Tag Archives: IOS

Coin, The Credit-Card-Of-The-Future Project, Hit A Big Snag

coin smart card

Coin is the much-hyped (and very successful) crowdfunded project that aims to change everything about how you pay for things.

You might think of it as “one credit card to rule them all” — it digitally stores multiple credit numbers on one device, which you can swipe as though it were a standard card.

But there’s still quite a ways to go before the miracle card becomes a casual, everyday, no-big-deal reality, reports The Verge. For now, the device only works at 85% of credit card terminals.

Coin was originally supposed to launch by the end of this year.

In the interest of field-testing and getting that up to a much more desirable 100% compatibility rate, the company today launched Coin Beta, offering 10,000 of its earliest backers the choice to “sacrifice” their final, retail edition of Coin to get a prototype ahead of time.

They’ll later have the option to buy the retail version at 70% off, and any other Coin products that beta testers buy over the next three years will be had at 50% off.

The takeaway is that Coin is close to working, and will be even closer upon launch of the company’s app — August 28 for iOS, September 25 for Android. A special “reader” accessory that comes with Coin captures card data and saves it to your phone, and the app lets you select which cards you want to have access to on Coin.

FBI boss ‘concerned’ by smartphone encryption plans

Plans by Apple and Google to do more to protect customers’ privacy have made the FBI “very concerned”.

Speaking to reporters, FBI boss James Comey said the plans to enable encryption by default could thwart law enforcement investigations.

Lives could depend on police forces continuing to get access to the data on devices used by criminals and terrorists, he said.

The FBI was talking to both Apple and Google about its fears, said Mr Comey.

Protect privacy

The conversations with tech firms needed to be had before the day when police forces lost access to those devices, he said.

“I’d hate to have people look at me and say, ‘Well how come you can’t save this kid?’ ‘How come you can’t do this thing?'” said Mr Comey in a briefing.

His comments came in reaction to a decision by Apple to enable a file encryption system on its iOS 8 software for which it has no keys. This means it would not be able to comply with any official request to help police get at the data on those devices.

Google has said it too is planning to enable a similar encryption system by default on the next version of Android.

Mr Comey said he was “very concerned” about these plans because of what they would allow people to do.

“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law,” he said.

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no-one in this country is beyond the law,” he added.

Apple and Google have yet to respond to Mr Comey’s comments.

Ten days prior to Mr Comey’s press statement, iOS data forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski pointed out that Apple’s encryption system would not stop police getting at data on portable devices.

Specifically weakening security systems just to aid the police was a bad decision, he said.

“For the sake of privacy and overall security, the only logical solution is to make products as secure as possible, and let good detective work do the crime solving, rather than an easy button,” he wrote in a blogpost.

Apple Says iCloud Servers Have Not Been Compromised Following Reports Of Hacks In China

Storm clouds

Apple is warning iCloud users against giving their login information away, according to a new support page on its website.

The phishing attack is coming from China, where the iPhone 6 recently went on sale.

Chinese hackers have found a way to intercept iCloud login information, which they’ve then used to try and access user accounts, according to a Reuters report.

“We’re aware of intermittent organized network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously,” said Apple on their support page. “These attacks don’t compromise iCloud servers, and they don’t impact iCloud sign in on iOS devices or Macs running OS X Yosemite using the Safari browser.”

Apple’s support page tells users how to recognize when their information is being intercepted.

Basically, you shouldn’t log in anywhere that your browser flags as invalid or insecure.

The screenshot below is what your iCloud login should look like. Look for the green lock symbol in your browser to make sure everything is fine:
iCloud LoginBusiness InsiderA green lock next to the website URL lets users know that this is an authentic iCloud login page.

WhatsApp iPhone App Confirms Voice Calling Feature Launch Imminent

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We’ve been hearing about WhatsApp’s voice calling feature since Jan Koum mentioned it in February. The latest slip by WhatsApp confirms the feature’s entry into our smartphones rather soon.

WhatsApp recently released an update for iPhone with a slew of new features like improved location sharing and chat archiving. First spotted by NDTV Gadgets, the new update also has a pop-up which asks for permission to use the microphone.

The pop-up clearly reads, “WhatsApp requires microphone access to send Voice Messages, record Videos with sound, make and receive Voice Calls.” Stress on the word Voice Calls please.

This little in-app slip by WhatsApp gives us convenient hope to assume that the company is indeed working on the voice calling feature and we will see it very soon on devices. The latest update by WhatsApp is only released for iPhone users and Android users are still to receive the update.

The report also mentions that the pop-up only appears if users have not allowed WhatsApp access to the microphone. To see this, go to Settings > Privacy > Microphone > WhatsApp > flip the slider to Off.  The pop-up will then appear, revealing the sly ‘Voice Call’ mention.

On August 25, Jan Koum had tweeted that WhatsApp has 600 million active users across the globe. Whenever, the voice calling feature decides to come in, it sure is going to give a lot of competition to network carriers all over.

Google Maps’ new, context-savvy local guide reaches Android

Google Maps' Explore feature on Android

Google quietly slipped out a big upgrade to Maps’ local discovery features on iOS a couple of weeks ago, and today it’s Android’s turn. Once your device gets the refresh, you should see a new Explore guide that offers suggestions for things to do based on both context and your tastes; it knows not to point you to a nearby park when it’s raining, and can suggest breakfast spots the night before you need them. In that sense, Google Maps could become a solid alternative to familiar location-based recommendation apps like Yelp and Foursquare. Don’t be surprised if it takes some time for Explore to arrive, though. It’s just starting to reach Android this week, so you may have to rely on other tools for a little while longer.

BitTorrent Sync userbase doubles to 2 million in one month

bittorent-sync
BitTorrent’s super-secure file-sharing app, BitTorrent Sync, has had a dang good month. The company announced today that the app’s userbase has jumped from 1 million to nearly 2 million users over the past four weeks.BitTorrent bills BitTorrent Sync as a privacy-centric alternative to cloud storage services like Dropbox, allowing users to share files of any size with other users, or between separate devices. Unlike Dropbox or any other cloud storage service, BitTorrent Sync uses no central servers. Instead, it uses BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer technology to enable high-speed file transfers. BitTorrent sync also allows users to encrypt their file transfers using a automatically generated key or a scannable QR code.The rising success of BitTorrent Sync comes as a result of users’ renewed concerns about the privacy and security of their digital information thanks to the ongoing revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance efforts, according to the company. Because BitTorrent Sync uses no middle-man servers, users’ files are theoretically more secure, and less susceptible to subpoena from law enforcement.“2013 will be remembered as 1984: the year we woke up to the reality of server farms and stacks,” wrote BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker on the company blog. “Our personal information is now property of a few corporations; subject to dragnet data collection by our own government.”BitTorrent – a company most commonly associated with illegal file-sharing – used the NSA revelations earlier this year as a centerpiece in it’s rebranding efforts, which included a series of enigmatic billboards in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.BitTorrent-Sync-GrowthServices like Dropbox appear to be BitTorrent Sync’s most direct competitor, and BitTorrent takes direct aim at the cloud storage provider in its latest press blast. According to the chart above, BitTorrent Sync “is growing 2X as fast as Dropbox.” Sounds impressive – but it’s a bit misleading. Dropbox’s growth rate in this chart is based on statements from the company uttered between 2008 and 2010 – the latest date being almost four years ago. Since that time, Dropbox has grown to more than 200 million users.

Still, BitTorrent Sync does have some major advantages over Dropbox – especially in terms of transfer speed, which the company claims (and we can at least roughly verify) is around seven times faster than Dropbox. The company says this has led to BitTorrent Sync users “moving 40x as much data as Dropbox users.”

In addition to the BitTorrent Sync app, available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, the company also recently released the BitTorrent Sync API, which allows developers to incorporate its fast, encrypted file-transfer powers into other apps.