Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween! Google doodles a trick-or-treat surprise


Happy Halloween! doodle is Google's Halloween surprise for visitors across the globe. Halloween is a yearly celebration observed worldwide on the last day of October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows, hence the name all-hallows-eve, which got shortened to Halloween.

The doodle shows a street with a series of houses. Visitors can trick-or-treat by clicking on the door of each house. Clicking each door reveals a surprise, just like in real-life trick-or-treating. In this case, there's an octopus behind one of the doors, a spooky pair of eyes behind another, while yet another has a skeleton. Of course, no neighbourhood, real or virtual, would be complete on Halloween without pumpkins carved into jack-o'-lanterns.

But in a year when Abraham Lincoln was depicted as a vampire hunter and zombies are everywhere, gory costumes that were once reserved for preteens and teens are now available in ever-smaller sizes.

"For the last couple of years, darker is where it's been at," says Melissa Sprich, vice president of Halloween merchandising for Party City. For babies and toddlers, Sprich says "darker" may mean dressing as a devil this year, rather than a cheerful dinosaur. But for all other ages, many parents are seeking vampires, zombies and "the Freddies, Jasons and Chuckys" even for kids too young to see those characters on screen.

David J. Skal, who has chronicled America's fascination with horror since the 1990s in numerous books, including "The Monster Show," says he's surprised at the level of "monster-ization of children" we're seeing this year.

He points out that for centuries, frightening masks and "scary stories have been used to pass on a kind of coming-of-age message to children that the world is not always a safe and welcoming place." Perhaps, he says, this year parents are especially preoccupied with just how unwelcoming the world seems.

Of course, this year Halloween comes in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, with celebrations ranging from non-existent in the severely effected parts of the US, to muted in others. Elsewhere in the world, some Catholic bishops in Poland say that Halloween is harmful because it promotes "diabolical" behaviour and are asking believers not to observe it.

Archbishop Andrzej Dziega in Szczecinsaid in letter to his parishioners that under the vestige of fun, Halloween can be "destroying the spiritual life." The "tricks" hide "diabolical attitudes" by encouraging readiness to harm the others. He asked believers not to observe Halloween.

With inputs from AP 

Hurricane Sandy affects timely deliveries of goods by e-commerce companies

From to Inc and eBay Inc, e-commerce companies scrambled on Tuesday to get goods to buyers on time after Hurricane Sandy tore a swathe of destruction across the U.S. northeast.

The storm - which severed power to warehouses and offices, ripped up rails and roads and shuttered airports - challenged the notion that Internet retailers might benefit from problems at store chains exposed to the elements., a fast-growing design e-commerce start-up based in New York City, handled unusually strong volumes on Monday as people hunkered down at home. Then the problems began.

Fab operates out of two warehouses in hard-hit New Jersey, one self-owned and another run by warehouse company Dotcom Distribution. With both lacking power as of mid-afternoon, no packages were making it out the door on Tuesday.

"The biggest impact to us right now is that our warehouses have no power," said Jason Goldberg, founder and chief executive of "We're doing everything humanly possible to send packages as quickly as possible."

Retailers from New York to Washington are starting to re-open and re-staff in the aftermath of Monday's destruction. But many of's fellow Internet retailers were still struggling to fill orders, handle customer service and keep websites running ahead of the crucial holiday season.

Those efforts are geared at ensuring buyers do not wait too long for their products -- and averting a damaging backlash against their sites and reputation. warned merchants on Tuesday that use its shipping service, Fulfillment by Amazon, that Sandy might impact the handling of orders. Third-party sellers on its marketplace that handle their own shipping were instructed to contact shoppers directly about their orders.

It advised them to temporarily deactivate online listings should they be unable to meet usual shipping standards.

"Because the Internet is an opaque purchasing method, customers don't always understand where their product is coming from or if they are going to be affected," said Eric Heller, head of Marketplace Ignition, which helps online retailers sell through websites such as "We're encouraging sellers to proactively reach out to buyers that may be affected."

Recovery plans 

EBay pursued a similar tactic, emailing shoppers who purchased items from merchants that may have been impacted by the storm in recent days, asking for patience. It recommended that affected eBay Store-subscribers put their pages in "vacation mode" to control purchasing and show shoppers that their operation has been temporarily disrupted, a spokeswoman said.

And Gilt Groupe, which runs a popular high-end fashion website, expects delivery times to take one to three days longer than normal, said Kevin Ryan, founder and CEO of the company.

Beyond logistics tangles, loss of power and telecommunications have hurt Internet firms that rely on telephone and Web-based customer service in the absence of store staff.'s offices a block from New York's Hudson River were blacked out and closed until further notice. About a third of employees lacked power as of Tuesday afternoon. A dozen camped out at Goldberg's home working on recovery plans and preparing the company's online holiday stores for their Thursday launch.

Gilt's offices in New York have been difficult to access, so the company has not been able to run its usual photoshoots for a few days, Ryan said.

"We will need to get back in soon or there will not be any new sales up," he said. "I think we will get back in by Thursday and everything will be OK."

Others like online eyeglasses start-up Warby Parker, in the SoHo district of New York City, sought temporary solutions to a loss of power and Web access. It found a temporary office that it will start using on Wednesday to handle customer inquiries.

"We've been scrambling to get our systems up and running," said co-founder Dave Gilboa.

Apple's iPad mini packs full-sized punch but screen inferior - reviews


Apple Inc's entry in the accelerating mobile tablet race squeezes about 35 percent more viewing space onto a lighter package than rival devices from Google or Inc, but it sports inferior resolution and a lofty price tag, two influential reviewers wrote on Tuesday.

The iPad mini, which starts at $329 versus the $199 for Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, is easy to hold with one hand, eliminating a drawback of the 10-inch iPad, Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg wrote in one of the first major reviews of a gadget introduced last week.

Both Mossberg and New York Times columnist David Pogue offered kudos for cramming most of its full-sized cousin's functions onto a smaller device, as advertised.

But the iPad mini's 1024 x 768 resolution was a big step backwards from the iPad's much-touted Retina display, and underperformed the rival Kindle and Nexus, the two reviewers agreed.

Mossberg said Apple chose to go with a lower-quality display because the existing 250,000-plus iPad applications could only run unmodified in two resolutions - and the higher level would have sapped too much power.

"The lack of true HD gives the Nexus and Fire HD an advantage for video fans. In my tests, video looked just fine, but not as good as on the regular iPad," Mossberg wrote.

The original iPad was launched in 2010 and went on to upend the personal computer industry, spawning a raft of similar devices. The iPad mini marks Apple's first foray into a smaller 7-inch segment that Amazon's Kindle Fire now dominates, demonstrating demand exists for such a device.

Apple, making its boldest consumer hardware move since Tim Cook took the helm from late co-founder Steve Jobs, hopes the smaller tablet can beat back incursions onto its home turf of consumer electronics.

"In shrinking the iconic iPad, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat," Mossberg wrote. "It has managed to create a tablet that's notably thinner and lighter than the leading small competitors with 7-inch screens, while squeezing in a significantly roomier 7.9-inch display.

"And it has shunned the plastic construction used in its smaller rivals to retain the iPad's sturdier aluminum and glass body."

Mossberg, whose reviews are followed closely by consumers and tech companies alike, wrote that the iPad mini did as advertised by bringing the full-sized iPad experience onto a smaller screen.

He noted, however, that the device was too large to fit easily into pockets. It exhibited battery life of about 10 hours and 27 minutes, an hour more than the Kindle Fire at the same settings, but about 17 minutes less than the Nexus 7.

"By pricing the Mini so high, Apple allows the $200 class of seven-inch Android tablets and readers to live," Pogue wrote.

"But the iPad Mini is a far classier, more attractive, thinner machine. It has two cameras instead of one. Its fit and finish are far more refined. And above all, it offers that colossal app catalog, which Android tablet owners can only dream about." 

4 million Windows 8 upgrades since Friday: Microsoft CEO


Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Tuesday the company has sold 4 million upgrades to Windows 8, signaling a strong start for its new operating system which launched on Friday.

Ballmer, speaking at a meeting for software developers at Microsoft's headquarters near Seattle, said hundreds of millions of Windows systems would be sold over the next year, and the company was seeing strong interest from business users.

Ballmer already said on Monday that Windows 8 was outselling the previous version, Windows 7, at the same stage after launch three years ago.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Windows 8 demand beats Windows 7: Microsoft CEO

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Monday demand for the company's new Windows 8 operating system, released to the public on Friday, was running at a higher rate than its last release, Windows 7.
"We're seeing preliminary demand well above where we were with Windows 7, which is gratifying," Ballmer said at an event launching new Windows phones.
Windows 7 is the best-selling version of Windows so far, selling more than 670 million licenses in three years since release in 2009.
"Over the weekend we saw an incredible response around the globe to Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface," said Ballmer, referring to Microsoft's first own-brand tablet, designed to challenge Apple Inc's iPad. He did not give out any sales figures.
On Friday, there were moderate lines at Microsoft's 60 or so stores across the United States for the Surface.
Ballmer was in San Francisco speaking at an event showcasing phones running its new Windows Phone 8 software, which go on sale this weekend.
Microsoft has struggled to make headway in the smartphone market, holding just 3.5 percent of the worldwide market, compared to 68 percent for Google Inc's Android devices and 17 percent for Apple's iPhone, according to tech research firm IDC.
The company highlighted how the new phones make use of Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud service, enabling users to sync and transfer music, documents and photos between PCs, tablets and the Xbox game console. Microsoft added that it now has 120,000 apps in its online store for phones, still far fewer than the number available for iPhone and Android users.
Ballmer and other Microsoft executives showed off slim and colorful phones from handset makers Nokia, Samsung and HTC.
The phones will be rolled out in the United States by carriers AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile during November.

Pandora app for Android, iOS gets major redesign

Internet radio company Pandora is adding more functionality to its mobile apps showing lyrics and artist information and making it easier to share self-crafted stations with friends as companies intensify efforts to lure mobile advertising dollars.
Pandora is essentially bringing the features of its website to users of its apps for Apple and Android mobile devices. The app for iPhones is being released Monday, while an Android version is expected to follow soon. Pandora also said it is releasing a version for Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 early next year. It will allow ad-free listening for a year with the Windows app.
Mobile use of Pandora's streaming service is growing quickly. In the quarter that ended in July, mobile listening nearly doubled from a year earlier and made up more than 75 percent of its 3.3 billion listener hours.
Pandora is the leader in free online radio, where listeners can pick genres or styles of music but not specific songs or albums. It has 175 million registered users, including 58 million who use it in a given month. It claims a 73 percent share of the market for free online radio.
Pandora competes for listeners with services such as Clear Channel's iHeart Radio and has apps on phones, tablets, computers and car stereo systems. Apple is the leading online seller of song and album downloads, while a whole host of paid subscription music services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio and MOG offer unlimited track selection and playback for a monthly fee of $10.
As a free service, Pandora relies mostly on advertising revenue to make its business work.
Investors of Internet companies that offer free services online have been concerned about their ability to make money from mobile advertising as usage of mobile devices has skyrocketed.
Pandora's mobile ad revenue has been growing almost as quickly as mobile listening, and its revenue from mobile ads was up 86 percent at $59 million in the last quarter, making up over half of the company's total revenues. The company, which is based in Oakland, Calif., is expected to report its third-quarter results in late November.
Other companies are making headway generating money from mobile ads.
Facebook Inc. said this month that 14 percent of its revenue came from mobile ads in the latest quarter, causing its stock price to jump, while Google Inc. said mobile ads were on track to generate $8 billion in revenue for the company this year.
Tom Conrad, Pandora's chief technology officer and executive vice president of product, said the revamp was not purposefully designed to boost mobile ad revenue although the update will see some advertising partners get more involved.
"Our motivation for doing this was to connect people with the music they're discovering in a fundamental way," he said.

PayPal to cut 325 full-time jobs


PayPal is cutting 325 full-time jobs to streamline its business and speed up product development amid intense competition from plucky startups and established companies such as Google.
The company also is ending jobs with about 120 independent contractors worldwide.
The job cuts have been expected and were reported by The Associated Press earlier this month. Its parent company, San Jose, Calif.-based eBay Inc., said it expects to book a restructuring charge of about $15 million in the current quarter, related to the job cuts.
Monday's cuts represent about 2.5 percent of PayPal's work force of 13,000. The company said the cuts are primarily in PayPal's product and technology organizations. PayPal said it wants to simplify and speed up how products are developed. The moves come as PayPal faces increasing competition in the world of online and offline payments services such as Square Inc. and Google Inc.
"If we don't change, we simply won't be able to sustain PayPal's global leadership position over time. And we will not let that happen," PayPal's president, David Marcus, wrote in a memo sent out to employees and obtained by the AP. "To do this we need a simpler, streamlined place to work."

Sony Xperia tipo (dual) review

Sony is trying to make a comeback in the mobile space banking on its Android line-up after launching a handful of mid-range smartphones like the Xperia neo, Xperia U, Xperia P, Xperia Ion and Xperia sola. Now with the launch of the Sony Xperia tipo and Xperia tipo dual, the company is eyeing the entry level Android market, while also aiming to bring dual-SIM devices.
In terms of specifications the only thing that sets apart the Xperia tipo from the Xperia tipo dual is that the latter has a dual-SIM slot. Also, Xperia tipo is available in a handful of colour options - black, white, red and blue, while users opting for the dual-SIM version will have to be content with just the black and white.
So is Sony Xperia tipo a worthy entry level Android device or does one need to look at other options available in the market? Here's our review.
Design/ Hardware
At first glance, the Xperia tipo reminds us of a nursery rhyme "I am little teapot (read: tipo), short and stout". This is an apt description for this smartphone. In a world where smartphones are eyeing to get a bigger screen and slimmer profile, Xperia tipo is a bit of an exception.
It has a 3.2-inch screen that makes it look a bit smaller than most of the smartphones being launched. Not to mention that it is also a bit chubby at 13mm. Thankfully this chubbiness does not reflect in its weight as it feels light at just 99 grams.
The smartphone has a full plastic body and its back has a soft, matte coating that feels slightly rubberised allowing for a good grip. The Xperia tipo does not have a great build but still feels sturdy.
As already mentioned the smartphone comes with a 3.2-inch display, which is made up of a mineral glass that helps protect the screen from scratches.
Just below the screen are the three capacitive Android buttons - back, home and menu. The right panel has the USB/charging port and the left houses the volume rocker (and the SIM swap button for the Xperia tipo dual). Xperia tipo dual supports both GSM SIMs and the SIM swap button helps in changing the default SIM by just one click.
The top panel has the power button and a 3.5mm jack and the back has the 3.2 megapixel camera. Overall, it is not a bad looking smartphone and its size makes it easy to pocket.
The Xperia tipo runs on a single core 800MHz processor and has 512 MB of RAM. The internal storage available on this smartphone is around 3 GB, which can be expanded up to 32GB through microSD card. There is also a 1,500 mAh battery on-board.
The Xperia tipo has a 3.2-inch display, which offers a resolution of 480x320 pixels. The resolution and the viewing angles may not seem great, but when you look at the competition (the likes of LG Optimus L3, LG Optimus L3 dual, Samsung Galaxy Y and Samsung Galaxy Y Duos), you'll find that the display is pretty good for the price.
Under sun visibility on the Xperia tipo was decent. The screen used in this smartphone is reflective.
The keyboard on the smartphone feels a bit cramped and the speed and the accuracy take a hit because of the same.
The Sony Xperia tipo comes with a decent 3.2-megapixel shooter. The picture quality of the images taken in daylight from this smartphone is decent. However, there is no flash in this smartphone so one should not even expect to click picture when the light is low.
Another downside is that there is no auto-focus in the camera. The device lacks a dedicated camera button. The camera app is accessible through the lock screen swiping left on the lock screen.
The camera on-board offers various modes such as Night scene, Beach and Snow and Sports to click pictures. Basic camera settings are present such as Self-timer, White Balance settings, Metering to aid photography. The clicked pictures can also be Geotagged.
The quality of videos taken through this smartphone is average. 
Software/ Interface
The biggest advantage that the Xperia tipo has is that it runs on Android 4.0. Sony has also added a layer of its TimeScape UI on the smartphone. There are five customisable home screens to fill with apps and widgets. The UI feels quite smooth.
Sony has also pre-loaded quite a few apps on this smartphone such as Bollywood Hungama, CricBuzz, WhatsApp and Office Suite. There is also a PVR Cinema app thrown in that helps check out show timings and book tickets.
Another app thrown in is appXtra, which helps in downloading apps such as Satyamev Jayate, Romance with Kareena, SRK with love and Romantic Salman. What this really does is give access to the TV show Satyamev Jayate and lets users watch free songs and videos of their favourite Bollywood stars.
For the ones that believe in astrology, an Astro app by Bejan Daruwalla's of fame is also pre-loaded. It shows the daily horoscope depending on your sun sign.
Performance/ Battery
Sony Xperia tipo comes with an 800 MHz processor, which is not earth shattering but is quite decent for an entry-level device. The smartphone's performance is in line with its price, and offers a reasonable multi-tasking experience as well. The browsing experience using the stock browser is fast and smooth.
Sony is promoting the audio playback of this smartphone and that is indeed the highlight of this device. You can play widely known formats such as MP3, MP4, AAC,WAV, OTA, OGG and AMR audio formats. The audio quality is good both on the headphones and the loudspeaker.
Sony Xperia tipo comes with a 1500 mAh battery, which is better than the HTC Explorer (1230 mAH), Samsung Galaxy Y (1200 mAh) and LG Optimus ME (1280 mAH). The battery easily last a full day on a single charge.
If you're looking for a decent Android ICS smartphone for under Rs. 10,000 then this is the smartphone to go for. It definitely has an edge over Samsung Galaxy Y, LG Optimus Me, LG Optimus L3 and HTC Explorer, which run on the dated Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS. Not to forget that it has a good battery life and a great music playback. However, do keep the relatively smaller screen size in mind while considering the Xperia tipo.

Nokia unveils Lumia 822 smartphone in US, exclusive on Verizon for $99


Verizon Wireless, the largest cellphone carrier in the U.S., on Monday said that it will sell a Nokia phone for the first time in years, lending support to the embattled Finnish company's turnaround effort.
Verizon says it will sell the Lumia 822, an exclusive model that's part of Nokia's lineup of smartphones based on Microsoft's Windows software, for $100 with a two-year contract. It will be in stores by Thanksgiving.
Verizon rivals AT&T and T-Mobile USA started selling Lumia phones earlier this year, and will join Verizon in launching new phones with Windows Phone 8, an updated operating system. Microsoft held a launch event for Windows Phone 8 in San Francisco on Monday, but the first phones are some weeks away from U.S. store shelves.
Even though it was, until recently, the world's largest maker of phones, Nokia has been largely absent from the U.S. market for many years. Its early smartphones never caught on in the country, and it was virtually shut out once the iPhone launched in 2007.
In addition to Nokia, Verizon will be selling Windows Phones from Samsung Electronics and HTC.

Monday, 29 October 2012

A robot that plays table tennis like humans


Researchers have developed a robot that learns to play ping-pong from humans and improves as it competes against them.
Katharina Muelling and colleagues at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany suspended a robotic arm from the ceiling and equipped it with a camera that watches the playing area.
The arm was physically guided by Muelling through different shots to return incoming balls.
The arm was then left to draw on its training to return balls hit by a human opponent, New Scientist reported.
When the ball was in a position it had not seen before, the arm used its library of shots to improvise new ones. After an hour of unassisted practise, the system successfully returned 88 per cent of shots.
Other robots have played table tennis in the past, but none have used human demonstration to learn the game. Ales Ude of the Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia says that doing so allows robots to play more like people.
The work, which will be presented at an AAAI symposium in Arlington, Virginia, next month, is part of a broader goal to develop robots that can do a range of tasks after being guided by their owners, Muelling said.

5-inch Micromax A110 Superfone Canvas 2 now available online for Rs. 9,999


Last week, a 5.2-inch device from Micromax dubbed as the A101 was spotted online for Rs. 9,999. Now another 5-inch smartphone-tablet hybrid from the company called the Micromax A110 Superfone Canvas 2, that went up for pre-orders earlier this month, is available for purchase from online retailerSaholic carrying a price tag of Rs. 9,999. The device can be purchased in both Black and White colour variants.

A successor to the company's Canvas A100 device launched in August, the A110 Superfone Canvas 2 sports a 5-inch TFT capacitive touch screen IPS display with 480x854 pixel resolution. It runs on Android 4.0 and boasts dual-SIM (dual standby) connectivity. 

Camera specs have been beefed up on the A110 Canvas 2 which features an 8MP autofocus rear camera with dual LED flash in comparison to the previous version (5MP). There's  a VGA front camera as well.

The dual-SIM device sports a similar design to the Canvas A100. Under the hood, it is powered by a 1 GHz dual-core processor and comes with 2GB internal storage (A100 comes with 4GB) with external expansion options of up to 32GB via microSD. 

The device comes with a 2000 mAh battery claiming up to 5 hours of talk time. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS.

New poll suggests 52 percent people haven't heard of Windows 8

Microsoft bills Windows 8 as a "re-imagining" of the personal computer market's dominant operating system, but the company still has a lot of work to do before the makeover captures the imagination of most consumers, based on the results of a recent poll by The Associated Press and GfK.
The phone survey of nearly 1,200 adults in the U.S. found 52 percent hadn't even heard of Windows 8 leading up to Friday's release of the redesigned software.
Among the people who knew something about the new operating system, 61 percent had little or no interest in buying a new laptop or desktop computer running on Windows 8, according to the poll. And only about a third of people who've heard about the new system believe it will be an improvement (35 percent).
Chris Dionne of Waterbury, Conn., falls into that camp. The 43-year-old engineer had already seen Windows 8 and it didn't persuade him to abandon or upgrade his Hewlett-Packard laptop running on Windows 7, the previous version of the operating system released in 2009.
"I am not real thrilled they are changing things around," Dionne said. "Windows 7 does everything I want it to. Where is the return on my investment to learn a new OS?"
Microsoft usually releases a new version of Windows every two or three years, but it's different this time around. Windows 8 is the most radical redesign of the operating system since 1995 and some analysts consider the software to be Microsoft's most important product since co-founder Bill Gates won the contract to build an operating system for IBM Corp.'s first personal computer in 1981. Microsoft is hoping the way Windows 8 looks and operates will appeal to the growing number of people embracing the convenience of smartphones and tablets.
The consumer ambivalence, however, was even more pronounced when it came to Microsoft's new tablet computer, Surface, which was built to show off Windows 8's versatility. Sixty-nine percent of the poll's respondents expressed little or no interest in buying a Surface, which Microsoft is hoping will siphon sales from Apple Inc.'s pioneering iPad and other popular tablets such as Inc.'s Kindle Fire and Google Inc.'s Nexus 7.
The results indicate Microsoft still has work to do to create a bigger buzz about Windows 8 and help consumers understand the new operating system's benefits, even though the company provided several previews of the software at various stages in the final 13 month leading to its release. But the information apparently resonated mostly with industry analysts, reporters, technology blogs and gadget geeks.
Microsoft is in the early stages of an estimated $1 billion marketing campaign that will include a siege of television commercials to promote Windows 8 to a wider audience.
That still might not be enough to sway longtime Windows users such as Mary Sweeten. She is 75, and not eager to learn the nuances of a new operating system. She, too, is comfortable with her current desktop computer running on Windows 7.
"I am not technologically savvy like all these young kids," said Sweeten, who lives in Camdenton, Mo. "I like something I am used to and can get around on without too much trouble. Sometimes when you get these new (systems), you wish you could go back to the old one."
Windows 8 represents Microsoft's attempt to adapt to a technological shift that is empowering more people to use smartphones and tablets to surf the Web and handle other simple computing tasks. The revamped system can be controlled by touching a device's display screen and greets users with a mosaic of tiles featuring an array of dynamic applications instead of the old start menu and desktop tiles. In an effort to protect its still-lucrative PC franchise, Microsoft designed Windows 8 so it can still be switched into a desktop mode that relies on a keyboard and mouse for commands.
Microsoft felt it had to gamble on a radical redesign to fend off the competitive threats posed by Apple, which has emerged as the world's most valuable company on the strength of its iPhone and iPad. Google Inc. is a threat, too. It has used its 4-year-old Android operating system to become an influential force in the mobile computing movement.
Despite the growing popularity of smartphones, Microsoft remains deeply entrenched in people's lives. The poll found 80 percent of respondents with personal computers in their homes relied on earlier versions of Windows versus only 12 percent that operating on Apple's Mac system.
Windows is even more widely used in offices, but 90 percent of companies relying on the operating system are expected hold off on switching to the new operating system through 2014, according to a study by the research firm Gartner Inc.
Jim Beske of West Fargo, N.D., won't be waiting long to install Windows 8 on the home computer he bought a year ago. He already has seen how Windows 8 works in his job as a network engineer, and he considers it to be a nice improvement.
"They have made it much simpler," Beske, 43, said. "I don't know about the tiling so much; that's something I think younger people will like more. But once people get in front of it, I think they will understand it."
Windows 8 also could appeal to consumers who still don't own a home computer. The AP-GfK survey found 22 percent of all adults fall into this category, including 30 percent with households whose incomes fall below $50,000 annually.
Beske is among a growing group who use both Microsoft and Apple products. Besides his Windows computer, he also loves his iPad.
Most survey respondents liked both Apple and Microsoft. Fifty-nine percent said they had favorable impressions of Apple versus 58 percent for Microsoft.
Tequila Cronk of Herington, Kan., is more of a Microsoft fan because she considers Apple's prices to be a "rip-off." At the same time, she can't justify buying a Windows 8 computer when her desktop and laptop computers at home are running fine on the earlier versions of the system.
"We will upgrade, but I am not going to rush out and buy a new computer just because it's got a different operating system," Cronk, 26, said.
Windows 8's release came at a perfect time for Hector Gonzalez of Kissimmee, Fla. He is so frustrated with the performance of his 3-year-old laptop running on Windows 7 that he is considering buying a MacBook laptop. But now he plans to check out the array of new Windows 8 laptops and may even consider buying a Surface tablet to supplement the iPad that he bought for his teenage daughters.
"Anything that is new, it's worth taking a look at," Gonzalez, 35, said. "That's the way technology is. There is always something new to replace everything else."

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Apple iPhone 5 to debut in India on November 2


Indian users waiting to grab their next iPhone will be happy to know that Apple's latest flagship device, the iPhone 5, will reach Indian shores on November 2.

One of the company's partners, Ingram Micro, confirmed the news via a press release: 

Ingram Micro announced today that it will offer iPhone 5 at leading modern trade stores and retail outlets across India beginning Friday, November 2. For more information on availability details please visit For more information on iPhone 5, please visit

The company did not reveal any pricing details.

In the US, the iPhone 5 is of course priced $649 for the 16GB version, 32GB at $749 and 64GB at $849. This translates to around Rs. 34,830 for 16GB version, Rs. 40,195 for 32GB version and Rs. 45,560 for the 64GB version, at the current exchange rate. Of course that does not include the import duties, currency fluctuations and local taxes. 

Unconfirmed reports have indicated launch prices might be Rs. 45,500 (16GB), Rs. 52,500 (32GB) and Rs. 59,500 (64GB), which is not too far from the iPhone 4S pricing, and, thus, unlikely to cause major outrage over pricing that typically accompany iPhone launch in India. Again, these are just unofficial prices, and there's no official word from Apple or its partners yet.

Update: The above prices are confirmed courtesy Redington, another Apple partner. 

One concern some have around the iPhone 5 is the presence of a nano-SIM in the device. While users have reported success cutting a regular SIM/ micro-SIM into a nano-SIM, not everyone my be adventurous enough to do a DIY operation. A Vodafone spokesperson confirmed to NDTV Gadgets that they have nano-SIMs ready in stock, whenever Apple decides to launch iPhone 5 in the country. Airtel did not get back with a comment in time for this story.

In other Apple news, the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad are now available for pre-orders in select countries. The company has also introduced local currency pricing in its App Store in India and seven other countries. 

Samsung Nexus 10 images posted online by top Google executive, more benchmarks leak


If you can't beat them, join them. That seems to be Google's policy with Nexus 10 leaks.

With just 3 days left for Google's upcoming Android event, Google Senior VP of Engineering, Vic Gundotra, has posted fresh images taken from the Samsung Nexus 10 on his Google+ profile page.

The photo details mention Nexus 10 under 'Camera' EXIF information in the images of the beach side. The images shot are posted with a resolution of 2048x1536 translating to 3.1MP.

More recently, the Samsung Nexus 10 manual appeared online showing sketches of various ports and buttons on the tablet, including rear and front facing cameras.

In another set of leaks, reports that GLBenchmarks has listed the 10-inch tablet under the codename "Manta", which isn't surprising. More details include a 1700MHz or 1.7GHz processor, T604 Mali GPU, Android 4.2 and a screen size listing of 2560 x 1504. These seem to be pretty much in line with what we've heard earlier. 

Previously rumoured specs for the 10-inch tablet from Samsung suggest that it will feature a 2560×1600 pixel (16:10) resolution, translating into 300 ppi, outshining the new iPad's pixel density (264 ppi), with no details on pricing or other hardware specs currently known. As far as the OS is concerned, it is likely to run on Android 4.2 (currently codenamed Key Lime Pie).

We certainly expect all rumours to be put to rest at Google's upcoming event in New York on October 29, where the company is expected to unveil the 10-inch tablet. The search giant is also likely to announce the 3G Nexus 7 along with a 32GB version of its popular tablet as well as the LG Nexus 4, the next Nexus smartphone. 

Samsung Nexus 10 manual appears online days ahead of launch


We've been hearing about Samsung's 10-inch Nexus tablet, codenamed "Manta",  that is expected to make an appearance at next week's Google Android event. In a latest set of leaks, a manual for the Samsung Nexus 10 have been spotted online on Korean forum Seeko.

While one of the images shows the front cover of the manual with "nexus 10" written on it, the other shows the inside of the manual with sketches of various ports and buttons on the tablet. These include Micro-USB, Micro HDMI, charging ports and power/ lock key, volume key, front facing and rear cameras amongst a few.

The tablet seems to sport a curved design with the "nexus" and "Samsung" branding on the back panel. Well it's hard to say whether the tablet looks more like the Nexus 7 or will it inherit a similar design from the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

Earlier rumoured specs for the 10-inch tablet from Samsung suggest that it will feature a 2560×1600 pixel (16:10) resolution, translating into 300 ppi, outshining the new iPad's pixel density (264 ppi), with no details on pricing or other hardware specs currently known. As far as the OS is concerned, it is likely to run on Android 4.2 (currently codenamed Key Lime Pie).

The information in the manual is too limited to arrive at any conclusion as of now. But we expect to see more details of the Samsung Nexus 10 at Google's upcoming event in New York on October 29. The search giant is also likely to announce the 3G Nexus 7 along with a 32GB version of its popular tabletas well as the LG Nexus 4, the next Nexus smartphone. 

Microsoft Surface tablet sales off to an encouraging start


U.S. shoppers woke up with mild Surface fever on Friday, lining up in moderate numbers to buy Microsoft's groundbreaking tablet computer designed to challenge Apple's iPad.
The global debut of the Windows 8 operating system was greeted with pockets of enthusiasm, but not the mania reserved for some previous Apple Inc launches.
Microsoft is positioning the slick new computing device, which runs a limited version of Windows and Office with a thin, click-on keyboard cover, as a perfect combination of PC and tablet that is good for work as well as entertainment.
"I like the flexibility of having the keyboard and the touch capability," said Mike Gipe, 50, who works in sales for bank Barclays, and was planning to buy a Surface tablet at Microsoft's pop-up store in Times Square in New York.
"It's the combination of having the consumer stuff and the work stuff," he said, looking forward to using Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on the new device.
The Times Square store was the first to sell the Surface Microsoft's first ever own-brand computer and other Windows 8 devices late on Thursday and will be open through the holiday shopping season. On Friday morning it was crowded with a mix of tourists and local office workers, but the cash tills were not jammed.
"With the other tablets you're a consumer. With this you can have input," said Peter Townsend, on vacation in New York from Australia with his wife, who bought a Surface tablet because he liked the keyboard.
Mark Pauluch, 28, who works for a New York private equity firm, said he would like a Surface because he does not want to take a laptop on a plane, but was disappointed when the sales representative told him the wifi-only Surface would not work with Cisco VPN networking.
"I can't use this to replace my work laptop unless it supports VPN," he said.
Midwest, west coast
Elsewhere in the United States, there was solid but not overwhelming interest for the Surface.
"It's a good tablet. I am not a huge i-anything fan, I like Windows," said Matt Shanahan, a software developer who drove four hours to the tiny Michigan Avenue pop-up store in Chicago from Grand Rapids, Michigan to buy a Surface. "My friend and I are software developers and this gives us an opportunity to develop new apps," he said.
In a pop-up store at the San Francisco Centre mall about 50 people lined up to buy the new Surface.
"On an iPad you have to use half the screen for a keyboard, or buy an accessory. I love that the Surface is so integrated, that you can type and use Word and all my other programs," said Malte von Sehested, a textbook creator who bought a Surface.
"With the Surface you get a steeper learning curve I had to get someone to show me how to side-swipe, swipe out to get the menus for instance," he said. "It may take a week, before it all becomes natural. That could be a problem for Microsoft. My old dad, he would get hit by that steeper learning curve."
Analysts patient
Wall Street and tech industry experts failed to show great enthusiasm for Windows 8, but were prepared to give Microsoft time to succeed.
"Microsoft did not come out with Windows 8 thinking it will be an overnight success," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. "But there's hope that this could be the silver bullet of growth (for Microsoft) as well as giving the PC industry some optimism that there's better days ahead."
The next six to 12 months is a "crucial period" for Microsoft to get traction with consumers, added Ives.
Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at tech research firm Forrester, said consumers may be best served waiting for tablets running the full Windows 8 Pro and Intel Corp chips, which are due out early next year.
"Windows 8 has a lot of great features, but RT has a long way to go," she said, citing a lack of apps and poor video performance on the Surface.
"It's not really a PC. RT is too restricted. Some people will be happier with the full Windows 8," she said.
Microsoft shares were up 33 cents at $28.21 on Nasdaq on Friday. Apple shares were down slightly after disappointing earnings on Thursday.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Windows 8 launches in India for Rs. 1,999


Global software major Microsoft late Thursday unveiled its Windows 8 version of the operation system in India as part of its worldwide launch.
"Retail and enterprise users worldwide will be able to experience from Friday all that Windows has to offer with a new user interface, a host of applications from its store," Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik said in a statement late Thursday.
The bundled version will be available on form factors ranging from tablets to laptops and ultra notebooks from 14 OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners, including Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, HCL, Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, Wipro and Zenith Computers.
Over 250 Windows 8 enabled devices, including 23 new SKUs (stock keeping unit) of Windows 8 PCs are available across 100 cities and over 2,500 retail stores.
Unlike its earlier versions, including Windows 7, Windows 8 boasts of an intuitive start screen and tiles with rich content and update in real time.
"As Windows anytime upgrade (WAU), the latest version is cloud connected. Users will have to sign once with their MS (Microsoft) account to ensure they will be able to access mails, calendars, contact, pictures among other apps (applications," Pramanik said.
The new OS (operating system) will have two versions at retail - Windows 8 & Windows Pro, while Windows 8 enterprise offers mobile productivity with features like To Go, Direct Access.
"Users can upgrade their personal computers (desktops) that have Windows XP, Vista or Window 7 at an affordable price of Rs.1,999 till Jan 2013," Pramanik added.

Microsoft tablet "compromised": Tim Cook


Apple chief Tim Cook on Thursday branded the new Microsoft tablet "compromised" as his company's coffers swelled due to soaring sales of iPads and iPhones.
Cook gave his early impression of Microsoft's Surface during a conference call to discuss Apple's earnings report profit of $8.2 billion last quarter on revenue of $36 billion.
"I haven't personally played with the Surface yet but what we are reading about it is that it is a fairly compromised, confusing product," Cook said.
"I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats but I don't think it would do all of those things very well."
He expressed confidence that buyers will prefer iPads.
The California-based company said that it sold 26.9 million iPhones and 14 million iPads in the recently ended quarter, topping sales in the same period last year by 58 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
The earnings however fell short of Wall Street expectations, and Apple shares were down slightly to $609.25 in after-market trades.
China remained a hot spot for Apple, with revenue there up 26 percent in the quarter and the iPhone 5 to be released there in December, according to Cook.
"We're very proud to end a fantastic fiscal year with record September quarter results," said Cook.
"We're entering this holiday season with the best iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod products ever, and we remain very confident in our new product pipeline."
Apple on Friday will begin taking orders for its iPad mini models unveiled this week at a media event in Silicon Valley.
The same day, Microsoft will launch Surface tablets along with a new-generation Windows operating system crafted to bring together smartphones, desktop computers, laptops and tablets in multi-screen lifestyles.
The iPad mini's touchscreen measures 7.9 inches (20 centimeters) diagonally compared to 9.7 inches on the original iPad.
A 16-gigabyte version of the iPad mini with Wi-Fi connectivity costs $329, while a 16GB model with both Wi-Fi and cellular capability costs $459.
The top-of-the-line 64GB iPad mini with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity will sell for $659. Like later versions of the original iPad, the new Apple tablet also features rear- and front-facing cameras.
The iPad mini weighs 0.68 pounds, less than half the original, and is 7.2mm thick thinner than a pencil.
Apple also unveiled a fourth generation of the original iPad for the same starting price of $499 for a 16GB model with Wi-Fi connectivity.
While the cheapest iPad mini costs $329, the device is still considerably more expensive than the seven-inch tablets from Amazon, Google and Samsung which start at $199.
Cook on Tuesday coolly introduced the iPad mini, considered his first Apple product not bearing the thumbprint of late co-founder Steve Jobs, who derided small tablets as "DOA."
Cook stood by the quote, contending that the iPad mini screen size of nearly eight inches diagonally put it in "a whole different league."
"We would not make one of the seven-inch tablets," Cook said. "We would never make one."
Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer maintained that Apple priced the iPad mini "aggressively," accepting smaller than typical margins on tablet sales for now while working to bring down production costs.
"We've seen low-cost challengers before and iPad continues to beat any competitors," Cook said. "Making the best product will win at the end of the day, so we will stay true to that."
Apple this week also introduced slick upgrades to its line of Macintosh computers, sales of which have outpaced the overall personal computer market for six years running.
Apple slimmed down its top-selling model, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and gave it a "retina display" that boasts richer images than those on high-definition television sets. Starting price for the new MacBook Pro model was $1,699.
A new model iMac with the computing hardware built into its slim monitor started at $1,299 with the first models available in November.
Apple said that it sold 4.9 million Macintosh computers in the recent quarter in a one percent rise from the same three-month period last year. However, sales of iPods dropped 19 percent to 5.3 million, according to the earnings report.
Apple announced it would pay a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of common stock.
"We're pleased to have generated over $41 billion in net income and over $50 billion in operating cash flow in fiscal 2012," Oppenheimer said.
Apple did not comment on rumors that it is planning to launch an Internet radio service, but the unconfirmed reports caused Pandora stock to dive.

Analysts see recovery sprouting at FarmVille creator Zynga


Zynga Inc's quarterly revenue beat and its higher full-year earnings forecast show the embattled "FarmVille" creator may be on the path to recovery, analysts said, with at least one brokerage upgrading the company's stock.
Shares of the company were set to open 17 percent above Wednesday's closing price of $2.12 on Thursday.
Zynga raised the lower end of its 2012 earnings forecast on Wednesday and also announced a new deal with British company to offer online real-money gambling and a $200 million share buyback plan.
"The announcement of a buyback, while rare for a company that less than a year ago was considered a 'high-flying', fast-growing 'hot' IPO, nonetheless signals that the board is confident in the company's future," Needham & Co analyst Sean McGowan wrote in a note.
He raised his rating on the stock to "buy" from "hold".
"While not bullish on the likely success of Zynga's new titles, since management recognizes that its older social games on Facebook are falling, it will spend accordingly and pivot more quickly to mobile," McGowan said.
Zynga laid off 5 percent of its full-time workforce and shut its Boston office on Tuesday as part of a sweeping cost-cutting campaign that may eventually see the company close its Japanese and British studios as well.
While it is healthy to evaluate cost-cutting initiatives, any material reduction in Zynga's creative talent could also lead to an erosion in innovative new game development, Piper Jaffray said in a note.
A new share buyback and real-money gaming partnership with will help, but ultimately Zynga needs to demonstrate it can produce hit titles on multiple platforms - mobile, social and browser, Robert W. Baird & Co said in a note.
As sales from one-time cash cows, "FarmVille" and "CityVille," are fading fast, Zynga is now investing more heavily in "mid-core" games, which require more development resources but are more immersive.
"We expect the strength of its development capabilities as well as its distribution to eventually drive better performance; we believe caution is warranted until we see signs of improved execution," BMO Capital Markets analyst Edward Williams said.
Since going public at $10 per share, Zynga has lost over three-quarters of its market value. It has been hit by delays in its game pipeline as older titles fade, while it has struggled to come up with new hits for mobile devices.

Apple now lets you pay in rupees for apps bought via Indian App Store


As an App Store user in India, if you suddenly see apps like WhatsApp Messenger, Angry Birds Space or Keynote listed with an INR pricing, rest assured that it's not a bug. Apple has begun rolling out INR pricing for apps in the Indian App Store prefixed with "Rs." thereby replacing the earlier $ sign.

If you now browse throughout the Indian App Store, you'll find most of the apps with the INR pricing. Though initially some apps were being displayed incorrectly without the actual conversion ($0.99 displayed as Rs. 0.99), the issue seems to be addressed with seemingly all apps now listed at the current price. The company is using the current exchange rate for conversion.

india-app-store.jpgIt's interesting to also note that Apple is using "Rs." instead of the official Rupee symbol. But we're not complaining. It's a much awaited feature that many were hoping to see. Now when you send an Indian App Store link to anyone, the browser also displays the price in "Rs.".

Apart from INR, Apple has included support for 7 other currencies, which it circulated in an email sent to developers;

The App Store now supports new currencies in the following eight territories, so your customers can easily purchase your apps in their local currency:

Russia: Ruble (RUB)
Turkey: Lira (TRY)
India: Rupee (INR)
Indonesian: Rupiah (IDR)
Israel: New Shekel (ILS)
Saudi Arabia: Riyal (SAR)
South Africa: Rand (ZAR)
United Arab Emirates: Dirham (AED)

Just a week ago, Google adopted a similar policy and broke the news via blogpost to confirm thatIndian users can soon start paying for apps and in-app purchases in rupees on the Google Play Store. Russia was also added to the list. 

The company asked developers to set INR and RUB prices of their apps by October 25th, which indicates that Google might introduce INR pricing in Play Store from Friday. Google also said that in case the developers could not set the price before the deadline, Google will automatically assign the INR and RUB prices based on the exchange rates.