Tag: samsung

Samsung’s phone-as-desktop concept now runs Linux

Samsung's DeX is a clever way to turn your phone into a desktop computer. However, there's one overriding problem: you probably don't have a good reason to use it instead of a PC. And Samsung is trying to fix that. It's unveiling Linux on Galaxy, an app-based offering that (surprise) lets you run Linux distributions on your phone. Ostensibly, it's aimed at developers who want to bring their work environment with them wherever they go. You could dock at a remote office knowing that your setup will be the same as usual.

It's not quite the same as your typical Ubuntu or Debian install. Linux on Galaxy launches through an app, and it's using the same kernel as Android itself in order to maintain performance. And it almost goes without saying that you'll really want a DeX setup, since most Linux apps are expecting a large screen, mouse and keyboard.

As it stands, you'll have to be patient. Linux on Galaxy isn't available right now -- you can sign up for alerts, but it's not ready for public consumption. Even so, this is good evidence that Samsung thinks of DeX as considerably more than a novelty feature. It may be a long, long while (if ever) before many people are using their phones as desktops, but Samsung is willing to gradually build up its ecosystem and eventually give you an incentive to take a second look.

Source: Samsung, Linux on Galaxy

Samsung’s 360 Round camera livestreams 3D VR

Samsung already has a virtual reality camera in the form of the Gear 360, but it's not really for pros -- it's for everyday users who want to record a 360-degree video on the street. What if you're a pro, or a well-heeled enthusiast? Samsung has you covered: it's launching the previously hinted-at 360 Round. The disc-shaped device carries a whopping 17 2-megapixel cameras and six microphones (plus two mic ports) to create 3D (that is, stereoscopic) VR video. It's powerful enough to livestream 4K VR at a smooth 30 frames per second, helped in part by software that promises to stitch together immersive video with virtually no lag.

Other nods to pro use? The Round is IP65 water resistant, so you can use it in the rain, and its unibody design is meant to keep you shooting for "hours" without the need for a noisy cooling fan.

Samsung is releasing the 360 Round later in October for American buyers at an unmentioned price, with other countries coming later. Keep in mind that the camera is only one part of the cost, though. You'll need a monster PC, especially if you're livestreaming. A post-processing rig demands at least a Core i7-6700K, 16GB of RAM and GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, while livestreaming and preview machines ask for a 10-core i7-6950X, 32GB of RAM and two GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cards. You're probably not going to use the Round for your video blog, then, but this makes high-quality 3D VR a viable option using off-the-shelf PCs.

Source: Samsung

Bixby 2.0 and Project Ambience push Samsung’s vision of connected devices

To compete with the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa, Samsung has to get its own version of a smart voice-powered assistant, Bixby, to as many devices as possible. It also needs to make Bixby work as well as its competitors, something Samsung has had trouble with since launch. At the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, the tech company announced two initiatives that will do just that: Bixby 2.0 and Project Ambience.

The Bixby update brings Samsung's digital assistant to more devices like smart TVs and refrigerators and adds "deep linking capabilities and enhanced natural language abilities," along with a way to recognize multiple users —a feature that already exists on Assistant and Alexa. Along the same lines, Project Ambience, a hardware dongle or chip, will let users add the Samsung vision of the Internet of Things — with Bixby ascendant — to any connectable device.

"We see a world where digital assistant play a bigger role, an intelligent role, where one day everything from our phones, to our fridge, to our sprinkler system will have some sort of intelligence to help us seamlessly interact with all the technology we use each day," said Samsung's Eui-Suk Chung in a statement. Bixby 2.0 is powered by Viv technologies, the company of former Siri engineers Samsung acquired last year. Developers will also get a Bixby SDK, which could lead to more devices with the smart assistant built in.

Source: Samsung

Samsung leapfrogs Intel again with 8-nanometer chips

Samsung has qualified its 8-nanometer chip-making process for production three months ahead of schedule. It's the same "low power plus" (LPP) process used for its current 10-nanometer silicon, not the next-gen extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography for its future 7-nanometer tech. That'll yield chips that are ten percent more energy efficient and ten percent smaller than the 10-nanometer ones it's making right now. At the same time, since the 8-nanometer chips use the same process, Samsung will be able to "rapidly ramp up," it said.

Samsung said that the new process will be ideal for "mobile, cryptocurrency and network/server" applications. It notably worked again with Qualcomm, its 10-nanometer chip launch customer, to perfect the new tech. Rumors in Korea had it that Qualcomm would switch its 7-nanometer production to TMSC, which is reportedly slightly ahead of Samsung in developing that tech.

However, Samsung confirmed with ZDNet that Qualcomm will be using its 8-nanometer process, without providing any specific details. Given that information, it seems likely that Qualcomm will build its next-gen Snapdragon chips with Samsung, using the tried-and-true LPP process instead of bleeding-edge 7-nanometer tech, which necessitates a switch to extreme ultraviolet lithography.

By that time, Samsung should have its own 7-nanometer EUV process up to speed, with 6-nanometer chips set to follow after that. Anyway, Samsung Mobile is probably Qualcomm's biggest customer with its Galaxy S8 and Note 8 phones, so it would have been pretty awkward to split off to another foundry.

Though they don't compete much in the same markets, the news puts Intel even further behind Samsung, at least in terms of chip trace sizes. Intel has yet to release any 10-nanometer chips, though it has said that when it does (in 2018 or 2019), it will be "generations ahead" of Samsung thanks to better feature density. By then, however, Samsung might have closed that gap by being two or three actual generations ahead of Intel in terms of lithography. Samsung is expected to reveal its roadmap for 8- and 7-nanometer chips later today.

Source: Samsung

Samsung believes ‘programmable objects’ will blanket your home

While Samsung continues to reap the rewards of being the world's largest Android partner, it also has its eyes set on the future of the connected home. "Samsung is very focused on the internet of things," said David Eun, the president of Samsung Next, the company's investment arm. At the Wall Street Journal's D.Live conference today, he said that there'll come a time when your home will be covered in connected devices.

"We think this could be the third wave where you have programmable objects blanketing your home," he said. Eun said that the company has already been investing in certain companies to help accelerate this effort, such as the purchase of home automation platform SmartThings in 2014. Now, it's the defacto platform for all of Samsung's connected devices, such as the Connect Home router and a cellular smart tag.

Yet, the internet of things hasn't leapt off to a great start. For many, it's still confusing to use, with far too many apps and a laborious set-up process. There's also the recent problem of security, with IoT devices frequently used as a target for botnets.

Eun remains optimistic, however. "The internet of things is an interesting area of growth for us," he said. Connected homes can also prevent theft, he said, by alerting the owner of any disturbances. And while rivals like Amazon and Google are relying on embedding existing devices with their own smart assistants (Alexa and Google Assistant respectively), Samsung has the advantage of making its own hardware too. Imagine a Bixby-powered Samsung fridge, for example, or a Bixby-powered Samsung washing machine.

All of this means heavy investment not just in hardware, but also in software and services, which is what Eun has been focusing on for the past few years. "We have to get the software equation right," he said, adding that it's essential to have a thoughtful integration of both hardware and software.

Part of the idea behind Samsung NEXT is to act as a startup within a very large company, and its job in recent years has been to identify "transformative software and services" and to discover them through investment and VC funds.

"We invested in virtual reality two to three years before coming out with a headset," said Eun. "It turns out investments can be incredibly strategic when you're thinking about innovation."

As for the past year, Eun admits that it's been a rough time at the company as it dealt with the fall out from the Galaxy Note 7 scandal. Still, the recent reception of Galaxy Note 8 was welcome. "It's been a record year," he said. "It's the most gratifying thing."

Greenpeace blasts Amazon over poor environmental practices

Greenpeace has made a tradition out of raking companies over the coals when their environmental practices fall short of its standards, and that's truer than ever in the activist group's latest electronics report card. The organization didn't list any major company whose environmental stances (including renewable energy, sustainable products and toxin-free materials) were good enough to merit an "A" grade, and four companies earned an unflattering "F" -- including internet giant Amazon. According to Greenpeace, Jeff Bezos' brainchild falls well short on most marks.

Most notably, Greenpeace accuses Amazon of being opaque when it comes to discussing its environmental practices. The company publishes virtually no data on its energy use, its materials or whether or not it limits the use of hazardous chemicals. It tends to offer only the info required by law. Outside of its adoption of solar powered data centers and support for eco-friendly government policies, it hasn't made public commitments to lessen the environmental impact of its products. This isn't to say that Amazon hasn't taken steps to help the planet -- it's just impossible to know without more transparency. We've asked Amazon for comment.

As it stands, Amazon isn't alone. Some Chinese phone makers are also less-than-kind to the Earth, including stablemates Oppo and Vivo as well as Xiaomi. Not surprisingly, it's again chalked up to a lack of transparency and public commitments. If they're doing anything to improve the environment, they're not talking about it.

Only two companies fare well in the guide. Apple gets a "B-" through its strong transparency and very open commitments to eco-friendly technology, and it's mainly hurt by its reliance on hard-to-fix devices as well as its opposition to Right to Repair laws. The top performer is Fairphone, whose emphasis on easily-repaired, sustainable tech got it a "B" marred only by some unclear commitments. Whatever you think of Greenpeace or its verdicts, the guide at least serves as a useful goalpost. If companies want to prove that they're taking care of Mother Nature, they have to demonstrate in everything they do.

Source: Greenpeace

The encryption many major companies rely on has a serious flaw

Researchers at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic uncovered a major security vulnerability in RSA keys generated by Infineon Technologies-produced chips. These chips are used in products manufactured by Acer, ASUS, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Toshiba and Chromebook vendors, reports Bleeping Computer and the RSA keys generated by Infineon's chips are used in government-issued identity documents, during software signing, in authentication tokens, with message protection like PGP, in programmable smartcards and during secure browsing.

The researchers say that key lengths of 1024 and 2048 bits are able to be figured out with little effort using the public portion of the key. "A remote attacker can compute an RSA private key from the value of a public key. The private key can be misused for impersonation of a legitimate owner, decryption of sensitive messages, forgery of signatures (such as for software releases) and other related attacks," they said in a report. "The vulnerability does NOT depend on a weak or a faulty random number generator - all RSA keys generated by a vulnerable chip are impacted. The attack was practically verified for several randomly selected 1024-bit RSA keys and for several selected 2048-bit keys." And the affected RSA library has been generating weak keys since 2012. "The currently confirmed number of vulnerable keys found is about 760,000 but possibly up to two to three magnitudes more are vulnerable," said the researchers. As Ars Technica reports, a number of the vulnerable keys included those used in Estonian government-issued documents like e-residency cards.

The vulnerability was discovered and reported to Infineon in February and as per the agreed upon delay before public disclosure, the researchers will be releasing their full report on November 2nd at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security. The delay is to ensure that people have time to change affected keys before the details of how the vulnerability works are released. It has also allowed vendors like Microsoft, Google, HP, Lenovo and Fujitsu to release software updates to mitigate the impact of the flaw.

The researchers have released a blog post about the vulnerability, which includes tools for testing whether existing RSA keys are secure or vulnerable. It also provides advice on what to do if you find your RSA key is compromised.

Via: Ars Technica, Bleeping Computer

Source: CRoCS

Samsung’s cellular smart tag lasts for a week on one charge

Smart products have given us the tools we need to track personal items, and even loved ones. Want to know where your kids are? Buy them a custom smartwatch. Worried about losing your suitcase? Grab some connected luggage. Looking to keep a watchful eye over your pet? Get a webcam-integrated smart toy. But, as useful as they may be, they're still restricted by their category. Sensing a gap in the market for a versatile product that can do all of the above, Samsung is releasing the Connect Tag.

The manufacturer claims the device is the first of its kind to use narrowband tech (NB-IoT, Cat.M1) -- essentially a low-power network for smart products. That means it can last a whole week on a single charge. The square-shaped tag measures in at 4.21cm, and is 1.19cm thick -- making it compact enough to clip on to your keys, kids' backpacks, or dog collars.

The waterproof device boasts a geo-fence feature that alerts you when an item or person has left a set virtual zone. Of course, it also syncs with smart home appliances, allowing you to carry out simple controls, like turning the TV or lights on. However, it does have a few caveats: It only works with an Android app, with no mention of iOS support. Plus, it may not arrive in this part of the world till next year. And, there's also no mention of price, which could prove critical for those looking to buy several. Its first stop will be South Korea, with Samsung promising to release the tag in more countries soon.

Source: Samsung

Samsung vice chairman quits amid leadership ‘crisis’

Based on the earnings guidance Samsung has released for the third quarter of 2017, the Korean conglomerate is set to make a new record. It puts its operating profit for July to September at around $12.8 billion, almost thrice last year's $4.6 billion. Despite the possibility of having the best annual earnings ever, not everything's A-OK for the chaebol. Samsung Vice Chairman Oh-Hyun Kwon has decided to step down and leave his positions as vice chairman, board chairman and member, as well as CEO of Samsung display. He said the company is "confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out" and needs "a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges..."

Kwon has been the face of Samsung after Jay Y. Lee was arrested and eventually found guilty of bribery and embezzlement. Lee, who was sentenced to five years in prison, apparently bribed officials to ensure that the controversial merger of two Samsung-controlled companies would go smoothly in spite of shareholders' disapproval. While he was only a vice chairman when he was arrested, Lee was considered the company's de facto leader after his father, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014. The younger Lee is responsible for conjuring up the company's long-term strategic vision.

Samsung had a great quarter, thanks mainly to the increasing demand for memory chips with large storage capacities. The mobile division's performance also got a boost from Galaxy Note 8's sales, but we won't know by how much until the full earnings come out. If the conglomerate wants to top Q3's profit, though, it has to find a way to solve the "unprecedented crisis" it's going through.

Source: AP, Samsung (1), (2), Reuters

Samsung’s Gear Sport smartwatch hits stores this month for $300

Samsung's latest wearables, the Gear Sport smartwatch and IconX 2018 earbuds, are hitting stores in the US on October 27th. The company announced that pre-orders for both products will begin tomorrow, with pricing set at $300 for the Gear Sport and $200 for the refined IconX. If you recall, Samsung introduced these at IFA 2017 in Berlin at the end of August, but we didn't know specific pricing or availability details until now.

Featuring a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED round display, the Gear Sport promises to be a strong rival for Fitbit's Ionic watch -- thanks to a solid lineup of supported fitness apps. Meanwhile, the 2018 edition of the IconX earbuds are lighter and more comfortable than the previous model, and there's a longer battery life to boot.

Those of you who are into the thought of wearing a Gear Sport or IconX can head to Samsung's site to get one (or both).