Apple Announces iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and iWatch – Available September 19th

The iPhone 6 will launch later this year via Apple’s online and retail stores, in addition to all major carriers. And yes, it looks like the iPhone’s screen has grown once again.

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The new iPhone–or iPhones, rather–will come in two new, bigger screen sizes. The iPhone 6 bumps up to the rumored 4.7 inches, while the Plus will have a walloping 5.5-inch screen. Additionally, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will scale down to only 6.8mm and 7.1mm thin, respectively. The iPhone 5S, in comparison was 7.6mm.

In a lot of ways, the iPhone 6 Plus really is the bridge between Apple’s smartphones and the iPad tablet. For instance, the Plus will work with a horizontal home screen. And thanks to the increased screen real estate, there’s more room for little touches like user pictures on the Messages app.

The iPhone 6 line will also include a new Apple chipset, the A8. According to Apple, the A8 is 25 percent faster than the A7, with a 50 percent boost in graphics performance. But will the battery life improve? Based on what Apple presented this morning, it would appear the battery is more or less on par with the iPhone 5S. But hey, that’s still 24 hours of talk time on 3G (supposedly).

The LTE functionality of the iPhone 6 and Plus have received a considerable boost. The devices now support up to 20 LTE bands, which Apple claims is more than any other smartphone in the world. Wi-Fi has also moved to 802.11ac in the devices, so you can expect “up to 3 times faster” Wi-Fi signals on compatible networks.

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The new, protruding camera is 8MP with “True Tone” flash and a f/2.2 aperture. According to Apple’s Phil Schiller, the camera’s new sensor allows for auto-focus that works twice as fast, thanks to “phase detection.” While the iPhone 6 will include digital image stabilization, the iPhone 6 Plus will utilize optical image stabilization, which should make those shaky action shots come out way better.

And more than just still photos, the iPhone 6 can now shoot 1080p video at either 30fps or 60fps, while Slo-Mo functionality moves to an impressive 240fps. The faster auto-focus for still photos–that faster “phase detection” tech–also transfers over to video on the iPhone 6. Perhaps most impressive, this could mean no more constant tapping of the screen to refocus during longer video shots.

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‘Microsoft to launch social networking phone in U.S.’

Microsoft lost its smartphone market after the launch of Apple’s iPhone, Blackberry and numerous devices running Google’s Android

Software giant Microsoft is to launch its own mobile phones in the U.S. later this year as it aims to challenge the growing smartphone dominance of its main rivals Apple and Google, the technology blog Gizmodo reported Friday.

The phones will be made available in July exclusively on Verizon, the largest cellphone carrier in the U.S., and will be aimed at heavy users of social networks, said the report, which featured what it said were leaked images from the phones’ marketing campaign. The two phones are codenamed Pink and Pure, and will be manufactured for the software giant by Sharp, the report said.

The report came after Microsoft last month unveiled a new mobile operating system that was widely praised by technology pundits.

Microsoft used to enjoy a leading position in the smartphone arena but has seen its position severely eroded by Apple’s iPhone, by the Blackberry and by numerous devices running Google’s Android operating system.

Will hard disk drives soon be a thing of past?

A file picture of Chrome creators

Google believes that the Chrome OS will effectively act as a gateway to the web, allowing users to store their filed and documents on remote servers rather than storing in hard disks.

Ever imagined a computer system without a hard disk drive? Well, soon there will be such systems that will need just a few gigabytes of storage, allowing users to store their documents, photos and videos on remote servers through Internet.

At least, that seems the vision of Internet giant Google, which recently demonstrated its new operating system — Chrome OS.

The operating system, which Google believes will revolutionise computing, effectively acts as a gateway to the web, allowing users to store their filed and documents on remote servers rather than storing in hard disks.

Users can access their emails, documents or social networking sites by clicking on application tabs in the browser— like interface and use panels at the bottom of the desktop to send an instant message or view a video, The Telegraph reported.

Computers can boot up faster and get connected with web in just seven seconds through the operating system, termed the “cloud computing” approach, it said.

“We want Chrome to be blazingly fast,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s vice president of product management. “We want it to be like a TV — turn it on and it’s booted up.”

“Chrome will run only on computers that use flash memory solid state drives instead of conventional hard drives.”

“Over the past few years, people have been spending more and more of their time online doing more and more powerful things, and we wanted to build a fundamentally different computing experience built for the way we use the web today,” says Mr. Pichai.

“With Google Chrome OS, we’ve made computing faster, easier and safer than ever before.”

But some experts say Google could find it difficult to persuade consumers. Users will not be able to install their own software or applications on Chrome OS devices — so that means no iTunes, no Skype and no Tweetdeck.

“There’s no doubt that Chrome OS looks fast, but it’s fairly limited in terms of its functionality,” says Annette Jump, an analyst with Gartner. “A lot of work needs to be done to convince consumers that this operating system will be useful to them.”

Another problem Chrome OS faces is its reliance on always-on web connectivity, which might be possible in large cities, with good mobile phone network coverage and plenty of Wi—Fi hotspots, but in rural areas, or on a flight, Chrome will be hobbled.

Google has also released the code to the operating system in the hope that developers would build new products, services and applications, in much the same way as they build apps for the iPhone, or Google’s mobile phone operating system, Android.

Australians warned over iPhone virus

Computer experts interviewed on radio warned that a variant of the so-called Rickrolling worm could allow hackers to pilfer confidential data like contact lists and internet bookmarks

 Australians were warned on Thursday that a harmless worm, affecting iPhones, could prompt hackers to steal data.

Last week, Australian software whiz Ashley Towns, released a worm that installs on the iPhone wallpaper a photograph of 1980s pop singer, Rick Astley.

The 21-year-old said it was a bit of fun and to remind the small number of iPhone users that leave their devices unprotected by pass codes that they are vulnerable to hacking.

Computer experts interviewed on radio warned that a variant of the so-called Rickrolling worm could allow hackers to pilfer confidential data like contact lists and internet bookmarks.

Computerworld magazine also warned owners of Apple mobile phones who have “jail-broken” their devices so they can install unauthorized software that they have effectively torn down their own phone’s security system.

US election, iPhone among decade’s top 10 Internet moments

The emergence of the iPhone and the election of US President Barack Obama were among the 10 most influential moments on the Internet in the past decade, according to the annual Webby awards

 Barack Obama’s election as US President, launch of Wikipedia and emergence of the iPhone have been listed among the 10 most influential moments on the Internet in the past decade, the annual Webby awards said.

Other events singled out by the New York-based International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which has presented the annual Webby awards since 1996, were the Iranian election in 2009 when protests demonstrated the power of Twitter and other social network in reshaping democracy.

“The Internet is the story of the decade because it was the catalyst for change in not just every aspect of our everyday lives, but in everything from commerce and communication to politics and pop culture,” said David-Michel Davies, the executive director of The Webby Awards, in a statement.

It said, “The recurring theme among all of the milestones on our list is the Internet’s capacity to circumvent old systems and put more power into the hands of ordinary people.”

Some of the most influential Internet moments of the decade on Webby’s list are — US presidential campaign in 2008, Iranian election protests in 2009 when Twitter proved vital in organising demonstrations and as a protest too,Wikipedia, the free open-source encyclopaedia, Facebook opens to non-college students and Twitter takes off in 2006 and the iPhone debuts in 2007.

Service lets users build mobile applications

A startup is now offering to take the hard work out of creating mobile applications and even of porting them to the iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile platforms, all through an online service that gives novice developers simple templates for various types of businesses and organisations.

 With an eye to software novices, Mobile On Services’ BuildAnApp service tackles a problem that has plagued professional mobile developers for years: Unlike on the Web and in the world of PCs, there are many different platforms to write for if you want to reach many mobile users.

 Once a customer has gone through the steps on the BuildAnApp site to create a new application, Mobile On uses its proprietary software to package the app for three of the major smartphone platforms and also develop a mobile-optimised Web site, said company co-founder Scott Pearson.

 Users get 30 days free to design the application and populate it with content such as news, restaurant menus and click-to-dial phone numbers. After that, they pay to bring new content into the application. Mobile On will submit it to Apple’s App Store for US$19.99, including resubmissions if it is rejected.

 The Minneapolis company designed BuildAnApp for small businesses, retail stores, nonprofit organizations and professionals such as doctors.

 To build an application, users simply pick the template for their type of organization, choose from among typical types of pages to put within the app, and populate the app with information.

 Then they can select people they want to alert to the application, and Mobile On will send e-mail messages to those people with a link to a download page. Users with a supported phone can then download the application directly. The applications can be kept private with access passwords.

 Mobile applications are getting a lot of attention, but much of the capability a small business needs to offer customers can be delivered via a mobile Web site, which can be updated with new information for no additional charge, industry analysts said Tuesday.

 However, Mobile On’s Pearson pointed out a few advantages to having an app instead of relying solely on a Web page to reach customers.

 Apps let consumers access and use information even when they are out of range of the cellular data network, they tend to look better than mobile Web sites because they are optimized for the hardware platform, and they usually move faster than the mobile Web because they operate locally, Pearson said.

 For most small businesses, a mobile application will be primarily a tool for keeping existing customers loyal rather than attracting new ones, Pearson acknowledged.

 Apart from sending out the notification e-mails to current contacts, Mobile On Services won’t handle marketing of the apps against the growing tide of mobile software, such as the more than 100,000 applications now on Apple’s App Store.

 Analysts liken the emergence of a service such as BuildAnApp to the evolution of Web development from pure HTML coding to easy-to-use design services such as GeoCities and Blogger.

 “It’s certainly a signal that mobile applications have arrived,” said Avi Greengart of Current Analysis. However, a mobile app still isn’t as critical to a small business as a Web site, he said.

 Unlike a Web site, a mobile app sits on the home screen (or extended home screen) of the consumer’s phone, In-Stat’s Allen Nogee pointed out. An application can create more presence and recognition than a mobile Web site to which a user has to navigate in a browser, he said.

 A pizza restaurant and a small clothing store created applications during BuildAnApp’s closed beta test, which just concluded, Pearson said. The pizza place’s application includes, among other things, the menu and a button for clicking to call the shop and place an order, he said. The clothing store shows pictures of new items in the shop.

 BuildAnApp’s 16 templates include ones for a real estate agent, a school, a sports league and a religious organization. There is also a template for “other” that includes a wide range of page types selected from the other templates.

 The company is also developing a “pro” version of the service for skilled developers creating more sophisticated applications, Pearson said.

 However, Mobile On doesn’t plan to support the kind of sophisticated development provided by companies such as Rhomobile and Appcelerator, he said. Those companies offer online app development for developers working in languages such as Ruby, JavaScript and HTML.

 “Our intent is to provide mobility to the masses,” Pearson said. “It gives these small organizations a way to have a mobile presence without spending a lot of money.”

 By the end of the year, Mobile On plans to add Google’s Android platform. Other plans include adding support for Nokia, Symbian and Palm; adding APIs (application programming interfaces) to bring existing Web and database content into the applications; and letting customers integrate their applications with online services such as Facebook, Twitter and the OpenTable restaurant reservation system.

 Though BuildAnApp has just entered its open beta test, which is likely to continue into the first quarter of next year, Mobile On is now charging after a customer’s 30-day free trial. Users can pay $7.99 for a one-time content or application update or pay $14.99 per month to make as many updates as they wish. Unlimited updates for six months are available for $59.99.

 

RIM Looks To Woo Developers

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Research In Motion is going to build out its BlackBerry application ecosystem by offering developers as many tools and choices as possible, according to Mike Kirkup, RIM’s director of developer relations.

Mobile apps are becoming increasingly important in the smartphone space, particularly with the success of Apple’s App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. But with Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile, webOS, and new entrants including Samsung’s Bada, many developers are struggling to afford the costs of building and supporting programs for such a wide variety of platforms. Kirkup said the BlackBerry maker is trying to ease some of these burdens by offering as many tools as possible that content creators are already comfortable with.

 “It’s all about choice. I just want a developer to be able to use what makes the most sense for them,” said Kirkup. “If that’s a cross-platform tool, that’s great; if it’s Oracle, that’s even better. We want to meet them on their own ground.”

During its BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco this week, the company introduced a host of new application programming interfaces that includes in-app payment protocols, geo-location, expanded push services, and an advertising platform. It also rolled out API extensions that will give users deeper hooks into the hardware, and support for OpenGL ES, which could lead to multiple apps with 3-D graphics.

 Kirkup stressed that Java and Web standards will be the pillars upon which RIM builds its app ecosystem. To cast a wide net for potential developers, RIM has already released BlackBerry Java plug-ins for common tools like Eclipse and Visual Studio. As the app ecosystem evolves, Kirkup expects some hybrid apps to emerge that could potentially use HTML or CSS for the user interface and Java tools for native functionalities like calling integration.

 One tool that may give RIM a leg up over the iPhone is its collaboration with Adobe to bring a full version of Flash 10 to BlackBerry smartphones. Apple has said Flash is not good enough for the iPhone because of its hardware resource requirements, and it will likely lean on HMTL5 or native apps for Flash-like services. Kirkup said there’s still much work to be done in order to get Adobe’s technology running on a BlackBerry at an acceptable level, but the move could let the platform tap into a huge base of Flash developers.

 “It really could go wild, to be quite honest,” said Kirkup of Flash development on BlackBerry.

 While the smartphone maker is gunning for the casual market with over-the-air stores like the App World, Kirkup said the company’s DNA is in the enterprise space. It recently announced enhanced support for Oracle’s JDeveloper to make it easier to craft business-grade apps, and there are already tens of thousands of enterprise apps.

 Devices like the iPhone are beginning to slowly creep into businesses, and Android is also expected to make some headway as employees increasingly purchase their own devices and want access to corporate networks. Kirkup said the company has a major advantage because its platform was designed from the ground up with enterprise customers in mind, and its BlackBerry Enterprise Server environment offers richer capabilities than competitors.

 “It’s much easier to go from enterprise to consumer because once you get the foundation correct, it’s easy to turn off features if you want,” said Kirkup. “Things like security and the basic building blocks that are required for businesses are difficult to add in after the fact.”