Samsung sets date for Galaxy S III down under
Samsung is expected to announce Australian availability and pricing for its Galaxy S III on the 31st of May.
Available in both white and blue
powered by Samsung’s 1.4GHz Exynos quad-core processor with 1GB RAM. It has a slimmer bezel than its predecessor, the Galaxy S II, boasting a 4.8in 720×1280 Super AMOLED display and a sharp 306ppi screen. The screen size is also larger than the Galaxy S II, with dimensions of 136.6 x 70.6mm.
The 8.6mm thick Galaxy S III weighs 133g, and is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models with microSD support up to 64GB. It holds an 8MP sensor able to shoot 1080p video, with a front-facing 1.9MP camera boasting 720p video capability.
Sony debuts ‘floating touch’ Xperia Sola in Oz
Harvey Norman has scored exclusive retailing rights for Sony’s latest Android smartphone, with the Xperia Sola now available from the retailer nationally.
The smartphone will be sold exclusively through Harvey Norman outlets for $486.
The NFC-enabled handset launches with Sony’s “floating touch” technology for navigation without touching the screen. The user’s finger acts as a cursor, hovering over links to highlight. To load the chosen web page the user needs to tap the screen.
The technology is currently only available for web browsing but will extend to other applications when the handset is upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It currently runs on 2.3 Gingerbread.
The Xperia Sola comes with a 3.7in display, 512MB RAM and 8GB internal memory running on a 1GHz dual-core processor. It includes a 5MP camera on the back, but no front-facing camera for video calls.
Google to release five Jelly Bean Nexus devices:
Google is planning on releasing up to five Nexus devices to mark the launch of Android 5.0 Jelly Bean according to The Wall Street Journal.
It will reportedly sell all of the new unlocked handsets directly from November, when Android 5.0 Jelly Bean is released.
Google spoke of plans to manufacture a “high quality tablet” with Asus rumoured to be the manufacturer.
Steve Jobs biopic gets Aaron Sorkin treament
The Social Network screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is on board for the Sony Pictures biopic Steve Jobs, the second film on the late Apple co-founder to be announced.
Last month it was revealed Two and a Half Men actor Ashton Kutcher was set to star as Jobs in a biopic written by Joshua Michael Stern The film will follow Jobs’ journey from a “wayward hippy” to one of the world’s most successful technological leaders.
Sony’s biopic is based on the bestselling Walter Isaacson biography released late last year.
Apple fan sells house for charity
Rob Shoesmith, a loyal Apple user who camped diligently outside Apple’s Covent Garden, England store for ten nights waiting for the release of the iPhone 4S in October 2011, will sell his house and donate the funds to charity, after being inspired by the help of the homeless.
As part of his camping experiment, Rob was forbidden from spending any money and had to rely on the generosity of passers-by. Touched by the homeless people he came into contact with, Rob is promising to donate the proceeds of his house sale to a homeless charity if a million copies of his debut book – called Bin There Done That – are sold.
Raspberry Pi: the $40 PC arrives down under
The Pi will be distributed by RS Components but will not retail through resellers. Price is set at around $41″ including door-to-door delivery.
The Pi has captured the imagination of an enthusiastic audience with its low cost and design that harks back to the Dick Smith electronics kits of yesteryear.
The distributor warned of extensive wait times for the popular PC, stating there was “no visibility” on delivery for new orders, despite a current production cycle of 15000 units every two days.
Microsoft cans ‘free’ upgrade to Windows 8
A coming Microsoft promotion will provide Windows 8 Pro to buyers of Windows 7-based PCs for just $14.99
Microsoft is only offering two mainstream versions of the product to consumers: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. And instead of offering a free upgrade to the version of Windows 8 that most closely matches the version of Windows 7 a user buys with a new PC, Microsoft will this time offering only the higher-end Windows 8 Pro.
Under the new promotion, anyone that buys a Windows 7 PC running Home Basic or higher will only be offered Windows 8 Pro at the said fee.
Windows 8 Pro includes features missing in the basic version that were included in Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise, such as BitLocker encryption and Hyper-V desktop virtualisation among other ‘power-user’ features.
Windows 8 Pro will also include Media Center, otherwise available as a separate add-on “pack” that Microsoft has not revealed pricing for yet.
Apple ditches Google Maps in iOS 6
it looks like iOS 6 is making an appearance without Google Maps.
According to 9to5mac, Apple is dumping Google Maps in favour of a faster, more stable version of its own. With Apple buying up mapping companies like C3, Poly9, and Placebase,
GAME goes under
The company’s 500 employees and 92 stores are all potentially facing closure.
PWC, also stated “The Company’s financial circumstances do not permit us to continue the Company’s existing returns policy.” They will however continue the standard 7-day returns policy, which is a statutory regulation.
Customers with vouchers are more hard done by, with the new conditions requiring consumers use the vouchers as a maximum 25 percent of the purchase price.
it looks like EB Games will be the ‘last man standing’ in the local retail videogames industry.
Apple rebrands 4G LTE iPad as ‘iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular’ worldwide
Apple has dropped the ’4G’ branding from the new iPad and has been rebranded as ‘Cellular’.
So far, the rebranding has been changed on Apple’s online stores in the UK, Australia, the U.S., Canada, UAE, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Ireland, and Hong Kong, with Apple’s other online stores to follow.
In addition to the online stores, Apple retail stores will change their signage to the new Wi-Fi + Cellular branding.
Telstra launches Facebook app for pre-paid mobile users
Telstra says its customers are the first in Australia, and among the first in the world, to control their pre-paid mobile service directly from Facebook with the launch of a Facebook app which lets them track their mobile balance, recharge their service and view usage history.
The app can be downloaded from Telstra’s dedicated customer service page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/telstra24x7, or customers can also search for ‘My Telstra Pre-Paid’ using the search tool on their Facebook homepage.
“In just a few clicks customers can use the app to check their balance information, recharge with a stored debit or credit card and view up to 180 days of usage and recharge history. And should a customer run out of credit, they can ask their mates for a top up using the ‘request credit from friends’ feature which provides the option to put a call out on their Facebook wall or via a direct message.”
Telstra will follow in the coming weeks, of a new Android app that will allow pre-paid customers to manage their service direct from their mobile handset. The app will be available to download from the Google Play store on select handsets
Amazon will launch its second Kindle Fire tablet in the US at the end of the year, with the device to carry an 8.9in display, according to a report. the company has positioned its second-generation tablet to directly take on Apple’s 9.7in iPad. http://bit.ly/JvA5JB
Apple has confirmed outages to its cloud platform iCloud for more than an hour on Monday, potentially affecting 15 million users worldwide. While Apple only indicated the outage lasting about an hour, some users reported intermittent access and delayed delivery of email for up to three hours over the weekend.
Apple’s iCloud outage came as it reportedly readies to take on Facebook and its billion-dollar social photography acquisition, Instagram, by adding photo-sharing features to its inbuilt iCloud synchronisation feature Photo Stream. http://bit.ly/Le3muy
Steve Wozniak has voiced a renewed desire to see the apple open its architecture to the masses, allowing savvy users to expand and add to their products at will. Apple’s objection to such use has led others to develop hacks that open iOS devices to unsolicited third party applications and provide the ability to significantly alter the operating system at will. http://bit.ly/KBBC0E
Apple to bring ‘wow factor’ back to iPhone with larger screen
May 17, 2012 – 7:39AM
The iPhone has had the same design since 2010, which looks dated compared to new rivals from the likes of Samsung. Photo: AP
Apple plans to use a larger screen on the next-generation iPhone and has begun to place orders for the new displays from suppliers in South Korea and Japan, people familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
The new iPhone screens will measure 4 inches from corner to corner, one source said. That would represent a roughly 30 per cent increase in viewing area, assuming Apple keeps other dimensions proportional. Apple has used a 3.5-inch screen since introducing the iPhone in 2007.
Early production of the new screens has begun at three suppliers: Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd, Sharp and Japan Display, a Japanese government-brokered merger combining the screen production of three companies.
It is likely all three of the screen suppliers will get production orders from Apple, which could begin as soon as June. That would allow the new iPhone to go into production as soon as August, if the company follows its own precedent in moving from orders for prototypes for key components to launch.
Apple’s decision to equip the next iPhone with a larger screen represents part of a competitive response to Samsung.
Samsung unveiled its top-of-the line Galaxy smartphone with a 4.8-inch touch-screen and a faster processor earlier this month.
With consumers becoming more and more comfortable using smartphones for tasks they once performed on laptops, like watching video, other smartphone manufacturers have also moved toward bigger displays.
AESTHETICS AND DESIGN
A likely shakeup in the design of a larger-screen iPhone could go a long way in boosting its “wow” factor, convincing fans to trade in their old iPhones for new ones, said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee.
“Not only do users pay for features, but they also pay for aesthetics and design. That’s as important, or more important, than features,” Wu said. “People love the current design — but it’s 18 months old.”
The latest iPhone 4S was introduced in October of last year and essentially has the same form factor as the iPhone 4, launched in 2010.
Samsung, which this year became the world’s largest cell phone maker, sold 45 million smartphones in the first quarter, and sales of the Galaxy phones outstripped the iPhone.
Apple was not immediately available to comment.
Apple’s move toward a larger display for the next generation iPhone was earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal.
In addition to being Apple’s rival, Samsung is also a major components supplier to the US computer, tablet and phone manufacturer.
The share of the production of new screens that go to each of the three manufacturers working with Apple has not been determined, one source said.
Sales of the touch-screen iPhone now account for about one-half of Apple’s total sales, and the phone has been a key source of growth for the company in Asia.
A report in March by a South Korea business newspaper said Apple would use a “retina” display on the next iPhone, the same technology in its latest iPad that enhance image quality.
Saverin stands to save $67m by dropping US citizenship
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin will save at least $US67 million in federal income taxes by dropping US citizenship, according to a Bloomberg analysis of the company’s stock price. Those savings will keep growing if Facebook’s shares increase.
Saverin renounced his citizenshipin September and he lives in Singapore, according to his spokesman, Tom Goodman. Saverin, 30, was part of a small group of Harvard University students who started the social networking site. He owns about 4 per cent of the company, according to whoownsfacebook.com.
The would-be savings underscore why more people are giving up US citizenship before potential increases in taxes for the highest earners. The value of Saverin’s stake has swelled along with increases in Facebook’s share price before its planned initial public offering. The company plans to sell shares for as high as $38 apiece this week, compared with $32.10 in private auctions on SharesPost on September 26.
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Saverin’s stake may be worth as much as $2.89 billion, based on the company’s 1.898 billion total shares outstanding. His stake was worth about $2.44 billion in September.
Bloomberg calculated the $67 million figure by applying the 15 per cent US capital gains rate to the approximate $448 million spread between the two values. Bloomberg’s methodology was reviewed by Robert Willens, an independent tax adviser based in New York.
“The calculations and assumptions are not only erroneous, they also further perpetuate the false impression that tax was the reason behind Eduardo’s decision,” Goodman said, declining to cite specific errors. “His motive had nothing to do with tax and everything to do with his desire to live and work in Singapore.”
Whoownsfacebook.com is published by Massinvestor and draws its information from Facebook’s filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, press releases, news reports and other publicly available sources.
Saverin’s capital gains tax liability comes “at a time when the rate is probably the lowest it ever will be, and it’s a substantial discount to the value of what his position in Facebook will likely be two weeks from now,” said Edward Kleinbard, a tax law professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Any profit from future appreciation of Saverin’s Facebook stock will be earned free of capital gains tax in the US and Singapore, which doesn’t impose the tax.
“That’s got to be by far the biggest benefit, assuming Facebook’s stock appreciates at even a fraction of the level people expect,” Willens said.
Americans who give up their citizenship owe what is effectively an exit tax on the estimated capital gains from their stock holdings at the time of the renunciation. Saverin’s bill would be about $365 million, though even that can be deferred indefinitely until he actually sells the shares.
In the mean time, Saverin could choose to only pay interest to the US government during the deferral period – now at an annual rate of 3.28 per cent.
His savings may be even greater because Saverin’s tax advisers could argue that the value of his stake in September was less than the $2.44 billion used in Bloomberg’s calculation because selling such a large amount of stock at the then-market price wasn’t possible.
By locking in his liability last year, Saverin may enjoy one more benefit: The capital gains tax rate is set to increase to 20 percent or even higher.
New Apple MacBook lineup coming next month
Apple is preparing a new lineup of thinner MacBook laptops running on more powerful chips made by Intel, Bloomberg news reported, quoting inside sources.
The MacBook Pro machines, to be unveiled at Apple’s annual developers conference starting June 11, also will feature high- definition screens like those on the iPhone and iPad, as well as flash memory to cut startup times and extend battery life, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been made public.
Apple’s Mac sales are growing faster than the personal- computer market, benefiting from the popularity of its mobile devices. Since 2007, when the iPhone was introduced, Apple’s Mac sales have more than doubled, reaching $US21.8 billion last year.
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As Apple’s share has grown, competitors such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Samsung Electronics have followed suit in making thinner, aluminum laptops that start up more quickly.
Apple’s new laptops will run on Intel’s new processors, code-named Ivy Bridge, and will have a slimmed-down body design from the current 0.95-inch (2.4 centimeter) thickness, the sources said.
Apple’s other lines of computers – MacBook Air laptops and iMac desktops – also may receive an overhaul next month to add high-definition screens and Intel’s stronger chip, according to a report today from Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital Inc.
Bill Evans, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment, while Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for Intel, referred questions to Apple.
At the developer conference, Apple also may announce the debut date of its latest Mac operating system, called Mountain Lion, one person said. The new software, which Apple previewed in February, more closely aligns Mac computers with its mobile devices – the operating system includes many elements of the iOS mobile software that runs the iPhone and iPad. One feature lets users send a text message to an iPhone from a Mac.
Mountain Lion also expands Apple’s iCloud digital-storage service to let Mac users access and share saved documents across the internet. It also allows users to create and access reminders and notes, and receive notifications, on all their Apple devices. Another new iCloud feature will make it easier to share photographs, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
The emphasis on the Mac at next month’s conference suggests that Apple will concentrate on the iPhone later in the year. Analysts, including Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, have predicted Apple will release its next smartphone model by October. The iPhone is Apple’s top-selling product, accounting for 58 per cent of its revenue in the most recent quarter.
New mobile software
Apple is expected to preview some of the new mobile software features that will be part of that release at the developer conference in San Francisco.
While Mac computers account for just 13 per cent of Apple’s sales and are no longer the main sales engine for the company, the machines are gaining market share. Apple controlled 11.6 per cent of the PC market in the U.S in the fourth quarter of last year, compared to 6.1 per cent in the same period of 2007, according to Gartner.
Apple last redesigned the body of the MacBook Pro in 2008. The devices have more memory and stronger graphical and computing capabilities than MacBook Air laptops. The MacBook Pro now costs $1399 to $2899, depending on the size and components.
Apple is looking beyond Intel for chips to power its iPhone and iPad. While Intel provides the semiconductors for Apple’s new laptops, the chipmaker is facing questions from investors about why it hasn’t made better inroads into the market for components that power phones and laptops. Instead of using the Santa Clara, California-based company for chips inside its mobile devices, Apple uses competing components based on the designs from ARM Holdings.
At an investor meeting last week, Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini was asked whether the company was at risk of losing the Mac business altogether if Apple moves its computers to an ARM design. He said Intel’s plan is to improve the performance of its designs to the point where Apple will use its products more widely.
Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, also is helping boost Apple’s competitors in the PC market, who are seeking to respond to the popularity of Apple’s iPads and laptops by introducing their own new products.
Intel has been promoting a new type of thinner laptop, called an Ultrabook, that uses its components. Ultrabooks are less than an inch thick, have days of battery life, start up in seconds and sell for less than $US1,000. The features are similar to those of Apple’s MacBook Air.
Intel also has been working closely with Microsoft on the release of its Windows 8 operating system, which was designed to work on both PCs and mobile devices. The Ivy Bridge processor design is made with an updated manufacturing process, resulting in more powerful chips that use less battery life.
The technology website 9to5Mac.com reported earlier yesterday that Apple is working on a thinner version of the MacBook Pro with a sharper screen.
Sorkin to write rival to Kutcher’s Steve Jobs movie
Sony Pictures Entertainment on Wednesday said that the Academy Award winning screenwriter behind The Social Network will write the script for a film about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Aaron Sorkin will adapt the hot-selling biography by journalist Walter Isaacson for the motion picture screen, according to Sony.
“Steve Jobs’s story is unique: he was one of the most revolutionary and influential men not just of our time but of all time,” Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal said in a release.
“There is no writer working in Hollywood today who is more capable of capturing such an extraordinary life for the screen than Aaron Sorkin; in his hands, we’re confident that the film will be everything that Jobs himself was: captivating, entertaining, and polarizing.”
The project is being produced by Mark Gordon, Scott Rudin, and Guymon Casady, according to Pascal and Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad.
Isaacson’s book titled simply Steve Jobs has sold more than two million copies since its release late last year and was the top-selling title at online retail powerhouse Amazon.com, according to industry statistics cited by Sony.
Sorkin won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network, a blockbuster film based on Mark Zuckerberg launching what is now Facebook in his Harvard dorm room.
Sorkin’s other works include A Few Good Men and Moneyball. He has also acquired the rights to The Politician, a book by author Andrew Young about the downfall of former US senator John Edwards.
Sorkin will make his directing debut with a film based on his adaptation of the book for the screen, according to Sony.
Ashton Kutcher is to play Jobs in a new independent film about the late Apple chief’s life, a spokeswoman for the Two and a Half Men actor said in April.
Jobs will tell the story of his life from wayward hippie to co-founder of Apple and revered creative entrepreneur, according the spokeswoman.
Twitter trailblazer Kutcher, who recently split from actress Demi Moore, is attached to the project to be directed by Joshua Michael Stern based on a script by Matt Whiteley, it said.
Production was due to start this month while Kutcher is taking a break from Two and a Half Men, the hit TV series he joined last year after Charlie Sheen was sacked following a very public row with the producer.
Kutcher, 34, was best known for TV shows including That 70s Show and Punk’d before he replaced Sheen last May. He and Moore, both Twitter early adopters, announced their separation in November.
The Technology Behind Virgin Atlantic’s Mid-Flight Cellphone System
Whether you want it or not, phone calls are coming to commercial airplane flights. But like any new service, there are technical limitations, a premium price point, and a chance someone is going to be upset sitting next to a Chatty Kathy.
On Tuesday, Virgin Atlantic announced that customers would be able to make cellphone calls and send text messages while traveling across the Atlantic. The airline announced the immediate availability of the service on select aircraft, with the feature expanding to 20 aircraft by the end of 2012.
So how will the airline keep passengers in contact with their friends back home? Virgin is using satellites and microcells.
The technology behind the system is quite straightforward. According to Virgin Atlantic’s technology partner, AeroMobile, each plane with the feature will be equipped with a picocell installed in the cabin above the heads of passengers. The picocell acts as a tiny GPRS cell tower. Because the picocell is so close to passengers, user cellphones will actually emit relatively modest signals because they won’t have to work very hard in securing a network handshake. Airplane instruments are extremely sensitive, so the less random signal in the air, the better.
To communicate with people on the ground, the picocell uses the same satellite communications system as the airplane to connect calls. AeroMobile told Wired that because of capacity restraints in existing satellite communications systems, their picocell could only connect to six mobile devices at a time.
Whether the in-flight calls will be a convenience or nuisance remains to be seen. But before you start charging your phones or purchase a pair of noise-canceling headphones, consider a few caveats.
Initially, only customers of British carriers O2 and Vodafone will be able to use the service. If and when the service is adopted by U.S. carries, it will work with GMS phones only — Virgin’s system does not work with the CDMA networks used by Sprint and Verizon. So if you’re a Sprint or Verizon customer, you may as well put your phone back into airplane mode.
Because of an FCC ban on cellphone calls from airplanes in flight, the AeroMobile system is disabled when an aircraft is within 250 miles of the U.S. border. The FCC had proposed easing the restrictions on in-flight calling in 2007, but nixed the plan, citing technical issues and complaints from the public. Apparently no one wants to sit next to someone calling his doctor for test results while 30,000 feet in the air.
Virgin Atlantic says that the new call feature is targeted at business travelers, and is intended for use in exceptional situations. These exceptional situations appear to come down to a passenger’s willingness to pay a premium for a quick call or text message. Indeed: Customers can expect to pay premium international rates for keeping in touch while in the air.
The upshot: The chances are slim you’ll be stuck next to a someone gabbing away on your next flight. Unless, of course, you’re sitting next someone with a story to tell and money to burn.
HP reveals flexible tablet technology, foreshadows wearable screens at Global Influencer Summit
FORGET the doomed TouchPad tablet.
The world’s biggest computer maker is preparing to produce new tablets made of flexible but “virtually unbreakable” plastic, with almost “unlimited” low-powered storage unlike anything used in current computers.
The revolutionary technology could also be used to create wearable, powered screens as thin as “the average person’s head of hair” that could be slipped on to a wrist and worn like a bracelet.
HP revealed its future technological plans at the Global Influencer Summit in Shanghai yesterday, with HP mobile and immersive experience lab director John Apostolopoulos showing off both science and engineering breakthroughs.
Mr Apostolopoulos said the company’s engineering and printing teamed to create flexible plastic displays, printing electronics on to curved plastic as the company had printed words on to curled paper.
“Today’s displays are made out of glass, so they’re relatively fragile and flat,” he said. “We have a roll of plastic and as it unrolls we imprint the technology on it.
“With our ability to make (flexible) plastic displays, we believe we can make them as affordable as you can make flat displays today.”
Mr Apostolopoulos said in addition to making thin tablets and curved computer monitors, the technology could be used to make wearable screens just 100 microns thick.
“Clearly from here we’re not quite ready to go on the fashion runway but this thing is amazing,” he said.
“It’s very thin, very light, also it’s virtually indestructible. If I wore it on my arm and I was hit on it it wouldn’t break, it would just flex.”
Mr Apostolopoulos said the unusual screen technology could be combined with another new HP discovery, a combination of memory and a resistor it has dubbed Memristor, that could deliver energy-efficient, “virtually unlimited” storage.
The storage creation could replace DRAM, flash and hard drive storage in computers.
It could be some time before the technology is available in stores, however, with Mr Apostolopoulos warning that both technologies would not emerge until 2014 at the earliest.
HP declined to detail its current tablet plans at the event, with printing and personal systems group executive vice-president Todd Bradley telling the forum “we’ll talk about tablets later”.
Mr Bradley confirmed the company would produce Windows 8 tablets at a later stage, but they would have “more of an enterprise and corporate focus than a consumer focus” like the four-day TouchPad.
Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to Shanghai as a guest of HP.