lundi 30 juin 2014

Samsung not concerned about the prospect of an Apple smartwatch


Speaking at a press event as part of Samsung's Business Discovery Day, Jae Shin, the vice president of Samsung's Knox mobile security business group, said that wearable devices will take off with or without Apple's help.

Historically, the hype surrounding the launch of a new Apple product has provided the kick-start for interest in a new type of technology. This has previously been the case for smartphones and tablet computers, thanks to the iPhone and iPad, respectively.

However, when asked whether Samsung was worried about losing its early lead in the wearables market when Apple eventually releases its much-rumored iWatch, Shin argued that consumers have "the know-how and the resources to make a smart decision".

He went on to say that Apple isn't the only company that can generate excitement in its products anymore and that other firms can get in on the action.

"Consumers are lot smarter these days and there's a lot for information available to them," he continued.

"At Samsung, we provide a lot of technical support and SDKs to developers so that they actually create innovation solutions and applications and user experiences that provide what the consumer wants; transparent technology. They want to be able to use it for a purpose they're going to benefit from".

Apple's iWatch will inevitably attract a lot of hype and publicity when it does arrive, but until that time comes, Samsung won't be wasting any time worrying about it.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Mount up to 16 disc images simultaneously with gBurner Virtual Drive

gBurner Virtual DriveOne welcome addition to Windows 8 was its ability to mount ISO images. If you need to explore the contents of an ISO, just double-click the file and it opens in a virtual Explorer drive, where you can browse, play and generally treat it like the original disc. This works very well, too, but there may still be times when you need a little more drive management power.

GBurner Virtual Drive is a free tool which can also mount ISO images in virtual drives. In addition, you get support for another 20+ formats (ASHDISC, DAA, DMG, IMG, NRG and more). You’re able to mount up to 16 images simultaneously, and these can be loaded automatically when your PC starts, so they’re always available.

Installing the program is quick and easy, and the program initially added a single virtual drive to our system. To set this up we then right-clicked the gBurner system tray icon, selected "Mount image…" and browsed to our image. An Explorer window immediately opened at the new drive, ready for use.

There is no shell integration, unfortunately: you can’t right-click an ISO and mount it from the context menu, which may be an issue if you’re going to be regularly changing images.

But on the other hand, the program does a good job of automatically detecting image types. We tried giving one ISO a different extension, but gBurner was smart enough to realize what it was and loaded the image anyway.

The system tray menu has a couple of other options you might want to tweak immediately. You’re able to set the number of drives available to a maximum of 16. And if you check the "Automount" setting, any images you assign to a drive will automatically be reloaded when your PC next starts.

In another plus point, it’s also possible to assign individual virtual drives to a specific drive letter, so you won’t have to point your programs to a new location every time.

There’s nothing particularly advanced here. No shell integration, no command line interface, no real drive customization options, no tools for creating and managing disc images in the first place. DAEMON Tools Lite, or perhaps ImDisk Toolkit have much more power.

Still, gBurner Virtual Drive handles the core basics well, is easy to use and supports a good range of image formats. If you only need a small step up from the standard Windows 8 technology, it’s certainly worth a try.

10 things Microsoft should do with Nokia

Nokia Icon

In April, Microsoft concluded acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services division, announced in September 2013. With ownership comes responsibility, which starts with Microsoft preserving and reviving an iconic brand. Before the phone maker fumbled touchscreen smartphone market, the brand dominated the world -- commanding overwhelming cellular handset market share across Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

Some competitors strayed from the path Microsoft follows. For example, Google wrongly sold Motorola to Lenovo, which is reason for big smiles up Redmond, Wash. way. Hardware's research and development value to software and services cannot be overstated. Apple gets it, and I thought Big G did, too. Nokia is a vitally important asset to Microsoft that goes way beyond Windows Phone.

There are many things the software giant should do with the device manufacturer. I recommend a few during the early-stage transition, offered in no particular order of importance. They all equally matter.

1. Keep Nokia brand, sideline Lumia. There is no visible Lumia brand on my Windows Phone -- just Nokia and Icon, as it should be. The company that invented the smartphone is still a global brand, which is valuable capital, should the new owner use it wisely. Additionally, too many brands cause customer confusion. Nokia and Windows Phone is best, with a sprinkle of Microsoft.

2. Advertise, advertise, advertise. Products don't sell themselves. You have to tell people about them and promote their benefits. During U.S. primetime, I sometimes see iPhone 5s "Powerful" commercials more than five times. Nokia ads? None.

3. Amp carrier co-marketing dollars. Verizon kickstarted Android back when Samsung meant little more to Apple than a mosquito. The carrier launched the Droid brand in late 2009 -- just a year after the Google OS débuted -- with a $100 million ad campaign that changed everything. Verizon has the Icon and AT&T the 1020. Microsoft should kick carrier advertising with incentives. Referring back to #2, advertise, advertise, advertise. Icon has the right brand and features, but people have to want to buy it.

4. Sell aspiration. Apple does this so well. While competitors innovate, the fruit-logo company makes modest iPhone improvements, then makes them appear to be so much greater by way of advertising. People buy things that make them feel good about themselves, for which they believe will make their lives better. Nokia phones can capture your life like none other. That's a hugely aspirational benefit that Apple and Google sell but Lumia handsets wonderfully deliver. So tell everyone.

5. Offer even more Nokia apps. Critics complain about the applications divide that separates Windows Phone from Android and iOS. But many of the best apps are homegrown. Keep them all and develop even more. I have a dozen Nokia apps on my Icon. Let's double the number and fill the gaps with a mountain. You don't need a third-party developer to create the next Instagram. The killer app can be home grown.

6, Make appropriate Nokia apps available in the Windows Store. Cinemagraph, Creative Studio, and Storyteller are ripe for tablets, and not just those made by Nokia. Let's see them and other apps easily installed on Surface and other Windows RT 8.1 devices.

7, Louden Nokia Conversations. The blogsite is a great marketing asset that engages true enthusiasts around key benefits, such as photography. Days past, before Google dominated maps, Conversations showed the world via Nokia apps for finding things and where you are. The tools remain, but they need more exposure.

8. Enliven Nokia Labs. The other great blogsite, like Conversations predating the Windows Phone platform switch, engages enthusiasts and lets them participate in app development. Thanks, Nokia. My account abandoned five years ago is still active; I signed in yesterday.

9. Imitate Moto E and G. Motorola has the right idea with quality, unlocked smartphones that offer a little less for big savings. Nokia Asha and X handsets compromise too much. Lumia 500 and 600 series models steer in the right direction but they don't reach the destination, which is the enormous number of Nokia dumb-phone users looking for better at a reasonable price.

10. Give away phones. Microsoft should work with NGOs and other local organizations to provide the world's poorest people with free smartphones. Market share matters more than immediate profits, particularly when so many people have Nokia phones already. Keep them on the brand and empower them with supporting apps and services. These interests are mutually self-serving. Nokia's brand remains vital. Users create content and connections tied to Microsoft platforms. People are empowered by devices and Internet connectivity to learn and to prosper. Real aspiration isn't marketing that convinces people their lives will be better but providing tools that really do.

HyperCat protocol will make or break the Internet of Things


The idea of connected devices means far more than wireless webcams and televisions that are connected to the internet. The Internet of Things is a buzzword, but it’s also a real, tangible thing. Consumers and businesses alike are looking to the ways in which connected devices can help to make life easier, more efficient, and more profitable. In many ways, this is Internet 2.0 -- we've had Web 2.0, now the Internet is being taken to the next level -- as the benefits of getting ever more devices not only online, but also communicating with each other, are realized. But just as with the web, the IoT needs protocols to ensure compatibility between devices, and this is what HyperCat hopes to bring about.

A collaboration between dozens of UK technology firms, HyperCat is… well… let's allow it to introduce itself. "HyperCat is a media type for the web allowing servers to list catalogs of resources. It is designed to make discovery of IoT services and assets easier". It's a protocol, a specification, a standard. It's an attempt to define the semantics of the Internet of Things, helping to level the playing field and start everyone off on an even footing. As we saw with the VHS and Betamax battle, and the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD format wars, there are just no winners when there are two or more competing formats. It makes perfect sense to pin down how the IoT should work as early as possible, and this is precisely what HyperCat aims to do.

It's very difficult to predict just where the IoT will be in 5, 10 or 15 years -- ten years ago it would have been all but impossible to predict that the internet in general would be where it currently is -- but if protocols are defined from the beginning, it will certainly help to ensure that growth is rapid and that the world of M2M technology is open to as many players as possible. By pushing for open, accessible standard, HyperCat is helping to ensure that the IoT is made available to the most innovative players and not just those companies and individuals with the most money.

A large part of how the IoT will evolve will depend on how data is stored and accessed -- this is what defining a standard will help with. Information that is created and stored by one device should be accessible to and usable by other connected devices. HyperCat will help with the interoperability of devices by allowing for data to be stored in the cloud in standardized formats and made available to connected devices.

"For example, if an application only understands temperature measurements, HyperCat provide a means to search for and discover this type of data -- buried amongst other data that the application may not understand," explains the consortium.

The standard will, of course, have to include security and authentication options built in, but the underlying idea is to avoid the need for proprietary APIs. Nest is one set of IoT devices that allow data to be accessed through special APIs -- and when this is the case there is far greater scope for charging for access, something that will only stifle growth.

An open standard not only lowers the cost of getting involved in the IoT, but also helps speed up development. At the moment, HyperCat is still in the fairly early stages of development, and the big names -- like Google -- are yet to get involved, and this could be the pivotal point. HyperCat has the potential to make or break the Internet of Things. The big players need to get involved or we could end up with yet another format war.

Photo Credit: asharkyu/Shutterstock

DataStax delivers faster in-memory database analytics for enterprises

opsc4-enterprise dashboard

Database specialist DataStax is using the 2014 Spark Summit to announce the release of its latest product. DataStax Enterprise 4.5 includes some major updates aimed at improving ease of use and security.

Built from the ground up, upgrades in DSE 4.5 include lightning fast in-memory analytics with Spark -- thanks to a recently announced partnership with Databricks. In addition automated diagnostic and performance tuning drives operational simplicity and enhanced visual management. For the first time companies can now easily merge Cassandra data with Hadoop and avoid the complexities of data management thanks to partnerships with Hadoop vendors Cloudera and Hortonworks.

"Today’s always-on, ever-adapting digital world presents new challenges for businesses," says Robin Schumacher, vice president of products at DataStax. "CIOs are currently being forced to shoehorn a new paradigm into old technologies. DataStax Enterprise 4.5 eliminates this constraint because it was built from the ground up with modern businesses in mind".

The main advantage of this new release is speed, with up to 100 times faster in-memory transactional and analytics performance, supporting workloads of any size and type. In addition it uses built-in performance objects, best practices enforcement, expert recommendations, and tracing of worst running statements to eliminate the 'black box' feel of Cassandra.

DSE 4.5 allows easier troubleshooting of performance issues as diagnostic objects can be queried using standard SQL. There’s also a visual management solution called OpsCenter 5.0 which has a point and click interface and is scalable up to 1,000 nodes.

To keep things secure it offers object permission management and built-in encryption at multiple levels, with the ability to track who accessed what for compliance purposes.

DataStax is available in both open source and commercial versions and you can find out more on the company's website.

The majority of smartphone users have something to hide from their partners

woman texting secretly

Software company IObit commissioned a survey into the personal content stored on smartphones, and found a lot of users have something on their devices they would rather others -- and in particular their partners -- didn’t see.

The survey, which was conducted among 5,000 international smartphone users, revealed some fascinating details, including that 81 percent of people feel SMS messages on their smartphones should be private, and a third of respondents want to actually conceal part of their SMS logs -- especially from their significant others. Of course, it’s not just text messages that users want to hide.

While SMS logs ranked in top place with 29 percent, a quarter of respondents (25 percent) had contacts they didn’t want others knowing about, and 21 percent confessed to wanting to hide records of calls.

Unsurprisingly, nearly a quarter of users admit to having pictures (13 percent) and video files (12 percent) they want to keep secret.

When asked who they want to hide smartphone content from, partners ranked highest (67.58 percent), with strangers and thieves coming in a distant second (12.42 percent). 37.50 percent said they didn’t want their text messages being seen by spouses or lovers; followed by close friends and family members (30.08 percent), coworkers (11.4 percent), and relatives and classmates (8.6 percent).

Men (76 percent) are more likely than women (24 percent) to be embarrassed about others seeing their SMS logs and contacts. Make of that what you will…

"The survey proves people are sensitive to individual privacy on their smartphones and long for a way to keep their personal data outside curious eyes," said Fiona Choo, PM of IObit Mobile.

IObit has a reason for conducting a survey that reveals what many of us would have suspected about smartphone use. The company has just launched an updated version of its AMC (Advanced Mobile Care) Security app for Android which adds some advanced features, including an SMS/Contacts Locker for Premium users.

Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

samedi 28 juin 2014

With Surface Pro 3 as mediator, Windows and I reconcile our differences

Surface Pro 3

Before adopting the Chromie lifestyle and declaring independence from Apple two summers ago, I primarily was a Mac user. I wrote most of the so-called anti-Apple stories (so some commentary say) on the company's laptops. Chromebook still warms my heart, but for the summer -- and likely longer -- we part ways. On June 20, I walked out of Microsoft Store San Diego with a free Surface Pro 3. But I am accidental thief; that story later.

In April, I wrote about "My two years with Chromebook", giving loads of praise. I might still use Chrome OS as my primary platform today, if not for sudden partial loss of vision -- non-diabetic macular edema in both eyes. The ailment compelled a reevaluation of my computing needs. I purchased a refurbished Surface RT preinstalled with Windows 8.1, because of the free Word, which will ease ebook publishing. I really enjoyed the user experience, much more than the Surface Pro reviewed in February 2013. Updated operating system is major reason. Also, Microsoft's ClearType improved my diminished reading ability.

In early June, the ophthalmologist treated the ailment with shots and reviewed my progress this week. The edema is down about 35 percent in both eyes. Reading and writing are now impaired, rather than impossible, which is quite the improvement even if far from fully functional. Windows' terrific graphics -- on the tablet and Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone -- really help.

Summer Sojourn

With Surface Pro 3 release imminent, I considered the device as laptop and tablet replacement. During summer 2011, I used the first commercially-available Chromebook as my only PC. I decided to experiment again, planning to write about the experience. But Microsoft didn't have a loaner -- colleague Brian Fagioli got that. Enamored by the potential benefits, I bought my own. I sold the Chromebook Pixel that I had purchased from a Craigslist-poster and returned my Android tablet to Amazon for refund. My bank recently offered a no-interest credit card, which will carry the balance not raised from the sales.

I lined up with about 20 other people at 8 a.m. PDT on June 20. Four of the five people waiting in front of me were students -- whom I would stereotype as Mac users. Aside from vision, their priorities resembled mine: Creating content on a device usable as laptop and tablet.

Microsoft Store staff was friendly, courteous, and as discovered later overly generous.

When I checked my credit card activity the other night, there was a charge for Surface Pro 3 and then its refund. Backtrack: As I walked out of Microsoft Store a week ago yesterday, the sales associate stopped me. The point-of-sale system overloaded with all the Surface Pro 3 purchases. She wasn't sure my credit card had been charged. But when I checked the account on my phone, the pending amount listed -- and Microsoft later emailed a receipt.

But there was a problem after all. The charge reversed, and I had a free Surface. Oh yeah! Somebody in this world has to be honest, and a journalist's quest is the honest truth. So I went into the store yesterday to correct the mistake. Sure enough, the co-manager found no payment. He said that when the home office reconciled accounts, the error would absolutely be discovered. So he said at first. When later finding no record at all of the sale, I read something different in his facial reaction. I then wondered if the reversal was deliberate rather than accidental. Did the Microsoft powers that be intercede because of my earlier posting about wanting to use Surface Pro 3 all summer? Unlikely, but one wonders. Anyway, I'm an honest citizen again and eligible for a free Surface case as reward. (Curiosity kills me, wondering what commenters will say to this tale.)

Fresh Feeling

I eventually will write a full review, along with a series of ongoing posts. Generally, I am satisfied with Surface Pro 3 as laptop and tablet a week in. Performance is excellent, and unlike some of the blogger reviewers, I find the keyboard responsive and friendly to touch. My typing speed is comparable to Chromebook Pixel, and I am good evaluator. Muscle memory -- fingers to keys -- compensates for diminished vision as I type. My fingers find the keys just fine.

Windows lets in more light than when I last used it. My computing domicile is fresher and more lively. The differences between Windows 8 and 8.1 are subtle but strongly experienced. While Modern UI is more work than Chrome OS, because swiping takes your fingers all over the screen, the overall experience mostly satisfies this user.

Two nights ago, I wanted to show my father-in-law a YouTube video on his iPad Air. Suddenly, I was befuddled trying to move around the UI, after in just a few weeks becoming so accustomed to swiping. The benefit I hadn't seen before, glared at me. Modern UI is difficult to appreciate on a non-touchscreen. On Surface, the motif lives up to its name. In my book, The Principles of Disruptive Design , I explain about Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8:

Both Windows operating systems break free from nearly three decades of skeuomorph software design that Apple pushed to market with Mac OS in the mid-1980s. Three-dimensional icons, toolbars, and other visual elements are examples of skeuomorphism, which seeks to imitate something familiar applied to something else. Apple’s iOS 7 adopts flat as the major design ethic, in a stunning turnabout.

Modern computing screens are 2D, not 3D, making the skeuomorphic approach an anachronism at best and user hindrance at worst. Building on the familiarity of 3D objects made some sense during the early days of PC acceptance but has no useful benefit on websites or devices that use touchscreens.

Microsoft’s “Modern UI”, previously called “Metro”, emphasizes simplicity, reduces complexity, and strips away distraction. The more typical 3D design is busy and tires the eyes, particularly on smaller screens, such as smartphones. For example, Samsung’s TouchWiz UI is exhausting (in my experience), which applies to newest iteration “Nature UX 2.0” used on Galaxy S4.

By contrast, Modern UI maximizes the touchscreen’s utility rather than apply concepts that visually imitate a 3-dimensional, physical experience. The tile approach, particularly on smartphones, fits into a design concept Microsoft calls “glance and go”—the idea being to let users get information they need quickly rather than sift through distracting elements.

By the way, in July, I will update the book after second-quarter PC, phone, and tablet shipments are available.

The flat design really appeals to me. More broadly, Microsoft's content presentation crushes competitors. The Live tiles are, well, lively, and services like Bing, Bing News, and Weather look great -- the visuals pull you in. I never read Google News, but now make daily jaunts to the Bing News app on my Start Screen.

Wrapping up -- because a review someday comes -- Surface Pro 3 is so far tablet enough and laptop enough me. Sure there are quirks, but generally I am satisfied. Will I feel as such in a month? That's why the long review process, to answer the long-use question.

Photo Credit: Joe Wilcox

vendredi 27 juin 2014

Smart consumers will be Android Wear wary

panic hands due man afraid

I find the whole smartwatch craze rather amusing, even more so now that Google has officially announced Android Wear, with two models, made by LG and Samsung, shipping next month. One-day battery life? Bwaaahaha. Do they never learn? Microsoft-powered smartwatches got better than that a decade ago, and short battery life still turned out to be one of the main reasons the timepieces failed.

In product design you can never ignore existing behavior. A watch is a set-it, and forget-it device. I suppose some gadget geeks accustomed to daily smartphone charges (or less) will be dumb enough to buy. But smart consumers will be Android Wear wary. Just ask Microsoft about the road to ruin, which is paved with the best intentions, the right manufacturing partners, and concept seemingly smart that isn't.

Right for the Few

I sympathize with the gadget geeks who on Google+ disagree with my assessment about battery life. We had quite the fervent comment discussion the past two days. I've been where they are now -- enthusiastic about the new thing but wrong about mass-market potential. In January 2004, I wrote:

Yesterday, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates revealed that MSN Direct (formerly SPOT) watches are ready for sale. Fossil and Suunto are the first manufacturers of the watches, which serve up news, weather, instant messages, sports and calendar information via FM. Beyond the price of the watch, users pay $9.95 a month or, under an annual plan, about $60 a year for the MSN Direct service. Watch owners configure the service on a PC.

Overall, I was fairly skeptical about the usefulness of a MSN Direct watch. So, my testing didn't begin with enthusiasm about the latest new toy. That said, I find that I use some features, such as the Weather, fairly frequently. I also particularly like alerts that beep and flash when important news events occur.

I also questioned recharging the battery every couple of days or paying an extra fee for receiving content on the watch. In practice, while a minor annoyance, I didn't find the frequent recharging to be a major inconvenience.

I tested the first watch for about a month before writing about it. Over time, I found that frequent charging was annoying, and research conducted for analyst reports revealed battery life to be top priority among potential devices buyers. With watches, people often measure battery life in years, not days, or even a day. Frequent charging asked too much then, as it does now.

The rebuttal: People are accustomed to charging smartphones on a daily basis. Perhaps, but consumer research still shows battery life to be paramount -- revealed if nowhere else than the features device manufacturers emphasize most in product marketing.

Look around you, fewer people wear watches because their smartphones provide the time. My analyst researched revealed that trend well underway a decade ago, with respect to dumb phones. Watches are more functional jewelry -- set it, and forget it -- but not Android Wear.

Wrong for the Many

But the big problem is overlap. Watch or phone do too much the same thing, with respect to providing information. Why carry both devices, when the smartphone does as much or more?

On Google+, Michael Interbartolo asked me: "Name a set-it and forget-it watch that plays music, gives me turn-by-turn directions and other contextual information when I need it and the time the rest of the time".

I responded: "I refer you to the first smartphones, which offered amazing informational utility on the go compared to PCs but only started to sell after key attributes reached maturity. Battery life is high among them, and consumer research continues to rate battery life among the top priorities among buyers".

Cassette tapes and vinyl records could be the applicable analogy. While more portable, the tapes were less functional and duplicated benefits already available from records. But in the 1980s, CDs offered better benefits -- portability, sound quality, and more -- and displaced vinyl. Perhaps by the fifth generation -- the third, optimistically -- voiceless interaction will allow smartwatches to replace smartphones, and with as good or better battery life. That's a potential point of consumer inflection, but Android Wear today is at best a geek wet dream.

Cool for Some

In 2004, Microsoft did so much right, starting with partners, which were established watchmakers. Google works with electronics companies that have no experience selling timepieces. That's great for gadget geeks but not the mass market.

More from my post 10 years ago:

Microsoft is trying to make its computing products more cool, something more associated with Apple. A wrist watch is more than just a timepiece. It's a piece of jewelry. Jewelry is a status symbol, too -- think Rolex watches in some circles and body piercings in others, or both. So, I would encourage Microsoft and its watch manufacturer partners to carefully consider their marketing, emphasizing style and status as much as the informational features.

They did just that, and I recommended about the service delivering information:

Then there is the "cool" the service offers. Consider that the watch also receives instant messages. How about John the teenage or college-age boyfriend zinging romantic IMs from his laptop in class to girlfriend Jane's watch? Or Fred the bored employee with no Internet access at work quietly catching the latest sports scores on his MSN Direct watch? Sharp marketing could easily wrap these scenarios to emphasize style and being cool.

Google and its Android Wear partners should take that advice, too. Style is behavioral, too. There are great benefits to that information on the wrist.

But Microsoft had an advantage, by using FM radio to dispatch information. No phone required. Until the smartwatch is an independent cellular device with long battery life, it won't be smart enough for most consumers.

Photo Credit: Vlue/Shutterstock

Android owners spend less on apps than Apple users do


Many Google fans and developers are still excited in the wake of an eventful Google I/O 2014. From a transcendent show-opener where a metaphor-heavy Rube Goldberg device crossed through the physical and digital space to more discussion on the expansion of wearable technology, there was something for everyone at this developer conference.

The US tech giant's big hitter of this year was an emphasis on improving the integration of Android apps more seamlessly into users' everyday lives. Conference attendants were also granted an unprecedented look at the figures behind Android users' buying habits in the Play Store.

It was announced that a major milestone for Android had been hit this year: 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs). In contrast, Apple announced at WWDC that it had sold over 800 million iOS devices so far, though didn't reveal how many Apple Store MAUs there are.

In the US, it is the iPhone that has an average 60 percent majority over Google Android and Windows Phone. However, MAUs that access Facebook through Google Android dominate markets outside of the US. This is particularly so in emerging markets leading a large majority share against iPhone and BlackBerry. But why?

Currently, the average cost of an iPhone is $650 whereas for an Android phone, that average price tag shrinks down to about $276. For an outright buy as opposed to a contract option, an Android phone is more cost-appealing. With that in mind, whether cost is or is not an issue for consumers, it does reflect their buying choices in purchasing a free ad-supported or a paid app.

Developers can also create apps that are available cross-platform on Android and iPhone. Though iPhone apps are solely for use on iPhone, a notable example of a cross-platform app is Google Maps, an initially Android-only app that is the more popular choice for iOS users over Apple Maps. Although Apple pays twice as much as Google to its developers ($10bn against $5bn respectively) it would seem that does not reflect users' spending on apps.

Cheap Android phones are easier to purchase than cheap iPhones in emerging countries and non-US countries. However, software prices -- especially through the App Store and Google Play -- are almost uniformly the same around the globe without taking into account the spending power of each nation. For the emerging nations, software and service prices of the App Store are expensive relative to the cost of a phone in those countries.

Though these factors may not be the contributors to such a significant disparity in Android and iPhone users' spending, they do give facts and figures of the possible influences. Nevertheless, to discuss worldwide market share of apps is a complex task, especially as not all consumers have the spending power to buy phones boxfresh.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Best iOS apps this week -- Ministry of Silly Walks edition

Silly walks stillTwenty-fourth in a series. Apple refreshed its aging iPod touch lineup this week, introducing a new 16GB model with an iSight camera, and lowered the price of the existing models. If you’ve been tempted to pick up an iPod touch, but were put off by the price, now is the time to go for it.

The App Store saw some excellent releases this week, including a free app which lets you store unlimited photos and videos in the cloud, a Ministry of Silly Walks game voiced by John Cleese, a travel app that covers everything from planning to booking, an origami based puzzle game, and a slot machine that lets you put pictures of friends and family on the reels. And that’s just for starters!

As always, if I miss an app that you think should definitely have been included, let me know in the comments below, or drop me an email.

Here is my selection for this week.

Paid App of the Week

Monty Python's The Ministry of Silly Walks ($0.99)

I’m going to be seeing Monty Python in London next week, so this game couldn’t have arrived at a better time for me.

The aim is to unleash your silly walk across London, while dodging dangerous obstacles and collecting gold coins. Randomized objects and scenery ensure each game is different and you can spend the coins you bank on sillier suits and power-ups.

The game is voiced by the Minister of Silly Walks himself, John Cleese.

Silly Walks

Free App of the Week


ShutterShutter is an infinite camera app from StreamNation that automatically syncs with an unlimited cloud storage account, eliminating the need to constantly delete content in order to free up space for new photos and videos.

All the photos and videos you take using it are directly uploaded to the cloud (you can set the app to just use Wi-Fi), but the most recent ones are always available for viewing offline. The app lets you set the number of photos stored on your phone to 0, 200, 500, or 1GB.

Your media can be retrieved whenever you like and downloaded in its original format. Photos and videos currently stored on your phone are also automatically uploaded to the cloud, making it even more useful.

Shutter is completely free with no in-app purchases and offers unlimited storage as well as unlimited sharing over most social networks with no size restrictions. It also offers a range of filter choices, album management, and background upload.

Other Apps

Jellies ($1.99)

This handcrafted game is all about catching jellies -- with bombs, clocks and electroshock.

Join Bob the Fisherman as he embarks on a heroic quest to retrieve his fingers from the wicked jellies that have bitten them off. Traverse the high seas, navigate through arctic glaciers and plunge beyond the ocean depths.

The aim is very simple -- you have to catch as many jellies as you can in 60 seconds, using power-ups to boost your score and time.


Offers in-app purchases.

Minube’s app (now available for iPad) is designed to act as a complete travel-planning tool and cover the entire process from inspiration to booking hotels, including arranging last-minute reservations.

Minube has over 1 million registered travelers providing tips and photos on over 600,000 points of interest around the world. You can use it to discover new destinations and find hotels, restaurants, activities, and interesting things to see and do

The app lets you see places on an interactive map and save favorites into lists which can be shared via email or over social networks.

iPad Inspiration

Picto Slots

Offers in-app purchases.

Picto Slots is a slot machine game with a difference -- users import photos of their family, friends and/or pets to be the game characters. There are eight different slot themes and you can manually stop the reels, earn bonus games and free spins, and play up to 25 pay lines. There are also daily bonus offers and an auto-spin feature.



You can trade items such as home goods, fashion finds, or kids’ gear directly via this new app.

Swapdom finds swaps for you based on requests and offers, with no negotiation needed. You simply request the items you want, tell Swapdom what would like to offer in exchange, and it does the rest.


Savor -- Coupons & Deals

This app lets shoppers find the deal they want and obtain savings through the checkout process by copying and pasting the coupon code from Savor’s site or app. Online shoppers can share Savor’s offers with friends via all the usual social media sites. The updated version sports a new UI and offers sorting by deal type and expiration date. It also offers improved search.


Offers in-app purchases.

A fun origami based puzzle game in which you have to fold sheets of paper in order to create origami figures, working as accurately as possible to fit the form, and avoiding using too many folds. There are 70 puzzles to tackle.

Apple’s App of the Week

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Offers in-app purchases.

Apple’s free app this week is a quality Gameloft movie tie-in. Originally released three months ago, and priced at $2.99, the official game of the Marvel movie blockbuster lets you play as Captain America and lead a S.H.I.E.L.D. Strike Team against several nefarious criminal organizations. The game offers fun tactical action gameplay, and asynchronous multiplayer so you can join a clan and battle rival players.

The graphics have a stylish comic book look to them.

jeudi 26 juin 2014

10 things most storage vendors don't want you to know


The hype machine is still in overdrive in the storage market, cranking out myths that businesses need to see through if they don't want to be bamboozled into adopting solutions that won't meet their requirements.

While there are plenty of things storage vendors want you to believe, here are 10 things they don't want you to know.

Five-year warranties should be standard

Most storage vendors include a 12-month warranty and will probably extend it to three years if you push them hard. But ask them for a five-year guarantee and they'll hike the total price by a huge amount. Why? It's because they like you to rotate kit every three years. Moore's law means it makes sense to swap out servers but not necessarily storage. Storage should not only last five years but should still be performant -- push for fairer treatment.

You should be able to use all the storage you buy

In any scenario outside the storage world, no one would accept they could only use a percentage of the product they purchase. If you buy a five bedroom house, you should be able to use five bedrooms. If you buy a five seater car, you should be able to use five seats. If you buy storage, you should be able to use 100 percent capacity without performance degradation.

However, many storage vendors issue "best practice" guidelines, warning customers of dramatic performance loss if they use more than 75 percent storage capacity. It is possible to deploy a storage array that can run at 100 per cent capacity without any performance degradation. Why is it that most storage architectures aren't designed for this?

Upgrades should not be costly or complex

A large-scale upgrade, or changes to parts of the existing infrastructure, can frequently mutate into a complex project that includes downtime, investment in new hardware and a hefty professional services bill. Background migrations are possible and, with true scale-out architectures, can be a thing of the past.

Storage doesn't need people

The biggest causes of data center failures are people. If you can limit the interaction between humans and IT by making equipment repairable in situ, you restrict the potential for data center failure. Around 70 per cent of warranty returned drives have nothing wrong with them or just need a simple recondition. The solution is to find an array vendor that repairs drives in situ and avoids the need for humans to go near the box for at least five years.

Quality matters when it comes to drives

Whether you're looking at hard disk or solid state drives, the same rule applies: beware of consumer-grade hardware. There's a huge difference in the quality of components used, the testing carried out and, most importantly, the annual failure rate of drives in consumer- and enterprise-grade products.

Consumer-grade hardware may well be cheaper to purchase but operational costs and risk are likely to be much higher than for more reliable and robust enterprise-grade products. Make sure you balance capital expenditure, operational costs and risk when looking at any type of drive.

Flash isn't the savior of the universe

Flash is not the answer to every problem. It is a great tool to help certain workloads' performance but it has its limitations. When it comes to large sequential writes for example, hard disk drives are much more appropriate. Flash and hard disk are different tools that can and should be deployed for different jobs. To get the right blend of media for their storage requirements right, businesses should talk to vendors that are not restricted to a single type of media to decide which tool is most appropriate.

All-flash arrays aren't always more power-efficient

Many people have been led to believe that all-flash arrays are more power-efficient than hard disk arrays. When looking at the power requirements of storage you need to consider the whole array, not just the drive modules, to get the full picture. The truth is, some hard disk drive arrays use less power than all-flash ones. What matters most is how vendors implement more power-hungry components, such as processors and cache memory.

Vibration kills predictable performance

Excessive vibration can cause reliability issues, but what a lot of people don't realize is that it can also seriously affect performance. While it is possible to stop vibration and give 100 percent consistent performance, it's not easy and takes significant investment to design such an array. It may sound crazy, but one easy way to test storage for performance is to give it a good shouting at and see what happens -- you might just be surprised.

You don't need all those bells and whistles

Decisions around enterprise storage have typically been built on feature checklists, rather than the reliability and performance of the array itself. With the emergence of software-defined storage (SDS), a significant amount of the required functionality is shifting from the storage array to hypervisors, operating systems and applications.

Many enterprise storage array "deals" end up locking customers in to proprietary software that only works on one platform. SDS gives businesses the flexibility to choose the platform they want without worrying about the underlying hardware -- this improves their bargaining power and frees them to focus on performance and reliability.

Scalable storage isn't all the same

Many vendors offer scalable storage but most neglect to explain that it relies on a central legacy storage controller to power performance-hungry software stacks and applications. This can often lead to significant upgrades to scale capacity and performance. However, there is an alternative to the traditional "scale-up" storage model. There are some units that will work seamlessly together in a single storage pool, combining increased capacity and performance.

Instead of performance and reliability, the current storage market is sadly largely built on hype and jargon. What customers really need are straight-talking, no-fuss vendors to help them get the best storage platform for their businesses. There may not be many of them, but they do exist.

Gavin McLaughlin is the vice president of worldwide marketing at X-IO Technologies

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Samsung expecting a drop in Q2 profits following weak Galaxy S5 sales


Samsung has told investors to expect lower than anticipated profits for its second quarter results for the fiscal year.

The news reinforces concerns over a year-on-year downturn and finance chief, Lee Sang Hoon has confirmed the financial woes.

With shares in the company declining by 1.9 percent this week, Lee stated that Samsung's second quarter earnings were "not that good." This comes after the company suffered an 8.5 percent dip earlier this month.

Part of the reason for the slump, is unsatisfactory sales of the company's flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone. Shipments of the handset have exceeded 11 million units, but it has not been confirmed how many of these have transferred into over-the-counter sales.

Another issue is the growing competition in emerging markets, particularly from Nokia's budget smartphones, which has meant reduced sales for Samsung's mid-to-low end devices.

Ji Sung Hae, an analyst at KTB Investment & Securities said, "Strengthening competitiveness of local players in emerging markets are hurting sales of Samsung's lower-end smartphones. The main reason behind the lowered earnings estimate largely stemmed from weak smartphone sales".

While Samsung sold one in every three smartphones last year, the news will still come as a reminder of the increasing competition in the smartphone market.

Samsung is expected to confirm its preliminary earnings for the second quarter early next month.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.