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  • Is the App Store Broken?

    A recent post by Instapaper's Marco Arment suggests that design flaws in Apple's App Store are harming the app ecosystem, and users are suffering because of it. "The dominance and prominence of 'top lists' stratifies the top 0.02% so far above everyone else that the entire ecosystem is encouraged to design for a theoretical top-list placement that, by definition, won’t happen to 99.98% of them." Arment notes that many good app developers are finding continued development to be unsustainable, while scammy apps are encouraged to flood the market.

    "As the economics get tighter, it becomes much harder to support the lavish treatment that developers have given apps in the past, such as full-time staffs, offices, pixel-perfect custom designs of every screen, frequent free updates, and completely different iPhone and iPad interfaces. Many will give up and leave for stable, better-paying jobs. (Many already have.)" Brent Simmons points out the indie developers have largely given up the dream of being able to support themselves through iOS development. Yoni Heisler argues that their plight is simply a consequence of ever-increasing competition within the industry, though he acknowledges that more app curation would be a good thing. What strategies could Apple (and the operators of other mobile application stories) do to keep app quality high?

    150 comments | 10 hours ago

  • 3-D Printing Comes To Amazon

    An anonymous reader writes Promising "an appstore for the physical world," Amazon has just unveiled their new online market for products created using a 3-D printer. "Customization gives customers the power to remix their world," explains the co-founder of Mixee Labs (an Amazon partner), "and we want to change the way people shop online." Amazon's ability to sell you things before they've even been built is currently limited mostly to novelties like iPhone cases, jewelry, and bobbleheads that look like you. But this could be the beginning of mainstream 3D printing.

    61 comments | yesterday

  • Do Apple and Google Sabotage Older Phones? What the Graphs Don't Show

    Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan takes a look in the New York Times at interesting correlations between the release dates of new phones and OSes and search queries that indicate frustration with the speed of the phones that people already have. Mullainathan illustrates with graphs (and gives plausible explanations for the difference) just how different the curves are over time for the search terms "iPhone slow" and "Samsung Galaxy slow." It's easy to see with the iPhone graph especially how it could seem to users that Apple has intentionally slowed down older phones to nudge them toward upgrading. While he's careful not to rule out intentional slowing of older phone models (that's possible, after all), Mullainathan cites several factors that mean there's no need to believe in a phone-slowing conspiracy, and at least two big reasons (reputation, liability) for companies — Apple, Google, and cellphone manufacturers like Samsung — not to take part in one. He points out various wrinkles in what the data could really indicate, including genuine but innocent slowdowns caused by optimizing for newer hardware. It's an interesting look at the difference between having mere statistics, no matter how rigorously gathered, and knowing quite what they mean.

    281 comments | 3 days ago

  • Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

    Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The biggest thing that sets the Amazon Fire Phone apart from its Android and Apple competitors probably isn't the clean interface or the unlimited photo storage—it's the dirty power behind it. When Fire users upload their photos and data to Amazon's cloud, they'll be creating a lot more pollution than iPhone owners, Greenpeace says. Apple has made a commitment to running its iCloud on 100 percent clean energy. Amazon, meanwhile, operates the dirtiest servers of any major tech giant that operates its own servers—only 15 percent of its energy comes from clean sources, which is about the default national average." Greenpeace's jaundiced eye is on Amazon more generally; the company's new phone is just an example. Maybe Amazon or some other provider could take a page from some local utilities and let users signal their own preferences with a (surcharged) "clean energy" option.

    288 comments | 4 days ago

  • Private Data On iOS Devices Not So Private After All

    theshowmecanuck (703852) writes with this excerpt from Reuters summarizing the upshot of a talk that Jonathan Zdziarski gave at last weekend's HOPE conference: Personal data including text messages, contact lists and photos can be extracted from iPhones through previously unpublicized techniques by Apple Inc employees, the company acknowledged this week. The same techniques to circumvent backup encryption could be used by law enforcement or others with access to the 'trusted' computers to which the devices have been connected, according to the security expert who prompted Apple's admission. Users are not notified that the services are running and cannot disable them, Zdziarski said. There is no way for iPhone users to know what computers have previously been granted trusted status via the backup process or block future connections. If you'd rather watch and listen, Zdziarski has posted a video showing how it's done.

    100 comments | 4 days ago

  • Mac OS X Yosemite Beta Opens

    New submitter David Hames (3763525) writes Would you like to test drive the newest release of the Macintosh operating system? Apple is opening up the beta for Mac OS X Yosemite starting Thursday to the first million people who sign up. Beta users won't be able to access such promised Yosemite features such as the ability to make or receive your iPhone calls or text messages on your Mac, turn on your iPhone hotspot feature from your Mac, or "Handoff" the last thing you were doing on your iOS 8 device to your Mac and vice versa. A new iCloud Drive feature is also off-limits, while any Spotlight search suggestions are U.S.-based only. Don't expect all your Mac apps to run either. Ars has a preview of Yosemite.

    165 comments | about a week ago

  • CNN iPhone App Sends iReporters' Passwords In the Clear

    chicksdaddy (814965) writes The Security Ledger reports on newly published research from the firm zScaler that reveals CNN's iPhone application transmits user login session information in clear text. The security flaw could leave users of the application vulnerable to having their login credential snooped by malicious actors on the same network or connected to the same insecure wifi hotspot. That's particularly bad news if you're one of CNN's iReporters — citizen journalists — who use the app to upload photos, video and other text as they report on breaking news events. According to a zScaler analysis, CNN's app for iPhone exposes user credentials in the clear both during initial setup of the account and in subsequent mobile sessions. The iPad version of the CNN app is not affected, nor is the CNN mobile application for Android. A spokesman for CNN said the company had a fix ready and was working with Apple to have it approved and released to the iTunes AppStore.

    40 comments | about a week ago

  • Apple and IBM Announce Partnership To Bring iOS + Cloud Services To Enterprises

    jmcbain writes: According to an article on Recode, Apple and IBM have announced a major partnership to bring mobile services to enterprise customers. "The deal calls for IBM and Apple to develop more than 100 industry-specific applications that will run on the iPhone and iPad. Apple will add a new class of service to its AppleCare program and support aimed at enterprise customers. IBM will also begin to sell iPhones and iPads to its corporate customers and will devote more than 100,000 people, including consultants and software developers, to the effort. Enterprise applications will in many cases run on IBM's cloud infrastructure or on private clouds that it has built for its customers. Data for those applications will co-exist with personal data like photos and personal email that will run on Apple's iCloud and other cloud services."

    126 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google's Project Zero Aims To Find Exploits Before Attackers Do

    DavidGilbert99 (2607235) writes "Google has announced Project Zero, a group of security experts who will hunt down security flaws in all software which touches the Internet. Among the group is a 24-year-old called George Hotz who shot to fame in 2007 when he was the first to unlock the iPhone before reverse engineering the PlayStation 3." Quoting the Project Zero announcement: You should be able to use the web without fear that a criminal or state-sponsored actor is exploiting software bugs to infect your computer, steal secrets or monitor your communications. Yet in sophisticated attacks, we see the use of "zero-day" vulnerabilities to target, for example, human rights activists or to conduct industrial espionage. This needs to stop. ... We're not placing any particular bounds on this project and will work to improve the security of any software depended upon by large numbers of people, paying careful attention to the techniques, targets and motivations of attackers. All issues will be reported to the usual public vulnerability databases after vendors are given a short period to fix their systems and software.

    62 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Apple Refutes Report On iPhone Threat To China's National Security

    An anonymous reader writes "Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers," the company said Sunday in a bilingual statement on its China website. Users have to make the choice to enable the iPhones to calculate their locations, while "Apple does not track users' locations — Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," the company said. The statement was in response to allegations by China's top state broadcaster that iOS7 software and its "Frequent Location" service posed a security risk. The data can be accessed easily, although labelled as "encrypted," and may lead to the disclosure of "state secrets," CCTV said.

    134 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Nano-Pixels Hold Potential For Screens Far Denser Than Today's Best

    Zothecula (1870348) writes "The Retina displays featured on Apple's iPhone 4 and 5 models pack a pixel density of 326 ppi, with individual pixels measuring 78 micrometers. That might seem plenty good enough given the average human eye is unable to differentiate between the individual pixels, but scientists in the UK have now developed technology that could lead to extremely high-resolution displays that put such pixel densities to shame."

    129 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Chinese State Media Declares iPhone a Threat To National Security

    MojoKid writes: "When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden came forth last year with U.S. government spying secrets, it didn't take long to realize that some of the information revealed could bring on serious repercussions — not just for the U.S. government, but also for U.S.-based companies. The latest to feel the hit? None other than Apple, and in a region the company has been working hard to increase market share: China. China, via state media, has today declared that Apple's iPhone is a threat to national security — all because of its thorough tracking capabilities. It has the ability to keep track of user locations, and to the country, this could potentially reveal "state secrets" somehow. It's being noted that the iPhone will continue to track the user to some extent even if the overall feature is disabled. China's iPhone ousting comes hot on the heels of Russia's industry and trade deeming AMD and Intel processors to be untrustworthy. The nation will instead be building its own ARM-based "Baikal" processor.

    143 comments | about three weeks ago

  • On the Significance of Google's New Cardboard (Video)

    On June 29, 2014, Timothy started a Slashdot post with these words: 'Last week at Google I/O, the company introduced Cardboard, its cheap-and-cheerful (it's made of cardboard, after all) approach to nearly instant VR viewing.' Several commenters noted that Viewmaster has been doing something similar for over 70 years; that you can get a slicker 3-D adapter for your smartphone from Durovis, with the Vrizzmo VR Goggles and vrAse coming soon; and that you can buy an iPhone/iPod Touch-only 3-D viewer for about $8 (at the time this was typed), which is a whole lot less than the price of most third-party Cardboard kits that are getting ready to hit the market. || The Google person behind The Cardboard is VP Clay Bavor, whose day job is overseeing Google apps. Clay says you are welcome to make your own Cardboard from scratch instead of buying one (or a kit) from someone else, and of course you can write all the software for it you like. || You may (or may not) remember that Timothy ended that June 29 post about Cardboard with a promise that before long we'd have 'a video introduction to Cardboard with Google VP Clay Bavor.' So here it is, as promised. (Alternate Video Link)

    35 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Apple Gets Its First Batch of iPhone Chips From TSMC

    redletterdave (2493036) notes that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has shipped its first batch of microprocessors to Apple as the iPhone maker looks to diversify its overseas suppliers. Apple will continue to rely on Samsung for its microprocessors, but as the rivalry between Apple and Samsung heats up in the mobile and soon wearable arenas, the deal with TSMC allows Apple to be less reliant on Samsung and therefore have more leverage with respect to price negotiations for future chips, as TSMC has supplanted Samsung Electronics as Apple's chief chipmaker for iPhones and iPads. Since 2011, Apple has been striking deals with other display and chip makers around Asia to reduce its dependence on Samsung. As a result of this slowdown in sales, Samsung on Monday announced operating income for its fiscal second quarter had sunk to a two-year low, blaming 'weak' sales of low- and medium-end smartphones, strong competition and subpar demand.
    It may not be a household name like Intel or AMD, but TSMC is the world's biggest chip maker by revenue.

    45 comments | about three weeks ago

  • BlackBerry's Innovation: Square-Screened Smartphones

    EthanV2 sends word that BlackBerry, having finally caught up to a world dominated by smartphones, is now trying to push the envelope by developing a smartphone with a square screen. The BlackBerry Passport has a 4.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1440x1440. The phone has a physical keyboard as well. In a blog post about the new phone, they show a picture with it side-by-side with an iPhone and a Galaxy S5 — the Passport is slightly taller than the iPhone, and significantly wider, as you'd expect. The Passport is a play for BlackBerry's "traditional" work-oriented user base, where the earlier BlackBerry Z10 and Z30 were efforts to break into the post-iPhone consumer smartphone space. Though the Passport may well be preferable for spreadsheets and word processing, that square screen will be much less useful for widescreen movies, and its wide, blocky design will entirely prohibit one-handed use. The Passport is expected to appear later this year, and it will launch with BlackBerry 10.3 (at least, according to early hands-on previews).

    139 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Researchers Develop New Way To Steal Passwords Using Google Glass

    mpicpp writes with a story about researchers who have developed a way to steal passwords using video-capturing devices.Cyber forensics experts at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell have developed a way to steal passwords entered on a smartphone or tablet using video from Google's face-mounted gadget and other video-capturing devices. The thief can be nearly ten feet away and doesn't even need to be able to read the screen — meaning glare is not an antidote. The security researchers created software that maps the shadows from fingertips typing on a tablet or smartphone. Their algorithm then converts those touch points into the actual keys they were touching, enabling the researchers to crack the passcode. They tested the algorithm on passwords entered on an Apple iPad, Google's Nexus 7 tablet, and an iPhone 5.

    116 comments | about three weeks ago

  • How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

    redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple is one of the biggest headphone makers in the world thanks to those signature white earbuds that have shipped with every iPod, iPhone, and iPad since 2001. But even two years after earbuds became 'EarPods,' the design could still be improved — and competitors are taking notice. Amazon recently unveiled a new pair of in-ear headphones that are magnetic, tangle-free and $5 cheaper than Apple's $30 EarPods, while smaller startups are promoting their own wireless and customizable 3D-printed earbuds. But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats."

    196 comments | about a month ago

  • Google and Microsoft Plan Kill Switches On Smartphones

    itwbennett (1594911) writes "Responding to more than a year of pressure, Google and Microsoft will follow Apple in adding an anti-theft "kill switch" to their smartphone operating systems. In New York, iPhone theft was down 19 percent in the first five months of this year. Over the same period, thefts of Samsung devices — which did not include a kill switch until one was introduced on Verizon-only models in April — rose by over 40 percent. In San Francisco, robberies of iPhones were 38 percent lower in the six months after the iOS 7 introduction versus the six months before, while in London thefts over the same period were down by 24 percent. In both cities, robberies of Samsung devices increased. 'These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, that a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere,' said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon."

    137 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Android Needs a Simulator, Not an Emulator

    An anonymous reader writes Jake Wharton, Android Engineer at Square, has written an article about one of the big problems with building apps for Android: developers need a simulator for testing their software, rather than an emulator. He provides an interesting, technical explanation of the difference between them, and why the status quo is not working. Here are the basics of his article: "A simulator is a shim that sits between the Android operating system runtime and the computer's running operating system. It bridges the two into a single unit which behaves closely to how a real device or full emulator would at a fraction of the overhead. The most well known simulator to any Android developer is probably (and ironically) the one that iOS developers use from Apple. The iPhone and iPad simulators allow quick, easy, and lightweight execution of in-development apps. ... There always will be a need for a proper emulator for acceptance testing your application in an environment that behaves exactly like a device. For day-to-day development this is simply not needed. Developer productivity will rise dramatically and the simplicity through which testing can now be done will encourage their use and with any luck improve overall app quality. Android actually already has two simulators which are each powerful in different ways, but nowhere near powerful enough."

    167 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • European iPhone Chargers Prone To Overheating

    jones_supa sends word that Apple has launched an exchange program for European iPhone USB power adapters. The company says its A1300 adapters were bundled with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S models, and were also sold on their own from Oct. 2009 to Sept. 2012. The reason for the recall is that the adapters "may overheat and pose a safety risk." No further details are provided (a YouTube video shows a teardown of the device).

    128 comments | about a month and a half ago

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