Roving correspondent Jocelyn Gonzales is back with a report on do-it-yourself iPad magazines and the online service that helps put them together while Pedro barely keeps his inner-Miley at bay as J.D. explains how a user can get a complete archive of their Twitter posts. In the news, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announces his retirement; Nokia gets set to launch a Lumia tablet; Samsung and Apple plan big September announcements; Apple TV gets more channels; and Kevin Spacey lays the truth down on the television industry.
In case you were on vacation last week like we were, you may have missed the non-Batman news from the West Coast…Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced he would be retiring within the next 12 months and with no obvious successor in view, it seems like it might be a bit of a PopeWatch thing there in Redmond. Windows 8.1, thought to be the corrected version of Windows 8, is due for release on October 17th for current users who wish to upgrade.
Nokia, the company that makes the Lumia smartphone for Microsoft’s Windows Phone system is also said to be working on its own tablet that will run the much-mocked Windows RT software. According to the Verge tech site, the Nokia Sirius will have a 10.1-inch screen, look like a big Lumia phone and be price around $500. If it’s real, let’s see how they do with that.
Summer’s pretty much in the archive now anyway, and September is shaping up to be a big month for the announcements aside from Nokia. Samsung has confirmed it will be introducing its Galaxy Gear Smartwatch at the IFA Consumer Electronics show in Berlin on September 4th. Apple has not officially confirmed it, but major media sources are reporting the company will introduce its next round of iPhone at a press event on September 10th, with the new models possibly being available on September 20th.
All Things D and 9to5Mac are among the sites reporting that Apple is prepping the program will allow customers to trade in their old iPhones for credit toward a new model. While Apple had no comment on that, the company issued an update for Apple TV this week that brings the Disney Channel, the Weather Channel, Vevo Music Videos and the Smithsonian Channel all to the main screen’s channel lineup. And one more bite of Apple news here — the company’s legal team has responded to the Department of Justice’s proposed punishment in that e-book case this summer. (Hint: Apple is not happy.)
The Federal government has been looking into other tech business as well, and just released a memo on mobile malware findings. According to the report, 0.7% of all mobile malware affected Apple’s iOS system, while 79% was aimed at Android and 12% was targeting the Symbian OS.
While we’re talking about national security, it seems US fugitive Edward Snowden did not need to have a sophisticated scheme to steal all those 20,000 leak-worthy documents from the National Security Agency. The investigations team over at NBC News did some digging and reports that multiple intelligence community sources told them all Snowden needed was a few USB thumb drives and the willingness to exploit a gaping hole in an antiquated security system — all without leaving a trace. (Hint: The NSA is not happy, nosireee.)
In other product news, Facebook is starting to roll out shared photo albums this week. Feedly has just announced the general availability of Feedly Pro. Feedly Pro offers Evernote integration, but if you really like Evernote — and writing in journals by hand — check out the Evernote Smart Notebook from Moleskine.
In the casual gaming world, the sequel to the popular PopCap Games title Plants vs. Zombies arrived this month for iOS. The new game, Plants vs. Zombie 2: It’s About Time had 16 million downloads during its opening week. The game itself is free but has many in-app purchase opportunities for coin packs and additional plants. No word on when the game will be available for Android.
Actor and producer Kevin Spacey had some words of warning for TV executives at the Edinburgh Television Festival in Scotland last week. (Hint: Content and story make people happy — while schedules and devices don’t matter.)
And finally, the old ways do work well for some people. Instead of going all digital video that some of the franchise’s previous installments, Star Wars VII will be shot on good old-fashioned 35mm film stock to recapture the feel of movies from the 1970s. The news comes in the same month that Gilbert Taylor, the cinematographer for the original Star Wars, passed away at the age of 99. In addition to Star Wars and many other films, Mr. Taylor shot Dr. Strangelove, A Hard Day’s Night and some episodes of The Avengers TV series. Before his film career took off, rhe spent six years with the Royal Air Force Force during World War II and filmed night raids after a request from Winston Churchill. Rest in peace, Mr. Taylor — and thanks for all the amazing work.
While the numerous interface changes in Windows 8 may have kept a few people from voluntarily upgrading to the new system, some sources have told The Verge site that Microsoft is currently testing versions of Windows Blue (also known as Windows 8.1) that gives users the option to boot the computer directly to the desktop environment. With that, and maybe those third-party tools that restore the Start menu, future versions of Windows could be much more comfortable for some people. Word has it that Microsoft is also preparing for another whack at a smart watch of its own, since Apple and Samsung seem to be tinkering around with the notion. Hopefully this decade’s attempt will fare better than the Microsoft Smart Personal Objects Technology of Yore.
Ever wonder why there’s no official mobile version of the Firefox browser available for iOS? According to Mozilla’s departing chief executive, it’s because his company wants to use a different Web engine than the one Apple uses to power iOS browsers. So there probably won’t be an iOS Firefox browser for the next version of the iPhone, which could be going into production soon. The Wall Street Journal reports that Foxconn, the company that actually manufactures many Apple hardware products in China, has been recruiting about 10,000 assembly-line workers there since the end of March. (On the topic of Apple hardware, if your third-generation Apple TV is having flakey Wi-Fi issues, here’s some info about the replacement program underway.) And in mobile-security news, a new report from NQ Mobile says that mobile malware threats were up 163 percent in 2012 — with 95 percent of that aimed at Android devices. Buckle up, ‘droids!
Facebook is said to be talking to Apple and Microsoft about bring some version of the immersive Facebook quasi-OS to the iPhone and Windows Phone handsets. No word on how those talks are going, but Facebook released an update to its iOS app this week and it includes a variation of Facebook Home’s “Chat Heads” visual messaging app.
Kobo has just announced a limited-edition Aura HD e-ink reader, which claims to be the highest resolution e-ink display currently on the market. In other e-book related developments, publisher Simon & Schuster has announced a 1-year trial program with the New York Public Library that makes its titles available for electronic lending.
The first wave of Google Glass spectacles are done and heading to the shipping department for those who signed up early. For those with a bucket of cash to burn, the craving to adopt early and the desire to Wear a Thing on Your Head, the company has also released the spec sheet for Google Glass.
In video news, Netflix is dropping Microsoft’s Silverlight multimedia plug-in for video delivery and is reportedly moving its streams to HTML 5. Comcast has confirmed that it’s starting to scramble its basic cable channels, a power the FCC granted last year as long as they help their customers with the transition by providing free or cheap adapters. The move is not so good for those who pilfer cable or record programs on the computer with the coaxial cable plugged into a TV tuner card.
Time Warner likely has happier customers, though, as a new version of the TWC TV app for iOS devices released this week now lets registered Time Warner customers watch video on demand and live TV programming from certain channels wherever they are — including away from their home Wi-Fi networks, which had been a previous limitation. Alas, Android users must wait a bit longer for the updated version of the app to come their way.
And finally, a noble number cruncher out there has created an extensive turn-based role-playing game called Arena.XIism inside a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. True, the imagery may not quite be in the Battlefield 3 or BioShock Infinite league, but you probably won’t stress out your graphics card, either.