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It’s a refreshingly wet end to the month of May. If any of our Indian readers had been complaining of heat and humidity over the past month and a bit – get drenched to your heart’s fill today (as long as the downpour lasts, that is!). Once you’re done, do check out our Infowatch newsletter though – for you would like a concise wrap up of all tech going-ons in this month, right? Here are some of the news bytes from the domain of technology that made it to the headlines in May:
‘Roombots’ As Furniture
Move over robots, for the ‘roombots’ are here! The latter are battery and motor-powered robotic blocks that can mold themselves in the shape of practically any household furniture. Each roombot measures nine inches in length, and comes with retractable claws. According to Swiss designer Massimo Vespignani, these automated pieces of furniture would be particularly convenient for elderly people.
Katniss Everdeen Comes To Your Smartphone
Well, this ‘The Hunger Games’-based mobile gaming app has not yet hit the markets – but developer company Kabam has plans to launch it in the third quarter of the year. Mobile experts from Kabam has already got into collaborations with Lionsgate – the banner under which ‘The Hunger Games’ movies are produced – for making a role-playing game, where players would be able to assume the characters of the District Members in the app. Incidentally, Kabam had earlier developed a mobile game based on ‘The Hobbit’.
Home Platform From Apple?
The WWDC (World Wide Developers’ Conference) starts in two days, and there’s every chance that Apple Inc. will unveil an all-new smart home platform during the event. Either the NFC or the iBeacon technology will be used to pair household electrical gadgets (lights, fans, etc.) with iPhones. The moment you walk in to your room carrying a paired iPhone, the lights in your room will get automatically switched on!
Flappy Bird Eyes A Comeback
Fans of this mighty addictive mobile gaming application can now rejoice. Don Nguyen, the developer of Flappy Bird, has announced that the name of this game in its revamped avatar will be ‘Flappy Bird: New Version’. The game would have multiplayer features (yay!) – and would probably be available at online stores from August.
Mark Zuckerberg Focuses On Charity
The man behind Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has donated a princely sum of $120 million for a charitable cause. The money has been given to the authorities of San Francisco Bay Area school – and should go a long way in improving the facilities and infrastructure of the students over there. What Zuckerberg won’t want is a rehash of his much-criticized previous charity act, four years back.
Gibson Acquires Phillips’ Audio Business
Everyone is talking about the Apple-Beats deal which happened on May – but this acquisition was almost as important (okay, maybe not from the monetary perspective). Gibson Firms, an American music company, has bought the rights for selling all audiovisual equipments of Phillips. The value of this deal was $135 million, and it is expected to strengthen the brand presence of Phillips in the markets of US and Japan.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Finally Gets Kids’ Mode
The recently released Galaxy S5 already has it, and the South Korean mobile giant has decided to bring Kids Mode to the S4 line of phones as well. This is a welcome piece of news for parents worldwide, who would now be able to let their children use mobile apps for kids on their phone – without having to worry about accidental taps and/or downloads. The Galaxy S4 would also have the Knox 2.0 security suite.
Samsung Opts For Tizen OS For Its New Smartwatch
There were already indications that Samsung is planning to gradually move away from Android – and the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch has fueled such rumors manifold. The wearable gadget is powered exclusively by the Tizen platform (it’s owned by Samsung) and boasts of voice-based camera features and a music player. It remains to be seen whether Samsung ditches Android for its next line of phones too.
Court Orders Google To Let Users Exercise Their ‘Right To Be Forgotten’
Following a lawsuit, an European court has issued this directive. The individual users of the search engine can now directly contact the Google authorities to ‘erase’ previously stored details about them on the online space, which are no longer relevant at present. The ruling is in accordance with Article 17 of EDPR (European Data Protection Regulation). Google can no longer dig up unsavory details about people, if the latter don’t want it!
Android Phones Again Under Security Scanner
If you are a relatively frequent visitor to adult entertainment websites on your Android phone, you might be in for a rude shock pretty soon. A senior professional from Bitdefender has revealed that the Reveton Gang (which launched a mobile malware several years ago) has found an innovative way to frustrate Android-users. The Reveton virus blocks phones as well as computers (via a fake security warning), and asks for a pretty hefty ransom to unlock the devices. The ransomware attacks Android phones and tablets by tracing the IP addresses of the latter. Oh, and the payment channel Reveton opts for (uKash or Paysafecard) cannot be tracked.
Salesforce Apps To Be Available On Windows Phones
In a bid to strengthen his ‘mobile first, cloud first’ strategy, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced that most customer-management mobile applications of Salesforce will be present (a long-time competitor of Microsoft in the mobile market) on the forthcoming range of Windows devices. The collaboration would facilitate easier and quicker data integration on users. The deal is expected to make Microsoft a force to reckon with in the domain of cloud computing.
Book Publishers Enraged By Amazon’s Power Abuse
General book-lovers as well as publishing houses have reacted strongly to Amazon’s distinctly underhand tactics to manipulate buyer-behavior and promote e-books from its platform. The online bookstore of Amazon has even gone to the lengths of raising the prices and wilfully delaying the delivery of books. Hachette, one of the leading booksellers in the US, has directly felt the brunt of Amazon’s antics. There is a conflict scenario between Amazon and individual publishers/guilds in Germany too.
End Of Apple vs Samsung – Latest Edition
The patent-infringement lawsuit that had been raging over the last couple of months was finally settled in the first week of this month. Samsung Mobile was ordered to pay $119 million to Apple Inc. by a California jury. Although this was a moral victory for Apple, the penalty mentioned in the final verdict is way less than the $2.2 billion the company had initially demanded. What’s more – Apple was also ordered to pay $158400 to Samsung, for infringing a patent regulation.
Panic Spreads At eBay
The belief that eBay was a virtual marketplace completely safe from hacker attacks was turned on its head in May. According to Devin Wenig (the head of global marketplaces), hackers managed to access the contact details of a whopping 145 million users worldwide – by using the credentials of 3 eBay employees. The company promptly issued notifications to people to change their eBay login passwords immediately. Thankfully, the payment gateway was not compromised.
Springpad To Shut Down Soon
Catch Notes and Astrid were note-taking mobile apps that were mighty popular at the online stores, before both of them were pulled down. Springpad, which created quite a buzz initially, is about to follow suit. The app would shut down next month, and users worldwide have been advised to take a backup of their data on another application (e.g., Evernote).
Roger Federer Spotted Wearing Google Glass
Google Glass has found a celebrity fan in the form of Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis ace. Federer wore Glass during a practice session with his coach Stefan Edberg – at Mountain View. At the end of the session, Federer expressed that it was indeed interesting to get the ‘Google Glass view’ while playing. Glass has received only lukewarm response among techies and general users till date, and the thumbs-up from Federer can boost its sales in future.
Prototypes For The Google Chauffeur Project Are Out
It was confirmed last week that Google is indeed working on creating ‘driverless cars’ in the United States. These cars won’t have brakes, steerings, or fuel chambers – and would roughly resemble the shape of a computer mouse. The maximum speed of these automated, self-driven cars will be 40 km/h. During the Code Conference at LA, Google co-founder Sergey Brin expressed confidence about the success of these driverless vehicles.
BBM Protected To Be Launched Soon
Blackberry CEO John Chen has already dropped hints that the company would be focusing more on enterprise users, and BBM Protected would be the first update in this regard. This iteration of Blackberry Messenger would allow office colleagues to chat with each other, under a greater security hood. BBM Protected would, of course, retain its general instant messaging (IM) features. Powered by Blackberry 10.2, Protected is likely to be launched in mid-June.
Instagram against ‘belfies’?
If you like to take selfies and upload them on Instagram, you better be in shape ‘literally’. Meghan Tonjes, a California-based user, had uploaded photos of herself – narrating her tale of weight-loss. To her utter surprise, she found that the picture of her…well, ample…bottom (hence the name ‘belfie’) had been removed by Instagram, for breaching guidelines. Interestingly, the photo-sharing website and mobile app has nothing to say against the large number of skimpily-clad people who upload their selfies every day. Double standards, anyone?
Dell Reclaims Top Spot In The Indian PC Sector
The reports for the first quarter of 2014 are out, and Dell has emerged as the undisputed leader in the personal computer market in India. Indrajit Belgundi, the director of Dell India, highlighted improved distribution system and better partner support as two key causes behind the company managing to capture an impressive 23.1% market share. In the workstation segment in particular, Dell has a staggering 47.1% share in India.
With the launch of iPhone 6 in the horizon, Apple has announced that it would fix all lingering bugs in iPhone 5 handsets – in a bid to keep buyer loyalty levels intact. Speculations about the probable features of iWatch are on – while the news of Facebook working on a video-chatting app to trump Snapchat also featured among the tech highlights of May.
As has become the norm for practically every month now, a slew of new smartphones hit the market in May. Among them, the LG G3, the Sony Xperia Z2 and the Micromax Unite easily made the most headlines. Blackberry is pinning its hopes on its budget smartphone, Z3, to bring about a mini-revival. In India, Moto E has become immensely popular after its launch in May (Flipkart reported that the phone is ‘out of stock’ thrice).
Okay, that’s about it regarding the going-ons in the world of technology this month. Now for a brief look into what we – the Teknowledge mobile app development team – had been up to. Two new mobile applications – News Feed and FitTube – were launched in May. The former is a real-time newsreading app, offering custom feeds from multiple internationally recognized news agencies. FitTube, on the other hand, is a personalized fitness and exercise/workout application (developed for our Australian client Amanda Smith). Fitness videos on YouTube can be directly downloaded on the app. We are happy to report that FitTube has managed to break into the top-100 apps in Australia, within a couple of days of its launch.
As far as online presence is concerned, it was a more than decent month for us. A Pinterest profile has been started (http://www.pinterest.com/teksstudio/), while our Behance profile (https://www.behance.net/teknowledge) now has nearly 600 project appreciations. The number of our Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TeknowledgeMobileStudio) followers is growing too.
So, that was all that the cake named ‘May 2014’ was all about. Now for the icing – our mobile storytelling app, Story Time For Kids, got shortlisted for the coveted annual mBillionth Award South Asia this month (final results are pending). Fingers crossed, we would be able to report more such great news next month.
If you have any tech update that should have featured on this list, feel free to add it in a comment. Until next time then – enjoy June!