Sunday, 3 May 2015

Apple says tattoos can cause watch problems

Apple has said some of the functions on its new smartwatch may not work properly when it is worn over tattoos.
Darker-coloured artwork and even changes in darker coloured skin types can fool the light sensors on the back of the watch.
The problem is not exclusive to the Apple Watch, which performed well in independent tests.
But it does show the manufacturer has not solved the sensor problem.
Sensitive sensors
"Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can... impact heart rate sensor performance," Apple said on a support page on its website.
"The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings."


The watch uses green LED lights combined with light-sensitive photodiode sensors to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist, which can then be used to calculate heart rate.
Other problems have been reported. Matt Siegel, a journalist for the Reuters news agency said that "the watch locks on tattooed skin and does not deliver the soft pings that alert a user to incoming messages".
"The heart rate readings were also significantly different on tattooed and untattooed wrists."
Videos posted to YouTube have shown users with wrist tattoos attempting to log a work out session, only for the watch to appear to intermittently pause the stopwatch when it failed to detect the wrist.
Common problem
The problem is not unique to the Apple Watch.
Several smartwatches and wearable fitness devices that use similar sensor technology have also been reported to struggle when worn on darker coloured skin. In these cases the amount of light reflected back from deeper-coloured pigmentation of the skin is less than the device is calibrated for.
The technology in Apple's watch does not appear to be of a low standard. It performed well in independent tests against leading heart rate monitors, according to Consumer Reports.

The repair site has taken apart the Apple Watch and reported that its heart rate monitor system is more advanced than most, offering potential functions that Apple is not currently promoting.
"Apple's heart rate monitor is actually a plethysmograph," it said.
"It looks and acts like a pulse oximeter, but Apple isn't claiming it can measure your blood oxygen level. Why? Beats us. Our best guesses involve FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] regulations."
It seems that the sensor and monitor functions of the Apple Watch are fairly advanced, but that the technology giant has yet to solve the known problems presented by darker-inked skin.
"We're not surprised the Apple Watch has run into problems with tattoos as it uses similar optical heart rate monitoring tech as the Fitbit Charge HR," Sophie Charara, contributing editor of wearable technology website Wareable, told the BBC.
"Apple now needs to offer users the option to disable the pin code security when the smart watch doesn't detect your wrist.
"The winning wearable tech in the next few years will be the devices that work with our bodies, not the ones that ignore them

Windows 'open' for Apple and Android

Microsoft is keen to sell its mobile devices
Microsoft is releasing software tools that make it easier to run popular Apple and Android apps on Windows mobile devices.
By changing a "few percent", Apple app makers should be able to run code on Windows 10 mobile devices, it said.
And many Android apps should run with no changes.
Experts said the move was an "imperfect solution" to Microsoft's problems persuading people to use Windows mobile.
Popular vote
For iOS, Microsoft has unveiled an initiative called Project Islandwood, which has led to the creation of a software interpreter that works with the development tools Apple coders typically pick.
By piping code through this interpreter and changing a few other parts, it would be possible to transfer or port iOS apps to Windows 10, Microsoft said in a presentation at its Build developer conference in Seattle.
Already developers working for game-maker King have ported the massively popular Candy Crush Saga to Windows using these tools.
A separate initiative, called Project Astoria, is aimed at Android and involves code built in to Windows itself that spots when an Android app is running and gives it the responses it expects.
Microsoft said this meant many Android apps would run with no changes on Windows mobile devices.
However, the way that Android is built means changes will have to be made to some apps.
The tactic is seen as a way for Microsoft to to boost its popularity and persuade developers to include Windows 10 in their plans.
While many apps are already available on the Windows store, some popular ones, such as Pinterest and Plants v Zombies 2, are absent.
Microsoft has also added tools that let Android apps reach some parts of Windows, such as its Cortana personal assistant, they would not otherwise be able to use.
CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber said: "The decision to embrace Android and iOS applications is an imperfect solution to an undesirable problem.
"Nonetheless, it's a necessary move to attract developers otherwise lost to Apple and Google."

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Anonymous messaging Secret app 'worth $100m' shut down

Anonymous messaging service Secret, at one stage thought to be valued at more than $100m (£66.5m), is shutting down.
Founder David Byttow said: "Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company" and that he believed in "failing fast".
The app was created, in part, to promote free speech but was criticised for promoting cyber-bullying.
User numbers have dwindled in recent months. Secret said it would return some of its $35m funding to investors.
Flash in the pan
It is a big turnaround for the company that was the talk of Silicon Valley, both among investors and users of the app, just a year ago.

Founded in 2013 by two former Google employees, the company was backed by some big names including actor Ashton Kutcher, Alexis Ohanian - a founder of Reddit, and Google Ventures.
The anonymous nature of messaging on the app led to its early adoption by technology sector workers, who used it to post rumours of forthcoming products or company mergers.

It was also used for political discussion in Russia and in Israel.
But the service was criticised for allowing people to defame others while remaining anonymous. It was banned in Brazil for promoting cyber-bullying.
A redesign of the app last year prompted users to "think before they post" and made it easier for users to flag up abusive content.
But user numbers have been falling in recent months, with some of those remaining complaining of an increase in the number of posts of a sexual nature and that public chat had become dominated by users from Indonesia.
In his blog post on Medium, Mr Byttow said: "I believe in honest, open communication and creative expression, and anonymity is a great device to achieve it.
"But it's also the ultimate double-edged sword, which must be wielded with great respect and care.
"I look forward to seeing what others in this space do over time."
Secret is not the first app to attract millions of dollars in funding only to flop shortly afterwards.
In 2012, photo and video-sharing app Color closed just 12 months after its launch having raised $41m from investors.
In June that year, Napster founders, Shawn Fanning and Shaun Parker launched their video-chat site Airtime, attracting $33m in funding.
It had very limited success, with Fortune magazine reporting that it had had to be quietly relaunched two years later.

Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent
"The truth is that there is fierce competition right now to get in early on any start-up that looks buzzy - who wants to be the guy that turned down WhatsApp in 2009 or Snapchat in 2012?
And if that means throwing a few million dollars at companies which appear to have no moral or business compass, then so be it."
Read Rory's blog

In closing Secret just 16 months after its launch, Mr Byttow said: "This has been the hardest decision of my life and one that saddens me deeply."
"Unfortunately Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company."

Silicon Valley's Dave Goldberg dies

The Silicon Valley entrepreneur and SurveyMonkey Chief Executive Dave Goldberg has died suddenly at the age of 47, his family says.
Husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Goldberg was a former Yahoo executive before joining Surveymonkey in 2009.
He expanded the online survey company leading to a valuation of $2bn (£1.3bn), the Wall Street Journal says.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg described him as "an amazing person".
News of Goldberg's death was posted on Facebook by his brother, Robert.
"It's with incredible shock and sadness that I'm letting our friends and family know that my amazing brother, Dave Goldberg, beloved husband of Sheryl Sandberg, father of two wonderful children, and son of Paula Goldberg, passed away suddenly last night," he wrote.
Under Dave Goldberg, SurveyMonkey grew from a handful of employees to more than 450 and acquired 25 million customers.
His fortunes was closely linked to those of Silicon Valley - a media company founded by him, Launch Media, was taken over by Yahoo in 2001, just after the "dotcom bubble" burst.
In a profile by Business Insider, Goldberg describes how he and a friend started Launch Media, which delivered music online.
"I decided I had to start something. It was more the motivation to try running my own thing than because I had some brilliant idea."

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Facebook tops Google searches for UK in 2013

Facebook logoThe social network was the most searched-for term on Google UK in 2013. It was also the most asked "what is" question
Google has revealed that Facebook topped its list of the most searched-for terms of 2013 in the UK.
The social networking site beat the search company's own YouTube video service to the top spot. Google itself made it in to third place.
Shopping sites proved popular with web users with eBay, Amazon and Argos all making an appearance in the top 10.
Aside from spending and sharing, news proved popular with BBC News and the Daily Mail featuring high on the list.
Google also examined what questions people typed in to its search engine and from this compiled a top "what is" list. Facebook topped this too with a substantial number of UK-based searchers wanting to know what the social networking site was.

Other popular "what is" topics included searches for cancer, energy and blood pressure. Perhaps reflecting economic news throughout the year "What is the minimum wage" and "What is Universal Jobmatch" made it in to the top 10 most-asked. Universal Jobmatch is a government-run jobs-listing site.
The second question was more a more heartfelt, "What is love?"
Explaining Facebook's position at the top of the most searched and "what is" lists, Chris Green - an analyst at the Davies Murphy Group consultancy - said: "Facebook has now firmly established itself as a hub on the internet, making it a destination for surfers to do multiple tasks such as communications, gaming, shopping, photo-sharing and information gathering.

Google's Top 10 UK search terms

1. Facebook
2. YouTube
3. Google
4. Hotmail
5. Ebay
6. BBC News
7. Amazon
8. Daily Mail
9. Argos
10. Yahoo
"These are tasks that would have previously involved using a search engine to source multiple sites."
The "most searched-for" terms are based on the number of times the relevant words are typed into Google's search engine.
Mr Green added that Google's own appearance near the top of its list could be explained by the fact that Chrome and other internet browsers can be set to automatically use the search engine when a phrase - rather than a full web address - is typed into their top bars.
"Chrome makes no distinction between web addresses and words in its search box so people get lazy and just type in single words like Google rather than full web addresses," he said.
"But this registers as a search."
Man of Steel
Google also unveiled its "top trending" search terms for the UK in 2013. These are the entries that have seen the largest increase in traffic compared with 2012.
Many of the entries on the list reflected major news events of the past 12 months.
Google's Laurian Clemence spoke to the BBC's Aaron Heslehurst
The death of the Fast and the Furious film star Paul Walker was at the top of the list.
Both Nelson Mandela and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who died this year also feature in the top 10.

Google's Top Trending Worldwide

1. Nelson Mandela
2. Paul Walker
3. iPhone 5s
4. Cory Monteith
5. Harlem Shake
6. Boston Marathon
7. Royal Baby
8. Samsung Galaxy S4
9. PlayStation 4
10. North Korea
The birth of Prince George in July came in at number four on the UK list.
"Celebrities always get a lot of interest and the passing of well-known figures makes people want to learn more about them," said Google's Claudine Beaumont.
"Despite that, some of the more traditional aspects of British life, from the Grand National to the royal birth, have generated many Google searches and will be remembered as events that have characterised the year."
New product launches helped the iPhone 5S and Microsoft's Xbox One become the biggest tech trending search terms.
The worldwide "top trending" list saw Nelson Mandela in top spot, and also saw the Boston Marathon and North Korea in the top 10.
There was a battle of the superheroes in top 10 most searched-for movies. Man of Steel beat Iron Man 3 in to top place. A small triumph for Superman who had lost out at the box office to his metal-clad rival.
Oscar winners Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty also featured. Only one animated film made the list, Despicable Me 2, but it was one of three sequels that were searched for including The Hangover 3.

Amazing Google Glass Takes Photo by Winking

Google Glass update lets users wink and take photos

Jonathan Blake tries out Google GlassGoogle said the wink feature could have various potential uses in future

Related Stories

Google has introduced a new feature to its Google Glass, which allows users to take a photo with a "wink of the eye".
Google said the feature was faster than the camera button or the voice action and works even when the display is off.
The update to Google Glass, dubbed version XE12, also adds a screen lock feature and the ability to upload and share videos on YouTube.
Technology firms have been keen to capture the wearable gadgets market, seen by many as a key growth area.
"Glass is about helping you look up and experience the world around you without getting bogged down by technology,

10 Most Amazing Gadgets to Checkout in 2014

SafetyCulture Australia owner Luke Anear wearing a Google Glass.
SafetyCulture Australia owner Luke Anear wearing a Google Glass. Source: News Limited

1. Curvy smartphones

Curved screens crept into televisions this year, but next year they'll pop into our pockets. Samsung has already launched a curved Galaxy Round phone in South Korea, while LG countered with its G Flex phone that curves from top to bottom. Expect to see more of this technology in 2014, including screens that wrap around the side of a phone for quick notifications.

2. Smarter smartwatches

Our wrists will be hot property in 2014, with companies promising smarter smartwatches. Sony and Samsung launched models early, but expect to see competition from Google, LG, Microsoft, and even Apple, long-rumoured to be producin
Neptune Pine smartwatch.
g the iWatch after it applied to trademark the name. A Canadian firm will also deliver a smartwatch that works as a phone by itself, called Neptune Pine, after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

3. 4K OLED TVs

They were the hot ticket at IFA 2013 and 4K OLED televisions could arrive in stores this year. These televisions, as demonstrated in prototypes, combine the two best television technologies: organic light-emitting diode screens with brighter, bolder colour
LG 4K OLED TV. Source: Supplied
s, and 4K resolution with four times the pixels of current full high-definition TVs. Expect big price tags to accompany the big picture quality leap.

4. Smart spectacles

Google Glass will finally go on sale to the public in 2014. Honest. The search giant has promised to release the internet-connected spectacle
A Google employee wears a pair of Google Glass.
s with an expected cost of $US1500. It's not clear whether a prescription spectacles-friendly version will be ready for launch, however, and Google will have plenty of competition. Expect to see Meta smartglasses in April, the GlassUp smartglasses in autumn, and rivals from Microsoft, Oakley and Sony.

5. Virtual reality gaming

Forget Lawnmower Man. More advanced virtual reality is coming. The Oculus Rift headset is due to launch publicly this year. The wireless headset has a 7-inch display with full high-definition resolution and it tracks your head and body movements to put you in the game. It will be compatible with PCs, Macs and Linux computers, with support for Google Android devices expected. It's due to arrive with a price tag around $US300.

6. Foxtel's iQ3

Expect the internet to further affect your TV experience. Pay-TV operator Foxtel (part-owned by News Corp, publisher of this newspaper) will introduce its third personal video recorder this year. The iQ3 is expected to connect to the internet wirelessly, offer a new electronic program guide, eight TV tuners to record more programs simultaneously, and a one terabyte drive on which to store them.

7. See-through smartphones

They may not be practical but one Taiwanese company is poised to launch transparent smartphones this year. Polytron Technologies has already developed a basic prototype of the phone that appears to be a clear block of plastic with its speaker, memory card, batteries, microphone and other circuitry on show. An OLED screen technology called Switchable Glass is used to display images. The company is reportedly working on a matching tablet and is in talks with major phone makers.

8. Full-frame compact cameras

Full-frame cameras, with image sensors as large as a 35mm film strip, are set to become smaller, cheaper and more available. In addition to the three models already launched by Sony and Nikon late this year, there are more rumoured from Sony, Pentax, Samsung and perhaps even Canon.

9. A bigger iPad

Apple could have a big 2014, if rumours prove correct. One development allegedly on the agenda is a 12.9-inch iPad, breaking the size barrier and delivering a new challenge to manufacturers pitching tablets as laptop replacements. The new tablet is rumoured to be called the iPad Pro and feature a 4K screen.

10. Speedy mobile downloads

Expect more high-speedy mobile internet coverage in Australia next year. By the start of 2014, Telstra promises to have 85 per cent of the population covered with its 4G network, and it will continue trials of LTE-Advanced that could deliver downloads as fast as 300mbps. Rival Optus promises to cover 70 per cent of the population by April next year, and its reseller Amaysim has announced plans to add 4G to its offerings.