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30
Apr

Motorola’s first post-Google phone is coming on May 13th


Motorola will soon fall into Lenovo’s clutches, but it’s still got some shiny new hardware to show off in the meantime. According to an invite that just hit our inboxes, the company’s planning to show off a brand new smartphone in London on May 13th. In fairness, the timing of the launch means that Motorola was almost certainly working on… whatever it is… while still part of Google, but this is Motorola’s first big product launch since the news of its sale broke last January. And hey, if we’re exceedingly lucky, we may just catch a glimpse of how (if at all) things have changed for Motorola now that’s preparing to report to some new corporate masters.

If the persistent hum of the rumor mill is worth anything, it seems like the wallet-friendly Moto E will wind up taking the stage. Firm details are still hard to come by (aren’t they always?), but early reports claim that Motorola may have traded pure horsepower and battery life for a super-thin body. Here’s the thing, though: Motorola has already proven that it knows how to make a cheap smartphone worth buying, and it’s definitely running with a similar price formula again. Now the question is whether they can capture that low-cost lightning in a bottle yet again.

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30
Apr

FCC chairman to cable companies: forcing some net traffic into a slow lane will not be permitted


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s PR push to explain his proposed new meaning of net neutrality continued today at The Cable Show 2014. Speaking directly to executives of the cable broadband industry, Wheeler claimed anyone opposing net neutrality and an open internet would need to “put away the party hats,” and once again raised the threat of tighter Title II regulation if any internet providers tried to divide internet access between “haves and have-nots.” The issue detractors however, is that the threat isn’t being exercised already, and critics are doubtful that it ever will be.

Based on his speech (you can read it in full after the break), he believes the new rules will let the FCC block any attempts that would force certain traffic into a congested slow lane, while “others with special privileges can have superior service.” There even seems to be a hint at extending net neutrality in the ways Netflix’s Reed Hastings has suggested, mentioning that customers expect quality access at all points of the internet, and if that pathway is interfered with then it’s in violation of the Open Internet rules. Consumer group Public Knowledge has issued a response, saying that while it’s “pleased to see the Chairman recognize Title II as a legitimate option…It’s hard to understand how the FCC’s proposal, as reported, can allow avenues for paid prioritization and yet still serve as a pillar for net neutrality.” Like everyone else, for now they’re waiting until the FCC’s meeting May 15th to read over the proposal and formally comment.

Remarks of Tom Wheeler,
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
April 30, 2014

It’s great to be with you, and great to be in L.A.

I had originally intended to open this with some light banter about being back here. But there is a serious issue that I want to address right away – the future of the Internet. I want to specifically direct these remarks to you, the nation’s largest providers of broadband connectivity.

We have circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to my fellow commissioners on the topic of the Open Internet. There are two things that are important to understand. First, this is a Notice, which asks a number of questions and seeks input on the best way to protect and promote the Open Internet. Second, all options are on the table. Our goal is to put into place real protections for consumers, innovators and entrepreneurs that until now have been only a matter of debate and litigation. I believe this process will put us on track to quickly get to legally enforceable Open Internet rules.
I am interested in results. The Commission has been trying to do something for almost a decade, starting, in fact, when Michael Powell was Chairman. It’s time for this job to be finished. We have been waiting long enough.

Because cable has become a principal provider of broadband, this is an appropriate forum to discuss our intentions. If you read some of the press accounts about what we propose to do, those of you who oppose net neutrality might feel like a celebration was in order. Reports that we are gutting the Open Internet rules are incorrect. I am here to say wait a minute. Put away the party hats. The Open Internet rules will be tough, enforceable and, with the concurrence of my colleagues, in place with dispatch.

For all the millions of Americans who access the Internet, and to you who provide broadband connectivity, it is only fair to spell out some expectations that will inform the proposed Open Internet rules on which we are seeking public comment.

The D.C. Circuit in the Verizon v. FCC decision upheld the Commission’s judgment that, “absent such rules such as those set forth in the Open Internet Order, broadband providers represent a threat to Internet openness and could act in ways that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment.”

I believe that innovation is fragile and that, as we said in our 2010 Order, broadband providers have “incentives to interfere” with competing edge-providers and, as the D.C. Circuit wrote, have, “powerful incentives to accept fees from edge providers, either in return for excluding their competitors or for granting them prioritized access to end users.”

Our proposed course of action builds on the court’s strong legal justification for regulation that guarantees every user the ability to effectively use the Internet. We are beyond the question of the scope of the FCC’s authority; the court has decided that. Knowing that authority, we now must move expeditiously to make it manifest.

There has been a great deal of talk about how our following the court’s instruction to use a “commercially reasonable” test could result in a so-called “fast lane” and Internet “haves” and “have nots.” This misses the point that any new rule will assure an open pathway that is sufficiently robust to enable consumers to access the content, services and applications they demand and innovators and edge providers the ability to offer new products and services.

Put another way, the focus of this proposal – on which we are seeking comment – is on maintaining a broadly available, fast and robust Internet as a platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression, and broadband investment and deployment. Our goal is rules that will encourage broadband providers to continually upgrade service to all. We will follow the court’s blueprint for achieving this, and, I must warn you, will look skeptically on special exceptions.

In the 30 years since I last stood on this stage I have built new technology-based companies as an entrepreneur, and helped other companies grow as a venture capitalist. I know in my bones how hard it is to start a company with innovative ideas. Now, as Chairman of the FCC, I do not intend to allow innovation to be strangled by the manipulation of the most important network of our time, the Internet.
As an entrepreneur and as an investor, I understand the importance of supplying businesses with certainty. That’s another reason why the sooner we can get enforceable rules in place, the better off everyone will be. Internet entrepreneurs and those who support them need the certain knowledge that their ability to get to market will not be degraded by manipulation of the Internet.

Let me be clear. If someone acts to divide the Internet between “haves” and “have-nots,” we will use every power at our disposal to stop it. I consider that to include Title II. Just because it is my strong belief that following the court’s roadmap will produce similar protections more quickly, does not mean I will hesitate to use Title II if warranted. And, in our Notice, we are asking for input as to whether this approach should be used.

Since we are in Los Angeles, let me use a highway traffic metaphor. Prioritizing some traffic by forcing the rest of the traffic into a congested lane won’t be permitted under any proposed Open Internet rule. We will not allow some companies to force Internet users into a slow lane so that others with special privileges can have superior service.

Consumers have rightfully come to expect quality access to all points on the Internet. Blocking access to lawful content and services would be inconsistent with the transaction that made them your subscribers.

The bottom line on the proposed Open Internet rules is that the Internet will remain an open pathway. If users can’t effectively use the pathway then the conduct will be a violation of the Open Internet rules.

I do not expect this debate to end today and I don’t want it to. We are moving quickly to tee up the issues and invite discussion and debate. Let’s move this process forward.

***
Now that I’ve addressed that topic at the front of everyone’s mind, let me revert to my favorite activity-historical reflection. And to a theme that encapsulates my perspective on your industry, namely from those to whom much has been given, much is to be expected.

In my professional lifetime, the industry has gone from Cable 1.0 to Cable 2.0.

Cable 1.0 was all about video. The industry, along with DBS, enabled an enormous expansion in the quantity and quality of video content. The record provides substantial reason for industry pride, although any celebration should be tempered by continuing criticisms involving both price and service.

Today’s Cable 2.0 industry is different in two significant ways:

First, it is now the incumbent, not the insurgent.

Second, as we have been discussing, it has transformed from video to broadband.

The move from Cable 1.0 to Cable 2.0 was accompanied by an almost unimaginable change in cable’s regulatory circumstance. It has gone from regulatory constraints that were breathtakingly inhibiting to regulatory constraints that are barely discernible.

In my present line of work, I encounter people who believe that the FCC’s broadband deregulation was equivalent to the discovery of fire and invention of the wheel and others who believe that it was the equivalent of original sin. I don’t propose to join in that debate today, nor to attempt to sort out whether deregulation and levels of cable investment in broadband are causal or coincidental. But I do want to point out that for all of its importance, cable today confronts relatively little regulation in its principal business, which has become, and will continue to be, broadband.
But, as we have been discussing with regard to the open Internet, that does not put it in a zone free of obligation and oversight.

I have written and spoken about the Network Compact-the essential relationship between those who build and operate networks and their consumers. There are five components to the Network Compact: access, interconnection, consumer protection, public safety, and national security. Especially in connection with broadband, both you and we at the FCC have important responsibilities to the American people with regard to these values.

It is not too much to say that our nation’s prosperity, security, and values are affected in fundamental ways by your broadband networks.

Our prosperity is a function, among other things, of the quality of our broadband networks, and therefore of the investments you make in their construction, operation, and maintenance.

Our security is a function, among other things, of the reliability of our broadband networks, and therefore of the effectiveness of the measures you undertake to protect them.

Our values are implicated, among other things, by our ability to transmit and receive facts, ideas, and opinions, and therefore of the practices you adopt with respect to the openness of our broadband networks.

As a result of the importance of our broadband networks, our society has the right to demand highly responsible performance from those who operate those networks.
And the FCC has the responsibility to oversee such performance and to intervene if it falls short. At the FCC, our focus is on the availability, security, and openness of your broadband networks. Let me address each for a moment.

On availability, we believe that the private sector must play the leading role in extending broadband networks to every American. That’s why we are committed to removing barriers to investment and to lowering the costs of broadband build-out. But we also are interested because, in Section 706 among other places in the Communications Act, Congress has placed broadband deployment and infrastructure investments very high among our priorities.

We also recognize that there are some areas where it doesn’t make financial sense for you to build. That’s why the Commission modernized our Universal Service Fund to focus on broadband, establishing the Connect America Fund. Already, the Connect America Fund has made investments that will make broadband available to 1.6 million unserved Americans, and, just days ago, the Commission voted to move forward with Phase II of the Connect America Fund.

As part of our universal service reforms, we are making a major effort to recast the E-rate program-to assist schools and libraries in securing broadband services at advantageous prices. Here is a place where you can and should apply the expertise you have developed in supplying broadband services to small and medium-size businesses. If you can configure good service and good deals to SMEs, you can and should do it for our schools and libraries.

That the security of broadband networks is a matter of utmost significance and urgency is not news. We are at a critical juncture. The more we learn about the challenges of cybersecurity and the costs of failure, the more apparent the importance of addressing it with best efforts, including yours. We know that these are non-trivial issues. We also know that the best solutions come from when we work together to identify solutions and get them implemented throughout the industry. This must be done in a deliberate, responsible and transparent fashion that balances security, privacy and innovation.

Cable is already working with the FCC to do just that within our Communications, Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). We expect the outcome of CSRIC’s work to be an industry-led effort to proactively assess cyber readiness within your companies, communicate your risk assessments with your boardrooms and share relevant elements of the assessments between partners in the larger ecosystem. And we expect this to be done in such a way that those charged with oversight across the regulatory tapestry, recognize and understand the accepted cyber risk. The CSRIC workgroup is leveraging the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a starting point for this. Over the course of the year we will need to see this translate into actual implementation. We’re intending this to be a new regulatory paradigm, and we’re giving you the opportunity to write it. I urge you to step up, so we don’t have to.

In addition to ensuring the availability and security of our broadband networks, we have to assure the openness of the networks and the Internet for all lawful uses. I have said plenty about that today, and you can be assured that I will raise it every time I am invited to address an NCTA gathering.

But I would add one more point today: One of the most effective tools for ensuring Internet openness is competition. I developed a great deal of my regulatory philosophy in the days when cable was fighting to be allowed to compete. As you probably have heard, the mantra today at the FCC is “Competition, Competition, Competition.” Competition promotes efficient pricing, technical progressiveness, consumer protection, and, yes, private investment. Case in point: AT&T just announced plans to expand fiber networks that can deliver 1 Gigabit per second service to up to 100 communities. I applaud Randall Stephenson for his initiative, and see this as a challenge to the cable industry similar to the advent of DBS. I hope you respond in a similar manner as you did back then. You stand where you are today in large part as a result of how you expanded your networks to meet competition from the sky; I am hopeful you will respond competitively once again. If you do, this new competition will provide ever-improving performance by all concerned to the benefit of the public.

This latest news does not change the historical fact that, for many parts of the communications sector, there hasn’t been as much competition as consumers and innovation deserve. Given the high fixed costs and consequent scale economies, this isn’t especially surprising. But that makes it all the more important that we knock down public and private barriers to competition and avoid erecting new ones. It is equally important that we encourage competition wherever it is possible.

One place where it may be possible is municipally owned or authorized broadband systems. I understand that the experience with community broadband is mixed, that there have been both successes and failures. But if municipal governments-the same ones that granted cable franchises-want to pursue it, they shouldn’t be inhibited by state laws. I have said before, that I believe the FCC has the power – and I intend to exercise that power – to preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband.

Throughout this discussion of how to promote the availability, security, and openness of world-class broadband networks, you’ll note that, in every instance, I spoke not only of the FCC’s responsibilities, but also of your industry’s.

As I said at the beginning, when it comes to broadband, the cable industry has important technical advantages, a leading market position, and very limited regulation. It is, to engage in understatement, an unusual situation. The only way to maintain this situation is to uphold your responsibilities. If you do, it will benefit not only your industry, but it will also contribute to the prosperity, security, and values of our nation.

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Source: Cable Show Live Stream, Public Knowledge

30
Apr

Facebook will let you log in anonymously to third-party apps


Just in case you’ve always been skittish about offering up your Facebook credentials when logging in to an unknown app, the company has just announced at its f8 developer’s conference that it’ll finally let you login to them anonymously. As it suggests, this will let you use the app so that it doesn’t remember your username or password, but it also won’t let you share any info to Facebook. According to the company, this is especially useful when you’re trying out an app for the first time as you learn to see if you like it first before you entrust it with your info.

In case you do want to login with your Facebook account however, Facebook has also introduced more refined privacy settings in its main login interface that’ll let you hand-select exactly the kind of information you wish the app to access. For example, if you’re okay with the app knowing your birthday but not your email address, you can.

Last but not least, Facebook is also introducing a new dashboard that lets you see exactly which apps you access via Facebook Login. You can dial down permission settings from the dashboard or remove them as well. This new app control panel will be rolling out in the next few weeks, while the new login with refined privacy settings will arrive in the coming months. Anonymous login is currently in a testing phase with a few developers, and will be opened up to more in the next few months as well.

Anonymous Login from Facebook on Vimeo.

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Source: Facebook

30
Apr

Rest in peace Ubuntu for Android, we hardly knew ye


We can’t say that the future of Ubuntu for Android ever looked particularly bright, but we were enamored with the concept. You’d walk around by day with a standard issue Android phone in your pocket, but when you docked it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor you were greeted with a full Ubuntu desktop experience. Well, Canonical has decided to put the project out to pasture apparently. Buried away in a recent bug report (now hidden from public view) was the fact that “Ubuntu for Android is no longer in development,” and thus its landing page should be taken offline. Though some responses from the Canonical team appear to muddy the story, the take away is the same — active development on Ubuntu for Android has come to a halt. It’s not surprising considering that the company has invested heavily in its own smartphone OS which already has a few OEMs signed on. Without a launch partner the dual-boot solution never had a chance to take off, and Canonical clearly has other priorities now. Still, we mourn slightly for its passing. Here’s hoping the concept lives on as an all Ubuntu solution.

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Via: OMG! Ubuntu!

Source: Launchpad

30
Apr

Paym platform for sending and receiving money by mobile number goes live


business woman using app on a...

Paym, a new mobile payment platform that lets you send money to a mate for your share of Friday’s curry with only their phone number to hand, is now live in the UK. To use Paym, you’ll first need to associate your mobile number with your UK bank account either online or through your bank’s mobile app. Once that’s done, you can send or receive money (up to £250) from anyone that’s also signed up to Paym using nothing but mobile numbers. The process may sound familiar, as Barclay’s Pingit app has been capable of the same thing, regardless of which bank you’re allied with, since it launched in 2012. The only real difference with Paym is that it’s integrated into the systems and apps of other banks, making it a bit more visible, and convenient.

Most well-known banks and building societies support Paym at launch, with the only notable exceptions being the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, which are expected to join up sometime this year, and Nationwide, which’ll wait until early 2015 to adopt Paym. Until then, though, anyone with unsupported accounts can still use Pingit, so no excuses as to why you can’t contribute towards the cab fare.

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Source: Paym

30
Apr

Aerial Photo Shows Outline of Apple’s Spaceship Campus Taking Shape


Construction on Apple’s Campus 2 is continuing to progress and a new aerial photo courtesy of Ron Cervi, KCBS news and traffic reporter, shows that all of the buildings on the site have now been demolished in order for new work to begin.

The area where the circular-shaped building will be constructed is cleared out, allowing us a glimpse at where the campus itself will be located. Apple has moved quickly with this project, having first begun working on the project just a few months ago after receiving unanimous approval for the project in November.

applecampus2
Street-level photographs back in December revealed several buildings still standing, but another aerial photo from February suggested a large portion of the demolition work had been completed. During construction, Apple has closed off sidewalks and built a large green privacy fence to keep the area hidden.

Apple’s second campus is located near the company’s existing Infinite Loop campus. The first phase of construction will include the famous 2.8 million square foot ring-shaped main building with an underground parking facility capable of accommodating approximately 2,400 cars.

A 100,000 square foot fitness center and a 120,000 square foot auditorium will also be built, and during a second phase of construction, Apple will build an additional 600,000 square feet worth of office, research, and development buildings.

Apple hopes to finish the first phase of the Apple Campus 2 construction by 2016.



30
Apr

Google Launches New iOS Apps for Google Docs and Sheets [iOS Blog]


Google today debuted two new standalone iOS apps for documents and spreadsheets. Google Docs and Google Sheets are designed to allow users to create and access documents and spreadsheets on their mobile devices.

Before the introduction of Google Docs and Google Sheets, documents were only accessible via Google Drive or the web. Google is also planning to release a Google Slides app in the near future, further growing its line of productivity apps on the iPad and the iPhone.

googledocs
The apps are designed with offline support built in, so viewing, editing, and creating files can be done without an Internet connection. Google Docs supports opening and editing documents that have been previously worked on via another device and documents can be shared and edited by multiple users at the same time.

With Google Docs you can:

– Create new documents or open and edit any that you started on the web or another device.
– Share documents and work together with others in the same document at the same time
– Get stuff done anytime–even without an internet connection
– Add and respond to comments
– Never worry about losing your work–everything is automatically saved as you type

Google Sheets functions similarly, allowing multiple users to work on documents in the app or on the web. The app supports formatting of cells, sorting data, and more.

With Google Sheets you can:

– Create new spreadsheets or open and edit any that you started on the web or another device.
– Share spreadsheets and work together with others in the same spreadsheet at the same time
– Get stuff done anytime–even without an internet connection
– Format cells, enter/sort data, perform various sheet operations, and more
– Never worry about losing your work–everything is automatically saved as you type

Both of Google’s new apps can be downloaded from the App Store at no cost.

Google Docs [Direct Link]
Google Sheets [Direct Link]



30
Apr

Updated MacBook Airs with Improved Haswell Processors See Minor Speed Boosts


Following the introduction of refreshed MacBook Airs yesterday, Geekbench 3 benchmarking scores have begun appearing, suggesting, as expected, just minor speed improvements for the new notebooks.

mbageekbench
Apple only updated the low-end processor option for the MacBook Air and that is seeing 32-bit single-core scores around 2532 and multi-core scores around 4781. Compared to the 2013 MacBook Air the new processor brings just a slight boost in processing power. The 11-inch 2013 MacBook Air saw average scores of 2379/4480, while the 13-inch version saw scores of 2369/4468.

macbook_air_2013_benchmarksSingle and multi-core Geekbench scores for the low-end 2013 MacBook Airs
Along with minor speed improvements, the new 1.4Ghz Core i5–4260U processor has also increased the battery life of some tasks, namely video playback, which has gained an extra hour on the 11-inch model and an extra two hours on the 13-inch model.

Most notably, Apple’s update brought lower prices for the MacBook Air, dropping its price tag by $100 across the board in the United States and many other countries. MacBook Air prices now start at $899 instead of $999, and there are also several more affordable 2013 and 2012 options available in Apple’s online refurbished store.

Though this update has not been a significant change for the MacBook Air, Apple is said to be working on a significantly improved version of the notebook with a 12-inch Retina display, a slimmer body with a fanless design, and a buttonless trackpad. This redesigned MacBook Air may launch towards the end of the year.



30
Apr

iPhone 6 Shown in Another High-Quality Physical Mockup [iOS Blog]


As design drawings and renderings of two larger iPhone 6 models have begun giving way to physical mockups based on those designs, a new photo of a high-quality physical mockup has been shared by Italian site Macitynet [Google Translate].

iphone_6_physical_mockup_macitynet
Few new details can be determined from the photo, but the relocated power button on the side of the device can be seen, and it is clearly a high-quality mockup given differing materials and colors used for various features such as the rear camera and flash. The size of the device is not given, but just based on the look in the hand it appears to be the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 rather than the even larger 5.5-5.7 inch version depicted in the less refined physical mockup from earlier today.

The latest mockup is reportedly the work of a case manufacturer, and Macitynet understands that mockups have been refined over a period of months. According to the source, the version shown in the photo is considered to be “final” for the purposes of ensuring case and accessory compatibility with the expected design of the iPhone 6.

In practice, this model would be made molds of the latest cases and tested the prototypes of the enclosures to verify their compatibility with the real iPhone 6. It is not uncommon that during the process of engineering accessories manufacturers are forced to progressively refine their plans, as they come, of course, under the table, information on the specifications of the phones. In practical terms, it was explained, in recent months there have been various “versions” experienced by manufacturers of accessories (and these were modeled and rendered drawings of the iPhone 6), but there is now confidence that this one located final.

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is reportedly scheduled to launch around the usual September timeframe, while the larger 5.5-inch is rumored to be arriving several months later.



30
Apr

Yahoo Screen gives you yet another way to watch comedy clips on Android


Yahoo Screen gives you yet another way to watch comedy clips on Android

Talk about impeccable timing: the same day Hulu announces it’ll let users watch TV shows for free on their phones, Yahoo brings its video app to Android. That application, called Screen, is already available for iOS, and unlike Hulu, it’s focused more on short-form clips than full episodes. In particular, you’re most likely to find comedy bits, along with concerts, original programming and sports content (think: Saturday Night Live sketches, Comedy Central clips, and video from The Onion, MLB, and College Humor). Also unlike Hulu: you can watch for free today. The Android app is available to download now, whereas Hulu isn’t going to catch up until sometime this summer. Bombs away, Android users, but don’t come crying to us when you remember SNL isn’t actually funny anymore.

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Source: Yahoo, Google Play

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