Samsung going head-to-head with Apple with iBeacon rival, Proximity

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The rivalry between Apple and Samsung looks set to enter a new field as Samsung has announced a direct competitor to iBeacon, called Proximity.

Samsung Proximity is a mobile marketing platform that connects consumers with places via cutting-edge Samsung location and context-aware technology.

With Samsung Proximity, visitors are able to experience rich content related to their location, and marketers can better engage with customers for increased sales and brand awareness.

The applications Samsung describes for the service are identical to those already in use with Apple’s iBeacon partners …  Read more

Reddit launches official Ask Me Anything iOS app to view its popular Q&A sessions

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Reddit has today launched an official Ask Me Anything iOS app, providing a convenient way to view both real-time and archived AMAs. Reddit’s SVP of mobile Ellen Pao said that move was to address the fact that a third of site visits are made on mobile devices, a number that is growing all the time.

We’ve found in the last year or so a huge uptick in people accessing Reddit from the mobile web, and we want to give those folks a great experience …

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AT&T launches ‘Mobile Share Value Plans’ with notable monthly savings for BYOD customers, 18-month Next option

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AT&T has launched a new initiative called Mobile Share Value Plans that is designed to save customers money on their monthly AT&T mobile phone service bills. The following changes are specifically for the Mobile Share program, which allows devices to work under the same AT&T account and share data, talk, and text plans. Similar to T-Mobile’s “un-carrier” approach, the new AT&T plans separate the cost of the device hardware completely from the monthly service charges:

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Apple looking to hire engineers with solar experience to work on mobile devices

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Update: Apple has removed the job listing from its website, but we grabbed a screenshot below.

Apple appears to be investigating the use of thin film solar technology for future mobile products with a new job listing on the company’s website looking to hire an engineer with experience in the solar industry. The thin films engineer would join Apple’s Mobile Devices group and “assist in the development and refinement of thin films technologies applicable to electronic systems.” The job listing adds some proof to rumors in recent years that Apple was evaluating the use of solar panels for future products.

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Apple buys data compression, mobile imaging and video firm AlgoTrim

Cortex-A15-smallAccording to Rapidus.se (via TechCrunch), Apple has purchased a Swedish firm called AlgoTrim for an undisclosed price. The small company specializes in image and video, specifically JPEG, compression techniques on mobile devices which allow faster processing of images on power-constrained mobile devices.

AlgoTrim™ develops advanced solutions for mobile devices within the fields of data compression, mobile imaging and video, and computer graphics.

These solutions are designed to excel in terms of high performance and small memory requirements, making them ideal for mobile devices. Many solutions offered by AlgoTrim are codecs that are the fastest on the market, for example, the lossless codec for general data compression and the imaging codecs.

Apple could use these codecs in its camera and image viewing and manipulation apps on iOS. It is probable that the cost of picking up the company and owning the technology outweighed the cost of licensing the technology over its hundreds of millions of devices. This also could be an “aquihire”.

Apple is no stranger to the Swedish technology market. It picked up Polar Rose in 2010, a face recognition company and C3 a Swedish 3D mapping company in the run up to its Maps product launch. Cupertino has been on a bit of a startup binge lately buying such companies as Embark and Matcha.tv.

Last year, AlgoTrim reported a revenue of 3.0 million USD, with an net income before taxes of EUR -1.1 million.  Until now, AloTrim has been focused mostly on Android development.

Update: The acquisition has been confirmed to TechCrunch:

Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.

Site News: New 9to5 look and feel

As you can probably see, we made some big changes to the look and feel of the site this weekend. The new design was put together by Get10Up.com and we want to thank Taylor, Jake and the rest of the team for getting it all into place and making this happen.

We did not hate the old 9to5 design, but we wanted to start from scratch on so many different aspects due to Retina devices proliferating and the move toward mobile. Some improvements you will notice:

1. All of the design elements are optimized for Retina displays. In addition, we are able to display images and video over 700 pixels wide in this new format (1,400 pixel Retina). This allows us to bring imagery and video clarity that has always been hard to deliver (without “open in a new window”). Our CMS/Hosting partners WordPress VIP are also jumping on the Retina train with new additions that will allow us to deliver Retina quality imagery without compromising load times for those without Retina displays.

2. Mobile. We have been through a bunch of mobile designs before, which we were not particularly fond of (and neither were you!), but last year we gave up and decided we were going to start fresh. If you are reading this on a mobile device, you will hopefully like the changes at hand. Desktop users: Have a look…or just resize your browser and notice how the responsive desktop elements fall away into a mobile experience.

3. Load times. Even with Retina images and design elements, we wanted to bring load times down. The team at Get10Up was able to pull this off with their mastery of WordPress, CSS and some front- and back-end “magic.” No matter what device you are using, you should notice significant page load time improvement.

4. We are a blog and proud of it. Recently, many of the bigger blogs attempted to change formats from their roots in the reverse chronological format into something like a magazine or newspaper. We played with the idea, but we found that we really, truly enjoy the traditional blog format whether we’re on an iPhone, an iPad, or our Macs. With that said, we also enlarged our Top 4 Feature Stories to spread across the page. In addition, we are improving our “asides” as smaller, title-only lines on the front page. We love these for small, quick bits of news and hope you do too.

5. Hooray for Authors! We gave a little more space to Mark, Jordan, Elyse, Jake, Mike, and all of our contributors who do a great job of delivering Apple news, rumors, reviews, and opinion to you first. You will see their faces on stories so you will know who is delivering your news.

6. Sharing buttons: Nowhere and everywhere. We labored over the decision about whether to include sharing buttons. On one hand, they are very helpful when you want to share a post with your social networks. On the other hand, they take valuable load time, are ugly, and they get in the way of the flow of content.

We think we came up with an elegant compromise: There are no social buttons anywhere on the site, but sharing buttons will load with counts (now including Pinterest!) if you hit the ‘share’ text on top or ‘share this’ text on the bottom of a post. They are a little harder to find, but we think you will have no problem sharing if you should decide.

7. You! As you’ve probably noticed (see @inadarei above), we’ve been embedding a lot of reader Tweet reactions to posts recently. Besides just calling out great comments, embedding allows us to share the conversation. If you have something to add, include the post URL and cc @9to5mac on the tweet for consideration.

We also pushed updates to 9to5Google.com and 9to5Toys.comwhich should unite the experience. 9to5Forums.com and our commenting engine also got a big pickup this week from VanillaForums. It improves voting/order of comments, spam removal, and a host of smaller improvements. 9to5Forums will move to the new design shortly.

We really hope you like the update and it improves your experience at 9to5 (more on the way too). We love bringing you your favorite technology news!

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