Wednesday, February 19, 2020
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Google and Microsoft will follow in the footsteps of rivals Apple and Samsung and introduce a ‘killswitch’ to their smartphones that deactivate them if stolen.

Killswitches gives users the power to completely disable a smartphone remotely after it has been stolen, as well as increasing security on the phone by adding more password layers, making it more difficult to wipe and then be sold on by thieves.

A report by the New York State attorney general has found that the theft of iPhones has fallen significantly in the six months since the Activation Lock feature was added to Apple’s iOS 7.

According to the report, since then the number of iPhone related robberies has fallen in major cities around the world, including by more than 20 per cent in London and 17 per cent in New York. The feature requires the entry of a passcode in order to disable location services on the device.

In April, Samsung introduced a similar feature called Reactivation Lock to some of their Galaxy smartphones that allows users to lock their phone remotely should it go missing or be stolen.

The report confirmed that following an initiative launched last year called Secure our Smartphones (SOS) – supported by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Microsoft and Google will be improving the security on their mobile devices.

“With the release of this report the SOS Initiative achieves two major milestones: Microsoft confirms it will incorporate a kill switch-type theft-deterrence solution in the next release of its Windows Phone operating system, which will run on all Nokia smartphones; and, Google confirms it will incorporate a kill switch-type theft-deterrence solution in its next version of the Android operating system, the most popular mobile operating system worldwide,” said the report.

In a blog post on the company’s official website, Microsoft’s vice president of US Government Affairs Fred Humphries said: “Over recent months, Microsoft has been working with others in the wireless industry to develop voluntary principles for implementing more robust theft-deterrent technologies in smartphones.

“The new theft deterrent features will be offered as an update for all phones running Windows Phone 8.0 and newer, though availability is subject to mobile operator and phone manufacturer approval.

“Additional details on functionality and availability will be provided closer to the official release. With these additional features, we’re hopeful that technology – as part of a broader strategy – can help to further reduce incentives for criminals to steal smartphones in the first place.”

Experts still want firmer killswitches to be introduced that permanently disable smartphones. Those used at the moment by Apple on Samsung rely on a signal being sent to the phone to lock it, or a password to keep out unwanted users, and experts have warned that turning a phone off or placing it in airline mode can block signal from reaching it.

According to the most recent report into smartphone theft in the UK, more than 800,000 devices are stolen each year.

Amazon can make a great Android device, as demonstrated by the Kindle Fire HDX tablets and Fire TV media box. However, there has been a legitimate knock on the offerings — lack of apps, including Google’s. The trade-off for the beautiful hardware is the frustration of missing some of your favourite apps.

Amazon has been making major improvements to app availability in its Appstore though and today, the company announces actual numbers and analysis behind it. The number of apps available have tripled. Yes, Amazon’s Appstore is growing and becoming a legitimate threat to Google’s, but will it ever actually surpass it?

“Amazon today announced that Amazon Appstore selection has nearly tripled in the past year and developers continue to report strong monetization from the apps they offer in the store. The Amazon Appstore now has over 240,000 apps and games, is available in nearly 200 countries and on a multitude of devices. Additionally, Amazon Coins have become widely popular — customers have spent hundreds of millions of Amazon Coins on apps, games and in-app items. The broad growth in the Amazon Appstore is enticing developers — the number of new developers joining the Amazon Appstore per month close to doubled in the last year”, says Amazon.

The online-retailer further explains, “according to an IDC survey commissioned by Amazon, developers building apps and games for Kindle Fire are making at least as much money (often more) on the Kindle Fire platform as on any other mobile platform. IDC conducted a survey of 360 smartphone and tablet application developers. The survey examined developers’ experiences selling apps on the Kindle Fire platform”.

Here are some of the analysis I referenced earlier:

  1. 65 per cent of developers said that Total Revenue on Kindle Fire is the same or better than developers’ experience with other platforms.
  2. 74 per cent of the same developers said that Average Revenue per App/User is the same or better on Kindle Fire than other platforms.
  3. 76 per cent of developers indicated that the Kindle Fire platform helps them connect with new market segments—an important indicator that the Kindle Fire platform can be a significant source of net-new business and “reach” for developers at a time when new market segments may be difficult to find on competing platforms, the study noted.

Happy developers are key to improving app availability, so it is good news to see that developers are satisfied with Amazon’s Appstore. However, there are still some issues. For one, no matter how large the store gets, it is doubtful that Google will ever host its own apps there, such as Chrome, Maps or Hangouts. This will be a major negative for consumers entrenched in the Google ecosystem.

Also, even if many popular paid apps show up on Amazon, it is questionable whether consumers will be willing to re-purchase them for an Amazon device. This could make a switch to a Kindle Fire tablet or rumoured Amazon smartphone a costly upgrade. It is (relatively) understandable to have to buy apps again when moving to an entirely different platform such as iOS or Windows Phone.

However, spending that money on the same exact Android apps just because it is a different app store is a hard pill to swallow.

Would you swallow that pill? Tell me in the comments.

Line, FB, Google urged to censor

Posted by pakin On May - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry will once again ask Facebook and Google in Singapore this weekend to cooperate with Thai authorities in blocking provocative articles and posts.

The ministry hopes to secure their cooperation now the country is controlled by a junta. Previous attempts to get the social networking site and internet search giant to remove provocative content when the country was run by an elected government failed.

Pol Maj Gen Pisit Pao-in, an adviser to ICT permanent secretary, said senior ICT Ministry officials will travel to Singapore to discuss the issues with executives of Facebook and Google on Saturday.

The ministry also plans to meet Line’s executives in Japan, he said Thursday after a meeting with representatives of 19 internet service providers.

Pol Maj Gen Pisit admitted he had personally met Facebook and Google’s executives five times, and met Line executives in Japan three times, when he served as commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division. But the discussions failed to yield any results.

“As the ICT authority commanded by the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO], we hope to get improved cooperation from them,” he said.

The ICT Ministry will ask Facebook and Google to only block provocative content of particular accounts or webpages.

Pol Maj Gen Pisit insisted the ICT and Thai authorities have no intention to block any international internet gateway or social media accounts.

The 50-minute Facebook blackout on Wednesday occurred because traffic to Facebook overloaded the servers and internet gateways of local ISPs, leading to a service disruption, he said.

“The shutdown resulted from a technical problem,” he stressed.

Criticism on other social media outlets erupted after the Facebook blackout from 3.50pm to 4.40pm on Wednesday.

The brief outage came a day after the NCPO said it had set up a panel to monitor internet traffic. However, the coup-makers denied the military played a role in the shutdown.

Pol Maj Gen Pisit also said technical glitches on social networking media sites could happen in any country.

The Rubik’s Cube is 40 years-old today and to celebrate, Google has created a Google doodle that presents an interactive virtual version of the much-loved puzzle toy.

Erno Rubik invented the 3x3x3 cube in the spring of 1974, although it wasn’t released globally until 1980. The Hungarian architect hand-crafted the prototype and set about trying to find the solution, which we surmised could take a lifetime if each element was just rotated randomly.

It took him a month and he realised that this could be a clever puzzle for the mass-market. And by January 2009, more than 350 million Rubik’s Cubes were sold worldwide. More recent figures are not available, but considering that was more than five years ago, you can bet that figure has risen significantly.

The cube itself has become an iconic object, appearing in many forms and on many designs. UK gadget retailer Firebox sells, for example, a Rubik’s Cube bedside lamp that can actually be played like the original toy.

Speedcubers also meet often at events to show how fast they can complete a scrambled cube. The current human record holder is Mats Valk from the Netherlands, who can finish a randomly mixed 3x3x3 cube in just 5.55 seconds.

That was beaten by a dedicated cube-solving robot recently, the Cubestormer 3 built using a Samsung Galaxy S4 and Lego, which posted a time of 3.253 seconds during the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham in March.