iPad 3 Launch on March 7

Apple has sent out invitations for the iPad 3 launch on March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. This launch comes almost a year after the launch of the iPad 2.

The invitaion email as shown on WSJ shows a finger over the calendar app that is set to March 7.

It will be interesting to see if the promise of it being ‘Something you really have to see. And touch’ will also  include the anticipated quad core processor and high definition  (2048×1536 Retina) display, in addition to carrying the wireless fourth generation LTE networks.  Apple already has to contend with growing sales of tablets that use Google’s Android software. Its shipments have dropped to 61.5%  from 63.3% world wide in the second quarter.

Other rumors include the possibility of a camera with a higher resolution (either 5 MP or 8 MP). I am expecting Siri to be included too. Stay tuned at 10:00 am on Wednesday.

Happy Birthday Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, the iconic Apple founder and consumer technology market revolutionary, would have turned 57 today. He was born on February 24, 1955  in San Francisco, California and passed away last year on October 5 after a 8-year long struggle against pancreatic cancer.

Many Apple fans all over the world will salute this extraordinary gentleman and the way he touched most of our lives in some way through his vision and ability to deliver. The dedication of Apple fans is by itself a testimony to the promise of quality products that the company delivers to its customers. The Apple products speak for themselves, there is very little need to market them.

FYI, Apple fans, the party is on outside the company’s flagship store at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, NYC from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m today as per reports on the NY Post.There is news that there will be vegan cake served and black turtle necks will be handed out.

Jobs has often been described as a visionary and a pioneer, but one must also add the tag of a shrewd business man who really cared about his products. Not to understate the fact that he was a very determined man. This may have come across in many forms for people working with him, but it cannot take away the fact that his methods did result in Apple producing some amazing products that many others may have balked at creating.

According to a story from a 2011 interview with biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs revealed at one point he met with U.S. President Barack Obama, complained of the nation’s shortage of software engineers, and told Mr. Obama that he was “headed for a one-term presidency.” Jobs proposed that any foreign student who got an engineering degree at a U.S. university should automatically be offered a green card. After the meeting, Jobs commented,

“The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done…. It infuriates me.”

Source: Wikipedia

To speak of Jobs and not speak of Apple is impossible. But we must also not forget about his contributions to the computer graphics and animation industry. His influence on the generations of today has left its mark.

Long live!

Rovio Angry Birds Stores and Theme Parks in China

China is crazy about Angry Birds. There are more than 40 million downloads of the Angry Birds game in China. Rovio, the Finnish creator of the game, already has an office in Shanghai with about 20 employees. It has also opened its first store in Finland.

Nowadays you get anything from USB drives to mooncakes on Angry Birds in China. There is a huge market for Angry Bird items that ranges from regular merchandise to a larger than life-sized Angry Bird games in theme parks.  Angry Birds comes after Disney and Hello Kitty as a top pirated merchandising brand in China. Rovio has a potential market of hundreds of millions and unsurprisingly they have decided to open stores in Beijing and Shanghai.  The CEO of Rovio, Vesterbacka has been quoted saying,

“Rovio chose Shanghai as the first location for an international office because of its unique position as one of the most creative and technologically advanced cities in the world, and also because Rovio wants to show its appreciation to Chinese fans by serving them even better locally”

Here are some pics from Chinanews.com on the Angry Birds game in a theme park in Hunan.

  Rovio is looking at these unofficial items for inspiration for its own official products. The Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka has stated that he would not seek legal action against piracy. In fact, Rovio is negotiating with the theme park for a  partnership instead of getting into legal action against them.

Vesterbacka has big plans of the company’s growth in China saying,

“Hopefully, Angry Birds will become the first entertainment brand to have more than one billion fans globally. And occupying the feature phone segment is absolutely a big part of the plan. Every day we are considering buying another company, and that is what we are looking at here in China. We are determined to acquire and hire top-end talent in China”

Settlement on Apple iPhone 4 Antenna Issue

The launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010 saw it almost immediately besieged with issues regarding its antenna.

A ruling has come about after the 18 separate lawsuits, which were consolidated into one class action suit, that was filed against Apple in the U.S. courts regarding the antenna issues reached a settlement. According the settlement, Apple has to provide a free case to anyone who missed out getting one in 2010 (during the three-month period that they had this offer) or promise to pay $15 to the affected U.S. customers.

The iPhone 4 had issues with its signal strength. When iPhone 4 owners held the lower-left corner of the phone, it caused a fall in signal strength that resulted in dropped calls. This issue affected the more than 25 million iPhone 4 owners. Apple at that time did not immediately address this issue, but instead chose to show that similar issues were faced by other mobile phones as well. Later on, they offered the iPhone 4 owners a full refund or a complementary case from Apple. The iPhone 4S, which was released last October, does not have this issue.

Ira Rothken, a lead attorney in the class-action case, has been quoted saying,

“We believe that the Apple iPhone 4 settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable, it allows members of the class to choose, and they can get $15 of cash or a bumper, so we believe that type of choice is proportional to the circumstances.”

iPhone4Settlement.com has been set up as the official settlement web site, but has not been activated yet. The customers, who are eligible, should get an e-mail from Apple some time in April, and will have 120 days to apply for the $15.

Here is a look at an iPhone 4 being tested inside one of Apple’s anechoic chambers from a photo released during Apple’s antenna press conference in 2010.

Check out Proview’s “IPAD”

Proview International Holdings Ltd. is suing Apple for a trademark violation. It has alleged that Apple had used a fake company to buy the rights to the iPad name for just $55,000 in 2009.

There is a massive drive in China to confiscate Apple iPads after the rulings from local courts were announced. Apple has apparently infringed the trademark on the name “iPad” that is currently used by a product from Proview called the “Internet Personal Access Device”. After Proview won cases in various Chinese courts this year, it has resulted in the iPad being removed from the shelves in several Chinese cities. Proview has even threatened to take the fight to Apples’s backyard with the U.S. legal system.

A representative from Proview has been quoted saying,

“I think in the future we will sue Apple in the U.S. We are looking to choose between three different U.S. law firms.”

This is a change in circumstances as Apple had sued Proview in 2010 and tried to force it to handover the rights to the iPad name for mainland China. This was filed in the Hong Kong high court that ruled in Apple’s favor.

This device has a slight resemblance to the iMac, but that’s just about where the similarities end.

To prove their point, Proview actually held a press conference  on Friday to showcase their sales brochure. Proview said that it had spent $30 million on the computer, producing between 10,000-20,000 of them from 1998 until 2009. However, sources say that the company is in debt and requires a generous settlement to keep away its creditors.

The rumor floating about is that Proview is going looking for a pay off of as much as $2 billion from Apple, though some sources from the company have denied the claim.

Facebook Hacker in Jail for 8 Months

Self-styled cyber Robin hood, Glenn Mangham, who is only a year younger than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was jailed for 8 months by the British court today. He was also given a serious crime prevention order restricting his access to the internet and forfeiting his computer equipment. He admitted infiltrating the website from his bedroom between April and May last year.

As part of his operation, he hacked into the account of a Facebook employee and managed to reset his password. He used it to access restricted internal information while the staff member was away on holiday. Though he deleted his electronic footprint, his penetration was discovered by a routine security review by Facebook. He had apparently stolen “invaluable” intellectual property that was downloaded on his external hard drive.

The self-described “ethical hacker” said that he wanted a mini project to point out vulnerabilities, and chose Facebook because of its high-profile. He is no newbie at high-profile hacking. He had also hacked into Yahoo, but then his actions were looked upon by Yahoo as an opportunity for it to improve its security. In his defense, it was claimed that he had not tried to sell any of the information he obtained from Facebook or pass it on to anyone else. But prosecutor Sandip Patel rejected his claims and said, “He acted with determination, undoubted ingenuity and it was sophisticated, it was calculating.”

Judge McCreath said,

“I bear in mind you have never been in trouble before, that you’re young in physical years and maybe emotionally younger than your physical age, and I bear in mind all the aspects of your psychological and personal make-up. I acknowledge also that you never intended to pass any information you got through these criminal offences to anyone else and you never did so, and I acknowledge you never intended to make any financial gain for yourself from these offences.

You and others who are tempted to act as you did really must understand how serious this is. The creation of that risk, the extent of that risk and the cost of putting it right mean at the end of it all. I’m afraid a prison sentence is inevitable. You accessed the very heart of the system of an international business of massive size, so this was not just fiddling about in the business records of some tiny business of no great importance.”

Facebook spent $200,000 (£126,400) dealing with Mangham’s crime. A Facebook spokesman said, “We applaud the efforts of the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service in this case, which did not involve any compromise of personal user data.”

Must Have New Smartphone Apps: Remove, Caffeine Zone, Pingit

Here are three cool new apps that you should have on your smartphone.


Scalado has a cool object-removal app that allows you to remove unwanted people/objects from your images. This app is still not released, but was put out on protoype testing to Engadget, who found a couple of bugs and saw some issues with the responsiveness of the app. This app is designed for Android phones. It takes several photographs in a row and then builds an image with the most static details that the user can edit.

Its as simple as click, remove, and share!

Scalado will showcase Remove, the first of many new innovations planned this year, at the 2012 Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, February 27th to March 1st, as per their press release.

Caffeine Zone 2

This free Android and Apple app is a wonderful way to ensure that you do not overdo the coffee (that happens to be my choice of poison). I often have coffee based on my workload and meal times. Come high-turnover periods and I am on a coffee binge. According to this app, there is no need to do this. It recommends that we have our first (and only) big cup of coffee at the start of the day and then follow up with smaller doses.

The user is expected to continuously enter details like when coffee is being consumed. This app translates these details into how much coffee there already is in your blood stream. The point being that we often do  not require as much coffee as we think to stay sharp.

Image from iTunes



This is a mobile phone-based payment app for Barclays available for all smartphones. It allows transfers of up to  £300. The daily limit for receiving payments is £5,000. Right now this is only enabled for Barclays current account customers.

“For friends splitting the cost of dinner, repaying a borrowed £10 or people sending money to a son or daughter at university, it’s free, quick, convenient, secure and easy to use. You can send and receive money in seconds, without having to enter account details.”

said  Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclay’s retail and business banking

It could pose a threat to PayPal as it may not keep transaction fees for transactions processed by consumers.

Barclays even has a video on YouTube on how this works.

Pinterest Your Life

Pinterest is a picture-based social networking site that allows you to like and comment on pictures just as you would for posts on Facebook. It has a “Pinboard” instead of the Wall, and “friends” are people with common interests. You can “follow” these people. That is the Twitter influence for you. The “pins” or posts can be shared across to Facebook too. Pins are categorized into pictures, videos, discussions, and gifts. Very sensible if you ask me. Unlike Facebook however, everything is organized into cool blocks with an image that you can like, repin, or comment on.

It has already hit 12 million unique visitors in the U.S. which is the fastest-ever growth for a new social network site. It was almost on 2 million hits in the U.K. alone. On Facebook, most of the likes come from women, which is understandable given the site’s focus on fashion, home keeping, and the likes. It’s almost like your Good Housekeeping for free. It works as a timeline app within Facebook. Read all about it on techie-buzz.

It already has more traffic coming from referrals than Google+ and is almost on par with Twitter. This is huge. You can use this site to provide you with tons of ideas on movies, clothes, decor, food, travel, and you can use it to have a few good laughs too. I loved it on sight! But first, you need to get invited. It’s on the Google’s invitation-only model. You can request for an invite on the site.

I admit that as almost every post is by a woman, there is a decidedly feminine twist to the site. But tides do change. With a neighborhood of almost 6 million users who are quite active, this medium is worth a look. Apparently, its a good medium to job hunt as well. You can create a  board for projects that you work on, and you can pin your work on it. Other people can look at your progress and you can use it as a medium to showcase your work.

Warning, this is addictive. The visual angle that this brings has a big yes from me! It is that which differentiates this site from Facebook, Twitter, and the rest.

Google’s Foray into Home-entertainment

Google is attempting to reach out to its billion users from within their own private spaces. What better way to do it than plan a wireless  system for streaming music? This is Google into the hardware consumer market. Note well that Google has not officially confirmed this. The WSJ has made these claims.  Techie-Buzz has broken it to you as it happened. This seems probable given that Google showcased “Project Tungsten” last year. Plus, check out an application to test a device made by Google at the  US Federal Communications Commission here. Google welcomed Simon Prakash, the senior director of product integrity at Apple, increasing speculation about its move into home entertainment.

Currently, Google has been focused on providing software solutions via its Android operating system. Now it seems to be on the path of delivering “power” to the people, by providing options to enhance current devices that allow users to “control” their environment. Cut a long story short, this looks familiarly like NFC (Near Field Communication) with your smart phone being your magic wand.

With its purchase of Motorola’s Mobility Inc, Google looks to cement its position in the consumer hardware business. The battle lines have clearly been drawn between Apple and Google. Hopefully, this translates into a better range of products and prices for consumers. Moving into this sector has been something of a long-standing dream for Google, with the entertainment device apparently being under development for several years. It looks like Google dreams of an Android-controlled world, where every convenience can be brought to you using your Android smart phone. Android@Home does look like fun.

Google has an online repository on music.google.com where you have a wide selection of music to choose from. Although it has a good interface overall, it could do with some tweaking. It competes with iTunes Match from Apple and Cloud Player from Amazon. Plus, there is Project Tungsten for the NFC angle of controlling entertainment at home. Motorola will bring with it extensive experience and know-how on personal entertainment devices. Though these companies seem to be in different sectors, they are in the businesses that make them strategic partners. The business of consumer satisfaction has moved on from profits into something more consumer-centric.

According to the WSJ, the Sonos co-founder Tom Cullen, commented on Google’s interest in the home-audio hardware value of $8 billion,

 “I’d be stunned if they actually thought it was worth it, because it’s peanuts for them,” Mr. Cullen said. Google generated about $38 billion in revenue last year”.

Strange indeed, but then again, how much was the portable music sector worth before Apple brought in the iPods and revolutionized it? I am just wondering when Google is going to turn its eyes onto gaming.

What’s new in Skype 5.8

Skype 5.8 was released last week. There was a buzz of activity as Microsoft released an update to the Windows version of Skype. This bodes well for the direction that their partnership is taking.  If you had enabled  the option to check for the latest version enabled (under Help > Check for Updates), then you will  receive notifications about the latest version.

You can also download the latest version here.

HD video calling

A wonderful new world of clear video chat is open for all those who have atleast 2 Mbps download speeds. They have also specified that you would need to own an HD camera like the Logitech C920 webcam.

 Group screen sharing

You can share your screen or a single application window with other members in a conference call. Check this option under “+” > Share my screen. Unfortunately, group video conference is still not free. I prefer Google+ hangout over this. However, there is no question that Skype rules if quality matters.

Audio and video calling for Facebook friends

My favorite new feature that allows you to call your friends on Facebook even if they are not on Skype.

Push to Talk

It has hot keys that enable the microphone. Check out this option under Tools > Options > Advanced > Hotkeys. This feature is supposed to be useful for gamers who can use it to mute or unmute the microphone.

Bing Bar Integration

This is the fruit of the set up between Microsoft and Skype. This feature has not been elaborated in their release notes.

End Note

As usual, Skype has the “automatically sign into skype option” enabled. This can be removed under under Tools > Options > General Settings.

Do not forget the upcoming Windows Phone 8 (aka Apollo) that will include great new features like NFC (Near Field Communication), Data Smart (to prioritize Wifi connections), will no doubt have Skype strongly wrapped up in the package too. The new Windows Phone OS is quite amazing already. Having arrived late into the mobile industry, it is very important that Microsoft differentiates its products very definately.