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.
The first round of the Apple-Samsung legal slapfight over patents wrapped up last week, with Apple winning a large chunk of change in the decision and asking for an injunction against the sale of several Samsung Galaxy phones. While Samsung vows to fight on in this case, the company is going about its business elsewhere, including in Germany, where it introduced three new Windows 8 desktop computers due out later this fall.
Apple isn’t sitting around basking in its legal victory either. The latest grind of the rumor mill now suggests two major Apple product announcements this fall instead of just one mega event. Amazon, in the meantime, is getting out ahead of any of Apple’s rumored showcase dates with an event of its own in southern California next week. While the shadow of iPhone 5 may loom over much of this fall’s mobile news, LG Electronics is diving in with the Optimus G, a 4G LTE Android phone with a quad-core Snapdragon processor, Bluetooth 4.0 and a big honkin’ 13-megapixel rear camera.
Dropbox, the online storage and file-sharing site, has had its share of security issues the past year. The company is busting a move, though, and has announced it’s adding two-step authentication to help keep those cloud accounts safe and sound. The procedure is still being tested and sounds a bit buggy, but will hopefully get smoother and make things safer for Dropboxers everywhere. While Dropbox’s new security system is working out the bugs, researchers from the computer science and biology departments at Stanford University are studying them. It turns out the behavior of harvester ants is quite similar to the algorithm used in the Internet’s Transmission Control Protocol. Yay, Anternet!
NASA’s mission for the Curiosity rover has gone beyond rolling around and taking pictures on the surface of Mars. The exploratory vehicle also belted out will.i.am’s “Reach for the Stars” this week — and it was the first time a song has been broadcast from another planet. Now, if only Curiosity can tap into The Walker Art Center’s star-studded Internet Cat Video Film Festival and share even more quality Earth culture with any galactic neighbors that might be around.
Mars rover and Olympic fever hit J.D. and Pedro hard this week. J.D. highlights some essential smartphone and tablet apps for the mobile astronomer and The Kaiser officially opens the inaugural 7 inch Tablet Olympiad. In the news, Google’s Chrome browser continues to gain in popularity, Apple and Google’s divorce gets even more contentious, and Microsoft shows developers lots of love.
Pedro on game console media streaming servers and J.D. highlights some gold medal apps just in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. In the news, Youtube ticks off Wesley Crusher…well they’ve cheesed off actor and producer Wil Wheaton who played Ensign Crusher on ST:TNG while Apple and Samsung continue their slapfight in various coutrooms around the world and Amazon might rolls out a whole slew of tablets.
Hardcore trolls will still hide behind their handles YouTube (owned by Google, you know) is encouraging members to link their user names on the video site to their real names on the Google+ service. The whole universal Google-wide identity thing is not going over well with everyone — most notably with the actor Wil Wheaton, who went on a rant last spring after being asked to sign up for Google+ in order to give the thumbs up to a video he liked on YouTube. (Quick tip: Got Firefox and want to filter out the more offensive spew in the comments area? Try the YouTube Comment Snob add-on for cleaner living.)
Need some beach reading? The Justice Department has released its lengthy response to public comments on the proposed final judgment on its e-book price-fixing lawsuit. Apple, which is heavily involved in the e-book case, is also battling Samsung Electronics over patent issues and would like $2.5 billion for its troubles. That rock’em, sock ‘em court battle is scheduled to begin next week. With all this litigious action, it’s a wonder Apple has time to make all the products people are whispering about online. (Yes, the amount of sheer speculation on Apple’s plans can cause problems, but even Apple CEO Tim Cook knows you can’t stop the chatter.)
Amazon is reportedly cranking out a fresh pile of tablet hardware as well (and so, for some reason, is RIM with a new BlackBerry Playbook). For the camera hardware fans, Canon finally hit that sweet spot between pocket point-and-shoot and bug burly digital SLR with its Canon EOS M mirrorless model. (Some folks have even tested it out already, even though it’s not due in stores until October.)
Hey, if you jumped in early with the Windows 8 Preview, the 7digital music service is right there with you and has a preview version of its Windows 8-ready app available to try out. The store has several AC/DC covers, so you can rock out just like the Iranian nuclear scientists, who have been supposedly hit by a new cyberattack that makes their computers blast “Thunderstuck” in the wee hours. (While accounts of this latest worm seem dubious and unverified, admit it: It does get you duck-walking, doesn’t it?)
And finally, we note the passing of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Thanks, Dr. Ride, for smashing through the glass ceiling and take the dreams of young geek girls right into orbit with you.