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Businesses

Is Dong Nguyen Trolling Gamers With "Swing Copters"? 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the stirring-the-pot dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Given its extreme difficulty, it's tempting to think that the new Swing Copters is Dong Nguyen's attempt at a joke (You thought 'Flappy Bird' was hard? Check this out!), or maybe even a meta-comment on the emerging "masocore" gaming category. Or maybe he just wanted to make another game, and the idea of an ultra-difficult one appealed. Whatever the case, Nguyen can rely on the enduring popularity of Flappy Bird to propel Swing Copters to the top of the Google and iOS charts. But his games' popularity illuminates a rough issue for developers of popular (or even just semi-popular) apps everywhere: how do you deal with all the copycats flooding the world's app stores? Although Google and Apple boast that their respective app stores feature hundreds of thousands of apps, sometimes it seems as if most of those apps are crude imitations of other apps. The perpetual fear among app developers is that they'll score a modest hit—only to see their years of hard work undermined by someone who cobbles together a clone in a matter of weeks or days. If Apple and Google want to make things friendlier out there for developers, they might consider stricter enforcement policies for the blatant rip-offs filling their digital storefronts.
Businesses

Major Delays, Revamped Beta For Credit-Card Consolidating Gadget Coin 78

Posted by timothy
from the nickelback-quarterback-pedalback dept.
The premise behind Coin is attractive: consolidate credit cards onto a single card-sized gadget. However, on Friday the company announced a delay in the release of its final version from this summer to spring of 2015, and in a way that angered many of the project's crowd-funding backers. The announcement of a delay was not only sudden, and quite close to the previously announced shipping date, but upset those who'd pre-ordered by outlining a confusing beta program that would involve an interim product release — recipients of the beta version (limited to 10,000) would have had to then pay $30 to upgrade to the final product. As CNET reports, the delay until 2015 remains, but with regard to that beta program, Coin has now reversed its stance. The beta program will be free -- meaning preorder customers who opt-in will no longer forfeit the $55 they paid and will still receive the finished Coin product next year. The program will also expand from 10,000 customers to 15,000. Regardless of whether your smartphone is running Apple's iOS or Google's Android operating system, preorder customers can opt-in to Coin's beta program through its app and will be eligible for a device if they fall within the 15,000-person threshold. The order is determined by when you bought your Coin. Coin customers, some who placed orders as far back as November 2013 when the startup first opened its website for preorders, were displeased not so much with the product delay as with the way Coin handled the situation. The company had, as recently as August 14, sent out an update explaining that a long-awaited shipping announcement would arrive at month's end --yet without an indication that it may miss its shipping target.
Android

Researchers Hack Gmail With 92 Percent Success Rate 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-enough-for-an-A dept.
SternisheFan sends this report from CNET: Researchers at the University of California Riverside Bourns College of Engineering and the University of Michigan have identified a weakness they believe to exist across Android, Windows, and iOS operating systems that could allow malicious apps to obtain personal information. Although it was tested only on an Android phone, the team believes that the method could be used across all three operating systems because all three share a similar feature: all apps can access a mobile device's shared memory. "The assumption has always been that these apps can't interfere with each other easily," said Zhiyun Qian, an associate professor at UC Riverside. "We show that assumption is not correct and one app can in fact significantly impact another and result in harmful consequences for the user." To demonstrate the method of attack, first a user must download an app that appears benign, such as a wallpaper, but actually contains malicious code. Once installed, the researchers can use it to access the shared memory statistics of any process (PDF), which doesn't require any special privileges.
IOS

Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery dept.
stephendavion writes Looks like Chinese device maker, Xiaomi, is taking its "Apple of the East" tag too literally. First, their CEO brazenly copies Steve Jobs' signature look, sitting cross-legged on the floor. And now, Xiaomi's latest version of Android shamelessly rips off iOS 7. MIUI 6, which is Xiaomi's upcoming edition of Android for its latest phones and tablets, looks almost exactly like Apple's operating system for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. It features the same bright color palette and a flat design. Heck, it even does away with Google's "app drawer" and puts all apps on your home screen. It's like the CEO handed iPhones to the design team and barked: "Here, copy this!"
IOS

The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer 72

Posted by timothy
from the seems-an-obvious-hole dept.
angry tapir (1463043) writes Apple has done well to insulate its iOS mobile operating system from many security issues, but a forthcoming demonstration shows it's far from perfect. Next Wednesday at the Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego, researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology will show how iOS's Achilles' heel is exposed when devices are connected over USB to a computer or have Wi-Fi synching enabled. The beauty of their attack is that it doesn't rely on iOS software vulnerabilities, the customary way that hackers commandeer computers. It simply takes advantage of design issues in iOS, working around Apple's layered protections to accomplish a sinister goal.
Real Time Strategy (Games)

Auralux Release For Browsers Shows Emscripten Is Reaching Indie Devs 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-your-servers-are-ready dept.
New submitter MorgyTheMole writes Porting C++/OpenGL based games using Emscripten and WebGL has been an approach pushed by Mozilla for some time now. Games using the technology are compatible with most modern browsers and require no separate install. We've seen Epic Games demonstrate UnrealEngine 4 in browser as well as Unity show off a variety of games. Now as the technology matures, indie devs are looking to get into the mix, including this near one-to-one port of E McNeill's Auralux, a simplified RTS game, from Android and iOS. (Disclosure: I am a programmer who worked on this title.)
Media

Xbox One Will Play Media from USB Devices, DLNA Servers 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the revolution-will-not-be-streamed dept.
New submitter Mauro sends word that Microsoft has announced upcoming Xbox One support for streaming media both from attached USB devices, such as flash drives, and DLNA media servers. Compatibility with a broad list of media formats will be added by the end of the year, including .MKV files. They also followed up last week's announcement of a digital TV tuner with an interesting twist: it will be able to stream broadcasts over a local network to devices running the Smartglass app, which is available on Windows, Android, and iOS.
Businesses

Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording 368

Posted by timothy
from the keep-the-recording-handy dept.
An anonymous reader writes In yet another example of the quality of Comcast's customer service, a story surfaced today of a Comcast customer who was over-charged for a service that was never provided. At first, the consumer seemed to be on the losing end of a customer service conversation, with Comcast insisting that the charges were fair. But then, the consumer whipped out a recording of a previous conversation that he had with another Comcast representative in which not only was the consumer promised that he wouldn't be charged for services not rendered, but the reason why was explained. Suddenly Comcast conceded, and the fees were dropped. But most telling of all, the Comcast rep implied that she only dropped them because he had taped his previous interaction with Comcast customer service. I wish I had recordings of every conversation that I've ever had with AT&T, the USPS, and the landlord I once had in Philadelphia. Lifehacker posted last year a few tips on the practicality of recording phone calls, using Google Voice, a VoIP service, or a dedicated app. Can anyone update their advice by recommending a good Android app (or iOS, for that matter) designed specifically to record sales and service calls, complete with automated notice?
Networking

Expensive Hotels Really Do Have Faster Wi-Fi 72

Posted by timothy
from the starbucks-is-my-airport-lounge dept.
OpenSignal, by means of mobile apps for iOS and Android, has been amassing data on Wi-Fi and cell-network signal strength. They released yesterday a few of their findings on the speed of Wi-Fi available at U.S. chain hotels (download speeds, specifically). Though it shouldn't be surprising that (as their data shows) more expensive hotels generally have faster speeds, I know it hasn't always matched my own experience. (Hotel chains also vary, even within brands, in whether the in-room Wi-Fi is free, cheap, or exorbitant.) If the in-room connection is flaky or expensive, though, from the same report it seems you'll do better by popping into a Google-networked Starbucks location than one fed by AT&T, and McDonalds beats Panera Bread by quite a bit.
Transportation

San Francisco Airport Testing Beacon System For Blind Travelers 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-it-easier dept.
An anonymous reader points out this pilot program in San Francisco to help blind passengers better navigate the airport. San Francisco Airport is testing out location-aware beacons to help visually-impaired people navigate around one of its newest terminals, a program it could roll out to the rest of the airport if successful. An early version of the system was shown off to press today for use on Apple iOS devices, though SFO also plans to make it available for Android users and eventually expand the system to serve up information for those who can see. The beacons are coming from an indoor positioning company Indoo.rs and have been installed throughout the terminal. Each beacon will connect to a smartphone app to pop up with information when a user gets within range. For the visually impaired, the system uses Apple's Voiceover technology to read out points of interest as they come on screen, though an early version of the app also gives people visual cues for how to navigate to locations from a directory that can be sorted. That means you could tell it to help you find the nearest power outlet to juice your gear, or the nearest coffee shops to recharge your body.
Windows

Windows XP Falls Below 25% Market Share, Windows 8 Drops Slightly 336

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-something-on-the-somethingtop dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Despite support for Windows XP finally ending three months ago, the ancient OS has only now fallen below the 25 percent market share mark. To add to the bad news for Microsoft, after only nine full months of availability, its latest operating system version, Windows 8.1, has lost share for the first time. For desktop browser share, Chrome is up, taking mostly from Internet Explorer and Firefox. For mobile browsers, Safari continues to fall while Chrome maintains strong growth.
IOS

Georgia Tech Researchers Jailbreak iOS 7.1.2 136

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-tried-bribing-the-guards? dept.
mikejuk writes The constant war to jailbreak and patch iOS has taken another step in favor of the jailbreakers. Georgia Tech researchers have found a way to jailbreak the current version of iOS. What the Georgia Tech team has discovered is a way to break in by a multi-step attack. After analysing the patches put in place to stop previous attacks, the team worked out a sequence that would jailbreak any modern iPhone. The team stresses the importance of patching all of the threats, and not just closing one vulnerability and assuming that it renders others unusable as an attack method. It is claimed that the hack works with any iOS 7.1.2 using device including the iPhone 5s.
It is worth noting that the The Device Freedom Prize for an open source jailbreak of iOS7 is still unclaimed and stands at just over $30,000. The details are to be revealed at the forthcoming Black Hat USA (August 6 & 7 Las Vegas) in a session titled Exploiting Unpatched iOS Vulnerabilities for Fun and Profit:
Open Source

Fotopedia Is Shutting Down; Data Avallable Until August 10 45

Posted by timothy
from the grab-now-if-you-want-any dept.
New submitter Randall Booth writes Fotopedia has sent notice to its users that it is shutting down. 'We are sorry to announce that Fotopedia is shutting down. As of August 10, 2014, Fotopedia.com will close and our iOS applications will cease to function. Our community of passionate photographers, curators and storytellers has made this a wonderful journey, and we'd like to thank you for your hard work and your contributions. We truly believe in the concept of storytelling but don't think there is a suitable business in it yet. If you submitted photos and stories to Fotopedia, your data will be available to download until August 10, 2014. After this date, all photos and data will be permanently deleted from our servers."
Cellphones

Is the App Store Broken? 258

Posted by Soulskill
from the honeymoon-is-over dept.
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?
Programming

Programming Languages You'll Need Next Year (and Beyond) 315

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-folks-still-no-haskell dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Dice, there's a breakdown of the programming languages that could prove most popular over the next year or two, including Apple's Swift, JavaScript, CSS3, and PHP. But perhaps the most interesting entry on the list is Erlang, an older language invented in 1986 by engineers at Ericsson. It was originally intended to be used specifically for telecommunications needs, but has since evolved into a general-purpose language, and found a home in cloud-based, high-performance computing when concurrency is needed. "There aren't a lot of Erlang jobs out there," writes developer Jeff Cogswell. "However, if you do master it (and I mean master it, not just learn a bit about it), then you'll probably land a really good job. That's the trade-off: You'll have to devote a lot of energy into it. But if you do, the payoffs could be high." And while the rest of the featured languages are no-brainers with regard to popularity, it's an open question how long it might take Swift to become popular, given how hard Apple will push it as the language for developing on iOS.
Cellphones

Samsung Delays Tizen Phone Launch 112

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the enlightenment-deemed-too-cool-for-you dept.
New submitter tekxtc (136198) writes Slashdot has reported in the past that a Tizen phone is coming and that the design and photos leaked. But, it has just been announced that the launch of the first Tizen phone has been delayed because of Tizen's small ecosystem. Should it ever ship? Haven't Android and iOS completely cornered the market? Is there any hope for the likes of Tizen, Firefox OS, and Windows on phones and tablets?
Stats

Do Apple and Google Sabotage Older Phones? What the Graphs Don't Show 281

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-apple-fans-are-driven-by-pheremones dept.
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.
IOS

Private Data On iOS Devices Not So Private After All 101

Posted by timothy
from the it's-totally-intuitive dept.
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.
GUI

Mac OS X Yosemite Beta Opens 165

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the smells-like-system-7 dept.
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.

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