A month with Apple's new iPad Air
Every new iPad is the best iPad yet when it debuts, but the iPad Air is something more...
It looks as though hackers have managed to swipe user names and passwords from some of the world’s biggest social networking and email platforms… again. Per CNN, security firm Trustwave claims that hackers have stolen more than 2 million Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo user names and passwords through malicious keylogging software that’s been installed in an unknown number of computers. Facebook users have been the biggest victims of the malware so far, as an estimated 318,000 Facebook accounts have been compromised so far along with 70,000 Google-related accounts, 60,000 Yahoo accounts and 22,000 Twitter accounts. Trustwave says that it’s notified all affected companies about the security breach.
The National Telecommunication & Information Administration (NTIA) on Tuesday announced that it plans to hold a variety of meetings next year, starting in early February, to discuss the use of facial recognition technology in modern devices. The NTIA will also look to develop a “voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies” for the technology. More →
Google will not launch a second music subscription service this year, people familiar with the matter told AllThingsD, as the company is not happy with the final product, which is now expected to arrive at some point in the first quarter of 2014. Not too long ago, code traces found in the Android YouTube app hinted that a YouTube music subscription service would be launched later this year, but it appears that Google decided only recently to postpone the launch. More →
The iPad Air may very well be the hottest gift for holiday shoppers this year. Localytics saw a surge in iPad Air use over Black Friday weekend this year as activations for the device increased by 51%, making it by far the most-activated smartphone or tablet in the early days of holiday shopping. Other Apple devices look like hot items for shoppers this year as well since Localytics found that iPad mini and iPhone 5c activations both increased by 26% over the weekend. Other devices that saw big surges in activations included the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HD (23% increase) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 (20% increase).
Last month, IHS projected that hundreds of millions of smartphones would feature fingerprint sensors similar to the iPhone 5s Touch ID by 2017. According to a Reuters report, Sweden’s Fingerprint Cards, a company specializing in fingerprint recognition technology, is expecting “seven or eight of the world’s biggest smartphone makers” to make the leap as early as next year in order to keep pace with Apple. Speaking to Reuters, Fingerprint Cards CEO Johan Carlstrom said that Samsung will be launching a smartphone with some form of fingerprint identification next year, and Fingerprint Cards is hoping to become a supplier. Keep in mind, it wasn’t long ago that a Samsung executive said that the company was not looking to release a touch ID smartphone quite yet.
One of the most exciting prospects of the Xbox One is the ID@Xbox program, which allows both independent and AAA developers alike to self-publish on Microsoft’s console. Chris Charla, director of the program, has taken to the Xbox Wire to share some familiar names that have already received dev kits and have begun working on the first round of self-published Xbox One games. Crytek, the team behind launch title Ryse: Son of Rome and the Crysis series, is easily the largest developer on the list, but several indie darlings have made their way into the first batch as well — Vlambeer, Double Fine, Iron Galaxy, Capy and Gaijin Games are just a few of the developers currently working on titles for ID@Xbox. According to Charla, “this is just a sampling of the many developers who are part of the program.” ID@Xbox is currently slated to kick off early next year.
Earlier this year, Samsung unveiled its Knox mobile security suite aimed at giving corporate IT buyers peace of mind when deciding to purchase Samsung’s brand of Android devices for their employees. The Wall Street Journal reports that the program has been a bust so far, however, as Knox has been “beset by delays and programming bugs, frustrating clients including the U.S. Defense Department.” The Journal says that Samsung executives are “privately” acknowledging problems with Knox and are vowing fixes. More →
The past few months have been chock full of touchscreen innovations, from flexible displays to full-screen fingerprint recognition. Patent Bolt looks to have stumbled upon the latest evolutionary idea in the form of a patent from Samsung that describes touch controls extending to the backside of devices with transparent displays. Samsung provides several examples of how back touch could be useful on a transparent device, including the ability to open applications or control a video without obscuring the display. Other examples include moving objects that sit on the bottom layer of a multi-layered screen, and strengthening unlock screen with dual-sided passwords. Samsung is no stranger to transparent displays so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the company try rolling out a smartphone with a curved see-through screen at some point over the next few years.
Apple’s new flagship iPhone 5s isn’t just the presumed fastest-selling smartphone ever, it’s also apparently in hotter demand than any other tech device on the planet. Yahoo recently released its list of the top 10 tech searches performed with Yahoo’s search engine in 2013 to the UK’s Daily Star, and front and center at the top of the list is “Apple iPhone.” Following the iPhone are Amazon’s Kindle and “Samsung Galaxy,” and the iPad and PlayStation 4 round out the top five items. In somewhat interesting news considering the state of each company’s smartphone business, “BlackBerry” was the seventh most popular tech search of the year and “Nokia Lumia” came in at No. 9. Yahoo’s full list can be seen below. More →
It’s no news that both iOS and Android portable devices have eclipsed Nintendo’s 3DS and DS platforms over the past couple of years. But it’s a bit of a surprise that now even Amazon’s Kindle devices are moving ahead of Nintendo’s systems when U.S. gamers are polled about their favorite portable gaming system. The new IDC-App Annie report on the gaming ecosystem represents another grim setback for Nintendo. There are now three different smartphone/tablet ecosystems that American consumers view more favorably as gaming platforms than Nintendo’s offerings. More →
Let’s be clear: I think that Windows 8 is in many ways a good operating system. But it is also a very polarizing one among longtime Windows users and that’s something Microsoft will ignore at its own peril. First, let’s go through Windows 8′s obvious virtues — it runs much more smoothly than earlier versions of Windows, it starts up more quickly and is generally a more stable platform than Windows 7. However, for a sizable chunk of PC users these plusses are outweighed by the giant minus of the big changes Microsoft made to the traditional Windows user interface. More →
Apple’s $200 million purchase of Topsy prompted speculation earlier this week on what the iPhone maker may do with the analytics firm. PeerIndex founder Azeem Azhar in an article on LinkedIn proposes Topsy as a way for Apple to reduce users’ reliance on Google Search on its devices. Instead, Apple would serve custom search results provided in part by Topsy technology. Topsy is a “search engine, at its heart,” Azhar writes. “And Apple doesn’t have a search engine. Instead, iOS relies on its frenemy Google.” Even though Google Search is no longer the only search option on iOS devices, many users still prefer it over Bing or Yahoo when looking for stuff online. A report in February claimed that the search giant may be paying Apple $1 billion per year in order for Google Search to be the default choice for users. More →
You don’t have to pay nearly as much as you’re likely paying now for cell phone service. Increasingly, cheaper cell phone plans are available through what are called “mobile virtual network operators,” or MVNOs. These MVNOs rent space from the major networks instead of building their own. MVNOs are increasingly popular; there are now more than 120 MVNOs with a combined 30 million customers. An example of just one company that is making real headway: Consumer Cellular, an MVNO that uses AT&T’s network, has increased its customer base from 400,000 to 1.3 million over the past four years. More →