Archive for April, 2014

Heartbleed did not affect Apple’s Services

Apple have today confirmed that key services where unaffected by the infamous heartbleed vulnerability in the OpenSSL Software.

A spokesperson for apple has said

Apple takes security very seriously. iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key web-based services were not affected

The heartbleed security flaw which is explained in the cartoon below, was a small coding error within the OpenSSL platform, not an issue with the SSL protocol itself. The purpose of this software is to provide secure connections between computers and web servers and this small flaw is said to have effected around 80% of the internet that uses secure web pages, including Facebook and Google among other big names.

The problem has been described by many experts as catastrophic and realistically on a scale of 1 – 10, if your website uses SSL (think that little gold padlock in the bottom right corner) then this is an 11.

Worth mentioning is that this iPhoneLeaks has also not been effected by this issue as we do not have any need to establish secure connections.

 

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Microsoft announces Windows in the car

Microsoft has announced today that they are launching “Windows in the Car” as a competitor to apple’s Car Play. Microsoft is no stranger to in car entertainment systems and has been powering a number of manufacturers systems for years. But now, Microsoft is starting to look in creating its own solution, based on Windows Phone however with a lot of similarities to CarPlay.

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This announcement comes not long after Microsoft have also announced a competitor to Siri, making me think that Microsoft are ramping up the competition before apple’s latest product launch with the iPhone 5s this summer.

 

The system is currently still in the theory stage however the fact that Microsoft is thinking about going into direct competition with apple means they must be confident about its potential as a competitor to CarPlay.

The plans for the system currently mean that the car’s touch screen display would mirror the display of your smartphone, allowing it to display Maps, Texts and Caller ID in the same manner it would on your windows phone, hopefully just without the blue screens we are used to!

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Worldwide Developers Conference 2014

wwdc14The WorldWide Developers Conference or WWDC has been announced for the 2nd June 2014 in San francisco. At a glance WWDC 2014 will open its doors on the 2nd June with a keynote speech from Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. OS X 10.10 is overall the mostly likely focus of the event, but there are also a number of other possible topics, including the upcoming iOS 8 and the slight possibility of some new hardware however the new Apple TV and the iWatch are reportedly not yet ready for production.

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iOS 8

There is very little information currently available on any of the topics to be discussed at WWDC however a new operating system for mobile devices is almost a certainty. healthbookleakedscreenshotThe update is said to focus on refining the major visual updates that were introduced with iOS 7 and adding new functionality to the operating system, of which the biggest new feature seems to be the new HealthBook app which appears to track all sorts of biological information from heart rates to oxygen saturation and blood sugar, presumably there may also be some new hardware linked to this which will be required for some of the functionality. Rumours have also surfaced which suggest that Apple may be looking into the mobile payment industry with the use of TouchID verification when performing NFC enabled transactions at supported contactless outlets. iTunes Radio may be moved out of iTunes Music and into its own app with iOS 8. Apple is also said to be preparing a new song naming feature for iOS in partnership with Shazam who currently have an app in the app store which performs this task. Such a service would be built directly into iOS 8, integrating with apps and Siri to allow users to identify songs playing on the radio or via other sources.   [ad 1] Minor improvements to integrated features may also be included such as improvements to Siri by enabling an API style integration with third party apps and Maps getting the upgrade to include public transport directions have also been rumoured to be included in this update although as always, nothing has been confirmed.

OSX 10.10

There is even less information available on this subject than there is on iOS 8 however what we do expect is a lot of new features or possible a complete redesign as the last update (OSX Mavericks) introduced only a handful of features compared to previous releases. Hopefully apple wont make the same mistakes Microsoft did with Windows 8.0 and alienate a large number of their users by making the design “too” flat!

Unlikely Announcements

According to a recent interview with a source who has insider knowledge it seems we are unlikely to see a new Apple TV or the iWatch being launched this year.

Tim Cook will not use WWDC to unveil Apple’s mythical wearable device. Nor will he use it to show off a new Apple TV, or even preview the new software the company is developing for it. Which makes perfect sense, really. There’s little point in Apple unveiling a new OS in advance of a significant hardware update.

As always apple may be planning a big surprise and trying to catch everyone out but usually there are some inevitable leaks and this seems to be one of them, disappointing for all of us who are looking for a new SmartWatch with real style!

Cortana is coming to Windows phone 8.1

CortanaMicrosoft has announced today that they will be launching a competitor to siri, the virtual assistant from apple. This new assistant from Microsoft is named Cortana after the Artificial Intelligence from the Halo series on xbox. Cortana was an advanced form of AI who actually controlled the entire spacecraft in the halo series, Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 however has a little less power, but still sufficient to control the features of your mobile phone.

Cortana is powered by Microsoft’s own search engine Bing and sometimes this is very noticeable as if you happen to say anything that she doesn’t quite understand, you will find yourself redirected to a bing search for “text messages” when you really just wanted her to read out your new message!

Cortana is designed to learn about users by asking questions and monitoring user activity, interacting through both text and speech. She has access to all of your files and notes on your phone and can learn by interpreting your data and storing the information that she learns in her notebook.

Microsoft designed the feature based on real personal assistants, giving Cortana a Notebook to work from. The Notebook can be described as a settings page, allowing users to designate what Cortana can track. In her Notebook, Cortana stores information like personal interests, relationships with people, frequently visited places, appointment dates, quiet hours, and more.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the following about Cortana’s “Notebook”

It’s her view of you, but clearly you can just snatch it from her at any time and say ‘That’s not right, I don’t want you to know this’ or ‘I’m not comfortable with you reading my email, So you have complete control over what she knows and she’s transparent about it.

Entries in the Notebook are stored in the cloud, and you can share contact information with it, as well as your interests, home and work locations, and more. The notion of Cortana acting as a personal assistant with a notebook— as opposed to a creepy stalker — has been drilled into the team from the beginning, they say.

Cortana is a core function of Windows Phone 8.1, replacing the existing search function. Like Siri she can schedule reminders, but Cortana’s functionality is somewhat more powerful, allowing reminders to be tied to people and locations. For example, Cortana can be asked to give a reminder to discuss a certain topic when calling a contact, with that reminder popping up when a call is placed.

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The digital assistant also offers a daily summary of information, similar to what can be found in Apple’s own Notification Center. Cortana lists upcoming appointments, reminders, weather information, and more. She can, with permission, track user email to pull out information like airline reservations.

Like Siri, Cortana has a personality. She has witty responses for certain questions, such as “Who is your father?” to which she replies, “Technically speaking, that’d be Bill Gates. No big deal.” Displayed as a circle on a phone screen, she’s also able to express 16 different emotions.

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While Siri has not been opened up to developers or third parties, Microsoft is releasing an SDK. Cortana will also integrate with services like Hulu, Twitter & Facebook allowing people to use voice commands to launch television shows or send a tweet.

Cortana remains in the early beta stages, as there are plenty of bugs with the software that still need to be worked out. Windows Phone 8.1 will launch soon, scheduled for late April or early May, but unfortunately Cortana will only be available in the United States for the time being.

Let us know what you think in the comments

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