Monthly Archives: October 2012

In the 2002 film Minority Report, John Anderton, played by Tom Cruise, walks through a shopping mall of the future, where a storefront camera equipped with facial recognition technology recognises him and delivers a real-time, hyper-personalised ad: “John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right now.”

That future is now, with digital billboards able to determine a passer-by’s age, gender, and racial background, and even in some instances, an individual’s exact identity.

US regulators are anticipating the spread of these technical capabilities, attempting to protect consumer privacy before it gets breached. The Federal Trade Commission issued a set of recommendations on Monday for the evolution of facial recognition technology, beseeching companies that use it, like Facebook and Kraft, to design such features with a privacy-first approach. Read more

The increasing number of people using Facebook on mobile phones is driving revenues for the operators of the mobile networks, as people accumulate charges on their phone bills by scrolling through their newsfeed, and then calling their friends.

Vaughan Smith, Facebook’s vice president for mobile partnerships and corporate development, said that the company’s analyses show that Facebook users make 40 per cent more phone calls than non-Facebook users, and that the primary reason people are signing up for data connections on their mobile devices is to use Facebook. Read more

Larry Page, Google’s chief executive

It isn’t often that the Daily Mail splashes on a US stock exchange announcement, so the fuss over Google’s botched disclosure of its third quarter results – and the plunge in its shares on Thursday – is a big event.

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It’s hard to know which was worse: Nokia‘s third quarter overall, or its results in China. Let’s say… China.

Why? Well, the Finnish mobile company has made a big effort in the country, but it’s Q3 results show that it’s far from paying off.

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Chris Nuttall

Webmail services have seen little innovation since Google’s Gmail arrived in 2004, but Microsoft took a fresh look with Outlook.com, launched in the summer, and now AOL has unveiled Altomail.com.

Note that Microsoft and AOL are wisely choosing not to force Hotmail and AOL Mail users to switch to the new services – email users tend to be very set in their ways and Altomail looks a radically different interface in some of its views. Read more

Pure Sensia 200d connect

Of all our familiar gadgets, the radio set is perhaps the most endangered by smartphones and tablets, with the internet pulling in thousands more stations than short wave ever could. Two radios just launched add web connectivity, but do they have enough extra features to outmatch the latest smartphone apps?

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Tim Bradshaw

In January, Twitter sparked an outcry when it announced a modification to its famous maxim that the “tweets must flow”.

The Californian company, often hailed as a defender of free speech, said that it would block users in specific countries from seeing tweets or accounts that broke local law, while maintaining the ability of people beyond the border to see the offending messages. Activists such as Ai Wei Wei and other free-speech campaigners were quick to voice concerns about potential censorship.

However, it may salve the concerns of those who suggested that Twitter would readily kowtow to the daily whims of undesirable regimes to know that almost 10 months later, it has only now put those tools into action. Read more

Two of the UK’s high-end newspapers became embroiled in a public spat on Wednesday when a story on The Daily Telegraph’s website said management of the group that owns the rival Guardian and Observer titles was “close to axing the print editions of the newspapers”, something the latter fiercely and formally denied.

There was no attribution of the story in the first paragraph, but in the second, the Telegraph’s media editor wrote: “Senior figures at Guardian News & Media are seriously discussing the move to an entirely online operation, it has been claimed.” Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Exactly an hour after Microsoft announced its pricing for its Surface tablet, Apple sent out the invitations to what is expected to be the launch of a smaller and cheaper iPad – perhaps called the iPad Mini or iBook – next week.

The timing is hardly likely to be coincidental but it’s hard to see who is hijacking whose announcement here. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Microsoft has announced its Surface tablet, due to go on sale next week with the launch of Windows 8, will be priced from $499 in the US.

The initial Surface tablets will have Windows RT installed – a version of Windows 8 designed for Arm-based processors – and will come in three versions. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Acer completed a slow reveal of its Windows 8 US launch products on Monday with all-in-one desktop PCs (pictured left)and two touchscreen displays.

This follows the unveiling over four different days earlier this month of Aspire S7 and M5 Ultrabooks, V5 series notebooks and two Iconia tablets. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

General Motors’ pullback from Facebook ads in May became a touchstone moment for doubts about the social network’s business model, just before it went public.

But as we report in today’s FT analysis of the growing turf war in the social networking market, GM has been spending money on Twitter for two years – and is now “beyond experimenting” with ads there. Read more

Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router AC-1750

That connected-home utopia – WiFi with more speed and fewer dropped connections; easy internet connectivity for streaming video or playing online games on your television; and readily accessible storage for all your videos, music, files and photos – gets closer this week with products from Linksys and Toshiba (the Canvio Personal cloud is known as the STOR.E Cloud in the UK and Europe).

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Chris Nuttall

Sony has been putting on a show for its Windows 8 US lineup at an event in New York on Thursday, with an innovative All-In-One PC and a convertible ultrabook getting most of the attention.

The Vaio Tap 20 PC (pictured left) and the slider hybrid – the Vaio Duo 11 Ultrabook - were first unveiled at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin six weeks ago and have also been shown to the press with the rest of Sony’s lineup at briefings here in San Francisco. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The advent of a touch-optimised Windows 8 operating system might sound like bad news for a company like Logitech, best known for its keyboards and mice.

But the Swiss peripherals maker has come up with some much needed accessories for those times when touchscreens are clumsy to use or missing, and built-in controls are just not adequate for the new ways of navigating. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Lenovo is bending over backwards to come up with enticing products to coincide with the launch of Windows 8 later this month.

On Tuesday, it released details of two versions of the backwards-folding Yoga laptop-cum-tablet running Windows 8, as well as the ThinkPad Twist – another convertible with a rotating central hinge – and the IdeaTab Lynx – a tablet that will snap into a special keyboard dock. Read more

Maija Palmer

HouseTrip.com, the Swiss-based holiday rentals website, became the latest technology start-up to raise money in the recent flurry of funding rounds. The C-round brought Accel Partners in as an investor, alongside existing backers Balderton and Index Ventures. It is possibly the first time these three top European VC investors have all piled into the same company, making HouseTrip seem hot property indeed.

The company, which has raised a total of $60m since it was founded nearly three years ago, is a competitor to US Airbnb, which has also been awash with venture investment money and has a valuation of around $1.3bn. HouseTrip says it focuses more on holiday home rentals, rather than short stays in a spare room. Read more

The HTC skydivers ad really was a bad idea. The Taiwanese phonemaker is falling to earth pretty quickly, posting third-quarter revenues that are slightly more than half what they were in the same period in 2011. Third-quarter profits fell nearly 80 percent – from T$18.7bn in 2011 to T$3.9bn ($133m) this year.

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Common wisdom has it that when it comes to the web, China goes its own way. For big western sites there are China equivalents: for Google, there’s Baidu. For Facebook there’s Renren. For eBay, there’s Alibaba. And for Twitter, there’s Sina Weibo. Isn’t there?

In terms of numbers, yes. China has over 300m users on the Sina Weibo service – Twitter is banned in China. But hang on. According to a recent report, the most active users of Twitter worldwide are in… China. Not the US. How come?

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Scottvest

Scottevest Fleece 7.0
Rating: 4/5

Last month Google Glass, the internet-connected headwear being developed by Google, made an appearance on the catwalk when Diane von Furstenberg incorporated the technology into her New York Fashion Week show.

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