The Supreme Court delivered a major blow to Internet start-up Aereo this week stating it must pay the big television networks for content just as cable networks do. The company streamed television programming to tablets, laptops, and other devices skirting around the enormous licensing fees. Wednesday, in a 6-to-3 decision, the court stated Aereo must pay for content since most of the programming is made up of copyrighted works. This was a major victory for the networks but a potential business killer for Aereo, since many consumers would have enjoyed this type of service for streaming live sports and other television programs. Aereo’s CEO, Chet Kanojia, believes the ruling was a major setback for consumers and eliminates one of its choices.
Amazon debuted its smartphone, Fire Phone, this week amid mixed reviews. Smart companies always think about what benefits the bottom line of their business, and Amazon is nothing if it isn’t a smart, savvy business. Not only are there a large number of consumers buying products online using desktop computers and laptops, many are using mobile devices which makes shopping easy while on the go.
In the U.S., 35% to 40% of smartphone users use shopping apps, and about 20% of people look for better deals online for items they are shopping for while in a store that sells those particular items. Yes, we love to shop, and the Fire Phone will enhance the shopping experience. Using its Firefly technology, he Fire Phone can recognize printed text on posters, magazines, and business cards and from this information, make calls, save contacts, send emails, and visit websites instantly. It also recognizes songs so artist information, related songs, and albums can be downloaded directly to the phone.
Using its camera, the Fire Phone can recognize household items, books, DVDs, CDs, etc., access their product details, and order from Amazon right from the phone in a few steps. It has a dedicated camera button which allows the owner to launch the camera in a couple of seconds, even when the screen is off. This smartphone is very functional, and useful, for the chronic shopper and gives that “quick draw” capability for those who like to buy what they see as soon as possible.
A critical security problem has been discovered in Google Play. Jason Nieh, professor of computer science at Columbia Engineering, and PhD candidate Nicolas Viennot reported they discovered the issue in the official Android app store. Since Google Play has more than one million apps, and many more downloads, it would seem someone would monitor the content of the apps uploaded to it.
Any developer can easily get an account and upload their content. “Very little is known about what’s there at an aggregate level,” says Nieh, who is also a member of the University’s Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering’s Cybersecurity Center. “Given the huge popularity of Google Play and the potential risks to millions of users, we thought it was important to take a close look at Google Play content.” They developed PlayDrone which is a tool that uses various hacking techniques to circumvent Google security to successfully download Google Play apps and recover their sources. PlayDrone is fast enough to crawl Google Play on a daily basis, downloading more than 1.1 million Android apps and can decompile thousands of free applications. The researchers discovered developers can store their secret keys in their apps software, similar to usernames/passwords info, which can be used by anyone to steal user data or resources from service providers. These vulnerabilities can even affect users even if they are not actively running any Android applications.
The expertise does not even matter because even people billed as “top developers” included the vulnerability in their codes. The researchers have been working closely with service providers such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook to notify customers at risk and, hopefully, make the Google Play store a safer environment. Google is now scanning apps for these issues to prevent them from occurring in the future. Their research also brought to light what many already know: approximately a quarter of Google Play free apps are copies of other apps in Google Play.
MICROSOFT HAS OFFERED software developers a web browser based game that should give them a fun way to flex and improve their coding skills. ‘What if coding were a game?’ it ponders – and in this particular case, it actually is a game. The game in question…