Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Apple's Echo Rival Could See You With Built-In Camera


Apple’s Echo Featuring Camera/Facial Recognition Functionality

Apple is said to be working on an Amazon Echo rival which according to reports may feature a camera and facial recognition functionality. The device with the in-built camera would be capable of detecting who will be in the closeness of the speaker using facial recognition technology and automatically activates that individual’ preferences like choice of music and lighting.

The hardware would be released by the end of the year though it is likely to be made available in 2017. However, they have warned that Apple would change its plans to include a camera or may even scrap the device completely. Apple had refrained from commenting. Due to the Echo together with its built-in voice assistant known as Alexa, Amazon tends to play a vital role in the transition in the homes of people.

Apple finds itself behind even though it had launched Siri before the digital assistant had come in. Presently neither Echo nor Google’s recently proclaimed devices, Google Home, tend to have cameras. They are both voice-activated speakers which enables you to control the home appliances by loud communication commands.

Intelligent Cameras in Devices – Risky

Apple’s device also tends to obey voice commands via Siri, Putting intelligent cameras in devices seems to be risky for companies since it tends to raise questions regarding privacy. Intel intended to release a TV box with a camera though it ditched the plan for its first product.Intel had informed that it was owing to the cost as well as the time taken to build the device though the company also encountered backlash over concerns that the box would be watching you all the while. Intel eventually had sold the business, OnCue to Verizon which did away with the hardware in support of a streaming service known as Go90.

Supporters of smart cameras in devices, state that there is little privacy or security risk to consumers as long as the camera is kept turned off by default and consumers have the option to use it. Apple has been the leader in the drive for more security and privacy for its consumers and its combative battle with the FBI earlier in the year had drawn attention to the requirement of stronger security on devices. It is doubtful that Apple would include a camera in a smart home speaker unless it could also ensure the device is secure.

New Model of Apple TV Set Top Box – Built-in Mic/Speaker

Though the Independent had reported that the device would be Siri-based and would be a standalone device, another report later in the week claimed that the device would be coming to homes as a new model of the Apple TV set top box that would have a built-in mic and speaker.

But a main drawback to an Apple TV based Echo competitor would be the hard wired connection to a television set which would eradicate an attractive feature of the Echo, the facility of putting it anywhere in the house. Though the earlier reports had not revealed a possible delivery date for the device, Sources had indicated that it could probably be by the end of 2016 but 2017 would be a possibility.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Your Next iPhone Could be Built by Robot Workers

Credit: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Foxconn – Replace Human Workers with Mechanical Ones

One of the manufacturing companies developing iPhones has replaced around 6,000 factory workers with robots. According to the South China Morning Post, Foxconn that tends to produce components for Apple and Samsung has reduced the workforce in half, in one of its factories to replace the human workers with the mechanical ones. It has not been revealed by the company, what factory the robots seem to be working in and if they would be manufacturing the iPhone 7.

The workers in the US have been demanding $15 per hour wages, which has put pressure on employers. Though the initial investment in robots could be higher, they could be beneficial in the future since they don’t tend to get sick, deterred or have other problems. Reports from China have shown that Foxconn pays its employees very low together with unwarranted stress on them with big orders. One report has suggested that the company had installed safety nets in the factory in order to prevent the workers from committing suicide. A spokesman for Foxconn had mentioned that they are applying robotics engineering as well as other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace the monotonous task which was earlier done by employees.

Harnesses Automation

It has been indicated by Foxconn that it intends to grow its robotic employee roster as it `harnesses automation. On doing so, it expects that its human workforce would be able to focus on higher value added elements in the process of manufacturing, like research, development as well as quality control. The manufacturer had spoken to BBC and had confirmed that a lot of the manufacturing tasks seem to be automated though did not mention whether this would mean huge job cuts all over the board.

The company has plans to train its workers to focus on other elements in the manufacturing process. The robots would be brought in to ensure that monotonous task earlier done by humans would be performed by the machines. According to the experts it is an accepted element that the robots would be replacing human workers and within a span of 30 years it would be likely that mechanical beings would take over most of the jobs.

Changeover to Robots Hurtful to Human Job Markets

Moshe Vardi, professor in computational engineering had mentioned at a conference earlier in the year that they are approaching a time when machines would be capable of outperforming humans at almost any task. With the increase of robots, humans will end with an existential dilemma. Vardi states that computer scientists have been working on building machines which could compete in everything humans tend to do.

 If machines are capable of doing all the work or even 50% of the jobs that humans tend to do, what will the people do? Companies which operate in the region where Foxconn had engaged its robotic workforce had invested 4.2 billion yen in robots since September 2014. The first employee in the UK which could lose out to robots is customer service agents.

With Silicon Valley giants going directly with new chatbots, there would be interaction with more and more robotic customer service personnel instead of human employees. The changeover to robots would be hurting the human job market though the manufacturers are of the belief that it would open up potentials for highly skilled workers to fill in the vital posts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Apple Patents iPad Cover with its own Display


Apple’s Patent – iPad Smart Cover with Flexible Display

Apple has been awarded a patent for iPad Smart cover having its own `flexible display’ built-in. Based on a patent that has been granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the latest version of Apple of its Smart Cover comprises of a flexible display, solar panels to collect energy, inductive charging together with a smart keyboard and its smart connector. The prevailing cover tends to fold over the screen, awakening the iPad from sleep mode but besides that it does not seem to live up to its smart branding. However a notion sketched out by the company foresees an accessory which would be providing `significant expansion in functionality’. For instance it could roll out in front of the device in order to provide extra screen space or display the name of a song or a movie that has been playing on the tablet when rolled up. It could also be used as a full second display or utilised as an input device wherein a stylus or finger could be used in controlling the screen of the tablet. The patent application has also mentioned that the solar cells could be added to the cover which would soak up the rays of the sun to power the iPad. A variety of patents have been held by technology firms that have never seen the daylight and hence there is no guarantee that this would go into production in the future.

Extending Usability/Functionality of Tablet Device

Apple had noted in the filing that this was a way of extending the usability as well as the functionality of a tablet device without the need of making it larger. Though there is no sign that Apple has been working on making this a reality, patent blog Patently Apple which has reported the news first, records that permitting this patent also comprises of a smart connector for the cover something that is used in its latest device, the iPad Pro that comes with a smart keyboard which tends to connect in a similar manner. The patent had been filed initially in 2011 a year after the launch of the iPad and had been approved recently.The patent officially granted, for a cover attachment with flexible display, envisages a futuristic iPad cover with its own display spread over the folding panels which could be utilised for anything as per the drawings of Apple. Different notification or reminder can be displayed on the panels or transform into media controls when a movie is being played on the tablet.

Serves as Wacom-Style Drawing Pad

Its patent application notes that AMOLED screens would be perfect here as they can light up single pixels, leaving the rest turned off, thus saving battery life. Another image portrays the cover that serves as a Wacom-style drawing pad which seems a bit laid off with the refined precision which has been permitted by the Apple Pencil and the screen technology in iPads recently though it is yet a neat idea. The patent illustrates various ways in which the Smart Cover display can be used from simply extending the iPad’s own display through text only displays of things like reminders to a joint display and the touchpad. Selected options tend to show the display as a full input device, enabling both handwritten notes as well as drawings.

Monday, May 23, 2016

India Claims to Have Tool to Defeat iPhone Encryption


Tool for Mobile Forensics

According to the New Indian Express, communication and IT minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad had mentioned recently that as part of a program, a tool for mobile forensics has been created which could handle smartphones, inclusive of Apple’s iPhone. India apparently has a secret technology to decrypt iPhones.This is not to say that a tool has been developed which would bypass encryption, instead a process to get past the lock screen has been created.

 Prasad had stated that the tool had come about, as a part of a continuous process of research and development instead of being a case of singling out iPhone for specific attention. Prasad has not revealed which other handsets and devices the government is capable of accessing, though smartphone users would be pleased at his admission that a universal encryption key has not been developed.The iPhone was in the midst of a legal battle between Apple and the FBI, earlier this year, when the FBI had sought the help of Apple in accessing a locked iPhone 5C that had been utilised by one of the two terrorist involved in the December attack in San Bernardino, California which had left 14 people dead.

Endanger Security & Privacy of Users

While the company had initially complied, it refused a court order demanding that it build a tool providing backdoor access into the iPhone. Apple together with most of the tech industry, believe that building such a tool would endanger the security and privacy of users. The conflict had ended towards late March when the feds had paid for a technique which had successfully unlocked the iPhone. The FBI had persevered that it needed the help of Apple for another case but relented after it had successfully hacked into the second iPhone.

As per tech firms, weakening encryption that seems to scramble data in order to be read only by the intended person tends to violate the privacy of device owners. Law enforcement officials state that encryption obstructs their ability to access data in criminal investigations. BlackBerry had faced trouble in India as well as other countries that had insisted on gaining access to encrypted customer data stored on the company’s server, in 2010. BlackBerry debated that it did not possess the encryption key and hence could not provide access to the data.

India On-going in its Research & Development

Apple had refrained from commenting immediately in response to writers request. India has a forensic tool for mobile which can apparently break into iPhone of Apple and maybe FBI should make a note of it. It is not known precisely what the tool is, which devices it is capable of cracking into and what operating system version they tend to run on.

However the confirmation of the tool comes from Ravi Shankar Prasad. The LAPD recently, had been successful in hacking into an iPhone, which raised doubts as to whether the FBI legally could break into the iPhone. If what the Indian communication minister says is true regarding the tool, then it would mean that India has a more sophisticated tool than the FBI. The minister allegedly said that India is on-going in its research and development in order to upgrade its tools and technologies in harmony with its ever-changing software and devices.

How Rose Gold became the new Black


Gadget have become Blushing Hue of Rose Gold

Gadget which has been black and white these days have now become hot colour of blushing hue of rose gold. This is an option for gadgets of Apple from iPhone to MacBook to Beat headphone and phones from a number of Android device makers. Rose gold began with a glowing start last September with the launch of iPhone 6S line. It was reported by CNET staffers around the world that people had been queuing up specially to get hold of the shimmery, sugary shade and iPhone shoppers in China have been swept up in a pre-order state for the rose gold tint. Apple has not released the breakup of sales figures by colour and has not responded to the request of it for comment, but around 40% of pre-orders during the opening weekend of iPhone 6S, were for rose old models as per an estimate by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. What the sensation of rose gold has to prove is whether it can withstand. Maria Killam, an interior designer and colour expert has said that it is definitely a trend and not a classic look. Presently it is almost everywhere.

Difference Between Samples Apparent

Since the launch of iPhone in September, rose gold had arrived on Sony’s new Xperia X Performance, Huawei’s Mate S and P9 and the latest flagships of Samsung, the Galaxy S7 and S7Edge, though Samsung tried to distinguish itself by calling the colour pink gold. An inside look at the process was obtained during a visit to the Sony Mobile headquarters in Tokyo wherein design pro Jeanna Kimbre had laid out an array of 15 or so colour samples which has been considered for the Xperia X. It was not as simple as looking at a Dulux colour chart and each colour had been printed on the material the phone will be crafted to precisely represent the final product. Difference between the samples had been apparent though dizzying. The designer’s job is to work out which shade would produce a favourable response with regards to the final product proposed to appeal to consumers all together.

General Material Trend Moving Towards Metal

According to Kimbre, general manager of the Sony Creative Centre, which brings together all the designers of the company under one roof, has commented that the general material trend is moving towards metal and rose gold seems to be high-class with that. Earlier to that, she was the design lead on the Xperia X phone project. The design team at Sony tends to have a strong brand heritage to take into consideration, though Kimbre is of the belief that designers should look beyond their own companies as well as industries for a sense of direction. She states that what are the needs and wants, one is going to have in two years’ time. When it comes to colour, looking to trends beyond the tech world is mainly important and fashionable hues seems to be well known in industry lines. Rose gold is not just the go-to colour for tech designers presently but is also the hot thing in the world of hair styling as per multiple celebrities, Cosmo and the arbiter of cutting edge style – Instagram.