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Businesses

Cyanogen Inc. Reportedly Fires OS Development Arm, Switches To Apps (arstechnica.com) 50

An anonymous reader writes: Android Police is reporting that the Android software company Cyanogen Inc. will be laying off 20 percent of its workforce, and will transition from OS development to applications. The Android Police report says "roughly 30 out of the 136 people Cyanogen Inc. employs" are being cut, and that the layoffs "most heavily impact the open source arm" of the company. Android Police goes on to say that CyanogenMod development by Cyanogen Inc "may be eliminated entirely." Ars Technica notes the differences between each "Cyanogen" branding. Specifically, CyanogenMod is a "free, open source, OS heavily based on Android and compatible with hundreds of devices," while Cyanogen Inc. is "a for-profit company that aims to sell Cyanogen OS to OEMs." It appears that many of the core CyanogenMod developers will no longer be paid to work on CyanogenMod, though the community is still free to develop the software." Android Police details the firing process in their report: "Layoffs reportedly came after a long executive retreat for the company's leaders and were conducted with no advanced notice. Employees who were not let go were told not to show up to work today. Those who did show up were the unlucky ones: they had generic human resources meetings rather ominously added to their calendars last night. So, everyone who arrived at Cyanogen Inc. in Seattle this morning did so to lose their job (aside from those conducting the layoffs)." Early last year, Microsoft invested in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing for the then-startup Cyanogen Inc. Not too long before that, Google tried to acquire Cyanogen Inc., but the company turned down Google's offer to seek funding from investors and major tech companies at a valuation of around $1 billion. Cyanogen Inc. CEO Kirt McMaster once said the company was "attempting to take Android away from Google" and that it was "putting a bullet through Google's head."
Businesses

Apple: Pokemon Go Sets Record For Most Downloads In Its First Week (techcrunch.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that Pokemon Go has attracted more downloads in the App Store during its first week than any other app in App Store history. What's even more surprisingly is that the app was only available in a few countries at the time -- it initially launched in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. Apple didn't provide the number of downloads, but one can assume it's well into the millions. Pokemon Go is expected to become even more popular as it becomes available in more countries -- the game just launched in Japan today. With millions of downloads in the first week alone, Pokemon Go is expected to generate large sums of money for Apple. The Guardian is reporting that Apple will "rake in $3 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokeCoins' from its app store."
Nintendo

Apple To Make $3 Billion From Pokemon Go (theguardian.com) 77

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: We all know what Pokemon Go is, and we all know how successful it is. The Guardian is reporting that Apple will "rake in $3 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokeCoins' from its app store, according to analysts." One pack of 100 PokeCoins costs about $1 in Apple's app store, but gamers can purchase as many as 14,500 PokeCoins for about $100. "We believe Apple keeps 30% of Pokemon Go's revenue spent on iOS devices, suggesting upside to earnings," Needham and Co brokerage analyst Laura Martin wrote in a client note on Wednesday. The game, which is also available on Android, had over 21 million active users after only being on the market for less than two weeks. It has also been rolled out in 35 countries since its U.S. debut. "Martin said Pokemon Go's ratio of paid users to total users was 10 times that of Candy Crush, the hit game from King Digital that generated more than $1 billion of revenue in both 2013 and 2014," reports The Guardian. Not only has Apple's stock risen since the launch of Pokemon Go, but Nintendo's stock has more than doubled.
Printer

Police 3D-Printed A Murder Victim's Finger To Unlock His Phone (theverge.com) 96

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Police in Michigan have a new tool for unlocking phones: 3D printing. According to a new report from Flash Forward creator Rose Eveleth, law enforcement officers approached professors at the University of Michigan earlier this year to reproduce a murder victim's fingerprint from a prerecorded scan. Once created, the 3D model would be used to create a false fingerprint, which could be used to unlock the phone. Because the investigation is ongoing, details are limited, and it's unclear whether the technique will be successful. Still, it's similar to techniques researchers have used in the past to re-create working fingerprint molds from scanned images, often in coordination with law enforcement. This may be the first confirmed case of police using the technique to unlock a phone in an active investigation. Apple has recently changed the way iOS manages fingerprint logins. You are now required to input an additional passcode if your phone hasn't been touched for eight hours and the passcode hasn't been entered in the past six days.
Verizon

Verizon To Disconnect Unlimited Data Customers Who Use Over 100GB/Month 402

Verizon Wireless customers who have an unlimited data plan and use significantly more than 100GB a month will soon be disconnected from the network unless they agree to move to limited data packages that require payment of overage fees. Ars Technica reports: Verizon stopped offering unlimited data to new smartphone customers a few years ago, but some customers have been able to hang on to the old plans instead of switching to ones with monthly data limits. Verizon has tried to convert the holdouts by raising the price $20 a month and occasionally throttling heavy users but stopped that practice after net neutrality rules took effect. Now Verizon is implementing a formal policy for disconnecting the heaviest users.In a statement, Verizon said: "Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a very small group of customers on unlimited plans who use an extraordinary amount of data that they must move to one of the new Verizon Plans by August 31, 2016." a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. "These users are using data amounts well in excess of our largest plan size (100GB). While the Verizon Plan at 100GB is designed to be shared across multiple users, each line receiving notification to move to the new Verizon Plan is using well in excess of that on a single device." FYI: The 100GB plan costs $450 a month.
Privacy

Edward Snowden's New Research Aims To Keep Smartphones From Betraying Their Owners (theintercept.com) 106

Smartphones become indispensable tools for journalists, human right workers, and activists in war-torn regions. But at the same time, as Intercept points out, they become especially potent tracking devices that can put users in mortal danger by leaking their location. To address the problem, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and hardware hacker Andrew "Bunnie" Huang have been developing a way for potentially imperiled smartphone users to monitor whether their devices are making any potentially compromising radio transmissions. "We have to ensure that journalists can investigate and find the truth, even in areas where governments prefer they don't," Snowden told Intercept. "It's basically to make the phone work for you, how you want it, when you want it, but only when." Snowden and Huang presented their findings in a talk at MIT Media Lab's Forbidden Research event Thursday, and published a detailed paper. From the Intercept article: Snowden and Huang have been researching if it's possible to use a smartphone in such an offline manner without leaking its location, starting with the assumption that "a phone can and will be compromised." [...] The research is necessary in part because most common way to try and silence a phone's radio -- turning on airplane mode -- can't be relied on to squelch your phone's radio traffic. Fortunately, a smartphone can be made to lie about the state of its radios. The article adds: According to their post, the goal is to "provide field-ready tools that enable a reporter to observe and investigate the status of the phone's radios directly and independently of the phone's native hardware." In other words, they want to build an entirely separate tiny computer that users can attach to a smartphone to alert them if it's being dishonest about its radio emissions. Snowden and Haung are calling this device an "introspection engine" because it will inspect the inner-workings of the phone. The device will be contained inside a battery case, looking similar to a smartphone with an extra bulky battery, except with its own screen to update the user on the status of the radios. Plans are for the device to also be able to sound an audible alarm and possibly to also come equipped with a "kill switch" that can shut off power to the phone if any radio signals are detected.Wired has a detailed report on this, too.
Cellphones

Corning Unveils Gorilla Glass 5, Can Survive Drops 'Up To 80% Of The Time' (theverge.com) 110

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Corning has unveiled their new Gorilla Glass 5, which should make its way to high-end smartphones and other electronic devices later this year and into 2017. Gorilla Glass 5 is designed to improve drop performance from devices that are dropped onto rough surfaces from waist heigh to shoulder height. Corning says it can survive up to 80 percent of the time when dropped from 1.6 meters. For comparison, Gorilla Glass 4, which was released in the fall of 2014, was marketed as being twice as tough as the previous version and twice as likely to survive drops onto uneven surfaces from about a meter high. Some things to note include the fact that in Corning's tests, the 80 percent survival rate was with pieces of glass that were 0.6mm thick -- Corning now makes glass as thin as 0.4mm. Depending on how thin manufacturers want the glass in their devices, the durability results may vary. Also, most of demos consisted of dropping the glass face down, rather than on its side or corner. Corning's vice president and general manger John Bayne said if the glass is dropped in such a way, it's going to depend on the overall design of the phone, not just the glass. Gorilla Glass 5 is currently in production, though the company says we'll hear more about it "in the next few months." There's no word as to whether or not the glass will be ready in time for the wave of devices expected this fall.
The Almighty Buck

How The Internet Helps Sex Workers Keep Customers Honest (qz.com) 142

HughPickens.com writes: Mid-range prostitution is a relatively new market, enabled by technology. Before the internet, it was hard for escorts to find customers: They had to either walk the streets searching for customers, rely on word-of-mouth, or work with agencies. The internet changed all that as Allison Schrager writes at Quartz that if you work at Goldman Sachs in NYC and you want to tie up a woman and then have sex with her, you'll first have to talk to Rita. Rita will "insist on calling your office, speaking to the switchboard operator, and being patched through to your desk. Then she will want to check out your profile on the company website and LinkedIn. She'll demand you send her message from your work email, and require a scan of either your passport or driver's license." Though some escorts rely on sex work-specific sites that maintain "bad date" lists of potentially dangerous clients, others make use of more mainstream sources to gather information about and verify the identities of potential johns. Rita is addressing a problem that every business, both legal and illegal, has. Before the internet, more commerce occurred locally -- customers knew their merchants or service providers and went back to them repeatedly. As technology has expanded our transactional networks, it must also offer new ways of building trust and reputation. "The lesson here is that, while you'd think all the technological options for finding customers would make Rita's job as a madam obsolete, it has actually made her services more critical," says Schrager. "One step ahead of the mainstream economy, Rita's thriving business shows that some jobs won't disappear. They just need to be recast in a way that capitalizes on what made them valuable in the first place."
Government

Saudi Arabia Revives 15-Year-Old Ban On 'Zionism-Promoting' Pokemon (timesofisrael.com) 321

An anonymous reader writes: Clerics in Saudi Arabia have renewed a 15-year-old ban on Pokemon, following the release of the highly popular augmented reality version of the game, Pokemon Go. According to Reuters, the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars reaffirmed a 2001 ban on the game. The Times of Israel reports: "While fatwa no. 21,758 makes no mention of the latest iteration of [the] game, it does list many sinful aspects of Pokemon. Firstly, the game is seen as a form of gambling, which itself is forbidden. Secondly, it encourages belief in Darwin's theory of evolution, and thirdly, the fatwa says, the symbols used in the game promote the Shinto religion of Japan, Christianity, Freemasonry and 'global Zionism.'" The ruling says: "The symbols and logos of devious religions and organizations are used [including] the six-pointed star: You rarely find a card that does not contain such a star. It is associated with Judaism, the logo and sign of the State of Israel, and the first symbol of the Masonry organizations in the world." Pokemon Go has been such a success that it has already doubled Nintendo's stock price after launching just two weeks ago.
Blackberry

BlackBerry CEO 'Disturbed' By Apple's Hard Line On Encryption (theinquirer.net) 197

An anonymous reader writes: BlackBerry CEO John Chen said he is "disturbed" by Apple's tough approach to encryption and user privacy, warning that the firm's attitude is harmful to society. Earlier this year, Chen said in response to Apple resisting the government's demands to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters: "We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good." During BlackBerry's Security Summit in New York this week, Chen made several more comments about Apple's stance on encryption. "One of our competitors, we call it 'the other fruit company,' has an attitude that it doesn't matter how much it might hurt society, they're not going to help," he said. "I found that disturbing as a citizen. I think BlackBerry, like any company, should have a basic civil responsibility. If the world is in danger, we should be able to help out." He did say there was a lot of "nonsense" being reported about BlackBerry and its approach to how it handles user information. "Of course, there need to be clear guidelines. The guidelines we've adopted require legal assets. A subpoena for certain data. But if you have the data, you should give it to them," he said. "There's some complete nonsense about what we can and can't do. People are mad at us that we let the government have the data. It's absolute garbage. We can't do that." Chen also warned that mandatory back doors aren't a good idea either, hinting at the impending Investigatory Powers Bill. "There's proposed legislation in the U.S., and I'm sure it will come to the EU, that every vendor needs to provide some form of a back door. That is not going to fly at all. It just isn't," he said.
Cloud

Amazon Isn't Saying If Echo Has Been Wiretapped (zdnet.com) 85

An anonymous reader writes from a report via ZDNet: Since announcing how many government data requests and wiretap orders it receives, Amazon has so far issued two transparency reports. The two reports outline how many subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders the company received to cloud service, Amazon Web Services. The cloud makes up a large portion of all the data Amazon gathers, but the company does also collect vast amounts of data from its retail businesses, mobile services, book purchases, and requests made to Echo. The company's third report is due to be released in a few weeks but an Amazon spokesperson wouldn't comment on whether or not the company will expand its transparency report to include information regarding whether or not the Amazon Echo has been wiretapped. There are reportedly more than three million Amazon Echo speakers out in the wild. Gizmodo filed a freedom of information (FOIA) request with the FBI earlier this year to see if the agency had wiretapped an Echo as part of a criminal investigation. The FBI didn't confirm or deny wiretapping the Echo. Amazon was recently awarded a patent for drone docking and recharging stations that would be built on tall, existing structures like lampposts, cell towers, or church steeples.
Government

WikiLeaks Releases 300K Turkey Government Emails In Response To Erdogan's Post-Coup Purges (rt.com) 230

An anonymous reader quotes a report from RT: Despite a massive cyberattack on its website, WikiLeaks has published the first batch of nearly 300,000 emails from the Turkish ruling AKP party's internal server and thousands of attached files in response to the Ankara government's widespread post-coup purges. Some 294,548 emails pertaining to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) were made public on Tuesday at 11:00pm Ankara time. WikiLeaks says that the release of almost 300,000 email bodies together with several thousand attached files, is just part one in the series and encompasses 762 mailboxes beginning with 'A' through to 'I.' All emails are attributed to "akparti.org.tr," the primary domain of the main political force in the country, and cover a period from 2010 up until July 6, 2016, just a week before the failed military coup. The NGO also revealed that one of the emails contained an Excel database of the cell phone numbers of AKP deputies. Prior to the release WikiLeaks suffered a "sustained attack" as it warned that Turkish government entities might try to interfere with the publication of the AKP material. The attacks are still continuing and users are experiencing difficulties in accessing the material. WikiLeaks reassured the public that they are "winning" the battle. A few hours after the release, WikiLeaks tweeted a screenshot showing the database to be blocked in Turkey, claiming that Ankara "ordered [the release] to be blocked nationwide." More than 200 people have died and over 1,400 injured from the attempted coup. Thousands of people have also been detained and/or lost their posts across the judiciary, military, interior ministry and civil service sectors. The Turkish president Erdogan is blaming the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the attempted coup.
Communications

Facebook Pitches Laser Beams As The High-Speed Internet Of The Future (pcworld.com) 93

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: Facebook says it has developed a laser detector that could open the airwaves to new high-speed data communications systems that don't require dedicated spectrum or licenses. The component, disclosed on Tuesday in a scientific journal, comes from the company's Connectivity Lab, which is involved in developing technology that can help spread high-speed internet to places it currently doesn't reach. At 126 square centimeters, Facebook's new laser detector is thousands of times larger. It consists of plastic optical fibers that have been "doped" so they absorb blue light. The fibers create a large flat area that serves as the detector. They luminesce, so the blue light is reemitted as green light as it travels down the fibers, which are then bundled together tightly before they meet with a photodiode. It's described in a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Optica. Facebook says there are applications for the technology both indoors and outdoors. Around the home, it could be used to transmit high-definition video to mobile devices. Outdoors, the same technology could be used to establish low-cost communications links of a kilometer or more in length. In tests, the company managed to achieve a speed of 2.1Gbps using the detector, and the company thinks it can go faster. By using materials that work closer to infrared, the speed could be increased. And using yet-to-be developed components that work at wavelengths invisible to the human eye, the speed could be increased even more. If invisible to humans, the power could also be increased without danger of harming someone, further increasing speed and distance.
Patents

Amazon Patents Way To Turn Lampposts, Church Steeples Into Drone Perches (consumerist.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Consumerist: Amazon has received a patent that shows what drones may be doing when they're not flying throughout the sky delivering packages: sitting on lampposts and church steeples. "Amazon was recently awarded a patent for docking and recharging stations that would be built on tall, existing structures like lampposts, cell towers, or church steeples," reports The Consumerist. "Once the drone is done making a delivery, it would be able to land on the station, recharge and refuel, as well as pick up additional packages." A "central control system" would then be able to control each docking station and connect the docked drone(s) with a local or regional packaged handling center or central facility. Based on weather or package data, the drones may be commanded accordingly. The patent says the system will not only provide directions based to the drone, but will have the ability to redirect the unmanned aerial vehicle based on the most favorable conditions, such as a route with less wind. The patent describes a system in which the drone delivers a package to the platform that then moves the item via a "vacuum tube, dumbwaiter, elevator, or conveyor to the ground level." From there, the package could be transferred to an Amazon Locker or a local delivery person. The docking stations could also act as cell towers that "provide local free or fee-based Wi-Fi services. This can enable cities to provide free Wi-Fi in public parks, buildings, and other public areas without bearing the burden of installing some, or all, of the necessary infrastructure."
Chrome

Safari Browser May Soon Be Just As Fast As Chrome With WebP Integration (thenextweb.com) 104

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Next Web: The Safari browser included in Apple's iOS 10 and macOS Sierra software is testing WebP, technology from Google that allows developers to create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. Basically, it's a way for webpages to load more quickly. The Next Web reports: "WebP was built into Chrome back at build 32 (2013!), so it's not unproven. It's also used by Facebook due to its image compression underpinnings, and is in use across many Google properties, including YouTube." Microsoft is one of the only major players to not use WebP, according to CNET. It's not included in Internet Explorer and the company has "no plans" to integrate it into Edge. Even though iOS 10 and macOS Sierra are in beta, it's promising that we will see WebP make its debut in Safari latest this year. "It's hard to imagine Apple turning away tried and true technology that's found in a more popular browser -- one that's favored by many over Safari due to its speed, where WebP plays a huge part," reports The Next Web. "Safari is currently the second most popular browser to Chrome." What's also interesting is how WebP isn't mentioned at all in the logs for Apple's Safari Technology Preview.

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