It’s the first day of a brand new month, folks – and we are back to bring you up-to-date with all that happened in the realm of technology, over the last four weeks. August had been a pretty busy month, with a series of important announcements, product launches and other interesting going-ons in the tech domain. Without much of further ado, let’s start our roundup of what made the most ripples last month – right here on Infowatch August:
iPhone 6 Finally Gets A Release Date
It’s finally here! No, not the phone yet – but at least Apple has come up with an official launch date for the heavily-anticipated iPhone 6. According to reports, the 4.7” model will hit the markets on the 9th of September, while we will have to wait at least a couple of months more for the 5.5” phablet variety. iPhone software experts and mobile app developers are all abuzz about the new Apple device.
Arrival Of Robots That Can ‘Learn-On-The-Job’
Robo Brain has raised the bar significantly, as far as creation and deployment of smart robots is concerned. Research experts from Brown, Cornell and Stanford Universities have started collaborating, to make robots that would be able to ‘learn new tasks’ – unlike the present ones with pre-programmed knowledge. There is some apprehension that such new-age robots might start learning unhealthy, undesirable stuff too, however.
Internet Service Outage Causes Furore
Renowned companies are expected to maintain their standards of service at all times – something that Time Warner Cable is having trouble doing. In the last week of August, the company suffered a three-hour long outage – across 29 states in the United States, owing to a human mistake. Coming on the back of the report that nearly 60% of Time Warner clients are not satisfied with its services, a massive outage like this is just what the company did not need.
Pinterest Focuses On India For Further Growth
After consolidating its popularity in the United States (with roughly one-third of the market share) and the United Kingdom, Pinterest is looking at India for its next attempt at expanding its reach. Founders Evan Sharp, Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra have taken a cue from how corporate houses like Yash Raj Studios and individual celebrities like masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor uses the platform, to stay connected with fans and followers. Researches have shown that Pinterest is almost equally popular among men and women in India, unlike what has been seen in the West.
Goodbye, MSN Messenger
Most people thought that MSN/Windows Live Messenger was finished last year – when Microsoft announced that users had to migrate to the Skype platform, to continue enjoying its services. However, MSN kept operating in China, and the plug will be finally pulled on it on the 31st of October. Facing intense competition from Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and (ironically) Skype itself – the fifteen year old service has finally arrived at the end of its run.
Firefox OS To Steal A March On Google Android?
It seems like Android will have to tackle a three-pronged competition to retain its leadership position (in terms of market share) in the mobile markets worldwide. In addition to arch-rival iOS, and the soon-to-release Tizen (on Samsung Z), August saw the arrival of granular applications permissions on the Firefox OS. With this feature, Mozilla has made it possible for Firefox device owners to revoke app permissions on a granular basis, whenever required. Android app developers feel that Google needs to come up with a similar functionality on its upcoming mobile platform too.
Snapchat To Get Huge Investment Boost
Snapchat had turned down a $3 billion takeover offer from Facebook, and the move seems to be paying off. On the evidence of its fast-growing popularity, Kleiner Perkins & Byer have agreed to invest an amount in excess of $10 billion – to further its growth. With this financial shot in the arm, Snapchat might soon become a worthy challenger of mobile messaging biggies like WhatsApp and Viber.
Instagram Launches Hyperlapse app
Wish to record HQ videos while moving around with your smartphone? Instagram has now made it possible! It released an all-new iPhone app – Hyperlapse – last month, and initial feedback has been extremely positive. Right from capturing sceneries, to making home videos, Hyperlapse can do it all. Our very own Timesnaps app is something like it!
A Social Network For Becoming A Good Neighbor!
Or, we can say ‘an anti-social network’ – for that’s what Nextdoor is better known as. Nextdoor made its debut way back in 2010, but it is only now that the platform is picking up popularity. Surveys have revealed that many people in the United States use it, to connect with their neighbors in a better, smarter way. The network has helped neighbors help each other, solve petty local crimes, and is fast rising the popularity charts. Facebook should better keep an eye on this one!
New Version Of C++ Gets Approved
Much to the delight of programmers and app developers across the globe, ISO has finally given its nod to the draft of C++14 – the successor of C++11. Enhanced usability of programmer-defined literals, expanded lambdas and the greater range of Contexpr (the function evaluator during compilation) are the key highlights of C++14. Recent rumors that the C-programming ecosystem was nearing its end have died down. Understandably.
Steve Ballmer Is No Longer On The Microsoft Board
Ballmer’s stint as Microsoft CEO ended in February, and in August, he formally resigned from the Board of Directors of the company (via a letter to Satya Nadella). There is quite a bit of contemplation as to whether Ballmer (who currently owns LA Clippers) stepped down for he was not in favor of Microsoft’s ‘cloud-first, mobile first’ strategy. However, the man would not be foregoing his shares, and will enjoy a quarterly earning of close to $95 million.
Google Announces ‘Project Wing’
The fight between Amazon and Google to provide the quickest and the most efficient delivery service to buyers is hotting up. In 2013, the former announced ‘Prime Air’ – a system in which drones will be trained to deliver products (to any address). Last month, Google came up with the perfect riposte – ‘Project Wing’. The Google drones will have routes pre-programmed in them, and will come with a pretty impressive wingspan. A preliminary video is already out, and first stage of delivery drone testing has commenced. No more undue delays in the arrival of products!
Connecting Your Apple iPhone To A Computer? Beware!
In a sensational discovery, it was found that Apple iPhones are not as hacker-proof as they are generally considered to be. Interestingly, the vulnerability of iOS is at its maximum when a device is connected to a computer, via USB. At a recent conference in San Diego, a practical demonstration of this security risk was given. It has been proved that the overall designs of iOS are leaving scopes for attacks, and the software does not have any frailties per se.
JPMorgan Chase Faces Serious Cyber Threat
As per early reports, Russian malware and hacking experts targeted the largest bank in the United States (along with a couple of other banks) last month. Personal account information and other such sensitive data in the bank’s database have come under a security cloud – and the issue has been serious enough to prompt a FBI investigation. Trish Wrexler, speaking on behalf of JP Morgan Chase, pointed out that large financial institutions are often the preferred target of hackers – and the data security provisions were enough to thwart the attacks.
Samsung Gear S Brings Voice Calling On Smartwatch
While Apple keeps postponing the release of iWatch (it seems unlikely that it will arrive before 2015), Samsung has upped its game in the wearable technology section. In the second half of August, the company unveiled Gear S – a smartwatch which could make calls, without having a mobile phone near it. The sales of Samsung devices had slackened a bit last quarter, and the October-release of Gear S is likely to push up revenues once again.
Alibaba Grows Financially Stronger Before IPO
The much-talked about Alibaba IPO in the United States might happen within the first week of September. The way in which the company revenues have soared during the recently concluded quarter has fueled this rumor. In particular, the mobile and software sector of the online retailing giant has witnessed a significant spurt (up from 27% to 33% of all transactions). If the trends hold, the IPO should be valued at over $200 billion.
Older Versions Of Internet Explorer Set To Be Phased Out
Clearly frustrated with the reluctance of people to upgrade to newer versions of the Internet Explorer browser, Microsoft has decided to come down hard on IE 7 and 8. The two will no longer be available on any operating system from January 2016. IE 9 will be operable only on Windows Vista, which is hardly used by anyone. IE 11 will be the only available version on Windows 7, 8. 8.1. Windows 9 is also likely to be launched in the interim.
A Bigger iPad Is Coming Soon
In a bid to shore up the progressively disappointing sales figures of the iPad (both the 7.9 inch and the 10 inch variety), Apple has announced a larger, 12.9-inch version. It should be ready for release in the first quarter of 2015, and it promises to be more user-friendly than ever. Professionals specializing in iOS app development feel that the new device would double up as a competitor of the large-screened Samsung phones too.
HP Forced To Take Back 6 Million Power Cords
Hewlett-Packard’s reputation as a supplier of the best-quality gadgets and accessories took a hit in August – when the company had to recall nearly 6 million faulty computer cables, in United States and Canada. There had been as many as 29 different complaints that the cables were getting charred, overheated or were melting. After taking back the problematic LS-15 cords (which were shipped with HP notebooks and mini-notebooks), HP issued a public apology to customers.
First Look Of Windows Threshold In December
In addition to phasing out older IE versions, Microsoft would be looking to put the disappointments of Windows 8 behind it as well. The next version of the desktop OS – codenamed ‘Windows Threshold’ – will be previewed this fall, nearly a year before its full commercial release. A faster booting system and a revamped Start button (the absence of which was instrumental for the poor reviews of Windows 8) will be the key features to look out for. ‘Windows Threshold’ would also offer greater support for virtual gadgets.
There was a fresh twist in the forever-ongoing Apple vs Samsung tussle last month, with the former’s ‘172 Claim’ for patent violation being rejected at a California court. Mobile app development received a bit of celebrity glitz – with Tom Hanks conceptualizing an iPad app (Hanx), which recreates the effects of old typewriters. Motorola has also entered the domain of wearable technology with its impressively stacked Moto 360 (although its chances of success in the face of fierce competition from Samsung remain suspect). Rumors about a new Microsoft tablet has also started doing the rounds, after the price of Surface 2 was slashed in August. The acquisition of Jetpac (the creator of several apps) by Google also drew the attention of tech enthusiasts.
August was an action-packed month in terms of new smartphone releases (oh well, which month isn’t these days?). Xiaomi returned with its 2nd flagship device for Indian markets – the Redmi 1s (which, interestingly, will be available again only on Flipkart). Nokia is eyeing a warm response for its Lumia 530, after the strong showing of Nokia Lumia 630. Sony Xperia C3 was an eagerly-anticipated release, as was the Oppo Find 7. Among the budget smartphones that hit the markets last month, Spice Fire One Mi-FX1 and Intex Cloud FX are the most noteworthy.
Okay, time to look back at what Teknowledge Software had been up to last month. A new mobile gaming app for kids – Kids Tiles – was launched at iTunes on August 15, and it has received encouraging reviews from all over. Two other apps, Sting and Heart Charts, are in their final stage of development – and would be released soon. It was a fantastic month for our Story Time team as well, with the 3-day Monsoon Camp 2014 event proving to be a grand success. Both the free storytelling app for children as well as the printed books are rapidly growing in popularity. Happy times!
With that, we come to the end of the August edition of Infowatch. The Teks monthly newsletter will be back on the 30th of September – with tidbits on all the important tech happenings this month. If you feel we have missed out on any important news from August, do mention it – and we’ll definitely consider including it. Till the next time we meet – enjoy September, everyone!
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