Archive | February 2012

Apple iPad 3 expected on 7 March following press event

Apple has announced an event on 7 March at which the company is expected to launch its latest iPad tablet.

Invitations sent to journalists read: “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

While not officially confirming the product’s launch, the message was accompanied by an image showing what looked to be an iPad touchscreen.

The iPad range, which first launched in 2010, has sold over 50 million units worldwide.

It is not yet known when the new device will be available for sale.

Last year, sales of the iPad 2 began in the US nine days after the launch announcement – which also took place in March.

Apple’s first two versions of the iPad transformed the market for tablet computers and made it one of the fastest-growing sectors of the computer industry.
Patent woes

However, recently Apple’s dominant position in the tablet market has been challenged by a string of tablets powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Later this year, industry experts expect a new category of tablet devices powered by Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Microsoft will announce details for the consumer versions of Windows 8 at an event in Barcelona on Wednesday evening.

The tablet market – just like the smartphone market – has been subject to intense patent wars chiefly between Apple and its key challenger Samsung.



Many drugs ‘non-vegetarian and need better labelling’

People who choose not to eat animal products may be unaware that common medicines could contain them, a study suggests.

Many tablets and liquid medicines use gelatin, derived from animal bones or skin.

A survey in the Postgraduate Medical Journal shows a quarter of patients are unknowingly prescribed drugs containing gelatin contrary to their beliefs.

The report authors say clearer drug labelling is needed.

A spokesman for the ABPI, which represents the pharmaceutical industry in the UK, said that European Union legislation required the disclosure of all ingredients in the leaflet accompanying the drugs.

He added: “Patients are able to check if a product contains a material which may cause them concern. If patients are unsure if an ingredient is derived from animals they can seek the advice of their pharmacist or contact the company manufacturing the product.
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“Start Quote

Some vegetarians will be shocked to learn about the widespread use of animal ingredients in medicines”

Liz O’Neill The Vegetarian Society

“There is a general trend for manufacturers to move away from the use of animal derivatives in medicines but there remain occasions where the nature of the product, or quality or safety issues, preclude the effective use of non-animal-derived ingredients.”

There are many ingredients in tablets, capsules and other medicines which, while usually not part of the active treatment, help hold it together or thicken liquids.

Gelatin is commonly used, particularly in generic medicines – versions of a drug mass-produced more cheaply once the initial patent has expired.

The Manchester Royal Infirmary researchers, led by a consultant urologist, surveyed 500 patients, and found that approximately 40% in their inner-city catchment said they preferred not to consume animal products in their day-to-day lives, either because they were vegetarians, or for other cultural and religious reasons.

Of the 200 following a restricted diet in this way, 49 were found to be already taking drugs which contained gelatin, despite their wishes.

While many of the 200 said they would be prepared to take a drug containing animal products if there was no alternative, the report authors said that more effort should be made to help them, by both doctors and pharmacists.

They wrote: “In particular, we would recommend that every doctor needs to be aware that it is not just the active drug being dispensed but a whole group of other agents which may have relevance to an individual patient’s compliance with treatment when oral treatments are prescribed.”

They suggested that drug companies could adopt an “ingredients” list similar to that found on food packaging, or even use recognised symbols such as those promoted by the Vegetarian Society.

In addition, they said that plenty of vegetarian alternatives to gelatin were available and should be considered by manufacturers when formulating their products.

Liz O’Neill, spokesman for The Vegetarian Society, said that it frequently received calls from patients concerned about animal products in their medication.

She said that current labelling made it hard for them to make an informed choice.

“Some vegetarians will be shocked to learn about the widespread use of animal ingredients in medicines.

“This is a complex area with no overnight solutions, but the Vegetarian Society believes that everyone has a right to know what they are consuming.”


Free HIV treatment on NHS for foreign nationals

Foreign nationals are to be offered free treatment for HIV on the NHS under plans backed by the government.

Campaigners say the move in England will reduce the risk of Britons being infected and cut the costs of more expensive later treatment.

Currently only British residents are eligible, which excludes migrants.

The Department of Health said it would bring England into line with Scotland and Wales, and there would be safeguards against “health tourism”.
Extend treatment

There are an estimated 25,000 people with undiagnosed HIV in Britain, many of whom were born abroad.

People from overseas cannot be treated for the condition unless they pay, which is not the case for other infectious diseases.

This group of people includes failed asylum seekers, students and tourists.

Conservative former cabinet minister Lord Fowler, who headed the government’s Aids awareness campaign in the 1980s, has called for an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill currently before the Lords.

This would extend free treatment to those who have been in Britain for six months.

The proposal will be introduced by the government in a Statutory Instrument rather than as part of the legislation.
‘Good news’

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: “This measure will protect the public and brings HIV treatment in to line with all other infectious diseases. Treating people with HIV means they are very unlikely to pass the infection on to others.”

Yusef Azad, director of policy at the National Aids Trust, said: “If someone is tested and treated early, it is much cheaper than them presenting themselves in hospital with a much more serious, complex condition that can cost tens of thousands of pounds to treat.”

Professor Jane Anderson, chairwoman of the British HIV Association, said: “This is good news for people living in the UK who are HIV positive and also for public health in general.”

Critics claim the decision could prompt so-called health tourism and put the NHS under further financial pressure.

But the government pledged tough guidance to ensure the measure is not abused.

The Department of Health said it would be difficult for somebody to come to the UK specifically for treatment as the process took months to administer and monitor.


US creates task force to target unfair trade practices

US President Barack Obama has created a new trade task force to investigate and crack down on unfair practices by American trading partners.

The move comes amid concerns that unfair trading practices, especially by China, were harming US businesses.

Policymakers have accused Beijing of keeping its currency artificially low in a bid to help China’s exporters.

The International Trade Enforcement Center will aim to ensure US businesses have “a level playing field.”

“Robust monitoring and enforcement of US rights under international trade agreements, and enforcement of domestic trade laws, are crucial to expanding exports,” the executive order signed by President Obama said.
Growing tensions

Trade relations between the US and China have been under strain in recent years.

While the US economy has slowed, China has witnessed robust growth powered by the success of its manufacturing and export sectors.

However, US policymakers and businesses have accused China of giving an unfair advantage to its exporters by keeping the yuan’s value low, a move which makes Chinese goods cheaper to foreign buyers.

At the same time, some sectors such as the solar panel industry have argued that Chinese manufacturers have benefited from government subsidies which helps them keep their costs low.

President Obama said the US was working to ensure that its partners abide by international trade rules.

He said the new unit will “bring the full resources of the federal government to bear to investigate and counter unfair trade practices around the world, including by countries like China.”


Google Tablet rumors: will it be 7 or 10 inch tablet

Google Tablet rumors are doing the rounds in tech circles. Many wonder if it will be 7 or 10 inch tablet

Rumor over a Google tablet had almost vanished for a moment. But, the former Google CEO Richard Eric Schmidt has again set off gossips over Google Tablet in a function in Italy. He said that the Google would bring a tablet of highest quality in six months. That means we might expect a Google produced Android tablet, possibly named Google Nexus Tablet from Mountain View before this summer. In style of its famous Android reference smartphones, Google may likely name its tablet Nexus, but not sure, indeed. Anyway, here we share some expectations on the possible features of Google Tablet.

A 7-incher
There is less chance that Google might aim an outright fight with Apple. There are already a number of Android tablets in shelves in competition to iPad. So expected to become a 7-inch tablet, it will be a threat more for Amazon Kindle Fire. Taking advantage of huge Google content – Google Books, YouTube and Google Music, a Google Nexus tablet can fight Kindle Fire well.

It seems that the 7-inch tablet market has flourished a lot after Kindle Fire. Many tech makers including Samsung, Motorola, Toshiba and Lenovo have turned their attention towards the market with better quality products. Rumors even predict Apple’s possible entry with a 7-inch iPad Mini late year.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich
It is a rather sensible and easy guess. Google might run the latest Android version on its tablet if it comes out. If the device is to come before the summer, it might feature Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. If the tablet is to arrive late this year, there might be a new Android update, Android 5.0 Jelly Bean, the rumored next gen Android.

Display screen
As per an OLED-Display rumor, Google Android tablet will come with 7-inch display, developed by Samsung. Google seems to have tied up with the South Korean display giant to build 1024 x 600 panels for its future tablet, the rumor says.

A media tablet
A media tablet means a tablet with robust multimedia features. Kindle Fire is partially a media tablet, not completely because it has limited hardware. Google has rich resources to produce a media tablet. With content from sources like Google Books, Google Music and YouTube, its 7-inch tablet can become a better media tablet. Users can enjoy seamless content for free on a Google tablet.

Holo UI
Google recently announced that all Android 4.0 ICS devices should come with its default theme, Holo. Of course, we can expect that Google Tablet will also come with the Google default UI.

Release date
The most reasonable guess for the release of a Google Tablet is this summer. Yes, Schmidt has said it will come in six months.

Google might price its tablet not higher than $199, the famous price of Amazon Kindle Fire. Even if the company loses money, it will have to sell the gadget for that price. Like Amazon, Google can also compensate the loss through other sources of income like media sales.

What others say?
Brooke Crothers of CNet is bemused of Google’s need for a 7-inch tablet in wake of its Motorola’s acquisition. Crothers says that once Google finishes the projected takeover, it will gain ownership of all Moto Android tablets. So, why it needs one 7-inch Android tablet of its own? Motorola already has three Android tablets; the original 10.1-inch Xoom and two Xyboards a 10.1-inch (Xoom 2) and an 8.2-inch.

Meanwhile, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet thinks that Google might be caught up with the success of the small form-factor tablet market.

“Perhaps it’s driven by the rumors that Apple is working on a ‘mini’ iPad 3, or maybe it’s purely a response to Amazon’s success with a smaller, cheaper Kindle Fire. It’s clear that Apple has the large form-factor tablet market stitched up, and given Motorola’s mediocre success with tablets that compete against the iPad, maybe Google feels that there’s a space at the smaller form-factor end of market.”

The question whether there is a space for a Google branded tablet is pointless actually. Google found a better place for its Nexus series of Android phones. So like, the tablet market might also welcome a Google product as well.


Facebook, Flickr, others accused of reading text messages

Application developers and store operators are in for further rough times, as reports emerged this weekend that a number of popular smartphone applications, including Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and others, can access private text message data or other personal information.

The Sunday Times (paywall) reported that Android and iPhone users are vulnerable to such invasions of privacy, though it is unclear whether application developers actively access data, or whether it is a result of poor security permissions.

It is claimed that some applications can intercept phone calls, while others can allegedly remotely access a smartphone’s camera, or even pinpoint its location without the user’s knowledge.

Since the Path debacle, Facebook and Twitter later became embroiled in the privacy row, whereby contact list data was uploaded to their servers.

Apple responded by rolling out a fix — thought to be currently in development, though no definitive date on when the fix will reach consumers — which would require explicit user consent before contact list information was accessed.

But as terms and conditions are often criticised for being overly complicated and lengthy, the vast majority of users unwittingly allow such actions through accepting such terms.

The application industry is thought to be worth over $6 billion annually. Arguably the blame does not only fall on the developer, but the major application store owners, like Apple and Google, for allowing the applications to be downloaded. They have also criticised for failing to secure mobile devices against such data harvesting expeditions.

While Apple has an incredibly strict terms and conditions for submitting applications to the Apple App Store, Google does not. The search and mobile giant still removes applications daily that are found to contain malware.

One concern for many is that applications solely created for the purpose of accessing such information are being downloaded, in amidst a transatlantic shift on data protection and consumer privacy rights.

Update 1: Headline edited for accuracy. As per the table, YouTube does not collect text message data, but has the ability to collect calling information “among other things”, a Google spokesperson said. They did not wish to comment further.

Update 2: That was quick. A Facebook spokesperson said there is “no reading of user text messages.” Facebook calls out the Times piece as “completely wrong”, but acknowledges that the Android application permissions require SMS read and write capabilities.

Facebook said that lots of communications apps use these permissions, and the application technically has the capability to integrate with the phone’s SMS system, but added that it is for testing purposes.

The company did not respond to the claim that the Times “admitted” to reading text messages, however. One question answered, and another ten questions open up.


Unidentified metal from space startles Brazilians

Sao Paulo: An unidentified metal object that may have come from a spacecraft caused a huge commotion when it fell to the Earth in a small town in northern Brazil.

The spherical object, weighing about 30 kg and with a diameter of one metre, was found earlier this week in Anapurus town.

“The noise I heard made me weak in the knees. I went to see what it was. I thought it was an airplane that had crashed, or an earthquake,” resident Jose Valdir Mendes said.

The object left a one-metre hole in the earth, he said.

Astrophysicist Gustavo Rojas of the Sao Carlos Federal University said a similar piece fell in Uganda in 2002 that came from the European satellite launch rocket Ariane 4.

“It’s highly probable that it’s the helium tank from the Ariane 4 rocket that was launched in 1997. Its return to the atmosphere was scheduled for the morning of February 22, according to the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies,” Rojas said.

One resident, alluding to the Mayan prediction that the world will end Dec 21, 2012, said: “There was an enormous disturbance here. Some were afraid it might have something to do with that 2012 story.”

“Others said it was an alien. But I think it’s a piece of a satellite that fell from space,” he said.