While it may be a name unfamiliar to many in North America, Huawei Technology Co. is quickly becoming a threat to Samsung as the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer. Based in China, the company is seeing rapid growth as they market their smartphones to emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. While their business began by supplying networking equipment, they now enjoy major telcom operators as clients –making their move to smartphones very logical.
So what platform do they prefer to use? It looks like Android is really their only option. Huawei’s Chief of Consumer Business Affairs, Richard Yu, described their experience with Tizen as “been there, done that, don’t like it.” Even beyond those remarks, he also noted that he feels the Tizen platform stands no chance at being successful. He wasn’t much sunnier about his feelings on Windows Phone, with his statement that: “We have tried using the Windows Phone OS. But it has been difficult to persuade consumers to buy a Windows phone. It wasn’t profitable for us. We were losing money for two years on those phones. So for now we’ve decided to put any releases of new Windows phones on hold.”
The company has voices that they are not pleased with the position they have been put in, with no choice but to default to Android –but unless they decide to change their minds and develop an ecosystem of their own, that is what they are left with.
Good news for Android, possible bad news for Apple.
Despite our best estimates, BlackBerry has survived in the mobile world far longer than expected –which is fortunate for fans of the brand. We heard recently that there are new smartphones headed our way, including the unusual looking Passport (with a large, boxy style, and full QWERTY keyboard). It wasn’t until now though, that we learned exactly when we can expect them to hit the marketplace. It appears that Passport (“Windermere”) and the Porsche Design P’9983 (“Khan”) should be ready to purchase in the third quarter of 2014 –which may even mean in September.
For those who can’t get enough of the old-style design, the Classic smartphone will be out with the BlackBerry 10.3.1 update in the 4th quarter of this year.
The roadmap also makes it clear which devices aren’t going to survive, with everything but the Z3 and 9720 headed to the graveyard by the end of the year.
A third-quarter 2014 launch date may be very wise, with Apple and Motorola both slated to deliver new hardware the same month; waiting much longer may have persuaded BlackBerry loyalists to switch in the meantime.
Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video! Today, we take a look at the top stories from last week from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. We have a brand new format for our video news, let us know what you think.
Sources close to The Wall Street Journal are indicating that instead of Google, it is Amazon that is readying to acquire the Twitch.tv video game streaming service. Rumoured to be selling for a meagre $1 billion, Twitch.tv is considered to be a true streaming video giant. Using the service, over 50-million monthly active users are able to stream live video of themselves playing their favourite games.
When we first heard that Google was interested in purchasing the service, it seemed like a logical move for the company that controls YouTube. So what does Amazon want with Twitch.tv? So far it is just speculation. Perhaps they are going to try and compete with Google in the streaming amateur video arena, but that seems like a difficult place to succeed. Other thoughts swirling around the rumour mill wonder if Amazon may be wanting to extend their own video rental and sales offering –or if they plan on trying to sweep in and dominate the growing eSports genre.
Update: Amazon has purchased Twitch for $970 million in cash. Twitch’s founders have attempted to quell any concerns that the Twitch’s community may have about the acquisition.
“We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster,” wrote Mr Shear in a letter to users.
“We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.”
Our lives are filled with passwords. It’s hard enough keeping track of our own credentials, but to an increasing extent we are also needing to share these with family (and sometimes friends). Whether it is wise or ideal, it’s reality… the moment you leave the house, your spouse is going to need the Netflix password. LastPass Password Manager is concerned with security and wants to make it even easier for you to take good care of your passwords. Beginning as a desktop application, new updates have made the mobile app more independent (and therefore more functional for those of us who would prefer to do as much as we can from our smartphones and tablets).
How many times have you sent a password to somebody over IM, SMS, or email? Sure, we try to be a little more secure and clever by separating the username from the password into separate messages –but in the end, that does little to prevent the person on the receiving end from just popping both details into a note on their computer desktop or even worse, writing it down pen-to-paper in the notebook beside them.
Features of the app are incredibly diverse, including: the ability to share credentials between multiple LastPass users, auto-fill logins into apps and websites, use biometric authentication (for devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 which is equipped with a fingerprint reader), add images and audio recordings to secure notes as attachments, and for those of us who can use a helping hand –figure out your next password with their secure generator. Even more important, LastPass Password Manager is incredibly easy to use and configure.
If you are concerned about the security of your passwords, consider giving LastPass Password Mgr Premium* a try. The download is free and comes with a 14-day free trial, after which time, peace of mind comes at a bargain $12 per year.
Rounding out their business-oriented app offering, Google has launched Slide for iOS (complimenting Google Docs and Google Sheets, which were already available). Slides provides similar functionality to competing apps: Microsoft’s PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote, allowing users to create, edit, and collaborate with users on presentations.
Google has also released update for both Docs and Sheets, adding support for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel that will now allow users to open and edit documents in these formats. Becoming more competitive with Microsoft is a wise move and sure to gain market-share, when you consider that in order to use their ‘free’ apps, an Office-365 membership is required.
Discussing these updates, the official update feed from the Google Apps team, stated:
“The new Google Slides mobile app is now available on iOS, making it easier for people to quickly find, edit and create presentations on the go–online or offline. As with the Android version, the Slides iOS app includes support for editing PowerPoint files. Additionally, as announced for Android in June, the Google Docs and Sheets apps for iOS have been updated to allow for seamless editing of Word and Excel files. No need to worry about file compatibility or internet connections anymore with the new Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps on iOS–it all just works.”
It shouldn’t be shocking to learn that Microsoft is trying to find a way into the wireless media streaming game. Apple started things off with AirPlay, Google is working hard to compete using Chromecast, and now Microsoft is targeting both technologies with their rumoured Miracast Dongle.
This new dongle is expected to build on Microsoft’s existing Miracast technology, currently used for screen-sharing on Windows 8.1, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8.1 (and handily, also built in to Android 4.2 and BlackBerry 10.2.1); it is expected to be capable of mirroring phone, tablet, and laptop screens to a television.
Little more is known about the device, other than speculation that the price-point will be attractive (whenever it ends up being released). For those paying attention to these new streaming devices, the most significant question that comes to mind is which third-party hardware manufacturer will be first to market with an affordable and compelling product that accommodates all three of these devices simultaneously.
At the 23rd USENIX Security Symposium last week in San Diego, California, a new-style of Android security threat was discussed: user interface inference. This next-generation of attack technique communicates the state of any targeted application –the most intimidating example may be if malware can detect that a user has clicked a login button. Knowing that this behaviour usually results in a username and password being entered, a fake dialog box could be thrown up in front of the user to gather those details.
To be effective, the attack application has to be running in the background. The trick to getting these applications past users is to piggyback on other tasks so that they are more difficult to notice.
It will come as little comfort, but Android isn’t the only platform vulnerable to this kind of attack. Researchers have indicated that this type of exploit could be generalizable, making its way to other major operating systems, including: MacOS X, iOS, and Windows.
Detecting the presence of these UI inference attack apps is difficult, because they aren’t exploiting particular operating system vulnerabilities (also making them difficult to patch or protect against). The best defence is to remain aware: pay attention to unusual device behaviours such as a battery that drains much faster than usual or much slower hardware performance (both of which may indicate that additional processes are running).
According to a recent study conducted by ComScore, nearly two-thirds of US smartphone users aren’t downloading any new apps. Their research uncovered that only 7% of smartphone users accounted for almost half of the new apps being downloaded.
Fortunately for a few app developers, these results cannot be interpreted to mean that we aren’t using apps. Over half of users are turning to a single, favourite app, 42% of the time. In 75% of the remaining time, users were only using 3-4 additional apps regularly.
Whether the user prefers iOS or Android, the results are about the same. Users love social media, with Facebook identified as the most popular choice overall and used more often than any other app. Radio, news and weather related apps topped the charts for iOS users. Android users appear more focused on search and email (but the integration of Google Now may be skewing those results somewhat).
What the study can’t tell us clearly is why we aren’t using more apps, more often. It may be possible that as iOS and Android operating systems advance, more features are built-in and require fewer additional apps. It may also be that HTML 5 apps are starting to dominate the marketplace, requiring users to use a web browser instead of app stores. Yet another theory would suggest that users are overwhelmed by the options presented within app stores so avoid them instead. Whatever the reason, developers should pay careful attention: persuading users to download new apps may mean engaging in new styles of marketing.
Comscore boasts being one of the leading Internet technology companies aimed at measuring “what people do as they navigate the digital world.”
The global bookselling industry has been experiencing many trials and tribulations over the last decade. Indigo books in Canada has been losing 20 million each quarter for the last year, Borders Books in the US went bankrupt and everyone else is feeling the pinch of Amazon. Are eBooks destroying our bookselling culture.
The Canadian bookselling industry is dominated by Chapters Indigo. You can get a good indication on how many people are buying print books by looking at their overall financial profitability. The bookseller announced a loss of $10 million last November and a massive$20 million decline in June. The latest figures published a few weeks ago have their resources shrinking further, with a $14 million loss and C$180.8 million in total revenue. One of big reasons the losses were not nearly as profound as they could have been, was primarily due to the fact seven bookstores closed.
On February 16, 2011, Borders applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and began liquidating 226 of its stores in the United States. It liquidated 399 retail outlets on July 22, with the last remaining stores closing their doors on September 18, 2011. Rival bookseller Barnes & Noble acquired Borders’ trademarks and customer list.
Bernard Terrades is a bookseller in Paris and recently said Amazon is dominating in France, and is robbing the country of its culture. “It’s completely empty,” Terrades said. “There is no connection with customers. People have lost the curiosity to go out and find books.”
The battle in Europe is as much cultural as it is financial. In France, the government moved to protect independent bookstores, as it has for years, because books hold a revered spot in a country that’s produced literary giants such as Voltaire and Proust. Last year the French government enacted a new law that prevents the free shipping of physical books online. Amazon countered by charging a simple penny for shipping, which is a token amount and still causes problems.
According to a recent feature in the Seattle Times, the paper said “Many French see bookstores as the heart of that culture. They aren’t just shops to pick up the latest best-seller, but a civic space that helps keep its citizenry engaged and informed. To many, preserving bookstores isn’t merely about saving an industry; it’s about perpetuating ideals integral to being French.”
Many of the top publishers, such as Random Penguin, Hachette and Simon and Schuster derive around 25% of their global revenue from eBooks. It is a rising segment that is helping them make extra revenue due to the affordable nature of creating and distributing them.
Amazon is battling cultural currents globally, as demonstrated by their recent behaviorisms. Whether its stiff Hachette negotiations or battling German warehouse workers. The UK government has publicly chastised them for diverting their revenue offshore, resulting in a huge tax dodge.
eBooks have their downsides, aside from disrupting the traditional bookselling industry. A recent study had 28 copies of the same book distributed half in paperback format and the other half on the Amazon Kindle. Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study said “The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure.” The readers struggled to make sense of the key 14 plot aspects. The researchers suggest that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does”.
“When you read on paper you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, and shrinking on the right,” said Mangen. “You have the tactile sense of progress, in addition to the visual … [The differences for Kindle readers] might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story, is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading. Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader’s sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story.”
Bookstores a place where like minded souls conglomerate for the love of literature. The average person is shopping for books, chilling on a couch and skimming through a magazine or socialize. The minute you walk into a bookshop you are engulfed by sensory immersion. Shopping for eBooks do not offer a social experience, but a solitary one.
Amazon has been selling Kindle e-Readers and eBooks in Brazil for the last two years. You might say the Seattle based company has digital locked up, but print titles have been non-existent, until today.
Over 150,000 print titles in Portuguese are now available to be ordered on Amazons Brazilian website. If customers spend over R$69, there is free shipping. These titles are in addition to the 35,000 eBooks they have available, also in Portuguese.
In a statement, Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said the site would be “the largest and most convenient site for Brazilian readers to find and buy” print and digital books at low prices.
First published in 1909, The Harvard Classics is an anthology consisting of 51 volumes of classic works from world literature. Compiled and edited by Harvard University President, Charles W. Eliot, the goal of the publications was simple: provide a liberal education based on the number of books able to fit across a five-foot shelf (that he felt should be read from for 15 minutes per day). If you are feeling up to the challenge, no shelf space is required anymore. The Harvard Classics are available as a free download from Open Culture to be read on your eReader or tablet.
Eliot’s intention wasn’t to create a compilation of the best literature (though clearly the works chosen are of the highest calibre), but to create a kind of portable university. Reviewing the editor’s introduction to the Harvard Classics, gives true perspective on the significance of the project:
“My purpose in selecting- The Harvard Classics was to provide the literary materials from which a careful and persistent reader might gain a fair view of the progress of man observing , recording, inventing, and imagining from the earliest historical times to the close of the nineteenth century. Within the limits of fifty volumes, containing about 22,000 pages, I was to provide the means of obtaining such a knowledge of ancient and modern literature as seems essential to the twentieth century idea of a cultivated man. The best acquisition of a cultivated man is a liberal frame of mind or way of thinking; but there must be added to that possession acquaintance with the prodigious store of recorded discoveries, experiences, and reflections which humanity in its intermittent and irregular progress from barbarism to civilization has acquired and laid up. From that store I proposed to make such a selection as any intellectually ambitious American family might use to advantage, even if their early opportunities of education had been scanty.”
This purpose is reinforced by reviewing the themes covered by the volumes, including: English poetry, sacred writings, Elizabethan drama, voyages and travels, chronicle and romance, literary and philosophical essays, continental drama, folklore and fable, and many more.
While some modern readers would argue that the collection is no longer complete, Eliot’s primary goal is still achieved by The Harvard Classics serving aptly as a jumping off point for education and discussion; imagine what his joy would be, knowing they can all be held in the palms of our hands.
Image Comics was the first mainstream comic book publisher to embrace going DRM-Free and this has prompted Valiant and Action Lab to follow suit.
Comixology is the top digital distributor of comics and their app is available on every major operating system. In July 2014 the Amazon owned company announced that it would allow publishers the ability to distribute DRM-Free comics, allowing users to backup their purchases.
Valiant intends on making their digital comics available on Comixology the same day the print issues hit the market. Meanwhile, Action Lab will go digital-first, DRM-free and prices for the first two weeks of release will be just $0.99 on every title on ComiXology before rising to $1.99 after that. In addition, books will be timed to release digitally the same month they are offered in Diamond Distribution’s retailer catalog, making digital a sales instrument for physical copies.