Friday, September 30, 2011

AZ teen arrested after posting threats against former school on YouTube

A 14-year-old Arizona boy was arrested for allegedly posting online comments about his plans to "go on a killing spree" and then commit suicide at his former school, Wigwam Creek Middle School.

It continues to be amazing how many believe they can post threats online without reprisal or notice.

freecreditscore.comThe teenager was arrested without incident at his home in Maricopa Country after posting the threats in the comments section of a YouTube music video for the hit song "Pumped Up Kicks." "Pumped Up Kicks," by the group Foster the People, depicts a school shooting.

The boy, whose name was not released due to his age, was arrested early Tuesday morning after someone from out of state saw the comments online and called the authorities. The boy was arrested at his grandparents' home in north Phoenix, where he apparently lived.

Sergeant Jessie Spurgin, a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman said, "He gave out a specific place and time for when it would happen. That made it a little more credible in our eyes."

Sale! $7.49.com from GoDaddy.com - 125x125 Poker tSpurgin added that a sawed-off shotgun was later found during a search of the boy's home. Investigators are still trying to determine if there was a connection between the threats and the weapon. The boy admitted posting the threats on YouTube.

The tenor of his comments would make one think the boy was expelled from Wigwam Creek Middle School, but he was not. Adding to the mystery, Ann Donahue, community liaison for the Litchfield Elementary School District, said the boy was not a "disciplinary problem" while he attended the school as a sixth-grader from October 2010 to March 2011. "He just moved away. There was no trouble."



This is called trying to 'eliminate' the competition: MSE IDs Google's Chrome as malware

Microsoft's Security Essentials (MSE) product is free, but that's about all the good we can say about it. If you can't afford anything else, it's better than nothing, but only if you can't afford something better. This is just the latest example.

On Friday, Microsoft had to scramble as its antivirus software began identifying Google's Chrome browser as malware, and if the user followed through with the suggested actions, prompted deleted it from their computers. Naturally, reinstalling didn't work too well, as it would be IDed as malware again.

Microsoft eventually pushed out an update for MSE, fixing the issue. The company apologized, saying,

"On September 30th, 2011, an incorrect detection for PWS:Win32/Zbot was identified and as a result, Google Chrome was inadvertently blocked and in some cases removed from customers PCs. We have already fixed the issue — we released an updated signature (1.113.672.0) at 9:57 am PDT — but approximately 3,000 customers were impacted. Affected customers should manually update Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) with the latest signatures. To do this, simply launch MSE, go to the update tab and click the Update button, and then reinstall Google Chrome. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused our customers."

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012It would have been a nasty infection if it were true. PWS:Win32/Zbot is called Trojan.Zbot by Symantec, and is described as follows:
"This Trojan has primarily been designed to steal confidential information from the computers it compromises. It specifically targets system information, online credentials, and banking details, but can be customized through the toolkit to gather any sort of information. This is done by tailoring configuration files that are compiled into the Trojan installer by the attacker. These can later be updated to target other information, if the attacker so wishes.

"Confidential information is gathered through multiple methods. Upon execution the Trojan automatically gathers any Internet Explorer, FTP, or POP3 passwords that are contained within Protected Storage (PStore). However, its most effective method for gathering information is by monitoring Web sites included in the configuration file, sometimes intercepting the legitimate Web pages and inserting extra fields (e.g. adding a date of birth field to a banking Web page that originally only requested a user name and password).

"Additionally, Trojan.Zbot contacts a command-and-control (C&C) server and makes itself available to perform additional functions. This allows a remote attacker to command the Trojan to download and execute further files, shutdown or reboot the computer, or even delete system files, rendering the computer unusable without reinstalling the operating system."
It's unclear where they got their numbers (3,000 impacted?). Naturally, the snarky among us asked if there wasn't a better way for Microsoft to prevent Internet Explorer market share losses. More seriously, though, 3,000 customers could mean more end users, if customers = corporations.

Microsoft isn't the only AV vendor to suffer from false positives, and it could have been worse; it could have been a FP related to a system file, the deletion of which could prevent Windows from running.

This just goes to emphasize the rather poor quality of MSE, though. It's no different the the paid AV app Microsoft used to sell, OneCare Live. In fact, the latest AV-Test results placed MSE at 2.5 out of 6 for protection. For comparison, Kasperky and BitDefender were rated 6.0, and Norton at 5.0.

Panda Campaign


Amazon Appstore's Free App of the Day, 9/30/2011: SportCaster: Pro (Sports, Twitter)

Amazon.com has promised to make a paid app free every day in the Amazon Appstore, and today's app is SportCaster: Pro (Sports, Twitter).

There's no SportCaster: Pro (Sports, Twitter) in the Android Market. There is a free SportCaster (Sports, Twitter) app in the Market, however, and the Pro version normally priced at $4.99 in the Amazon Appstore. As we noted previously, prices sometimes differ between the two stores.

SportCaster: Pro (Sports, Twitter) is described as follows:
You're not just a sports fan--you're a sports fanatic. You want the latest news and scuttlebutt on all your favorite teams, and you want it now, as soon as it breaks. You want SportCaster Pro for Android.

Tweet Tweet

Getting your sports news and information from the paper (what's that?), electronic media (mainstream and slow), or the Web (cluttered and behind) is so 2009. These days, the action is on Twitter, where the writers, players, and coaches communicate directly with the fans and everyone can join in the conversation.

"Hey, Did You Hear?"

SportCaster Pro is an app that connects you directly with this brave new world, bringing you live college and pro sports with a social voice. Got a favorite NFL team? The app lets you flag the team (or teams, if you divide your loyalties) and then generates a Twitter feed with everything related to that team. This includes journalists, bloggers, fans, and those connected directly to the team, all commenting before, during, and after games. Or you can limit the feed to specific hashtags that you enter.

You can also follow a general Twitter feed for the NFL, college football, or a particular college conference. There's even a feed dedicated to tweets by the best fantasy sports experts. Never miss breaking news and be the first among your friends to know what's going on.

Chime In

What could be better than this? How about being able to participate in the discussion without ever leaving the app? When you've got something to say, just hit Compose and share your insights with the world. Easily attach a photo or a video to your tweet. You can also tap on any tweet to reply, retweet, comment, or view the tweeter's profile. Want to pass along news or analysis to your friends? Share a tweet via text message, e-mail, or social networking sites.

Scoreboard, Baby

Of course, SportCaster also features a week-by-week game schedule and brings you all the latest scores and stats, including game recaps, box scores, standings, and rankings. When you tap on a score, you call up a screen that contains this info, but it also has a conversation button so you can see what people are saying about the action in real time. It's like watching the game with a group of very passionate, knowledgeable people--a social scoreboard, as it were. If you love sports and sports talk, once you go SportCaster, you'll never go back.

Note: SportCaster Pro launches with support for both pro and college football. Future versions will include pro and college basketball, hockey, and baseball as those sports begin their upcoming seasons.
SportCaster (Sports, Twitter) [the free version] has a 4.3-star rating in the Android Market, and a 3.5-star rating in the Amazon Appstore.

invisibleSHIELDQuite a few of the low ratings in the Amazon Appstore are due to the app being released with only coverage for NFL and NCAA football. However, the developers are quite clear that they will be adding more sports.

SportsCaster comes from the same folks who developed TweetCaster for Twitter, which explains the SportsCaster name and its social networking bent.

10% Off Carrot Ink Products Today!Those who are considering "buying" a Free Amazon Appstore app might want to consider what it means to developers.

Amazon.com opened up the Appstore despite a lawsuit by Apple, which has previously trademarked the term "App Store." Microsoft has filed an appeal against that trademark, saying the term is too generic. Amazon.com has responded to the lawsuit in the same manner.



Interest in next-gen iPhone drops over 50 percent for iPhone 4S rather than iPhone 5

Earlier, we recommended to readers that if Apple decides to only incrementally update the iPhone 4, creating an iPhone 4S, those with iPhone 4s should save their hard-earned cash and keep the ETF. Apparently, a lot of folks are thinking along those lines, based on a survey by InMobi, one of the largest independent mobile ad networks.

According to a survey that InMobi ran, 41 percent of current mobile users in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada plan to buy an iPhone 5. However, if Apple's new smartphone is only a moderate product update, similar to the update from the iPhone 3G to 3GS, InMobi said that interest fairly plummets, with fewer than 15 percent of consumers likely to buy the new version.

On the other hand, if it's a radically changed iPhone 5, not only do 41 percent of those surveyed say they will buy the new iPhone, of those, half say they will make the purchase within the first six months of the iPhone 5 launch. InMobi estimates that the sort of buying that would entail could raise the iPhone from a 27 percent market share in June (according to comScore) to as high as 41 percent.

According to the survey, more than half (52 percent) of BlackBerry owners plan to switch to the iPhone 5, with 51 percent of iPhone users planning a switch, followed by 27 percent of Android owners.

Despite the fact that there will be less interest if Apple releases an iPhone 4S, the urge to switch will remain strong in BlackBerry users, as 28 percent will still switch, a rate more than double the amount of current iPhone and Android owners (both at 11 percent) in terms of a switch to a minimally updated iPhone 4S.

That amounts to (more) bad news for RIM, which hasn't seen much in the way of good news of late.

Of note in InMobi's survey is what folks surveyed wanted in terms of updates: consumers are hoping for better battery life, a faster processor, greater screen resolution; and better phone service.

Indeed, better phone service, despite the fact that texting is overtaking talking in terms of phone use. Sprint is reported to be joining Verizon and AT&T as carriers of the iPhone (sorry, T-Mobile fans); we'll soon see if folks think Sprint's service is as good as AT&T or Verizon's but Sprint does have one advantage: it's the only carrier to still provide unlimited, unthrottled data service for its smartphones.



Foxconn's Brazilian iPad manufacturing project now 'in doubt'

Earlier, it was reported the production of iPad 2s at Foxconn's new Brazilian plant had started, with first shipments due in December, but a new report on Thursday indicates that those statements, which came from Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology AloĆ­zio Mercadante, may have been overstated.

The new report, in fact, states the that $12 billion project is "in doubt." There are several problems, including a lack of skilled labor.

In fact, the report said, factories in Brazil have long struggled to cope with high taxes, an overvalued currency and a "lack of qualified workers due to poor education and a tight labor market." This all goes against prior reports which indicated that workers from Brazil had traveled to China to be trained by Foxconn workers there.

The problems goes so deep as to the financing for the project possibly falling apart. On Thursday, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported that the funding for the Foxconn project, from the BNDES state development bank was in danger of being withdrawn. Without that funding, the report said, the initiative would probably collapse.

Officials speaking to Reuters said that "The talks have been very difficult, and the project for a Brazilian iPad is in doubt. [Foxconn] is making crazy demands," including tax breaks and other special treatment, the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, added.

When the deal was announced in April, "senior officials hailed the deal as a sign of growing economic ties with Asia, and proof that Brazil was moving up the value-added manufacturing chain as its economy grows."

Stop by every day to shop our new Deal of the Day at BarnesandNoble.com!There is definitely a disconnect between different parts of the government. Reuters reported that the officials told it that the project was set to begin in November. Yet, as noted, Mercadante said that production had already started.

It's possible that the project could be downscaled. For example, Foxconn or a Brazilian partner could assemble foreign-made parts to build iPads, rather than produce screens and other components locally. Another official said, "We're dealing with a lot of issues, like the (Taiwanese) trying to figure out how to do business in Brazil ... and Brazil figuring out how to produce these complicated products. Maybe we will end up starting with something smaller."



Chinese authorities arrest members of counterfeit iPhone ring

It's no surprise that there are fake Chinese iPhones being produced. What's surprising is that Chinese authorities have actually made an arrest in a case, shutting down a ring of counterfeiters.

China is, after all, the land of counterfeit Apple stores, although admittedly, once the fake Apple stores in Kunming (in southwestern China) were publicized, Chinese authorities did crack down, on at least some of them.

In this case, the Shanghai Daily reported on Thursday that authorities in the city have arrested five people for making and selling counterfeit iPhones. Approximately 200 iPhone clones were discovered during the arrests.

Those arrested were part of an organized gang that purchased components for the devices from Guangdong in southern China, and then assembled the fake phones in rented apartments in Shanghai.

Some of the parts were in fact genuine, with the total cost to make a clone amounting to about 2,000 yuan ($313). It was sold on the grey market and on the Internet for around 4,000 yuan ($626), which is only a few hundred yuan less than a genuine iPhone.

Stream your photos, music and moviesWhat's interesting is that the clones were actually pretty good, as clones go. According to the report, the counterfeits had the same functionality as the genuine article, but had a shorter battery life.

One officer was quoted as admitting that "It's really hard for customers to distinguish the fake ones from the genuine ones."

Counterfeiters sometimes don't even wait for a device to launch. We recently reported on the "hiPhone 5," a clone of a device that doesn't even yet exist in publicly consumable form, the iPhone 5.



Ice Cream Sandwich running on an eBay-ed Nexus S? Real or faked?

People are arguing about a video that was obtained by Engadget, one that purports to show Ice Cream Sandwich (Android "still unversioned, but we're guessing 4.0") running on a Samsung Nexus S. While some are saying it doesn't pass the "smell test," and we agree that it seems rather strange, some of the accusations against its validity aren't correct, either.

Crucial SSDThe story is that an anonymous tipster bought a Samsung Nexus S on eBay. When he received the device, he found it to be sporting a build of Ice Cream Sandwich, and took a video of it. Then, he got back to Engadget later and said that after the video was posted, his device was remote locked and wiped.

Gizmodo called BS because the ROM image (above) shows blabla.userdebug.IceCreamSandwich.blabla. They said they'd never seen that. Well, we have, with Gingerbread, on early ROMs. Note that the build says "userdebug." It's not meant for a release.

Save up to 70% on Inkjet and Toner Supplies!Also, he said that the phone was wiped and locked, and he didn't mean wiped in terms of a hard reset. He meant wiped, and locked as in unlockable. You can view the long, long thread over at XDA-Developers, where it seems they believe him.

Do we necessarily believe him? No, not necessarily. It could easily have been a custom ROM built to look like ICS. But we don't necessarily disbelieve him either. Anyway, Google and Samsung will give us more info on Oct. 11, so we won't need to wonder if we are seeing the real deal or not, but even then, it will be some time before the Nexus Prime hits whatever carrier it will hit (believed to be Verizon).

Video below.





Steve Jobs tried to intervene in Apple's Samsung battle; company fears Galaxy Tab 'seduction' to users

If you've been wondering how the saga of Apple vs. Samsung reached the point it has, considering the fact that the two have close ties with Samsung being a major supplier of Apple's, the answer is: it shouldn't have. Or at least, Steve Jobs, then CEO of the company and now Chairman of the Board, tried to keep it from happening.

The information was revealed as evidence was heard in a federal court hearing to consider a possible injunction which would prevent Samsung from selling its Samsung Galaxy Tab in Australia.

Additionally, the reason that Apple wants the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned: it's a good device. Apple fears that the device will hit the Australian market (let's be honest, if they feel this way about Australia, they feel this way about all markets) "with the velocity of a fire hose" and "take away iPad 2 sales so quickly" that customers may be permanently "seduced" away from iOS platform. That's what its lawyers told a Federal Court in Sydney on Thursday, and seems somewhat hyperbolic considering the market share advantage that iPad 2s have.

In addition, it turns out that Apple CEO Steve Jobs tried to intervene last year, when Apple became concerned about possible infringment by Samsung devices, according to evidence given by senior Apple executive Richard Lutton.

Lutton said Jobs make the initial contact because of the close relationship between the companies. Samsung is still one of Apple's major suppliers, although Apple has made recent moves away from that relationship.

Apple SaleLutton told the Federal Court in Sydney, while being cross-examined by Samsung attorney David Catterns, that "The discussions started with contact from (Jobs), and then he wasn't involved in meetings beyond that." Samsung is an "important" supplier of components to Apple and the two companies have "a deep relationship."

He added that Apple was hoping that Samsung would "do the right thing" when the Cupertino, CA-based company began conversations with the Korean firm in the summer of 2010 (Northern Hemisphere).

Lutton added that this relationship was one of the reasons that Apple started talking to Samsung in the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2010 "to give them a chance to do the right thing".

The legal battles began in earnest is April of this year. Samsung has lost some battles in Europe, but not the war. The latest salvo in the war was in The Netherland, where in what can only be seen as a response to losing a preliminary court ruling over sales of its Galaxy S, S II and Ace smartphones in The Netherlands in a different patent dispute with Apple last month, Samsung filed a lawsuit alleging that Apple is in violation of four of Samsung's UMTS patents.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Does N94 = iPhone 4S? More leaked SKUs from Apple's inventory system

More information on the new iDevices Apple will announce on October 4 continues to leak from Apple's internal inventory system, but unfortunately the data is still a confusing mish-mash of SKUs and guesswork.

160x600 Paul Fredrick Clearance New LogoYesterday we reported on what may be references to tweaked iPhone 4 models as well as a white iPod touch in Apple's inventory system. Now, it appears that a different model reference has appeared, one for the N94 that was seen earlier in beta releases of iOS 5.

9to5mac is convinced that the earlier reference yesterday to a N81A refers to a tweaked iPhone 4, which could be a lower storage tier (8GB) iPhone 4.

Apple typically sells the prior year's iPhone with a lower amount of storage than was previously offered when a new iPhone is release. An example would be this year, when the iPhone 3GS was sold with 8GB for $99, then $49, after the iPhone 4 was released.

Meanwhile, the N94 is believed to be the next-generation iPhone, with a dual-core A5 processor, just as the iPad 2 packs. It's rumored to also upgrade the rear camera to 8MP, double the RAM to 1GB, and add Nuance Dictation speech-to-text, and the new Assistant feature.

It's still unclear if we're going to see an iPhone 4S or an iPhone 5. We're leaning toward both, but with the Phone 4S really just being a tweaked iPhone 4, not including the A5 processor (as that would compete with the iPhone 5), but with some other tweaks, perhaps including the Verizon antenna band changes.

On the other hand, 9to5mac, while hedging its bets, believe it's "possible" that the N94 will be an iPhone 4S. It bases that on a purported "iPhone 4S" packaging label they spied yesterday on a Chinese forum, as well as a model number similar to the newly leaked N94's. However, 9to5mac said that they "definitely would not call that anywhere near confirmed."

One other thing from that label: it lists both IMEI and MEID numbers. That indicates the device, if the label is valid, would have both GSM and CDMA capability. Of course, that's something that's been rumored for a long time, since the Verizon iPhone carried a Qualcomm chipset with both capabilities, and it would certainly make sense with a Sprint version about to be introduced.

9to5mac also believes the iPod touch will see across the board price cuts, although those for the 32GB and 64GB models will be small. Earlier rumors, however, indicated that the iPod touch will have a new feature: 3G connectivity, although we'd believe that even if that happened, there'd still be a wi-fi only version, just as with the iPad.

It's possible the price drops will exist, but for the wi-fi only version only.

"It's possible. We think. Unconfirmed." Don't you just hate this time of the year? None of this will be clear until October 4, at 11 a.m. or later PDT (since the Apple presentation starts at 10 a.m. And you can bet that no matter what, despite rumors that are flying in all directions, there will be a surprise somewhere.



Facebook to live-stream the Michael [Jackson] Forever Tribute, Oct. 8 [Updated: Cancelled]

The Michael Jackson tribute concert, AKA Michael Forever, is scheduled for October 8, 6 p.m. in Cardiff, Wales. It's going to be hosted by Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx (Best Actor, "Ray"), and it's a pricey affair, at up to $196 to get into the Millennium Stadium. Instead, you could just pay as little as $4 and watch it ... on Facebook.

You can buy virtual tickets on the Facebook page here.

The event will be "powered" by “F-commerce” company Milyoni. The Michael Forever Tribute will stream live (those looking to watch the stream in the United States should realize that 6 p.m. in Cardiff, Wales is the same as 1 p.m. EDT).

Among the artists confirmed to perform are Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Leona Lewis, Ne-Yo, Craig David, Pixie Lott, Alexandra Burke, Alien Ant Farm and Motown legend Smokey Robinson. Beyonce is supposed to appear, but only via a pretaped segment described as a "special contribution on video."

The cost is 40 Facebook Credits, or $3.99 (USD), if you pre-order prior to October 8, or 50 Facebook Credits, or $4.99, on the day of the show. PayPal is also being accepted, in addition to Facebook Credits.

Update: in an email from AtomicPR, we were told the streaming has been cancelled. Here is the statement given in the email:

“Due to legal challenges brought by the music labels that own the rights to Michael Jackson’s lyrics, we have been notified by concert promoters Global Live Events and Ridgeline Entertainment that the live Facebook broadcast of the Michael Forever tribute concert has been cancelled. As the technology provider behind the live Facebook broadcast, Milyoni [which had been selected to provide the technology for the streaming] will fully refund all customers who pre-purchased access to the concert using Facebook Credits or PayPal.

“While social media presents a new opportunity for artists and concert promoters to reach global audiences, it is still a new and disruptive frontier ripe with challenges. Milyoni will continue to work closely with our music and entertainment partners to pursue this new channel of distribution, beneficial to both artists and fans worldwide.” – John Corpus, CEO of Milyoni



Amazon.com's Kindle Fire Press Event in Living Color [VIDEO]

If you're interesting in comparing a different CEO's presentation against the gold standard, here's your chance. Amazon.com has given us the opportunity to watch the full New York City event from Wednesday, when they unveiled the Kindle Fire Android tablet, along with e-ink touchscreen Kindles and the lowest-cost e-ink Kindle to date.

Our view of the matter is that Steve Jobs has nothing to worry about, in terms of stage presence. Additionally, the iPhone 5 has nothing to worry about, in terms of the stage presence of the Kindle Fire.

That said, it's really interesting to watch the Kindle Fire in action, particularly if you are tempted to buy one, which would, based on Amazon.com's Internet-only shopping, be sight unseen unless you wait for a friend to get one (at which time they will probably be sold out).

That's based on past history. When Amazon.com releases new hardware (meaning Kindles) it has this tendency to sell out. We'll see this time, but the $199 Kindle Fire is expected to be a big seller.

Watch the video below.





Amazon Appstore's Free App of the Day, 9/29/2011: Symphony of Eternity

Amazon.com has promised to make a paid app free every day in the Amazon Appstore, and today's app is Symphony of Eternity.

Symphony of Eternity is priced at $10.45 in the Android Market, and is normally priced at $2.99 in the Amazon Appstore. As we noted previously, prices sometimes differ between the two stores.

Admittedly, I blinked at the $10.45 in the Android Market.

Symphony of Eternity is described as follows:
Symphony of Eternity, a role-playing game for Android, boasts an gripping story, quirky characters, and freewheeling combat.

Where the Symphony of Eternity Begins

In this epic RPG, you follow the adventures of a gallant young man and his golem companion as they roam the world in search of a legendary weapon. One day the pair rescues a solitary girl from a band of bloodthirsty monsters. Explaining that she is of royal blood and the sole survivor of a treacherous palace coup, the mysterious princess opts to join her rescuers on their journey for the magic weapon.

Discover how their destinies are intertwined.

Characters and Combat

If you enjoy old school computer role-playing games such as Might and Magic, Symphony of Eternity should be your next sojourn. The game's combination of turn-based gameplay with an auto-battle feature makes for smooth, simple, and freewheeling combat. You can control every move from the touch screen, so it's easy to stay focused on the game.

Quirky, comical, and emotional characters make appearances with their own purpose in the story. Customize characters with different gear or offensive and defensive skills based on total merit points. Nurture your character to your preference by allocating points to desired skills. If you would like to increase attack power or critical strike rate, you can--among many more skill options.

Graphically Stunning

Symphony of Eternity features high quality WVGA graphics, and also supports output to a high-definition monitor. It's easy to immerse yourself in this game's beautifully-rendered world.
Symphony of Eternity has a 4.5-star rating in the Android Market, and a 4.5-star rating in the Amazon Appstore.

invisibleSHIELDSuch amazing agreement between the two different Android marketplaces are rare.

One comment in the Android Market is "Android's 2D Final Fanstasy. You won't believe the quality of this game till you play it. Must have for rpg fans."

Another comment in the Amazon Appstore is "This game is well worth the $3 so naturally anyone who doesn't already have it should jump on the opportunity to have it for free. i have well over 20 hours played and continue to play."

Considering the price in the Android Market and the reviews: get it now.

10% Off Carrot Ink Products Today!Those who are considering "buying" a Free Amazon Appstore app might want to consider what it means to developers.

Amazon.com opened up the Appstore despite a lawsuit by Apple, which has previously trademarked the term "App Store." Microsoft has filed an appeal against that trademark, saying the term is too generic. Amazon.com has responded to the lawsuit in the same manner.



RIM's Android Runtime for its PlayBook shows off its shortcomings

RIM's BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps, the player that will enable the underperforming PlayBook to run Android applications, is still missing in action. However, details are starting to emerge about the limitations of the player, and they are probably going to disappoint many.

AlibrisThe details came from a RIM presentation at Droidcon, which is part of the Eastern European Mobile Monday Developer Summit being held in Romania. We already knew that RIM was going to curate applications which can run on the Runtime player, meaning only those who "applied" for inclusion would be able to be installed on the PlayBook.

But RIM's engineers explained that there are several features which will be unavailable when Android apps are run on the PlayBook. There are some that probably won't be a big deal. For one, Live Wallpaper won't run in the player.

Additionally, SIP and SIP VOIP are out, as is anything built with the Native Development Kit, apps consisting only of App Widgets, and apps containing more than one activity tied to the application launcher.

Apps that rely on natively installed applications, such as Google Maps, in-app billing, Android's text-to-speech engine, or the "cloud-to-device messaging system" are also out.

No, we already knew that not everything would be available for the runtime player, but we actually expected it to be a result of the application curation. We certainly didn't expect for the player to be so inadequate to the task of running Android apps.

It's something we hope doesn't happen to Amazon.com's Kindle Fire, which runs Android, but a forked version that is highly customized and may prove difficult to keep compatible with future releases of Google's platform.



Here comes Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich: Oct. 11 Samsung - Google event

One week after Apple's "big event," which is the introduction of the next-generation iPhone, or iPhones, Google and Samsung have scheduled their own "big event." October 11, 2011, will be the Samsung Mobile Unpacked Google Episode, where folks will be able to "get a look at what's new from Android."

J&R Computer/Music WorldWe already know the answer to part of that: "Ice Cream Sandwich," which is still to receive a number, but which we'll guess is 4.0. ICS is supposed to unify the tablet and smartphone experiences on Android devices.

The second thing they will introduce is some sort of Samsung Android phone. It will be the next-generation of Google developer phones, the successor to the Samsung Nexus S which was in turn the successor to the HTC Nexus One. The current name being bandied about is the Samsung Nexus Prime.

It's all rumor, and would be discounted as inferior to an iPhone 5 by iDevice fans, but the Nexus Prime is rumored to be a super-phone, hardware-spec wise. It will carry the requisite dual-core processor, with 4.5-inch or 4.65-inch screen, and will include 4G. For the first time, also, it's rumored Google will move away from an unlocked phone, one that will work on T-Mobile or AT&T frequencies, and put the device on Verizon's LTE network.

bodybugg® System These Google developer phones are always stock Android, and that means that they don't carry anything like TouchWiz or Sense, and that carries with it the added benefit that they are generally the first devices to get major platform updates (since there's no extra UI layer to worry about).

For iDevice lovers, Oct. 4 is a day to watch. For Android lovers, it's Oct. 11. Both days will be big days for those who love technology.



Months late, Verizon Xooms to receive their promised free LTE upgrade

Only a few months late, Verizon is now offering its promised 4G LTE upgrades to Motorola Xoom users. The Xoom, the first Honeycomb (Android 3.x) tablet, shipped in March, while promising an LTE upgrade, which kept getting pushed out, and out, and out.

Meanwhile, Verizon has shipped other tablets that came with 4G LTE support built-in, such Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Motorola XOOM with 4G LTE pre-installed will be available in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online at www.verizonwireless.com beginning on Oct. 13 for $499.99 with a new two-year contract.

Those with 3G versions of the Motorola Xoom can visit http://www.verizonwireless.com/Xoom4GLTEupgrade for instructions on how to begin the 4G LTE upgrade process. Customers who signed up for email alerts will receive an email notification with instructions tomorrow.

Despite the fact that we found out previously that converting a Xoom to LTE shouldn't really take that long, and could be done by a technician in-store in probably about half an hour (or so), customers will be required to ship their devices in, losing their device for about six days, total. The upgrade is free of charge, and nicely, the customer's data plan does not have to be changed.

Customers are "encouraged" to back up their data prior to shipping the device.

Stream your photos, music and moviesCurrently (these are slightly different than when the Xoom launched) the data plans for the device are:
  • $30 monthly access for 2GB monthly allowance
  • $50 monthly access for 5GB monthly allowance
  • $80 monthly access for 10GB monthly allowance
When the Xoom 4G LTE reaches stores on Oct. 13, it won't differ from the original model in any way except for the addition of LTE connectivity. Whether or not this is enough to attract customers away from the iPad 2 and even the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 remains to be seen.



New deal with Samsung gives Microsoft still more revenue per Android phone

Microsoft has inked a cross-licensing deal with Samsung that gives it royalty revenue from every Android smartphone and tablet that Samsung sells. This joins an earlier agreement that Microsoft signed with HTC.

Shop.Compare. Save on TV, Cable, Internet, PhoneWith that, Microsoft has signed agreements with two of the largest Android manufacturers. The significant missing piece there is Motorola, which may soon become part of Google [Microsoft even pointed out, in its blog post announcing the agreement, that Motorola is the only major Android manufacturer that hasn't agreed to a licensing deal].

With this deal, Microsoft now has the top two Android manufacturers signed; the two together accounted for more than half of all the Android phones sold in the U.S. over the past 12 months. In addition to Samsung and HTC, Microsoft also has licensing agreements in place with the following other Android manufacturers: Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron.

It's ironic that this deal means that Microsoft gets revenue from the majority of the Android handsets sold, and that means that Microsoft has a vested interest in the success of Android. While the financial details of the agreement are unknown, as are official details for the HTC deal, it's been estimated that Microsoft earns $5 for each HTC Android handset sold.

Microsoft announced the new agreement in a blog post.

Microsoft also made sure to note that the deal "opens the door to a deeper partnership in the development of new phones for the Windows Phone platform." Yep, don't expect that HTC and Samsung are halting Windows Phone development, despite Microsoft's Nokia partnership.

Microsoft added, "These agreements prove that licensing works. They show what can be achieved when companies sit down and address intellectual property issues in a responsible manner."

While Microsoft has been very willing to sign licensing agreements, Apple and Samsung have just continued to fight in court. Whether that is because the two sides simply cannot come to terms, or because Apple isn't interested in licensing its patents, but rather creating in roadblock against Samsung's devices, isn't clear.

It's unclear if this deal can help Samsung in its battle with Apple. Since the deal provide coverage for Samsung under Microsoft’s patent portfolio, it might.



Amazon.com attempts to light a fire under Android tablet sales with the 'Kindle Fire'

Amazon.com held its media event on Wednesday, and as expected they unveiled the Kindle Fire, their new Android tablet. The company also introduced two other devices that were anticipated (three if you include 3G vs. wi-fi only), including a new touch-based version of the Kindle, and a new non-touch Kindle, as well.

Amazon.com's dedicated Kindle page is here.

Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire uses Android, but it's Amazon.com's own version of Android, forked from standard Android. You won't be seeing Honeycomb on this baby (until it's rooted and custom ROMs are built). The Kindle Fire will cost $199, about $50 less than what we had been predicting.

Much of what we had predicted earlier is valid, however. The Kindle Fire will have a 7-inch screen. It will have a dual-core processor (TI OMAP 4), and sport 512MB of RAM (the same as the iPad 2) and 8GB of storage. The screen is 1024 x 600.

Weight-wise, it's 414g (14.6 ounces); the iPad 2 comes in at 601 - 613g. Thickness is 11.4mm vs. 8.8mm for the iPad 2.

While earlier it was predicted to have a forked version of Android 2.1, it now appears it sports a version of Android 2.3. However, it's highly customized and won't look like Android to the casual user.

The device also includes a Kindle Fire-only browser, Amazon Silk. It uses Amazon.com's own EC2 services to accelerate browsing, making is "smooth as silk," by offloading some of the processing to EC2. It's been done before, with other products, so it's not a new idea. Using EC2 is.

WhisperSync has been expanded to include videos. If you're watching a movie or TV show on your Kindle Fire, you can pick it up again when you reach home, exactly where you left off, on your computer or Internet-capable TV.

What it won't have is as significant as what it will have, though. The Kindle Fire will come with Amazon Prime free, but only for 30 days. After that, the user has to pay the same $79 per month that everyone else has to pay. It had been thought Prime might be offered free to Kindle Fire owners.

[Amazon Prime allows users free access to Amazon Instant Videos, as well as free two-day shipping on most items (with no minimum), and $3.99 one-day shipping upgrades. Amazon.com has never specified the number of Prime members it has, but it's believed the program is a cash cow for the retailer.]

The Kindle Fire also does not come with 3G, and doesn't have an option for it. However, the pricing places it $300 below the price of the lowest cost wi-fi only iPad 2 ($499).

Looking for cameras? You won't find any at this price, neither front- or rear-facing cameras.

It's still not clear if the multi-touch capabilities of the Kindle Fire extend to more than two fingers or not, but interestingly, the images on the product details pages show only two fingers being used for both the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Fire ships on November 15, and is available for pre-orders now.

Kindle:

The standard old Kindle is still around, but there's no option for 3G any longer. There's also no physical keyboard, but the older, keyboarded Kindles are still around as the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Keyboard 3G.

Subtracting the keyboard (there's an onscreen keyboard that can be brought up with a button, and a five-way directional pad instead, which is probably going to be a headache to use to enter notes) means that the new Kindle is 30 percent lighter (5.98 ounces), 18 percent smaller. It has the same 6-inch e-ink display as before. It will sell for $79 with Special Offers, or $109 without.

The Keyboard editions run for $99 ($139 sans Special Offers) for wi-fi only and $139 ($189 sans Special Offers) for 3G. This is available now.

Kindle Touch

The Kindle Touch adds a touchscreen to the new Kindle. It sells in wi-fi only and 3G-enabled versions, and Special Offers ($99, $149, respectively) and non-Special Offers ($139, $189 respectively) versions as well. These will ship on Nov. 21.

The Touch models also include a new feature called X-Ray. Amazon.com describes it as allowing users to "explore the 'bones of the book.'" Here's how it works:

"With a single tap, readers can see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics that interest them, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia and Shelfari, Amazon's community-powered encyclopedia for book lovers. Amazon built X-Ray using its expertise in language processing and machine learning, access to significant storage and computing resources with Amazon S3 and EC2, and a deep library of book and character information. The vision is to have every important phrase in every book."

Will the Kindle Fire finally ignite some uptake in Android tablets? Running Gingerbread, it's certainly not Google's vision of an Android tablet. Still, if anyone can pull it off, it's Amazon.com.