Smartphones without LTE cellular connectivity are becoming increasingly rare nowadays in 4G-enabled markets, as consumers are looking towards faster data speeds to get more out of their handsets. It is no surprise then that research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that sales of LTE smartphones will grow by a whopping 547 percent year-over-year in China, the largest market worldwide.
Samsung is no stranger to 4G LTE, as many of its smartphones offer this cellular capability. To tap further into the growing entry-level market, the South Korean company has announced the Galaxy Core LTE, which touts a premium look coupled with decent specs and fast connectivity speeds on mobile networks.
It is usually Bill Gates who is heralded for his philanthropy, but according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, it is Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg who is currently the most generous. In another change from the norm, malware threats to OS X, Linux and Android have increased, showing it is not just Windows that is prone to attack. As if to prove this, Mac malware has been discovered that has been designed to steal Bitcoins from victims. Factor in all of Apple's devices and the company managed to sell more units than Windows PCs are sold, although this revelation caused quite some debate.
Twitter found itself in the headlines after the James Dean estate tried to gain control of a fan's James Dean-related account. Twitter has already spoken out about the shackles binding companies from being open about government data requests -- companies are practically falling over themselves to add their names to the list -- and Dropbox is in agreement. The European Commission has expressed a desire to wrestle some control of the internet from US hands voicing fears that too much influence was being exerted,
The world of VoIP services is one packed with various names bustling for attention. One of the biggest names in the game is Viber, which started small but grew impressively as it spread across platforms -- now it has grown to the point that it is deemed worthy of handing over $900 million. At least that is the view of Rakuten, the Japanese firm behind Play.com and the Kobo eReader that agreed to part with this not insubstantial sum of money for an outright purchase of Viber Media Ltd.
With around 280 million registered users, Viber could be quite a money-maker for Rakuten who explained that the service has a "rapidly growing numbers of users, especially in emerging countries". With its fingers already in various online pies -- ebooks, shopping and streaming media through Wuaki.tv -- Viber represents yet another string to Rakuten's bow as the company "aims to be the global number one internet services" provider.
Smartphones make it very easy to capture documents or notes -- just point your camera, and tap -- but the results aren’t always good, and may require some work later.
CyberLink YouSnap - Camera Scan to PDF is an Android app which can take photos of documents, screens, whiteboard presentations and more, automatically squaring them up, optimizing image quality, and saving the results as a JPEG or PDF.
Plex, if you aren't familiar with it, comes in two parts. There's a server that you install on a, preferably, always-on computer. Then there are the end-user apps, which are available for multiple mobile devices and set-top boxes. The server is free, but the apps will set you back $5 (OK, $4.99 if you want to be technical).
However, now through tomorrow, Valentine's Day, the service is offering a discount to its potential customers. "Until Valentine’s Day, we’re offering all our mobile apps for 50% off: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. Not enough sale for you? We’re also offering 3 bonus months on a yearly Plex Pass bought with PayPal (that’s 15 months for the price of 12)", the company announces.
BlackBerry is struggling in the smartphone market, but the Canadian company is seeing better results with its BBM service, which grew by 20 million users in just one week after it arrived on rival platforms Android and iOS in late-2013. It is no wonder then that BlackBerry is focusing on making BBM even better, especially for those who are not using its branded smartphones.
Today, BlackBerry announced the release of BBM 2.0, for Android and iOS, and BBM 10.3 for BlackBerry OS. The latest version adds many new features to the available apps, with BBM Voice and Channels finally arriving on rival platforms as well, allowing its Android and iOS users to make free calls via Wi-Fi and cellular networks, and take advantage of the built-in networking options.
The spread of BYOD means that employees increasingly expect a seamless experience, accessing content on the device of their choice.
With the launch of its new HP Access Catalog, HP lets enterprises create a secure app store so employees can instantly download applications and digital content across both mobile and desktop devices.
There is a tendency among smartphone manufacturers to release new handsets that come with larger screens than their predecessors. Their belief is, apparently, the bigger the better. There is also no visible concern over usability. That especially holds true in the Android world, where we see some of the largest smartphones -- also known as phablets -- around, with their sole purpose, more often than not, being to dwarf what they are replacing. The upside is this trend is catching on among consumers, who are buying more and more phablets each year.
At the same time, in an attempt to steer clear of any unwanted feedback, some manufacturers try their best to negate the effects of the larger displays over usability by resorting to smaller bezels and adapting the software to match the sheer size. A good example of this is the new G Pro 2 phablet, that LG just revealed to offer some interesting hardware and software features.
According to figures released by International Data Corporation (IDC), 2013 was the year that smartphones really took off -- a staggering 1 billion units shipped. As has been the case for some time, it is Android and iOS that continue to dominate, with Google's mobile operating system claiming a 78.1 percent market share, and Apple's 17.6 percent. As has been the norm, Windows Phone found itself in third place, although it did manage to increase its market share to 3 percent.
The figures are based on shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013, and when compared to the same period in 2012, Android and Windows Phone both made gains while iOS lost some of its market share. Jumping from 70.3 percent of the market in 2012, Android's growth was impressive, while iOS dropped 3.3 percentage points from 20.9 percent. Looked at in terms of percentage points, Windows Phone's jump from 2.6 to 3.0 percent of the market, it still represents an improvement of more than 13 percent.
Threats to Mac OS X, Linux and Android systems have increased over the past year as the malware landscape has evolved.
This is among the findings of Russian antivirus company Doctor Web which has released its annual overview of threats. Other trends include an increase in the number of programs designed to display annoying ads and a surge in the number of Bitcoin and Litecoin mining trojans.
You know how sometimes it just seem like too much hassle to scroll through your contact list to place a call or send a text to someone? Well, no more! There's no need to update your app, but Google's Search tool for Android has been enhanced with a new voice-dialing feature. The app now lets you use phrases such as "OK, Google, call mom" or "OK, Google, send a text to dad" you can... well... place a call to your mom or compose a text message to send to your dad.
Before you start panicking that Google has started spying on your family and is now aware of the relationships you have with each of your contacts, fret not! This is not an entirely automated feature -- you will need to specify which of your contacts is your mom, your dad, and so on. If you try to call your mother using the vocal command before having set up your relationship, you will be prompted to choose which of your contacts gave birth to you -- on subsequent utterances, the call will be placed straight away.
Death threats, inflated eBay auctions, clever marketing, lawsuits, app cloning, IP cloaking and bots -- the departure of Flappy Bird from app stores at the weekend has sparked an array of rumours, accusations and conspiracies.
A notoriously tricky and addictive game, Flappy Bird had been downloaded more than 50 million times since May 2013, and was the number one free game in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store charts.
HTC is a brand that has fallen from the lofty heights it enjoyed just a few years ago. Today, the company releases fourth quarter earnings and the figures do not make for particularly happy reading.
On the positive side of things, the results show HTC managed to break even -- this is good news having suffered losses throughout 2013. It's not great news as profits stand at just NT$0.31 billion, but it's certainly better than a loss.
The biggest news of the week has to be the appointment of Satya Nadella as CEO at Microsoft, which brought to an end weeks of speculation and rumor. Bill Gates also stepped down as chairman. A leaked version of Windows 8.1 Update 1 appeared online giving us all a sneak peek of what we can expect to see in the upcoming release -- including context menus on the Start screen, a new enterprise mode in Internet Explorer, and different ways of working with modern apps. Ahead of this big release, it was Windows XP that was showing growth rather than Microsoft's latest operating system.
In other Microsoft news, Xbox One's first big update was revealed to be coming up on 11 February. Sony announced that it was selling its VAIO business to enable it to focus its attention on mobile devices. Business and individuals who rely on 37signals' products found that the company was not only changing its name, but also dropping all of its services apart from Basecamp. There was another blow for Bitcoin as the online currency was effectively banned in Russia.
BT has introduced a 3.5-inch touchscreen smartphone that runs on the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, but it's designed to be used in the home.
The Home SmartPhone S comes with 2GB expandable memory for storing music and photos, a front-facing camera and Wi-Fi connectivity. Facebook and Twitter are pre-installed and you can download further apps via Google Play and Opera mobile store.