Inflame: Smartwatches are everywhere, so why are they still winding people up?

Inflame: Smartwatches are everywhere, so why are they still winding people up?

The big smatwatch wind up


LG and Samsung have released so many types of smartwatch of late you'd think everyone on the planet had at least eight arms - and that people actually cared about smartwatches.


Although this week in smartwatch news, things did get a little interesting. LG discovered a new kind of shape. It's a bit like a wheel, sort of curved at the edges, and looks round. The press release said it was a Circle(TM).


The LG G Watch R, complete with a serious-looking diver's watch face, converted quite a few Moto 360 fans to LG's wearable cause in a flash, although debate turned to how exactly LG's engineers manage to manipulate the bezel to mask the corners of the square display beneath. Some people felt they're being ripped off by having the corner of the square screen hidden from them, which is a little odd.


Samsung also announced its Samsung Gear S this week, a smartwatch that curves along the other axis, bending around the wrist like a bracelet. Ideal for all those top fashion models who fancy trying out the Tizen OS.


But is any of this enough to convince the world that a watch with a battery that only lasts a day or two, and functions like a stripped-down version of the mobile phones we already own, is a good idea?


Normalised


Looking quite like a normal watch is a strange selling point for a gadget, what with normal watches that look exactly like watches not exactly short on the ground.


Beneath a piece on The Verge in which a writer spent 529 words saying he didn't like the look of LG's latest watch-like smartwatch very much, reader Wingzero0 hit incisiveness gold with: "If nothing else, it'll give Apple a template on what people like and don't like and they can go from there."


After some tedious back-and-forth about Nexus 5 battery life and fights about who's a stupid fan of what, discussion returned to the standard watch and the status these ancient, non-smart wearables once inferred on the wearer.


After someone claimed no proper watch enthusiast would consider a smartwatch, reader Pyrolys replied with: "Sorry, but you don't get watches. The 'rebirth' of the automatic watch is due to the renewed interest of people in the craftsmanship it involves. Phones have never been about that."


Reader Decmir is also on the side of things that tick because of cogs rather than due to speakers, saying: "It's OK to buy a new phone every two years. It's also OK to die wearing the watch you were offered at twenty. Personally I'll stick to analogue timepieces!"


Bottom gear


Meanwhile, Samsung's tech announcement of the week was the Gear S, the Tizen-powered gadget it's using to target the sporty crowd. On the Guardian, no one was impressed by its size, with even this second-generation of slightly slimmer, curvier screens not going down too well.


Commenter Nuspeak said: "I think they are all too big, too ugly and with too poor battery life. I think we are a number of generations, possibly 2-3 years away from something that will break the mass market."


To which ageing reader SugarPlumpFairy replied: "Remember the first digital watches in the 70s? They were huge; you had to lift your wrist with your other hand to see the time. I'm sure I still have one shoulder higher than the other."


Reader Threlly thinks Samsung and LG are simply pumping this stuff out there now before Apple steps up and owns the market, posting: "I sense a rush to get products out before Apple come along on the 9th and crush them like bugs."


Rotate wrist toward face and wink to activate time-telling feature


Apple Insider poked its nose in again this week, using the Samsung and LG launches as a way to get its readers slagging them both off to create a riot of page impressions.


Reader Nagromme doesn't seem to think that even Apple can solve the issues currently dogging the wearables scene, though, belittling the devices with his questions: "Screen always visible (without weird twitches or gestures) or not? Battery life for days, or not? If those don't have good answers, then chasing the 'watch' concept is barking up the wrong tree."


Perhaps some sort of kinetic self-charging option might be an option? Imagine the amount of physical activity the wearer would need to get up to in order to keep a smartwatch charged. It could single-handedly end the obesity crisis.


Reader jkichline, meanwhile, is not overly won over by Samsung's wearable aesthetic, saying: "I'm not sure who Samsung is designing for. Buzz Lightyear perhaps? Does it come with a laser weapon too?"


Later, better, more productive


And what of the so-called iWatch itself? Beneath a Gizmodo thing about the trillions of vague rumours and Apple wearable patents that have popped up of late, the knives are already out and attempting to dent the iWatch's rumoured sapphire glass display.


Reader Jonny Smyth leapt in with both feet, commenting cynically: "It'll be overpriced, underpowered and totally not worth it, but the Apple fanboys will defend it anyway."


To which The Artgineer responded: "People will claim it's overpriced, underpowered and totally not worth it before it's even announced, if it even exists."


Commenter The Terminator doubts smartwatches will ever become popular, as their features won't have the same timeless appeal of their non-smart forefathers.


He commented: "A deal breaker for me would be a non-replaceable battery. Unlike mobile phones, watches are meant to last the test of time (no pun intended) as they represent fashion and have a nostalgic appeal. They're not meant to be thrown out with every new iteration."


This is presumably why Apple's not done one yet. What's the benefit to a tech company in making a gadget that you don't have to replace with a new one every 18 months?



  • Inflame is TechRadar's weekly look at beneath the fold.


Reuters News: Exclusive: Bitcoin promoter to plead guilty to unlicensed money transmission



NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of the digital currency to users of illicit online marketplace Silk Road, his lawyer said Friday.



Shrem, the former vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, will plead guilty next Thursday in New York federal court to unlicensed money transmission, Marc Agnifilo, his lawyer told Reuters in an email.



Prosecutors had previously charged Shrem with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering conspiracy and failing to file suspicious activity reports with government banking authorities.



Federal authorities shut down Silk Road last year, though a new Internet marketplace under the same name was launched in November. Prosecutors contend Silk Road enabled users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services.



Soon after his arrest in January, Shrem stepped down from his role at the Bitcoin Foundation, a well-known trade group. He was previously CEO of BitInstant, a bitcoin exchange company.



A notice of a plea hearing in the case of Shrem and his co-defendant, Robert Faiella, was included in a calendar distributed by court officials earlier Friday.



It was not immediately clear if Faiella, a Florida man who faced similar charges as Shrem, will plead guilty or move ahead with trial Sept. 22. He has previously pleaded not guilty.



But Faiella, 54, is expected to fly to New York for the hearing, according to a court order filed Friday.



A lawyer for Faiella did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined comment.



Prosecutors are pursuing a separate case against Ross William Ulbricht, the man accused of creating and operating Silk Road under the name "Dread Pirate Roberts." He is set to face trial Nov. 3.



The case is U.S. v. Faiella, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-cr-00243.



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Apple may have a new partner for its iPhone 6 payment platform

Apple may have a new partner for its iPhone 6 payment platform

Thanks to reports that appeared late in August Apple is expected to reveal a new iPhone 6 mobile payment platform in September, and the company has reportedly found a new partner.


Apple has reached an agreement with American Express to work together on the iPhone payment platform, according to Re/code.


The new service will supposedly take advantage of the iPhone 6's rumored NFC capabilities to let users pay with their phones at retail points in physical stores.


According to the latest reports the iPhone 6 payment platform will feature heavily at the iPhone 6 announcement event on September 9.


Pay-date


American Express is the second partner that's been reported to be on board with Apple's new payment scheme, the first being Visa, as The Information said in July.


Apple will need more partners than that if its iPhone 6 payment platform is going to do better than other mobile payment options like Google Wallet, while at the same time competing with established services like PayPal.


Naturally sources are saying that the company is still in talks with multiple other potential partners, but only American Express and Visa have allegedly been confirmed.


Between this and all the iWatch news the site has divulged recently, Re/code is really on a roll with Apple rumors. Hopefully some of these pan out.



  • Here's every iPhone 6 leak in one place


Reuters News: Telecom Italia in a bind after losing GVT bid battle



Telecom Italia in a bind after losing GVT bid battle




PARIS/LONDON/MILAN Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:00am EDT








People walk past a Telecom Italia phone booth in Rome August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi



People walk past a Telecom Italia phone booth in Rome August 28, 2014.


Credit: Reuters/Max Rossi


























PARIS/LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - Telecom Italia has lost a promising path to earnings growth by failing to secure Brazilian broadband business GVT and may now turn from hunter to hunted in a fast-consolidating telecoms industry.



Winning the auction for French media company Vivendi's GVT was vital for both Telecom Italia and its rival, Spain's Telefonica, as their European markets have been shrinking. Italy was gripped by a mobile price war for much of last year, revenue is falling and competition remains tough.



Telecom Italia lost out to Telefonica as it could not afford to top its 7.45-billion-euro offer for GVT. Telecom Italia has debts of 32 billion euros ($42 billion) according to Moody's, and lost its investment-grade credit rating last year.



Buying GVT would have solved Telecom Italia's biggest weakness in Brazil - the fact that its mobile business lacks the broadband networks of its local rivals.



It may now consider exiting the country, where it makes a third of its revenue, helping it pay some of its debts but leaving it even more reliant on a sluggish domestic market.



Seven bankers and investors interviewed by Reuters on Friday portrayed Telecom Italia as a company without a clear direction that would struggle to raise fresh cash from shareholders to fund important network improvements.



Chief Executive Marco Patuano "has a lot of egg on his face", said one Milan-based senior banker. "He aggressively sold (the GVT deal) as the answer to Telecom Italia's woes and now he has to go back to the financial community and tell them what's next."



"There won't be a capital increase simply because it's going to take some time for the company to recover from the setback and come up with a new strategy – you can't ask for fresh equity without a clear strategic plan."



Adding further confusion is Telecom Italia's changing shareholder base. Telefonica is now its largest indirect shareholder, with a 14.8 percent interest, but will sell part of that stake to Vivendi as payment for GVT. Italian financial institutions also want out of what has been a money-losing investment since 2007.



Vivendi is likely to accept to take from Telefonica some 5.7 percent of Telecom Italia shares, or 8.3 percent of voting rights, sources told Reuters. Analysts have speculated Vivendi could later buy out the Italian investors too.



Some said Patuano's predicament made Telecom Italia a potential takeover target for the likes of Deutsche Telekom or Vodafone.



Niall Dineen, a portfolio manager at AGF International Advisors and a shareholder in Telecom Italia and Telefonica, said Telecom Italia was "no longer a consolidator" but had become a "prey in the industry".



Telecom Italia and Telefonica compete in Brazil as owners of number-two mobile carrier Tim Participacoes and number one Vivo respectively.



A banker advising Telecom Italia said the Italians had expected Vivendi to favor their GVT offer, despite Telefonica putting in a higher bid, because of the prospect of content partnerships and Vivendi's supposed interest in Italy.



A FUTURE IN BRAZIL?



Patuano's strategy unveiled last year called for asset disposals in Argentina and elsewhere to help fund network investments in Italy to boost broadband speeds and roll out 4G mobile technology. He maintained that Telecom Italia's Brazilian business TIM Brasil remained key to the group's future.



Patuano's devotion to Brazil may soon be tested. Grupo Oi, Brazil's largest telecoms company, has signaled it is exploring a bid to split TIM Brasil between itself, Mexico's America Movil and Telefonica.



Telecom Italia said on Wednesday it knew nothing of the approach for TIM Brasil, which has a market capitalization of $13.3 billion. After losing GVT on Thursday, the company said it would stick to its strategic plan to develop Brazil.



However, analysts and bankers said Telecom Italia might change its mind.



"Oi's recent announcement ... could represent an exit strategy for Telecom Italia from Brazil, where it could be paid a significant premium for its asset," said Espirito Santo.



Dineen at AGF said: "Its Brazilian business will be gobbled up and it will probably get a good price for it."



It remains to be seen whether Oi, which is heavily indebted itself after buying Portugal Telecom, will be able to pull off a bid for TIM Brasil, several bankers said. A joint bid to break up TIM's assets among the three local carriers could also run into regulatory opposition, the people said.



A sale would help Telecom Italia to cut debt. Ratings agency Fitch estimated on Friday that selling TIM Brasil could reduce leverage on a net debt to EBITDA basis by 0.2-0.4 times. Telecom Italia's leverage ratio, which was 2.9 times at the end of 2013, is likely to increase this year due to falling profits and weak free cash flow, Fitch said.



The banker working for Telecom Italia said Patuano "doesn't want to sell Brazil, but there is no plan B right now".



He laid out three options for the group: sell to a larger European peer such as Deutsche Telekom, pursue a tie-up in Brazil, perhaps launching a capital hike to bid to buy Oi, or pursue a telecom-to-media consolidation plan in Italy via a deal with Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset.



He added that he saw Telecom Italia's "best option" was to look at a deal to partner with Oi in Brazil since it would make sense to merge the biggest fixed-line operator with the number-two mobile operator.



Another banker downplayed the chances of a foreign company buying a more domestic-focused Telecom Italia because the poor state of the Italian market would act as a "poison pill".



Carlos Winzer, credit analyst at Moody's, saw one silver lining for Telecom Italia in the GVT loss, namely how it would pave the way for Telefonica to part ways with Telecom Italia.



The value of Telefonica's shares in Telecom Italia have plummeted by almost 70 percent since it entered in April 2007. A consortium made up of Telefonica and four Italian firms acquired a 23.6 percent stake in Telecom Italia for around 4.1 billion euros, valuing Telecom Italia's shares at 2.82 euro per share.



The shares closed at 0.88 euro on Friday.



"At least Telecom Italia will truly be independent now from Telefonica, ending the complicated relationship between the two companies," said Winzer.



(Additional reporting by Nishant Kumar and Anjuli Davies in London, Robert Hertz in Madrid; writing by Keith Weir and Leila Abboud; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)




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Apple is fighting hard to get old Samsung devices banned from sale

Apple is fighting hard to get old Samsung devices banned from sale

The legal war between Apple and Samsung has been winding down lately, the mushroom clouds finally receding as the two companies cease their bickering in the dozens of cases they'd filed outside the US.


But the war at home isn't over yet, Apple's latest move reveals.


The house that Steve Jobs built recently appealed a US district court's decision not to grant an injunction against Samsung's sale of several devices that were previously found to be infringing on Apple patents.


Judge Lucy Koh, who's been overseeing this case for years, said Apple can't prove that sale of these Samsung devices harms Apple's bottom line, but Apple clearly disagrees.


What is it good for?


The injunction Apple is seeking would permanently ban Samsung from selling devices including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung Galaxy S2 and several of its variants, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Stratosphere.


Apple won the case years ago that says these devices and others do indeed infringe on some Apple patents, but the two companies have continued squabbling ever since.


Nevertheless Judge Koh isn't convinced that Apple will benefit from a ban on the sale of these devices, thanks in part to the profits Apple posted in the third quarter of 2014.


"Apple has not demonstrated that it will suffer irreparable harm to its reputation or goodwill as an innovator without an injunction," Koh wrote in her previous ruling.


Given both parties' proven tenacity, it's unsurprising that Apple would appeal, but here's hoping that this battle comes to a real end soon.



  • Apple v Samsung: 10 secrets the court battle has revealed


Reuters News: U.S. judge lifts suspension on Microsoft overseas email seizure



NEW YORK (Reuters) - A judge on Friday lifted a suspension on her order directing Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) to turn over a customer's emails stored overseas to U.S. prosecutors.



Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan had on July 31 upheld a magistrate judge's ruling on the emails, which have been held in a data center in Ireland.



That prospect had drawn concern from technology companies fearful of losing revenue from foreign customers worried that U.S. law enforcement might win broad power to seize their data.



Preska had delayed enforcement of the government's search warrant so Microsoft could appeal.



But prosecutors later said that because her order was not a "final, appealable order" and because Microsoft had yet to be held in contempt, there was no legal reason to enforce the stay.



Preska agreed, saying her order "merely confirmed the government's temporary forbearing of its right to stay enforcement of the order it secured."



She added that "the fact the court has not closed this case cuts against Microsoft's argument" that her order was final and appealable.



The judge ordered both sides to advise by Sept. 5 how to proceed.



"Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court," a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said. "This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen."



The case appeared to be the first in which a corporation has challenged a U.S. search warrant seeking data held abroad.



AT&T Inc (T.N), Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) submitted briefs supporting Microsoft's opposition to the warrant.



The case is In re: A Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled and Maintained by Microsoft Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-mj-02814.



(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle)



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


Updated: We’re here at PAX Prime 2014!

Updated: We're here at PAX Prime 2014!

PAX Prime 2014 show floor


Day two of PAX started off with a light sprinkling of rain which in true Seattle fashion, lasted the rest of Saturday. No biggie though - no PAX attendee is going to let a little water stop the cosplaying, video gaming fun of the convention!


Speaking of video games, Deep Silver had been throwing out little teases here and there letting many to speculate that a new Saints Row was coming soon. But alas, the company is only releasing a stand alone add on to Saints Row IV called Gat out of Hell.


It looks like the typical brand of crazy and crazy fun that Saints Row is known for. Check out the trailer below to watch Johnny Gat go after the devil himself.


YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fteDOwbT3Q

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell will sell for $20 (about £12, AU$21) and won't require the original Saints Row IV to play. It launches on January 27, 2015 in North America and January 30 worldwide.


The fourth Saints will also be heading to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One titled Saints Row IV: Re-Elected. The next-gen tailored game will reportedly have slightly improved visuals and all of the previously released and the upcoming DLC for the title. Digitally, Gat Out of Hell will be sold separately.



  • Pre-order Saints Row IV: Re-Elected here!


Reuters News: Exclusive: Bitcoin promoter to plead guilty to unlicensed money transmission



NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of the digital currency to users of illicit online marketplace Silk Road, his lawyer said Friday.



Shrem, the former vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, will plead guilty next Thursday in New York federal court to unlicensed money transmission, Marc Agnifilo, his lawyer told Reuters in an email.



Prosecutors had previously charged Shrem with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering conspiracy and failing to file suspicious activity reports with government banking authorities.



Federal authorities shut down Silk Road last year, though a new Internet marketplace under the same name was launched in November. Prosecutors contend Silk Road enabled users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services.



Soon after his arrest in January, Shrem stepped down from his role at the Bitcoin Foundation, a well-known trade group. He was previously CEO of BitInstant, a bitcoin exchange company.



A notice of a plea hearing in the case of Shrem and his co-defendant, Robert Faiella, was included in a calendar distributed by court officials earlier Friday.



It was not immediately clear if Faiella, a Florida man who faced similar charges as Shrem, will plead guilty or move ahead with trial Sept. 22. He has previously pleaded not guilty.



But Faiella, 54, is expected to fly to New York for the hearing, according to a court order filed Friday.



A lawyer for Faiella did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined comment.



Prosecutors are pursuing a separate case against Ross William Ulbricht, the man accused of creating and operating Silk Road under the name "Dread Pirate Roberts." He is set to face trial Nov. 3.



The case is U.S. v. Faiella, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-cr-00243.



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In depth: Forget IM: why email is still the ultimate form of online communication

In depth: Forget IM: why email is still the ultimate form of online communication

Why email has endured


Young people don't use email. Everyone hates their never-ending inbox. The likes of WhatsApp, Twitter and SnapChat are gaining in popularity. But does all that really mean that email is dead?


For many of us, email is the internet's 'killer app', a neutral, open innovation of the kind it no longer seems capable of creating. It may have first been used in 1971 and it can seem woefully outdated, but email isn't going anywhere.


In an uncertain world where the internet may already be full, email is the one thing we can rely on. It has stamina that new communication platforms can only dream of.


"Email has staying power because it has continued to evolve over the past three decade," says Paul Leprévost, Frontend Developer at Mailjet. "It's a trusted source, as most people have an email address and see it as a reliable channel for sending and receiving messages."


The write stuff


Who still uses email? Well, everyone on the internet... and counting. The Radicati Group report that the number of worldwide email accounts will grow from over 4.1 billion today to 5.2 billion in 2018, with email users increasing from over 2.5 billion now to over 2.8 billion.


The workplace is obsessed with email; The Radicati Group reports that the 108.7 billion emails sent by businesses each day will increase to 139.4 billion by 2018. Simply put, email is massive.


"Email will not be replaced for the foreseeable future," says Dr Peter Chadha, Founder of DrPete and co-author of Thinking of...Going Google Apps – To Save Money and Get Ahead – A guide for SMEs. It has replaced the letter as a format of choice for formal relationships, and until the millennials enter the working environment I can't see that any other forms of communication will replace it."


There is a tiny chink in email's armour; the increase in non-business email usage is slowing, with the 87.8 billion personal emails sent each day estimated to grow to 'only' 88.3 billion by 2018. The culprit? Instant messaging (IM).


email


What about social media & IM?


Unlike email, not everyone on the internet uses the same system. Social media sites Facebook (1.32 billion), Twitter (500 million accounts), Google+ (340 million), Tumblr (150 million), LinkedIn (200 million), Instagram (100 million) dominate, but there are countless others around the world, such as WhatsApp, SnapChat, Skype, Japan's Line, South Korea's KakaoTalk and China's WeChat. IM is part of all of them.


What's your IM of choice? Depends on who you're communicating with, right? Perhaps you send text messages with close friends, and use either Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp with wider circle of friends, use Google Hangouts with colleagues and Microsoft Lync with clients.


It's a sector in flux. "We are still in the Wild West as far as IM goes," says Chadha. "There is no huge brand name behind them all and no real de facto standard."


email


Isn't IM a killer app on mobile?


Email is integrated into all modern mobile OS so perfectly that it's arguably easier to access than anything else. Litmus reported in October that a staggering 48% of emails are opened on smartphones and tablets while mobile email users worldwide number 897 million, according to The Radicati Group.


OK, so that's nothing when you consider that 73.44 percent of Facebook's total user base now accesses the service from a mobile device, but in terms of numbers, email wins again. Why else would Facebook have devised its own email addresses?


Who doesn't use email?


Unquestioning eyes might look at the figures and see a demographic time-bomb underneath email. "There is no point in emailing students any more," Professor Sir Steve Smith, the vice-chancellor of Exeter University, told The Times in May. "They get in touch with us by social media, especially Twitter, and we've had to employ people to reply that way. Students will tweet for help if something has gone wrong."


The may be a new generation who rely on social media and IM, and hardly use email, but there are far more internet users that rely far more on email. Besides, those students will soon be in jobs where email is the accepted norm. How else does one send attachments and retrieve old messages?


email


Who thinks email is dead?


The cloud crowd, those Silicon Valley types who, as well as being young and therefore not emotionally tied to email, can't see any way to make money from anything that already exists. The argument from these guys is that productivity is suffering in the workplace (which just happens to have a collectively massive IT budget).


"If businesses rely solely on email, they run the risk of silo'ing knowledge into individual departments and restricting cross practice creativity that can otherwise be harnessed on wider enterprise collaboration platforms," says Wim Stoop, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Jive Software.


Some complain that email is a time-sink, but there are ways around that. One of the best – and simplest – tricks comes from Unroll.Me; sign-up and your email account is searched, revealing all of your distracting daily subscriptions (it found a staggering 317 in mine). After you've thinned them out, Unroll.Me then consolidates the others, sending you one single daily email called The Rollup containing all of your subscriptions.


Stoop still thinks email, and even IM, are doomed in the long run. "Technology in the workplace should and will go beyond IM and email, empowering employees to innovate collaboratively," he says.


email


"Virtual workplaces" and centralised communications


Despite email's resilience as a communication tool, the bulging work inbox is the bane of many an office worker's life. "An oversized inbox is a daunting prospect and with technology increasingly available that can boost productivity and dramatically reduce email volume, a change in the way businesses communicate is ahead," says Jon Jorgenson, group director from Access Group.


"The email might not be dead, but the frequency in which it is relied upon may be under threat." Though he admits that there will always be a place for email in the business world, Jorgenson thinks that we're going to start to see a shift toward using technology that can replace emails with more time effective ways of communicating.


"Enterprise cloud communication tools provide ways of allowing people to communicate as they would on email through perpetual messaging," he says, "bringing together elements of instant messaging, group chat and online communities into a group messaging application for businesses."


Myriad new platforms are emerging that try to make email more like social media, with the likes of HipChat, Trello, Salesforce.com, Yammer, Convo and Slack all attempting to replace internal email with a platform that lets employees message each other, share stuff and chat. Slack – the creation of an ex-Flickr co-founder – even has its own Wall of Love on Twitter.


"We've recently started using Slack, and it's the closest anybody has come so far to a viable replacement for email," says Jon Norris, Web editor at Crunch Accounting.


"It's faster, more collaborative, and integrates nicely with lots of our third-party apps. I'd estimate it's saving us at least a few hours a day already." However, there's a catch. "We can't switch over to Slack wholesale as everybody outside our organisation is still using email." That's not going to change anytime soon because very few of us even work in the kind of corporate office environment where such software is available.


Email


How the inbox is changing


"In the long-term I can see email becoming more of an invisible protocol that various specialised apps use to send data to one another, rather than the raw communication layer it is now – we're already seeing the beginnings of this with Google's new Gmail API – and I'm all in favour," says Norris.


The evolution of email has been a constant in the life of the internet. Gmail has its Priority inbox, whereby all circulars go under one tab, and all personal email into another.


Apple has plans to introduce Mail Drop, which lets users choose to send large attachments through iCloud instead of through their recipients' email servers, while Outlook now integrates social media. The email inbox is fast becoming a hub, which shouldn't come as a surprise; wasn't email the original social media? The inbox is becoming a smartbox.


Task-orientated app for smartphones, Mailbox – now owned by Dropbox – was a huge hit a year or so ago, so there's obviously a demand for new kinds of email. Baydin's Boomerang is a productivity plugin for Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo that adds scheduled messaging and the ability to send an email off into the ether, only for it to return at a specified (less busy) time.


"As the email experience has continued to improve … it's clear that email's days are not numbered," says Leprévost, citing how the Mailbox app has created slick email on mobiles.


"Since email is constantly evolving, the email we know today will likely not be the email we know ten years from now – expect to see new hardware and software developed that changes the communication experience, particularly with wearables."


Email, the internet's most trusted brand, has plenty of mileage left in it yet.

















Reuters News: Swatch prefers go-it-alone route for smartwatch plans



BIEL (Switzerland) (Reuters) - Swatch Group is happy to go it alone with a launch next year of watches with "smart" features to compete with so-called wearable gadgets from the big tech companies, a market potentially worth $93 billion.



The world's biggest watchmaker, which sees the advent of smartwatches as an opportunity rather than a threat, will unveil its new Swatch Touch next summer.



Swatch Chief Executive Nick Hayek said these new watches might allow the wearer to count the number of steps they take and calories they burn. And there will be a few other cool 'Swatchy' things on offer via latest Bluetooth technology, he said in an interview at the company's headquarters in Biel.



"All the big technology firms want to work with us and I don't rule out that we are or could be collaborating in some areas. But we can also do many things on our own."



Wearable gadgets, such as smartwatches that allow users to connect to their phone to check emails, make calls or monitor their health, are expected to be the next big thing in the tech world and a potential threat to traditional wristwatch sales.



Apple Inc has just invited media to a "special event" next month, fuelling speculation it might present a much-anticipated "iWatch."



The possibility of an iWatch launch is partly responsible for Swatch shares losing almost 15 percent so far this year, lagging a 3 percent rise in the European sector.



"For Swatch, this could mean a 2 percent hit to revenue and earnings before interest and tax for each 10 percent share that the iWatch was able to gain in its addressable market," Bernstein analyst Mario Ortelli said in a study in July. Ortelli has a "market perform" rating on Swatch's shares.



Other tech companies are working on smartwatches. Google's Motorola is set to launch a Moto360 smartwatch next week in the United States.



But the spotlight is on Apple after the company poached executives from the fashion, luxury and medtech (medical)industries and registered the trademark "iWatch" in Japan.



DREAM TEAM



For many analysts, Swatch and Apple would be the dream team for a smartwatch project, but Swatch has always played down its interest in such a relationship. The argument is that Swatch's business is selling watches not technology.



"Our first message for customers is the watch. If they like it, they might also be interested in the extra functions," Hayek said. "It is a problem if you only define a product by its technology. Technology alone doesn't sell, not in watches."



His comments highlight the importance of fashion and branding for the development of the smartwatch business.



"(Technology firms) that want to strike partnerships with us also want access to brands. They want (their products) to be more than a commodity," the CEO said.



Swatch has a well-established list of brands, including its colorful Swatch watches, sporty Tissot and Longines, elegant Omega and hand-decorated Breguet timepieces.



There are already smartwatches on the market from companies like Samsung, Sony Corp and LG Electronics, but these have had mixed reviews.



Experts say even if the technology is cheap and small enough for wearable gadgets, this is not enough for consumers. "Nobody has hit on the right combination of problems a wearable should solve and convinced mainstream consumers," Avi Greengart, research director at IT research firm Current Analysis, said.



The rewards are potentially huge for whoever comes up with a winning formula. Andrew Sheehy, chief analyst at Generator Research, sees the retail value of wearable Internet-connected devices at $93.1 billion by 2018, versus $4.1 billion in 2014, with smartwatches accounting for about two thirds of the market's value in 2018.



TECH EXPERTISE



Swatch itself is already in the tech business, making microchips, displays and batteries, mainly for third parties, including mobile phone and smartwatch makers.



"We work with many companies, but there's no reason to shout it from the rooftops," Hayek said. "EM Marin supplies tiny parts to many, maybe also Apple. We also make batteries for others. But that's not our core business."



Swatch's electronic systems arm includes semiconductor maker EM Marin, battery maker Renata, quartz maker Micro Crystal and its sports timing business. It had sales of 299 million Swiss francs (327.31 million US dollar) in 2013, but the strong franc led to an operating loss of 12 million francs.



"I don't know if it will turn profitable this year, that depends on the dollar," Hayek said.



Almost 500 people work at EM in Marin, about a half-hour drive from Biel, and another 500 at sites worldwide.



"Low-power and low-voltage microchips are our specialty. The Swatch Touch, for example, is the only battery-powered device to have a touch screen that is always active because its power consumption is so low," Michel Willemin, head of EM Marin, said.



EM Marin supplies components and Renata long-life batteries for Garmin's Vivofit fitness band that monitors distances walked and calories burned.



"Fitness bands are a trend," Hayek said. "They are selling like crazy in the U.S., but our Swatch and Tissot brands still have double-digit sales growth there. People wear the band on the other wrist and often take it off again after a few weeks."



(1 US dollar = 0.9135 Swiss franc)



(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz. Additional reporting by Eric Auchard. Editing by Jane Merriman)



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In depth: Beyond GPS: The future of location tech will change how you use your smartphone

In depth: Beyond GPS: The future of location tech will change how you use your smartphone

Beyond GPS: The future of location tech


Having your phone know where you are and what you're doing is one of the creepiest (but most useful) aspects of modern smartphones. From Google Now to location-based notifications on iOS, you probably take advantage of it every single day.


But we're still using 1970s technology to make that happen, and when the tech finally catches up with the 21st century, it'll change how you use your phone, for the better. Mostly.


At the moment, your phone uses two main methods to work out where you are – the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Wi-Fi. GPS, as you're probably aware, is a system that uses a global network of satellites to work out where you are.


The status quo


There's a constellation of 24 American military satellites (up until 2000, the rest of us couldn't really use it) that are spread out around the entire world. When your phone wants to know where it precisely is, it tries to acquire the signal beamed out by at least four of the satellites. It then decodes that using some fancy maths invented by Einstein, and can thereby work out where it is in the world, down to an accuracy of around 5 meters.


It's an incredibly clever system, and absolutely perfect for applications like sat-nav. But for smartphones, GPS actually kinda sucks. It's hugely battery-intensive to have on all the time, clouds or slightly-too-high buildings can foil it, and it doesn't work indoors.


Wi-Fi


To try and get around this problem your phone uses an alternative system: Wi-Fi location. Thanks to a couple of vast databases that cross-reference Wi-Fi network data with geographical location, your smartphone can normally work out where you are in the world in under a second. It does so by looking at what Wi-Fi networks you can see, and cross-referencing the network names with where they are on a map.


The data for these databases is collected either through "wardriving" (cars with Wi-Fi antennas driving around, collecting the data) or, more commonly, by using every smartphone on a given platform. So, when you have GPS and Wi-Fi switched on, it's quite possibly gathering data about nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and phoning it home.


It's far less accurate, but because it's using a fairly low-power sensor (the phone's Wi-Fi chip) rather than trying to communicate with satellites in outer space, it's a good option when you only need to know roughly where you are.


Of course, there's one other, even less accurate location-finding method that your phone can use: cellular triangulation, which is the thing referenced in early episodes of 24, with Jack Bauer hunched over a laptop trying to track the baddies.


Apple Maps


Cellular triangulation can work out where you are to within a couple hundred metres (or, sometimes, a couple hundred kilometres) by looking at which cell towers your phone is communicating with, and basically putting you in the rough nearby area. It's not a particularly useful tool (unless you're Jack Bauer), but it is somewhat handy for determining initial location, before GPS gets on with the job.


The space race


The most immediate and subtle change to location technology that you'll probably see is the switch away from GPS, towards other satellite-based systems. GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is the Russian version of GPS, and it too uses 24 satellites to give global coverage.


It doesn't really offer any advantages over GPS in and of itself, but having access to two systems doubles your chances of getting a signal quickly.


Which explains why Apple's included a GLONASS chip in every iPhone since the 4S, and most Android manufacturers have followed suit. (Well, that, and the fact that Russia has a 25% import tax on any non-GLONASS-enabled handsets these days, so most manufacturers find it worthwhile to stick the extra chip in.)


Galileo


Europe's challenge to GPS dominance is a system named Galileo. It works on exactly the same principle as GPS and GLONASS, a bunch of satellites orbiting Earth, but offers a few advantages. It has much better accuracy with altitude, and a function that'll turn your phone into a rescue beacon that can summon Mountain Rescue or the Coast Guard with the push of a button, even if you're out of mobile phone reception. Unfortunately, since Galileo is an EU project, it's running quite a long way behind schedule and over budget, and isn't quite reality yet.


It's not all about the astronauts


But even with this new host of satellite systems on the market, your phone still can't accurately work out where you are indoors. That's a problem, because indoor location services would open up a whole host of possibilities. When you're out shopping, you'd be able to navigate round a giant supermarket to find things or the Tescos app could give you a route, based on your shopping list, to get in and out as fast as possible.


Or, when you're at home, smart thermostats and lighting systems could use your phone's location to work out where you are in the house, adjusting lighting and temperature accordingly. The possibilities are huge, and just like with most new tech, it's impossible to predict what developers will do with it. After all, no-one would've predicted that opening the iPhone up to apps would lead, seven years later, to the existence of Flappy Bird.


A magnet and a seismometer walk into a bar…


Thankfully, a bunch of clever start-ups and established R&D labs are already working on making indoor location technology work better, with a whole laundry-list of different approaches.


One of the more mature technologies for indoor location tracking is our good old friend, Wi-Fi. With the installation of antennas around a shop (or anywhere else, for that matter), a far more accurate Wi-Fi grid can be built up, which allows phones to be tracked to an accuracy of around a metre. That's good enough for most purposes, like finding items on shelves.


It's also good enough for shops to be able to track customers in store, which is what the technology is currently (and very quietly) used for. A whole host of firms offer "in-store analytics" for retail chains, which basically amounts to tracking unsuspecting customers' phones using Wi-Fi, looking at the path they take around the store and what products they pause over, and then feeds that information to the stores.


Maps


However, far less sinister technologies also exist, and also require far less hardware than Wi-Fi solutions, which require dozens of antennas for just one building. IndoorAtlas is a US-based company that maps buildings based on their 'magnetic fingerprint'.


Basically, they use the fact that minor variations in steel structures give buildings a unique magnetic field, which can be used to geo-locate a phone with accuracy of a metre or two, without needing to install any new transmitters.


Even better, most phones already have magnetometers already installed, and they use very little battery power. Once the initial mapping of a building has been done, there's little to stop magnetic location becoming the new standard (unless we all choose to live in mud huts, of course).


Another slightly quirky location concept is the Open Positioning System, which wants to use existing low-frequency sources of seismic noise, things like power station turbines, for example, to triangulate location, without needing an expensive satellite system and without being hindered in the slightest by cities. The idea, developed by a Royal College of Arts student, is still in beta testing at the moment.


With so many different options, however, the most promising solution of all could be some kind of hybrid. BAE Systems, a British engineering firm, has a research project that uses a whole mix of electromagnetic signals from TV broadcasts, to Wi-Fi and cell towers to work out your location. The theory is that whie one single system might not offer universal coverage or great accuracy, bundling them all together probably will.


AlterGeo


AlterGeo is a company that already uses this approach for positioning: it uses Wi-Fi, WiMAX, GSM, LTE, IP addresses and network environment based location algorithms to serve location requests. It's not hard to imagine adding in magnetic and seismic data, in addition to the hundreds of location satellites already floating overhead, to work out exactly where you are, indoors or outdoors, with zero effort.


While that might have privacy advocates running for the tinfoil and blackout blinds, being able to work out your location should vastly improve our smartphones in the future. The current generation of smartphones, like the iPhone 5S and Moto X, put "contextual computing" at the forefront of your handset.


They pride themselves on being able to offer relevant information, whether that's the current weather, train times or football scores, and better location information will drastically improve how well they can do that. The end result? Prepare to be even more attached to your smartphone – but don't worry if you lose the damn thing, you'll know exactly where to find it.

















Reuters News: Oracle loses bid to restore $1.3 billion SAP verdict, could get new trial



n">(Reuters) - Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) failed to revive a $1.3 billion jury verdict in its long-running copyright dispute with German software company SAP SE (SAPG.DE) as a U.S. appeals court said Oracle must choose to accept a lower amount or face a new trial.



In a ruling on Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said jurors used "an undue amount of speculation" in awarding $1.3 billion in damages in 2010.



But the court found U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, had erred in concluding that Oracle deserved only $272 million of damages, a sum Oracle rejected.



Writing for a three-judge 9th Circuit panel, Judge William Fletcher directed Hamilton to offer Oracle a choice of $356.7 million of damages or a second trial.



In a statement, Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley said the company is "thrilled about this landmark recovery." Asked whether Oracle will accept the $356.7 million or proceed to another trial, a company spokeswoman declined to comment.



SAP spokesman Andy Kendzie said the ruling is favorable and "shows the strength of our position."



The case involved SAP's TomorrowNow unit, which the German company had bought to provide software support to Oracle customers at lower rates than what Oracle charged, hoping to persuade them to become SAP customers.



Oracle sued SAP in 2007 after noticing thousands of suspicious downloads of its software.



SAP later conceded that its employees were illegally downloading Oracle files, but it couldn't agree with Oracle on damages. The 2010 trial between the two enterprise software competitors was widely watched at the time, as top Oracle executives Larry Ellison and Safra Catz testified.



Subsequently, SAP agreed to pay Oracle $306 million, but that agreement allowed Oracle to seek to restore the jury verdict, or win a retrial based on its own damages theories.



During the 2010 trial, Oracle had said internal SAP documents showed the German software company expected over $1 billion in revenue from TomorrowNow. However, the 9th Circuit rejected that reasoning given that SAP had paid much less to buy TomorrowNow.



"If SAP truly anticipated that TomorrowNow would produce a $1.3 billion benefit to SAP, as Oracle contends, a $10 million acquisition price is strikingly low," Fletcher wrote.



In finding the $272 million damages award "below the maximum amount sustainable by the proof," Fletcher said Hamilton erred in finding that Oracle had lost just $36 million of profit, when the proper figure should have been $120.7 million.



The case is Oracle Corp et al v. SAP AG et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-16944.



(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Dan Levine in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)



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OnePlus wants to start selling the One like a normal company

OnePlus wants to start selling the One like a normal company

The OnePlus One is one of the coolest new phones on the market, perhaps partially because you need an invitation just to buy one.


But OnePlus will prove that exclusivity isn't the One's only appeal when it starts selling the phone normally this fall.


The company said during a Reddit ask-me-anything Q&A session that it hopes to open the phone to pre-orders by October at the latest.


"We are working on a pre-orders system, we were initially aiming for September but it's been slightly delayed, hopefully we'll be ready to launch it in October," the company wrote.


Better than nothing


Obviously that's not concrete, but it's better than the nothing we've heard previously on when the average plebe will be able to purchase the OnePlus One.


The One is so desirable because it has top-of-the-line specs, but at a much lower price than similar competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2.


We already laid out five reasons the OnePlus One should be your next smartphone - and soon you might actually be able to get your hands on one, depending how pre-orders work and when they begin.



  • Revealed: the reason the OnePlus One is so cheap


Reuters News: Digital Ally says camera inquiries up five-fold after Ferguson shooting



n">(Reuters) - Digital Ally Inc forecast full-year revenue of about $22.5 million, encouraged by a "five-fold" rise in inquiries for its wearable cameras from police departments in the aftermath of the fatal shooting in Ferguson this month.



The forecast translates into a 26.4 percent jump in revenue from $17.8 million in 2013.



The fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked demand to hold law enforcement officials accountable and in turn fueled interest in companies such as Digital Ally and Taser International Inc.



The company's 2014 revenue forecast was first reported by USA Today on Thursday, citing Chief Executive Stanton Ross, according to a regulatory filing on Friday.



Digital Ally said on Thursday it had received its first camera order after the Ferguson incident from the Michigan police department.



The company's shares closed at $18.66 on Friday on the Nasdaq.



Up to Friday's close, the stock had risen about 387 percent since Aug. 8, the day before the shooting, while Taser's shares had risen nearly 27 percent.



(Reporting by Mridhula Raghavan in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)



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