Apple ‘Self-Healing Elastomer’ Patent Hints at Waterproof iPhone

Apple has been granted a patent that puts further weight to rumours of an upcoming waterproofiPhone. The patent reveals a “self-healing elastomer” or rubber inside the phone’s ports (such as the Lightning port and headphone port) that could lose and regain its shape to keep the innards from being exposed to water and other debris.

The company may have plans to make a waterproof iPhone without changing much of the outer aesthetic, it appears. The patent, which was filed for in 2014 and granted on Thursday last week, reveals a rubber seal on external jacks that would supposedly open when you insert a connector like the headphone, and once removed, it regains its shape to block the device’s opening.

“An electronic device has a self-healing elastomer applied over one or more external electronic connectors. The self-healing elastomer may obscure the electronic connectors from the user as well as provide environmental protection for the connector and the electronic device,” the patent abstract reads.

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There could be more application of this technology, do note. “Electronic probes may temporarily penetrate the self-healing elastomer to mate with the electronic connector. After removal of the probes the self-healing elastomer may elastically reform and self-heal.”

It is also worth pointing out that not every patent Apple files (or any other company for that matter) actually makes it to a finished product. However, these patents give us an idea of the features one could expect from the company’s future products.

That said, Apple has been seemingly interested in making its devices waterproof. A rumour from earlier this year suggested that the iPhone 7 could have the ability to withstand water. Also, the iPhone 6s has been found to contain seals that protect the device from water. Apple has never advertised for this feature.

Global Smartphone Sales Growth to Hit Single Digits for First Time: IDC

Global smartphone sales growth will cool to single digits for the first time ever amid a slowdown in China, a new market forecast said Thursday.

The research firm IDC said it expects worldwide smartphone shipments to grow 9.8 percent in 2015 to a total of 1.43 billion units.

The forecast was updated to reflect slower growth in many Asian markets, Latin America and western Europe.

The cooling is expected to continue through 2019, IDC said.

One key market in focus is China, which will be hit by an economic slowdown and is largely saturated.

“IDC maintains its view that China has largely become a replacement market,” the new forecast report said.

The strongest growth will come from the Middle East and Africa, with gains of nearly 50 percent, overtaking other emerging economies such as India and Indonesia.

“With the smartphone market finally slowing to single-digit growth, maintaining momentum will depend on several factors,” said IDC analyst Ryan Reith.

“The main driver has been and will continue to be the success of low-cost smartphones in emerging markets. This, in turn, will depend on capturing value-oriented first-time smartphone buyers as well as replacement buyers.”

In some emerging economies replacement cycles will be less than the typical two-year rate, “mainly because the components that comprise a sub-$100 (roughly Rs. 6,700 range) smartphone simply do not have the ability to survive two years,” Reith said.

“Offering products that appeal to both types of buyers at a suitable price point will be crucial to maintaining growth and vendor success.”

IDC said Android is likely to remain dominant this year with a market share of 81.2 percent while Applecaptures 15.8 percent of the market. It expects Windows Phone to hold just 2.2 percent of the market and other operating systems 0.8 percent.

Smartphones and the Internet Are Eating Our TV Time: Nielsen

The use of Internet-ready devices like smartphones appears to have seriously cut into the time Americans spend watching traditional TV, new Nielsen data show, potentially undermining the notion that mobile devices merely serve as “second screens” while people are plopped in front of the set.

Data provided to The Associated Press show an increase in the number of 18-to-34-year-olds who used a smartphone, tablet or TV-connected device like a streaming box or game console. That grew 26 percent in May compared with a year earlier, to an average of 8.5 million people per minute.

Those devices, which all showed gains in usage, more than offset declines in traditional TV, radio and computers. In the same age group, the demographic most highly coveted by advertisers, use of those devices fell 8 percent over the same period to a combined 16.6 million people per minute.

It’s not a one-to-one tradeoff, though. Sometimes people are using smartphones while watching TV, or using them outside the home where it wouldn’t cut into TV time. In addition, some mobile device use is, well, to watch TV shows.

Nielsen’s inaugural “Comparable Metrics” report for the first time presents data on average use per minute, making it possible to directly compare various devices. The study counts all apps, Web surfing and game play but not texts or calling.

The results confirm a trend in other Nielsen data that found viewing of traditional TV – through a cable or satellite connection or an antenna – peaked in the 2009-10 season.

“It’s pretty clear the increased use of mobile devices is having some effect on the system as a whole,” said Glenn Enoch, Nielsen’s senior vice president of audience insights.

The audience for TV viewing alone fell by 10 percent, to 8.4 million people a minute, in the 18-to-34-year-old category.

The new Nielsen data also looks at time spent watching video on various devices, but not for TV-connected devices, where users were clocked playing games as well.

However, even excluding TV-connected devices, the shift in video watching away from the TV is pronounced.

For the young group, viewing on TVs fell 10 minutes to an average of 5 hours and 43 minutes a day. That’s more than compensated for the 33-minute gain in viewing video on computers, smartphones and tablets, which rose to 3 hours and 43 minutes.

Since Nielsen inaugurated its tracking service in 1949, average daily TV viewing has grown steadily, from 4 hours and 35 minutes a day to a peak of 8 hours and 55 minutes in 2009-10. That increase coincided with growing numbers of TV sets sold and the proliferation of programming on cable channels.

But viewership has been declining ever since. From late September until mid-November this year, daily TV watching accounted for only 8 hours and 13 minutes, Nielsen said.

HTC Preview Program Lets Users Get Early Access to Upcoming Software, Hardware

HTC has announced a new Preview Program where it users can join and give feedback on software and hardware ahead of its official release. Interested users can join via HTC’s dedicated Preview Programpage. HTC Team also held an AMA on Reddit where the company explained the Preview Program in detail.

The company said, “The most dedicated members of the Android community, to raise their hands to help contribute with feedback, and suggestions.” HTC however adds that joining the Preview Program for providing feedback on software and hardware before its release will not guarantee early access to stable software or hardware.

“Please take note that HTC Preview is not a way for users to jump to the front of the line for the latest update. It’s a responsibility – you accept to use what is provided as your daily driver. If you are not ready to do that you may not want to take part,” added the Taiwanese company.

One of the users during the AMA session on Reddit asked what data will be collected by HTC as part of the program from the participating members. The company responded saying, “Logs are running in the background and collect data on network/signal strength, battery information, usage times, apps used. We do not collect personal data (such as passwords, account information, text messages, MMS, emails, call logs unless authorized by you). We cannot at any time see your screen or what you’re doing unless you took a screenshot to share with us.”

A user asked whether the unlocked bootloaders/root access will affect the program eligibility. “Unfortunately unlocked bootloaders/root access devices won’t be able to participate at this time,” replied the company.

Another user showed concerns about whether the company was frustrated with its direction or moves. One of the team members responded saying, “There are frustrations with any company, sure. To impact change, we’re looking more at having outside feedback and suggestions, which is why we’re working to grow and improve the Preview program. This user feedback is important and it’s easier to go to executives with data saying ‘customers want this ___”. Definitely rest assured that your opinions are being heard.”

iPhone 7 to Be Waterproof, Sport 3GB of RAM: TrendForce

The iPhone 7, which Apple is expected to launch next year, could feature a memory boost, according to a research firm. The handset is also said to have waterproof capabilities. The research firm also expectsApple to launch a 4-inch iPhone next year.

TrendForce said that it expects the next iPhone – currently expected to be called the iPhone 7 – to sport 3GB of RAM. Interestingly, TrendForce notes that the ‘5.5-inch’ version of the next iPhone will bear 3GB of RAM, with no word on whether the smaller variant will get the same amount of RAM. If not, this could suggest that Apple may have plans to make the ‘Plus’ model of its iPhone lineup more feature-rich in the coming years.

The firm also noted that it expects the next iPhone to be waterproof. While the latter addition seems plausible, the memory boost might not be on the cards, considering how Apple has introduced hardware features over the past few years.

It was only this year when Apple finally upped the memory module on its iPhone models from 1GB to 2GB in iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. It seems unlikely that Apple will offer such a hardware upgrade in just one year. From iPhone 5, released in 2012, to iPhone 6 Plus, released last year, Apple stuck with 1GB RAM for its smartphones.

As for the other expectation, Apple may consider making its new iPhone model waterproof. Interestingly, the company is already moving forward along these lines, with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus found by reviewers and users to be exceptionally water-resistant, despite no announcement of the feature by Apple. The company may be ready to make the announcement with iPhone 7 however, once it is more sure of its water-resistant technology. Notably, Samsung’s top-end phones are water-resistant, while manufacturers like Motorola included the feature in almost all its recent phones.

TrendForce also noted that it expects to see a new 4-inch iPhone – widely referred to as the iPhone 6c – in the second half of next year. Multiple reports in the past few months have claimed that Apple plans to launch a 4-inch iPhone next year. It is rumoured to have features similar to the iPhone 5s, notably the Touch ID, an improved FaceTime HD camera with f/2.2 aperture, and support for 802.11ac Wi-FI and Bluetooth 4.1 wireless standards. KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a reliable track record on upcoming Apple products, recently predicted an iPhone 6c launch set for 2016.

TrendForce estimates that Apple will manage to ship 260 million iPhone units next year with an annual growth of 12.5 percent, and market share of 18.5 percent.

Microsoft Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL India Launch Tipped for November 30

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If you’re looking forward to purchasing the new Microsoft Lumia 950 or Microsoft Lumia 950 XL in India, you might not have to wait till next month. The company has an event scheduled for November 30, in which it is expected to launch the flagship handsets.

At its Future Unveiled conference in Mumbai earlier this month, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadellaannounced that the company plans to launch both its newly launched Windows 10 Mobile-powered handsets in India by December. It appears we might not have to wait till the end of the year. Windows Central reports that the company is planning to launch the Lumia 950 as well as the Lumia 950 XL in all likelihood in India on November 30. Microsoft India confirmed an event on November 30 with Gadgets 360, however, it didn’t reveal what it plans to launch on the day.

Windows Central further notes that the company is also likely to launch the Display Dock, the device that allows a Windows 10 Mobile handset to connect to a large monitor and switch to Windows 10-like desktop mode. At this point, we don’t know how much Microsoft will ask for these handsets or the Display Dock.

For a refresh, the Lumia 950, which starts at $549 (roughly Rs. 35,800) in the US, comes with a 5.2-inch QHD display of pixel density 564ppi. It is powered by a 1.8GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of inbuilt storage that’s expandable via microSD card (up to 200GB).

The Lumia 950 XL, which starts at $649 (roughly Rs. 42,300), sports a 5.7-inch QHD display with a pixel density of 518ppi. It is powered by a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of inbuilt storage that’s expandable via microSD card (up to 200GB).

Both handsets are liquid cooled, and come with an adaptive antenna technology. In addition, both feature USB Type-C port (USB 3.1), with support for faster charging. The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL handsets come equipped with a 20-megapixel rear camera with 4K video recording capability, OIS, and an f/1.9 aperture. There’s also a 5-megapixel sensor placed upfront with an f/2.4 aperture, which can shoot full-HD videos. Both the Lumia handsets run Microsoft’s new mobile operating system, Windows 10 Mobile.

Micromax Canvas Nitro 3 With 2GB RAM Available Online

Micromax, soon after launching Canvas Xpress 4G, now appears to be gearing up to launch another Canvas-series smartphone, the Canvas Nitro 3. The handset is now available to buy via a third-party online retailer priced at Rs. 8,130. The smartphone at the time of writing was not listed on the company’s site.

Of course, since this is a third-party store listing, one cannot be certain if this will be the official launch price when the smartphone is officially unveiled in India. The Micromax Canvas Nitro 3 (Canvas Nitro 2 image above) listing shows the smartphone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, supports dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) cards, and bears a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixel) IPS display. It is powered by an octa-core MediaTek (MT6592M) processor clocked at 1.4GHz, coupled with 2GB of RAM. The smartphone bears 16GB of inbuilt storage, it also supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 32GB).

The Micromax Canvas Nitro 3 sports a 13-megapixel rear autofocus camera, apart from a 5-megapixel front-facing fixed-focus camera. Notably, both the front and rear cameras come with flash support. Connectivity options include 3G (HSPA+), Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Micro-USB 2.0, GPS/ A-GPS, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Unfortunately, there is no word whether the handset supports 4G connectivity.

Measuring 144.3x72x8.7mm, the Canvas Nitro 3 is backed by a 2500mAh battery. It bears an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, and proximity sensor. The smartphone is currently available eBay India.

Micromax on Wednesday launched its 4G LTE-enabled Canvas Xpress 4G smartphone in India. Priced at Rs. 6,599, the smartphone will be Flipkart exclusive. The domestic handset maker also collaborated with Airtel to offer bundled ‘Double Data’ offer to its 3G and 4G consumers.

The highlight of the Micromax Canvas Xpress 4G at the price is 4G LTE support, specifically Cat. 4 LTE with download speeds of up to 150Mbps.

Lenovo’s Zuk Z2 Smartphone to Launch in 2016, Confirms CEO

Lenovo-owned Zuk, the company that launched the Zuk Z1 smartphone earlier this year, would be launching the handset’s successor Zuk Z2 next year, said the company CEO. However, no particular dates were given.

The announcement, which came from the company CEO’s Weibo page (via Gizmochina), also suggested that the Zuk Z1 users would be receiving a new ZUI version based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, sometime in March next year. The version’s closed beta is expected to reach by the end of next month. Although the CEO has not yet confirmed, rumours suggest the Zuk Z2 to sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. The chipset is set to launch on Tuesday.

Last month, Zuk Z1 smartphone reached international markets with Cyanogen OS 12.1, as promised in August. The smartphone in China was launched with the firm’s own ZUI skin running atop Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out-of-the-box. Rest of the hardware remains the same.

To recall, the Zuk Z1 features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display and sports a physical home button on the front panel. Notably, the home button on the Z1 smartphone also embeds the fingerprint scanner. Much like recently launched flagship smartphones, Lenovo’s Zuk Z1 features the USB Type-C 3.0 port. Under the hood, the new smartphone packs a dated Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5GHZ coupled with 3GB of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU. The handset supports dual Nano-SIM cards and packs 64GB of inbuilt storage.

The smartphone sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with Sony sensor (IMX214) and optical image stabilisation (OIS), another feature that’s found in high-end smartphones. There is an 8-megapixel front-facing camera also on board. It packs a large 4100mAh battery and will be available in White and Grey colours. The Zuk Z1 smartphone measures 155.7×77.3×8.9mm and weighs 175 grams. The model launched in China supports both 4G LTE bands in India (FDD-LTE Band 3 1800MHz and TDD-LTE Band 40 2300MHz).

China’s QiKU Set to Launch Terra 808, Terra 810 Smartphones in India

QiKU, a joint venture between Chinese Internet company Qihoo 360 and handset maker Coolpad, announced on Friday that it plans to begin selling smartphones in India. The company says that it is planning to launch the QIKU Terra 808 and QiKU Terra 810 in the country.

Both the handsets offer top-of-the-line specifications. The company also touts security features of the devices such as a secure payments option that uses a dedicated VPN for payment apps.

The QiKU Terra 810 sports a 6-inch QHD (1440×2560) display and comes powered by a QualcommSnapdragon 810 processor paired with 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of inbuilt storage. On the camera front, there are two 13-megapixel Sony IMX278 sensors of aperture f/1.8 at the back, and an 8-megapixel sensor upfront. There’s a 3700mAh battery.

The QiKU Terra 808, moving along, is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC and 3GB of RAM and 16GB of inbuilt storage. The handset also comes with two 13-megapixel Sony IMX278 shooters of aperture f/1.8 at the back, and an 8-megapixel upfront. The company told Gadgets 360 that it will reveal the full specifications and final price at the time of launch. The Terra lineup, which features high-end handsets, starts in China at an equivalent price of $314 (roughly Rs. 20,700). The company also maintains a Luna lineup, which consists of entry-level handsets. QiKU, at this point, hasn’t disclosed whether it wants to sell those handsets in India as well.

On the software side, both the handsets run Qihoo 360 operating system, which is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop and comes with additional security features. In addition to the secure payments feature, the handsets also let users remotely disable the lost phones even if it isn’t connected to the Internet or have a registered SIM card. Additionally, users can also hide confidential documents on the device using a unique personal code.

Trai Rejects Telecom Operators’ Demand to Shelve Call Drop Regulations

Sector regulator Trai has rejected demand of telecom operators to withdraw the order mandating compensation to customers for up to three call drops in a day.

Telecom operators, through their respective associations namely COAI and AUSPI, had written to Trai on October 27 to withdraw the regulations and asserted that it was not possible to make a network free from call drops.

The operators, which had flagged various issues regarding implementation of the regulations, warned that mobile tariffs would go up if they were forced to pay for dropped calls.

The Authority, however, has rejected the argument given by operators.

“The issues raised in your representation have already been considered by the Authority before issuing the regulations and, therefore, your request to withdraw the Telecom Consumers Protection (Ninth Amendment) Regulations, 2015 has not been agreed to by the Authority,” Trai said in separate letters to COAI and AUSPI.

COAI and AUSPI represent all GSM and CDMA operators in the country.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) last month mandated that telecom companies from January 1 should compensate users at the rate of Re. 1 per dropped call, with a ceiling of three dropped calls per day (or, Rs. 3 per day).

Trai said it had held extensive consultations with the stakeholders, including an open-house discussion in New Delhi in this regard.

“AUSPI, COAI and their member service providers participated in the open-house discussion and also submitted their written comments to the Authority,” the letter said.

Trai said it issued the regulations after considering comments of all the stakeholders. COAI, which represents GSM telecom players, had earlier said the regulation may force the industry to shell out about Rs. 150 crores every day even if half of the consumer base in the country faces the call drop issue.

The two industry bodies had said the regulation was an invitation for limitless misuse and gaming of the system and as per estimates, it will lead to a hit of 3 percent on revenues and 7-8 percent on mobile Ebitda.