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Google

Google To Take 'Apple-Like' Control Over Nexus Phones (droid-life.com) 179

Soulskill writes: According to a (paywalled) report in The Information, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wants the company to take greater control over development of their Nexus smartphones. When producing Nexus phones, Google has always partnered with manufacturers, like Samsung, LG, and HTC, who actually built the devices. Rather than creating a true revenue stream, Google's main goal has been to provide a reference for what Android can be like without interference from carriers and manufacturers. (For example, many users are frustrated by Samsung's TouchWiz skin, as well as the bloatware resulting from deals with carriers.

But now, Google appears to want more control. The report indicates Google wants to do a better job of competing throughout the market. They want to compete with Apple on the high end, but also seem concerned that manufacturers haven't put enough effort into quality budget phones. The article at Droid-Life argues, "We all know that Nexus phones will never be household items until Google puts some marketing dollars behind them. Will a top-to-bottom approach finally push them to do that?"

Encryption

NY Bill Would Force Decryption of Smartphones On Demand (onthewire.io) 353

Trailrunner7 sends word about New York Assemblyman Matthew Titone's bill that forbids the sale of smartphones that can't be cracked by their manufacturers. On the Wire reports: "A bill that is making its way through the New York state assembly would require that smartphone manufacturers build mechanisms into the devices that would allow the companies to decrypt or unlock them on demand from law enforcement. The New York bill is the latest entry in a long-running debate between privacy advocates and security experts on one side and law enforcement agencies and many politicians on the other. The revelations of the last few years about widespread government surveillance, especially that involving cell phones and email systems, has spurred device manufacturers to increase the use of encryption. New Apple iPhones now are encrypted by default, as are some Android devices. Apple, Google, and the other major manufacturers have said that user privacy and security is their main concern. The bill that is now in committee in the New York State Assembly makes no equivocation about what it is designed to do. 'Any smartphone that is manufactured on or after January First, Two Thousand Sixteen, and sold or leased in New York, shall be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider,' the bill says."
Government

TPP Signing Ceremony To Take Place In February (freezenet.ca) 192

Dangerous_Minds writes: New Zealand officials are hoping that the TPP signing ceremony is to take place in February in Auckland, New Zealand. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it is expected that all 12 countries are going to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Those 12 countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. Note: signing doesn't necessarily make the agreement law, but it is one critical step closer to ratification.
Communications

Crypto Guru David Chaum's Private Communications Network Comes With a Backdoor (softpedia.com) 179

An anonymous reader writes: David Chaum, father of many encryption protocols, has revealed a new anonymity network concept called PrivaTegrity. Chaum, on who's work the Onion protocol was based, created a new encryption protocol that works as fast as I2P and the Onion-Tor combo, but also has better encryption. The only downside, according to an interview, is that he built a backdoor into the darn thing, just to please governments. He says that he's not going to use the backdoor unless to unmask crime on the Dark Web. Here's the research paper (if you can understand anything of it).
The Almighty Buck

Coin Teams With MasterCard In Wearable Payments Push (thestack.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: Smart payments startup Coin has announced it will team up with MasterCard to use its electronic card technology to help companies integrate payment services into their wearable devices. Under the new MasterCard partnership, owners of wearables with integrated Coin technology will be able to pay at retail outlets without the need to take out any cash or card . The deal is not exclusive, which means that there is still potential for Visa and American Express customers to benefit when the Coin-embedded tech begins to ship later this year.
Microsoft

Microsoft Teams With Automakers To Put Windows, Office In Cars (microsoft.com) 196

An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft announced partnerships with several companies to bring Windows 10, Office 365, and Azure to cars. Volvo is having their Call Universal App integrate with Windows 10 smartphones and Microsoft Band 2 watches to let drivers interact with their cars. Harman, a company that builds infotainment systems, will allow drivers to access Office 365 services (while parked or while the car is driving itself). IAV, a similar company, will let users stream Windows 10 Continuum from their smartphone directly to a vehicle's dashboard. Finally, Nissan's LEAF and Infiniti models in Europe will run their telematics system on Azure. "The common thread between these announcements is that Microsoft is pitching Azure as an enabling platform, tossing in analytics and focusing on its core productivity strengths. Aside from the Microsoft Band 2 partnership with Volvo, Microsoft is taking an enterprise behind-the-scenes approach to the auto industry."
Technology

Samsung's Latest Smart Fridge Has Cameras and a Huge Display (engadget.com) 216

anderzole writes with news about Samsung's latest and greatest refrigerator unveiled at CES. Engadget reports: "One of the highlights of CES is always the wacky new appliance tech (and associated bickering) from Samsung and LG. This year looks to be no exception thanks to a new 'Family Hub' refrigerator from Samsung. The imposing-looking model is equipped with a 21.5-inch, 1080p monitor and cameras inside so that you can watch your mayonnaise go bad in real time. You can even check the contents remotely via a smartphone app to see what's in there while you're shopping, in case you forgot whether you need that jar of sweet pickles or not."
Transportation

Amazon Reveals New Delivery Drone Design With Range of 15 Miles (geekwire.com) 277

reifman writes: Amazon released new video of its futuristic drones (honestly, the thought of them buzzing around is the only thing that makes me want to join the NRA) but there's some hopefulness here. Prime Air vehicles will take advantage of sophisticated 'sense and avoid' technology, as well as a high degree of automation, to safely operate beyond the line of sight to distances of 10 miles or more. 'It looks like science fiction, but it's real: One day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road.' Amazon said its drones fly under 400 feet and weigh less than 55 pounds.
United States

US Navy Is Planning To Launch a Squadron of Underwater Drones By 2020 (robohub.org) 38

Hallie Siegel writes: According to the non-profit Autonomous Undersea Vehicle Applications Center, there are over 250 different configurations of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) in service today. That number is likely to grow in the coming years as the technology improves — note that the US Navy has made UUVs a priority and is planning to launch a whole squadron of them by 2020. Dan Gettinger from the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College gives an overview of this technology.
Advertising

Microsoft Now Uses Windows 10's Start Menu To Display Ads (betanews.com) 578

Mark Wilson writes: We've all become used to the idea of ads online — it's something that has become part and parcel of using the internet — but in Windows? If you've updated to build 10565 of Windows 10, you're in for something of a surprise: the Start menu is now being used to display ads. We're not talking about ads for Viagra, porn, or anything like that, but ads for apps. Of course, Microsoft is not describing them as ads; 'Suggested apps' has a much more approachable and fluffy feel to it. Maybe. This is a 'feature' that's currently only being shown to Windows Insiders, but it could spread to everyone else. Will it be well-received?
DRM

DRM In JPEGs? (eff.org) 301

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Adding DRM to JPEG files is being considered by the Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG), which oversees the JPEG format. The JPEG met in Brussels today to discuss adding DRM to its format, so there would be images that could force your computer to stop you from uploading pictures to Pinterest or social media. The EFF attended the group's meeting to tell JPEG committee members why that would be a bad idea. Their presentation(PDF) explains why cryptographers don't believe that DRM works, points out how DRM can infringe on the user's legal rights over a copyright work (such as fair use and quotation), and warns how it places security researchers at legal risk as well as making standardization more difficult. It doesn't even help to preserve the value of copyright works, since DRM-protected works and devices are less valued by users.
Biotech

Hi-Tech Body Implants and the Biohacker Movement (hackaday.com) 74

szczys writes: Body modification has been growing in popularity. It's pretty common to see people with multiple piercings or stretched earlobes (called gauging). With this wider acceptance has risen a specific subset of Biohacking that seeks to add technology to your body through implants and other augmentation. The commonly available tech right now includes the addition of a magnet in your fingertip, or an RFID chip in your hand to unlock doors and start your car. Cameron Coward looked into this movement — called Grinding — to ask what it's like to live with tech implants, and where the future will take us.
Cloud

How Apple Music Can Disrupt Users' iTunes Libraries 360

An anonymous reader writes: Early adopters of Apple Music are warning others they could get more than they bargained for if they intend to download tracks for offline listening. Since Apple Music is primarily a streaming service, this functionality necessitates turning on iCloud Music for syncing purposes. The way Apple syncs files is to scan your library for known music files, and if it finds one, the service gives your account access to Apple's canonical copy. Unfortunately, this wipes out any custom edits you made to the file's metadata. For those who have put a lot of time into customizing their library, this can do a lot of damage to their organizational system. Apple's efforts to simplify and streamline the process have once again left advanced users with a difficult decision to make.
Advertising

Microsoft Research Paper Considers Serving Web-ads From Localhost 231

An anonymous reader writes: A paper from Microsoft researchers (PDF) posits the possibility of 'pushing' web ads to a user's own computer and serving them into pre-arranged containers on web pages, with the EFF or ACLU serving as privacy mediators between the user and the advertisers who want to engage them. However the framework — dubbed 'Privad' — would need to get installed on the user's system by the same familiar means which the likes of Superfish use. The report admits that Privad would probably need to be disseminated "through adware-style software bundling, shopping discounts, toolbars or other incentives."
Firefox

Ads Based On Browsing History Are Coming To All Firefox Users 531

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has announced plans to launch a feature called "Suggested Tiles," which will provide sponsored recommendations to visit certain websites when other websites show up in the user's new tab page. The tiles will begin to show up for beta channel users next week, and the company is asking for feedback. For testing purposes, users will only see Suggested Tiles "promoting Firefox for Android, Firefox Marketplace, and other Mozilla causes." It's not yet known what websites will show up on the tiles when the feature launches later this summer. The company says, "With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data."

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