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.
The legal battle between Apple and Samsung is heating up. Apple filed an injunction against Samsung claiming that its Galaxy S smartphones violate 4 of the company’s patents. This is at least the 30th lawsuit the companies have filed against one another; with Apple claiming that Samsung is blatantly copying its products. In other news, if you are an AT&T customer looking to upgrade your phone, it just got more expensive. AT&T announced that it doubled the upgrade fee of smartphones from $18 to $36. The increased prices are due to a higher cost associated with upgrading new devices. And finally, Iran has reportedly further restricted Internet and email access within the country. Millions of Iranian users are reporting low speeds, outages and blocked websites. Iran has also placed restrictions on services using secured connections like Gmail and Facebook.
Kodak announced that it’s getting out of the digital camera business in the first half of this year. The move comes as a cost savings measure after filing for bankruptcy protection last month. Kodak will license its brand to other camera makers and focus on manufacturing printers instead. In other news, according to the Wall Street Journal, Google plans on launching a cloud-storage service. Similar to Dropbox, Google Drive will let users store files online for free, making them accessible on any Internet-connected device. A paid account will grant you even more storage space. And finally, Zynga is taking its online games into the physical world. Hasbro is licensing the company’s products, making toys based off of Zynga characters and brands. With the popularity of games like FarmVille and Words With Friends, Zynga has amassed over 227 million monthly users.
Amazon struck a deal with Viacom adding thousands of new titles to its streaming library. Amazon Prime subscribers can now watch episodes from Viacom owned networks like Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon. A Prime subscription will run you $79 a year. In other news, the value of your old smartphone may be more than you think. A study found that after one year, iPhones still sell for 63% of its retail value, compared to 46% for Android phones. After just 6 months, iPhones are still worth 89% of its MSRP. And finally, liking a brand on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean you’re loyal to it. A report by eMarketer found that 67% of consumers that Like a page are just looking to get a good deal. For nearly half of consumers, liking a brand’s page has zero influence on brand loyalty.
Between Apple, Google and Facebook, app development has become one of the fastest growing industries. A study found that since 2005, nearly half a million U.S. jobs were created just for the development of mobile applications. California holds 25% of all app-related jobs in the United States. In other news, Google announced that its web browser Chrome is now available for mobile devices running Android 4.0. The mobile browser has advanced features like tabbed browsing and can sync open pages between your computer and mobile device. If you have Android 4.0, you can download the beta now. And finally, hackers posted source code for anti-virus company Symantec’s pcAnywhere software online, after a failed extortion attempt. The hacker allegedly tried to obtain $50,000 from an undercover law enforcement agent and posted the source code online after failing to secure the money.
Verizon is partnering with Redbox to offer a subscription-based video rental service. While Verizon will deliver the digital content, the offering will be a stand-alone service available to anyone with a broadband connection. It’s expected to launch in the second half of this year. In other news, the Super Bowl set a record for Tweets per second, but the game itself wasn’t what people were talking about. 75% of Super Bowl conversation on Twitter focused on the commercials and the halftime show. By contrast, 2% of tweets were about the Giant’s victory. And finally, Google is launching a project called Solve for X, aimed at tackling the biggest of global problems. The project is a think tank similar to TED, where you can hear and discuss radical uses of technology. Google hopes the project will encourage what it calls “moonshot” thinking.