An investigation found that mobile apps including Flickr and Yahoo! Messenger can access your private data like text messages and contacts. While you shouldn’t worry that someone is reading your messages, you should be aware of what data you give apps permission to access. In other news, Sony is reentering the smartphone market after its buyout of the Sony Ericsson joint venture. The company unveiled the first Sony branded phones; the Android-powered Xperia P and Xperia U. Sony said mobile will be one of the main pillars helping to rebuild its brand. And finally, HTC is streamlining its mobile business and announced that it would launch future devices under the brand HTC One. The company is also answering Apple’s iCloud by striking a deal with Dropbox to bring 25GB of cloud storage to anyone who buys one of its devices.
The White House announced plans to create a consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that will place restrictions on how Internet companies can use your data. The administration is calling for understandable privacy policies, data protection and reasonable limits on data collection. In other news, the popular blog platform Tumblr announced that it would begin banning blogs that glorify eating disorders and self-mutilation. Tumblr has become a popular place for teens to partake in these types of communities and the company hopes its new policy will encourage them to seek help instead. And finally, do you know how your mobile device affects the environment? AT&T hopes to answer that question by adopting an eco-rating system that measures the energy efficiency, materials used and recyclability of devices it sells. You can look out for eco-ratings on AT&T products later this year.
United States is running out of one its most valuable technological resources: wireless spectrum. The wireless capacity for cellphones, data plans and the like is expected to hit a usage deficit by next year. Wireless carriers are blaming the deficit on the exponential increase in smartphone and tablet usage. In other news, Research in Motion released a major update to the Blackberry PlayBook tablet. The software update includes email functionality and the ability to install Android apps. Frankly, these are fairly basic features that should have been included in the PlayBook’s launch. Yes, BlackBerry is really playing catch-up. And finally, Barnes & Noble announced a cheaper version of the Nook Tablet. It’s goal is to better compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. For $200, Barnes & Noble is offering an 8GB version the Nook Tablet, which, as you know, runs a modified version of Google’s Android operating system. If you like to buy e-books from Barnes & Noble, the Nook Tablet is a good choice. If you prefer to buy your books from Amazon, it’s Kindle all the way.
Microsoft claims that similarly to Apple’s Safari browser, Google is also bypassing security settings in Internet Explorer to track users. The tracking cookies being installed on users’ computers helps Google serve you ads and customized content. It’s very probable that Google isn’t the only company doing this. In other news, Samsung said it would begin shifting its focus from making LCD TVs to the new generation of OLED displays. OLED technology allows for thinner, more energy-efficient displays that can be used for pretty much anything, including paper. You can expect OLED to be the future of digital displays. And finally, Apple could lose the right to the iPad name in China. Apple is in the middle of a trademark dispute with the previous owner of the name, resulting in the tablet being pulled from shelves in parts of Hong Kong.
Google bypassed security settings in Apple’s Safari browser to track users with unwanted cookies. Safari blocks third-party cookies from being installed by default, but Google’s workaround does it anyway. Google removed the offending code, but should expect a call from the Federal Trade Commission. In other news, a class action lawsuit against Apple’s iPhone 4 antenna issues has been settled. Starting April 30, anyone in the U.S. who bought an iPhone 4 can receive $15 or a free bumper case. If you haven’t already received a free bumper, you’ll be emailed to file a claim. And finally, after receiving much scrutiny from the public, Foxconn announced that it would raise employees’ salaries up to 25%. The factory makes electronics for many major companies and has received years of complaints about how it treats its over one million workers.
Apple’s in the news again. The company announced a new operating system launching this summer called OS 10 Mountain Lion. Apple is bringing many iPhone and iPad features to its PC counterparts like notifications, AirPlay streaming and iCloud storage. In other news, if you bought a tablet computer, a recent Nielsen survey found that it’s your kids who are using it. 70% of households surveyed said their children under the age of 12 were using a tablet computer. The good news is that nearly 60% say its being used for educational purposes. And finally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging carmakers to stop adding distractions to the inside of your car. While the agency is not against useful features like GPS or stereo controls, it wants to make them safer. Expect plenty of voice-activated cars in the future.
After uproar from privacy-concerned users, Apple now requires apps to explicitly tell you when it accesses your address book. Guess what? When an app like Twitter or Facebook asks if you’d like it to find your friends using your address book, that’s where it gets the contact information. It’s not magic. In other news, the Fair Labor Association began its investigation into the working conditions at Foxconn’s factory in Shenzen, China, where many Apple products are made. The initial report says that working conditions are quote, way, way above average of the norm. The bad news? What’s considered “the norm.” And finally, the FCC approved rules that will hopefully put an end to receive unwanted robocalls. Companies will be required to get your written approval before calling you with unwanted offers. Unfortunately, political campaigns and debt collectors are free to call away.
The company Aereo announced a product that fundamentally changes the way you can watch over-the-air TV. For $12 a month, subscribers can stream the live feed of local stations including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC on their computer, tablet or smartphone. The service launches in New York on March 14th. In other news, a report by Cisco predicts that by year’s end, there will be more mobile-connected devices in the world than there are humans. At this rate, there’s expected to be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices by 2016—that’s 1.4 devices per person. And finally, it’s that time of the year for inescapable iPad rumors. One rumor backed by a hardware supplier says Apple is testing a smaller 8” iPad prototype. The Wall Street Journal also confirmed long-running speculation that the iPad 3 will launch with 4G capabilities.
Apple is finally answering those criticizing the conditions of the factory where many of its products are made. The company has hired an outside organization to conduct a labor audit at the Foxconn factory located in Shenzhen, China. Many claim that Foxconn is subjecting employees to long hours and harsh working conditions. In other news, Amazon is looking to branch out into producing original TV content. The company is hiring executives to help develop original series for both the web and network television. Similarly to YouTube’s original content, Amazon wants to turn crowdsourced ideas into professional productions. And finally, MySpace is starting to crawl back from the dead. The social networking site announced that it added over 1 million users in December, mostly due to the success of its new music player. MySpace’s music library now consists of around 42 million songs.