Google looks to LTE connectivity for latest Project Loon tests

Google looks to LTE connectivity for latest Project Loon tests

Google is activity exploring the feasibility of using 4G LTE radio spectrum for its balloon-based Project Loon moonshot, according to a report.

PCWorld has revealed the next phase of testing for the project, which aims to bring internet connectivity to remote areas by using a flock of balloons to beam Wi-Fi to the ground, is currently taking place in Nevada.

The report says Google has gained permission from the local government and the FCC to use two bands of licensed radio spectrum, plus a broad class spectrum, which all points to the use of LTE.

Up until now Google has been using the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi spectrum for previous tests in New Zealand, but it would appear the firm is keen on exploring the option of using 4G LTE for the project.

Doubling down

One reason for the LTE tests could conceivably be the unreliability of the 2.4GHz spectrum, which is susceptible to widespread interference.

However, if 4G LTE and WiFi were both used for a commercial Loon roll out, it may cause complications for Google as it would require approval from different sets of regulators, as PC World points out.

Google is yet to comment beyond the FCC filing, but local government officials are said to have confirmed the application is Loon related, with several balloon-based filings also made.

If you've yet to hear of Project Loon, it is one of the more outlandish 'moonshots' to emerge from the company's secretive X Labs.

Loon seeks to deploy a vast flock of thousands of balloons circumnavigating the globe, each carrying receivers that can beam Wi-Fi to antennas on the ground, solving the problem of zero connectivity for the majority of folks on the planet.

  • Project Loon explained: Can Google's balloons unite the world online

Reuters News: Tech workers seek to use Steve Jobs evidence in upcoming trial on no-hire accords

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Four large technology companies should not be allowed to limit evidence about Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs at an upcoming trial over no-hire agreements in Silicon Valley, according to a court document filed late on Thursday by employees suing the firms.

Tech workers brought a class action lawsuit against Apple, Google Inc, Intel Inc and Adobe Systems Inc in 2011, alleging they conspired to avoid competing for each other's employees in order to avert a salary war. Trial is scheduled to begin at the end of May on behalf of roughly 64,000 workers in the class, and plaintiffs say damages could top $3 billion.

The case, which is closely watched in Silicon Valley, is largely built on emails among top executives, including Apple's late chief executive Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

In one instance, after a Google recruiter solicited an Apple employee, Schmidt told Jobs that the recruiter would be fired, court documents show. Jobs then forwarded Schmidt's note to a top Apple human resources executive with a smiley face appended.

Earlier this week, the four companies asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to prevent plaintiffs from unfairly portraying Jobs as a "bully" at trial. The companies said they did not seek to bar Jobs' communications about the no-hire agreements, but rather evidence gleaned from sources like Walter Isaacson's bestselling biography about Jobs.

However, in the filing on Thursday, the employees said such material had been used in separate antitrust litigation involving Apple over e-books.

"That the jury might draw conclusions about Mr. Jobs' character based on evidence showing the manner in which he pursued the conspiracy at the heart of this case is not grounds to exclude such evidence," they wrote.

A Google spokesman declined to comment. Representatives for Apple, Intel and Adobe could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could an attorney for the plaintiffs.

The four companies agreed to settle a U.S. Department of Justice probe in 2010 that barred them from entering into such no-hire agreements in the future. They have since been fighting the civil antitrust class action, arguing that the plaintiffs cannot successfully prove an overarching conspiracy to impact wages.

In addition to evidence about Jobs' character, the tech companies also asked Koh to prohibit discussion of the government probe at trial. However, on Thursday the plaintiffs argued that the jury should know the reason the companies eliminated their no-hire agreements.

Additionally, the plaintiffs seek to introduce evidence about the personal wealth of executives like Google co-founder Sergey Brin - and how it could be enhanced by holding down workers' salaries and boosting margins, according to the filing.

At a hearing last month, attorneys for Google and the plaintiffs said they were "making progress" in settlement talks.

Walt Disney Co's Pixar and Lucasfilm units and Intuit Inc were also defendants in the original lawsuit but agreed to a settlement, with Disney paying about $9 million and Intuit paying $11 million. A hearing on final settlement approval is scheduled for May 1.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is In Re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-cv-2509.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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Flickr for iOS and Android gets an impressive overhaul to battle Instagram

Flickr for iOS and Android gets an impressive overhaul to battle Instagram

Yahoo's attempts to give its Flickr photo-sharing service a rebirth has continued with a complete overhaul of the apps for iOS and Android.

The completely redesigned apps for both platforms now feature a slick new feed that almost mimic the look and feel of competitors like Facebook-owned Instagram.

The photos appear in a single, scrollable feed with photos cropped to square dimensions, expanded to their full aspect ratio when tapped by users.

Users can also tap a single button to reveal the metadata for each photo, such as the camera used, the GPS position, focal length, aperture, exposure and more.

Going social

As well as photos, Flickr users can also capture 30 seconds of HD video for direct upload to their stream, while adding live filters in the process.

The app also enables photo fanciers to like, comment and share photos that sit in their feeds, while the profile pages are also decidedly Google+ and Instagram esque. There's also an overhauled search functionality and image recognition tech that tag items like sunsets and cars.

Another neat addition is the new auto-sync feature, which will automatically back up all photos at full resolution to the user's Flickr account, a la Google+ and Dropbox.

The only downside for Android users is the need for them to be logged into a Flickr account when previously they've been able to get away with signing in through Facebook and Google accounts.

Have you sampled the overhaul for iOS or Android? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. For the rest of you, here's a look at the new features.

YouTube :

  • Flickr at 10: Time to start being the best

Reuters News: Rockwell Collins looks to join global aircraft tracking task force

n">(Reuters) - Rockwell Collins Inc, maker of a key communications system for jets, is interested in joining a task force on improving global airline tracking to prevent further disappearances of planes like Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Chief Executive Officer Kelly Ortberg said the avionics supplier had "a lot of value to add" to the task force planned by the International Air Transport Association that will look at ways to track airplanes and make recommendations.

The Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared from radar screens on March 8 with 239 people on board. On Thursday, Australian search authorities said footage taken by a deep-sea drone could help determine whether the lost jet ended up in a remote area of the Indian Ocean.

Last year, Rockwell acquired ARINC, a provider of aviation connectivity services including flight planning and high-speed data. ARINC developed the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, designed to transmit maintenance data back to the ground. Data from the ACARS system indicated that the Malaysia Airlines jet had veered away from its planned path and led rescuers to search in the Indian Ocean.

"The industry is pledging to go figure out a way to make sure this never happens again," Ortberg said in an interview, referring to the disappearance of the Boeing jet.

Ortberg said the technology exists to improve plane tracking.

"We may have to write some software, we may have to do some different things--upgrade the airplane to implement this capability--but we don't need to invest in new technology," he said.

"With GPS satellites and connectivity, this is a solvable problem," Ortberg added.

The task force convened by IATA is expected to include airlines, aircraft and system makers and search and rescue experts, said IATA spokesman Perry Flint.

IATA has also said the task force would include the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency that sets air travel standards. ICAO is planning a special meeting May 12-13 at its Montreal headquarters to discuss airplane and satellite capabilities needed to track flights globally.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta)

Breaking News: Netflix's Hastings makes the case for Net neutrality

Amazon heats up Fire TV voice search with trio of new partners

Amazon heats up Fire TV voice search with trio of new partners

Despite many positive early reviews, early adopters of Amazon's streaming media box have been underwhelmed by many half-baked features including voice search, which will get a little more useful this summer.

Amazon today announced three new content partners are working to enable unified voice search on Fire TV, the e-tailer's little black box for the living room launched earlier this month.

At launch, Fire TV's coveted voice search feature was limited strictly to Amazon's own movie and TV show content as well as music videos from VEVO - a shortcoming the company appears ready to start addressing.

Starting this summer, Hulu Plus, Crackle and Showtime Anytime will integrate their full catalogs into Amazon's voice search - and that's only the beginning of what Bezos and Friends have in store for us.

Best yet to come

"We're excited and energized by the momentum we're seeing with Fire TV. We're thrilled to have Hulu Plus, Crackle, and Showtime integrating their full selection of movies and TV shows into Fire TV's unified voice search," said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Devices.

While Amazon's press release Thursday mostly consisted of chest-thumping snippets culled from Fire TV's more glowing reviews, the web veteran also reiterated its commitment to improving the available content lineup in the months ahead.

In addition to previously promised Amazon FreeTime and Amazon MP3 integration with a forthcoming over-the-air software update, Fire TV will soon make it easier for Prime Instant Video subscribers to find movies and TV shows.

Gamers will also have something to look forward to with new titles on the way from heavyweights like Telltale Games, Halfbrick and Disney Interactive, while the upcoming Fire TV app will allow smartphone and tablet screens to control the fun as well.

  • Fancy a real gaming console? Read our review of the new Xbox One!

Reuters News: Mt. Gox suitors seek creditor support to save bitcoin exchange

n">(Reuters) - A group of investors, which is seeking to buy Mt. Gox, has launched a website to garner support from creditors of the bankrupt bitcoin exchange to prevent a liquidation of its assets.

"We need your help to stop a liquidation, which would be good neither for Mt. Gox creditors nor Bitcoin's reputation with the general public and regulators," the investors wrote on the website. (

The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported that Mt. Gox had given up plans to rebuild under bankruptcy protection and had asked a Tokyo court to allow it to be liquidated.

The investor group, which offered to take over the assets of Mt. Gox and revive it, has received backing from many creditors and hopes to convince the court to reconsider their rehabilitation proposal, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. (

Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, has about 127,000 creditors.

The exchange filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan in February, saying it may have lost nearly half a billion dollars worth of the virtual coins due to hacking.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

(This story corrects date of story to April 17 from April 18)

Breaking News: Turkish citizens fight back against Twitter ban

Titanfall helps Xbox One sales, but PlayStation 4 still in the lead

Titanfall helps Xbox One sales, but PlayStation 4 still in the lead

Titanfall has certainly lived up to the hype and has even encouraged sales of the Xbox One - but the numbers still don't beat out Sony's PS4.

Microsoft announced that the grunt-stomping, action packed robot game Titanfall was March's best-selling game.

It did so well that the Xbox One has even sold 5 million consoles since launch, with spikes during Titanfall's release. Microsoft even sold more next-gen consoles "outpacing Xbox 360 by more than 60% at the same point in time."

Though 5m is hefty number, the recently updated PlayStation 4 still has the upper hand with 7 million consoles sold as of April.

These numbers will likely only rise with the impending arrival of Ubisoft's Watch Dogs game and Project Spark in addition to E3 where more new games will definitely be announced.

  • Not everyone likes consoles though - in fact, PAX East 2014 attendees seemed to prefer another system altogether.

Reuters News: Mt. Gox suitors seek support to save bitcoin exchange

n">(Reuters) - A group of investors seeking to buy Mt. Gox has launched a website to garner support from creditors of the bankrupt bitcoin exchange to prevent a liquidation of its assets.

"We need your help to stop a liquidation, which would be good neither for Mt. Gox creditors nor bitcoin's reputation with the general public and regulators," the investors wrote on the website. (

Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, is likely to be liquidated after a Tokyo court dismissed the company's bid to resuscitate its business, the court appointed administrator said on Wednesday.

"The Tokyo district court recognized that it would be difficult for the company to carry out the civil rehabilitation proceedings and dismissed the application for the commencement of the civil rehabilitation proceedings," he said.

The investor group, which offered to take over the assets of Mt. Gox and revive it, has received backing from many creditors and hopes to convince the court to reconsider its rehabilitation proposal, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. (

Mt. Gox has about 127,000 creditors.

The exchange filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan in February, saying it may have lost nearly half a billion dollars worth of the virtual coins due to hacking.

Mark Karpeles, the founder of Mt. Gox, said he would not come to the United States to answer questions about the bankruptcy case, Mt. Gox lawyers told a U.S. federal judge on Monday.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Sampad Patnaik in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Steve Orlofsky)

(This story fixes grammar in first paragraph)

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Updated: Possible Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom camera sample comes into focus

Updated: Possible Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom camera sample comes into focus

Update: Hold up - all is not what it seems. TechRadar has been flagged a Flickr page of a remarkably similar looking image, although the EXIF data here suggests it was taken with a Sony DSC-H200 camera in January.

Of course there's no guarantee the EXIF data on this post hasn't been faked, but it does raise suspicions of foul play.

Thanks to Krzysztof for the tip.

Original story...

We're getting a pretty clear picture of what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom when it comes to its design, but this is a phone that's all about the photos.

That's why we're particularly intrigued by a new image doing the rounds which was supposedly shot on the S5 Zoom.

The photo was sent to Dutch site with an EXIF tag of SM-C115. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is the SM-C101, so that's close enough that it's likely to be its successor.

Happy snapper

The photo is a close-up of some leaves and, well, it's hard to make any firm conclusions based on a single image, but it certainly seems reasonable quality, at least by smartphone standards, though the background is more in focus than the foreground.

From previous rumours we're expecting the Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom to have a 20 megapixel sensor, 10x optical zoom, a 4.8 inch screen and a significantly smaller footprint than last years model.

  • Like Android but don't need a phone on your camera? Check out the Samsung Galaxy Camera.

Reuters News: Twitter broadens advertising reach through app-install ads

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter Inc took a significant step Thursday towards broaden its advertising business by offering mobile ads urging people to install apps on its social network as well as through MoPub, the mobile-advertising network it acquired last year.

As the mobile app economy grows, app developers have been willing to pay increasing amounts to advertise on major sites like Facebook to boost their app downloads.

Twitter said Thursday it could reach 1 billion unique mobile devices through its MoPub network, which places ads inside of hundreds of apps. Twitter, which acquired MoPub last year for roughly $350 million, reaches a more limited audience of 240 million users through its own Web site and mobile apps.

Twitter said it would allow developers to target their so-called app-install ads on Twitter, based on user interests. For example, a game publisher could promote its mobile games to Twitter users who have been identified as gamers.

Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has in the past repeatedly identified app-install ads as a significant source of revenue for the world's No. 1 social network, although Facebook has never disclosed the precise amount in its financial results.

(Reporting by Gerry Shih; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Breaking News: Turkish citizens fight back against Twitter ban

Sonos unplugs another wire as it promises a tidier sound experience

Sonos unplugs another wire as it promises a tidier sound experience

Sonos has been beavering away on ways to make its speaker system more user-friendly - and soon you'll be able to connect your Sonos components with a lot less hassle.

Sonos says that its speakers will be able to connect directly to your Wi-Fi network without the need for the bridge, which currently acts as middle-man communicator between the two.

All you'll need is the speaker, a Wi-Fi connection and the companion app and you're good to go. We expect that there will also be less delay every time you turn the speakers on, given they'll be able to beam straight to the source.

For those of you with multiple speakers linked together, fret not – everything will still play in sync.

Shake the room

Sonos was quick to remind us that doesn't mean the bridge has become redundant, so don't go throwing yours out the window. Especially if you have a particularly large house with spotty Wi-Fi signal.

But soon you'll have the option of not using it at all when setting up your Sonos system. We're told we'll hear more about all of this "in the coming weeks."

For now, Sonos says it's still testing the tech, but hopefully it won't be too long before we can say goodbye to another needless wire.

  • Maybe it's time to pick up a Sonos Play:1 or two?

Reuters News: Germany's SAP braced for continued currency crunch

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German business software maker SAP warned on Thursday that it expects the negative impact of the strong euro to worsen after reporting lower than expected first-quarter results.

The warning comes as SAP grapples with a short-term squeeze from its shift to web-based cloud computing, prompting it to push back its profit target as it waits for subscription income to gather pace and increases investment to keep up with the fast-growing market.

Along with many other European companies that rely on revenues from abroad, SAP has been hit by the climbing euro. The currency has gained 2.3 percent on the U.S. dollar and nearly 6 percent against Japan's yen in the past six months.

SAP said its software and software-related service revenues would fall 6 percentage points in the second quarter if exchange rates remain at March levels, while the hit for operating profit excluding special items would be 8 percentage points.

That compares with a first-quarter impact of 5 percentage points on both software and software-related service revenues and operating profit.

For the full year, SAP expects exchange rates to slice 4 percentage points from revenue and 5 percentage points from operating profit, though outgoing finance chief Werner Brandt said the company's global presence would give it opportunities to balance the currency effect.

The currency warning followed what one Frankfurt-based trader described as "a weak report" on the company's first quarter.

Its 2 percent rise in operating profit, excluding special items, to 919 million euros, missed even the most pessimistic forecast of 924 million euros in a Reuters poll of analysts. The average forecast was 961 million euros.

Shares in SAP fell 3.2 percent by 0656 ET and are down almost 9 percent this year, against a 5 percent decline for the European technology index.


The longer-term picture from the move to cloud computing looks more encouraging, however.

Competing with global rivals such as IBM and Oracle in the race to meet surging demand for web-based software, SAP said revenues from its cloud business jumped by more than a third to 221 million euros out of total first-quarter revenue up 2 percent at 3.7 billion euros.

The global cloud services market grew by almost a fifth last year to an estimated $131 billion, research firm Gartner says, while IBM Markets Intelligence says the market could be worth $200 billion by 2020.

SAP customers, such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Vodafone, are moving to cloud computing because there are no upfront costs for program licenses, dedicated hardware or installation, making them less vulnerable to economic downturns.

SAP entered the cloud business in 2012 after spending $7.7 billion - about 10 percent of its current market capitalization - to buy internet-based computing companies Ariba and SuccessFactors.

The company expects last year's total revenue of 16.9 billion euros to rise to at least 22 billion euros by 2017, with the cloud business contributing up to 3.5 billion euros.

Cloud operations accounted for 787 million euros of last year's revenue and analysts have suggested that SAP will need to make more acquisitions to reach its 2017 goal.

Chief Executive Bill McDermott has indicated that he would look at potential deals but on Thursday said he was not in "hot pursuit" of possible targets.

At constant currencies, SAP still expects full-year operating profit of between 5.8 billion euros and 6 billion euros, against 5.51 billion euros last year.

McDermott said the company achieved a solid performance in Europe despite uncertainty in Russia, with the Ukraine crisis having a dampening effect on its activities in the region.

"We do see that some things are moving slower there and they are growing less fast than they were, but nothing is lost and we expect the business to be restored over time," he said. ($1 = 0.7243 Euros)

(Editing by Maria Sheahan and David Goodman)

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Even Sony’s surprised it’s sold 7 million PS4s to date

Even Sony's surprised it's sold 7 million PS4s to date

There's still no breakout game that makes PS4 a must-have next-generation console, but sales of the new system have topped seven million, Sony has announced.

PS4 officially reached this milestone on April 6, meaning it got there in four months and 22 days after the console first launched to consumers.

Early adopters are picking up games along with the console, too. Sony pointed to more than 20.5 million games sold as of April 13. That includes both retail and PlayStation Store software sales.

They'll be pleased to know that more games are on the way. Sony expects the PS4 games list to reach 120 by the end of the year.

Prepare for an Xbox One rebound?

It certainly helps that the PS4 price is more attractive than the Xbox One and that it's available in 72 countries. The Xbox One is due in 26 countries by this September.

New countries driving up the PS4 sales chart include Sony's home territory of Japan. Xbox One doesn't launch in Japan until September.

Titanfall could help Xbox One with sales

Microsoft hasn't spoken up about its Xbox One sales to date in a while, but that doesn't mean the company is out of the next-generation race.

In fact, it may be waiting to calculate all of the Xbox One bundle sales that include Titanfall, the mech-filled third-person shooter from ex-Call of Duty developers.

Microsoft's mega-sized system packs in the game and the Kinect for about the same price of a PS4 console, a game and the PS4 camera.

Whether or not this hooks enough new Xbox One owners to match Sony's competitive seven million figure remains to be seen.

  • See our revised PS4 vs Xbox One comparison for more

Reuters News: Mayer aims to persuade Apple to choose Yahoo over Google: Re/code

n">(Reuters) - Yahoo Inc's Chief Executive Marissa Mayer is working on a plan to persuade Apple Inc to ditch Google as its default search engine in favor of Yahoo, technology news site Re/code reported, citing sources within Yahoo.

Mayer's effort is in advanced stages, with a detailed pitch already prepared for Apple executives, the website said. (

Yahoo senior vice president of mobile and emerging products, Adam Cahan, is working on the effort too.

Mayer, a former Google executive, has managed to get support from some Apple executives, including longtime acquaintance Jonathan Ive, according to the Apple Insider blog. "Mayer has supposedly wrangled support from a few Apple execs including longtime acquaintance Jony Ive," Apple Insider said.

Design head Ive exerts enormous influence over strategy and products in engineering and design-heavy Apple.

Google search, which has been the default search engine in iOS and powered Apple's Safari Web browser used on iPhones and iPads for quite some time, pays Apple about $1 billion per year for traffic driven to its servers and subsequent ad network, Apple Insider said, referring to the same rumors.

Apple's decision to stick with Google's services over the years also reflects a desire to maintain a familiar user experience, the blog said. (

Yahoo on Wednesday again posted anemic quarterly revenue growth as the Internet company's advertising business continues to lag its rivals, nearly two years into Mayer's comeback effort.

Mayer is trying to revitalize Yahoo's business, revamping many of its Web products, but its ad sales business continues to struggle while rivals such as Google, Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc continue to post strong, double-digit revenue growth.

(Reporting by Sampad Patnaik in Bangalore; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)