Thursday, 28 July 2016

Four-Feet Wide Footprint of a Dinosaur Believed to be Abelisaurus Discovered in Bolivia

A Bolivian tour guide has discovered a giant dinosaur footprint measuring over a metre wide in his own country Bolivia in South America.

Image by Murray Foubister [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The footprint measures about 1.2 meters (4 ft) wide and is believed to have been created by a biped, meat-eating predator Abelisaurus that roamed South America about 80 million years ago.

The footprint was found earlier this month in a soft clay ground area in Kinsa Saruska in Maragua region. This area is located about 40 miles from the city of Sucre in central Bolivia, and is well known for dinosaur tracks. Many skeletal remains of dinosaurs have already been found in this area.

According to experts, abelisaurus existed during the Late Cretaceous Period, and probably reached 7 to 9 meters (23 to 30 feet) in length. Skeletal of an abelisaurus was first discovered by Argentine paleontologists Fernando E Novas and José F Bonaparte in 1985. Later a complete skull of abelisaurus was discovered in Río Negro, Argentina, which led experts to conclude that the dinosaur belonged to a new family of predators. This skull lacked the lower jaws, and most of the connections between the back of the skull and the snout were absent. As only the skull was found, it became difficult for experts to provide a reliable size estimate of Abelisaurus. The length of this creature was estimated to be as low as seven meters. In 2010, Gregory S. Paul, a paleontologist, estimated the body length of Abelisaurus at ten meters and its weight at three tonnes.

According to experts, the footprint found in Bolivia is one of the largest of its kind ever found in this region. "This print is bigger than any other we have found to date in the area" said Argentine paleontologist Sebastian Apesteguia, who is studying the footprint. "It is a record in size for carnivorous dinosaurs from the end of the Cretaceous period in South America" he added.

Author: Devender Kundaliya

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory Captures Strongest Solar Flare of 2016

Last week, the sun fired off its strongest solar flare of 2016 that was captured on video by NASA's sun-watching satellite - Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The event occurred on July 22 and 23, with sun unleashing three relatively moderate solar flares.

Image credits: NASA

According to scientists, the sun is currently passing through a period of low activity. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation emitted by the sun. Although harmful radiation from a solar flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere, but intense radiations can affect GPS and communications signals traveling to Earth. Three solar flares unleashed last week were just 'mid-strength' of M class. The most powerful solar flares classified as X-class eruptions that can cause disruption to communication satellites and can also pose a risk to astronauts in space. Intense solar flares also produce spectacular northern lights display.

"These flares were classified as M-level flares. M-class flares are the category just below the most intense flares, X-class flares," NASA officials explained in their statement. "The number provides more information about its strength. An M2 is twice as intense as an M1, an M3 is three times as intense, etc."

The first solar flare was registered as an M5.0 sun storm, which peaked on Friday night at 10:11 p.m. EDT (0211 July 23 GMT). The second, more-powerful flare, registered as M7.5-class solar storm, peaked on Saturday at 1:16 a.m. EDT (0516 GMT), which was followed by third, M5.5-class flare, with peak observed at 1:31 a.m. EDT (0531 GMT).

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was launched by NASA in February 2010, and the satellite has been observing the Sun then. This mission was part of Living With a Star (LWS) program, which aims to develop the scientific understanding of those aspects of the Sun–Earth system, which directly affect life and society on Earth.

The SDO was designed and developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The primary mission is scheduled to last five years and three months, but can be expanded to last for ten years if everything goes perfectly. Since its launch, the SDO has been analyzing the influence of the Sun on the Earth and near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere. Using SDO, scientists at NASA are also trying to investigate how Sun's magnetic field is generated, and the star converts and releases this stored magnetic energy into the heliosphere and geospace in the form of energetic particles and solar wind.

The SDO is carrying with it three scientific instruments: the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment, the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, and the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly. The spacecraft is moving in an inclined geosynchronous orbit around Earth.

Author: Devender Kundaliya

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Ancient European Communities might have Used Passage Graves as Telescopes

A new study carried out by researchers from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the Nottingham Trent University suggests that ancient humans might have used entrance passages to 6,000-year-old tombs (passage graves) as "telescopes" to see the rising stars.

Image by Karsten Wentink [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Such passage graves are scattered across Europe, and researchers believe the dark, narrow entrances of the graves might have provided viewers a clear, amplified view of the night sky - allowing them to detect stars rising at twilight sooner than other members of the community.

In particular, researchers reveal that the orientation of the dark entrances to passage graves in Portugal suggests that they were aligned to give a view of Aldebaran, the red star and the brightest body in Taurus constellation. Researchers believe this star probably had a special significance for preshistoric communities who used to move their sheep and goats to mountain pastures for summer grazing each year. The study argues that this annual shifting event could have coincided with the first appearance of Aldebaran in the morning twilight each year.

"This first rising of Aldebaran occurred at the end of April or beginning of May 6,000 years ago, so it would be a very good, very precise calendrical marker for them to know when it was time to move into the higher grounds" said Dr Fabio Silva of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

The team says the conditions within the chambers could have provided viewers an early view of Aldebaran's first appearance before those outside. Researchers also believe that these passage graves were probably linked to some ancient rituals involving revelation of an astronomical secret. "There is a wealth of evidence now that these passage graves were not only used as tombs for burials, but they could also be used for rites of passage," said Silva.

Ancient European communities placed their dead within passage graves featuring single or multiple chambers, and a long, straight corridor to connect the underground tombs to the outside world. Mounds or earth or stones were used to cover the entire structure. These tombs were widespread phenomena in Spain, Scandinavia, Portugal and the UK. According to researchers, many tombs also featured engravings or paintings. "Imagine a young boy forced to spend the night in the passage – probably scared to death," says Silva. "In the morning he would see this star rise days before the rest of his tribe. That may have been presented as secret knowledge."

According to Frank Prendergast at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland, the finding of the new study is definitely a reasonable hypothesis. "The purpose of these tombs is not just funerary, there's a lot more going on," he says. The detailed findings of the study will be presented at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Nottingham.

Author: Devender Kundaliya

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

11 Reasons Why You Should Root Your Android Smartphone Immediately

Android phones are known for their customizability and versatility when it comes to features. However, gaining root access opens up more possibilities and more settings to tinker with.

Image by mammela-686310 [CC0] via Wikimedia Commons

The average Android phone user does not even know what rooting can do to their phone. It can potentially speed up the tasks and even save some battery life with the help of a few tweaks that would be impossible to do otherwise on an un-rooted phone.

Rooting Allows Installation of More Apps

No, this does not mean that the user can exceed their file storage capacity. This simply means that a rooted phone will be able to install other kinds of apps that cannot really be installed without root access. Gaining root access is similar to gaining Administrator privileges on a Windows PC. All of the permissions will be given to the user and so it allows them to bypass certain security measures and checks in order to install an app. These apps and tweaks require root access because they tend to deal with deeper operating procedures with the system. They will need to modify some system files in order to do their job.

One such app that requires root access is WiFiKill. As the name suggests, it can kill the Wi-Fi connectivity of some users if they are connected to a network. The app can be useful for checking whether there are unwanted users on a private home network. They can just kill their access and also identify the MAC and IP address to determine which device is not supposed to be connected to the network. Other useful apps include WakeLock detectors that can determine which apps are causing the CPU to stay awake and drain the battery. It is useful for troubleshooting what's sucking all the juice out of the battery.

Rooting Allows Users to Uninstall Bloatware

Bloatware can be pretty annoying on a brand new Android smartphone. Most manufacturers pre-install their own brand of applications that could pose as useful but really are not. On an un-rooted phone, uninstalling the said bloatware apps is impossible. However, root access allows the user to uninstall and disable any app they please, according to Lifehacker.

Once root access is gained, the user can just simply uninstall or disable the app. This saves up on RAM allocation and storage space too. These kinds of apps can also drain the battery so uninstalling them is a wise decision if the user does not really need them. Besides, there are other lightweight alternative apps available on the Play Store.

Install Battery Checkers and App Hibernators

Rooting also allows access to some of the most useful apps on the Play Store that requires root access. One such app is the Battery Calibrator by NeMa. The app allows the user to calibrate the battery in order for it to discharge properly. Uncalibrated batteries tend to drain faster than the usual which can be troublesome for users. Greenify, one of the most popular hibernating apps, also requires root access. The app allows the user to hibernate apps that they do not really use on a regular basis.

Hibernating unused apps can lead to better battery life and more free RAM overall. For low-end phones, the app can be pretty useful to keep the performance of the phone in check and to avoid lags and slowdowns. Users can also underclock or overclock their CPU frequencies with certain apps that require root access. Doing so can improve performance or battery life whichever the user chooses.

There are also other apps that can do the same things with root access, but the two mentioned above are trusted by the Android community in general. Other useful apps can also be found on the Play Store just by adding "root" on the search strings.

Rooting Allows for Added Customizability

With a rooted Android smartphone, there are many more customizable options that will become available. Users can download popular customizable and tweaking apps such as Xposed and BusyBox. They all require root access because most of their tweaks rely on modifying system files on the phone. Some of their tweaks include changing the icons and colors on the status bar, changing LED notification colors (if the phone supports it) and many more.

There are also other apps that can just change one aspect of the phone's design. For instance, a rooted phone can change the default font and icons. Users can also choose to customize the booting animation if they are rooted. It requires the replacement of the system files so root access is essential.

Rooting Allows Users to Set Default System Apps

Since the root access allows the user to replace files on the hidden system files, users can then use that to their advantage and set system apps. In order to set an app to become part of the system, they need to copy the APK file and move it to the system apps folder. Doing so allows the phone to recognise that the app is part of the core system, and it might improve the performance and load times for some phones. It would also allow more access for the phone since it is now a system app.

System apps can't be installed either but they can be disabled. It's useful for when letting a friend borrow the Android smartphone to avoid accidental uninstallation of apps.

Rooting Allows Ad Blockers on the Phone

One of the most annoying things across all devices is distracting ads. They can come in the form of pictures or videos suddenly popping up on the entire screen. On desktop computers and laptops, ad blockers are widely-used applications. What most users do not know is that there are also ad blockers available on Android.

However, they require root access because they need to modify system files in order to block the incoming and outgoing traffic for the advertisements. It's not harmful and it allows the user to better enjoy their apps without having to accidentally tap on an ad. In addition, blocking ads can also save a bit of battery power. This is because the ads tend to connect to outside servers which drains battery.

Rooting Allows Better Backups

Backups can be a tricky thing in Android. Contacts can be automatically backed up to a certain Google account but the apps and data can be left behind. Users who tend to switch phones and ROMs usually need backups for all of their apps and data. Some apps need the data saved on the phone itself to keep the progress as they do not use cloud servers.

For instance, a game's progress could be deleted if the user does a factory reset without doing a backup. One app for doing backups of apps with data and other system apps too is Titanium Backup. The app requires root access to do the backups. Titanium Backup stores the backups on the microSD card or another storage location depending on the user. If the backups are on the microSD, it can be useful for those who need to wipe their internal storage clean. They can just download the app and restore the app and other system data so that they will be retained.

The backups are also useful for those who would like to try changing ROMs and Android versions. In order to install new versions and ROMs, the user needs to wipe the phone and its settings.

Rooting Allows Installation of Customised ROMs

The first step to installing customised ROMs on Android is to root the device first. This then allows the installation of custom recoveries that will be needed to flash the needed files. ROMs are perhaps the ultimate customizable option for Android smartphones. They may contain totally different user interfaces that will improve the look of the phone. Some ROMs are also focused on bringing improved performance for the phones. They contain several tweaks that are not readily available on the stock ROMs of un-rooted devices.

There are also ROMs that provide the famous UI skins from other phones such as the HTC Sense and Samsung's TouchWiz UI, according to PC Advisor. This means that users can experience using the UIs of other phones through customised ROMs without having to buy the expensive devices in the first place.

However, the amount and number of ROMs depends on how large the Android developing community of the phone is. For instance, a famous flagship phone would probably have more custom ROMs compared to a locally re-branded Android phone. In some cases, the ROMs are also left unfinished because there is insufficient support from other developers. Still, it can provide a refreshing experience for users with rooted devices.

Rooting Allows Installation of Custom Kernels

While custom ROMS already have custom kernels as well, they can be troublesome to install if the user does not want to be hassled. Custom kernels allow the user to bypass certain limits and to allow apps to communicate better with the hardware aspect of the phone. Some custom kernels allow the user to enable Wi-Fi tethering if the feature can't be found on the default settings. They can also allow for performance tweaks and better batter life. Flashing kernels is also much easier because the user does not need to wipe the phone in order to do so. They can also be uninstalled anytime if they have a kernel manager.

Rooting Allows Automation

Another useful app is Tasker, which allows the user to automate tasks with minimal supervision. The app does have features already available for non-rooted phones but the more powerful ones can only be accessed if the user has a rooted device. Users who are not on the latest versions of Android can choose to automatically set the phone to silent at a certain time of the night. Tasker can also automatically turn on the Wi-Fi when the phone detects that he or she is already home, according to Greenbot.

Some useful "tasks" that Tasker can do include:
  • Automatically translating text on the clipboard from English to another language or vice-versa. (requires third-party plugin). 
  • Automatically rotating the phone when a certain app is opened.
  • Playing a specific song or ring tone when a text received contains certain phrases.
  • Setup an emergency "scene" for when the phone is lost and someone finds it.
  • Set the display timeout to a longer duration when using a certain app.
  • Use the phone as a wireless remote with IR plugins.
  • Turn off autosync if no Wi-Fi s detected.
  • Automatically turn off Wi-Fi and GPS if battery percentage is below 50 percent.
  • Automatically disable wireless radios if they are open but no signal is reached.
  • Turn down brightness during a certain time period.
  • Automatically send a text message if a particular number calls and gets missed.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi when the phone is on the move.
  • Bring up Google Now cards regarding weather and events when alarm is turned off.
  • Automatically capture photo with front camera if someone else tries to open the lock with repeated wrong password attempts.
  • Turn smart TV or other wireless speaker to full volume when alarm is not closed within a certain time duration. 

There are many more Tasker tasks that can be done by the user with a little bit of imagination. These tasks can't really be done by the default un-rooted device without any of the plugins and root access.

Rooting for Other Features

Other features are also present when rooting is involved. Users can get new apps and install them even if they are deemed "incompatible" for the current Android version of the phone. Some apps like Undelete can also be useful if the user has accidentally deleted something off from the phone. Other apps can also bypass the carrier lock for some phones in order to access other app markets that are exclusive.

Should You Root Your Android Phone?

If you want to unlock the full potential of the Android system and to fully own your smartphone, rooting is the way to go. All of the functions and features mentioned above are not possible with the stock ROMs and kernels of an un-rooted device.

Author: Lord Marin

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Apple Music May Undergo Major Changes Amidst Stagnant Growth, Could be Unveiled in WWDC

Apple Music might be getting a complete overhaul after almost a year of nearly bad performance in the market and executives left their posts in the Beats-powered streaming service.

Image by Vrinda Rajanahally [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Cupertino-based company has introduced the music streaming service in June 2015. It was met with mixed reviews but users don't seem to be happy with the service now.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is reportedly planning to make several major changes to their Apple Music in order to adapt with the times and to address some of the problems the service might have. When it launched, more than 11 million users have signed up for the service because there was a free trial.

However, almost half of those users who signed up have canceled before they were going to be charged the monthly fee of $10. It means that almost half of the users were not satisfied with what the service offered. Apple Music was said to have a cluttered interface which confused most users, the upgrades were also mixed up with how iTunes libraries were stored and executives supposedly keeping an eye on the service have left the Cupertino-based company.

People familiar with the upcoming plans told Bloomberg that Apple is planning to overhaul the streaming music service by integrating it with their other download-based businesses. They are also reportedly planning to expand the 24/7 Beats One radio service that Apple has been boasting about since day one.

All of the plans are expected to be unveiled and explained with more details at their upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference to be held in June. Apple is expected to be more aggressive in their marketing campaign for the monthly $10 fee for Apple Music, which means that the company is not planning for a price deduction.

As Apple's iPhone sales dipped for the first time, it might be a good idea for the Cupertino-based company to expand their sources of income and revenue. Apple Music does have the potential to be a large income maker for the company but the streaming market is already dominated by other services such as Spotify and Tidal. Critics have even said that the service is not up to the standards of what Apple has been providing their customers in the past. They might have changed something in the history of music when they launched their iTunes service but Apple Music did not seem to have the intended effect the company expected.

Spotify continues to increase their number of users and they are staying at the top of the market even if not all of their users are subscribed to their premium service. Besides Spotify, there are also a number of free streaming services online which can be a great alternative to paid services. BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said: "When it comes to software, Apple performs with less elegance than it does when it comes to hardware. “Apple Music is underwhelming. They have subscribers because of their platform. If you have that kind of subscriber base, you should have millions of subscribers."

Another confusing bit was that Apple already had iTunes. The difference was that those who wanted to stream were pushed towards Apple Music and not the former. Juggling two music services at a time does not really seem wise considering that the streaming market is already filled with great alternatives.

People familiar with Apple's finances have also told Bloomberg that their iTunes service still generated $3.5 billion despite the introduction of Apple Music, which has not really made much of a difference with the company's revenue. The $10 price tag might be too expensive considering that Spotify charges $14.99 for two users per month.

Beats executives have left Apple which may have staggered the development or improvement of their music streaming service. Ian Rogers, the chief executive of Beats Music, has left the company in August. Product Head Ryan Walsh, VP for Engineering Bobby Gaza, Chief Designer Ryan Goodman and Senior Visual Designer Jackie Ngo also left the company. Apple has also forced other engineers to move on to other products such as their App Store and iBooks service.

Apple employees, engineers and executives have declined to comment as to why they left the company after Apple Music started. One reason could be creative differences in how the service should have been developed. Apple Music may need a lot of changes in order to become on par with their competitors. One of the most criticized parts of the service is the user interface.

The UI of Apple Music seems to be cluttered and full of options to tap on. While that may seem like a good thing, it does not translate well for smartphones with smaller screens. Apple could make the UI simpler, according to The Guardian.

Apple Music also has their Beats One radio station that is online for 24 hours a day and seven days a week. However, it can become stagnant if that is the only station users can listen to. Spotify's free ad-supported service also brings in money for the company. Apple Music could do the same and it could even lead to an increase in the number of their users.

Advertisements during the streaming experience does not seem to bother most people. The ads mostly run just a couple of seconds long compared to the minutes of free music users can listen to. Apple could also develop a standalone Apple Music application for desktop and a separate web client as well. Users who want to listen to the service on their computers need to install and run the iTunes software.

Spotify has seen success in both their mobile and desktop experience. Users can just log in their account to access the application or the web client if they do not have it installed. Marketing could also play a big role for the service. Simply pestering people to pay for the $10 per month fee may not work, however. Apple could roll out promos and services to lure customers into paying for the service. They could set out discounts or limited-time offers to attract more users.

All of the details of the iPhone-maker's plans could be revealed at the company's WWDC 2016. Apple Music can still be a great option if they have the right features.

Author: Lord Marin

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Fingerprint Security Can Actually Make Data on Phone More Vulnerable to Government, Authorities

Fingerprint security should keep data safer from everyone but the recent cases have shown that the government can actually force someone to use their own fingerprint to unlock their phone, possibly incriminating themselves in a case.

Image by National Institute of Standards and Technology [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

There is an increase in the number of smartphones today that have fingerprint sensors. In a sense, they can be safer than passwords as they can't be compromised without the physical help of the owner itself.

After the legal debacle between Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and the FBI over a criminal's iPhone 5c, there is now an ongoing debate in a Los Angeles case regarding a woman that is being forced to use her fingerprints to unlock the Touch ID to unlock her iPhone. Several experts in the legal field are now arguing whether the case is contradicting the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination.

The United States Supreme Court has already ruled that law enforcement authorities can easily get a search warrant for mobile phones and they will be able to require people to hand over any physical evidence that they may have including fingerprints. This is even possible without a direct order from the judge.

Legal experts are saying that the recent case has different circumstances and factors. Forcing a person to place their fingers to access an iPhone can be in violation of the Fifth Amendment as it would be a form of self-incrimination, according to MacWorld. Some of them are even saying that it would be similar to forcing someone to testify against themselves in court.

The recent case could be a bad precedent for future cases as authorities can just force someone to unlock their iPhones, which could possibly lead to self-incrimination. In this case, passwords could actually be safer as they can't be forced to be inputted on the phones.

In the recent Farook case, Apple has consistently denied to comply with the judge's order to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c. The phone was locked by a code and not a Touch ID sensor.

If the FBI was going to try and unlock the iPhone 5c, they could risk having the data inside being wiped out after several wrong attempts. Apple was ordered to unlock the phone but they would have to get pass the encryption and security measures by developing a software that would let the authorities unlock the phone.

As Apple was not complying with the order, the FBI took the matter to their own hands by hiring third-party professional gray-hat hackers to do the deed. The hackers were able to unlock the iPhone 5c without having to wipe the data off from the phone by using a previously unknown exploit.

The authorities and the government are now discussing whether to disclose the exploit to Apple in order for the Cupertino-based company to patch it up. However, it would seem that they are reluctant to share the information as they could still use it for future cases.

If Farook's iPhone had a Touch ID sensor, then it would have been easy for the authorities to just unlock it. They had Farook's corpse and it would only take a couple of seconds to unlock the phone. Another issue is that fingerprints can also be stolen just like passwords. For some people, it might even be easier to steal as all they need is one print off a flat surface.

Fingerprints are supposed to be more secure than passwords because they can't be stolen remotely compared to passwords and PINs, which can easily be compromised through an exploit or a virus. However, there have been recent developments that can prove that fingerprints are just as unsafe as passwords too.

3D printers today can even be used to print molds of fingerprints that can be used to unlock a phone with a fingerprint sensor. Of course, this would rely on the fact that the person printing the mold should have an image or the help of the prints' owner.

However, technology today has evolved to a point that hackers can even print a 3D mold of a person's fingerprint through just a high-resolution image. In 2014, Starbug security researcher has used their technique to create a working model of the fingerprint of a German defense minister all based on a photograph, according to The Verge.

With today's smartphone cameras continuously improving, it wouldn't be long before those photographs on Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) or Instagram can be used against a person. If the image has a quality high enough for the prints to be seen and recognized, another person could also make a working mold model of their fingerprints.

Still, fingerprint security has benefits over the traditional password and PIN logins. Even if another person has the 3D printed mold, they would also have to gain access to the owner's phone itself. Hackers who would try this method need to be close to the person to actually use the mold on their smartphones. For instance, a hacker from the other side of the world wouldn't be able to use their trick if they don't have the smartphone of the victim itself. Passwords, on the other hand, can be used to login at several places at once. A hacker could use a user's password even if he or she is miles away from the actual person. This is because the accounts on smartphones can be linked to the Internet and data could most likely be saved there as well. They can just access their accounts in their own computers if they already know their passwords.

Since fingerprint molds can be made off from an image, the US government can easily make them considering that they have a database of fingerprints. The Los Angeles case was a bit difficult as the suspect was not in their databases. If a person did not want to unlock their iPhone Touch ID, the authorities can still make a mold of their fingerprint if the person is in their databases. The recent case proves that fingerprint security can be used against the owner as well.

Author: Lord Marin

Monday, 2 May 2016

Intel Drops Atom Microprocessor Business to Focus on Other Core Technology Products; No More Microsoft Surface Phone

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) has recently announced that they are dropping their entire Atom microprocessors, which could negatively impact their smartphone business and spell doom for the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Surface line too.

Intel Atom Processors, Image (c) Intel

The microprocessor giant has been late to the smartphone and mobile computing game. They tried to adjust as they entered the industry but they were already so far behind. Nevertheless, Intel has been successful in their desktop computer business as they provide powerful processors. Recently, the company has made that they are not a PC company anymore and they will go on to target a much wider range of businesses with regards to the connectedness of devices today.

Part of their plans was to drop their Atom line of microprocessors. It's a wasteful move seeing as they have already invested billions of dollars to the business and now they ultimately want to end it. Perhaps it could be the right decision to do after all. Intel said that they are focusing on a broader target and not just splitting their focus in parts of the tech industry.

The tech giant has also recently announced that they are planning to lay-off 12,000 people from their workforce. Intel did not say what positions or who they will be cutting off from the company. Intel said that their Broxton and Sofia chips, the codename for their Atom products, will have their resources diverted to other products that will prove to "deliver higher returns." It is not known whether which products they will be investing more in but it is clear that their Atom projects will be shut down.

Atom products have not been upgraded for quite some time now and it might just be a logical move for Intel. ASUS has used their Atom chipsets for the Zenfone 2 smartphones and rumors for the new Zenfone 3 line claim that the company is shifting to use Snapdragon chipsets from Qualcomm instead. Sofia is currently shipping and Broxton was delayed, according to PC World. They could be the last line of Atom products that Intel will be shipping.

Cherry Trail, the codename for the Atom X5 line of tablet chips, will also be phased out by Intel. The company will be replacing them with Celeron and Pentium chips dubbed as Apollo Lake. Intel is also aiming the Apollo Lake at hybrid tablet PCs which means that they are slowly abandoning the mobile smartphone and pure tablet business altogether. Companies such as HP and Dell are choosing the Skylake Core M processors instead of the Cherry Trail chips which could have already spelled the end of the line for the Atom X5.

The company has already confirmed that they have canceled Atom Broxton for the tablets and smartphones, according to Thurott. It would make sense if Cherry Trail comes next. Intel is also planning to shift to making 5G base network equipment, transmitters and receivers. 5G is not exactly here yet, but Intel plans to be part of the catalyst for the incoming change.

"Intel is accelerating its transformation from a PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices. We will intensify our investments to fuel the virtuous cycle of growth in the data center, IoT, memory and FPGA businesses, and to drive more profitable mobile and PC businesses," Intel said in a statement. Atom had several billions of dollars poured into its investment. Intel made a short, good run of the chips but they failed to overthrow ARM from being the market leader.

The slowdown of the smartphone market is also not a good addition to the mix. Since there is a decline in smartphone sales, it would also affect not only the smartphone manufacturers but also the part suppliers as well. Intel launched the last Atom chip for servers in 2013 which means that it was way overdue for an upgrade considering how fast technology's evolution can be. Their failure to give that upgrade may have been a reason for its demise to day.

Now, Intel is planning on taking on the 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) market. They also aim to be a huge part of how every device can be connected through the Internet. This means that Intel could manufacture mobile modems and possibly new chips for other mobile devices as well such as drones, wearable tech and IoT products. Despite their claim that they are not PC company anymore, they would still be supporting PC products in their own way.

Atom's demise could also be the Microsoft Surface's demise as well. The Redmond-based company could still use an Intel chip but they could be out of support in few months-time considering that it will be discontinued. In addition, the decision from Intel could also kill any dreams of a Surface phone. Microsoft has already failed with their Windows Phones business and it might not gamble again considering that Intel has already dropped Atom chips.

Intel's plan for 5G seems to be interesting to say the least. The network standard is still under construction and development by network giants across the globe. It could take several more months and possibly years considering that 4G LTE isn't covered in several areas around the world yet. Even 2G and 3G connections are not finished taking over a hundred percent of the world. Still, Intel could make the transition faster with their equipment. The company hasn't revealed yet what they plan on exactly doing with 5G at the moment.

Another interesting bit is that Intel is embracing the IoT industry. It's an emerging market and Intel could be one of the largest companies to benefit from it and yet contribute at the same time. IoT products could finally be powered by Intel chipsets, or maybe Intel could also make their own products. The company will still be focusing on cloud processing tech, silicon phonics and Xeon server chips as well.

Intel has been making large decisions lately and the Atom discontinuation is just one of them. More products and plans from the company can be expected to be revealed over time.

by Lord Marin