Google is an amazing company that offers many products and services that make our lives better. For example, Gmail, YouTube, Maps and Android help many people every day. Unfortunately, there is one downside to living in Google's world -- having one password.
You see, with Google services, one password gains access to them all by utilizing a central account. If your password is exposed, nefarious people can wreak havoc across Google, including your precious Gmail account. Unfortunately, this recently happened to 5 million users and you could be one of them! Don't panic -- there is now an app for iOS and Android that can tell you if you are affected.
Apple has finally conceded that big screens are better, as its new iPhones offer 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays. It has also finally conceded that a mobile operating system is better when it's more open, as iOS 8 supports third-party keyboards and inter-app communication. It's almost like Apple is saying that Steve Jobs was wrong while rival Android manufacturers and Google were right all along. Oh, the horror. How will Apple fanbois be able to explain this?
But, even as Apple is doing all these things, that some of us have already been enjoying for too many years to count, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are still outclassed by rival Android flagships. In fact, the new iPhones are not much different than Samsung Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note 3, and, as you may know, neither of the two is the latest incarnation in their respective series. Ouch!
In the run up to Apple's latest eagerly anticipated launch event, mobile benchmarking specialist Crittercism has released an Apple edition of its Mobile Experience Benchmark Report.
Focussing on statistics gathered from over a billion users across more than 120 countries it looks at key performance metrics including crash rates across iOS versions and devices along with latency by carrier and Wi-Fi.
Do you know what MSN is? Yes, it is that online portal opened by Microsoft nearly two decades ago. Yes, it is also that default Internet Explorer webpage which you change more quickly than a race car driver can shift. But, fret not if you are not familiar with MSN, as almost no one cares about it anymore. To save it from oblivion, Microsoft has decided that the first thing that MSN needs to make a splash again is a nice revamp.
For many years, MSN was a product Microsoft cared little about. Instead, the software giant has pushed products with more potential and consumer appeal, like Office, Windows and Windows Phone. Now though, Microsoft wants to tie MSN in with its newfound strategy, recreating the online portal "from the ground up for a mobile-first, cloud-first world", and using many Bing-powered services (News, Sports and Travel, just to name a few) to boost its appeal.
It was all but expected, but Apple has confirmed that Tuesday's "special event" will be streamed live online. This in itself is nothing particularly surprising, but the small print at the bottom of the launch announcement page will upset many people -- if you're not already packing an Apple device, you're not invited. "Live streaming video requires Safari 5.1.10 or later on OS X v10.6.8 or later; Safari on iOS 6.0 or later. Streaming via Apple TV requires second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 6.2 or later". Android, Windows, and Linux users are excluded.
At the event, which kicks off at 10am PT on Tuesday at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, it is expected that Apple will talk about the iPhone 6 -- possibly two sizes -- as well as a wearable device -- which in all likelihood will be the iWatch. Anyone who is not attending the event will have to either fire up a Mac, iPad, iPhone or Apple TV, or wait for news of the announcements to be written up and posted online.
It's not a phrase that Apple is using, but the Fappening is a word that very quickly entered the popular lexicon. Once the excitement and titillation factor died down after hundreds of private celebrity photos were leaked on the infamous 4chan (now with added DMCA policy!), attention turned to just how it fappened. Sorry, happened. Attention focused on Apple's security, and the company said it was undertaking an investigation into what it described as a targeted attack. CEO Tim Cook says that new account alerts are to be added to iCloud to help tighten security.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal about the incident, Cook explained that celebrity accounts had been accessed as a result of phishing scams as well as hackers working out the answers to account security questions. He stressed the company's previous statement that there had not been a security breach and that no passwords had been leaked. Apple, like many other firms, offers a two-factor authentication option, but additional security measures will be introduced.
Digg may not be the "in" thing that it was when Kevin Rose started it, but the site is still around and trying to stay relevant. Last year, in the wake of Google's shutdown of its Reader app, the social sharing site launched an alternative. More recently it launched Digg Deeper, a service that automatically IDs trending stories and videos based on those you follow via Twitter.
Now Digg Deeper is coming to more platforms, one of which is the aforementioned Reader application. "You can now use Digg Deeper to scan the most-shared stories, videos and links from your Twitter connections", the service announces.
When you see the letters ISIS, what is it that you first think of? Is it the Egyptian goddess of health, marriage and love? The Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality? Or is it the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the jihadist group that has been in the news for some time now? It's quite common for there to be unfortunate sharings of names and acronyms, and it's something that Isis Wallet, the NFC payment service, has fallen foul of. To avoid being associated with the Middle East group, the service is being renamed to Softcard.
The rebranding has not come completely out of the blue. Back in July, company CEO Michael Abbott explained: "Recently, we have observed with growing concern a militant group whose name, when translated into English, is Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -- often referenced by the acronym ISIS. We have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence and our hearts go out to those who are suffering".
Unless you've been completely avoiding the news over the past few days, you will have heard about Apple's little problem with nude photos being stolen from celebrity accounts. The company has strongly denied that there has been a security breach, but in a statement it advised its customers to check the strength of their passwords as well as enabling two-step verification.
Two-factor authentication -- also known as two-step verification -- is a stronger method of security because it relies not only on something you know (your password), but also something you have (like your iPhone). Sounds good, but how do you do about doing it for your Apple account?
Since a cache of nude photos of celebrities appeared online, Apple has remained fairly tight-lipped about what may or may not have happened. Right from the start rumors were flying around that Apple's iCloud service may have been comprised or that Find My iPhone may have been to blame. The company said that it was "actively investigating" the suggestions but then things went quiet again. The FBI became involved, but it has been a frustrating 48 hours for anyone trying to find out what happened. Now Apple has issued a statement making it clear that a security attack did indeed take place.
Entitled Update to Celebrity Photo Investigation the statement reads:
A week ago I wrote about my feelings of ennui towards the iPhone 6, asserting that there was just nothing to get excited about. Some people agreed, but many didn't -- it was to be expected really. What was particularly interesting was not just the discussion that started here in the comments on BetaNews but also that the article spread further afield. It was picked up by Macworld whose resident columnist The Macalope, er, disagreed with what I had to say. You'll notice that I've provided a link to the Macworld article which, despite quoting 46 percent of my post, The Macalope failed to do initially.
If you take the time to read the Macworld article you'd be forgiven for thinking that I was hurt at having my work pulled apart. Not a bit of it. No, I'm not concerned about being criticized. I've been writing for approaching 15 years now, and I know I'm going to piss people off from time to time. That's not to say that this is necessarily my intention -- in addition to news, I like to share my opinion and there will, of course, be some collateral damage that follows. Despite The Macalope's suggestions to the contrary, this was not designed to be a "link-baity" piece. Like Joe Wilcox, I've written about the importance of writing for the reader rather than writing for Google, and this is an ideology I firmly subscribe to.
It may have been something of an unknown quantity for years now. Just why was a particular app denied entry to the App Store? Now Apple -- the company so famed for its secrecy -- has finally laid its cards on the table and revealed the most common reasons apps are rejected. Taking a snapshot from the last week of August, the new Common App Rejections page on Apple's Developer site details the top ten problems that prevent apps from making their way to the App Store. Accounting for more than a quarter of rejections (14 and 8 percent respectively) are apps that do not have enough information and those that exhibit bugs.
Six percent of rejected apps fell foul of terms in the Developer Program License Agreement -- although no further breakdown is given -- and the same percentage of titles were given the thumbs down for not meeting Apple's exacting standards. "Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected". Apps that are either misleading or similar to other apps, and those with inappropriate names and artwork were also stopped in their tracks, each accounting for 5 percent of vetoed apps.
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.
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.
Think about wearable tech and your mind probably jumps to watches first. V.BTTN is a little different. It's a programmable button that links smartphones, tablets and computers via Bluetooth and it can then be used to trigger all manner of events. Looking for a remote shutter trigger for your smartphone? V.BTTN can do that for you. Need a remote control to start and stop recording? Got that covered too. The device comes from VSN Mobil and is available now for $59.99. It's one of those pieces of hardware billed as having virtually limitless possibilities, but this is one instance where the claim is justified.
What the button does depends entirely on the app you decide to link it to. It's slightly more advanced than just "hit the button" -- there are short and long press options, as well as gesture support thanks to a built-in accelerometer. As standard, V.BTTN is just a button. You can stick it in your pocket or bag and carry it around with you if you like, but there are also a number of accessories.