According to a (paywalled) report in the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is experimenting with its own smartphone design. "Officials at some of Microsoft's parts suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Redmond, Wash.-based company is testing a smartphone design but isn't sure if a product will go into mass production." The article continues: "If Microsoft pushes ahead with its mobile phone, it would underscore how far Microsoft has moved away from its long-standing practice of making software and leaving decisions about design, features and marketing of the computing hardware to partners such as Hewlett-Packard or Samsung Electronics. ... As it does so, Microsoft pulls from a modified playbook of Apple—whose hardware-plus-software approach Microsoft officials long have scorned. ... Smartphones running Microsoft's two-year-old Windows Phone operating software for cellphones haven't sold well, and Microsoft may want to leave itself an option to test whether its own phone would spur sales."
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Nerval's Lobster writes "Hurricane Sandy may have plunged part of New York City into darkness, drowned its basements and subway tunnels in saltwater, and even set part of a neighborhood on fire, but it couldn't stop New Yorkers from standing in line for hours to purchase the iPad Mini. Hundreds of people lined up in front of Apple's Fifth Avenue store for the chance to get their hands on the 7.9-inch device. According to CNET, which was on the scene and running a live-blog ahead of the store's 10 AM EST opening, 'many people in line are not fluent in English and are either Asian immigrants or visitors.' That opening was originally supposed to take place at 8 AM, and likely delayed because of the obvious citywide transportation issues. But for those in New York City who manage to get their sweaty hands on a new iPad Mini, there's an unusual wrinkle in the situation: power is still out below 39th Street in Manhattan, as well as portions of Brooklyn and Queens. (Apple's Fifth Avenue store is well above that power line.) While some private homes and businesses in electrified areas have set out power strips for strangers to charge their phones, it's hard to imagine a crowd of New Yorkers standing idly by while someone spends a significant amount of time charging a new tablet. Fortunately, many of those without power have found refuge with friends and family, if they haven't left the city altogether."
sfcrazy writes "Apple is having trouble in Mexico right before the holiday season. The company has lost rights to the name iPhone in the country, as it was already owned by a Mexican telecom company called iFone (Google translation of Spanish original). iFone registered its trademark in 2003, four years before Apple iPhone was launched. In 2009, Apple filed a complaint with the Mexican Industrial Property Institute demanding that iFone stop using is name because it could confuse users. That claim was since denied, and iFone is looking to turn the tables."
An anonymous reader writes "Motorola feels that Apple is infringing on several FRAND patents that have to do with how every smartphone in existence connects to WiFi and cellular networks. Since Apple makes smartphones, and Google is looking to use their newly acquired Motorola as a weapon, the two companies are only a few days away from the courtroom. Apple has conceded that the Moto patents are valid by offering to pay Google/Moto $1 per device, but only going forward. Motorola wants 2.25% per device and for it to cover all Apple devices (back dated). If Motorola pursues the case and the court issues a per device rate that is higher than Apple's offer, Apple promises to pursue all possible appeals to avoid paying more than $1. Motorola could end this quickly, or watch as Apple drags this out for what could be years."
jrepin writes "Bruce Byfield is not a fan of interfaces for mobile devices. At best, he finds them clumsy makeshifts, tolerable only because nothing better is available. The only exception is KDE's Plasma Active, which not only works well on tablets, but, with its recently released version 3.0, remains the only mobile-inspired interface he can tolerate on a workstation."
Lucas123 writes "Companies like U.S.-based WiTricity and China-based 3DVOX Technology claim patents and products to wirelessly powering anything from many feet away — from smart phones and televisions to electric cars by using charging pads embedded in concrete. But more than one industry standards group promoting magnetic induction and short-distance resonance wireless charging say such technology is useless; Charging anything at distances greater than the diameter of a magnetic coil is an inefficient use of power. For example, Menno Treffers, chairman of the Wireless Power Consortium, says you can broadcast wireless power over six feet, but the charge received will be less than 10% of the source. WiTricity and 3DVOX, however, are fighting those claims with demonstrations showing their products are capable of resonating the majority of source power."
beeudoublez points out a Google+ post by Linus Torvalds arguing that today's standard laptop display resolution is unreasonably low. He said, "...with even a $399 tablet doing 2560x1600 pixel displays, can we please just make that the new standard laptop resolution? Even at 11"? Please. Stop with the 'retina' crap, just call it 'reasonable resolution.' The fact that laptops stagnated ten years ago (and even regressed, in many cases) at around half that in both directions is just sad. I still don't want big luggable laptops, but that 1366x768 is so last century."
alphadogg writes "U.S. cellphone carriers took a major step on Wednesday toward curbing the rising number of smartphone thefts with the introduction of databases that will block stolen phones from being used on domestic networks. The initiative got its start earlier this year when the FCC and police chiefs from major cities asked the cellular carriers for assistance in battling the surging number of smartphone thefts. In New York, more than 40 percent of all robberies involve cellphones and in Washington, D.C., cellphone thefts accounted for 38 percent of all robberies in 2011."
netbuzz writes "Forging ahead with an initiative that proved controversial when introduced last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and nine other groups today are advancing the Open Wireless Movement to encourage ubiquitous sharing of Internet access. 'We envision a world where sharing one's Internet connection is the norm,' said EFF Activist Adi Kamdar, in a press release. 'A world of open wireless would encourage privacy, promote innovation, and benefit the public good, giving us network access whenever we need it. And everyone — users, businesses, developers, and Internet service providers — can get involved to help make it happen.'"
colinneagle writes "Microsoft has promised that cross-platform development across the 8s – from Windows 8 on a desktop to Windows Phone 8 – will be a simple matter, but that's still not enough to get some developers moving on Windows Phone 8 support. The Windows Phone platform has made a remarkable recovery since its reset with version 7. Since then, WP7 has grown to 100,000 apps. But that pales in comparison to the 675,000 in Google Play and 700,000 in the Apple App Store. Granted, there's a ton of redundancy – how many weather or newsfeed apps does one person need? – but it points to availability and developer support. A report from VentureBeat points out what should be obvious: that while developers like Windows 8, they aren't as excited about Windows Phone 8 software because they have already made huge investments in other platforms and don't want to support another platform. A survey by IDC and Appcelerator found 78% of Android developers were 'very interested' in programming for Android smartphones, a slight drop from the 83% in a prior survey. Interest in the iPhone and iPad remained undiminished, with 89% and 88% interest, respectively."
MrSeb writes "There have been plenty of rumors about how the Nexus program was going to grow and change with this year's announcement. Now that we have all the details, it looks like almost none of them were right. There is no Nexus certification program, and the dream of multiple Nexus phones seems well and truly dead. What we do have is a range of device sizes with the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10. However, the Nexus program has been altered in one important way: we know what Nexus means now. There can no longer be any doubt: a Nexus device is about openness first and foremost. Last year the technology sphere was busily discussing whether or not the Verizon Galaxy Nexus was a 'true' Nexus device. This year we have an answer: a Nexus controlled by a carrier is no Nexus. Rather than get in bed with Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T to produce an LTE version of the Nexus 4, we have HSPA+ only. Even the new Nexus 7 with mobile data is limited to this enhanced 3G standard. And then there's the pricing: The super high-resolution (2560×1600) Nexus 10 tablet starts at just $399; The Nexus 7 is dropping in price to $199 for a 16GB tablet; The Nexus 4 with 16GB of storage is going to sell for $349, exactly the same as the old Galaxy Nexus was until yesterday. To put this into perspective, the LG Optimus G, which the Nexus 4 is based on, sells for $550 without subsidy. Google is pushing the idea of openness with the Nexus devices, but it's not an entirely altruistic endeavor. By giving us cheap and open devices, Google is making sure it's in control — not the carriers. That's better for the consumers, but it's also better for Google."
CWmike writes "Intel researchers are working on a 48-core processor for smartphones and tablets, but it could be five to 10 years before it hits the market. Having a 48-core chip in a small mobile device would open up a whole new world of possibilities. 'If we're going to have this technology in five to 10 years, we could finally do things that take way too much processing power today,' said analyst Patrick Moorhead. 'This could really open up our concept of what is a computer... The phone would be smart enough to not just be a computer but it could be my computer.' Enric Herrero, a research scientist at Intel Labs in Barcelona, explained that with the prototype chip someone could, for instance, be encrypting an email while also working on other power-intensive apps at the same time — without hiccups. Same for HD video. Intel's Tanausu Ramirez said it could also boost battery life. 'The chip also can take the energy and split it up and distribute it between different applications,' he said. Justin Rattner, Intel's CTO, told Computerworld that a 48-core chip for small mobile devices could hit the market 'much sooner' than the researchers' 10-year prediction."
Charging portable devices without needing to carry a power adapter sounds handy, and it's slowly getting closer to widespread use. IPAQ2000 writes that AT&T, Google and Starbucks announced yesterday "that they have joined the Power Matters Alliance (PMA). Founded by Powermat Technologies and Procter & Gamble, the PMA's Honorary Chairman is Google's Vint Cerf – one of the fathers of the Internet — and its board now also includes AT&T, Duracell, Google and Starbucks. The U.S. Government's Energy Star and Federal Communications Commission – both PMA members — are board observers." (How does Starbucks come into it? They're "testing PMA-compatible Wireless Charging Spots in select Boston stores.")
New submitter noh8rz10 writes "Apple's Scott Forstall, who grew iOS from its inception, is departing the company. Rumors say it's because of the Maps debacle, and problems with Siri as well. Jony Ive is taking a larger human interface role, which means he may kill the skeuomorphic interfaces he hates. John Browett, head of retail, is out as well; he never won the trust of the community. What does such a major shakeup say about Tim Cook's leadership?"