With Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung tries to regain its footing

Farhad Manjoo wrote for The New York Times reported on Samsung’s attempt to regain its footing with the Galaxy S and S6 Edge.

Samsung’s internal code name for its latest top-of-the-line smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, is “Project Zero,” signaling what Samsung calls “a return to fundamentals.”

The code name also suggests that Samsung finally seems to understand the many criticisms that have long been leveled at its phones: the plastic hardware looked cheap, the most promoted features were mostly useless and the software was too complicated.

Samsung, according to Samsung, has realized the errors of it ways.

He goes on to detail these errors.

The new S6 and S6 Edge — which are nearly identical to one another except that the Edge’s screen curves intriguingly, though mostly uselessly, on its left and right side — are at least an answer to critics who say Samsung’s devices look cheap.

The S6 phones are made out of aluminum and glass rather than the plastic in Samsung’s older phones. Both the S6 and S6 Edge strongly resemble Apple’s iPhone. The S6 in particular looks like Apple’s brother from another mother. Samsung has also co-opted many of the design ideas for which its fans have long criticized Apple. The new Galaxys no longer offer a removable battery, for example, or a slot for add-on storage cards, and unlike the Galaxy S5, the S6es aren’t waterproof.

But with a premium price the same as the iPhones, can Samsung compete?

If you pay the premium price to Apple, you get a phone with a well-designed operating system, no overlapping preloaded apps, and a host of services that often work very well, like iMessage, Apple Pay and expanding compatibilities with Apple’s personal computers and devices like the Apple TV and, soon, the Apple Watch. You can criticize Apple’s sticky ecosystem as a form of consumer lock-in, but Apple sure has built a luxurious prison, and customers are willing to pay extra for it.

If you pay that premium to Samsung, you don’t get a whole lot more than you can get on, say, a phone made by Xiaomi, OnePlus or any of a dozen smaller players.

Bottom line:

Hence the catastrophic question for Samsung: If lots of other, cheaper, almost-as-good phones run Android, why pay extra for a Samsung?

Samsung expects Q1 profits to drop 30%

AppleInsider reported on Samsung forecasting a 30% drop in Q1 earnings.

Samsung on Tuesday provided investors with a new forecast for its March quarter sales, indicating that earnings declined yet again, likely falling 30 percent from the same period a year ago.

You would expect their earnings to increase with the launch of its flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones.

Samsung executive delighted that Apple followed them

CNBC reported on Samsung executive expressing delight at Apple following them into the smartwatch market.

“Great competitors offer great things to consumers and the fact that there are so many great competitors in this space mean that there is absolutely a market. I mean, that’s what it tells you,” Rory O’Neill, the vice-president for mobile Europe at Samsung, which launches its S6 smartphone Friday, told CNBC.

“It’s with great delight that Apple has followed us into that market.”

Nice try, but those of us who have been following tech news would know that rumours of the Apple Watch surfaced back in 2012. In response to the rumour, Samsung rushed out its first smartwatch in September 2013.

Besides, Sony and Pebble already had offerings in the smartwatch market prior to that. It is delusional for Samsung to proclaim itself as the pioneer.

Samsung executive mocks iPhone bending

CNET reported on Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

Samsung even used its move into metal as a chance to take another shot at Apple. Younghee Lee, a marketing executive for the company’s mobile division, touted the aluminum alloy that it employs for the new smartphones as 50 percent stronger than the competition.

“This stuff will not bend,” she said to laughter and applause.

The shots fired at Apple struck Samsung in its own feet when its new phones are found to be as bendable.

Marketwired reported on SquareTrade’s New BendBot showing the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is as bendable as the iPhone 6 Plus and is more likely to crack.

  • The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge deformed at 110 pounds and created a crack in the screen. When pushed to catastrophic failure, its breaking point was 149 pounds, at which point it ceased to function.

  • The Apple iPhone 6 Plus deformation occurred at 110 pounds, but it continued to function normally. When pushed to catastrophic failure, its breaking point was an impressive 179 pounds.

Android Wear ads

Android Wear’s new advertisement tells you nothing about the device. Unless hand-tutting is something.


Compare that with Apple Watch ads:



Pebble Time is not a serious Apple Watch competitor

Apple World Today reported on why Pebble Time is not a serious Apple Watch competitor.

A much nicer display: Pebble says the new Time will have a “…1.25-inch color e-paper display”. No word on the resolution of that display. Apple Watch will have a Retina display (meaning 300 pixels or more per inch).

A Force Touch interface: Pebble is all about the side buttons. Watch has a button and the digital crown, but the innovative Force Touch display is a primary interface element.

Support: AppleCare Pro and local Apple Stores should provide both live technical support and the ability to take the Watch directly into stores for replacement or repair. Pebble offers a one-year warranty and a good website, but dropping your ailing Pebble Time into a shipping box is no substitute for being able to actually talk to a real live person or hand a broken Watch to someone at a store near you.

Integration: Apple Watch apps are being created by a number of iOS developers, which means that it’s very likely that many of the top iOS apps will feature tighter integration with Watch than they’d ever be able to achieve with Pebble. Want to send an email, Message, or voice reply on your Watch? No problem. Try to do the same with Pebble and you’re limited to providing a voice reply to Google notifications.

HealthKit: Yes, Pebble Time has “step tracking for Misfit and Jawbone”, a RunTracker companion app. Apple Watch will have integration with the entire HealthKit framework through the iPhone, a heart rate sensor to measure the intensity of your activity, the ability to watch just how much you’re moving (or not), an Activity app (with iPhone counterpart in the Watch app), and probably integration with most major fitness apps within a short time of launch.

HomeKit: Expect your Apple Watch to have deep integration with the HomeKit home automation framework as well. Tap the Watch to lock or unlock a door, turn off lights? Sure – it’s not here yet, but soon.

A real app store: The Pebble Smartwatch App provides a way to browse and discover apps for the Pebble. Most of those appear to be watch faces. While I assume that watch faces will be a fun item on the Watch as well, we’ll see vetted apps with a tried and true delivery and update system.

Enough said.

Macs not vulnerable to BadUSB attack

TidBITS reported on the BadUSB vulnerability.

“The new MacBook’s single port comes with a major security risk,” proclaims The Verge. Gizmodo took The Verge’s story a step further with, “The NSA Is Going to Love These USB-C Charging Cables.” So what’s the big deal, and is there any fire behind all this hot air?

These articles are pure clickbait. The main exploit in question, called BadUSB, was discovered 8 months ago. In theory, it could be used to attack most USB devices, including Macs, iPads, Windows PCs, and more. But making it seem like the new 12-inch MacBook, and to a lesser degree, the new ChromeBook Pixel, has some sort of new vulnerability because of using USB-C is disingenuous at best.

Gizmodo seems to believe the 12-inch MacBook is vulnerable to this direct attack, even going so far as to suggest that the NSA will distribute hacked USB-C power adapters designed to take over your notebook. But unlike Thunderstrike on vulnerable Macs (see “Thunderstrike Proof-of-Concept Attack Serious, but Limited,” 9 January 2015), the USB port uses Intel’s xHCI (eXtensible Host Controller Interface), which can’t be placed into a DFU (device firmware upgrade) mode to overwrite the MacBook’s firmware. Thus the MacBook itself can’t be infected with BadUSB, so plugging in an unknown power adapter can’t give someone control of your MacBook.

Anything to pull eyeballs to their sites.

Apple Pay security

Jim Dalrymple wrote on Fortune about the effect of Apple Pay on the App Store.

The fact that none of these guys brought up or seemed at all concerned about cybertheft may tell you more than any headline that contains the words Apple, Pay and Fraud.

“There’s no downside,” says Spring’s Alan Tisch. “Anything in commerce that makes it easier for customers to pay, you focus on. This has been a bigger success than we anticipated.

Click baiting headlines might bring in some views, but is it worth it to do so at the expense of your brand’s reputation?

The inside story of how Apple’s new medical research platform was born

Fusion reported on how Apple’s new medical research platform was born.

“No one wants to entrust their health data to a company that’s going to sell them to the highest bidder, and the highest bidders usually include the worst privacy abusers. Apple has taken a very principled stance,” Munos added. “It’s the kind of reassurance people need.”

Apple’s privacy record is far from spotless, but its approach is different from that of Google or Facebook, both of which make money by selling access to their users to advertisers. Apple is a hardware manufacturer—it sells gadgets, not targeted ads—and that hardware focus is at the heart of why Friend, who’s been trying to build something like ResearchKit for years, chose to work with Apple rather than a competitor.

Companies like Google and Facebook “make their power by selling data…They get people information about other people,” Friend told me. “Apple has said, ‘We will not look at this data.’ Could you imagine Google saying that?”

It is a leverage that Google and Facebook can never have.

Why Swiss smartwatches have no chance against the Apple Watch

Quartz reported on Swiss smartwatches chances against the Apple Watch.

It is possible, we suppose, that Tag Heuer could somehow teach itself to become the world’s foremost wrist-computer company—and leapfrog Apple—by next year. But that seems extremely unlikely. Apple didn’t just take a heritage watch case, add a screen, and shove in a microchip and a bunch of sensors. And as Biver is about to discover, trying to integrate one company’s microchip with another’s operating system and app ecosystem, then reconciling that combination with your company’s century-old design ideals is going to require some major compromises.

Just look at Microsoft and Google’s attempts at making phones on their own.