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Technology

Commercial Flamethrower Successfully Crowdfunded 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-clearing-that-stubborn-ice-off-your-roof-and-that-stubborn-roof-off-your-house dept.
ColdWetDog writes: You've always wanted one, of course. Zombies, the occasional alien infestation. The neighbor's smelly roses. You just need to be prepared for things. You can get freeze dried food, AR15's, enough ammo to start a small police action (at least here in the U.S. -- YMMV), but it has been difficult to get a modern, portable flamethrower until now. CNET has a brief explanation on the XM42, which doubled its Indiegogo funding target in just a few days.
Android

Apple May Start Accepting Android Phones As Trade-Ins 148

Posted by timothy
from the whatever-you've-got dept.
HughPickens.com writes Bloomberg reports that according to a person with knowledge of the matter, Apple plans to start accepting non-Apple devices as trade-ins as the company seeks to extend market-share gains against Android smartphones. Apple is seeking to fuel even more iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales after selling 74.5 million units in the last three months of 2014. Thanks to record sales, shipments of iPhones surpassed Android in the US with 47.7 percent of the market compared with Android's 47.6 percent. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook Apple "experienced the highest Android switcher rate in any of the last three launches in the three previous years." While Android phones don't hold their value as well as iPhones, it still makes sense for Apple Stores to accept them, says Israel Ganot, former CEO of Gazelle Inc., an online mobile device trade-in company. "Apple can afford to pay more than the market value to get you to switch over," says Ganot, "on the idea that you're going to fall in love with the iOS ecosystem and stay for a long time."
Nintendo

Nintendo Finally Working On Games for Smartphones 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the seeing-which-way-the-wind-blows dept.
Several readers sent word that Nintendo is finally bringing its games to mobile devices. It's partnering with Japanese game publisher DeNA to develop games for phones and tablets based on Nintendo's popular game IPs. (Existing games will not get mobile ports, however.) DeNA first approached Nintendo about using the company's characters in mobile games back in 2010, Iwata said, and has been passionately pursuing talks on the alliance ever since. Iwata acknowledged that the transition from the Wii and DS lines to the Wii U and 3DS lines has not gone "as smoothly as we had expected," but he maintained that industry watchers predicting the death of dedicated video game consoles are being too pessimistic. Iwata tied the move to smartphones to Nintendo's historical embrace of TV gaming after decades as a physical toy and card game company during a time when TVs didn't exist. "Now that smart devices have grown to become the window for so many people to personally connect with society, it would be a waste not to use these devices."
Cellphones

CIA Tried To Crack Security of Apple Devices 119

Posted by timothy
from the hey-fellas-we-were-expecting-you dept.
According to a story at The Guardian passed on by an anonymous reader, The CIA led sophisticated intelligence agency efforts to undermine the encryption used in Apple phones, as well as insert secret surveillance back doors into apps, top-secret documents published by the Intercept online news site have revealed. he newly disclosed documents from the National Security Agency's internal systems show surveillance methods were presented at its secret annual conference, known as the "jamboree."
Android

Google Announces Android 5.1 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google has officially announced Android Lollipop 5.1. This is a small update to the mobile operating system, and focuses on stability and performance. The main new features include support for multiple SIM cards, high definition voice calls on supported devices, and the ability to join Wi-Fi networks and manage Bluetooth pairings through Quick Settings. The biggest new feature is "Device Protection." They say, "With Device Protection, your lost or stolen device will remain locked until you sign in with your Google account — even if someone resets your device to factory settings. This feature will be available on most Android phones and tablets shipped with Android 5.1 in addition to Nexus 6 and Nexus 9."
Encryption

BlackPhone, In Wake of Gemalto Fallout, Receives $50 Million In Funding 59

Posted by timothy
from the small-steps dept.
An anonymous reader writes The BlackPhone, a $600-plus encrypted Android handset designed to keep the prying eyes of criminals and the government out of mobile communications, is now fully owned by Silent Circle thanks to the company raking in investment cash. Terms of the buyout deal with Spanish smartphone maker Geeksphone, the phone's hardware manufacturer, were not disclosed. Silent Circle said Thursday that it has raised $50 million and plans on showing off an encrypted 'enterprise privacy ecosystem' at World Mobile Congress next week. A BlackPhone tablet is on the way, too.
Android

Who's Afraid of Android Fragmentation? 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-actual-androids dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: The dreaded term "fragmentation" has been applied to Android more times than anyone can count over the past half-decade. That's part of the reason why game developers often build for iOS before Android, even though Android offers a bigger potential customer base worldwide, and more types of gaming experiences. Fortunately, new sets of tools allow game developers to build for one platform and port their work (fairly) easily to another. "We've done simultaneously because it is such a simple case of swapping out the textures and also hooking up different APIs for scores and achievements," London-based indie developer Tom Vian told Dice. "I've heard that iOS is a better platform to launch on first, but there's no sense for us in waiting when we can spend half a day and get it up and running." So is fragmentation an overhyped roadblock, or is it a genuine problem for developers who work in mobile?
Cellphones

Apple Will Let Users Test iOS Beta Versions For the First Time 54

Posted by timothy
from the go-ahead-take-a-bite dept.
9to5 Mac reports that In an effort to eliminate bugs from upcoming iOS versions ahead of their general releases, Apple plans to launch the first-ever public beta program for the iOS operating system, according to multiple people briefed on the plans. Following the successful launch of the OS X Public Beta program with OS X Yosemite last year, Apple intends to release the upcoming iOS 8.3 as a public beta via the company’s existing AppleSeed program in mid-March, according to the sources. The article goes on to say Like the early iOS 8 developers builds, the public betas will include a dedicated app that allows users to report bugs to Apple. The main goal of the iOS beta program will be a more reliable and widely tested operating system by the time of the wider consumer launch, as Apple has come under fire for lack of quality control in iOS 8. Launching public beta versions of iOS will also reduce the demand for unauthorized sales of beta downloads from developer accounts, which enabled some consumers to test-drive future iOS features.
Media

Watch Videos in Synch with Fellow iOS Users (Video) 71

Posted by Roblimo
from the let's-all-sing-together-now dept.
This video is about Dr. Saeed Darvish-Kazem and Dr. Michael Pazaratz, two MDs from Canada, who came up with a free iOS app called WeMesh that lets you share video content with iOS-owning friends in real time. You see the video and so does your friend. more or less simultaneously. Cat videos and 90s music are two categories the doctors say are especially popular on WeMesh, which only works with YouTube at the moment, a shortcoming they hope to change in the near future. NOTE: If you're on the Slashdot main page and click the 'Read' link below this paragraph, the video will autoplay.
Cellphones

Starting This Week, Wireless Carriers Must Unlock Your Phone 100

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-employees-must-wash-hands dept.
HughPickens.com writes Andrew Moore-Crispin reports that beginning today, as result of an agreement major wireless carriers made with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in late 2013, wireless carriers in the US must unlock your phone as soon as a contract term is fulfilled if asked to do so unless a phone is connected in some way to an account that owes the carrier money. Carriers must also post unlocking policies on their websites (here are links for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), provide notice to customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking, respond to unlock requests within two business days, and unlock devices for deployed military personnel. So why unlock your phone? Unlocking a phone allows it to be used on any compatible network, regardless of carrier which could result in significant savings. Or you could go with an MVNO, stay on the same network, and pay much less for the same cellular service.
Cellphones

Study: Smartphones Just As Good As Fitness Trackers For Counting Steps 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the stepping-it-up dept.
jfruh writes While dedicated fitness trackers that you wear around your wrist have any number of functions, many people are focused on a single metric: counting steps, which serves as a proxy for determining how active you are. But a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that if that's mainly what you want out of a fitness tracker, then you almost certainly have a device in your pocket that can do the same thing as well if not better: your smartphone.
Businesses

Alibaba Bets $590 Million On Becoming Smartphone Player 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the piece-of-the-pie dept.
An anonymous reader was one of many to note that Alibaba has bought a $590 million minority stake in Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu. "China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is taking a $590 million stake in an obscure domestic smartphone maker as the e-commerce giant tests ways to expand its mobile operating system in a shrinking, cut-throat handset market. Extending a previously muted push into hardware, Alibaba said on Monday it will buy an unspecified minority stake in smartphone maker Meizu Technology Co. Dwarfed by rivals like Xiaomi Inc, privately owned Meizu's slice of China's smartphone market is estimated by analysts at below 2 percent. The deal, unlike U.S. rival Amazon.com Inc's foray into smartphones with its own-brand Fire Phone, is designed to help Alibaba push its mobile operating system within China through Meizu's handsets. In return, Zhuhai, Guangdong-based Meizu will get access to Alibaba's e-commerce sales channels and other resources, the companies said in a joint statement."
Operating Systems

The First Ubuntu Phone Is Here, With Underwhelming Hardware 177

Posted by timothy
from the early-days-yet dept.
A few days ago, Fast Company reviewer Jay Cassano was enthusiastic about Ubuntu's approach to apps for its new phone OS: namely, not relying on them, and instead interfacing seamlessly with existing websites and protocols. Now, new submitter ablutions (4006541) writes with a less than glowing review at The Daily Dot of the actual hardware that the OS is launching on. A sample that conveys the gist: Let's start with the good stuff: It sports a 4.5-inch multi-touch screen and a respectable 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel lens on the front. That's pretty much it. The list of negatives is a bit longer.
Handhelds

Dell Venue 8 7000, "World's Thinnest Tablet" With Intel Moorefield Atom Reviewed 120

Posted by timothy
from the straight-outta-round-rock dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Dell recently launched their Android-based Venue 8 7000 slate, claiming it's the "world's thinnest" tablet. It measures a mere 6 millimeters thick, or 0.24 inches and change. That's 0.1mm slimmer than Apple's iPad Air 2 and 1.5mm flatter than the iPad mini 3, giving Dell full bragging rights, even if by a hair. Dell also opted for an Intel Atom Z3580 processor under the hood, clocked at up to 2.3GHz. This quad-core part is built on Intel's 22nm Moorefield microarchitecture. Compared to its Bay Trail predecessor, Moorefield comes in a smaller package with superior thermal attributes, as well as better graphics performance, courtesy of its PowerVR G6430 graphics core. The Venue 8 7000 also features one of the best 8-inch OLED displays on the market, with edge-to-edge glass and a 2560x1600 resolution. Finally, the Venue 8 7000 is also the first to integrate Intel's RealSense Snapshot Depth Camera, which offers interesting re-focusing and stereoscopic effects, with potentially other, more interesting use cases down the road. Performance-wise, the Venue 8 7000 is solid enough though not a speedster, putting out metrics in the benchmarks that place it in the middle of the pack of premium tablets on the market currently."
Verizon

Verizon Dropping Data Rates, But Current Customers Have To Call 136

Posted by timothy
from the oh-you-mean-you-didn't-like-getting-slammed? dept.
New submitter executioner writes with this news from Consumerist: In spite of Verizon Wireless' recent boasts that it's 'a leader, not a follower,' a new announcement from the nation's biggest wireless company shows that Big V is indeed following the competition down the path of charging customers less for their data plans. However, current Verizon subscribers will need to let the company know they want to save money (or get more data). It's a little confusing, so stick with us for a moment. Verizon MORE Everything customers who currently have monthly data allotments of 1GB, 2GB, 3GB, or 4GB will have an option on how they want to save.They can either get more data for their money by getting 1GB of additional data per month for no extra charge OR they can have their bill reduced by $10/month.So someone with a 2GB plan is currently paying $50/month. If they take the free data option, that goes to 3GB for the same price. Or they can elect to stick with the 2GB and their data bill drops to $40/month.
Cellphones

What Happened To the Photography Industry In 2014? 422

Posted by timothy
from the it-got-even-more-nervous dept.
Iddo Genuth writes 2013 was the worst year for the photography industry in decades — but what happened in 2014 and will the upcoming blitz of cameras (including the super resolution Canon 5D S with 50MP sensor to be announced tomorrow) change everything in 2015? The official numbers published by CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) are out and they tell a story of a struggling photography industry trying to stay afloat in a sea of smartphones. Will it survive? This is the big question all of the photography manufacturers are facing over the past two years, and eventually what does it all mean for us as consumers? One thing that tiny phones lack, no matter their megapixel count, is the space for heavy glass or large sensors, which seems to leave a lot of room in the market even for small(ish) but dedicated cameras.
Handhelds

The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One 307

Posted by Soulskill
from the interactive-chopping-boards dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Five years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad and insisted that it would do many things better than either a laptop or a smartphone. Will Oremus writes at Future Tense that by most standards, the iPad has been a success, and the tablet has indeed emerged as a third category of computing device. But there's another way of looking at the iPad. According to Oremus, Jobs was right to leave out the productivity features and go big on the simple tactile pleasure of holding the Internet in your hands.

But for all its popularity and appeal, the iPad never has quite cleared the bar Jobs set for it, which was to be "far better" at some key tasks than a laptop or a smartphone. The iPad may have been "far better" when it was first released, but smartphones have come a long way. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and their Android equivalents are now convenient enough for most mobile computing tasks that there's no need to carry around a tablet as well. That helps explain why iPad sales have plateaued, rather than continuing to ascend to the stratospheric levels of the iPhone. "The iPad remains an impressive machine. But it also remains a luxury item rather than a necessity," concludes Oremus. "Again, by most standards, it is a major success. Just not by the high standards that Jobs himself set for it five years ago."
Google

Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3 579

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-patch-for-you dept.
MojoKid writes If you're running Android 4.3 or earlier, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to a baked-in defense against a WebView vulnerability that was discovered earlier this month by security analyst Tod Beardsley. The vulnerability leaves millions of users open to attack from hackers that choose to exploit the security hole. WebView is a core component of the Android operating system that renders web pages. The good news is that the version of WebView included in Android 4.4 KitKat and Android 5.0 Lollipop is based on Chromium and is not affected by the vulnerability. The bad news is that those running Android 4.3 and earlier are wide open, which means that 60 percent of Android users (or nearly one billion customers) are affected. What's most interesting is that Google has no trouble tossing grenades at the feet of Microsoft and Apple courtesy of its Project Zero program, but doesn't seem to have the resources to fix a vulnerability that affects a substantial portion of the Android user base.
Communications

For New Yorkers, Cablevision Introduces a Wi-Fi-Centric VoiP Network 43

Posted by timothy
from the they'll-take-manhattan dept.
The New York Times reports that Cablevision Systems plans to announce on Monday the start of a low-cost mobile phone service that will use Wi-Fi for connectivity rather than standard cellular networks, the first such service to be introduced by a cable operator. Called Freewheel, the service will offer unlimited data, talking and texting worldwide for $29.95 a month, or $9.95 a month for Cablevision’s Optimum Online customers — a steep discount compared with standard offerings from traditional cellular carriers. Freewheel customers initially must use a specific Motorola Moto G smartphone, which is being sold for $99.95. The service goes on sale next month, and no annual contract is required. (Reuters carries a similar story.)
Windows

Surface RT Devices Won't Get Windows 10 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-that-early-adopters dept.
whoever57 writes: In its announcement of Windows 10, Microsoft indicated not all devices would get the updated operating system. Now, Microsoft says its Surface devices running Windows RT won't be receiving full updates, though it does plan to roll some new functionality into them. "Given that Windows RT and RT 8.1 were designed for power economizing devices sporting 32-bit ARM architecture, and never had the same functionality — to many users' frustration — as full-blown Windows 8 and 8.1, it comes as little surprise that the RT versions of the operating system should be left out of the latest update loop. In fact, a week before Microsoft's big Windows 10 reveal on January 21, the company released firmware updates for all three models of its Intel-powered Surface Pro series, but neither of the ARM-based Surface tablets — the Surface 2 or Surface RT — received any new updates this month." The Surface Pro line of tablets, which run a normal version of Windows, will be getting an update to Windows 10.