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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Microsoft aims to gets tough on security with its Edge browser

The software giant is building tighter security into its browser designed specifically for the upcoming Windows 10.
by Lance Whitney May 12, 2015

Microsoft is trying to make users feel more safe and secure with its new Edge Web browser.

Designed specifically for Windows 10, Edge is Microsoft's attempt to move past the legacy of Internet Explorer and offer a more cutting-edge browser that's faster, simpler and more flexible. Borrowing a page from rival browsers, Edge will offer a customized home page with links and thumbnails for frequently visited websites, access to Web-based apps and support for Chrome and Firefox extensions via a few tweaks.

But the Internet often feels like a dangerous place with malicious emails and websites, hackers, phishers and other threats to your private information. Internet Explorer has been dinged for security holes that have left it vulnerable to hackers. As such, Microsoft is placing greater emphasis on security with its new browser, as detailed in a blog post Monday by the Microsoft Edge Team.

Edge will not replace Internet Explorer in Windows 10, the next version of Microsoft's operating system, which is due to start rolling out the middle of this year. IE 11 will still be there for compatibility and other reasons. But Microsoft has stated that Edge will be the default browser in all versions of Windows 10.

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AMD’s Carrizo-L APUs Unveiled: 12-25W Quad Core Puma+

by Ian Cutress on May 12, 2015

One of the important press releases that came out as a result of the AMD Financial Analyst Day has been some insights into how AMD is approaching the Carrizo and Carrizo-L platform. Have a read of Ryan’s round up of the Financial Analyst Day, which included some broad details about Zen and the big x86 cores, but Carrizo and Carrizo-L focus on AMD’s mobile strategy as well as describing the next iterations of the Bulldozer architecture (Excavator) and the Cat family of low power SoCs (Puma+). We covered some of AMD’s releases on Carrizo back in February, but despite the similar name Carrizo-L functions for a slightly different market by virtue of the different architecture.

Carrizo-L features ‘Puma+’, which by virtue of the naming scheme suggests an updated version of Puma which was seen in Beema. What the ‘plus’ part of the name means has not been disclosed, as both Puma and Puma+ are reported to be 28nm, but chances are that the design has attacked the low hanging fruit in the processor design, rather than purely just a frequency bump. Carrizo-L will be advertised under the new ‘AMD 7000 Series’ APUs, featuring up to four low power separate cores up to 2.5GHz, up to 25W and up to DDR3-1866 support. These are aimed square at the Atom ecosystem within a similar power budget.

AMD is stating that these APUs are currently available in Greater China already with a global rollout commencing in due course. All APUs are listed with AMD Radeon graphics, although the Rx number has no indication as to the streaming processors in the graphics part – a similar situation happened with Beema, and all those parts came with 128 SPs, differing only in frequency which is likely the case here. The SoC design also ensures all the IO is onboard, including an AMD Secure Processor, which for Puma was a Cortex-A5 supporting ARM TrustZone. It is likely that Carrizo-L also uses only a single memory channel, similar to Beema.

One of the more interesting elements is that Carrizo and Carrizo-L will share a socket, known as FP4. This means the processors are pin compatible, and what we know about Carrizo at this point suggests that both segments will play within the same sort of power budget (10-25W vs 15-35W). This allows OEMs to build two designs with almost identical hardware under the hood except for the SoC – would you prefer a single/dual Excavator design, or a faster frequency quad-core Puma+ design? There also leaves scope for differential integrated graphics performance, as mobile Kaveri up to 25W had up to 384 SPs or 3x what we are expecting with Carrizo-L. A lot of the performance metrics in this part will be down to binning the various designs, which adjusts the cost.

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Verizon, Sprint to Pay Millions Over Bogus Texting Charges

By Associated Press May 12th 2015

Verizon Wireless will pay $90 million and Sprint $68 million to settle charges that the mobile giants allowed phony charges on their customers' monthly bills so they could keep a cut of the profit, federal regulators announced Tuesday. The two mobile providers had partnered with third-party vendors that sell premium text messaging services, such as daily horoscopes, trivia and sports scores. But consumers who hadn't signed up for the services were being billed anyway, typically about $9.99 a month, according to the Federal Communications Commission and several state attorneys general. Regulators said they launched an investigation after receiving numerous complaints that the carriers had refused to refund the charges.

Both companies said in statements emailed to reporters on Tuesday that they had stopped allowing premium text messaging before the government investigation began. Sprint spokesman Jeffrey Silva said the company had already returned "tens of millions of dollars" to its customers. "This settlement gives our customers who believe they were wrongfully billed for (premium text messaging) services the ability to get a refund, and allows Sprint to continue to focus on enhancing the customer experience," Silva wrote. Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Debra Lewis said the settlement "reflects Verizon's continued focus on putting customers first." She added that the company had "rigorously protected" its customers from unauthorized charges.

Most of the money paid by the providers under the settlement will be used to refund duped consumers. Verizon's $90 million settlement stipulates that at least $70 million will go toward a "consumer redress program," $16 million will go to states, and $4 million is for fines. Sprint's $68 million settlement includes $50 million for a consumer program, $12 million for state governments and $6 million in fines. Verizon Wireless said it had set up a website where consumers can get more information.

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Skype opens real-time voice translator to all users

Skype’s real-time language voice translator is now available for anyone to use.

By Alejandro Alba May 12, 2015

You can now preview Skype's real-time voice translator with friends from around the world.

Microsoft announced Tuesday that it would open its voice translator preview to all users. The new feature no longer requires users to sign up for a waiting list in order to use. Skype Translator first launched in December 2014 with real-time voice translation in Spanish, English, Italian and Mandarin. Skype Translator also expanded its instant messaging translation with more than 50 languages. The Star Trek-style translator is very simple to use. You just talk in your native tongue and the other person will hear it in theirs. The translator will also provide on-screen translations. Microsoft is still working on its program. The only way to access the service at the moment is by using the Skype Translator preview app on Windows 8.1 and 10 devices.

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MediaTek to launch first 10-core chip set -

By Daniel Thomas May 12, 2015 

The battle to provide the fastest devices in the smartphone market has stepped up with the launch of the first 10-core chip set, promising more processing power for the world’s leading device makers.

MediaTek, the Taiwanese technology group, on Tuesday launched the first mobile processor with 10 cores, a step up from the eight normally found in high-end smartphones. More processing cores enable better service for game playing, video, high-definition imagery, tasks that are increasingly being performed on mobile devices that require high-performance imaging and video recording. Spreading power across more cores also helps extend the battery life of a device.

MediaTek said this would lessen delays in switching between apps, smoother gaming and faster rendering of web pages.

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Apple-Samsung alliance should Terrify Competitors

By Ian King May 3, 2015

The technology industry’s greatest rivalry may be turning into an unstoppable collaboration.
Relations between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd appear to be thawing since the war waged by Steve Jobs forced these one-time corporate comrades to end lucrative supply contracts and engage in costly legal battles. In August 2014, Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook agreed to begin winding down the patent suits with Samsung, and the two companies are teaming up again on new products.

Samsung will manufacture the main chip for the next iPhone, as well as displays for other Apple products, and it is budgeting $14 billion for new plants and equipment that are expected to accommodate, among other things, its big new client.

From this alliance, Apple gets access to one of the biggest, most sophisticated chip manufacturing operations in the world to help it continue outselling the competition.
Samsung gets crucial new orders for its core chip making group to make up for stagnating profit in mobile phones. Just about all other companies in the industry will suffer, starting with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd and SanDisk Corp
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Apple Confirms “Tattoogate,” Says Inked Users May Indeed Have Issues with Apple Watch


Let’s face it – in this day and age, being “inked” is no longer being frowned upon by society.  Tattoos are no longer restricted to jailbirds, professional athletes, and rock musicians, though it’s not like there’s anything wrong with the latter two occupations.   But if you’ve got ink on your wrist and own an Apple Watch, you’ve probably noticed that the device doesn’t quite work like it should.

Earlier in the week, several Redditors and Twitter users took to the Internet to register their dissatisfaction with the Apple Watch, due to its apparent inability to perform properly on tattooed wrists.  And it was only on Friday when Apple confirmed that tats do indeed interfere with Watch’s functionality – the company hoped it could avoid a PR disaster by making this confirmation, though one can say that the damage has already been done.  After all, the Apple Watch’s target markets include Millennials and Gen-Xers, a lot of which proudly show their body art in the open.

So what does this mean for tattooed Apple Watch users who cannot use their Apple Watch’s heart rate monitoring feature?  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really add up to much except for an acknowledgement from Cupertino itself that Watch doesn’t work properly on inked wrists.  

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Microsoft to support iOS and Android apps in Windows in new 'OPEN' Culture

By James Griffiths May 3.2015

Developers will be able to easily bring their iOS and Android apps to Windows 10, Microsoft has announced, as it attempts to encourage adoption of its new "universal" operating system. New software development kits will enable developers to port existing apps into Windows universal apps that work across devices, the company announced at the ongoing Build conference on Wednesday. 

"This is a huge breakthrough," Horace Chow, Microsoft general manager for Hong Kong and Macau, told the South China Morning Post in an interview. "We will invite others to join our ecosystem."

The move comes as Microsoft is making a big push to encourage adoption of its Windows 10 operating system, currently in beta stage. In the past, the company has struggled in mobile to gain traction against market leader Android and Apple's iOS. Experts have put this down to Microsoft’s late entry into the market, and the lack of apps on Windows devices. Chow said in recent years the company has adopted a more "open" philosophy, driven by chief executive Satya Nadella. 

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