posted about 9 hours ago on ars technica
Lee Hutchinson Oh hey, look, it's Adam Savage. 19 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } When we met Adam Savage on a Friday evening, the Mythbusters co-host was jazzed after spending much of the day at Johnson Space Center, where he got to hang out with engineers and technicians in the robotics and advanced space suit labs. Savage was visiting Houston to promote his new exhibit—The Explosive Exhibition—at Space Center Houston. But during his interview with Ars, he was just as happy to talk space. “This is totally a thing for me,” he explained, doffing his fedora. Savage spent 14 years building and destroying stuff on the hit TV show Mythbusters. He was driven from an early age to work with his hands and explore the boundaries of human experience by testing, failing, and trying again. In this he feels some kinship with NASA, which he characterized as “a ritualized failure analysis organization.” Both Mythbusters and the space agency, he said, try to game out all of the ways in which something can fail to ensure overall safety. “It feels very simpatico to me because when I look at NASA hardware I can tell that people built it,” Savage said. “That’s different from when I sit in a modern car. Most modern stuff is made by robots and machines. But there is a tactile element of NASA hardware that is super evocative. I wasn’t obsessed with NASA until I met NASA scientists making Mythbusters, and I realized they were treating me like a peer.” The TV show has visited NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California numerous times to use the facility’s wind tunnels and its iconic Hangar One facility. They were welcomed with open arms. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 10 hours ago on ars technica
Surface 3 in its docking station. (credit: Microsoft) Yesterday, DigiTimes reported that Microsoft is building a new member of the Surface family: an all-in-one PC designed for the living room. The technology newspaper cites "industry sources," and today Daniel Rubino at Windows Central wrote that his own reliable source told him the same thing. The new system is supposed to contain Intel's next generation Kaby Lake processor, which is itself shrouded in mystery. Intel has been awfully quiet about Kaby Lake, and while leaked slides originally spoke of it as a Q3 2016 product, it might slip into 2017. This is an issue not just for Microsoft's rumored all-in-one, but also the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, both of which are awaiting Kaby Lake's release before being refreshed. Nothing else is known about the new Surface, but expect it to aim for the high end of the market and share the premium build of its predecessors. Unlike other Surface products, however, the all-in-one PC space has already been trod by Dell, Lenovo, HP, Apple, and others. Surface (and in particular Surface Pro 3) arguably defined a new category of two-in-one tablet-laptop hybrids, and Surface Book's detachable screen and GPU base added novel twists to the clamshell laptop. If the all-in-one Surface does not similarly push the market in a new direction and instead merely treads on the toes of Microsoft's OEM partners, expect a lot more grumbling of the kind that met the original Surface's announcement. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 12 hours ago on ars technica
(credit: Abraxas3d) Topping the list of predatory business schemes, direct-to-consumer clinics peddling unproven stem cell therapies may be right up there with payday loans and Shkreli-esque drug pricing. Such clinics can tout dangerous, often exorbitantly priced “treatments.” They frequently target the vulnerable and desperate, including terminal cancer patients, parents of autistic children, and grown children of parents with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. And the results can range from placebos to bones in eyelids and scary growths on spinal cords. We tend to think this kind of quackery only thrives in countries with lax regulations like China, India, or Mexico. The phrase “stem cell tourism” usually evokes a plane trip. But stem cell therapies are unexpectedly flourishing in the US and may only require a short car trip. In an analysis published this week in Cell Stem Cell, researchers identified a startling 351 businesses, encompassing 570 clinics across the US, that offer stem cell therapies largely unproven and unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration. Without peer-reviewed evidence, these businesses and clinics claim their therapies can treat dozens of diseases, injuries, and cosmetic indications, including joint pain, autism, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, and breast augmentation. Costs can reach into tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatments. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 13 hours ago on ars technica
Michelle Carter at a court hearing in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, last year. (credit: WPRI12) Massachusetts' top court ruled Friday that a teenager may stand trial on involuntary manslaughter charges in connection to text messages she sent urging her friend to commit suicide. The Supreme Judicial Court, in a unanimous ruling, said a local grand jury had enough probable cause to indict Michelle Carter in connection to the 2014 suicide of Carter Roy III, who was found dead about 50 miles south of Boston in a Fairhaven parking lot. The girl was 17 at the time of the suicide. She is accused of sending Roy several texts, including one saying "get back in," the day the 18-year-old teen took his own life via carbon monoxide fumes inside his truck. The defendant's lawyers maintained that her texts were constitutionally protected speech under the First Amendment. The court, however, did not create a bright line rule on where free speech ends and criminality begins. Instead, the court ruled that a physical act of violence is not necessary to sustain involuntary manslaughter charges, and that each case is "entirely fact specific." Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 13 hours ago on ars technica
Privacy advocates take note: Android's full-disk encryption just got dramatically easier to defeat on devices that use chips from semiconductor maker Qualcomm, thanks to new research that reveals several methods to extract crypto keys off of a locked handset. Those methods include publicly available attack code that works against an estimated 37 percent of enterprise users. A blog post published Thursday revealed that in stark contrast to the iPhone's iOS, Qualcomm-powered Android devices store the disk encryption keys in software. That leaves the keys vulnerable to a variety of attacks that can pull a key off a device. From there, the key can be loaded onto a server cluster, field-programmable gate array, or supercomputer that has been optimized for super-fast password cracking. The independent researcher that published the post included exploit code that extracts the disk encryption keys by exploiting two vulnerabilities in TrustZone. TrustZone is a collection of security features within the ARM processors Qualcomm sells to handset manufacturers. By stitching together the exploits, the attack code is able to execute code within the TrustZone kernel, which is an enclave dedicated for sensitive operations such as managing cryptographic keys and protecting hardware. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 14 hours ago on ars technica
Is it time to change that "III" into a "IV"? (credit: Blizzard) Just because Blizzard finally got a wholly new franchise out the door this year doesn't mean the game maker isn't keen on milking its older franchises for everything they're worth. But one of those series, Diablo, has seen a bit of a content freeze since its 2014 expansion launched. While the company loves refreshing a game launch with expansion packs, Diablo III has been sitting idly. Now we might know why. A brand-new "unannounced" entry in the Diablo world was, er, announced on Friday by way of an official job posting for—get this—the next entry's director. It's the game-news equivalent of New Line Cinema saying a new Lord of the Rings film is coming but, whoops, Peter Jackson's not involved, and they could really use a new person to get this thing up and running. The post seeks someone to "lead the Diablo series into the future." While such a public push for a series director might read like an attempt to bring more diversity into the hiring pool, we'd frankly be shocked to see anybody other than the industry's old-guard vets fulfilling application requirements such as five years of game-directing experience and shipping "multiple AAA products as a game director or creative director." The job posting mentions nothing about virtual reality or other experimental hardware. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 14 hours ago on ars technica
Virtual reality may be blowing up in tech circles, but mainstream pop culture has mostly kept an arm's-length distance from the movement. What's more, if you've seen a well-known celebrity in VR, that pretty much always means you've seen them in a 360-degree video—the kind that employs fixed video footage and therefore locks viewers into a single place as opposed to fully explorable virtual worlds. Far-out musicians like Reggie Watts and Bjork have starred in 360-degree music-and-video experiments, while more mainstream artists like Jack White have published concert footage taken from a few 360-degree cameras. But if you're looking for a big musician who has launched anything resembling a fully VR experience, you surprisingly only have one option: Deadmau5, which launched a Google Cardboard-compatible VR app this week on iOS and Android. Deadmau5 / Absolut Deadmau5 in Absolut's new VR app, seen here VR-walking around a parking lot looking for his cat. 5 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } The electronic music titan, aka Joel Zimmerman, lent his likeness, music, and input to Absolut Vodka to make a VR app. A skeptic might think this means a simple cash-in, but in an exclusive interview with Ars, Deadmau5 admitted he was pretty involved in its creation—because he's got serious VR dreams. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 14 hours ago on ars technica
(credit: Getty Images | aledettaale) AT&T is getting some help from Frontier Communications in its attempt to block Google Fiber's progress in Kentucky. As we reported in February, AT&T sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky to stop a new ordinance designed to give Google Fiber and similar companies access to utility poles. Although Frontier has no operations in Kentucky, it submitted a court filing last week supporting AT&T's lawsuit because Frontier is worried such ordinances will come to other states. AT&T did not ask Frontier for its help, but Frontier's filing said, "the issues raised by the case may have important implications for Frontier’s business and may impact the development of law in jurisdictions throughout the country where Frontier operates." Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 15 hours ago on ars technica
(credit: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) It's not an exaggeration to say that functional MRI has revolutionized the field of neuroscience. Neuroscientists use MRI machines to pick up changes in blood flow that occur when different areas of the brain become more or less active. This allows them to noninvasively figure out which areas of the brain get used when performing different tasks, from playing economic games to reading words. But the approach and its users have had their share of critics, including some who worry about over-hyped claims about our ability to read minds. Others point out that improper analysis of fMRI data can produce misleading results, such as finding areas of brain activity in a dead salmon. While that was the result of poor statistical techniques, a new study in PNAS suggests that the problem runs significantly deeper, with some of the basic algorithms involved in fMRI analysis producing false positive "signals" with an alarming frequency. The principle behind fMRI is pretty simple: neural activity takes energy, which then has to be replenished. This means increased blood flow to areas that have been recently active. That blood flow can be picked up using a high-resolution MRI machine, allowing researchers to identify structures in the brain that become active when certain tasks are performed. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 15 hours ago on ars technica
(credit: Spotify) Yesterday, streaming music service Spotify went public with complaints that Apple had recently rejected an update to the company's iOS app. The company's lawyers alleged that blocking the update "raises serious concerns under both US and EU competition law" and "[diminishes] the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music." But Spotify offered up only a vague explanation for why the app had been rejected, citing "business model rules." Today, Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell responded, saying that Spotify's app update violated Apple's App Review guidelines and that the company would gladly approve and distribute the update once the problem had been fixed. The full letter is available in this Buzzfeed report. "We're disappointed with the public attacks you've made and appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight," writes Sewell to Spotify General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez. "Our guidelines help competition, not hurt it. The fact that we compete has never influenced how Apple treats Spotify or other successful competitors like Google Play Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora, or the numerous other apps on the App Store that distribute digital music." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 15 hours ago on ars technica
In May, we told you of a lawsuit involving a California cop who looked ready to fire his handgun at a man who was filming the Rohnert Park police officer. Last year's standoff happened right outside the resident's house. Claiming civil rights violations, the alleged victim sued (PDF) the officer and police department that is located about an hour north of San Francisco. The police department and officer, David Rodriguez, have now responded to the lawsuit. They essentially say it was resident Don McComas' fault from the get go and that McComas' own actions outside his house prompted the officer to draw his weapon on the Rohnert Park man. "And for a third, separate and affirmative defense, these answering defendants allege that the sole proximate cause of the injuries and damages, if any, claimed by plaintiff was the negligence and fault of the plaintiff...," they responded in court documents. (PDF) Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 15 hours ago on ars technica
Here's a look at the sled Hyperloop One tested in North Las Vegas. (credit: Hyperloop One) According to Re/code, co-founder and chief technology officer of Hyperloop One, Brogan BamBrogan, has stepped down from his position at the company. The startup, which is angling to develop a super-fast enclosed transit system, promoted former Vice President of Engineering Josh Giegel to president of engineering and has given him a seat on the company’s board. BamBrogan was a former SpaceX employee who temporarily served as Hyperloop One’s CEO until 2015. He joined the company after Shervin Pishevar, the other cofounder, had a conversation with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. While credited with coming up with a detailed white paper describing how a Hyperloop would work, Musk has declined to throw resources at building a Hyperloop himself, citing his many standing obligations. Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies) is currently competing with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) to see who can bring the 700mph magnetically driven rail system to fruition first. Notably, Hyperloop One is structured as a traditional startup, recently raising $80 million from investors including France’s national railway system, SNCF. HTT, on the other hand, depends largely on volunteer time from engineers who are also veterans of NASA, Boeing, Tesla, and SpaceX. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 17 hours ago on ars technica
Gran Turismo 5's creator says creating in-game imagery like this on the PS3 was a "nightmare." If you were reading Ars about a decade ago, you may remember our extensive coverage of the baffling architecture behind the PlayStation 3's unique Cell processor. Many developers reportedly encountered difficulties trying to program for it effectively. If you haven't read all that, let Ars' Jon Stokes sum it up for you: "...the PlayStation 3 was all about more: more hype, and more programming headaches." Today, we can add another posthumous log to that already burning fire of developer ire for the PlayStation 3 and the Cell architecture. Polyphony Digital CEO and Gran Turismo series lead Kazunori Yamauchi told IGN this week that working on the PS3 "was really a nightmare for us." After addressing the slumping sales for the two PS3 editions of the Gran Turismo series, Yamauchi was quick to blame Sony's hardware for at least part of the series' development problems. "The conditions for GT6 were really against us, mainly because the PlayStation 3 hardware was a very difficult piece of hardware to develop for, and it caused our development team a lot of stress," he said. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 17 hours ago on ars technica
(credit: NASA/JPL) Thursday marked the official end of the primary mission of NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Dawn demonstrated the potential of ion engines in the exploration of the Solar System, as it was able to rendezvous with and enter orbit around two different asteroids, Vesta and Ceres. Scientifically, its findings have changed what we thought we knew about some of the bodies of the asteroid belt. Dawn isn't going to shut down now that its mission is over, as it's in reasonable working order and still observing Ceres. But there's a hint that NASA has bigger plans for the spacecraft. Yesterday, the Jet Propulsion Lab (which operates Dawn) put up and then removed what it calls a "Dawn Journal" entry. The entry described the future plans for Dawn, and they don't involve staying in orbit around Ceres. Instead, the craft's ion engines will be used to gradually nudge it away from Ceres. The low-power, high-efficiency engines will take until the end of the year to get the spacecraft free of the dwarf planet's gravitational pull. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 17 hours ago on ars technica
(credit: Getty Images) Adnan Syed, the focus of the first Serial podcast back in 2014, has been granted a retrial for the alleged murder of his ex-girlfriend. Syed's defence lawyers argued in February that his original trial lawyer, Maria Cristina Gutierrez, had failed to cross-examine the state's "cell tower expert" about the reliability of tracking someone's location via cellular network masts. Syed's defence team also presented new evidence, including testimony from Asia McClain, an alibi who said she was chatting with Syed in a library at the time of the crime. On Thursday, June 30, judge Martin Welch agreed with the defence lawyers and ordered a new trial. In a memo seen by the New York Times, Welch said that Gutierrez failing to question the cell tower expert witness “created a substantial possibility that the result of the trial was fundamentally unreliable.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 18 hours ago on ars technica
Winds in the 250mb level of the atmosphere, as seen on June 29. (credit: earth.nullschool.net/modified by Ars) There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the Earth's climate, from rising seas to droughts and intense heat waves. But amidst these concerns there is the potential for hyperbole, and we saw some of that flare up during the last few days, when two protagonists put forward the idea that the planet's jet streams are spinning out of control. One of the people making this claim was Paul Beckwith, a self-described "well-known climate science educator," who noted that the jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere has crossed the equator and joined up with the jet stream in the Southern Hemisphere. "Welcome to climate chaos," Beckwith wrote. "We must declare a global climate emergency." He then encouraged readers to donate to his site. Another person, Robert Scribbler, declared that the jet stream was now wrecked. These claims went viral. It sounds terrible, of course, and we definitely need to be concerned with rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases playing havoc with global atmospheric circulations. But in this case, we can probably view these claims as a bit of hot air. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 18 hours ago on ars technica
The WRT54GL. (credit: Linksys) In a time when consumers routinely replace gadgets with new models after just two or three years, some products stand out for being built to last. Witness the Linksys WRT54GL, the famous wireless router that came out in 2005 and is still for sale. At first glance, there seems to be little reason to buy the WRT54GL in the year 2016. It uses the 802.11g Wi-Fi standard, which has been surpassed by 802.11n and 802.11ac. It delivers data over the crowded 2.4GHz frequency band and is limited to speeds of 54Mbps. You can buy a new router—for less money—and get the benefit of modern standards, expansion into the 5GHz band, and data rates more than 20 times higher. Despite all that, people still buy the WRT54GL in large enough numbers that Linksys continues to earn millions of dollars per year selling an 11-year-old product without ever changing its specs or design. Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 19 hours ago on ars technica
Faraday Future released these images of what a Dragon Racing vehicle might possibly look like in the next series and beyond. Friday morning, officials from electric car startup Faraday Future and American auto racing team Dragon Racing announced a technical partnership to get Dragon Racing through the next four Formula E race series. The partnership begins with Formula E’s third series, which starts October 9, 2016. In a press conference in London just before Formula E’s ePrix competition, Dragon Racing Team Owner and Team Principal Jay Penske said his team was looking forward to taking advantage of Faraday Future’s intellectual property. Penske cited the startup’s Los Angeles-based team of more than 1,000 people and its portfolio of more than 320 patents. Faraday Future has attracted some attention as a potential competitor to Tesla as a from-scratch luxury electric vehicle designer. The company revealed a concept car at Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show this year, but since then it has provided scant news of what an actual production vehicle would look like. The lack of reveals has drawn criticism regarding whether Faraday can actually compete against companies like Tesla, GM, and Nissan that have already been producing road-ready electric vehicles for years. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 19 hours ago on ars technica
The Vive with proper branding. (credit: HTC / Ron Amadeo) HTC has recently announced it is spinning off its VR division into a wholly owned subsidiary called "HTC Vive Tech." The move seems to suggest that VR headsets are now a pillar of HTC and that the company will be a player in the VR market for years to come. While the HTC Vive is a compelling device, and the best VR headset out there, the driving force behind the Vive is co-creator Valve. I think HTC is taking way too much credit for the Vive's creation. HTC is struggling mightily in the smartphone market and is still good for a 40-percent year-over-year decline in revenue every month. The Vive—a "joint effort" between HTC and Valve—is a rare bright spot in the company's lineup, but I think it's a temporary reprieve. Evidence shows HTC had little to do with the technology behind the Vive. HTC is more like Valve's tool, and while the company is in charge of manufacturing the Vive right now, HTC won't be left with any IP or competitive advantages once Valve is done with it. "HTC Vive" makes about as much sense as "Foxconn iPhone." The name "Valve Vive" would probably be more appropriate. HTC seems more like the contract manufacturer for the device, building the Vive for Valve the same way Foxconn builds iPhones for Apple. The Vive is a product of Valve research using licensed Valve technology and Valve software in an effort to kickstart Valve's VR ecosystem. The only oddity is that, through a weird quirk of branding, HTC's name ended up on the side of the device. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 20 hours ago on ars technica
As part of BMW Group's 100th anniversary, the company designed these three concepts for mini, BMW, and Rolls Royce. (credit: BMW) On Friday morning, BMW, Intel, and Mobileye announced a collaboration that will see a fully autonomous car on sale by 2021. The car will be called the iNEXT, building on BMW's i sub-brand that currently includes a battery electric vehicle city car (the i3) and a hybrid sports car (the i8). What's more, the three companies want to work with other automakers to create an open platform for autonomous driving. Intel's current processors are already being used by OEMs in their research fleets of self-driving cars, and Mobileye's hardware and algorithms power many of the semi-autonomous cars already on our roads. And even though one of BMW's core values is building "the ultimate driving machine," the Bavarian automaker recognizes that sometimes we don't want to drive ourselves, showing off an autonomous i8 concept at CES in January. The plan is to develop a platform that will support everything from "level 3" self-driving (where a human driver can be handed back control within several seconds) to "level 5," where the vehicle can complete an entire journey with no human control at all. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted about 22 hours ago on ars technica
Coffee break with lots of splashes. Stop me if you've heard this one before: Oracle has quietly pulled funding and development efforts away from a community-driven technology where customers and partners have invested time and code. It all seems to be happening for no reason other than the tech isn't currently printing money. It's a familiar pattern for open source projects that have become the property of Oracle. It started with OpenSolaris and continued with OpenOffice.org. And this time, it's happening to Java—more specifically to Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE), the server-side Java technology that is part of hundreds of thousands of Internet and business applications. Java EE even plays an integral role for many apps that aren't otherwise based on Java. For months as Oracle Corporation's attorneys have battled Google in the courts over the use of Java interfaces in Android's Davlik programming language, Oracle's Java development efforts have slowed. And in the case of Java EE, they've come to a complete halt. The outright freeze has caused concerns among companies that contribute to the Java platform and among other members of the Java community—a population that includes some of Oracle's biggest customers. Read 54 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Safra Catz, Oracle Corp. CEO, second left, exits superior court in San Jose in 2012. (credit: Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images) A San Jose jury has awarded Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) $3 billion (£2.25B) in damages from Oracle after Oracle breached its contract to provide Itanium support in its namesake database and Linux distribution. Oracle unilaterally decided to drop support for Itanium systems running HP's HP-UX operating system in 2011. HP (as then was; the company split into two last year, with HPE retaining the interest in the server business) sued, claiming that Oracle was in breach of a 2010 contract between the two companies in which the database firm promised to support HP's Itanium systems. That suit was decided in 2012 in HP's favor. The judge required Oracle to fulfill its contractual obligations to support HP's Itanium systems and decided that HP was due damages. Oracle resumed the software support in late 2012, but the damages portion was undetermined. The two companies were back in court some four years later to decide just what those damages should be. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
(credit: We Like Cars) A lawyer for Volkswagen Group told a US district judge today that the company will probably be able to fix the 85,000 outstanding 3.0L diesel Porches, Audis, and Volkswagens that were also discovered to flout emissions regulations, following revelations that nearly 500,000 2.0L diesel vehicles were built with illegal emissions cheating software. The 3.0L diesels were not included in Tuesday’s news that Volkswagen would spend $10 billion to buy back diesel cars that were spewing up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide (NOx). The 3.0L cars were discovered two months after the first revelations of cheating and have since been on a separate track. VW Group contests that its 3.0L cars did not cheat on federal emissions tests in the same way that the 2.0L engines did, although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asserted that the cars in question were built with illegal auxiliary devices to circumvent emissions regulations. Reuters reports that US District Judge Charles Breyer asked that VW Group provide and update on this fix on August 25, but the judge has not yet given VW Group a firm deadline to present a fix to US regulators. VW Group’s lawyer told the judge that the fix the company is currently working on would not be complicated or impact the cars’ performance greatly. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Dell's Venue 8 7000 was a decent tablet, but its future doesn't look bright. (credit: Andrew Cunningham) There's a lot of competition and not a lot of profit in the Android ecosystem, so it's not exactly surprising to hear that Dell plans to exit the Android business in order to focus on its Windows PCs and convertibles. According to The Verge, the company will continue to honor warranties and service contracts for Venue Android tablets, but it will no longer sell or develop new hardware and will stop releasing software updates for current devices. This means no more updates for relatively recent releases like the odd but relatively well-reviewed Venue 8 7000. The move is part of a wider strategy shift at Dell, one in which it will "divest from the slate tablet market" in favor of convertibles, partly because "the tablet opportunity in big business has passed" (read: it can't sell enough of these at a high enough margin to make the effort worthwhile). Windows is a stronger choice for devices that spend all or most of their time attached to keyboard docks, since it offers a wider range of "professional" apps and is already accepted among and familiar the business and IT types that Dell is targeting with these products. Dell also takes a not-so-subtle swipe at a couple of recent Apple tablets, saying that "CIOs and IT administrators have to consider much more than just the word “Pro” and visual appeal of a device when deciding which products to deploy among their workforce." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Spotify says Apple is using its privileged position to hurt Spotify's chances against Apple Music. Apple Music has been around for about a year now, and despite being a little late to the game, Apple boasts that it has managed to pick up about 15 million paying subscribers. Spotify has at least twice that many users, but the company is worried that Apple is using its privileged position on iPads and iPhones to push Apple Music at the expense of third-party services. According to a report from Recode, Apple has blocked an update to the iOS Spotify app, citing "business model rules." Spotify no longer offers iOS users the ability to subscribe to its Premium tier from within the app, a move which inconveniences users but more relevantly denies Apple its typical 30 percent cut of the revenue. Spotify hasn't specified exactly why the update was blocked or whether it has broken one of Apple's App Store review guidelines, but in any case the company's lawyers allege that it "raises serious concerns under both U.S. and EU competition law" and "[diminishes] the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music." The iOS Spotify app used to offer in-app subscriptions but charged users $12.99 instead of the standard $9.99 to compensate for Apple's cut. Spotify recently offered iOS users a three-month trial of Spotify for $0.99 if they signed up through Spotify's site rather than the app, but pressure from Apple prompted the company to remove that promotion and the in-app subscription option altogether. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...