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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft

New Photos App & One Handed Mode: Windows 10 Phones

The latest update (Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 10536) for the Windows Insiders have brought in a new updated Photos App for the Windows 10 Phone users. This update introduces a folder view that makes it easy for you to see your OneDrive and PC folders in the Photos app. On your phone, you can also see folders on your SD card.

This update also brings faster photo viewing and context menus. Specifically, for phones, zoom and panning is faster, and you now have an option to mark an image as a favourite. This update is not available for PCs at this moment; an update will be rolled out soon.

windows-10-phone-updateMicrosoft had introduced one-handed mode for larger phones sometime ago. In this build, they have also enabled the ability to use one-handed mode on all Windows phones. 

This can be enabled by pressing and holding the Start button. When you do this, your screen will slide down so you can reach items at the top of your screen. To slide the screen back up, tap the black space at the top of the screen, or press and hold the Start button again. One-handed use will also naturally time out after several seconds and return to your regular view

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis News

iOS 9 will be available as a Free upgrade later Today

The iOS 9 upgrade will be available later today as a free update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users. iOS 9 makes iOS devices proactive with powerful search and improved Siri features.

Proactive assistance presents the most relevant information at a given time of day and suggests actions at that particular moment based on the apps you use frequently and the time of day you use them. Siri features an all-new design, contextual reminders based on time and location, and new ways to search photos and videos. Search queries deliver more relevant results from more categories, including sports scores and schedules, simple math calculations, weather conditions and stock prices.

iOS9 on iPad gets even better with the new multitasking features that let users view and interact with two apps at once, side by side. With Picture-in-Picture, users can play video while browsing the web, composing email or using other apps. Built-in apps become more powerful with a redesigned Notes app offering new ways to capture ideas, detailed transit information in Maps, and an all-new News app for the best news reading experience on any mobile device.

For more Detailed feature look-up, Read Here.

Siri can do more than ever and new proactive assistance helps you get more done before you ask, all while protecting users’ privacy” said Craig Federighi Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With iOS 9 we focused on strengthening the foundation of iOS with a deep focus on quality, and with the help of more than one million users who participated in our first ever public beta program, we’re excited to release the best version of iOS yet.”

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Google IT News, Tech Information and Analysis

Google appoints John Krafcik as CEO for the Self-Driving Car Project

Google Inc has appointed John Krafcik, the veteran Ford and Hyundai exec as the CEO for the self-driving car project. From the looks of it, he’s the first CEO for the high-profile venture that’s part of Google X, the secretive development program for new technologies of Google. Earlier there were reports that, Google X would be a part of the parent company, Alphabet Inc. However, there is no clarity at this moment.

In the past months, we have seen companies like Apple and Google hiring engineers and experts from the car industry as they develop autonomous cars. This is a significant get by Google. Google, which launched the self-driving car project in 2009, has signaled that it intends to introduce the cars by 2020.

Image Courtesy: Screen Grab, Google Self-Driving Car Project Website
Image Courtesy: Screen Grab, Google Self-Driving Car Project Website

Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne told Automotive News that  Krafcik’s background shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that Google intends to become a manufacturer of self-driving cars. “We’re not going to make cars ourselves. We know what we’re good at, and we’ll partner with many different companies to bring this technology into the world safely.” – “The self-driving car project (part of Google X), would be a good candidate at some point in the future to become an alphabet company, but not yet.”

Read more on the Google Self Driving Car Project here – http://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis News

Motorola India launches Moto X Play at INR 18,499

Following a strong sales of the Moto E, and Moto G (sold over 2.6 million units in India), Motorola today announced the Moto X Play which is set to go on sale on Flipkart, starting tonight. The Moto X Style (Pure Edition) is expected in the following months. 

The 4G-enabled Moto X Play will be available at Rs. 18,499 for 16GB version and Rs. 19,999 for 32GB. It has 5.5-inch display, 2GB RAM, 1.7 GHz octa core Snapdragon processor, 21MP rear and 5MP front camera and 3,630 mAh battery. For more device specs, read here

To celebrate the launch of Moto X Play in India, Motorola India is bringing some offers for you starting midnight today and lasting until 20th September, 2015.

  • 100% cashback for 100 lucky customers using Flipkart Ping
  • Flipkart E-gift voucher worth INR1000
  • Free movie vouchers worth INR 500 from BookmyShow
  • MakemyTrip Offers:
    • Travel Vouchers worth INR 5000
    • 55% Off (Upto INR 1,500) on Domestic Hotels booking on mobile app
    • INR 1000 cashback on domestic flights booking on mobile app
    • Holiday package to Bangkok, Thailand for two Lucky Customers
    • Holiday package to Goa for two Lucky Customers

The price looks to be fantastic for the experience which the Motorola devices have delivered. Its very impressive to see, even the press release talk about the experience than the specs in detail.  Here is a snippet.

New Delhi, 14 September, 2015: It might not be something we admit, but we’re all in serious relationships with our phones. We trust them with our most personal questions, photos, stories and secrets. Nearly 1 in 5 people would be more willing to give up meeting their significant other, showering or sleeping than having to go without their smartphone for a weekend. But does your phone love you back? 

We believe that you deserve the perfect partner for such a serious mobile relationship. Today we are announcing the Moto X Play, a phone that will love you back. It gives you the best in class cameras, all-day battery, water-repellent design, meaningful software experiences and personalization options – all at a great price.  Day or night, rain or shine, Moto X Play is the device that will be your perfect partner. The Moto X Play will be available at INR 18,499 for 16GB & INR 19,999 for 32GB exclusively on Flipkart with multiple launch offers starting midnight.

Your phone should know you by the sound of your voice, but also realize when you want to be left alone. It should keep you safe with easy-to-access, hands-free control. It should grow with you, learning your preferences and habits, getting better over time. And it certainly should be with you for the long haul: durable, water-repellant2, and backed up with lifetime customer service. The new Moto X Play not only does that, but much more for those who are looking for a seamless and premium smartphone experience.

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Featured IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Product Reviews Smartphones

OnePlus 2 – A Great Android Phone; Definitely not a Flagship Killer!

Hello people; I am back with a review after a long time. I have the all new OnePlus 2 with me in this article. Well, to be honest, It’s too late to review this phone. I’m sure, you would’ve come across quite a few takes. If you would still like to read a detailed review, I recommend you read this well written article on TechPP

This piece would primarily focus on my thoughts of  the “Yay” and “Nay”s of the OnePlus 2. There are few things I love about this phone. The hardware is beautiful. It feels fantastic in hand; the weight is nice and well balanced. The elements used definitely feels good. I personally love the alert slider button which changes the notification options. This is a very nifty example of a software driven hardware implementation. Here are some of the pictures of the device itself.

Camera Picture Samples: As you see in the pictures below, most of them were shot in the Auto Mode. However, you can still see the exposure settings being calculated so well. The details are very neat and so are the colour saturation. The DOF (Depth of Field) feels very neat and simple; most importantly, realistic.

Should I upgrade? – This totally depends on what device are you using? If you are already on a OnePlus One, I do not see a reason for you to upgrade, unless you need a finger print protection to your phone or a Dual SIM. If you are in the market looking to buy an Android phone under 25000 INR, this is the best phone you can buy today*. *conditions apply, if you manage to get an invite!

Hey Team @ OnePlus, here are my thoughts and feedback on the OnePlus 2 –

Yay’s:

    1. The VR Launch was by far the best creative launches, I have ever attended or seen. Kudos to the team to for have planned such a great event and its brilliant execution.
    2. I like the weight of the device; it isn’t light, but feels so comfortable and yet nice feel of a premium phone in hand.
    3. I love the alert slider button; that’s one of the best little features I love about the OnePlus 2. Great thought and attention to detail. Taking about buttons, the feel is very good and the buttons definitely feel premium.
    4. The sandstone texture is an instant connect with OnePlus; most of them can just close their eyes and will be able to guess your brand with just a feel.
    5. The Touch ID is super responsive and fast.
    6. I like the fact, you sticked with the 1080p screen and not the QHD; works good on an everyday phone, plus saves up on battery!
    7. The camera is too good; the DOF is very pleasing on eyes and it doesn’t look too fake.

Nay’s:

  • The OnePlus One had a great packaging; the OnePlus 2 looks too plain jane.
  • I think, we should talk more about experience than specs; To be honest, Android is still not really rich to leverage great hardware. I cannot see a visible difference between a 3GB RAM and a 4GB RAM device. Unless you wanna show the strengths with Benchmark scores.
  • I am not able to understand the idea behind giving a removable back, just for the SIMs? I mean, you had a great way of putting things together in the OnePlus One. The flap feels too thin much like how Samsung did it years ago. With the flap’s locking mechanism in-place, I am not sure, how many iterations will it live it up.
  • I’m surprised, how every mobile company has mastered the art of Depth of Field. There should be more research and focus on providing better low light capabilities; and if possible more realistic Slo-Mos. I think, there is still a long way to improve on these two areas. I still love my Slo-Mos on my iPhone.
  • The camera app needs refinement; It isn’t easy to toggle between different camera modes. Also, you could give the user an option to have a transparent shutter button which would show a 16:9 on the screen than just 4:3. I am not sure, if there was a mode to do that; bcos, the UI was very sluggish to even look for it.
  • The Touch ID – This touchscreen has a design of a button; most of the times, you end up pressing than touch. Not sure, again why the design was made to standout if it had to be just a touch; it could’ve been a plain simple glass slab, than a button design.
  • The USB Type C is good; certainly feels special, but I still cannot understand why we need it at this moment. Because, other than using it both the sides, I don’t see any other major advantage listed or supported.
  • Fast Charging is a key, especially when we use our phones so much these days.
  • NFC is not something I really miss; but then, it wouldn’t have hurt if the OP2 had it. Honestly, I don’t see any major implementation of Android Pay in the market as of now, wonder when that would change.
  • The phone does heat up a bit; though its quite common in smartphone these days, it would be great to implement a special juice on Oxygen which would tweak the hardware when a heavy intense game or app is loaded.
  • I would’ve loved to see a 128GB model as well. I save a lot of photographs and music on my device. With loading over 80% of the data on the phone, the device starts to feel sluggish in performance. I use a iPhone 128GB model, it almost adapted so well to my needs; with still quite a space left and is super responsive.
  • With using 4G LTE on one of the SIMs, I see that the battery doesn’t last as much as it used to on the OnePlus One. Not sure why.
  • The Oxygen OS needs a lot of refinements as well.
  • Hype; by hype, I mean the Invites. I am sure, there would’ve been a realistic forecast about the expectations people would have of this device. If you didn’t, you should seriously consider hiring someone who is good at forecasting and numbers. Making people run around for invites might sound cool, but then, as a premium buyer, I would love something which is there for my perusal and not hunt for the same. There isn’t an attitude here; but as a genuine buyer, who respects and values your brand, I deserve to get some respect in return.
  • Please do something to the Android Ecosystem. I’m sure, you guys have an authority to bring in a change; drive some interesting things with partnering other companies. There are very few apps which are aesthetically great and good to use on Android. However, many out there are just crappy and lack quality with too many ads and pop-ups. The percentage of Great apps (free or paid) on an iPhone is way too large when compared to Android.

Summing up, did it impress me like the OnePlus One? I so wish, if it had. OnePlus 2 is undoubtedly the best smartphone one can buy under 25000 INR. Is it a flagship killer? Probably, No. There are few more areas which needs attention and I am sure/hope the company is working on the same. Of-course, they know the business better than what I do!

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis News

Jolla announces Intex as its first Sailfish OS licensing partner

Jolla today announced that the world’s first Sailfish OS licensing partner is Intex Technologies, currently thesecond largest smartphone maker of Indian origin. Jolla also introduced that Sailfish OS 2.0 is available on an optimised and scalable 4G LTE reference platform.

As part of Jolla’s BRICS country strategy, Jolla also announced the formation of Sailfish India, a regional mobile ecosystem for India together with leading Internet and online sales companies Times Internet and Snapdeal. The aim for Sailfish India is to develop a unique Indian mobile ecosystem, which will lead to greater differentiation in the market with more choices for consumers, higher user satisfaction and better revenues for local businesses. Further Sailfish India partners will be announced later.

The world’s first licensing partner to utilise the Sailfish OS 2.0 platform is Intex Technologies, second largest smartphone vendor of Indian origin, who will bring Sailfish OS based products to the market later in 2015.

With the release of Sailfish OS 2.0, the next generation version of its mobile operating system, Jolla is now set to license its OS to device vendors globally. To enable quick time-to-market for licensing partners, Jolla has developed a range of optimised Sailfish OS hardware platforms from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 200/600/800 configurations, a highly scalable mobile processor family offering 4G LTE to everyone in all price ranges.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis News

iOS 9 Top Features; Developer Preview Available Today for iPhones and iPad.

Apple today unveiled iOS 9, giving a preview of new iPhone, iPad and iPod touch software that will be available this fall. In this upcoming release, iOS devices become more intelligent and proactive with powerful search and improved Siri features — all without compromising users’ privacy. New multitasking features designed specifically for iPad allow you to work with two apps simultaneously, side-by-side or with the new Picture-in-Picture feature, to keep watching a video while browsing the web, composing email or using any other app. Built-in apps become more powerful in iOS 9 with detailed transit information in Maps, a redesigned Notes app with new ways to capture ideas, and an all-new News app for the best news reading experience on any mobile device.

ios9

Intelligence: Siri features an all-new design in iOS 9, contextual reminders and new ways to search photos and videos. Proactive assistance presents the most relevant information without compromising users’ privacy and suggests actions at a particular moment — even before you start typing — automatically suggesting apps to launch or people to contact based on usage patterns, and notifying you when you need to leave for appointments, taking into account traffic conditions. iOS 9 can even learn what you typically listen to in a certain location or at a particular time of day, so when you plug in headphones at the gym or hop in the car before work, it can automatically display playback controls for your preferred app. Typed search queries deliver more relevant results from more categories, including sports scores and schedules, videos and simple math calculations.

New iPad Features: With a simple swipe, the new Slide Over feature lets you simultaneously work in a second app without leaving the first. And with a quick tap, you can access the new Split View feature so you can work in two apps at the same time, side-by-side. Picture-in-Picture lets you continue a FaceTime® call or video while using your favorite apps. These new multitasking features are supported by built-in Apple apps, and APIs make it easy for third-party developers to add support into their own apps. Typing is faster and easier with an all-new Shortcut Bar that displays actions tailored for the app you are in, and new Multi-Touch™ gestures make it even easier to select and edit text.

Built-In Apps

In iOS 9, Maps adds support for metropolitan transit systems and schedules, and subway station entrances and exits are precisely mapped, providing every step of your trip. When you plan your trip, Maps can offer a combination of trains, subways, buses and walking, and with the new Nearby feature, quickly see what’s around by searching for food, drinks, shopping and more.

New features of the completely redesigned Notes app include the ability to draw a quick sketch using your finger, easily create checklists to keep track of your to-dos, or snap a photo directly in a note. Easily save important items to your notes directly from other apps, and keep them in sync across all your enabled devices with iCloud®.

The News app delivers a reading experience that combines the rich, immersive design of a print magazine with the interactivity of digital media. News can learn your interests and suggest relevant content that’s easily shareable with friends or saved for later. News delivers the best articles from a variety of publishers and over one million topics to help you personalize your reading experience, all presented in an elegant, uncluttered design. News is powered by the new Apple News Format™, a digital publishing format supporting custom typography, galleries, audio, video and interactive animations, allowing publishers like Condé Nast, ESPN and The New York Times to create beautiful editorial layouts for iOS users.

With iOS 9, Apple Pay adds support for Discover, rewards programs from merchants such as Walgreens and Kohl’s Department Stores, and participating store-issued credit and debit cards. Shoppers will be able to manage their cards in the new Wallet app. Apple Pay will also be available to users in the UK starting next month.

Foundation

iOS 9 makes the foundation of iOS even stronger with refinements including battery optimization that provides a typical user with an additional hour of battery life**, and a low-power mode to help further extend battery life. Software updates require less space to install and an Install Later feature can perform updates to your device when it’s not in use. Enhanced security features in iOS 9 keep your devices and Apple ID secure by strengthening the passcode that protects your devices and improving two-factor authentication by building it directly into iOS, making it harder for others to gain unauthorized access to your Apple ID.

Developer APIs

iOS 9 APIs and tools for developers include:

  • extensible search that deep links directly to content within third-party apps;
  • GameplayKit and Model I/O for building better games and ReplayKit for recording gameplay;
  • new HomeKit profiles for motorized windows and shades, motion sensors and home security systems;wireless CarPlay™ and support for auto manufacturers to develop apps within CarPlay; and
  • new HealthKit data points for reproductive health, UV exposure, water intake and sedentary state.

Swift™ 2 brings powerful new features and performance improvements that produce faster apps. The Swift compiler and standard library will be made available as open source later this year, putting the language in the hands of even more developers.

Availability

The iOS 9 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com, and a public beta program will be available in July at beta.apple.com. iOS 9 will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone 4s and later, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and later. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.

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Google IT News, Tech Information and Analysis News

Seven Key Android M Features discussed at the Google IO 2015 today

The Android M is available today for developers; the public release is scheduled for Q3 2015. Here are some of the features discussed at the Google IO Today.

  1. Permissions: Apps only ask for permissions only when you try to use the feature, instead of when you first install it. This is pretty much similar to how iPhones have been working. For e.g.: When you try to take a photograph inside the WhatsApp application, you get a permission notification. That also means, you don’t need to approve permissions every-time the application gets updated.
  2. Chrome custom tabs: As a developer if you want to give a browser view inside your app, you can currently do it with a web-view or move the user out of the app to the browser. Chrome Custom Tabs exactly addresses this. It looks like an in-app browser, but it’s actually Chrome. As its a chrome browser, it comes with its goodies of Sign-in option, saved passwords, Auto-fill and the multi-level security.
  3. App Links: With Android M, apps can “verify” themselves for certain tasks. For e.g.: Twitter links, can just opens the Twitter app, every time. You don’t have that painful dialog to choose which app you want to use when you click a link.
  4. Android Pay: This was expected. This is Google’s solution to ApplePay. The Android Pay uses NFC and Host Card Emulation. Android Pay is an open platform; so you can either use Google’s stuff or use the bank’s app to activate it. Unlike the Google Wallet announcement they did years ago, they have a solid implementation plan. The Android Pay will work in 700,000 stores in the US. It also works in-app, for in-app purchases. Android Pay works with any KitKat or later device.
  5. Finger Print Reader Support: After Samsung and Motorola taking a lead, Google now wants to have a official fingerprint reader support right into Android.
  6. Battery Life, Power: There’s a new feature called ‘Doze’ in Android M. Doze uses motion detection. That means, If your phone doesn’t move in a while, it cuts off the apps. However, the alarms and chat notifications still come through. You can also use your Android phone to charge some other device. Again, thats not very unique. Most of the OEMs have done that already.
  7. USB Type-C: The USB Type-C is going to be supported on Android M; the chances are likely that, the new Nexus Phone would come with a USB Type-C port on it.

The developer preview is available today for Nexus 5, 6, 9, and Player.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis News

Welcome the new Nokia; Company buys Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion

Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent announce today their intention to combine to create an innovation leader in next generation technology and services for an IP connected world. The combined company will be uniquely positioned to create the foundation of seamless connectivity for people and things wherever they are. This foundation is essential for enabling the next wave of technological change, including the Internet of Things and transition to the cloud.  The combined company will have unparalleled innovation capabilities, with Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs and Nokia’s FutureWorks, as well as Nokia Technologies, which will stay as a separate entity with a clear focus on licensing and the incubation of new technologies.

The combined company will be uniquely positioned to create the foundation of seamless connectivity for people and things wherever they are. This foundation is essential for enabling the next wave of technological change, including the Internet of Things and transition to the cloud.  The combined company will have unparalleled innovation capabilities, with Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs and Nokia’s FutureWorks, as well as Nokia Technologies, which will stay as a separate entity with a clear focus on licensing and the incubation of new technologies.

The two companies have entered into a memorandum of understanding under which Nokia will make an offer for all of the equity securities issued by Alcatel-Lucent, through a public exchange offer in France and in the United States, on the basis of 0.55 of a new Nokia share for every Alcatel-Lucent share. The all-share transaction values Alcatel-Lucent at EUR 15.6 billion on a fully diluted basis, corresponding to a fully diluted premium of 34% (equivalent to EUR 4.48 per share), and a premium to shareholders of 28% (equivalent to EUR 4.27 per share) (see Appendix 1), on the unaffected weighted average share price of Alcatel-Lucent for the previous three months. This is based on Nokia’s unaffected closing share price of EUR 7.77 on April 13, 2015. Each company’s Board of Directors has approved the terms of the proposed transaction, which is expected to close in the first half of 2016. The proposed transaction is subject to approval by Nokia’s shareholders, completion of relevant works council consultations, receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary conditions. 

Read below the official press release for more information:

Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia have highly complementary portfolios and geographies, with particular strength in the United States, China, Europe and Asia-Pacific. They will also bring together the best of fixed and mobile broadband, IP routing, core networks, cloud applications and services. This combination is expected to create access to an expanded addressable market with improved long term growth opportunities.

With more than 40 000 R&D employees and spend of EUR 4.7 billion in R&D in 2014, the combined company will be in a position to accelerate development of future technologies including 5G, IP and software-defined networking, cloud, analytics as well as sensors and imaging.  

Consumers are looking to access data, voice and video across networks of all kinds. In this environment technology that used to operate independently now needs to work well together. That is not always the case today, but together Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent are uniquely suited to helping telecom operators, internet players and large enterprises address this challenge.

TRANSACTION HIGHLIGHTS

  • 0.55 of a newly issued ordinary share of Nokia (subject to adjustments for any dividend other than the previously proposed Nokia dividend for 2014) would be offered in exchange for each ordinary share and each American Depositary Share of Alcatel-Lucent. An equivalent offer would be made for each outstanding class of Alcatel-Lucent convertible bonds: OCEANE 2018, OCEANE 2019 and OCEANE 2020
  • The offer values Alcatel-Lucent at EUR 15.6 billion on a fully diluted basis, after taking into account the early conversion and associated dilution of Alcatel-Lucent’s convertible bonds, corresponding to a fully diluted premium of 34% (equivalent to EUR 4.48 per share), and a premium to the shareholders of 28% (equivalent to EUR 4.27 per share), on the unaffected weighted average share price of Alcatel-Lucent for the previous three months. This is based on Nokia’s unaffected closing share price of EUR 7.77 on April 13, 2015
  • Alcatel-Lucent shareholders would own 33.5% of the fully diluted share capital of the combined company, and Nokia shareholders would own 66.5%, assuming full acceptance of the public exchange offer  
  • The combined company will be called Nokia Corporation, with headquarters in Finland and a strong presence in France. Risto Siilasmaa is planned to serve as Chairman, and Rajeev Suri as Chief Executive Officer 
  • The combined company’s Board of Directors is planned to have nine or ten members, including three members from Alcatel-Lucent, one of whom would serve as Vice Chairman 
  • Assuming the closing of the transaction in the first half of 2016:
    • The combined company would target approximately EUR 900 million of operating cost synergies to be achieved on a full year basis in 2019 
    • The combined company would target approximately EUR 200 million of reductions in interest expenses to be achieved on a full year basis in 2017
    • The transaction is expected to be accretive to Nokia earnings on a non-IFRS basis (excluding restructuring charges and amortisation of intangibles) in 2017
  • A strong financial profile on which to grow and invest: on a FY2014 combined basis, the proposed company would have had net sales of EUR 25.9 billion, a non-IFRS operating profit of EUR 2.3 billion, a reported operating profit of EUR 0.3 billion, R&D investments of approximately EUR 4.7 billion, and a strong balance sheet with combined net cash at  December 31, 2014 of EUR 7.4 billion, assuming conversion of all Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent convertible bonds (for basis of preparation see Appendix 2)

Rajeev Suri, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nokia, said:

“Together, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia intend to lead in next-generation network technology and services, with the scope to create seamless connectivity for people and things wherever they are.  

Our innovation capability will be extraordinary, bringing together the R&D engine of Nokia with that of Alcatel-Lucent and its iconic Bell Labs. We will continue to combine this strength with the highly efficient, lean operations needed to compete on a global scale.

We have hugely complementary technologies and the comprehensive portfolio necessary to enable the internet of things and transition to the cloud.  We will have a strong presence in every part of the world, including leading positions in the United States and China.

Together, we expect to have the scale to lead in every area in which we choose to compete, drive profitable growth, meet the needs of global customers, develop new technologies, build on our successful intellectual property licensing, and create value for our shareholders.

For all these reasons, I firmly believe that this is the right deal, with the right logic, at the right time.”

Michel Combes, Chief Executive Officer of Alcatel-Lucent, added:

“A combination of Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent will offer a unique opportunity to create a European champion and global leader in ultra-broadband, IP networking and cloud applications. I am proud that the joined forces of Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent are ready to accelerate our strategic vision, giving us the financial strength and critical scale needed to achieve our transformation and invest in and develop the next generation of network technology. 

This transaction comes at the right time to strengthen the European technology industry. We believe our customers will benefit from our improved innovation capability and incomparable R&D engine under the Bell Labs brand. The global scale and footprint of the new company will reinforce its presence in the United States and China. 

The proposed transaction represents a compelling offer for our shareholders both in terms of upfront premium and long term value creation potential. Shareholders of Alcatel-Lucent now have the opportunity to participate in the future upside of the industrial project that they have supported during the last two years, through a stronger combined business with greater global scale and a better position for the longer term. The new company will also provide our employees exciting opportunities to be part of a global leader.”

TRANSACTION OVERVIEW

The proposed transaction is expected to offer financial benefits to both Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent shareholders.

The combined company will be positioned to target a larger addressable market with an improved growth profile. Based on Nokia estimates, the addressable market of the combined company in 2014 was approximately 50% larger than the current addressable networks market for Nokia alone, increasing from approximately EUR 84 billion to approximately EUR 130 billion. The combined company is expected to have a stronger growth profile than Nokia’s current addressable market, with an estimated CAGR of approximately 3.5% for 2014-2019.

The combined company would target approximately EUR 900 million of operating cost synergies to be achieved on a full year basis in 2019, assuming closing of the transaction in the first half of 2016. The operating cost synergies are expected to create a long-term structural cost advantage, coming from a wide-range of areas, including:

  • Organizational streamlining, rationalisation of overlapping products and services, central functions, and regional and sales organizations  
  • Reduction of various overhead costs in real estate, manufacturing and supply-chain, information technology, and overall general and administrative expenses, including redundant public company costs
  • Procurement given expanded purchasing requirements of the combined company

The combined company would also target approximately EUR 200 million of reductions in interest expenses to be achieved on a full year basis in 2017. The transaction is expected to be accretive to Nokia earnings on a non-IFRS basis (excluding restructuring charges and amortization of intangibles) in 2017. These targets both assume closing of the transaction in the first half of 2016.

The combined company is expected to have a strong balance sheet, with combined net cash at December 31, 2014 of EUR 7.4 billion, assuming conversion of all Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent convertible bonds. 

Nokia maintains its long term target to return to an investment grade credit rating and intends to manage the combined capital structure accordingly by retaining significant gross and net cash positions and by proactively reducing indebtedness. This includes Nokia’s intention to exercise an early repayment option for its EUR 750 million convertible bond in the fourth quarter of 2015, which is expected to result in the full conversion of this convertible bond to equity prior to the closing of the transaction, with no expected cash outflow.

Nokia will suspend its capital structure optimization program, including suspending the share repurchase program execution, effective immediately until the closing of the transaction. Following the closing of the transaction, Nokia intends to evaluate the resumption of a capital structure optimization program for the combined company.

The proposed transaction does not impact Nokia’s ability and intent to continue annual dividend payments. Nokia’s Board of Directors dividend proposal of EUR 0.14 for the year ended December 31, 2014 is maintained. 

TRANSACTION TERMS

The proposed transaction is structured as a public exchange offer in France in accordance with the General Regulation of the French securities regulator, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers(the “AMF”), and all applicable securities laws and regulations in the United States, in which:

  • 0.55 of a newly issued ordinary share of Nokia (subject to adjustments for any dividend other than the previously proposed Nokia dividend for 2014)  would be offered in exchange for one ordinary share of Alcatel-Lucent issued and outstanding (including upon the exercise of Alcatel-Lucent stock options) at the time of the offer and tendered 
  • 0.55 of a newly issued ordinary share of Nokia (subject to adjustments for any dividend other than the previously proposed Nokia dividend for 2014)  would be offered in exchange for one American Depositary Share of Alcatel-Lucent tendered
  • An equivalent offer will be made for each outstanding class of Alcatel-Lucent convertible bonds: OCEANE 2018, OCEANE 2019 and OCEANE 2020

After completion of the public exchange offer, Alcatel-Lucent shareholders would own 33.5% of the fully diluted share capital of the combined entity, and Nokia shareholders would own 66.5%, assuming full acceptance of the offer.  

The proposed all-share transaction values Alcatel-Lucent at EUR 15.6 billion on a fully diluted basis, corresponding to a fully diluted premium of 34% (equivalent to EUR 4.48 per share), and a premium to the shareholders of 28% (equivalent to EUR 4.27 per share) on the unaffected weighted average share price of Alcatel-Lucent for the previous three months, based on Nokia’s unaffected closing share price of EUR 7.77 on April 13, 2015. 

The public exchange offer and the proposed combination will be implemented in accordance with the terms and conditions of the binding memorandum of understanding between Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent. In addition to the offer terms, the memorandum of understanding contains representations, warranties and undertakings by Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent typical in similar transactions. The memorandum of understanding may be terminated by Nokia or Alcatel-Lucent under certain circumstances prior to the filing and/or completion of the public exchange offers, including, for example, a material breach by either party of the terms and conditions of the memorandum of understanding prior to the filing of the offers, the occurrence of a material adverse effect in respect of either party prior to the filing of the offers, the Board of Directors of either party not issuing, or amending in an adverse manner its recommendation, non-receipt of regulatory approvals and certain other circumstances. The parties have further agreed on certain termination fees customary in similar European transactions and payable to the other party under certain circumstances, including a change or withdrawal of the recommendation by the Board of Directors of either party, and Nokia’s failure to obtain the necessary shareholder approval or certain antitrust regulatory approvals.

Subject to Nokia acquiring at least ninety-five percent of the share capital and voting rights of Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia intends to commence a squeeze-out procedure of the remaining outstanding Alcatel-Lucent shares.

CONDITIONS TO OPENING AND COMPLETION OF THE PUBLIC EXCHANGE OFFER

The opening of the public exchange offer is subject to, inter alia, completion of relevant works council consultations; receipt of regulatory approvals in the relevant jurisdictions; the absence of any material adverse event occurring with respect to Nokia or Alcatel-Lucent prior to the filing of the offer with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), the French securities regulator, and the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); the issuance by Alcatel-Lucent’s board of a formal recommendation (avis motivé) in favour of the public exchange offer; and to other customary conditions.

In accordance with the French tender offer rules, following launch of the public exchange offer the completion of the offer will only be subject to the approval by Nokia’s shareholders of the resolutions necessary to implement the combination and the public exchange offer, and to Nokia holding more than 50.00% of the share capital of Alcatel-Lucent on a fully diluted basis upon the closing of the public exchange offer.  

PRELIMINARY TIMELINE AND NOKIA SHAREHOLDER MEETING

Alcatel-Lucent will immediately start the information process of its Group works council in order to obtain its opinion on the proposed public exchange offer.

It is expected that the remainder of 2015 will constitute a review period consisting of regulatory and merger control review in a number of jurisdictions, AMF review and other transaction approvals and reviews. Nokia plans to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting to pass the resolutions necessary to implement the combination and the public exchange offer after the receipt of relevant regulatory approvals. Nokia’s Board of Directors will, subject to its fiduciary duties, recommend that its shareholders vote in favour of such resolutions. 

The notice to the meeting will be published and more information on the public exchange offer and its background made available to both Nokia’s and Alcatel-Lucent’s shareholders after said regulatory steps, which is expected to take place in late 2015 or early 2016. The public exchange offer is expected to be launched and completed in the first half of 2016.  

CORPORATE STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE

The planned combined company would be headquartered in Finland, with strategic business locations and major R&D centers in France, and many other countries including Germany, the United States and China. The business is expected to operate under the Nokia brand and intends to retain the Bell Labs brand to host its networks-focused innovation activities.

Risto Siilasmaa is planned to serve as Chairman, and Rajeev Suri as Chief Executive Officer. The combined company’s Board of Directors is planned to have nine or ten members, including three members from Alcatel-Lucent, one of whom would serve as Vice Chairman. 

Nokia also announces today that it has initiated a review of strategic options for its HERE business. That review is ongoing, it may or may not lead to a transaction, and any further announcements about HERE will be made in due course, as appropriate.  

Nokia Technologies, a source of superb innovation, expertise and intellectual property, is not impacted by today’s announcements and will stay as a separate entity with a clear focus on incubating new technologies and sharing those technologies through an active licensing program.

Nokia shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki (ticker:NOK1V), and on the New York Stock Exchange in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ticker:NOK). In addition, Nokia will apply for a listing of Nokia’s shares on NYSE Euronext Paris in connection with the public exchange offer.

COMMUNITIES AND ECOSYSTEM

Nokia is a global company, with deep roots and heritage in many parts of the world.  When it joins with Alcatel-Lucent, it also expects that France, where Alcatel-Lucent is a fundamental participant in the technology ecosystem, will be a vibrant centre of the combined company.  Nokia intends to be an important contributor to the overall development of the broader technology ecosystem and a driver of innovation in France.

Consistent with this goal, the combined company expects that after the closing of the transaction it will have a presence in France that spans leading innovation activities including a 5G/Small Cell R&D Centre of Excellence; a Cyber-Security lab similar to its existing facility in Berlin designed to support European collaboration on the topic; and a continued focus on Bell Labs and wireless R&D.  Engaging with and supporting projects and academic efforts that enhance the development of future technologies will remain an important priority. 

Upon closing of the transaction, Nokia also intends to establish a EUR 100 million investment fund to invest in start-ups in France with a focus on the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet.

Nokia intends to maintain employment in France that is consistent with Alcatel-Lucent’s end-2015 Shift Plan commitments, with a particular focus on the key sites of Villarceaux (Essonne) and Lannion (Côtes d’Armor).  In addition, the company expects to expand R&D employment with the addition of several hundred new positions targeting recent graduates with skills in future-oriented technologies, including 5G. To ensure ongoing support for customers, activities for support services and pre- and post-sales are expected to continue as well. 

Similarly Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent have had a defining impact on the United States communications industry. As long-standing technology partners of the US service providers and with a re-energized Bell Labs research and consultancy, the proposed combined company would have technological depth in all strategic domains combined with formidable operational strength. At a time where the industry is re-shaping itself with new architectures, business models and market players, Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent together would bring a compelling force to the fast evolving needs of large enterprises, webscale players, and the public sector, as well as service providers.

Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent also have a long and rich history in China. As a result of the transaction Nokia would own Alcatel-Lucent’s 50% plus one share holding in Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, a company limited by shares supervised by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of China.  Both companies support the Chinese Government’s ambitions to encourage a climate for indigenous innovation and technology development through the ‘Internet Plus’ and ‘Made in China 2025’ initiatives. The combined company intends to remain committed to China and plans to continue enabling local innovation with fast, smart, secure and reliable networks built with its Chinese partners.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft News

Microsoft introduces Surface 3; Thinnest and Lightest Surface

The Surface 3 is the thinnest and lightest Surface Microsoft has made. Surface 3 features the same beautiful design and premium materials as Surface Pro 3 in a more compact and efficient package. The price starts at $499. It is thin (just 8.7 mm) and light (1.37 pounds or 622 grams) and has a 10.8-inch screen. Compared to the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 it is slightly smaller and it feels great when you’re using it as a tablet. The 3:2 aspect ratio which was first introduced on Surface Pro 3 is also used here.

surface

Surface 3 also has front- (3.5MP) and rear-facing (8MP) cameras that both capture 1080p video. The rear-facing camera now features autofocus to take better photos but is also particularly useful for capturing images of documents, barcodes and the like. The battery is expected to last up to 10 hours, so that it will see you through your work day.

Surface 3 has a kickstand that very capably supports the device when you need it and totally disappears when you don’t. This kickstand has three preset positions — a narrow angle that’s great for working at a traditional desk, an intermediate angle that is designed for sitting on the couch or using the device on your lap, and a wide angle that provides a natural writing or drawing canvas.

It also runs full Windows, including desktop applications. Surface 3 runs full 64-bit Windows 8.1 and will be available with Windows Pro for business customers. It will be upgradable to Windows 10 for free when it’s available. With full Windows, it will run the desktop applications you depend on for work or school. This is a big deal when you compare it with competition in this segment. It also includes a one-year subscription to Office 365 to help you really get down to work.

Microsoft has also got the game of ecosystems and accessories right. You have a good range of accessories to pick while you plan to buy a Surface 3. Be it a Docking Station, Type Covers or even a Surface Pen. That makes taking notes real easy.

Read here for more information.