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Posts Tagged ‘android’

Oct
20

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Google has a developer preview of the next version update of Android, Nougat 7.1, available for Nexus devices.

Google typically announces the next Android preview during its Google I/O developer conference held annually in May. This year – for the first time – the preview was made available early so many could test Android 7.0 before launch. Once again, Google is using a developer preview for Android 7.1, so Nexus owners can beta test the latest Google goodies prior to final launch in December.

  • When is Android 7.1 Nougat coming to my phone?

Here are two different routes you can take: the traditional developer route and the super-friendly Android Beta Program route.

A developer preview is a “work in progress” build that is released to developers prior to a consumer rollout of the final software. Google offers a preview to collect and incorporate developer feedback. In the case of the Android 7.1 developer preview, as the software has already released on the Pixel and Pixel XL phones, it is being offered at beta quality, i.e., near final.

The aim is really to tease out problems with specific devices and allow developers to update apps to support 7.1’s new features.

In the initial phases Google is offering Android 7.1 for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6Pand Pixel C. Additional devices will be added to the programme in November, including the Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player (probably).

As the Android 7.1 Nougat developer preview is arriving in beta, it should be stable, but some features may still be subject to change.

Google wants to make it easier for you to try Android 7.1 Nougat on device, so it’s also offering the Android Beta Program that allows anyone enrolled to update their Android devices to the developer preview and receive ongoing, over-the-air updates. It’s very much like Microsoft’s Windows Insider programme.

The beta ran for Android 7.0 Nougat and is very simple, meaning you don’t have to get involved in flashing updates or anything complicated.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Visit android.com/beta to sign-up to the Android Beta Program.
  2. Sign into your Google account when prompted.
  3. Your eligible devices will be listed on the next page, click to enrol in the Beta Program.
  4. Updates will arrive over the air direct to your device.

That’s it, it’s so simple.

If you’ve used the Android Beta Program before and enrolled your device previously, it will already be on the list and will automatically receive the updates when they become available.

If you don’t want those updates, you can follow the steps above, but then click to “unenrol device”.

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Oct
17

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© AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project.

Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren’t public.

New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said. Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person.

Apple executives have given the car team a deadline of late next year to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system and decide on a final direction, two of the people said. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment.

The new shift and deadline come after months of strategy disagreements, leadership flux and supply chain challenges inside Apple’s unmarked car labs in Sunnyvale, California, a short drive from its Cupertino headquarters.

Apple isn’t the first to realize mastery of mobile gadgets and software updates is no guarantee of automotive success. Alphabet Inc.’s Google learned the challenges of building its own vehicles and has sought partners. Its car project has also suffered departures. Tech investors are dubious too. They’re used to fat profit margins, while carmakers survive on net margins well below 10 percent.

“For a quality Apple-branded car they could probably get a healthy margin,” said Eric Paul Dennis, an analyst at the Center for Automotive Research. “They probably weren’t willing to compromise on quality issues” because that could hurt the perception of its other products, he added.

Apple started Titan in 2014 with grand ambitions to make a dent in an auto industry that consultant McKinsey & Co. estimates will be worth $6.7 trillion by 2030. The iPhone maker embarked upon an aggressive hiring spree, and an Apple-designed vehicle was targeted by the early 2020s. The hope was to revolutionize cars in the way the iPhone upended the mobile industry in 2007.

By the end of 2015, the project was blighted by internal strife. Managers battled about the project’s direction, according to people with knowledge of the operations. “It was an incredible failure of leadership,” one of the people said. In early 2016, project head Steve Zadesky, a former Ford Motor Co. engineer and early iPod designer, left Titan. Zadesky, who remains at Apple, declined to comment.

Zadesky handed the reins to his boss, Dan Riccio, adding to responsibilities that already included engineering annual iPhone, iPad, and Mac refreshes. Bob Mansfield, a highly regarded manager who helped develop the original iPad, returned in April from a part-time role at Apple to lead the team.

About a month later, Mansfield took the stage in a Silicon Valley auditorium packed with hundreds of Titan employees to announce the strategy shift, according to people who attended the meeting. Mansfield explained that he had examined the project and determined that Apple should move from building an outright competitor to Tesla Motors Inc. to an underlying self-driving platform.

Departures

In the following months, engineers started leaving. Some chose to quit amid doubts over job security and skepticism that an Apple car product would ever come to market. Others were cut. In August, a first wave of employees was let go, followed by a second round in September.

More than 120 software engineers working on a car operating system and testing procedures were cut. Several hundred hardware engineers working on car chassis, suspensions, and undercarriages also left, the people said. The New York Times reported in September that Apple had cut dozens of employees from Titan.

John Wright, a veteran Apple manager who led the software teams, has left the project, according to people familiar with the matter. Dan Dodge, creator of BlackBerry Ltd.’s QNX car software, took a larger role developing Apple’s auto platform architecture, some of those people said.

Remaining software engineers are working on autonomous programs, vision sensors, and simulators for testing the platform in real-world environments. The team also has regulatory specialists to navigate the heavily regulated auto industry, one of the people said.

Far Cry

It’s a far cry from early plans that excited Apple executives. “The car is the ultimate mobile device, isn’t it?” Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said in 2015.

Soon after, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the auto industry was “at an inflection point for massive change.”

Apple executives had imagined an electric car that could recognize its driver by fingerprint and autonomously navigate with the press of a button. One plan sought a partially autonomous car that still had a steering wheel and pedals, while later plans migrated toward a fully autonomous vehicle.

Regardless of Apple’s struggles, established carmakers have recognized the threat posed by new entrants and have embarked on a hiring and acquisition splurge to beef up their software capabilities. They are wary of allowing technology companies to own the lucrative software component of new cars.

Apple meanwhile struggled to tackle complex automotive supply chains, according to another person familiar with the situation. In smartphones, Apple wields extensive influence and often secures exclusive rights to certain parts from suppliers. For cars, the heavy investment required to make automotive parts means suppliers are less willing to commit their products to a vehicle like Apple’s which may have initially shipped in small quantities.

“When they started digging into the details of what that would entail it likely became an intractable problem,” the Center for Automotive Research’s Dennis said.

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Sep
28

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Blackberry is to stop designing smartphones in-house after 14 years, the company has announced.

Once a market leader, the company has struggled to keep pace with modern handsets produced by rivals such as Apple and Samsung.

In May, the company’s chief executive, John Chen, said he would know by September whether the hardware business was likely to become profitable.

Now, Blackberry says it will outsource hardware development to partners.

Blackberry website
Image copyrightBLACKBERRY
Image captionBlackberry is repositioning itself as a software company

But the company has not yet confirmed when any further Blackberry phones will be released.

“I always wanted to make sure that we keep having the iconic devices,” Mr Chentold BNN.

“I just need to find a way to be efficient and be able to make money. I think we found the model.”

The company said it sold about 400,000 smartphones in its second quarter – fewer than the previous three months.

“Blackberry can’t keep producing its own phones indefinitely just to serve a small subset of its clients addicted to its home-grown devices,” said Ben Wood of the CCS Insight consultancy.

“Blackberry had made no secret of the fact that it might shut down its own phone-making business. Pushing it out to a third party is a sensible solution – but any manufacturer making Blackberry branded devices will ultimately face the same challenges.”

Mr Chen has been candid about the future of Blackberry’s handset business, saying he would consider closing the division if it could not become profitable.

In May, he told Bloomberg that he would know by September whether that was likely.

“The first time I made that statement was September a year ago,” said Mr Chen.

“When people ask me, ‘How long will it take?’… I said a year. So, it’s going to be September this year.”

In October 2015, Blackberry changed the direction of its handset business by producing its first smartphone running Google’s Android operating system, rather than its own BB10 software.

However, Mr Chen has admitted the device, which featured a slide-out physical keyboard, was too expensive to appeal to a mass market.

The company has since launched a less expensive touchscreen-only Android handset, based on a phone released by Alcatel owner TCL.


A bumpy history

Blackberry 5810
Image copyrightBLACKBERRY
Image captionThe Blackberry 5810 is described as one of the first smartphones

March 2002: Technology company Research In Motion (RIM) released the Blackberry 5810 – a phone, email and mobile web-browsing device with a full Qwerty keyboard. Described as one of the first smartphones, it was able to make and receive calls when connected to a headset.

Blackberry
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionKim Kardashian used a Blackberry Curve smartphone in 2008

2007: Now featuring a colour screen, camera and an improved mobile web browser, Blackberry handsets became popular in the business world and soon enjoyed celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kim Kardashian.

Steve Jobs
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSteve Jobs with the iPhone

June 2007: Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s iPhone. The device is said to have changed the course of the smartphone industry by introducing downloadable apps and bringing an easy-to-use touchscreen device to the mass market. The iPhone was the first mobile phone to feature a “full” web browser, something Blackberry executives are reported to have thought would cause mobile phone networks to collapse.

Blackberry
Image copyrightBLACKBERRY
Image captionThe Blackberry Storm was designed to battle the iPhone

November 2008: Under pressure from mobile networks to develop an “iPhone killer”, Blackberry produced the Storm. The handset featured a touchscreen that physically clicked when pressed, to emulate the feeling of the firm’s famous keyboards. The device ran Blackberry OS – the firm’s legacy operating system, which had been built before the advent of downloadable apps. Critics said the Storm was glitchy and slow, and its web browser paled in comparison to the iPhone’s offering.

Despite the Storm’s poor reception, Blackberry continued to grow its market share until 2010.

Mike Lazaridis with Blackberry Playbook
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionBlackberry founder Mike Lazaridis launched the Playbook tablet

April 2011: The company launched its Playbook tablet, its first device to ditch Blackberry OS in favour of a new, modern operating system. The Playbook was marketed as a larger-screen “companion” for the firm’s smartphones but lacked basic features such as a built-in calendar and email app. By December, the company had written $485m (£370m) off the value of its unsold tablets.

The firm’s chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped down soon after.

Thorsten Heins
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThorsten Heins replaces Mr Lazaridis and Mr Balsillie, and introduced BB10

January 2013: RIM became Blackberry Limited and launched its BB10 operating system, six years after the appearance of the iPhone.

The platform struggled to attract app developers, who were already occupied producing software for Android and iOS and were reluctant to support a third platform. Big-name apps such as Google Maps, Instagram and Snapchat never officially made it to BB10.

Blackberry Priv
Image copyrightBLACKBERRY
Image captionBlackberry Priv was the final device designed in-house

October 2015: Blackberry released its first Android-powered smartphone, Priv, seven years after rivals produced the first Android devices.

Sales of Priv were thought to have missed targets and the firm’s current chief executive John Chen later admitted the device had been too expensive.

Blackberry Dtek 50 handset
Image captionBlackberry’s latest handset was designed by Alcatel owner TCL

July 2016: The company’s first touchscreen-only Android device, Dtek 50, was released. To reduce costs the handset was based on a phone manufactured by Alcatel owner TCL.

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Sep
28

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Law authorities have warned they believe criminals are using Android phones to trigger fraudulent tap-and-go payments.

The alert comes in Europol’s annual Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment report.

Experts had previously said that the rollout of smart wallet systems could raise such a threat.

However, the police are unsure exactly how the attacks are being carried out and how common they are.

“The possibility of compromising NFC [near field communication] transactions was explored by academia years ago, and it appears that fraudsters have finally made progress in the area,” the report says.

“Several vendors in the dark net offer software that uploads compromised card data on to Android phones in order to make payments at any stores accepting NFC payments.”

The report’s authors add that one consequence of the novel crime is that shops might not know how to react even if they detect the deceit.

“Currently, when merchants detect a fraudulent transaction, they are requested to seize the card,” the report says.

“However, the confiscation may not be feasible when the compromised card data are recorded on the buyer’s smartphone.”

NFC terminal
Image copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Image captionNFC terminals typically accept both touchless smartphone and payment card transactions

The report concludes that smartphone and touchless payment terminal manufacturers should “take action to design out security flaws”.

Anecdotal evidence

Europol is the EU’s law enforcement agency, which helps members states’ police forces co-ordinate operations and intelligence.

Its report is intended to flag emerging cybercrime threats.

One of the body’s advisers acknowledged that investigators were still unclear whether the payments were triggered being by customised apps or via Google’s own Android Pay software.

“It’s anecdotal evidence at the moment – it could be either or both,” said Prof Alan Woodward, from Surrey University.

“But whatever the case, evidence that it is happening is mounting.”

Prof Woodward said the criminals were probably using Android handsets rather than iPhones because Google did not prevent third-party apps using a device’s NFC chip, but Apple did.

iPhone
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe report indicates the fraudsters are opting for Android devices rather than Apple’s

“Apple systems are locked down, but you can typically write code to get at NFC, wi-fi and Bluetooth on Android-based devices,” he said.

“It’s just easier to write things on there if what you are doing is pretending to be a contactless card or otherwise sending communications to a contactless payment terminal.”

Prof Woodward added that the threat did not mean people should stop using Android Pay, but rather that all members of the public should remain vigilant against unusual transactions.

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Sep
27

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We’ve been hearing for some time now that Apple is working on an all-glass front for next year’s iPhone, with the Home button and Touch ID sensor built into the display itself. The touch-sensitive Home button on the iPhone 7 is likely intended as a stepping stone toward that goal, and an Apple patent published back in May described the technology Apple is most likely to adopt: ultrasonic imaging.

Demonstrating that this is not just a concept but technology that works in the real world, Chinese brand Xiaomi has today launched a new phone that uses that exact type of embedded fingerprint reader. The mi 5s and mi 5s Plus both use an ultrasonic fingerprint reader built into the glass …

Ultrasonic imaging of fingerprints not only allows the reader to sit beneath the glass, but is even more accurate than the capacitive sensor used in Touch ID. To help your finger locate the sensor, Xiaomi has put an indent in the glass, an approach seen in early iPhone mockups.

Of course, Xiaomi’s reputation as an Apple clone-maker means that its latest handsets are designed to go head-to-head with the iPhone 7, most notably offering a very similar large-pixel 12MP camera with dual-tone flash, right through to a dual-camera setup on the mi 5 Plus – though Xiaomi has opted for a combination of color and black-and-white sensors rather than a wide-angle and telephoto lens. The display is also force-sensitive, allowing the company to emulate 3D Touch.

One thing to note: Xiaomi’s implementation shows the reader beneath the glass, but not below the actual display – all the homescreen icons are above the fingerprint reader. So you do get an all-glass front, but not a full-height display.

As you can see, this type of indented glass is the approach suggested in this mockup (created before we knew Apple was dropping the headphone socket) by Martin Hajek, though this one shows the display itself extending through the fingerprint reader.

virtual-home-button

By the time Apple adopts it, we should all be used to the touch-sensitive Home button, making this a relatively minor adjustment.

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Sep
25

Mobilink has enabled 4G services on its network at various places, we have checked.

According to reports that we are getting from ProPakistani readers, they were able to find “Mobilink 4G” in network searches they made on their smartphones.

Mobilink_4G

Above network search results were obtained at I-10, Islamabad and Satellite Town Rawalpindi

While Mobilink hasn’t announced the launch of its 4G network, we are certain that company is in process of testing its 4G network across various locations.

Sources in Mobilink confirmed us that it is testing the 4G network and may soon launch services in multiple cities at once. A timeline for 4G launch is however still not confirmed as of yet.

It won’t be out of place to mention that Mobilink and Warid recently completed its merger, and as per plans, both companies are now in process of integrating departments and infrastructure of both the companies.

During this integration process, which may take up to another 6-9 months, both companies will keep operating as separate entities and networks.

However, during the while, Mobilink will have a 4G network live and running on Warid’s 1800MHz spectrum that it received as part of merger.

While we don’t have confirmations, we are anticipating that Mobilink will be ready to launch its 4G network, at least the trials, in next few weeks.

It maybe recalled here that Zong, Warid and Telenor already offer 4G services in Pakistan. Telenor launched its 4G services in six cities with coverage in small patches. They are still expanding the coverage and may take few months until more saturated 4G coverage is offered to consumers.

Mobilink, with over 50 million combined customer-base, is best positioned to disrupt 4G market if they are able to offer better speeds and coverage in urban areas at least.

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Sep
25

3G and 4G users in Pakistan are about to hit the 33 million mark in Pakistan, said the latest stats issued by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

Total number of 3G and 4G users reached 32.70 million by the end of August 2016, according to the recent most stats by the regulator.

Mobilink tops the league with 10.41 million 3G users while Telenor lags behind with 8.80 million 3G users on its network.

Zong reported that it had 6.75 million 3G users on its network by the end of reported month and Ufone stood with 5.25 million 3G users by the time.

Zong, for its 4G network, reported 921,526 4G users while Warid reported 555,167 LTE users by end of August.

Pakistani mobile phone companies, during August 2016, added a combined total of 919,513 3G and 4G users to their networks.

More in below graphs:

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Mobile Phone Subscriptions About to Touch 134 Million Mark

Mobile phone users, overall in the country, reached 133.91 million with Mobilink topping the charts at 40.13 million subscribers with 640,907 new additions during the month of August 2016.

Telenor, for the first time in a long time, showed negative growth during August 2016 and lost some 20,069 customers — under the head of data cleanup — during the reported period.

Ufone lost 362,374 customers during the month to finish with 19.13 million subscribers a the end of August.

Zong and Warid reported 25.89 million and 10.71 million subscribers respectively.

More in below graphs:

cellular_subscribers_august_2016_01

cellular_subscribers_august_2016_02

cellular_subscribers_august_2016_03

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