Saturday, November 15, 2014

Boot up: are tablets mobile?, touchscreen PCs stop, Tile goes Android

A burst of 9 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

"I think that it is critical that we separate the phone from the tablet in [the mobile-ads] discussion," commented Richard Guest, president, U.S. operations at Tribal Worldwide. "The tablet is, most likely, the future of advertising because of its potential to serve as the lean-in, immersive companion device to traditional television screens."
Kevin Scholl, Red Roof Inn digital director, had a starkly different outlook, contending that tablets are becoming carry-around devices that are replacing laptops and even, in some cases, smartphones—especially for travelers. "Just generally, consumers are turning to tablets as their go-to device for the Internet," he said.
Though Lee Zalben, president of Peanut Butter & Co., leaned more in the direction of Guest's take.
"While most online marketing analytics platforms report tablets as mobile devices distinct from desktop computers, it's clear that for many people, tablet use is functionally very different than smartphone use," Zalben said. "For example, while most people carry a smartphone while they shop for groceries, far less walk the aisles with a tablet at their side."

As demand for touchscreen notebooks has been far weaker than expected, notebook vendors have stopped developing touch-enabled notebooks for the fourth quarter, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

While demand for smartphones and tablets continues to dampen notebooks' sales, notebook users still favor the mouse-and-keyboard mode. Touchscreen noteboos are even less appealing because of the fact that adding a touch panel means extra production cost and higher retail price for the device. The weak demand for touchscreen notebooks is greatly impacting Intel and Microsoft, both of which have been aggressively promoting the touch functions on notebooks, the sources noted.

Notebook vendors will now only add touchscreens to their 2-in-1 devices and products such as ultrabooks, but gaming notebooks and traditional notebooks, will no longer see such a feature.

Now behind a paywall, but clearly the Windows 8 dream of touchscreens everywhere hasn't been realised.

To prevent deaths like Livingston Moore's [who was killed by her husband], Guard now runs a seven-person unit that's using GPS tracking devices to monitor abusers before their trials. His unit's unique with respect to the domestic violence focus, but the popularity of wearable devices in law enforcement has exploded over the last decade. Most states use electronic monitoring for convicts on probation or parole, but in recent years, state governments have begun passing laws that apply GPS tracking to defendants as they await domestic or intimate partner violence case hearings. A 2012 Department of Justice report showed that 41% of police departments that already use electronic monitoring before trials have started applying the technology in domestic violence or IPV cases.

Law enforcement embraces technology, good things follow. Now see the next link.

Mere days after a government crackdown on a spyware manufacturer comes the startling revelation that law enforcement agencies have been purchasing commercial spyware themselves and handing it out to the public for free.

Police departments around the country have been distributing thousands of free copies of spyware to parents to monitor their children's activity, a fact that's come to light in the wake of a federal indictment this week against the maker of one commercial spyware tool on wiretapping charges.

Tile is the small attachable device which uses low-energy Bluetooth to advertise its location:

We've been working on our Android app for over a month and are currently hiring more Android engineers. (If you know some, send them our way!) Launching Tile for Android is one of the top priorities of the company and we are racing as fast as we can to develop our app.

The first Android phone Tile will support is the Samsung Galaxy S5. We chose to start with the Galaxy S5 because it is the most widely used phone worldwide that also provides the minimum requirements for the experience we want to provide to our users. Once we launch on the Galaxy S5, we will quickly follow with versions for the other top Android phones.

Of course, the big question is "When?" We have an extremely aggressive internal date that we are developing towards as fast as we can. Taking a lesson from our crowdfunding campaign, we will announce a formal launch date in the near future once we're confident that we can hit that date.

In the meantime, those who have a Tile (or two or..) will find that old ones won't work with the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. It's not clear whether a firmware update in the future can fix that, or if they'll just need to be swapped.

[Outgoing European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie] Kroes took to the stage and fired thunderbolts into the crowd, starting her speech - "Adapt or die: What I would do if I ran a telecom company" - by noting that "sometimes I think the telecoms sector is its own worst enemy," before adding that the telecom sector's representatives in the room were "probably all looking forward to the very near future ... when you won't have to put up with me anymore."

Cue uncomfortable shuffling in seats...

She told the telcos that they "have to change" and be ready for a world set to be dominated by the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and 5G. "What is the telecoms sector's relationship to that digital future?" she asked. "Will you be leading us there? Or will you be dragged along behind, against your will, resisting until the last?"

Ooh, that's a tough one.

Ben Thompson:

OK, so how exactly will Ello make money? Here's what it says:

Very soon we will begin offering special features to our users. If we create a special feature that you like, you can choose to pay a very small amount of money to add it to your Ello account forever. We believe that everyone is unique and that we all want and need different things from a social network. So, we are going to offer all sorts of ways for users to customize their Ello experience.

I have no idea what these features might be – a mobile app and an API would be good places to start – but the gist is clear: to get the optimal Ello experience you had better pay up, but only once, and you'll have it forever.

This is a terrible idea.

Here's how this policy will play out in practice:

• The initial experience of using Ello will be a poor one because you won't have access to all of the features
• A poor initial experience will lead to high rates of abandonment among the few friends you manage to convince to try the service
•You will complain to Ello and they will have exactly zero incentive to make things better.

His analysis of the different business models open to software rings very true - and, arguably, explains the problem that mobile games companies are having.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's profit is seen weakening further in the third-quarter, underscoring the downturn in its market-leading smartphone business and piling pressure on the firm to deliver a revamped product lineup.

Analysts forecast the world's largest smartphone maker, which is due to give its July-September earnings guidance on or around 7 October, to show its worst operating profit in nearly three years, with a slow recovery seen starting in the fourth quarter.

And for the first time in more than three years, Samsung's semiconductor business could bring in more profits in the quarter than its erstwhile cash-cow handset business, some analysts say.
"What's expected now is for the company to hit bottom and gradually recover, but we have now seen smartphone-related earnings peak," Korea Investment Trust Management fund manager Baik Jae-yer said.

The mean of analysts' forecasts is a 45% fall to 5.6trn won (about $5.28bn). Samsung's semiconductor division last generated more profit than the mobile division in the second quarter of 2011, when Samsung shipped a total of just under 70m phones (of which 17m were smartphones).

Dan Provost:

On Apple's website, they claim that in time-lapse mode, "iOS 8 does all the work, snapping photos at dynamically selected intervals." When I first read this, I thought they were doing something super fancy, like monitoring the frame for movement and only snapping a picture when something changes. On deeper reflection, this would be a bad idea. Time-lapse videos look best when they are buttery smooth, and dynamically selecting intervals in this fashion would create a jittery and jerky video. So what does Apple mean by "dynamically selected intervals"?

Turns out, what Apple is doing is quite simple, and indeed, pretty clever. I ran several tests, shooting time-lapse videos for various durations. You can view a spreadsheet of all the tests I ran here.

What Apple means by "dynamically selected intervals" is they are doubling the speed of the time-lapse and taking half as many pictures per second as the recording duration doubles. Sounds complex, but it's actually very simple.

As he points out,

"The result of this method is that anything you shoot will generally end up being between 20 and 40 seconds long, an ideal shareable length. Also worth mentioning, the resulting video is always 30 fps, the standard framerate for video."


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