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AfterDawn: News

Heartbleed fallout: If you signed up for Obamacare, it's time to change your password

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 11:50

Heartbleed fallout: If you signed up for Obamacare, it's time to change your password Government officials have confirmed that the HealthCare.gov website is indeed vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, and those that have signed up for Obamacare should change their passwords.

There was no indication that the site had been compromised, but officials still recommend changing the password to be safe. Other government sites may have been vulnerable, as well, but a full review is still ongoing, say the officials.

Heartbleed, which is a massive flaw in the OpenSSL website encryption technology used by a major portion of the Web, has been dominating headlines recently as major companies rush to patch their services and recommend to users that their passwords and other info be changed.

"While there's no indication that any personal information has ever been at risk, we have taken steps to address Heartbleed issues and reset consumers' passwords out of an abundance of caution," reads the website.

Phyllis Schneck, Department of Homeland Security deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications also added: "We will continue to focus on this issue until government agencies have mitigated the vulnerability in their systems. And we will continue to adapt our response if we learn about additional issues created by the vulnerability."

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AfterDawn: News

Beats Music adds ability to purchase subscription through iOS app

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 20 Apr 2014 11:32

Beats Music adds ability to purchase subscription through iOS app Beats Music has bitten the bullet and has added in-app purchasing for subscriptions of the streaming service through the iOS app.

The service launched in January and has been modestly successful due to its high reviews.

Apple takes 30 percent of all in-app purchase revenue, which is significant but should also open up the service to more users. Beats Music costs $10 per month.

Beats Music is available in the U.S. on iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android, PC and Mac. The headphone company, run by music industry exec Jimmy Iovine and famous producer Dr. Dre, says all U.S. consumers can try the service for free for 30 days and can download or stream unlimited music for $10 per month afterwards. For $15 a month, a family of five can access the service through a deal will AT&T. The charge will be part of your regular monthly bill.

Unlimited downloads will allow you to listen to music offline, but the downloads expire and disappear when your membership ends.

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AfterDawn: News

High fidelity PonoPlayer closes Kickstarter campaign at $6.2 million

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Apr 2014 17:37

High fidelity PonoPlayer closes Kickstarter campaign at $6.2 million The Kickstarter-funded high-fidelity music player, Pono, has closed its campaign at $6.2 million raised, good for the third best campaign on the crowdfunding site, ever.

Launched by musician Neil Young, the device was offered in 31 different options, including players with artist's signatures laser engraved on the side and pre-loaded with the artist's music.

Still in prototype form, the device is expected to launch in October in its final retail form. "The art of engineering is the art of compromise," Pono said recently. "And when you have a chance to listen to the PonoPlayer, we promise that you will be more than happy with the choices we have made."

Pono Players will cost $399 when they launch at retail in October, but 100 lucky backers got it for $199 and all other Kickstarter backers could purchase it for $299.

What is Pono?

Pono's mission is to provide the best possible listening experience of your favorite music. We want to be very clear that PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard. PonoMusic is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio. We offer PonoMusic customers the highest resolution digital music available. PonoMusic is more than just a high-resolution music store and player; it is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating. PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings.

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AfterDawn: News

Study: 20 percent of Hulu and Netflix subscribers have cut the cord

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Apr 2014 17:14

Study: 20 percent of Hulu and Netflix subscribers have cut the cord According to a new Experian Marketing Services study, cord cutting is definitely on the rise, especially among those with popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

The study reveals that 6.5 percent of U.S. households cut the cord in 2013, leaving their cable TV service for good, up from 4.5 percent in 2010. This amounts to almost 8 million.

If you are a subscriber to Netflix or Hulu, that figure jumps significantly, with 18 percent of Americans using those services having effectively cut the cord.

Perhaps most dramatically, in the 18-34 age range, the number is closer to 12.5 percent of all households. "The young millennials who are just getting started on their own may never pay for television," said John Fetto, a senior analyst at Experian Marketing Services. "Pay TV is definitely declining."

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AfterDawn: News

Nike denies it's shutting down FuelBand, but confirms layoffs

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Apr 2014 16:46

Nike denies it's shutting down FuelBand, but confirms layoffs Following a report that the company was shutting down its FuelBand digital sports division and laying employees off, Nike has confirmed a "small number" of layoffs but denied the division was being ended.

"The Nike+ FuelBand SE remains an important part of our business," says the company. "We will continue to improve the Nike+ FuelBand App, launch new METALUXE colors, and we will sell and support the Nike+ FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future."

To that end, Nike could be suggesting that there will be no future FuelBand bracelets in the future, and other sources claim Nike is just waiting to wind down its remaining inventory while it decides on the future of the unit.

The bracelets have high expenses, low margins and sales have been moderate. Sources also claim Nike has had issues attracting the engineering talent it would need for future devices. The device also lacks an Android app, alienating a huge portion of the population.

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AfterDawn: News

Report: Google building a $100 Nexus smartphone

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 19 Apr 2014 16:22

Report: Google building a $100 Nexus smartphone According to supply chain sources, Google is working on a $100 Nexus smartphone for budget-conscious consumers.

There is very little to go on, but the reports claim that Google will join up with chip maker MediaTek to build the phone. MediaTek offers SoC with high-end specs, but for lower priced devices.

Such a device could certainly disrupt the industry, especially if it is serviceable, given that Apple's iPhones sell for over $600 unlocked, and at least $199 on contract, and the Galaxy line sells for the same price. Samsung and Apple are the only two profitable smartphone makers and it is clear that margins on a $100 phone would be non-existent.

Most likely, Google would be losing money on each device (like Amazon normally does), to ensure the Android OS and Google ecosystem are in as many hands as possible, where they can sell more content.

On the high-end, Google is expected to launch their Nexus 6 later this year.

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AfterDawn: News

Chromebooks may soon be unlocked with smartphones

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Apr 2014 7:33

Chromebooks may soon be unlocked with smartphones A feature spotted in the Chrome OS dev channel may indicate that Chromebooks will soon be unlocked using asmartphone.

The unfinished feature is called "Easy Unlock" and it can be enabled manually, but it doesn't really do anything as of yet.

Trying to use the feature brings up a three-step process. The first page explains that your phone can "Easy Unlock" all your devices. "You can instantly unlock your Chromebook when you and your phone are nearby, no password necessary."

The first of the three steps is to "Find your phone", but it does absolutely nothing as of yet. It appears to search for something but it is likely looking for an app that hasn't been released yet.




Sources and Recommended Reading
Unfinished 'Easy Unlock' Feature Creeps Into Chrome OS Dev: www.androidpolice.com (Image Source)




AfterDawn: News

Android tops activations in U.S. during Q1

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Apr 2014 7:19

Android tops activations in U.S. during Q1 Google's Android operating system rose above Apple's iOS with 53 percent of activations in the United States during Q1 of this year.

In the final quarter of 2013, Apple's iOS accounted for the largest share of activations in the U.S. at 48 percent, ahead of Android at 46 percent. Now iOS has fallen to second place with 42 percent of activations, behind Android's 53 percent total.

Both Windows Phone and BlackBerry could only manage around 1 percent of activations each, while non-smartphones accounted for the rest.

The data comes from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).

"In a quarter without any significant phone launch, more buyers chose Android phones than iOS," said Josh Lowitz, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP.

"It increased its share considerably over the previous quarter, when it had only 46% of activations. iOS share of activations fell from 48% in the previous quarter, the first full quarter with iPhone 5S and 5C sales."

Apple's iOS did grow slightly faster than Android however when you take into account new phone purchases that replaced older non-smartphones or devices made by rivals. Both BlackBerry and Windows Phone lost users, though the biggest loser was basic feature phones, and that certainly will do no harm.

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AfterDawn: News

Google, Facebook becoming 'too powerful', German media boss says in open letter

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Apr 2014 6:54

Google, Facebook becoming 'too powerful', German media boss says in open letter Google and Facebook have come under fire from a powerful source in Europe concerning their business practices and treatment of Internet users' privacy.

Axel Springer chief executive Mathias Dopfner wrote an open letter to Google chairman Eric Schmidt in which he described the company as a monopoly, and its top brass as seeking to operate in a 'legal vacuum' without the hassles of anti-trust and privacy, a kind of 'superstate.'

Dopfner's open letter was published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, which is not one of the 200 newspapers and magazines that Axel Springer publishes. It came after a column written by Eric Schmidt said the relationship between both companies was challenging, but that they had managed a multi-year deal regardless.

On that relationship, Dopfner said he admired Google's entrepreneurial success and was happy to have a relationship with the firm, but that it wasn't like there was much of an alternative for Axel Springer to choose from.

The letter cautioned Google that monopolies do not survive long throughout the history of economics.

Technology companies are becoming too powerful

The open letter argued that tech firms like Google and Facebook are becoming too powerful, more than most people are aware.

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AfterDawn: News

Smartphone 'Kill Switch' to curb growing theft problem in U.S.

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Apr 2014 6:06

Smartphone 'Kill Switch' to curb growing theft problem in U.S. Can a pledge from the smartphone industry to include anti-theft features in all smartphones sold after July 2015 stop the 'apple picking' problem in U.S. cities?

Earlier this week, the CTIA trade association announced an agreement between smartphone manufacturers and wireless carriers to include anti-theft features in smartphones made and sold after July 2015 in the United States. The commitment is a response to a growing problem in U.S. cities of smartphone theft, sometimes with tragic consequences.

The announcement arrived as the debate about measures to protect smartphone users on U.S. city streets was heating up again.

The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment

New smartphone models manufactured after July 2015 and sold in the United States will include anti-theft tools at no additional cost to the customer. These tools will offer smartphone owners a variety of options to avail of in the event that a smartphone is stolen to protect their data and privacy, and in a broader sense to disincentivize smartphone theft.

A victim will be able to remotely wipe data from the stolen device, such as personal information in the form of messages, e-mails, contacts and so forth, and can also render the device inoperable to an unauthorized user except to contact emergency services.

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AfterDawn: News

Sony sells over 7 million PlayStation 4 units

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 18 Apr 2014 23:58

Sony sells over 7 million PlayStation 4 units Sony Computer Entertainment has announced that the PlayStation 4 (PS4) console has sold over 7 million units as of April 6th, showing strong demand around the globe.

"The response from the global gaming community for PS4 has been overwhelming and we are truly humbled that gamers are selecting PS4 as their next generation console of choice," said Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. "The PS4 journey has just begun, and although we are still facing difficulties keeping up with the strong demand worldwide, we remain steadfast in our commitment to meet the needs of our customers, and surpassing the wildest expectations of gamers by delivering new user experiences that inspire and engage. We look forward to unveiling many of these experiences to our fans in the coming months."

Overall, software sales totaled 20.5 million physical and digital copies, and the company says there will be 120 titles available by the end of 2014.

Additionally, the console has seen 135 million shares via the "SHARE" button on the controller and 4.9 million gameplay broadcasts have been uploaded through video streaming services Twitch and Ustream.




AfterDawn: News

Blockbuster game 'Destiny' is 'close to shipping' despite composer's exit

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 18 Apr 2014 23:42

Blockbuster game 'Destiny' is 'close to shipping' despite composer's exit Developer Bungie has confirmed that the upcoming blockbuster game Destiny is 'close to shipping' even though the veteran composer Marty O'Donnell was recently fired from the company.

O'Donnell was the man behind the soundtrack for the Halo series, and was well known by fans and in the industry. Bungie COO Pete Parsons says his music will remain in the game and the game is "close to shipping."

"I think the Bungie fanbase is going to look forward to hearing Marty's music, Mike Salvatori's music, C. Paul's music and Paul McCartney's music in the game," Parsons added. "That's going to be exciting for people. It's going to be a great, fantastic experience."

Most of the game is already completed, and there should be no delay for the game's September release date.

"I believe people will be transported not just by the activities and the stories within the Destiny universe but by the sights and the wonderful sounds and music," Parsons concluded. "We have a fantastic team. We're pretty close to shipping. There's a lot of polish left to do, lots of tweaking and tuning, but a lot is already complete."

Source:
Eurogamer




AfterDawn: News

Microsoft Xbox One reaches 5 million units shipped

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 18 Apr 2014 22:42

Microsoft Xbox One reaches 5 million units shipped A day after Sony revealed that over 7 million PlayStation 4 had been sold, Microsoft countered by announcing that 5 million Xbox One units have been shipped to retailers, although a good portion of those are expected to have been sold to consumers.

Says the software giant: "We're happy to share today that more than 5 million Xbox One consoles have been sold-in to retailers since our launch. The new generation is off to a strong start, with global Xbox One sales outpacing Xbox 360 by more than 60 percent at the same point in time, a true testament to your love of console gaming. Even more important to us is how much fun you are having on Xbox One."

The company also notes that Xbox One gamers are spending an average of five hours per day on the console, totaling over one billion hours of gaming, streaming, and more.

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AfterDawn: News

Yahoo COO De Castro gets to leave with massive severance

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 17 Apr 2014 21:01

Yahoo COO De Castro gets to leave with massive severance Former Yahoo CEO Henrique de Castro will walk away with $58 million in severance, after being fired just 15 months into the job.

CEO Marissa Mayer personally hired de Castro away from his position at Google in early 2013 and admits Henrique "was not a fit and that's a regrettable conclusion."

De Castro received $1.14 million in salary and bonuses, and $56.8 million in Yahoo stock that doubled in value in 2013 thanks to Yahoo's strong performance.

Mayer, as chief of the company, made $25 million last year in salary and bonuses.

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AfterDawn: News

Amazon Fire TV adds new partners for its Universal Voice Search feature

Written by Andre Yoskowitz @ 17 Apr 2014 20:33

Amazon Fire TV adds new partners for its Universal Voice Search feature Amazon has announced that its Fire TV set-top box will be getting added partners for its universal voice search feature.

"We're excited and energized by the momentum we're seeing with Fire TV," said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Devices. "Customers are telling us they love it, developers are building for it, and we're working hard to expand existing features and build new ones. We're thrilled to have Hulu Plus, Crackle, and SHOWTIME integrating their full selection of movies and TV shows into Fire TV's unified voice search."

The device will get the new partners over the summer, says Amazon.

Additionally, the company says there is a "big pipeline of great developers working to make their services and games available for Fire TV. New selection is coming from developers like Telltale Games, Halfbrick, Pixowl, Disney Interactive, Minority Media, Paradox Interactive, Gaiam, AllRecipes, and Twitch." Finally, Amazon FreeTime and MP3 will be added soon with the next OTA update.

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