Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the Mobile World Congress today, saying that there needs to be some "pretty dramatic changes" to help to get more people online, pointing out that most people in the world simply do not have access to the internet. The Facebook founder has already launched Internet.org with a view to getting more people online around the globe and this is referred to as an "an on-ramp to the internet" -- he wants to get a billion people online in the next five years.
Zukerberg's goal is fairly simple. He feels that there are a number of basic services -- he mentions weather and messaging specifically -- that everyone should have access to, and this is what Internet.org provides. He admits that Facebook is not able to connect everyone without help, and suggested the possibility of working with more partners in the future. It seems as though this is a venture that Zuckerberg has taken a broad view with. At the moment it is a venture that is losing money, but this is not an example of martyrdom: "If we do something good for the world, eventually we'll find a way to benefit from it".
There have been a lot of interesting announcements made at MWC this year, and HP is one of several companies making it clear that business users have not been forgotten. The new HP ProPad 600 has been unveiled alongside an upgraded HP ElitePad 1000 G2, and both have been designed with mobile computing in mind.
Both tablets run Windows 8.1 and the ElitePad 1000 G2 picks up where the HP ElitePad 900 G1 left off. The hardware is impressive enough, but there is a strong focus on battery life and portability.
There's already a lot of news coming out of the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, and Sony is using the 2014 event to launch the latest additions to the Xperia range. The Xperia Z2 is a waterproof handset that is being billed as "the world’s best camera and camcorder". This is a claim backed by the inclusion of a 20.7 MP sensor, a 5.2 inch HD screen and the ability to capture video in 4K. Sound is recorded with digital noise canceling, and image stabilization is borrowed from Sony's existing range of camcorders and can reduce ambient noise by up to 98 percent.
The phone is driven by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 2.3 GHz quad-core Krait CPU as well as the Adreno 330 GPU. To ensure maximum shooting time, Sony saw fit to include a 3200 mAh battery, and power-saving technology is used to automatically switch off any phone features that are not being used.
Whether you're looking for a phone whose battery will last all day, a handset that can push pixels around the screen faster than others, or looks are more important to you, Lenovo is hoping to sway your custom its way with the latest additions to the S-series range of smartphones. Starting at the cheaper end of the scale, the S660 is set to cost $229 and is aimed at "value seekers". Packing a 4.7 inch screen, the handset's key selling point is the battery life, but the brushed metal finish is sure to turn some heads as well.
Moving up market slightly, we come to the S850 which has been built for "fashion-conscious users". The 5 inch screen is found on the front of a thin and light body which is available -- interestingly -- in a choice of pink or white, and will set buyers back $269. The phone is driven by a MTK quad-core processor and with 13 MP rear and 5 MP front cameras, this is a device that looks set to impress with its all-glass exterior.
Another week, another spate of security related news. In the latest of a recent run of high-profile hacks, Kickstarter announced that it had been hacked, and it was discovered that ASUS routers could be sharing files with more people than users intended. Google is looking to bolster online security with its latest acquisition -- audio-based authentication outfit SlickLogin, while Microsoft's latest partnership with DocuSign looks set to make digital signatures in Office simpler and more secure. If you were under the impression that app security was generally increasing, think again; a new study shows that an almost unbelievable 96 percent of applications have security issues.
Brian got his hands on the Lenovo Miix 2 and was reasonably impressed by what he saw. He also unboxed the much touted Nokia Lumia Icon and found it to be not dissimilar to the 928 -- no bad thing. Anyone looking for an entry-level 4G smartphone now has the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Core LTE to look forward to, complete with "Jelly Bean Plus".
Publishing its Application Vulnerability Trends Report, Cenzic states that virtually all of the applications it tested had at least one security vulnerability. A staggering 96 percent of apps exhibited security issues, and it looks as though things are on a downward spiral.
In a similar report published last year, it was found that the median number of flaws was 13; this year it has increased to 14. So it appears as though things are getting worse... but is this the full story?
Ten days ago, the PlayStation 4 passed something of a landmark -- selling 5.3 million units. Figures also show that the PS4 was the top selling console in the US in January. Hitting the number one spot is based on data from NPD Group, while the overall sales numbers come from Sony's own record of sales in North America and Latin America, as well as in Europe and Asia.
Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc said "I am thrilled that so many customers around the globe have continued to select PS4 as the best place to play throughout and beyond the holiday season. We are delighted that according to the NPD Group's latest data, PS4 was January's top-selling console in the United States. The PS4 system's momentum just keeps growing stronger".
Google is delving into its wallet once again, fishing out a little cash and going on a spending spree. This time around, it is Israeli startup SlickLogin that is being put in the shopping cart. You may not have heard of the company, and that’s because its services haven't even launched yet, but it is looking to revolutionize two-factor authentication. Additional layers of security are being added by every website worth its salt, and SlickLogin has an interesting alternative to the traditional password.
Like many other two-factor security systems, this makes use of smartphones -- but in a somewhat different way. Rather than generating a unique code that is emailed out and needs to be typed into a website, SlickLogin is audio-based. A unique sound is generated and played through a computer's speakers. So far, so weird. To make things more interesting, and probably more secure, the sound is inaudible thanks to being ultra-sonic, and an app on a smartphone placed near the speaker picks up the sound and completes the authentication process.
It seems to be hacking season at the moment, with new high profile victims hitting the headlines just about every day. The latest target is Kickstarter. The website, which exists to help projects raise the funds they need to get off the ground, was hacked on Wednesday, but details of the attack -- along with an apology -- have only just been made public. If you're wondering why is has taken so many days for Kickstarter to speak out, the company has pre-empted your question and supplied a FAQ: "We immediately closed the breach and notified everyone as soon we had thoroughly investigated the situation".
In a statement on the Kickstarter website CEO Yancey Strickler explained that the company had been contacted by law enforcement officials and alerted to the activity of hackers. It's not clear what users are likely to find more alarming, the fact that the site was hacked in the first place, or the fact that it was not Kickstarter that noticed, but a third party.
It is usually Bill Gates who is heralded for his philanthropy, but according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, it is Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg who is currently the most generous. In another change from the norm, malware threats to OS X, Linux and Android have increased, showing it is not just Windows that is prone to attack. As if to prove this, Mac malware has been discovered that has been designed to steal Bitcoins from victims. Factor in all of Apple's devices and the company managed to sell more units than Windows PCs are sold, although this revelation caused quite some debate.
Twitter found itself in the headlines after the James Dean estate tried to gain control of a fan's James Dean-related account. Twitter has already spoken out about the shackles binding companies from being open about government data requests -- companies are practically falling over themselves to add their names to the list -- and Dropbox is in agreement. The European Commission has expressed a desire to wrestle some control of the internet from US hands voicing fears that too much influence was being exerted,
The world of VoIP services is one packed with various names bustling for attention. One of the biggest names in the game is Viber, which started small but grew impressively as it spread across platforms -- now it has grown to the point that it is deemed worthy of handing over $900 million. At least that is the view of Rakuten, the Japanese firm behind Play.com and the Kobo eReader that agreed to part with this not insubstantial sum of money for an outright purchase of Viber Media Ltd.
With around 280 million registered users, Viber could be quite a money-maker for Rakuten who explained that the service has a "rapidly growing numbers of users, especially in emerging countries". With its fingers already in various online pies -- ebooks, shopping and streaming media through Wuaki.tv -- Viber represents yet another string to Rakuten's bow as the company "aims to be the global number one internet services" provider.
Very little has been said about sales figures for Windows 8 of late, but today Tami Reller, Microsoft's executive vice president of Marketing outed the most recent number of sales during a webcast. Reller revealed that 200 million Windows 8 licenses have now been sold. This is an impressive increase from the last sales figures of 100 million back in May 2013, but sales of the latest version of Microsoft's operating system remain slower than its predecessors.
The 200 million licenses do not include volume license sales, but the number does include sales to the public as well as those to OEMs. A doubling of sales in under a year is not to be sniffed at, but it will probably do little to calm the vocal groups keen to bash Windows 8's success. Ultimately the speed of sales is still a little slow. While more than 40 million licenses were sold in the month after Windows 8's release, this was not sustained.
Time capsules are a cool idea, and they're something many of us put together at school. A box, tin, jar or other container to house keepsakes, momentos, favorites things and other objects that capture the zeitgeist. After 1983's International Design Conference in Aspen, Colorado, the organizer decided to create a time capsule on a larger scale -- a 13 foot pipe that looked a little like a torpedo. Into it were a range of goodies from attendees and presenters. Steve Jobs threw his Apple Lisa mouse and the capsule was dubbed the Steve Jobs Time Capsule.
The plan was to unearth it in the year 2000 -- that iconic year that was seen to hold such promise and power before it arrived -- but it was lost thanks to a combination of landscaping, poor memory and a lack of mapping. The TV show Diggers brought the capsule above ground for the first time in 30 years back in September, but video footage of the excavation has only just been released.
Apple overtakes Microsoft! That’s not a headline you'd expect to read, and when you look at sales of Macs versus Windows desktops, Macs and Windows laptops, or any combination of these, it is Windows devices that are always going to come out on top. But look at things from a different angle and it is a very different story. In Q4 2013, the number of Apple devices sold exceeded the number of Windows PCs sold around the world.
This is an interesting demonstration of the notion that mobile devices are very much on the increase. Compared to Windows PCs, Macs account for a very small percentage of computer sales, but once sales of iPads, iPods and iPhones are factored in, Apple overtakes PCs -- not by much, but it is still significant. It is also worth noting that while Windows Phone is widely derided for poor sales, once these smartphones are included, Windows devices return to the top of the charts -- but again, not by much.
According to figures released by International Data Corporation (IDC), 2013 was the year that smartphones really took off -- a staggering 1 billion units shipped. As has been the case for some time, it is Android and iOS that continue to dominate, with Google's mobile operating system claiming a 78.1 percent market share, and Apple's 17.6 percent. As has been the norm, Windows Phone found itself in third place, although it did manage to increase its market share to 3 percent.
The figures are based on shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013, and when compared to the same period in 2012, Android and Windows Phone both made gains while iOS lost some of its market share. Jumping from 70.3 percent of the market in 2012, Android's growth was impressive, while iOS dropped 3.3 percentage points from 20.9 percent. Looked at in terms of percentage points, Windows Phone's jump from 2.6 to 3.0 percent of the market, it still represents an improvement of more than 13 percent.