The Tech News Blog

September 18, 2014

Early iOS 8 Adoption Slower Than iOS 7, iOS 6

Generic iOS 8

If you decided not to download iOS 8 when it became available yesterday — or simply didn't have enough free space on your device to do it — you weren't alone.

Initial adoption of Apple's new mobile operating system has been significantly slower than the last two versions - iOS 7 and iOS 6, early assessments have revealed. A full 24 hours after it was released, iOS 8 was running on some 7.3 percent of iOS devices in North America, according to new data from online ad network Chitika. That pales in comparison to iOS 7, which was installed on 18.2 percent of devices after its first day of availability, and iOS 6, which found its way onto 14.8 percent of Apple smartphones and tablets in 24 hours.

To come up with its adoption figures, Chitika examined a sample of millions of U.S. and Canadian impressions on its network between Sept. 17 and Sept. 18, and compared the iOS 8 growth rate to total iOS Web usage.

September 18, 2014

Microsoft Cuts 2,100 Jobs in Latest Round of Layoffs

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft is eliminating 2,100 workers today as part of its previously announced plan to cut 18,000 jobs over the next year.

In a statement to PCMag, a Microsoft spokesperson said the reductions are taking place across a variety of teams, though there's no word as to which departments will be hit hardest.

"The reductions happening today are spread across many different business units, and many different countries," the spokesperson said. "We will continue to go through this process in the most thoughtful manner possible, with the deepest respect for affected individuals and recognition of their service to the company. We will offer severance to all affected employees."

Bloomberg reported that some 747 workers will be laid off in the Puget Sound region, where Microsoft is based.

Microsoft in July axed 13,000 employees in the first wave of layoffs. The reductions come as Microsoft works to integrate the Nokia handset business it acquired in April for $7.2 billion. Following the Nokia deal, Microsoft's employee headcount rose from about 99,000 last year to 127,000.

About 12,500 of the 18,000 total layoffs planned for this year will come from Nokia, including professional and factory workers.

In a July memo to employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (pictured) said the company would largely nix work on Android-based devices. "We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows," he wrote. "This builds on our success in the affordable smartphone space and aligns with our focus on Windows Universal Apps."

September 18, 2014

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Arrives Oct. 17, Pre-Orders Start Friday

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The iPhone 6 Plus may be taking all the attention on the phablet front, but if you're more of an Android fan, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be available in the U.S. on Oct. 17 with pre-orders starting Friday, the same day Apple's new iPhones hit store shelves.

Unveiled earlier this month at the IFA trade show in Berlin, the Note 4 features a 5.7-inch 2,560-by-1,440 Quad HD Super AMOLED display, advanced technology for the front and rear cameras, battery improvements, and S Pen enhancements.

"Samsung created the large screen smartphone category with the Galaxy Note and are on our fourth generation, a category others are just entering," Samsung Telecommunications America President and CEO Gregory Lee said in a statement, obviously alluding to Apple. "The Galaxy Note 4 delivers a refined Note experience, and the latest technology that consumers want in their smartphone."

Other features include a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with Optical Image Stabilizer technology; a 3.7-megapixel front-facing shooter; Adaptive Fast Charging, which can give the phone 50 percent battery life in 30 minutes, and Ultra Power Saving Mode offering up to 24 hours of standby time on just 10 percent battery.

September 18, 2014

Verizon Eyes Wi-Fi Calling in 2015

Verizon Logo

Verizon Wireless has tentative plans to introduce Wi-Fi calling next year, though it admits the project is not a top priority.

Speaking at Tuesday's Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo revealed plans for a mid-2015 rollout.

"We built our voice platform so extensively that there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough, you need to default to Wi-Fi to complete your call,'" Shammo said, according to a transcript of the event.

Other carriers have already jumped on the bandwagon: T-Mobile will be the first U.S. carrier to support Wi-Fi calling on the new Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, while Sprint launched a similar service for a limited number of Android devices earlier this year.

Meanwhile, AT&T last week also said at an investors conference that it will likely have Wi-Fi calling sometime next year.

Verizon's Shammo said customers have been asking for Wi-Fi calling, despite what he described as an inferior experience.

"Once you transfer that call to Wi-Fi, the quality of service for me disappears," he said on Wednesday. "I can't guarantee the quality of that call anymore."

So, while the company will deliver the Wi-Fi-calling feature, it will also continue to broaden its LTE network "to be able to deliver the quality of service we think our customers expect," Shammo said.

During Wednesday's conference, the CFO touched on other topics, promising that Verizon will not be leasing phones, and revealing potential plans to sell its wireless-tower assets.

In the past, he said, tower deals have "always come down to price and terms and conditions," which have become more favorable. A 2013 AT&T tower deal, Shammo said, "kind of opened our eyes."

"I think it is an option for us," he added. "We continue to look at it and we will see what happens."

September 18, 2014

Report: Apple Needs Another License to Sell iPhone 6 in China

iPhone 6

Apple fanatics are already lining up around the globe to be the first to nab an iPhone 6 on Sept. 19. But consumers will have to wait in China, where Cupertino must obtain more licenses before its new phones can enter the mainland market.

According to Chinese news site Xinhua, Apple won two major regulatory approvals, but still needs a key network access license.

Reuters suggested that the licensing process has "not completely stalled." Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus go on sale Friday in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and the U.K. But Apple has not yet announced a solid launch date for China—one of Apple's most important markets, and home to many of its supplier factories.

Cupertino unveiled the next-generation gadgets earlier this month, showing off its bigger, better 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch handsets, with the new A8 chip and M8 co-processor, as well as NFC support.

September 17, 2014

How to Get iOS 8


Today Apple released iOS 8, the next mobile operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Long-time iOS users likely already know that getting the operating system isn't always a piece of cake on day one. Apple's servers are often overloaded, making it impossible to install the new OS under the crush of everyone else trying to do the same. One new change this year is making the process much smoother, though.

If you request to update through your iOS device, from the Software Update section in the Settings, you might notice that Apple will put in a "request" for you to download and install iOS 8. Some users are still getting rejected, but this request system already seems to be a lot smoother than how the process used to run.

Waiting isn't a bad idea, though, and rushing certainly can be. You need to take a couple of precautionary steps first, like backing up, which I outline below, to make sure you upgrade to the new operating system safely!

Depending on the state of your device, Internet download speed, which version of iTunes you have, and a few other factors, it could take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or longer to install iOS 8, although that time will likely be reduced if you wait until a time when fewer Apple users are also trying to get the OS.

September 17, 2014

Report: iPhone 6 Demand Overwhelms Foxconn

Foxconn iPhone WorkerAnother iPhone launch, another round of reports about overseas suppliers overwhelmed by orders.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Foxconn is operating 100 production lines "around the clock," churching out 140,000 phablets and 400,000 smartphones every day, but it's still not enough to satisfy pre-orders.

The Journal said the Zhengzhou, China-based factory has more than 200,000 employees dedicated to making iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets and their key components. But with a record 4 million pre-orders in the first 24 hours, Foxconn is reportedly struggling to craft the devices fast enough.

These type of reports are nothing new. In 2012, Foxconn acknowledged iPhone 5 production delays. And yet, everyone eventually got their phones.

A July report from the Journal said that Apple asked its suppliers to manufacture between 70 and 80 million of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch handsets by Dec. 30.

September 16, 2014

Windows 9 Details Expected on Sept. 30

Microsoft's Sept. 30 eventEager for a look at the next version of Microsoft Windows? You'll need to sit tight for just two more weeks.

Microsoft last night sent invitations for an event in San Francisco on Sept. 30, where it will show off "what's next for Windows and the enterprise." The company didn't give too much else away, but the presentation will almost undoubtedly include a look at the successor to Windows 8, currently codenamed "Threshold."

Recent rumors indicate that Windows 9 will reintroduce the Start menu and further chip away at differences between Redmond's flagship PC platform and the software running the Xbox One and Windows phones. Other rumored changes include: Metro-Style applications on the desktop, virtual desktop functionality, and Cortana integration.

September 15, 2014

Windows 9 Leaks Tip Notification Center, Cortana

Windows 9 Notification CenterMicrosoft is rumored to be unveiling details about its next-gen operating system later this month, but German site WinFuture has more details about what Windows 9 might entail.

According to the blog's screenshots and videos, Redmond is working on virtual desktops, a new Start menu, and a Notification Center, as well as adapting its Cortana digital assistant for the next-gen OS.

Codenamed "Threshold," Windows 9 is expected to formally roll out next year and include the return of the Start menu, according to WinFuture, which also reported on a multi-desktop feature, a Windows Phone-like Notification Center (pictured), and the incorporation of mobile-based Cortana to the desktop.

Details have been leaking since late last week, when the German site suggested the much-anticipated Start menu will include Redmond's famed Live Tiles in an expandable table, as well as the option to individually enable the menu.

WinFuture also provided a look at virtual desktops, each of which can be created to fit your needs—one for personal projects, another for work use, and more for family or entertainment. Similar to Apple's OS X platform, Windows users will have access to various workspaces and their open programs via a new taskbar icon.

September 15, 2014

Microsoft Buys Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5 Billion

Minecraft: An Explainer for Old People

Heads up, Minecraft fans — the acquisition rumors were true.

Microsoft has purchased Mojang, maker of the massively popular sandbox building game, for $2.5 billion, the Swedish game developer announced on Monday. The company also announced that founders Markus "Notch" Persson, Carl Manneh, and Jakob Porser are leaving.

The news follows reports last week that Microsoft and Mojang were in "serious discussions" about a multibillion dollar acquisition.

"Change is scary, and this is a big change for all of us," the Mojang team wrote in a note on its website. "It's going to be good though. Everything is going to be OK."

The developer continued: "Please remember that the future of Minecraft and you — the community — are extremely important to everyone involved."

The acquisition is somewhat surprising given that Persson, who created Minecraft, has, in the past, avoided outside investment and derided big firms like Microsoft. But as Minecraft grew from a "simple game to a project of monumental significance," the pressure of owning it became too much for Persson to handle.