Amazing, unprecedented, awesome, unexpected, astonishing and unbelievable. Those are just a few words you might have read today about an Amazon product on nearly every website which advertises itself as the sole authority on ‘tech news’. I read a few reports on such websites, and was kinda disappointed by the fact that majority of them just reprinted the content of the official announcement about that product of Amazon. Only a handful of them drew any kind of conclusion or talked about any implications of this desperate move by one of the emerging players in ‘the game of phones’. Hmm, we’ll come back to ‘that’ kinda journalism later, but let’s now talk about that product and related announcement.
The product being referred to here is Amazon’s Fire Phone, which the retail giant is now selling at 99 cents with a two-year contact on AT&T’s network.
Imagine you are one of the top consumer electronics manufacturer in the second most populous country of the world. You partner with an American technologically superior company and a Chinese sweatshop owner to produce dirt-cheap smartphone. You are successful in mass producing that smartphone and then you put it up for sale online at one of the leading marketplaces of your country. Finally, you report that you have managed to sell 15,000 units of that smartphone in three days of its launch and call that feat remarkable. If you do that, you’ve got to be kidding yourself or you must’ve suffered a recent blow to the head.
It appears that something similar happened to Mozilla and Intex, an Indian consumer electronics manufacturer (they have sweatshops in China), who just launched a Firefox OS based smartphone at a dirt cheap price tag of $33.
No doubt Windows Phone has some really cool features and it doesn’t suffer from the security problems which make some ‘open source’ (yeah, no) OS like Android bleed (for Desktop, the reverse is true, as FOSS OS are much safer than a proprietary one). I have used Windows Phone in the past, and my overall experience was alright. I mean, I didn’t enjoy it much, but I didn’t hate it either. I’m in no way a fan of proprietary software, but I kinda liked my Lumia. The trouble I had was with the lack of quality apps in Windows Phone Marketplace. While my friends would take their iPhones out for shopping on the AppStore, I would wait for the devs to release a Windows Phone port or even a clone.
That’s probably the reason why Huawei has put the release of its WP based phones on hold.
The Chinese smartphone manufacturer has finally publicly acknowledged that it did collect data from the users’ phones without taking their consent. Xiaomi accessed the users’ address books without notifying them and stored that data on the company’s servers. They didn’t even encrypt that data, hence compromising the data they ‘stole’. Hugo Barra, the Vice President of Xiaomi, accepted Xiaomi’s involvement in unauthorized data collection in a Google Plus post. He claimed that the data collected from the address book of a user is only used to determine if that user is online. Total bs!
Xiaomi is known for its high-end specifications, but it seems that those high-end specifications are being used for some ‘covert’ operations. Privacy concerns in the EU and the States were already high and now this revelation would only justify those concerns regarding Xiaomi.
An internationally little-known smartphone manufacturer has emerged as the top selling brand in People’s Republic of China. Xiaomi is a Chinese smartphone maker and offers its handsets in countries like Singapore, Malaysia and India, where it recently enjoyed some level of success with its low-cost but feature rich products. Xiaomi has sold more than 15 million handsets in the second quarter of 2014 alone, making it stand next to Android’s bestseller Samsung. One of Xiaomi’s handsets, the Xiaomi Mi3, was rated as the world’s fastest Android based smartphone by a few reviewer websites earlier this year.
Xiaomi maybe is as good as they reviewers are claiming it to be, but its design stands nowhere near that of international bestsellers. They do net yet official have shop in the West yet, but their products can be bought online from resellers easily.
You silly iPhone users, you thought your personal data was safe because iOS is so secure? Open your eyes, dreamers! Your personal data which could be used to identify and track your activities can easily be extracted from your dear iPhones using data collected by Apple’s ‘diagnostic services’. It is worth noting that Apple admitted this only after being prompted by a security researcher, Jonathan Zdziarski, and they are saying that those ‘diagnostic services’ are meant to aid Apple engineers in god knows what.
All this is being done at the expense of users’ privacy and without any notification or approval from the users. Are you thinking about disabling those services? Well, you can’t! These services are hidden, much like headless applications in BlackBerry 10, the only difference being BB10 respects your privacy.
A San Francisco, CA based company called Rainforest Connection has developed “the world’s first scalable, real-time logging detection system” which pinpoints deforestation activity as it occurs, so that responsible agents can arrive on the scene in time to actually interrupt the perpetrators and stop the damage. The device, which the company has termed as ‘Real-time Rainforest Protection System’ uses recycled smartphones transformed into autonomous, solar-powered listening devices that can pinpoint signs of destructive activity—such as chainsaws, gunshots and animal distress calls—at great distance.
Rainforest Connection has raised $138,104 in pledges by 2,458 Backers at the time this post was written. They are also working on web and smartphone app using which would let their backers stream the LIVE sounds of the rainforest in Africa and the Amazon.