Monthly Archives: September 2012

Chris Nuttall

Intel has introduced the low-power Atom processor – codenamed Clover Trail – that carries its hopes of making a dent in the tablet market when Windows 8 launches on October 26.

But first, the chipmaker had to carry out a damage-limitation exercise at the launch event in San Francisco on Thursday, clearing up remarks reportedly made at a private company meeting in Taiwan by Paul Otellini, chief executive, that Windows 8 was still buggy and not ready. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Twitter has been touting its success as a “mobile first” social network, capitalising on the biggest perceived weakness of its main rival Facebook.

One recent estimate from eMarketer has even suggested that Twitter will generate more revenues from mobile ads than Facebook this year.

But new data show the scale of the threat that Twitter faces from explosive growth at Instagram, the photo-sharing app acquired by Facebook. Read more

iPhone 5

Apple iPhone 5
Rating: 5/5

The iPhone 5 went on sale a week ago and 5m handsets were sold in three days, despite the furore around its inaccurate Maps app. With competition looming from Nokia, BlackBerry and Android phones, how has Apple’s annual update added enough allure to the iPhone to ensure it stays ahead of the pack?

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The Apple maps fiasco brings to mind that old joke about what a European version of hell would be like: a place where the chefs are all English, the lovers are Swiss, and the Italians are left to make sure things run on time.

But like it or not, this is where the new mobile technology world could be headed. In the smartphone version of hell, the browsers and apps stores are modelled on a BlackBerry, the social networks are run by News Corp, and the hardware looks like the first Amazon Kindle. Apple’s new iPhone maps, which have a habit of mis-locating key buildings and public sites, are an honourable addition to this roster – though they will surely get better fast.

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Google sign

It has taken Wall Street a long time to warm to Google’s second act.

This week, however, stock market investors have finally thrown aside some of their wariness. By pushing the search company’s shares to their first record high in almost five years, they delivered a vote of confidence in the new, more diversified advertising business that has become the basis for Google’s latest surge of growth – while also giving an implicit thumbs-down to Facebook, whose short-term chances of putting Google in the shade, at least in business terms, have receded sharply.

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Mobile payment system
On a bright morning at the ultra-hip Sightglass Coffee shop in San Francisco this week, Brad Miller, a healthcare technology consultant, is in need of a cappuccino.

By the time he reaches the counter, his picture has magically appeared on the iPad the shop uses as its payment terminal. The assistant identifies him by his photo and taps the screen to confirm a sale, and Mr Miller picks up his beverage. As he walks out, a receipt drops on to his iPhone.

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Chris Nuttall

Windows 8 promises a new kind of pre-installed software next month, with the latest operating system featuring third-party pre-installed apps for the tiled interface formerly known as Metro.

This will be in addition to the often unwanted software pre-installed on the Windows desktop, although some programs, such as those being promised by CyberLink, are likely to prove superior to the Windows accessories included by Microsoft. Read more

Are smartphones about to swallow the payments business? Two events this week have given sharply contradictory answers.

The first was the $3.25bn valuation put on Square , a Silicon Valley payments start-up, by the company’s latest round of fundraising. This represents a huge bet, given that Square is a business with annualised revenues of only about $200m that is battling with the giants of the banking, retail and mobile industries.

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Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Rating: 4/5

The first ThinkPad laptops were introduced by IBM 20 years ago and Lenovo, which took over the brand in 2005, has maintained the tradition for durable, business-friendly machines that are much loved by “road warriors”.

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Chris Nuttall

Roku has announced pricing and availability for its Streaming Stick device that plugs into an HDTV to serve on-demand channels over the internet, without the need for a separate Roku set-top box.

The stick, about the size of a packet of chewing gum, will be available in the US in October for $100. It plugs into an HDMI port that is enabled for MHL technology – many new TVs and other devices are beginning to feature such ports – and does not need a separate power supply. Simple.TV followed up on Thursday with its own shipping announcement for its Broadcast TV -streaming box. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Within the last hour, Twitter and Apple’s forums have lit up with hundreds of complaints from users whose upgrades to the latest iOS6 software for iPhone and iPad have prevented them from connecting to WiFi. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The first batch of iPhone 5 reviews is out. Every one agrees it will be a smash hit for Apple. As is customary with iPhone reviews, there is no shortage of superlatives along the way.

“This iPhone 5 review unit is the single nicest object in my possession,” writes Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, while acknowledging the hyberbole.

That isn’t to say Apple doesn’t deserve such high praise. But with such lofty standards, the faults can stand out more glaringly, sometimes becoming minor news cycles in themselves.

So below is a nitpicker’s guide to the new iPhone, as seen by its first batch of users outside Cupertino. Read more

Chris Nuttall

It’s not every day that a technology launches with a confident forecast that its name will be on more than 1bn devices within the next four years, but that’s the case with Miracast, whose certification programme is announced by the Wi-Fi Alliance on Wednesday.

What is it? Miracast-certified devices can transmit video content to each other over Wi-Fi.

Sounds familiar? Yes, Apple’s AirPlay does something very similar as does Intel’s WiDi and Miracast builds on the Wi-Fi Alliance’s own Wi-Fi Direct standard. It’s a rebranding of what was previously talked about as Wi-Fi Display and a sign that companies have finally settled on a common standard. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Contour is first out of the gate with a new hands-free video camera going on sale today, ahead of fresh competition from Sony and an expected product announcement from GoPro in October.

The Contour+2 is the only camera of this type, popular with sports enthusiasts, to be made available in the Apple Store and it has a much improved iOS app to go with it. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

It’s been the season of high-profile phone launches. Except, sadly, for Acer and Alibaba. Their planned launch of a co-branded phone for Chinese consumers got cancelled at the last minute when Google objected to the version of Android on the phone.

What the last-minute cancellation – and some continued sniping between the companies – shows is how tricky it is to manage China’s booming mobile market. That’s true, apparently, even for Google, whose Android platform dominates in a big way.

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Chris Nuttall

Zynga has acquired the Silicon Valley game developer A Bit Lucky as it tries to attract players more eager to spend money on its social games.

Rivals such as Kixeye have been monetising at much better rates than Zynga by making games that appeal to hard-core gamers. Zynga has focused on casual players to date, but it described its acquisition as a “mid-core” (whatever that means!), “multi-platform games developer”. No financial details were released, but Zynga described the deal as “small”. Read more

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

This week marked the start of iPhone mania. Apple’s much-awaited unveiling of the device on Wednesday drew a degree of criticism from tech commentators, some of whom saw the changes as incremental. But the longer, thinner and lighter bodied iPhone didn’t dissuade consumers from burning through Apple’s first round of online pre-order supply.

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Bill Moggridge Obit pFEATURES©Rex Features

Bill Moggridge’s awakening to the downside of the electronic age came at 4am one day in 1983. After buying a digital watch at a Japanese airport on the way home from a business trip – it boasted a radio and an earpiece on the end of a strand of wire – he had lost the instruction booklet. Programming its alarm then became pure guesswork. Hence the rudely beeping reveille.

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Kindle Fire HD

4 stars
tablet, pfeatures

You know you are experiencing a different kind of tablet when, on turning it on, you are presented with a full-page advertisement for the latest DVD release. Swipe to the left on the Shop Now button to be taken straight to a purchase page, or swipe to the right to unlock the touchscreen and have a normal tablet experience – the choice is yours.

This is the tablet business model being pushed by Amazon on the new Kindle Fire HD – its tablets are subsidised by advertising and by driving sales on Amazon.com. Consumers get a device at a bargain price, but are channelled into an experience based on consumption of Amazon content.

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The surprise in Wednesday’s iPhone 5 announcement was reserved till the end, when we were finally allowed to hold one in our hands backstage.

The new specifications had already been widely leaked or guessed: a bigger screen, 4G LTE connectivity, a faster processor and a new dock connector were all expected, and Apple had already previewed the improvements in its iOS 6 operating system and apps during the summer.

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