Huawei to Launch New Handsets during the Pre-IFA 2016 Event

Huawei Pre-IFA 2016 Event

The Chinese manufacturer Huawei recently announced its plans of its major smartphone launch in September 2016.

This launch event is expected to coincide with the event marking the IFA events that kickstart on the following day in Berlin. Although the manufacturer is likely to unveil more than one device, it is not yet known if the releases will be smartphones or phablets.

Even as Huawei has kept its fans in the dark and guessing about the kind of gadgets planned for the launch, there are high chances that one of them to be a phablet. It is speculated that this tablet will be a successor to the Huawei Mate 8 phablet that was made available quite some time back in November last year. The manufacturer is likely to have drawn its inspiration for releasing its phablet from Samsung which launches a Note phablet almost every time it offers an S-series flagship smartphone. Interestingly, Samsung will be announcing the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (the successor to its Note 6 phablet) in August 2016.

Also, Huawei is playing it safe by planning its launch before Apple makes its announcement of its next upcoming devices that could possibly be the iPhone 7 Pro or the iPhone 7 Plus. Apple is known for usually making its releases in the second or third week of September. By making a September 1st launch, the company hopes to make its presence felt and remaining in the spotlight for at least a week or two. It goes without saying that the Huawei Mate 8 successor (possibly termed as the Mate 9) will face stiff and tough competition from iPhone variants with large screens such as the iPhone 7.

Although the Mate 8 has been in the market for only a brief period after its announcement in November, Huawei is anticipated to reduce its smartphones manufacturing process. This is most probably due to the tough competition it faces with other manufacturers. Keeping this in mind, it is quite possible that the other gadgets that will be unveiled are either tablets, wearables or both. There are high hopes of receiving rumors or leaked information about the gadgets being released in the upcoming weeks before the actual launch. These inputs will give Huawei fans a clearer idea of what they can expect from the devices.

There are also talks about the Chinese giant working on developing its own operating system. This is being done in order to do away with or minimize its use of Google’s Android that it currently relies on for its handsets. However, this project build is estimated to be in the very basic preliminary and initial stages. Also, various modifications are being made to the company’s very own Emotion UI. One of the major changes is likely to be a major change in the design to avoid making it look like Apple’s iOS. The new version will feature more icons and brighter colors, as well as additional functionalities like an app drawer. There are also discussions about the new EMUI bearing a similarity to the stock Nexus smartphone. However, there will be differences as well owing to the addition of some elements by Huawei.

In other words, there is hardly any chance of the company talking about this prospective development at the launch event in September.

Ironically, Huawei had a very interesting contribution to make for its pre-IFA event launch in 2015. The manufacturer unveiled its first smartwatch and a Mate S smartphone. A remarkable feature of this device is that it was the first of its kind to incorporate the Force Touch concept. The latest smartphone release made by the manufacturer was in early June 2016. Marketed under the Honor brand, the Honor 5C is a mid-range handset and will soon be available online on a couple of websites through a flash sale. Registrations for this sale are already open. Another upcoming smartphone in the same category is the Huawei P9 with an IPS 5.2-inch full HD display and operating on Android 6.0 Marshmallow layered with Emotion UI 4.1. Available in two versions with either 3GB or 4GB RAM and 64GB RAM, this octa-core gadget focuses on taking really good photographs with a dual 12 MP camera on its rear.

Indian PM Narendra Modi Invited to Facebook Headquarters: Set to Field Questions in Townhall

Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, has been invited to attend Facebook’s Townhall to be held on September 27 at its Silicon Valley headquarters.

Prime Minister Modi will field questions from the public during the townhall proceedings, announced the social media giant.

‘Prime Minister Modi and I will discuss how communities can work together to address social and economic challenges’. Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook. PM Modi is also scheduled to visit Tesla’s car factory in Fremont, the SAP Center in San Jose and Google headquarters as part of his US visit.

Both Prime Minister Modi and Facebook have invited the public to ask questions, either through the social media or via Modi’s mobile app before the question and answer session commences at 9.30 AM PT on September 27. There were already 24, 000 comments on Mark Zuckerberg’s post with questions being asked on multiple issues including, but not limited to, online education, censorship and poverty.

On his own Facebook page, PM Modi wrote, ‘The interaction will cover a wide range of issues and will surely be a memorable one’. The Indian Prime Minister has already received flak on privacy issues for trying to enhance online access to government services under a scheme dubbed ‘Digital Services’. And Facebook might have some heated questions of its own to ask PM Modi.

Last year, the social media giant started Internet.org, an initiative to bolster basic internet services in developing countries. However, Facebook faced a lot of disapproval, including from India, for the effort. Companies like media giant Times Group and travel website Cleartrip.com opted out of Internet.org claiming that the initiative was against net neutrality, a policy to keep the internet free and open to all.

The criticism came from a strong public opinion that the Internet.org initiative will limit the use of free internet web services like Wikipedia and Facebook. However, Facebook denies these claims and said that Internet.org was opened up in May for developers to build any service within the platform. Facebook is a real giant in the social media industry going by its user and sales figures; as of June 2015, FB had 496 million active users monthly in the Asia Pacific region and made $1.03 billion in sales as of the first half of the year from that geographical region.

Apple Sends Invites for Media Event: New and Upgraded Devices Expected to be Launched

Apple sent out invites for a media event scheduled for September 9, wherein the new and upgraded devices are expected to be launched.

Although no official announcements are available with regard to the actual details of the media event, by putting together a few rumors, a few leaks and the history of such events, it is easy to gauge the expectations from the company’s annual event on Thursday.

Gone are the days when the tech giant played its cards very close to its chest and almost no information would be available till the official announcement is made on the D-day. However, now with the company’s market cap increasing, such secrecy is difficult to adhere to and fairly reliable pre-show rumors do find their way into the market place.

In the past, the annual September event has always begun with either the launch of a new iPhone or upgrades to the previous year’s device. Since 2014 saw the release of revamped iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, 2015 is expected to throw up iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S+. The expected upgrades include 2GB of RAM and an A9 processor for added power, camera to be upgraded to 12MP with an optional UHD 4K video recorder and perhaps, a small upgrade for the front camera.

Another expected inclusion to the iPhone is Apple Watch’s ‘Force Touch’ Technology which allows the users to clear all notifications with one touch in Apple Watch and allows the Macbook users to fast forward videos at varying speeds.

The iPad, which already features the new and long-awaited iOS9 enabling picture-in-picture videos and split screen multitasking, is expected to get a totally revamped edition this year. The iPad Pro is expected to feature a larger screen and, maybe, an improved stylus with support from ‘Force Touch’ Technology.

Apple TV setup box, which the company never focused too much on, is definitely expected to see some anticipated upgrades including microphone, motion sensor and touch screen remote along with an upgrade of the hardware of the setup box itself. It is rumored that the new remote will enable the setup box to be used like a game console too.

However, despite the focus on new devices such as smartwatch, TV services and improved iPad among many others, the revenue that the tech giant earns from iPhone sales continues to be the highest. The company collects the largest percentage of revenue from iPhone now than ever before. The iPhone continues to be the company’s most lucrative product and its increasing sales is even more important as the sales numbers for the iPad is on the decline and Apple Watch is still a baby in the market.

Google Helps Estimate Solar Power Potential and Cost with its Project Sunroof

If you have always wanted solar power for your home and if you have been in the dark about what to do, Google’s Project Sunroof might be the answer you are looking for.

Project Sunroof is a tool created by Google to help you determine your home’s solar power potential and the costs involved. Project Sunroof combines a variety of information: details about your home from Google Maps, nearby solar power providers and local weather conditions to advise you on whether your home is suitable for setting up solar panels to harness solar energy.

Carl Elkin, the Google engineer, is the brain behind Project Sunroof. He created this tool when he was using the 20% time that is allocated by the company for all its employees to pursue his/her side projects besides their regular job. The project is expected to begin in a small form and at present will be available only in three cities including Fresno, Boston and San Francisco. Fresno was apparently chosen because the mother of one of the engineers of the project lives there.

The cost savings from using solar power in a San Francisco home is estimated like this: If you were to invest $91 every month to lease out solar panels for your home in San Francisco, you could save $14,000 over the next two decades. This amount would be about a month’s rent for a walk-in closet in that city.

Using information about the local weather conditions, it is possible to arrive at the number of hours of sunlight you receive every day, after taking into account other factors, including your roof’s angular projections, potential inhibitors of sunlight like trees and/or perhaps a neighbor’s house and seasonal changes. Using the above ‘annual sunlight’ information and the image of your roof from Google Maps, Project Sunroof will be able to give you an estimate of how much of your roof should be covered in solar panels for optimum solar power harnessing.

It is recommended that power generated from the solar panels be less than what you really use as there seems to be no financial leverage or ways of storing or using the excess power generated. The residents of the three cities are invited to key in their home addresses in to the Project Sunroof tool. The results as explained above will be displayed for your home, and along with it, the addresses of the solar power providers in the locality will also be available at the end of the page. Project Sunroof is seen as an excellent marketing/advertising tool for solar power installers and providers especially when it is launched across the globe.

BMW, Audi and Daimler Join Hands to Purchase Nokia Here Maps for $3 Billion

Luxury car manufacturers are becoming increasingly interested in automated car technologies. A few days ago, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook visited BMW’s manufacturing plant to forge a deal.

Instead of relying on technology firms like Google and Microsoft to take the first step, the companies have joined hands to create an alliance that will allow them to create autonomous cars on their own. As a first step to make this dream come true, BMW, Audi and Daimler have purchased Nokia Here maps division for a whopping sum of $3 billion.

On road, these luxury car makers are fierce competitors. BMW has been consistently ruling the budget friendly elite vehicle category which Audi wants to acquire. Both companies have been launching cars at different price points from time to time to woo the buyers. However, they have brushed their competition aside to survive in this increasingly competitive industry. The objective is to make the first move before tech firms launch automated cars of their own.

An autonomous car or the popular known self-driving cars rely largely on mapping and location services to find their route. They will play an integral role in the car manufacturing industry in future, which has prompted the companies to make an investment now.

‘Here’ is the unit which BMW, Audi and Daimler has purchased for 2.8 billion Euros, which will facilitate them to build driverless cars in the near future. All three companies hold an equal share in the company.

“Our primary goal is to improve the existing lineup of products and provide better user experience. With this deal, we aim to integrate automated driving features and improvised location services in all our vehicles”, said representatives from the three companies in a joint statement.

Despite the purchase, the Here unit will continue to operate as always and there will be no change in the hierarchy. The management team and the employees will be retained and the users can continue to utilize the services without any changes. From their statement, it is evident that the car manufacturers have no plans to alter the services or create a Google Map rival. Instead, they will strongly focus on integrating the mapping services into their vehicles.

Over 80% of the vehicles in Europe and North America rely on the technology developed by Nokia. By owning the company, the luxury car manufacturers now have an upper hand in terms of technology and can improvise it without seeking help from third parties.

Apple Car May Launch in the Near Future with BMW’s Technology

The most happening news at the moment is Tim Cook’s visit to BMW’s manufacturing plant in Leipzig. The news was first published by a German magazine named the Manager Magazin.

According to the cover feature of the magazine, the CEO of Apple was impressed by the way BMW works. They spent a long time in the factory understanding the methods used to build the futuristic i3 electric cars. BMW, even though extremely happy with this visit, was really skeptical about allowing Apple to know all their business secrets. The company is completely against the idea of becoming a supplier if, the technology giant ever decides to launch a car of their own.

One of the things that impressed Apple at the BMW plant is their futuristic approach in making cars. They have abandoned the traditional manufacturing techniques which are largely dependent on people and supplies. The new methods allow them to build electronic cars in less than three days in a fully automated factory. It might have been ten days or more, if the car manufacturer had followed the traditional methods, which are quite outdated by now.

Apple is interested in releasing electronic cars of their own, which probably will be known as ‘Apple Car’. It’s not possible to do it on their own unless a premium manufacturer like BMW supports them. The magazine also added that BMW has agreed to supply parts to Apple, if required and has laid out some of their terms.

Instead of creating human driven cars, Apple is highly interested in creating self-driving electric cars. Google has already reached there and plenty of autonomous cars are roaming the streets of United States at the moment. Accidents are rare and even when they happen the human drivers are actually to be blamed in majority of the cases. Google is stuck in a situation, where they are unable to launch the consumer versions for a lot of their innovative products including cars and Google Glass.

However, being one of the strongest technology companies in the world, Apple is more than capable of bringing it to the general public. BMW, on the other hand clearly understands that it is impossible to further make their cars more sophisticated, without support from a software company. A mutual association is expected to help both the companies realize their dreams. If Apple goes beyond its iPhones and Macs, it probably has a chance to make the world go crazy about the brand one more time in the post Steve Jobs era.

Improved Google Glass 2 is Compatible with Other Eyewear

The failure of the first edition of Google Glass cannot be solely blamed on the company, because people were scared of the new technology that stalled sales.

Besides, it is not easy to create the best product in the first attempt, unless it is done by a company like Apple. Google understood a lot of flaws that made the Glass so unpopular among the consumers. It never reached the corporate firms and medical sectors as planned. The search engine giant is determined to change it once forever with their upcoming Google Glass 2.

New Device, Easy to Latch On

The biggest advantage of the Google Glass 2 is its all new rectangular design which features a button and hinge for the camera. You can easily remove it off the glass and attach it to any eye-wear as you please. The fixed frame design in the first edition didn’t go well with the audience because people who already wear power glasses couldn’t use it. Besides, there are so many brands of eye-wear available in the market that sport better build quality and choice when compared to the default version supplied by Google.

With the new edition, the main focus will be on professional industries including corporates, health firms, medical and research centers. The glass has a lot of practical benefits when used in these industries where they act as a second monitor for the wearer. Seminars could be conducted with ease as it is capable of simulating visual content which eliminates the need for projectors.

The professional edition of the product has already been distributed to software developers. Many apps have been built by the developers to allow the users to complete a wide range of tasks. They are set to get launched along with the glass, probably before the end of 2015.

When Google decided to release the consumer version of the Google Glass, it was priced exorbitantly at $1500. The pricing was not the only concern of buyers as they were more concerned about their privacy. Buyers didn’t want to lose their privacy in order to adopt this sophisticated wearable technology. Even before its official launch, it was banned in public venues including coffee shops, shopping malls and public parks.

However, Google Glass 2 is expected to fix many of these issues. The device is powered by a brand new Intel processor which is more powerful than its predecessors. Its external battery is expected to offer more battery life than the first. The prism display is thinner and is fully adjustable for convenient view.

Apple iCar Rumors Fuel after Company Recruits Ex Chrysler Executive

Apple seems to be cooking something really nice for its enthusiasts. This Cupertino tech giant might just be the latest entrant into the world of electric cars thanks to the recent recruitment of a vastly experienced official, by the name, Doug Betts.

The Wall Street Journal revealed that Betts, the former head of global quality during a stint at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has been hired by Apple. Other than holding a senior position at Chrysler, Betts was also a top figure at other major car makers such as Nissan, Toyota and tires major Michelin. So, what does this mean to the Apple family?

Well, what many see in this high profile recruitment by Apple is that the company may be looking to deepen its roots into the car industry by not just offering car systems and other technologies used in cars, but also by manufacturing their own car. Apple’s car, which might potentially be known as iCar, will be the first electric car by Cupertino.

Even though Apple has not mentioned anything about what position Betts is set to hold in the industry, his LinkedIn profile already confirms that he has been hired by the tech giant. Nonetheless, this hire reignites the discussion that Apple is just about to venture into the electric car industry to come up with what can possibly be called as Apple iCar. This rumor cropped up early this year when it was mentioned that an effort dubbed Titan was in place and that Apple had put together a team of several hundred employees to work on this new electric car.

The news of Apple going into the electric car industry was even made more solid when the Journal announced last week that the company had added Steve Zadesky, a former Ford executive, to its team. The announcement of Zadesky as the head of the Titan team and another high profile recruitment of a self-driving car researcher known as Paul Furgale and now Betts are all enough to signal that Apple is for sure headed into the car industry.

There is no doubt that the latest recruitment is among the top assets in the automobile industry thanks to his vast experience as a production manager at Michelin for 10 years, general manager of Toyota for 8 years, senior VP at Nissan for 3 years and later on taking up the same senior VP position at Chrysler for another 7 years.

While there might be chances that Apple might never make an iCar thanks to the fact that the company has a trend of testing technologies which they end up never pursuing. The reported team of more than 1000 people the company has put behind this project indicates how much Cupertino is willing to venture into the automobile industry.

Apple is still facing a serious competitor in this niche in the form of Tesla and according to recent reports; the latter poached some of the former’s top brains. There might also be chances that these two might work together on bringing up an even better electric car in the near future. We have to wait and watch.

You Can Know the Busiest Local Businesses Now with Google Search

There was a small yet important update made recently, with regards to Google Search, that it was focused on helping the users to determine the best time to pay a visit to businesses that are nearby.

After a search is performed for a business on Google, clicking the title makes you view information such as its address, contact number, and open hours. So, with this new update, Google will now show the users ‘busiest times’ for the specific businesses. This data, designed to show the users when the business is busiest, is accompanied by bar charts that you can look through every single day.

The firm explains that, this type of data can be particularly beneficial for individuals who do not want to be caught up in long lines – such us when you are driving towards the coffee shop to grab a coffee, go to the grocery shop, or visit the gym. The idea of this update is that, you can plan your daily routines better by avoiding the rush hours of these businesses whenever you can.

Google states clearly that, this feature at the moment is enabled for millions of businesses and places all over the world. Also, it will be accessible directly from Google Search on all mobile phones that have internet connection, in current mobile web browsers and on the Google Search App of Android. Nevertheless, the feature is commonly going to show for locations where the users are ‘highly curious about how busy it can get’, notes a spokesperson of Google.

Although this feature is not incorporated into the Google Smart Assistant Google Now, it is the kind of data that can possibly be made use of in the near future to make sure Google Now users are rightly informed of what they should anticipate in the different businesses they are heading towards, after their Google Search.

Although there are quite a number of apps available that permit users to check and know wait times for businesses such as NoWait, which is focused more on restaurant waiting times or those who are calculating waiting times for lines in theme parks, the ability of Google to combine the details from the Smartphones of millions of users is the power behind this brand new and more widely accessible, search feature.

There has been an explanation in the past about how Google is able to gather information from the users of Google Maps app, so as to secretly inform Google of things such as traffic conditions and patterns. Also, that the GPS-backed feature is currently at work to offer the business-level information too.

‘Just like we send traffic information depending on the secret collective movement of people on the road, we have the ability to relatively establish how busy a business is’, Google says.

For the owners of the businesses, this new information can be beneficial in offering them an enhanced understanding of their very own traffic conditions and busiest hours. Customers can also benefit from these searches, so that they do not have to waste too much time at one place, when they have a lot to do in a day.

Universal Twitter App Lands on Microsoft’s Windows 10 Operating System

Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system has received amazing patronage from one of the world’s biggest social networking sites, Twitter.

If Facebook is about news feed and videos, Twitter is all about short tweets that bring the most happening events to the attention of its users. Most people tend to use the app to deliver an instant update because Facebook is considered a tedious method to do so. Besides, statistics confirmed that people no longer use Zuckerberg’s platform to share quick information, but for detailed information on popular events. In other words, Facebook is a news channel while Twitter is the flash scroll that you witness whenever a breaking news occurs.

The developers of the micro blogging site focused solely on the iOS and Android operating systems all these years. However, they have now diverted their attention to release an app for the Windows 10 platform that will universally work with all devices including phones, tablets as well as the Xbox One console.

Microsoft had doubts because developing an app that could work universally on all their devices takes a lot of time and work. Most companies may refrain from doing so because of the lack of users on the platform. However, Twitter has a different perspective. The company wants to tap the potential user base; customers who are on the Windows devices because almost every Android and iOS user is already a subscriber.

The Windows 10 edition of Twitter app is amazing as it looks cool and is responsive to your actions. It runs in a desktop mode which makes it much easier for the users to access tweets, direct messages and images without having to rely on a browser. The developers have introduced some new features in the app including the ability to view GIFs, videos, Vines and to see multiple pictures at once.

A live tile feature allows you to easily see your latest tweets. Windows 10 support live tiles in the start menu which makes it much easier to take a glance every time you hit the start button. While the app is not compatible with Xbox One and Holo Lens at the moment, the developers confirmed that they are working to make it compatible with these devices as soon as possible.

“There will be more updates in the coming months as we work to make Twitter one of the best apps on the Windows 10 platform”, confirmed the team. More apps are expected to follow the trend.

Facebook – Bringing Internet to the Developing World Will Yield More Money

Clearly, the internet has benefited different people around the world in different ways. This is why there are new ways that are being generated to make it easier for all individuals to benefit equally.

With the famous Internet.org turning one this week, the project of Facebook to stretch internet access worldwide, is not getting older. Facebook is also targeting connections with new telecom partners with the hope of linking more people to the internet.

Even though the initiative has worked perfectly with about 12 telecommunications partners to offer basic internet access in 17 countries, it is the hope of Facebook for that number to grow after a while. Currently, network providers interested in working with Internet.org can easily make their dreams come true. All they need to do is to contact the program on its unique page.

To help in wooing the companies, Internet.org argues that, it represents more than a tool that has been designed to get the disconnected, back online: It is as well very good for bottom line carriers. In a blog post, Internet.org has cited different numbers designed to attract the network operators who see dollar signs – or even more precisely, rupees, francs, and pesos – in a probable partnership with the initiative of Mark Zuckerberg.

Internet.org brings in new users to different mobile networks on an average over 50% faster, especially, after free fundamental services are launched. Also, more than half of the men and women who visit the internet through Internet.org, pay for data and access the internet in a span of their initial 30 days. All of these points and more make it evident that Internet.org is successful, not just in aiding to attract or bring people online. It is also successful in making it clear to people the value the internet brings into their lives and helps in accelerating its adoption.

People who used Internet.org in the past month have accessed a wide range of health services more than a million times. This has helped to save many lives and has helped different health institutions make money as well.

For mobile phone carriers in developing countries, these figures suggest the probability for quick growth, if they go on to invest in their data networks and make use of Internet.org as on ramps. That could be a very clear message: No mobile device internet provider is going to sign on or register with Internet.org except if there is a clear benefit that will be obtained from the process.

Although there are some clear stipulations being made, Facebook is simply betting it can change its uniqueness to its benefit and bring the next 4.5 billion individuals to Facebook.

Facebook generally has a high attraction level and this is one of the reasons Mark is able to confidently make some stipulations or statements. As the months go by, we look forward to seeing these dreams being channeled into reality. Also, with many partnerships being targeted before the end of the year, more positive outcomes are expected.

Remote Hacking of Cars is Now a Reality

Car hacking seems to have moved to the next level as it no longer requires a physical connection to the electrical system of the car in order to hijack it.

Ever since that 2010 case of a disgruntled employee, who wirelessly accessed over 100 cars, there has never been another case of remote hacking of cars. However, this changed just last week when two security researchers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, took matters in their own hands and went ahead to expose the security vulnerabilities in a 2014 Jeep Cherokee. This happened on a St. Louis highway with Wired writer Andy Greenberg behind at the wheel and according to them, it is only meant to bring out the flaws in smart cars and just how dangerous they can be.

Miller is a security researcher at Twitter and Valasek is a director of auto security research with IOActive. The pair is not new in this field and they first made headlines about two years ago when they managed to hack a car and take control of some features, for instance, honking, killing brakes, cinching seat belts as well as controlling the steering wheel. These were tested on a Toyota Prius and Ford Escape, but they were seated in the backseat of the cars with laptops physically connected to the vehicles.

Car makers should be on the alert

The latest tests by the two researchers are meant to scare or rather warn car makers of their weak systems that can easily be hacked. The two were seated in Miller’s basement, about 10 miles from the car and thanks to the security flaw in the Uconnect infotainment system, they were able to blast the AC, tune the radio, crank the sound system, toy around with the windshield wipers and even post a picture on the display screen inside the car.

To make sure that car manufacturers really got what they wanted them to get, they went ahead and disabled the transmission, something that meant the Jeep lost its acceleration. Later on when the Chrysler Jeep was parked in the lot, they disabled the brakes and as a result, the car slid into a ditch with Greenberg, still seated behind the wheel, unable to do anything to save the car.

Even though car hacking practices are not very common, the fact that it is possible should send a stern message to car manufacturers out there about the potential of cyber security. This is true especially when you consider the number of computer-based cars on the roads today. With this new form of wireless hacking of cars, many will be on the alert. Any person who thinks about security of their high-tech cars must already have thought about this possibility. It is no longer a simple thought; instead, it has become a reality.

Over 10 Million Wii U Units Sold, Nintendo Didn’t Lose the Console War

Nintendo in their earnings call had some good news to share. The company confirmed that over 10 million Wii U units have been sold so far, which has helped them earn over $9 million in profit.

With this announcement, Nintendo has indirectly confirmed that the company has not lost the console war to Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4. The Wii U console got released much before Sony and Microsoft could launch their consoles. When it came out in 2012, it was a bit of a disappointment for the gamers for a variety of reasons.

The Wii revolutionized the console gaming space with its motion sensor controllers. It was obviously a step into virtual reality but without wearing any of those heavy VR headsets. People enjoyed it so much that they expected Nintendo to release something futuristic with their next console. But, the Wii U came with a touch pad controller which wasn’t innovative or groundbreaking. The same result could be achieved with any console when a smartphone or a tablet is paired with it.

Adding to the woes, Wii U lacked first party exclusive titles. Unlike PS4 and Xbox One which is supported by companies like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, Nintendo’s consoles are highly dependent on their home studios. Games like Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart and Zelda are the ones that convince the people to buy the console.

Everything changed when Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros got launched on the Wii U. The console started selling like hot cakes and has touched a notable benchmark with 10 million units. Sony’s Playstation 4 sold the same number in just nine months since release while Xbox One is close on its heels. Nevertheless, it is a great achievement for Nintendo that prompted them to proudly announce it during their investors’ call.

The handheld 3DS console has sold two million units. There are gamers who still love Wii games which helped Nintendo sell 1.1 million titles within a short span of three months. Everything’s going good for the company so far. They have also confirmed their interest in the mobile gaming industry.

Within the next three years, five different first party titles from Nintendo will land on the iOS and Android platforms. They are also working on a new console titled the NX. It is touted to be the next big revolutionary change in gaming industry. We could confirm the same when it gets launched in 2017 or later.

Avoid Long Queues with Google’s ‘Popular Times’ Feature

Google loves innovation! The developers at the company often come up with features that are helpful to make life easier.

The newly launched ‘Popular Times’ is one such feature using which you can know if a particular place is crowded at a specific time.

Users can now access this feature by using the Google apps on their Android phone. If you happen to own an iOS device, use the Safari app or the Chrome app to get the feature.

Imagine this situation! You really want to hang out with your friends at this popular restaurant after work. You start sending them messages, gather the team and reach the venue only to find that it is packed to the brim. It might be one of those disappointing moments which you can now avoid with the help of ‘Popular Times’.

Search for a specific location on the app. It could be anything from the local coffee shop to the bookstore or a shopping center. In the results page, click on the ‘more about’ icon and it will directly forward you to another page with a helpful information card. The card shows the hours during which they operate followed by a graph that displays their busiest hours.

You will also find a drop down box using which you can select the day. It makes it easier to check if that elite pub you have always wanted to visit will be too crowded on a Saturday evening or not. Obviously, most places are crowded during weekends, but the feature is useful when it comes to sorting out the worst times to visit a location.

Google also receives real time data through smartphones that have GPS enabled in them. When a large number of people are heading to the same venue, it will automatically be updated in their database and the information will be shared on the card. The feature comes in handy if you are planning to go to a concert, but like to know the best time to start to avoid traffic jam and long lines.

The information was revealed by Google in their official blog. Some people appreciated the effort, while others are not so happy with it. Whatever be the criticism, Google is not going to give up and will continue to innovate, one feature after the other. They just love to experiment and history proves that some of their crazy ideas have paved the way for the betterment of the world of technology.

Security Firm Claims Your Android Phone can be Hacked with a Text Message

When a top end security firm, which successfully helped hundreds of technology companies secure their data, claims that over 95 percent of the Android phones in the world is vulnerable, it is impossible to not believe them.

Zimperium is a reputed security research company which dedicates a majority of its time in assisting companies and saving them from hacking attacks. The rest of the time they work on fixing security flaws earlier so that an attack is prevented even before the hackers identify any vulnerability. In the case of the Android operating system, the company had identified a security flaw caused by a tool named ‘Stagefright’.

The simple tool which was integrated into the mobile operating system to enable media playback is now confirmed as vulnerability by the company as well as Google. The firm identified that out of the one billion Android phones shipped last year, 950 million devices are vulnerable. If you are using a device that runs on Google’s OS, there is no guarantee as to whether it has already been compromised or not.

However, speaking to the National Public Radio, Zimperium confirmed that the flaw is yet to be exploited by the hackers. The vulnerability prevails though and if it is not fixed in a short period; it could lead to a chaotic situation on a global scale. Google has already been notified of the vulnerability to which the company responded saying that they have the patches ready to fix it, in case an attack is initiated.

The intimation was made in the month of April, but the patch file is yet to be rolled out to all the Android versions.

Compromising Devices through Text Message

The way the vulnerability works has been explained in detail by the security firm. The user may never know that his or her phone has been compromised. It can be sent as a standard MMS message or as a simple text message through Google Hangouts. The highly complex code doesn’t require user authentication.

As soon as the Hangout message lands on your phone, a notification will pop up. Whether you open it or not, the malicious code will start running. It will run once again when you open a preview and yet again, when you try to play the video. With more than three different opportunities, compromising a device isn’t so tough. From them on, you will be using a hacked phone which can retrieve your usernames, passwords, credit card information, social networking credentials and every other information shared, using the Android phone.

LinkedIn Contact Download Feature is Back, Company Apologizes for Inconvenience

In their blog post, LinkedIn apologized to the users for removing the feature that allowed them to download contacts when required.

They added that their original intention was to prevent third party companies from accessing contact lists and it was never removed to cause inconvenience to the existing user base.

While it might sound like a basic feature, obviously, LinkedIn users seem to have had a strong association with it. Among many similar features, this one allows the users to instantly download the contacts list of everyone they are connected with. The data includes their profile name, contact numbers, e-mail ids and other vital information. It is much easier to simply zap it if you have to send a bulk e-mail to them all at once.

However, the same can be done by third parties if they manage to gain unauthorized access. The developer team at LinkedIn was more concerned about such a threat. LinkedIn is the world’s largest business network with millions of profiles created by people with varied areas of expertise. The total worth of the statistical data on the website is so high that it isn’t surprising to see the company concerned about the safety of their database.

LinkedIn removed the feature a week ago and the users immediately disapproved of the change on Twitter. Social networking platforms are significant in modern day corporate world. Whenever something goes wrong, people use such platforms as the ultimate weapon to notify the companies that they are not happy with the new changes.

Microsoft’s Xbox One console is one of the most popular incidents in history in which the backlash from the gamers was so much that the company had to roll out a lot of awkward policies to favor them. Similarly, companies like Netflix and Comcast rolled back their policies after severe criticism.

While it may seem companies are heeding to user requests and are open to criticism, experts opine that the changes occur because of the rapidly changing business scenario. A startup may emerge into the next big power within a matter of months which creates a consistently challenging situation for the big players. Keeping their existing customers satisfied matters a lot which has made them accept such feedback.

During the period in which the feature was rolled back, the LinkedIn users had to wait for at least 72 hours before they could download contact information. The issue has now been sorted out and you could download the data anytime without a waiting period. The company also promised to avoid creating such situations in the future.