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US, British Intelligence Scoop Data From Smartphone Apps
January 28, 2014
Don't get angry, but... U.S. and British intelligence agencies have long been mining data from smartphone apps such as the wildly popular Angry Birds. The National Security Agency and its British brethren at the Government Communications Headquarters reportedly have targeted the swell of data moving to and fro on mobile apps, based on previously secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Biz Brass Kept in Dark About Breaches
January 27, 2014
With breaking news about data breaches a common occurrence, you'd think security threats to an organization's data would be something CEOs and their management teams were kept in the know about. Apparently not. Some 80 percent of IT pros in the U.S. and UK said they did not frequently communicate with executive management about potential cyberattacks to their organizations in a recent survey.
Be-Bound Offers a Sip of Web in Data-Dry Deserts
January 24, 2014
As someone who regularly explores the back-roads of desert-adorned Southern California, I'm acutely aware of massive, gaping holes in wireless network coverage as soon as you leave blacktop in rural America. You can sometimes off-road all day out west with no mobile data coverage. Moments of connectivity might be the occasional hilltop-occurring set of phone handset signal bars.
Apple TV: From High Hopes to Has-Been
January 24, 2014
When it comes to TV, Apple is starting to recede into the dark corners of my mind. Its relevance -- and even potential relevance -- is waning. A fancypants Apple-made big-screen HDTV device that seems to float in the air and function like a delightful work of art... . It not only seems unlikely any time soon, but also unlikely to really matter to anyone but rich Apple enthusiasts.
How to Slim Down a Bloated Android Device
January 22, 2014
It's a good idea to prune an Android device periodically, for a few reasons. A mishmash of apps, some aging, have all kinds of on-device routines running that can negatively affect performance. Worse, some are continually accessing the Internet and eating into your data cap -- unlimited wireless Internet on mobile devices is practically nonexistent these days.
Crowdfunders Send Jamaican Bobsled Team to Sochi
January 21, 2014
The Jamaican bobsled team, which qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2002, is heading to the Sochi Olympics, thanks in large part to a group of supporters who raised more than $25,000 worth of "Dogecoins," an Internet currency. The team needed about $40,000 total, and after the Internet came through with $25K, Jamaica's Olympic committee picked up the difference.
FTC Delivers Stern Message With Apple's In-App Refund Deal
January 17, 2014
For the second time in less than a year, Apple has agreed to reimburse its customers for purchases within applications made by children without their parents' consent. In a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday, Apple agreed to pay at least $32.5 million in refunds to consumers who incurred charges on their iTunes accounts through dubious in-app purchases.
Outlook for Android Coulda Been a Contender
January 17, 2014
I've been looking forward to trying out Microsoft's official email product for the Android platform. Device OS mismatches have, until now, prevented me from doing so. However, a totaled and smashed tablet and an arbitrarily rebooting smartphone have prompted me to get some new kit. I'm a power desktop Outlook user, and for about 10 years I have relied on the desktop version.
Passwords Flow Freely at Starbucks
January 16, 2014
Starbucks has admitted storing users' passwords in plain text on its mobile apps, creating security and privacy risks. Anyone with access to a customer's phone could obtain that person's user name, password and email address by connecting the device to a computer and opening a file. The clear text reportedly also displays a string of geolocation data that could put customer privacy at risk.
The App Store and Children, or Tim Cook's Latest Crock of Bull
January 16, 2014
I was pleased last year when Apple finally took a proactive stance and reached out to 28 million App Store customers who might have been bamboozled by shady in-app purchases in games designed to take advantage of children. However, even that action had dubious beginnings stemming from a class action lawsuit that Apple settled this summer. Most recently, Apple settled a similar issue with the FTC.
Huge Growth in Store for In-App Mobile Messaging
January 16, 2014
In-app mobile advertising is expected to jump significantly between now and 2018, according to new figures from Juniper Research. Ad spend in this category will reach $16.9 billion by 2018, up from $3.5 billion last year, the consulting group found. Smartphones currently account for approximately 70 percent of in-app ad spend, Juniper said, but that ratio is expected to change.
French Cabbies Attack Uber Vehicles
January 14, 2014
French taxi drivers reportedly attacked vehicles linked to Uber, a smartphone app that helps people find shared rides and drivers-for-hire -- or, from cabbies' perspective, erodes a time-honored business model. Protestors blocked traffic and went after the service's vehicles, reported one Uber-using witness, Kat Borlongan. The vehicle she was in suffered significant damage, including a flat tire.
China Gets Its First Homegrown Game Console
January 10, 2014
Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications outfit best known for its mobile phones and its propensity to spook U.S. lawmakers, announced that it has created China's first videogame console. The timing of Huawei's announcement, coming at this week's CES extravaganza in Las Vegas, is interesting: Just this week, Beijing announced that it would for the first time allow foreign-made videogame consoles.
With Nova Launcher Prime, the Problem Is Too Many Options
January 10, 2014
Here's a simple way to refresh the look and functionality of your newer Android device without going to the trouble of rooting, bootloader-unlocking or installing a customized ROM. It's by using a home screen replacement app called a launcher, which is essentially a super-customizable home screen with themes. The one I'm looking at this week -- Nova Launcher Prime -- is one of the most popular.
New Case Lets iPhones See the Heat
January 09, 2014
Flir Systems this week unveiled an iPhone case with a difference. The Flir One lets consumers view heat signatures through a thermal imaging camera attachment to the phone. It works by focusing the camera's attention on a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum than human eyes can see using Flir's new Lepton camera core.
App Answers Universal Question, 'Where'd My Money Go?'
January 08, 2014
Managing a household's expenses isn't the sexiest task in our lives. Nevertheless, it has to be done -- so why not add a dash of fun to it? That's what a program by Raj Kumar Shaw of iLifeTouch does for the chore. Called simply "Daily Expenses," the software -- available from the Mac App Store for $19.99 -- offers a streamlined and colorful way to keep tabs on family finances.
Outline Sings Dandy OneNote Duet
January 06, 2014
Note-taking applications are very popular with many users, and that's probably why developers have flooded Apple's Mac App Store with those kinds of programs. A notable exception, though, has been Microsoft. That's not to say it has ignored the thirst of note-takers -- it makes a robust outline-notepad hybrid called OneNote. The thing is, it doesn't make it for the Mac.
Setup's Sharp Edges Don't Mar TinCan's Network-Free Messaging Potential
January 03, 2014
One lesson that's easy to learn if you've been through any natural disaster is that you shouldn't rely on classic means of communications like land lines, cellphones or Internet. Capacity gets challenged; infrastructure gets destroyed. Where I live, neighbors have developed ham radio-based communications plans geared solely towards communicating in a disaster.
NewsBar Raises the Bar for RSS Readers
December 27, 2013
"Out of sight, out of mind" is an old saw that's absolutely true about RSS readers. Relegating RSS feeds to a tab in a Web browser, website or standalone application keeps news out of sight and consequently out of mind. NewsBar addresses that problem by placing a vertical bar on a Mac's display where feed headlines can be constantly seen and read.
All Things Appy: 5 Best Apps to Make the Most of Apple Sensors
December 27, 2013
Your Apple device is full of sensors, including a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, a magnetometer and a gyroscopic sensor. Also included in these devices are radios, which aren't strictly sensors but which include the GPS for location services. In this week's All Things Appy, we take a look at the five best free apps for playing with sensors and sensor-like radios.

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