Sunday, August 3, 2014

Russia’s Proposal to Apple and SAP

A proposal has been made by Russia to Apple and SAP that they hand over the government access of their source code in order to ensure that their widely used products would not used as tools for spying on state institutions.

 The suggestion that these two world’s renowned technology companies could reveal some of their sensitive business secrets has come up as the United States and Europe have been debating on their most severe sanctions against Russian for its role in Ukraine.

Recently, the United States forced a new round of sanction affecting three Russian banks which included the country’s second biggest VTB. An agreement was reached with the European Union, recently on its first broad economic sanctions, marking a new phase in one of the biggest debates between Moscow and the West since this confrontation.

Last week when Communication Minister Nikolai Nikiforov met Apple’s general manager in Russia, along with Peter Engrob Nielsen and the Russian managing director of SAP, Vyacheslav Orekhov, the Russian proposal was put forward, as stated by the Communication Ministry.

It was stated that the proposal had been designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as corporate users to the privacy of their personal data and also for the security of the state.

Major Threat to Viability

With regards to issue of protecting privacy, any Russian move to force these companies to disclose the inner workings of their software could create a major threat to their viability should they lose control of the source code.

According to Nikiforov’s statement released recently, he states that, `Edward Snowden’s revelation in 2013 and US intelligence service’s public statements about strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014, have raised serious questions of trust in foreign software and hardware’.

He had made a reference to the bombshell disclosures by the former US National Security Agency contractor who had disclosed the widespread NSA snooping by eavesdropping on the popular technology products and services. Experts, since then have arrived at a conclusion that the US government-backed standards for software encryption, has given rise to backdoors for the NSA to indulge in spying on users.

Nations – Revise Technology Practices 

Governments from China to India to Germany to Brazil and many other nations are trying to revise technology practices due to the NSA revelation though most of them refrain from asking the technology companies to disclose their source code and source code is the crown jewels for any maker of software.

Most of the major commercial software companies tend to guard the code as their most prized possession. Apple which is the world’s most renowned and reputed company, by market capitalisation, is popular for its distinctive varieties of computer and phone devices which it tries to stand out by closely guarding its proprietary software.

SAP on the other hand is the world’s fourth largest manufacturer of business software by revenue and Germany’s major technology company providing business planning software which several top multinational companies consider in maintaining financial control of their far scattered operations and keeps close guard over the source code of their products. Both SAP and Apple have refrained from commenting on this issue.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Apple’s Patent – Routing based on Detected Stops

Apple Patent
US Patent and Trademark Office has granted an Apple patent known as `Routing based on detected stops’, enhancing the concept of crowd sourced navigation.

This navigation system would help one to plan their route by analysing stop signs, stop lights as well as obstacles which may slow down the journey. As per the recent patent, Apple could include a smart navigation routing system on its iPhone wherein the technology will be based on real time crowd sourced information together with stop light based traffic evaluation to users in order to improve their route recommendations.

It has the capabilities of collecting and analysing traffic data via the mobile unit as the iPhone and the technology can then device pattern from stop lights and signs giving rise to route suggestion. Users could work with the application in order to develop quicker routes.

Moreover it is also compatible with departure time suggestions. Waze, the current product combines traffic data collected from several drivers in suggesting quick way in order to reach their destination and crowd sourcing the information enable accurate and real time information which can be obtained through standard navigation apps like the Google Maps and Apple’s Maps app.

Depends on GPS Module of iPhone

The system depends on the GPS module of the iPhone in one manifestation of the technology and uses the GPS in identifying if the user is travelling or is in a moving vehicle. Data collected from GPS position together with accompanying system clock and accelerometer, enables the device to check the time spend as well as the location of the individual depending on the stop lights and signs.

The offsite server on the other hand receives the data package in real time and thereafter goes through a pattern analysis like a number of smartphones would be relaying traffic data to the server from several stop lights and signs and the server then correlate it, analysing better on which areas are crowded and which are not, based on the number of handsets sending the traffic details.

Smart Navigation System

In the case of Apple’s patent, a smart navigation system would utilise the GPS in the mobile device in order to gather detected stops of the car, determining on the duration of each stop. This information could then be analysed to classify between stop lights and stop signs and the data could be sent to remote server and shared with the vehicles connected into the system through regular navigation app like Google Map or Apple Maps.

The driver could then use this information in knowing the fastest route to any given location. Beside this, one can also estimate the duration of the trip depending on the data as well as the appropriate time to begin the trip to reach the destination and save from being late.

In course of time, the server could also gather and collate the data to predict certain traffic patterns which would depend on the location of stop lights, time of day as well as other factors. Just like other patents, Apple may or may not have the time as well as the resources to include the same in its next release though the technology would still make its way to device sooner or later.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Apple in Talk with Swell - Spotify Style Streaming App

Apple swell
It is believed that Apple is in talks to buy Swell, a Spotify style streaming app for talk radio in a $30 million deal to stir up traditional broadcasting. Swell, whose headquarters is in California, utilises a sophisticated algorithm to take a lot of different talk shows and podcast, presenting them as personalised radio station.

The iPhone maker have their own podcast streaming service though the lack lustre app has been struggling to draw a mainstream audience and hence Apple has plans to use Swell’s technology for improvement of the project.

The app has been shaped from past observation of user’s listening habits so that the listener’s station gets tailored according to their interest over a period of time. Moreover they would also be capable to link their profile to Twitter as well as Facebook in order that the app can provide information with regards to their interest through conversation with their friends.

Type of Pandora for News Radio

Presently, Swell pulls contents from US and Canadian broadcasters though it is also available all over the world with the potential to redraw the hierarchy of traditional radio broadcasters.Swell is a type of Pandora for news radio, for the uninitiated and one listens to what it plays and if it is not of one’s choice, they can swipe and move on.

The app has the tendency to learn one’s preferences over a period of time and offers personalized listening experience together with unlimited audio streaming from iTunes, ABC, ESPN, NPR, BBC, CBC, TED and much. As per Re/code, Swell has high engagement among users though it has failed to gain a large following.

Swell would be shutting its present service down as part of the deal with Apple as per Re/Code and the technology news site and Apple would be using Swell’s technology in offering updated service to user of iPhone and iPad devices.

Apple, Swell Deal following a String of Acquisitions

Many of the employees of Swell will reportedly move to Apple under the term of their agreement, following the acquisition and Swell that is available on Apple devices running iOS 6 or later had been beta testing Android app though it did not release it to the general public.

This deal flows out to a string of acquisition that Apple has made during the past few months which include the $3 billion purchase of Beats, the biggest ever, this May, the music streaming headphones which were founded by Dr Dre the rapper as well as the veteran music producer, Jimmy Iovine. Besides this, Apple has also confirmed that last week it had acquired BookLamp, a company which enhances the book recommendation process, a streaming service for books, which would be utilised to try and tackle Amazon’s dominant hold on eBook industry which according to reports is around $10 to $15 million.

The deal will enhance the growing importance that Apple has been placing on being the interface through which users’ stream traditional media. This is the second windfall for its Chief Executive, Ram Ramkumar who had sold his previous venture, which was an image recognition start-up, to Amazon in the year 2009 known as SnapTell.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Apple’s Mid 2014 Mac Mini to Support Documents

Mac Mini
Apple has added another unannounced reference to mid-2014 Mac mini in order to support documents with regards to Boot Camp drivers as well as software for Windows compatibility suggesting that the company would be planning for a long awaited refreshing on one of its smallest desktop product.

As Apple goes through its annual hardware refresh expedition with tweaked iMacs, MacBook Airs together with the present MacBook Pro along with Retina display, the Mac mini was not considered since October 2012 when up-gradation of the computer’s CPUs to the then current Intel Ivy Bridge silicon was done by Apple.

The Mac mini is the only computer of Apple vestigial non-Retina MacBook Pro that had not been upgraded and any mid 2014 refresh would make a tremendous change with new CPUs giving the Mini better CPU as well as GPU performance with reduced power consumption.

An addition of a better GPU together with Thunderbolt 2.0 port to the Mini would also make it a capable 4K workstation with useful capability, that OS X Yosemite has been optimized for high density displays.OS X’s support for 4K displays has been improved with the 10.9.3 update though the 15 inch 2013 Retina MacBook Pro together with Mac Pro seems to be the only system which benefits from it. Until now, the only Mac hardware updates included minor CPU changes and reduction in prices.

Boot Camp 5 Supporting 65 Bit Versions

Earlier the MacBook Air and iMac were both shuffled and the Retina MacBook Pro had got a minor bump. According to a screenshot of a web cached version on themodified document, reference is made to a mid-2014 Mac mini using Boot Camp 5 supporting 64bit versions of Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Windows 7.

 The updated build of Boot Camp 5 version 5.1.5640 needs current Mac hardware that was released earlier than 2013 which should be noted that the Boot Camp version 5.1.5671 supports Mac to 2011. It is not known which build Apple intends for use with the 2014 Mac mini.

With the addition of an unannounced updated Mac mini, a support document may suggest that Apple may be working on an overhaul and presumed that the news may have been updated through error.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display/mid 2014 update

The MacBook Pro with Retina display line-up received the mid 2014 update; Apple could have modified the Boot Camp document through default instead of including the new Retina MacBook.

With a popular niche audience, the Mac mini has fallen since stronger sellers like the iMac, Mac Pro together with MacBook line-up still continue in expanding their capabilities with scope for marketing the Mac mini as seen from the various online forums that are posted including various active threads on Apple’s very own Support Communities forum even though Apple has slowed down on upgrading the tiny desktop with updated internals.

If the entry point to a real system is not an error; we would be seeing a new Mac Mini soon somewhere in late August. Apple reserves the label `mid’ for systems which have been released in late spring or summer and Mac’s release in September or later will instead get the `late’ label.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yelp’s Amazing Features – An Update to its iOS

Recently, Yelp has come up with an update to its iOSapp which would now enable users in uploading short video clip of duration of 12 seconds long together with written reviews and pictures. Yelp has introduced thisamazing feature which would now help users to add short videos showing off aspects such as lighting, ambiance, noise level together with other features of local businesses which are not easily captured in photographs and this feature is made available to all users across the globe.

Photos add a great deal of visual element to reviews and Yelper uploads over 23,000 of them each day from mobile apps. Visuals are of great importance to Yelper as they spend around 2.5 times longer on business pages with images instead of those without them and with the use of the iPhone, Yelp app cannow take around 3 – 12 second videos on favourite local businesses and capture the details better than photos.

Yelp’s new function of version 8.1 has brought about a new dimension to crowd sourced business as well as restaurant guide enabling users to post review videos within 3 to 12 seconds duration. Earlier user reviews were limited to pictures and text.

App with Minor User Interface Tweaks/Bug Fixes

The video review tool could also be accessed from the main page of the app via the central button which when selected, passes out into Check in, Review and Photo or Video options.

Users can switch from still shots to video with dedicated toggle button through the photo or video screen and the new function has given rise to new review possibilities Yelp users who can now describe products in a better way, take note of restaurant’s ambiance or add short videos with narrations to their reviews.

The updated Yelp app also comes with minor user interface tweaks and bug fixes along with the new video capabilities and Yelp is available as a free 30.7 MB download from App Store. The short videos are good in conveying the atmosphere of a business helping others in anticipating their experience like viewing the images of delicious dishes but not being able to convey if the ambiance is more of a date or night or family friendly.

Real Life Consumer Experience 

Yelp states that a video are not meant to be video reviews but snippets to embody the atmosphere of a place. It can show the size and space of a hotel room and the way a chef places the assembled dishes or a layout of a retail shop.

Yelp video helps to convey more details regarding the same. Yelp helps to see what a real life consumer experience looks like without editing or narration; it could be an extension of the visual experience. Together with various rich local reviews, consumers are relying on the Yelp community’s suggestions, business attributes, photos and video to enable them in making better decision on their expenditure and which local businesses they would want to support.

Users could make use of the video feature by opting for Yelp which conveys more through its feature showing the size and space of an atmosphere.