So Apple has announced that it's building a fingerprint reader into its new flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5s, calling that technology Touch ID. Here's what you need to know about it.
How does Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor work?
There are a few different fingerprint-sensor technologies out there, with optical and capacitance readers being the most common. Optical readers take a picture of your fingerprint with a digital camera. Apple chose a capacitance reader, which is far more interesting.
A capacitance fingerprint reader leverages a handy property of your skin: The outer layer of your skin (your dermis), where your fingerprint is, is non-conductive, while the subdermal layer behind it is conductive. When you touch the iPhone's fingerprint sensor, it measures the minuscule differences in conductivity caused by the raised parts of your fingerprint, and it uses those measurements to form an image..
Apple embedded this sensor in the Home button, and added a ring to turn it on and help reduce signal errors. I suspect that the ring also adds a little current to your finger to help boost and clean the signal.
It appears to be a great design. Most other portable readers I've used in the past were optical, which is easier to fool (sometimes a good photocopy will work), easier to break, and more prone to error (thanks to smudged glass and other factors). Read more...
With Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s mobile business for $7.1bn, the Redmond software giant has finally become a phone and device maker.
The deal gives Microsoft Nokia’s global handset engineering, manufacturing, sales and distribution business; the family of Windows-Phone-powered Lumia smartphones; a war chest of 8,500 Lumia and Asha phone patents while licensing 30,000 utility patents; and a standing army of 32,000 Nokia employees. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.
Interestingly, it's not Microsoft’s biggest purchase: it’s second to the $8.2bn purchase of loss-making internet chat biz Skype in 2011.
The Nokia acquisition also potentially gives Microsoft its next chief executive officer: Nokia boss Stephen Elop who was once a senior suit in Redmond.
Announcing the deal on Monday night, outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called it a “bold step into the future”. Nokia has talent in hardware design and engineering, supply chain and manufacturing management, sales, marketing and distribution, Ballmer told his employees. Read more...
Apple [AAPL] may do it; Google is trying to do it; PayPal attempts it, but it's the mobile carriers who may be prepared to deliver it: the capacity to pay for things using your mobile is emerging as an inflection point as carriers seek to take a larger slice of OTT revenue while generating new cash flow for themselves.
If you think about it, carriers are ideally placed to put together mobile payment systems: they have existing billing infrastructures capable of handling small charges and small payments; they are investing in intelligent network infrastructure that's becoming more savvy to the process of charging and accepting payments and implementing service changes in real-time; while Big Data analysis enables ever more efficient prediction of a mobile user's movements, choices and future need. Read more...
Qualcomm on Wednesday announced its own smartwatch that will have a low-power Mirasol display and be compatible with Android mobile devices.
The smartwatch, called Toq (pronounced "talk"), will ship in the fourth quarter this year. Qualcomm's announcement comes on the same day Samsung announced its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which has a 1.6-inch screen and offers 25 hours of battery life.
Toq will have a color capacitive touchscreen display, and offer "days" of battery life, Qualcomm said. The smartwatch will be able to work with a smartphone to show incoming messages and calls, play back music and show weather information. Read more...
Three doctors face the withdrawal or suspension of their licences to practise medicine after being accused of releasing an iPhone app which allegedly plagiarised material from an award-winning medical textbook.
One of the three stands further accused of writing a "misleading" review praising the app on the App Store.
The trio appeared before a Fitness to Practise hearing held by the Medical Practitioners' Tribunal Service (MPTS) on Tuesday, where they faced allegations that their Critical APPraisal app had plagiarised elements of The Doctor’s Guide to Critical Appraisal, a tome of advice on evaluating clinical evidence that is updated every year. Read more...
The next version of Android will be called KitKat after the Nestle chocolate bar, and not Key Lime Pie, as was predicted for months, Google said Tuesday.
The news was an unexpected twist to many Android fans, who had expected the next big release would be numbered Android 5.0 and would be called Key Lime Pie, in keeping with Google's pattern of picking an Android update named after a sweet treat, starting with the next letter in the alphabet.
Google's Android Web site says the next version will be Android 4.4, called KitKat, with no mention of when it will be released or what it will include. Google had not officially ever called the next version Key Lime Pie, although it had used KLP in some written materials. Read more...
Microsoft wants to build a better mobile phone through its acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone business. One way it hopes to do that? By improving its maps applications to better compete against Google's.
"An effective alternative to Google" and "more than one digital map of the world" are needed, Microsoft said in a presentation on the strategic rationale for the deal, which was posted to the company's website.
Microsoft will acquire several new mapping and location services as part of its acquisition of Nokia's Devices & Services business, announced Monday.
Chief among them are Nokia's Here Drive, Here Maps and Here Transit. All three were designed to help people travel more efficiently and reduce carbon emissions in the process. Read more...
Apple faces a threat from an unexpected quarter: Chinese developers crafting Android apps, an analytics firm said today.
Chinese developers build nearly two-thirds of the mobile apps used by Chinese consumers -- an even higher percentage than U.S. developers contribute to U.S. consumers' app usage patterns -- illustrating not only the difficulty outsiders face in breaking into the massive market, but reinforcing one analyst's claim that Apple will face a crisis next year if it continues to shed smartphone share.
According to Flurry, a U.S.-based mobile analytics firm, U.S. developers are losing their grip on the mobile app ecosystem, and have accounted for just 36% of all smartphone and tablet apps published so far this year. That's down from 45% over the last two years. Read more...
Good Technology has integrated its Dynamics Secure Mobility Platform with Salesforce.com's Mobile SDK to help developers build mobile applications that are more secure and easily managed.
The growing popularity of smartphones and tablets combined with the BYOD (bring-your-own-device) trend presents several challenges to IT departments, including developing mobile applications and then efficiently managing and protecting them. Salesforce.com's Mobile SDK (software development kit) helps with the former and Good's Secure Mobility Platform offers the latter. Read more...
Google’s Android product chief is leaving Mountain View for an up-and-coming Chinese smartphone-maker.
Vice president of Android product management Hugo Barra has announced he’s joining Android smartphone maker Xiaomi as vice president of its global team to expand the device-maker’s product portfolio and worldwide reach.
The company, which developed its own Android fork under the direction of co-founder former Google engineering director Bin Lin, also makes other devices that are integrated with its MIUI-based firmware, including an internet telly set-top box called the Millet.
The Chinese firm, whose employees include other senior Googlers, last week raised $10m in venture funding. Read more...
Patent company Guidance IP has filed a complaint against T-Mobile USA for allegedly infringing a patent related to cell phone geolocation.
The complaint has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the residential jurisdiction for the headquarters of Harris Corporation, which originally owned the patent in question, according to North South Holdings, the parent of Guidance IP.
This suit claims infringement of a patent called "System and method for determining the geolocation of a transmitter", which, in this case, relates to the location of cell phones on T-Mobile's network, North South said in a statement Monday. Read more...
Samsung plans to announce a new Galaxy device -- probably the Note III -- on Sept. 4 in Berlin, according to an invitation sent to reporters on Monday. The invitation includes mention of a live Webcast of the event, and the words: "Be the first to experience the next Galaxy."
There are Galaxy-branded tablets and smartphones, and also phablets.
In early September last year in Berlin, Samsung launched its Galaxy Note II large-screen smartphone. An annual refresh of the Note this fall has been expected, and the Sept. 4 event is timed two days prior to the start of the IFA technology conference in same city. The IFA conference is slated for Sept. 6-11. Read more...
Apple should end its existing e-book agreements with five major publishers and sign no new price-setting distribution contracts for five years under remedies for e-book price fixing proposed by the U.S. Department of Justice and 33 state attorneys general.
The proposed remedies, released Friday, would allow Apple to continue to sell e-books but prohibit the company from retaliating against publishers for refusing to sell e-books under terms approved by the company. The remedies would also require Apple to allow other e-book sellers, such as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, to give more prominent play to their e-book stores on Apple devices, by allowing them to provide links from their e-book apps to their e-book stores
Apple would also be prohibited from entering into agreements with suppliers of e-books, music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple's competitor retailers may sell that content.A Read more...
Yahoo's transformative string of acquisitions continues as the company has revealed plans to acquire Rockmelt, a three-year old startup that has spawned an array of desktop and mobile apps for aggregating all manner of Web content, from social media to news articles. Fans of Rockmelt will likely be disappointed to learn that Yahoo intends to kill off Rockmelt's existing apps and services effective Aug. 31, according to the Rockmelt blog.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has made it clear that she wants for her company to become a next-gen mobile company that delivers rich visual content and services via smartphones, tablets, wearables, and beyond. This acquisition, along with others like Tumblr, Rondee, and Loki, all point in that direction. Read more...
More than five years ago, Cisco began warning wireless carriers and consumers about the coming barrage of video traffic over networks. Now that barrage is here and there's more to come.
When Facebook-owned Instagram added 15-second video snippets to its iOS and Android apps in late June, the company reported that 5 million videos were uploaded in the first 24 hours by many of its 130 million active users.
At one point, users were uploading 40 hours of video per minute, Instagram said.
Instagram, like Twitter's Vine application, is focused on allowing video sharing for the masses. Both models allow users to take video and then store and forward it. On the plus side, Instagram and Vine are not as burdensome on networks as video conferencing (sometimes called video chat), which is real-time and two-way. Read more...