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Microsoft Guns for Cloud Devs at Build 2016
April 4, 2016
Microsoft last week at its Build 2016 conference announced innovations in mobile app development, the Internet of Things, microservices and intelligence designed to help developers create apps for the cloud. One is Azure App Service, which offers back-end capabilities for Web, native Windows, iOS and Android platforms. Microsoft also announced five Azure IoT starter kits, starting at $50.
Foxconn Finally Wrangles Sharp Deal
April 1, 2016
Foxconn has agreed to purchase a controlling stake in Sharp -- about 66 percent -- for roughly $3.5 billion, the companies announced Wednesday. Foxconn has committed to restoring Sharp's profitability and improving operations, according to the companies. "I am confident that we will unlock Sharp's true potential," Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said. The acquisition brings months of speculation to a close.
Facebook Plots Secret Chat for Messenger
April 1, 2016
Facebook has been working on mobile pay and secret chat features for its Messenger app, according to a report published this week, based on clues found in extracted software code on Messenger for iPhone. Commands embedded in the software hint at secret conversations, similar to what's found in WhatsApp, and commands to pay in person and pay in Messenger when picking up an item.
Microsoft Tells Devs to Talk to the Bots
March 31, 2016
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and members of his leadership team, speaking to developers Wednesday at the Build 2016 conference, introduced their vision to infuse human speech and machine learning into the company's consumer and enterprise businesses. Nadella and Executive VP Terry Myerson introduced upgrades to Windows 10 and Cortana as well as technology called "Conversations as a Platform."
Gadget Ogling: Honey, I Shrunk the iPhone
March 31, 2016
The iPhone SE packs almost everything from the iPhone 6s into a handset that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5. The only thing that's really missing is Force Touch. It's a smart play, trying to convince iPhone 4 and 5 owners that they can still upgrade to -- almost -- the latest model without the need to take on a device with a larger screen.
Oracle Ups Java Damages Demand to $9.3B
March 30, 2016
Oracle has asked for $9.3 billion in damages in its multiyear lawsuit against Google over the use of Java in Android, according to a report filed last week in federal court. That amount is reportedly about 10 times what it had initially asked for. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 9 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
For Many Users, Instagram Algorithm Is Not a Pretty Picture
March 30, 2016
Instagram on Monday moved to calm concerns among some users about a proposed change in the way content appears in their feeds. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Cindy Crawford fueled the anxiety by urging their followers to enable a feature on their mobile devices that would notify them whenever those celebrities post to Instagram. The company assured users that their feed weren't changing yet.
Latest iOS Upgrade Drives Users Buggy
March 30, 2016
Apple has been deluged with complaints from users who say the latest version of its mobile operating system is breaking links and crashing apps. "Following iOS 9.3 on iPhone 6splus update links in safari no longer open, then safari crashes -- any ideas how to fix? Same problem in Chrome," user John MacDonald posted Monday on Apple's support page on Twitter.
Hard-Pressed Pebble Sheds 25 Percent of Workforce
March 29, 2016
Pebble -- once viewed as the little smartwatch company that could -- last week cut its worldwide workforce by 25 percent, according to news reports. That's reportedly about 40 people, but actual figures are hard to come by because Pebble is privately held. The company has raised $46 million, but CEO Eric Migicovsky blamed the layoffs on the difficulty of raising funds in Silicon Valley these days.
You Rang? Microsoft's Holoportation Redefines Face-to-Face Communication
March 29, 2016
Microsoft on Monday unveiled its version of a teleporter, called "holoportation," which was designed to transmit 3D models of people anywhere in the world. Holoportation compresses, transmits and reconstructs the 3D scans to Microsoft's HoloLens and other head-mounted displays. It lets headset wearers interact with remote users in 3D as if they were in the same space, according to Microsoft.
Feds Crack iPhone, Warn Apple to Keep One Eye Open
March 29, 2016
After a bitter legal battle over encryption and privacy rights, the Department of Justice on Monday announced it would back out of its case against Apple because the FBI was able to crack the code of the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The department had asked a federal magistrate judge to force Apple to help the FBI crack open the encrypted smartphone.
A Dramatic 16 Years for 4 Tech Titans
March 28, 2016
Following Apple's latest announcements, I noticed a number of reports on how disappointed customers were that there was nothing they wanted to wait in line for hours to buy. I personally thought they should have been excited about that, because I hate to stand in lines. I've never really figured out an Apple fanatic's penchant for pain. Still, it is very clear that today's Apple is very different.
Dish Networks' Hopper 3 Takes a Leap and a Bound
March 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to up its game with its whole-home TV set-top box and accompanying devices. Since introducing its Sling-based TV-anywhere solution and whole-home DVR three years ago, Dish has remained one hop ahead of the competition. Since its launch, the Hopper has featured Sling technology that allowed for the streaming of content from the living room to almost anywhere.
Blendle Bets Readers Will Micropay for Good Journalism
March 25, 2016
Blendle, a Netherlands-based news aggregation site that draws comparisons to Spotify, on Wednesday announced its beta launch in the U.S. Blendle made its debut with the participation of several major new organizations and financial backing from Axel Springer and The New York Times. The 5-year-old company, which recently expanded into Germany, has opened the beta phase to 10,000 users.
Google Aims to Build a Better iOS Keyboard
March 24, 2016
Google has been developing a third-party keyboard for Apple devices in an effort to increase the number of Google searches on iOS, according to a news report published Tuesday. The keyboard, which is being tested internally, reportedly would incorporate a number of search options and a Swype-like feature to guess the intended word when a user slides a finger from one letter to another.
iPad Pro Wants to Be Your Next PC
March 24, 2016
When Apple unveiled its 9.7-inch iPad Pro earlier this week, it aimed the tablet squarely at the PC replacement market, with Senior VP Phil Schiller describing it as the "ultimate upgrade for existing iPad users and replacement for PC users." More than 600 million PCs in use are 5 years old or more, he said. The Pro's 64-bit A9X processor rivals that of most portable PCs, Apple said.
FBI Would Rather Crack Terrorist's iPhone Itself
March 23, 2016
On the eve of a court showdown with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the FBI put its case on pause Monday to pursue an attack method that could allow it to crack the phone without Apple's assistance. After reviewing the FBI's request for postponement of oral arguments in the case, a U.S. District Court in California granted the delay.
Apple's CareKit Gives More Power to the Patient
March 23, 2016
Perhaps worthy of more attention than it received at Apple's Loop You In event on Monday is CareKit. The open source platform will allow developers to create consumer-focused applications to help patients communicate with healthcare providers and closely monitor their own health conditions. Similar to ResearchKit, CareKit applies many of the same tools to patient care.
Supreme Court to End Samsung, Apple Patent Brawl
March 22, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from Samsung regarding its patent dispute with Apple. The case stems from a 2011 lawsuit by Apple that alleged Samsung copied certain design elements and features from the iPhone and iPad and used them in Samsung Galaxy phones and tablet computers. A jury in 2012 awarded $1 billion to Apple.
Hopkins Boffins Break iMessage Encryption
March 22, 2016
A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University has found a way to crack open files sent as encrypted instant messages in Apple's iMessage app, according to news reports published Monday. Although it took months to do, the researchers, led by Professor Matthew Green, were able to brute force a 64-bit encryption key, allowing them to unscramble an image file stored in Apple's iCloud.
Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs, DoT Team to Ease Gridlock
March 22, 2016
The U.S. Department of Transportation last week announced a partnership with Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs to help cities ease gridlock using Google's vast array of technology and traffic data. Sidewalk Labs will work with the seven finalists in the DoT's Smart City Challenge on a plan to help ease congestion and improve mobility to disadvantaged communities under a program called "Flow."
Car Computers Are Vehicles for Hacking, Warns FBI
March 22, 2016
The FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week issued a warning about the threat of automobile hacking. Computers that control steering, braking, acceleration and lights, as well as wireless technologies used in keyless entry, ignition control and navigation systems, provide portals for cyberattack, the agencies said.
Apple Brings Back That 4-Inch Feeling
March 21, 2016
Apple on Monday announced a pair of new products in old sizes -- the 4-inch iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro -- banking on user preferences for the familiar form factors to lessen their hesitancy to upgrade. Although Apple's hour-long "Loop You In" event was short on surprises, it was slimmer on filler as well. Among the notable extras, Apple announced a price cut bringing the Apple Watch to $300.
Malware Exploits Apple DRM to Infect iPhones
March 19, 2016
Security researchers at Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 on Wednesday announced they had discovered in the wild a method of infecting nonjailbroken iPhones with malware by exploiting design flaws in Apple's digital rights management technology. The flaw has been exploited since 2013 largely as a means to pirate iOS software, but this is the first time it's been used to infect iPhones with malware.
Apple Loses Video Over IP Patent Scuffle in Germany
March 18, 2016
A German court on Wednesday determined that Apple had infringed a patent owned by the Kudelski Group's OpenTV division. Apple products sold in Germany can't use streaming technology that infringes OpenTV's patents, the court reportedly ruled. The suit was brought in 2014 in Düsseldorf District Court over three patents held by OpenTV and its sister company, Nagra.
Google Reports Web Traffic Encryption Progress
March 18, 2016
Google this week launched a section of its transparency report to track the progress of efforts to encrypt the Web, by both the company and third-party sites estimated to account for about 25 percent of Web traffic. The report will be updated weekly with information about progress the company has made toward implementing HTTPS by default across its services.
Android, iOS on Opposite Sides of Encryption Divide
March 18, 2016
Consumers' understanding of what encryption does apparently doesn't determine whether they use the technology, as iPhone owners are much more likely to use encryption than Android users. Most Android phones are not encrypted, either by user choice or manufacturer design. About 95 percent of all iPhones reportedly are encrypted, compared with less than 10 percent of Android phones.
ProtonMail Launches Encrypted Email for iOS, Android
March 18, 2016
ProtonMail, which offers encrypted email, on Thursday launched free iOS and Android mobile apps worldwide, through the iTunes App Store and Google Play, respectively. They have been in beta since August, company CEO Andy Yen said. The email service features end-to-end encryption; emails stored on ProtonMail's servers also are encrypted and thus can't be accessed.
Apple Channels Founding Fathers in Legal Brief
March 17, 2016
Lawyers for Apple on Tuesday argued in a federal District Court filing that the founding fathers would be appalled by the demands the Department of Justice has made in seeking a backdoor to iPhone encryption. The DoJ and the FBI want "Apple to create exactly the kind of operating system that Congress has thus far refused to require," the lawyers wrote.
Digital Assistants Fail Abysmally in Crisis Situations
March 16, 2016
Personal digital assistants are of little benefit for people experiencing a serious personal crisis, such as sexual assault or thoughts of suicide, according to a study published Monday. The research looked at four major personal assistants. For the most part, they were unable to recommend solutions when users expressed severe mental anguish, or reported domestic violence, sexual assault or forms of imminent danger.
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What best reflects your opinion on online privacy?
We need new laws to curb government spying.
It's dead -- Google, Facebook and others killed it.
Personalized advertising is the worst -- it's creepy.
It's achievable through encryption and other tech.
It's an overblown issue -- I have nothing to hide.