Smartwatch Shipment Expected to Hit 45 Million by 2017

Wearable gadgets are some of the most exciting and important developments in the world of technology at the moment, with everything from smart glasses to smart jewelry going into production. Smartwatches were amongst the first pieces of wearable technology to be seen on the market, and the trend is only expected to grow in the coming years.

According to analysts at Canalys, we can expect to see worldwide shipments of smartwatches such as the Galaxy Gear and Pebble to reach 8 million during 2014. With the rumored development of an Apple iWatch always looming on the digital horizon, it is very likely that smartwatches will continue to grow exponentially. In fact, experts expect that over 45 million smartwatches will be shipped around the world in 2017.

Whilst reports of poor sales were made following the release of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, the device was the best seller in its category according to Canalys. Samsung’s smartwatch current has over 54% of the smartwatch market, whilst Song has 19% and  crowd-funded project Pebble has 16% of the total share.

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Google to Block Local Chrome Extensions for Windows

With the upcoming release of Chrome 33, Google has announced that it will block all local browser extensions on Windows. While Windows users have been able to install unofficial apps in the past, this change will restrict them to using apps found on the Chrome Web Store instead.

The change should not be too big a surprise for anyone following Google’s announcements closely; the company originally announced this change in their policies in November 2013, however they have not kept to the schedule they originally intended. While Chrome 33’s beta test was released last month, the update is not widespread, and no stable version of the browser is expected to be released to the general public until early March.

What this change basically means for Windows-based Chrome users is that they will only be able to select extensions which are available on the Chrome Web Store. The only exceptions to this policy are for installations completed via developer mode or Chrome’s enterprise policy. Similarly, any installed extensions which were not hosted on the Chrome Web Store will be turned off by Google and will not be available to reinstall.

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Microsoft Fixes Skype Chat Glitch

Frustrated Skype users can get back to their usual routines as the video calling service receives a much-needed upgrade from Microsoft, taking care of a syncing glitch to improve usability between different devices.

In a blog post released on Thursday, Skype product marketing manager Elaine Ansell talked about the video calling service’s “enhanced chat experience”. According to Ansell, all chats are no synced across your Skype-enabled devices, allowing users to pick up where they left off no matter how they connect to the service. The upgrade also made push notifications available to allow mobile device users to be notified of any waiting messages.

“Now you can have peace of mind that your friends will receive messages even if they’re no on Skype at the time you hit ‘send’,” Ansell said. In the past, Skype’s chat glitch had caused some messages to be marked as ‘read’ even when they had not, in fact, been seen by the recipient, causing some confusion amongst users.

Skype users are not required to download anything for this upgrade to take effect, so long as they are running the most recent version of the software.

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Twitter Working on Facebook-Style Redesign

Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has gone through a number of changes whilst retaining its basic look and style; according to reports all that might be about to change as the mini-blogging site prepares for what might be a major overhaul.

According to reports from Mashable, Twitter might be undergoing a huge redesign in the near future which will bring the site a little closer to the style of social media rivals Facebook.  Recently, Twitter’s user experience has been far from perfect, and this has been acknowledged by the company’s upper management with the promise that new features would be rolled out to improve this throughout 2014.

The rollout of a Facebook-style design onto Twitter was spotted by Mashable editor Matt Petronzio, who seems to be one of the few users affected by the experimental change. The updated stream featured a look very similar to Facebook, with a larger user photo, cover image, and bigger posts in a timeline-style format.

Anyone who spends enough time on the internet might’ve figured out by now that denizens of the web are not always great with change, so it should be unsurprising that the change has received a fair amount of negative reaction from users so far.

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Two Thirds of Americans are Smartphone Owners

Only a couple of years ago, smartphone users were part of a minority amongst cell phone owners, but new research has confirmed that the tables have truly turned; America is a smartphone nation from coast to coast.

According to research conducted by Nielsen, as much as 65% of America’s cell phone users have opted for smartphones as of 2013. This is a considerable rise from the 44% seen in 2011’s survey, leading smartphones to be more commonly used than gaming consoles and digital cable television, used by 46% and 54% of the population in total.

The statistics released in the new Digital Consumer Report show that the American population has become more and more interested on technology in the last couple of years. Whereas only 2% of the population owned a tablet in 2011, over 29% reported owning one last year. Mobile device usage has surged steadily forward over the previous two years; the average American in 2013 owns 4 tech devices and spends an average of 34 hours per month using mobile apps and browsing.

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HTC Eyes Low-End Smartphone Market

In an attempt to appeal to a wider market and promote sales, HTC is reportedly considering rounding out its product portfolio with a line of low-end smartphones.

Although the company’s current product line is currently geared almost exclusively to premium smartphones, HTC has announced that it would be expanding its range to include some more affordable, mid-tier phones. Speaking during a conference call, HTC chairwoman Cher Wang commented on the fact that the company had focused on premium phones such as the HTC One, while neglecting other potential market segments.

In the past, HTC made a marked decision to place high-end smartphones at the center of its core business strategy; however the results of this business plan have been less than satisfactory for the company. On Monday, HTC reported that it had experienced a huge drop in revenue during the final quarter of 2013, narrowly eking out of profit of $10 million. Following this, the company is expected to make a loss during the current quarter.

With large markets in the developing world coming into play, smartphone makers around the globe are scrambling to come up with more budget-friendly handset options.

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New Apple Malware Monitors Activity to Steal BitCoins

Although Apple likes to remind consumers that its devices are less susceptible to malware, make no mistake; malicious software does exist for Mac operating systems. The latest piece of malware discovered to be preying on Apple users has been monitoring browser activity in order to gain access to BitCoin wallets.

The trojan horse malware found to be affecting OS X systems is called OS X/CoinThief.A, and is cunningly disguised as a normal application called StealthBit. The malware appeared on GitHub disguised as a legitimate Bitcoin tool, however, once downloaded and installed, the malware uses a browser extension to log users’ internet login details and security credentials. Information gathered while the user is harmlessly browsing the internet, or accessing their personal Bitcoin wallets is then sent on to third party servers to be exploited by hackers.

The malware was designed to fool Apple users by disguising its malicious extensions with seemingly-harmless names like “pop-up blocker”. It is not clear yet how many Apple users have had their Bitcoin accounts emptied by this malware or other similar programs.

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