Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 9 Jan, 2014
Jan09

Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 9 Jan, 2014

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Samsung promises a ‘back to basics’ rethink for the Galaxy S5 – Samsung has admitted that the public didn’t see much difference between the Galaxy S III and S4 smartphones and said the S5 would likely pack a substantially different design. Executive VP of Mobile, Lee Young Hee told Bloomberg that the new flagship will go “back to basics. Mostly, it’s about the display and the feel of the cover.” It’ll also arrive with a brand new version of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which itself will have “more advanced functions” and an improvement to what she called “the bulky design.” Other revelations include the possible use of an eye-scanner in the handset for greater security, though that possibility is still being studied. Samsung promises a ‘back to basics’ rethink for the Galaxy S5     The coolest girl at CES is the electrical engineer who built this robotic arm – Marita Cheng took seven years to complete her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. That’s because in between classes, she was founding a startup to help the disabled and a nonprofit to get more girls interested in robotics. Cheng is showing off her ‘babies’ at CES: three robotic arms controlled by iOS devices, equipped with cameras, and fine-tuned for the needs of people with limited upper-body mobility. The coolest girl at CES is the electrical engineer who built this robotic arm     3D-printed images help the blind ‘see’ Hubble’s photos of space (video) – The Hubble Space Telescope has produced some of the most spectacular images known to man, but there’s a large segment of the population who’ve been unable to enjoy them: the blind. A pair of astronomers from the Space Telescope Science Institute aim to change that, though, by producing tactile “images” of the universe using a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. 3D-printed images help the blind ‘see’ Hubble’s photos of space (video)     Snapchat apologizes for leaked user data, updates app to let users opt out of ‘Find Friends’ feature – Snapchat today rolled out the security fix it promised last week, which lets users opt out of the app’s “Find Friends” feature. The feature, which let users plug in their phone number to find friends using the app, was the root of the leaking of 4.6 million phone numbers and usernames on New Year’s Day. In a blog post, the company apologized for the first time, and re-emphasized that the leak resulted from the abuse of its API, and not from its servers being hacked. Snapchat apologizes for leaked user data, updates app to let users opt out...

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Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 8 January, 2014
Jan08

Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 8 January, 2014

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.CES rampages on. It’s no surprise that today’s tech news is dominated by product announcements.   Following the attack on the Google Bus they’re now ferrying workers in a private catamaran – As criticism of Google’s private shuttle bus service for employees living in San Francisco has reached new heights, the company quietly turned its eyes to the sea. CBS is reporting that Google has contracted a private catamaran called “The Triumphant” that ferries workers from San Francisco bay to Redwood City, California, about halfway to the company’s global headquarters in Mountain View, California. Presumably, then Google employees hop out and take a bus the remaining 14 miles. Following the attack on the Google Bus they’re now ferrying workers in a private catamaran     Streaming service ‘PlayStation Now’ actually works! (hands-on) – You’ll excuse us if we didn’t expect PlayStation Now to work so well. It’s a game streaming service, and the history of game streaming services is littered with dead bodies. When Sony spent an unbelievable $380 million on Gaikai, it seemed impossible that the service could ever live up to that incredible sum. While PlayStation Now may not live up to that massive payout, it does, in fact, work. And it works really well. Streaming service ‘PlayStation Now’ actually works! (hands-on)     The body scanning Tricorder from Star Trek is (finally) real – First made famous by medical staff on Star Trek, a tricorder is a device that can that can track a person’s heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, pulse transit (essentially systolic blood pressure) and blood oxygenation. It’s like a fitness tracker on steroids (if you’ll excuse the problematic simile). It’s been a long time coming, but a real, functioning tricorder is here, and we got to see the final hardware for it today at CES. The body scanning Tricorder from Star Trek is (finally) real     Lenco’s glass top USB turntable is a gorgeous version of your parents’ record player – Lenco’s old-fashioned turntables were not only extremely popular in the 1960s, but they remain sought out today for their vintage design and modernized technology. At this year’s CES, Lenco revealed its L-175 glass top turntable that connects via USB to your computer so you can play or sync your vinyl records. The design is a modern take on the classic, wooden Lenco turntable, made with a smooth glass top and a 300mm aluminum platter. Lenco’s glass top USB turntable is a gorgeous version of your parents’ record player     Samsung’s ridiculously loud Giga speaker is kind of awesome – Two years ago Samsung introduced the GIGA, a speaker system designed...

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Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 7 January, 2014
Jan07

Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 7 January, 2014

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.The tech world continues to reel from a deluge of new products coming out of CES. Day one was an avalanche of information.  We love it, but we also have to try and cut through the guff to bring you our handpicked top tech stories of the day for Tuesday the 7th of January, 2014. As ever we start with the more serious stories and finish off with a look at the culture of science and tech.   Apple’s App Store brought in a record $10 billion in 2013 – Apple just announced its year-end numbers for the App Store, and the totals are impressive. Customers spent more than $10 billion at the app store in 2013, and Apple says its developers have now earned more than $15 billion from the store. Thanks to the holiday rush, December was the best month on record for the App Store, with more than $1 billion in sales and nearly three billion total app downloads. Apple’s App Store brought in a record $10 billion in 2013     The Pirate Bay is building a platform to defeat Net censorship once and for all – The Pirate Bay has started work on a new peer-to-peer platform that will ensure that it lives on forever. Their plan: to turn torrent trackers themselves into torrent downloads that users then seed and share with the swarm. That will serve to make the trackers virtually impossible to shut down, since there won’t be a single, easily-identified host that can be blocked, confiscated, or DDoSed. The Pirate Bay is building a platform to defeat Net censorship once and for all     Intel backs away slowly from the (crazy John) McAfee brand –  After John McAfee’s year of living like a crazy mofo dangerously Intel have finally called it quits with the McAfee brand name. McAfee Inc is a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel and as of now will be renamed ‘Intel Security’. Intel backs away slowly from the (crazy John) McAfee brand     Kanye serves Coinye with cease-and-desist, alleging infringement – Kanye West may not be as easygoing as you thought. On Monday, lawyers working for West delivered cease-and-desist papers to the coders responsible for Coinye, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The letter demanded the group stop distribution and promotion of the Bitcoin-style cryptocurrency, alleging that Coinye’s cartoon image of West constitutes a form of infringement. Kanye serves Coinye with cease-and-desist, alleging infringement     Lexar’s new CFast 2.0 cards boast SSD speeds, but no cameras support them yet – Lexar has just announced new CompactFlash cards using...

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Top tech stories of the day for Monday 6 January, 2014
Jan06

Top tech stories of the day for Monday 6 January, 2014

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.The tech world is reeling from a deluge of new product information coming out of CES. We love it, but we also have to try and cut through the guff to bring you our handpicked top tech stories of the day for Monday the 6th of January, 2014. As ever we start with the more serious stories and finish off with a look at the culture of science and tech – and we’ve limited ourselves to just one TV, for now.   CyberPowerPC Steam Machine will compete with consoles at $499 –  While some of the companies adopting Valve’s living room gaming fomula are simply grafting the SteamOS operating system onto powerful Windows PCs, CyberPowerPC has just announced a Steam Machine designed to actually compete with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for around the same price point. Starting at just $499, the new CyberPowerPC Steam Machine A will come with a 3.9GHz AMD A6-6400K processor and AMD Radeon R9 270 discrete graphics, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive in a new custom case, and come complete with a Steam Controller and SteamOS when it ships in the second half of 2014. CyberPowerPC Steam Machine will compete with consoles at $499     Pandora is rolling out in-car ads later this month – You’ve been able to listen to Pandora in your car for a few years now, and soon the internet radio company will be launching ads to play alongside your music. Expected to roll out later this month, the new advertising platform will include both 15- and 30-second ads from the likes of Ford, State Farm, and Taco Bell. “Taco Bell fans are passionate about music,” Taco Bell CMO Chris Brandt says. The feature will be available in the 130 car models that currently include Pandora integration, as well as via the many aftermarket devices that let you access the service in your vehicle. Pandora is rolling out in-car ads later this month     LG’s 77-inch curved OLED TV is its most stunning one yet – One of the best traditions of CES is getting to see the jaw-dropping brilliance of large-screened OLED TVs, primarily from the two Korean giants LG and Samsung. This year has been no different, though LG has cranked things up a couple of notches by curving its 77-inch OLED panel. The new TV, though it’s taking a secondary position behind the new webOS software and the 105-inch curved IPS LCD, is my personal favorite from LG’s debuts at CES 2014, with its stupendously thin bezels and engrossing picture quality. It has...

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Top tech stories of the day for Monday 23 Dec, 2013
Dec23

Top tech stories of the day for Monday 23 Dec, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Apple finally has access to China Mobile’s 700 million subscribers – Following years of rumor and negotiation, Apple has finally succeeded in bringing the iPhone to the world’s largest mobile provider, China Mobile. The carrier today announced that the iPhone 5S and 5C are coming to its new 4G network on January 17th, 2014. It’s the first time Apple has access to China Mobile’s vast customer base; the company has over 700 million users. Apple finally has access to China Mobile’s 700 million subscribers     RSA denial sidesteps claim it was paid to use compromised encryption by default – Security firm RSA has denied it entered into a contract that it knew would give the NSA a backdoor into its BSAFE security system. Last week, Reuters claimed the NSA paid RSA $10 million to make an algorithm called “Dual EC DRBG” the preferred, or default system in BSAFE. RSA denial sidesteps claim it was paid to use compromised encryption by default     Tomorrow’s robots drive, climb, and drill through walls at DARPA trials – This weekend 17 teams headed down to Homestead, Florida to compete in theDARPA Robotics Challenge Trials, a gauntlet of eight tasks designed to test robots that could aid after natural disasters. The tasks included driving a vehicle, traversing uneven terrain, climbing a ladder, clearing debris, opening a series of doors, drilling through a wall, opening a valve, and reeling a hose. Tomorrow’s robots drive, climb, and drill through walls at DARPA trials   CyanogenMod downloaded 10 million times as it begins to go legit –Though CyanogenMod has gotten plenty of ink lately for its Oppo N1 hookup and Google Play approval, it’s still first and foremost a modding outfit. In fact it just marked 10 million downloads of its custom Android ROMs, according to its latest stats. CyanogenMod downloaded 10 million times as it begins to go legit     ASUS damages another world landmark with its CES teaser (video) – Just before a big tech show, ASUS likes to wheel out a baffling teaser to get us all in the mood. Normally, the clips involve panning over some brushed metal, promising that the new gear will transform your life. But every now and again, ASUS decides it’s time to travel to a world heritage site for a spot of vandalism. ASUS damages another world landmark with its CES teaser (video)     Samsung’s 2014 smart TVs will let you control videos by pointing your finger – Samsung’s 2014 smart TV lineup may revolve around impressive-looking hardware, but the Korean tech giant has revealed that interface improvements...

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Top tech stories of the day for Friday 20 Dec, 2013
Dec20

Top tech stories of the day for Friday 20 Dec, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. BlackBerry teams up with Foxconn for budget smartphones as sales continue to plunge – Blackberry’s new interim chief John Chen has just got a rude wake-up call: the company sold only 1.9 million smartphones in Q1 compared to 3.7 million last quarter, and lost $4.4 billion. Much of that can be chalked up to a massive $2.6 billion loss on BlackBerry 10 devices and other associated BB10 charges. BlackBerry teams up with Foxconn for budget smartphones as sales continue to plunge     Google sees more government takedown requests than ever, especially in Turkey – Government requests to remove content from Google continued to rise in the first half of this year, the company’s transparency report shows. Data covering January to June of 2013 shows a total of 3,846 orders or requests from governments to remove information, covering 24,737 pieces of data worldwide. Numbers have been growing steadily since Google started publishing the report in 2010; in the last half of 2012, it received 2,289 requests to remove 24,191 blogs, videos, or other pieces of information. Google sees more government takedown requests than ever, especially in Turkey     New leaks show NSA spying on European regulators and charities – New leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal an unexpected list of surveillance targets for the agency, including European economic regulators with no obvious connection to US national security. European Commission vice president Joaquín Almunia was one such target, who was surveilled his tenure overseeing the European Union’s economic, financial and monetary affairs. After Alumnia took authority over the commission’s antitrust office, he would go on to lead antitrust cases against Microsoft, Intel, and Google. New leaks show NSA spying on European regulators and charities     YotaPhone review: LCD on the front, E Ink on the back, unique all over – We’ve long pondered the possibility of an e-ink phone. One that offers enough battery life to get us to the end of the day, or maybe even the End of Days, simply by being less reliant on the power-draining frivolity of an LCD or AMOLED panel. What we didn’t envision, though, was that the first mass-produced attempt at such an idea would come from a Russian company we’d never heard of, or that it would take the particularly unusual form of the YotaPhone — a device that does many things differently, not least in having a curved E Ink panel on its rear side. As you’re about to see, a lot of these two-faced ideas have potential, but some of them need some work — a lot of work, in...

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Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 19 Dec, 2013
Dec19

Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 19 Dec, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Target suffers Black Friday hack at ‘nearly all’ stores, millions of credit cards at risk – Retailers are an appealing target for hackers during the holidays, and Target may be learning that lesson the hard way. According to Krebs on Security, the US retail giant is investigating a major breach that could potentially involve “millions” of customer credit and debit card records. The sophisticated hack reportedly took place over several weeks — starting on Black Friday and possibly extending all the way through December 15th — and is said to involve “nearly all” Target stores in the United States. Krebs says the breach “involves the theft of data stored on the magnetic stripe of cards used at the stores.” Online orders are said to be unaffected. Target suffers Black Friday hack at ‘nearly all’ stores, millions of credit cards at risk     Apple’s new Mac Pro now on sale, will ship by December 30th – After months of waiting, Apple’s new Mac Pro is now available to order through its online store. Coming just a day after the company announced the availability of the trashcan-shaped desktop, the quad-core and six-core models start at $3,000 and $4,000 respectively. Should you order today, Apple says deliveries will reach your doorstep before the new year, with its online store currently displaying a December 30th shipping estimate. That base model will get you a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon CPU, 12GB DRAM, two AMD FirePro D300 GPUs, and a 256GB SSD. However, if you max out every setting, you’re looking at $10,000 — and that’s without a mouse or a keyboard. Apple’s new Mac Pro now on sale, will ship by December 30th     Motorola shows how it could make smartwatches with flexible displays – Motorola has already filed for patents on both wrist-worn gadgets and flexible displays. Today, we’re seeing what happens when the company merges the two technologies. A newly published patent application has revealed a Motorola concept for a smartwatch-like device where both the screen and the shell underneath can flex in tandem. Much like a metal watch band, the chassis would be made of links; grips on each link would bend the display. It’s a simple idea, although we’re not expecting a product out of it any time soon — the company will need flexible circuits before any bendy wearables can reach its roadmap. Motorola shows how it could make smartwatches with flexible displays     Google puts an offline Moto Maker in the pages of Wired (video) – Despite reports of a sales shortfall, the customizable Moto X has some dedicated fans,...

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Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 18 Dec, 2013
Dec18

Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 18 Dec, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Apple’s new Mac Pro will finally go on sale December 19th – We knew it was coming, now it’s almost here. Apple has confirmed that its new Mac Pro will go on sale from tomorrow, starting at $3,000. For that, you’ll get a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon CPU (“with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz”), 12GB DRAM, two AMD FirePro D300 GPUs, and a 256GB SSD. As usual, you’ll be able to order online through Apple’s online store, as well as in retail stores, meaning you could take one home before the Christmas holidays officially begin. Apple’s new Mac Pro will finally go on sale December 19th     Translate.com releases mobile apps that can translate 75 languages on-the-go – Translate.com’s new mobile apps can tell you. The company released iOS and Android apps today, which can translate text, voice, and images of text between 75 different languages. “Our goal is to be everyone’s private translator and facilitate conversations that could not happen before,” said founder and CEO Anthos Chrysanthou. “We’re a bit like the ‘Waze’ of translation — users can tap into the community when it will make a big difference, but they can still get from A to B on their own.” Translate.com releases mobile apps that can translate 75 languages on-the-go     Monitors are so 2013: Apple patents a ‘desk-free’ computer with smart laser projector –  Imagine a Mac Mini that’s completely wireless and can intelligently project a large image on a wall, instead of relying on an external monitor. It may sound like science fiction, but it actually may not be that far off. Apple today has received U.S. Patent No. 8,610,726, “Computer systems and methods with projected display,” reports Apple Insider. It offers a glimpse at a new face of computing that isn’t shackled down by traditional monitors, and which could potentially do for in-home projectors what the iPhone did for smartphones. Monitors are so 2013: Apple patents a ‘desk-free’ computer with smart laser projector     Opera Max beta compresses most of the data going through your Android device – Opera’s mobile browsers are quite popular because of their ability to compress data, but it’s unfortunately been limited to just that — the browser itself. This becomes less and less useful as smartphones continue to evolve, since our data usage patterns encompass so much more than just the simple browser: many of us are constantly streaming music, uploading and downloading images and apps, and so on. Opera Max beta compresses most of the data going through your Android device     Fully wearable Iron Man Mark III...

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Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 17 December, 2013
Dec17

Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 17 December, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Facebook confirms autoplay video ads are coming to your News Feed – They’ve been a long time coming, but Facebook’s new video ads are finally here. Confirming a report from the Wall Street Journal that said they’d launch this week, the company says it will start rolling out promoted videos to a limited number of users’ News Feeds, starting with ads for the new film Divergent. Implementing a similar format to Instagram, Facebook’s video ads will automatically play when they appear on onscreen – although sound will be muted on both the desktop and mobile. While you won’t be able prevent the new ad units from popping up, they can be avoided with some quick scrolling action. Facebook confirms autoplay video ads are coming to your News Feed     Fully wearable Iron Man Mark III suit is made to 3D printed order for $35,000 – We joked yesterday about finding the perfect gift for that eccentric billionaire (or millionaire, or really just any “rich” person) in your life, but nothing truly says money to burn like your very own Iron Man suit. The real kicker here is that this Iron Man Mark III suit, made by (wait for it) Iron Man Factory, is actually fully wearable and made to fit anyone as tall as 5′ 5″ to 6’1″. It also incorporates sensor-controlled motors — powered by a AAA battery — to activate the “thrusters” on back and even slide open the helmet so your loved ones can smack that smug Tony Stark-like perma-grin off your face. Oh and did we mention the 7lbs suit, which is made from a carbon fiber polymer and features a cushioned interior, also contains an LED lighting system? Yeah, there’s that too, but also no lasers. Sorry, you can’t have everything. Fully wearable Iron Man Mark III suit is made to 3D printed order for $35,000     IEC announces new standard for future universal laptop chargers – The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) published a new standard this week detailing the specifications for a single laptop charger compatible with a wide range of notebooks. While there’s no legal mandate for companies to follow the spec, the announcement paves the way for universal notebook chargers, bringing a massive reduction in e-waste with it. IEC announces new standard for future universal laptop chargers     Microsoft will have a new CEO ‘in the early part of 2014’ – With roughly nine months to go until Microsoft’s unforgettably demonstrative CEO Steve Ballmer steps down, the hunt is on for his replacement. Will it be incoming Nokia CEO Stephen Elop?...

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Top tech stories of the day for Monday 16 December, 2013
Dec16

Top tech stories of the day for Monday 16 December, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Instapaper for iOS is free until December 19th – There’s no shortage of apps for saving articles to your phone for offline reading, but Instapaper is a favorite around these parts. It’s unfortunate that some iOS users have been depriving themselves of one of the platform’s greatest apps, but their inaction is paying off: Instapaper is free to download all week as part of Apple’s App of the Week promotion. In recent months, the team at Betaworks has pushed a major redesign, incorporated article sorting and filtering, and added video support — a big improvement that puts the original closer to par with its glossier competitors. Instapaper for iOS is free until December 19th   Amazon puts Kindle Fire HDX on interest-free payment plan, starting at $57 – Short on cash? Amazon wants to sell you a Kindle Fire HDX anyway. As of today, you can pick up the shopping giant’s flagship slate on a quarterly payment plan. Naturally, the amount of each installment varies based on the size and configuration you choose; a 7-inch model with WiFi, 16GB of storage and Special Offers, for example, runs $57 per payment. A similarly equipped 8.9-inch model on the other hand, costs $95 every three months. If you’re worried about financing fees or interest, don’t sweat it – Bezos and pals aren’t charging either of them. Amazon puts Kindle Fire HDX on interest-free payment plan, starting at $57   It doesn’t matter who you are, when your wife says ‘switch seats’ you switch seats. Michelle Obama lays down the law – Our affection for Michelle Obama has always been high. It can’t be easy maintaining your sense of self when you’re known as the wife of arguably the most powerful leader in the world but Michelle has made the role her own. Putting politics aside (if you can) in our opinion Ms Obama has put her own stamp on the role of the first lady. She’s intelligent, speaks very well and has her own opinions. Which is why this meme montage is so funny. We don’t know if this is what really happened but we love a meme where the photos and text match up this beautifully. It doesn’t matter who you are, when your wife says ‘switch seats’ you switch seats. Michelle Obama lays down the law   Norway’s government says Bitcoin isn’t real money – Governments worldwide are trying to solidify their positions on Bitcoin. Chinese regulators banned financial institutions from using Bitcoin earlier this month, while in July, Thailand’s government declared the virtual currency’s use illegal due to a lack of applicable laws. Now Bitcoin has taken...

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Top tech stories of the day – Friday 13 December, 2013
Dec13

Top tech stories of the day – Friday 13 December, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Twitter reverts nearly all the changes they made to ‘blocking’ after user uproar – Twitter has begrudgingly rolled back nearly all of the original protective measures that came with blocking other users following unrest over changes that went out earlier today. Back are features that keep users from both following and retweeting users, as well as awareness from other users when they’ve been blocked by on-screen notifications. Earlier today the company made changes to its blocking system, which meant that any blocking of other users became more of a muting feature, with the blocker not seeing any activity from the user they blocked. Twitter reverts nearly all the changes they made to ‘blocking’ after user uproar   NSA overhaul could see an end to PRISM-style surveillance – Edward Snowden might have missed out on becoming Person of the Year, but that’s not to say he’s not been a big influence on America’s government this year. According to deep-throated persons familiar with the matter, the presidential task force is proposing a huge overhaul to the NSA in the wake of the PRISM scandal. Proposed changes include giving bulk collection duties to phone companies or an independent third party, imposing tighter standards before NSA staffers can access your personal data and appointing a civilian head, rather than recruiting from the military. NSA overhaul could see an end to PRISM-style surveillance   Samsung promises ‘differentiated’ smartphones based on its camera expertise – Samsung has instigated a small corporate reshuffle that could potentially have big implications for its future smartphones. The company has shunted its digital imaging unit sideways so that it sits under the giant umbrella of the mobile division, in the hope of combining “technical know-how” in these two areas and ultimately “differentiating” its smartphones with better camera technology. At the same time, Samsung expects expertise to flow in the opposite direction, allowing its engineers to create cameras with better wireless connectivity. It’s a move that makes plenty of sense given the recent spate of Galaxy-branded hybridized products, such as the slightly awkward Galaxy S 4 Zoom and hugely over-priced Galaxy NX mirrorless shooter. Samsung promises ‘differentiated’ smartphones based on its camera expertise   Good Deal: get a 16GB Nexus 7 for $179.99 – If you’re looking for a new tablet but missed out on some of the great Black Friday sales last month, you’re in luck: Office Depot is currently selling the 2013 Nexus 7 for just $179.99. That’s $50 off the regular price for the 16GB version of the Android tablet. (If you had your heart set on the new white version, you’ll still...

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Top tech stories of the day – Thursday 12 December, 2013
Dec12

Top tech stories of the day – Thursday 12 December, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Time Person of the Year runner-up Snowden wants unbreakable encryption for all citizens – Edward Snowden was passed over in favor of Pope Francis for Time’s Person of the Year. Nevertheless, the magazine does manage to acknowledge that Snowden’s unprecedented leak of thousands of classified NSA documents has changed the face of domestic and international politics, privacy, journalism, and computing in general. For him, there is a clear need for reform, but ordinary citizens can and should make use of unbreakable encryption to keep their data safe. Snowden stepped forward in June as the whistleblower behind the Guardian and Washington Post’s blistering reports detailing the NSA’s PRISM and Boundless Informant programs. Since then, he has taken temporary asylum in Moscow as new documents continue to reveal the depth of the intelligence community’s surveillance tactics — all at a near daily clip. Time Person of the Year runner-up Snowden wants unbreakable encryption for all citizens   YouTube rounds up the biggest videos of 2013 – 2013 is almost over, which means it’s time for self-reflection — and Jean-Claude Van Damme, of course. His “epic splits” video (pictured above, and part of an advertisement for Volvo) is just one of many YouTube’s compiled as the top trending videos on the service during the year. That’s different from the most-viewed list, and perhaps even more interesting because it tracks views, shares, and searches from users, which has led to some seemingly unlikely videos making the list. YouTube rounds up the biggest videos of 2013   South Korean court rules against Samsung, won’t ban iPhone and iPad – The latest development in Apple and Samsung’s patent battle is a new court ruling in the latter’s home country, and it’s going against Samsung. The Washington Post and Reuters report that in a case covering three Samsung patents, and Apple products including the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5 and iPad 2 Judge Shim Woo-yong ruled against a sales ban and threw out Samsung’s request for damages. The Post reports the patents cover things like multitasking, message notifications and how a device can display multiple messages from the same sender. South Korean court rules against Samsung, won’t ban iPhone and iPad   Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas available on iOS right now, Android and Windows Phone next week – If you’ve been jonesing to spend some HD quality-time with Carl Johnson on your iDevice, the wait is over. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is available from iTunes right this moment for $7, and is compatible with most recent iOS gizmos. If you want to roll with Officer Tenpenny on a...

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Top tech stories of the day – Wednesday 11 December, 2013
Dec11

Top tech stories of the day – Wednesday 11 December, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Whole lotta love: Led Zeppelin’s music comes to Spotify – Confirming a rumor that surfaced early this morning, Led Zeppelin’s music is now available on Spotify. The band appeared on the streaming service shortly before CEO Daniel Ek announced the major deal on stage at today’s press event. Spotify says this is the first time Zeppelin’s iconic catalog can be streamed on demand. The band’s songs can already be purchased from iTunes, Google Music, and Amazon, but the group has proven hesitant in adopting the streaming model until now. Curiously, Eddy Cue used Zeppelin as an example when he demonstrated iTunes Radio back at WWDC, but the band’s catalog cannot be streamed using Apple’s free radio service. Nor is it available via Google Play Music All Access. Pandora stands as the lone exception; Zeppelin’s music is already part of the radio service’s broad catalog. Whole lotta love: Led Zeppelin’s music comes to Spotify   Beastie Boys countersue over ‘Girls’ parody ad, rekindling legal battle – When GoldieBlox removed a parody of the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls” from an ad for its toys, it seemed like a brief but heated debate over fair use and copyright ethics was over. Apparently we were wrong, as the Beastie Boys have now sued the toymaker for copyright and trademark infringement and demanded a jury trial. “Rather than developing an original advertising campaign to inspire its customers to create and innovate, GoldieBlox has instead developed an advertising campaign that condones and encourages stealing from others,” they write, asking for court costs, lost profits from infringement, money earned by GoldieBlox as a result of the ads, and a permanent injunction against any further use of the re-recorded song. Beastie Boys countersue over ‘Girls’ parody ad, rekindling legal battle   Microsoft sells over 2 million Xbox One consoles in 18 days – Microsoft says it has sold over 2 million Xbox One consoles since its launch 18 days ago. The sales figures average out to around 111,111 units per day, a pace that Microsoft describes as “record-setting.” While the company countered Sony’s 2.1 million PlayStation 4 sales with zombie stats previously, it’s clear both consoles are selling well. “Demand is exceeding supply in our 13 launch markets and Xbox One is sold out at most retailers,” says Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi. Sony has sold over 2.1 million PlayStation 4’s across the US, Europe, and Australia up to December 1st. While Sony’s console launched 25 days ago, it was limited to the US and Canada for the first 14 days of sales and Sony’s most recent figures only include two...

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Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 10 December, 2013
Dec10

Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 10 December, 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Viber launches ‘Viber Out’ – call any phone from within the Viber App – In an aggressive shot across Skype’s bows Viber has announced it’s new service ‘Viber Out’ – A service that allows users to make calls from within the Viber App to any mobile or landline at significantly lower prices than Microsoft’s industry goliath. The low per minute rates coupled with the omission of connection fees results in a significantly reduced per call cost. A fact that Viber were quick to draw attention to at launch. Viber out also has another trick up it’s sleeve in that it displays your real telephone number to recipients allowing them to see via caller ID who the call is coming from. This feature is likely to very positively received in the age of call-screening. Viber launches ‘Viber Out’ – call any phone from within the Viber App   The Pirate Bay resurfaces at a new domain following seizure – The Pirate Bay’s move to the Caribbean retreat of Sint Maarten this summer didn’t last long, as Torrent Freak today reports its domain has been seized by authorities — ostensibly under pressure from copyright holders keen to shut the file-sharing site down. Unfortunately for them, thepiratebay.ac is already up and running in the equally obscure realm of Ascension Island. The Pirate Bay resurfaces at a new domain following seizure   Apple’s 12 Days of digital gifts comes to the US for the first time – Apple’s donning the Santa suit again this year to dole out digital freebies, and for the first time, iOS users in the US make it to the “nice” list. Today, the company has launched the annual 12 Days of Gifts for 2013, offering one complimentary song, app, book or movie every day between December 26th and January 6th. In previous years, US iOS users could only look on as folks from Canada, some parts of Europe and other countries worldwide unwrapped downloaded their presents from Cupertino. Now that the event has arrived stateside, make sure to install the 12 Days app, linked as a source below, and fire it up under your tree the day after Christmas. Apple’s 12 Days of digital gifts comes to the US for the first time   Twitter’s new head of news explains why she left NBC – Twitter may have been born out of San Francisco’s fast-moving startup culture, but its latest leader comes from a place far from it. Vivian Schiller, who will start as Twitter’s first news partnerships leader in January, comes straight out of the old media world, where she’s worked...

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Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 3 December 2013
Dec03

Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 3 December 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. UPS researching its own delivery drones to compete with Amazon’s Prime Air – Amazon made headlines Sunday night when it announced it was working on small drones that could someday deliver customers packages in half an hour or less. But the e-commerce giant isn’t the only company researching how to harness the potential of small unmanned aircraft: The Verge has learned that the world’s largest parcel service, UPS, has been experimenting with its own fleet of flying parcel-carriers. Sources familiar with the company’s plans say it has been testing and evaluating different approaches to drone delivery. Asked for a comment, the company confirmed its interest. “The commercial use of drones is an interesting technology and we’ll continue to evaluate it. UPS invests more in technology than any other company in the delivery business, and we’re always planning for the future,” said a spokesman. UPS researching its own delivery drones to compete with Amazon’s Prime Air   Hmmm … Apple buys Twitter consumer sentiment company Topsy for $200M+ – Apple just bought social media analytics company Topsy for over $200 million. Sources have confirmed the purchase to VentureBeat, and added that the Topsy team officially started work at Apple today.It’s not entirely clear why Apple bought a Twitter sentiment company. Apple, as usual, is not very forthcoming about its acquisitions, providing its standard PR response: ”Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” Topsy’s social media search engine is still functioning as of this moment, allowing you to “search and analyze the social web.” And it’s a very useful search engine as well, allowing you to sort Twitter search results by authority and relevance. One thing that’s interesting is that Topsy claims to be able to search all tweets since 2006, which means of course that it has access to Twitter’s firehose of data. Hmmm … Apple buys Twitter consumer sentiment company Topsy for $200M+   Google takes aim at Microsoft and Amazon with its Cloud Platform – Google is taking on Amazon, Microsoft, and the rest with a web hosting solution aimed at individuals and businesses. Although previously available to a select few, Google’s Compute Engine server platform is now available for everyone. Compute Engine forms part of the Google Cloud Platform, which now offers computing, storage, and application services that can underpin website and apps. In addition to announcing availability, Google also lowered the prices of Compute Engine and its storage solutions for general release. Google takes aim at Microsoft and Amazon with its Cloud Platform   Spotify tries to win...

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Top tech stories of the day for Monday 2 December 2013
Dec02

Top tech stories of the day for Monday 2 December 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Delivery drones are coming: Jeff Bezos previews half-hour shipping from Amazon – Jeff Bezos is nothing if not a showman. Amazon’s CEO loves a good reveal, and took the opportunity afforded by a 60 Minutes segment to show off his company’s latest creation: drones that can deliver packages up to five pounds, to your house in less than half an hour. They’re technically octocopters, as part of a program called “Amazon Prime Air.” A drone sits at the end of a conveyer belt, waiting to pick up a package — Bezos says 86 percent of Amazon’s packages are under five pounds — and can carry them up to ten miles from the fulfillment center. As soon as Amazon can work out the regulations and figure out how to prevent your packages from being dropped on your head from above, Bezos promised, there will be a fleet of shipping drones taking the sky. Delivery drones are coming: Jeff Bezos previews half-hour shipping from Amazon   Internet erupts in parody to Amazon’s proposed delivery drones – Depending on execution, parody can be one of the best or worst ways to get a message across. Today, we’ve seen examples of both lambasting Amazon Prime Air, the company’s new plan to use drones to deliver packages to your door. Twitter reacted with the usual mix of humor, disdain, and nitpicking, while one of Amazon’s regional rivals has created a parody video. Waterstones is one of the UK’s largest booksellers, and has unsurprisingly been affected by Amazon’s international success. This morning the retailer posted a press release and video informing the world that owls would now be delivering its books thanks to “O.W.L.S.”, the “Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service.” Internet erupts in parody to Amazon’s proposed delivery drones   The best of Cyber Monday Kindle Fire tablets: Amazon’s flagship Cyber Monday deal offers $50 off the price of the 7-inch and 8.9-inch model Kindle Fire HD and the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX. For context, that makes the: 7-inch 16GB Wi-Fi Kindle Fire HD $119, 7-inch 16GB Wi-Fi Kindle Fire HDX $179, 8.9-inch 16GB Wi-Fi Kindle Fire HD $229. Barnes & Noble Nooks: The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight drops from about $70 to $49 today while B&N extends the $39 Nook Simple Touch price announced on Black Friday. The best of Cyber Monday    Next Windows release reportedly codenamed ‘Threshold,’ set to further unify Microsoft operating systems – Microsoft’s on the threshold of something big — something that’s likely to make its three major operating systems even more similar. Queen of Microsoft leaks Mary Jo Foley has caught word from some unnamed contacts...

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Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 28 November 2013
Nov28

Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 28 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Shenzhen’s new airport terminal puts the wonder back into flight – Located just to the north of Hong Kong, Shenzhen enjoys the rare status of being a Special Economic Zone in the People’s Republic of China. Holding that designation for over three decades now, the area has become a breeding ground for small electronics businesses and a big attraction for foreign investment. With its rapid growth comes the need for improved infrastructure, which is why China is today inaugurating a third terminal to the local Bao’an International Airport. Designed by the Italian Studio Fuksas, Terminal 3 has been shaped to look like a manta ray, “a fish that breathes and changes its own shape, undergoes variations, [and] turns into a bird to celebrate the emotion and fantasy of a flight.” Shenzhen’s new airport terminal puts the wonder back into flight   Apple ditches product discounts in favor of gift cards for Black Friday – For several years, Apple has joined other retailers in discounting various products for Black Friday. Unfortunately for deal hunters, that’s not the case this year. When shoppers visit the company’s retail stores tomorrow, every Mac, iPad, and iPod will be at its regular price. Instead of lowering the cost of its hardware, the company has opted to include Apple Store gift cards with select purchases. The Australian online store is first to reflect the “deals” — which are available both online and in-store. Apple ditches product discounts in favor of gift cards for Black Friday   Stephen Elop’s rise to Microsoft CEO seen as ‘less likely’ – Microsoft appears to be narrowing its CEO search even further. The software maker previously reportedly shortlisted Ford CEO Alan Mulally, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Microsoft cloud boss Satya Nadella, and former Skype president Tony Bates. Bloomberg News now reports that Microsoft’s board is focusing on Mulally and Nadella. Bates and Elop are said to remain potential candidates, but they’re both “less likely” to be offered the position. While Mulally appears to be the favorite to succeed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, recent speculation suggests that the 68-year-old could be more of a “caretaker” CEO to guide Microsoft in the right direction before an internal candidate is ready to take over. Ford continues to dismiss the Mulally rumors. “There is no change from what we announced last November,” said a Ford spokesperson in a statement issued to Bloomberg News. “Alan remains completely focused on executing our One Ford plan. We do not engage in speculation.” Stephen Elop’s rise to Microsoft CEO seen as ‘less likely’   Smartphone-controlled Paper Airplane Kickstarter shatters...

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Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 27 November 2013
Nov27

Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 27 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Bitcoin hits $1,000 for the first time – The virtual currency Bitcoin, a decentralized form of money that approximates cash on the internet, has never been worth more. The price of a single bitcoin has soared above $1,000 on Mt. Gox, one of the main exchanges where the currency is bought and sold. As of this writing, the price is $1,020 on Mt. Gox but is averaging closer to $945 on other exchanges. This means the total market is worth around $11.4 billion. Bitcoin has seen several massive price hikes before which were all followed by crashes to varying degrees, but this is the most extreme yet. The valuation comes as several major events have boosted confidence in Bitcoin’s viability as a universal currency. Those include the closure of Silk Road, the illegal drug bazaar that initially gave the currency a bad name; the currency’s first Congressional hearing; and its rising popularity in China. Bitcoin hits $1,000 for the first time   Toy company pulls Beastie Boys ‘Girls’ parody video, says it wants to respect band’s wishes – Girls’ toy company GoldieBlox has removed a parody of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” after complaints from the band. Roughly a week ago, the company posted a YouTube promotion with a re-recorded, rewritten version of the song sung by a trio of girls as they set a complex Rube Goldberg machine into motion. But the band itself soon reached out to GoldieBlox, saying that the song was an infringement of their copyright, and GoldieBlox preemptively asked a court to declare it legal fair use. What happened next was a public relations firefight from which neither side escaped entirely unscathed, but a few days later, the case seems to have blown over: GoldieBlox has removed the song and said it will drop its court case at the behest of the Beastie Boys. Toy company pulls Beastie Boys ‘Girls’ parody video, says it wants to respect band’s wishes   NSA spied on porn habits of Muslim ‘radicalizers’ in effort to discredit them – The US National Security Agency reportedly spied on the online sexual activity of Muslim “radicalizers” as part of a plot to undermine their reputation and authority. The Huffington Postsays that the internet proclivities of six individuals were monitored in order to find “personal vulnerabilities” such as the viewing of pornographic material that could be exploited to “shape the perception of the messenger as well as that of his followers.” The information comes from NSA documents provided by whisteblower Edward Snowden. The documents were sent to officials in the NSA, Drug Enforcement Agency, and...

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Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 26 November 2013
Nov26

Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 26 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Google brings Street View inside more than 65 airports and train stations, calls it a ‘first effort’ – Foreign airports and train stations can often be confusing places to find your way around. Perhaps with that in mind, Google today launched an interactive map featuring Street Views of over 65 mass transit hubs. The map features some locations you may have already explored, like Emirates’ A380 or London’s Gatwick Airport, alongside some new sites across Europe, South America, and Asia. Today’s map is described as a first effort to map global transit locations, featuring 16 international airports, more than 50 train and subway stations, museums, and a Hong Kong cable car station. Google plans on adding more transit Street Views as it continues on its quest to map the world. Google brings Street View inside more than 65 airports and train stations, calls it a ‘first effort’   Major benchmarking service delists Samsung and HTC phones it suspects of cheating – Oh yes, things are really starting to kick off in the arcane world of smartphone benchmarking. First, there came clear evidence of phone makers manipulating scores in apps like AnTuTu and GFXBench, and now a more mainstream benchmarking company, Futuremark, has publicly delisted specific Samsung and HTC phones that it suspects of cheating. Major benchmarking service delists Samsung and HTC phones it suspects of cheating    Motorola now selling unlocked Moto G in the US – Motorola just gave Americans a surprise holiday gift: it’s now selling an unlocked version of the Moto G in the US. Starting today, you can purchase both 8GB ($179) and 16GB ($199) editions of the entry-level smartphone with HSPA+ data optimized either for most US carriers (including AT&T and T-Mobile) or for international travel. Motorola now selling unlocked Moto G in the US   The Beastie Boys don’t want their music in this girl-power parody ad – The parody music video is a staple of pop gender studies, but girl-focused toy company GoldieBlox is accused of crossing the line between commentary and commercial exploitation. In late November, the company posted a YouTube video taking aim at a homogeneous “pink and pretty” toy aisle, showing a trio of girls building a Rube Goldberg machine while singing a rewritten version of the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls.” But according to GoldieBlox, the band accused it of copyright infringement and called the unauthorized rewrite a “big problem,” leading GoldieBlox to preemptively ask for a court ruling on its legality. The Beastie Boys don’t want their music in this girl-power parody ad   Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition scores Android 4.4 KitKat...

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Top tech stories of the day for Monday 25 November 2013
Nov25

Top tech stories of the day for Monday 25 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Microsoft is fixing Skype messaging, ‘fun things’ planned for Windows Phone 8.1 – Ever since Microsoft started forcing Windows Live Messenger users over to Skype earlier this year, instant messaging on Windows has been somewhat painful. If you’re a frequent Skype user then you’ll be intimately familiar with the problems. Missed messages, out of sync messages, and blasts of old messages are all too frequent on the service at the moment, but Microsoft is vowing to fix the issues. In an interview with The Verge, Skype product manager Jeff Kunins admits Microsoft is aware of the problems and is working to address them very soon. They mainly stem from Microsoft’s transition from peer-to-peer networks for Skype to cloud-powered servers. Skype has traditionally been used for voice and video calling on desktop PCs, but as the world has moved to mobile Skype hasn’t adapted its own infrastructure quickly enough to handle multiple devices. Microsoft is fixing Skype messaging, ‘fun things’ planned for Windows Phone 8.1   Samsung’s Galaxy Grand 2 is the size of a Galaxy Note but lacks the stylus – The Galaxy Grand 2 is another big phone (5.25 inches this time), but while it might share the screen-size with the Galaxy Note family, there are a few hardware changes that make this smartphone more middleweight than flagship. There’s 8GB of base storage, with microSD expansion up to 64GB, no stylus and a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera that might not stand up to comparisons against the higher pixel-count shooters. The original Galaxy Grand housed a pretty limp 800 x 480 WVGA screen, but the sequel’s incrementally bigger screen cranks that up to a passable 720p. The phone will also arrive running Android 4.3, in white, black and pink color options. Samsung’s Galaxy Grand 2 is the size of a Galaxy Note but lacks the stylus   Uber aims to attract new drivers with Toyota and GM car discounts – Uber drivers that walk into a Toyota or General Motors dealership will get as much as $7,500 off their next car. According to a report today in the Wall Street Journal, the cab-hailing app is partnering with the two manufacturers to offer Uber drivers on-the-spot discounts and more favorable terms for financing on their next car purchase. The exact terms of the deal are still unclear, but apparently some driver’s have already taken Uber up on the offer. The piece highlights one driver, Alexandre Sandor, who purchased a new Cadillac XTS and received both a $7,500 rebate and low-interest financing through the program. Uber aims to attract new drivers with Toyota and...

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Top tech stories of the day for Friday 22 November 2013
Nov22

Top tech stories of the day for Friday 22 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. FCC reportedly proposing that passengers can use cellular service in mid-flight – While the FAA has cleared the use of electronics on US passenger airplanes at all stages of flight, there’s still one major restriction in place: you have to shut off all cellular access. That rule may not exist for much longer if the FCC has its way, according to sources for the Wall Street Journal. The agency will reportedly use its December meeting to propose letting passengers make phone calls and use cellular data whenever they’re flying above 10,000 feet. Don’t be too eager to start chatting in mid-air, though. FCC reportedly proposing that passengers can use cellular service in mid-flight   Dropbox releases major iOS 7 revamp with cleaner design and new features – Dropbox had been one of the biggest apps yet to receive a refresh in line with Apple’s radical iOS 7 visual style, but that changes today. First teased earlier in the month when Dropbox announced a host of features focused on business, version 3.0 brings a cleaner design, new blue-on-white icon, and improved iPad interface that lets you easily switch in and out of fullscreen mode with a single tap.  The app also supports iOS 7 features such as AirDrop, and Dropbox promises major speed improvements for viewing photos and playing back video. It’s available now in the App Store. Dropbox releases major iOS 7 revamp with cleaner design and new features   Gates Foundation announces grants to start building a better condom – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund research into next-generation condoms that people can use more effectively to reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. The foundation said it will award a pair $100,000 grants to researchers working on improving condoms, two of 81 grants it announced this week improve global health and development. One grant goes to Benjamin Strutt and a team from Cambridge Design Partnership in the United Kingdom, who are building a male condom out of a new composite material “that will provide a universal fit and is designed to gently tighten during intercourse, enhancing sensation and reliability,” the foundation said. Gates Foundation announces grants to start building a better condom   Some of iWork’s missing features return with the latest update – Some of the features culled during iWork’s 64-bit transition have reappeared with the productivity suite’s latest update. To start, Pages, Numbers and Keynote for OS X are regaining their sorely missed custom toolbars. Additionally, Apple’s Keynote presentation app for both desktop and iOS picks up a handful of new builds and slide transitions.  Oh, and of...

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Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 21 November 2013
Nov21

Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 21 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Snapchat’s CEO says his former friend ‘may deserve something’ for helping create the app – As Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel apparently holds out against generous acquisition offers, he and co-founder Bobby Murphy are also in a legal battle against a former friend who says he was shut out after coming up with the idea for the app. Reggie Brown attended Stanford University alongside Murphy and Spiegel, and he produced several documents showing that he had been involved in creating the original version of Snapchat — including a patent filing with his name on it. Murphy and Spiegel, however, say that he played little role in actually developing the app, even if he was present while they were building it. Snapchat’s CEO says his former friend ‘may deserve something’ for helping create the app   LG promises to stop your Smart TV spying on you – In light of accusations that its Smart TVs were sending private data to its servers, LG has admitted that some of its sets are behaving in ways they shouldn’t be. In a statement, the Korean manufacturer conceded that it has been collecting channel, TV platform and broadcast source data from some units, even when the feature was switched off. However, the company said that when the feature operates normally, it helps provide viewing recommendations to other LG Smart TV owners based on what they are watching. In response to claims it was also beaming over names of files located on connected USB keys, LG admits that it actually forms part of a service that searches the internet for detailed information on a particular film or TV show — although that has yet to launch. LG promises to stop your Smart TV spying on you   Sony’s SmartWig patent is a real head-scratcher – Most large tech companies are either making wearable devices, or at least showing an interest in them. Sony’s got a smartwatch, sure, but it’s bored of such “in-the-box” thinking. Either that, or someone at Sony’s been hitting the pipe, as the company’s trying to patent what it calls a “SmartWig” (yeah, seriously). The application describes a standard wig that could “be made from horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair or any kind of synthetic material,” with a circuit board hidden among those luscious locks. That board can talk to a “second computing device” wirelessly — such as a phone or even a pair of smartglasses — and actuators embedded in the hairpiece could “provide tactile feedback to the user.” In other words, the wig could vibrate when you receive emails and the...

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Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 20 November 2013
Nov20

Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 20 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Three US Senators denounce unnecessary NSA phone surveillance – A trio of Democrat Senators sitting on the US Select Committee on Intelligence has expressed its disapproval of the NSA’s bulk surveillance of US citizens’ phone calls. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Martin Heinrich from New Mexico all agree — having reviewed confidential information that their Committee status grants them access to — that the mass invasion of privacy is not justified by the intel gained from it. In their own words, they “have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records … is uniquely necessary to the national security of the United States.” Three US Senators denounce unnecessary NSA phone surveillance   Microsoft Store Black Friday 2013 deals – Microsoft’s physical retail presence is still growing, but thankfully the company’s web store should make taking advantage of its Black Friday specials a bit easier. The sale kicks off at midnight EST November 28th, and Microsoft is discounting a number of PCs, video games, and its own Surface tablets. We’ve collected some of the highlights below, and Microsoft says that all orders include free shipping. Microsoft Store Black Friday 2013 deals   ‘League of Legends’ eSports finals watched by 32 million people – Riot Games has claimed that its largest eSports event yet, the League of LegendsSeason 3 World Championship broadcast over Twitch livestream on October 4th, was watched by 32 million people, 8.5 million of whom were watching at the same time. The numbers shatter previous records for eSports viewership, and show that video game streams can rival TV in terms of scale and reach. The figures show a tremendous leap inLeague of Legends viewers in the past year: 2012’s Season 2 LoL World Championship — the previous record holder for most watched eSports event — was seen by a total of 8.2 million people, with 1.1 million streaming the event at the same time. ‘League of Legends’ eSports finals watched by 32 million people LetsEat.at Percentage of traffic to restaurant websites that is mobile, 2009-2013. Small business websites might as well go 100% mobile in 2014 – Mobile devices are approaching half the traffic coming to restaurant websites — a sign that small businesses need to get smart about mobile website design. According to Goro Harumi, the founder of LetsEat, a website builder for restaurants, the average percentage of traffic to restaurant sites has risen from 3 percent fours years ago to 43 percent today. On weekends, the number approaches 50%. “2014 could be the first year many business owners opt to skip desktop website designs and go 100%...

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Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 19 November 2013
Nov19

Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 19 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Pirate Bay cofounder: ‘you can’t beat politics with new technology all the time – Peter Sunde, one of the cofounders of The Pirate Bay, is one of the most politically outspoken of the site’s original creators. As the former spokesperson for the torrent site, he was an early member of Sweden’s Piratebyrån and is currently running for for a seat in the European Parliament as a member of Sweden’s Pirate Party. It should thus come as no surprise that he is a believer in political action. In an interview with Wired UK, Sunde goes so far as to say that believing in technology without political change is “a bit disgusting.” In the interview, Sunde rails against the arrogance of those looking for technological evolution instead of political revolutions. “Sometimes,” he tells Wired UK,” you have to actually make sure that politics are in line with what people want.” He goes on to talk about how police corruption isn’t solved with file encryption. “You actually need to go somewhere and vote and make sure you don’t have corrupt police,” he says. Pirate Bay cofounder: ‘you can’t beat politics with new technology all the time   Google celebrates 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address with digital exhibit – Google has collected a series of online exhibits focused on Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address — his famously concise speech reflecting on the Civil War as a test of America’s founding principles — which was delivered 150 years ago today. Though the address is famed for its eloquence, scholars aren’t sure of exactly what Lincoln said that day: there are five versions of the manuscript, each of them differing slightly. High-resolution copies of each version are now available on Google, which has even set two of them side-by-side so  you can explore the differences. Google celebrates 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address with digital exhibit   Firefox previews near-final Australis interface with curved tabs, streamlined controls – Firefox has been talking up Australis, its next-gen browser interface, for quite some time now, and that celestial-sounding update has just landed on Firefox Nightly. Yes, finally curious users can test it out and evaluate the experience as Firefox gets closer to the final version. Per a video preview on the Mozilla blog, one of the most immediately obvious changes with Australis is a new, curvier tab shape (like a rounded take on Chrome’s style). Firefox also designed the forward button to only appear when you hover over it, and the tool bar has been streamlined, with the bulk of browser settings accessible via a menu on the right-hand side. Firefox says Australis will offer “consistency...

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Top tech stories of the day for Monday 18 November 2013
Nov18

Top tech stories of the day for Monday 18 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Steve Ballmer’s biggest Microsoft blunder: He was just too slow – Apple released the first iPhone in 2007. Microsoft’s Windows Phone didn’t appear until 2010. That alone should tell you all you need to know about Microsoft’s biggest issue over the last decade: Despite record revenues, the company’s been far too slow to respond to the rise of new product categories. And Steve Ballmer is taking some responsibility for that: He was too slow. “No matter how fast I want to change, there will be some hesitation from all constituents—employees, directors, investors, partners, vendors, customers, you name it—to believe I’m serious about it, maybe even myself,” the outgoing CEO told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview. Steve Ballmer’s biggest Microsoft blunder: He was just too slow   Bitcoin-powered assassination market targets Obama, Bernanke, and others – Bitcoin has long been accused of aiding money-laundering, but today it’s been implicated in a more grisly business: assassination. In Forbes, Andy Greenberg details a site called Assassination Market, which offers up crowdfunded bounties for the murder of public figures. As previously reported in The Daily Dot, the site is primarily motivated by hostility to overreaching government, offering bounties ranging from 40 bitcoin for President Obama to a whopping 124 bitcoin for outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke. At current bitcoin rates, that would add up to over $70,000. Bitcoin-powered assassination market targets Obama, Bernanke, and others   Google code reveals work on burst mode and face detection for Android cameras – Google appears to be working on a series of improvements for cameras on Android, including burst mode, face detection, and the ability to work with RAW photos. The possible new camera features were spotted in the public Android source code by Josh Brown and Ars Technica, and they appear to have been in the works since December 2012. The updates would be part of a camera API that any manufacturer could tap into, allowing all Android phones to take advantage of these additions. While Google may have been aiming to ship these changes in KitKat, it appears that they weren’t ready in time. In October, the updated camera API was removed from the upcoming release code with the note, “Not yet ready.” Google code reveals work on burst mode and face detection for Android cameras   NSA phone-tracking case blocked by Supreme Court – This morning, the Supreme Court declined to hear an NSA-challenging case brought forward by privacy group EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center). The case would have been the first major NSA case to have been brought before the Supreme Court, targeting the FISA court order for...

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Top tech stories of the day for Friday 15 November 2013
Nov15

Top tech stories of the day for Friday 15 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. With plans starting at $5, Republic Wireless looks more ‘un-carrier’ than T-Mobile – Republic Wireless — a unique service that operates off of Sprint’s network but saves money by offloading calls and texts to Wi-Fi whenever possible — has launched the Moto X today for $299 off-contract. It’s a great price (Sprint sells its Moto X outright for $549.99), and it marks the first time a well-reviewed, reasonably high-end phone has been offered by the company. Republic’s also debuting a new set of plans alongside the Moto X that start at $5 for unlimited Wi-Fi calling and texting without any cell service, all the way up to $40 for full-fledged unlimited LTE. Odds are good you haven’t heard of Republic Wireless; its phones aren’t sold in any brick and mortar stores, and it only started offering service (initially as a beta with a waitlist) a couple of years ago. With plans starting at $5, Republic Wireless looks more ‘un-carrier’ than T-Mobile   Nokia’s Lumia 2520 tablet available at AT&T on November 22nd for $399.99 – Nokia’s Lumia 2520 tablet is launching on AT&T next week. The Finnish smartphone maker revealed today that the tablet will debut on November 22nd, the same day as its 6-inch Lumia 1520 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, for $399.99 at AT&T. There’s no word yet on pricing or availability on Verizon, despite Nokia showing off branded versions of the Lumia 2520 at last month’s Nokia World in Abu Dhabi. Nokia’s first tablet combines a 10.1-inch 1080p display with a keyboard cover that makes it look rather like Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet in the photos Nokia has supplied today. The company is shipping the Lumia 2520 with LTE onboard, a large 8,000 mAh battery, and a 6.7-megapixel rear camera. Nokia is also bundling in some Windows 8 apps of its own, including HERE maps, a camera app, and its Storyteller image application. Nokia’s Lumia 2520 tablet available at AT&T on November 22nd for $399.99   eBay, having exhausted your attic’s inventory, now aims to fix up your everything – The new local service marketplace, eBay Hire, has launched a U.S. beta pilot that is currently open only to service providers as it builds up its supply of services. The company is integrating Hire into its general ecosystem, so that a provider’s profile can be shown on relevant product search results. A freelance soccer coach, for instance, could be featured in an eBay Hire sidebar when one searches on the site for “soccer gear.” During this beta period, no fees or commissions will be charged to providers, but once...

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Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 14 November 2013
Nov14

Top tech stories of the day for Thursday 14 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Judge rules against authors in Google Books copyright infringement case – Google’s Books project, which has indexed millions of titles and made them available online, hasn’t always been on completely solid legal footing. After all, Books operates without the permission of authors, which has understandably drawn some ire from copyright holders, not to mention other web giants. Well, a federal ruling handed down today gives strong backing to Google’s digitizing efforts: U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by an author group against Google. Judge rules against authors in Google Books copyright infringement case   Coin stores multiple credit card info, aims to slim your wallet down (video) – What you see in the picture above promises to be the one credit card to rule them all. It’s called Coin, and while it looks like any other traditional plastic, it’s actually an electronic device that stores all your CC info in one package. Since Coin relies on data stored on its companion app, you’ll need to scan your cards using the accompanying phone/tablet dongle and then take their pictures. When we asked its creators what prevents people from scanning someone else’s plastics, a spokesperson told us the system only accepts those with the user’s personal information. Now here’s what’s nifty: unlike NFC tech that requires special hardware, Coin will work with any credit card swiper. Also, it sends an alert to your phone if you stroll away with your frappuccino having left it on the counter. Coin stores multiple credit card info, aims to slim your wallet down (video)   ASUS plans new smartphone and Chromebook launches for early 2014 – ASUS’ bread and butter is in the PC business, so as growth dwindles, it’s got to reinvent itself elsewhere. According to the Taipei Times, the company is set to introduce its first line of Chromebooks and a number of new smartphones early next year. We’ll likely see new handsets at CES 2014 in January, possibly including the 5-inch MeMOFone, followed by new 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch Chrome OS-powered notebooks (said to be priced at $199 and $249 respectively) later in the quarter. ASUS previously teased Haswell Chromebooks at Intel’s Developer Forum in September, where it also showed off its new lightweight Chromebox PC. Further down the line, ASUS will become the latest entrant into the wearable market — we’ll apparently get to see what it’s been working on at Computex in June. ASUS plans new smartphone and Chromebook launches for early 2014   iWork for iCloud update brings those collaborative tools we’ve been waiting for – We’re not...

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Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 13 November 2013
Nov13

Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 13 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Motorola unveils the Moto G, its new colorful and affordable Android phone – For the sum-total of 13 days, Google’s Nexus 5 has been without doubt the best value Android phone on offer. Today, Motorola — famously part of Google — has potentially stolen that title with the official reveal of the Motorola Moto G Android smartphone. A quick tour of the specifications — the 4.5-inch/720p screen, Android 4.3, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 8GB of storage and a 5-megapixel camera – might initially suggest it’s no threat to the Nexus’ universally superior artillery. Motorola unveils the Moto G, its new colorful and affordable Android phone   Google opens education-only Play store – Granted, they missed the back-to-school season by a couple of months, but now appears to be the time to launch educational initiatives. Yesterday, MakerBot offered up some pomp and circumstance for its Academy offering, working to make 3D printing more accessible for public schools. Today, Google’s opening up an education-themed version of Play, designed specifically for K-12 schools. The store offers bulk purchasing for classes and and districts, which should be a pretty solid enticement for devs attempting to break into the education market. Google opens education-only Play store   Smooth operators: why phone companies don’t fight the NSA – Last week, the New York Times unearthed a troubling twist to the endless stream of bad surveillance news. Not only is AT&T handing over bulk call records to the CIA, but they’re getting paid for it, to the tune of $10 million each year. In a statement in response, AT&T said only, “we ensure that we maintain customer information in compliance with the laws of the United States,” emphasizing the law and giving little reassurance to customers that the company was looking out for them. Ten million dollars is chicken feed to AT&T, of course; its profits are currently running a little over a billion dollars a month, with revenue triple that. It’s more the principle of the thing. If the company handling all the traffic in and out of your phone is literally on the government payroll, it’s hard to expect them to be on your side. Smooth operators: why phone companies don’t fight the NSA   Netflix introduces one unified TV interface to rule them all – Watch Netflix instant streaming on your television and you know what content you’ll get — but you likely won’t know how you’ll find it. Whether it’s the PlayStation 3, Roku, or the Apple TV, every flavor of Netflix is slightly different, creating interface and feature fragmentation that’s in stark contrast to the...

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Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 12 November 2013
Nov12

Top tech stories of the day for Tuesday 12 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Retina iPad mini is now available, prices start at $399 – Sure the iPad Air is thin, light and has amazing battery life, but the arrival of its smaller cousin is about to make your choice more difficult. Apple’s upgraded 8-inch slate, the Retina iPad mini, is now available in the US, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and China. According to an internal Apple document posted by MacRumors, while the first six locations are getting both WiFi and cellular models, mainland China will have to make do with the WiFi-only variant. Retina iPad mini is now available, prices start at $399   Nokia and Samsung say they can’t track powered-down phones despite NSA claims – Earlier this year, The Washington Post claimed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had developed a method nine years ago to locate cellphones when they were powered-down. The publication didn’t provide technical details on the software or hardware involved, leaving security researchers puzzled by the revelations. Seeking clarification on the technologies invoked, British privacy watchdog Privacy International conducted a survey of eight cellphone manufacturers in August to obtain details on how it would be possible to track a cellphone once it’s turned off. Nokia and Samsung say they can’t track powered-down phones despite NSA claims    Upp is a $199 hydrogen fuel cell for USB devices that lets you fill up instead of plugging in – Hydrogen fuel cells have been helping astronauts for nearly half a century already, so it’s about time they became small enough — and cheap enough — to be of use to everyone else. That’s exactly what Intelligent Energy claims to have achieved with its the latest fuel cell system, called the “Upp.” At 500 grams and with a retail price of $199, it’s not meant to compete with regular lithium ion battery packs – in fact, the Upp behaves very differently. Upp is a $199 hydrogen fuel cell for USB devices that lets you fill up instead of plugging in   Some drones can kill you, this one could save your life – An Iranian research lab has created a drone to save people drowning at sea. Developed by Tehran-based RTS Lab, Pars is a multirotor drone that is designed to carry and drop floatation aids to people in trouble. First conceptualized only a year ago, Pars is now a functioning prototype that recently underwent testing in the Caspian Sea. Located around 100 miles from Tehran, the Caspian has bore witness to a number of drownings over the years, including an unfortunate incident earlier this year that saw six...

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Top tech stories of the day for Monday 11 November 2013
Nov11

Top tech stories of the day for Monday 11 November 2013

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Amazon starts delivering packages on Sundays in new US Postal Service deal –  Amazon has announced a partnership with the US Postal Service that will see the retailer deliver packages on Sundays from now on. The program is rolling out first to customers in the New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, but the company plans to extend it to cities including Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix in 2014. “As online shopping continues to increase, the Postal Service is very happy to offer shippers like Amazon the option of having packages delivered on Sunday,” said USPS CEO Patrick R. Donahue in a press release; it’s unclear whether the service will make similar arrangements with other clients. Amazon starts delivering packages on Sundays in new US Postal Service deal   Apple reportedly working on bigger, curved-glass iPhones with pressure sensitivity – A report from Bloomberg this morning claims that Apple is in development on a pair of larger iPhones at 4.7 and 5.5 inches. That in itself isn’t news — rumors of iPhones larger than the current four inches have been in the mill for years — but the report also says that these devices will incorporate glass that curves at the edge. The company is said to also be experimenting with touchscreens that can detect different levels of pressure, but the technology may not make it into this first batch of devices, which Bloomberg’s source believes will debut in the third quarter of next year. Apple reportedly working on bigger, curved-glass iPhones with pressure sensitivity   This script shows you how Facebook ranks all your friends – Have you ever wondered how Facebook ranks your friends for you? The company keeps a score for everyone you interact with on the social network. This affects the order of results when you start typing a name into the search box, the people that appear in your Friends pane when someone visits your profile, whose content shows up in your News Feed, and pretty much any list that displays who you interact with on the site. To put this in layman’s terms, Facebook tracks who you stalk and who stalks you. This script shows you how Facebook ranks all your friends   Senator McCain calls for NSA chief Alexander to ‘resign or be fired’ – Keith Alexander is having a bad few months. The NSA chief is already reportedly leaving the agency early next year, but for some in Congress, that’s apparently not soon enough. In an interview with Der Spiegel on Sunday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said Alexander should “resign or be fired” over his role...

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