Tech Report Blog - Most Commented
Sure, AT&T will let you use FaceTime. Just sign up for a new shared data plan.People have been speculating at how AT&T was going to handle the expected influx of video-enabled calls, as Apple expands its FaceTime feature from Wi-Fi to cell networks. Ma Bell speaks, this time through an interpreter who calls himself AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel. From the Wall Street Journal: “AT&T will offer FaceTime over cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans.” You may recall that Mobile Share is AT&T’s plan that lets users share a pool of data across devices like phones and tablets. Anybody wanting to sign up for Mobile Share can do so beginning this Friday. If you’re a current AT&T unlimited plan holder, you’ll have to make a choice: keep unlimited (which really isn’t unlimited, because you get slowed down after you reach certain thresholds) or switch to the shared plan and most likely pay more scratch to watch your phone calls. But hold on a second! The Hill reports that the new plan might violate FCC Rules.
Free Press and Public Knowledge argue that AT&T's plan violates the Federal Communications Commissions's Open Internet rules, which restrict mobile providers from blocking applications that compete with its voice services. "Although carriers are permitted to engage in 'reasonable network management,' there is no technical reason why one data plan should be able to access FaceTime, and another not," said John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, in a statement. "'Over-the-top' communications services like FaceTime are a threat to carriers' revenue, but they should respond by competing with these services and not by engaging in discriminatory behavior."According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint does not plan to change its fees as FaceTime becomes accessible on its network. There’s no definitive word on which way Verizon will swing on this issue.
Aug 20, 2012
Google trying to block iPhones, iPads, and Macs from being sold in the USGoogle’s Motorola Mobility unit has filed suit against Apple for - you’ll never believe it- patent violations. The company claims that Siri, the flagship feature of the iPhone 4S and probably a zillion other device before too long, infringes on patents owned by Motorola Mobility and, because Google bought that company, ultimately owned by Google. From Bloomberg:
The complaint at the U.S. International Trade Commission claims infringement of seven Motorola Mobility patents on features including location reminders, e-mail notification and phone/video players, Motorola Mobility said yesterday. The case seeks a ban on U.S. imports of devices including the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers. Apple’s products are made in Asia.The effort to get that comprehensive ban is featured in the latest issue of Good Luck With That magazine. This is actually the second patent lawsuit that Google will have going against Apple. The verdict in the first suit is expected to be announced on August 25th.
Aug 20, 2012
Apple vs. Samsung wraps testimonyBefore the trial got underway, Judge Lucy Koh put a time limit on how long Apple and Samsung lawyers had to tell their stories. 50 hours - 25 per side. That time came to an end on Friday, so now what? Closing arguments are set for tomorrow, and then the jury goes on deliberate one of the biggest patent cases in history. All Things D gives the bottom line:
Apple has sued Samsung for violating several patents as well as infringing on several protected design elements, known as “trade dress.” Samsung denies those charges and has countersued Apple for infringing on three feature patents as well as some core wireless patents. The jury will have to unanimously agree that a particular patent is valid and infringed by a particular device in order for a finding of infringement. There are dozens of different phones and tablets at issue in the case, in addition to the many patents.Details that have come out of the trial ranged from the mundane - what denotes a rounded corner? - to the va-va-VOOM - Apple brings in an average of 558 bucks of revenue on each iPad, roughly $100 more than Samsung. But the battles of the super rich could have an effect on you. The New York Times writes:
If Apple prevails, experts believe Samsung and other rivals in the market will have a much stronger incentive to distinguish their smartphone and tablet products with unique features and designs to avoid further legal tangles.And if Samsung prevails? Well then, this holiday season should be filled with iPhonies. Innovation be damned!
Aug 20, 2012
Restaurant offers 5% discount for giving up your cell phoneEva, a restaurant in Los Angeles, has apparently had enough. Enough of people gabbing on their cell phones with friends while having dinner with other friends. Enough of people dinking around on their phones instead of deciding what to order. Enough of people taking pictures of their damn food and posting them on Instagram instead of enjoying the food. So instead of putting up with that and instead of grabbing all the phones and hitting them with a meat tenderizer, Eva is providing some incentives. It’s offering a 5% discount if you hand over your phone when you come in. 5% off for common decency. CNET goes snarky:
(Owner/Chef Mark) Gold claims that around half his customers take up the offer. These people would be called producers. They give him their phone, they take the 5 percent, and they have another phone stashed in their trouser-pocket upon which they can dial, activate speakerphone and Google blind.
This is how long we will wait for cool stuffDriverless cars, 3D printing, “smart” drugs, and hummingbird drones have all made appearances on Marketplace Tech Report. Some form of the same caveat seems to emerge time and time again. It has to do with when all this cool stuff will actually be in our lives. Analytics firm Gartner has just released its 2012 Hype Circle of Emerging Technologies report, which estimates the tipping point for lots of this cool stuff Sorry mobile robots, 3D bioprinting, and the Internet of Things, Gartner says we’ll have to wait more than 10 years for you. And even though Google prints its own pasta, every day 3D printing still looks to be 5-10 years down the road. Don’t laugh, Internet TV, because along with NFC payments and crowdsourcing, you’re on the same 5-10 year trajectory. On the other hand, expect to see wireless power, private cloud computing, and biometric authentication methods to become integrated in the next 2-5 years. Hooray - I’m totally planning to remote-retina scan into my home network and turn on some wireless lights in 2015!
Threat level goes from orange to malwareSecurity firm Trusteer says it has uncovered malware on an airport computer system. It’s unclear if the motives behind the attack were for money or more nefarious reasons, and Trusteer won’t say which airport was attacked. Business Week has the details:
The attack used Citadel Trojan malware—which computer users can unknowingly install simply by clicking on a Web link—to read the screens of employees who logged in remotely to the airport’s virtual private network (VPN). It also allowed the cybercriminals to capture the username, password, and one-time passcode of the victims with a form-grabbing technology, according to Trusteer. With the employee’s credentials in hand, the hackers would have unlimited access to the airport computer system’s software to the extent the worker’s account would allow.Trustee says VPN access was immediately cut off after the breach was discovered.
Nokia is about to silently scream “WE HAVE A NEW WINDOWS PHONE!”The Finnish smartphone maker, that most see as on its last leg, announced it will hold a joint media event with Microsoft on September 5, presumably to herald a new Windows 8 smartphone. Once at the top of cell phone heap, Nokia has been struggling to keep up with the Joneses - that’s Apple Jones, Samsung Jones, Motorola Jones, and probably even Mother Jones. Even though the event is scheduled a week before Apple’s rumored-announcement of a new iPhone, expect it to make less of a splash than a tiny pebble dropped into a puddle on the sidewalk. The Guardian reports:
For both Nokia and Microsoft, the upcoming version 8 of Windows Phone will be a key weapon in trying to regain leverage in the smartphone business. The next version of Windows Phone will use the same code kernel as Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8 – which has just been "released for manufacture" to computer makers – meaning that for programmers it should be simpler to write apps that will run across both platforms, while the appearance of the Windows Phone interface, using large tiles rather than the small icons of Apple's iOS and Google's Android, will become more familiar to millions of users around the world who buy Windows 8 PCs.
Forget hard drives, DNA is the storage device of the future.At the same time my brain can barely process this information, it can apparently TOTALLY process and store this information. And then some. In an effort to figure out how we’re going to manage all the “big data” that is being unearthed (and mined), researchers at Harvard have successfully coded an entire book into DNA. According to the Guardian, “53,000 words, 11 images, and a computer program” were successfully encoded and able to be recalled using our genetic makeup. Chew on this quote from the Wall Street Journal: “‘A device the size of your thumb could store as much information as the whole Internet,’ said Harvard University molecular geneticist George Church, the project's senior researcher.” OK, get that? No? The Guardian has even more context:
Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA – the chemical that stores genetic instructions in almost all known organisms – has an impressive data capacity. One gram can store up to 455bn gigabytes: the contents of more than 100bn DVDs, making it the ultimate in compact storage media.In addition to vast amounts of storage, the researchers say that DNA is built to last, meaning it won’t become obsolete. No more trying to figure out how to run your floppy disk on the cloud or play your wax cylinder collection on iTunes. To be clear, the researchers didn’t use living DNA for the tests. They say there would be too much room for error. Similar to the zeros and ones that power current technology, DNA uses the letters A, C, G, and T. The Guardian reports:
The fragments on the chip can later be "read" using standard techniques of the sort used to decipher the sequence of ancient DNA found in archeological material. A computer can then reassemble the original file in the right order using the address codes.Even though the price for this kind of storage is dropping, it’s still prohibitive. Don’t expect to be copying your music library to DNA for a good 10 years.
New Instagram is, surprise, more FacebookyIt’s no surprise, really. If Facebook bought a dog, the dog would become more Facebooky too. Start encouraging other dogs to share more about themselves, post ads in the poops it leaves in the yard. That kind of thing. The latest update on the Instagram photo sharing app, famously acquired by Facebook for a billion dollars earlier this year, features a lot more geolocation capabilities, aimed at getting people to share share share. From GigaOm:
In the new version you can select photos you wish to make public and they get pinned to a location. For instance, if you have ten photos from Helsinki, Finland, they all get clustered together. These clusters are visible as collections on a map. You can see many collections on the map and can tap to zoom in (or out) to get a closer and more contextual view.GigaOm also proposes that Instagram is positioning itself as an alternative to Twitter for the young people who like the shiny new things. It’s also an alternative to Facebook, even though it’s owned by Facebook:
This scale of growth – hundreds of photos uploaded per second and a total of more than 4 billion photos – the company is starting to look like a rival to Twitter as a place for social conversations. Today, Twitter is much bigger, but Instagram is growing at a rapid clip. Instagram has become popular with youngsters who are bypassing Facebook and Twitter and instead communicating via photos and comments on Instagram.
Verizon spectrum deal approved by the DOJThe Department of Justice has signed off on Verizon’s purchase of huge piles of broadcast spectrum from various cable companies. The deal was opposed by other wireless operators as well as plenty of people kinda spooked by how enormously powerful Verizon is about to become. As expected, there were strings attached, specifically having to do with the joint marketing agreement between Verizon and the cable operators that was part of the agreement. From TG Daily:
It also places a time limit - December 2016 - on a proposed deal whereby Verizon will resell cable companies’ services to customers in areas where Verizon sells DSL Internet service. It also places time limits on a proposed technology joint ventured. "By limiting the scope and duration of the commercial agreements among Verizon and the cable companies while at the same time allowing Verizon and T-Mobile to proceed with their spectrum acquisitions, the department has provided the right remedy for competition and consumers," says Joseph Wayland, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division.Next up is approval of the deal from the FCC, which is expected. So. Everyone’s happy, right? NOT AL FRANKEN, the senator from Minnesota, who says the restrictions don’t go far enough and that the deal will hurt competition.
"Without meaningful competition for broadband, the cable companies will be able to charge whatever they want—and drive consumers to purchase expensive bundles of services they don’t want or need in order to get Internet service. The Department of Justice has addressed some of the worst parts of this transaction, but I don’t think it has gone far enough," he said.