Facebook to cut unpaid posts by marketers on news feeds


SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook's executives are not terribly worried about upsetting people these days.

Flush with profits and a high stock price, Facebook recently shocked investors by saying that it planned to spend billions of dollars on projects that might never generate any profits.

Android, iOS or Windows Phone — which OS is best for you?


Mobile operating systems or mobile OSs have come a long way since the first generation of Apple's iOS, back in 2007. With major advancements in hardware, and reduced costs of processors and sensors, the possibilities for mobile software have really opened up, and software developers have been quick to take advantage of these new-found powers. So what does that spell for shoppers in the market for a new phone?

It's not about which OS is the best, but rather which OS is the best for you. We all have different needs and usage habits. I grew up tinkering with PCs and love having control over every aspect of my devices, and Android is flexible enough to accommodate my affinity for tweaking settings frequently. On the other hand, you may not care as much for customization options and would rather have an easy-to-use touchscreen device that lets you chat and take great photos — why not consider a Windows Phone device?

When it comes to personal devices, there's really no need to be loyal to any one brand or OS. Buyers are often swayed by aggressively-worded articles that rubbish one OS and praise another to no end. What you need to remember is that hardware and software are both evolving at a rapid pace, and that reviews should only guide you towards which products you should check out. The best way to know if a phone or OS is best for you, is to try it at the store. Let's take a look at which OSes fits your needs best.

Android owns the lion's share when it comes to smartphones in India because of its availability across several brands and because it meets the needs of a wide range of users. From gaming to multimedia entertainment to photography to everyday calling and messaging, Android does it all, while offering users a tremendous control over their experience. Want a simple phone-and-SMS only experience? Prefer a custom lock screen and custom lock screen and launcher with informative widgets? Need an enhanced camera app? Android's got you covered, with apps and settings for all of the above.

Google's also been stepping up their game considerably with their Android One programme, that standardizes specs and brings timely OS updates. They offer a pleasant experience even at lower price points. The latest version, dubbed Android 5.0 (Lollipop) introduces a new design language that's more refined, consistent and focussed on content. If you want a flexible OS and access to a huge variety of apps and games, give Android a try.

Obama's immigration plan has both relief and risk for tech sector


WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration is expected to include some modest changes to make it easier for technology companies to retain high-skilled workers frustrated by long and unpredictable waits for green cards.

But the major overhaul that the tech sector is seeking of the visa and green card system would require action by Congress. For now at least, the prospects for legislation appear to be slim.

Obama has pledged take executive action on immigration by year-end and could act as early as next Friday. Lobbyists for tech companies said they have not seen details about the fixes. But based on the options the tech sector pitched to the administration, they are expecting only incremental changes.

"We'd be grateful for anything, really, because the situation is that severe," said Emily Lam, a vice president with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a trade group that represents more than 375 employers.

"The true fix really has to be legislative, anything within their power is really going to be tweaking on the sides. It doesn't solve the fundamental issues," she said.

One big reform that requires legislation: Lifting the annual cap for H1B visas for specialized technology workers that last for up to six years.

The United States loses about 500,000 jobs per year because of those limits, according to estimates from Compete America, a coalition representing tech giants including Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft.

Most changes within Obama's powers are aimed at easing the transition for workers moving from H1B visas to greencards.

For example, lobbyists think the administration could finalize a regulation announced in May that would give work permits to spouses of some skilled immigrants with temporary visas.

The most ambitious proposal for tech would speed up long wait lists for green cards for employees on temporary H1B visas by changing the way their spouses and children are counted under an annual cap of 140,000.

But several lobbyists told Reuters they were not optimistic that the proposal would be accepted due to fears by some lawyers it could be challenged in court.

"I think some of it will be band-aids," said one industry lobbyist. "While they're little fixes, it creates a bigger political problem," the lobbyist said.

The fear is that bigger legislative fixes for business could get caught up in an explosive political war between Republicans and Obama over relief for undocumented immigrants, prolonging the needed changes.

Nadella effect: Microsoft surpasses Exxon, becomes world's second most valuable company


SAN FRANCISCO: The bull run in Microsoft's stock this past year has helped the tech giant surpass Exxon Mobil and seize the rank of the second most valuable company, behind Apple Inc.

Under new CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has worked to overcome its reputation as a clumsy behemoth struggling to keep up with new tech trends and consumer habits. Nadella has cut expenses — and jobs — while pledging to refocus the company on mobile technology and cloud computing. His efforts have fueled a stock surge that drove Microsoft's total market value above $410 billion on Friday. That leapfrogged Exxon's value of $404 billion, which has been dinged by the drop in oil prices.

YouTube introduces a paid service called Music Key


SAN FRANCISCO: Google is remixing the music on its YouTube video site with the addition of ad-free subscription service ``Music Key'' and a new format designed to make it easier to find millions of songs that can still be played for free.

The subscription service is part of Google's effort to mine more revenue from YouTube as the video site approaches the 10th anniversary of its inception. Music Key has been speculated about for months while Google Inc. wrangled over the licensing terms with recording labels. The service, priced initially at $8 a month, is comparable in cost to other digital music subscription services sold by Spotify, Apple Inc's Beats and Google's own 18-month-old streaming service tied to its Android ``Play'' store. But Music Key subscribers will be able to stream through the Google Play service at no additional charge, too.

YouTube also is unveiling a new tab devoted exclusively to music on its mobile apps and website. This option is meant to make it easier for the video site's 1 billion users to find specific songs and entire albums, even if they aren't subscribers.

Most music subscription services own the rights to the same catalogues, making their ability to learn listeners' preference to create appealing playlists particularly important. Music Key, though, will offer the unique distinction of being able to show artists performing their songs too.

That difference could help lure listeners away from Spotify, which says it has about 50 million users, including 12.5 million subscribers, said Mark Mulligan, a longtime industry analyst with Midia Research. And YouTube's redesigned library of free music could do even more damage to Spotify and other services, such as video site Vevo, where people flock to check out songs at no cost. Expanding the audience that listens to free music would be profitable for Google because that would yield more opportunities to show ads _ the main way that the Mountain View, California, company makes its money anyway.

Amazon wants to do an Alibaba in India


NEW DELHI: E-commerce giant Amazon wants to do in India what Alibaba did in China. Amazon's India head Amit Agarwal on Tuesday met telecom and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and urged him to allow the use of new technologies such as real-time tracking and monitoring devices on the India Post network to develop a delivery mechanism based on smart logistics.

The government has sought a detailed proposal from Amazon, to which it will respond, a person familiar with the details of the meeting told ET. Amazon wants to leverage an improved India Post network to ramp up its delivery mechanism to within 24-hours anywhere within the country.

Agarwal was accompanied for the meeting by Monique Meche, Amazon's vice president for international public policy.

Data tariffs may fall 20% with Reliance Jio's entry: Fitch


NEW DELHI: The entry of Reliance Jio Infocomm in the telecom space will intensify competition and may bring data tariffs down by at least 20%, Fitch Ratings said today.

It, however, said no tariff wars are expected as witnessed during the 2009-2013 period.

"The likely entry of new telco Reliance Jio, which is a part of Reliance Industries Ltd in 1H15 will intensify competition in the data segment, and may cause data tariffs to decline by at least 20%," Fitch said in its 2015 outlook for Indian telecommunications services.

Reliance Industries had announced that it would launch commercial 4G telecom service of RJio in 2015 entailing investment of Rs 70,000 crore.

Fitch said Jio will focus largely on data and may have a limited impact on the incumbents' core voice business, given a weak "voice-over-LTE" technology ecosystem and lack of affordable 4G-compatible handsets in India.

"We do not foresee a re-run of the tariff wars of 2009-2013, which led to a severe decline in industry tariffs," Fitch said.

Fitch expects the top four Indian telcos — Bharti Airtel Limited, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications — to increase their revenue market share to around 83% by 2015 from the current 79% in the $-30 billion industry.

"The likely entry of new telco Reliance Jio, which is a part of Reliance Industries Ltd in 1H15 will intensify competition in the data segment, and may cause data tariffs to decline by at least 20%," Fitch said in its 2015 outlook for Indian telecommunications services.

Reliance Industries had announced that it would launch commercial 4G telecom service of RJio in 2015 entailing investment of Rs 70,000 crore.

Fitch said Jio will focus largely on data and may have a limited impact on the incumbents' core voice business, given a weak "voice-over-LTE" technology ecosystem and lack of affordable 4G-compatible handsets in India.
"We do not foresee a re-run of the tariff wars of 2009-2013, which led to a severe decline in industry tariffs," Fitch said.

Fitch expects the top four Indian telcos — Bharti Airtel Limited, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications — to increase their revenue market share to around 83% by 2015 from the current 79% in the $-30 billion industry.

Apple accused of 'bait-and-switch' by bankrupt supplier


Apple Inc pulled a "bait and switch" move to force GT Advanced Technologies into a money-losing deal to supply the iPhone maker with sapphire, according to an affidavit by a senior executive at the company.

In documents unsealed on Friday by a US Bankruptcy Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, GT Advanced chief operating officer Daniel Squiller says Apple offered what would have been GT Advanced's largest sale ever and then changed the terms of the agreement after it was too late for the smaller company to pursue other opportunities.

GT Advanced, a maker of sapphire furnaces that supplied sapphire material to Apple for its smartphone screens, filed for Chapter 11 protection on October 6 and refused to publicly explain why it had imploded, citing confidentiality clauses in its Apple contracts.

The two companies later reached a deal to part ways and allow GT Advanced to proceed with its bankruptcy, but Judge Henry Boroff denied requests by the companies to keep some of the documents in the case under seal.

In a deal struck last year, GT Advanced outfitted a plant owned by Apple in Mesa, Arizona with furnaces that it would use to make scratch-resistant sapphire exclusively for Apple.

"With a classic bait-and-switch strategy, Apple presented GTAT with an onerous and massively one-sided deal in the fall of 2013," Innovative Write.

Google starts rolling out Android 5.0 (Lollipop)


NEW DELHI: Google in an official blog post has said that the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) update has been released.

However, the company has not said which models and regions will get the latest version of Android first. There have been no reports of Nexus 4, 5, 7 (2012 and 2013) and 10 getting the update across the world till now. Apart from Nexus device, Google Play Edition smartphones and tablets will also get the update in the initial wave.

Earlier, there were rumours that Google has not been able to create a stable version of Android 5.0 update for cellular models like Nexus 4 and 5 smartphones as well as 3G/4G-enabled Nexus 7 and 10 tablets.

Android 5.0, which Google has called its most ambitious release ever, brings a host of new features, such as a total design revamp, better battery life, improved security and support for multiple user profiles on same device.

Motorola has said that Moto E as well as the first- and second-generation Moto G and X smartphones will get Android 5.0. Likewise, Sony will release the update for all Xperia Z series models, among other smartphones. HTC has said that its One and One (M8) smartphones will get Android 5.0 update within 90 days of its release.

Other major manufacturers, such as Samsung and LG, have not revealed their plans to upgrade products to Android 5.0.

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