Apple Relied on Its Own Network for Part of the iOS 8 Upgrade (Drew FitzGerald/Wall Street Journal)

TechMeme - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 7:35pm

Drew FitzGerald / Wall Street Journal:
Apple Relied on Its Own Network for Part of the iOS 8 Upgrade  —  The roll-out of Apple 's new mobile-operating system Wednesday was the first time the company used its proprietary data distribution infrastructure, also called a content-delivery network, for such a large-scale deployment.

Categories: Technology

Apple's "Warrant Canary" Has Died

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 7:34pm writes When Apple published its first Transparency Report on government activity in late 2013, the document contained an important footnote that stated: "Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us." Now Jeff John Roberts writes at Gigaom that Apple's warrant canary has disappeared. A review of the company's last two Transparency Reports, covering the second half of 2013 and the first six months of 2014, shows that the "canary" language is no longer there suggesting that Apple is now part of FISA or PRISM proceedings. Warrant canaries are a tool used by companies and publishers to signify to their users that, so far, they have not been subject to a given type of law enforcement request such as a secret subpoena. If the canary disappears, then it is likely the situation has changed — and the company has been subject to such request. This may also give some insight into Apple's recent decision to rework its latest encryption in a way that makes it almost impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Mystery Signal Could Be Dark Matter Hint In ISS Detector

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 6:51pm
astroengine writes Analysis of 41 billion cosmic rays striking the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector aboard the International Space Station shows an unknown phenomena that is "consistent with a dark matter particle" known as a neutralino, researchers announced Thursday. Key to the hunt is the ratio of positrons to electrons and so far the evidence from AMS points in the direction of dark matter. The smoking gun scientists look for is a rise in the ratio of positrons to electrons, followed by a dramatic fall — the telltale sign of dark matter annihilating the Milky Way's halo, which lies beyond its central disk of stars and dust. However, "we have not found the definitive proof of dark matter," AMS lead researcher Samuel Ting, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CERN in Switzerland, wrote in an email to Discovery News. "Whereas all the AMS results point in the right direction, we still need to measure how quickly the positron fraction falls off at the highest energies in order to rule out astrophysical sources such as pulsars." But still, this new finding is a tantalizing step in the dark matter direction.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Dremel Releases 3D Printer

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 6:08pm
Lucas123 writes Power tool maker Dremel today announced its now selling a desktop 3D printer that it said is targeted at "the masses" with a $1,000 price tag and intuitive software. Dremel's 3D Idea Builder is a fused deposition modeling (FDM) machine that can use only one type of polymer filament, polylactide (PLA) and that comes in 10 colors. The new 3D printer has a 9-in. x 5.9-in. x 5.5-in. build area housed in a self-contained box with a detachable lid and side panels. Dremel's currently selling its machine on Amazon and The Home Depot's website, but it plans brick and mortar store sales this November.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

A Beginner's Guide To Programming With Swift

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 5:46pm
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Earlier this year, Apple executives unveiled Swift, which is meant to eventually replace Objective-C as the programming language of choice for Macs and iOS devices. Now that iOS 8's out, a lot of developers who build apps for Apple's platforms will likely give Swift a more intensive look. While Apple boasts that Swift makes programming easy, it'll take some time to learn how the language works. A new walkthrough by developer David Bolton shows how to build a very simple app in Swift, complete with project files (hosted on SourceForge) so you can follow along. A key takeaway: while some Swift features do make programming easier, there's definitely a learning curve here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Next Android To Enable Local Encryption By Default Too, Says Google

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 5:25pm
An anonymous reader writes The same day that Apple announced that iOS 8 will encrypt device data with a local code that is not shared with Apple, Google has pointed out that Android already offers the same feature as a user option and that the next version will enable it by default. The announcements by both major cell phone [operating system makers] underscores a new emphasis on privacy in the wake of recent government surveillance revelations in the U.S. At the same time, it leaves unresolved the tension between security and convenience when both companies' devices are configured to upload user content to iCloud and Google+ servers for backup and synchronization across devices, servers and content to which Apple and Google do have access.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison Steps Down

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:41pm
mrspoonsi writes Oracle founder Larry Ellison is stepping down as CEO. He will be replaced by two executives. Former Oracle presidents Safra Catz and Mark Hurd will be co-CEOs. Ellison will be the Executive Chairman of Oracle's Board, and the company's CTO. Oracle's shares are off by 3% on the news. "Larry has made it very clear that he wants to keep working full time and focus his energy on product engineering, technology development and strategy," said the Oracle Board's Presiding Director, Dr. Michael Boskin.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Once Vehicles Are Connected To the Internet of Things, Who Guards Your Privacy?

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:00pm
Lucas123 (935744) writes Carmakers already remotely collect data from their vehicles, unbeknownst to most drivers, but once connected via in-car routers or mobile devices to the Internet, and to roadway infrastructure and other vehicles around them, that information would be accessible by the government or other undesired entities. Location data, which is routinely collected by GPS providers and makers of telematics systems, is among the most sensitive pieces of information that can be collected, according to Nate Cardozo, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Not having knowledge that a third party is collecting that data on us and with whom they are sharing that data with is extremely troubling," Cardozo said. in-vehicle diagnostics data could also be used by government agencies to track driver behavior. Nightmare scenarios could include traffic violations being issued without law enforcement officers on the scene or federal agencies having the ability to track your every move in a car. That there could be useful data in all that personally identifiable bits made me think of Peter Wayner's "Translucent Databases."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Sputnik, Hippies and the Disruptive Technology of Silicon Valley

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 3:20pm

Sit down and talk with anyone about technology and you’ll have little trouble arguing that the San Francisco Bay Area is the quintessential location for tech startups. The area offers unparalleled access to high quality engineers, venture capitalists and superb universities. But the reason this particular spot ended up at the heart of the technology […]

The post Sputnik, Hippies and the Disruptive Technology of Silicon Valley appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 3:18pm
vinces99 (2792707) writes Using modern statistical tools, a new study led by the University of Washington and the United Nations finds that world population is likely to keep growing throughout the 21st century. The number of people on Earth is likely to reach 11 billion by 2100, the study concludes, about 2 billion higher than widely cited previous estimates. The paper published online Sept. 18 in the journal Science includes the most up-to-date numbers for future world population, and describes a new method for creating such estimates. "The consensus over the past 20 years or so was that world population, which is currently around 7 billion, would go up to 9 billion and level off or probably decline," said corresponding author Adrian Raftery, a UW professor of statistics and of sociology. ... The paper explains the most recent United Nations population data released in July. This is the first U.N. population report to use modern statistics, known as Bayesian statistics, that combines all available information to generate better predictions. Most of the anticipated growth is in Africa, where population is projected to quadruple from around 1 billion today to 4 billion by the end of the century. The main reason is that birth rates in sub-Saharan Africa have not been going down as fast as had been expected. There is an 80 percent chance that the population in Africa at the end of the century will be between 3.5 billion and 5.1 billion people.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Science Graphic of the Week: An Algorithm That Decodes the Surface of the Earth

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 3:16pm

A study published last week in the Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing describes an algorithm that can classify land cover types with minimal nudging from humans.

The post Science Graphic of the Week: An Algorithm That Decodes the Surface of the Earth appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Facebook Takes Another Tip From Twitter And Pushes Trendy Topics

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 2:59pm

Just because Twitter wants to be more like Facebook doesn't mean Facebook doesn't want to be more like Twitter. 

About a month after Twitter started aping Facebook, shoving "curated" tweets in your timeline and suggesting strangers you should follow, Facebook is now getting into the "trending topics" game we know from that other social network. 

Posts on trending topics (and weighed for timeliness) will now appear higher in your news feed, Facebook announced on Thursday

If a post from a friend or Page you follow is about something lots of people are talking about, Facebook will put that post right up top where you can't miss it. That way, you can engage while the topic is still relevant. 

This is no willy-nilly change, either. Early testing shows this leads to six percent more engagement, the company said in a blog post.

Also see: Can Anyone Remember Facebook's Last Original Idea?

What's more, Facebook will now not only look at the number of "Likes" or comments a certain post receives, but also when most of the activity occurred. If a lot of people comment right after the post appeared, and then those comments or "likes" grind to a halt, Facebook's updated algorithm will take that as a sign that the post was timely, but isn't any more. That means the post will appear high in your news feed while the traffic is happening, and sink once the traffic slows down or grinds to a halt. 

Likely, this change isn't meant so much to benefit you, but Pages in particular. Pages, which often represent brands, are having a hard time getting much attention without paying for it. Facebook's latest algorithm update help Pages reach a broader audience. That is, if those pages are posting about breaking news and events.

You'll also likely start seeing more posts from your friends that may coincide with real-time events, like football games, television shows, or breaking news—just like the posts you might find on Twitter. 

Image by Find Your Search

Categories: Technology

“Let’s Take a #Selfie,” Said the Monkey: A Case of Questionable Copyrights

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 2:42pm

A recent monkey “selfie” took the media by storm, wowing the web and going viral on every major news site from the BBC to The Huffington Post. Circles of internet whisperers across the globe debated whether the photo’s copyright belonged to British wildlife photographer David J. Slater or, in fact, a crested black macaque who […]

The post “Let’s Take a #Selfie,” Said the Monkey: A Case of Questionable Copyrights appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes Will Be Awarded Tonight

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 2:36pm
alphadogg (971356) writes At Harvard University's Sanders Theater this evening, a collection of the most off-the-wall, bizarre and lurid scientific efforts of the past year will be dubiously honored with an Ig Nobel Prize. The Ig Nobels are awarded annually by Improbable Research, an organization devoted to scientific education that publishes the Annals of Improbable Research magazine six times a year. Past honorees have included:*A study about homosexual necrophilia in ducks; Competitive analysis of breakfast cereal sogginess; The discovery that dung beetles can navigate using the Milky Way galaxy. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. EST, and can be viewed online for free here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Here Come Apple And Google In The Battle For Your Health

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 2:13pm

Earlier this year, both Apple and Google presented competing visions for how we'll use apps and wearables to gather data about our bodies and share it via our phones. Apple called its software HealthKit, while Google presented Google Fit.

If things had gone according to plan on Wednesday, Apple would be enjoying a head start over Google, with HealthKit released along with iOS 8, its new mobile software for iPhones and iPads. (Google Fit is still unreleased beyond a "developer preview.") 

Instead, Apple disappointed both consumers and developers. The last-minute discovery of a critical—though unspecified—bug prompted Apple to block the release of new apps created with HealthKit and the removal of existing apps, like MyFitnessPal and the Walgreens mobile app, from the App Store.

See also: Why You Can't Download Health And Fitness Apps From Apple's App Store

Apple now says HealthKit will be ready by the end of September. App developers, having raced to retool their apps to remove HealthKit, will presumably put it back in. It may just be a temporary delay, but it's an embarrassment for Apple, which prides itself on the polish of its products.

Over the long term, developers will have to weigh incidents like this against the long-term promise of Google's and Apple's platforms. It's likely that alongside Google Fit and HealthKit, we'll also see independent players connecting apps and wearables. MyFitnessPal and Under Armour's MapMyFitness are two to watch.

Ultimately, this should mean that apps will be easier to use; that consumers will have a wider choice of wearables; and that data about our health and fitness will be easier to view, analyze, and take action on. But we have a long road ahead. 

Here's a presentation I delivered on Tuesday at the DataWeek + API World 2014 Conference about the current state of fitness apps and the software tools we use to create them:

Categories: Technology

Boom! Earth’s Population Could Hit 12 Billion by 2100

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 2:00pm

Earth is fast becoming a more crowded place — and it may become more crowded than expected. According to a new projection of human population growth, there could very well be 12.3 billion people by century's end, up to two billion more than some estimates.

The post Boom! Earth’s Population Could Hit 12 Billion by 2100 appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 1:40pm
First time accepted submitter samalex01 (1290786) writes "I'm 38, married, two young kids, and I have a nice job in the IT industry, but since I was a kid I've had this deep love and passion for astronomy and astrophysics. This love and passion though never evolved into any formal education or anything beyond just a distant fascination as I got out of high school, into college, and started going through life on more of an IT career path. So my question, now that I'm 38 is there any hope that I could start learning more about astronomy or physics to make it more than just a hobby? I don't expect to be a Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson, but I'd love to have enough knowledge in these subjects to research and experiment to the point where I could possibly start contributing back to the field. MIT Open Courseware has some online courses for free that cover these topics, but given I can only spend maybe 10 hours a week on this would it be a pointless venture? Not to mention my mind isn't as sharp now as it was 20 years ago when I graduated high school. Thanks for any advice or suggestions."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

The iPhone 6 Dilemma: Finding Enough Useful Apps To Fill A Bigger Home Screen

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 1:12pm

Among other advancements, the iPhone 6 promises another row of application icons on your home screen. The question is whether you can usefully fill it.

Apple trumpets the availability of 1.3 million apps in its App Store, but in reality we reallly only use just a fraction of those we install. And as my venture capitalist friend Bryce Roberts (@bryce) related to me recently, "I can't remember the last time I added a new app to my home screen." Neither could I for my own device.

Your mileage may vary, of course. But as browsers become the über app they've been on the desktop, how much home screen space do we really need?

Apps, Apps Everywhere...

It's not that there aren't lots of apps to choose from. As this chart from Statista shows, developers keep feeding us more and more of them:

Source: Statista

All those apps have added up to $10 billion in app sales for Apple alone in 2013. 

Americans install an average of 25 apps on their mobile devices, but as data from Google indicates, we use just 12.1 of those on a regular basis. The Japanese install more apps but user fewer (36.5 and 7.8, on average), while Brits and Germans both install fewer and use fewer.

Source: Our Mobile Planet (Google)

Using Google's tool, it's easy to check this data for a range of other countries over different time periods, but the result is always the same: we may install a lot of apps but we use very few.

Nielsen data shows higher installs and increasing usage, but also evinces an upper bound to how many apps we want to use, and how much time we're willing to dedicate to them.

So, my iPhone 5 offers me 24 different app slots on my home screen. With the iPhone 6 arriving this week I'll have 28. I have no idea what to do with that last row, given that I can barely fill the six I already have.

Spoiled For Choice

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about the additional screen space I'll have for Instagram, email and Chrome. I just wish that app developers were actually building things that I really want.

My Home Screen

When I look at my most recently installed apps, they're basically one-off installations that would have better been accomplished in a solid HTML5 website. This is typical of app usage, according to data from Onavo, which found that less than half of apps get used more than once. In my case, here are a few examples:

  • Someone told me The Weather Channel's app is dramatically better than Apple's, so I installed it and used it ... once. (It's not really better for my needs.) Deleted.
  • I wanted to check whether Garmin Connect has caught up with Strava (It hasn't). Downloaded it, looked at it once and have now deleted it. 
  • My wife coaxed me into doing a DietBet with her. Used it for 30 days to update my progress. Won $35 but can't figure out how to get it from DietBet back into my bank account. Gave up and deleted the app.
  • My daughter thought it would be funny to send me SnapChats. It was. Once. Now I realize that I'm old and don't understand newfangled things like Snapchat. I haven't deleted it because, hey—funny pictures!

And so on. It's a tired assembly of minimally interesting apps that really don't deserve to be standalone apps, at least not in their current form. None have made it beyond my fourth app screen, which is saying something since I don't think I've ever used an app on my third screen and only occasionally use those on my second screen.

The only apps that have cracked my home screen in the past year or so come from Google: Hangouts and Sheets (formerly Drive). I use these almost daily.

Innovation, Interrupted

We need two things to make the app experience better. First, we need developers to spend more time building quality apps that we'll actually want. Second, many apps needn't be apps at all, and would be better delivered as web pages/apps.

As VisionMobile has reported, most app developers (67%) live below the "app poverty line," meaning that they earn less than $500 per app per month. 

But this is largely because they spend precious little time developing the apps:

On the second issue, too many developers build apps that are basically features of larger systems, and which have little standalone value. I don't need a dedicated app to report and review weight loss compared to friends (DietBet): a website would work just fine. 

The great thing about building such "apps" in HTML5 is that the code can then be repurposed into a dedicated hybrid app down the line as functionality/engagement dictate. In fact, VisionMobile finds that 39% of HTML5 apps aren't delivered in the browser at all, but instead are wrapped in native code and are delivered as native apps.

Regardless, app developers need to do more to fill that extra row with "must have, must use" apps on the millions of home screens that larger iOS and Android devices now offer. 

Lead image by Cristiano Betta

Categories: Technology

Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Slashdot - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:59pm
SternisheFan writes with this selection from a story at the Washington Post: Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user data. The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal dilemma: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that makes it almost impossible for the company – or anyone else but the device's owner – to gain access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers. The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails, recordings or other documents. Apple once kept possession of encryption keys that unlocked devices for legally binding police requests, but will no longer do so for iOS8, it said in a new guide for law enforcement. "Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," Apple said on its Web site. "So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Amazon Gets Serious About Hardware With 6 New Tablets

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:19pm

When it comes to owning your entertainment experience, Amazon is not playing around. 

The retail giant rolled out its largest product launch since it entered the hardware business on Wednesday, introducing six new tablets. Amazon's new line ranges from a kid-friendly e-reader to a Kindle Fire tablet for power users. All are available for pre-order now and are scheduled to arrive in October. 

The new products include:

Fire HD 6 Tablet: $100

The new tablet comes with a 6-inch HD display, wi-fi, front and rear cameras, and offers 8GB or 16GB of storage. 

Fire HD Tablet, Kids Edition: $149 to $189

This "kid-proof tablet" for kids ages 3 to 10 is available with either a 6-inch display ($149) or 7-inch display ($189). The kids edition has features similar to the new Fire HD 6 for grownups, along with a 2-year guarantee and a protective case. The tablet also features unlimited access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, apps and games at no extra cost and built-in parental controls. 

Fire HDX 8.9 $379 to $479

Described by Amazon as "our most powerful tablet ever," the Fire HDX 8.9 features an HDX display, Wi-Fi and is available with a range of storage, including 16GB ($379), 32GB ($429) and 64GB ($479).

Kindle $79

Amazon's "most affordable" e-reader does away with page-turning buttons, offering a touchscreen display, a faster processor and more storage.

Kindle Voyage $199 to $269

Amazon's blinged-out Kindle Voyage, for its most "passionate readers," features the latest generation, backlit Paperwhite Display, high resolution and contrast, an adaptive front light and "reimagined page turns," which allow readers to turn a page "without lifting a finger." 

Kindle Voyage is available with Wi-Fi only ($199) or Wi-Fi and 3G ($269).

Lead photo by Amazon

Categories: Technology