недеља, 06. октобар 2013.

Apple reportedly cutting Samsung's share of next iPhone chip production


Like every iPhone processor before it, the A8 chip in Apple's next flagship phone will still be made by Samsung, but according to Korean daily Hankyung, the majority of the manufacturing will be handled by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). Citing industry sources, the newspaper reported Sunday that TSMC will be responsible for 60 to 70 percent of the manufacturing of the A8 processor, with the remainder going to Samsung. The South Korea-based company has reportedly signed a deal to manufacture the chip, though it the contract is estimated to cover just 30 to 40 percent of total production for the A8. A report published last week revealed that Samsung manufactured the A7 processor in the recently released iPhone 5S, though recent reports have indicated that Apple is looking to lessen its dependence upon its rival amid ongoing legal battles and the race for smartphone supremacy. The company signed a deal with TSMC in June to begin chip production in 2014, though Apple was expected to rely on Samsung for the majority of manufacturing through next year. Today's report suggests that within Apple's supply chain, the transition is already underway.

Commercial space race heats up as Orbital Sciences sends its own ship to ISS


Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft completed a successful rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, marking what NASA hailed as an "historical milestone" in commercial spaceflight. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the Cygnus unmanned vehicle linked up with the ISS Sunday morning, after an eleven day journey through space. Astronauts used a robotic arm to capture and secure the Cygnus, which will unload 1,300 pounds of supplies before departing (and self-destructing) within the next several weeks. With today's successful operation, Orbital becomes the second private company to send a spacecraft to the ISS, joining Elon Musk's SpaceX. NASA has become increasingly reliant upon private sector initiatives in recent years, as the government phases out the shuttle program. The agency invested $285 million in research and development leading up to Sunday's launch (Orbital spent $500 million) and has committed to spending $1.9 billion on future Orbital projects over the next several years. "Orbital joins SpaceX in fulfilling the promise of American innovation to maintain America's leadership in space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "As commercial partners demonstrate their new systems for reaching the Station, we at NASA continue to focus on the technologies to reach an asteroid and Mars." Measuring 17 feet in length, the Cygnus capsule was scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS on September 22nd, but a software problem delayed its connection. It took off on Orbital's Antares rocket on September 18th, and approached within 40 feet of the ISS before the station's astronauts reeled it in. The craft will disconnect from the ISS on October 22nd, and will burn up as it descends into the atmosphere. Today's successful link-up demonstrates Cygnus' ability to communicate and safely link up with the ISS, as Orbital looks to keep pace with SpaceX, its principal rival. Incidentally, SpaceX launched its next-generation Falcon 9 rocket later on Sunday, taking off from Vandenberg Air Force Station in California at 12 PM EDT. The upgraded Falcon 9 features longer fuel tanks and redesigned engines, and is carrying a space weather satellite from the Canadian Space Agency.

The amazing products of Weird Sony


For all its successes (and failures) over the decades as a mainstream consumer electronics company, Sony has always cultivated an alter ego — a weird place where crazy, off-kilter designs and product ideas have been allowed to come to market, even when they're anything but a guaranteed commercial success. This is Weird Sony. To commemorate the launch of Weird Sony's latest products — the QX10 and QX100 lens cameras — we wanted to take a walk back through some of the most amazing, bizarre, and unlikely devices that the company has ever made. Some have helped shape the industry, some have helped shape Sony, and some have simply come and gone. All, needless to say, are weird.

The boardroom drama behind BlackBerry's demise


The Globe and Mail this week published an extensive investigative report on the dramatic rise and fall of BlackBerry, detailing some of the high-level disputes that ultimately plagued the smartphone maker. Underpinning the drama was a philosophical debate on the company's future, and arguments over how to respond to the launch of the iPhone. Tensions came to a head in a board meeting late last year, when CEO Thorsten Heins discussed the Z10 with BlackBerry executives. Co-founder and former co-CEO Mike Laziridis warned Heins against coming out with a full touchscreen phone, urging the board to instead focus on its trademark keypad devices and strong enterprise base, but BlackBerry ultimately sided with Heins. The Z10 was a flop and months later, BlackBerry's future is more uncertain than ever.

Scientists want to turn smartphones into earthquake sensors


For years, scientists have struggled to collect accurate real-time data on earthquakes, but a new article published today in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America may have found a better tool for the job, using the same accelerometers found in most modern smartphones. The article finds that the MEMS accelerometers in current smartphones are sensitive enough to detect earthquakes of magnitude five or higher when located near the epicenter. Because the devices are so widely used, scientists speculate future smartphone models could be used to create an "urban seismic network," transmitting real-time geological data to authorities whenever a quake takes place. The authors pointed to Stanford's Quake-Catcher Network as an inspiration, which connects seismographic equipment to volunteer computers to create a similar network. But using smartphone accelerometers would be cheaper and easier to carry into extreme environments. The sensor will need to become more sensitive before it can be used in the field, but the authors say once technology catches up, a smartphone accelerometer could be the perfect earthquake research tool. As one researcher told us, "right from the start, this technology seemed to have all the requirements for monitoring earthquakes — especially in extreme environments, like volcanoes or underwater sites."

Watch this: chillwave drone vacation


DJI Phantom quadcopter? Check. GoPro Hero 3 video camera? Check. Paracosm, the latest chillwave record from Washed Out? Check. You might usually find production studio Fiction shooting promotional videos for apps or the occasional tomato farm for Publix, but its latest project is a personal experiment in shooting video with drones. "Fiction Product Test 003" is three-and-a-half minutes of stunning fields, vistas, and lakes, all experienced firsthand from the underside of a quadcopter. The vehicle's movement is exceptionally graceful and fluid, which makes for some truly breathtaking moving shots of Hawaii, Florida, Ireland, and Scotland. Grab a pina colada, your favorite drone, and enjoy.

Apple dealt setback in fight against patent troll Lodsys


Back in 2011, Apple stepped up to protect iOS developers victimized by patent troll Lodsys, which asked for royalties from those utilizing in-app purchasing technology. Ars Technica reports that after two years of debate, the judge presiding over the case dismissed Apple's case to protect developers. Apple's argument was that it already paid to license Lodsys patents under their previous owner, Intellectual Ventures, and that arrangement should cover developers who used Apple APIs to implement in-app purchases. Apple's claims in the case were dismissed because the group of iOS developers in question had already settled with Lodsys. The patent troll hadn't asked for an enormous amount of money to begin with, making the decision to settle an easy call when faced with the prospect of costly litigation. The end result, however, was that the companies Apple was helping were no longer participants in the litigation, rendering its arguments irrelevant to the case at hand. As a result, Lodsys filed a motion to dismiss Apple's claims, and the court agreed. However, Apple could still raise this argument at a later date, in a different case. Apple could still raise this argument at a later date Meanwhile, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia recently filed a complaint in a Wisconsin federal court against Lodsys, which had asked Stewart's company to pay $20,000 in connection with four magazine apps. MSLO filed a civil action suit to affirm that none of its magazines infringe upon Lodsys patents, which will cost both parties more money than it would have to simply pay Lodsys its "licensing" fee as the company had asked. But sometimes, you can't put a price on taking down a bully.