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Monday, May 25, 2015

Intel-powered Asus ZenPad 8 shows up unannounced

by Florin T. May 25 2015

Earlier this month, we showed you the back of an unannounced Asus tablet called ZenPad 7, while also informing you about an upcoming ZenPad 8. Now, we can take a look at the latter, and, thankfully, we can see its front side, too. 

Reportedly sporting an 8-inch display with 1536 x 2048 pixels and a 4:3 aspect ratio, the ZenPad 8 is obviously larger than the ZenPad 7 (which offers a 7-inch screen with just 600 x 1024 pixels). It seems that the ZenPad 8 features front-facing speakers, a front-facing camera, and, of course, also a rear camera. The slate is powered by an Intel processor, and probably has a microSD card slot. Its back cover appears to have a leather-like texture, as we can see in the first image embedded below (which shows the ZenPad 7 in front of the ZenPad 8). 

Both the ZenPad 7 and ZenPad 8 should be announced by Asus in early June at Computex 2015, and could be available sometime in July, almost certainly running Android Lollipop out of the box. It's said that the ZenPad 7 will have prices starting at about $160. The ZenPad 8 will undoubtedly be more expensive. Not too expensive, we hope.

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AMD’s Next-Gen Flagship Graphics Card R9 390X Teased On Twitter


There is still much unknown regarding the next GPU from AMD, long rumored to be the R9 390X, featuring 4 x 1 GB of high-bandwidth memory (HBM) and water cooling. Now we can get a look at the next-gen graphics card thanks to a tweet by Frostbite Developer Johan Andersson.

Johan Andersson is the lead developer at DICE, working on their Frostbite engine, which is usually well optimized for AMD graphics cards. He recently gave a sneak peek at the upcoming graphics card from AMD, which has been rumored to be the R9 390X. The new graphics card has a sleek metallic look and if the rumors are proven to be true, it will offer a great bandwidth, in addition to taking less space and power consumption.

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Android M Codename: Macadamia Nut Cookie?

Android M is being referred to internally as Macadamia Nut Cookie, thanks to code with references to "mnc-dev."

Google's annual I/O developer conference kicks off later this week, and we'll likely get a first look at the next generation of Android, or Android M. But which dessert-themed moniker will Google select this time around? From Donut to Lollipop, the search giant has long given its new mobile OS a cavity-inducing nickname. New reports suggest that Android M is being referred to internally as Macadamia Nut Cookie, thanks to code with references to "mnc-dev." But would Google really select such a lengthy name for its mobile OS? Probably not.

As Android Police notes, the internal code name for Android KitKat was Key Lime Pie, while Lollipop was known as Lemon Meringue Pie, so Google has a history of selecting more complex names for internal testing and then simplifying for a general release.

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Windows 10's new music app looks like Microsoft's version of Spotify

By Tom Warren  on May 25, 2015

Microsoft has been previewing some updates to its music and video apps for Windows 10 recently, but it looks like bigger changes are on the way. The software giant has revealed a new look and feel for what appears to be an upcoming release of the music app for Windows 10. A screenshot posted on Microsoft's support site shows a dark themed app that looks very similar to Spotify.

While the existing music preview app for Windows 10 doesn't have many huge changes from the Windows 8 version, this updated preview includes recent tracks on the side and an improved hamburger menu on the left. The overall theme is black, compared to the white version that Microsoft is currently previewing. Microsoft may have dropped the Xbox branding from its Music and Video apps for Windows 10, but this upcoming release also looks very similar to the Xbox app for Windows 10. Microsoft continues to tweak the user interface of Windows 10, with black and white themes expected to be the primary color options once the operating system is released this summer.

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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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