Tech 2.0 for Monday, February 24, 2014
ANICK JESDANUN, AP Technology Writer - Samsung sought Monday to frame its new Galaxy S5 smartphone as a lifestyle product, as it emphasized a built-in heart-rate sensor and improved camera features over its slightly larger size. One of the main appeals of Samsung phones has been their size. The screen has steadily increased since the 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) on the original S from 2010, while the iPhone made that jump to 4 inches only in 2012 and has stayed that way since. But the S5 pushes the screen to only 5.1 inches (13 cms), measured diagonally, from 5 inches (12.7 cms) in last year's model. Instead of size, Samsung touted the new phone's ability to adapt its screen to changing external conditions and to dim it to avoid disturbing others nearby. The phone has a 16 megapixel camera, sharper than the 13 megapixels in its predecessor. It promises faster auto focus and the ability to blur the foreground or background of an image to emphasize a subject. The new phone will go on sale worldwide on April 11. The company didn't announce a price; its predecessor sold for about $600 without phone subsidies or a contract.
The S5 has a fingerprint sensor to use in place of a passcode to unlock the phone or make payments through PayPal. It's a feature still rare in phones, though Apple introduced it in last fall's iPhone 5s. Samsung's Galaxy S series has emerged as one of the strongest challengers to Apple's iPhones and has helped the Korean company surpass Apple as the world's largest smartphone maker. According to Gartner, Samsung's smartphones had a worldwide market share of 31 percent last year, compared with 16 percent for Apple's iPhones. A chief complaint about Samsung phones has been the company's tendency to pack them with a slew of features, some of which don't work well with each other or at all. Recent phones have sported an Easy Mode, with larger icons and fewer customization choices. It's as though Samsung acknowledges that its devices have become too complex for many people to use.
Nokia is targeting emerging markets with a low-cost smartphone that uses Google's Android operating system rather than the Windows Phone software from Microsoft, the company about to buy Nokia's phone business. Nokia will ditch many of the Google services that come with Android. Instead, the new Nokia X phone announced Monday will emphasize Microsoft services such as Bing search. Its home screen sports larger, resizable tiles resembling those on Windows phone. Nokia is positioning the Nokia X as a bridge to high-end Windows smartphones under the Lumia brand. Microsoft is buying Nokia's phone business and patent rights in a 5.4 billion euro ($7.3 billion) deal expected to be completed next month. The Nokia X phone will sell for 89 euros ($122).
Mark Zuckerberg is known for his long-term vision for Facebook —and for bringing the Internet to billons of people around the world who are unconnected. The 29-year-old CEO of Facebook Inc. touched on both of those missions, in an on-stage interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on Monday. Zuckerberg said his company's $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp will allow the startup to focus on growing its user base — and not on making money — over the next five years. With 465 million monthly members, Zuckerberg believes WhatsApp is on track to reach a billion users. Zuckerberg spent most of his time discussing Internet.org, the ambitious project by Facebook and a slew of partners that aims to get everyone in the world online.