Waze just got a ‘lot’ better

What a waste: Drivers waste up to 55 hours a year looking for somewhere to park their car. — AFP Relaxnews

What a waste: Drivers waste up to 55 hours a year looking for somewhere to park their car. — AFP Relaxnews

Popular navigation app Waze is teaming up with INRIX to take the stress out of finding a parking lot a lot closer to your final destination.

It doesn’t matter how good the active safety and assistance features are on current cars if you can’t take advantage of them. A host of 2016 model-year vehicles can park themselves in a parallel or perpendicular space while simultaneously keeping an electronic eye out for on-coming traffic.

However, if you can’t find a parking space in the first place, the systems are redundant. And according to the latest Frost and Sullivan data, the average driver is currently wasting 55 hours a year looking for a parking space and that equates to a staggering US$600mil (RM2.48bil) in lost time and burned fuel in the US and Europe.

Waze already offers a list of parking lots sourced from its user community but by partnering with INRIX the app will now have a comprehensive list of facilities throughout Europe and North America.

“Driving from point A to B is only part of the journey,” said Alex Israel, vice president and general manager of parking at INRIX. “The addition of INRIX Parking enhances Wazers’ end-to-end driving experience.”

INRIX is one of the world leaders in connecting cars and is leveraging that information for insights on everything from congestion to parking. Its technology is appearing as standard in a host of carmakers’ ranges, from BMW to Volvo.

This initial coming together will only provide Waze users with navigation to car parks closest to their destination, but INRIX also has dynamic solutions that offer real-time information about pricing and use – i.e., how many spaces are available at a facility – plus algorithms that can calculate which on-street parking areas are the most and least likely to be in use.

“Driving around looking for spots impacts arrival times and adds unneeded frustration and stress to the entire driving experience,” said Flavia Sasaki Siqueira, Head of Business Development for Waze.

“Combining INRIX parking information with our own parking database expands reach and accuracy of the ‘where to park’ feature.” — AFP Relaxnews

Source: The Star Online

Huawei replaces Xiaomi at top of Chinese smartphone market

The most recent numbers out of analyst firm IDC show a major shakeup in the Chinese smartphone market for Q2. During an especially rough quarter, local handset maker Xiaomi’s shipment dipped significantly from 17.1 to 10.5 million year over year, according to the firm.

The 38 percent drop was enough to knock the company down to the fourth position, as Huawei took over the top spot with 19.1 million units moved, comprising 17.2 percent of the country’s massive market share. Huawei was followed closely by fellow domestic manufacturers OPPO and Vivo, at 18 and 14.7 million units, respectively.

For its part, Xiaomi has disputed IDC’s numbers, pointing to higher estimates from other prominent research firms, though all noted numbers significantly below Q2 2015’s 17 million.

The highest spot by a non-domestic company on IDC’s list was secured by Apple, which rounded out the top five with 8.6 million shipments, also down fairly significantly (31.7 percent) from 12.6 the year prior.

Source: TechCrunch

Xiaomi announces its first VR headset


Xiaomi is broadening its already expansive range of products by venturing into virtual reality for the first time.

The company today announced the Mi VR Play, an “entry-level” virtual reality headset that it hopes can open this new exciting medium to new audiences because not everyone has thousands of dollars needed to set up an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Democratizing technology is the thesis behind most of Xiaomi’s competitively priced products, including the $550/$750 notebook announced last week that will rival Apple’s Macbook in China.

This new device recalls Google’s super-cheap and super-simple Cardboard VR headset. It is fairly basic in nature; you pop a smartphone into the lycra-built body then open Xiaomi’s Mi VR app, which contains VR content from selected partners that include Conde Nast Traveler and YouKu, “China’s YouTube.” Xiaomi pledged to invest $1 billion in video content, including VR, last year, so that library is sure to get bigger over time.

Read more: TechCrunch

‘Nougat’ – New version of Android crowned

Newest sweet treat: Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars. — Google

Newest sweet treat: Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars. — Google

SAN FRANCISCO: Google’s newest mobile operating system will be called Nougat, continuing a tradition of naming Android software after sweet treats, the tech giant said.

Google had invited people to send in suggestions at its annual developers conference in May, and revealed the winning Android name at a playful ceremony at its campus in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View.

Nutella was thought to be a favourite, but Nougat won the day.

Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars.

The technology giant has been letting developers work with the new mobile operating system, which is expected to be released later this year.

Alphabet-owned Google’s Android operating software is a computing phenomenon that powers the vast majority of smartphones sold across the world.

There were 1.16 billion smartphones shipped in 2015 that are powered by Android, according to research group Gartner. That accounted for 82% of the market, dwarfing the 225.85 million for Apple’s iOS.

Cupcake, the first version of the operating software to carry the name of an enticing desert, was released in 2009.

It was followed by Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop and current-generation Marshmallow. — AFP

Source: The Star Online

China ban on Apple services is a challenge for key growth area

People line up outside an Apple store as iPhone SE goes on sale in China, in Hangzhou

The blocking of Apple mobile entertainment services in China poses fresh challenges for the tech company as it prepares to report its first-ever drop in iPhone sales.

The news on Thursday that Apple Inc’s online book and film services had gone dark in China came at a vulnerable moment for the company. Apple executives have said that iPhone sales will fall for the first time in the company’s second quarter, and the results for that quarter will be released on Tuesday. Investors are sensitive to any signs of trouble in Greater China, the company’s second-largest market by revenue.

Apple executives have flagged the growing services business as a potential source of revenue as sales of the company’s flagship devices level off, upping the stakes for success in China, said analyst Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research.

“It raises questions in an area that we know long-term is going to be very strategically important to Apple,” he said.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that a state regulator demanded Apple halt the service. The move came after Beijing introduced regulations in March imposing strict curbs on online publishing, particularly for foreign firms.

Still, the outage is only troubling if it persists, O’Donnell said. Apple said in a statement on Thursday that it hopes to make the services available to customers in China as soon as possible.

Apple has a strong track record of working with officials in China, where it has launched a series of services including mobile payment Apple Pay, but some analysts questioned whether the company may receive a chillier reception in the future.

“Is this the beginning of more pressure on Apple by the Chinese government?” asked analyst of Frank Gillett of research firm Forrester. “It’s a symbolic turn, and the question is to what extent is it a harbinger.”

The company released its book and movie services in China only late last year, leaving Chinese consumers little time to form a habit.

“People who are buying iPhones in China aren’t buying them for iTunes,” said O’Donnell. “They are buying it for the status and the cachet of owning an Apple product, and that is really more about the hardware.”

Chinese consumers’ appetite for the phones themselves will be critical to quarterly earnings. Apple is expected to post its first-ever quarterly drop in iPhone sales, to about 50 million units, reflecting a saturated global market.

Wall Street expects adjusted earnings per share to drop 14 percent to $2.00 and revenue to drop 10 percent to $52.0 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Source: Reuters

WhatsApp bug opened door to hacking

Fixed: A flaw in the Web version of WhatsApp made it possible for hackers to hide malicious code in seemingly innocent “vCards” containing contact information. — AFP

Fixed: A flaw in the Web version of WhatsApp made it possible for hackers to hide malicious code in seemingly innocent “vCards” containing contact information. — AFP

SAN FRANCISCO: WhatsApp recently patched a flaw that left 200 million users vulnerable to being hacked using booby-trapped digital cards for contact details, according to a US computer security firm.

Facebook-owned messaging application WhatsApp boasts more than 900 million users, some 200 million of them who access the service on computer browser software that mirrors activity from mobile devices.

A flaw in the Web version of WhatsApp made it possible for hackers to hide malicious code in seemingly innocent “vCards” containing contact information.

Opening tainted cards allowed viruses to infect computers, potentially allowing hackers to steal control or information, according to an online post by Check Point computer security firm.

Hackers would only need a target’s smartphone number and for the person to open the “vCard.”

Check Point said that it disclosed the vulnerability to WhatsApp last month and that an updated version of the application was released. — AFP

Source: The Star Online