Keeping Up with Apple: Samsung Galaxy To Sport 64-bit Chips

After Apple announced this week that the A7 chip in its iPhone 5s will be the first 64-bit smartphone processor on the market, Samsung revealed on Wednesday that future Galaxy handsets will also go 64-bit.

And once again the South Korean electronics giant is taking on rival Apple. The news comes from a Samsung executive speaking at his regular weekly meeting with chief executives of Samsung's key affiliates in Seoul, as reported in The Korean Times.

Samsung's co-CEO Shin Jong-kyun said upcoming Samsung Galaxy smartphones will have 64-bit processing capabilities. The Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 run 32-bit processors.

Not in the Shortest Time

So when is Samsung letting its 64-bit smartphone out of the gate? No specific date was given. When asked about timing, the Samsung executive said, "Not in the shortest time. But yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality."

Some market watchers guess a 64-bit smartphone from Samsung will be forthcoming some time next year. Consumers by then will have been exposed to a lot of marketing information about how 64-bit processors can translate into actions they can enjoy, namely that their smartphones will be more powerful and faster.

The iPhone 5s from Apple will be driven by an ARM-based A7 processor that will handle code for more demanding applications, including high-end games. Apple trumpeted its A7 chip as ushering in 64-bit "desktop-class architecture" to a smartphone for the first time.

"With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, almost everything you do on iPhone 5S is faster and better than ever, from launching apps and editing photos to playing graphic-intensive games -- all while delivering great battery life," according to Apple.

Wait, Just a Mobile Moment

Processors with a 64-bit address space have been seen in desktops and servers, not mobile devices, which typically use 32-bit chips....

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Battery Life Zooms on New Haswell-Based Chromebooks

Chromebooks have entered a new generation. This week, Google and Intel unveiled new Net-based laptops from four manufacturers, featuring the faster and more power-efficient Haswell processor from Intel.

The new models were presented at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday, and the companies said they run 15 percent faster and with 50 percent more battery life than current models. The new laptops are available from Acer, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard and Asus. These are Asus' and Toshiba's first Chromebooks, meaning that six of the top laptop manufacturers will now be selling models using this platform.

The new HP Chromebook 14 features a 14-inch display, offers 4G as an option, is available in a variety of colors and promises over nine hours of battery life. The HP 14 has a starting price of $300, and will be available for the holiday season. Other prices for the new models have not yet been announced.

Quarter of PCs Under $300

The Asus Chromebox desktop computer, a small desktop device being compared to a Mac Mini, is being promoted for kiosks or call centers, as well as for homes or businesses. The Acer model has an 11.6-inch screen and promises 8-1/2 hours of battery life.

The presentation was made by Doug Fisher, Intel's vice president of the Software and Services group. Fisher was joined by Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai, who said that, according to external analysts such as the NPD Group, about one-quarter of all PCs sales under $300 are now Chromebooks. He added that they were also being used in more than 5,000 U.S. schools.

With this foothold, Intel and Google are increasingly putting major resources behind the development of Chromebooks. Intel's Fisher pointed out that his company currently has more than 1,000 engineers working to develop and support Chromebooks.

'Nice Looking'

Charles King, an analyst...

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How Safe Is Apple’s Touch ID, Really?

Now that the reviewers are done talking about what was missing from the iPhone 5s, some are taking a closer look at what the smartphone has that none of its competitors can claim: full-blown biometrics.

iPhone 5s introduces Touch ID, a James Bond-like way to securely unlock the device with your finger -- or, more accurately, fingerprint. Touch ID is built into the smartphone's home button and uses a laser cut sapphire crystal, together with the capacitive touch sensor, to take a high-resolution image of your fingerprint. The technology analyzes the fingerprint and promises accurate readings from any angle.

The Touch ID sensor recognizes the touch of a finger so the sensor is only activated when you mean to activate it. That preserves battery life. Addressing privacy concerns, Apple said fingerprint information is encrypted and stored securely in the Secure Enclave inside the A7 chip on the iPhone 5s. The data is never stored on Apple servers or backed up to iCloud. Beyond unlocking the device, Touch ID can also be used as a secure way to approve purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store or iBooks Store. Is this secure enough to be the future of smartphone security?

Reliability and Security

We caught up with Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst at Lumension, to get his take on Touch ID from a security perspective. He told us the fingerprint scanner has a potential to be a real game changer for personal device security -- if it's done right. As he sees it, there are two factors that will determine the real success of this new feature, which has undeniable potential: reliability and security.

"There's a lot riding on the reliability factor. Will it work if I go for a swim and try to use my phone with raisin hands? What if it's...

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Wading Through the Ultra-Competitive CRM Market

So you want to choose a platform for customer relationship management (CRM) -- one that will help automate repetitive sales tasks and ultimately boost sales and customer satisfaction. The question is, "Where do you begin?" Fortunately, Gartner's recently released 'Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation' (SFA) offers a wealth of comparative data that can help you narrow down your choices, especially with so many newcomers to the market.

First, let's understand Gartner's definition of Sales Force Automation. Gartner lumps into the SFA category applications that support the automation of sales activities, processes, and administrative responsibilities for business-to-business (B2B) sales professionals. As Gartner characterizes it, core functionalities of sales force automation include account management, as well as contact management and opportunity management.

Gartner also lists add-on capabilities that focus on improving the effectiveness of salespeople. These include sales configuration, guided selling, proposal generation, and content management, plus sales performance management support, including incentive compensation, quota management, sales coaching, and territory management.

With that understanding in mind, let's do a quick review of the top vendors, complete with a summary of what Gartner calls "strengths" and "concerns" about each of the products included in its Magic Quadrant analysis.

We'll begin with the leaders in the field, including Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics in the top spots, as well as SAP and Oracle. Gartner positions SugarCRM fairly high on the chart as a visionary, and NetSuite as a key challenger. Other, more niche players include Sage CRM, Swiftpage, Pivotal, CRMnext, and Zoho. Let's take a look.

Meet Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has many strengths, according to Gartner. For obvious starters, it integrates with Microsoft technology stack assets, including Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration and content management, Microsoft Lync for presence and IM, Microsoft Visual Studio for extended customization, and Microsoft Outlook for customer contacts and email, all to...

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‘Made in USA’ Comes Cheap for Moto X, Teardown Finds

The idea that putting together electronic devices in the U.S. is far too expensive has become a popular belief over the past decade, and while there are good reasons to believe in that sentiment, there are also reasons to think otherwise. A teardown of the Moto X has revealed that while the device costs $226 to build, only an extra $4 is added on to the price when assembling it in the U.S.

Since Motorola used its "Made in Texas" label as a way to attract patriotic customers, it received the benefit of more buyers without almost any price increase. Although the Moto X is cheaper than the iPhone, it retails for a hefty $579 without a contract.

Assembled in America

The customization options were marketed quite a bit by Motorola, but its "Made in America" credentials were marketed extensively in almost all of the Moto X advertisements. Since the Moto X is assembled in Fort Worth, Texas, Motorola was able to increase its customization options without adding a significant amount of time to the shipping process.

In total, the Moto X costs $226 to manufacture and has a $12 assembling cost, according to a teardown analysis by IHS researchers. Compared with most manufacturers in Asia, which other smartphone companies use, the assembling price only increases by $4 to $5.

The minimal price difference, combined with Motorola's ability to provide dozens of color customization options, has allowed the Moto X to gain attention so far. By assembling the units in Texas, a custom device ships within four days of ordering.

First Motorola/Google Phone

Despite retailing for a lower price than the iPhone 5, the Moto X actually costs $19 less to manufacture. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 on the other hand, costs $11 more than the Moto X. These price differences come from the agreement that Motorola...

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Delta Attendants Handle In-Flight Orders with MS Dynamics

A new tool for processing meal orders is flying at Delta Air Lines. The transactions are conducted by flight attendants using a Windows Phone connected to Microsoft Dynamics for Retail.

This week, the airline announced that its more than 19,000 flight attendants will be using Nokia Lumia 820 handsets running Windows Phone 8, connected via Wi-Fi and AT&T's 4G LTE network to the Dynamics for Retail mobile point-of-sale platform. The solution was jointly developed by Microsoft, Avanade, AT&T and Nokia.

The system utilizes the Connected Stores Solution from global business technology and managed services provider Avanade, which enables mobile devices to conduct in-store sales and provides advanced analytics to assess performance by employees.

Avanade Mobile Airline Platform

The system, which began testing in June, is based on a customized-for-Delta version of the Avanade Mobile Airline Platform, an end-to-end retail platform developed with Accenture, Avanade's parent company, for Microsoft Dynamics for Retail software. Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture and Microsoft.

Avanade integrated the solution into Delta's operational structure, and, for the next three years, will provide ongoing support, maintenance and solution enhancements. By the end of this month, Nokia Lumia 820s will have been distributed to all Delta flight attendants.

Dan O' Hara, Avanade's mobility vice president, said in a statement that "companies in all industries need to enable an end-to-end customer experience across multiple channels." He added that Delta, in particular, wanted to "enable its employees with new ways of working that can drive greater productivity and better engagement with customers."

In addition to handling customer orders on board the aircraft, the system also handles passenger manifests, frequent flyer information, updates about connecting gates, scheduling updates for flight attendants and other dynamic information. The Live Tiles interface offers local weather information and flight tracking data from Delta's Fly application.

Seating Upgrades, E-Receipts

The solution can process...

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Parallels Access Lets iPad Users Run PC Apps

Running certain applications while on the road can be a pain, especially when carrying around multiple devices is simply not something that you can do. Many people tend to use an iPad when traveling or when going to school and work, but there are limitations to that -- the biggest one being a lack of applications meant for productivity.

Parallels, which already allows people to use Windows on their Mac, has come out with a new program called Parallels Access. This new software allows users to run full Windows applications on their iPad by connecting to a Mac or a PC remotely. In doing so, someone could eliminate the need to carry around a bulky laptop and instead opt to just use an iPad with a keyboard.

Improvements in Parallels

Parallels has been around since 2006, when Intel-based Macs first arrived on the market. Since the new computers were running Intel chips, Parallels discovered that it was possible to run Windows applications on a Mac without any major issues in performance. Since the first version of Parallels Desktop for Mac, the software has improved immensely and a Mac can now run Windows software just as well as a regular PC can.

With Parallels Access, a relatively new way to use computers is becoming possible. Although there are already certain devices that can remotely connect to a laptop or desktop computer, the real benefit of Access comes from its ability to shrink Windows apps to the correct size and make them manageable on a smaller screen.

In a demo video of the service, applications such as Microsoft Word were shown running on an iPad. By resizing the apps to fit onto the iPad's screen, virtually every application from Firefox to Office should run without issues.

Growth of Remote Computing

Software that enables remote access to a computer is...

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Nintendo Makes Bold Hardware Moves

Video game fans got a heads up on a new entry-level portable gaming system from Nintendo, which also plans to drop the price of its Wii U Deluxe Set. Will these moves help spur hardware sales during the holiday shopping season?

First up, the company took the lid off the Nintendo 2D. As its name suggests, the device plays all Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS games in 2D. The new device launches Oct. 12, the same day as Pokémon X and Pokémon Y game titles. The Nintendo 2DS will come in red and blue and retail for $129.99.

According to Nintendo, the handheld features a slate-type form factor. Otherwise, the new model offers many of the same hardware features as Nintendo 3DS: dual screens, game-play controls and touch-screen features. The system also has backward compatibility with the existing library of more than 2,000 Nintendo DS games, as well as access to wireless connectivity features like multiplayer online game play.

Seeking New Opportunities

We asked Billy Pidgeon, a video games analyst in New York, for his take on the new gaming device. He told us Nintendo has been doing well in the portable sector, so it makes sense to take steps to broaden the opportunity.

"The Wii 2 is an interesting tablet style device and it's 2D, "Pidgeon said. "Some people don't really appreciate or use the 3D aspect of the 3DS. Also, having a cheaper model available opens the door to more sales in the U.S. and overseas, where extra tariffs drive up the prices a little bit higher."

Meanwhile, Nintendo is dropping the price of Wii U Deluxe Set by $50. Beginning Sept. 20, it will be available at $299.99. At that time, the company will also offer a limited-edition Wii U bundle featuring The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Games...

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Apple Buys AlgoTrim, Sweden’s Compression Rock Stars

Wednesday's announcement from the Swedish news site Rapidus that Apple acquired data-compression rock stars AlgoTrim immediately ignited headlines from media sites all over the board.

AlgoTrim is now part of Apple, a win for what Apple needs -- high performance with minimized memory requirements -- and a win for what iOS users like best -- smart visuals looking even smarter.

The camera has always been a big selling point for iPhone fans, and AlgoTrim's image encoding technology will allow Apple to continue attracting consumers to its camera features.

Malmo-based AlgoTrim specializes in "lossless compression algorithms," and its products are based on a patented method used for compressing processor instructions.

Compression Speedups

The company has promoted its Code Compression Library as a "lossless and proprietary codec for compressing code, that is, the processor instructions. Its main use is to reduce the size of the firmware of a mobile device using NAND flash as non-volatile memory."

AlgoTrim has also featured optimized versions of standard codecs. According to the company, the optimized versions have typically been built for RISC processors, resulting in significant speedups of compression and/or decompression.

The algorithms accelerate processing speeds in mobile operating systems and applications, while at the same time reduce flash memory consumption.

What that means is that the consumer gets the best out of mobile imaging and video while minimizing memory requirements. Apple can deliver content to its iPhone users faster, with less strain on processing power and battery life.

Taking Visuals to Next Level

While all that good talk about power efficiency has to be one reason for the acquisition, one can never underestimate Apple's appetite for quality visuals.

AlgoTrim codecs could find their way into Apple's camera and image viewing and manipulation apps on iOS as Apple tries to take cameras to the next levels

Over the years, AlgoTrim, which was founded in 2005, has...

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NY Times, Twitter Hit in Syrian Electronic Army DNS Attacks

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) is at it again. The hactivist group targeted nine websites, including the New York Times, Twitter and Twimg, Twitter's image service. Redirects to servers the hackers controlled aimed to launch drive-by malware attacks on victims.

The SEA's high-profile media hacking spree began earlier this year. Among the victims of the group that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are The Financial Times, The Guardian, and the Associated Press. Most recently, the Washington Post got hit. The common running theme: the papers reported stories SEA didn't like.

No Hacking Here

We asked Ken Pickering, the director of engineering at CORE Security, for his reaction to the attacks. He told us saying the Times was directly hacked is a bit of a fallacy.

"Realistically, their DNS provider was hacked. The end result is the same: The website being unavailable -- or serving up malware -- but there's not a whole lot the New York Times can do if their third party DNS provider was hacked," Pickering said.

"This points out one of the weaknesses of Internet architecture: blind trust on a DNS architecture. If they report the server IP has changed for a domain, most of us blindly trust going to that new IP," he added. "The system is only really failsafe if DNS providers are unhackable, which obviously isn't the case. And this is the resultant outcome: A story that the New York Times was hacked with very little they could do aside from picking a better service provider."

An IT Security Object Lesson

We also asked Kevin O'Brien, enterprise solution architect at CloudLock, for his views on the latest in a growing string of attacks against mainstream media. He told these attacks are not the same as having actual servers managed and run by the New York Times hacked. "The fundamental...

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