Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Apple’s WWDC Dates Announced: June 2-6


Apple has just announced the dates for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, and the long-running event will take place this year from June 2nd to the 6th. It’ll take place in San Francisco’s Moscone West, per usual.

“We have the most amazing developer community in the world and have a great week planned for them,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Every year the WWDC audience becomes more diverse, with developers from almost every discipline you can imagine and coming from every corner of the globe. We look forward to sharing with them our latest advances in iOS and OS X so they can create the next generation of great apps.”

If you’re a developer looking for a ticket, check here. You can put your name on a giant list from now until April 7th, but Apple’s going to choose attendees at random this year.

“Over the past six years, a massive cultural shift has occurred. It;s changed how we interact with one another. Learn new things. Entertain ourselves. Do our work. And live our daily lives. All because of developers and the apps they create. For five days, one thousand Apple engineers and five thousand developers will gather together. And life will be different as result. Write the code. Change the world,” says Apple.

Save the cheerleader, save the world? Now life changing may be a bit a of stretch (a bit…), but Apple has unveiled some pretty big things at WWDCs of the past. Last year, for instance, we got the new version of OS X, iTunes Radio, and iOS 7.

We’ll just have to wait until June to see what Apple has in store for this conference. Oh, who am I kidding, let the speculation begin!


Do The Privacy Implications Of Google Glass Scare You?

Google Glass has some people spooked. They think that Glass turns those who wear the technology into a surveillance cyborg. Now some groups are calling upon the government to take action.

Do you think Google Glass should be banned? Let us know in the comments.Google web site hosting

TechDirt reports that a new We The People petition submitted on May 3, a man from Seattle, Washington is requesting that the government “Ban Google Glass from use in the USA until clear limitations are placed to prevent indecent public surveillance.” As the title suggets, those who have signed are scared of the privacy implications:

Google Glass is a new twist on technology which hasn’t had clearly stated limits on the locations in US communities where it can and cannot be used. In order to protect our communities we need limitations to prevent indecent public surveillance of our friends, children, and families.

It is hard to prevent it because the hardware gives no notification that it is recording an individual at any given time.

Aside from the admittedly weak (only 34 signatures in a week) petition, a group called Stop the Cyborgs has sprung up in recent months in protest of Google Glass. It’s not like they hate Google or Glass though. They also don’t want a ban. Instead, the group argues that they just want consumers to think about what they buy and the implications of technology:

  • That there is a social, commercial and technological trend towards ubiquitous surveillance and monitoring. This trend gives a few corporations and government agencies an unprecedented amount of information about individuals and society as a whole.
  • That human decisions are becoming increasingly influenced technological systems the internal workings of which are secret and which are difficult to challenge. This trend gives a few corporations and governments an unprecedented ability to manipulate society.
  • That initiatives like internet of things, smart cities and government 2.0 are replacing the democratic process with technical systems which will be difficult to change.
  • Even if organisations do not abuse their power. The combination of wearable computing & biometrics allows everything to be linked to a single identity available to anyone you interact with. Thus for example it becomes impossible to separate your professional and personal life; it becomes impossible to be politically active without your political affiliation being known to everyone you interact with; it becomes impossible to keep your relationships private; it becomes impossible to speak or behave freely in the moment without considering how your actions might be perceived in all future contexts and all future audiences.

As for its specific beef with Google Glass, the group lists a number of problems it has with the technology:

  • The camera is always pointing at head height and only needs to be electronically activated to record. This allows the possibility of accidental or remote activation.
  • The devices are hands free so the person does not need to take on the role of cameraman but rather just happens to be recording. This encourages people to record data and makes it harder to tell if someone is recording compared to them pointing a camera or smart phone at you.
  • Heads up displays allow people to be fed information without others knowing they are receiving it.
  • The devices are typically tied into a central server, which aggregates and stores information.

Their concerns may be legitimate as hackers with early access to Glass say its relatively easy to turn the device into a surveillance tool. The obvious first thought is that people can use Glass to spy on others, but the real threat is that hackers could use Glass to spy on the person wearing them. Jay Freeman explains:

Once the attacker has root on your Glass, they have much more power than if they had access to your phone or even your computer: they have control over a camera and a microphone that are attached to your head. A bugged Glass doesn’t just watch your every move: it watches everything you are looking at (intentionally or furtively) and hears everything you do. The only thing it doesn’t know are your thoughts.

The obvious problem, of course, is that you might be using it in fairly private situations. Yesterday, Robert Scoble demonstrated on his Google+ feed that it survived being in the shower with him. Thankfully (for him, and possibly for us), this extreme dedication to around-the-clock usage of Glass also protects him from malicious attacks: good luck getting even a minute alone with his hardware ;P.

However, a more subtle issue is that, in a way, it also hacks into every device you interact with. It knows all your passwords, for example, as it can watch you type them. It even manages to monitor your usage of otherwise safe, old-fashioned technology: it watches you enter door codes, it takes pictures of your keys, and it records what you write using a pen and paper. Nothing is safe once your Glass has been hacked.

Do you think fears of Google Glass are overblown? Or do you think hackers could wreak havoc on those who choose to wear Glass? Let us know in the comments.

I think most can agree that hardware like Glass shouldn’t be allowed in certain places. It’s totally reasonable to ban its use at bars, strip clubs and other places that respect client confidentiality. It should also probably be banned from the workplace or other locations that handle sensitive data.

That being said, the consumer version of Glass is at least a year away. That gives Google and developers enough time to ensure that Glass respects privacy while potentially ushering in a new era of wearable computing.

Despite all of the fear circulating around Google Glass, you probably won’t have to worry about people abusing the technology. Those who use Glass will either be too busy taking selfies in the shower or being punched in the face.


Microsoft Launches Windows Phone 8 Developer Platform

“Since early September, Microsoft has opened the Windows Phone 8 SDK to a small number of developers. Some indie developers, who had already signed up for MSDN, felt they were being snubbed when the SDK wasn’t made available to them. It’s been two months since then and now Microsoft is finally ready to open the SDK to everyone.

At the BUILD 2012 Conference, Microsoft announced that the Windows Phone 8 developer platform is now available to all. The new platform includes the new Windows Phone 8 SDK alongside a refreshed Dev Center. That means Microsoft is now open for Windows Phone 8 app submissions from thousands of developers around the world.

Microsoft thinks that developers will flock to Windows Phone 8 for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is that Windows Phone 8 now shares a common core with that of its big brother – Windows 8. Developers can now build native Windows Phone 8 apps in C++ and use common APIs that work across phones, tablets and desktops.

Developers in attendance at the BUILD Conference will be receiving a Nokia Lumia 920 to build apps on. Everybody else will be able to use the Windows Phone 8 emulator that’s included in the SDK.

To help get developers on board, Microsoft will offer discounts on Dev Center accounts. In the near future, the regular $99 fee will be discounted to $8. It’s important to note that the Dev Center account will still cost $99 upfront, but Microsoft will refund the difference in 30 to 45 days after the transaction.

Interesting developers can hit up the new Windows Phone 8 Dev Center right now. You’ll find all the tools you need to build the next great Windows Phone 8 app all in one place. You can grab the SDK here.”


Don’t Trade Your Wallet in for a Google Wallet Just Yet


Now that Google Wallet has officially rolled out, is it time to ditch your real wallet?

Probably not for a few years, experts who follow the mobile payments segment say. Their reasoning is fairly straightforward. What we’re seeing with Google, Isis and PayPal is an early land grab for a technology that won’t be adopted for possibly five years.

Here’s why:

Retailers Aren’t On Board Yet

Google Wallet, the company’s mobile payment system, is now available at various retailers, including CVS, RadioShack and Foot Locker and more are coming soon, but it’s not available in every outlet of those chains, just select locations.

How long until all the big retailers are offering Google Wallet in all of their stores? David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report, a trade publication covering the credit card market, says it will be five years or so. “It takes several years for a major U.S. retailer to decide to do something different at point of sale,” he says. “Even if they decided they wanted it today, it would still take two years.”

There Aren’t Enough Smartphones with NFC

If you want to use Google Wallet, you’ve got to have a phone with Near Field Communication. Right now, there are only a handful of such phones on the market. Bob Egan, founder of The Seraphim Group, says there are about 50 million NFC-enabled smartphones in the pipeline over the next 18 months, but even then the technology would not be widespread enough to be considered mainstream.

Consumers Aren’t Ready Yet

Changing consumer habits takes years. Remember, for instance, how slowly supermarket chains rolled out self-payment kiosks over the last decade? “You’re asking people to do something they don’t do right now,” says Egan. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Concerns over security will also complicate things, as will the payment system, in which the phone bill replaces credit card bills. “People don’t trust their carriers to get it right,” says Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates.

Google’s Goals

If this technology is still years away from adoption, why is Google making a big deal about Google Wallet now? Egan says that it all goes back to Google’s main business: advertising.

Tracking what consumers actually buy is a huge piece of the puzzle for advertisers. “They’re making assumptions on consumer behavior right now,” says Egan. “This will allow them to be more predictive.”

Google Wallet will also let Android keep up in the features war with iOS and BlackBerry, says Noah Elkin, an analyst with eMarketer, Over time, people will use their phones as a wallet, Elkin says.

“It’s another step of migrating everything we do onto a single device,” says Elkin, noting that smartphones have pretty much obviated the need for cameras. “It’s possible to envision that [phones] will supplant cameras, but consumers have been taking their cards out of their wallets for yeras and they don’t have a great problem with that.”

Google Wallet Makes its Debut

via NewYokTimes

Google announced its long-awaited new solution for eventually replacing credit cards with mobile phones.

The new product, called Google Wallet, stores people’s credit card information, coupons and discount cards on Google Android smartphones and allows people to pay for products with a swipe of the phone. The merchants needs a technology called near-field communication, or N.F.C., which enables short-range wireless communications between a phone and an N.F.C reader.

But don’t throw away your credit cards and wallet just yet.

Google Wallet comes with several caveats. To use the new feature you will need a Sprint Nexus S 4G phone with built-in N.F.C. technology, a Citibank account and a MasterCard credit card. Google said it hoped to eventually add Visa, Discover and American Express to its wallet software. It is not clear when these credit cards can be used.

Google is just one of dozens of companies competing to replace plastic credit cards with a digital alternative. Technology companies including Square, Venmo and PayPal are trying to offer similar products and larger banks are working with phone manufactures to ensure they are not pushed out of the mobile banking race.




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