Chrome bug captures your every word behind your back

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 23rd, 2014, 08:37
Category: Announcement, Google, Hack, Opinion, privacy, security, Software, Websites

googlelisten2As if people were not paranoid enough about the amount of data Google captures about them, a recently discovered bug in Google’s Chrome web browser can now capture everything you say in front of your computer without you even knowing about it. And here is the kicker…it’s probably not even Google who is after your voice, it’s random hackers taking advantage of the exploit. According to developer Tal Ater, who discovered the exploit, the bug allows a malicious web site to open another browser window (just like a pop-up ad) behind the main window which continues to record your voice -even after you’ve closed the original site window- and sends the recorded data first through Google for processing, and then on to wherever the hacker wants.

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Apple plans to fix iOS 7 home screen crashes

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014, 21:22
Category: Announcement, Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Opinion, Software

ios7logoWell, this one should be a no-brainer. I have been seeing the iOS start-up screen randomly popping up on my iPhone and iPad since iOS 7 was released, even in the middle of phone calls (which thankfully didn’t disconnect the call). I’m really surprised it has taken this long for Apple to address it. Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told Mashable;

“We have a fix in an upcoming software update for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash,”

Uh, thanks?! Not, “a fix for this will be in iOS 7.1 in March,” but sometime in the near/far future, we’ll take a shot at fixing something that has been a major problem since the introduction of iOS 7. “Occasionally” for me personally tends to be once every couple of days. I started writing this simply as a report, but now I just want to say, “WTF Apple?!!”. Why has it taken this long to even acknowledge this fact? It’s been in Apple’s own discussion forums since September. Why isn’t there a more definitive release on this fix? Most other major glitches, like the lock screen bug, had Apple stating that a 7.0.x release was coming to address it. Honestly Apple, stop mucking with round buttons and fix the bugs.

Apple releases iOS 7.1 beta 4 to developers

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 21st, 2014, 09:33
Category: Announcement, Apple, Developer, iOS, iPhone, Software

ios_xcodeDidn’t they just release beta 3 like two weeks ago? Time flies I guess. According to reports, a bug that caused messages (not clear if this refers to Mail messages, or text/iMessages) to show a failure notice immediately after sending appears to be fixed. There also appear to be problems with the Bluetooth stack since 32-bit apps do not seem to function properly on 64-bit devices such as Apple’s all-new iPad Air and the iPhone 5s. The iOS beta has been released alongside Xcode 5.1 beta 4 which supposedly  received a significant number of updates. Among those, Interface Builder has gotten a number of tweaks and performance improvements, including a decrease in CPU usage and system memory utilization when drawing storyboards on Mac OS X 10.8. If you aren’t a developer, this may look like gibberish, but what you should take away is that Apple still seems to be on-track to release iOS 7.1 (and Xcode 5.1) in March as scheduled.

I’m back! Did you miss me? Reviewing last week.

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 21st, 2014, 08:37
Category: Apple, Article, Consumer Electronics, Google, News, Opinion

newspaperI was sick for most of last week, which accounted for the crickets you might of heard when you loaded up the PowerPage. While I get back up to speed on all the current tech news, I thought I’d provide a short list of key articles from last week by other tech sites to get you caught up in case you missed them.

Target data hack only the beginning of massive, sophisticated attack – BGR.com

This is one story that hit close to home. Because of the breach, my credit card company is reissuing my credit card with a new account number which means I get to spend a day or so updating ALL of my automatic billing accounts. Have you noticed this sort of thing seems to be happening more frequently lately? Frankly, I’m starting to consider switching to stuffing my mattress with cash.

Google’s smart contact lens tracks glucose levels for diabetics – AppleInsider.com

Wow, Google really wants to do do stuff with your eyes. While I applaud the clever idea of “always on” monitoring of glucose levels, I have to question why this tech needs to be stuck in your eye. While tears can provide this information, blood is actually the better source for it. Current glucose meters already require regular calibration and a margin of error, partly due to variations in blood. How are you going to do this with a contact lens? And how do you account for the many people who can’t or won’t wear contact lenses, and adding prescriptions to them for people who do wear them? Wouldn’t it be better to have a sensor imbedded under the skin, that anyone could use and didn’t have to be constantly cleaned, removed, replaced, etc.? Eyes are already responsible for a lot of data, do we need to be sticking more things in them?!

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules – MacObserver.com

If you aren’t familiar with the battle for net neutrality, you should start educating yourself because this won’t go away for some time, and if people aren’t paying attention, they could just get royally screwed by large corporations that are fighting it. The “net” part refers to the Internet and in a nutshell, without net neutrality, everything you do on the internet (which IS practically everything) will cost you more, especially your connection to it. This ruling is kind of a drop in the bucket, but it is a minor setback in the fight to maintain neutrality and keep the greedy profit-seeking providers from gouging everyone just to watch a movie or read an email.

Beware of this Apple ID phishing scam – TUAW.com

I think people on the whole have been getting better about detecting phishing scams, where unscrupulous types attempt to sucker innocent people into willingly handing over their account information by posing as an email from a service they use. Now someone is trying this with an email that looks like a security warning from Apple. Read the details in the article and remember to ALWAYS be cautious with these kinds of requests and make sure the messages are actually coming from where they say they are.

Box overhauls iOS apps and offers 50GB of free storage for life – Macworld.com

Now THIS is a hot tip, and one I took advantage of myself. I’ve had a Box account for some time, but never really used it because the default, free account only provided 5 GB of storage and I have quite a bit more available to me over at their competitor, Dropbox (Oooo…I should write an article about how I did that.). Also, at the time, Box wasn’t as slick and well integrated with the Mac and iDevices as Dropbox. Well, now Box is throwing down the gauntlet and offering 50 GB of storage to users that create (or have) an account and download the iPhone and/or iPad apps, for the next 3 weeks or so at least. Plus, the new iApps have been overhauled and look pretty spiffy. I won’t give up Dropbox, but I’m sure going to find a use for that 50 GB. Can you say “online backup”?

Google acquires smart thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 billion in cash, Father of iPod now Google employee – 9to5Mac.com

This was kind of a surprise, but with wearable computing and home automation being the hot topics at CES this year, it seems to make sense. Perhaps I’m more surprised Apple didn’t acquire them given its pedigree and Apple-like design. While I was kind of disappointed to see another successful company swallowed up by a big fish, I wasn’t as paranoid as a lot of people who felt the proper response was to rip the device off the wall and put it on CraigsList. This one’s a two-fer since it’s a perfect lead in for Apple marketing chief Schiller unfollows Nest & Tony Fadell on Twitter following Google deal.

Rumor department: iPhone 6 to get 5.5-inch display in fall #TAC

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 16th, 2014, 17:58
Category: Apple, iPhone

In probably my favorite post of the week, Apple’s finally rumored to be exploring large displays for the iPhone 6, tentative due in the fall. Look, everyone likes to have a phone that will run al day on a charge but it’s foolish to think that Apple’s not losing customers that want larger screens to Sammy. Sure, many iPhone owners also have iPads (I’d venture to say that it’s a high percentage) which should satisfy their need for a larger screen, but many don’t and they’re not cool with a puny 4-inch iPhone.

Research firm DisplaySearch reports in their new Quarterly Worldwide FPD Shipment and Forecast Report reports that Apple is likely to launch two new versions of next-generation iPhone with two larger display options. According to the report Apple will launch a 4.7-inch model with 1600×900 resolution, 386ppi and LTPS TFT LCD display technology. A larger version of the “iPhone 6″ could pack a 5.5-inch display with 1920×1080 resolution at 401 PPI utilizing the same display technology.

The X factor here is developers. They’re going to need to re-compile their apps for a fourth screen size and Apple will have to tell them about it by WWDC (think June-ish) at the latest.

The good news is that Apple is exploring two iPhone screen sizes (4.7 and 5.5-inches) so that there will be an option for both small and large hands. (Read more at The Apple Core).

What size iPhone 6 would you buy? Is 4-inches a deal breaker?

How Apple can protect kids against predatory IAPs #TAC

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 16th, 2014, 16:29
Category: App Store, Apple

Tom’s under the weather, so I wanted to pitch in and cross-post a few of my ZDNet posts. In this one I discuss an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. My kids have accidentally purchased lots of In-App Purchases (IAPs) from the App Store because of Apple’s 15-minute no password window and nefarious developers that riddle free apps with ads and coerce kids into clicking through to bogus add-on purchases in Freemium apps.

Here are the suggestions I posted on The Apple Core:

  1. Offer the ability to require a password for every transaction.
  2. Offer the option to require a password for free downloads.
  3. Actively track the amount of refund requests in apps targeting kids and set a low threshold for penalizing developers that prey on young users with IAPs. (i.e. if your app generated more than 10 refunds in a day your App comes off the App Store for a day, and so on…)
  4. iTunes Store emails should be sent in real time as purchases occur.
  5. Offer the option to send an SMS or push notification to the account owner’s iPhone or iPad immediately after a purchase
  6. Make refunds easier to requests. Currently you can only request a refund within the desktop version of iTunes, and it’s extremely difficult to find
  7. Add more detail to IAPs in Recent Purchases UI by naming the host app in which the IAP occurred

The problem is that Apple took in $10 billion in revenue from the App Store in 2013, so there’s a strong disincentive to them doing anything that curbs its ferocious rate of sales. (Read more at ZDNet).

What’s your take?

Apple’s iOS App Store nets $10 billion in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 10th, 2014, 09:26
Category: Announcement, App Store, Apple, Apps, Business, Finance, iOS, iPhone, Software

apple-moneyAccording to an announcement by Apple on Tuesday, the company took home more than $10 billion last year from iOS app sales. Christmas sales put them over the top with customers downloading almost 3 billion apps, making December Apple’s most lucrative and successful month in the App Store’s history. BusinessWire’s coverage of the record setting sales quoted Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue;

“We’d like to thank our customers for making 2013 the best year ever for the App Store. The lineup of apps for the holiday season was astonishing and we look forward to seeing what developers create in 2014.”

Apple also reported that iOS developers have now earned a collective $15 billion from sales on the App Store.

A new way to use your iPhone on the web

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 10th, 2014, 08:47
Category: Apps, Fun, Game, iOS, iPhone, Software, Websites

Screenshot 2014-01-09 14.55.08I was doing my daily web browsing and while looking for CES stuff, and stumbled upon this, a fake 2027 CES presentation from Omnicorp. Don’t recognize the name “Omnicorp”?! Shame on you, now go straight to Netflix and queue up Robocop. Ok, it’s not on Netflix streaming, so shame on them too. Well, find it and watch it for goodness sake, it’s a classic! Anyway, Omnicorp is a fictional corporation in the near future that buys the Detroit police force in the hopes of monetizing it. In order to save money, Omnicorp hopes to build its own robotic police force and lay off all the human ones.

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Intel gets into wearable technology

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 8th, 2014, 16:50
Category: Accessory, conference, Consumer Electronics, Gadget, Intel, Wearables

intel_ceo_bryan_ces-2014Wearable technology seems to be the hot topic these days. With products like the Pebble smartwatch creeping into the mainstream, every tech company on the planet now seems itching to attach something onto your body. This week, CES hosted companies that had more smartwatch solutions, but Intel may have taken the lead in proposing where wearables are headed next. While chief executive Brian Krzanich didn’t announce any actual products, per se, however he did introduce a number of proof-of-concept devices designed by Intel that represent where Intel is targeting some of its new technology.

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iOS 7.1 beta 3 released to developers

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 8th, 2014, 08:09
Category: Apple, Developer, iOS, iPhone, Software, User Interface

iOS-gear-settingsApple has just released the latest beta update to iOS 7.1. Currently, the official 7.1 update is expected to drop sometime in March. Other than numerous backend improvements and bug fixes, Apple seems to be tweaking the interface as well. Developers who have had a chance to go over 7.1 list several screens that replace rectangular buttons with new circular ones. I guess they felt there simply wasn’t enough circles already. A few of the other changes that have been found are listed below;

  • Parallax can be disabled for wallpapers
  • Phone now has a new dialer and answer UI
  • New Repeat and Shuffle buttons
  • New power off UI
  • New dialogue in Safari ‘Search or enter an address’ now reads ‘Search web or enter site name’
  • New ‘New’ button for creating iTunes Radio stations in Music
  • New reduce white point option in accessibility contrast settings