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Nokia is launching N1 Android-powered tablet, marking the company’s return to consumer electronics.

The surprise launch pits the Finnish company against Microsoft, which completed its takeover of Nokia’s previous mobile-devices business in April.

The N1 tablet is due to go on sale in China towards the start of 2015, ahead of other countries.

Nokia said it was not making the device itself, but had licensed its brand, design and software to a third-party.

Taiwanese manufacture Foxconn is the licensee.

“This is a great product for Nokia fans and everyone who has not found the right Android tablet yet,” said Sebastian Nystrom, head of products at Nokia Technologies, who announced the product at the Slush technology conference in Helsinki.

Microsoft sells Nokia-labeled kit of its own, including the Lumia 2520 Windows RT-powered tablet.

Earlier this month, it unveiled its first Lumia smartphone without the Nokia name. But it indicated that it would continue using the brand on its less powerful “feature phone” line-up, saying it had the right to do so for up to a decade under the terms of its $7.2 billion takeover.

It is not clear whether Nokia’s announcement affects those plans.

The only comment from Microsoft was a brief statement: “This is a Nokia announcement and is not associated in any way with Microsoft.”

The N1 is a 7.9in aluminium-framed tablet, whose design resembles the iPad Mini.

Unlike Apple’s device, however, it is powered by Google’s Android 5.0 operating system, features an Intel Atom processor and has a Micro-USB slot. The planned retail price is $249.

It runs Nokia’s own Z Launcher user interface – known as a skin – on top of Android.

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Microsoft will stop developing Android-powered smartphones beyond those already available.

Nokia X models will now become part of the Lumia range and run the Windows Phone operating system, although existing Android handsets will continue to be supported.

The move comes as Microsoft announced 18,000 job cuts across its workforce.

Microsoft acquired Nokia’s handset division earlier this year.

Nokia X models will now become part of the Lumia range and run the Windows Phone operating system

Nokia X models will now become part of the Lumia range and run the Windows Phone operating system

Nokia unveiled its first family of Android phones at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona in February.

The release of the smartphones, which were priced at the lower end of the market, was described as a “perplexing strategic move” at the time, given that Microsoft had its own mobile operating system, Windows Phone.

In an email to employees on Thursday, Stephen Elop, Microsoft’s executive in charge of mobile devices, announced that Android handsets were being phased out.

“In the near term, we plan to drive Windows Phone volume by targeting the more affordable smartphone segments, which are the fastest-growing segments of the market, with Lumia.

“In addition to the portfolio already planned, we plan to deliver additional lower-cost Lumia devices by shifting select future Nokia X designs and products to Windows Phone devices.

“We expect to make this shift immediately while continuing to sell and support existing Nokia X products.”

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Microsoft is launching its first phone – Android-powered handset Nokia X2 – after completing its takeover of Nokia’s handset division.

Android operating system, developed by Google, is usually seen as a rival to Microsoft’s own Windows Phone OS.

The company said the Nokia X2 offered it a way to hook users into its cloud-based services, several of which come pre-installed as apps.

Microsoft completed its takeover of Nokia’s handset division on April 25 at a cost of 5.4 billion euros ($7.4 billion).

The X2 is the follow-up to the original X, launched in February before Nokia sold its mobile business.

The original model became the best-selling mobile in Pakistan and the third best-selling handset in India – according to market-research company GfK – as well as achieving strong sales in Russia, Kenya and Nigeria.

Microsoft is launching its first phone, Android-powered handset Nokia X2

Microsoft is launching its first phone, Android-powered handset Nokia X2

Nokia X2 features:

  • a slightly bigger 4.3in (11cm) screen
  • 1GB of RAM – double the amount of memory previously included
  • a more powerful battery
  • the addition of a front-facing camera for selfies

The handset will cost 99 euro ($135) when released in July.

Microsoft’s video chat app Skype, its Outlook email service and its OneDrive internet storage apps all come pre-loaded.

The company is also promoting some of its other apps – including Bing Search, the Yammer business-focused social network and the OneNote idea jotting service – as optional free downloads for the device.

The tile-based homescreen and ability to see apps displayed as a scrollable list on the X2 mirrors the Window Phone user interface, which might help encourage consumers to later make the leap to Microsoft’s more expensive Lumia range.

Windows Phone now boasts over 250,000 apps including Instagram and Vine, which were high-profile absentees until November.

But several banking apps, games, video on-demand software, and apps used to control wearable fitness trackers – all available on Android – remain absent.

The Nokia X2 can run the bigger library of Android apps, but unless users hack the device they can only browse available software via the Nokia Store – which excludes some programs – rather than the more fully-stocked Google Play.

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Google has launched Nexus 5 – the latest incarnation of its flagship Nexus smartphone.

Made by LG, Google’s Nexus 5 is smaller, slimmer and lighter than the Nexus 4 but its 4.96 in touchscreen is bigger.

The Nexus 5 has been developed to show off the capabilities of the new version of the Android operating system.

Called Kitkat, the software has been designed to work well on both high-end smartphones and cheaper feature phones.

The alliance with Google has helped bolster LG’s fortunes even though, according to statistics from Gartner, it is still a long way behind rivals Samsung and Apple.

In the April-to-June quarter, the consultancy indicated 3.8% of all smartphones sold were LG handsets putting the South Korean firm in third place.

Made by LG, Google's Nexus 5 is smaller, slimmer and lighter than the Nexus 4 but its 4.96 in touchscreen is bigger

Made by LG, Google’s Nexus 5 is smaller, slimmer and lighter than the Nexus 4 but its 4.96 in touchscreen is bigger

By contrast, Apple accounted for 18.8% of all sales and Samsung 29.7%.

The specifications for the new phone were widely leaked before it was announced on the official Google blog.

The Nexus 5 shares some of the hardware from LG’s G2 handset and can record and play back HD video at the full 1080p resolution. Its camera also has a rapid burst system that captures several photographs at the same time so owners can pick the best shot.

The handset is due to go on sale on November 1st in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea.

Google said a base 16GB version of the device would cost $349 in the US, unlocked and without a contract. The 32GB version should cost $399.

With Android Kitkat, Google said it had made the software use less memory so it could be used on handsets with much lower specifications than top end smartphones.

In addition, Google has begun moving some services off Android’s core software and onto its app store. Many see this as a way for it to maintain more control over the security of the software and its associated applications.

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Here you can find some of the best tips, tricks and ghoulish tools for this year’s Halloween.

ZOMBIE-PALOOZA

According to Yahoo Search stats, Zombies are back at the top of the list of pop culture costumes. Look no further than your own smartphone for the start of a skin-puppet-palooza that puts you at the very center of this craze. Check out free apps Walking Dead (iTunes, Google Play), Zombiematic Camera (iTunes) and ZombieBooth (iTunes, Google Play). Each app uses chilling photo effects to transform you, your friends, even your pets, into a truly gruesome headshot that you can share with the (living) world.

If you want to bring even more undead action to life, take a look at Zombie apocalypse extravaganza World War Z. The newly released Blu-ray combo pack (around $20 on Amazon) includes an unrated version that was “too intense” for theaters — plus awesome behind-the-scenes footage that shows just how the blockbuster plague of corpse characters were made. You can leave it playing in the background of your Halloween happenings to create a “restless dead” effect, or use it to just get inspired.

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013

Get all the Pin-spiration you need for everything else, from makeup tips, printable décor and even to braiinnnnn food on Pinterest. But if the edible eyeballs aren’t quite gory enough, just shuffle on back to your mobile device to add a pair of creepy peepers to just about anything via the Digital Dudz app (iTunes, Android). The animated 3-D gore this app brings to fright night is gut-rippingly great. You can make your costume to display the animation, or buy a Morphsuit (around $30) that comes with a special pouch to display the grisly scenes. There’s everything from an open-heart zipper wound exposing a still-beating heart to a scary clown face with moving eyes.

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT WITH LESS CREEP AND MORE CUTE

Moving on from the stuff of nightmares to the stuff that can give parents nightmares – kids costumes. Here’s how to make sure they’re both stellar and safe. Electronics retailer RadioShack is demonstrating just how simple it is to make costumes stand out from the crowd, and in the dark, with a few simple DIY designs. Just follow the directions on this Hacky-Halloween how-to using EL Wire to make simple fairy wings appear to take flight, or set your little wizard aglow with some LEDs and a Battery Powered Inverter.

TRACK OR TWEET

A brand new combination of a QR coded bracelet and smartphone app called Scan Me Kidz helps you track down kids in seconds. With GPS, you can keep kids in sight on the app, while the QR code contains information that when scanned can get youngsters back home or even alert people of allergies and medical conditions.

Even without a bracelet, there are a handful of free smartphone tracking apps such as Mamabear (iTunes, Google Play) and Trick or Tracker (Amazon, Google Play, typically $4.99 but free on Halloween) that help keep a watchful eye on kids. Both apps let you see where your kids are at any time, and they both let parents create a digital fence to get alerts if kids go out of a pre-set area.

It’s time to don your artsy beret and direct your masterpiece. You don’t need all the fancy high-end equipment of professional studies to produce high-quality video. Really, all you need is a great smartphone and a few accessories.

1. The Right Phone

HTC One

Image via Flickr by John Karakatsanis

Is it time to upgrade and you want to search for a phone to fill your video-making needs? Of course, you might already have a great phone for videography in your pocket. iPhones are capable of shooting high-quality 1080p HD video. They also feature software for image stabilization, so people who view your videos won’t be left wondering if an earthquake was happening.

There are also attachments available for iPhones that are not typically available for other models, including a variety of external lenses.

If you prefer to use a device with the Android operating system, consider the 2013 HTC phones, which feature spectacular HD cameras. Like iPhones, HTC phones have image stabilization software, which the HTC website says makes for videos that are “stable and a joy to watch.” You can also watch your videos in slow motion, so you don’t miss one beat of the action.

2. The Right Lighting

No matter how good the camera on your phone is, a video is generally only as good as the lighting in which the shooting took place. You know the basic principles of lighting. You need enough light, and not too much light behind your subject. When you are indoors, you can manipulate those things. When your shooting happens outside, the sun presents a new challenge. The Golden Light app will let you know the time of day that is best for shooting.

Lighting Designer is an iPad app for those truly serious about their mobile movie production. It serves as a tool for you to design lighting for your production. Choose the types of lights and their positions, create a floor plan, and communicate the set up to the crew who is helping with your video-making.

3. Tools for Editing

You need reliable apps to refine your videos. Videolicious lets you apply different filters and add music, and it includes basic video editing functions. It also lets you put your logo at the end and beginning of a film. You can even add voice-overs and narration to your productions. The product is a professional-looking video you will be proud of.

Clesh is another nifty video-editing tool. It is a cloud-based program, so it goes beyond your mobile device and lets you make easy use of the power and larger screen of a desktop computer. This Android-based app will delight anyone who wants to produce quality videos at an efficient pace.

The Pinnacle Studio for iPad app does more than help you edit. It is with you through the entire movie-making process. Start a project with a storyboard and build your project from there.

If you are putting together some videos for work, like to tell stories, or just want a fun video to share at your next family reunion, the right accessories will turn your mobile device into a movie-making powerhouse.

 

Samsung has unveiled Ativ Q, a tablet that can switch between the Windows 8 and Android operating systems.

The Ativ Q has a 13.3in (33.8cm) screen that sits over a keyboard that can be folded out for typing or set to act as a stand. In addition it has a stylus.

Samsung tablet comes just over a fortnight after Asus unveiled its own laptop-tablet hybrid which also runs both Microsoft and Google’s systems.

One analyst said he expected this to be a trend that other firms would follow.

“It’s a very cost-effective way for manufacturers to offer extra value to consumers at a time when it’s very hard to differentiate benefits from one device to another,” said Chris Green, principal technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group.

“You can tap into the industry-standard Windows productivity solutions – from Office to third-party programs – as well as all the mobile apps of Google’s system. It’s the logical next step.”

The Ativ Q runs off Intel’s new Haswell chip and Samsung said it offered up to nine hours of battery life. It added that the device’s screen had been designed to be bright enough to be used outside on a sunny day.

The launch was announced at a press conference in London.

Samsung has unveiled Ativ Q, a tablet that can switch between the Windows 8 and Android operating systems

Samsung has unveiled Ativ Q, a tablet that can switch between the Windows 8 and Android operating systems

Samsung also showed off another touchscreen computer, the Ativ Tab 3 which it described as the world’s thinnest tablet to run the full Windows 8 system, as well as new PCs.

Among the other announcements was the Galaxy NX – a camera which allows its lenses to be changed, runs off the Android system and supports 4G data transfers.

It marks the firm’s latest attempt to sell a device which offers higher quality images than the typical smartphone, but also allows pictures and video to be edited with apps and uploaded to the internet.

It adds to a product line that also includes a handset featuring a 10x optical zoom.

“The Galaxy NX camera looks impressive and is more likely to appeal to serious photographers than its S4 Zoom, which is quite a bulky smartphone because of the lens on the back,” said Graeme Neill, deputy editor at Mobile Today.

“Samsung’s main difference from its rival Apple is the sheer volume of products it brings to market.

“It is really determined to be making a smartphone, tablet, camera and laptop for everybody, from those who want high-end devices to consumers on a budget.”

The announcements come at a time when the South Korean firm’s stock has come under pressure.

Samsung Electronics shares have fallen by nearly 14% since June 4 after a number of banks cut their profit forecasts for the company.

They said they were worried its flagship Android device, the Galaxy S4, was not selling as well as they had previously predicted and raised concerns about rising competition from Chinese smart device makers.

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Facebook is releasing Home software that puts feeds from the social network on the home page of Android phones.

Home software will act like a “wrapper” for the Android operating system and become the main way to use a phone.

Notifications, images and messages will appear on the main screen of the phone instead of being accessible via a downloadable app.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the change would put people, not apps, at the heart of the mobile experience.

In a presentation given at Facebook’s campus, Mark Zuckerberg said phone apps were a legacy of the computer world in which people clicked on an icon to start a program.

While this worked well with desktops and laptops, it made less sense with phones, he said.

Mark Zuckerberg unveils Facebook Home for Android

Mark Zuckerberg unveils Facebook Home for Android

“Now there’s a new use case that’s more and more important,” he said.

“We have our phones with us all the time and we want to know more what’s happening to our friends.”

Facebook’s Home software will hide apps and instead pipe all the content and chat carried on via the social network to the home screen.

The software “wrapper” will also change the way that people swap messages or content by letting them respond by tapping on pop-up images, known as chat heads, rather than opening up apps and navigating through menus.

Facebook Home will be available via Google’s Play Store as a download.

The software will be available from April 12 on six phones – three from HTC and three from Samsung. Only four of these handsets are available now. The others are set to launch alongside Facebook Home.

No information was given about whether home would be re-developed to work with Apple or Microsoft phones.

Facebook said users could try the software rather than have to commit to use it all the time. Initially, the code will only be available for phones but a version for tablets is under development.

Cory Ondrejka, Facebook’s head of engineering, said the company started its push to make everything it did centre on mobiles in early 2012.

Figures from Facebook suggest that users spend about 25% of their time on their handsets looking at their feeds and chatting with friends.

Facebook’s fourth quarter earnings revealed that about 23% of the money it made from advertising came from adverts shown to mobile users.

Prior to the news conference, many people speculated that Facebook would announce a branded handset.

Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook shied away from doing this because even the best selling phones would only reach a small percentage of its user base.

“This can start to be a change in the relationship that we have with how we use these computing devices,” he said.

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Facebook has decided to revamp its design, making its website look more like its Android and iOS mobile apps.

The refresh also introduces topic-specific alternatives to its news feed.

One consequence of the change is that adverts can take up more screen space, making them harder to ignore.

However, the project’s lead engineer denied ads were the redesign’s focus. He also played down suggestions that the move was intended to make people spend more time on the site.

Chris Struhar instead suggested his focus had been on stripping back the amount of information being shown on the news feed to make each post more “engaging”.

“One of the consistent themes we heard in feedback from people was that it felt cluttered and that there was lot happening on the page,” Chris Struhar said ahead of the official announcement.

“We wanted to clean up the page, declutter it, make it simpler, more modern and easier for people to use.

“I often compare this to a 1960s television with wood panelling, knobs around it and a tiny postage stamp-sized screen – and what we’re trying to do is take that same TV and translate it into a 40in HD experience.”

Facebook reported in January that 1.06 billion people were using its service at least once a month.

It also revealed that its profit for the last three months of 2012 was 79% down on the same period the previous year despite a rise in sales because of increased spending on research and development.

There are three key changes being made to Facebook:

  • The website switches from a three-column format to two-columns letting the main news feed take up more space. This allows all posts – whether they are friends’ updates or adverts – to take up a bigger proportion of the web browser with more prominence given to images and video rather than text describing a link.
  • A pop-out black bar is added to the left-hand side of the page. This contains app bookmarks, links to specific friends, the chat and calendar tools, and the live updates ticker.
  • In addition to the standard news feed, users can select other alternative feeds. These include one which shows all the updates posted by friends rather than just the ones selected by Facebook’s algorithms; one dedicated to organizations and people the user “follows”; a page featuring only posted photos; and a music-themed feed containing updates from artists the user likes, concert announcements and details of songs their friends are listening to through services including Spotify and Rdio.

It is also noteworthy that the firm has now dropped its “facebook” logo which spelt out its full name, and replaced it with an “f” icon. This change had already been experienced by the selected group of users given early access to its Graph Search facility.

Facebook has decided to revamp its design, making its website look more like its Android and iOS mobile apps

Facebook has decided to revamp its design, making its website look more like its Android and iOS mobile apps

Another tweak involves auto-generating maps to accompany posts about specific locations. This may encourage more members to use the mobile app’s GPS-powered check-in function which competes with Foursquare.

Investors and marketers will be keen to find out whether the alterations make users more likely to read and interact with paid content.

Facebook already knows that engagement with ads in its main news feed is greater than with those that appear on the right-hand side of its web browser. This column of adverts is absent from its mobile apps altogether.

Enlarging the news feed now allows a sponsored post to become by far the biggest element on the screen, taking up roughly a third of the page when viewed on a 13 in (33 cm) laptop display.

Another business-friendly change is that if a user “likes” an organization a horizontal banner photo is added to posts reporting the news in addition to the brand’s logo, making the update more eye-catching.

Chris Struhar acknowledged that sponsored posts from “liked” brands had become bigger, but added that it was not his intention to make users more likely to click them.

“This redesign doesn’t change anything about how people interact with ads on Facebook,” he said.

“We aren’t changing where adverts show up or what ads you see. We’re just trying to take all the content that you do see and make that bigger and more immersive and more engaging.”

Chris Struhar added that further amendments might be made once users had had a chance to provide feedback.

A flaw in the latest version of the Android operating system has resulted in the month of December disappearing from People app for storing information about contacts.

The flaw affects the “People app”, which is the default app for keeping contact information on Android devices.

The People app calendar goes from November 2012 straight to January 2013.

Android is Google’s operating system. Version 4.2 was launched in October 2012.

Other Google calendars are unaffected by the flaw.

Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 10 tablet run on the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean version of the operating system.

The Nexus 4 was reported to have sold out within an hour of appearing on the Google Play website.

A flaw in the latest version of the Android operating system has resulted in the month of December disappearing from People app for storing information about contacts

A flaw in the latest version of the Android operating system has resulted in the month of December disappearing from People app for storing information about contacts

The flaw was reported by an Android news website called Android Police.

“Christmas is ruined. Santa is dead. At least we’ll save money on buying presents, right?” wrote Android Police’s Artem Russakovskii.

“If you’re an early adopter you’re affected by it, but they will rush out an update very quickly,” said Stuart Miles, editor of technology news and reviews website Pocket-Lint.

“It’s quite a small bug. It’s the equivalent of spelling something wrong on the front page of a newspaper – it’s embarrassing and frustrating but ultimately it’s not going to end the world.”

Google declined to comment but according to Android Police the issue has been noted by Android developers.

Samsung’s Android and Windows-powered touchscreen devices have been unveiled at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

The new models include several firsts for the company: a Windows RT tablet; a Windows Phone 8 smartphone; and an Android-powered camera.

It also revealed an update to its Galaxy Note model – a so-called “phablet” that is larger than most phones, but smaller than most tablets.

The products are its first since losing a patent lawsuit to Apple in the US.

The South Korean firm faces paying its rival over $1 billion in damages related to several of its Android models, but has signalled it will challenge the ruling.

Samsung’s Android and Windows-powered touchscreen devices have been unveiled at the IFA trade show in Berlin

Samsung’s Android and Windows-powered touchscreen devices have been unveiled at the IFA trade show in Berlin

Samsung’s new line-up includes a 10.1 in (25.7 cm) touchscreen tablet which uses an ARM-based chip and the RT version of Windows 8.

It also revealed Intel-based models that are more powerful and run the full version of the system. The devices, which are branded as Slate or Ativ Smart PCs depending on where they are sold, function as hybrids – working either as standalone tablets or as laptops when added to keyboard docks.

They update its 2011 Slate models and follow a similar format to Asus’s Transformer hybrids.

In addition Samsung showed off the Ativ S – its first smartphone to run Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 Phone system. It features a 4.8 in (12.2 cm) display, making it one of the bigger models on the market.

There was only one Android-tablet announcement – the Galaxy Note 2. The device features a 5.5 in (14 cm) screen and is narrower and taller than its predecessor.

It also features a new Air View function. When a stylus is held about 1cm above its display, previews are triggered of on-screen objects such as the contents of a photo album or an email.

The news follows on from a recent announcement of another, larger Android tablet – the Galaxy Note 10.1.

One analyst said it was no surprise to see the firm covering so many bases.

“Samsung’s strategy is to make whatever the market needs,” said Ken Dulaney, vice president at the tech consultancy Gartner.

“They make a lot of products in a lot of categories rather than carrying out tons of market research.

“Their greatest strengths are engineering and manufacturing, and they use those strengths to sort out what the market wants. In contrast, American companies typically spend more time on pre-development research, and then rely more on marketing.”

Samsung’s other announcement was the Galaxy Camera.

The device is the second mainstream compact camera powered by Android to be announced in a week, following on from a release by Nikon.

It marks a new category of devices to use Google’s system, offering the opportunity to install photo editing apps and other third-party software on the machines.

Samsung’s model includes the option of using 3G or 4G data connectivity in addition to wi-fi, making it easier to upload pictures to social networks.

 

 

Google has announced that it does not want the ruling in the Apple-Samsung patent lawsuit to “limit” consumers’ access to Android devices.

A US jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple over $1 billion on Friday after ruling it had infringed several of the iPhone maker’s software and design innovations.

Samsung said it intended to appeal.

There has been speculation that the news could encourage handset makers to install the rival Windows Phone system.

Google released its statement late on Sunday in the US.

“The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims,” it said.

“Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the US Patent Office.

“The mobile industry is moving fast and all players – including newcomers – are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.”

Google has announced that it does not want the ruling in the Apple-Samsung patent lawsuit to "limit" consumers' access to Android devices

Google has announced that it does not want the ruling in the Apple-Samsung patent lawsuit to "limit" consumers' access to Android devices

Apple has indicated it will seek sales bans on the 17 phones at the heart of the lawsuit at a hearing on 20 September.

The list does not include Samsung’s current flagship handset, the Galaxy S3, but does include earlier versions of the model.

However, Apple could also use the verdict to try to halt sales of other models that infringe its pinch-to-zoom patent.

During the court case Apple revealed it had licensed some of its technologies to Microsoft. Its lawyers also showed pictures of Nokia’s Lumia – which runs Windows Phone 7 – as an example of a handset that looked distinctive from its own.

In contrast, Apple continues to be involved in lawsuits against two other Android-handset makers: Motorola – which is owned by Google – and HTC.

Following the Samsung verdict, Bill Cox, marketing director for Microsoft’s Windows Phone Division tweeted: “Windows Phone is looking gooooood right now.”

Dell, HTC, Samsung, LG and ZTE have already created Windows Phone 7 devices, but only Nokia has concentrated its efforts on the system.

One analyst said that the US ruling presented Microsoft with an opportunity to convince others to put their weight behind the next version of its mobile system.

“I think this will force a reset on Android products as they are re-engineered to get around Apple’s patents,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the tech consultancy Enderle Group.

“[It should also] provide a stronger opportunity for both of Microsoft’s new platforms – Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 – because they come with indemnification against Apple, suddenly making them far safer.”

However, manufacturers will have to weigh up Android’s popularity before making a move.

According to recent data from analysts at IDC, Android had a 68.1% of the global smartphone market between April and June. Apple’s iOS had 16.9% and Windows Phone/Windows Mobile had 5.4%. The data was based on shipments rather than sales.

If Apple’s patents hold up under appeal Google could recode Android to ensure there was no potential infringement, or handset makers could seek to pay their rival a licence fee.

And there is another alternative: Apple could ultimately seek a patent cross-licensing deal with Google despite its late chief executive Steve Jobs’ vow to “destroy Android”.

Part-way through the Samsung case Google filed its first lawsuit versus Apple since taking over Motorola. It alleged seven patent infringements, one of which involves the technology used in the iPhone’s Siri voice-activated search tool.

Were Google to succeed it could call for a import ban on Apple’s iOS products, potentially forcing its rival into a deal.

The case is driving share prices in a number of technology stocks.

Samsung’s shares fell 7.5% in Seoul on Monday – their biggest drop since October 2008, wiping about $12 billion off the companies value.

Nokia’s shares rose about 10% on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

In New York, Apple’s stock was about 2% higher in pre-market trade, Microsoft’s about 1% up and Google’s about 1% down.

 

Coolpix S800c, the first mainstream digital camera to be powered by Google’s Android system, has been released by Nikon.

Nikon’s point-and-shoot Coolpix S800c model is being marketed as a “social imaging device”.

Demand for compact cameras has suffered because of the rise of smartphones.

However, Nikon says its latest model offers superior picture quality thanks to the size of its lens, as well as the opportunity to install photo-editing apps and other software.

A statement from Nikon said the combination of the camera’s wi-fi connectivity and new software would make it easier for users to upload their shots to social networks.

Coolpix S800c, the first mainstream digital camera to be powered by Google's Android system, has been released by Nikon

Coolpix S800c, the first mainstream digital camera to be powered by Google's Android system, has been released by Nikon

“Just like a smartphone or tablet device, the camera has the opportunity to run camera-specific photo and video applications, yet enables the various benefits of shooting with a camera,” it added.

“The S800c provides access to a vast world of applications for games, productivity and personal communication/email, including Nikon’s photo storage and sharing site.”

The device is being marketed for $350, making it about half the price of top-end Android smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X – but one analyst said Nikon might struggle to take advantage of the fact.

“The challenge for the camera manufacturers at the lower end is that smartphones have become so capable, so a product like this may just be too late to the market,” said Martin Gill, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

“In most developed countries mobile phones are now ubiquitous and smartphone use is rapidly becoming mainstream as well.

“People carry them wherever they go, so a point-and-shoot camera will only ever be an add-on product they would also have to take with them.”

Statistics from Yahoo’s Flickr photo support the idea that many social-network users are opting for either smartphones or high-end devices.

Its list of the five most popular devices includes two Apple iPhones, two single-lens reflex (SLR) models from Canon, and one SLR from Nikon.

Tech site Engadget reported in March that Samsung was also considering installing an “open” third-party operating system on some of its cameras, but had yet to make a decision.

Google does not charge third-parties to use its software.

However, Microsoft does demand a licence fee for patents it owns, which it says are involved in Android technology.

Neither Microsoft nor Nikon were able to say at this time whether they had struck an agreement.

 

Google has revealed Jelly Bean Android 4.1 – the latest version of its Android system software.

Google described the code as the “fastest and smoothest” version of its mobile system to date.

It has also added the ability to type using speech recognition without needing to be connected to the net.

Google revealed that 400 million Android devices have now been activated, four times as many as last year.

It added that the number is growing at a rate of 12 machines every second.

 

Google has revealed Jelly Bean Android 4.1, the latest version of its Android system software

Google has revealed Jelly Bean Android 4.1, the latest version of its Android system software

The update also aims to take advantage of some of the company’s recent search innovations including its Knowledge Graph – an effort to offer useful information rather than links in response to queries.

This has been integrated into its voice search service so a smartphone can respond to demands such as “how tall is the Seattle space needle” or “show me pictures of pygmy marmosets”.

The effort poses competition to Apple’s Siri service.

The firm also unveiled Google Now – which triggers useful information without the user having to ask for it.

Examples given included proposing the best route home based on a device’s knowledge of when a user typically leaves work and the current traffic conditions.

In addition it suggests restaurants and their best dishes when the user walks down the street and offers updates about favorite sports teams based on previous searches.

Google said it aimed to release over-the-air updates to existing devices to let them run the new software from mid-July.

 

Oracle and Google go on trial in a San Francisco court on Monday after Java developer claimed Google’s Android violated several of its patents and copyrights.

It is one of the biggest such tech lawsuits to date. Oracle is claiming about $1 billion in compensation.

Oracle claims Google’s Android system infringes intellectual property rights relating to the programming language.

Software engineers warn the case could set a worrying precedent.

Java was first released in 1995 and allows software to be run across computer platforms, rather than just being limited to one type of operating system.

Oracle – a business hardware and software provider – inherited the intellectual properties when it took over Java’s original developer, Sun Microsystems, in 2009.

The language is used by many business applications as well as other software, such as the video game Minecraft, on PCs.

Oracle claims Google's Android system infringes intellectual property rights relating to the programming language

Oracle claims Google's Android system infringes intellectual property rights relating to the programming language

Oracle argues that by using its intellectual property, and then giving Android away for free, Google undermined the possibility of it licensing Java to mobile phone makers.

It adds: “Because Android exploits Java but is not fully compatible with it, Android represents Sun’s, and now Oracle’s, nightmare: an incompatible forking of the Java platform, which undermines the fundamental ‘write once, run anywhere’ premise of Java that is so critical to its value and appeal.”

Much of the case does not centre on Google’s use of Java itself – which is free for anyone to use without license – but rather the Android-maker’s use of 37 APIs (application programming interfaces) which allow developers to write Java-compatible code.

APIs allow different parts of a programme to communicate together as well as letting one application share content with another.

“APIs are the glue that allows computer programs to talk to each other – in this case Android apps use them to access the phone’s features like its screen and memory,” said Dan Crow, chief technology officer at Songkick and a former Google tech team leader.

“If Oracle wins the case and APIs are held to be copyrighted, then in theory, virtually every application – on Android, Mac OS, Windows, iPhone or any other platform – has to be at least re-released under new license terms,” he said.

“This could result in many applications being withdrawn until their legality is resolved.”

Oracle alleges that 103,400 lines of its API specifications appeared on Android’s developer website.

“The APIs represent years of creative design,” Oracle said in a filed court document.

“Other than a few classes, Google was not required to copy the selection, organization, and structure of the APIs to be compatible with the Java programming language.”

However, Google argues that the technologies involved should not be covered by copyright law.

“Without the APIs, the Java programming language is deaf, dumb and blind,” its lawyers have claimed.

“In addition, witnesses at trial will testify that developers expect the APIs to be available when they program in the Java programming language.”

Oracle also alleges that Google has infringed two of its patents relating to a data processing enhancement and a method to generate executable code.

If Oracle wins the API copyright claims it could force Google to alter Android – a move likely to mean independent software developers would also have to recode apps designed for the platform.

But engineers say they have more fundamental concerns about the precedent that could be set in what is already a lawsuit-prone industry.

“The lives of developers would be much more complex,” Simon Phipps, an ex-Sun employee, blogged for the Infoworld news site.

“Complexity and confusion would return to a world where they have largely been expunged, bringing fear, uncertainty, and doubt back into open source software development.”

Malcolm Barclay, an independent developer of travel apps for iPhones, said: “It would be utterly ridiculous to think that using an API could infringe upon the intellectual property rights of an open platform.

“It would not be practical to go under the hood of each API to see if someone was going to sue you over using it.

“It would be the equivalent of buying a music CD and suddenly finding someone wanted to charge you for listening to track 10.”

Oracle would not comment on the developers’ claims.

The trial is expected to last eight weeks.

 

Angry Birds Space, the new version of the most downloaded game in history, has been launched on iTunes, Android, PC and Mac.

Angry Birds Space’s launch has been accompanied by a level of fanfare normally only seen around big Hollywood releases – including T-shirts, toys, TV shows on Nickelodeon, a companion book by National Geographic, and a tie-up with Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer.

Angry Birds has been downloaded 700 million times, and parent company Rovio is now estimated to be worth $8.8 billion, just two years after the game first launched.

Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, will stock limited-edition T-shirts, plush toys and snacks containing clues that unlock bonus levels of Angry Birds Space, which will be available beginning on Thursday in app stores, from where users download software applications.

The iTunes version is priced between $1 and $3 for an HD iPad version. The Android version is available free, supported by in-app adverts.

Peter Vesterbacka, marketing chief of the company behind the world’s most downloaded game said that Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds, sees itself as an entertainment brand, not just a games company.

“We want to make Angry Birds a permanent part of pop culture,” he said, comparing the brand to Nintendo’s Mario and Sanrio’s Hello Kitty. “We’re just getting started.”

Angry Birds Space, the new version of the most downloaded game in history, has been launched on iTunes, Android, PC and Mac

Angry Birds Space, the new version of the most downloaded game in history, has been launched on iTunes, Android, PC and Mac

Angry Birds, in which the player uses a slingshot to catapult birds to destroy green pigs hidden in fortresses, has been downloaded more than 700 million times, and is the fastest-growing game on Facebook.

Rovio raised its profile hugely last year by hitching a game to the hit animated movie Rio, made by News Corp’s 20th Century Fox, even burying a clue to the game in the movie studio’s Super Bowl ad.

Rovio’s value has been estimated in recent media reports at up to $8.8 billion, little more than two years after it first released Angry Birds for the iPhone.

“It’s as good a guess as any,” said Peter Vesterbacka, comparing Rovio to Facebook games maker Zynga, which went public in December and has a market value of $9.5 billion.

Rovio has also signed up a top U.S. retailer to put its branded toys, books and T-shirts in dedicated areas of thousands of stores nationwide, timed to coincide with the launch of its new Angry Birds Space game this week.

The company also plans to open branded retail stores in China soon.

Rovio has about 300 staff, up from 50 a year ago, and has had to move out of central Helsinki to new, bigger headquarters next to mobile phone maker Nokia.

Peter Vesterbacka reiterated that Rovio was in no hurry for a public listing. Its last funding round was last year, when it raised $42 million from venture capital firms Accel, Atomico and Felicis Ventures.

He said Rovio had not needed the money and had raised the capital primarily to attract onto its board investors such as Atomico’s founder Niklas Zennstrom, a co-founder of Skype.

“This year we’ll be very busy, like we were last year, with building up the infrastructure,” said Peter Vesterbacka.

“We can fund our own growth.”

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