It's a fact that most software has bugs of some sort when it gets released. More significant are fundamental flaws in the design, yet whilst bugs generally get fixed, design flaws are often overlooked.
In an effort to address this professionals organization IEEE is bringing together leading figures from Google, HP, Twitter and Cigital to form a Center for Secure Design group with the aim of tackling serious design flaws in software.
Let's cut to the chase. No, they shouldn't. The iPhone used to be exciting and interesting. It used to be aspirational and high-end. Now the world and his dog has an Apple handset and it's turned from something special into a poor substitute for one of the countless alternatives. This is not to say that the popularity of the device in itself makes it less appealing, but it certainly seems to have made Apple lazy. Innovation has gone out of the window. We've had the same design for the handset for what seems like an eternity. It looks as though there might be something of a change in style this time around, but is this really enough to make the iPhone exciting -- or even interesting -- once again?
By far the biggest problem with the iPhone is the lack of choice. While Android users (and even Windows Phone fans) have a huge number of handsets to choose from, the same cannot be said of those sucking on Apple's teat. Things did improve slightly when the 2013 iPhones were released, but you're still stuck, essentially, with two phones to choose from -- the really expensive over-hyped one, or the pale imitation wannabe version. Some choice. To be clear… I've been an iPhone owner. It's a functional phone, but Christ it's dull.
The point of any chat system is to make it easier to communicate with others. This is something that Google Hangouts has singularly failed at, for one reason. Rather than making it obvious which of your contacts are online, it has -- up until now -- displayed a chronological list of the conversations you have held with people. This is about to change. Rolling out over the next few days, is an update which will see your online contact move to the top of your chat buddy list.
This might seem like a small change, but it's one that has been requested for some time now. Google seemingly thought that the tried and true way of ordering contacts was due for a shakeup -- now we know that the experiment didn’t really pay off. There's another new feature to play with as well. Just as Chrome -- and other browsers -- make it possible to pin frequently used tabs so they are always available, now Hangouts users will be given the opportunity to pin contacts to the top of their buddy list.
Google unveils Google Slides for Android and iOS, view and edit Google Drive-hosted presentations offline
Both apps provide users with an option for downloading presentations to their devices for editing and viewing while offline. The iOS version is accompanied by updates to both Google Docs for iOS and Google Sheets for iOS that allow users to edit Word and Excel files.
In California, a bill has been passed that will require smartphone manufacturers to include a kill switch in their handsets. The bill states that "any smartphone, as defined, that is manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, include a technological solution at the time of sale, which may consist of software, hardware, or both software and hardware, that, once initiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can render inoperable the essential features, as defined, of the smartphone to an unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession of an authorized user". It's a lengthy description, but it means the kill switch that many people have been asking for for so long is becoming a reality in another state.
This is not the first time a kill switch bill has been passed -- Minnesota did something similar back in May. The SB 926, Leno Smartphones bill in California is rather more far-reaching and comes partly in response to the statistic that between 30 and 40 percent of robberies in major US cities are smartphone robberies. Once activated, the kill switch will prevent a phone from being registered on a wireless network, and cannot be bypassed even with a hard reset. In the event of theft, a user will also be able to remotely wipe their device to protect any private information they may have stored on it.
Google’s Drive for Work storage product is seeing 1,800 new businesses sign up every week as enterprises continue to come around to the secure storage and collaboration option that it offers.
A blog post by Scott Johnston, director of product management at Google Drive, explained that the $10 (£6) per user per month package has been popular across a number of industries since it was launched just two months ago.
The subject of US journalist James Foley's recent beheading is obviously a sensitive one, but Twitter's decision to suspend the account of users sharing the video made it about censorship as well as politics. As you are no doubt aware by now, Foley was kidnapped in Syria a couple of years ago, held captive, and on Tuesday a video was released by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It shows Foley kneeling on the ground, reading from a script before a masked captor draws a knife, and executes him. It is grisly, horrific, depressing, heart-wrenching, and real. It spread like wildfire across YouTube, Twitter, and countless websites, but it wasn't long before censorship was seen.
YouTube quickly removed the video, but this did not stem the flow. Copies of the video were hosted elsewhere and then posted to Twitter, as were stills from the footage. This is when Twitter stepped in. Posts containing the images or video were removed, and accounts suspended. Dick Costolo, Twitter's CEO, tweeted:
Researchers from the University of California Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have identified a weakness in Android which allows personal data to be obtained from apps.
Tested against seven popular apps the method was between 82 and 92 percent successful on six of them, only Amazon with a 48 percent success rate proved more difficult to crack. Most vulnerable were Gmail and H&R Block at 92 percent, followed by Newegg (86 percent), WebMD (85 percent), CHASE Bank (83 percent) and Hotels.com (83 percent).
Chromebooks are amazing computers. Part of the genius of Google's Chrome OS is its lack of freedom; a seemingly crazy statement, I know. You see, users cannot install software locally, which in turn, also blocks viruses and malware. In other words, limitations become a strength from a security standpoint. However, sometimes the limitations of the OS are not a positive, but a negative.
For business users in particular, using Chrome web apps exclusively is a non-starter. Sure, some small business users can get by, but many large companies rely on specialized software -- mostly for Windows. Today, Windows programs come to Chromebooks -- sort of. Google announces that Citrix Receiver is coming to Chrome OS. Will this massively disrupt the business market?
There are many parts of the internet that are blocked to children under the age of 13. Facebook, for instance, implements an age restriction and Google is another online firm that prevents younger web users from setting up accounts. But all this could be set to change. First reported by The Information, Google has plans to open up its service to a younger audience. This does not mean that youngsters will be free to sign up for an account and browse through the contents of YouTube without restrictions. Parents will be able to sign their children up for an account and retain control over what they are able to do online.
One of the primary concerns many people have about Google -- regardless of their age -- is privacy. Google has a proven track record in delivering tailored content and advertisements to its users, and this is something that is at odds with laws around the world when it comes to children. The news coincides with UK plans to experiment with age ratings for online videos, and privacy and child protection groups are already voicing their concerns. Of course, there is nothing to stop someone of any age from signing up for a Google account; it's easy to stretch the truth with dates of birth online. But Google specifically targeting children with its services is unchartered water.
Air conditioning is one of the greatest inventions of all mankind. As a fat guy, I love keeping my house like an igloo. However, as great as being cool is, conditioned air takes some of the fun out of summer. As someone who grew up without air conditioning, I learned to appreciate having an open window and enjoying the sounds and smells of the season. Crickets chirping, thunder in the distance, and the smell of fresh-cut grass are lost when you shut the windows and turn on the artificial cool air.
While I am too far gone to ever return to life without an air conditioner, I am still quite conscious of the extremely high electric bill that it causes. Today, Big Ass Fans, a fan manufacturer, announces that one of its fans, the Haiku with SenseME, can now work with the Nest thermostat to lower bills. If this fan can give me big ass savings, I'm all for it!
As a Linux user and lover, I prefer Android smartphones to iOS. While I love the freedom and functionality of Google's mobile operating system, there is one thing I hate -- the UI. That is a pretty big deal and usually a deal-breaker for a consumer. However, I put up with the dreary UI and clunky app drawer because I can customize it with different launchers, wallpapers and icon packs. While this is passable, I long for a redesign to mimic something similar to iOS 7. I crave beauty and art, but alas, Google seems disinterested in doing anything radical -- Android L "Material Design" seems too safe and boring.
The design savior for many years has been the Chinese-born ROM, MIUI; however, as more and more devices ship with impossibly hard-to-hack locked bootloaders, the gorgeous ROM has not been ported to as many devices; even unofficially. And so, users have been limited to MIUI-styled launchers, but not the full experience. Excitingly, MIUI 6 is now released in beta form, but sadly, most Android users will not be able to flash the beta, or the final version for that matter. This locked bootloader nonsense is a tragedy, as MIUI 6 is sexy as hell and puts Google's vision of Android to shame.
The current uproar around various facets of data collection and use -- be it "the right to be forgotten" or the emergency data legislation being considered by Prime Minister David Cameron in the UK -- is divisive to say the least.
If your only source of information is the mainstream press, you’d be forgiven for thinking it comes down to two immiscible sides of an argument. On one side there’s the posited right for governments and people to access whatever information they need, whenever they need it. On the other side are those who believe that they have an absolute right to privacy, whatever the threats governments say we’re facing.
Google’s Safe Browsing service protects users from malicious websites and warns against potentially dangerous downloads in Chrome. According to Google, over three million download warnings are being viewed every week, and because it’s available for other browsers, this technology is helping to keep 1.1 billion people safe.
From next week, Google says it will be protecting users from additional malicious software, delivering warnings whenever you attempt to download something that might try and make unwanted changes to your browser or computer.
"The step after ubiquity is invisibility," Al Mandel used to say and it’s true. To see what might be The Next Big Thing in personal computing technology, then, let’s try applying that idea to mobile. How do we make mobile technology invisible?
Google is invisible and while the mobile Internet consists of far more than Google it’s a pretty good proxy for back-end processing and data services in general. Google would love for us all to interface completely through its servers for everything. That’s its goal. Given its determination and deep pockets, I’d say Google -- or something like it -- will be a major part of the invisible mobile Internet.