Apple Watch reportedly took 52% of the smartwatch market in 2015

Apple Watch - Hermes wrist

According to a new research, the Apple Watch claimed 52% of the global smartwatch market in 2015, after less than a year on sale. The Apple Watch’s Android Wear competitors held only 10% of the market, according to Juniper Research.

Despite the Apple Watch’s popularity, Juniper has found that consumers are still wary of the category. Many are holding off on purchasing a watch, citing factors such as price. Some customers are also skeptical that a smartwatch would actually be a convenience.

While smartwatches’ most common claim to a use case is to improve convenience and ‘free’ users from their smartphone, several users and reviewers note that this simply shifts the burden of notification to another location, rather than lessening the load.

Juniper has found that, outside of the Apple Watch, the smartwatch market has been driven by devices with more basic functionality and lower cost. Most of these devices tend to have basic notifications and fitness tracking, without the ability to run apps. The largest markets for smartwatches in 2015 were, according to Juniper, North America, China and East Asia, and Western Europe.

Source: iMore

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

Apple launches new iPhone 6s models, iPad Pro and Apple TV

Every Apple event is always preceded by intense speculation on what the company is about to release.

For this year’s event, the Internet rumour mill ground into overtime with a number of obvious and not-so-obvious predictions.

These ranged from the inevitable iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus devices to a new Apple TV and and a larger screen tablet called the iPad Pro.

Also, there were a few sure things which had already been announced, namely iOS 9, watchOS 2 and the next Mac OS X El Capitan.

So now that the event is over and all has been revealed, what did we get?

Same design, new stuff: While the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus share the same design as the iPhone 6, there are a lot of changes under the hood.

Same design, new stuff: While the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus share the same design as the iPhone 6, there are a lot of changes under the hood.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
Based on past experience, the iPhone model following a major new redesign differed little in looks, but got a speed bump and some hardware tweaks.

So after the iPhone 3G you got the iPhone 3GS, after the iPhone 4 you got the iPhone 4S and after the iPhone 5 was the iPhone 5S.

For the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, the Internet predicted that it will have the same design, but will be slightly thicker (to prevent any more “bendgate” incidents) and, most interesting of all, feature a new Force Touch capable screen.

So what did we get?

The Apple event indeed revealed the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus – while they look the same as the current models, CEO Tim Cook says they are very different on the inside.

Chief amongst these changes is the 3D Touch feature (looks like that’s what Apple is calling Force Touch now) and while we expected it, Apple’s implementation will completely change how you interact with iOS.

Using the same feature first seen in the Apple Watch, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus take the whole “press harder” idea to a whole new level by adding new functions.

At its most basic, you can press down an app and bring up a context menu that shows your most-used actions relating to that app.

However, what 3D Touch really enables is a right-click paradigm in iOS – press harder in your summary of email messages and you’ll get to peek at the entire email, while pressing harder you’ll open the email proper.

See a link in iMessages? 3D Touch on it and you can pop-up a quick browser window to see the webpage – lift your finger to go back to your message.

In fact, instead of double-clicking on the Home button to bring up the multitasking menu, on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus you can do this by pressing down harder while in an app and swiping to switch between open apps.

On the hardware front, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus share the same resolution as before, but internally, many of the hardware features have been upgraded.

The processor is, as expected, a new A9 processor with an M9 motion co-processor, while the Touch ID sensor is now claimed to be even faster than before.

What’s an iPhone without a class-leading camera? The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus don’t disappoint – both come with an upgraded 12-megapixel image sensor which Apple claims not only captures more detail than before, but does this without compromising on detail and colour accuracy.

Apple is also introducing a feature called Live Photos with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus which captures a short video clip before and after your still photo so you can see your photos in motion when you press down on a photo.

Yes, we’ve seen this feature in another smartphone before.

More importantly, the new sensor also allows for 4K video recording and according to Apple’s Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus can edit 4K video directly in iMovie on the device itself.

The front-facing camera has also been upgraded to a 5-megapixel FaceTime camera and taking a trick from an old iMac, the LCD screen can be used as a makeshift flash to help illuminate your face when taking a selfie.

Oh yes, the rumours were also correct in that both new models are built on a stronger 7000 series aircraft grade aluminium alloy and cover glass.

While no local prices have been announced, a quick check on the US Apple Store reveals that the contract-free iPhone 6s will go for US$649 (RM2,800) for the 16GB version, US$749 (RM3,200) for 64GB and US$849 (RM3,650) for 128GB.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 6s Plus is priced at US$749 (RM3,200) for 16GB, US$849 (RM3,650) for 64GB and US$949 (RM4,100) for 128GB.

The US pricing is actually the same as before, but at our current exchange rate, the devices are going to be quite hard on the wallet unless Apple decides to charge a bit lower locally.

The new iPhones are slated for launch in the United States and some countries on Sept 12, while countries like Hong Kong and Singapore will get them by Sept 25.

As usual, Malaysia is not specifically listed in any of those launch dates, and we will probably have to wait till the end of the year before we can purchase one.

More TV: The redesigned Apple TV is bigger but offers more storage, an App Store and a new remote control. It ships in late October in the United States.

More TV: The redesigned Apple TV is bigger but offers more storage, an App Store and a new remote control. It ships in late October in the United States.

Revamped Apple TV
Having been left alone and unloved since the last update in 2013, the Apple TV was rumoured for a big update at this Sept 9 event.

Most of the rumours seem to agree that the new Apple TV would be larger, feature a touch-based remote control and a host of new services including an App Store, TV streaming service, Siri integration and more on-board storage than the meagre 1GB on current models.

However, the most exciting rumour was that the App Store would support games that could be played on the TV with a wireless controller.

Indeed, as it turns out, all the rumours were right and a new Apple TV was announced with more powerful hardware and an App Store.

It is physically larger than its predecessor but that’s because it’s sporting new powerful hardware and a lot of cool features.

For one thing, the remote is now touch- and Siri-enabled so you can swipe across the surface of the remote to access the menu options.

The real magic is in Siri – you can specifically ask for particular shows or genres as you’d expect but what makes it powerful is that you can ask specific questions like, “Show me the Modern Family episode with Edward Norton” and get Siri to find it for you.

Even more interesting is that if you missed a bit of conversation in the show, you can ask Siri something like, “What did she say?” and Siri will rewind the show back 15-seconds and temporarily turn on captions to help you catch what you missed.

Of course, with the appearance of the App Store, the new Apple TV can install not just entertainment apps but also games while the remote can be used as the game controller.

Music gaming company Harmonix, showed a very cool music-themed game called Beat Sports which takes advantage of the motion sensor in the Apple TV remote to offer gameplay similar to the Nintendo Wii games of yesteryear.

Also, games can be started on the iPhone or iPad and continued seamlessly on the Apple TV later.

Instead of simply being “based on iOS”, Apple is calling the iOS-based operating system on the Apple TV the tvOS.

The Apple TV is slated to be available in October in 80 countries.

There will be two versions – a 32GB version for US$149 (RM650) and 64GB for US$199 (RM850).

Bigger is better: The iPad Pro's 12.9in screen and more powerful processor allows for easy typing and a more notebook-like experience

Bigger is better: The iPad Pro’s 12.9in screen and more powerful processor allows for easy typing and a more notebook-like experience

iPad goes Pro
The iPad Pro rumour has been floating around for a while now and many agree that Apple has indeed been working on a tablet with a screen of 12in or 13in in size.

Apart from the screen size, the ability to run apps side-by-side and a rumoured stylus, however, very little information was leaked about this new device.

So did we get the iPad Pro? Yes, indeed, and it even has a stylus!

The iPad Pro comes with a 12.9in oxide TFT LCD screen with a 2,732 x 2,048-pixel screen – that’s  a whopping 5.6 megapixels with a pixels-per-inch density of 264 for anyone who’s counting!

The device runs on the new A9X processor which Apple’s Phil Schiller claims is 1.8x faster than the A8X processor it replaces with double the performance when it comes to graphics.

Schiller also showed off how the iPad Pro is actually powerful enough to edit three streams of 4K video simultaneously – that’s impressive considering that many PCs today still struggle with editing 4K video.

For the first time, the iPad Pro comes with a four-speaker system which automatically changes the stereo left and right channels depending on the orientation.

Apparently, all four speakers are used to subtly enhance the stereo soundstaging as well.

The iPad Pro also comes with a new magnetic connector which connects to an optional Smart Cover, a magnetic cover with an integrated keyboard – yes, we’ve seen a similar accessory for Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet already.

Lightning charge: The back of the Apple Pencil pops open to reveal a Lightning connector which can be plugged right into an iPad Pro to charge the stylus

Lightning charge: The back of the Apple Pencil pops open to reveal a Lightning connector which can be plugged right into an iPad Pro to charge the stylus

Finally, there’s the Apple Pencil – again, it’s similar to powered styli we’ve seen with other tablets and it recognises pressure as well.

What’s interesting, however, is how the Apple Pencil charges – the back of the stylus pops off to reveal a Lightning connector which plugs directly into the bottom of the iPad Pro to charge.

A number of apps compatible with the Apple Pencil were shown off, including one from Adobe called Photoshop Fix.

The iPad Pro starts at US$799 (RM3,450) for a 32GB WiFi-only version, US$949 (RM4,100) for a 128GB WiFi version and finally, a 128GB WiFi plus cellular version which will set you back US$1079 (RM4,650).

The iPad Pro ships in November in the United States, but there is no information yet on when it will be available here.

New storage plans:Apple also announced upgraded iCloud storage plans

New storage plans:Apple also announced upgraded iCloud storage plans

Conclusion
Well, there’s a lot more of “me-too” in this launch, with Apple adding many features to its devices which we’ve seen before in other rival models.

However, the 3D Touch features integrated into the new iPhones promise to be quite revolutionary. We can see many of these features actually being truly useful on a day-to-day basis.

The iPad Pro is an interesting device – again it’s sort of playing catch up to other large tablets out there, most notably the Microsoft Surface 3 Pro with its Type Keyboard and stylus, but it does take the iPad line into a new place.

Source: The Star Online

Vivosmart: The smarter fitness band

tkVivosmart_tk_4

Quite a while back I tested the Garmin Vivofit fitness tracking band and came away pretty impressed with the feature set, especially the promised one-year battery life.

Garmin has just released a new model which sits a little higher in the range and it’s called the Vivosmart.

Despite the confusing naming convention — I’ve heard people confuse the names of the two devices — the Vivosmart is actually a more advanced and quite different device to the Vivofit.

For one thing the Vivosmart is actually narrower and more stylish than the Vivofit and instead of an LCD that’s permanently on, the Vivosmart has a 128 x 16-pixel OLED touchscreen display that’s activated by a double tap.

However, the biggest difference is that the Vivosmart has a couple of smartwatch-like features, most notably the ability to display notifications from your phone right on the smartband’s display.

Basic box bundle

Just like the cheaper Vivofit, the Vivosmart comes in two versions — one with the fitness tracker by itself and another in a bundle with a heart rate monitor.

Also, it’s available in two strap sizes to fit a larger or smaller wrist. Be sure to get the right size if you are buying one.

It also comes in a number of different colours — Garmin has a number of funky names for the colours, namely Berry, Black, Blue, Slate and Purple.

The top section of the fitness band is always black and the colour is only on the underside of the Vivosmart so it looks stylish without being in-your-face about it.

In the box you get the Vivosmart, a USB charge/sync clip and a little plastic loop and, of course, the manual.

The little plastic loop acts as a safety feature to prevent the strap accidentally popping off if it gets caught on your pants pocket or something else.

This happened to me quite a few times when I was testing the Vivofit but not the Vivosmart as the strap has double studs for extra security, so I didn’t have to use the loop.

The model I tried was already fully charged, but as the device has no buttons, the only way you can turn it on for the first time is by connecting it to the charging clip.

Garmin requires you to sync with the Garmin Connect Cloud service to use the Vivosmart, either via PC or Garmin Connect app on your smartphone.

Vivosmart works with any iOS device and most Android smartphones and automatically syncs with the app using Bluetooth 4.0 LE — that pretty much covers current iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and most Android devices.

Not just a fitness band

The appeal of the Vivosmart is that it’s a fitness band with some smartwatch features. Alongside all the usual movement and sleep tracking that is commonplace with all fitness bands, the Vivosmart utilises the white OLED screen to show your smartphone’s notifications.

tkVivosmart_tk_5

Powered up: The Vivosmart’s battery can go on as long as seven days.

 

Notifications in this case include all forms of messages that can appear on the lock screen of your smartphone, including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and SMS.

While you can scroll through a long notification there is no way to dismiss a notification on the Vivosmart itself — you have to do that on your smartphone.

The Vivosmart is touch sensitive so you can swipe left or right along the band to scroll between various screens, namely notifications, time and date, steps taken, step goal, calories burned, Move bar, distance travelled and music controls.

Apart from the time/date and step count screens, any of the other screens can be turned on and off depending on your preference.

There are also extra screens for bicycle speeds, heart rate monitor and even one to control Garmin’s VIRB action camera — all these require optional hardware, of course.

That’s quite a lot of functionality by fitness band standards, really.

A long touch on the Vivosmart’s screen takes you to the fitness band’s extended menu, which has a more features still, namely brightness settings, Sleep mode, Running mode, Clock settings, Alert modes, Manual sync and most interestingly, a Find my Phone mode.

Find my Phone is a rather cool feature if you’re in the habit of misplacing your smartphone in the house — turning on the mode on the Vivosmart will get your phone to produce a sound.

However, what makes it interesting is that the Vivosmart display switches to a signal strength bar which shows you the strength of the Bluetooth connection between the fitness band and your smartphone. The stronger the signal, the closer you are to your phone. Pretty nifty!

Interestingly, the orientation of the display is highly customisable — you can set the screen to read horizontally or vertically either left to right or right to left, so it will be right even when worn on the left or right wrist.

There is a bug however — I found that even with the latest firmware (3.0), the device will default to a certain orientation opposite from the one I prefer whenever I ­connect the charging clip to it.

This orientation will ­persist until I change the orientation back in the ­settings.

You can also set a daily alarm for the device to buzz you in the mornings. However, while you can set the alarm not to buzz you on weekends, you cannot set multiple alarms for different days.

Get going

The Vivosmart, like the Vivofit, has Garmin’s signature Move bar, which is a ­segmented bar that shows your level of activity.

The Move bar’s length will increase by one segment after one hour of inactivity, after which it will vibrate to remind you to walk.

If you still don’t get up and walk, the bar will increase by one segment every 15 minutes and each time the Vivosmart will buzz you.

In terms of fitness tracking, it’s quite feature-packed — apart from the standard tracking of steps and estimated calorie burn, you can also activate a special running mode when you are working out.

Running mode changes the display to specifically track your run, and shows a custom ­display of your time and distance ­travelled.

The Vivosmart does not have built-in GPS and all tracking is purely using the built-in ­pedometer — it’s not as accurate as a full GPS-enabled running watch, but in my tests, the ­distance shown on the watch and on my GPS-enabled running app on the smartphone was only off by between 100m to 300m.

All your activities are ­automatically synced via Bluetooth when you launch the Garmin Connect app on the smartphone. Garmin Connect is the same app used to sync all your activities recorded on any Garmin fitness tracking device.

It’s a very functional app that also allows you to set goals and awards you badges for your accomplishments.

The app itself is nothing much to look at but it does show all the information in a brief and clear manner and even syncs with Apple’s Health app as well.

Battery life is where the Vivosmart sets itself apart from most fitness bands — instead of requiring a daily charge, the Vivosmart can go for up to seven days on a single charge.

In practice, I managed to make it last for five days before the fitness band showed a battery warning.

Get notified: Just like a smartwatch, the Vivosmart can receive messages from your smartphone.

Get notified: Just like a smartwatch, the Vivosmart can receive messages from your smartphone.

While this is nowhere as long as the Vivofit, it’s actually ­pretty good by most fitness band standards.

Oh yes, the Vivosmart is waterproof up to 5ATM which means it can go up to 50m underwater — good enough for swimming as well.

The OLED screen is bright indoors, but it’s not that easy to see under bright sunlight.

Conclusion

As I already have a mechanical watch, I found the Vivosmart to be the perfect complement, as it gives me smartwatch ­features that my mechanical watch lacks and yet looks unobtrusive enough that I don’t look like I’m wearing a watch on each wrist.

In terms of features, it actually hits a good balance as well — it’s nowhere nearly as powerful as a smartwatch in terms of features, but offers just enough ­(notifications, alarms and find my phone) to make it more ­useful than a simple pedometer.

Overall, a great device, and while it’s not cheap, it does give you a lot for the price.

Pros: Unobtrusive; relatively long battery life; some “smart” features included.

Cons: Garmin Connect ­software is functional but not pretty; one or two bugs still present.

Source: Tech News | The Star Online

China shuts 50 websites and social media accounts

A picture illustration shows a WeChat app icon in Beijing, December 5, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Petar Kujundzic

A picture illustration shows a WeChat app icon in Beijing, December 5, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Petar Kujundzic

China has closed 50 websites and social media accounts for violations ranging from pornography to “publishing political news without a permit”, Beijing’s cyberspace watchdog said on Tuesday.

The government is pursuing a crackdown on unwanted material online. Critics say the increasing restrictions further limit free speech in the one-party Communist state.

Authorities shut 17 public pages on the mobile social messaging app Weixin, also known as WeChat in English, as well as 24 websites and 9 channels or columns on websites, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement on its website (www.cac.gov.cn).

The Weixin accounts were shut down during the past two months, the state-run news agency Xinhua said.

Some of the other offences listed by CAC include publishing fake information under the guise of the government or media, and publishing information related to gambling or fraud.

Jiang Jun, a spokesman for the cyberspace watchdog, said the CAC would regularly publish a “black list” of violators, according to the statement.

Last fall, Xinhua said the cyberspace watchdog had closed nearly 1.8 million accounts on social networking and instant messaging services since launching an anti-pornography campaign earlier in the year.

In 2014, authorities received almost 11 million reports of what was described as harmful information online, Xinhua reported separately on Tuesday.

In November, Chinese officials called for controls on the Internet to preserve stability.

With a population of 1.4 billion and 632 million people online, China is a market no one wants to miss out on. But it also has the world’s most sophisticated online censorship system, known outside the country as the Great Firewall.

It blocks many social media services, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Google, along with many rights groups sites and some foreign media agencies.

Source: Reuters

 

Apple granted patent for GoPro-like wearable cameras

The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo June 26, 2014. Picture taken June 26.

The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo June 26, 2014. Picture taken June 26.

Apple Inc has been granted a patent for a wearable camera that could possibly challenge action cameras made by GoPro Inc.

The patent, which cites specific weaknesses in GoPro’s cameras, includes details about a camera system that can be mounted on bike helmets or scuba masks, Apple said in an application filed with the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office.

Shares of GoPro, whose cameras can be mounted on helmets, surf boards, bikes and dog harnesses, fell as much as 15 percent.

Apple’s newly patented camera system can also be used under water to take pictures and record sounds, according to the application.

A potential entry by the iPhone maker into the action camera market could also put pressure on privately held Polaroid Corp, which makes the small and colorful Cube cameras.

JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna, however, said it was premature to assume that Apple would soon launch a wearable camera.

“It does not seem to me that launching an action camera accessory is the most logical product extension for Apple to pursue right now,” Gauna said.

Apple declined to comment, while GoPro was not immediately available for comment.

“I think that it will have about the same impact on GoPro as the iPhone has had on camera makers and that impact is that there are fewer cameras sold but the number isn’t zero,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

Videos shot with GoPro’s cameras have created a buzz on the Internet, attracting millions of views on YouTube.

Olympic gold medal winning snow boarder Shaun White and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater are among well-known athletes who have endorsed the cameras.

Intellectual property blog Patently Apple reported earlier in the day that Apple’s patent, which was filed by the company in 2012, incorporates some intellectual property from Eastman Kodak Co that the company acquired in November 2013.

With Tuesday’s decline, GoPro shares are now down 51 percent since their high of $98.47 last October. Still, the stock is up 73 percent since its IPO last June.

“We look at it as a buying opportunity at JMP, because what we saw out of the Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas last week is that GoPro remains the undisputed leader in the action capture device category,” Gauna said.

GoPro shares were down 11.8 percent at $50.10, while Apple was up 1.37 percent at $110.76 in late-afternnon trading on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

Source: Reuters