IT Support and Hardware for Clinics
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News, Information and Updates on Hardware and IT Tools to help improve your Medical practice
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Google Reportedly Preparing Android Wear for iPhone and iPad

Google Reportedly Preparing Android Wear for iPhone and iPad | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Google is reportedly preparing to release an Android Wear app on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, according to French technology website.

The report claims Android Wear with extended iOS support could be announced at Google's I/O developer conference in late May, although Google may push the agenda depending on sales of the Apple Watch.

Google may be interested in capitalizing on iPhone and iPad users that are not planning to purchase an Apple Watch when the wrist-worn device is released in April, the report adds. Last month, an unofficial video of an iPhone paired with Android Wear for notifications amassed over 300,000 views on YouTube.

Android Wear smartwatches such as the LG G Watch, Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live are currently limited to pairing with smartphones running Android 4.3 or later, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and LG G3. Pairing an Android smartphone and smartwatch requires the official Android Wear app on the Google Play Store.

While 01net is one of the largest technology publications in France, its exclusive report has not yet been corroborated by other sources and its veracity cannot be confirmed. But given that Google is generally more open about cross-platform compatibility, and has an existing portfolio of apps on the App Store, there is a possibility that Android Wear for iOS could one day be a reality.

Eduardo Vaz's curator insight, March 25, 2015 11:15 AM

#Google wants #AndroidWear to work with #Apple products even though #AppleWatch only works with #iOS. #ygk!

Ikea is launching a new line of furniture that can charge your phone without wires

Ikea is launching a new line of furniture that can charge your phone without wires | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Ikea announced Sunday at Mobile World Congress it is introducing its first furniture line that offers wireless charging for phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Ikea’s furniture, which it calls its “Home Smart” line, will integrate the popular Qi wireless charging technology into special “charging pads” on the furniture. People will then be able to buy and assemble the furniture and leave their Qi-supported devices on those pads for a quick battery charge. 

Smartphones that don’t support Qi will be incompatible with this furniture. The Qi wireless charging technology is controlled by the Wireless Power Consortium, which boasts 200-plus members including Samsung, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, HTC, Verizon Wireless, and others.

More than 80 different smartphones offer support for Qi, which is currently the most used wireless charging standard in the world. It works thanks to embedded magnetic coils that generate a small electromagnetic field — smartphones and tablets that support Qi then convert this field into energy to replenish the device’s battery.

Ikea says it will launch this new furniture line, which will include desks, lamps and bedside tables, in North America and Europe in April. 

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Android Wear update improves Google Fit syncing, squashes bugs

Android Wear update improves Google Fit syncing, squashes bugs | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Android Wear is getting a bump up to version 5.0.2, with some fixes for Google Fit syncing and other all-around housekeeping.

Android Police reports a build number of LWX49K is hitting the LG G Watch and Smartwatch 3, with LWX49L for the Moto 360.

The Moto 360 release notes don’t give us too many more details, indicating an update to Google Play services and a “variety of system optimizations and security updates to improve performance and stability.”

One clue is found in the Android Wear help forums, where Google employee Soji Ojugbele posted Wednesday that an update to Android Wear and Google Play Services would fix the issues with Fit. 

Presumably this update will roll out to other Android Wear watches, it’s just going to be a matter of waiting for it to arrive. If we spot any other feature improvements we’ll be sure to let you know.

The impact on you: If you have an Android Wear watch, this may fix some of the inconsistencies with Google Fit, which turns your wearable into a step counter and fitness tracker. Google Fit isn’t nearly as popular as the fitness platforms developed by Nike, Fitbit, or Jawbone, but it’s a useful enough feature that Google can’t just let any bugs go unsquashed.

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10 million stolen passwords were just released – here’s how to see if yours is one of them

10 million stolen passwords were just released – here’s how to see if yours is one of them | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Earlier this week, noted security researcher and consultant Mark Burnett made waves when he posted 10 million stolen usernames and passwords on his blog. Of course, the security expert didn’t post the passwords with malicious intent. Instead, his goal was to “release a clean set of data” that gives the world insights into user behavior, and also to draw attention once again to the arrest and prosecution of Barrett Brown.

Burnett didn’t steal the passwords in question, of course, but they’re now easily accessible to anyone and everyone — here’s how you can quickly and easily find out if you are affected.

Burnett posted the 10 million leaked usernames and passwords in one big torrent file that anyone with a computer can download in a matter of minutes. Thankfully, one of the people who downloaded that file used it to create a simple site where anyone can check to see if their accounts have been compromised.

Here’s how you can check:

Simply visit this page on programmer Luke Rehmann’s website, where you’ll be able to search for your usernames and passwords in the leaked file.

Now, before you start wondering if Rehmann is just using this page to collect the usernames and passwords people input, it’s important to note that you can (and should) search with partial entries. So, for example, if your password is “trustno1,” you can simply search “no1″ or “trus” and see if one of your accounts comes up.

As Burnett notes in his blog post, the usernames and passwords he posted are a small sample pulled from earlier username and password dumps containing upwards of 1 billion sets of stolen credentials. As a result, running a check on the site linked above doesn’t guarantee that your usernames and passwords aren’t floating around on the deep web.

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Microsoft's Surface tablet business is booming

Microsoft's Surface tablet business is booming | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Microsoft appears to be well past the days when it was writing off unsold Surface tablets and struggling to match Sony in game console sales. The Windows developer reports that its Devices and Consumer group's revenue grew 8 percent year over year in the last calendar quarter of 2014, thanks in no small part to healthy Surface and Xbox sales. It's not revealing shipment numbers for the Surface, but it notes that revenue for the slate computers shot up 24 percent versus a year earlier, thanks in no small part to the Surface Pro 3.

The company also notes that it sold 6.6 million Xbox systems during the holidays -- down from last year, but still healthy. Microsoft unfortunately isn't breaking that down by model. However, there's no doubt the Xbox One turned a corner this fall through aggressive discounts and a better game selection -- from all indications, the new system represented a significantly larger chunk of sales. Sony was quick to say that it sold 4.1 million PlayStation 4s just during the last month of holiday shopping, so it's apparent that there was at least a fierce fight between current-generation platforms.

It's otherwise a mixed quarter for the Redmond crew. The company posted a rare net operating loss of $243 million, although you can largely chalk that up to the costs of both its massive restructuring plan and integrating Nokia's former mobile team. Windows licensing revenue is down 13 percent year-over-year thanks to both an unforgiving PC market and free Windows licenses for small devices, but that's offset by the company's continued successes in cloud efforts, such as Bing search and Azure. It also sold a respectable 10.5 million Lumia phones, turning around declines under Nokia's tenure. In short, Microsoft is still transitioning away from an old-school strategy where Windows sales reign supreme. The upcoming release of Windows 10 will undoubtedly be important, but it won't be quite as much of a make-or-break product as its ancestors.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook reveals more details about what you can do with the Apple Watch

Apple CEO Tim Cook reveals more details about what you can do with the Apple Watch | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Just a few days before Apple is expected to reveal more information about the Apple Watch, CEO Tim Cook is providing some clues as to how its apps will work.

Cook reportedly shared this information with Apple Store employees at a flagship store in Berlin during a briefing, according to 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman.

Based on Gurman's report, here's a rundown of what Cook said:

  • You'll be able to check in at hotels and open your room with the watch. Starwood Hotels already announced in September that it would be working with Apple.
  • You can order food at chains like Panera Bread from your wrist. Cook specifically mentioned that Panera Bread is currently working on a WatchKit app, according to Gurman. 
  • Salesforce is also reportedly developing an enterprise app for the watch, but the report didn't mention any more details.
  • Third-party fitness apps will be compatible with the Apple Watch, which isn't too surprising given Apple's focus on health and fitness. No specific apps were mentioned, however. 
  • Finally, Gurman mentions that Apple has invited more than 100 app developers to Cupertino to design and test apps for the Apple Watch. This means Apple's event on March 9 could focus on apps and how they'll work on the wrist.

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Google backtracks on Android 5.0 default encryption

Google backtracks on Android 5.0 default encryption | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

When the Nexus 6 handset arrived late last year, it came with full data encryption enabled out the box. Google also pushed its hardware partners to do the same at first, but now appears to have quietly changed the requirement with a strong recommendation to enable encryption by default, reports ArsTechnica.

The same site noted performance issues with Google’s Nexus 6 in November, particularly with regards to read and write disk speeds, which it attributed to the encryption. How much of an impact did the tests show? In some cases, the new Google Nexus 6 was slower than the Nexus 5 it was designed to replace, even though the handset had much improved internal components.

Google did say in September of 2014 that the then called Android L software — later to become Android 5.0 Lollipop — would have encryption enabled by default out of the box. New devices with Android 5.0, however, don’t have the security feature enabled: The new $149 Moto E with LTE, is a perfect example. So what’s changed?

According to Ars, Google’s Android Compatibility Definition document is what’s changed; specifically, the section on disk encryption with Google making emphasis on what it recommends:

If the device implementation has a lock screen, the device MUST support full-disk encryption of the application private data (/data partition) as well as the SD card partition if it is a permanent, non-removable part of the device. For devices supporting full-disk encryption, the full-disk encryption SHOULD be enabled all the time after the user has completed the out-of-box experience. While this requirement is stated as SHOULD for this version of the Android platform, it is very strongly RECOMMENDED as we expect this to change to MUST in the future versions of Android.

Essentially, Google has gone back to having encryption as an option for new Android 5.0 devices, not a requirement: They must support it but it isn’t necessary to enable it by default. However, the last sentence in the guidelines indicates that hardware partners should be ready for this to change back in a future version of Android.

From security standpoint, this is a bit of a disappointment. If encryption impacts performance, however, Google has little choice here.

The concern I have is that most mainstream Android users won’t know that they should enable encryption their device or simply don’t know how. My hope is that if Google reduced the requirements due to performance, it finds a way to address the root cause of the issue and then get device encryption back as a default option.

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Obama recruits Apple, tech giants to reveal new slew of cybersecurity proposals

Obama recruits Apple, tech giants to reveal new slew of cybersecurity proposals | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

The federal government can't protect your cyber data by itself.

That's why President Obama is expected to unveil executive actions Friday designed to increase information sharing among private sector companies and federal law enforcement.

At a cybersecurity summit to be held on the Stanford University campus Friday, Obama will announce initiatives to form organizations that will gather, share and analyze information, as well as ease access to cybersecurity threat information for corporate entities. The executive order is also expected to enable the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to better manage the flow of information into the government.

The administration says strengthening the federal government's capabilities is becoming increasingly necessary to protect American consumers.

"Cybersecurity and consumer protection are two sides of the same coin," Obama's economic adviser, Jeff Zients said, in a briefing with reporters. "When a company invests in strong cybersecurity, they are protecting not just their own networks, but in most cases their customers' information and security as well."

The White House is introducing these policies after several large-scale security hacks have claimed major corporate victims like retail giant Target and Anthem, America's second largest health care insurance provider. These breaches have put the personal information of millions of Americans at risk, compromising everything from addresses and birth dates to Social Security numbers.

But, as White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel admits, it's going to take more than just the government to patch these cybersecurity holes.

"No one can do this mission by themselves," Daniel said. "As you look at all the things we want to do to drive the growth in the digital economy, it's clearly something that has to be done in partnership with the private sector and the federal government."

So they're turning to Silicon Valley for help.

In the wake of recent cyber attacks, several private industry titans are expected to embrace these new measures.

Apple and Intel will be attending as the summit's big tech names, while several financial companies are also backing the administration's moves. MasterCard, AIG, and Bank of America are also among those expected to have representative at the summit.

Companies like Intel believe the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) first outlined in February of 2014 is, in fact, a practical plan to implement.

"Now that we have tested the framework ourselves, we can say that it provides clear and demonstrable benefits," an Intel spokesperson said. "Given that the CSF focuses on risk management rather than compliance, we believe it has the potential to help transform cybersecurity on a global scale."

Intel further attempted to dispel fears with a white paper published Thursday titled "We Tried the NIST Framework and It Works."

But skepticism persists, especially from privacy hawks like the American Civil Liberties Union, who are particularly concerned with government overreach in cyberspace.

"It's not clear that we need to open the door wider," ACLU policy advisor Gabe Rottman told CBS News. The assertion is that Americans also need protection from the government.

"Information that identifies who we associate with--our financial activities, our healthcare information, information that identifies those aspects of our lives and then identifies us--that information needs to be stripped out unless it's necessary to address the cyber security threat. And the proposals for information sharing that have come out from both Congress and the White House don't sufficiently ensure that that happens," Rottman said.

In a nod to these concerns, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel acknowledged that: "It is neither appropriate, nor would Americans want, for all network be carried out by the government. It's not even physically possible."

It's one of several steps the White House has recently taken to increase cybersecurity protections. Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco announced Tuesday the creation of a new federal agency that will coordinate threat responses and intelligence across government entities. The Cyber Intelligence Integration Center is expected to facilitate investigations and "connect the dots" undertaken by the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other intelligence operations.

Via Paulo Félix
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Slow Android Wear sales underline the challenges Google's smartwatches face

Slow Android Wear sales underline the challenges Google's smartwatches face | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

The Android smart watch’s time may not yet have come: Despite heavy promotion of Android Wear, Google’s hardware partners, including LG Electronics, Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics, only shipped 720,000 of the devices last year.

With the arrival of products such as Motorola’s hotly anticipated Moto 360, the smartwatch market was expected to take off. But the data from market research company Canalys shows that consumers are still far from convinced that they need buy one.

“Android Wear will need to improve significantly in the future, and we believe it will do so,” said Daniel Matte, analyst at Canalys.

Those improvements have to happen across the board, including a better user interface and improved battery life, according to Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC.

“I use a lot of mobile devices, and found the Android Wear interface difficult to learn. And when I finally had learned how to use it, I really didn’t like the experience,” he said.

Battery life is also a concern, and one that can’t be easily solved. The arrival of customized chipsets will help but that can’t change the size of smartwatches, which means you can only use a small battery.

“It will take several years before battery life improves,” Jeronimo said.

Some vendors are also tripping up themselves and users with their design choices. For example, users of Samsung’s smartwatches need a cradle to fill an empty battery, instead of plugging a charger directly into the device. That just adds an extra level of complexity for users, according to Jeronimo.

However, the biggest obstacle isn’t these technical constraints, but that Google, vendors and application developers haven’t come up with a reason why consumers should invest in an Android Wear smartwatch, Jeronimo said.

With these shortcomings Android Wear hasn’t been able to dominate the smartwatch market in the way Google’s platform has taken over smartphones.

Rival Pebble shipped a total of 1 million units from its 2013 launch through to the end of 2014. Continual software updates, more apps in its app store and price cuts in the fall helped maintain strong sales in the second half of the year, according to Canalys.

But all eyes are now on Apple and its Watch, which is scheduled to go on sale in April. Jeronimo goes so far as to say the future of smartwatches now rests on Apple’s shoulders.

“If Apple can’t get it right it may kill the category, because if Apple can’t succeed which company can,” he said.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook seems convinced the Watch can deliver, saying that users will find enough features to not be able to live without one, he said this week. Just as the company changed the markets for MP3 players, smartphones and tablets, Apple’s Watch will change the smartwatch market.

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Android Wear update adds name-brand watchfaces and interface improvements

Android Wear update adds name-brand watchfaces and interface improvements | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Android Wear is closing out 2014 with significant software updates geared toward personal fashion flair and improved usability. The more showy enhancements include a bunch of fun, style-forward watch faces from name brands and artists. But behind the scenes, Google is improving its smartwatch platform by making tweaks to the on-watch experience itself (everything’s listed in the bullets at the end of this story).

If you’re already a Wear watch user, you’ll want this release, which is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop and rolls out over the next week via over-the-air updates. Let’s get straight to the details...

A whole new watch face platform

Let’s face it: Most of the time, your Wear watch functions as “just” a watch. But that’s OK, and now Google is introducing watch face features that make the basic Wear experience even more personal and expressive.

First, there’s now an official watch face API that will help speed up the creation of faces that won’t break the essential Android Wear experience. Second, Google is launching its watch face initiative with scads of new dials and readouts from big-name brands. There are too many to list here, but they include games (Pac Man), fashion (Rebecca Minkoff), high-concept visual art (Un Petite Monde), and a few healthy doses of testosterone (Porsche and Red Bull, to name just two).

Third, a new Android Wear companion app will make it easier to browse, download and switch watch faces. Google Play itself is getting a new section devoted to watch faces as well. Bottom line: Google is taking watch faces very seriously—all in the effort toward making watch faces much more fun.

Quiet, but very welcome, interface tweaks

The new watch faces will certainly cause the biggest splash, because who doesn’t like customizing a smartwatch? But once all the fun dies down, we might remember this latest Wear update for its usability tweaks, many of which respond to user requests. Here’s what to expect:

  • The ability to retrieve cards you’ve dismissed by accident.
  • Tapping on the watch face will show your most recently used actions at the top of the list.
  • Swiping down from the top of the screen will give you a new settings menu (it sounds like the third-party Wear Mini Launcher).
  • A new Theater Mode keeps the screen dim and mutes vibrations in a dark room.
  • Sunlight Mode boosts the screen to maximum brightness (it’s unclear if this mode automatically responds to signals from an ambient light sensor, or is entirely user activated).
  • The ability to block app notifications—on the watch itself, without digging into smartphone settings.
  • A new screen in the Android Wear companion app that shows Wear app battery and storage stats.

Between new watch faces and lots of nifty user-experience improvements, the latest update looks to touch on the entire Android Wear experience, and not just a limited use case, like offline music, which was introduced in October. Stay tuned for more coverage as our own Wear watches update and we get a chance to play with the new features.

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