Monthly Archives: November 2013

Google Street View expands to airports and train stations

The Street View team now offers an inside tour of international airports, train stations, and a cable car stop in Hong Kong.

Google's Street View tour of the Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain.

Travelers who get lost at airports or train stations can now call on Google Street View to help them find their way.

The ubiquitous mapping service has extended its coverage to 16 international airports, more than 50 train and subway stations, and a cable car platform in Hong Kong. A Google mapdisplays the locations of all the new Street View transit spots.

You can take a virtual panormamic tour of theWaterloo station in London, the terminals of the Tokyo International Airport, the check-in counter at the Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain, and even the inside of a plane at Dubai International Airport.

In a blog posted late Monday, the Street View team called these new spots “our first efforts,”a sign that more public transportation hubs are destined for an inside look.

The new street views can help you whether you’re trying to find a specific area or just want an advanced preview of the next airport or train stop on your trip.

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LG’s Odin processor to have eight-core and quad-core versions

Rumors regarding the launch of an LG-made mobile processor called Odin have been around since the first half of this year. Initially, it was believed that Odin would power the LG G2. Of course, the G2 has been released since then and, as you probably already know, it features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU. But this doesn’t mean the LG Odin isn’t coming.

According to DigitalTimes (in Korean), LG has confirmed that its Odin processor has two versions: a quad-core one (running at up to 2.2GHz per core and including an ARM Mali-T604 GPU), and an eight-core one. The two SoCs are being tested as we speak, but it’s not clear when LG will announce them.

The eight-core version of the Odin may be paired with ARM’s latest Mali-T760 GPU (detailed here).

Since LG doesn’t have its own facility to make SoCs, Taiwan’s TMSC will manufacture them.

LG logo Odin

Reportedly, LG will use the quad-core Odin mainly for its smart TVs, while the eight-core units are reserved for smartphones and tablets (it is possible that the successors to the G2 and the G Pad tablet will rely on them). This being said, now let’s wait for LG to officially announce all (or some of) the details presented above.

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LG’s Odin processor to have eight-core and quad-core versions

Rumors regarding the launch of an LG-made mobile processor called Odin have been around since the first half of this year. Initially, it was believed that Odin would power the LG G2. Of course, the G2 has been released since then and, as you probably already know, it features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU. But this doesn’t mean the LG Odin isn’t coming.

According to DigitalTimes (in Korean), LG has confirmed that its Odin processor has two versions: a quad-core one (running at up to 2.2GHz per core and including an ARM Mali-T604 GPU), and an eight-core one. The two SoCs are being tested as we speak, but it’s not clear when LG will announce them.

The eight-core version of the Odin may be paired with ARM’s latest Mali-T760 GPU (detailed here).

Since LG doesn’t have its own facility to make SoCs, Taiwan’s TMSC will manufacture them.

LG logo Odin

Reportedly, LG will use the quad-core Odin mainly for its smart TVs, while the eight-core units are reserved for smartphones and tablets (it is possible that the successors to the G2 and the G Pad tablet will rely on them). This being said, now let’s wait for LG to officially announce all (or some of) the details presented above.

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Google Glass throws open its doors to developers

Google hopes to entice programmers to its Glass Developer Kit with offline access and demos, from real-time word translation to exercise tracking.

Google unveiled its Glass Development Kit on Tuesday at a Glass hackathon, inviting developers to create new applications for its wearable technology.

The development kit, or GDK, gives developers access to parts of Glass that previously have been under lock and key. Developers now can write Glass apps that can work offline, in real time, and that utilize the hardware accelerometer and GPS.

Addressing the 100 or so developers who were invited to the hackathon, Timothy Jordan, Glass’s senior developer advocate at Google, told them that even though the company hasn’t made installing Glass apps easy, more than 83 percent of all Glass owners have installed at least one.

“The GDK will give you a way to build services for users in a natural and everyday way in their lives,” Jordan said.

Up until now, developers have been able to develop only with the Mirror API. The GDK opens up more programming options, so that developers can access the location provider; control the camera; insert voice commands and triggers into the options menu; create live cards; and detect gestures on the touch pad.

Several companies also were present at the hackathon to demo apps they built, thanks to early access to the GDK. One of the most impressive was a Glassware app called Word Lens, which translates printed words as you look at them and replaces them with words from the target language.

The app can take a German warning sign such as, “Bergweg betreten auf eigene Gefahr,” and replace the printed words with, “Mountain path enter on own danger,” when looking through Glass.

The app wasn’t perfect, and its developers said that it might not work with smaller fonts, such as those on restaurant menus. But the app clearly showed Glass’ potential utility.

Other apps demonstrated included AllTheCooks, for hands-free cooking directions and recipe management; Strava’s exercise trackers for running and bicycling; the word game Spellista; and GolfSight, which can reveal fairway distances and help you keep score of your golf game as you play.

Google is not ready to reveal all its plans for Google Glass development. Jordan said he was unable to talk about user security, for example, beyond the remote locate and wipe features that come with Glass.

Glass owners can install new apps from their MyGlass home pages after 3 p.m. PDT today.

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Samsung attorney: ‘Apple doesn’t own beautiful and sexy’

An attorney for the Korean electronics giant says during closing arguments in a damages retrial that Apple’s patents are “very narrow.”

Apple vs. Samsung

Samsung on Tuesday argued that Apple deserves a low amount of additional damages for patent infringement because Apple’s patents are “very narrow” and people buy Samsung’s devices for their differences from the iPhone.

 

Samsung attorney Bill Price said Apple has tried to show its patents cover all aspects of design and ease of use, preventing companies from making “attractive” devices that are easy to use. However, the patents are limited, he argued, which is why Samsung should only pay Apple $52 million for patent infringement, not the $380 million Apple has requested.

“Apple has tried to mischaracterize these patents so they are the iPhone,” Price said during closing arguments in a court here. But “these patents are very narrow…Apple doesn’t own beautiful and sexy.”

He added that while Samsung knew it needed to alter its devices to compete with the iPhone,Apple has done the same thing with new devices like the iPad Mini.

“There’s nothing wrong with looking at your competitors and changing what you do because of it,” Price said.

And people seek out Samsung’s devices because of Android, bigger screens, and other features, not because of Apple’s patented technology, he said.

“Did you hear any evidence that anyone bought any of these phones because of the Apple patents?” Price asked. “What they’re really saying in the market is ‘justice’ is ‘just us.”

Meanwhile, Apple attorney Bill Lee argued that Samsung’s patent infringement significantly harmed the company and that the electronics giant deserves an additional $380 million for that damage. He noted that Samsung’s copycat tactics helped it gain significant market share while other rivals struggled. And he said the patent infringement set back Apple.

“Apple can never get back to where it should have been in 2010,” Lee said Tuesday during his closing arguments.

A jury last year determined Samsung had infringed on five patents related to the iPhone’s design and functionality. A judge earlier this year vacated about $450 million of the original award and ordered a new jury to convene to recalculate the damages for patent infringement. Samsung is still on the hook for about $600 million, but Apple is asking for $380 million more. Samsung believes it only owes Apple $52 million.

 

Samsung sold 10.7 million infringing devices, generating $3.5 billion in revenue.

Price and Lee made the comments during a retrial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. A new jury of eight people — six women and two men — has been assembled to determine the new damages total for Samsung’s patent infringement.

The retrial kicked off last Tuesday with jury selection, followed by opening arguments Wednesday. Witnesses who took the stand included Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing, and several expert witnesses who calculated the total damages owed.

For most, the damages retrial was a case of “Groundhog Day.” No new revelations emerged during the testimony, and most witnesses also took the stand during the last trial more than a year ago. Apple’s witnesses argued Samsung’s copycat devices hurt the company, while Samsung argued that people seek out its devices more for their differences than similarities to Apple gadgets.

Not at issue in this case is whether Samsung infringed Apple’s patents. The judge instructed the jury that a previous jury already decided Samsung infringed, and that they shouldn’t revisit that issue. The sole consideration in the retrial is money — just how much Samsung owes Apple for infringing its patents.

Judge Lucy Koh allowed each side eight hours of testimony over the four-day trial. Samsungrested its case Monday with two minutes left. Apple had 16 minutes left. Samsung made its closing arguments later Tuesday. Both sides were allotted 90 minutes for closing. The case was handed over to the jury at about 12:15 p.m. PT.

The two companies spent their final hours and minutes Monday grilling expert witnesses on how much money Samsung owes Apple for patent infringement. A big part of the discrepancy between what Apple wants and what Samsung thinks it should pay comes from differing views on how much Apple lost in profits and how much it should be due for royalties. The two sides also disagree on how much money Samsung made from its copycat products.

Apple arrived at the $380 million amount based on lost profits of about $114 million, Samsung’s profits of about $231 million, and reasonable royalties of approximately $35 million. Apple estimates it would have sold 360,000 devices if Samsung hadn’t released infringing rivals.

Samsung, meanwhile, said Apple shouldn’t receive any money for lost profits, $52.7 million for Samsung’s profits, and royalties of only $28,452 because the patents have limitations.

Apple originally filed suit against Samsung in April 2011, accusing the Korean company of copying the look and feel of its products. Samsung countersued two months later over patent infringement and said it was at work on touch-screen phones with giant rectangular screens and rounded corners well before Apple showed up. The initial trial, which stretched more than three weeks in August 2012, wrapped both of those cases in one, somehow squeezing together the patent infringement issues, alongside antitrust claims, and even trade dress issues.

In August of last year, a nine-person jury sided with Apple on a majority of its patent infringement claims against Samsung. At that time, the jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages, much less than the $2.75 billion sought by the Cupertino, Calif., electronics giant. Samsung, which asked for $421 million in its countersuit, didn’t get anything.

However, Koh in March ordered a new trial to recalculate some of the damages in the case,striking $450.5 million off the original judgment against Samsung.

The products in question include the Galaxy Prevail, Gem, Indulge, Infuse 4G, Galaxy SII AT&T, Captivate, Continuum, Droid Charge, Epic 4G, Exhibit 4G, Galaxy Tab, Nexus S 4G, Replenish, and Transform. The Prevail in particular racked up $57.9 million of the damages tally, which Koh said was a failure on the jury’s part, since the device was found to infringe only on utility patents, and not on design patents.

Schiller argued last week that Samsung’s copycat devices made it “much harder” for Apple to differentiate and sell its devices. He also noted that the reason Samsung gained so much market share in smartphones was because it copied Apple.

“At the end of the day, there’s a cumulative effect of doing all of this that’s incredibly damaging [to Apple],” Schiller said Friday.

Lee on Tuesday pointed out to the jury that Apple brought top executives to talk about the creation of the iPhone and the importance to the company. Samsung, however, didn’t put any of its top Korean executives on the stand, he said.

Price said that Samsung didn’t need to bring engineers to talk about the patents’ limitations because Apple’s own experts did so.

“Apple doesn’t own every method of scrolling and pinching to zoom,” Price said. “Their expert told you that. We didn’t need to bring a witness because their expert told you that.”

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Toshiba’s new Kira Ultrabook promises 22 hours of use on a single charge

Toshiba's new Kira Ultrabook promises 22 hours on a single charge

We praised Toshiba’s last flagship Ultrabook for its brilliant screen and speedy boot-up time, but the company’s newest Kirabook has a notable new feature — an estimated 22 hours of battery life. Intel’s new Haswell chips may have shifted our expectations of what we expect laptops can deliver battery-wise, but almost running a whole day remains an impressive feat. That’s Toshiba’s claim for its new Dynabook KIRA V654, which sidesteps touch compatibility on its 13-inch 1,366 x 768 resolution screen to add to the battery savings and weighs in at just 1.12kg. Alongside an additional high-resolution model (2,560 x 1,440), if you simply must have swipeable screens on your Windows 8 machine, there’s also the similarly-sized Dynabook Kira V834, although that model will only manage a paltry 14 hours of work and / or play. (We kid.)

The two machines will launch in Japan on 20th November, with the touch-capable V834 starting at 153,000 yen ($1,530), while the endurance-specialized V634 will start at 144,000 yen (roughly $1,446). As is often the way with these made-in-Japan PCs, there’s no word on whether the rest of the world will get to see either model yet, but we’ll let you know if we hear anything from Toshiba.

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Report: Apple iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 were the world’s three top-selling smartphones in September

According to data revealed last month, Apple’s iPhone 5S was the best-selling smartphone in the US during September, dethroning Samsung’s Galaxy S4 (which had held the top position for several months before that).

Now, Hong Kong-based market research company Counterpoint has issued a report – including “all regional or minor hardware variations” sold throughout September – which shows that the iPhone 5S bested the Galaxy S4 when it comes to global sales, too. The third spot was taken by Apple’s iPhone 5 (yes, the model released in 2012), while the fourth position belongs to the iPhone 5C – Apple’s first smartphone targeted at customers seeking more affordable devices, released at the same time with the 5S.

Samsung handsets occupy the rest of the top 10 positions, in the following order: Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III Mini, Galaxy S4 Mini, Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy S Duos. In fact, Samsung devices account for “60% of the top 20 list and 50% of the top 100 list.”

Top 10 smartphones Counterpoint September 2013 iPhone 5S Samsung Galaxy S4 iPhone 5

Sure enough, Galaxy S4 sales have been on a downward spiral for some time after the handset’s initial launch (back in April), while the iPhone 5S is brand new, so the latter’s top position for September should not surprise anyone.

Huawei and Nokia have made it to top 20 with models like the Ascend P6 and Lumia 520, respectively. Other important smartphone makers, like LG, Sony, ZTE or Sony, have not been mentioned.

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12.9” almost UHD resolution iPad Pro Retina displays already in production by “1st tier supplier in Korea”

It’s no secret today that Apple is coming out with 12.9” iPad Pro early next year. There were too many rumors from too many sources since we first told you about the maxi iPad back in May, for it to be just a vaporware.

Now Korea Times reports that Apple’s first tier supplier in Korea [ed. LG, most likely] has already started the production of 12.9” Retina displays for iPad Pro for early 2014 release.

iPad Air

According to KT source:

“The 12.9-inch iPad will have improved picture quality. As the Apple partner intends to boost its lineup for displays that have almost ultra high-definition (UHD) quality, the upcoming iPad will provide very clear quality similar to that of UHD.”

It is interesting that most of the big tablet launches haven’t crossed the 11” threshold so far. 2014, though, is shaping up to be the year of big slate with Apple, Samsung and LG getting ready to release devices with 12” and bigger displays.

I guess next year would be even less fun than 2013 for most laptop OEMs.

 

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Huawei P6S will have an octa-core chipset, says company President

The Huawei Ascend P6 is a solid device, and should be even better when the company updates to Android 4.4 sometime in January. As hardware specs plateau, one frontier remains for handset makers: the processor. Qualcomm has the Android market firmly entrenched in their Snapdragon processors, but a new breed is coming.

huawei_logo

We’ve heard plenty of talk surrounding the MediaTek octa-core processor, and even some rumblings of Qualcomm readying their next generation processor. Those are two giants in the industry, but Huawei is also getting involved with the octa-core race. Xu Xin Quan, Huawei President, took to popular Chinese blogging site Weibo to announce the next version of the Ascend P6, the P6S, will have an octa-core processor.

The post goes on to note that the octa-core is an update to their quad-core K3V2 processor, which is a touch dated by now. Still strong, and still powering plenty ofHuawei devices, the K3V2 is still in need of an update. While details weren’t shared beyond what we’ve reported here, this is another in a growing list of manufacturers powering their devices with an octa-core chipset.

It’s also one that could shore up an emerging market. China, where Huawei is based and realizes the bulk of their revenue, is a rapidly expanding market, bursting at the seams with both handsets and customers. Though Qualcomm is clearly the industry standard, they’re also priced much higher than the rest. China is a very cost-conscious market, and a premium price simply won’t appeal to many. Huawei may have a leg up on everyone else in an area with huge growth potential.

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Court order allowing NSA data collection program revealed

Trove of documents released by the Obama administration appears to contain 2004 opinion authorizing the agency’s massive data collection program.

The Obama administration released a trove of newly declassified documents related to the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities on Monday, including what appears to be the original secret court ruling authorizing the massive data collection program.

The ruling by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was among hundreds of documents released by released by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, in response to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. The documents also reveal the NSA’s violations of court-ordered limits of the program.

The 87-page opinion, signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, then the chief judge on the secret surveillance court, authorized the NSA to collect of e-mail metadata and other Internet communications. However, the section describing the metadata to be collected was blacked out.

“The raw volume of the proposed collection is enormous,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in the heavily redacted opinion, which blacked out a section that presumably went into greater detail about the size. While the date of her signature is blacked out, the opinion appears to be the July 2004 order that granted data-collection authority to the NSA and placed the program under the court’s supervision, according to documents leaked earlier this year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The metadata — including the e-mail addresses and identities of the sender and recipient, but not the messages’ contents — was to be used in the government’s counterterrorism programs.

“Analysts know that terrorists’ e-mails are located somewhere in the billions of data bits; what they cannot know ahead of time is exactly where,” the judge wrote. The metadata collection program, which was authorized President George W. Bush in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, was discontinued in 2011 for what the Obama administration called “operational and resource reasons.”

The documents also show that the NSA had trouble keeping its data collection within the court-mandated limits. Although redactions made it difficult to identify specific issues, a statement released with the documents Monday indicated that “longstanding compliance issues” were identified in 2009, leading the agency to recognize that its “compliance and oversight structure had not kept pace with its operational momentum.”

Lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation helped push the government into publishing the documents. The EFF, unsurprisingly, isn’t satisfied with how things have gone so far, according to an EFF statement before Monday’s documents were released.

“The past few months have seen the tides turn dramatically in EFF’s ongoing battle against secret surveillance law…

There is still far too much that remains secret. Last week, we filed a brief with the FISA court on behalf of ProPublica seeking disclosure of more court opinions on NSA surveillance; next week, we’ll argue in the DC Circuit that secret surveillance memos of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel can’t be shielded from public scrutiny. And we’ll keep using FOIA and the federal courts to fight for the public’s right to know how its government has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law.”

Clapper said in a statement that the document release was the result of an Obama order in June that directed him to “make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive programs while being mindful of the need to protect sensitive classified intelligence activities and national security.”

“Release of these documents reflects the executive branch’s continued commitment to making information about this intelligence collection program publicly available when appropriate and consistent with the national security of the United States,” he wrote.

But the EFF said transparency was hardly the only motivation for the document release.

“With previous releases, the government has posted the documents to its Tumblr,IContheRecord, claiming that the disclosures were spurred only by President Obama’s directive to declassify information and ‘the interest of increased transparency.’ Thus far, they’ve neglected to mention they were also under a court order to do so,” the EFF said.

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