Google Releases Demo For Modular Ara Phone

30 Oct

Google’s Project Ara is an attempt to bring the same versatility and customization in desktop computers to mobile devices.

The phone is made of modular blocks which can be swapped out, and each piece can be developed by third party manufacturers to produce a wide variety of different effects. An older demo had a lot of crashes as the system debuted itself, but this week gave a better glimpse.

The Phonebloks team has released a video of the Ara prototype in working form. Although the performance is a bit slow and clunky, it’s a much bigger boost in productivity that its I/O conference debut.

In the video, there is a more detailed display of the modular components on the phone. With a glimpse at how the different components come together, there is also a detailed block on the first prototype, called Spiral 1.

The Spiral 1 block seems to be a dedicated block for keeping up the device’s modular abilities. The second prototype, Spiral 2, has a lot more space available for customization.

There’s a lot of excitement about what this can mean for mobile devices. Developers want a development machine in their hands, while gamers might get rid of a few useless items in order to add more graphics processing for mobile games. This could end up giving a major boost to trend of mobile gaming on Android FreedomPop devices and the recently released iPad Air 2.

Can it be made bigger for those who want power and don’t care about small sizes? More answers should come from the Project Ara developer conference on January 14th, 2015.

Eta Devices Prepares Power Conserving Chip for Phones

29 Oct

Smartphones have a limited battery life that fails to live up to the old flip phone capabilities, but that may changes with a new chip design from Eta Devices.

The chip gives a phone the ability to change its power consumption habits or ‘switch’ gears as needed, conserving battery life at the small increments of wasted power that every phone has to deal with.

Most smartphone designs are built with a power amplifier, which pulls a maximum charge in order to be ready to send or receive data at a moments notice. Although the amplifier isn’t constantly sapping power when not in use, it does represent a sizable drain in phone that are ‘always connected’.

Smartphone users are well aware of the battery draining capabilities of their favorite Samsung Galaxy, FreedomPop Liberty, or iPad tablet. The wireless antenna is a particularly strong offender, although it can be turned off. GPS can drag on power supply as well, and may turn on for security purposes with settings that aren’t always easily accessible.

Each of these features and more are connected to the power amplifier. Eta Devices’ chip stands between the battery and the power amplifier to level out the supplied power regardless of the amplifier’s demand.

Much of the research hinged on how to keep the phone sufficiently powered without delay as power travels from battery to amplifier with an additional step in between. With the current success, there are other great benefits such as reducing device temperature and incremental battery damage.

US Cities Roll Their Own Networks

28 Oct

After years of delays and inexplicable non-progress in the deployment of affordable broadband to their residents, cities in the United States are taking their digital future into their own hands.

The process of building a network can be daunting, just ask FreedomPop about getting LTE on their devices. A lot of municipalities are finding there are steps they can take to make it easier for those networks to get built, even if they don’t build them on their own.

Cities are worried about being left out, and that has driven an increasingly intense pursuit of network progress. The city of Provo, Utah, found that inviting Google to complete their fiber network turned into a win-win. Residents got access to a world-class gigabit network and Google got thousands of new customers for what is probably the highest quality Internet access in the country today.

Other cities like Raleigh, North Carolina, unable to get Google Fiber, teamed up with other local cities, formed a cooperative and brought AT&T fiber in.

Cities are beginning to understand that the economy moves at exactly the same speed as the Internet. If residents can’t get online, they can’t start businesses, they can’t sell products as efficiently and they can’t buy products as easily.

As more progress is made, it becomes clear to everyone there are no downsides to a faster network. The returns on these investments are only likely to get bigger and more frequent.

Apple Still the Big Player in Mobile Technology

24 Oct

The highly anticipated launch of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus had many people wondering if the technology giant would be able to regain its footing in the world of mobile device technology after seeing its market share significantly impacted by Android-powered devices. The initial numbers appear to indicate that Apple has answered the challenge and rebounded with huge sales.

The number of iPhone sales originally estimated by analysts were exceeded in the most recent quarter. Preorders of the iPhone 6 remained strong which seems to indicate that Apple’s core of loyal users remains. Product loyalty has always been an Apple trademark.

The numbers are a shot in the arm for Apple, says Igor Cornelsen in this tweet. The company has been trying to stem the tide of users that are migrating to Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy. Two things that seem to have worked in Apple’s favor are increased sales in China and the introduction of a lower-priced iPad designed to compete with cheaper Android tablets.

Apple seems to have found a way with its mobile devices to overcome the pricing issues that have traditionally made its Mac computer platform a second-place runner to Windows-based systems. Many investors are returning to Apple after a stock split earlier this year and the promise of a substantial dividend to be issued in November. The company’s earnings have risen throughout 2014, defying the expectations of financial analysts.

A Good Reason to Change Your Dropbox Password Now

17 Oct

Although Dropbox claims it wasn’t hacked according to an official statement released on its blog, as many as seven million Dropbox accounts may have been compromised, with a sampling of hundreds of those usernames and passwords leaked via four Pastebin files that were uploaded to Reddit by an anonymous user. The original poster promised to upload more usernames and passwords associated with Dropbox accounts in exchange for Bitcoin donations. Several Redditors commenting on the thread claim that the login credentials were still valid as of the posting. These photos on Brian and Laura’s registry site may even be at risk because of the breach.

According to Dropbox, the usernames and passwords came from an unrelated, third-party sites and that the person or persons who hacked those sites then attempted to use the same login credentials on various websites, including Dropbox.

Dropbox claims that it has measures in place to detect suspicious activity and will expire passwords when such activity occurs. However, the site recommends that users enable two-step verification so that their accounts cannot be accessed with only a password. Dropbox also recommends not reusing the same passwords for different accounts across the Web.

Twitter’s Head of News Stepped Down. What’s Next?

16 Oct

Twitter’s head of news tweeted that she was leaving the social media company on Thursday, October 9.

In a three-part tweet, Vivian Schiller, head of news on Twitter, said she is stepping down, naming Katie Staton as the new head. Staton was Twitter’s global media lead prior to her new post. Schiller congratulated the woman by saying she is really fit for the job. The former head also wishes everyone in the company the best.

Schiller’s departure is another major change in the social media company, after chief operating officer Ali Rowghani’s resignation this June.

On her Twitter, Schiller thanked Rowghani and Twitter’s former media head Chloe Sladen. She expressed her gratitude to the two and Marnie Bennett for convincing her to work on Twitter, which she said “was a fascinating experience.”

The changes brought by these departures have caused the social media company to reorganise. Part of the reorganisation is placing Daniel Graf at the head of product from being the Google Map head, and Alex Roetter as the head of engineering. Also part of the reorganisation, former communications and marketing head Gabriel Stricker is assuming his new post as head of media.

In a report published in the social media news website Buzzfeed, the reorganisation came as Twitter tries to prove to investors that they have the ability to steadily grow as a company. Twitter impressed people of Wall Street in their last earnings report reflecting impressive growth, especially in terms of their financial standings.

Twitter continues to gain users daily, as a social platform and news source.

AT&T Mobility Must Pay $105 Million For Cramming

15 Oct

On Wednesday, federal and state regulators announced that AT&T Mobility will pay $105 million in penalties and refunds to customers. The charges are the result of a settlement after the company was accused of a practice known as cramming, in which a company charges customers for ringtones, text messages with horoscopes, and other “services”, often without the customer’s knowledge or consent. While AT&T is not the first wireless provider accused of cramming, this settlement is the largest penalty yet for the practice.

The $105 million in penalties and refunds will be divided amongst several recipients, including:

  • $80 million to the FTC to provide refunds to customers
  • $20 million in fees to 50 states and the District of Columbia
  • $5 million to the FCC

The charges of cramming were brought by the FTC as a complaint filed in federal court in Atlanta. A similar complaint was filed against T-Mobile in July and is still being contested, while officials say complaints against other providers (let’s hope not FreedomPop) will be filed soon.

Third Party Snapchat App Hacked Leaking 13gb of Photos

11 Oct

Circulating through 4Chan are more than 200,000 leaked images from a third party Snapchat application. The app is meant to catalog snaps that would otherwise be deleted. So that you’re able to save them for later, and keep track of ones that you’ve sent.

However, an exploit was found in that application, that led to hundreds of thousands of photos being stolen. The event has been dubbed the Snappening, in reference to The Fappening incident, in which celebrity nude photos were stolen from Apple’s iCloud storage.

While Snapchat was not directly hacked, photos that were stored with this third party app were compromised.

This teaches us two things:

  1. Don’t use third party apps that you can’t trust.

If these users had stuck with the original Snapchat app, there would be no worry about the hack. Snapchat does not store your photos, and they really are gone once the timer expires. So do yourself a favor, and don’t try to save photos that aren’t meant to be saved with a third party application.

  1. Maybe don’t take a picture of your face in your nude selfies.

If your selfie is going to someone that you can trust, they already know who you are, so maybe leave your face out of the picture. That way, you have plausible deniability should the images leak anywhere.

Apple Continues to Dominate Global Tech Brands

10 Oct

Technology remains the big standout of the Interbrand rankings, as they’ve just released their 2014 rankings for global brands. Unsurprisingly tech companies dominated the list of 100 top firms, with Apple being at the top of the ladder. The company is valued at an incredible $118.9 billion.

Google was the next closest company on the list, with a valuation of $107 billion. In the top 100, there were 13 companies exclusively devoted to creating and pursuing new technology.

Although Coca-Cola took the third place spot, the top five rounds out with Microsoft and IBM. Meaning that 4 of the 5 biggest businesses in the world are all technology companies.

The rest of the list is made up of the usual suspects, like Disney, MTV and other major entertainment brands. But also retail enterprises as well, including major corporations like Genesis Diamonds.

True Affection

For the Love of Tech