Microsoft shows off HTC One M8 features in new Cortana vs. Siri ad

Microsoft on Tuesday started airing a new Windows Phone commercial that takes another jab at Apple’s Siri. The 30-second commercial titled ‘Mirror, Mirror’ has been posted on the official Windows Phone channel on YouTube this morning.

The video depicts Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant for Windows Phone devices, performing a series of tasks that Siri on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad can’t do, starting with deeper integration with core Windows Phone apps like calendar and Maps.

One scene depicts Cortana tapping information stored in a user’s calendar to provide accurate route and mapping information. Another scene highlights dual front-facing speakers on the HTC One M8, to which Siri responds that she has but a single speaker and that she’s “sitting on it”.

Galaxy S5 takes Ice Bucket Challenge, nominates iPhone 5s, HTC One M8 and Nokia Lumia 930

Samsung’s marketing department has cleverly piggy-backed on the popularity of Ice Bucket Challenge, a phenomenon which has taken the world by storm.

For those who’ve been sleeping under the rock lately, the initiative saw such celebrities and Silicon Valley execs as Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and marketing honcho Phil Schiller, along with former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and many others, getting ice baths in the name of helping fund ALS research and benefitting the Motor Disease Association.

The official YouTube channel for Samsung Mobile UK this morning posted a video depicting its Galaxy S5 flagship smartphone taking the challenge.

Needless to say, the waterproof handset (IP67-certified) passes the test.

The best part is when Samsung nominates three handsets from its rivals: Apple’s iPhone 5s, HTC’s One M8 and Nokia’s Lumia 930.

How the Apple-Beats deal affects HP, AT&T and others

If you haven’t been following the latest news, it is a prerequisite to know that Apple has acquired Beats for $3 billion before reading further. The announcement has created a lot of confusion in regards to what the acquisition means for Beats and existing partnerships with the brand. Just to be clear, Beats collectively refers to both Beats Electronics, which markets high-end headphones, speakers and audio software, and the streaming music service Beats Music.

Prior to being acquired, Beats had several partnerships with other brands, including companies that are direct competitors with Apple. Most notable is Hewlett-Packard, which uses Beats Audio branding and technologies in its product lineup. AT&T has an exclusive deal with Beats Music to sell subscriptions and an unlimited music downloading family plan, and design firm Ammunition has a partnership to create Beats products. Even HTC has been in the mix.

Read ahead to find out how the Apple-Beats deal affects all of these deals…

Apple joins Google, HTC and others to curb smartphone theft

Apple has entered into the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” with HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and others, to curb the smartphone theft epidemic that has been plaguing many city streets.

Under the voluntary agreement, the manufacturers are planning to add several new security features to their smartphones going on sale after July 2015, to make for an industry standard.

Under the Commitment, manufacturers’ smartphones must:

HTC launches new ‘One (M8)’ flagship handset

Following Samsung’s unveiling of the Galaxy S5 last month, HTC today introduced its new flagship smartphone: the HTC One (M8). The handset is the direct descendent of the critically-successful HTC One, and it encapsulates the company’s latest effort to boost flagging device sales.
The new One is both bigger and faster than its predecessor. While it keeps the same gorgeous all-metal body, the display has been bumped from 4.7 to 5-inches, and the quad-core processor runs at 2.3GHz. It also sports 2GB RAM, an UltraPixel camera, a 2600mAh battery and more…

WSJ: Apple hiring engineers from HTC and other Asian firms to speed up product launches

Unlike the specs-obsessed technology industry which has always been dependent on frequent product refreshes, Apple continues to traditionally update its iPhone annually. Now, some industry peers – such as Sony – warned that the company may be “missing out” by not updating the iPhone twice per year.

Playing on this sentiment, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is now adding “hundreds of new engineers” and supply-chain managers in China and Taiwan. The company is hiring away these people from various tech firms, including rival HTC, reportedly in order to speed up product development and launch a wider range of devices…

HTC infographic sheds light on ridiculously complex Android OS update process

HTC, the struggling Taiwanese handset maker and one of the early Android backers, on Thursday released an interesting infographic which details the incredibly slow, painful and complex process of developing, testing, certifying and deploying Android OS firmware updates to devices in the wild.

According to Apple, 74 percent of devices had iOS 7 installed two and a half months following its release versus 1.1 percent of devices running Android 4.4 KitKat, as per Google’s developer dashboard. Compared to the ease of applying iOS updates, the Internet giant is unable to just launch a new Android OS software update by making it live on its servers.

Instead, the anatomy of an Android firmware update resembles a no-man’s land where carriers, handset vendors and chipset makers, each with its own vested interests, often stall or even block these updates as a way of nudging customers to upgrade their hardware instead.

Often times, Android OS updates for specific devices never arrive at all and would get lost in the complex approval and certification limbo involving at least four stakeholders agreeing in order for an Android update to make it to customer devices…

Samsung barred from proactive use of Apple-HTC deal in litigation

In spite of the massive coverage concerning the high-profile Apple vs. Samsung trial, it’s easily overlooked that Apple first went thermonuclear on Android by suing HTC. Following the rise of Samsung and subsequent decline of the Taiwanese handset maker, Apple and HTC in November 2012 announced a global settlement on patent litigation.

Terms of the deal have never been made public, but we do know the two sides agreed to a ten-year cross-licensing for all current and future patents and I guesstimated the deal’s value to at least $3 billion.

Yesterday, Judge Lucy Koh issued an order granting Apple’s motion to exclude last year’s Apple-HTC settlement and license agreement at the pending Apple vs. Samsung retrial. The ruling conditionally bars Samsung from pointing the jury to the Apple-HTC settlement deal…

Samsung fined $340,000 over faking negative web comments about competition

Throughout last year, Apple-friendly web sites were infested with an avalanche of ugly comments by anonymous posters concerning the iPhone, iPad and the Apple brand in general. While website owners were reluctant to publicly point the finger of blame at the South Korean conglomerate, many had suspected it was no coincidence given Samsung was riding high on its anti-Apple ad campaign.

Conveniently, hate-spewing quickly died down after Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in April launched an investigation into Samsung’s tactics following the company’s admission of guilt about, in its own words, the “unfortunate incident” which occurred “due to insufficient understanding”.

Though Samsung  said it had”ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments,” the FTC – after finding Samsung indeed hired a “large number of hired writers and designated employees” to trash-talk competition in web comments – has now decided to slap the Galaxy maker with a $340,000 fine…

Amazon said to be working with HTC to build smartphone

We’ve been hearing about Amazon’s plans for the smartphone space for years now—at least since 2011. Pundits feel that since the tech giant has already waded into the hardware waters with a tablet, a handset is the obvious next step.

But the chatter has really picked up over the past week or so, with the Financial Times, and now Bloomberg, reporting that Amazon has been in talks with HTC since June to develop handsets for sale to users of Amazon’s Prime service…

HTC’s new ‘One max’ with fingerprint sensor launches to poor reviews

It was bound to happen. You knew that once the iPhone 5s debuted with a fingerprint sensor, other manufacturers would follow suit. No, Apple wasn’t the first to implement such a feature, but it has a way of mainstreaming stuff like this.

Today, HTC unveiled the ‘HTC One max,’ a 5.9-inch smartphone that includes a dedicated fingerprint sensor. Located on the rear of the device, the feature is activated via a swipe and can be programmed to recognize 3 different fingers…

Are Samsung drones trolling Apple?

We don’t usually go in for conspiracy theories, but one is drawing quiet a bit of attention – and factual basis. Has corporate giant Samsung, stung by its more than $1 billion patent lawsuit loss to Apple in 2012, waging war on the iPhone maker? A number of signs point to the affirmative, including an apparent tactic to swamp any critics with pro-Samsung comments.

Along with blatant examples of the business press spinning news against Apple and for Samsung, there has been reports of fake Samsung product reviews. Additionally, we’ve seen up-close attempts by pro-Samsung ‘trolls’ to dominate comments…