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.
It’s okay to have a deep attachment to your computers, tablets, and smartphones just make sure to back them up! J.D. tells us what to do in the event of a hard drive failure, Pedro ponders the mysteries of “iPhone Love” and we have a biggie-sized helping of news…but since we’re in New York City the soda pop is tiny.
Another iPhone hitting stores isn’t big news, but an Apple FAIL does tend to generate some buzz. As many users complained, the new iOS 6 Maps app still seems to be a work in progress with entire towns and cities missing, duplicate islands, misplaced location pins, incorrect names and stores that have long been out of business.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak even commented on the situation at an Apple event in Australia. If you’re an Apple Maps user and find a mistake, you can report the problem to Apple in hopes of getting it corrected. And/Or you can post a funny picture to the Amazing iOS6 Maps Tumblr. While Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Apple would have to approve a new standalone Google Maps app in the App Store, the company is said to be working on it. While the iOS Maps app may take a few months to arrive, Google did find some time in its schedule to update its own Google Play Books app for Android this week.
Samsung continues to pester Apple with TV and print ads touting its Galaxy S3 smartphone over the iPhone 5, but according the The Next Web, a security researcher has found a bug in certain Android smartphones. If exploited, the flaw may allow an attacker to perform a factory reset on vulnerable devices, just by embedding a link on a website or sending a text message. A video shows a phone running the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android displaying the flaw. (Malware has also popped up in Twitter direct messages, so be on guard from friends who send a link about you being in a Facebook video.)
And speaking of The Social Network, Facebook is working with the data-mining firm Datalogix in the hopes of showing to marketers that consumers who see ads on the social network actually buy the products advertised. Facebook users are automatically included in these Datalogix advertising studies, and cannot directly opt out through their Facebook settings. Instead, they must go to the Datalogix privacy page and opt out there. And in other Facebook Paranoia news, reports from France earlier this week claim the site is posting private messages from 2009 and earlier on users’ public timelines; Facebook denies these claims. (Still if Facebook annoys you and Google+ doesn’t thrill you, hey, there’s always Myspace —which is getting ready to bust out a redesign.)
Also hoping for a comeback: Research in Motion. The BlackBerry 10 system is going into another beta. BB10’s new features include the ability to have separate personal and work profiles—with the ability to run apps from both simultaneously while keeping the data from each profile separate.
Barnes & Noble isn’t letting Amazon and Apple have all the Big Tablet Fun, and introduced its own new Nook HD tablets this week, along with a streaming video service. Like video, videogames may be bypassing the console streaming directly to your television sometime in the near future, too.
And finally, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that NASA officials would like to construct a “gateway spacecraft” that would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon. The project is still a long way off from becoming a reality, but when it does, Google will probably map it first — and more accurately.
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.
If NASA’s latest mission to Mars has you all hepped up on the space program again, you don’t have to go farther than your smartphone or tablet to touch the sky. The agency itself has several software goodies, including the official NASA app for iOS and Android so you can keep tabs on the Mars Curiosity rover and other projects in the works. (Speaking of Curiosity, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory released a nifty new iOS app last month called Spacecraft 3D that lets you virtually check out the rover up close.) Remember, if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, you can also find most of this stuff on the official NASA Web site.
For real space heads, it’s not just about NASA, though. Just search for astronomy in your local app store, and odds are you’ll get plenty of hits (even the BlackBerry PlayBook has the $2 Stellarium app in the BlackBerry App World). For example, there’s the $3 Star Chart and the free, open-source Sky Map for Android, which had a lot of input from Google and Carnegie Mellon University. Deneb Software has a similarly named app called SkyMap for Windows Phone for less than two bucks.
On the iOS side, there are plenty of astronomical options, including a pair of slick apps from Vito Technology called Star Walk (for stargazing, $3 to $5) and Solar Walk (for a 3D solar system experience and on sale right now for a buck). Many advanced astronomers favor the $7 Luminos app for iOS for views of 3D textured planet and moons in detail. Space Junk Pro is a similar app — for $5 you can track satellites, planets, stars and other stuff floating high above your head and it’s available for both iOS and Android.
And while it’s not quite mapping the sky, the free Planetary app for iPad maps your music collection to a series of animated intergalactic visualizations. While the deep-space picture show may seem a little weird when listening to, say, banjo music (unless you have the right song), it really rocks the screen if you tap up a bit of Gustav Holst.