The app lets users see who’s online for a private or group chat, and lets them decorate messages with pictures and stickers. Users can also share their location, and contacts are automatically added to the app.
For now, some features available on the Android and iOS versions — such as the ability to record messages and send photos privately — are missing on the Windows Phone app. The pop-up chat heads Facebook has implemented on Android are also missing.
The availability of apps on Windows Phone has been a problem for Microsoft when competing with Apple’s iPhones and the Android camp. At an event in conjunction with Mobile World Congress, Joe Belfiore, who runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, highlighted recent additions such as Instagram, Vine, Waze and Mint.
The arrival of these apps is more than a coincidence: It’s a result of Microsoft working with third party app developers and slowly growing phone sales, according to Paolo Pescatore, director of apps and media at market research company CCS Insight.
“They are very much needed. Microsoft has been trying to bridge the gap with iOS and Android, but frankly the rate of development hasn’t been as fast as it should have been,” Pescatore said.
The company still needs to convince or help developers of many local video and entertainment apps to create Windows Phone versions, according to Pescatore. For that to happen, Microsoft and its partners need to sell more phones, he said.
The Mobile World Congress event also detailed the company’s plans to make Windows Phone a better fit for low-end smartphones and presented new hardware partners, including Foxconn, Karbonn, Lenovo, LG Electronics and ZTE. With Microsoft soon closing its acquisition of Nokia’s handset division, Windows Phone is at a critical juncture.
We already knew that Android was the mobile operating systems most targeted by malware, and that isn’t about to change any time soon.
Security firm F-Secure has reported that malicious activity on Android accounted for 97 per cent of all detected mobile threats for 2013.
The figures were revealed in F-Secure’s latest Threat Report for the second half of 2013, finding that there were 566 more Android malware variants found last year than during the previous year.
“97 percent of the mobile threats in 2013 were directed at the Android platform, which racked up 804 new families and variants,” F-Secure said in its report (pdf). “The other three percent (23) were directed at Symbian. No other platforms had any threats. In contrast, 2012 saw 238 new Android threats.”
F-Secure found that the top 10 countries reporting Android threats saw a little over 140,000 Android malware detections, with 42 percent of the reported detections coming from Saudia Arabia and 33 percent from India. European countries accounted for 15 percent of the total and the US just five percent.
F-Secure said that due to Android itself having relatively few vulnerabilities, the main distribution method is still through shady apps downloaded from third-party app stores.
“For mobile platforms, the continued dominance of the Android operating system makes it almost the exclusive target for mobile threats we’ve seen this period,” F-Secure’s report explained.
“Though the relatively low number of vulnerabilities found in Android makes the operating system itself difficult to attack, this security is largely circumvented by the relative ease with which malware authors can provide their ‘products’ and dupe users into installing it on their own devices, with the necessary permissions to straightforwardly use the device (and the user’s data) for the attacker’s own benefit.”
The Android malware families most commonly reported in that period were Ginmaster, Fakeinst and Smssend, which either harvest data from the device or send premium-rate SMS messages.
The F-Secure report also found that web based attacks, which typically involve techniques that redirect the browser to malicious websites, were the most commonly reported type of attack for the period, making up 26 percent of malware detections, followed by the Conficker worm with 20 percent.
“The three most common exploits detected during the period were all Java-related,” the report said. “Java exploits, however, declined compared to [the first half of] 2013. Mac malware continues a slight but steady increase, with 51 new families and variants detected in 2013.”
The change, which will be rolled out gradually according to a Yahoo spokeswoman, will require users to register for a Yahoo ID in order to use any of the Internet portal’s services.
The move marks the latest change to Yahoo by Chief Executive Marissa Mayer, who is striving to spark fresh interest in the company’s Web products and to revive its stagnant revenue.
“Yahoo is continually working on improving the user experience,” the company said in a statement, noting that the new process “will allow us to offer the best personalized experience to everyone”.
The first Yahoo service to require the new sign-in process is Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick’Em, a service focused on the NCAA college basketball tournament which begins later this month. News of the change to Yahoo’s Tourney Pick’Em sign-in process was first reported by the technology blog Betanews.
Since Mayer took the reins in 2012, the company has rolled out new versions of many of its key products, including Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Finance. Last year, Yahoo announced a program to recycle inactive Yahoo user IDs, letting new users claim email addresses that have not been used for more than 12 months.
In eliminating the Facebook and Google sign-in features, Mayer, a former Google executive, is effectively reversing a strategy that Yahoo adopted in 2010 and 2011 under then CEO Carol Bartz.
The change to the Tourney Pick’Em sign-in process began on Monday, the Yahoo spokeswoman said, noting that users could still access other services with Google or Facebook IDs.
The sign-in buttons for Facebook and Google will eventually be removed from all Yahoo properties, the Yahoo spokeswoman, though she declined to provide a timeframe.
Worldwide sales of tablets to end users totaled 195.4 million units, fueled by sales of low-end, smaller screen devices, and purchases by first time buyers, the company reported.
Android has become the biggest tablet operating system with 62% of the market. In 2012, Google’s OS trailed Apple’s iOS by a margin of about 8 million tablets, but by the end of last year had turned that into a 50 million-unit lead.
The Android camp led by Samsung sold almost 121 million tablets, for a 61.9% share, compared to 53.3 million units and a 45.8% share in 2012. Apple’s tablet sales increased from 61.5 to 70.4 million units, but because the overall market grew faster, the company’s share dropped from 52.8% to 36%.
Microsoft’s Windows tablet sales improved but the share remained small at 2.1%, with shipments growing from 1.2 million to 4 million units. To compete, Microsoft needs to create a more compelling ecosystem for consumers as well as developers across all mobile devices, Gartner said.
Apple’s strong fourth quarter helped it maintain the top position among the manufacturers. Samsung, ranked in second place, had the biggest growth of the worldwide tablet vendors, at 336 %. The expansion and improvement of its Galaxy tablet portfolio, together with a lot of marketing, helped Samsung shrink the gap with Apple.
Samsung sold 37.4 million tablets for a 19.1% slice of the market.
The rest of the top 5 was made up of Asus, Amazon.com and Lenovo. Of those three companies, Lenovo did particularly well with tablet sales growing by 198% to 6.5 million units, or a 3.3% market share. The company’s success was due to a combination of new tablet models launched during the second half of last year, and sales of its Yoga model and its Windows tablets doing particularly well, Gartner said.
However, Lenovo is still behind Asus, with 11 million units sold, and Amazon, with 9.4 million. Asus’ market share grew from 5.4% to 5.6%, while Amazon’s share declined from 6.6% to 4.8%.
As the tablet market becomes even more competitive, this year it will be critical for vendors to improve user experience, technology and ecosystem value beyond just hardware and cost, Gartner said.
Samsung appears to have delivered a huge snuff to Android OS maker Google. Samsung’s new smartwatch Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, the sequels to the poorly reviewed original Galaxy Gear are going to ship without Android.
Instead, the new Gears run Tizen, another open source operating system that Samsung, Intel, and others are working on. It is starting to look like Samsung wants to distance itself from its reliance on Google for software and services.
Samsung’s official reason is that Tizen has better battery life and performance. The new Gears can get up to an extra two days of battery life by running Tizen, even though they have the same size battery. The Galaxy Gear barely made it through a day on one charge.
To be fair Android isn’t optimized to run on wearable devices like smart watches, but Samsung didn’t want to wait around for Google to catch up. It was clearly concerned about beating Apple to market. So far Apple has not shown up.
Growth in global smartphone shipments will fall sharply this year and will continue to slow down through 2018, with average prices dropping significantly as demand shifts to China and other developing countries, according to market research firm IDC.
Annual growth in 2014 is expected to be 19.3 percent and then decline to 6.2 percent in 2018, IDC said in a recently released report. That follows a 39.2 percent jump in 2013 when smartphone shipments topped 1 billion units for the first time.
The forecast reinforces concerns on Wall Street that the explosion in smartphones that began with Apple’s iPhone in 2007 is coming to an end, at least in the United States and other developed countries where consumers favor pricey, top-tier handsets.
Smartphone growth in North America and Europe is expected to shrink to single digits and Japan could even see a slight slowdown in shipments in the next few years, IDC said.
Manufacturers are increasingly focusing on China where many consumers are upgrading from basic cellphones to smartphones selling for under $300.
“New markets for growth bring different rules to play by and ‘premium’ will not be a major factor in the regions driving overall market growth,” IDC analyst Ryan Reith said in a report.
The average selling price for smarpthones last year was $335, already far below flagship devices like the iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4, and will fall to $260 by 2018, IDC said.
A cybersecurity firm has stated that it has found stolen credentials from some 360 million accounts that are available for sale on cyber black markets, though it is unsure where they came from or what they can be used to access.
The discovery could represent more of a risk to consumers and companies than stolen credit card data because of the chance the sets of user names and passwords could open the door to online bank accounts, corporate networks, health records and virtually any other type of computer system.
Alex Holden, chief information security officer of Hold Security LLC, said in an interview that his firm obtained the data over the past three weeks, meaning an unprecedented amount of stolen credentials is available for sale underground.
“The sheer volume is overwhelming,” said Holden, whose firm last year helped uncover a major data breach at Adobe Systems Inc in which tens of millions of records were stolen.
Holden said he believes the 360 million records were obtained in separate attacks, including one that yielded some 105 million records, which would make it the largest single credential breaches known to date.
He said he believes the credentials were stolen in breaches that have yet to be publicly reported. The companies attacked may remain unaware until they are notified by third parties who find evidence of the hacking, he said.
“We have staff working around the clock to identify the victims,” he said.
He has not provided any information about the attacks to other cybersecurity firms or authorities but intends to alert the companies involved if his staff can identify them.
The massive trove of credentials includes user names, which are typically email addresses, and passwords that in most cases are in unencrypted text. Holden said that in contrast, the Adobe breach, which he uncovered in October 2013, yielded tens of millions of records that had encrypted passwords, which made it more difficult for hackers to use them.
The email addresses are from major providers such as AOL Inc, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc and almost all Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations. Holden said he alerted one major email provider that is a client, but he declined to identify the company, citing a nondisclosure agreement.
Heather Bearfield, who runs the cybersecurity practice for accounting firm Marcum LLP, said she had no information about the information that Hold Security uncovered but that it was plausible for hackers to obtain such a large amount of data because these breaches are on the rise.
She said hackers can do far more harm with stolen credentials than with stolen payment cards, particularly when people use the same login and password for multiple accounts.
“They can get access to your actual bank account. That is huge,” Bearfield said. “That is not necessarily recoverable funds.”
After recent payment-card data breaches, including one at U.S. retailer Target, credit card companies stressed that consumers bear little risk because they are refunded rapidly for fraud losses.
Wade Baker, a data breach investigator with Verizon Communications Inc, said that the number of attacks targeting payment cards through point-of-sales systems peaked in 2011. That was partly because banks and retailers have gotten better at identifying that type of breach and quickly moving to prevent crooks from making fraudulent transactions, he said.
In addition to the 360 million credentials, the criminals are selling some 1.25 billion email addresses, which would be of interest to spammers, Hold Security said in a statement on its website.
Terrafugia Inc. is developing a robotic, autonomous flying car. Passengers would get in and the car would do the rest, flying and landing on its own.
“We want to make the flying car practical,” said Carl Dietrich, co-founder, CEO and chief technology officer at Terrafugia. “We want something that is statistically safer than driving a car. We think that’s possible. It needs to be faster than driving a car. It needs to be simpler to operate than a plane. It needs to be more convenient than driving a car today. It needs to be sustainable in the long run.”
Dietrich made the comments last weekend at the MIT Tech Conference, which focused on disruptive technologies.
He explained that the model of the next-generation flying car is a four-seat, plug-in hybrid that doesn’t require the operator to be a full-fledged pilot.
“It will even plan the route for you,” Dietrich said. “There’s still an operator deciding if it’s safe to take off. Is it safe to land here? But it doesn’t take a lot of training to make these decisions. Is it safe is an easy decision to make… This is starting now and its very, very exciting.”
Terrafugia is a Woburn, Mass.-based aerospace company founded by pilots and engineers from MIT. Terrafugia has two prototypes but no flying cars in production.
The company’s flyable car is designed with foldable wings and falls into the light sport aircraft category. It’s expected to take off and land at small, local airports and to drive on virtually any road.
The Transition, the company’s first driveable plane, completed its first flight in March 2012 at Plattsburgh International Airport in upstate New York.
The plane is still in the testing phase. A spokeswoman said Tuesday that the company is probably two years away from production.
Dietrich did not reveal pricing for an autonomous flying car, but said costs are coming down from initial expectations.
“We’re trying to bring the cost down to the area of a luxury vehicle,” he said during his presentation. “It’s not going to be a $10,000 vehicle but it will be in the reach of a much broader segment of the population.”
Terrafugia may be trying to develop an autonomous drivable plane, but others are working on autonomous vehicles.
Google has been working on a robotic, self-driving car for several years.
Google, which recently acquired artificial intelligence company, DeepMind Technologies, first announced in the fall of 2010 that its engineers were working on a driverless vehicle that could be widely sold. Since then, Google has logged thousands of miles on the road, approached Detroit auto makers about a partnership and worked with Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles to come up with a set of rules of the road for autonomous vehicles.
The virus can move like a human infection through WiFi access points (APs), with its spread through populated areas likened to that of a common cold.
The Chameleon virus was tested in a controlled environment and is capable of avoiding detection and finding weak points in WiFi encryption.
Alan Marshall, professor of Network Security at the University of Liverpool, said, “When Chameleon attacked an AP it didn’t affect how it worked, but was able to collect and report the credentials of all other WiFi users who connected to it. The virus then sought out other WiFi APs that it could connect to and infect.”
This means that even a protected computer can be compromised if it innocently connects to an infected WiFi network AP. Because the virus only exists on the network, rather than the computer itself, open hotspots are particularly vulnerable.
In heavily populated areas with APs in close proximity, the virus could propagate extremely quickly, with the optimum range being among APs in a 10m to 50m radius.
Marshall continued, “It was assumed, however, that it wasn’t possible to develop a virus that could attack WiFi networks, but we demonstrated that this is possible and that it can spread quickly. We are now able to use the data generated from this study to develop a new technique to identify when an attack is likely.”
In Hollywood terms, it works like the release of a vial of infectious virus that looks for people who are not wearing gas masks and turns them into zombies. This gives us an idea for a summer blockbuster movie.
Malware spread by conventional means has been a never-ending battle. Nokia this week claimed that nine percent of Android apps it tested for its Nokia X device contained one or more viruses, while institutions including the NHS have been recent victims of computer malware attacks. Now, malware can be airborne and the game could change.
Professional social networking website LinkedIn Corp rolled out a Chinese language version of its website on Monday, a move that could further spur its expansion into the world’s largest Internet market even as the company acknowledged it will have to patrol what some of them say on its website.
LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner acknowledged in a blog post on Monday that the company would have to censor some of the content that users post on its website in order to comply with Chinese rules.
But Weiner said the benefits of providing its online service to people in China outweighed those concerns. He vowed that the company would be “transparent” about its practices as it builds its presence in a country it said is home to one in five of the “knowledge workers” that are LinkedIn’s core audience.
“Extending our service in China raises difficult questions, but it is clear to us that the decision to proceed is the right one,” Weiner said.
Foreign Internet companies face difficulties operating in China. Beijing censors sensitive terms from the Internet and blocks social networks Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc, a widespread effort that analysts say is geared towards maintaining the Communist Party’s hold on power and preserving social stability.
LinkedIn’s arguments about trade-offs for the greater good are reminiscent of Google’s justification for its controversial 2006 decision to launch a self-censored version of its search service in China.
Four years later, Google reversed course and relocated its search engine to Hong Kong from mainland China, following a dispute with the Chinese government over what Google said was increasingly onerous censorship and cyber-attacks it said originated in China.
The Chinese language website that will be available on Monday is a “beta,” or test, version of the site. LinkedIn is still in the process of getting a license to operate the Chinese language site, which will require that the company maintain server computers in China that will store data about its Chinese users, according to a source familiar with the matter.
LinkedIn already has more than 4 million users in China who use its English language website, but the company has signaled that it is interested in making a broader expansion in the country.
Weiner said the Chinese language site would help LinkedIn reach 140 million professionals in China, providing the potential for the company to significantly expand its current audience of 277 million members.
The company’s expansion into China comes as LinkedIn is trying to transform itself from a social network used primarily by job seekers and by recruiters into a more full-fledged online hub for professional workers.
LinkedIn has recently begun encouraging its members to write career-related articles and post them on the website, a move the company hopes will boost the amount of time users spend on its site.
Weiner said that China’s restrictions on content would be implemented “only when and to the extent required.”
“LinkedIn strongly supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship,” Weiner said.
Still, Verizon has had its own interconnection discussions with Netflix related to increasing the video provider’s traffic speeds on the broadband carrier’s networks, Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said. Following a Sunday announcement that Comcast and Netflix had reached an interconnection deal, McAdam said his company has had similar discussions with the video provider.
The Comcast and Netflix deal shows “the commercial markets can come to agreement on these to make sure the investments keep flowing,” McAdam said.
McAdam addressed the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules during a conference call about the company’s acquisition of Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. The FCC’s move this month to resurrect net neutrality rules should provide “clarity” for the broadband industry, said McAdam, whose company successfully challenged an old version of the regulations in court.
McAdam dismissed concerns that his company would selectively block or slow some Web content. “We make our money by carrying traffic,” he said. “That’s how we make dollars. So to view that we’re going to be advantaging one over the other really is a lot of histrionics, I think, at this point.”
But McAdam suggested that broadband power users should pay extra. “It’s only natural that the heavy users help contribute to the investment to keep the Web healthy,” he said. “That is the most important concept of net neutrality.”
The FCC needs to look at the broad Internet industry, not just broadband providers, when it considers new net neutrality rules, McAdam said. Companies like Netflix, Apple, Microsoft and Google have a role, and “any rules will have to include all of these players,” he said.
McAdam called for the FCC to create “light touch” rules on net neutrality. The FCC needs to consider growing uses of broadband in medicine and other fields, he said. “Everything from health care to telematics to the energy grid need to be balanced with someone who’s trying to watch last year’s episode of [TV show] NCIS,” he said.
McAdam said he’s “encouraged” that the latest FCC effort may bring clarity on net neutrality rules.
The handset, which has the code name “Jakarta” but carries the commercial name Z3, is the result of a BlackBerry deal with Foxconn that seeks to shift design and production of low-end phones outside of the company.
It has a 5-inch touchscreen and will come with the company’s 10.2.1 operating system. No other technical details were immediately available.
“It’s going to be a very, very attractive phone for the market,” said John Chen, during a news conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “Somewhere in April, it will come out in Indonesia. It will be under $200 in retail price.”
BlackBerry’s deal with Foxconn was signed in early December and marked a big shift in the way the company develops its handsets. Under the deal, Foxconn will take over development of low-end devices while BlackBerry will continue to develop high-end phones.
“When I first got into the phone business, they told me it takes 9 to 12 months to get a phone up and going. In less than three months the phone is up and qualified and we are now working on distribution,” he said.
Chen said the phone will also be released in other countries.
The same model will go on sale in other Southeast Asian countries and BlackBerry plans an LTE-version that will be released in the rest of the world.
Chen didn’t specify a release date for the LTE version, except to deadpan, “sometime in the future, before I die.”
The CEO also said a new version of the Q10, called the Q20, will be available later this year. It features the QWERTY keyboard that’s present on the Q10 and adds the menu, back and send buttons and the track pad that was a signature part of older BlackBerry models and is being brought back after customer requests.
Written by Ronald Bultje and Clément Bœsch, the decoder is built around FFmpeg and has been written from scratch. The pair say that FFmpeg aims to be a fast, free, community-developed implementation similar to ffvp8. The sorts of speeds being talked about are between 25 and 50 per cent faster than the libvpx-based decoder and there is significant improvements too in multi-threaded performance.
The developers wrote a FFmpeg’s VP8 decoder which was also faster than Google’s own VP8 video decoder. But all of this is decoder-only, and the big issue for VP9 adoption – at this point – is encoder performance, so while it is all well and good it is going to be a while before any of this makes much of an impact.
Announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the $349 tablet has a 10-inch screen and a snappy Qualcomm 400 Snapdragon processor. The screen displays images at a 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, setting it apart from the previous Yoga 10 tablet, which was criticized for its poor performance and low-resolution screen.
But the company has retained some of the key features from the original Yoga 10. The Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ has a cylindrical battery that the company claims gives the device 18 hours of battery life, and a kickstand that allows the tablet to stand upright at 30-degree to 80-degree angles.
Other features in the tablet include an 8-megapixel rear camera, a front camera, micro-USB port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The tablet has the Android 4.3 OS.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon chip is able to render full high-definition video, which should give the tablet competitive multimedia performance.
The tablet will be packaged with apps from Lenovo to easily share files, sync contacts and protect the device from malware. The software belongs to Lenovo’s newly announced Do-it software apps package.
The Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ will be available in April, the company said.
BlackBerry Messaging, or BBM, is a messaging platform that offers collaboration tools such as BBM Groups, BBM Voice and BBM Channels and competes with services such as WhatsApp, which Facebook bought last week for $19 billion.
BBM will be available as a free download from the Windows Phone Store this summer, while BBM for Nokia X will be available from the Nokia Store when the Nokia X platform launches, BlackBerry said in a statement released to the press.
BBM was a pioneering mobile-messaging service, but its user base has failed to keep pace with that of WhatsApp and other upstarts, in part because BlackBerry had long refused to open the service to users on other platforms.
WhatsApp, with a user base of about 450 million, on the other hand has grown rapidly. Its service works on Apple Inc’s iOS platform, Google Inc’s market-dominating Android operating system and with devices powered by both the Windows and BlackBerry operating systems.
BBM remains popular, even though BlackBerry devices have waned in popularity. Late last year, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company finally opened the messaging platform to users of iPhones and Android devices, and the number of the service’s active users has grown to more than 80 million.