In this Valentine’s Day edition of Pop Tech Jam Apple blows El Kaiser’s mind — but not in a good way — and if you enjoy reading books on a portable device J.D. helps you build a giant e-library. In the news, a new app that lets you publish your own e-books; grammar school hackers; and how tablet computers can enhance education.
J.D. shows us how to navigate the Notifications Center on Apple’s Mountain Lion OS and Pedro has some stuff he needs to get off his chest. Let the ranting begin! In the news, Research in Motion becomes BlackBerry; Apple releases an updated iPad and a new version of its iOS; plus Twitter and Google release new transparency reports.
Are typed passwords passé? Google has some thoughts, and in a paper to be published later this month, suggests a number of ideas to bolster password security with hardware like a USB token that can be plugged into the computer, a ring that can authenticate the user’s identity or two-step verification with a smartphone linked to the account. Now, if only the biometric retina scanners and voiceprint identification software were ready for the home market. (Fingerprint readers for smartphones seem to be in the works, though.)
In the world of mobile devices, Research in Motion has changed the name of its online store from BlackBerry App World to BlackBerry World. The Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet will go on sale February 9th in the US and Canada. Instagram recently piped up to says it still has 90 million active users, even after the fallout from its PR blunder late last year about how maybe it just might share its users’ photos with advertisers for money (a TOS item that has since been revised).
File-sharing, especially sharing of copyrighted content, is the bane of the entertainment industry, but Columbia University’s American Assembly research center has just done a public option poll that suggests that people using peer-to-peer sharing services buy 30 percent more music than those who do not use P2P sharing. Kim Dotcom, founder of the late Megaupload site that was a favorite of those sharing copyrighted content, is back with a new file-storing and sharing site. (Some have raised security concerns, however.)
Do you prefer to do your video-sharing by watching TV with the family? The research firm Frank N. Magid Associates thinks many people may be buying a new TV soon; bells and whistles like big flat screens and built-in Internet connectivity are seen as upgrade lures. And there will soon be more to watch on the stream aside. Fans of the Arrested Development TV show celebrated when Netflix decided to pick up the long-canceled show and produce new episodes that are due this May, and now Amazon may be getting into the content-production game as well. The online ultra-mega-uberstore is said to have snagged the Zombieland TV show that was under development for one of the major broadcast networks.
At least these services pretty much have the whole streaming thing down, compared to the National Hockey League, which had some trouble with its own live video app this past weekend and plenty of griping fans; the NHL did acknowledge there were issues that they were “working hard to fix.”
Meanwhile, out in space… NASA’s older Mars rover, Opportunity, is still hard at work after 10 years of leaving Earth for its own mission on the Red Planet. And Curiosity, the bigger, newer rover is expected to start drilling on that rock within the next couple of weeks in search of evidence that Mars once had flowing water.
And finally, it’s time for Rumor Roundup:
- Specifications expectations (spexpectations?) are high for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung is said to be holding a press event on March 22.
- The iPhone, which the analyst firm Kantar WorldPanel ComTech says grabbed 51 percent of US smartphone sales last quarter, is always the subject of rumors and one of the latest murmurs says Apple has a model with a 4.8-inch display in the works with the curious name of the “iPhone Math.” The name, the hardware, the phone itself are all unconfirmed, but the iPhone Math comes alongside whispers of a cheaper model and an iPhone 5S possibly this summer. Or maybe next year. (And maybe it’ll have something to make the stockholders happy again.)
- Sony’s PlayStation 4 could be getting a touchscreen controller instead of or in addition to the traditional dual-stick model. And it may have biometric feedback built in.
- Microsoft’s next Xbox looks to be a powerful presence in the living room, if the leaked specifications are anywhere in the ballpark. According to the site VG Leaks, the next Xbox may have 8 gigabytes of RAM, a Blu-ray player, USB 3.0, a hard drive and HDMI port and a built in Kinect motion controller.
One hopes the real new Xbox lives up to the rumored Xbox here. And hey, that kind of multipurpose entertainment console just might call for…a new TV!
J.D. helps us with Windows 8 this week by digging up some keyboard tricks that makes using Microsoft’s newest OS a little easier. Pedro goes to the movies and doesn’t like what he sees. Oh yeah, he also debuts his first new Tech Term of 2013. In the news, Google turns its attention to online security; Amazon aims to produce video content; and RIM gears up for Blackberry 10.
This week J.D. has some app suggestions that will help you maintain your automobile and Pedro fills us in on his weekend tablet modding exploits. In the news, lost in last week’s CES maelstrom was the announcement of a potential Java exploit that could affect almost 1 billion computers worldwide; Facebook gets into the search business and industry experts have suggestions for Apple on how to reverse their stock price slide.
J.D. gives us her thoughts on the new iPad Mini and Pedro mourns the loss of his beloved Star Wars now that is a Disney product. In the news, new tech products designed specifically for women; Microsoft set to debut a gaming tablet, Amazon Lockers to be available at an office supply giant; and Instagram heads to the web.
Windows 8 and its new Surface tablets hit stores at the end of this week and they have at least one major fan – former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In a busy week, Microsoft updated the Xbox 360 with new features, including Web browsing on the TV with Internet Explorer on the Xbox and voice search through the Kinect controller. The company also put its new Office Web apps on its SkyDrive cloud service and Outlook.com. The Office Web Apps allow users to share and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in a Web browser.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note II big phone/little tablet arrived this week, as T-Mobile stores received their shipments and AT&T getting them on November 9th. Sprint, which has been added to the cellular carrier list for the iPad, continues to build up its 4G LTE network around the country.
After months of rampant speculation and rumors (garbled at times or otherwise), Apple announced a bunch of stuff this week, including a new Mac Mini, updated iMacs, a 13-inch Retina display MacBook Pro, and oh yeah, new iPads maxi and mini. (Should they just rebrand the iPod Touch the iPad Micro at this point?) Also, word has it that Apple is testing an update to iOS 6 that’s supposed to fix several issues with the software on the current crop of iOS hardware.
One of Amazon’s cloud computing data centers had a little power outage this past Monday, so if you were trying to use the Foursquare, Pinterest, Reddit or TMZ sites and couldn’t, that was probably why. Amazon Web Services was restored later, but not before several people complained on Twitter. And BlackBerry also had some woes, as a prominent Federal agency has decided to end its contract Research in Motion and issue Apple’s iPhones to its employees. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency liked the iPhone’s tighter controls over hardware and software compared to other mobile platforms out there.
Android had more security woes this week as researchers tested 13, 500 popular apps in Google’s Play store and found that 8% failed to protect bank account and social media logins. (Yes, data is worth money in many ways, and an executive at IBM has even called Big Data one of our most valuable emerging natural resources.) Another government agency had news this week as well — the Federal Trade Commission, released its official Best Practices document for companies using facial recognition technology.
And finally, PopCap Games, maker of the addictive Plants vs. Zombies videogame, is teaming up with the American Dental Association to promote good oral hygiene in this candy-laden time of the year. PopCap is making coupons for free downloads of Plants vs. Zombies available for parents to dispense to trick-or-treating children as a healthier alternative to candy. Check it out here, and be sure to brush after those Halloween treats you do score next week.
J.D. and Pedro parse out Apple’s iPad Mini announcement; non-partisan voter guide websites; a review of Apple’s new iPod Touch; Microsoft’s huge week; Samsung debuts a new “phablet”; Amazon Web Services go down again plus much, much more.
This week Pedro frets over his online privacy and J.D. fills us in on how to put old media players to good use. In the news the Tablet Wars of 2012 continue, European regulators take Google to the woodshed, and Facebook adds to their antivirus toolbox.
Another shot has been fired in the Tablet Wars of 2012 this week, as Microsoft’s Surface went on sale for pre-orders. Apple finally sent out invitations for its second fall event, to be held on October 23 — will we soon be able to stop speculating about the iPad Mini? Archos is doing the opposite of mini with its Archos Arnova FamilyPad. which reportedly sports a 13.3-inch screen.
Facebook, which is usually in the middle of some sort of privacy squall itself (but not this week), expanded its Anti-Virus Marketplace and added mobile offerings this week. This is all part of the site’s efforts to shore up security, which also includes the mailbox for reporting phishing attempts that was set up earlier this year. And LinkedIn, hoping to be more social itself, redesigned its profile pages this week.
If you bought a lot of ebooks from certain publishers, you may even get some cash back for a Boxee purchase or other goodie, thanks to the settlement from that big ebook pricing lawsuit. If you bought a lot of digital titles between April 2010 and May 2012, check your mailbox because you may have gotten an email message from your book dealer about potential refunds. Amazon already has a FAQ page set up for its customers on the topic.
And finally, is your smartphone cool enough to be seen in public? A story in The New York Times this week takes a look at BlackBerry users who are ashamed of their devices in a world of hipster touchscreen smartphones. Seriously, folks, if you mainly just use the phone as a phone and don’t need the apps, forget the peer pressure to get a cooler phone, embrace it — and go full honkin’ retro.