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Google Lines Its Smart Home Nest Again ... With Revolv

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 17:34

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Web

ReadWriteHome is an ongoing series exploring the implications of living in connected homes.

According to the experts, we may all be living in a smart home before long. Google wants it to be theirs. Forget the fact that it doesn’t actually have a cohesive smart home system yet—it’s working on that, and quickly too. Case in point: Its Nest division just bought Revolv, one of the rising stars of the DIY smart home game. 

Nest itself has only been a part of Google for less than a year. In that time, the smart thermostat maker has picked up two popular smart home companies. Dropcam, purchased last June, was the first. Unlike that previous acquisition, however, the Revolv deal is a talent acquisition, reports The Verge. The new owners will take on Revolv team, but leave its product behind. 

Though the hub is not long for this world, at least the masterminds behind Revolv’s technology seem like a good fit for Google … er, Nest. 

Nest API session at Google I/O

The companies insist Nest operates independently, even though it held talks at Google I/O for developers. The division, which makes a smart thermostat and a carbon monoxide detector, also opened up its APIs (see our API explainer), so other products and companies can work with it. 

The end result: an expanding "eco-system” of “works with Nest” products, a line-up that now includes the Pebble smartwatch, as well as a voice-recognition device, a connected sprinkler system and other products. In other words, Nest has begun realizing its promise of becoming a bona fide platform. Now it appears to be pushing that further, by snapping up other companies. 

Revolv may fit nicely into this picture. The company, whose hub sells at places like Best Buy and Home Depot (for now anyway), created a system that other companies and products could tie into. Its hub connected and managed a wide array of devices and appliances, including Yale locks, Philips Hue lightbulbs, Sonos speakers and numerous other products. And as a DIY or do-it-yourself platform, Revolv made it easy for people to install it themselves. 

Revolv’s main competition in the DIY smart home market has been SmartThings, which sold to Samsung earlier this year. Now they operate under the umbrellas of major technology companies—both of which just happen to compete with the same archival: Apple, another tech giant eyeing the smart home space.

Months after its introduction at the Worldwide Developers Conference last June, Apple’s HomeKit initiative is still somewhat hazy. But it remains a looming figure in the smart home competition, and possibly a catalyst accelerating this race of giants.

As for Revolv, its Boulder team will work out of a new Nest office locally. As of this writing, the terms or purchase price of the acquisition was not disclosed. 

Revolv photo courtesy of Revolv; Nest API photo by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite; Nest image by Bit Boy 

Why Open Source Is Becoming A Big Developer-Recruiting Tool

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 18:16

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Web

Most companies are just coming around to the idea that open source can help lower costs and boost innovation within their organizations. But Web companies like Netflix, Twitter and Facebook understand that open source can be more: a powerful weapon for recruiting and retaining top engineering talent.

See also: The Reasons Businesses Use Open Source Are Changing Faster Than You Think

If we believe that developers are the "new kingmakers," then the companies able to source the best developers will win. That means open source is the new ante for even getting into the developer recruiting game.

You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains

For years organizations largely constrained their developer productivity, hemming them in by withholding access to hardware and software. But something has changed in the last few years, which Digital Ocean CEO Ben Uretsky highlights:

[D]evelopers were at the mercy of their employer’s capital. But that’s changed.... With software being free and readily available, the sole ball-and-chain left shackled to the ankles of developers was hardware. With the development of the cloud market, developers had a newfound stray dog freedom.

Fortunately, developers haven't done "stray dog" sorts of things with that freedom. Instead they're hard at work within lines of business, building apps often in spite of IT. No wonder Gartner says 38% of technology purchases already happen outside IT, which number will jump to 50% by 2017.

The developer inmates, in other words, increasingly run the enterprise asylum. But how well they run it may hinge on your ability to recruit them.

Open Source Your Recruiting

Which is why I found James Pearce's presentation at OSCON (transcribed by Remy DeCausemaker) earlier this summer so interesting. Pearce heads Facebook's open-source efforts, which is a big job given that Facebook could well be the world's largest open source company. He shared a few data points on Facebook's open source efforts:

[There are] 200 active projects at Facebook, with 10 million lines of code. Many hundreds of engineers working on these, with over 100,000 followers and 20,000 forks. We contribute to a wide range of projects (i.e. The kernel, mercurial, D, etc). We've even open sourced the designs of our data centers and machines in the Open Compute project.

Even this belies just how much open source code Facebook uses and contributes. For every Cassandra (a NoSQL database) that Facebook develops and open sources, it also heavily contributes to an existing project like MySQL. But Facebook also "tries to scale" open-source projects that interest it, and does a lot of fiddling to that effect, as has been the case with MongoDB storage engines

See also: Open Source Projects Need More Than Good Code—They Need Marketing

This culture of open source permeates Facebook. So much so, in fact, that it serves as a beacon to developers who want to work somewhere that unfetters their freedom to tinker, as Pearce notes:

We asked our employees..."Were you aware of the open source software program at Facebook?" Two-thirds said "Yes", and one-half said that the program positively contributed to their decision to work for us. These are not marginal numbers, and I hope, a trend that continues. A large number of those people said their experience using our projects in the open helped them get ramped up prior to being hired. That is a huge win for our company. This is important part of why open source is valuable to [Facebook].

For Facebook, then, open source is not "naive ideology," but rather is "like the breeze from an open window; it keeps things from going stale," both in terms of code and in terms of people.

Set Your Developers Free

Facebook is onto something here, and it's similar to what Netflix and others have done. Netflix, as I've written, "is looking for the best and brightest developers, and knows that the best developers generally want to be involved in open source."  

Twitter? Chris Aniszczyk, Twitter's head of open source, lists core operating principles that closely resemble Facebook's own ethos:

As he told me over Twitter, this isn't about peace, love and Linux, but about self-interest:

Guess what? It's in your self-interest, too. The best software today, from Hadoop to Android, is open source. The best developers—those people that will make or break your business—are also focused on open source. 

Set them free. Just like Facebook. Just like Twitter. Just like Netflix.

Lead image by Marcin Wichary

"Surveillance Self-Defense" Is A How-To Guide For Every Level Of Online Privacy

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 17:41

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Whether you're a journalism student wanting to learn security tips not taught in college classrooms, or a pro at keeping communications secure, the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to make your activities online even safer from prying eyes.

The EFF's new project called Surveillance Self-Defense is a collection of tools and resources broken down into specific resource "playlists" for both computer types and the people using them. These include: Mac user, human rights defender, student journalist, online security veteran, and a security starter pack for newbies.

Each playlist includes a step-by-step guide for protecting and securing your private communications. Most start with a introduction to threat modeling, or understanding what information you want to protect and from whom. From there, the guides cover various other tools and services for particular situations, like "Things To Consider When Crossing The U.S. Border," in the human rights defender playlist.

The EFF's SSD project also features a collection of tutorials to help people encrypt their phones, use PGP for different operating systems, and how to pick the best virtual private network. 

See also: NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: Keep Their Hands Off Our Data

The organization's guide doesn't claim to protect people from every credible threat, but it does a good job of delineating what technologies and services are the most helpful and necessary to protect data from hackers or adversaries.

After the Edward Snowden revelations, ongoing data breaches and personal information leaks, people are increasingly conscious of how and what they share online. Privacy hardware tools that aim to make data protection safe and simple have sprung up on the scene, just as quickly as their usefulness is debunked.

With EFF's suite of tools and resources, even the most novice user can begin to take steps to secure their data, and begin communicating with friends and colleagues in a safer, more indestructible way.

Lead photo by JD Hancock on Flickr

Apple Sent Porn To A Developer To Prove His App Could Be Used To Find Porn

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 17:00

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Pornographic content is forbidden in the Apple App Store, but Apple seems to be OK with sending porn to developers who submit their apps for review, according to one who received an inappropriate pic. 

"It turns out Apple thought the best way to tell us our app could be used to surf porn was to surf for porn using our app," Carl Smith, a Florida developer for nGen Works, wrote in a blog post on Medium (NSFW link). 

The email, which Smith shared with ReadWrite, appears to be from the Apple app review team and includes an attached photo of a man's genitalia, but no warning of the enclosed content. This is the kind of thing that can create a hostile work environment for nGen employees whose jobs necessitate reading emails from Apple. 

See also: The Majority Of Porn In The United States Is Viewed On Smartphones

Smith suggested a number of alternatives he thought Apple could have used to indicate a concern about explicit content. The team could have sent nGen Works a search term to try, or even warn in advance what the emailed photo was of. Instead, Smith said the developers who opened the email had no warning that it would be graphic.

“What I want from Apple is for them to address the issue and put a policy in place that prevents an App store reviewer from sending pornographic images as an example of a issue," he said. "They could have easily masked out the bad part of the photo or told us a phrase to search. At the very least warn someone before they open the attachments that they aren't safe for work.”

“Specifically, we noticed your app contains objectionable content at time of review. Please see the attached screenshot/s for more information,” the Apple review team email reads, before offering a downloadable file that turned out to be the genitalia photo in question.

Smith said solution is hypocritical of the company. Of course nGen's app, which allows users to enlarge, save, and search for Instagram photos, would be capable of browsing any photo that exists on Instagram already.

“This is a double standard,” Smith told ReadWrite. “If I type bad words into Safari I am going to see bad things. So I think Apple needs to address that.”

Smith said he doubted Apple’s “upper echelons” would approve of this action, and encouraged readers to spread the word.

We’ve contacted Apple for a comment on this allegation.

Photo via Shutterstock

Ahhh! 5 Storytelling Apps That Will Scare You Silly

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 15:00

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Web
<em>Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by our partners at <a href="http://www.popsugar.com/tech/Scary-Story-Apps-25681966">PopSugarTech</a>.</em>

Halloween creeps closer! The house has been cobwebbed, the candy is out, and the costume is good to go . . . so now what? Get ready for the festivities by spooking yourself and your friends silly with haunting tales of ghosts, talking dolls, and phantoms. These five hair-raising storytelling apps will frighten, startle, and disturb you into the All Hallows' Eve mood.

  • iPoe ($4)—This interactive and illustrated Edgar Allen Poe app reimagines all the poet's greatest, spookiest classics. Terrifying animations and an original soundtrack illustrate "The Oval Portrait," "The Tell Tale Heart," "The Masque of Red Death," and "Annabel Lee."
  • True Ghost Stories From Around the World ($1)—User-submitted ghost stories from all over the world are compiled in this collection of the strangest and scariest spirit sightings. This growing anthology of supernatural events is updated daily.
  • Scary Story Kit ($2)—Complete with spooky sounds, mood-setting lights, and haunting images, this digital aid will bring your scary stories to life.
  • Scary Stories For Kids ($1)—These horror tales are not for the faint of heart. Possessed antique dolls, a snowy winter's night, and talking dolls are the stars of these short stories.
  • 200+ Scary Stories, Sounds, And Pranks ($1)—Every classic spook, from R.L. Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, is packed into this app. The "Auto-Scare" feature randomly plays sounds at any time, making it the perfect vehicle to creep out your audience.

Too scary? There's always It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown ($6)!

More stories from PopSugarTech:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Here's An Actual "Walking Simulator" For All You Smartphone Walkers

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 14:00

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Editor's note: This post was originally published by our partners at Kill Screen.

The term "walking simulator" is often falsely applied to what I recognize, and appreciate, as "exploration games." Proteus, Gone Home, and Dear Esther are most commonly targeted with the label; it's smeared across digital stores and forums like a graffiti tag.

Yet these aren't video games that place the act of walking as their central conceit. That belongs to the environment, whether a gloomy British seaside or a family home in '90s, and the narrative that steadily unravels as you pick over it all. 

These are games of poetic verse, of ruffling through the debris of modern living, not of the simulated practice of walking. You can't even see your feet as you lift them across the soil.

For more stories about videogames and culture, follow @killscreen on Twitter.

Still, "walking simulator" seems to have caught on; there's no stopping it now. So if we're going to use that particularly dismissive descriptor, rather than shoot it out of an airlock and into outer space like the abomination it is, let's do it correctly by applying it to games such as Daddy Long Legs. This is a video game in which the task is to actually simulate walking and its challenge is built around that single act. Here's another one to try on for size: Keep Walking EP.

You've walked down a street before; you know how that goes, so answer this question: How many people do you see paying more attention to their smartphone than where they're going? If your answer is along the lines of "dunno," then that probably means you're one of them. 

Don't worry, you're hardly alone—did you know that there are designated "smartphone walking lanes" in Chongqing, China? That's the level we're at with this now.

Yes, the latest evolution in walking is one of a heads down, thumbs up policy. Those who can't refrain from indulging this reckless abandon rely upon an imagined sixth sense to dodge the incoming pedestrian traffic of commuters and dog walkers. 

Perhaps they also rely on the nearby sounds of footsteps and passing shadows to guide their steps through stampeding city streets. Avoiding lamp posts and street-side trashcans is a matter of luck, presumably.

Anyway, this modern and dangerous breed of the upright walk is what Keep Walking EP simulates. The pavement is divided into four lanes that you must switch between in order to avoid being taken out by the unstoppable walkers coming at you. Some levels challenge you to get to the end of the song without being knocked over too many times, others task you with collecting cigarettes from the streets, or beating arcade games that you pass by.

See also: "I Am Dolphin" Is A Videogame About Exactly What It Sounds Like

The cutest design of the game is the perspective the game gives you to perform this task. You're given a side-view portrait of your effortlessly cool, cigarette puffing, punky young self. Behind this is a sidescrolling street scene of shops, all of which have wall-sized windows lining their fronts, the reflections in which are your only way of judging what's in front of you. It's as if an absurd extrapolation on the self-obsessed "life is a mirror" mantra of those that have to stop at every car door mirror and shop window to check themselves out.

Keep Walking EP isn't as bitter as that may make it seem—that's just me coming out, the guy you walked into when not looking where you were going last week. The game feels more like a chill stroll on your day off, earphones in, your favorite playlist blaring in your ears, and you're so lost in all the momentum that you couldn't care for the world around you.

You can download Keep Walking EP for free on itch.io.

More From Kill Screen

With Bethany Mota, YouTube Is Doing More Than Dancing With The Stars

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 13:01

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Six weeks into a fierce season of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, YouTube’s fashion wunderkind Bethany Mota is still going strong. Paired onstage with pro favorite Derek Hough (as well as off-stage in romantic rumors), Mota is currently ranked No. 2 in the competition’s average score chart. But as far as the Google-owned YouTube is concerned, she’s No. 1 in the video channel’s ongoing push to go mainstream. 

“Oh my God, LOVE HER, oh my God,” Taylor Swift tweeted with the hashtag #BAEthany soon after after DWTS’s 19th season premiered. If most of America hadn’t heard of Mota before DWTS, this single shoutout from Mota’s most famous fan, retweeted more than 15,000 times, was a fine introduction.

So how does a teen go from online fashion and beauty guru to competing in one of America’s most popular reality TV shows? It helps if YouTube has your back. The video-sharing site has undying faith in Bethany Mota. This is clear by how much and how fiercely the online video company is hawking the 18-year-old to mainstream media outlets; print magazines, name brand apparel, and now—reality television. 

Mota isn’t the only YouTube star to make the cross-over to reality TV, but she is the first to do it as an official YouTube brand.  

“We’re just getting started with YouTube and its potential,” Omid Kordestani, Google’s chief business officer said during the tech giant’s earnings call earlier this week. Along with Coke, General Motors and other major brands, the video-sharing site now has deals with the top five U.S. advertising agencies, Kordestani announced. The more eyes YouTube can get on its stars, the more ads that are seen by potential customers. 

The online video giant's campaign to push its homegrown stars into mainstream media territory includes on and off-site ads to promote some of its highest subscribed and most marketable YouTubers. The site is also committed to funding the shows of some top content creators in an effort to make high production channels and videos they hope will be more accessible to the larger public. 

As the face of YouTube’s efforts, Mota is the obvious choice. Her Macbarbie07 channel, which features videos fashion tips and Mota’s shopping purchases, has over 7 million subscribers. Each viewer bears witness to the lucrative advertising that accompany Mota’s videos. She’s also partnered with Aeropostale to create her own clothing line, and is the covergirl of Seventeen magazine’s October 2014 edition.

YouTube is “very happy for her,” a company representative told ReadWrite when we asked about Mota’s DWTS success. It seems an obvious understatement about its most popular cash cow. 

Reality TV, it seems, is the YouTube’s gateway drug to larger fame. What better a genre where YouTube stars to continue to capitalize on their natural charisma and good looks? 

In May 2010, before YouTube started financing the Internet famous, comedian Kevin Wu, better known as Kevjumba, participated in the 17th season of The Amazing Race with his father. The 24-year-old currently boasts over 3 million YouTube subscribers. 

Two other YouTubers, Strawburry17 (Meghan Camarena) and Joey Graceffa joined the 22nd season of The Amazing Race as a team, returning to join the cast of the show’s second all-star season in 2014. The two friends are both YouTube vloggers who make humorous videos about their lives. Camarena currently holds close to 800,000 subscribers, while Graceffa has over 4 million. Breaking away from reality TV, several YouTube content creators have also transitioned to scripted programs on cable. 

Comedian YouTuber Fred, also known as Lucas Cruikshank, has spawned three movies and a television show on Nickelodeon based on Cruikshank’s titular character in his YouTube channel, Fred Figglehorn. 

Comedy team The Fine Bros also have a television series premiering on Nickelodeon called ReactToThat, a show based on their popular web series Kids React. The two channels’ youthful demographics make them a strong match for channels like Nickelodeon. 

Mota’s demographic of tween to teen girls makes her a perfect fit as one of DWTS’s resident “young person” for the season. 

DWTS’s show’s calculated line-up of Retro Star, Athlete, and Reality TV Star From Another Reality TV show, is regularly rounded out by a Disney Channel or Nickelodeon celebrity to grab the kid demographic that couldn’t care less about ballroom dance competitions. This season, DWTS includes Janel Parris from ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. But the show’s choice of Mota suggests all involved expect her appeal to be as great as her kid-friendly predecessors. So far, they’re right. 

It is now no question whether or not YouTube can break its stars into mainstream media. With Mota’s major press blitz as of late, it’s clear they already have. The teen queen is in—and now the question is whether or not her fame will be sustainable in Hollywood. 

Images courtesy of Dancing With The Stars and Seventeen Magazine 

Technically Scary: Halloween Costumes For The Modern Geek

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 09:02

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Web

Surf the techno-Zeitgeist this Halloween with the latest costumes out of Silicon Valley. They're sure to wow—or alarm—your trick-or-treating technophile friends.  

Apple's Hair Force One

With his luxurious grey hair and affable smile, Apple's VP of wear is the man every girl wants ... as her dad. No wonder he's the guy Apple trusts at its product unveilings. Father knows best! 

Snapchat's Ghost As A Hobo (GoBo!)

Snapchat photos are supposed to be as ephemeral as the ghost in the company's logo. But after "The Snappening," when hackers dumped hundreds of thousands of Snapchat pics purloined from a third-party app, the $10 billion company claimed it couldn't afford to secure its API.  Spooky!

Comcast Customer Corpse

Attempt to cancel your Comcast cable service and you may find your life slipping away the customer service representative tasked with retaining your patronage. Such was the fate of Ryan Block and Veronica Belmont in July, whose battle went viral after Block posted an audio sample of the stress-inducing conversation on SoundCloud.

Uber RecruiterUber Recruiter Spy Halloween Costume.

Uber takes corporate espionage to a whole new level with Operation Slog. Undercover agents are armed with burner phones to hail Lyft cars and a five-point pitch to convince Lyft drivers to defect. This costume is a great alternative if you want to play 007 super spy but can't afford the tux rental. 

#GamerGate

Sexism! Misogyny! Ethics! Threats of violence! Video games! It's GamerGate! This year's hottest Internet dust-up combines all the worst aspects of Internet culture with all the ugliest impulses of human nature (to achieve maximum redundancy). And it makes a great last-minute costume to boot! Cover yourself in rotten refuse and go! That's pretty much GamerGate in a rank, festering nutshell.

Ello, The Social Network Of Mystery

Sure, you could be obvious and make a black-and-white cardboard smiley face, but even the Ello logo is too obvious if you really want to be the new social network nobody understands. Instead, just dress entirely grayscale, including your "Hello, my name is Ello" sticker tag. You'll be instantly cool at that hipster Halloween party. Everyone will want to know you, even if they aren't sure why.

Illustrations by Nigel Sussman for ReadWrite

AT&T Ruins Apple’s SIM Bid In War On Carrier Choice

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 08:42

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Web

Apple’s first SIM just had its first arrow slung at it: AT&T has locked down the company’s new Apple-Made SIM cards in its newest line of iPads. 

Typically SIMs, the teensy ID cards that allow a device to be used on a cellular network, come from the carriers. But Apple now makes its own, presumably so that the devices can be used on any network.

See also: What's Apple Going To Do With All Its Loose Ends?

However, customers purchasing the iPad Air 2 or the iPad mini 3, the first to carry these SIM cards, won't have that freedom if they buy from AT&T. The carrier has locked the Apple SIM down, effectively shackling them to its network. Macrumors was the first to report this news, and an Apple support document was recently updated, confirming it.  

AT&T did not immediately respond to ReadWrite’s request for comment. 

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito

The Fire Phone May Have Cratered, But It Hasn't Dented Amazon's Tech Delusions

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 12:16

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If Jeff Bezos has taught us anything, it’s that anything Amazonian is big—including his company's e-commerce muscles, fodder for comedy and ambitions as a consumer gadgets company.

Apparently, so are its flops, as well as the CEO and founder's power of denial. Because, as the spectacular failure known as the Fire Phone singes Bezos' Amazon—forcing it to take a $170 million writedown, according to the latest quarterly earnings report on Thursday—the honcho is too busy to notice. 

Financial news and opinions site 24/7 Wall St notes that Bezos "has hardly done anything … to address that this is a serious disappointment.” Instead, the site points out, he’s making holiday plans:

As we get ready for this upcoming holiday season, we are focused on making the customer experience easier and more stress-free than ever. In addition to our already low prices, we will offer more than 15,000 Lightning Deals with early access to select deals for Prime members, hundreds of millions of products across dozens of categories, curated gift lists like Holiday Toy List and Electronics Holiday Gift Guide, new features like #AmazonWishList, and a great new lineup of products like Kindle Voyage and Fire HD Kids Edition...

Jeff, Do We Need An Intervention?

To be fair, along with its growing Amazon Web Services division, the e-commerce giant's hefty retail business is the "sugar mama" supporting its consumer tech obsession—one of the key reasons Amazon reported an operating loss of between $430 million and $570 million in the last quarter. As of this writing, its stock has fallen 10% in after hours trading.

See also: Hey, Amazon! To Heck With Profits—Just Keep Making Great Stuff

And yet, the online shopping site doesn’t seem to know how to put its own wallet away, especially recently. Consider this short list of Amazon's recent investments:

  • The lackluster Amazon Fire TV and, of course, the embarrassing Fire Phone, which debuted to a baffled market confused by its gimmicky 3D effects. (The phone’s $199 retail price dropped to a humiliating $0.99 within just a few weeks.)
  • A herd of new tablets and e-readers, including the new Kindle Voyage, another $79 Kindle e-reader and new models of the Fire HD and HDX tablet, including a Kids Edition that has two-year “worry-free” guarantee for replacements if anything happens to it, no questions asked.
  • The acquisition of Twitch Interactive for $970 million
  • Programming deals that include dark comedy series Transparent, Garry Trudeau's political comedy series Alpha House, and other new pilots
  • Local Register, a mobile app and secure credit card reader
  • Pay with Amazon in India
  • Amazon Web Services’ new data center in Frankfurt, Germany

And don’t forget about all those discounted Lightning Deals Bezos is gleefully concocting like a hopped up Santa.

Amazon is either laying groundwork—in a dizzying array of directions all at once—or its CEO has an addiction to spending money. It may be both: Bezos even personally bought The Washington Post for $250 million last year.

If anything could make him and his company rethink its tech strategy, it should be the expensive Fire Phone debacle. And maybe it will. But we won't hold our breaths. 

Bezos caricature by DonkeyHotey

Facebook Is Reportedly Working On A Secret Clone

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 19:50

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Facebook may be sticking to its guns on its controversial "real names" policy that says people need to use their real identities when using the service, but it's apparently not ruling out anonymity altogether. The company is creating a new app that will let people communicate anonymously with one another, according to a report from the New York Times

The social network prides itself on being central to identity on the Internet—outside applications even rely on it to confirm that users are who they say they are. Of course, not everyone abides by those rules; people regularly use fake or pseudonymous names on the service, and unless they've been reported, Facebook won't necessarily know about them.

Facebook, however, is apparently experimenting with a new application that would mimic others like Secret and Whisper, which let people post anonymous words and photos to mobile apps for other people to see.

According to the Times:

[The point of the app] is to allow Facebook users to use multiple pseudonyms to openly discuss the different things they talk about on the Internet; topics of discussion which they may not be comfortable connecting to their real names.

Facebook recently announced Anonymous Login, a way for people to connect to apps without sharing their Facebook information with them. However, even though these apps can't access a user's Facebook data, Facebook will knows which apps people are using anonymously. It's not yet clear how Facebook will connect with an anonymous app of its own, and whether it will collect data on users.

See also: Can Anyone Remember Facebook's Last Original Idea?

With Facebook's track record of controversial privacy policies, the real question is whether people trust their secrets and anonymous posts to Facebook, especially since the company has prided itself on being a place for people to share and communicate by using their true identities. 

There are some things people don't want even their friends to know.

(Failed) Attack Of The Clones

Considering Facebook's streak of failure when trying to emulate other applications, a Whisper clone might not be a huge success. But it does suggest the social network realizes people don't always want to be tied to their real names online.

Facebook is quick to jump on trends that it doesn't have its hands in yet. It's copied numerous features from Twitter, tried multiple times to clone Snapchat, and duplicated newsreaders like Flipboard when it launched Paper earlier this year. None of these clones appear to have taken off.

While Facebook might want people to share their dirty little secrets on an application that supposedly isn't tied to their identity, people probably don't want to ditch the apps they're already using in favor of Facebook's, which arrived at the party a little too late.

Facebook's Secret or Whisper copycat would effectively be the anti-Facebook—no names, no identity, and no way of knowing who posts what. That could make it a Facebook users might like, though maybe not trust, a little bit more.

Lead image by Amnesty International UK

The Feds Think It’s OK To Impersonate You On Facebook Using What's On Your Phone

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 18:41

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A special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration impersonated a woman by creating a fake Facebook profile and posting photos from her phone in an attempt to communicate with criminals. That woman, Sondra Arquiett, is now suing the agent and the federal government for at least $750,000.

Arquiett's court filing, first discovered by BuzzFeed, and related legal documents describe her 2010 arrest following a joint investigation into local drug trafficking by the DEA and other agencies. Investigators seized her phone at the time of her arrest. Arquiett pled guilty to an "intent to distribute" drug charge and received five years of probation.

Soon after her arrest, however, Timothy Sinnigen—the DEA agent and defendant in the lawsuit—set up a fake Facebook profile page using Arquiett's name and photos taken from her seized cellphone in an apparent attempt to communicate with other members of the alleged drug ring. In her complaint, Arquiett claims the agent used this data from her phone without her knowledge or consent.

In response, the Justice Department claims that Sinnigen set up and used the fake Facebook profile for a “legitimate law enforcement purpose,” though without specifying what that legitimate purpose was. The department denies any wrongdoing. Sinnigen sent and received friend requests while impersonating Arquiett, including one to a wanted fugitive who was evading arrest.

The agency says that while Arquiett did not give explicit consent for the photos to be used on an account impersonating her, she granted access to the information stored in her device to aid in ongoing criminal investigations.

Arguiett charges in her complaint that some of the photos used were “revealing and suggestive,” such as one of her in her bra and panties. Sinnigen also posted photos of Arquiett’s young son and niece. Arquiett claims she didn’t know about the page until a friend showed it to her, since no one ever told her that a federal agent might post her personal photos and other information on a public Facebook profile under her name. She says she suffered “fear and great emotional distress” as a result.

The Justice Department’s response goes on to argue that:

  • Plaintiff does not have a First Amendment Right to Privacy in the photographs contained on her cell phone.
  • Plaintiff relinquished any expectation of privacy she may have had to the photographs contained on her cell phone.
  • Plaintiff consented to the search of her cell phone.
  • Plaintiff consented to use of information contained on her cell phone in ongoing criminal investigations.
  • Plaintiff cannot establish a violation of her substantive due process rights because she has not, and cannot, allege that Defendant Sinnigen’s alleged actions were taken with the absence of a legitimate governmental interest.

A number of law and privacy experts told BuzzFeed the government's actions are hugely problematic, and that consenting to use the contents of a device does not grant permission to steal someone's identity. 

Whether or not the Justice Department has a legal right to impersonate Arquiett, Sinnigen's actions appear to have violated Facebook's terms of service, which state that, "Pretending to be anything or anyone isn't allowed." The fake-Arquiett Facebook page has also apparently vanished from the site.

Lead image by Ryan Lackey

What To Expect At The Grace Hopper Conference

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 17:00

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There are a few things I look forward to each October: Halloween and pumpkin beer are among my favorites. But this year, the one thing I’m most excited about is happening this week, and as luck would have it, it’s in my hometown.

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is one of the biggest events in the world dedicated to women technologists. Aptly named after legendary computer scientist Grace Hopper and sponsored by the Anita Borg Institute and the Association for Computing Machinery, the conference takes up all four floors of the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona.

It’s like South by Southwest—but for women in technology who would rather listen to technical talks by some of the industry’s leading computer scientists and researchers than spend a day attending 20 parties sponsored by startups.

This is my first Grace Hopper Celebration. After working with the Anita Borg Institute and Harvey Mudd College on a series about women in computer science, I decided this conference was one I absolutely could not miss.

I’ll be spending three days at the conference, which is broken up into a variety of different tracks. Day one focuses on future careers; day two is all about emerging technologies like the Internet of Things and human computing interaction; and day three offers sessions on wearables, software engineering, and privacy and security.

It sounds like a lot. So I’ve planned ahead to make sure I’ll be attending panels I think our readers will be most interested in, including tuning in to keynotes featuring Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Nest’s Yoky Matsuoka, and the director of DARPA, Arati Prabhakar.

Wednesday is open source day, and companies like GitHub are hosting how-to sessions for technologists interested in contributing to open source. Though the first day isn’t just for discussing best open source practices, but also how to make companies and workplaces more open and welcoming.

There is a trend in technology to release numbers that illustrate diversity data in the workplace, and the numbers at big tech companies all skew white and male. To improve these statistics, companies are dedicated to bringing more women and minorities into the technical workforce, and drop the brogrammer, sexist stereotypes that permeate tech culture. On Wednesday night, a talk called “Male Allies Plenary Panel” will take a look at different ways male leadership at companies like Google and Facebook advocate for women in the workplace.

Thursday kicks off with a conversation between Nadella and the president of Harvey Mudd College, Maria Klawe. (I’ll also be interviewing Klawe to discuss how universities are working to get more female and minority students in computer science.)

Machine learning and human interaction will be a hot topic throughout the day, and I’ll find out from Matsuoka what it will be like for humans to live in the connected homes of the future with devices that talk to one another, and how smartening our products will provide opportunities for life-saving technology.

On Friday, I’ll be attending a wearable fashion show, and I'm hoping to find some cute new technologies to add to our Pretty Geeky series for women who are looking for some fashion in a piece of technology strapped to their wrist. Bonnie Ross, studio head of 343 Industries and manager of the Halo franchise, will describe how technology has changed the way we show, and tell, stories in entertainment.

There’s so much more I won’t be able to check out while I’m there—there's no way one person could take in all the conference has to offer. Still, it's going to be a great opportunity.

Not only do I get to hang out with some old friends while in Phoenix, I get to make new ones at the biggest and best women-in-tech conference in the world. I hope you'll follow along with me when I'm there.

Lead photo by the Anita Borg Institute

How Students Can Get Free Developer Tools Through GitHub

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 16:00

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Web

Hacking new technologies can be time-consuming ... and expensive. So to help students create technical projects or learn how to use new tools, social coding site GitHub and a handful of technology partners have created the GitHub Student Developer Pack that provides access to 14 developer tools for free.

The project has been in the works for over a year, said John Britton, education evangelist at GitHub. The company already provides a free "micro account" to students, which provides them with five free private code repositories; this plan normally costs $7 a month. (GitHub's normal free plan requires all such "repos" to be public). Now it's expanding on that offer with limited free access to tools like Stripe for payment processing and DigitalOcean for cloud hosting.

See also: GitHub May Be Dragging Government Into The 21st Century

Many companies offer free services to students who aren’t shy about asking for them. But Britton says most companies make these offers on an individual basis, because it takes time and effort to manage an entire student services database.

“Students would write and ask GitHub for tools—a lot of companies are happy to do it, but it’s ad-hoc,” Britton said. “It’s an administrative burden. We thought, 'If we’re going to do the administrative work anyway, why not offer other tools as well and take the admin responsibility?'”

Over 100,000 students have already used a free GitHub account.

While it’s a charitable move on GitHub's part, it won't just benefit students. Once aspiring coders and engineers have grown accustomed to certain services, they’ll likely stick with the ecosystems they know when the free trial expires. That means more customers for companies like Stripe, which is waving fees for students on the first $1000 in revenue processed.

It will also benefit teachers who want to teach a class in something like game development. If they want to use the Unreal game engine, for instance, teachers can tell students to sign up for a GitHub Student Developer Pack, which will save each student almost $20 per month.

See also: GitHub Gets Its Science On

Students must sign up through GitHub and show proof of student status such as a university dot-edu email address or a student ID card. If neither is available, GitHub says an enrollment letter or transcript will work as well. Any student aged 13 or older can sign up for an account.

Participating companies will rely on GitHub’s student verification. So once students sign up through the company, they’ll get coupon codes or unique access links and can begin to use the full suite of services.

The offerings are as follows:

  • Atom: A free text editor from GitHub
  • Bitnami: Business 3 plan ($49/month for non-students) for one year
  • Crowdflower: Access to the Crowdflower platform (normally $2,500/month) and $50 in worker credit
  • DigitalOcean: $100 in platform credit
  • DNSimple: Bronze hosted DNS plan ($3/month for non-students) for two years
  • GitHub: Micro account (usually $7/month) with five private repositories while you're a student
  • HackHands: $25 in credit for live programming help
  • Namecheap: Free domain name registration on the .me TLD and one free SSL certificate for one year
  • Orchestrate: Free developer accounts for students (normally $49/month)
  • Screenhero: Free individual account while you're a student (saves students $10/month)
  • SendGrid: Free student plan for one year (saves students $5/month)
  • Stripe: No fees on first $1000 in revenue processed
  • Travis CI: Free private builds (normally $69/month)
  • Unreal Engine: Free access to the service (usually $19/month) 

Lead image by HackNY

Facebook Ads Are About To Start Following You Everwhere

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 15:00

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Web

Facebook ads may soon start following you everywhere. On Tuesday, the company announced that the Facebook Audience Network, announced at F8 in April, is available to the world.

This new ad network lets Facebook serve up targeted ads to mobile users wherever they are, using their Facebook data as a way to target specific interests or demographics. It also lets advertisers extend their Facebook ad campaigns into other applications. It will compete with Google's AdMob advertising network, though Facebook has more personal data on users than Google does, and thus could theoretically give advertisers better targeting options.

See also: Now Facebook Can Beam Targeted Ads At You Wherever You Are

Given that Facebook already runs its ads on other websites via its Atlas advertising platform, you can expect to see highly-targeted Facebook ads just about everywhere. It might be helpful, considering advertisements based on your personal data might appeal more to you—for instance, I usually see ads for fashion companies on Facebook, which I find more helpful than ads for gym memberships.

Developers can also use the ad network to provide “native advertising” to users, a tactic for making ads look more like they're part of an app's information itself.

“We’re really big believers in native advertising as a product," Sriram Kirshnan, product manager of the Audience Network, said in an interview. "For example if you look at the ads on Facebook’s own news feed, they look like any other organic content on Facebook. We’ve been able to take the idea of native ads, and bring it broadly to all developers through the Audience Network.”

See also: Facebook Wants To Be Creepier Than Google With Your Data

But now just like on the Web, advertisers will be able to use your data to distribute ads. That won't just be native advertising that Facebook supports, but also banners that appear at the bottom of the app, and full-screen ads that take up your entire screen. Personalized, yes, but no less annoying.

How To Join The Audience Network

For advertisers, it’s easy—they'll build an ad campaign in Facebook, and then select a new checkbox that says, “Make available to partner networks.” Then ads will be shown both on Facebook proper and in third-party apps.

Developers can sign up with Facebook and download the software development kit to get started on the Audience Network. Then by writing a few lines of code and integrating the SDK, apps can start running Facebook-powered apps. 

Lead image by Selena Larson for ReadWrite

Heads Up AT&T Customers! Another Employee Accessed Your Info

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 14:06

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Web

AT&T said it has fired an employee who gained access to users’ personal information without permission this year. The personal information compromised may include social security numbers and drivers’ licenses.

See also: AT&T Has Invented A Way To Charge You Twice For The Same Internet

The telecommunications provider sent a letter to the roughly 1,600 affected users informing them about the breach. Affected users will have any suspicious transactions reversed and will be eligible for a year of free credit monitoring, as has become customary after data breaches.

“On behalf of AT&T, please accept my sincere apology for this incident,” Michael Chiarmonte, director of finance billing operations at AT&T, said in the letter. “Simply stated, this is not how we conduct business, and as a result, this individual no longer works for AT&T.”

AT&T sent a letter to the Vermont attorney general indicating the company believes the breach took place sometime in August. It is the company’s second insider breach since June. 

Image by Shane Curcuru

LinkedIn Is Consolidating Its Publishing Empire In The Heart Of San Francisco

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 14:00

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ReadWrite's Inside Tech series takes a close look at the workspaces and office culture of companies creating new technologies.

It's only been two years since LinkedIn entered the online-publishing business through its Influencers program, which signed up 150 business celebrities—the likes of Richard Branson and Jack Welch—to write essays for the site.

Since then, publishing original writing has become a key strategy for LinkedIn. It has 100 million potential writers instead of 150. And their output is transforming LinkedIn from a job-hunting site to a media operation aimed at bringing professional knowledge and insights to the world.

See also: LinkedIn Is Looking For The Next Nate Silver

Here's how important the strategy is to the company: Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn's head of content products, now reports directly to CEO Jeff Weiner. Roslansky recently joked with ReadWrite about the number of emails a day he gets from Weiner (except when Roslansky's on vacation, when Weiner gives him a break). And Weiner regularly discusses the progress of LinkedIn's publishing efforts in the company's quarterly earnings calls with Wall Street analysts, crediting it for an increase in the the time users spend on the site. It's clear that the content operation is closely watched from the top. 

LinkedIn engineers, product managers, and editors now work out of an office in San Francisco.

And the company has opened up its first U.S. engineering office outside its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters in San Francisco. Over the summer, it moved hundreds of engineers, product managers, and other employees 40 miles north, into a building on the edge of San Francisco's Financial District. 

Those open, light-filled expanses on Howard Street are just temporary digs for LinkedIn's media empire. The company has leased a 450,000 sq. ft. tower under construction nearby which will open in 2016 and eventually house as many as 2,500 employees. (That will include the content team as well as a separate sales office currently located elsewhere in San Francisco.)

A Place Apart

The relocation of an entire product group to a new office away from the core engineering team at headquarters is practically unprecedented. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple are trying to keep their engineering groups under one roof at big new headquarter buildings—and when they acquire startups, they typically make them move to home base. 

LinkedIn's move has drawn relatively little notice compared to the attention showered on Pinterest, which had less than 50 employees when it moved from Palo Alto to San Francisco, or even companies like Deem and Appirio which relocated wholesale from Silicon Valley to the city. It will make LinkedIn one of the larger tech employers in San Francisco: Twitter, for example, currently has 2,000 employees in the city.

San Francisco has a different vibe than Mountain View.

The San Francisco office effectively gives LinkedIn's content operation its own distinct identity and a measure of independence, much like Google has afforded YouTube, which it kept on its own campus south of San Francisco after it bought the online-video startup in 2005. (How independent? Weiner, the CEO, had trouble getting into the office when he forgot his badge and the building's guards didn't recognize him.)

LinkedIn has been busy buying startups, too—like SlideShare, which moved from its own small office in San Francisco into the LinkedIn building. There's also the team behind Pulse, LinkedIn's mobile news-reading app, which relocated from San Francisco to Mountain View a year ago when LinkedIn bought the company, and is now moving back to the city. And there's Newsle, a San Francisco-based news-search startup, which LinkedIn acquired in July: Newsle's team never called Mountain View home, moving straight into the new San Francisco office instead.

The SlideShare team is one of the groups that moved into the new office.

San Francisco is an obvious location for a media operation. LinkedIn's future content headquarters is across the street from CBS Interactive, where CNET has its newsroom, and a few blocks away from the home bases of Wired, TechCrunch, ReadWrite, and other publishers. Medium, the longform publishing platform started by Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, is a few blocks away, and Twitter itself is just a few more blocks down Market Street. 

LinkedIn hopes its new location will let it hire engineers, product managers, and editors from the same talent pool as those companies.

Publish Or Perish

Those employees will work on various ways to read and publish material on LinkedIn—from the Pulse mobile app and Web feed, to SlideShare, a tool for sharing presentations, documents, and videos, to LinkedIn Groups, communities of interest on the site. 

But the star of the operation is LinkedIn's publishing platform, which began as an idea roughly three years ago. Initially, Roslansky, the content-products chief, wanted to make every LinkedIn member a publisher with the flip of a switch. But Weiner advised him to hold off and start with famous businesspeople first. 

Weiner hired Dan Roth, a former editor at Fortune and Wired, as LinkedIn's executive editor. (Roth, who's based in New York and has an editorial team there, has a few editors reporting to him in the new San Francisco office. Full disclosure: Roth and I worked together at Time Inc.) Roth went about recruiting LinkedIn's first publishers—the Influencers—and hired a team of editors to pick headlines for LinkedIn's homepage.

LinkedIn employees listen to a show-and-tell session.

From those 150 Influencers, LinkedIn gradually expanded its publishing tool, from 25,000 members in February to 15 million in July. Now, in the U.S., all 100 million members now have the ability to publish longer pieces to the site, and LinkedIn will expand that to other English-speaking countries by the end of this year. 

In total, those using the tool are producing 7,000 pieces on an average weekday, a LinkedIn spokesperson told ReadWrite. Writers on Medium, by comparison, are publishing roughly 1,000 to 1,500 posts a day. The 1,330-person newsroom of the New York Times publishes 700 articles a day.

Managing editor Marisa Wong picks presentations and videos uploaded to SlideShare to feature on its homepage.

The Times may beat the average LinkedIn post in quality, but what LinkedIn has in its favor is diversity and relevance—a wide swath of professionally-geared writing that ranges from sales tips to growth strategies to surviving office politics. LinkedIn doesn't pay writers, but it does give them a built-in audience, solving the tricky problem of distribution faced by people who publish on their own website using blogging tools.

LinkedIn's content business faces a host of challenges, from persuading more members to publish to vying for reading time with all the other demands on people's attention. It may face the stiffest competition from sites like Quora and StackOverflow, which have done a good job of appealing to specialists looking to share highly technical knowledge.

At least, though, LinkedIn has a campaign headquarters for this battle—right in the buzzing tech-and-media epicenter of San Francisco.

Photos by LinkedIn engineer Sylvain Kalache

Twitter Sues The U.S. Government So It Can Fully Report Surveillance Requests

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:40

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Web

Twitter filed suit against the U.S. government, seeking to overturn restrictions that prevent it from fully reporting on federal surveillance requests.

The social media company said back in February that it would take legal action if the government failed to allow Twitter to be fully transparent with users, and it followed through on that promise by filing a lawsuit to publish the company's full Transparency Report.

Twitter and other technology companies aren't allowed to share the exact number of national-security requests for data—national security letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders—they receive. Even if the number is zero.

See also: Twitter To Feds: Your User-Data Requests Need Way More Sunlight

In January, a group of tech companies including Facebook and Google reached an agreement with the government to share the number of requests for data in broad ranges and without differentiating between NSLs and FISA orders.

At the time, Twitter said it believed that was a step in the right direction, but not enough. 

In the months that followed, Twitter tried to work with the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to provide a more transparent data request report, but the government didn't allow the company to publish it, even in redacted form.

"We’ve tried to achieve the level of transparency our users deserve without litigation, but to no avail," Ben Lee, Twitter's vice president of legal, wrote in a blog post announcing the lawsuit. 

Twitter argues that the government's restrictions on publishing such data are unconstitutional. From its lawsuit:

These restrictions constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint and content-based restriction on, and government viewpoint discrimination against, Twitter’s right to speak about information of national and global public concern. Twitter is entitled under the First Amendment to respond to its users’ concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing more complete information about the limited scope of U.S. government surveillance of Twitter user accounts—including what types of legal process have not been received by Twitter—and the DAG Letter is not a lawful means by which Defendants can seek to enforce their unconstitutional speech restrictions.

Yahoo lost a similar lawsuit when it refused to comply to broad government requests for user data in 2007-2008. The company lost the suit, but recently published a number of previously unreleased documents related to the case.

Lead image by Anthony Quintano

Why Half Of iPhone Users Don’t Trust iOS 8 Yet

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 09:22

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Web

When Apple released iOS 8 last month, it debuted to a lukewarm reception. According to mobile marketers, users last year installed iOS 7 twice as fast as they installed iOS 8 on the first day. 

Now, Apple's latest numbers are in. And the news is ... well, still kind of mediocre. 

Approximately three weeks after its release, less than half the people using an iOS device are using the new version. 

See also: On Its First Day, iOS 8 Took Off More Slowly Than Its Predecessors

iOS 8 Can't Kill iOS 7

According to Apple's developer site, which keeps tabs on mobile software installations through the App Store, just as many people run iOS 7 as iOS 8. 

Dated October 5, 2014, Apple's pie chart shows that the two software versions take an equal share, accounting for 47% of users. Beyond that, another 6% of gadgets—likely older models that can't handle newer software—run even earlier versions. 

Pie chart courtesy of <a href="https://developer.apple.com/support/appstore/">Apple</a>

Citing data from analytics firm Mixpanel, MacRumors notes that, during a similar period last year, almost 70 percent of iOS users put iOS 7 on their iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. 

Chart courtesy of <a href="https://mixpanel.com/trends/#report/ios_8/from_date:-3,report_unit:hour,to_date:0">Mixpanel</a><a href="http://software-apps-"></a>

Why the trepidation surrounding iOS 8? One look at the headlines should offer some answers. 

Apple radically retooled several aspects of the iPhone software, for both the users running it and the developers making apps for it. But the revamp has been plagued by glitches.  

Anything new and untested in the field can be prone to problems, and Apple's software is no exception. People who rushed to update their devices to iOS 8.0.0 and then iOS 8.0.1 found that the software crippled calling, killed battery life and removed the Camera Roll photo folder, among other things. 

See also: iOS 8.0.1 Kills More Than It Cures, So Apple Pulled It

The company moved quickly to address many of those issues in iOS 8.0.2, but it still sustained some damage to user trust. Now early adoption fever seems to have cooled, at least for half of the iPhone user base. 

Making matters worse, Apple pulled the plug on iOS 7.1.2 last month. Without the previous version of the software available, users who took a chance on iOS 8 effectively found themselves stranded with it, with no official way of downgrading. 

iOS 8.1: A New Hope?

Last week, developers got their hands on the new next version, iOS 8.1, which fuels speculation that it will launch very soon—likely later this month, around the time Apple unveils its new iPads. 

The update should come with even more bug fixes, as well as the much-anticipated Apple Pay, the all-new mobile payments system introduced at Apple’s September press event.

See also: Apple Has Reportedly Forced Banks To Stop "Taxing" Mobile Payments

That could help move the needle on iOS 8 installations. But there’s an equal chance that, faced with the prospect of yet another brand-new technology that hasn’t been battle-tested yet, bug-weary iPhone users may decide to wait. 

Because it would take an enormous leap of faith for people to hand over their financial data—especially to a company with a spotty track record in rolling out new things. 

Would you trust your wallet to a company that just pushed out loads of software bugs?

When it comes to mobile, Apple has had as many stumbles as hits over the years. For all its glorified successes with the first iPod, the iPhone and the conception of the App Store, it also caught heat for half-baked functions like Siri and Apple Maps, not to mention the iPhone 4 “antennagate” PR nightmare. 

Now with iOS 8, there’s a new pile of problems to add to Apple's hall of shame. And those problems aren't entirely in the rearview mirror yet. 

If Apple wants people using their iPhones as wallets, the company will need to make sure its software is bulletproof. And along with fixing bugs, it will also need to fix something else: the damaged trust that's still keeping people away from iOS 8. 

That, we suspect, might be much harder. 

Lead photo by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite. Apple Pay screenshot by Stephanie Chan for ReadWrite

Jennifer Lawrence Speaks! (About That iCloud Breach, That Is)

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 08:15

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Web

Jennifer Lawrence, one of the victims of an iCloud hack that leaked nude images of female celebrities, is finally speaking out about the massive violation of privacy she experienced.

"Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense," Lawrence, the Hunger Games actress, says in a forthcoming Vanity Fair interview. "You should cower with shame."

See Also: For Once, The Entire Internet Isn't Blaming The Victims Of This Nude Celebrity Photo Leak

In late August, someone accessed iCloud accounts of numerous female celebrities and distributed their private photos to 4chan and Reddit in what some online jokers called "the fappening," riffing off the slang term for masturbation

The images circulated widely, sparking a conversation around Internet privacy and security, as well as blatant Internet sexism and the often toxic anonymous communities that thrive on 4chan and Reddit.

Apple denied any iCloud security breach, instead blaming it on a "very targeted attack" by a person or people who presumably managed to guess or brute-force private login information for various users. After the compromising photos were leaked online, Apple promised to tighten security and better educate users on how iCloud actually works.

Apple may not have been directly responsible for the breach, but it happened, in part, because it can be confusing and difficult to protect your personal data in iCloud.

See Also: How Apple Made Its Users Vulnerable To iCloud Theft

Unlike other celebrities who spoke out condemning the attack, Lawrence—arguably the best-known of the bunch—remained silent. But in the Vanity Fair cover story, she blames sites like 4chan for what she calls a "sex crime."

"It is not a scandal,” she says according to a summary prepared by the magazine. “It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change."

"That’s why these Web sites are responsible," Lawrence continues. "Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”

Lead photo by Gage Skidmore