Apple App Store prices rise in UK, India and Turkey

iPhone

Apple is to put up the price it charges for apps in the UK, India and Turkey.

UK costs will numerically match those of the US, meaning that a program that costs $0.99 will now be 99p.

That represents a 25% rise over the previous currency conversion, which was 79p.

“Price tiers on the App Store are set internationally on the basis of several factors, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes, and the cost of doing business,” it said.

“These factors vary from region to region and over time.”

The rise will also affect in-app purchases but not subscription charges.

A spokeswoman for Google was unable to comment about whether it had plans to alter prices on its Play store for Android apps.

Publishers’ choice

Apple had already adjusted the UK prices of its iPhones and iPads in September and then its Mac computers in October by a similar degree.

Other tech firms to have announced price rises in the country in the months following the Brexit vote – which has been linked to a fall in sterling’s value – include Microsoft, Dell, Tesla and HP.

To mitigate the impact of the latest increase, Apple is introducing new lower-price tiers.

Publishers will be able to charge users 49p or 79p for purchases but will have to re-price their products to do so.

“I don’t think many publishers will respond to that change,” commented Ben Dodson, an app consultant and developer of Music Tracker among other software.

“It’s just throwing money away and there’s no reason to give people in the UK a discount.

“I won’t be discounting my own apps.”

At present, $1 trades for 82p.

However, the price quoted by Apple in the UK version of its store includes the 20% VAT sales tax. In the US, state sales taxes are not included in advertised prices but are added at the point of sale.

“It was certainly inevitable that Apple would change the price point for apps in the App Store to reflect currency changes,” commented Ian Fogg from the IHS Technology consultancy.

“But this is a normal part of the way the store works because it does not have dynamically changing prices that would change gradually.”

The cost of a $0.99 app will become 80 rupees in India, representing a 33% rise from the previous price of 60 rupees.

In Turkey it will change from 2.69 to 3.49 lira, which is a gain of 30%.

The news site 9to5Mac was first to report the development.

It said the change would occur over the next seven days.

Apple has also altered the cost of apps in Romania and Russia to take account of local changes to VAT made at the start of the year.

 

 

[Source:- BBC]

Tuning out: Norway is about to become the first country to ditch FM radio

Norway will become the first country in the world this week to start turning off its FM radio network as the country moves to a digital-only broadcasting system.

On January 11, the city of Bodø, in the northern county of Nordland, will be the first to have its signal shut off, with the rest of the nation’s signal being closed down by the end of the year. The country has been split into six regions for the turn-off.

Frequency Modulation was first invented in 1933 and more widely introduced in the 1950s. It is commonly broadcast between the radio frequencies 87.5 to 108.0 MHz.

“The fact that the FM network will be phased out does not mean radio silence in Norway,” Digital Radio Norway says on its website. Instead, the organisation claims there will be five times the amount of radio channels available.

The radio group says it would take “huge” investments to bring the existing FM standard to a higher quality and the last Norwegian channels were launched on FM in 2004 and 1993. Instead of FM, the country will be moving to DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting). The format, which is used in the UK alongside FM, was created by researchers in the 1980s.

“A lot of work has been done during the preparations to ensure a good replacement is in place,” Ole Jørgen Torvmark, the CEO of Digital Radio Norway said. “The DAB network has been thoroughly measured and adjusted, and a great deal of information has been made available to listeners”.

Despite the changes – it was approved by Norway’s parliament, which first floated the idea in 2011 – not everyone is in favour. According to Reuters, 66 per cent of the country opposes the switch-off, with only 17 per cent approving of the digital-only method.

Cars are said to be one of the biggest issues for those in the country. One critic of the plan said in 2016 that the move to digital-only was “embarrassing”. “Norwegian politicians have decided to make 15 million FM radios useless. It’s a bad idea,” Jan Thoresen, a digital expert, said in an opinion piece.

Norway is the first country to implement the digital switch but isn’t the only one considering it. Switzerland and Denmark are also considering a change and the UK has been having discussions about a digital radio policy for years.

The UK’s digital TV switchover finished in 2012 but radio has been slower. At one point, a digital radio switch had been planned for 2015. However, before the change happens at least 50 per cent of UK radio listening must come from digital radios and signal coverage has to be comparable to that of the FM network.

 
[Source:- Wired]

 

How Spotify chooses what makes it onto your Discover Weekly playlist

Software engineer Edward Newett created Spotify's Discover Weekly algorithm

Edward Newett is the man behind one of the most influential innovations in music: the Spotify Discover Weekly algorithm. WIRED talks to the 36-year-old New Yorker about moulding the tastes of a generation.

How can an algorithm determine what tens of millions of people want to listen to every week?

Edward Newett: There are two parts to how the algorithm works: on one side, every week we’re modelling the relationship of everything we know about Spotify through our users’ playlist data.

On the other, we’re trying to model the behaviour of every single user on Spotify – their tastes, based primarily on their listening habits, what features they use on Spotify and also what artists they follow. So we take these two things and every Monday we recommend what we think you would like, but might not have heard about.

How does the algorithm determine what to serve up?

By trying to mimic the behaviour of all of our users when trying to put together their perfect mix, we can leverage Spotify’s two billion playlists, target individual tastes and come up with playlists that will be interesting.

What’s the origin of the algorithm?

When I joined in June 2013, I was on a team that was building the initial discovery product for Spotify – it was content in an almost Pinterest-style layout. At some point, a colleague and I decided that it would be a lot easier if we had it as a playlist. Then, around that time, a new product person joined our team and really loved what we were working on and helped us take it to market and make it a formal product.

Spotify announced in May 2016 that more than 40 million people had used its Discover Weekly service, streaming just under five billion tracks in under a year. How do you account for its popularity?

The biggest part is that it is deeply personalised to you. We’re finding ways, through personalised cover art and also by adding a track that we think would be familiar to you – based on artists you’ve listened to – to draw you in initially. Also, the more you listen to music, the better the recommendations for Discover Weekly become. And I think the playlist’s popularity also has something to do with this habit people got into: we were seeing tweets pretty early on that people were really looking forward to their new Discover Weekly and, by extension, Monday morning.

 

 
[Source:- Wired]

This university has no teachers, syllabus or fees

It’s 9.30am on a grey Thursday morning in May, and long banks of iMacs stand idle in a former government building on Boulevard Bessières in north Paris. The morning lack of activity, explains Xavier Niel, a French billionaire who is leading a tour of his three-year-old experimental university, isn’t a concern; rush hour is 2 or 3am.

“You’d see 300 or 400 students here at night,” Niel says. “We’re open 24 hours – the French president was here taking selfies at midnight. And you’ll notice that there are no teachers – this is a project-based school. You get no diploma.”

Niel, who made his fortune by taking on France’s telco establishment with his Free ISP and mobile businesses, declared in 2013 that “the education system doesn’t work”. So he decided to reinvent it, by funding an ambitious merit-based coding school without teachers, without a syllabus, without entrance requirements and without fees.

The school, called École 42 (the answer to the question of “life, the Universe and everything” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), is funded, in Niel’s words, “by my credit card”: ˇ20 million (£17m) for launch costs, and around ˇ7m a year in running costs for the first decade. “After that,” he says, pointing to three American students, “we hope one of you guys will be the next Zuckerberg.”

Peter Thiel, Jack Dorsey and Tony Fadell have come here to marvel at how Niel’s school has challenged existing notions of higher education. Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel is among the converts: “You feel you’re walking into a school from the future,” he declared. “It’s a transformative way to learn.”

So, to the acclaim of his Silicon Valley friends, Niel in autumn 2016 opened a second branch in Fremont, in California, with a $100m (£76m) commitment. It’s all part of his mission to make talent and merit, not means, the gateway to a quality tech education.

And it all comes down to talent-spotting via a merit-based game. “We have 80,000 applicants a year who play an online game, and 25,000 finish,” Niel explains. “We take the 3,000 best and ask them to come to the school for a month – that’s 450 hours of 15-hour days, including Saturday and Sunday. After five or six days, a third of them leave. And then we take the 1,000 best.”

The survivors – 80 to 90 per cent of whom are French, but which also includes many Americans – win a free education, help in finding accommodation (Niel is building 900 flats), loan guarantees of €15,000 if needed, and access to high-quality internships. “Forty per cent don’t have a Baccalaureate, and half the students in this school are from poor families and wouldn’t be able to afford it,” Niel says. An American woman, with a biology degree from Yale, smiles and says: “We’re the lucky ones.” Niel counters: “There’s no luck.”

The project-based curriculum consists of 21 modules – or, as Niel calls them, “game levels” – designed by six staff in an upstairs enclave called “the cluster”. Apart from a five-minute instructional video and PDF, students are left to learn in groups. After a month, they should be able to code in C; they’re challenged to build Tetrisand Sudoku from scratch using their new skills. They then move at their own pace: the fastest student finished school after 18 months; others will take five years.

Game dynamics are everywhere: to get projects corrected, students must spend “correction points” – which they earn by correcting someone else’s project. If there’s a disciplinary breach, they have to spin a wheel to learn their punishment: “Take orders at the coffee machine”, or “Clean the windows with a toothbrush”. Good behaviour earns “wallet points” which can be spent.

There are still some bugs to iron out: fewer than ten per cent of students are women, which 42 is trying to change by inviting secondary-school girls to spend holiday time at the college. Graduate salaries, Niel says, are typically €42,000-€45,000 in the first year, “yet with better coding levels than US graduates earning $140,000”.

École 42 is far from the only ambitious ed-tech experiment being led by a bold tech 
entrepreneur. California- and Hong Kong-based Age of Learning raised $150 million last May; China’s 17zuoye recently raised $100 million; and Udemy raised $113m. Then there are Udacity, Coursera, iTutorGroup, Pluralsight, the hyper-selective Minerva Project university… indeed, AngelList documents a staggering 11,812 education startups.

Kevin Carey, author of The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, sees a global $4.6 trillion market being disrupted. That may not be a bad thing: under the current university system, student debt in the US alone is now estimated at exceeding $1.2 trillion.

But Niel, who learned to code at 16 on a Sinclair ZX81 and dropped out of school to work on Minitel phone-connected monitors, doesn’t see himself as taking on the establishment. “France is amazing,” he tells WIRED. “I’ve helped finance a thousand startups, and I like to have a good relationship with the French establishment. I like to help entrepreneurs.”

 

 

[Source:- Wired]

WD My Passport Wireless Pro review: A portable hard drive made for mobile streaming

wdfmp wirelesspro 1

We had only two real complaints about WD’s original My Passport Wireless media-streaming Wi-Fi hard drive: short-ish battery life, and an inability to charge other devices. WD has remedied both shortcomings with the all-new My Passport Wireless Pro. This is a thoroughly improved and much more capable product.

If you’re new to wireless media-streaming hard drives, they’re basically a marriage of Wi-Fi hot spot and battery-powered USB storage. In this case, you get a dual-band 802.11ac hot spot and either 2TB ($230) or 3TB ($250) of storage. Log onto the hot spot the My Passport Pro creates and you can stream music, video, or photographs from it to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can also use it for like a NAS box or even a direct-attached USB 3.0 portable hard drive.

Unlike its very thick predecessor, the My Passport Wireless Pro could easily be mistaken for a portable optical drive (you remember those, right?). Except that this enclosure sports a micro-USB 3.0 connector, a USB 2.0 Type A port (for charging other devices from the drive’s battery), and an SD memory-card slot (for transferring files—automatically on insert, if you so choose. You can push a button if you don’t.) The new model weighs in at nearly a pound–that’s four ounces heavier than the original–and we’re pretty sure it’s attributable to the 6400 mAh battery.

WD

The Wireless Pro’s two USB 3.0 ports and SD card slot are visible in this side shot.

Setup

The new Passport Wireless Pro is even easier to set up that its predecessor. With my iPad, all I had to do was select the My Passport network, join using the password prominently displayed on a sticker on the front of the unit, and then open Safari. The browser headed directly for the setup routine without my having to type in the URL for its configuration page. It also walked me through the process of connecting the parent network to pass through the Internet connection. Smooth. Easy. Good job WD.

Additionally, you’re asked if you want to download the Plex media server in order to stream media files from the My Passport Wireless Pro. Plex is optional, as the Twonky DLNA server is already included. But Plex has a slicker interface, offers a choice of proprietary or DLNA serving, and it provides clients for nearly every operating system (but not the 32-bit Windows 7 on my older Acer laptop. Go figure.)

Note that Plex requires signing up for a free account. Twonky does not, and it does a pretty decent job streaming movies and audio to client devices.

The addition of the Plex media server lets the My Passport Wireless Pro support more devices, more easily than the Twonky DLNA server, which is still included as well.

Battery life and performance

As to those extra four ounces of battery. Wow. The My Passport Wireless Pro more than doubles its predecessor’s four-hour run time, delivering 9 hours and 10 minutes in our test. And that was with the drive in performance mode; there’s also a battery-save mode that squeezes out about an extra half hour to forty-five minutes. If you don’t need to stream on battery power, that kind of juice can go a long way to charging other USB devices.

Used as a direct-attached USB hard drive, performance was a slightly below average. AS SSD rated the drive as reading 10GB sequentially at 120MBps, and writing it at 113MBps. Our 20GB large-file copy tests came up with almost exactly the same rates; however, speeds dropped significantly with our 20GB batch of smaller files and folders: to 75MBps reading and 55MBps writing.

The My Passport Wireless Pro performs well as a USB 3.0 hard drive. The 20GB file and folder write performance will increase significantly if you re-format the drive from exFAT to NTFS.

Small-file write performance improved significantly after I re-formatted the drive from exFAT to the NTFS files system that the other drives in the chart used. That said, exFAT formatting can’t explain the slow reading of the 20GB batch of files and folders, where exFAT and NTFS generally perform the same. If you’re planning to use the drive with a Mac, on the other hand, you’ll want to leave the drive formatted as exFAT: Macs can read NTFS-formatted drives, but they can’t write to them.

Streaming performance

Streaming was a mixed bag of easy and not so easy. This wasn’t the Wireless Pro’s fault, but the uneven implementation of streaming protocols across platforms. In all cases (Android, iOS, OS X, Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows Phone) I was eventually able to stream 1080p video, though in some cases it required switching apps on the client devices and/or switching between Plex and Twonky. Streaming 2160p files (4K UHD) didn’t work, but that’s no surprise: Streaming those files over most ethernet connections can be iffy; besides, there’s not a lot of 2160p content out there.

The issues I did encounter were with the Windows Media Player (LAV filters) and Twonky server streaming to 32-bit Windows 7, which stuttered continually even when I lowered the resolution to 720p. I’ve never had problems with that laptop and other implementations of Twonky so that’s a bit of a puzzler. Additionally I continually received connection errors when I tried to stream from Plex to a Windows Phone. Although it did display thumbnails of the movies, I was never able to stream to that device.

I also encountered issues with oddball codecs, but you’ll do fine if you stick with the common ones–MPEG-1, MPEG-2, h.264, WMV, and the like–and your clients use modern 64-bit operating systems.

Recommended

The My Passport Wireless Pro ameliorates every complaint we had about its predecessor. It has a lot more juice, it can stream one way or another to every portable device out there, it’s easy to use, and it has the ability to charge other devices. That’s as good as it gets in portable Wi-Fi drives.

 

 

[Source: Macworld]

Gene editing records ‘memories’ in human DNA

Scientists have been recording data in DNA for a while, but it has usually involved bacteria and other simple organisms. MIT, however, just took a big leap forward. Its researchers have used the CRISPR gene editing technique to record histories in human cell DNA for the first time. They’ve crafted a gene circuit that only expresses an enzyme when it’s near a key immune cell molecule, building up mutations the more it’s exposed to that molecule. All you have to do to extract “memories” is to sequence those genes. They’ll tell you whether or not there was a lot of inflammation, for instance.

It’s not limited to one input, either. The MIT team found that they could produce multiple RNA strands in response to specific conditions, such as the presence of a certain medicine.

You probably won’t see this approach used in humans any time soon. Sorry, your medical history won’t be written in your genes. However, it could be extremely helpful for studies. Scientists could better track the development of an animal from embryo to adulthood, and understand the advancement of cancer or infections. Think of this more as a stepping stone for other discoveries than anything else.

[Source: Engadget]

Gene-modified soil bacteria promise eco-friendly computing

You normally need non-renewable elements or minerals to create nanowires. However, the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research may have a better solution: the life living in the dirt under your feet. Its sponsored researchers have crafted nanowires from genetically modified Geobacter, a bacteria you find in soil just about everywhere on Earth. The team altered the bacteria so that it would replace amino acids with tryptophan, which is a much better electrical conductor (2,000 times) at the nanoscopic scale. String enough of those bacteria together and you suddenly have wiring that’s virtually invisible to the human eye. They wires are tougher and smaller, too, so they stand a better chance of surviving inside electronics.

If and when scientists refine the technology, it could help shrink computing power beyond its current limits. It would also help produce extremely sensitive bomb and pollution detectors, or help produce alternative fuels like butanol. And importantly, you could produce these nanowires using natural resources like plant waste and solar energy. You could produce computing devices that are eco-friendly right down to the materials in their processors.

[Source: Engadget]

NASA regains contact with spacecraft after a 2-year silence

When mission crews lose contact with a spacecraft or lander for a significant amount of time, that’s usually a bad sign… ask the European Space Agency if you want to know why. However, NASA just showed why you shouldn’t always give up hope. It reestablished contact with STEREO-B, one of two probes studying the Sun and solar weather, after nearly two years of communications silence. The team had lost its connection during a test of the ship’s command lost timer on October 1st, 2014, but kept trying numerous recovery strategies (most recently using the Deep Space Network) until they heard back early on August 21st.

So what’s next? It’ll be a while before STEREO-B is back in action, and there’s no guarantees that it’ll pick up where it left off. The crew wants to check all of the craft’s subsystems, regain attitude control and determine the state of its observational skills before giving it a clean bill of health. Whatever the outcome, the contact itself is good news — both for science and for the mission members worried that they’d never again hear from their pride and joy.

 

[Source: Engadget]

Facebook Flexes Ad Blocking Muscles; Counters AdBlock Plus’ Solution

After Facebook altered its code to bypass ad-blocking software from keeping ads at bay, within 48 hours, Adblock Plus found a way to push it back to square one of this cat-and-dog fight. However, the social media giant is not the one to back off from a battle as it launched another workaround to AdBlock Plus’ remedial situation. Facebook spokesperson, said in an interview withTechCrunch’s Josh Constine, the AdBlock Plus solution did not just remove ads, but also Facebook posts by Pages and friends.

According to the statement, Facebook said that ad-blocking software only ended up “punishing” users by removing relevant content from its social network. Understandably, that takes something away from the Facebook experience, and the company intends to do something about it. The social media titan recently introducedad preferences to give users more control over the kind of advertisements they want to see.

Ultimately, Facebook does not want to do away with advertisements altogether. The social network instead hopes that giving users more control over what they see will make them accept ads. If the alternative is to have legitimate Facebook posts removed with ads, some users might even accept having ads instead. It is important to note that ads on Facebook are not as intrusive and detrimental to the overall experience as they are on other websites. They are neatly tucked away, and the platform has already stated that it wants its users to see informative and useful ads. This makes sense, given that Facebook does not need advertising revenue so badly that it will accept just about anything.

It is rather interesting to note that Facebook’s plan to block ads was foiled just a few days after it first introduced it. AdBlock Plus found one way and other ad-blocking companies are bound to find other loopholes in its code. The social media giant, however, can find comfort in the fact that it can counter any measures taken by ad blocking companies fairly quickly, as was evident by its most recent counter-measure. It took Facebook less than a day to fix the loophole exploited by AdBlock Plus.

Ad blocking companies also require users to update their software to the latest version for the changes to take effect. Facebook, on the other hand, can revamp its coding with immediate effect. In theory, this means that some users might not even have had a chance to update to the new AdBlock Plus version before Facebook’s counter-measures were already put in place.

It is also interesting to note that Facebook’s new bypassing method for ad blockers is what caused problems for AdBlock Plus. It has mixed the coding for the ads with the content, which is why AdBlock Plus ended up blocking posts from friends along with ads. This interesting combination might perhaps deter ad blockers from messing with the biggest social network. It makes no sense to employ ad blockers on such platform if it means missing out on important posts from friends.

Interestingly enough, ad blocking software is often needed on websites where clicking anywhere results in a dozen popup windows. That problem does not persist with Facebook, so ad-blocking companies might even consider white listing the social network. It is highly unlikely that small companies will be able to keep pace with the acumen of Facebook’s elite team of software engineers. Facebook can also arguably be considered among websites and companies which deserve ad revenue to keep the free product up and running. News and social sources might hence be allowed to keep ad revenue running.

It will be interesting to see if ad blocking companies end up whitelisting such sources. If that happens, the impact of this on ad-tech revenue will have to be monitored. For example, if Facebook and news sources eventually become the only sources allowed to freely place ads, they might be tempted to charge more of a premium for ad placement services. This might lead to a different kind of ad-revenue model in the future, one that might not sit well with all parties. Having that said, it is highly unlikely that either Facebook, ad-blocking companies, or advertisers will face this problem anytime soon.

 [Source: Technewstoday]

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 And New Gear VR Specs As It Stands

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was recently spotted in a listing on Best Buy before the link was pulled down. The phablet is expected to be unveiled at “Unpacked” to be held on August 2 in New York City, while pre-orders are expected to start from August 3. It is unclear why Best Buy jumped the gun and put the Samsung device up on its website early.

Samsung’s flagship phablet is expected to be in stores in the US from August 19 onwards. The specs of the new device are hardly a secret given that leaks have pretty much revealed all the information. 9to5Google posted information regarding the device and its colors. The Note 7 will be available in onyx, silver titanium and blue coral. Information regarding the new Samsung Gear VR have been leaked as well.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The Galaxy Note 7 will measure 153.5mm by 73.9mm by 7.9mm, boasting a 1440×2560 resolution on a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display. A 12MP rear shooter will also record 4K videos with built-in image stabilization. The device also has a 5MP selfie camera with flash. The phablet will come with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Other storage options are yet to be revealed.

The device is expected to be powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 823 chip, while versions of Samsung’s proprietary Exynos chip will also be incorporated into some models. The Galaxy Note 7 will execute data transfer and charging duties via a USB-C port. A USB-C to microUSB adapter is expected to be shipped with the device to ensure compatibility with older charging cables. An iris scanner is expected to beef up the security aspect of the Note device.

The device comes with a 3,500 mAh battery but we don’t know whether it will be removable yet. Given the furor over the non-removable batteries in the S6 handsets, Samsung is likely to opt for removable batteries this time. The device also has an IP68 rating, which helps the device withstand depths of up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) for around 30 minutes.

Samsung Gear VR

Following the successful rollout of its first VR device, Samsung is all set to release a second iteration. The device is expected to be unveiled alongside the Galaxy Note 7, and improves upon its predecessor by expanding the field-of-view offered. The new Gear VR will provide 110 degrees of viewing angles as opposed to the 96 degrees offered by the present version. It will also feature a USB-C port to help pair it with the Galaxy Note 7.

All in all, Samsung has confirmed that its phablet will skip the number 6 to adopt the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 moniker. Samsung substantiated speculation when it said that the Note 7 will fall in line with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, ensuring that its tablets and smartphones are on the same page. The Galaxy Note 7 name is also expected to allay fears regarding the relevance of the new technology; customers may otherwise have thought that a Galaxy Note 6 device was not as advanced as the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge mobile phones.

Best Buy managed to get some attention by temporarily enabling the pre-order option on its website. It is not clear whether the mess-up was intentional, but details regarding the Samsung Galaxy device should be unveiled in a few days. Given the success of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, it is likely that the Note 7 will also be well-received when it is launched.

 

[Source: Technewstoday]