James Cull



Three Announces 4G Rollout Plan in Four UK Cities

The UK carrier Three has announced that it will begin its 4G LTE rollout in four major UK cities starting in December of this year, with a further 42 cities due to be added by the end of 2014. According to its website, London, Birmingham (including the surrounding West Midlands), Manchester, and Reading will receive 4G coverage by the end of the year. Unlike other British carriers, Three is not charging a premium for its 4G services, as long as customers have compatible devices. Customers who have compatible devices (Three's 4G network will work on the 800 MHz and 1,800 MHz frequencies on LTE bands 3 and 20) will be automatically upgraded with no extra fees. The carrier is also notable for being the only UK operator to offer truly unlimited mobile data with no exceptions, dubbed 'all-you-can-eat data' by the company. Three already claims the fastest 3G network in the UK due to the implementation of HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA technology, which allow theoretical browsing speeds of up to 6 and 12 Mbps respectively. The company claims its 4G network will allow browsing speeds of up to 14 Mbps, which although is almost five times faster than standard 3G speeds, it still puts it behind the leader EE, which has doubled its LTE browsing speeds in several UK cities, allowing for theoretical browsing of up to 60 Mbps. Three, along with the other British carriers EE, O2 and Vodafone, will all support LTE browsing on the new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, both of which were announced yesterday at Apple's iPhone event in Cupertino, California. Both devices are compatible with the 800 MHz

Opera Releases New WebKit-Based Browser 'Coast'

Norwegian software company Opera Software ASA has released a brand-new WebKit-based browser named Coast for the iPad. The browser, which comes with the tagline "the browser that should have come with the iPad", is the product of one and a half years of software development at the company's headquarters in Oslo. Coast is Opera's attempt to build a browser actually optimized for a touchscreen interface, such as the one on the iPad, and dispenses away with the traditional toolbar seen in most internet browsers. Instead, users swipe back and forth to navigate between pages and, in order to keep the interface as clean as possible and to help users focus on the web page they are currently viewing, the URL box is missing. There are no tabs for individual pages; users can switch back and forth using thumbnails, much like switching applications in iOS 7, and close down pages by swiping upwards.The iPad is nearly buttonless; why shouldn’t the apps for it be? Elements such as back and forward buttons are gone from Coast. All navigation is done by swiping the way you naturally would on an iPad – just like in a good iPad app. A single button takes you to the home screen, and another shows the sites you have recently visited – that’s about it for buttons in Coast. When using touch-based navigation, small buttons that work on a regular computer don’t work well on a tablet. It’s not about just enlarging already existing elements; it’s about making the design interesting and uncluttered. Essentials such as website security are handled in the background, with

Verizon Communications Gains Full Ownership of Verizon Wireless With $130 Billion Vodafone Deal

Verizon Communications and Vodafone today announced an agreement that will see Verizon gaining full control over Verizon Wireless after buying Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in the company for $130 billion. The deal, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, consists of both cash and stock. It will give Verizon 100 percent ownership of the company, allowing it to be "better equipped to take advantage of the changing competitive dynamics in the market." Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam had the following to say about the deal:"This transaction will enhance value across platforms and allow Verizon to operate more efficiently, so we can continue to focus on producing more seamless and integrated products and solutions for our customers. We believe full ownership will provide increased opportunities in the enterprise and consumer wireline markets."For Verizon, the deal will mean that the company has full access to the wireless unit's cash, allowing it to to expand further within the United States. Reuters has noted that a major focus of this expansion will be on 4G networks. Verizon's 4G network is currently the largest in the United States and is available in over 500 markets across the country, with a potential 298 million subscribers, or 95% of the U.S. population. Following the sell to Verizon, Vodafone plans on a £6 billion investment plan nicknamed "Project Spring", which will speed up the introduction of 4G networks in the United Kingdom, which up till now has been a relatively slow process, as well as increase investment

SimCity for Mac Plagued by Various Teething Issues [Update: Resolved]

Despite being delayed by six months in order to ensure "a great experience for players", it seems that the Mac version of SimCity is still experiencing a number of serious issues which prevent users from playing the game. Frustrated gamers have taken to EA's official forums and our own discussion thread to vent their annoyances, which range from installation issues to the game only running in windowed mode on certain Macs. While SimCity is running with no problems for some users, it certainly appears that a significant fraction of users are having issues with the game.The issues range from problems starting the software to lagging on even the most high-end Macs. Some users have also discovered after purchasing that SimCity for Mac will not run on machines with OS X 10.7.4 or earlier, despite a still-available FAQ entry stating that users running a minimum of Snow Leopard would be able to play the game.Users are also finding that the game does not support the higher resolution on the 27-inch iMac or MacBook Pro, with some users forced to run the game in 1440 x 900 resolution rather than the full 2560 x 1440 that the large iMac supports. TUAW also reported that one user had to reinstall Origin three times in order to just download the game, let alone install it.A Maxis spokesperson has commented on the issues since the game's launch:There are a small number of players who have encountered issues with SimCity for Mac. Our live team is working individually with our players to resolve their issues and get them into the game as quickly as possible.Any SimCity gamers who

Flickr Releases Major Update to iOS App, Bringing Live Filters and Professional Editing Tools

Yahoo's image and video hosting website Flickr has released a major update to its iOS app, adding a number of features that will allow it to compete with the likes of Facebook's Instagram and Google's Snapseed. The update, which is live in the App Store now, introduces a "completely new photo taking experience" with live filters and editing.Live Filters let you see how your photo looks while you take it. Swiping through live filters, you can choose composition grids, focus lock and exposure points to better set up your shot. Even our preview tiles let you see what your shot looks like live. All of our filters are also customizable after you’ve taken the photo. You don’t have to leave the camera and lose focus on your perfectly melting ice cream shot. In addition to our magic wand, we’re adding all the advanced tools so you can enhance, crop, sharpen, balance color, use Levels, add vignette and more – for free. You now have a complete photo studio in your hands. Unlike Instagram, which features fixed filters, Flickr allows users to tweak individual aspects, such as the contrast or brightness, in order to get the image they desire. The update also removes the paywall for Flickr's professional editing tools, so photos can be enhanced, cropped and sharpened for free. The interface has also received a slight revamp, with new transitions present across the entire app. In May, the web version of Flickr received a major revamp and users were given 1 TB of storage space as standard. The new Flickr app is free from the [Direct Link], but the Android version has yet to

Luxury Online Concierge Lime&Tonic Releases First iPhone App

The London-based luxury concierge service Lime&Tonic has released its first iPhone app, allowing users to browse and purchase recommendations on the go. The app, which was developed in collaboration with Czech-based developers adikt mobile, can help users of the service to personalize any recommendations suggested to them by posing a wide variety of questions, including coffee preference, how users like their steaks cooked and any favorite cocktails. This information is then fed into Lime&Tonic's algorithm and the application presents users with personalized recommendations in their local cities. These can be purchased straight through the application either using a credit or debit card, or via Lime&Tonic's 'credits' system, which can be managed online. Users can also read reviews of experiences via the application before committing to buying. Lime&Tonic is currently limited to a few select cities around the world, including London, Amsterdam, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Dubai however the service is expanding rapidly. The company predicts that three cities will be added by the end of the year, with a further 20 planned by the end of 2014, and in North America, the service plans to launch in New York, Toronto and Vancouver. Lim&Tonic currently has around 850 experiences available globally and claims a 92% user satisfaction rate. The company's CEO and co-founder, Stefan Cordiner, explains the company's aims going forward: Our focus in purely on premium merchants that are able to offer quality experiences so we can ensure that if you're going to spend your limited

Apple Number One Target for Patent Trolls With 171 Cases in Five Years

Apple is the number one target for "patent trolls", with 171 cases total in the last five years, according to PatentFreedom (via Fortune). This puts the company ahead of Hewlett Packard, currently in second place with 137 cases, and Samsung, with 133. Dell, Sony, HTC, and LG all made the top 10 with a combined 1,218 cases between them.A patent troll, or "non-practicing entity" (NPE) is defined by research firm PatentFreedom as "any entity that earns or plans to earn the majority of its revenue from the licensing or enforcement of its patents".Michael Brody, an intellectual property specialist at Winston & Strawn, told an audience at Stanford University earlier this week that a patent, "is nothing more or less than a license to sue someone" and claimed that in 2012, more than 4,200 separate companies or individuals were sued by NPEs, with the average licensing cost for cases settled out of court being around $29.75 million.Since 2004 onwards, the number of lawsuits involving NPEs has risen sharply and PatentFreedom has reported a 1300 percent increase in cases between 2004 and 2013. The site suggests that this may be due to a 100 percent increase in the number of patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) during the same period. Over the years, Apple has faced litigation from a number of patent-holding companies like Lodsys, which targeted app developers over in-app purchases, and VirnetX, a company that was awarded $368.2 million over VPN connectivity in Facebook in 2012. Apple faces a new lawsuit filed today by Remote Locator

'Metro: Last Light' Arriving for Mac on September 10

The developers behind Metro: Last Light, a popular first-person shooter game, announced yesterday that they will ship a Mac version of the title on September 10 via the Mac App Store and the game distribution platform Steam. The game's developers, 4A Games, have also announced that a Linux version is in the works, although it will not be ready until "sometime later" this year. The Ukrainian-based developers have also announced that the downloadable content for the game, which includes the "Ranger Mode", a setting for greater game difficulty, as well as new characters and weapons, will also be available upon the game's launch. Future releases will arrive simultaneously on all platforms."The Mac and Linux versions of Metro: Last Light are further testimony to the power and flexibility of the 4A Engine," said Oles Shishkovstov, Chief Technical Officer at 4A Games. "Development was handled in house by 4A games, and we are very happy with the results. We hope that Mac & Linux gamers will appreciate our efforts to create the best possible version for their machines."Metro: Last Light was released for Windows, PS3 and Xbox 360 back in May to positive reviews. Critics praised the game's graphics, which are based on 4A Games' own 4A Engine specially developed for the game, as well as its intuitive storyline. The game is loosely based on the novel Metro 2033, a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel first released in Russia in

Apple Acquires Swedish Mobile Device Data Compression Startup AlgoTrim

Swedish news agency Rapidus reports (via TechCrunch) that Apple has acquired AlgoTrim for an undisclosed sum. The company is based in Malmö in southern Sweden and specializes in data compression algorithms for mobile phones, which have been developed for lossless compression of processing instructions in operating systems and applications. These algorithms increase processing power and reduce dependence on flash memory for more efficient performance. The company has been focused on Android-based devices for the past few years and reported at the end of 2011 that its technology was present in around 100 million devices around the world. Despite its large user base, the company reported a mere 3 million SEK ($462,327) revenue in its latest year-end report.In February of 2013, all of AlgoTrims shares were acquired by the anonymous Delaware-based holding company Wedgwood Industries LCC. But according to solid information revealed to Rapidus, Apple is the real buyer behind the deal. Anders Holtsberg, head of software development at AlgoTrim, recently moved to Silicon Valley, a mere 15 minute car ride from Apples headquarters in Cupertino. When Rapidus calls him via Apples central switchboard, he confirms that he is now working for Apple but declines to comment any further. Anders Holtsberg, former CEO of AlgoTrim, is also very taciturn. - I’m sorry but I’m not allowed to comment on anything, he says to Rapidus.AlgoTrim is one of a string of companies acquired by Apple this year. Last week it was reported that the company had bought Embark, presumably to integrate its

Developer Posts Fix for PlexConnect Client for Apple TV

After the latest update to Apple TV disabled the functionality of the popular PlexConnect plugin, which allows Plex to run on non-jailbroken devices, developer Paul Kehrer has posted a detailed tutorial on his personal blog providing instructions on how to fix the issue. The instructions, although somewhat technical, are fairly easy to follow. Users will require a copy of Apple Configurator (which is currently only available on OS X at the moment) and a micro-USB cable in order to connect their Apple TV to their Mac. The fix is only intended to be temporary, and it may be disabled in future Apple TV updates. Yesterday, Plex Chief Technology Officer Elan Feingold told MacRumors that the company was "saddened to hear that PlexConnect stopped working" and that "we can only hope that in the future Apple decides to release an SDK for the ATV", citing that interest in the project was

Apple Patent Reveals Interest in 'Silent Disco' App Technology for iOS Devices

An unusual patent awarded to Apple today suggests that the company is looking into the possibility of integrating so-called "silent disco" technology into its upcoming devices, according to AppleInsider. The patent, No. 8,521,316, was first filed back in March 2010 and lists Sylvain Louboutin, a former Apple software engineer who now works at Roku as its inventor. It describes a "coordinated group musical experience" in which a "personal communication device" can be used to share music with a group of people. The patent describes a system whereby musical characteristics such as tempo (BPM) are shared with nearby users and the user's device will automatically select songs that are similar in nature. The system would transmit the digital information of a song being played by one user, or the "roving DJ" as the patent calls it, to any connected devices over the local network. Unlike traditional silent discos, where the same song is transmitted across radio frequencies, this system will use the songs that are already present on a user's device, presumably due to copyright reasons. The technology is similar to the latest craze dubbed "mobile clubbing", where a group of people get together in one place and dance to their own music. Location, however, is not a deciding factor with Apple's system, as the signals can be transmitted over any means of wireless communication, including the Internet, Bluetooth and local wireless networks. In other embodiments of the patent, users of the system can "rotate" DJs, so other people can select songs for the group to listen to.

Apple Granted Patent on Intelligent Universal Remote System for iOS Devices

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a patent filed by Apple back in September 2008 which describes the "systems and methods for saving and restoring scenes in a multimedia system" (via AppleInsider). Patent number 8,519,820, which lists Alan Cannistraro, a developer who worked on the original iTunes Remote application for iOS devices, appears to show an intelligent universal remote on a generic Apple device that can connect to a variety of audio-visual components around the user's home or workplace. The system is also capable of connecting to various "smart home" devices such as thermostats, lights and window blinds using either a wireless network, Bluetooth or a a similar wireless protocol. According to the patent, Apple's system would allow users to control all of their connected devices, and would receive signals from each device based on its current operating state. The system proposed by Apple would automatically recognize each device, with data being transmitted over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a similar wireless protocol. The system can also detect individual usage patterns and tailor the components to individual requirements. The patent lists an example of a horror movie — a user may want a certain combination of lighting — and this would be recognised by the system. It can also search a list of pre-defined settings that best suits the genre and users will have the option to either accept or reject a suggestion. The patent also describes a system whereby users can stop and restart media when they move around the house — for

Next-Generation iPad Mini Rear Shell Appears Again in New Photos

A new set of images that appear to show the rear shell for the rumored second-generation iPad mini have been posted by Sonny Dickson. Although no additional information was posted alongside the pictures, it unsurprisingly appears that the new iPad mini will have a form factor almost identical to the present model, confirming previous rumors that the upgrade will be mainly incremental in nature with the potential exception of a new Retina display. The shell displays no information apart from the embedded Apple logo, which differs from the current model where the logo is printed directly onto the exterior of the case. The images are very similar to ones that leaked in early August, but it appears that the logo shown here may actually be silver instead what was thought to be black on the original photo set. Given the mirrored finish of the Apple logo on the iPad mini, it may appear silver or black from various viewing angles. The new photos also unsurprisingly indicate that the second-generation iPad mini will be available in both Wi-Fi and cellular models, as this particular part includes the plastic strip at the top where the cellular antenna is housed. The second-generation iPad mini is expected to feature a Retina display and launch during the fourth quarter of this year. Apple is also expected to release an updated full-size iPad around the same time, with the new iPad taking design cues from the iPad mini by including narrower side bezels and a thinner, more rounded

Samsung Denied New Trial Over Apple's 'Bounce-Back' Patent

The ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung shows no sign of abating and last night, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh issued a ruling that denied Samsung a new trial over the 'bounce-back' patent, reports CNET. Apple originally accused more than 20 Samsung smartphones and tablets of infringing on its 'bounce-back' patent, which was filed back in December 2007. The patent, No. 7,469,381 entitled "List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display", meant that users who had scrolled to the top or bottom of a screen or document would be shown "an area beyond the edge of the document", colloquially known as a 'bounce-back' or 'rubber band', which is integrated into the device's operating system. The patent had faced potential invalidation upon reexamination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but the key claim of the patent used against Samsung was ultimately upheld. Similar implementations of the feature were implemented on a number of non-Apple devices, with Apple targeting Samsung for infringement of the patent. The patent in question also covers other device actions, such as dragging documents around the screen. Although Apple was preliminarily awarded around $1.05 billion in damages due to copyright infringement, this amount was reduced by almost half back in March when Samsung called for a new trial to set revised damage amounts, which will commence in November of this year. Samsung had also sought to delay that new trial, but as noted by FOSS Patents, Judge Koh also denied that motion yesterday.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Retire 'Within 12 Months'

Microsoft has issued a press release stating that its CEO, Steve Ballmer, will retire "within the next 12 months", remaining in his position until a suitable successor is found. The precise reasons for Ballmer's departure were not given, though he was quoted as saying: There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time...we have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.The stock market reacted positively to the news, with Microsoft's share price opening 8% higher than the previous day's closing. (Image courtesy of Mashable) Ballmer joined Microsoft in June 1980 and became the company's 35th employee, having been a business manager recruited by Bill Gates, the former chief executive and chairman of the company. Ballmer was named CEO in January 2000, and throughout his tenure was responsible for some key changes in Microsoft as a company, including the shift towards cloud computing, key business acquisitions such as that of Skype in May 2011 and the release of Microsoft's first consumer tablet device, the Surface, back in June 2012. However, Ballmer's tenure has not been without criticism. Microsoft's share price has remained fairly stagnant under his leadership and the disappointing sales of the Surface have further sprinkled salt into the wound. He was also

Apple Looking to Patent iPhone Status Sharing System

According to a newly published Apple patent application (via AppleInsider), Apple is investigating methods to offer an iPhone status sharing system in which users can check the individual "status" of other iPhone users before calling them, similar to the "Away" feature already present in most instant messaging systems. The patent application, which is simply titled "Methods to determine availability of user based on mobile phone status" and lists Devrim Varoglu and Swapnil R. Dave as its inventors, describes a system whereby a request from one user's mobile phone is transferred to a remote server over a cellular network, which requests the operating status of the second mobile phone. The operating status of the second mobile phone is then displayed on the first mobile phone as part of the contact information of the "remote user", giving the user a quick status update on whether or not that particular iPhone user is available. The system would call upon several modules of both the device hardware and the operating system, as highlighted in the diagram filed in the patent above, such as the "operating mode" of the device (411), the user's time zone (412), the current GPS location (413), the received signal strength indicator (414), the condition of the device's Wi-Fi (415) and the battery charge level (416). This information would then be fed into a new "status sharing module", which would sit alongside the contacts module on both users' devices and the data would be transmitted across the network (the patent filing lists a cellular network, although it is

First Seven iPad-Only 'Steve Jobs Schools' Open in the Netherlands

The first seven exclusive "Steve Jobs schools" have opened their doors across a number of cities in the Netherlands. Starting from today, schools in the Dutch cities of Sneek, Breda, Almere, Emmen, Heenvliet and Amsterdam will start teaching students according to the principles of the O4NT, or Onderwijs voor een nieuwe tijd (Education for a new era), which emphasizes the role of the iPad in an elementary school environment. The program, which was first proposed by Dutch officials back in March 2012, gives every child access to a "virtual school" through an iPad and helps them develop information and communication technology (ICT) and information processing skills, collaboration techniques and a critical, problem-solving and creative mind. The O4NT foundation is currently in talks with a number of school boards across the Netherlands and they hope that more schools will sign up the model next year. The program has a number of benefits: apart from teaching children useful skills, school hours and vacations are a lot more flexible under the new model — as the "virtual school" is accessible round the clock, 365 days a year (although the Dutch Ministry of Education is currently preventing this scenario due to legislative restrictions) — and the ICT-based approach also has a major impact on the role of the teacher. According to O4NT's press release:In the O4NT approach, teachers will no longer simply convey knowledge to a group of children; they will be transformed into coaches that support children with their individual and group projects. Because educational apps are used

Google Brings Waze Features to Google Maps for iOS and Android

Google announced in a blog post today that it is implementing some of Waze's features in the Google Maps applications for both iOS and Android. Beginning today (the update is rolling out gradually), users of both devices will be able to view real-time incident reports from Waze users, including accidents, construction zones, road closures and more. The rollout is currently limited to 13 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Mexico, and will rely on data from Waze's user base, which was reported in June to be nearing 50 million users. Users of Waze are not being left in the dark either, as Google will be gradually rolling out its powerful Search feature into both the web and mobile versions of the Waze service, which will allow for more accurate search results, including the ability to search for local businesses and specific addresses. The Waze Map Editor also features Google Street View after a public beta testing period, which should allow for more accurate maps and route planning. Waze began as an Israeli startup back in 2008 and was acquired by Google in June of this year for a reported $1.03 billion. It had been rumored that Apple was considering purchasing the company in order to improve its own mapping service, which suffered a number of teething problems since the start, but the deal reportedly fell through over differences in Waze's perceived valuation. Unlike other Google buyouts, such as that of Sparrow, the development of Waze is still active and there are currently no plans to merge the two

Apple Receives Patent for 3D Gesture Control on Touchscreen Devices

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a newly-granted Apple patent (via AppleInsider) addressing a means for extending the multi-touch input present on Apple's touchscreen devices to the airspace above the screen, allowing for 3D manipulation of objects via 3D gesture inputs. The patent, which was filed in July 2012 and is entitled "Working with 3D objects", describes a system that detects both 2D objects in a user interface and a 3D gesture input close to the device's surface, which then generates a 3D object that is presented in the user interface of the device. According to the patent, the device detects the location of the user's fingers using a combination of both the capacitive touch sensors and the proximity sensors located in the display. The new technology would work in combination with the existing touchscreen controls on the device, and would allow users to lift their fingers off the screen in order to "pull out" a 3D shape from a 2D one (as the drawing in the patent shown above demonstrates), just like in most existing CAD programs.Techniques and systems that support generating, modifying, and manipulating 3D objects using 3D gesture inputs are disclosed. For example, 3D objects can be generated based on 2D objects. A first user input identifying a 2D object presented in a user interface can be detected, and a second 3D gesture input that includes a movement in proximity to a surface can be detected. A 3D object can be generated based on the 2D object according to the first and second user inputs, and the 3D object can be presented in the

Foxconn Starts Distributing Televisions in 7-Eleven Stores in Taiwan

The Wall Street Journal reports that Taiwanese manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., better known as Foxconn, is ramping up its television production through an exclusive partnership deal with 7-Eleven, a convenience store chain. The move comes after a report earlier this year indicated that Foxconn was at least partially pushing its television production forward in anticipation of landing a deal with Apple for its own television set products. 7-Eleven, which is owned in Taiwan by Uni-President Enterprises Corporation and currently has around 5,000 stores scattered across the island, is selling the televisions under its own 7-Eleven branding priced at NT$ 12,888 ($430) for the 40-inch model, NT$ 39,990 ($1,333) for the 60-inch model and NT$ 69,900 ($2,336) for the 70-inch model. As of yet, Foxconn has not divulged any sales figures relating to its television business, though it is reported that the company has sold over 10,000 7-Eleven branded sets in the past six weeks. (Image courtesy of The Verge) The move marks a shift in Foxconn's sales strategy towards OEM, or original equipment manufacturing, whereby the goods are purchased by another company and sold under their own brand name -- in this case, 7-Eleven. Previously, Foxconn manufactured under ODM, or original design manufacturing, whereby the products were designed and specified by another company (such as Apple). The company has been manufacturing television sets since 2008 and has since acquired manufacturing facilities previously owned by the Sony Corporation. Last week, it was reported that