Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mark April 15 as Google to expand Glass program to anyone in the U.S. for a limited time

On Thursday, Google announced it would opening up some spots in the Glass Explorer program for anyone in the United States. Thus far, the only way to get "into" the program was to be invited by Google, a friend, or to buy a Glass smart eyewear device from someone else.

It all starts next Tuesday, April 15 (Tax Day) at 5 a.m. PDT. The date might have some significance -- or not -- as Google might be implying that all those with tax refumds could consider Glass for their refund "gift" of choice.

Price, unfortunately, will be the standard $1,500 (+ tax). However, you can get it any your favorite shade or frame, although the number of spots available is limited. Odds are that there might be a bit of a server overload next week, as well, so we'd recommend that those who must have Google Glass smartglasses login immediately at 6 a.m. PDT on April 15. Expect that there might be some difficulty getting the site (http://google.com/glass/start/how-to-get-one) to load.

To be clear, though, you can go to that site already. It will send you a reminder when a spot opens up (meaning April 15) and prefill some info. It's unclear as to if Google will pre-fill an order form for you when that happens, or if that will make the checkout process any faster.

The program announcement followed a Verge report which said that Google was considering a promotional release.  Once Google saw the report, it decided to announce the program. It had, the Internet giant said, planned on announcing it next week, but "the cat's out of the bag now," it said.

At the price that Glass sells at, it is not a "must have" for consumers. However, a number of vertical market uses are being considered, including law enforcement and military use. Notably, Google launched Glass at Work this week to assist developers in creating specific apps for vertical markets.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Comic books validated by Amazon.com acquisition of ComiXology

If you enjoy reading comic books on your mobile device or in a web browser using the ComixXology service, you will soon be reading an Amazon.com product. Amazon.com announced on Thursday that it has acquired ComiXology.

You might think comic books are a minor thing, but the days of 10 cent comics are long gone. The acquisition is such a huge event that even the Washington Post covered it (it probably should be noted that Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post). It seems that Amazon.com has decided that comic books are a large enough revenue stream to invest in it.

Amazon.com did sell comic books in hard copy and Kindle form, but that will soon be joined by ComiXology-based versions, which include the firm's proprietary Guided View reading technology. ComiXology was founded in 2007, and offers comic book content from more than 75 of the top industry publishers and top independents, as well. The company is headquartered in New York City, and will continued to0 be located there following the acquisition.

ComiXology announced its 100-millionth comics / graphic novel download in late 2012. Considering it was founded in 2007, downloads have escalated considerably. The company announced its 200-millionth download last fall, meaning it doubled its download total in less than 12 months.

In the press release about the acquisition, David Naggar, Amazon Vice President, Content Acquisition and Independent Publishing noted the obvious synergy between the two companies, saying “Amazon and comiXology share a passion for reinventing reading in a digital world (i.e., Kindle, Android, Kindle Fire, and now, ComiXology). We’ve long admired the passion comiXology brings to changing the way we buy and read comics and graphic novels. We look forward to investing in the business, growing the team, and together, bringing comics and graphic novels to even more readers.”



Thursday, April 03, 2014

David Ortiz - Barack Obama selfie turns into Samsung marketing campaign

The viral selfie that Boston Red Sox star took on Tuesday when the World Series champs visited with U.S. President Barack Obama was more than social media fodder -- it was also part of a Samsung marketing campaign, it was revealed by CBS on Thursday.

Ortiz took a selfie with the president at a White House event using a Samsung phone and tweeted it to his followers on Tuesday. It was retweeted tens of thousands of times, with the kicker being that Samsung retweeted the photo as an ad. In a tweet, the company added that the photo was taken with a Samsung phone.

On Wednesday, Ortiz admitted he has a deal in place with Samsung, but denied that the photo with the president was "set up." He said:
It wasn’t anything promotional or anything like that.

I mean who knows that you’re going to take a picture with the president, a selfie. You know what I’m saying? How many people can guarantee that?
At the same time, it seems there were hopes that Ortiz could pull of soemthing. CBS News said that Samsung named Ortiz a social media insider and coached him prior to his White House visit.

In a statement, Samsung said
It was an honor to help him (Ortiz) capture such an incredible and genuine moment of joy and excitement.
The White House was not pleased with the commercial use of the selfie. CBS Mark Knoller tweeted:
WH says it routinely objects to use of Pres Obama's image in ads/commercials and does so in current case of David Ortiz selfie for Samsung.
However, the White House has not any public requests to take down the tweets.

According to CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante, they don’t want to appear “heavy handed.”



iOS 7.x security bug allows a thief to bypass Activation Lock

With the new Activation Lock feature tied into Find My iPhone introduced in iOS 7, Apple became the first OEM to build-in technology to disable the ability of a thief to re-activate a stolen iPhone. While that is still true, a newly discovered iOS 7 and 7.1 flaw detailed on Thursday means its relatively easy to hack around that feature (via 9to5Mac).

If Find My iPhone is enabled a miscreant cannot activate an iPhone without the iCloud password for the device. You also cannot disable Find My iPhone unless you have the password for that account. Sounds secure, doesn't it? However, as the video below shows, there is a way around it.

To do the hack, you need to go into Settings, and then into the iCloud settings panel. At that point, you have to tap both the Delete Account button and the switch to disable Find My iPhone simultaneously. This is the hardest part of the process, and may take many tries to get "just right." When prompted for a password, you hold down the power button and shut down the phone.

If a thief then goes back into iCloud settings, he will find he is able to remove the iCloud account without needing to enter a password.

At that point, he can plug the phone into iTunes and restore -- and reactivate it -- without issue.

This is just an example of how securing an iPhone with a PIN or TouchID is important.

In addition, if the thief is a little too trigger-happy, and attempts to reset and then re-activate the phone, he won't be able to get into the settings to perform this.

We expect Apple will address this ASAP, although they have not commented on it publicly.