Tag: Google

Apple, Google scramble to fix bug

330ogleBoth Google and Apple devices are vulnerable to a bug and the companies are rushing to create patches for people that have such devices.

The bug – named Freak – has been in devices for years and follows US government rules in the 1990s which forced tech vendors to offer weak encryption for devices being exported abroad. While the US government changed those rules, the vulnerability remained in later iterations of the software.

Google has apparently already fixed the bug, while Apple will push an update as early next week.

Freak stands for factoring attack on RSA-Export keys – and was apparently first discovered by French researchers, whose findings were later confirmed by other experts in the field.

Quite a few well known websites, including government websites, support the less secure encryption but Google has advised people to disable that support.

Schmidt triggers Euro debate

Google's Eric "Google Glass" SchmidtThe chairman of Google was summoned to meet the European Competition Commissioner yesterday, as investigations continue into alleged monopolistic habits.

Margarethe Vestager called Eric Schmidt in to discuss a number of complaints about Google, according to a report by Reuters.

Vestiges has already met a number of people complaining about Google, including executives from Microsoft and German press Axel Springer.

Google has, according to the report, has tried to settle the complaints about search engine three times, but all blandishments from the behemoth have been rebuffed.

If the competition commissioner finds that Google has been squeezing out other players in the European market, she could decide that the company has to dish out a tenth of its global revenues, that’s around $6 billion or so.

DT boss calls for Google regulation

330ogleThe CEO of Deutsche Telekom has made a very precise call for Google and Facebook to be regulated in the same way that telcos are.

Tim Hoettges said that there was a convergence between over-the-top web companies and classic telcos and there needs to be one regulatory environment to rule them.

Improvements should be made to spectrum policy for the telecommunications industry, and that the loosening of regulation would encourage the type of investment that governments and policy-making bodies are currently seeking from carriers.

Hoettges said that policy-makers should leave telecoms groups adequate operational freedom to develop IoT-related services such as smart meters and intra-communicating cars, commenting: “We favour net neutrality, but we need to be allowed to have quality classes to enable new services in the Internet of Things.”

Being in favour of net neutrality is different from his US rivals who want everyone to pay them twice for a service that the rest of the world gets for half the price.

Interest in the possible government regulation of Google grows in line with the ever expanding services, reach and influence of Mountain View’s empire.

In fact there have been calls for the regulation of Google since 2012 when Dr Robert Epstein laid out some of the most popular arguments for the regulation of Google, partially-based on evidence, fines following controversies such as the extraction of wifi data during the gathering of photographic information for Google Maps, and partially on his view of Google’s real place in the economy as an ungoverned monopoly.

Google retreats on Blogger smut

330ogleEarlier this week, Google’s Blogger service warned people that on the 23rd of March it would cull adult content from its users’ web pages.

But now Google has changed its mind after it said, it had received feedback that had convinced it to backtrack.

Google had said it would mark blogs that contained sexually explicit material as private.

Instead, it will now ask people to mark their web sites as “adult”, a flag which will mean a warning page pops up before redirecting people to the particular site.

A Blogger rep posted a message which said: “We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.”

No other changes need be made than for people to mark their sexually explicit pages as “adult”

China irritates tech firms

chinaflagA law set to be passed by Chinese authorities would make tech vendors provide the government with encryption keys and put backdoors in systems.

According to Reuters, the law relates to counter terrorism and the legislation is likely to be passed into law in the near future.

Other elements of the counter terrorism law include a reqirement for companies to locate their servers and user data in China, as well as forcing vendors to censor content that China believes is related to terrorism.

China already forces banks to buy from home grown vendors, rather than buying abroad.

Reuters said that the implications of this new piece of legislation would be to forbid secure VPNs, to send financial information securely, and to hide any detail of a commercial business.

Google might find itself thanking its lucky stars that it doesn’t do business in mainland China, but other vendors including Apple, Intel and Microsoft will certainly be hit by the legislation.

AMD does not think Chromebooks are worth it

AMD, SunnyvaleAMD chief technical officer Mark Papermaster has dismissed Chromebooks as “not worth it” and explained why his outfit is not behind the technology.

He said that it was important to look at Chromebook and what Google’s grand plan with it is.

“For us, it’s just a business decision, when you need our type of CPU and graphics technology that can make a difference.”

Chromebook sales are tiny. IDC estimated that 4.6 million Chromebooks were sold in 2014, compared to 304 million PCs for the year.

Intel has come to dominate Chromebook sales with Celeron and Atom chips, although some models also feature third-party ARM chips inside.

But Chromebooks are generally considered low-cost productivity machines and AMD is trying to place itself as a graphics and media chipmaker. Carrizo, dedicates four “Excavator” CPU cores against eight Radeon graphics cores and16 percent of the die is dedicated to CPU cores.
“For us, it’s when do you need our CPU and graphics capability that can make a difference,” Papermaster said. “Again, you’ll see that there’s these rock-bottom markets… so those don’t have our value proposition.”

“We play in the whole range of the market. We’ll play in the low-cost value” market, Papermaster added. “You have to at least get paid for that value when you’re working on graphics. You go below that, and you’re looking at $7 chips.”

Google reorganises in EU

330ogleThe search engine also known as Google is restructuring its European businesses to cope with the fact that the EU might want it to be a little more reasonable on privacy and anti-trust issues.

Google merged its two European regional divisions claiming it needed to “meet the challenges of tougher regulation across the continent”,

The internet giant is merging its northern and western European division with the unit covering southern and eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The move will simplify the organisation, both for commercial reasons as well as to work more effectively with business partners and policy makers.

The tax-friendly Dublin will still remain as Google’s Euro-base, and the reorganisation will not result in job losses, the source said.

Google has been given a good kicking by European Commisioners for its tax avoidance antics and tendency towards what the EU considers playing fast and loose on privacy matters.

In response, Google has argued that for Europe to remain competitive in global markets, it needs to form a single digital market instead of relying on national regulations in its 28-member states that often act to protect local industries.

It appears that Google is pinning its hopes on former British Olympic rower Matt Brittin to sort out the mess. Brittin led Google’s northern and western European division and will head up the combined Europe, Middle East and Africa operation while Carlo d’Asaro Biondo, formerly head of the other regional unit, will take on a strategy role.

D’Asaro Biondo is a former media suit who worked for Lagardère, AOL Europe and computer services company Unisys, will continue to work from Paris.

He will manage Google’s strategic partnerships in the region, which include working to deepen ties with newspaper publishers, telecom operators and carmakers.

Brittin has packed his executive bag and headed to Brussels to argue the company’s case that it serves as a growth engine for European business, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, because the Internet helps create a level playing field. But then again so do monopolies only the bloke owning the level playing field makes a fortune renting it out for others to play on.

Microsoft gives kids a cloud

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeAs part of its push to dominate the cloud, software giant Microsoft is giving away free Office 365 subscriptions to students outside the US.

Schools will have to buy subscriptions for staff and faculty, but once they do, students  – and even teachers – can self-install for no charge by using a school-issued email address at the Office in education website.

This will give Microsoft a huge customer base for its products, after signing up, kids will get access to the newest Office, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access and Publisher, and be able to install them on up to five computers and five phones or tablets.

An account also comes with Office Online and a 1TB of OneDrive storage.

The move could totally kill off moves by Google to get its cloud storage system into schools, or for that matter Apple’s push to get its expensive tablets into the education market.

The advantage of Microsoft giving away the software to school kids is that it instils a generation with training on its software which will be carried over to business decisions made later in life.

In the US, Apple and Google have been making inroads into the schools market, based on marketing in Apple’s case and cheaper software in Google’s.

Tablets slow right down

cheap-tabletsOnly 221.4 million tablets will ship worldwide this year – a drop of 11.9 percent compared to 2014.

That’s according to Digitimes Research (DR), which predicts that Apple will continue to take the lead, managing to ship over 54 million units this year. While this sounds healthy, that’s a predicted decline of 16/6 percent.

The so-called “white box” market will see the biggest decline, with a drop of 20 percent. Margins on these products are super slim.

DR gives estimates for the different vendors’ shares of the market – with Apple accounting for 24.5 percent, Samsung 16.3 percent, Lenovo 5.3 percent, Asustek 4.2 percent, Google 1.7 percent, Acer 1.7 percent, and Amazon only 1.6 percent.

Meanwhile, a report in Chinese language Economic Daily News said that Amazon has cut orders of tablets, sourced by Compal and Quanta by as much as 30 percent.

Compaq has the lion’s share of Amazon tablet business, churning out 80 percent of them compared to Quanta’s 20 percent, the Economic Daily News said.

 

Peak Google is the latest daft rumour

Google's Eric "Google Glass" SchmidtThe US tech press is full of a bizarre story that Google might have hit its peak.

According to NPR, some tech industry observers aren’t sure that Google will be ready for the next big thing and there is talk of something called “Peak Google”.

Farhad Manjoo wrote in The New York Times:  “Technology giants often meet their end not with a bang but a whimper, a slow, imperceptible descent into irrelevancy.”

Now apparently Google is having trouble mastering mobile. When you look at the fact that most of the world uses Google Android this one might be a little hard to swallow, but apparently it is all because smartphones and mobile computing have killed off the PC and no one wants to buy adverts.

In a world cantered on a fragmented mobile advertising market, Google could suffer.

Google has also not had much luck with getting its innovations into the market. Resources have been directed toward lots of flashy ideas that, in many cases, ultimately lack in financial follow-through.  Google Glass was a case in point.

Other reasons include the normal esoteric decline which always follows businesses which get too big. It is normal among technology companies for a dominant company to be unable to dominate the next big thing. Industry giants lack the manoeuvrability of a younger company.

However there is are some reasons to believe that all this is total rubbish. Google has so much money sitting in the bank it can just buy the new technology it needs. It bought Android in 2006 and Nest in 2014. There is no reason that it just can’t buy its way into the next big thing.

In addition, it is curious that few people are saying the same thing about a tech empire with even less ability to adapt – Apple. If Google goes then surely Apple will be long gone before the search engines demise.  After all tablets are tanking, ipods have long vanished, the smartphone market is saturated, and Apple, unlike Google, is out of ideas.

Google’s blog platform acts to block porn

Google the OgleSearch giant Google said that after March 23rd this year, people using its Blogger platform won’t be able to show images or videos that are sexually explicit.

However, in a statement it said that Blogger will allow nudity “if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary or scientific contexts”.

Existing blogs that do have sexually explicit material will be made private after that date, and while no content will be deleted, “private content can only be seen by the owner or admins of the blog and the people who the owner shared the blog with”.

People that have material like this can remove the sexually explicit material to avoid being deleted or marked private.

Blogger did not say the reasons for it changing its terms and conditions.

 

Russia takes aim at Google

330ogleGoogle is under attack again by government agencies, but this time its Russia that’s being accused of anti-monopolistic practices.

Search site Yandev asked the anti-competition watchdog to investigate claims whether it was taking advantage of Google’s Android operating system and shutting out competing apps.

Google is denying it behaves in a monopolistic manner and according to Reuters said people have complete control over apps on devices.

The same wire says that the European Commission is also pursuing Google to answer questions about whether its dominance in the mobile operating systems marketplace precludes competition.

And that’s not the end of it – the USA is also putting Google under the magnifying glass, even though Google said it will keep Android as an open system.

Apple might troll its way into VR control

apple-disney-dreams-snow-white-Favim.com-142405Famous for operating its reality distortion shield, Apple might have taken control of the Virtual Reality market with an ancient patent application.

Apple was granted a patent for a Gear VR-like mobile headset which would use a portable device (like a smartphone) as the primary display. However the patent is similar to Samsung’s Gear VR and a swath of VR smartphone adapters out there like Google Cardboard.

According to patent attorney, Eric Greenbaum the patent could kill off all competition for mobile VR headsets and patent troll the market to oblivion.

In 2008  Apple filed a patent for a “Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display.”

The patent describes a device which sounds an awful lot like Gear VR and other VR smartphone adapters. Eric Greenbaum, told Road to VR  that the Apple patent may have broad ramifications for mobile-device based head mounted displays.” Which I take to mean, Apple could have a case on their hands if they wanted to challenge Gear VR or similar devices in court.

He thinks that Jobs’ Mob may have pressed to get the patent through the system after Gear VR was announced.

Greenbaum  warned that Apple has not yet announced a plan to build any VR products. However their patent filings indicate a strong interest in the field and I would expect them to be planning something.

This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD.

There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it in forming strategic partnerships.

In other words, Apple without actually inventing anything could take control of the entire market.  It could cherry pick the best technology out there and then release its own product.

 

Samsung starts mobile payments

Samsung advertising in TaipeiSamsung has bought US mobile wallet startup LoopPay, which is seen as an  intention to launch a smartphone payments service.

Mobile payments have been slow to catch on in the United States and elsewhere, despite strong backing. Apple, Google, and eBay PayPal have all launched services to allow users to pay in stores via smartphones and the stores themselves are expected to release a new standard of their own.

Most of the problem is that retailers have been reluctant to adopt the hardware and software infrastructure required for these new mobile payment options to work before a standard is sorted out.  There was no point in investing in BetaMax when VHS kills it.

LoopPay’s technology differs because it works off existing magnetic stripe card readers at checkout, changing them into contactless receivers, they said. About 90 percent of checkout counters already support magnetic swiping.

“If you can’t solve the problem of merchant acceptance…, of being able to use the vast majority of your cards, then it can’t really be your wallet,” said David Eun, head of Samsung’s Global Innovation Center.

Injong Rhee, who is leading Samsung’s as-yet-unannounced payments project, said the Asian giant will soon reveal more details of its envisioned service. He would not be drawn on speculation the company may do so during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

He said new phones such as the new Galaxy would support the service.

Samsung had invested in LoopPay, along with Visa and Synchrony Financial, before its acquisition.

Rhee said in an interview that the company intends to roll out accompanying services that go beyond merely turning the smartphone into a wallet, such as by allowing users access to information such as spending.

Sony starts to sell smart glasses

glassesWhile Google is sitting back and having a think about the smart glass project it initiated, it appears that Sony is pressing ahead with its SmartEyeglass, a product that will set you back a not so very cool £600 or so.

The glasses come with a software development kit (SDK) so you can sit down and code away to your hearts content, and supports the Android operating system.

The glass include a three megapixel camera, a microphone, weigh 77 grammes, and include a number of features familiar to smartphone users such as gyroscopes, compass, image and brightness sensors, according to the BBC, which adds they come with a controller, to be worn on the body, with loudspeaker, a touch sensor and a battery.

You’ll also be able to see text on the lenses in green.

The CEO of Apple doesn’t think much of smart glasses, according to the New Yorker. He told that magazine that people wouldn’t want to wear them.