April 4th, 2013Tweet
Facebook Home: Zuck’s Android Takeover
Mark Zuckerberg wants to turn your Android phone into a simple sharing device. And by that, he means he wants to turn it into a Facebook phone.
Facebook just announced Facebook Home, which all but turns any Android handset into a “Facebook phone” by putting the social giant right there on the home screen and all of its products at the forefront of the UI. It isn’t a phone made by Facebook. It’s something better than that, and in some ways, more important: a deeply integrated application with its hooks set tightly into the Android platform. Think of it as an apperating system.
Samsung to open brand shops in Best Buy stores; Wall Street approves
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) is planning to install its brand shops in more than 1,400 Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) stores this year, a move that some on Wall Street said could help the world’s largest consumer electronics chain boost in-store traffic, sales and profitability.
The news pushed Best Buy shares up 12.5 percent to $24.36 on Thursday.
The store-within-a-store effort is a key element of Best Buy’s turnaround plan, which includes dedicating more space to more-profitable products like tablets and mobile phones. The company is also trying to use its clout with suppliers to fight online and discount rivals.
Will Mobile Break Google’s Search Monopoly?
OK, we know that Google‘s not actually a monopoly in search but it does get the lion’s share of the business. And the question is, is anything ever going to shift that market dominance? To which the answer is, in a narrow sense, quite probably not. In the wider sense, yes, of course.
The narrow sense is in being able to search almost all of the web from a desktop. I could be wrong but I don’t see anybody really coming up with a better experience than the one we’re already getting. It’s a bit like Microsoft and their dominance on the desktop. Windows and Office are not really going to be threatened on that desktop by anything that we can see out there.
PS4 Version of Thief to Compete with Gaming PCs
Sony’s next-gen PC hardware is already showing that it can go toe-to-toe with gaming PCs. Now even PC exclusives are no match for the PS4′s enveloping storm.
Eidos Montreal Producer Stéphane Roy explained to VideoGamer that the PS4 version of Thief will compete graphically with gaming PCs. He said:
But for a visual aspect – especially for a game like Thief – it’s not a question of pushing more polygons, [or] now I can have 200 enemies at the same time and not just 100 enemies. So on our side, it’s more a question of gameplay, the movement, stuff like that. I think with the next-gen, yeah visually speaking, with the high-end PC and next-gen it’s going to be really, really close, honestly.
A representative from Square Enix went as far as to say the PS4 version is “almost identical” to its PC brother, a prospect that would signal the end of the series’ PC-exclusive notoriety.
Browser war brewing: Google ditches Webkit for Blink, Mozilla partners with Samsung on Servo
It’s been roughly two months since Opera announced it was dropping its own Presto web rendering engine in favor of Webkit, the same used by Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome. The move was seen as an attempt to remain relevant in the mobile market, where Opera has usually been a strong contender, and essentially reduced the market to three major engines, with Microsoft’s Trident and Mozilla’s Gecko the other two.
Back then Mozilla lamented the decision noting that Webkit dominating the mobile scene would make their job of promoting web standards harder. Fast forward to today and there are two new players jumping on the scene.
January 18th, 2013Tweet
Google wants to replace your password with an electronic ring or USB drive
If Google has its way, you could soon use an electronic ring or some other physical solution to login to websites rather than using a standard password.
As revealed by Wired today, Google VP of Security Eric Grosse and Engineer Mayank Upadhyay have outlined several ways to rethink the traditional password. The two are responding to the problem of password security, and that it’s simply not enough protection. One such incident that highlighted this was when tech journalist Mat Honan had many of his accounts hacked in August 2012.
Nokia Lets You 3-D Print Your Own Phone Case
Nokia is turning its Lumia phones into a bit of an arts-and-crafts project. Now you can print your own cases for them.
In a blog post published Friday, John Kneeland, a community manager at Nokia, said the company was releasing a set of files for people to create their own cases with a 3-D printer. The tool kit, available as a free download, will include 3-D templates, case specifications and recommendations for materials and best practices.
Facebook quietly brings voice calls to U.S. iPhone owners
After launching voice calls for Canadian iPhone users earlier this month, Facebook today began rolling out the feature for those in the U.S.
To send and receive voice calls, you’ll need to install Facebook’s standalone Messenger app for the iPhone. Then select a person to chat with, choose the “i” button in the top right of the screen, and select “Free voice call.” Unfortunately, Android users only have the capability to send voice messages, which also previously launched in Canada.
Dish Meddles With Sprint-Softbank Merger
Dish has asked the FCC to hold off on approving Softbank’s purchase of Sprint. Not coincidentally, Dish and Sprint are both vying to buy Clearwire. “In any mergers and acquisitions deal, the enemy is time,” said TDG Research analyst Joel Espelien, “so even if Dish’s request isn’t very effective with the FCC, something else could happen in the meantime that would stop the Softbank deal. It’s a tactic.”
Petition Asks Apple to Pull NRA Practice Range App
A petition being hosted at SignOn.org is asking Apple to pull an app from the NRA that includes a shooting range. The petition calls the app, NRA: Practice Range, an “insult to the victims of gun violence” because it was released on the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting.
“Out of respect for the victims and to signal Apple’s support for common sense measures to help end gun violence, we call on you to rescind your approval of this shameless new product,” the petition said.
Honda recalls more than 748,000 vehicles for faulty airbag
Honda announced Friday it’s recalling more than 748,843 Pilot and Odyssey vehicles to correct a problem with the driver’s-side airbag.
The automaker says some of the vehicles may be missing a rivet that holds the airbag’s plastic cover in place when it deploys. This could lead to the airbag inflating improperly and could cause the plastic cover to come loose and strike the driver or passengers.
The recall affects 276,153 Odyssey minivans made from 2011 to 2013 and 472,690 Pilot SUVs made from 2009 to 2013.
Sharp Dramatically Cuts iPad Display Production
Sharp Display has reduced the output of 9.7-inch display panels at its Kameyama, Japan, plant to the bare minimum needed to keep the line running. Sources cited by Reuters said this month’s near-halting of production follows a slowdown that took place in December. The reason for the dramatic shift in output has not been explained by Sharp nor Apple.
Thanks to smartphone apps, old remote control becoming remote
An iPhone has as many roles as the apps you can install for it. But what’s most improbable for me is how my phone has gradually taken the place of most of my home-entertainment remote controls and is poised to take over even more.
On my iPhone at the moment, I have software that can control a stereo receiver, Apple TV, iTunes software located around my network, a Blu-ray player, a software alarm system on a desktop, and a Mac connected to an HDTV as if I’m using a mouse and keyboard. That’s so far.
January 17th, 2013Tweet
Asus, LG Consider Windows Phones
So far only a few hardware makers have adopted Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform, but that might be about to change. Both Asus and LG have indicated interest in Microsoft’s latest smartphone operating system, which means businesses and consumers will eventually have more choices.
Benson Lin, Asus’ corporate vice president of mobile communication products, said the company is eyeing Windows 8 for its next Padfone product, and that the company wants to make Windows Phone 8 devices.
Lenovo Bringing Chromebook to Classrooms
Lenovo is polishing up its education offerings with a touch of Chrome—Google’s Chrome OS, that is. The PC manufacturer today announced Lenovo’s first Chromebook, a variation of the ThinkPad X131e using Google’s Web-centric operating system, to be sold exclusively to K-12 schools.
WSOP APAC to award five bracelets
The World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific will make its debut in Melbourne, Australia on April 4. The five-bracelet tournament series at the Crown Melbourne Integrated Resort will span 12 days and conclude with the crowning of the first APAC main event champion.
Nokia Cuts More Jobs
Nokia Corp. announced another round of jobs cuts Thursday, despite solid pre-Christmas smartphone sales, which are designed to aid its restructuring but may put the sluggish Finnish economy under pressure.
The Finnish handset maker said it would cut 300 jobs, mostly in Finland, and transfer hundreds more other employees to Indian suppliers, removing them from its payroll. Up to 820 jobs will be outsourced in this way.
Amazon MP3 comes to iOS as a Web-app, neatly avoiding Apple’s App Store commission
Amazon has launched its MP3 music store on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. But don’t bother searching for it. To avoid paying Apple commission, Amazon has made it a web-app accessed through Safari.
RIM gets thumbs up from Visa for pay-by-bonk security tech
RIM is hoping its reputation for superior security will smooth its path into wallet management as it gains Visa approval for the TSM platform that it is pushing to network operators.
Everyone planning secure NFC apps needs a Trusted Service Management (TSM) platform, but the four big SIM providers already have approved TSM platforms. This means that RIM will face an uphill battle for acceptance, though it may have an old advantage in the form of legacy enterprise deployments and love from the BOFHs.
King Overtakes Zynga To Become Number One in Facebook Gaming
King.com is now number one when it comes to Facebook games. The company has overtaken Zynga for top honors on the social network, with three of its games making Facebook’s top 10 in January.
In the #1 slot is Candy Crush Saga. A Bejeweled-style game that has players match three or more like pieces of candy together to remove them from the board.
BlackBerry 10 nets 15,000 apps in under two days
Research In Motion’s BlackBerry 10 application marketplace will have thousands of more programs, thanks to two events the company ran over the weekend.
The events saw RIM net 15,000 app submissions for BlackBerry 10 within a period of 37.5 hours, according to Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations. The events were called Portathons, with one focusing on the BlackBerry 10 Community and the other on Android developers. In both cases, developers were urged to port their previously developed applications to BlackBerry 10.
Sony focuses on high-end smartphones to take on iPhone
“That’s why we are in this business, and that’s why we invested heavily in the business,” said Kaz Hirai, Sony’s 52-year-old chief executive, who took over last year.
At CES in Las Vegas last week, Sony caused a splash with the first fruit of its new focus, the waterproof Xperia Z. The device was warmly received as evidence as an effort to restore Sony’s faded reputation for excellent build quality and design.
MediaFire’s new Android app comes with 50 GB of free storage
MediaFire, a cloud storage service that’s less stingy with free space than some of its competitors, is now available for Android.
Just like its desktop counterpart and iOS apps, MediaFire for Android comes with 50 GB of free storage. It lets you upload files using the built-in file browser or using a gallery view for photos and videos. Users can send files to other apps, view certain types of files directly within the app, and get links to their files for sharing with other users. There’s also a built-in camera for taking photos and videos and uploading them directly.
January 16th, 2013Tweet
US employee ‘outsourced job to China’
A security check on a US company has reportedly revealed one of its staff was outsourcing his work to China.
The software developer, in his 40s, is thought to have spent his workdays surfing the web, watching cat videos on YouTube and browsing Reddit and eBay.
Apple and Amazon ordered to meet over App Store court case
If you’re not familiar with the legal battle between Apple and Amazon, the two companies have been fighting over the term “app store” for quite some time now, and they have a trial date set for August 19 later this year. However, the judge presiding over the case has ordered the two companies to talk it out first before heading into the court room.
OKCupid’s new blind date app not so blind thanks to data leak
Blind dates are already both exciting and terrifying—the former because you might meet your future soulmate, and the latter because your date might end up boiling your bunny. That’s why a privacy bug in OKCupid’s brand new app, Crazy Blind Date, was even more disturbing than usual.
Phablets not big threat to smartphones, tablets yet
While phablets cater to a niche group of consumers looking for a more immersive user experience on a mobile device small enough to fit in their palm, they are for now still of little threat to smartphones or tablets.
There is currently a trend among vendors in developing phablets, or a smart mobile device with a screen size of more than 5 inches, observed Lilian Tay, principal analyst at Gartner. However, the phablet is not going to overtake either smartphones or tablets, but will continue to coexist and serve a specific need, Tay noted.
Facebook and Open Compute just blew up the server and disrupted a $55B market
The launch of two new features into the Open Compute hardware specifications on Wednesday has managed to do what Facebook has been threatening to do since it began building its vanity-free hardware back in 2010. The company has blown up the server — reducing it to interchangeable components.
AMD sues ex-managers for allegedly copying 100,000 files
Advanced Micro Devices is taking four former employees to court — one vice president and three managers from the firm’s Boxborough, Mass., plant — who left the company to go and work for rival Nvidia last year.
The chipmaker is accusing them of coping more than 100,000 confidential documents and trade secrets to take with them.
RIM stock up 6% after Visa OK’s mobile payment tech
Research in Motion shares rose nearly six per cent Monday following news that the Visa credit card system has approved the smartphone company’s method for handling secure mobile payments.
The Waterloo, Ont.,-based company says the green light from Visa is a step towards offering global support for any device equipped with the BlackBerry maker’s mobile-payments technology. Visa’s approval also builds on an initiative by Canada’s three biggest wireless networks through their EnStream joint venture.
Leave me alone! GPS glitch sends numerous owners of lost smartphones to Nevada man’s house
Wayne Dobson is one unlucky guy. Thanks to an apparent location-tracking software glitch affecting some handsets in the Las Vegas area, he’s had numerous people turning up to his home over the last two years insisting he has their lost device.