News Scan: Apple throws a curve; Qualcomm develops cheap, powerful chip; more

>> Apple patents curved touch surface patent

Apple has received a patent on a method to manufacture curved touch surfaces, indicating that Apple might be planning for curved displays on iOS devices, AppleInsider reports. Apple explains in its patent application that current touch panel technologies are difficult to work because of a "desired thinness of the substrate and thin film." Instead, Apple proposes a technique that would deposit a conductive thin film over a flexible substrate while it is in a flat state. The process produces a non-deformed curved touch sensor stackup with a thin film, the report explains. Read more on the Apple patent.

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>> Qualcomm develops powerful chip for mid-range phones

Qualcomm is developing a 64-bit 4G LTE Snapdragon chip for mid-range smartphones, eWeek is reporting. Company officials said on Monday that they will begin sampling the ARM-based Snapdragon 410 in the first half of next year, with mobile devices integrating the chip expected in the second half of the year. The chip, which will cost less than $150, is designed for smartphones targeting emerging markets, the report relates. Read more about Qualcomm's new chip.

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>> Linux lines up high-tech firms behind new M2M standard

The Linux Foundation said it has lined up a number of high-tech firms behind a standard to enable interoperability of machine-to-machine communications (M2M) under the AllSeen Alliance. Founding members include Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, Sears, Silicon Image, TP-LINK and Cisco. "AllSeen Alliance members will contribute software and engineering resources as part of their collaboration on an open framework, based on the AllJoyn open source project, that enables hardware manufacturers and software developers to create interoperable devices and systems that can discover, connect and communicate directly with other nearby products regardless of brand," explains Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, in a blog.

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>> Mobile browser usage reaches 20% of total browsing activity

Mobile browser usage made up 20 percent of the world's browsing activity in November, the first time it has reached the 20 percent market, according to estimates from StatCounter cited in a Computerworld report. Over the last year, mobile browser usage share has increased by 7 percentage points, which represents a 53 percent annual increase. Mobile browsing gains have come at the expense of PC browsing, the report notes. Read more on the StatCounter stats.

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>> Smartwatch market to increase at a 93.6% CAGR through 2018

The market for smartwatches in the Americas is forecast by TechNavio to increase at 93.6 percent compound annual growth rate through 2018, up from $900 million this year. "The changing consumer tastes and preferences coupled with the presence of the leading vendors in the Americas, targeting the local population, will be the key reason for the growth of this market in US during the forecast period," says TechNavio. Smartwatch vendors such as Pebble, Maritime, Samsung and Sony are expected to increase investment in research and development over the coming years. Read more on TechNavio's forecast.

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