Much to the frustration of eager Android users, Nexus 4 shipments from the Google Play Store have been severely delayed since sales for the device went live in early November. Some customers have been dealt notices that Google oversold the Nexus 4 devices, while others stayed tuned to fire sales in an attempt to secure a unit. No official statement had been made about why units were in such short supply until this weekend, when Google’s United Kingdom and Ireland Managing Director Dan Cobley shed some light on the shortage in his Google+ profile.
“I know that what you are going through is unacceptable and we are all working through the nights and weekends to resolve this issue,” wrote Cobley. “Supplies from the manufacturer are scarce and erratic, and our communication has been flawed.” He went on to apologize for the delayed shipments. He stated in an earlier comment that “this is not how we should be communicating with our customers.”
Cobley then added that customers who had received the three-to-five-day shipping estimate should expect the handset to arrive on their doorstep sooner rather than later and that their shipping charges would be waived. Nexus 4 orders that had been placed with pre-Christmas shipping estimates will also be going through shortly.
For the first time, astronomers have found a microquasar – a black hole devouring material from a companion star – in a galaxy beyond our own Milky Way. The object, pumping out X-rays and bright bursts of radio waves, was found in the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light-years from Earth. The discovery, scientists say, gives hope that more such objects may be found in nearby galaxies, providing them with opportunities to make detailed studies that will unravel the mystery of just how these enigmatic powerhouses – and their big brothers – actually work.
In a microquasar like the one newly discovered, a black hole with a mass several times that of the Sun pulls material from its companion star into a rapidly-rotating disk. The disk surrounding the black hole can become so hot it emits X-rays. The disk also propels narrow jets of subatomic particles outward at speeds nearing that of light. The jets generate strong bursts of radio emission.
As the “feeding rate” of the black hole varies, the levels of X-ray and radio emission change, in an interplay whose details are not yet fully understood.
“This is, we think, the same mechanism at work in quasars at the cores of galaxies, where the black holes are millions of times more massive. However, in the smaller systems, things happen much more rapidly, giving us more data to help understand the physics at work,” said Matthew Middleton, of the University of Durham in the UK and the Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, leader of the research team.
“Understanding how these things work is important, because we think quasars played a big role in redistributing matter and energy when the Universe was very young,” Middleton added.
The first microquasar was discovered in 1994, and several have subsequently been found, all within our own Milky Way Galaxy.
“Obscuration within our Galaxy makes it difficult to study the disks of these microquasars in the Milky Way, but finding one in a neighboring galaxy means we probably can find many more, thus helping our efforts to better understand their physics,” Middleton explained.
The orbiting X-ray observatory XMM-Newton discovered the object, called XMMU J004243.6+412519, on January 15. The Swift and Chandra satellites then observed it regularly for more than eight weeks.
The National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), along with the Arcminute Microkelvin Imager Large Array in the United Kingdom, studied the object at radio wavelengths.
The behavior of XMMU J004243.6+412519 at both X-ray and radio wavelengths closely parallels the behavior of previously-discovered microquasars. In addition, the radio observations indicate that the emission from the object is coming from a small region.
Even the supersharp radio vision of the VLBA cannot resolve any detail in the object. The VLA detected variations in radio brightness over the course of minutes, indicating that the emitting region is no larger than the distance between the Sun and Jupiter.
“All these indications show that what we have found is, indeed a microquasar,” Middleton said. The scientists estimate that the black hole probably is about ten times more massive than the Sun, and that its companion is a middle-sized, rather than a giant, star.
Middleton and his colleagues on an international team published their findings in the scientific journal Nature.
Google’s Web browser, Chrome, is headed to rival Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8 Metro—sort of. Google began work on a Metro-style enabled desktop browser, a version of Chrome that will run in both the Metro and desktop environments of Windows 8 on x86, back in March. The company didn’t offer a specific release date for Chrome, only noting users will be able to test it out in the next Chrome Dev channel release by setting it as the default browser.
The company also pointed out Chrome won’t run in WinRT (Windows 8 on ARM processors), as Microsoft is not allowing browsers other than Internet Explorer (IE) on the platform. “The initial releases of Chrome in Metro mode will include integration with the basic Windows 8 system functionality, such as charms and snap view,” Google software engineer Carlos Pizano wrote in a blog post. “Over the next few months, we’ll be smoothing out the UI on Metro and improving touch support, so please feel free to file bugs. We’re committed to bringing the speed, simplicity, and security of Chrome into Windows 8, and we look forward to working with you on it.”
Microsoft has a lot riding on the latest version of its Windows 8 Metro operating system, which is expected to launch sometime this fall. The design aesthetic, user interface, currently found on Windows Phone and the latest Xbox dashboard, has profound influence on Windows 8: In place of the “traditional” desktop that defined previous editions of Windows, the newest operating system will open with a Metro start screen of colorful, touchable tiles linked to applications. In theory, this will help port Windows 8 onto tablets and other touch-happy form factors; users will have the ability to download Metro apps to their machine via an online storefront.
Google and Microsoft are locked in an escalating battle for browser market share. Google unseated Microsoft as global usage of the Chrome browser passed that of IE for the first time, according to a May report from StatCounter, an independent Website analytics company. Data from more than 15 billion page views (4 billion from the United States; 850 million from the United Kingdom) for the full month of May shows Chrome took 32.43 percent of the worldwide market, compared with 32.12 percent for IE. Microsoft still holds a comfortable lead in the United States with the IE browser, however, capturing 38.35 percent of the market in May, while Chrome trailed with 23.66 percent.
Google Android continued to grow its share in
the U.S. smartphone market, accounting for 51 percent of smartphone
subscribers, while Apple captured more than 30 percent, according to data from
the comScore MobiLens service, which reported on key trends in the U.S. mobile
phone industry during the three month average period ending March 2012.
Samsung was the top handset manufacturer
overall, with 26.0 percent market share, according to the study, which is based
on a survey of more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers.
For the three-month average period ending in
March, 234 million Americans, ages 13 and older, used mobile devices. Samsung
ranked as the top OEM, with 26 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (up 0.7
percentage points), followed by LG with 19.3 percent share. Apple continued to
gain share in the OEM market, ranking third with 14 percent of mobile
subscribers (up 1.6 percentage points), followed by Motorola with 12.8 percent
and HTC with 6 percent.
More than 106 million people in the United
States owned smartphones during the three months ending in March, up 9 percent
from December. Google Android ranked as the top smartphone platform, with 51
percent market share (up 3.7 percentage points). Apple’s share of the
smartphone market increased 1.1 percentage points to 30.7 percent. BlackBerry
maker Research in Motion ranked third, with 12.3 percent share, followed by
Microsoft (3.9 percent) and Symbian (1.4 percent).
In March, 74.3 percent of U.S. mobile
subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device. Downloaded applications
were used by 50 percent of subscribers (up 2.4 percentage points), while
browsers were used by 49.3 percent (up 1.8 percentage points). Accessing of
social networking sites or blogs increased 0.8 percentage points to 36.1
percent of mobile subscribers. Game-playing was done by 32.6 percent of the
mobile audience (up 1.2 percentage points), while 25.3 percent listened to
music on their phones (up 1.5 percentage points).
While Apple and Android may be dominating the
market, another study by comScore found their customer bases use the phones
differently. comScore released an analysis of mobile and WiFi Internet usage on
smartphones in the United States and the United Kingdom. Based on data from
comScore Device Essentials, the report offered an analysis of the share of
unique smartphones connecting to operator and WiFi networks to provide insight
into Internet connection patterns across markets. Among its findings, the
analysis shows a significantly higher percentage of iPhones than Android phones
connecting to the Internet via WiFi networks.
A U.S. analysis of WiFi and mobile Internet
usage across unique smartphones on the iOS and Android platforms reveals that
71 percent of all unique iPhones used both mobile and WiFi networks to connect
to the Internet, while only 32 percent of unique Android mobile phones used
both types of connections. A further analysis of this pattern of behavior in
the United Kingdom shows consistent results, as 87 percent of unique iPhones
used both mobile and WiFi networks for Web access, compared with 57 percent of
After just three years, Google’s fast-growing browser Chrome has gained at least 200 million users, a tech site reported Friday (Manila time).
Tech site Mashable quoted Google CEO Larry Page as saying the Chrome browser hit the 200-million mark three years since it debuted in 2008.
Mashable also cited figures from eWeek showing Chrome had some 160 million users in May, up from 120 million in December 2010.
It added Chrome has surpassed Mozilla’s Firefox to be the second most popular browser after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in some markets like the United Kingdom.
“Among Mashable readers, meanwhile, Chrome is the most popular,” it added.
Earlier this month, Web analytics firm Net Applications said Chrome continued to nibble away at Firefox for second place in the browser wars.
Net Applications said that while Firefox kept second spot and Chrome third as of September 2011, Firefox’s share is decreasing while Chrome’s is increasing.
Internet Explorer continued to hold the lead in September with 54.39 percent but its share has been going down as well since November 2010. — TJD, GMA News