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Posts from the ‘News’ Category

8
Feb

Facebook iOS App Under Fire Again for iPhone Battery Drain Issues


Facebook this morning came under fire once more over concerns regarding the impact its iOS app has on iPhone battery life.

Writing in The Guardian, technology reporter Samuel Gibbs claims to have found that uninstalling Facebook’s iOS app and accessing the social media site via Safari can save up to 15 percent of an iPhone’s battery life.

Gibbs relates how he uninstalled the app on his iPhone 6s Plus and recorded its battery life at the same time each day for a week, comparing the numbers to a daily average taken from a week with the app installed.

The writer accessed Facebook’s site through Safari for the same amount of time and for the same purposes as he had using the dedicated app. Gibbs also notes that he left Facebook’s Messenger app installed throughout.

smart battery case white

In conclusion, Gibbs states that his iPhone had on average 15 percent more battery life by 10:30 p.m. each day without the social media app installed. He also notes large gains in free space, since the deleted app had consumed 500MB in total of his iPhone’s capacity. Gibbs chalks most of that up to Facebook’s cache, owing to the fact that the app itself is only a 111MB download.

Several other users of the app were recruited to carry out further tests and corroborated Gibbs’ energy-saving results without the app installed. A Facebook spokesperson said the company is investigating the matter.

Facebook is no stranger to concerns regarding the impact of its iOS apps on battery life. In October the company released an update to fix issues raised by users who saw large amounts of battery drain on their iPhones while the social networking app ran in the background, even with the background app refresh toggled off.

With the release of the update, Facebook said the problem was due to a recurring background audio issue, prompting claims from some tech bloggers that the “issue” was an intentional ploy by developers to keep the app active in the background and discreetly pre-load content.

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8
Feb

Samsung’s S Pen could soon double as a kickstand according to a trademark application at the USPTO


samsung_galaxy_note_5_s_pen_main_TA

Samsung’s Galaxy Note range of smartphones is famous for introducing us to the S Pen, a smart stylus that has grown more useful with every new iteration. Before the Note 5 was announced last year, we had rumours stating that the Note 5’s S Pen would eject by itself when prompted to by the handset’s firmware, and this year? Well, this year it could well be that the S Pen will double as a kickstand.

Samsung_Galaxy_Note_S_Pen_Kickstand_Trademark_applicationAccording to Patently-Mobile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has received a trademark application from Samsung that will add a kickstand function to the S Pen. As you can see from the image above, the S Pen can be partly withdrawn from the handset and then folded at around the halfway point, forming an angled wedge that the device can then rest on. There will apparently also be a locking mechanism to keep the S Pen partially inserted while holding the handset at the chosen angle in landscape mode. Once the S Pen has been straightened, the S Pen can then be fully removed or inserted.

The trademark application was filed back in Q3 of 2015, so there’s no telling just how far along the development is, nor whether it will make an appearance in the Note 6 later this year. Would you like to see the Note 6’s S Pen tricked out with this ‘kickstand’ function? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

 

Source: Patently-Mobile

Come comment on this article: Samsung’s S Pen could soon double as a kickstand according to a trademark application at the USPTO

8
Feb

Verizon’s Galaxy Note 4 update brings bugfixes, latest security patches and optimized performance


Samsung_Galaxy_Note_4_Back_Galaxy_Note_4_Logo_TA

If you are rocking a Galaxy Note 4 (SM-N910V) courtesy of Verizon, you’ll be glad to find out that the U.S. carrier is in the process of rolling out an update to your handset. While the new firmware, that bumps the Note 4 up to software version LMY47X.N910VVRU2BPA1, is still based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop (boo-hoo!), the update is said to include performance tweaks, the latest security patches, as well as some bug fixes. We have the changelog after the break.

Verizon has provided the following details regarding the changes:

  • Support for Android for Work
  • Upgrades to the Samsung Know Platform
  • Removal of previously pre-installed Amazon Appstore and Amazon Widgets
  • Device performance optimization
  • Bugfixes for known issues
  • Latest security patches

The update is rolling out Over-The-Air, if you haven’t already received the notification, you can always navigate to Settings/System/About Device/Software Updates and then tap on Update Now to see if the OTA is available for your device.

While it’s always good to see a device get an update, it is disappointing that the Note 4 is still languishing on 5.1.1 Lollipop. I guess the wait for the Note 4 to be bumped up to Marshmallow continues. If you’ve received the update from Verizon, let us know if it was a smooth experience.

 

Source: Verizon
Via: GSMArena

Come comment on this article: Verizon’s Galaxy Note 4 update brings bugfixes, latest security patches and optimized performance

8
Feb

Forget fingerprint scanners, Samsung wants to use your veins to identify you


Samsung snartwatch vascular scanner patent U.S. patent and Trademark Office

That’s right, Samsung has patented a smartwatch-based vein-scanning technology that would be used as a contactless alternative to fingerprint scanners for biometric security on wearables. We haven’t even seen an iris scanner implemented in a commercial mobile device yet, but Samsung is already looking to the future for its next-gen biometric security inspiration.

Samsung’s smartwatch design patent details a wearable that projects a light source onto the back of the hand and uses a side-mounted camera to read the structure and pattern of your veins. Called a vascular scanner, vein-matching is actually already being used by the FBI, CIA and hospitals for verification and is considered by some to be more secure than fingerprint scanners.

Vein matching not only provides more data points for verification than finger scanners, it is also a truly contactless biometric system, meaning skin conditions can’t affect the reading. Anyone that has ever had wet, cut or otherwise “abnormal” fingers will know how much local skin conditions can affect the accuracy of a finger scanner.

Samsung vascular scanner patent process U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Of course, Samsung patents all kinds of weird and wonderful technology and never brings it to market, so this is hardly a confirmation that the Gear S3 will have a vascular scanner for unlocking your watch and authenticating payments. But the fact that vascular scanners are increasingly popular for biometric security means the idea isn’t as far fetched as it might first sound.

Of course, one interesting problem this kind of tech brings up is that Samsung would need to make both left- and right-handed smartwatches or else the light sources and scanners would need to be placed on both sides of the watch.


iPhone-6S-Mate-S-Note-5-Fingerprint-Scanner-AA-(7-of-7)See also: How fingerprint scanners work: optical, capacitive, and ultrasonic variants explained16

A reversible interface would only partially negate this problem, because then any physical buttons would be on the wrong side as well as upside down. It may seem silly, but forcing left-handed consumers to wear a watch on an unnatural arm wouldn’t be the best marketing ploy. I’m sure Samsung will figure something out if and when this tech ever comes to market though.

What do you think of vascular scanners? Better or worse than fingerprint and iris scanners?

8
Feb

The OnePlus 2 now costs $349


If you need a high-end phone but have budget issues, OnePlus has permanently lowered the price of its OnePlus 2 smartphone from $399 to $349 (€345 and £249 in Europe and the UK). That makes it just $100 more than its entry-level OnePlus X phone, and could push it from “kinda expensive” to “okay, I can handle that” for a lot of folks. To prevent any bent noses, the company said it would refund the $40 difference to anyone who purchased the OnePlus 2 within the last 15 days. It’ll also throw in a free StyleSwap cover for a limited time.

If $349 seems higher than you remember, the company actually had a 16GB, $329 model for awhile, but quickly discontinued it in the US. Still, for $349 the device’s performance is top shelf — it packs a Snapdragon 810 chip, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of memory, a 5.5-inch 1080p screen and 3,300 mAh battery. Keep in mind, however, that it lacks NFC, expandable memory and a swappable battery — and don’t use the out-of-spec USB Type-C cable to charge any other devices. As for why it’s offering the price drop, OnePlus said that “the cost to produce a OnePlus 2 device has never been lower,” but it might also be prepping for a new model — OnePlus 3, anyone?

Source: OnePlus

8
Feb

Ad-Less Apple Maintains Presence at Super Bowl 50


Apple was conspicuously absent from commercial slots aired during the television broadcast of yesterday’s Super Bowl 50, but that didn’t stop some of its products from popping up in ads for other companies’ wares (via AppleInsider).

In TV spots aired during the National Football League’s biggest game, a shout-out for Apple Music featured at the end of T-Mobile’s ad, which promoted the network carrier’s unlimited streaming feature.

Apple Music on T-Mobile

Meanwhile, hawk-eyed viewers may have seen an Apple Watch make a brief cameo appearance in a Hyundai commercial showcasing the car company’s smartphone-compatible automotive system Blue Link, which enables remote voice-activation of several in-car controls.

Elsewhere, a Super Bowl-themed ad for Apple’s Beats headphones appeared on Twitter and YouTube, featuring Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wearing a pair of Powerbeats Wireless 2 in-ear headphones while training.

Apple, along with Intel, Yahoo, and Google, gave $2 million in cash and other services to offset taxpayer costs of hosting Super Bowl 50, which took place at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. In exchange for the donations, each company received a private Super Bowl suite and publicity around the game. TV commercials aired during the game however can cost up to $5 million alone.

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsApple helped establish the annual hype surrounding Super Bowl TV commercials, with its “1984” television ad for the Macintosh being among the most iconic in TV advertising history. After a 15-year spell of absence, the company ran its last dedicated Super Bowl commercial in 1999, remembered for its depiction of sentient computer HAL 9000 from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Tags: NFL, Super Bowl

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8
Feb

World’s fastest mobility scooter hits record 107.6 mph


It must’ve been a slow week at an Isle of Man bodyshop when mechanics David Anderson and Mathew Hine decided to “tweak” a mobility scooter for a bit more speed. The garden-variety Days Strider model was designed to go 8 mph, so naturally the pair added an 80-horsepower, four-cylinder, liquid-cooled Suzuki motorcycle engine. That made the chassis and tires woefully inadequate, so they also redesigned the frame and added go-cart wheels. “But that’s not really a mobility scooter anymore,” you may say.

Well, the Guinness folks specify that “from the outside the vehicle must appear like a traditional motorscooter. … [but} the engine may be modified or replaced in a way that seems suitable to gain a higher speed.” With Hine at the wheel, the run actually happened in August 2014, but it took Guinness quite a while to certify the feat. The official world record of 107.6 mph was measured as an average over a quarter-mile stretch of the test track, and handily beat the previous mark of 71.59 mph. Judging by the wheelie bars, it could take any comers in a drag race, too.

Via: The Verge

Source: Guinnness Book of World Records

8
Feb

Vallie offers to charge your EV before parking it in London


After a small test in the heart of London, Vallie has started to expand its on-demand valet parking service. At least a little bit, anyway. The app now covers a slightly larger patch of the city, stretching as far as King’s Cross St. Pancras station in the North, Whitechapel in the East and Marble Arch station in the West. It then drops down towards the Thames and snakes along the Northern edge of the river, never quite encroaching Southwark or its surrounding boroughs. Vallie now claims to cover “all of central London” — we’ll let you decide whether that statement is accurate.

As before, you can use the app to call a pre-checked driver who will arrive on a kick scooter and take your vehicle to one of Vallie’s partner car parks. Starting today, however, you can also pay for additional services while you’re occupied with other tasks in London. That includes getting an MOT check, electric charging, petrol refills and car washes. In other words, the service isn’t just about parking anymore, but taking care of almost any little chore related to car ownership. Which could be useful, if you’re a busybody that doesn’t mind paying a premium for the convenience.

Source: Vallie (Blog Post)

8
Feb

OnePlus 2 is permanently discounted to $349/£249


oneplus_2_official_angled

If you’ve thought of buying a OnePlus 2, but the $389 price tag was a little too rich for you, today could be the day you have been waiting for. OnePlus announced a little earlier today that the OnePlus 2 will be permanently reduced in price to $349/£249/€345, giving a saving of $40/£40/€54. And, if you purchased the handset at the higher price in the last 15 days, don’t fret, OnePlus has promised to refund the difference.

Besides discounting the OnePlus 2, OnePlus will include a free StyleSwap ($27) or OnePlus X case with any OnePlus 2 or X purchase as part of its Valentine’s Day promotion. OnePlus X buyers can choose from either a Karbon or Rosewood case for their handset. On top of that, free shipping is included.

OnePlus recently dropped the 16GB variant of the OnePlus 2 handset from US and EU inventories, which means that the 64GB model is now just $20 more than what the 16GB variant was originally priced at.

If you were on the fence, is the price cut tempting enough for you to splash the cash? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Source: OnePlus

Come comment on this article: OnePlus 2 is permanently discounted to $349/£249

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8
Feb

New AI chip could bring artificial intelligence to your smartphone


machine learning ai artificial intelligence Shutterstock

Researchers at MIT have unveiled a major breakthrough in artificial intelligence: a low-power neural-network chip that consumes ten times less power than a mobile GPU. This means that smartphone-based AI tasks are much closer than you might think. Skynet has a new name, kids, and it’s Eyeriss.

The research around Eyeriss was presented at the recent International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, where the researchers noted: “In recent years, some of the most exciting advances in artificial intelligence have come courtesy of convolutional neural networks, large virtual networks of simple information-processing units, which are loosely modeled on the anatomy of the human brain.”

Convolutional neural networks are loosely modeled on the anatomy of the human brain.”

The researchers demonstrated the low-power chip performing a complex image recognition task – the first time a state-of-the-art neural network has been run on a custom chip. Eyeriss’ secret sauce is its energy-friendly nature. Consuming one-tenth of the power a standard mobile GPU requires, Eyeriss is a natural choice for mobile AI.

Soc ARM future

The secret to low-power AI

Eyeriss utilizes several tricks to keep power consumption to an absolute minimum. Unlike most GPUs, each of the 168 cores in Eyeriss has its own memory, so there is less need for time-consuming and power-hungry communication with a large central memory bank.

Data is compressed before being sent to a core for processing and a special delegation circuit gives each core the maximum amount of work it can handle without needing to access more data. Furthermore, each core in Eyeriss is able to communicate directly with its neighboring cores, so data can be shared locally rather than constantly routing through central memory.

data internet of things networks web 2 Shutterstock

What Eyeriss means for mobile AI

Partially funded by DARPA, the research picks up on neural network research that was studied aggressively in the early days of AI research in the 70s and then largely dropped. Neural nets were typically seen as being too power-hungry for use in mobile applications, but as the researchers claim, Eyeriss “is useful for many applications, such as object recognition, speech, face detection” and could be used to usher in the Internet of Things.

When an Eyeriss chip is installed in a smartphone, it will negate the need to send data to the cloud for high-power processing of AI algorithms, improving speed, security and the need for a Wi-Fi or data connection. Complex AI tasks will be able to be processed locally, brining machine learning to your handheld device.

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What’s more, individual Eyeriss chips won’t need to learn everything from scratch either, because “a trained neural network could simply be exported to a mobile device,” adding that “onboard neural networks would be useful for battery-powered autonomous robots”.

The applications are immense, although there was no timeline given for when an Eyeriss chip might make its way into a commercial mobile device. However, when one of the principal investigators of the work is a research scientist at Nvidia, it might be sooner than you think.

What kinds of AI tasks can you see being run on mobile devices? When do you think it will happen?

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