Android and iOS Capture 82% of Global Smartphone Market

Submitted by lalit on May 24, 2012 - 8:14am.

International Data Corporation (IDC) has published their quarterly worldwide smartphone market share report and it’s bad news for everyone except Android and iOS. Android and iOS were the only two smartphone platforms that saw a rise in market share. Android market share jumped from 36.1% in Q1 2011 to 59% in Q1 2012 and iOS market share jumped form 18.3% in Q1 2011 to 23% on Q1 2012. Every other smartphone platform including Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 saw a drop in market share.

According to IDC, Android finished the quarter as the overall leader among the mobile operating systems, accounting for more than half of all smartphone shipments. In addition, Android boasted the longest list of smartphone vendor partners. Samsung was the largest contributor to Android's success, accounting for 45.4% of all Android-based smartphone shipments. But beyond Samsung was a mix of companies retrenching themselves or slowly growing their volumes.

On the other hand, iOS recorded strong year-over-year growth with sustained demand for the iPhone 4S following the holiday quarter and the addition of numerous mobile operators offering the iPhone for the first time. Although end-user demand remains high, the iPhone's popularity brings additional operational pressures for mobile operators through subsidy and data revenue sharing policies.

You can read the complete report on IDC’s website.


iPhone Charger Teardown Shows Apple’s Attention to The Details

Submitted by lalit on May 23, 2012 - 11:42pm.

We all know the amount of emphasis Apple gives to design and quality while making devices like iPhones, iPads and Macs. However, Apple’s attention to the details doesn’t just end there, they focus on making everything related to the product perfect. And this is clearly shown in the design of iPhone charger, as revealed by a teardown done by Ken Shirriff’s blog. Ken concluded his iPhone charger teardown report by saying:

Apple's power adapter is clearly a high-quality power supply designed to produce carefully filtered power. Apple has obviously gone to extra effort to reduce EMI interference, probably to keep the charger from interfering with the touchscreen. When I opened the charger up, I expected to find a standard design, but I've compared the charger to the Samsung charger and several other high-quality industry designs, and Apple goes beyond these designs in several ways.

The input AC is filtered through a tiny ferrite ring on the plastic case (see photo below). The diode bridge output is filtered by two large capacitors and an inductor. Two other R-C snubbers filter the diode bridge, which I've only seen elsewhere in audio power supplies to prevent 60Hz hum; perhaps this enhances the iTunes listening experience. Other chargers I disassembled don't use a ferrite ring and usually only a single filter capacitor. The primary circuit board has a grounded metal shield over the high-frequency components (see photo), which I haven't seen elsewhere. The transformer includes a shield winding to absorb EMI. The output circuit uses three capacitors including two relatively expensive tantalum ones and an inductor for filtering, when many supplies just use one capacitor. The Y capacitor is usually omitted from other designs. The resonant clamp circuit is highly innovative.

Apple's design provides extra safety in a few ways that were discussed earlier: the super-strong AC prongs, and the complex over-temperature / over-voltage shutdown circuit. Apple's isolation distance between primary and secondary appears to go beyond the regulations.

Apple's iPhone charger crams a lot of technology into a small space. Apple went to extra effort to provide higher quality and safety than other name-brand chargers, but this quality comes at a high cost.

Apple could have easily bought and shipped a third party charger with Apple’s logo on it for the iPhone, but they went one step further and designed the best USB charger available on the market for the iPhone. You can read the complete explanation about how the iPhone charger works and how Apple designed it on Ken Shirriff’s Blog.


McAfee: Mobile Malware Grows Four Times, 80% on Android Platform

Submitted by lalit on May 23, 2012 - 9:58am.

McAfee today released their “McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2012” and in first quarter alone mobile malware has grown four times when compared to 2011. The news is worst for Android as over 80% of that malware growth was on Google’s mobile platform. McAfee reported the following:

This quarter we report a large increase in mobile malware. The jump was targeted almost solely at the Android platform. Hundreds of Android threats in the middle of 2011 have moved into the thousands this year. Due to significant improvements in our ability to collect, process, and detect mobile malware, the count further accelerated this quarter: Android threats now reach almost 7,000, with more than 8,000 total mobile malware in our database.

The great majority of mobile attacks, and their malware, stem from and attack third-party markets, particularly in China and Russia. In most cases, we do not find this malware in the official Android market. Google’s app store has suffered from some incidents, but so far those counts are moderate. McAfee Labs advises customers to use install software only from the official market. That step should greatly reduce the risk of compromising your Android device.

This is bad news for Android users and if you are an Android user, you should download applications from reliable sources only. You can read the complete McAfee report here.


Jonathan Ive says Current Projects at Apple are his ‘Most Important’ Work

Submitted by lalit on May 23, 2012 - 5:30am.

Apple’s design chief Jonathan Ive, told in an interview with The Telegraph after he received a knighthood in UK that he believes his current projects at Apple are his ‘most important’ design work ever. Shane Richmond wrote on The Telegraph:

Ive has achieved an awful lot and still has a long career ahead of him. Even so, a knighthood is a good time to take stock. If he was to be remembered for just one of his Apple designs, I ask, which one would he pick?

There is the long pause. “It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”

Apple is famous for its secrecy about future products. I ask what will happen if the Queen asks about the new iPhone today. Will he have to say, “I’m sorry Your Majesty, we don’t comment on forthcoming products”?

“That would be funny,” he laughs.

In the two part interview on The Telegraph, Jonathan Ive talks about how he got into design at very early age and his focus on simplicity. You can read the part one and part two of the interview here.


OmniVision Launches 16-Megapixel Camera Image Sensors with 4K2K Video Support

Submitted by lalit on May 23, 2012 - 4:49am.

OmniVision today announced the OV16820 and OV16825, two 16-megapixel CameraChip sensors that support 16-megapixel burst photography and can capture 4K2K video, or Quad Full High Definition (QFHD), at 60 frames per second (FPS). Built on the high-performance 1.34-micron OmniBSI-2 pixel architecture, the OV16820 and OV16825 were developed by OmniVision to support emerging standards in high-resolution video recording for the digital still and video camera (DSC/DVC) markets and the high-end smartphone market, respectively.

“It was an industry-wide assumption that smartphones would cut into DSC/DVC sales; but at higher resolutions, we’re seeing a very distinct divide between the two markets and both remain strong,” said Devang Patel, senior product marketing manager at OmniVision. “Industry experts have observed that mainstream DSC products are shifting to 16-megapixel resolutions and are offering improved image quality and optics. The OV16820 supports such offerings, allowing DSC/DVC manufacturers to provide consumers a high-resolution, feature-rich point and shoot photography experience, while the OV16825 provides top-tier imaging and video recording capabilities for flagship smartphones.”

The 1/2.3-inch OV16820 and OV16825 image sensors are capable of operating in full resolution (4608 x 3456) video at 30 FPS, 4K2K (3840 x 2160) video at 60 FPS, and 1080p HD video at 60 FPS with extra pixels for electronic image stabilization (EIS).

Both the OV16820 and OV16825 sensors are available for sampling and are expected to enter volume production by the fourth quarter of 2012.


9to5mac: Apple Testing Next Generation iPhone Featuring 3.9-inch Screen with 1136 x 640 Resolution

Submitted by lalit on May 22, 2012 - 5:55am.

9to5mac is reporting that Apple is testing multiple next generation iPhone prototypes and at least one of those prototypes feature a bigger 3.95-inch screen. Chuck Remington wrote on 9to5mac:

Right now we know of a few next-generation iPhone candidates in testing. These prototype phones are floating around Apple HQ in thick, locked shells in order to disguise the exterior design to “undisclosed” employees. We know of two next-generation iPhones in testing with a larger display: the iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2. These phones are in the PreEVT stage of development and are codenamed N41AP (5,1) and N42AP (5,2). Because Apple reserves certain models for internal-only usage (such as the N96 phone we previously reported on), we’re not sure which of the two devices will make its way into the world later this year.

Both of these phones sport a new, larger display that is 3.95 inches diagonally. Apple will not just increase the size of the display and leave the current resolution, but will actually be adding pixels to the display. The new iPhone display resolution will be 640 x 1136. That’s an extra 176 pixels longer of a display. The screen will be the same 1.94 inches wide, but will grow to 3.45 inches tall. This new resolution is very close to a 16:9 screen ratio, so this means that 16:9 videos can play full screen at their native aspect ratio.

Even though 9to5mac has been right about Apple rumors sometimes, we have our doubts about this 1136 x 640 resolution. If Apple is changing the resolution why not just go with 1280 x 720 on a 4-inch screen, rather than go with some odd resolution that's between 16:10 and 16:9.


TiVo Announces IP Set-Top Box and TiVo Stream

Submitted by lalit on May 22, 2012 - 12:34am.

TiVo today announced two new products to enhance its whole home viewing solution – the IP set-top box, delivers the TiVo experience on secondary televisions throughout the home and TiVo Stream, provides transcoding to enable content viewing on mobile devices.

According to TiVo, with these new products, operators working with TiVo can give their subscribers the content they want on any screen within the home, including secondary televisions, tablets and smart phones and all through the same easy-to-use TiVo interface.

The IP set-top box works with the TiVo Premiere Q, a home's primary gateway device, to give consumers access to live and recorded TV, operator VOD, plus broadband-delivered content on every TV in the house. It includes integrated MoCA to simplify home networking and multi-room applications.

TiVo Stream seamlessly delivers the content available on a consumer's TiVo Premiere or Premiere Q DVR to alternative screens such as iPads and iPhones. Unlike similar offerings in the market, this is the first product to enable streaming or download of shows simultaneously to multiple portable devices without interrupting what's playing on the television. The TiVo Stream enables users to quickly transfer shows to their mobile device for viewing outside the home.

Availability for both the IP set-top box and TiVo Stream will be announced in the coming months. No word on price yet.


Pentax Introduces Weather Resistant K-30 Digital SLR

Submitted by lalit on May 21, 2012 - 8:11pm.

Pentax today announced the new weather and dust resistant digital SLR camera – the Pentax K-30. The camera features 81 seals set in its compact body and is built to be weather, dust and cold resistant, perfectly working at sub-freezing temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C).

“No detail was overlooked when designing the dynamic new K-30 to be weather resistant,” explains John Carlson, Sr. Manager of Sales and Marketing, PENTAX. “Every seam, every button, every hinge has been weather sealed for adventure-proof creative photography. Whether enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking in the Rocky Mountains or on vacation cruising along on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls, photographers can stop worrying about weather conditions and start focusing on capturing the perfect shot.”

Other features of the new camera are 16-megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor, PRIME M imaging engine, 1080p video recording at 30 fps, 11-point auto focus, 6fps continuous shooting mode, ISO range of 100 to 12800, 19 scene modes, shake reduction (SR) mechanism, 77 segment multi pattern metering system, 100% field view optical finder and 3-inch LCD monitor.

The new Pentax K-30 will be available in July 2012, priced $849.95 for body only and $899.95 for the kit including the DA L 18-55mm zoom lens.


New Silicon Oxide Based Memory Chip 100 Times Faster Than NAND Flash

Submitted by lalit on May 21, 2012 - 3:48pm.

Researchers at UCL have developed a new memory chip based on pure silicon oxide called ‘Resistive RAM’ (ReRAM) that can operate in ambient conditions without the need of vacuum, which was needed for chips based on titanium dioxide. Resistive RAM memory chips are based in oxides of metals, whose electrical resistance changes when a voltage is applied and these chips can maintain the state when the power is turned off. posted the following about development of ReRAM chips:

ReRAM chips promise significantly greater memory storage than current technology, such as the Flash memory used on USB sticks, and require much less energy and space.

The UCL team have developed a novel structure composed of silicon oxide, described in a recent paper in the Journal of Applied Physics, which performs the switch in resistance much more efficiently than has been previously achieved. In their material, the arrangement of the silicon atoms changes to form filaments of silicon within the solid silicon oxide, which are less resistive. The presence or absence of these filaments represents a 'switch' from one state to another.

Dr Tony Kenyon, UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: "Our ReRAM memory chips need just a thousandth of the energy and are around a hundred times faster than standard Flash memory chips. The fact that the device can operate in ambient conditions and has a continuously variable resistance opens up a huge range of potential applications.

Though researchers were able to store and extract data predictably from the new ReRAM chip, the actual manufacturing of the chip for mass use is still at least 5 years away. Researchers say that the silicon oxide chip can not only be used for memory storage, but also as a computer processor because of its unique resistance properties.


Sony Announces NEX-F3 Mirrorless Camera with 16-Megapixel Sensor and Built-in Flash

Submitted by lalit on May 20, 2012 - 10:04pm.

Sony has added the new NEX-F3 entry-level mirrorless camera to their highly successful Alpha NEX series. The NEX-F3 features the same excellent 16.1-megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor found on big brother NEX 5N. The camera also gets new features like a built-in flash and 180 degree tiltable LCD screen.

One of the new party tricks that NEX-F3 brings is the new Auto Portrait Framing feature for creating top-quality portraits quickly and easily. This feature identifies a subject’s position in a composed image, and follows the “rule of thirds” to trim the scene appropriately around the subject’s face, creating a beautifully composed portrait. The cropped portrait is then boosted to full resolution using Sony’s unique By Pixel Super Resolution technology, which uses pattern matching to maintain superb image detail, tones and textures in the photo. Both the original and cropped image files are saved for review.

By Pixel Super Resolution Technology is also used for the “Clear Image Zoom” feature, which digitally doubles the effective magnification of any lens attached to the camera. Ideal for travel and everyday shooting, it’s a great way to boost maximum focal length without carrying extra hardware.

Along with the new camera, Sony has also launched the new SEL18200LE E18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS LE telezoom lens that offers a powerful 11x zoom range. Smaller and 12% lighter than the SEL18200 lens, the new E-mount model features Optical SteadyShot to compensate for the effects of hand-shake. It also features Direct Manual Focus to give users precise control over focus settings, resulting in crisp, beautiful images.

The new NEX-F3 compact digital camera will be available this June in silver, black and white with an 18-55mm kit zoom lens (model SEL1855) for $600. The new SEL18200LE telezoom lens will be available this July in black for about $850. Check out the first look video posted by Sony for the new camera and the new lens.