Category: Technology


BlackBerry maker RIM offers its software for Android, iOS users

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has allowed apps Google’s Android operating system to run on its BlackBerry Playbook tablet thanks to an emulator. Now it seems to want to return the favor by offering its software to Android and Apple’s iOS users.

According to a story from Ars Technica, RIM is offering its device management software to both its major competitors. The company made the announcement today that it would make the software available to Android and iPhone owners, which would allow users to manage those devices alongside BlackBerry devices using the software.

The new software is called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and gives a lot of the same device management controls that BlackBerry customers enjoy (like remote phone locking and wiping and security features) to non-BlackBerry phones. It’s an acknowledgment on RIM’s part that it’s slowly losing its dominance in the field of business. While BlackBerry devices are still used heavily in enterprise, companies are also allowing employees to bring their own phones and use them.

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows RIM to continue to support its devices among businesses, even if its users also have other devices. RIM is aiming to become the “de facto platform” for device management among enterprise users, according to Alan Panezic, VP of enterprise product management at RIM. So while BlackBerry devices might be losing their market share, RIM doesn’t intend to be forgotten: it may just have to change the way it does things.

RIM has its work cut out for it, though. Its BlackBerry devices still curry a lot of favor among the government and businesses, but it’s losing traction to the widespread popularity of Android, and Apple’s iPad is popping up more and more in business settings. It probably didn’t help that BlackBerry devices suffered a worldwide outage in October. But the popularity BlackBerry does enjoy, as Ars Technica points out, largely comes from its management capabilities. Now Android users are going to have access to those same capabilities, which could help RIM maintain some popularity, especially if those capabilities become as popular on other devices as they have been on BlackBerrys.

On the other hand, if RIM gives up the things that make its handsets unique – by allowing millions upon millions of Android users to have those same capabilities without buying a BlackBerry – it could very well have a huge negative impact on the BlackBerry. We’ll have to wait and see if RIM’s gamble pays off, but in the meantime, Android users are going to have access to some potentially cool new software.

RIM says it’ll be releasing BlackBerry Mobile Fusion in the first quarter of 2012.

Source: Appolicious

Wi-Fi-Connected Laptop Hurts Sperm, Study Suggests

A computer with a wireless Internet connection hurts sperm, but not because the machine can heat up your lap, a new study suggests.

The findings showed that sperm cells collected in lab dishes and placed beneath a laptop with a wireless Internet connection for four hours had less motility and more DNA damage than sperm placed in another room, away from electronic devices but kept at the same temperature.

“It is well-known that increased temperature may decrease sperm quality, and the use of portable computers on the lap increases scrotal temperature,” the researchers wrote in their study.

But the findings suggested it wasn’t the temperature beneath the laptop that was affecting sperm; instead, the radiation from the laptop was slowing the swimmers, according to the study.

Laptops emit radiation

The researchers in Argentina and Virginia used semen samples from 29 healthy men, whose average age was 34. The laptop was set to download and upload information over the course of the experiment, so the wireless connection was actively being used. The temperature under the laptop was held constant at 77 degrees Fahrenheit by an air-conditioning system.

Wireless Internet connections use radio-frequency electromagnetic waves. When the researchers measured the radiation coming from a laptop wirelessly connected to the Internet, they found it was at least three times higher than an unconnected laptop, and seven to 15 times higher than radiation in a general setting, according to the study, though the levels varied over the course of the experiment, depending on the flow of information coming to or from the computer.

There was no difference between the sperm samples held under the laptop and those kept away from it in terms of the percentage of sperm that were dead at the end of the experiment, according to the study.

Still, sperm motility and having undamaged DNA are important for fertilizing an egg.

“We speculate that keeping a laptop connected wirelessly to the Internet on the lap near the testes may result in decreased male fertility,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion.

Why sperm cells are vulnerable

Sperm cells are different from other cells in the body — their DNA is highly condensed into a small area, the researchers noted. This could make them more vulnerable to the effects of such radiation.

It’s plausible that the magnetic and electromagnetic fields produced by the radio waves damage molecules in sperm called phospholipids, which are a needed to keep membranes within a sperm cell intact, the study researchers wrote.

It is not known whether all laptop computers might have the same effects as those seen in this study, nor is it known what other factors might heighten or lessen the damage, the researchers wrote in their conclusion.

“However, we cannot discard the possibility that damage to sperm is caused by the low radiation produced by the computer without Internet connection,” they wrote, and this possibility should be studied further.

The study was published online Nov. 23 in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

Pass it on: Radiation from wireless internet connections might damage sperm cells.

Source: Yahoo! News

BlackBerry 7 sales sputter after strong start

After some initial excitement for the new line of BlackBerry 7 smartphones and a strong launch–both unusual for RIM for the past year–sales are starting to sputter. That’s according to Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley, who said his checks indicate a slowing trend for BlackBerrys.

It’s likely sales have been blunted by the release of the iPhone 4S, as well as the lower price of the legacy iPhone 4 and 3GS models as well. The coming release of the Galaxy Nexus and phones running on the recently unveiled Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system is expected to provide additional pressure, while Nokia may take some shine off RIM’s growth overseas, Walkley said.

“We anticipate increasing competition across all tiers of RIM’s products in 2012,” he said in a research note sent to clients today.

RIM had hoped for its upgraded BlackBerry 7 operating system to inject some life back into the company’s prospects and get it back on track as it migrates to a slicker next-generation platform. With that platform, BBX, expected to be delayed until the middle of next year, it’s more important than ever for its current BlackBerry 7 phones to have a strong showing.

A RIM representative wasn’t immediately available for comment.

But aside from the flagship Bold 9900 smartphone, which has generally received favorable reviews, its other BlackBerry smartphones haven’t sold so well. RIM was suffering from weaker sales to consumers at Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and Sprint Nextel, as sales were dominated by the iPhone and Android devices, Walkley said. Even the Bold has lost its momentum following the launch of the iPhone 4S and subsequent price cuts to the older models, he added.

Overseas, Walkley said he was more bullish on Nokia’s prospects as it prepares to roll out its first Windows Phone devices in a few European markets. He expects Nokia to make more of a run in emerging markets where RIM has seen recent strength, which could cut into RIM’s growth. He added that RIM’s lower-tier BlackBerry devices that had been popular are slowing considerably in the face of new Nokia phones and sub-$200 Android smartphones showing up in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Nokia, meanwhile, is seeing more interest in its Asha series of phones in markets such as India and Indonesia, he added.

The troubled PlayBook

Walkley was also bearish on the prospects of the PlayBook, saying he only expects “soft sales” of the device. The PlayBook has been heavily discounted in recent weeks, with Black Friday specials pulling the price down to $200, but sales have still been anemic. The missing core features of the device–e-mail access, messenger services, and calendar–won’t arrive until an update next year. Walkley dropped his fiscal 2012 estimate for unit sales to 900,000 from 1.5 million units. In total, RIM has only sold 700,000 units to its retail partners through the August quarter, an extremely disappointing number.

The competition is only going to get worse with the $199 Kindle Fire out and Ice Cream Sandwich-powered tablets hitting the market in the coming months.

All of this bodes poorly for RIM, which has a rough year. Even its traditional stronghold of enterprise customers is vulnerable. A recent study by iPass found more corporate users on an iPhone than a BlackBerry. IPass was quick to note that the change in market share may be more due to the extreme growth of iOS, as opposed to RIM losing customers.

But it can’t be good if iPhone is beating RIM at its own game.

Source: CNET

Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich source code is now available

Google promised, and Google delivered: the source code to Google Android 4.0.1, codenamed “Ice Cream Sandwich,” has been released to the open source community. And as a nice side bonus, the code now available encompasses the complete source code history tree, which includes the never-before-open Android Honeycomb family of releases.

I’m not a developer, so I’ll defer to Google Android Open-Source Project software engineer Jean-Baptiste M. “JBQ” Queru’s post to the Android Building mailing list for details:

This is actually the source code for version 4.0.1 of Android, which is the specific version that will ship on the Galaxy Nexus, the first Android 4.0 device. In the source tree, you will find a device build target named “full_maguro” that you can use to build a system image for Galaxy Nexus. Build configurations for other devices will come later.

Later in the same post, he writes:

 

This release includes the full history of the Android source code tree, which naturally includes all the source code for the Honeycomb releases. However, since Honeycomb was a little incomplete, we want everyone to focus on Ice Cream Sandwich. So, we haven’t created any tags that correspond to the Honeycomb releases (even though the changes are present in the history.)

This is a very cool thing for Google to do – I stand by my opinion that Google had been misrepresenting the openness of the Android operating system to everybody up to and including the US Senate, but this goes a long way towards realigning perception with reality.

But on the other hand, it seems pretty transparent that they only did it for fear that Google’s rushed Motorola Mobility buy coupled with the closed Google Android 3.0 release tree would intensify the scrutiny on the search giant at a time when it can’t afford much more of the legal spotlight.

There’s no point looking a gift horse in the mouth, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Android hacker community puts together with Ice Cream Sandwich as its new foundation.

Download it here.

 

 

Source: Googling Google

PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM’s worst decision to date?

Summary: Now that Flash has had its day in the sun, the PlayBook may now have a chance to quietly sail off into the deathly sunset.

Research in Motion plans to continue supporting Adobe Flash, days after it emerged that the platform was not only on its last legs, but that it was to be taken round the back of the stable and beaten over the head with a rusty spade.

In a statement on the company’s corporate blog, the BlackBerry maker said:

“Earlier today, Adobe announced plans to stop investing in Flash® for mobile browsing, and focus more efforts on HTML5. As an Adobe source code licensee, we will continue to work on and release our own implementations, and are looking forward to including Flash 11.1 for the BlackBerry PlayBook.”

At roughly 10am this morning, a collective face-palm slapping sound was heard across the United States and Canada.

It is as though the BlackBerry maker is purposefully trying to continually do things to deliberately lower its stock price. I’m serious; is this some game show that I’m not aware of, where contenders win a vacation to the Bahamas if they successfully cripple their company within the space of a year?

The PlayBook has hardly been the most popular tablet the market has seen in recent years. In fact, come Christmas, I would place money that out of the ‘major players’, including Samsung, Motorola, and obviously Apple, that Research in Motion’s tablet will still come bottom of the pile.

But to continue to support an already dead platform on a dying tablet is like throwing salt in the wound of an already squashed slug.

It’s not the best analogy I should have come out with, but you get the idea.

Granted, the PlayBook does support HTML5, at least giving the tablet a break from a major software update that would be necessary to effectively replace the world’s most used web plug-in. It saves on a lot of headaches down the line, which from the perspective of future proofing was not a far off move.

The Ontario-based company will have the ability to continue to develop Flash on its own moving forward, keeping a ‘healthy’ following of developers interested and supported — that is, if you considered the aforementioned slug analogy to be healthy.

The PlayBook never really stood a chance, stood in line like the nerdy, glasses-wearing kid next to its prom-queen older sister. Even when the PlayBook had a chance to shine, in its secure emailing client that emulated the BlackBerry enterprise encryption, the tablet launched without it. In effect, its most favourable feature was left behind its launch.

But the linchpin to the PlayBook has always been its less than desirable advertising.

Nearly all of the company’s advertising and marketing efforts have been on the fact the PlayBook, unlike the iPad, as the supreme competitor to all other tablets on the market, will support Flash-based content. Though it still will, and Flash will not suddenly drop off the edge of the planet in the next few months, the BlackBerry maker is going to have to think of a brand new marketing strategy.

At least now Research in Motion can advertise the PlayBook as something it should have been marketed as a long way back: “The most expensive paperweight you never needed in the first place”.

Source: ZDNet

Windows 7 overtakes XP globally, Vista found weeping in a corner

According to StatCounter, it’s taken roughly two years for Redmond’s latest to surpass XP and become the world’s most popular operating system. October 2011 marks the first time that Windows 7 has overtaken XP globally, with a 40 percent share of the market versus the latter’s 38. As for Vista, it’s been holding steady at around 11. Not that it’s much of a surprise, as in North America, Windows 7 took the crown back in April of this year. Rounding out the top five, are OS X (though it’s not clear whether that captures all of Cupertino’s beasts) and Linux, which come in at 7 and 0.82 percent respectively. But don’t take our word for it, hop on over to the source links and get your interactive chart on.

Source: Engadget

Apple Has 1,000 Engineers Working On Chips For The Post-PC Era

As we ponder what will happen to Apple without Steve Jobs, I keep coming back to a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a veteran Silicon Valley CEO who knew Jobs. This was just after Jobs had resigned as CEO of Apple. We got to talking about why Apple is so well-positioned in the post-PC era, and this executive zeroed in on something you don’t hear too often. “Steve Jobs told me he has 1,000 engineers working on chips,” he said. “Getting low power and smaller is the key to everything.”

The number was startling when I first heard it. I knew that Apple started building its own chip design team in 2009, but figured it had to be a few hundred people at most, not 5 percent of Apple’s non-retail workforce. (Apple employs more than 50,000 people worldwide, 30,000 of them in its retail stores). Apple started designing its own chips because Intel and AMD were still stuck in the PC era. Apple needs chips that are powerful enough, but also very low power.

Battery life is one of the most important features of a mobile device. Apple’s latest A5 processor, which first appeared in the iPad 2, will now power the iPhone 4S as well. Not only is the A5 twice as fast as the A4 in the current iPhone 4, but it slightly improves the battery life with 8 hours of talk time (versus 7 hours).

Not only are Apple’s processors extremely power efficient, but Apple is also removing the hard drives from its products and replacing them with flash memory chips. It’s not just iPhones and iPads, the MacBook Air’s storage is also flash. All of Apple’s products are moving in this direction. When you combine these two fundamental changes at the silicon level, “form factor no longer becomes an issue,” explained the Silicon Valley CEO.

You can put a computer into anything. Mobile phones and tablets, certainly. TVs, perhaps. But what else? It is only limited by the imagination of Apple’s engineers and what makes sense from a product point of view.

When Jobs retired, TechCrunch writer MG Siegler cautioned against focusing too much on the next iPhone. Jobs left Apple knowing that a string of post-PC products will be introduced in the years ahead. MG wrote:

It’s the longer roadmap that should really be the grand finale in the Jobs’ fireworks show.

Talking to sources in recent months, there has been one common refrain: that the things Apple is working on right now are the best things the company has ever done. These are things that will “blow your mind”, I’ve been told.

Jobs himself said when he resigned, “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it.” Now we get to see what he meant by that. Jobs rebuilt Apple from the silicon up. It is the company itself which is his greatest product. And like all of his products, everything fits together: the chips, the hardware, the software, the industrial design, the developer platform, the tightly controlled manufacturing, the marketing, the retail stores.

This machine is proving adept at making and selling mobile computers—phones and tablets. But remember also that we are just at the beginning of the post-PC era. The iPhone launched 4 years ago, the iPad only a year and a half ago. It is becoming practical to put a computer into anything. Of course, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And if anything, Apple is very disciplined about choosing what not to do (another Steve Jobs trait). But if you believe that post-PC devices will include more than just phones and tablets, it is not such a crazy idea that one day Apple will be churning them out as well.

Source: TechCrunch

KDE takes on Android, Apple’s iOS on smartphones and tablets

If another group was trying to take on Android and Apple’s iOS on smartphones and tablets, I’d dismiss them. RIM, BlackBerry’s parent company, is having a heck of a time getting anyone to buy into PlayBook and while HP TouchPad users loved it,HP killed the TouchPad after only a few weeks. So, why should anyone think that KDE, makers of one of the two most popular Linux desktops, should stand a chance with Plasma Active? Well, because KDE has a long history of delivering the goods with minimal resources.

So what is it? Plasma Active is not, like Android, iOS, or webOS, an operating system. It’s a KDE 4.x style interface and application programming interface (API) designed for touch devices. The Plasma Active Team states that “Plasma Active is innovative technology for an intelligent user experience (UX). It is intended for all types of tablets, smartphones and touch computing devices such as set-top boxes, smart TVs, home automation, in-vehicle infotainment. The goals for this KDE open source project are:

  • A fast embedded UX platform with minimal memory requirements
  • Customizable and modular to support different form factors
  • An interface that adapts as users change Activities.

In their GrandMaster Plan, the developers go into more detail about how they’ll do this: “Plasma Active runs on the proven Linux desktop stack, including the Linux kernel, Qt and KDE’s Plasma Framework. The user interface is designed using Plasma Quick, a declarative markup language allowing for organic user interface design based on Qt Quick. Plasma Active uses existing free desktop technology and brings it to a spectrum of devices through a device-specific user interface. Classical Plasma Widgets can be used on Plasma Active as well as newly created ones. The key driver for the development of Plasma Active is the user experience. Collaboration is made easy through high-level development tools and a well defined process. ”

“The first release of Plasma Active fully focuses on tablet computers. Plasma Active Tablet’s user experience is designed around the web, social networks and multimedia content.” Today, Plasma Active runs on MeeGo and the openSUSE-based Balsam Professional (German language site). There are also OS images for Intel-based tablets, and package builds for ARM and x86 platforms. The group is working flashable images for ARM platforms. The interface will also run on Oracle’s VirtualBox virtual machine. If you want to try it you can find downloads and instructions at the Plasma Active Installation page.

According to Sebastian Kügler, one of Plasma Active’s leading developers Plasma Active is “certainly meant as a replacement for iOS and Android, a completely open, community-driven project with strong backing by a group of (SMB-sized) businesses. We hope this appeals to many hardware vendors, and have in fact already started talking with some. The feedback so far was very good, and the concepts seem to appeal with potential partners. There is definitely demand for an open system without lock-in in the market for devices.”

Kügler also told me that they “have started investigating Tizen, [Intel and the Linux Foundations’ proposed replacement for MeeGo] but at this point, there is too little information out, and too many unknowns. We do see Tizen as a potential and likely target platform, but before Intel and Samsung release an SDK, our hands are tied. It’s not stopping us, since in the meantime, we can still run our stuff on MeeGo and Balsam, and we are investigating, together with the Mer team [Another mobile Linux operating system] how to get Plasma Active onto Mer.

That’s all well and good but does KDE have any industry support for this? Kügler replied, “My employer, open-slx backs this project, and we are actively working towards creating a wider ecosystem of companies around Plasma Active, to make good commercial support available, next to the community resources. This includes OEMs, ODMs and companies that can deliver support around Plasma Active, for example integration with new hardware platforms, support for custom-build OS images, 3rd party software, end-user support, etc.”

To that, I might add that unlike other such mobile projects, KDE starts with a large number of open-source applications that already run with it. That’s an advantage that neither RIM nor HP had. Personally, it’s hard for me to see a competitor to Android or iOS getting traction, but I’ve learned over the years not to bet against the KDE team.

Source: ZDNet

Samsung joins forces with Intel and Microsoft

Samsung has quickly become one of the largest smartphone makers globally, helped by its strong offering of devices using Google’s Android platform.

Analysts said Wednesday’s deals signaled Samsung’s aim to lower its exposure to Android following Google’s $12.5 billion August acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

“The Google Motorola deal certainly gives Samsung some motivation to lessen the dependence on Android,” said Matthew Thornton, analyst at Avian Securities.

Microsoft and Samsung signed on Wednesday a new deal for development and marketing of Windows phones, while also agreeing on a wide patent cross-licensing deal. Samsung has also used Microsoft’s software in the past.

Earlier on Wednesday two Linux software groups, one backed by Samsung, another by Intel, said they have joined forces to develop a new operating system for cellphones and other devices.

Under the deal, the LiMo Foundation and Linux Foundation are effectively merging their LiMo and Meego mobile operating systems and hope to gain wider industry and consumer support, but analysts said the new Tizen platform is likely to struggle.

It would have to attract wide support from developers and manufacturers to compete with the dozen or so other mobile operating systems available in a smartphone market currently dominated by Apple’s in-house software and Google’s Linux-based Android.

“The best hope for them is that big operators get worried by Android … and decide to consciously switch their allegiances to rival platforms to restrict Google’s huge influence over the mobile market,” said analyst Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics.

Earlier this year Nokia, the biggest phone maker by volume, ditched its own Symbian operating system in favor of Microsoft’s Windows Phone software.

Currently Windows Phone has a smartphone market share of 2-3 percent, according to industry analysts, and LiMo and Meego have less than 1 percent apiece, while Android’s share is almost 50 percent and still growing.

“This (Tizen) is driven by necessity. Linux rivals to Android have failed to gain traction and Samsung needs to reduce its dependence on Google,” said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at London-based telecoms industry consultancy CCS Insight.

The world’s second-biggest cellphone maker behind Nokia, Samsung is the leading user of the Android platform, which has been one of the reasons for its escalating court-room fight over patents with Apple.

Microsoft said the definitive agreement with Samsung to cross-license the patent portfolios of both companies, provides

broad coverage for each company’s products, and it will get royalties for Samsung’s devices running the Android platform.

“It’s probably a win-win. Microsoft is leveraging its patents to get customers while Samsung is looking for ways to lessen its dependence on Android,” said Avian’s Matthew Thornton.

2012 LINUX STORY

LiMo Foundation and the Linux Foundation said the new Tizen platform is an open-source, standards-based software platform that supports multiple devices including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle ‘infotainment’ systems.

A spokesman for Samsung said: “We’ve been a core Linux partner … and this is in line with our strategy of supporting many platforms.”

The initial release is planned for the first quarter of 2012, enabling the first devices using Tizen to come to market in mid-2012, the two groups said.

The world’s largest semiconductor firm Intel and Samsung Electronics, the second biggest maker of cell phones and one of the key contributors to LiMo, will head the technical steering committee developing Tizen.

Earlier this month Intel and Google launched a development partnership to adapt Android for Intel’s Atom processor chips, with a view to having the first Anroid phones featuring Intel chips in the first half of next year.

Linux is the most popular type of free, or open-source, computer operating system which allows the public to use, revise and share. Linux suppliers earn money selling improvements and technical services.

Source: Reuters

Android climbs to 43% in US, iPhone still at 28%

Android is still growing in the US, but is taking all its share from non-iPhone rivals, Nielsen found on Monday. Google was up from 40 percent in July to 43 percent in August, but Apple was still at the 28 percent it has held since June. Most of that decline came from Microsoft, which took the “other” category down from 13 percent to 11 percent.

RIM’s BlackBerry also lost a point to 18 percent. It may have been helped by a slew of BlackBerry 7 phones shipping the same month, such as the Bold 9900 and 9930.

Google still had added momentum in the Nielsen research. Among those who had bought a smartphone in the past three months, 56 percent were buying Android. Apple still wasn’t under threat with a static 28 percent, but there had been extra pressure on Microsoft and RIM, which collapsed to about six and nine points. Both audiences may have been in holding patterns for most of the summer as they either waited for later BlackBerry 7 launches or for Windows Phone 7​.5 (Mango) in October.

Android may see a rare share reversal in October. The year so far has been unusual as Apple’s first where a new iPhone didn’t ship in the summer. Possibilities exist that iphone sharecould start growing again as Apple fills pent-up demand, most of all if a Sprint iPhone 5 ships and eliminates another shelter for Android.

Smartphones should also still be on track to become the dominant cellphones in the US, researchers said. They were now up to 43 percent of total ownership and at 58 percent among those who had bought in the past three months. Ownership is expected to cross the 50 percent mark before the end of the year as the iPhone 5, and more Android devices like the Galaxy S II tip the balance.

Source: Electronista

Acer sees HP changes chance to grab customers

World No. 2 computer vendor Acer believes the recent top management change at rival Hewlett-Packard is a huge opportunity for the former to win over some customers, Acer Europe head Walter Deppeler told a German daily.

Hewlett-Packard Co last week named former eBay Inc Chief Executive Meg Whitman its president and CEO, replacing Leo Apotheker in a bid to restore investor confidence in the iconic Silicon Valley company.

“That is a major chance for us because big customers and resellers are uncertain. They are asking themselves: what’s next, who can i work with?” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted Walter Deppeler as saying in a prerelease of its Tuesday edition.

“We want to use this as an opportunity for us,” he added.

Source: Reuters