Amazon: $115 in Paid Apps Free this Halloween

Amazon is promoting some $115 in paid apps this Halloween for Android devices at the Amazon Appstore. You’ll first need to install Amazon’s Appstore Android app. The offer is good through November 1.

Here are some of the highlights, including their usual price:

You’ll first need to install Amazon’s Appstore Android app on your Android device, however. The offer is good through November 1.

Greenbot also has roundup of the best Halloween apps and spooky games from Humble Bundle.

McDonald’s Gets Softcard

Softcard (formerly Isis), a mobile payment system that competes with Apple Pay and Google Wallet, announced today that it is accepted at more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations around the country beginning today. Smartphone owners can make NFC-based mobile payments at the register and the drive-thru at all McDonald’s restaurants. McDonald’s will also accept Apple Pay.

Last month, Subway also announced a partnership with Softcard to support mobile payments.

Softcard is free to download and is compatible with more than 80 Android handsets sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Softcard combines payments, offers and loyalty in one app. Softcard uses the EMV Contactless specification and SmartTap technology to enable payments, offers and loyalty redemption through one tap.

Apple Pay saw more than one million card activations within 72 hours of launch, reports NFC World, and is already the leading NFC payments player in the US, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook outlined future growth plans for the service at the WS Journal D Live conference this week, including a potential partnership with Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba.

US pharmacy chains Rite Aid and CVS plan to launch their own CurrentC mobile payment service in 2015, and have stopped accepting NFC payments, blocking mobile payments services like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Softcard.

Unfortunately, CurrentC is now warning people that hackers have already swiped some of the beta tester’s email addresses.

Mobile proximity payments have to date proven lacklustre despite the hundreds of millions spent on developing these platforms. But loyalty rewards and benefits of the digital wallet is now seen by many as potentially the killer app that will help to finally ignite the long simmering mobile proximity payment market.

Ovum’s research indicates that 53% of consumers globally report they’ve either used or are interested in redeeming offers and coupons with their handsets, while 44% have used or are interested using their mobile device to pay for things in store and restaurants, explains Gilles Ubaghs, Senior Analyst, Financial Services Technology at Ovum.

Google Announces Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player

Google Android 5.0 is ready to go. The next version of Android is called Lollipop (Android 5.0), and today Google announced the first products that will ship with the new software.

The Google Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player will all run Android 5.0 Lollipop when they hit the streets in November. An Android 5.0 SDK launches on October 17th. And in the coming weeks Google will roll out Android 5.0 software updates to some recent Nexus and Google Play Edition phones and tablets.

  • The Nexus 6 is the biggest Nexus phone that Google has released, with a 6-inch display — bigger than both the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4. Like the Note 4, Google’s Nexus 6 also uses a Quad HD display and has a Snapdragon 805 processor, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, a 3220 mAh battery, and two front-facing speakers.

    The Nexus 6 will be sold unlocked for $649, making it far more expensive than any other Nexus model to date. It comes running Android 5.0 Lollipop and can include either 32 or 64GB of internal storage in either blue or white. The Nexus 6 will be available to preorder on October 29th and available in stores beginning in November. You’ll also be able to buy it on monthly contract. The unlocked model will work on all four major US carriers.

  • The Nexus 9 features an 8.9-inch QVGA (2048×1536) display with a ratio of 4:3 as opposed to 16:9, and Nvidia’s Tegra K1 chipset. The device also features 2GB of RAM and, on average, around 9 hours of battery life. HTC has HTC’s BoomSound speaker technology.

    Nexus 9 will be available to preorder beginning October 17th for $399 and comes in three configurations: 16GB for $399, 32GB for $479, and an LTE-enabled 32GB model for $599. Sadly, you can’t expand that storage through microSD. It’s available in either black or white. A keyboard attachment can “magnetically attach. Nexus 9 will be available for pre-order in the Google Play store beginning October 17, and will show up in stores on November 3.

  • The Nexus Player is Google’s first Android TV device. The set-top streaming box is made by Google and Asus and is Google’s latest in a very long line of attempts to take over your TV. Announced back in June, Android TV has a good-looking interface that allows you to stream music, movies, and TV shows. You can also play Android games on it, and it can mimic the Chromecast’s features too. Inside there’s a 1.8GHz Intel Atom CPU and a PowerVR GPU, with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. It’ll be available for pre-order on Oct. 17 and in stores starting November 3, priced $99.
  • The Nexus 5 is still available, same as usual but with the same price (starting at $350). It will likely be upgraded to Android 5.0 in the next few weeks.

Lollipop will be made available to the Nexus 5, 7, 10, and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks. Motorola also said it will update many of its devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop, including the Moto X (1st Gen and 2nd Gen), Moto G, Moto E, as well as the Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini. Phone Arena has an in-depth specs comparison between the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Lollipop has a consistent design across devices—an approach they call Material Design. Now content responds to your touch and voice, in more intuitive ways, and transitions between tasks are more fluidly. Lollipop also lets you adjust your settings so that only certain people and notifications can get through.

According to the latest figures from App Annie’s quarterly market reports, Google Play downloads now exceed Apple’s App Store by 60 percent, but iOS apps still make more money

Opensource Dronecode Project Announced

The Dronecode Project, administered by the nonprofit Linux Foundation, aims to establish common technology for use across the industry. The concept behind Dronecode is to create an open hardware and software stack, where companies can plug in modules for enhanced performance whether it be sensors, piloting, mission planning or other functions. The Android ecosystem is their model.

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Chris Anderson, who started DIY Drones and later 3D Robotics, is behind Dronecode. It utilizes open source hardware and software and includes the APM/ArduPilot UAV software platform and associated code. Examples of Dronecode projects include APM/ArduPilot, Mission Planner, MAVLink and DroidPlanner.

Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, Skyward.io, Squadrone System and others.

PX4 ​is an independent, open-source, open-hardware project aiming at providing a high-end autopilot. The PX4 from 3D Robotics, for example, features advanced processor and sensor technology for controlling any autonomous vehicle.

ArduPilot (also ArduPilotMega – APM), was created in 2007 by the DIY Drones community, based on the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform.

H.265 encoding, available on Qualcomm’s 810 smartphone processor can reduce HD bandwidth by 50%. Portland’s Elemental Technologies can do the number crunching in the cloud, bring real-time video to all manner of displays.

OpenVX provides mobile developers with an industry standard API to deliver embedded computer vision and computational imaging chipsets that can keep UAVs on track.

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“Open source software and collaborative development are advancing technologies in the hottest, most cutting-edge areas. The Dronecode Project is a perfect example of this,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

“By becoming a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, the Dronecode community will receive the support required of a massive project right at its moment of breakthrough. The result will be even greater innovation and a common platform for drone and robotics open source projects.”

See: Columbia River Drones

Samsung: Here Comes 60 GHz, 802.11ad

Samsung Electronics today announced a 60GHz (802.11ad) Wi-Fi technology that enables data transmission speeds of up to 4.6Gbps, a five-fold increase from 866Mbps, using the 5 GHz band. The 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology will enable a 1 gigabyte movie to be transferred between devices in less than three seconds while allowing uncompressed high-definition videos to be streamed from mobile devices. Samsung likely to include WiGig as a differentiator in its Galaxy and
Note smartphones by the end of 2015, say industry observers.

Samsung says its 802.11ad technology eliminates co-channel interference, no matter how many devices are accessing network. Samsung also enhanced the overall signal quality by developing what they say is the world’s first micro beam-forming control technology that optimizes the communications module in 1/3,000 second increments.

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) was a trade association that developed and promoted the adoption of multi-gigabit speed wireless standards over the unlicensed 60 GHz frequency band. The alliance was subsumed by the Wi-Fi Alliance in March 2013.

Samsung notes there are challenges in commercializing 60 GHz Wi-Fi because millimeter waves that travel by line-of-sight and have weak propagation characteristics that will be easily blocked by walls.

Chipsets supporting 60GHz 802.11ad are coming from a variety of sources including Qualcomm, Marvel and Broadcom as well as small, fabless semiconductor firms like Nitero. Qualcom’s Snapdragon 810, due next year, includes WiGig. Qualcomm acquired Wilocity in July 2014, and Nitero has announced its mobile WiGig solution.

Samsung said it plans to put its 802.11ad technology in a variety of devices, including audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment.

Eventually, the Wi-Fi Alliance expects chipsets to support all three bands, enabling both compatibility and new uses.

Samsung isn’t the first to promote 60 GHz for consumers. Dell introduced the Latitude 6430u laptop at the 2013 CES which included both 2.4 and 5 GHz connections, as well as a new 60 GHz connections.

Here’s a review of evolving WiFi standards:

  • IEEE 802.11n: Increased the maximum raw data rate from 54 Mbit/s to 600 Mbit/s by using as many as four spatial streams with a double width channel (40 MHz). MIMO architecture and wider channels improved speeds on 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz channels.
  • IEEE 802.11ac: Provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band. It uses 80 MHz and 160 MHz channel bandwidths (vs. 40 MHz maximum in 802.11n) and supports up to 8 spatial streams (vs. 4 in 802.11n)
  • IEEE 802.11ad: Now with the WiGig specs folded in, provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band and 60 GHz bands. The 60 GHz band is stopped by walls, so range will be shorter, but the spectrum is wider, supporting nearly 7 Gbps throughput.

The unlicensed 60 GHz band varies slightly around the world. The standard divides the unlicensed 60 GHz band into four 2.16 GHz wide channels. Data rates of up to 7 Gbits/s are possible using OFDM with different modulation schemes. A single-channel version for low-power operation is available and can deliver a speed up to 4.6 Gbits/s.

ABI Research estimates over 1.5 billion chipsets with 802.11ad will ship in 2018. Smartphones will account for nearly half of all 802.11ad-enabled products in 2018, though with less than half the volume in smartphones compared to 802.11ac, says the research firm.

The IEEE 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards may also use Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), where simultaneous streams are transmitted to different users on the same channels.

Related Dailywireless articles include; WiGig: 60 GHz WiFi Rolls Out, WiGig to Demo 4K Wireless at Intel Forum, WiGig Folded Into Wi-Fi at 60 GHz, Marvel 802.11ac: Now with 4×4 Beamforming, Fast Transistion to 802.11ac Predicts ABI, Broadcom 802.11ac for Phones, Quantenna: 802.11ac Chipset,

Budget Android One Ships

The first Android One handsets, which are budget-priced smartphones, have been released in India, reports the BBC.

Android One handsets provide a minimum set of features determined by Google.

“Our goal was to develop high quality smartphones at an affordable price, with access to connectivity, done at scale around the world,” Sundar Pichai, who oversees Android, told the BBC ahead of the launch in Delhi.

Sundar Pichai, said Android One had delivered economies of scale that meant the first batch of phones could be offered for as low as 6,399 rupees ($105; £65) if bought contract-free.

Google’s minimum standards for Android One include:

  • 4.5in (11.4cm) display
  • 1GB of RAM (random-access memory)
  • 5MP rear camera and a 2MP front one
  • quadcore processor sourced from Taiwanese company Mediatek
  • the ability to run the next version of Android, due for release soon

In addition, they have been tailored to suit the local market by including a micro-SD (Secure Digital) slot, a replaceable battery, a built-in FM radio and the ability to support two Sim cards simultaneously.

While 1.75 billion people around the world already have a smartphone, the vast majority of the world’s population—over five billion more—do not. About 400 million smartphones will be sold in India over the next five years, according to a forecast by Pricewaterhouse, with the majority bought at Android One’s price point.

Indian carrier Bharti Airtel, the largest carrier in India with over 200 million subs, will have a special data plan for Android One users — the updates sent by Google as well as app updates will be free of charge and won’t be counted towards a user’s monthly 200MB data quota. Bharti Airtel is the fifth largest mobile operator in the world after China Mobile, Vodafone Group, China Unicom, and America Movil.

Currently, Aircel and Bharti Airtel provide LTE service in India. Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Tikonav, and Augere have acquired 2.3 GHz spectrum for TD-LTE in India, but a lack of ecosystem, is hindering nationwide service.

According to Wireless Intelligence, smartphones will account for two out of every three mobile connections globally by 2020. The number of smartphone connections will grow threefold over the next six years, reaching six billion by 2020, accounting for two thirds of the nine billion mobile connections by that time.

Over half the global population will have Internet access by 2017, with mobile broadband over smartphones and tablets now the fastest growing technology in human history, according to the 2014 edition of the UN’s Broadband Commission in their State of Broadband report.