At a time when the concept of net neutrality and a regulatory framework for over-the-top (OTT) apps is being intensely debated in India, Skype is reportedly planning to launch a country-specific app.Skype spokesperson, Filipp Seljanko, revealed plans of an India-specific Skype app on Thursday, while speaking with the Indian Express. The app is aimed at offering video and voice over Internet protocol services that are optimised for India’s mobile networks – specifically, to offer a better experience over 2G and 3G networks.
The Microsoft-owned company decided to develop the app after market research showed it that competitors like Viber were managing to provide better services for mobile users in the country. Explaining how the app would be better, Seljanko said, “India’s 2G and 3G network[s], as well as the mix of phones in use, pose very specific challenges for us. The new application will be much lighter than the one now available, and will require far less computation resources and memory.”
Though the report claims Microsoft is hoping the new Skype for India application will spur sales of Lumia and Nokia Asha handsets preloaded with it, it would be foolhardy of the company not to offer the country-specific application on Android and iOS platforms as well.
Addressing the issue of the hour, Seljanko agreed that VoIP apps like Skype do eat into operators’ revenue. However, he added that the telecom operators need to evolve their business models to cope, rather than put out reactionary policies. Seljanko was of course responding to a query on Airtel’s now defunct plans to charge extra for VoIP calls and Trai’s subsequent release of a consultation paper to decide a regulatory framework for OTT players.
Calling it an opportunity rather than a crisis for operators, Seljanko said Skype has faced similar issues across the world including the United States and Europe, where the issue was addressed by “finding ways for mobile service providers to enhance their revenues by selling data.” He contentiously added that telecom operators in India are currently charging tariffs for voice that the “technology just does not justify.”
Google has been known to do crazy things with its Maps – like letting you play Pac-Man on any street – but this one is rather out of left field even by Mountain View’s wacky standards.
Open Google Maps in your browser and visit this spot near the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi and you’ll be greeted by the image of a giant Android bot peeing over Apple’s logo. Is this an easter egg left there by an over-enthusiastic Google developer in the hope it would never be discovered? Or is this some kind of crazy bug? Well, as it turns out, it’s none of the above.
Google has a tool called Map Maker that lets anyone submit data for Google Maps. The most likely explanation is that the image is a Map Maker submission by someone who clearly likes taking the piss out of Apple and its fans.
A Google spokesperson gave Mashable Mashable pretty much the same explanation. “Even though edits are moderated, occasionally the odd inaccurate or cheeky edit may slip through our system,” he said in a statement to Mashable. “We’ve been made aware of the issue and are working on getting it removed.”
However, at the time of filing this report, the image was still visible on Google Maps app as well as desktop. While Google may not have had anything to do with the image, the fact that it found its way on to Google Maps is an embarrassment for the company and a clear failure of its review process. Team Android, which first reportedthe ‘bug’, also points us to the spot inside Google Maps where someone has left Google a reminder that its “review policy is crap.”
Not content with Steam being the premier destination for PC games, Valve, the company behind it recently decided to take things up a notch. Now, people who make modifications, maps or in-game items, can sell their work via the Steam Workshop – which was set up in 2012 to allow creators to offer their add-ons to games for free. The move allowing mod makers to be paid for non-Valve games, begun in February, now extends to the ever popular The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
“Many of our fans have been modding our games since Morrowind, for over 10 years. They now have the opportunity to earn money doing what they love – and all fans have a new way to support their favorite mod authors. We’ve also updated Skyrim and the Creation Kit with new features to help support paid mods including the ability to upload master files, adding more categories and removing file size limit restrictions,” a post on Skyrim maker Bethesda’s blog reads.
This is not the first game not made by Valve to allow this. In January Valve announced that creators will now be able to earn from their creations for non-Valve games that enable the Steam Workshop. Dungeon Defenders: Eternity, and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare are the first two to support this. Support for paid mods for other games is expected in the next few weeks.
To further optimise the sale of user-created content, Valve had announced in January that there are new analytics and measurement tools on the horizon as well, so creators have greater clarity on which of their wares are more popular. These would let the view real-time sales data and detailed per-item revenue breakdowns and historical statements as well.
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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday, fueled by gains in oil companies and speculation that upcoming first-quarter earnings reports might not be quite as weak as previously thought.
All 10 major S&P 500 sectors gained, with the energy index leading, up 2.3 percent. U.S. crude jumped more than 5 percent after a lower-than-expected build of U.S. crude stockpiles.
Intel (INTC) jumped 4.25 percent to $32.83 after the chipmaker said late Tuesday it expects flat revenue for the entire year despite some weakness in the first quarter.
Investors have feared the March-quarter earnings season, just getting under way, would be crippled by low oil prices, a strong dollar and extreme weather in the eastern United States. First-quarter profits for S&P 500 companies are seen dropping 2.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data.
“Companies can jump over a bar that’s about as low as a limbo stick,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. “Beating expectations should be relatively easy.”
Of the 36 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported so far, 81 percent beat expectations, better than the 63 percent of companies exceeding expectations in a typical quarter.
But just 47 percent of companies exceeded revenue expectations, worse than 61 percent seen in a typical quarter. That suggests companies are bolstering their bottom lines by cutting costs instead of by expanding their businesses.
U.S. shares also benefited after the European Central Bank said it remained committed to its full asset-buying program to revive the eurozone economy.
The strong dollar hurts U.S. companies dependent on overseas sales, while slumping oil prices erode the profits of energy companies.
But many industrial and transportation companies benefit from cheap oil and its derivatives. Delta Air Lines (DAL) posted first-quarter profit above analysts’ expectations and its stock rose 2.60 percent to end at $44.20.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 75.91 points, or 0.42 percent, to close at 18,112.61. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) gained 10.79 points, or 0.51 percent, to 2,106.63 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 33.73 points, or 0.68 percent, to end the day at 5,011.02.
Wednesday’s gains bring the Nasdaq to within striking distance of its record-high close of 5,048.62 points set in 2000 during the dot-com boom.
Bank of America (BAC) shares ended down 1.14 percent at $15.64. First-quarter profit at the No. 2 U.S. bank by assets narrowly beat analyst estimates.
After the bell, video streaming company Netflix (NFLX) posted quarterly results that sent its shares 12 percent higher.
On Wednesday, advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,037 to 1,011, for a 2.01-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,821 issues rose and 928 fell for a 1.96-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 posted 18 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq composite recorded 107 new highs and 18 new lows.
About 6.7 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 6 billion daily average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Markets.
What to watch Thursday:
At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, and the Commerce Department releases housing starts for March.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia releases its survey of manufacturing conditions in the Mid-Atlantic region for April, and Freddie Mac release weekly mortgage rates.
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
Apple has reportedly acquired Israeli camera-technology startup company named LinX.According to a Wall Street Journal report (via TheNextWeb) on Tuesday, the Cupertino giant confirmed the acquisition of LinX Computational Imaging Ltd. by replying with its standard statement of acquisition.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Apple replied to WSJ.
The camera startup LinX specialises in creating multi-aperture camera equipment for mobile devices. Company’s website notes that “LinX cameras are significantly smaller than any camera on the market today, leading the way to DSLR performance in slim handsets. […] We allow Apps to freely use the 3D information captured by our camera to achieve amazing new features such as the ability to refocus an image after it has been captured, measurement of the true dimensions of objects, 3D object modeling and real time background replacement for video calls”
About the financial terms of the LinX acquisition, WSJ says Apple paid around $20 million.
Looking at LinXs’ expertise in mobile camera modules, there is no secret why Apple chose to acquired it. The company has always been very focused in improving cameras with the each iteration of the iPhone and it’s been one of the highlighted features as well. Just to remind you, iPhone 5s camera supports Slo-mo video at 120fps while the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus support Slo-mo videos at 120fps or 240fps.
Music rhythm games are a dime a dozen to the point where even app stores have them by the boatload. Being so prevalent, it’s easy to forget the game that propelled the genre into mainstream popularity – Guitar Hero. The series has been on hiatus since 2010 and that’s going to change with Guitar Hero Live.”With Guitar Hero Live, Activision and developers FreeStyle Games (DJ Hero, DJ Hero 2) are reimagining the series for the modern era, introducing live-action audiences and band mates that react dynamically to how you play, the world’s first 24-hour playable music video network, a completely redesigned guitar controller, and support for both consoles and mobile devices alike,” said communications manager Scott Lowe in apost on series publisher, Activision’s website.
The game will feature music from bands like The Black Keys, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Gary Clark, Jr., Green Day, Ed Sheeran, The War on Drugs, The Killers, Skrillex, The Rolling Stones, The Lumineers, Carrie Underwood, Pierce the Veil and Blitz Kids. While none of these are particularly popular in India, neither is the series due to the high price point at launch back in the day.
And while Activision has announced a $99 (around Rs. 6,500) price point for the US (which includes the game, a guitar, and Guitar Hero TV), it will be interesting to see how that translates in India. While game prices have gone up over the years, so has the local audience’s propensity to spend. But will people take to this iteration of the series, remains to be seen.
The game is releasing on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, and select mobile devices this fall.
Guitar Hero TV is the online multiplayer mode of Guitar Hero Live, and it features ‘music video television channels’ or ’24-hour playable music video network’ with its own list of songs that are playing simultaneously for all players. Players will be able to compete with others on the same channel, and a score comparison with friends and everyone else on the same network will be displayed on the side. The Guitar Hero TV mode is accessed by pressing a button on the bundled guitar. Apart from channels, on demand songs are also available for local multiplayer. The mode will be available for tablets as well.
Spy photographers make a whole business out of catching new models undergoing road testing, but Rolls-Royce gets out ahead of the espionage game by releasing photos of a development car it will be putting on the streets. Called an “engineering mule” in an open letter (Rolls-Royce-speak for “press release”), the vehicle serves as a test-bed for a four-wheel-drive SUV it calls Project Cullinan.
The vehicle shown in the photos is a shortened Phantom model, so it runs on a unique Rolls-Royce chassis, likely with air suspension components. Space between the tires and wheel wells shows quite a bit of lift in the suspension, and it sports a wing on the trunk, a performance component as unlikely to be seen on a Rolls-Royce model as neon under-lighting.
If Rolls-Royce hadn’t explained what this car was all about, it might have made a fun guessing game, inviting speculation of a Phantom-based GT3 racer. However, Rolls-Royce makes it clear that this car, which will probably be seen trawling around Goodwood, is being used to tune ride quality for a future SUV model.
A Rolls-Royce spokesperson told CNET that the final SUV model will use “an all-new aluminum architecture specific to Rolls-Royce.”
Tuning a suspension is of primary concern for Rolls-Royce, as the company makes ride quality one of its hallmarks for owners. And an SUV makes for a unique challenge. As it sits higher than a sedan, Rolls-Royce has to make sure it doesn’t sway heavily when turning. The four-wheel-drive system presents its own challenge, as Rolls-Royce will want to mitigate extra vibration and noise, and maintain effortless steering qualities.
Rolls-Royce gives itself a further challenge with the new SUV: ensuring comfortable ride quality off-road. It will be an impressive feat if Rolls-Royce can make the new car waft equally well on asphalt and dirt. As a positive example, Rolls-Royce brand owner BMW has performed impressive work making its X6 M handle like a much smaller sports car. Rolls-Royce can follow that example with comfort as its focus.
In a conversation with CNET last year, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes admitted that thecompany was looking at developing an SUV, noting that 70 to 80 percent of Rolls-Royce owners also have Range Rovers in their garages. Last February, Rolls-Royce confirmed a new SUV with the hashtag #EffortlessEverywhere. At the time, another open letter from Rolls-Royce noted the new model would be a “high-bodied car, with an all-new aluminum architecture” and would offer “the luxury of a Rolls-Royce in a vehicle that can cross any terrain.”
“Game of Thrones” has given us quite a few memorable weapons, ranging from Dragonglass daggers to Brienne of Tarth’s Valyrian steel longsword Oathkeeper. Young Arya Stark’s personal sword is positively dainty compared with most swords wielded in the series, but it’s just as deadly. The new Web series Man at Arms: Reforged took on the challenge of creating a real-life version of Needle, fashioned after the sword seen in the TV series.
Swordsmith Matt Stagmer and his brother Kerry Stagmer from Baltimore Knife & Sword led the charge to create the toothpick of a sword. The sword-making starts off with a slight departure from the series by combining different metals to create an interesting visual pattern. The metal is physically twisted to generate a star-like pattern along the blade.
Kerry Stagmer says Needle is designed with parts from 18th-century small swords. The Reforged team makes decorative accents, including a demon face, from bronze for the hilt. The handle is made from wood with a leather covering.
The finished sword is tapered and designed to poke and stab, rather than slash. The makers take it out for a test run, sticking the forged weapon through soda bottles, a plastic bag filled with fake blood and a milk jug. It quickly dispatches its foes with brutal efficiency. Arya Stark would be pleased.
As the world spins toward its future, or perhaps its end, we wonder whether the machines are truly our best friends.
The bastion of fairness and balance, Fox News,went to the heart of the technological revolutionin order to see whether humans are even humans anymore.
So it sent the O’Reilly Factor’s Jesse Watters to wade beyond Cupertino’s image and to identify humanity’s current state.
It wasn’t good. The state, I mean, not the segment (which was of another level of quality altogether).
You had a feeling things weren’t going to go Apple’s way when the segment began with Bill O’Reilly sitting in front of a large sign that read: “Apple Store Madness.”
O’Reilly began with his usual sense of calm objectivity: “To me, this high-tech stuff is like opium. People become addicted and spend much of their lives on these crazy machines.”
He then added: “And nowhere is that more on display than in the Apple store.”
It seemed, though, that Watters and his crew weren’t actually allowed to film in the Apple store. Instead, he stood outside and asked people about their obsessional proclivities. They were happy to provide him with fine fodder.
A woman told him she spent her time in there just looking at iPads. A couple admitted they stared at their phone screens all day. And then, of course, the innocents were presented with the choice of either giving up Apple products for a week or sex for the same period. (It wasn’t specified whether they had to give up sex with a specific person.)
You just know what they chose — well, the ones that made the cut anyway.
“Is it as bad as I think it is?” O’Reilly asked Watters at the end. He didn’t mean the show, he meant the state of the world.
What could Watters say to O’Reilly’s amiright? Bill’s Bill of Being Right was passed by acclamation. (O’Reilly’s concluding remark: “Then next 10 years — wait’ll you see the difference in the country. It’s already getting desperate.”)
It seemed from Watters’ questioning of the Apple store customers that he wanted to prove not only that they were enslaved by their gadgets, but that they knew nothing of the outside world.
Yes, many of them couldn’t name the vice president. This, quite clearly, was the gadgets’ fault, as opposed to, oh, the fault of venal, trust-free politicians or cynical, windbag TV stations.
So there we have it. We are all doomed. It is the gadgets’ fault. And most of all, apparently, it is Apple’s fault.