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. 

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. 

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.

 

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.

 

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. 

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?

 

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. 

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.” 

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. 

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.