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Samsung Touts Video Chops With Two More Big Screen Phones

Samsung Touts Video Chops With Two More Big Screen Phones | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As expected (and amply leaked), Samsung has today whipped back the curtain on a pair of new flagship smartphones, announcing two new phablets: the Galaxy Note 5 (pictured above) and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ at press events in New York and London.


The focus for Samsung here is bigger handsets that can do more with multimedia content, letting the user make use of additional screen real-estate for video editing or livestreaming, or multitasking with multiple content windows on screen.


The Korean giant doesn’t normally drop flagship smartphones in August but is presumably hoping to hog the limelight by announcing new kit in what is typically a fallow month for tech news — before the hype cycle spins up again come September, when Apple typically unboxes new iPhones. (In the event, Chinese mobile maker Xiaomi stole a march on Samsung’s phablet new by announcing its own pair of newbies earlier today.)


Here’s a quick rundown of the new additions to Samsung’s handset Galaxy, which will be landing in some 7,000 retail stores in the U.S. for preview starting from tomorrow (but on sale globally later this month):


Galaxy Note 5


The Galaxy Note 5 is the sequel to the 5.7-inch display Note 4, which launched back in September 2014. The display remains the same size (and same quad-HD res), but RAM has been beefed up to 4GB.


The design has also been tweaked to be thinner and slimmer, with a narrower bezel and curved back. The rear camera is still 16MP, but there’s now 5MP on the front. Both are f1.9.


The S-Pen stylus has also had an update — with an “all new” design, and, says Samsung, improved writing capabilities (albeit it said that at the last Note update…), including the ability to jot down info even when the screen is off.


Users can also now annotate PDF files using the S-Pen, and capture a whole website from top to bottom using a Scroll Capture feature. And the pen is easier to extract from its kennel inside the Note, thanks to a “one click” extraction mechanism.


Available colorways for the Note 5 are “Black Sapphire” and “White Pearl”. There are 32GB and 64GB variants (but no microSD card slot — a factor that’s going to continue to grate on long-time Samsung fans).


Galaxy S6 Edge+


The Galaxy S6 Edge+ updates one of two new flagships Samsung unboxed back in March at the Mobile World Congress trade show — namely the S6 Edge.

The flagship feature of that handset was a screen with curved edges. Those curves spill over now to the S6 Edge+ but the overall size of the screen has also been increased to phablet size — so it’s been bumped up from 5.1 inches to 5.7 inches. As with the S6 Edge, the curved edges can be used as a shortcut from any screen to access top contacts and apps, by swiping along the edge.


As with the Note 5, RAM has also been increased to 4GB. And the rear camera is 16MP, with a 5MP lens on the front.


Available colorways for the S6 Edge+ are “Black Sapphire” and “Gold Platinum” (below). And there are also 32GB and 64GB variants (but again no microSD card slot).


 

Multimedia focus


Both devices sport improved video stabilization when shooting from the front or rear camera, according to Samsung.  There’s also a new video collage mode that allows users to shoot and edit short videos more easily, adding various frames and effects. And a 4K Video filming feature to record content for 4K TVs.


A full HD Live Broadcast option lets users instantly stream video straight from the phone to any individual, group of contacts, or through YouTube Live — a la live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope. While Samsung touts other camera and audio improvements such as a quick launch feature (by double clicking the home button from any screen to jump into the camera), and support for UHQA for richer audio quality.


Both handsets also support Samsung Pay — the company’s forthcoming NFC and magnetic secure transmission mobile payment tech which it’s lining up as an Apple Pay rival.


There’s also embedded wireless charging on both, but wireless charger pads aren’t included — so that’s an additional accessory you’d have to have or buy yourself.

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Smartphone thefts drop as kill switch usage grows

Smartphone thefts drop as kill switch usage grows | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Phone theft used to be a growth industry. The snatch-and-run stealing of iPhones even had its own clever moniker: Apple picking. But such thefts might be in decline. Last year, 2.1 million Americans had phones stolen, according to a nationally representative survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. (Another 3.1 million smartphones were lost.) In 2013, about 3.1 million phones were stolen, according to our previous survey.

The two Consumer Reports surveys employed slightly different methodology, which could account for some of the drop, but there is other evidence of a decline—and the trend might accelerate now that Android devices seem poised to embrace kill switches, which allow you to deactivate your stolen or lost phone. 

Smartphones have allowed users to remotely wipe their data for years. But in 2013 prosecutors across the country started calling for technologies that disable, or “brick,” stolen phones to deter thieves from stealing them for resale overseas. Minnesota and California both passed laws requiring manufacturers to make progress on installing anti-theft features by July 1, 2015.

Apple is well ahead of the deadline. After the company added a kill switch to its Find My iPhone app in 2013, police departments around the country reported that iPhone thefts dropped. Then, Activation Lock became a default feature last fall with the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Samsung also added a kill switch—called Reactivation Lock—to a few phone models in 2013. But, in general, Android phones haven’t had the technology. To protect their devices, consumers had to download aftermarket security apps.


Many expected Android Lollipop 5.0 to resolve that problem in late 2014, but manufacturers didn’t implement the kill switch, presumably because of performance issues. Now, all eyes are trained on Lollipop 5.1, due to roll out this summer. Given the helter-skelter, one-off approach phone companies take to their mobile operating systems, however, it will be a long time before a kill switch comes to all Android models.

The technology could eventually save U.S. consumers $3.4 billion,according to calculations by William Duckworth, a statistics and data science professor at Creighton University. (His 2014 study included the costs of replacing handsets and a portion of the money consumers spend on phone insurance.)

Kill switches aside, many phone owners do an abysmal job of protecting their mobile devices, the new Consumer Reports survey found. Among survey respondents, only 46 percent set a screen lock using a four-digit PIN or a stronger method such as a lengthy password or fingerprint. Just 33 percent backed up their data, including photos and contacts, to a computer or online service. Built-in security technology can only get a consumer so far—to reap the benefits, you actually have to use it.

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Law Banning Default Encryption Unlikely

Law Banning Default Encryption Unlikely | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Laws rarely, if ever, keep up with technology, but even if they could, the consequences could prove more harmful than the benefits.

That was evident at an April 29 hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology that addressed the encryption - and security - of mobile devices.

 Upholding civil liberties and civil rights are not burdens. They make all of us safer and stronger. 


Here's the problem the panel addressed that faces law enforcement: Encryption is the default setting for new Apple iPhone and Google Android mobile devices, meaning that law enforcement cannot gain access to encrypted data on the devices even if they have a search warrant. To gain access, the manufacturers would have to create a so-called "backdoor," and give law enforcement a special key to decrypt data on mobile devices. Without such a key, law enforcement could gain access only with the permission of the devices' owners, an unlikely scenario if the encrypted data contains incriminating evidence.

"We call it 'going dark,' and it means that those charged with protecting the American people aren't always able to access the information necessary to prosecute criminals and prevent terrorism even though we have lawful authority to do so," FBI Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess told lawmakers.

Backdoor Benefits

Hess furnished the subcommittee with examples on how accessing data enabled forensics experts to solve crimes, including kidnaping, false rape accusation and murder.


"Today's encryption methods are increasingly more sophisticated, and pose an even greater challenge to law enforcement," she said. "We are seeing more and more cases where we believe significant evidence resides on a phone, a tablet or a laptop - evidence that may be the difference between an offender being convicted or acquitted - but we cannot access it."


Advocates of giving law enforcement a backdoor key include President Obama and FBI Director James Comey. At the Congressional hearing, Suffolk County (Mass.) District Attorney Daniel Conley voiced strong support: "The Fourth Amendment allows law enforcement access to the places where criminals hide evidence of their crimes, once the legal threshold has been met," Conley testified. "In decades past, these places were car trunks and safety deposit boxes; today they are computers and smartphones."

Questioning Motives of Apple, Google

Conley dismissed Apple's and Google's contention that the default encryption they offer on their devices safeguards consumers' privacy.

"Their nominal commitment to privacy rights would be far more credible if they were forbidding themselves access to their customers' interests, search terms and consumer habits, but as we all know, that's not a step they're willing to take," Conley said. "Instead, they're taking full advantage of their customers' private data for commercial purposes while building an impenetrable barrier around evidence in legitimate, court-authorized criminal investigations."


Hess and Conley make a somewhat sound argument. After all, police, with the proper court order, can break into filing cabinets to retrieve evidence. But the rules of the physical world don't always translate well into the virtual one. And other witnesses at the hearing made more compelling arguments for why creating an electronic backdoor is a very bad idea.


"Unfortunately, harsh technical realities make such an ideal solution [a backdoor] effectively impossible, and attempts to mandate one would do enormous harm to the security and reliability of our nation's infrastructure, the future of our innovation economy and our national security," said cryptographer Matthew Blaze, an associate professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania. "We just can't do what the FBI is asking without weakening our infrastructure."

Undermining U.S. Cybersecurity

Providing a backdoor would undermine America's cybersecurity. "While the FBI would have us believe that law enforcement alone will be privy to our sensitive data, history demonstrates that bad actors will always be ahead of the curve and find an avenue to manipulate those openings," said Jon Potter, president of Application Developers Alliance, a trade group. "As one well-regarded cryptographer said, 'You can't build a backdoor that only the good guys can walk through.'"

Creating a backdoor could potentially cost the American economy billions of dollars in lost business. Kevin Bankston, policy director of the think tank New America's Open Technology Institute, says a backdoor would give foreign users, including corporations and governments that especially rely on the security of technologies, even more incentive to avoid American wares and turn to foreign competitors. "To put it bluntly," he said, "foreign customers will not want to buy or use online services, hardware products, software products or any other information systems that have been explicitly designed to facilitate backdoor access for the FBI or the NSA."

Encryption Mitigates Risks

But the most compelling argument for retaining default encryption that's beyond the reach of law enforcement is that it makes everyone safer, especially on smartphones. "The vast amount of personal information on those devices makes them especially attractive targets for criminals aiming to commit identity theft or other crimes of fraud, or even to commit violent crimes or further acts of theft against the phone's owner," Bankston said.


"By taking this step for their customers and turning on encryption by default," he said, "mobile operating system vendors have completely eliminated the risk of those crimes occurring, significantly discouraged thieves from bothering to steal smartphones in the first place, and ensured that those phones' contents will remain secure even if they are stolen."


It's an argument that can persuade even the most ardent supporters of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The subcommittee's chairman - freshman Republican William Hurd of Texas, a former undercover CIA agent and cybersecurity strategist, concluded the hearing by opposing offering law enforcement a backdoor. "I hold everyone in law enforcement and the intelligence community to a higher standard," he said. "Upholding civil liberties and civil rights are not burdens. They make all of us safer and stronger."


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Jan Vajda's curator insight, May 2, 2015 1:53 PM

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Samsung chip could bring 128GB storage to cheaper phones

Samsung chip could bring 128GB storage to cheaper phones | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Samsung Electronics has developed flash memory storage that could help bring 128GB capacity to smartphones and tablets in the middle and low end of the price spectrum.

The new 3-bit NAND-based Embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) 5.0 storage is the industry’s highest-density architecture of its kind and will put larger storage capacities into mass market mobile devices, the company said Thursday.

The development adds to the allure of budget smartphones, which have recently improved in features and capabilities to such an extent that they may make it hard to decide whether buying higher-end models is worthwhile.

The most expensive versions of smartphones and tablets such as the iPhone 6 or iPad Air have 128GB storage, and are currently available for about US$200 more than the 16GB editions. Samsung would not say how much the 128GB eMMC 5.0 would cost and how that might affect device pricing.

The eMMC storage is already found in less expensive mobile devices. The new Samsung technology has some nifty features such as 260 megabytes per second of sequential data reading and it can support HD video processing. The storage is already in mass production and available to device manufacturers, Samsung said.

An embedded non-volatile memory system, eMMC consists of integrated flash memory and a flash memory controller. It’s designed for use in phones, tablets, car navigation systems and other devices.

“We expect to see that mid-to-low-end smartphones will increasingly adopt 128GB of memory storage in the near future,” a Samsung spokesman said via email.

The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association recently approved eMMC version 5.1, which will allow flash drives to handle 4K streaming and other data-intensive tasks.


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Tom Bryon's curator insight, March 25, 2015 11:29 PM

With smartphones now being able to store so much in so little space, imagine the possibility in the future. Especially if the chips become less expensive to produce, the market will absolutely see small technology with big storage capacity. 

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Wireless Charging May Not Be Doomed To Irrelevance

Wireless Charging May Not Be Doomed To Irrelevance | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Wireless charging is a decent idea that’s been held back for years by double and sometimes triple or quadruple vision: Instead of picking one standard that works well enough, the industry has fragmented itself among competing, incompatible implementations that may each flop and leave buyers stuck with useless hardware.

Yes, you’ve seen this format-war movie before… on Beta, Laserdisc, and HD-DVD.

But this year’s Mobile World Congress provided a little more room for optimism than before.

First off, Samsung’s debut of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge—each of which support both Qi and Powermat wireless charging, the two most widely deployed versions—means devices capable of wireless charging will soon occupy millions of pockets and purses.

Qi, pronounced “chee,” has been around for a while. A handout from the Wireless Power Consortium, the trade group behind the specification, cites 79 phones that are compatible. But none of these 79 phones has been a flagship model you could expect to find sold by all four major U.S. wireless carriers, or bought by millions of shoppers. Note that while the S6 and S6 Edge will be able to draw current from both Qi and Powermat chargers, Samsung told me its own wireless-charging accessory will be a Qi surface.

It’s also getting slightly easier to find Qi charging surfaces. Last October, Marriott began putting Qi hardware in the lobbies of some of its hotels, and at MWC Ikea announced that it would soon sell furniture with Qi chargers built in.

A new smartphone app by the Qi developer Aircharge aims to show off all the places that its wireless charging surfaces are available; in Manhattan, it only found three publicly accessible Qi locations, all Marriott properties. So much for progress in the Big Apple.

And as the S6’s ambidextrous wireless charging capability illustrates, there are two sides to this story. Powermat’s longstanding technology is being folded into a developing rival to Qi called Rezence, a name that alludes to its use of magnetic resonance instead of Qi’s inductive charging.


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Apple, Android Prep 'Freak' Fix

Apple, Android Prep 'Freak' Fix | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Numerous Apple and Android devices, as well as websites, are vulnerable to a serious flaw, which an attacker could exploit to subvert secure Web connections. The flaw exists in SSL and TLS and results from the ability to force crypto suites to downgrade from using a "strong" RSA cipher to a weaker, "export-grade" RSA cipher.

The researchers who discovered the vulnerability have dubbed it "Freak," for "Factoring RSA-EXPORT Keys," and warn that it can be used to crack a cipher key and then impersonate legitimate sites - such as the public-facing National Security Agency website - to vulnerable clients. In some cases it could also be used to hijack third-party tools, such as the Facebook "like" button functionality, and inject JavaScript into vulnerable clients and steal passwords.


"In case you're not familiar with SSL and its successor TLS, what you should know is that they're the most important security protocols on the Internet," Johns Hopkins University cryptographer Matthew D. Green says in a blog post. "In a world full of untrusted networks, SSL and TLS are what makes modern communication possible."

Security researchers warn that the flaw exists in versions of OpenSSL prior to 1.0.1k, and affects all Android devices that ship with the standard browser, although they say Google Chrome is immune. The flaw also exists in Apple TLS/SSL clients, which are used by both Mac OS X clients, as well as iOS mobile devices. The vulnerability has been designated as CVE-2015-0204.

Researchers say it's not clear how many users, devices or websites are vulnerable to the Freak flaw, or if it has yet been exploited in the wild. But 6 percent - or 64,192 - of the world's 1 million most popular websites (as ranked by Amazon.com Web traffic monitoring subsidiary Alexa) are currently vulnerable to the flaw, according to the Tracking the Freak Attack site, which is run by researchers at the University of Michigan, and can be used to check if clients are vulnerable to Freak attacks.

Researchers from French computer science lab INRIA, Spanish computer lab IMDEA and Microsoft Research have been credited with discovering the flaw and detailing how it can be exploited. "You are vulnerable if you use a Web browser that uses a buggy TLS library to connect, over an insecure network, to an HTTPS server that offers export ciphersuites," they say. "If you use Chrome or Firefox to connect to a site that only offers strong ciphers, you are probably not affected."

In recent weeks, the researchers - together with Green - have been alerting affected organizations and governments. Websites such as Whitehouse.gov, FBI.gov, and connect.facebook.net - which implements the Facebook "like" functionality - were vulnerable to related attacks, but have now been fixed, Green says. But he notes that numerous sites, including the public-facing NSA.gov website, remain vulnerable.

Apple, Google Prep Patches

Apple tells Information Security Media Group that it is prepping a patch, which it plans to release next week. OpenSSL released a related patch in January, and content delivery networks - such as Akamai - say they've either put fixes in place or will do so soon.

While Google didn't immediately respond to a related request for comment, a spokeswoman tells Reuters that the company has already prepped an Android patch and distributed it via the Android Open Source Project to its business partners. She notes that it's now up to those businesses - which include such equipment manufacturers as Samsung, HTC, Sony, Asus and Acer - to prep and distribute patches to their customers. But while some OEMs have a good track record at prepping and releasing patches in a timely manner, others delay, or never release patches.

Businesses and users should install related patches as quickly as possible, says information security consultant and SANS Institute instructor Mark Hofman in a blog post. "To prevent your site from being used in this attack you'll need to patch OpenSLL - yes, again. This issue will remain until systems have been patched and updated, not just servers, but also client software," he says. "Client software should be updated soon - hopefully - but there will no doubt be devices that will be vulnerable to this attack for years to come - looking at you Android.

Crypto Wars 1.0 Legacy

Experts say that the Freak flaw is a legacy of the days when the U.S. government restricted the export of strong encryption. "The SSL protocol itself was deliberately designed to be broken," Green says, because when SSL was first invented at Netscape, the U.S. government regulated the export of strong crypto. Businesses were required to use the relatively weak maximum key length of 512 bits if they wanted to ship their products outside the country.

While those export restrictions were eventually lifted, and many developers began using strong crypto by default, the export-grade ciphers still linger - for example in previous versions of OpenSSL - and can be used to launch man-in-the-middle attacks that force clients to downgrade to the weak crypto, which attackers can crack. "The researchers have identified a method of forcing the exchange between a client and server to use these weak ciphers, even if the cipher suite is not 'officially' supported," Hofman says.

Hacking NSA.gov

The researchers who discovered the Freak flaw have published a proof-of-concept exploit on the SmackTLS website, demonstrating a tool they developed, together with a "factoring as a service" capability they built and hosted on a cluster of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud - EC2 - servers. The exploit was first used against the NSA.gov website. "Since the NSA was the organization that demanded export-grade crypto, it's only fitting that they should be the first site affected by this vulnerability," Green says. Cracking the key for the NSA.gov website - which, it should be noted, is hosted by Akamai - took 7.5 hours, and cost $104 in EC2 power, he adds. Were the researchers to refine their tools, both the required time and cost to execute such attacks would likely decrease.

The researchers have reportedly been quietly sounding related alerts about the Freak flaw in recent weeks to vulnerable governments and businesses, hoping to keep it quiet so that patches could be rolled out in a widespread manner before news of the flaw went fully public. But The Washington Post reports that Akamai published a blog post on March 2, written by its principal engineer, Rich Salz, which brought attention to the problem sooner than the researchers had hoped.

Still, the Freak flaw has existed for well over a decade, and follows the 2014 discovery of such new "old" bugs as Heartbleed, POODLE and Shellshock, which existed for years before being found.

Moral: Encryption Backdoors

In the post-Snowden era, many technology giants have moved to use strong encryption wherever possible, in part to assuage customers' concerns that the NSA could easily tap their communications. Apple and Google also began releasing mobile devices that use - or could be set to use - strong crypto by default. And many U.S. and U.K. government officials have reacted with alarm to these moves. Often citing terrorism and child-abuse concerns, many have demanded that the technology firms weaken their crypto by building in backdoors that government agencies could access.

But Green says the Freak flaw demonstrates how any attempt to meddle with strong crypto can put the user of every mobile device, Internet browser or website at risk. "To be blunt about it, the moral is pretty simple: Encryption backdoors will always turn around and bite you ..." he says. "They are never worth it."


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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 | Scoop.it

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.


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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

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How Samsung won the smartphone wars — then blew it

How Samsung won the smartphone wars — then blew it | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

In November 2011, Samsung released the first of a series of ads that would define the company for the next three years.

It started with a bunch of hipster-looking people waiting outside a mock Apple Store for the next iPhone. As the hipsters tick down the hours until they have the right to get Apple’s new iThing, they spot others on the street using something better.

The phone, Samsung’s former flagship Galaxy S II, had a big screen and a 4G wireless connection, two major features that were missing from Apple’s new iPhone 4S. And unlike the iPhone, you didn’t have to wait around to buy a Galaxy S II. You could get it now.

The irony was that you didn’t see anyone lining up to buy a Samsung, or anything other than an iPhone, in those days. But that started to change with that first “Next Big Thing” spot. Just like Apple poked fun at Microsoft with its “I’m a Mac” campaign in the 2000s, Samsung’s goal was to tap into the same strategy — a little guy taking swings at the dominant player in the industry.

By the end of 2012, Samsung's profits were up a whopping 76%, fueled by the growth of the mobile division, which suddenly became the most profitable part of Samsung. Samsung was the only company other than Apple making a profit in mobile, and it seemed to be closing in on Apple’s dominance, prompting The Wall Street Journal to publish its famous “Has Apple Lost Its Cool To Samsung?” headline in January 2013.

By the time the Galaxy S4 launched in March 2013, the anticipation surrounding Samsung’s products could only be rivaled by Apple. It was officially a two-horse race.

But it only took another year for things to come crashing down. Profits tumbled in 2014, even during the normally lucrative holiday season. Throughout the year, Samsung blamed increased competition in mobile for the downturn.

Now, Samsung is gearing up for its most important smartphone launch ever on March 1. The question is whether or not the Galaxy S6 will be enough to help Samsung recover from its slump, or if it will share the same fate as former kings of mobile like Nokia, BlackBerry, and Motorola.

How did Samsung get so big so fast, and how did it all go so wrong? Competition from new players like Xiaomi and a renewed Apple are a big part of the equation.

But Business Insider has also learned that corporate politics, and a rift between the company's South Korean headquarters and its suddenly successful US group, also played a role.


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Samsung Wants To Kill Your Charging Cables

Samsung Wants To Kill Your Charging Cables | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Wireless charging technology goes back a long, long way—all the way back to 1891, when Nicola Tesla successfully transferred power wirelessly. More than 100 years later, the tech still remains a non-starter.

Samsung wants to change all that. A post by its top engineer for IT and mobile, Seho Park, suggests that the company’s upcoming Galaxy S6 may offer built-in support for the technology, which would be a first for the company.

Samsung, of course, has dabbled in wireless charging before. Typically, those efforts required accessories like swappable backplates and charge mats. Park writes that his company’s first commercial wireless charging mat launched in the U.S. in 2011 as the Droid Charge. Since then, the tech giant has continued to look for ways to squeeze all that tech into the phone itself.

Shoot Out At The Wireless Corral 

Back in 2009, when Palm still had a horse in the mobile race, its Pre phone line and its wireless Touchstone charging dock grabbed the public's attention. Now Palm is dead in the water—though not done for quite yet—and the state of wireless charging has come to resemble a Mexican standoff. Three major, but incompatible, standards have been jockeying for the top spot.

All three essentially do the same thing: They use electromagnetic fields to charge a battery from a (usually short) distance, allowing you to ditch the charging cable. None have emerged victorious, although consumers have clearly been the losers.

According to Park, Samsung—which belongs to all three organizations—has had enough. It's been working on integrated components that can work with all the wireless-charging standards. Park writes:

We also discovered new ways to merge and combine components in a more efficient way, which allowed our technology to generate more power and take up less space.... We also focused on finding new ways to make the components themselves smaller and thinner. 

If that effort works, one day you might toss a Samsung device on a charging mat and it would just charge, without you giving a moment's thought as to whether your phone works with that particular brand of mat (or transmitter table or charging bowl).

It is, of course, possible that the warring standards might have eventually gotten their act together on their own. Last year, two of them joined forces, agreeing to support each other’s technology. One of those groups also partnered with Starbucks, whose cafés now feature charging tables and bars.


Promising steps. Too bad they still leave out the the third, and arguably most popular, wireless-charging standard, known as Qi. (It's a lot like being the biggest ant in the hill.) Currently, Qi technology is available in hundreds of consumer products, and if you hunt for them, you can find charging locations at a few dozen McDonald's joints in Europe.

Instead of waiting for a miracle to occur, Samsung looks ready to take matters into its own hands.

Smartphones Are Just The Start 

The timing of Park’s meditation on wireless charging is no coincidence. He strongly implies the new Galaxy phone will have built-in support, but he stops short of promising that—perhaps to preserve "the wow factor" for Samsung’s Unpacked media event in Barcelona in a couple of weeks.

Portable power and charging has been a vexing matter for the whole mobile industry, with players like Motorola, Apple and Samsung (of course) offering fast-charging technology to take some of the irritation out of juicing up. If the cable finally goes away and charging installations become more publicly available, it could go a long way toward easing the long wait for bigger and better batteries.

Park explains that Samsung has been working on the wire-free charging conundrum for the last five years. Apparently, the company figures the time is ripe now to stuff wireless charging directly into its phones, to drive adoption of the technology—and, of course, its own devices. 

Those efforts could have even greater significance beyond phones.

In addition to IT companies, leading brands from a wide range of industries, such as consumer electronics, semiconductors, mobile services, automotive, furniture, software and others have joined the effort and are working closely together.

Samsung, of course, has its fingers in several of those pies—including smartwatches and fitness bands, home theater equipment and kitchen appliances. With its SmartThings acquisition last year, it has a stake in smart homes and the broader movement dubbed the "Internet of Things." 

The Samsung global conglomerate has its hand in even more than that, from hospital-grade medical equipment to industrial machines, and many of the gadgets that hook into them. Anything not nailed down by a power cable could get a boost from streamlined charging technology.

But Phones Are a Crucial Start For Samsung

Support for the various industries could be Samsung's long game. For now, however, its focus is on phones, where it has been struggling recently.

For mobile consumers to flock to wireless charging, the process needs to be fast and convenient. Given that, there’s one curious tidbit in Park’s post:

Two or three years ago, wireless charging was only twenty to thirty percent as efficient as wired charging. But since then, we have been able to double the charging speed.

It’s tough to tell if Park is referring to Samsung’s work or wireless charging as a whole. If it’s the latter, then Daniel Schreiber, president of Powermat Technologies, might take some exception to this. He told me last November, when his group’s Starbucks initiative launched, that those wireless charging speeds rival cabled connections. I didn’t clock the action when I tried it, but at the time, the charging seemed pretty speedy.

If Park is talking about Samsung’s development, then the tech—slow as it seems to be—still has a ways to go. Because by my math, if the cable-free version is 30% as efficient as traditional charging, and the company can achieve twice that speed, it’s still much slower than physically plugging in. 

So it may be a bit too early for Galaxy customers to completely ditch the cord. Samsung's wire-free tech could be somewhat handy, since it may come built into those Galaxy S6 phones. But it might not be the shot of power needed to really juice up Samsung’s mobile business.


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Microsoft may be on the cusp of a major move to invade Android

Microsoft may be on the cusp of a major move to invade Android | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Microsoft may put its apps on what's likely to be the most popular Android phone of the year, the Galaxy S6, according to a new report from Sam Mobile.

The blog claims to have received information about Samsung's plans for the software that will be on the Galaxy S6.

The company will supposedly remove all of its own apps and offer them as downloadable options instead, but Microsoft's apps are said to come pre-loaded on the phone. This would include apps such as Microsoft Office Mobile, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype. 

In general, it sounds like Samsung is making major improvements to its software. The Galaxy S6 is expected to come with software that's very similar to the stock version of Android, just like Google's Nexus 6.

If true, this would be a big move on Microsoft's part too. Ever since CEO Satya Nadella took over about one year ago, he's emphasized the fact that Microsoft will be expanding outside it's own platforms.  

The company has released several apps for iOS and Android over the past few months, including its Outlook Mail app for iPhone  and Office for iPad, both of which has received generally positive reviews so far. Microsoft is also reportedly getting ready to invest $70 million in Cyanogen, a startup that builds its own version of Android and eventually wants to take Android away from Google.

Putting its own apps and services on a phone that's bound to be popular like the Galaxy S6 would obviously benefit Microsoft, but it's a puzzling move on Samsung's part. We expect to know more on March 1 when Samsung officially introduced it's new phone. 


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GuerillaStockTrading.com's curator insight, February 13, 2015 4:09 PM

Microsoft making big moves. I don't think it's puzzling what Samsung is doing. They want a phone that targets business professionals and that integrates with Microsoft Office and cloud.

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Samsung Unveils Its New Curved SUHD TV

Samsung Unveils Its New Curved SUHD TV | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Samsung has yet again revolutionized the experience of home entertainment as it has launched its new SUHD television at the 2015 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The curved television utilizes quantum dot nanocrystals to deliver the company’s highest end LED LCD for the best image quality currently available.

The very first SUHD TV from Samsung is incredibly impressive, but there is a bit of mystery still looming about it. That mystery is predominately revolving around the pricing of the device. Given that a mere half decade ago, the war of the TV’s was fought in regards to inches, the battle parameters have been altered. No longer are companies clamoring to provide consumers with the largest and cheapest price. We have officially been catapulted, by Samsung, into an era where quality is king.


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930 Million Android Devices at Risk?

930 Million Android Devices at Risk? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Information security experts are calling on Google to rethink its patch priorities after it confirmed that it will no longer update a critical component that runs on Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean" and older devices. As a result, 61 percent of all Android smart phones and tablets - or about 930 million devices - will be running a version of Android that contains known vulnerabilities that an attacker could remotely exploit to seize control of the device or steal the data it stores, according to data security firm Rapid7.


At issue are the versions of WebView, which is used by Android to render Web pages, that are present in pre-Android 4.4 devices. Rapid7 researchers say that after finding and reporting a newly discovered vulnerability in older versions of WebView to Google's security@android.com team, Google responded that it was not going to issue a related patch.

Google says that if it receives a patch for older versions of WebView from a third party, it will distribute it to anyone who develops Android distributions. But Google says it no longer plans to create and distribute its own patches for such flaws. "If the affected version [of WebView] is before 4.4 [KitKat], we generally do not develop the patches ourselves but do notify partners of the issue," Google's e-mail to Rapid7 says. "If patches are provided with the report [from a third party] or put into AOSP [Android Open Source Project] we are happy to provide them to partners as well."

But Rapid7, citing data published by market researchers Gartner and Strategy Analytics, says Google's policy will leave the estimated 930 million mobile devices that run pre-KitKat versions of Google's open source Android operating system at risk, because they will be stuck running outdated - and vulnerable - versions of WebView. Device manufacturers could, theoretically, issue related patches themselves, but to date they have not done so.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on Rapid7's report.

Numerous hardware and software developers stop issuing updates for their products after they have been on the market for a specified period of time. But today, only 37 percent of in-use Android devices run version 4.4 of the operating system - introduced in November 2013 - and just 1.5 percent run the most recent version 5 - code-named Lollipop - according to market research firm Net Market Share.

In other words, 61 percent of still-in-use Android devices won't be receiving WebView updates from Google, and thus could be at risk from "mass-market exploits" designed to seize control of millions of devices at once, says Tod Beardsley, who's the technical lead for the Metasploit open source penetration testing framework, which is maintained by Rapid7.

"This is great news for penetration testers, of course; picking company data off of Android phones is going to be drop-dead easy," Beardsley says in a blog post. "Unfortunately, this is great news for criminals," because it gives them potential new ways to penetrate devices, implant malware, steal data or intercept communications.

Beardsley says that in the past year, two researchers have discovered nearly a dozen exploits in WebView - most of which affect versions of the component that run on Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean" and earlier devices - and that Metasploit currently ships with 11 exploits for known WebView flaws.

Newer WebView Auto-Updates

WebView is a widely used Android component. Indeed, Google's developer guide encourages Android developers to use WebView "to deliver a Web application - or just a Web page - as a part of a client application." Google's developer documentation further outlines a number of scenarios in which it might be employed, ranging from retrieving an end-user agreement or user guide from inside an app, to accessing any type of information that requires an Internet connection, such as retrieving e-mails.

When Google introduced Android 4.4 KitKat, it debuted a new, stand-alone WebView component, based on its Chromium open source project, that was decoupled from the Android operating system. "The new WebView includes an updated version of the V8 JavaScript engine and support for modern Web standards that were missing in the old WebView," Google's developer documentation states.

From a security standpoint, the big-impact change was the ability - now found in all modern browsers - for WebView to be automatically updated by Google. In other words, thanks to Google uncoupling WebView from the innards of the Android operating system, WebView updates can be piped directly to all users of Android 4.4 and newer, just as Google does with any other app that's available via the Play Store and Google Play services, news site Android Police reports.

Here is why that change is good: Many Android devices run a version of the operating system that's customized by whichever OEM produces the device. As a result, every time Google releases an Android operating system update, the OEM has to test the update, then create a customized version for its devices. Thanks to the newer version of WebView, however, Google can now directly update that component on all Android 4.4 and newer devices, without the OEM having to build the patch into their version of Android and then distribute it to their users.

Android Is Open Source

But the question of whether it's right for Google to cease updating older versions of WebView, an important component that still runs on nearly 1 billion Android devices, remains. Rapid7's Beardsey notes that Android is technically an open source project, and that OEMs could, in theory, obtain patches for newly discovered flaws in older versions of WebView from third parties. But he says that to date, the OEMs that do patch Android have relied on updates issued directly from Google. "The update chain for Android already requires the handset manufacturers and service carriers to sign off on updates that are originated from Google, and I cannot imagine this process will be improved once Google itself has opted out of the patching business," he says. "After all, is AT&T or Motorola really more likely to incorporate a patch that comes from some guy on the Internet?"

Some OEMs have a relatively good track record at keeping customers' Android devices updated with the latest security fixes. But others rarely - if ever - release security patches for devices.

With Google ceasing to update a core component of Android that runs on pre-4.4 versions, the risks to users will only increase, Beardsley warns. "Please reconsider, Google," he says. "As a software developer, I know that supporting old versions of my software is a huge hassle. I empathize with their decision to cut legacy software loose. However, a billion people don't rely on old versions of my software to manage and safeguard the most personal details of their lives."


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Samsung Just Announced A New Metal Galaxy Phone That's Thinner Than The iPhone 6

Samsung Just Announced A New Metal Galaxy Phone That's Thinner Than The iPhone 6 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Samsung just unveiled its newest smartphone, the Galaxy A7, which is its thinnest phone to date.

The 6.3mm Galaxy A7 is also thinner than the iPhone 6, which measures 6.9mm, and the device comes with metal edges just like the other phones Samsung has announced in recent months.

As a point of comparison, Samsung's flagship Galaxy S5 measures about 8.1mm, which is almost two full millimeters thicker than the new A7. 

The Galaxy A7 is a higher-end version of the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 phones Samsung announced in October. The A7 has a larger 5.5-inch screen, making it about the same size as the Galaxy Note 2 and iPhone 6 Plus. It comes with a 13-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel front camera like the Galaxy A5, too.

It'll be available in black, white, and gold when it launches, but Samsung hasn't specified exactly when it will be released.

There's also no word on how much it will cost, although the company says it will be "competitive." 

We've been hearing rumors about the Galaxy A7 for months, but Samsung hasn't confirmed any information about the device until now. It's the fourth phone in Samsung's line of A-series smartphones with chamfered metal edges similar to those of the iPhone 5 and 5s.

SamsungThe Galaxy A7.

Samsung first introduced this design element with its Galaxy Alpha in August, but a report from the Korean news source ET News suggests it may discontinue that device in favor of its new Galaxy A3, A5, and A7 phones.

There's a chance the A7 will be released in select markets at first, such as China or South Korea, but we won't know for sure until Samsung makes more announcements about availability. 


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ahmedyousef's curator insight, January 13, 2015 5:20 AM

WOW

Tom Bryon's curator insight, March 25, 2015 11:25 PM

This mobile phone is a great example of how much power we can fit into such little space. At just 6.3mm thick, the Samsung A7 is the slimmest phone ever. In five to ten years, how little will our tech be able to be?

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Apple, Samsung Devices: Bug Warnings

Apple, Samsung Devices: Bug Warnings | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Security researchers are sounding warnings about separate flaws that put millions of Android, iOS and Apple OS X devices at risk.


A keyboard-related flaw affects more than 600 million Samsung devices, and could be used to remotely run malicious code.


Separately, researchers say they have identified a series of vulnerabilities - dubbed "Xara" - in Apple iOS and OS X devices that allow them to sidestep the OS X sandbox. The flaws could be exploited by malware to steal data and passwords, for example, by cracking the built-in Keychain password manager in OS X.

Apple's Xara Flaws

The Xara flaws - for "cross-app remote access" - were discovered by researchers from Indiana University, Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as Peking University and Tsinghua University in Beijing.


The flaws stem from both iOS and OS X failing to authenticate many types of app-to-app and app-to-OS interactions, the researchers write in a related research paper. "We found that the inter-app interaction services, including the keychain and WebSocket on OS X and URL Scheme on OS X and iOS, can all be exploited by [custom-developed] malware to steal such confidential information as the passwords for iCloud, email and [banks], and the secret token of Evernote."


The researchers have posted online demonstrations of how Xara could be exploited to steal iCloud tokens, passwords from the Google Chrome browser and private notes from Evernote users. They also demonstrated an attack using the WebSocket protocol - used to display Web content in apps - that allowed them to intercept all passwords from1Password that get used in the Chrome browser. And while they have not given Xara its own logo - as so many firms now seem to do - other researchers quickly obliged.


Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Xara flaws. But the researchers say that hundreds of apps that they studied have these flaws, although they could be corrected if developers rewrite their apps. Still, it's unlikely such moves would happen quickly. "Since the issues may not be easily fixed, we built a simple program that detects exploit attempts on OS X, helping protect vulnerable apps." The researchers have promised to release that program soon.

Samsung Keyboard Flaw

Researcher Ryan Welton from mobile security firm NowSecure - formerly known asviaForensics - has published proof-of-concept exploit code for a vulnerability in third-party keyboard app SwiftKey, which he says is installed by default on numerous Samsung mobile devices, including the Galaxy S4, S5 and S6.


"The Swift keyboard comes pre-installed on Samsung devices and cannot be disabled or uninstalled," he says. "Even when it is not used as the default keyboard, it can still be exploited."


The flaw does not exist in regular SwiftKey installations, but only on Samsung devices, thanks to how the OEM has configured the keyboard app, he says. That's because Samsung has programmed its variant of SwiftKey - called SamsungIME - to include "an auto-update 'feature' ... that doesn't do authentication or integrity," says security researcher Paul Ducklin at Sophos in a blog post. As a result, an attacker could abuse this feature, which is HTTP-based, to "update" devices with arbitrary code, essentially reprogramming them.


Details of the "highly reliable, completely silent" attack were first released publicly this week byWelton at the Black Hat Summit in London. Welton says he informed Samsung of the flaw in December, as well as CERT, which alerted Google's Android team, and which has classified the bug as CVE-2015-2865.


To date, it's unclear how many users remain at risk from the flaw. "While Samsung began providing a patch to mobile network operators in early 2015, it is unknown if the carriers have provided the patch to the devices on their network," NowSecure says in a related research report. "In addition, it is difficult to determine how many mobile device users remain vulnerable, given the [device] models and number of network operators globally."


Pending a patch, Welton says it will be difficult for Samsung device users to safeguard themselves against related attacks. "Unfortunately, the flawed keyboard app can't be uninstalled or disabled," he says. "Also, it isn't easy for the Samsung mobile device user to tell if the carrier has patched the problem with a software update. To reduce your risk, avoid insecure Wi-Fi networks, use a different mobile device and contact your carrier for patch information and timing."


Ducklin also recommends Samsung users avoid using untrusted networks, and potentially use a virtual private network, so that "all your network traffic is encrypted before it leaves your device, 'tunneled' back to a server at head office or at home, and only sent out onto the open Internet from there."

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Samsung: Your Next Television Has Gone Supersonic

Samsung: Your Next Television Has Gone Supersonic | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

It was not that long ago that the idea of a flat screen TV with HD quality was seen as being out of this world. However, now things have changed quit considerably and it has to be said that Samsung really are at the forefront of the television revolution. If you do not believe this statement, then you need to check out the Samsung un88js9500 really is something else. In all honesty, this television is capable of completely blowing your mind.


The Basics Of The Television

Of course you want to know the basics of this model and what you will find is that it is 88 inches in size with stunning depth to the image and such brilliant colors and sharpness that you are going to explore your favorite shows in an absolutely brand new way.

This is all possible due to the television coming equipped with the latest nano-crystal technology and even if you do not understand what this does, the end result is all that matters. I have to say that you will be blown away by the simple fact that this television produces better contrast in colors than anything I have ever seen. They have then made it even better by giving this television a curved screen, so ultimately you are going to get the perfect picture no matter the angle you are sitting at.

However, Samsung have then taken things one step further by using auto depth enhancer technology and when this ties in with the curved screen, then you really do get the best possible viewing experience. The way that the enhancer works is that it optimizes the contrast across the entire screen and it treats the curved screen as having individual segments. It then controls the depth perspective in each section to balance it out resulting in the perfect image no matter where you are sitting.

The Resolution And More On Colors

Of course you are going to also want to know about the resolution because even when you know little about televisions, this is one number that you often want to pay attention to. In this instance, the Samsung UN88JS9500 has 4K technology and this is the buzz term with top of the range televisions. It also has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 and this is going to give you that crisp image and vibrancy of color that I mentioned earlier. Overall, the resolution is just what you would expect from a television of this magnitude.

I do also need to talk a bit more about the colors and the technology that Samsung have included in this particular model. They have looked at the backlighting as well as adding illuminator technology to make sure that the image that you see is balanced and even across the entire screen. They have also managed to deal with the age old problem caused by the color black with this television as they have added darker blacks than ever before whilst making sure that those lighter areas still have the same contrast. This does work exceptionally well and it will actually show you what you have been missing out on with your previous television.


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Microsoft teams up with Samsung to squeeze out Google

Microsoft teams up with Samsung to squeeze out Google | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Microsoft on Monday announced a new and improved agreement with Samsung to pre-load Microsoft Office apps on Samsung's Android tablets.

Plus, Microsoft announced that it had lined up 11 other Android device makers to do the same, including close partner Dell. The apps include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype.

This follows the agreement Microsoft and Samsung announced last month where Samsung would load certain Microsoft cloud apps on Samsung’s next flagship Android phones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. 

This is an interesting way for Microsoft to attack its old nemesis, Google.

Google controls the Android operating system and gives Android away for free to device makers. It makes money on Android from things like integrating search into these devices, getting a percentage when people buy apps, and by encouraging people to use these phones with its other paid services, like Google Apps.

XDA Jeshter2000A leak of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge shows the option of deleting Google apps

While Microsoft won't exactly be cutting off Google's ability to make money on Android, it's got a foot in the door with this Samsung deal.

That's because Samsung seems to be making good on its promise to let people delete unwanted apps from its Android devices.

A leak of the S6 edge on Android developer’s forum XDA on Saturday shows that the pre-loaded Microsoft apps can be removed. Those apps include OneNote (note-taking), OneDrive (storage), and Skype.

But so can the pre-loaded Google apps, including some services typically baked into Android like Gmail, Drive, even Google search.

XDA member Jeshter2000, who claimed to be in possession of an S6 Edge, posted a photo (see picture, right) showing the options to delete Google apps.

And that means, if you so wish, you can turn these next-generation Samsung phones into Microsoft friendly phones, and ditch Google.


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Samsung takes record 20 million orders for Galaxy S6, S6 Edge

Samsung takes record 20 million orders for Galaxy S6, S6 Edge | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge set off a blistering pace of orders, already racking up 20 million before its official launch.

That’s according to a report in The Korea Times, which says it’s a record number of early orders for any of the company’s smartphones. The orders break down as 15 million for the Galaxy S6, and 5 million for the S6 Edge.

Note that these are orders placed by retailers and carriers, not pre-orders placed by consumers.

The Galaxy S6 is powered by Samsung’s own octa-core Exynos processor with 3GB of RAM. It also has a 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display, a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 2,550mAh battery pack.

The Galaxy S6 Edge screen bends over on each side, though not as dramatically as the Galaxy Note Edge.

With this release, Samsung is trying to reverse its fortunes, which saw it losing marketshare to Apple and other competitors in the Android space. Samsung is stepping up its build quality, as many other devices like the HTC One and phones from LG have been far more remarkable to look at than the boring plastic build that Samsung used for its devices.

The story behind the story: Samsung gave its Galaxy flagship the most radical overhaul it’s done, going with a metal-and-glass build and eliminating removable batteries and an SD card slot. It left us impressed in our initial hands-on, though we’ll have to give it a more detailed review to see if it’s worth your money.


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Apple Exploring iPhone Waterproofing Method

Apple Exploring iPhone Waterproofing Method | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Apple has a patent application in with the USPTO (via AppleInsider) that describes a few different methods for waterproofing electronic devices like the iPhone. The patent describes coating certain internal components like the main circuit board with a hydrophobic coating, presumably not unlike the process used by Liquipel and other similar companies. The process for applying the waterproof layer would only result in a coating ranging between one and ten microns thick, Apple says in the filing, meaning it wouldn’t take up any additional space inside the device shell.

The patent by Apple includes a provision for leaving the EMI shield included in all of its iPhones, iPads, MacBooks able to perform its job while also allowing for the components protected therein to be fully water sealed by the process. Special processes are needed because the coating is applied to the assembled circuit board, meaning the EMI shielding could obscure key internal components from receiving the benefits of the sealing.

To keep the exposed soldered ends of connectors protected against water, the patent also talks about using silicone seals at the point where they connect to boards and the flex cables that often run between the internal circuits of devices.

Apple hasn’t yet shown much interest in waterproofing its smartphones and tablets, though other smartphone makers like Sony have made it a core component of their hardware. Samsung made the Galaxy S5 water-resistant last year, but has gotten rid of that kind of environmental protection with this year’s Galaxy S6, and given the relative performance of both the GS5 and Sony’s devices, it remains unclear how much value consumers actually put in waterproofing in terms of impacting their buying decision.

There’s no doubt that Apple being able to list ‘waterproof’ as one of the marquee features on a future smartphone or tablet would cause a splash, however. This patent was filed in March of last year, so it’s a relatively recent invention, meaning it’s too soon to say that Apple is just locking down the IP without any strong intent to necessarily bring this to future products.


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Samsung loses smartphone crown to Apple - CNET

Samsung loses smartphone crown to Apple - CNET | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Apple scored the highest percentage of smartphone sales in the fourth quarter, courtesy of its new iPhones, according to a Gartner report released Tuesday.

For the final quarter of 2014, Apple took home a 20.4 percent share of worldwide smartphone sales, up from 17.8 percent during the same quarter in 2013. Over the same period, Samsung's share of the smartphone market, on sales of 73 million units, plummeted to 19.9 percent from 29.5. percent.

Last quarter, Apple sold 74.8 million iPhones to achieve its best quarter ever, Gartner said. Apple's phone lineup, now led by the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, enjoyed heavy demand in the US and China, where sales surged 88 percent and 56 percent, respectively, according to Gartner. The new iPhones spurred many existing owners to upgrade but also convinced buyers looking for big-screened phones to consider Apple as an alternative to Android.

In January, researcher Strategy Analytics had described the fourth-quarter standings as a tie between Samsung and Apple, with both at 20 percent of the global smartphone market. But the momentum was the same -- Apple trending upward and Samsung on the downswing.

Apple's record quarter was a definitive sign that the move to bump up the display size of its smartphone paid off. The company had been losing market share and sales to Samsung, which offered larger-screened phones such as the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note. But the iPhone 6 wasn't the only factor that helped Apple score the top spot. Samsung has also been hit on the low end by budget-friendly smartphones from Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi.

"Chinese vendors, such as Huawei and Xiaomi, are continuing to improve their sales in China and other overseas markets, increasing their share in the mid to low-end smartphone market," Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, said in a press release. "Chinese vendors are no longer followers. They are producing higher quality devices with appealing new hardware features that can rival the more established players in the mobile phone market."



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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 | Scoop.it

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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Samsung Acquires LoopPay to Compete with ApplePay

Samsung Acquires LoopPay to Compete with ApplePay | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Samsung has just purchased U.S. mobile payments firm LoopPay. In doing so it gives the company a strategy to compete with ApplePay. It looks like a new mobile payments solution from Samsung will be launched on March 1st, during Samsung’s Galaxy S6 smartphone event.


Unlike ApplePay that requires new hardware the LoopPay solution can convert traditional point-of-sale (POS) systems so that they are able to accept contactless payments. All customers have to do is tap their smartphone next to a LoopPay card reader connected to the POS, Samsung says 90 percent of current systems support the mobile payment technology.

“Our goal has always been to build the smartest, most secure, user-friendly mobile wallet experience, and we are delighted to welcome LoopPay to take us closer to this goal,” said JK Shin, co-CEO and head of Samsung’s mobile business, said in a public statement.


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Samsung Could Roll Back Its Own Software And Embrace Microsoft For Galaxy S6

Samsung Could Roll Back Its Own Software And Embrace Microsoft For Galaxy S6 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

We’ve already heard reports that Samsung could be pumping the breaks on TouchWiz with its next flagship, but a new report from the generally accurate SamMobile today says that it will also be removing most of its in-house pre-loaded software from the Galaxy S6, and instead offering a host of Microsoft’s smartphone apps pre-installed. If true, this is one of the surest signs yet that Samsung is rethinking its mobile strategy in a way that truly plays to its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses.

Per the report, Samsung will be reducing the performance impact of TouchWiz, as well as sticking closer to stock Lollipop in some regards. But the big news is that it will remove “all” of its pre-installed apps, which presumably means things like S Voice, S Health, S Note and others. These will still be available, and will offer more colourful redesigns, but they’ll reside in the Samsung Galaxy Apps store as optional downloads, instead of something you get on the device out of the box (and can never truly remove).

Samsung won’t be stripping pre-installed software altogether, though: Instead, it’ll offer Microsoft’s revamped suite of productivity apps, including OneNote, OneDrive, Office Mobile (complete with a free 365 subscription of indeterminate duration) and Skype. Given Microsoft’s success in reinventing its software offerings for the mobile platforms of its ostensible competitors, this should prove far more beneficial to users than offering them Samsung’s generally unimpressive equivalents.

For Microsoft, it’s a way to instantly gain the kind of reach that Windows Phone could never hope to achieve, at least not in the near future. As the company refocuses with special attention to its software and services division, doing this kind of thing will allow it to raise awareness among a whole new generation of users. Even if, ultimately, it wants to route users back to Windows Phone as a platform, appealing to users where they already are serves its short-term goals. And if its mobile OS ends up going nowhere, at least they have a relationship in place with users upon which they can build an alternate revenue strategy.

Samsung reveals all in just a few weeks at a special March 1 event in Barcelona before Mobile World Congress kicks off, and we’ll have all the details as soon as they become available.



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Samsung Galaxy S6 display to reach onto 3 sides, report says - CNET

Samsung Galaxy S6 display to reach onto 3 sides, report says - CNET | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it
Samsung may offer a Galaxy S6 with a display that you can view from three sides -- the front, left and right.

The mobile phone maker plans to unveil two versions of its next Galaxy S phone -- one with the standard front-facing display and one with a display that extends to three sides, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing "people with direct knowledge of the matter." Expected to take the stage at Mobile World Congress in early March, both phones would have all-metal bodies, come with 5.1-inch screens and use Samsung's most advanced processors, the sources said.

Samsung has been hit by greater competition in the smartphone arena -- on both the high end and the low end. Thanks in large part to demand for the new big-screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple's global share of the smartphone market rose to 20 percent in the fourth quarter from 18 percent a year prior, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. Over the same time, Samsung's slice dropped to 20 percent from 30 percent. On the lower end, Samsung has lost sales in emerging markets to Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi and Huawei. As such, Samsung's Galaxy S6 phone needs to provide a compelling reason to draw in buyers.

The report from Bloomberg of two Galaxy S6 phone models echoes a similar story from Business Insider published last month. The main difference is that BI's story claimed that only one model would come with a metal body while the other would stick with the traditional plastic.

Samsung already offers a phone with an edge display -- namely the Galaxy Note Edge, outfitted with a 5.6-inch screen that curves onto the right side to display various icons and notifications. Assuming Bloomberg's sources are on the money, the Galaxy S6 would extend that concept by bending the display to both the right and left sides.

Earlier this month, Samsung sent out invitations to a March 1 event at Mobile World Congress. The all-black invitation said "What's Next" and displayed an image that seemed to hint at a curved device.

One feature that Samsung is touting for its 2015 Galaxy S phone is the camera. In a post on its Samsung Tomorrow site, the company took us through the history of its smartphone camera with details on how the picture-taking quality has improved with each new generation. The front-facing camera is now considered a necessity, prompting Samsung to promise even greater quality for the camera for its next Galaxy S phone.

"We meticulously evaluate every single facet of our smartphone cameras by taking over 10,000 photos in every imaginable lighting environment for analysis," Samsung said. "The same passion and dedication has been put into building the cameras for the release of our 2015 flagship model. It will be intelligent and do all the thinking for users, allowing them to take amazing pictures under any conditions, without having to worry about anything more than just pressing the shutter button."
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Samsung's Gear VR will soon keep Qantas first-class passengers entertained

Samsung's Gear VR will soon keep Qantas first-class passengers entertained | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Offering iPads as in-flight entertainment systems is so 2014. Australian carrier Qantas will soon welcome a new breed of gadget onboard -- the Samsung Gear VR, along with a Galaxy Note 4 to power it. The phone's loaded with a special app that shows you 360-degree views of the carrier's first-class lounges and even a virtual reality boat ride. You can also use it to watch a movie, but unfortunately, if you want to marathon House of Cards, you'll have to use your own laptop or tablet for that. See, the bad news is that there will be a limited number of Gear VRs available, and it's not accessible to everyone flying Qantas: only folks in Business Class aboard an Airbus A380 going from LA to Sydney or from Melbourne to LA can borrow one. Even then, they're expected to use it only for a limited time, so other people can take their turn.

According to Gizmodo Australia, Qantas is providing two units each for the Mebourne and Sydney first-class lounges, four for inbound flights from LA and another four for outgoing flights to the city. The lounges will be stocked with the units as soon as mid-February, whereas the planes themselves won't be offering the device until mid-March. If you're just looking to experience using the virtual reality headset, though, it might be wiser to just buy the $200 Gear VR and the $700 phone to power it, as each top-tier round-trip ticket for those Qantas flights cost roughly 20 grand.


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Samsung reportedly to unveil two versions of Galaxy S6 - CNET

Samsung reportedly to unveil two versions of Galaxy S6 - CNET | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Samsung may try to challenge the competition with not one but two new variations of its upcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone.

The company, whose current marquee phone is the Galaxy S5, will reportedly roll out one model with a metal design, a change from the usual plastic, Business Insider said Monday, citing "sources familiar with the company's plans." The sources didn't say whether the new Galaxy S6 would offer a full unibody metal chassis or simply adopt metal accents. But an alleged metal frame for the S6, leaked a few weeks ago, revealed a unibody design, Business Insider said.

Samsung has traditionally used plastic for the frame of its smartphones, unlike rival Apple, which uses metal for its iPhones. But plastic has sometimes been criticized as looking and feeling cheap, so Samsung has moved toward metal with such phones as its Galaxy Alpha.

The second S6 model purportedly in the works would feature a curved edge, just like Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge. The Note Edge uses the curved border to display icons and widgets to supplement the content you see on the main screen.

Whether or not these rumors are true, Samsung may feel the need to try something different with its Galaxy S6 in order to battle back against its rivals. The company has seen its operating profits and market share drop in the wake of greater competition. During the third quarter of 2014, Samsung sold 73.2 million smartphones across the world, earning it 24.4 percent market share, research firm Gartner said last month. During the same quarter in 2013, the company sold 80.4 million smartphones and snagged a 32.1 percent market share.

Though still tops in the smartphone market, Samsung has been facing more competition on the higher end from Apple, which last September launched its bigger-screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. On top of that, Samsung is being hit on the lower end by makers of less pricey mobile phones such as Xiaomi and Huawei, notably in key emerging markets such as China. As such, Samsung's challenge will be to show that the Galaxy S6 is still worth its premium price and features in an increasingly competitive global market.

Likely to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February, the Galaxy S6 would be outfitted with Android 5.0 Lollipop. No other details were revealed by Business Insider's sources. But previous rumors claim the S6 could sport a 5.5-inch Quad HD display with a resolution of 1,440x2,560 pixels along with a 20-megapixel rear camera. Samsung has also reportedly conjured up a code name for the S6 known as Project Zero, which suggests the company will rethink the phone's design from scratch.

Samsung may have more in the works for MWC. The company will also reportedly unveil a new smartwatch with a round screen, similar in design to Motorola's Moto 360, Business Insider added.


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