Apple Lightning cable inspection finds an extra-smart connector, won’t make for cheap substitutes

Apple Lightning cable inspection finds an extrasmart connector, won't offer a cheap substitute

Apple made much ado of the Lightning connector it launched side-by-side with the iPhone 5, but what we’ve known about it has been limited outside of the presence of an authentication chip. Double Helix Cables’ Peter Bradstock has delved deeper and tells AppleInsider that there’s some clever wiring that clinches the reversible design. While Lightning’s power supply is truly symmetrical among the contact pins, the data isn’t — which suggests a chip inside is redirecting data to keep the plug working as intended. The technique helps explain why Apple would need any elaborate circuitry in the first place. No matter the wizardry inside, Bradstock doesn’t see any cut-rate Lightning alternatives being useful in the near future: as it’s unlikely that anyone outside of Cupertino knows how the authentication works at this stage, clone cables may amount to little more than heaps of metal and plastic ~ Jon Fingaz

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Einstein’s brain FOUND ON APPLE iPAD

Albert Einstein’s brain can now be downloaded to your trusty Apple iPad, should you own one.

Sadly it’s not an iOS-compatible simulation of the top physicist’s mind, best known for coming up with the general theory of relativity and laying the ground work for quantum mechanics. Instead it’s a selection of photos of slices of the German-born boffin’s grey matter.

Still – the app will let iPad users get as close to the great man’s brain as any neurobiologist can.

A slide of Einstein's brain available on iPad, credit NMHMC appEinstein’s brain … a still from the app

Einstein’s brain was removed and preserved when he died in April 1955. Pathologist Dr Thomas Harvey of Princeton Hospital split it into 170 parts and sectioned them into microscope slides. He then stained the wafers to highlight the cellular structure and nerve conduction tissue.

Dr Harvey’s collection of brain samples was bequeathed in 2010 to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Chicago, which has just scraped together the cash to digitise the slides and put them in a new iPad app. The software is available from Apple’s App Store for $9.99, or £6.99, and funds will go to the museum.

The magnified high-resolution images give fanbois the view that they’d get if the brain slides were on the business end of a microscope, and the app makers hope opening up one of the world’s greatest brains to neurobiologists everywhere, as well as the the general public, will garner new insight into the workings of the Nobel prize-winning boffin’s cerebral matter.

Nothing exceptional was found about Einstein’s brain in 1955, but a 1999 survey found that it contained a rare density of connections between neurons in the language, spatial and mathematical areas.

One severe limitation of Harvey’s slides is that it is hard to tell exactly where each sample was taken from Einstein’s brain: the 170 parts are loosely attributed to the brainstem and various lobes rather than specifically located. Solving the location of the brain parts is now considered to be much more important.

The Chicago museum features another interesting brain from Dr Harvey’s collection: Henry Molaison, who died in 2008 after living for decades with profound amnesia.

Planned updates to the Einstein app will include further slides as they are digitised and will add more context to existing ones. ®

Samsung smartphones vulnerable to remote data wipe

Code that’s making the rounds on the Internet could trigger a factory reset on the handsets without warning, a security researcher discovers.

 

Samsung's Galaxy S3.Samsung’s Galaxy S3.

(Credit: Samsung)

Owners of the Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3 may be vulnerable to a flaw that could allow their personal data to be deleted from their device, a security researcher has discovered.

The malicious code, which is now circulating on the Internet, could trigger a factory reset of the popular handsets, according to Ravi Borgaonkar, a researcher in the Security in Communications department at Technical University Berlin, who demonstrated the vulnerability at the Ekoparty security conference in Argentina last week (see video below).

The flaw lies in the way Samsung’s TouchWiz UI interacts with unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) codes, which execute commands on the handset’s keypad. While most dialers require the user to hit the “send” button to complete the code, Samsung’s does not, Borgaonkar said.

He showed how the flaw could be exploited on a Samsung Galaxy S3 via a single code embedded in a Web link, QR code, NFC connection, or SMS, supplying the correct factory reset code to wipe the device without warning the owner or asking for permission.

Borgaonkar also said it was possible to lock the SIM card, preventing owners from using many of the device’s features. However, attacks can be prevented by turning off “service loading” in settings and disabling QR code and NFC apps, he said.

Samsung appears to be the only Android smartphone maker affected by the flaw, Borgaonkar said.

“It’s possible to exploit this attack only on Samsung devices,” he said.

MTN to raise capex in SA to 7 billion rand in 2013

MTN Group plans to spend 7 billion rand on its South African network in 2013, a 40 percent increase from the current year, the telecoms operator said on Tuesday.

The headquarters of South Africa’s MTN Group is seen in Johannesburg in this file photograph.
Image by: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS

MTN, Africa’s largest mobile phone services provider, also said it is “exploring the possibility of switching on” commercial long term evolution, or so-called 4G technology, in three South African cities within 2012.

Kanagaratnam Lambotharan, Chief Technology Officer at MTN SA says the commercialisation of technologies such as LTE (Long Term Evolution) is expected to address consumer needs for full service continuity, a seamless network and high speed Internet connection.

He says MTN is exploring the possibility of switching on its commercial LTE network within 2012 and has identified 3 key urban cities to roll out the network namely Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban.

‘However pricing has not been finalised yet.’

The company said in a statement it has increased 2 Generation (2G) network coverage to 98.6% of the country’s population while the company’s EDGE and 3Generation sites cover 92% and close to 65% of South Africa respectively.

The truth about iPhone 5’s first weekend sales

 

 

Customers hover around a table of iPhones and iPads at the SF flagship store.

(Credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

commentary Apple supporters triumphantly cheered on the company after it sold 5 million iPhones over the weekend. Wall Street, however, was disappointed by the figure after seeing the long lines on Friday.

The correct reaction probably lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps a polite golf clap? For analysts, it was a classic case of hype feeding into the estimates, which ramped up to as high as 10 million for the first weekend, numbers that even a powerhouse like Apple couldn’t hope to achieve.

“We find it unfortunate that some analysts continue to publish irresponsible estimates without taking into account realistic demand trends and potential supply constraints,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee.

On the flip side, while 5 million is an impressively high number, and is 1 million better than last year’s iPhone 4S launch, it isn’t a genuine indicator of the longer-term appeal of the iPhone 5. There was so much pent-up demand that Apple would have sold out of however many phones it had in stock. The truth behind that first weekend statistic that Apple proudly proclaims is the number isn’t really as relevant as you might think. It’s a nice figure to boast about, window dressing, and it certainly fuels the hype and illusion that Apple is invincible. But in reality, that’s about it. There are too many factors, including supply issues, the availability of its phones in key markets, and reaction to the competition, to really make a judgment on whether the company’s latest phone will suitably carry on the legacy of success that its predecessors enjoyed. The true test of the phone’s longevity in the market won’t come until after the key holiday season, when many high-profile smartphones start to see a pullback in sales and the euphoria of the recent iPhonelaunch hype has long faded away.

Now, any company would kill to sell 5 million units of anything over the weekend, but the iPhone runs at a higher standard. Sales of the iPhone 4 were amazingly resilient, and hung on to the top spot at AT&T for more than a year (it was also helped by its introduction at Verizon Wireless). Conversely, sales of the iPhone 4S had an initial pop, but began to fizzle as the months went on. Yes, it remained a top-selling phone, but its momentum couldn’t match the previous iteration.

The iPhone 5 is poised to pick up where the iPhone 4 left off. Despite criticism that it isn’t drastically different, the phone addresses the key concerns of iPhone users, namely the larger display and a faster 4G wireless connection. Those two, alongside the thinner and lighter design, may convince consumers that it’s worth the upgrade. Despite the initial disappointment, Wall Street remains as bullish as ever. J.P. Morgan yesterday said it estimates Apple will sell 50 million iPhonesin the fourth quarter. For the quarter ending on Saturday, the firm estimates 25 million units will be sold. Sterne Agee’s Wu said the noise over the launch and the following disappointment didn’t change his estimate. He still believes the company will sell 27 million this month and 46.5 million in the quarter ending December 31. While the stock may have sold off yesterday, there remains a lot of optimism around Apple.

The lines at the Fifth Ave. Apple store in Manhattan during iPhone 5 launch day.

(Credit: Greg Sandoval/CNET)

There are some hurdles for Apple to reach those lofty expectations. For one, the company’s decision to use a new, thinner display is causing some supply shortages, according to reports. The various suppliers are having trouble producing the volume of screens needed to meet the high demand. The supply issue is one of the reasons analysts blamed for the big discrepancy between their estimates and Apple’s actual sales figure. Another unknown is whether Apple will be able to expand the availability. In China, hundreds of millions are waiting for the iPhone to show up at China Mobile. Getting the iPhone to China Mobile is important because it’s the world’s largest wireless carrier with more than 650 million subscribers, or more than twice the combined customer base of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile.

Beyond internal issues, Apple and its new iPhone 5 face unprecedented competition. Its biggest rival, Samsung, has already launched a campaign mocking the iPhone lines that even some fans have admitted contains genuine insight into the silliness of the whole affair. For once, its rivals can already boast of those key features in many of their smartphones.

Samsung’s Galaxy S III has been a blockbuster in its own right, and overtook the iPhone 4sthis past summer.

Google unit Motorola has already tweaked Apple for the maps flap, and its lineup of Droid smartphones are an attractive alternative.

The holiday season is poised to get even more crowded with a slew of Windows Phone backed by a massive push from Microsoft, vendors such as Nokia and HTC, and carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T. For the carriers in particular, the iPhone is no longer the phone to have, since it’s available virtually everywhere. There is also a lot of incentive to promote other phones, since they require a lower subsidy and consequently weigh less on their profits. Apple’s iPhone 5 will be successful; there is little doubt of that. But how much of a success remains to be seen, and one weekend’s worth of data isn’t nearly enough to make a call yet. ~ Rodger Cheng

Price war pays off for Cell C

Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig says a company is just “butting its head against the wall” until it gets to at least 20% of the market share.

Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig says a company is just “butting its head against the wall” until it gets to at least 20% of the market share.

 

Cell C’s barrage of price cuts has started paying off for the country’s third cellphone operator, which now sees approximately 700 000 new subscribers join its network each month.

The “underdog” operator came under the industry radar again when former Vodacom head Alan Knott-Craig took the helm almost six months ago and started shaking things up – giving rise to what has been termed a mobile “price war”.

From the word go, Knott-Craig said his number one goal with Cell C was to grow market share. In January, when news of his appointment first broke, he said his aim was to gain a 25% share of the market. This means a doubling of Cell C’s current market share of 13% over three years, as per Knott-Craig’s contract term.

Knott Craig recently reiterated his ultimate aim in light of SA’s incumbent duopoly, Vodacom and MTN. “You need to have about 20% of the market share to be in the game. Until you get to that point, you are just butting your head against the wall. At 25%, you are assured of financial sustainability, and that is where you want to be. If you are not aiming for it, you aren’t going to get there.”

Ample churn

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says the notable monthly customer migration to Cell C, to a large degree, represents churn.

“Our understanding is that a large proportion of the 700 000 new subscribers represents churn. Natural churn in the prepaid market is already very high – more than 40% a year – and that would be a lot higher where a network is introducing a dramatically reduced pricing structure.

“Although users can convert the package they are on, the typical prepaid user would simply dump the old number and take up a new prepaid account, purely for the perceived immediacy thereof.”

He says the net effect of these additions is possibly between 100 000 and 200 000 a month.

Goldstuck says, also to be borne in mind, is that Cell C’s growth comes at a time that the industry as a whole is seeing unprecedented growth.

“Cell C is growing faster now than at any time in its history, but it is growth within a market that is growing as a whole, so the gain in market share will not be as fast as the gain in subscribers.”

Nevertheless, he says, SA will see the impact of Cell C’s simplified low-cost approach to prepaid customers. “We saw MTN’s prepaid growth rate slashed in the first half of this year compared to the last six months of 2011. This must to some extent be attributable to Cell C winning market share.”

German court rules that Motorola, Samsung don’t violate Apple touch event patent

Galaxy S III and iPhone 4S

Motorola and Samsung just caught a break from the law after a few hard knocks. A Mannheim, Germany court has ruled that neither company infringes on an Apple patent covering how an OS responds to and ignores touch events. While we don’t yet know the full details, patent lawsuit guru Florian Mueller suggests that the German judge took the same point of view that thwarted Apple’s claims in the Netherlands and the UK: the particular patent was just too broad to stick. It’s a potentially important win, as a ruling of violation could have led to serious problems with keeping Android-based Motorola and Samsung devices in stores; other patents are more easily circumvented. However, it’s still something of a Pyrrhic victory for a pair of companies that have lately been facing the threat of near-term bans and steep damages. ~ Jon Fingaz

Playing PC games on TV opens up new world of gaming

Big in-your-face action <i>(Image: Schedivy Pictures/Getty Images)</i>

 

A new PC interface for TV screens is set to change gaming – and could herald future smart TVs with the power of modern PCs

THE world’s largest video-game distribution platform for PCs is now available on televisions, bringing a new community of gamers into the living room.

Last week, Valve, the US firm behind the acclaimed Half-Life and Portal games, launched Big Picture, a television interface for Steam, the company’s PC-only video-game distribution and social-media platform.

The move aims to change the gaming landscape. It will also accelerate a move towards smart TVs equipped with the power of modern PCs.

Even though Steam offers over 1500 games and claims around 50 million PC gamers, it is still something of an industry niche. Big game publishers such as EA and Ubisoft are geared towards console releases, with PC versions of games coming later, if at all.

But even Sony’s PS3, the youngest of the current generation of consoles, is six years old. PC hardware, meanwhile, gets better and cheaper every year. With Nintendo launching its new console in November and Sony and Microsoft poised to follow in 2013, Valve is determined to muscle in on console territory: the family sofa. As a Big Picture promo video puts it: “Sometimes, you just want to kick it in the living room.”

“It’s about being a couple of steps ahead of the curve,” says John Walker, co-director of cult PC-gaming website Rock, Paper, Shotgun. “It’s a really interesting flag they’re placing.”

Big Picture provides an alternative interface for Steam which lets users bring their profile – including their social network and personal library of games – out of the bedroom or home office and into the family environment of the living room. It includes a TV web browser optimised for use with a game controller or a keyboard and mouse.

The downside is that you need to run an HDMI cable from your PC to the television. That’s fine for laptops, but will be impractical if the PC and TV are not in the same room. But TVs with built-in PCs are a future inevitability, says Walker. Such a combo would also make on-demand streaming of films over the internet far more convenient. Another possibility would be for Valve to offer its own Steam set-top box – a small, dedicated games PC running the Linux operating system. Valve is already adapting its games to run on a Linux version of Steam, Walker notes, making this less of a technological leap.

Both Steam and consoles face competition from cloud-based gaming services like OnLive and Gaikai, which Sony recently bought for $380 million. Because the computing for these games is done on servers in the cloud, a TV with a small set-top box is all the computing power that is required to play. But internet bandwidth limitations mean that cloud-based gaming cannot yet compete with the console or PC experience.

Valve’s move will have a big impact on independent game developers, as getting approval to publish a game and charge for it via Steam is far easier than on consoles. And there are very few restrictions to distributing games on PCs.

“Steam on a TV is massively exciting for an indie developer,” says Mike Bithell, who is lead game designer at Bossa Studios in London by day and an independent developer by night. “It’s a fast and easy way to take a game created with the PC in mind and transfer it almost immediately to couch play.” ~ Douglas Heaven

IPhone 5 Limits Set to Spark Samsung Discounts in Europe

IPhone 5 Restriction Poised to Spark Samsung Discounts in Europe

IPhone 5 Limits Set to Spark Samsung Discounts in Europe

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone 5, which bars customers of some European carriers from accessing the fastest available mobile networks, will prompt those operators to cut prices for handsets from rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) The iPhone 5, which went on sale today, will connect to fourth-generation wireless networks in Europe that run on an 1,800 megahertz band, favoring carriers who do have a network attuned to that frequency, including Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) and its British EE venture with France Telecom SA. (FTE) Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) and Telefonica SA (TEF)’s O2 unit will only be able to offer the iPhone 5 on their slower 3G networks.

The restrictions of the iPhone 5 will “push Vodafone and many other European operators harder into the arms of Samsung,” especially as the South Korean company’s popular Galaxy line of phones includes a 4G version that is compatible with their networks, said Robin Bienenstock, a London-based analyst for Sanford C Bernstein. With the iPhone 5 predicted by analysts to become the fastest selling technology gadget in history, subsidies and promotions will help operators that only offer the device on slower networks to keep customers. Vodafone lost its top spot in the U.K. to O2 after failing to win the exclusive rights to the first iPhone in 2007.

The device became Telefonica’s best- selling phone ever and two-thirds of the clients coming to its U.K. network were poached from rivals. Upgrade Discount O2 plans to offer iPhone 5 customers with a long-term contract the chance to upgrade to a 4G phone once the operator’s own 4G service is available, according to Telefonica spokesman Simon Lloyd. The carrier will chip in 10 percent of the cost of buying out the contract and pay the taxes, he said. The new networks, based on long-term evolution, or LTE, technology, allow users to watch videos, stream music or perform other data-intensive tasks at a faster speed. EE, the largest mobile-phone operator in the U.K., said this week that the new 4G service is five times faster than is currently available. Samsung vaulted to the top of the global smartphone market by introducing a variety of Galaxy models using Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android software.

While the iPhone is the most popular smartphone, Android is more widely used, showing up in devices from Samsung to HTC Corp. (2498) Galaxy S III Samsung said this month that sales of its latest Galaxy S III, which has a bigger screen than the iPhone 5 and also works with 4G networks based on different frequencies, topped 20 million units. Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) unveiled a lineup of Lumia models this month with the most recent Microsoft Corp. Windows Phone software, aiming to win back market share with better camera and mapping technology. Customers in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris and New York lined up for the iPhone 5 today.

Queues of more than 1,000 people gathered in Frankfurt and London this morning as loyal Apple customers raced to get the latest device. Piper Jaffray Cos analyst Gene Munster predicts that 10 million iPhone 5 may be sold this weekend. Shares of Samsung climbed 1.2 percent to close at 1,302,000 won in Seoul. In German trading, Apple slipped 0.2 percent to the equivalent of $701.10 as of 10:56 a.m. in Frankfurt. Nokia dropped 0.6 percent to 2.19 euros on the Helsinki exchange. Subsidy Question “The question for operators now becomes in the near term – – how sticky is Apple’s software versus the better speeds of the Samsung Galaxy’s, and how much subsidy will be put behind this,” Bienenstock said. Vodafone and O2 offer 4G devices from Samsung, LG Electronics Inc. (066570) and HTC that are able to run on the operator’s 4G networks based on frequencies other than the 1,800 MHz band.

In the U.K., EE said Sept. 11 it will start the service and give pricing details in coming weeks. The U.K. auction of 800 MHz and 2,600 MHz frequencies is set to begin later this year, allowing a general rollout of faster data services in 2013, regulator Ofcom has said. Vodafone has opposed EE’s move to start 4G services ahead of an upcoming auction of frequencies, saying it was “shocked” by Ofcom’s approval of the service, which creates a “competitive distortion.” “We’ll have to work a bit harder and we’ll have to work with other devices,”

Vodafone Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford said last week. “We’ll be looking at the pricing and competitiveness of those devices.” To be sure, EE’s LTE network isn’t widely available — rolling out in 16 British cities by Christmas — and as the first entrant in the U.K., the burden will fall on them to introduce customers to the new technology and market its benefits, said Gyanee Dewnarain, a London-based analyst at researcher Gartner Inc. (IT) “They’ll have to do the work to educate the mass market,” Dewnarain said. “The mass market doesn’t have a clue what LTE is.” By the time they do, Vodafone may be ready to offer its own service, she said.

Canon adds another full-frame model

Canon 6D
Canon 6D Full Frame D-SLR
The inclusion of a full-frame sensor offers greater control over depth of field in portraits, allowing photographers to easily isolate their subjects with attractive background blur. With the Canon 6D, photographers can now also explore the full potential of their wide-angle EF lenses to capture every detail of a sweeping landscape, with models ranging from 8mm to 800mm. Additionally powerful DIGIC 5+ image processing offers a host of automatic modes and creative shooting features, complementing full manual controls to offer total flexibility to a wide range of users.
Canon EOS 6D
Canon EOS 6D features
The Canon 6D digital SLR camera is full of advanced features to assist photographers in capturing outstanding quality landscapes and portraits. HDR mode enables the capture of both highlights and low lights in tricky lighting conditions, while Multiple Exposures allows photographers to combine up to nine separate exposures into a single image in-camera, creating a dramatic effect in the final picture. A silent drive mode offers a more subtle option for shooting candid portraits or weddings, and a single axis electronic level accessed through the viewfinder or via the LCD display, ensures that horizons are level during image composition.
6D
Canon 6D Sales package
• Canon EOS 6D body
• Canon LP-E6 battery pack
• Canon LC-E6 battery charger
• Canon AVC-DC400ST stereo AV cable
• Canon EOS digital solution disk
• Software Instruction Manual CD
• Canon EOS 6D instruction manual
• USB interface cable
• Wide neck strap

Canon 6D price and availability
The Canon 6D body carries a suggested retail price of € 2000,- Euro. Prices may vary from country to country. Visit the Canon website in your country for more information and optional EOS 6D accessories.
EOS 6D