SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Wed, 05 Aug 2015 12:25:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wikibon frames rapidly evolving container ecosystem Wed, 05 Aug 2015 11:42:21 +0000 The next generation of application platforms is evolving rapidly, writes Wikibon Senior Analyst Stuart Miniman, and containers are at its core. Containers offer major advantages for application development and deployment because of their speed, simplicity and flexibility. They can accelerate the transition to modern application frameworks and provide application portability for hybrid clouds.

However, building a full container-based application infrastructure requires assembly. Miniman goes into detail on more than a dozen elements of the container stack (see image above), including image management, container management and service discovery. At the moment, no vendor covers the full gamut of services, so it’s up to users to piece them together.

Containers are best suited for modern or next-generation applications, Miniman writes. They free applications from lock-in to a particular hardware platform, giving them the portability companies need for hybrid cloud environments. They are ideal for use with microservices, which are the next generation approach to scale-out application development. Microservices provide the flexibility to alter specific application features rapidly to meet changing business needs.

The ecosystem of companies building elements of the container architecture is rapidly evolving. Today these companies typically provide one or more tools that cover parts of the stack, but they are evolving toward developing complete stacks.

Early adaptors can realize advantages from creating their own production environments from these tools to support next generation applications. But building that environment today requires skills and knowledge of the new technologies required to support large numbers of containers.

Miniman discusses the specific layers in the stack in detail and recommends that, for companies interested in modern application development, now is the time to explore container architectures and develop the expertise needed to build and manage a stack to support containers.

Miniman’s full report is available on Wikibon Premium.

© 2015 Wikibon. Used with permission.
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Xbox One is going to be a hell of a lot better, and here’s why Wed, 05 Aug 2015 11:33:12 +0000 Microsoft has just upped the ante in the console wars when it revealed its soon to be redesigned Windows 10 interface for Xbox One at Gamescom in Cologne. PS4 has once again been outselling Xbox One in the US, and remains a distant leader on the world stage, but perhaps Microsoft’s recent announcement might give Redmond a much needed boost.

Recording TV on Xbox One

In a blog post Xbox recently revealed that the console will soon have DVR for Over-the-Air TV, a facility that will allow users to record television that can watched via the digital TV tuner that was released in May this year in the US. Xbox reports that once the over the air TV feature is set up it’s just a matter of connecting a USB hard drive to your console and recording, allowing you to finish up your game or do something else. You can record until your heart’s content, or rather, until you’ve run out space on your hard drive.

Part of the recording feature includes scheduling, whereby recordings from OneGuide can be lined-up using your console, the Xbox app on Windows 10, or with Xbox SmartGlass on iOS and Android devices. While you’re on the go you can also make changes to your scheduled recordings. If you have the Xbox app on Windows 10 you can also stream television to other devices, which can then be downloaded and watched whether you’re online or not. The downside to this news is that these features won’t be available until 2016.

More features

Coming a little sooner, in November, is the news about backwards compatibility. Microsoft had earlier said that Xbox 360 games would run on Xbox One, and it has now been revealed that this fall that will become a reality – at least for a limited number of games. Also in November, and available as a pre-order today, is the Xbox Elite Wireless controller.

Arriving at the same time will be is Chatpad for Xbox One, also available as a pre-order today. Chatpad, which is a small keyboard that connects to your controller, allows you to write messages, search for games and apps, alter the volume and enter codes.

Lastly, Cortana integration is coming to Xbox One, meaning that you can talk to your console while you’re playing and find out who else is online, message them, and still focus on your game.

Photo credit: Xbox
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Circlejerk Google takeover stories miss one thing: why would anyone want to buy Twitter today? Wed, 05 Aug 2015 10:53:01 +0000 Circlejerk: a pejorative slang term referring to a positive feedback loop which occurs when an idea, belief or meme that is already customary within an online community becomes re-iterated and rewarded in a perpetual cycle

Know Your Meme

It’s a matter of record that microblogging come messaging service Twitter, Inc. isn’t having a good time of late.

Since going public in an initial public offering (IPO) on November 7, 2013 at $26.00 a share, stock in Twitter has been on a roller coaster ride, surging initially 73 percent on its open day of trade to a first-day high of $50.09; it later hit a 52 month peak of $55.99, but the stock is nowhere close to that today, and hasn’t been for a significant period of time.

As of the close of trading August 4, the listed price on the New York Stock Exchange for stocks in TWTR was $29.34, with a market cap of $19.7 billion; a small premium to be sure on its float price, but for those investors and traders who piled into the company with expectations of bigger and better things, there’s no question that Twitter stock has been a gross disappointment.

Enter a new meme that has emerged as Twitter has wallowed at 52 month lows: a circlejerk (see explanation above) that Twitter is now ripe for a takeover, with Google being the leading candidate of most sites to do so.

Putting aside that say a $22-25 billion takeover price for Twitter is excessive (that’s presuming a premium offer on their current market cap,) what most pundits seem to ignore is: why would anyone want to buy Twitter to begin with?

I’d note that I personally love Twitter, rely on it for many things including keeping in touch with friends, sharing stories, having debates, and direct messages when I need to contact people. I love Twitter so much that when my partner of 10 years ran off with another guy 5 years ago, once I got back on the dating bandwagon, where others today might user Tinder, everyone I dated were people I knew on Twitter; sure, didn’t always work out great, but it was Twitter, as I moved states, and even countries, that allowed me in meet people and make new friends where I was living at the time, start relationships, get invited to social functions (around 2007-08 Twitter meetups were all the rage,) so I do truly love the service, and I would hate nothing more in the world than for it to fail.

That doesn’t mean I can’t step away and look at it as the poorly run, dud investment in a pure business and financial sense.

Having spilled my guts about why I love Twitter, it would be of no surprise that I’ve always believed the general concept to be a great one.

The problem, though, like way to many Silicon Valley and San Francisco startups is there was zero thought from the get-go as to how to make money from the service; it was always the utopian, idealistic, lets smoke a bong, build it and they will come model and we’ll sort out the money situation later.

Having realized, sometime before their IPO, but obviously taken more seriously post IPO when their investors are expecting results, in August 2015 Twitter still hasn’t fully worked out the income side of the business.

The reality of the situation is that Twitter struggles to even make a profit, and in its most recent quarter at least got one figure into positive territory: non-GAAP net income of $49 million but adjusted to GAAP it was still a loss of $137 million.

If you were an optimist you could look at those figures positively vs Q1 2015 where the GAAP adjusted loss came in at $162 million, but what the market is seeing is not a positive trend, as between the lines one fundamental problem Twitter is now having is a serious decrease in growth, with the company reporting only 2 million new users in Q2.

Sure, they’ve purchased various complimentary and supplementary services (in a not dissimilar fashion to Facebook, Inc.) but there’s zero indication whether apps like Vine are doing anything at all to their bottom line.

The Google equation

The lovies in the tech media who like nothing more than a good yarn about a speculative takeover nominated Google as taking an interest in acquiring Twitter, and given a takeover price today is going to be somewhere in the vicinity (as previously mentioned) of $22-25 billion there’s not many companies around that could afford that price, which naturally narrows the pool of possible buyers.

The other argument is that Google needs a serious social play given they’re finally starting to wind down yet another failed social network in the form of Google+.

If anyone would acquire Twitter, Google would, arguably, as a Twitter user, be a possibly preferred buyer, or as I mentioned in a discussion on Facebook:


It’s hard to see Google running out and buying Twitter just because the price is down, and on the basis it continues to have a gaping hole in its portfolio in terms of success social network, at least successful in terms of user numbers like Twitter is, versus successful in terms of making money.

That said, it does make for a beautiful circlejerk of positive speculation in the tech press around Twitter and Google, and it’s doubtful that speculation will end anytime soon.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Twitter may be acquired by someone, at some stage in the future, and if its share price continues to drop as it has, maybe in 6-12 months it could become a serious takeover target, but it’s unlikely to be Google, and it’s unlikely to be anytime soon.

Although many in the tech journalism space will vehemently disagree with me when I say that, if Twitter eventually gets acquired (and again, there’s no reason why anyone would want to buy it in its current state,) the buyer will more than likely be Facebook, Inc., who has the ad growth, and complimentary services, to build Twitter into a better, and more importantly profitable service.

Image credit: tashmahal/Flickr/CC by 2.0
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The all-business BlackBerry Passport just got a makeover Wed, 05 Aug 2015 08:10:36 +0000 BlackBerry Ltd. has unveiled an upgraded version of its all-business phone, the BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition. The BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition keeps the 4.5-inch square screen and 13-megapixel camera that launched with the original Passport in September last year, but gets a new finish and upgraded keyboard.

According to BlackBerry’s Global Head of Design, Scott Wenger, the BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition combines “cutting-edge technology with purposeful, globally recognized design.”

Described as the “essential business tool,” the new Silver Edition comes with a 3450 mAh battery providing a reported 30 hours of mixed use, the best of any BlackBerry so far.

The latest 10.3.2 BlackBerry operating system features BlackBerry Assistant, which allows you to manage emails, contacts, calendar and more through voice and text commands. BlackBerry Blend allows the transferal of files, messages and emails between your smartphone and your computer or tablet.

The smartphone also comes preloaded with Amazon Appstore and BlackBerry World, offering a variety of productivity and business apps, including Box, Evernote, Cisco WebEx Meetings and Documents to Go.

The BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition features a silver finish with curved corners. For extra durability and strength the Silver Edition has a reinforced stainless steel frame and Corning Gorilla Glass 3. In addition, it has an improved QWERTY keyboard, a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor and 3GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD card up to 128GB.

The BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition went on sale on August 4 for buyers in North America. It is available through the online BlackBerry shop for $549, $50 less than its predecessor. You can also get $130 worth of accessories free if you purchase the Silver Edition before 19 August.

Availability will be expanded internationally o the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands over the coming weeks. At the same time, the BlackBerry Passport Silver edition will go on sale via, Carphone Warehouse and Selfridges.

Watch the official unboxing of the BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition below:

Image(s) via BlackBerry
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Rumor: iPhone 6c coming in Q2 2016, may sport 14/16nm FinFET chips Wed, 05 Aug 2015 07:25:44 +0000 If you are a fan of the iPhone 5c and have been holding out hope that Apple will release a replacement, there may be some good news for you. The latest rumor regarding a baby iPhone suggests Apple may release a 4-inch iPhone 6c in 2016.

Citing sources from the semiconductor industry, Digitimes (via AppleInsider) reported on Tuesday that Apple will unveil a new budget iPhone equipped with 14/16nm FinFET chips during the second quarter of 2016.

The iPhone 6c may receive an upgrade in specifications over its predecessor thanks to the new FinFET chips.

Here’s what the sources had to say:

The 14/16nm FinFET chips will be manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung, the sources said. The original plan was to equip the devices with chips built using TSMC’s 20nm SoC process, said the sources, but the adoption of FinFET processors would enable specs upgrade and lower power consumption.

You may want to take this latest rumor with a pinch of salt. Digitimes has a mixed record when it comes to Apple rumors and, to top it off, Apple hasn’t released an iPhone during the second quarter in five years.

On the bright side, this is not the only rumor that suggests Apple has not killed off its budget iPhone. In May, rumors suggested Apple had placed a substantial order for camera sensors from Sony Corp. intended for use in an iPhone 6c. At the time it was said Apple intended to launch the iPhone 6c in September, but no further details have emerged in support of this. In fact, reputed KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that Apple has no plans to release a 4-inch iPhone in 2015.

In June, a report out of China claimed that Taiwan-based AU Optronics (AUO) had clinched a deal to supply Apple with 4 inch displays for an upcoming iPhone. Shipment was supposedly slated to start during the first quarter of 2016 – which may indicate a late second quarter or mid-third quarter release date.

But we still have no idea what to expect. Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri recently told investors that Apple canned plans to release an iPhone 6c over fears that it may cannibalize sales of the popular iPhone 6. According to Arcuri, the iPhone 6c would have been a scaled down version of the iPhone 6, featuring an all-metal body instead of the plastic used for the iPhone 5c.

Image credit: Kārlis Dambrāns, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
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GE’s Industrial Internet heads to the cloud Wed, 05 Aug 2015 06:22:55 +0000 General Electric Co. (GE) has made no secret of its desire to become the ruler of what it calls the “Industrial Internet,” a concept that’s often described as the Internet of Things for big industry. But to do that, GE needs to refashion itself as one of the biggest players in IT, and no IT player is complete without a cloud to handle all of those applications and data.

Which is why GE formally announced Predix Cloud yesterday, a version of its Predix machine data analytics software that’s now available as a cloud-based service.

According to GE, Predix Cloud is the only cloud solution that’s designed specifically to handle industrial data across various industries. GE officials told Reuters that Predix Cloud is designed to manage, analyze and store machine data in real-time, using what it calls a “gated community model” that ensures cloud tenants deserve their place in the industrial ecosystem. The Predix Cloud is aimed at globally regulated industies such as aviation, healthcare, transportation and oil/gas utilities, GE added.

Hacker bait?

The idea of an “Industrial Internet”-specific cloud is great in theory, but as points out, by targeting some of the highest value companies in the world, GE’s new cloud could well become an awfully tempting target for hackers. GE is aware of this, though, and has made security one of the top selling points of Predix Cloud, hence the gated community model.

This model essentially means GE reviews apps in isolation prior to deploying them in order to ensure minimal impact on other cloud-based apps and services that are already up and running. In addition, GE is baking in what it calls “software-defined mortar” to each layer of the cloud stack. Essentially, this means isolating each layer of an application in order to observe and limit exactly what each data layer can access. This should ensure better visibility for detecting and isolating any threats, and preventing any data loss, the company said.

The Industrial Internet marches on

The launch of Predix Cloud comes two years after GE made its first major foray into the Industrial Internet with the launch of its data analytics platform bearing the same name. That “cloud agnostic” platform was built in partnership with Amazon Web Services, Accenture LLP and EMC’s Pivotal Software, Inc., and is designed to provide a common architecture for industrial operators to link up smart machines, sensors and analytics.

GE has since fine-tuned its platform by adding more predictive capabilities aimed at the aviation, healthcare, rail and energy industrial. More recently the company gave itself another shot in the arm with last year’s acquisition of API Healthcare, a provider of real-time analytics services and employee management solutions for the healthcare industry.

GE says Predix Cloud should play nicely with other cloud fabrics – for example, it can tap into Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service to help develop and deploy applications. The service will be offered on a pay-as-you-go pricing model when it goes into general availability early next year.

Image credit: Sam van Vlerken via
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Coverity claims open-source is “significantly” more vulnerable Wed, 05 Aug 2015 05:46:45 +0000 Coverity, a subsidiary of Synopsys Inc., is controversially claiming that proprietary software is significantly more secure than open-source code.

The latest Coverity scan open-source report (PDF) claims that static analysis defect density scans reveal how open-source software has outpaced proprietary software in terms of quality through 2013 and 2014. In addition, the 2014 report also did a comparison of security compliance standards like the Open Web Application Security Project (Owasp) top 10 and the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) 25 most dangerous errors, finding that proprietary code is more compliant with such standards than open-source.

There is a caveat readers need to be aware of though – the survey results are somewhat helpful to Coverity, given that it’s main line of business is building tools for testing commercial software for vulnerabilities.

Coverity said it analyzed over 14,000 proprietary and 5,100 open-source software projects coded in the C, C++, Java and C# programming languages for its report. In total, it analyzed more than 10 billion lines of code. The company found that open-source software had a defect density of 0.61, after its tools scoured 500 million lines of code in 2,650 projects. This compared to a defect density of 0.76 for proprietary software, of which it scanned 9.1 billion lines of code in 8,776 commercial software programs. While this seems like a lot, Coverity says that the number of software defects are declining, year on year.

Coverity also claims that commercial software vendors deal with security issues faster than open-source projects do.

“Even though both the commercial projects and the open-source projects had the same average time of six months of being able to fix issues, we have observed the trend that commercial software is tackling these security vulnerabilities at a relatively faster pace than compared to open-source software,” Coverity said.

The good news is that both proprietary and open-source software are becoming more reliable and more secure.

“If we look at the static analysis defect density data from this report, what we generally see is that both open source and commercial software are getting better all the time,” the report said.

What’s also clear from the report is that open-source and proprietary software are advancing differently, Coverity said. Open-source project developers are rapidly adding more features to their software, creating big improvements over earlier versions. Coverity says that the need for software to do certain things is the main driver behind this trend, though it comes at the sake of bug fixes.

On the over hand, proprietary software is becoming more stable and secure. That’s because competition and compliance to industry standards are the main concerns for commercial software developers, which necessarily means a higher priority is placed on things like bug fixing, stability and security.

Image credit: Personal Kaleidoscope via
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Apple denies planning an MVNO as stock takes a battering on report Wed, 05 Aug 2015 03:28:00 +0000 Apple, Inc. broke its usual policy of remaining silent on rumors and speculation Tuesday by coming out publicly and flat out denying that it was planning a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service.

“We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO,” said an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Reports that Apple was planning an MVNO service came from Business Insider Monday, who claimed to have learned from sources that Apple had even gone as far as testing an MVNO service in the United States, but so far had only held talks with potential network providers in Europe.

“Telecoms sources say Apple is looking long-term with its MVNO and could take at least five years to fully launch the service,” the original report noted, before adding “Apple has been in talks with telecoms companies for years over its MVNO plans, those sources say, adding that it’s an “open secret” among carriers that a virtual Apple network is on the way.”

As we noted in our original coverage, the potential of Apple providing MVNO services could have opened a Pandora’s Box of problems for the company, including potentially annoying carriers that sell the iPhone as it will further be competing with them (although naturally an MVNO requires wholesale services from a carrier,) but more importantly legally in terms of competition and anti-trust concerns, as with the forthcoming non-removable sim option, Apple would both be the gatekeeper of which companies could provide cell services to iPhone users, as well as a provider in itself.

Stock price reaction?

Whether Apple has looked at setting up an MVNO or not we may never know for sure, but there’s a solid bet that its decision to deny the rumors may have been related to one singular, large factor: their share price.

To say the very least, investors didn’t like the idea of Apple becoming an MVNO, and sold the stock heavily with Apple’s share price dropping 4.4 percent in the first 90 minutes of trade on the NASDAQ Tuesday.

The company’s denial didn’t completely stem the flow, but APPL stock did recover slightly closing down 3.8 percent at $111.64; to put that in perspective, it might not sound like much of a drop, but that 3.8 percent drop reflects a drop of $23.9 billion in Apple’s market cap.

Image credit: yerahg/Flickr/CC by 2.0
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Hackers utilize Yahoo ads to deliver malware to millions of users Wed, 05 Aug 2015 02:58:01 +0000 Yahoo, Inc.’s advertising network has been found to be unknowingly serving malicious code that may have seen millions of visitors to Yahoo properties hacked.

The attack, which is reported to have started on July 28, saw malware that exploited Flash vulnerabilities delivered via advertising to a staggering over 7.5 billion visits, a number believed to make it the one of the largest attacks of its sort ever seen.

Malwarebytes, the company that exposed that Yahoo was being targeted, said the company is the latest victim of a singular group that has been involved in a number of large-scale “malvertising” campaigns of this sort, including more recently targeting the website of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Utilizing the popular, among hackers, Angler Exploit Kit, the group of hackers purchased ads across Yahoo’s main properties to deliver the malicious ads, and when those ads were displayed, the malware code was automatically downloaded without the need for the user to have clicked on the ad.

Once injected into the victims computer (Windows only,) the malware looks for an out-of-date version of Adobe Flash which can be utilized to take control of the computer, with any number of various outcomes, from ransomware attacks through to banking trojans or even additional advertising fraud software all able to be installed on the controlled computer.

“Right now, the bad guys are really enjoying this,” Malwarebytes security researcher Jérôme Segura told The New York Times. “Flash for them was a godsend.”

Yahoo responds

Unconfirmed reports suggest that some Yahoo properties were offline briefly on Monday after the company became aware of the issue, although Malwarebytes notes that the attack is still ongoing.

In a statement, Yahoo was rather contrite, noting that this is not a problem specific to them alone, before making a number of motherhood statements that didn’t reference this specific attack:

“Yahoo is committed to ensuring that both our advertisers and users have a safe and reliable experience. As soon as we learned of this issue, our team took action and will continue to investigate this issue.

Unfortunately, disruptive ad behavior affects the entire tech industry. Yahoo has a long history of engagement on this issue and is committed to working with our peers to create a secure advertising experience. We’ll continue to ensure the quality and safety of our ads through our automated testing and through the SafeFrame working group, which seeks to protect consumers and publishers from the potential security risks inherent in the online ad ecosystem.”

In a separate statement to PC Magazine, Yahoo claims to have since blocked the malicious advertiser from its network versus saying it had blocked the code (it’s not hard to set up a new account,) and further declined to say how many users were affected by the attack before claiming that “the scale of the attack was grossly misrepresented in initial media reports and we continue to investigate the issue.”

If you’ve visited a Yahoo property in the last week and you’re a Windows user, make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date; the old adage applies here when it comes to exposure to nefarious code online: always practice safe internet.

Image credit:electronicfrontierfoundation/Flickr/CC by 2.0
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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 pics show no more removable battery or microSD card slot Wed, 05 Aug 2015 02:10:40 +0000 An alleged photo leak of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s upcoming Galaxy Note 5 not only confirms previous leaks about the device, it confirms many a Samsung fans’ worst nightmare: no removable battery and no microSD card slot.

The pictures, provided to Android blog Droid Life, show that the Galaxy Note 5 is primarily a larger version of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S6, complete with AMOLED display (size isn’t clear, but it appears to be around 5.7 inches,) a metal-and-glass body and a spring-loaded S Pen.

One notable difference in the pictures is that the back of the smartphone appears to have a slight curve, perhaps a design change to make the phone easier to hold.

The phone also sports a regular MicrosUSB port, single bottom speaker, and headphone jack.

Of interest, and perhaps indeed concern to Samsung fans, Droid Life is also claiming the same source says the Galaxy Note 5 includes a 3,000mAh battery, down from 3,220Ah battery featured in its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 4; Samsung dropped the battery size between its Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6 as well, claiming the new phone was more efficient through the use of Android Lollipop’s power saving features as well as its own battery saving technology.

Even presuming power use on the Galaxy Note 5 is more efficient, Note users tend to be power users due to the extra size provided by the phablet, so if the efficiency savings hold up in real word use will be something that will be discovered post release.

The pictures also indicate a new menu for the Galaxy Note Air Command feature, that includes options for Action memo, Smart select, Screen write, S Note, Settings, and Instagram, the latter suggesting that Air Command may now be customizable.

Previous reports have placed the screen size of the Galaxy Note 5 at 5.66-inch with a display resolution of 2560×1440 pixels, running Samsung’s own octa-core Exynos 7420 processor complete with four cores at 2.1GHz and four cores at 1.5GHz.

RAM is believed to be 4GB on the device, with options of 32GB/64GB and 128GB of memory, with the rear camera coming in at 16-megapixels, with a 5-megapixel front camera.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5, along with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Plus and S6 Edge Plus are expected to be launched at a Samsung Unpacked event August 13, with all three available for sale August 21.

Image credit: Droid Life.
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