. Chances are the company will double down on Europe and Asia to maintain its momentum.

Google To Acquire Digital Light Field Specialist Lytro

Remember the Lytro Light Field Camera, which allowed a user to change the focus of a photo after it had been taken?

It's now being reported Google is about to acquire the company for up to $40m. That is a steep discount on the valuations Lytro achieved as it raised $200m in funding.

No doubt Google will look to incorporate the Lytro technology into a future Pixel phone, although any deal is almost certainly too late for the incoming Pixel 3.

More evidence, as if it were needed, that cameras are seen by smartphone manufacturers as a significant point of differentiation in a mature market.

With Wunderlist Stagnating, You Can Go To Todoist For Task Management

As a Wunderlist user, it has been painful to watch the snail like progress Microsoft has been making with its planned replacement for the task manager, To Do. There has never been a time when To Do has even begun to look like a viable replacement for Wunderlist.
And now we know why. Christian Reber, founder of the company, has said that the issues relate to two items - AWS and Azure; and Outlook integration.
Microsoft acquired a product which ran on Amazon's cloud, which has meant porting it over to Azure and recoding it into To Do as they go. Apparently the change is hard. Add in the need to integrate with existing Microsoft products and you begin to see how Microsoft has been trying to push sand up hill since acquiring Wunderlist and trying to convert it into To Do.
Whilst Wunderlist works okay for now, Microsoft has made it clear that the product will die in favour of To Do. However, since Microsoft has made it clear that the service is for the scrapheap, it seems like a good …

Just What Is So Surprising About Facebook Selling Your Data

Facebook - along with other services which offer something for nothing - has a very simple premise. You don't pay for the service with cold hard cash, because you and, more specifically, data about you are the product, which Facebook sells to whoever wants it. Normally that's advertising companies looking to target potential customers based on their social activity.
Usually, but not always. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, that information was used to influence the result of the 2016 US Elections.
You'll hear the Cambridge Analytica incident characterised as a data breach in many news stories over the next few days. That's technically not true. There was no data breach because Facebook provided access to the data in return for a fee. Furthermore, the users who were affected will have accepted Facebook's terms of service which state - and I am paraphrasing here - 'all your data belong to us'.
It's received wisdom that for any given internet service y…

Will A 40mpx Camera Persude You To Overlook The Huawei P20's Notch

German website WinFuture has uncovered further details of the Huawei P20 and in at least one model we may be about to see a camera which moves the game on in a way not seen since Nokia unveiled the Lumia 1020 with its 41mpx camera.
The information suggests the three cameras on the P20 Pro will be an 8mpx telephoto, 20mpx mono sensor and a 40mpx main RGB sensor. 
That promises a smartphone camera experience which changes the game, combining the resolution of that RGB sensor with the light sensitivity of the mono sensor to produce a different class of photo. 
What about the notch though. We know the P20 range is coming with a screen cut-out which is halfway between the Essential Ph1 and the iPhone X. That's going to be something that annoys every time you look at the screen. 
My only reservation here is that the images of the triple sensor P20 Pro don't show a sufficiently large camera bump to squeeze in a sensor large enough to usefully accommodate 40mpx . 
So, exceptional cam…

Self Driving Uber Crash Investigation Already Mired In Controversy

The accident which claimed the life of a 49 year old pedestrian earlier this week, was always going to be under the microscope. The first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle and involving Uber too.Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle that preliminary investigation suggests neither car nor backup driver were at fault for the accident. That has brought accusations of victim blaming and whitewash.Moir's comments suggest that the victim stepped from a shadowed pavement into the path of the vehicle, leaving no time for the driver - human or otherwise - to take evasive action.The backlash against Moir's comments seems unwarranted. Having briefly dabbled in accident investigation myself (many years ago) I can say that sometimes the cause of a crash is obvious right from the start.Given the additional evidence provided by the car's cameras, it doesn't seem unreasonable to reach a preliminary conclusion this quickly.That doesn't ne…