That’s what Canadian researchers found when they studied fitness-tracking devices from eight manufacturers, along with their companion mobile apps.
All the devices studied except for the Apple Watch transmitted a persistent, unique Bluetooth identifier, allowing them to be tracked by the beacons increasingly being used by retail stores and shopping malls to recognize and profile their customers.
The revealing devices, the Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, Garmin Vivosmart, Jawbone Up 2, Mio Fuse, Withings Pulse O2 and Xiaomi Mi Band, all make it possible for their wearers to be tracked using Bluetooth even when the device is not paired with or connected to a smartphone, the researchers said. Only the Apple device used a feature of the Bluetooth LE standard to generate changing MAC addresses to prevent tracking.
In addition, companion apps for the wearables variously leaked login credentials, transmitted activity tracking information in a way that allowed interception or tampering, or allowed users to submit fake activity tracking information, according to an early draft of the report, “Every Step you Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security.” It was published by Canadian non-profit Open Effect, and researched with help from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
The apps are typically used to gather data from the fitness tracking device and upload it to a central server, where users can analyze their performance and perhaps compare it with that of other device wearers.
Using a man-in-the-middle attack, researchers were able to spy on traffic between the apps and the servers for all but two of the apps, Apple’s Watch 2.1 and Intel’s Basis Peak 1.14.0. For the six remaining apps, this allowed them to observe even encrypted data sent via HTTPS.
Apple and Intel used a technique called certificate pinning to avoid being fooled by the fake security certificates presented by the researchers. Intel has been highlighting the risks of poorly secured wearable devices since at least 2014, when it published the report “Safeguarding the Future of Digital America 2025.”
For years Microsoft held a torch for the tablet even while everyone else mocked them. When Apple turned the concept into a gimmick and everyone bought one, Microsoft was mocked for not really understanding the tablet.
Now it seems that Redmond is the only one making tablets that people want again, as the market slowly shrinks to the point before Jobs claimed “his” invention was a “game changer.”
Strategy Analytics said that final quarter of 2015 witnessing the worst year-on-year decline for a product that it has seen.
The company’s ‘Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share by Operating System: Q4 2015′ report estimates that tablet shipment numbers fell to 69.9 million units in Q4, which is a record drop of 11 per cent. Over the full year of 2015, shipments reached 224 million units which represented a drop of 8 per cent.
TrendForce estimated a bigger drop over the course of the full year with a 12.2 per cent decline compared to 2014′s shipment numbers.
However Strategy Analytics said that the only one to do well was Microsoft. Windows tablets witnessed growth of 59 per cent in Q4 compared to the previous year.
Part of this is because 2-in-1 PCs are doing well and expected to do better. Strategy Analytics observed a huge 379 per cent leap in year-on-year growth in Q4 2015.
Eric Smith, Senior Analyst, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, said: “2-in-1 Detachable Tablets have reached an inflection point in 2015 as computing needs continue to trend more and more mobile and Tablets with Windows 10 can compete against iOS in the premium and high price bands and equally well against Android in the mid and lower price bands.
“The Q4 2015 launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book was met with many ‘Surface clones’ by Microsoft’s OEM partners at lower price points. This variety of devices will bolster momentum of Windows Tablets going forward.”
Apple is still the top tablet vendor with a share of 23.1 per cent in Q4 of last year. But it fell heavily from 27.3 per cent the previous year. Cupertino’s shipment numbers dropped from 21.4 million units to 16.1 million units this year.
Samsung was in second place with a 12.9 per cent market share, down from 13.9 per cent the previous year. Lenovo saw slight growth in third place with an increase from 4.7 per cent to a 5.7 per cent share in Q4 2015, with Amazon slipping to fourth place, dropping from 4.9 per cent to 4.4 per cent.
Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to expand the reach of its Yammer work social network — and better compete with other workplace collaboration tools – announcing that any organization with an Office 365 subscription will gain access to the service and have it automatically activated.
The service will start rolling out to users in waves. The automatic activation will allow businesses to quickly spin up online communities for their workers.
Microsoft will also let users sign in to Yammer with the same username and password they use to access all of their other Office 365 apps and services. System administrators will, however, have the ability to prevent users from accessing Yammer.
The first Yammer rollout will target businesses with fewer than 150 licenses and that have an Office 365 subscription that includes Yammer.
Microsoft bought Yammer in 2012 for $1.2 billion. At the time, it was a high-flying technology startup in the hot enterprise social network space, althought it hasn’t been taken up widely. Microsoft said that more than 500,000 businesses are using it, up from 200,000 at the time of its acquisition.
Yammer faces increased competition in the workplace collaboration space. Rival Slack’s real-time chat capabilities have made it a popular choice, though that software doesn’t replicate the message board and information feed aspects of Yammer’s product. However, when Facebook for Work becomes publicly available — it’s in a closed beta test — that offering will more closely compete with Yammer’s core functionality.
Internet search giant Google has finally added Australian slang and language recognition to its applications, addressing complaints that its software had difficulty in understanding thick local accents and complex place names.
Long accustomed to having their distinctive slang misunderstood, Australians can now substitute “footy” for football, “arvo” for afternoon and find directions to Mullumbimby or Goondiwindi, a spokesman told Reuters.
The extended vocabulary came after Google, which is now part of holding company Alphabet Inc, added an Australian accented voice to its Google Maps and search applications last week.
“People are starting to talk to their phones much more regularly now. Mobile voice searchers have doubled in the last year,” Google Australia spokesman Shane Treeves said.
“Particularly all those tricky Aussie place names, they just sound much better in an Aussie voice that can get them right.”
Google and its chief competitor, Apple Inc, have saturated the United States and Western Europe with their devices, leaving foreign language markets as some of the prime places to grow.
In December, Apple released a version of its virtual personal assistant, Siri, for Arabic speakers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Google’s Android phones’ search function already offered some support in Arabic.
Google’s Android operating system was used by roughly 54 percent of mobile devices sold in Australia in December, placing it ahead of Apple iOS at 38 percent, according to data published by research firm Kantar Worldpanel.
The addition of Australian language features to Google’s software could carry with it a sense of vindication for local users, who have long groused about its inability to understand them.
Enterprises of all sizes are willingly surrendering their emails to the cloud, according to the analysts at Gartner, and the bulk of them are relying on Microsoft to keep them up in the air and spinning.
The cloud, in case you missed it, is everywhere. Even your nan uploads her photos to the cloud. Cloud email services have been embraced by consumers, but have been welcomed more cautiously in the business world. Until now, that is, according to a new Gartner cloud and email report.
The leading firms in this area are Google and Microsoft. The latter seems to have the edge, perhaps because Microsoft solutions are as entrenched in business as tedious meetings. Google is getting its game together, however, thanks to a mix of improvement and marketing.
“Although it is still early days for cloud email adoption, Microsoft and Google have achieved significant traction among enterprises of different sizes, industries and geographies,” said Nikos Drakos, a research vice president at Gartner.
“Companies considering cloud email should question assumptions that public cloud email is not appropriate in their region, size or industry. Our findings suggest that many varied organisations are already using cloud email, and the number is growing rapidly.”
Party like it’s 1999, because Microsoft has the market locked down and Gartner reckons that it is well in use in industries where regulation is a strong consideration. Google is more obviously installed at more relaxed locations.
“Among public companies using cloud-based email, Microsoft is more popular with larger organisations and has more than an 80 per cent share of companies using cloud email with revenue above $10bn,” added Jeffrey Mann, research vice president at Gartner.
“Google’s popularity is better among smaller companies, approaching a 50 per cent share of companies with revenue less than $50m.”
Samsung is rolling out a rental phone service which will replace a phone that is been used for a year with the latest model.
The system is similar to the rental model which was introduced by Apple in September of last year. Samsung will bring the service out in March in South Korea but it is also in talks with Bright Star, which is a business that specializes in distribution of mobile in the US so it is pretty likely to be tried over the pond too. We have not heard about it talking to any EU distributor but it is also fairly likely.
Under the deal you replace your old phone with a new phone every year if you make a two year contract and pa a year worth of instalments. The company then makes a bit of dosh flogging the used phones.
The first phone to be rented will be the Galaxy S7 that happens to be being released in March. It will also have a higher resale value as a used model.
Officially Samsung is saying nothing as the Galaxy S7 is not even in the shops yet.
Mobile telecommunication businesses such as SK Telecom, LG Uplus and others are also preparing to release similar services. This is not the first time they have had a crack at programs likes this there were operations like Zero Club, Free Club and others in the past which operated in a similar way. It should make the introduction of the rental phone service using Apple’s model a doddle.
If it takes off it could be a change in distribution model for phones. As mobile markets are saturated and as subsidies for mobiles disappear, rental phones are seen as an alternatives that will create new demand. Much of the success however depends on the resale value of the older phones.
This month, market research firm IHS predicted that Apple would introduce some form of wireless charging on the iPhone 7 expected to arrive in September; that move seems more likely given that Apple introduced an inductive, proprietary charging solution in 2015 on the Apple Watch.
Adding fuel to the wireless charging fire, Bloomberg has reported that Apple is working with partners in the U.S. and Asia to develop new wireless charging technology that could be deployed on its mobile devices in 2017.
“We still expect [wireless charging with the iPhone 7], but this latest rumor suggests a longer term look at much greater spatial freedom — claiming to take away the charging pad altogether,” David Green, a research manager at IHS Technology, said.
Two years ago, the Windows Phone 8-based Lumia 920 smartphone introduced wireless charging. Then Samsung launched dual-mode wireless charging on its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones. Now, the focus is on Apple to see whether it will also add wireless charging to the iPhone, Green said.
Wireless charging is proving to be very popular with those who have used it, and the market tripled in size last year compared to 2014, with more than 160 million wireless charging receivers shipped across all markets.
The three major wireless charging industry groups have adopted a form of resonant wireless charging, which allows a more “loosely coupled” approach where handsets can be several centimeters away from a charger or placed at any angle on a charging pad.
For example, AirFuel Alliance’s Rezence-specification, which allows charging from across several centimeters, includes the ability to use a charging bowl or charging through a desktop.
There’s also uncoupled charging technology, where powering up devices through Wi-Fi, for example, sends low levels of power (typically less than 1 watt) across a room.
Ossia, Energous and uBeam all demonstrated uncoupled charging technology at CES earlier this month.
Slapdash developers have been advised not to use the open source JSPatch method of updating their wares because it is as vulnerable as a soft boiled egg, for various reasons.
It’s FireEye that is giving JSPatch the stink eye and providing the warning that it has rendered over 1,000 applications open to copy and paste theft of photos and other information. And it doesn’t end there.
FireEye’s report said that Remote Hot Patching may sound like a good idea at the time, but it really isn’t. It is so widely used that is has opened up a 1,220-wide iOS application hole in Apple users’ security. A better option, according to the security firm, is to stick with the Apple method, which should provide adequate and timely protection.
“Within the realm of Apple-provided technologies, the way to remediate this situation is to rebuild the application with updated code to fix the bug and submit the newly built app to the App Store for approval,” said FireEye.
“While the review process for updated apps often takes less time than the initial submission review, the process can still be time-consuming and unpredictable, and can cause loss of business if app fixes are not delivered in a timely and controlled manner.
Let’s not all make this JSPatch’s problem, because presumably it’s developers who are lacking.
FireEye spoke up for the open source security gear while looking down its nose at hackers. “JSPatch is a boon to iOS developers. In the right hands, it can be used to quickly and effectively deploy patches and code updates. But in a non-utopian world like ours, we need to assume that bad actors will leverage this technology for unintended purposes,” the firm said.
Revenue for the fourth quarter was 53.3 trillion won (US$45.5 billion), up just 1 percent from a year earlier, Samsung announced Thursday in Seoul. Net profit plummeted 40 percent to 3.2 trillion won.
A day earlier, Samsung’s biggest rival, Apple, said it too was seeing weaker than expected demand for handsets. The Cupertino company reported iPhone sales that were almost flat and forecast its first quarterly revenue drop since 2003.
Samsung isn’t expecting much better. It sees a difficult environment in 2016 characterized by slowing IT demand.
“It would be a challenge to maintain 2016 operating profit levels,” said Kim Sang Hyo, Samsung’s vice president of investor relations, in a conference call with analysts.
A weak macro economy around the world will hurt business in the first half, but things should get better in the second half, the company said.
Sales in Samsung’s key mobile division fell 10 percent in the quarter to 24 trillion won. That was the result of an earlier pile up of unsold phones at retailers, and the fact that Samsung sold fewer high-end phones and more that were lower priced.
Samsung doesn’t divulge the number of smartphones it sells, preferring to announce total sales of all phone types. That figure was 97 million last quarter, with smartphones accounting for around 85 percent.
For 2016, it expects the mobile business will see single-digit growth due to tepid demand for new smartphones and tablet PCs.
Samsung’s semiconductor and display panel operations — it’s second-biggest business area — was the only good performer last quarter. Sales rose 11 percent year-on-year to 19.7 trillion won thanks to healthy demand for flash memory chips and continued demand for mobile and server DRAM.
The New Edition rose gold version incorporates gold plating atop stainless steel, not solid gold, according to Samsung.
That distinction would explain a price of 480€ (about $520 US), as seen as available for pre-order on the DutchCool Blue retail website.
Samsung hasn’t listed official pricing or availability by countries other than to say China was the first country where the device was released.
A solid gold Apple Watch, by contrast, could cost a buyer as much as $17,000, although Apple sells many variations at much lower prices.
While Samsung described its newest watches as “merging fashion with technology,” there is a debate in the industry over how much high fashion and rich materials will matter in achieving mass market acceptance of smartwatches.
Market research firm IDC said that 21 million smartwatches shipped in 2015, well below projections of many analysts. That number included the Apple Watch, launched in April, which some had predicted would sell 40 million units in its first year.
“People don’t really see the value in smartwatches,” said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani in a January interview. He added that women aren’t heavily interested in fashion smartwatches, despite attempts by Apple and now Samsung to attract women buyers.
Samsung provides about 1,400 apps for use with the Tizen OS on its Gear 2 smartwatches. The devices will also have the ability to connect to Android smartphones and, later in 2016, to iOS devices.
The future for smartwatches used in business settings is unclear, analysts have said, although there is greater interest in providing enterprise apps for a range of wearables that include smart glasses and devices worn on other parts of the body.
When people delete a Sway that they’re working on, it’s sent to the service’s Recycle Bin, where it can be recovered for 30 days, rather than disappearing forever right off the bat. It’s good news for people who put hours of work into creating presentations using Sway, only to have them disappear in the blink of an eye when users clicked or tapped the wrong button.
People who are sure that they want to delete things in the Recycle Bin can choose the Empty Recycle Bin button to permanently delete all of the Sways that are on the chopping block.
People who use Chromebooks and Office 365 also have an easier way of getting access to Sway, which is now available from the Chrome Web Store. That makes it easier for Chrome OS users to get access to Sway Online from their Chrome browser homepage and the Chromebook launcher, and is particularly valuable for educators and students who use Google’s operating system but have access to Office 365 through their institution.
Microsoft also made it easier for folks who are already tied into its Office ecosystem to create Sway presentations with a new beta Add-in for the PC version of OneNote that automatically generates a Sway based on a OneNote page. All users have to do is click a button in OneNote, and Sway will generate a presentation for them based on the content of their notes.
It’s an interesting competitive move that puts Sway and OneNote on par with Evernote, which also supports creating a presentation from a note or group of notes.
Sway for Windows 10 also now supports dragging and dropping images from the file explorer into a presentation. It’s a feature that makes it easier for users to take pictures that they’ve found online or shot themselves and turn them into a part of the presentation that they’re building.
The app also now supports natively viewing presentations in full screen, something that previously required people to use a browser that’s capable of entering full screen mode.
The Windows 10 Mobile OS — popularly known as Windows Phone — can now run on x86 chips, according to a Microsoft Web page. It’s the first version of Windows Phone to be compatible with x86.
The information on the website was confirmed by a Microsoft spokeswoman as accurate. Until now, Windows smartphones have only run on ARM-based chips from Qualcomm.
Intel and Microsoft last year joined forces in an effort to get device makers to bring Windows 10 to low-cost smartphones and phablets that would run on the chip-maker’s Atom X3 chips.
Devices with Windows 10 Mobile can have screen sizes up to 7 inches and a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels.
Intel had said Atom X3 smartphones would be priced as low as $75. But the current version of the chip is only 3G capable, which may have caused mobile phone makers to hesitate — so far, no handset manufacturer has come out with a Windows phone running on the Atom X3.
Faster Atom X3 chips with integrated LTE capabilities will be in handsets this year, however.
Microsoft and Intel for years have wanted to build an alliance in smartphones along the lines of the partnership that made both companies successful in PCs. But Intel was underwhelmed by the adoption of Windows Phone, which was in just 31.3 million, or 2.2 percent, of the smartphones that shipped worldwide in 2015, according to IDC.
Microsoft and Intel declined to provide further comment on Windows 10 Mobile on x86 smartphones, or when handsets would come to the market.
HP wants to add “blended reality” features — including VR and 3D printing — to laptops and desktops running the Chrome OS and operating systems other than Windows, company executives said this week.
The goal is to expand the capabilities of Chromebooks. Right now the laptops are aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web, though some offline applications are available.
HP is approaching the market for VR in a way that is different from companies like Oculus and Samsung, which provide headsets to view 3D content. On its part, HP wants to provide the tools that can be used to create 3D content.
Beyond VR, a big part of HP’s “blended reality” strategy is 3D printing. HP plans to release a 3D printer this year, and the company has said it wants to make it easier for PC and mobile-device users to create and print 3D objects.
These features will be delivered to Chrome PCs through Web technologies, said Gus Schmedlen, vice president of education at HP.
More details on the plan will be shared in the future, Schmedlen said, so exactly how HP will build a Chromebook capable of handling Web-based VR remains to be seen.
HP already offers hardware built around its interactive computing strategy. Sprout PCs have projectors and 3D cameras that can scan, create and manipulate 3D images and objects.The 23.6-inch Zvr monitor allows users to modify objects “in thin air” with a stylus-like pointer and 3D glasses.
VR is possible through high-end smartphones and Google Cardboard, but desktops with separate graphics cards are needed for high-end devices like Oculus Rift. Chrome PCs don’t have discrete GPUs yet.
It’s possible that HP could create a Web version of its Workspace software, which allows for the scanning or manipulation of images and video.
Rumors circulated this week that HTC is planning to set up a new company focusing entirely on virtual reality (VR), but the firm denied the reports on Tuesday.
The Chinese-language Commercial Times cited “unnamed industry sources” in stating that HTC chairwoman Cher Wang was planning to spin off the firm’s VR operations into an independent entity, but the company issued a statement on Tuesday saying that this is not true.
HTC said that it will chart a direction for the development of its VR operations with the goal of creating the best value for its shareholders, according to a report in Focus Taiwan.
Nevertheless, HTC stock rose 5.23 percent on Monday to NT$76.5 (£1.59) and remained unchanged on Tuesday.
The rumour came just a week after HTC confirmed that its Vive VR headset will be available to pre-order from 29 February and should still see an April shipping date as previously reported.
HTC unveiled the Vive Pre at CES 2016, a new and improved version of the headset that will soon go out as a development kit. The company promises to create “fully immersive experiences that change how we communicate, how we are entertained, and how we learn and train”.
The Vive Pre features components that have been redesigned from the ground up to provide better comfort, ergonomics and performance. There are also improvements in visuals and versatility, said HTC, to “create a world without limits”.
Wang explained in an interview with The Telegraph that the company had chosen to refocus on VR and away from smartphones, as it is now “more realistic”.
“Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables VR is more important,” she said.
The pre-order announcement comes a few days after VR rival the Oculus Rift finally went on sale to the general public. However, since the device’s official price of $599 was unveiled, the makers behind the headset have been criticized for underestimating its price in the past, and potential buyers have said that it is far more expensive than they were led to believe.
Microsoft has announced plans to donate $1 billion in cloud services over three years to nongovernmental organizations and researchers in a bid to provide access to these services to communities that can’t afford them.
The donation by Microsoft, the size of which has been calculated at fair market value, could also bring long-term business benefits, as it would help the company win over a number of potential long-term users to its cloud platform.
Among the questions being asked at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, is how to make the benefits of cloud technology available universally rather than let only wealthy societies have access to the data, intelligence, analytics and insights that come from cloud computing, wrote Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a blog post Tuesday.
The new Microsoft Philanthropies arm of the company, set up last month, will provide nonprofits with the full suite of Microsoft cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, so that nonprofits can run applications and make use of computing and storage power, CRM Online to manage relationships with donors and beneficiaries, and the Enterprise Mobility Suite to manage all of their devices, applications, and data.
Microsoft aims to address 70,000 nonprofit organizations (NGOs) through one or more of its cloud offerings by the end of 2017 and will focus on serving even more groups after that every year, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith wrote in a blog post. In 2016 alone, the company expects to donate close to $350 million in cloud services to nonprofits, according to Smith.
The other leg of the Microsoft program is the expansion by 50 percent of donations for its current Microsoft Azure for Research program, which has so far provided free cloud computing resources for over 600 research projects on six continents. Microsoft is also planning to donate cloud services combined with last-mile connectivity for underserved communities around the world.