California Requires All Smartphones to Have a Kill Switch

kill switch

Smartphones sold in California will soon be required to come with a kill switch.

California has just passed a law that will require all smartphones to be equipped with a function that can allow users to wipe their data if their phone is stolen or lost.

The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2015 and applies to phones manufactured after this date.

While the law is only in California, it is expected that other states and even other countries will follow.

Not only will the kill switch be able to wipe users data but it will also lock the phone, rendering it useless. Only the owner of the phone will have control over the switch however the police can also use the tool.

This means that the police could cut off phone service in certain situations however, this would require a court order unless their is an emergency that poses immediate danger of death.

The law is yet to specify how the system will lock the phone, or if its safe from hackers however, it seems that each manufacturer will be required to come up with their own system.

With the new law in place, the state is hoping to curb the growing phone theft situation which has become one of the most prevalent street crimes.

Apple has already announced that they will be releasing an “activation lock” feature into iOS 7  which will meet all of Calfornia’s requirements.

Both Google and Microsoft have also announced that they will be including similar feature in their latest software update as well.

“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” stated California State Senator, Mark Leno. “Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fuelling street crime and violence within our communities.”

 

Amazon Beats out Google and Acquires Twitch for $970M

twitch

Amazon has just announced that they have purchased Twitch for $970 million, beating out Google who was also vying for the deal. 

Amazon has offered the video game streaming site $970 million in cash and it seems that the offer has been accepted.

“Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community,” announced CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.

Google was initially trying to acquire Twitch to add to their YouTube services however rumors are suggesting that they lost out over anti-trust issues.

According to sources, Twitch was concerned that aligning with YouTube would have made a video streaming monopoly and could hinder the company’s performance.

Amazon on the other hand, who is expanding their live streaming services appeared to be a much better fit and will help drive the company to compete with services such as Netflix.

This new merger will also give Amazon access to tens of millions of young gamers and help to expand their reach.

CEO of Twitch Emmet Shear stated, “they (Amazon) believe in our community, they share our values and long term vision and they want to help us get their faster. We’ve created a whole new kind of career that lets people make a living sharing their love of games. We’ve bought billions of hours of entertainment, laughter, joy and the occasional rage quit. I think we can all call that a pretty good start.”

Twitch is currently the 15th most visited site in the world.

Microsoft Drops Surface 2 Price

surfacepro

As tablet sales continue to fall, Microsoft has decided to drop the price of the Surface 2 by $100.

Tablet sales have been on a steady decline this year as people ditch the large devices for phablets.

In order to lure customers however, Microsoft has decided to drop the price of their Surface 2, offering the 32GB model for just $349 and the 64GB model for $449. The 4G LTE model has also been reduced to $579.

The move is also adding fuel to the fact that the company is planning on releasing a new Surface 3 model however, no formal announcements have been made.

Some claim that the Surface Pro 3 is set to debut in May of next year and that Microsoft is now trying to clear out inventory.

This new discount by Microsoft is available only until September 27, or while stocks last according to the fine print.

 

Playstation Back Online After DDos Attack

ps4

Sony’s Playstation and entertainment network is now back online after a denial of service (DDoS) attack.

While the company has stated that they have seen “no evidence of any intrusion” into their network, the DDos attack crashed the system by sending large amounts of data to the service provider.

Because Sony has no control over the upstream traffic routes, players ability to log in and play games was affected however, now it appears that everything is back to normal.

A group called the “Lizard Squad” claimed to be behind the attack and tweeted out -”planted the ISIS flag on @Sony’s servers”. The tweet refers to the militant group that occupies parts of Syria and Iraq however their involvement has not been confirmed.

Sony has apologized for the disruptions to the network stating, “we have seen no evidence of any intrusion to the network and no evidence of any unauthorized access to users personal information. People can now enjoy the services on their PlayStation devices.”

 

YouTube to Launch Streaming Service Music Key

youtube

YouTube may be late to the party but the company has finally hinted at a music streaming service called Music Key.

Comparable to Spotify, leaked screenshots of Music Key have confirmed that the Google company is planning to release a monthly streaming service.

According to reports, Music Key is expected to retail for $10 per month and will allow you to play YouTube songs without ads and will allow you to store videos to playback while you are offline.

The service also includes over 20 million high quality tracks so users don’t have to weed through videos while doing a search.

Youtube is expected to offer a 30 day free trial to users however, this may not be enough to win over users.

The music streaming space is currently very overcrowded with Pandora, Spotify, Samsung, Apple and more all having their own service.

While YouTube is yet to confirm anything, it seems that entering the music screaming space is still a good move for the company if they want to keep up to date with the rest of the crowd.

 

AT&T Brings GigaPower to Apples Hometown

apple logo

Cupertino, the hometown of Apple and other tech companies is set to get a major upgrade to their internet service.

AT&T has announced that it is bringing a super fast broadband service called “GigaPower” to the city which promises download speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

To put it into perspective, this internet speed could download a HD movie in about 30 seconds, which is around 100 times faster than the current internet provided in the average American home.

Cupertino is set to be the first city in the area to get the service, beating out Google who is also in the process of installing their super fast internet around America.

“We are really really excited,” exclaimed Mayor of Cupertino, Gilbert Wong. “The council made it a priority to get fast, reliable internet to the city.”

AT&T is aiming to get the service fully installed and functional by the end of the year and also has plans to expand the service to other Bay Area cities.

Currently, San Jose is also penned to get an internet upgrade in 2015.

While no prices or definite time line has been set for Cupertino, the company has released prices for the Austin area which start at $70 per month.

Gigabit internet is slowly being rolled out across the country with Kansas City, Austin, Dallas, Tennessee and a handful of others already having access to the service.

 

Uber Tests Delivery Service

uber

Uber is expanding its wings to offer a delivery service. 

Uber has begun testing a delivery service in DC for customers wishing to have groceries, medicines and more sent straight to their front door.

The transport company, which has been rising in popularity, is currently testing the operation for the next few weeks to see if its viable for the company to offer a delivery service.

The service is expected to be part of the same Uber app and will be accessible through a “corner store” button. Through this function, customers will be able to set a delivery location and what they want ordered, then an Uber driver will send a text letting them know they are on their way.

“No need to race to the store after a long day at the office, you can now request allergy medicine, diapers, toothpaste and over 100 other items through the Uber app,” stated a blogpost by the company.

Customers will be charged for the goods through their Uber account on the app however at present, there is no additional charge to have the items delivered.

Currently, the service is only available in DC from 9am to 9pm however as the blog posts states, “this limited time only experiment will run for a few weeks- but the more you love it, the more likely it will last.”

Snapchat to Add News and Video Content

snapchat ceo

Snapchat, the disappearing messaging app is about to expand it’s service to include news and video content. 

Snapchat is currently in the process of creating Snapchat Discovery, a new  feature that will show branded content to users through the app.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Discovery function will allow users to “read daily editions of publications as well as watch video clips of TV shows or movies”.

Snapchat is currently in talks with advertisers and media companies to create possible partnerships and aims to have the project up and running by November.

This new addition for the app is definitely set to increase its valuation which is currently sitting at more than $2 billion.

The current version of Snapchat is available to download for free in the App store.

 

Sharks Bite Back at Google’s Underwater Cables

sharks

While the modern world appreciates Google’s internet cables, it seems that the sharks on the bottom of the ocean are far from thrilled about it.

Google has run into some issues with their underwater cables as sharks keep biting into them, perhaps in an attempt to tell the tech giant that they are not happy having them in their home.

Google’s fiber optic cable network spans more than 100,000 miles around the world and run underwater in some areas. While underwater cables have been around since the 1980′s it seems that they cause some disturbance to sharks.

One theory is that the sharks are attracted to the electromagnetic signals that the cables give off, and that they mistake the cables for fish.

Instead of respecting the sharks and their clear frustration with the cables, Google has decided to reinforce all their underwater cables to prevent damage.

While its not clear how much damage the sharks have caused, Google has announced that they are reinforcing the cables with a Kevlar based material.

Google’s fiber optic cable system is set to be up and running across America next year.

Americans Ditch Cable TV for the Internet

netflix

For the first time in history, cable companies have more internet than TV subscribers.

Americans have been ditching their TV cable provider for online content streaming services such as Netflix, causing cable companies to reach an all time low in TV subscriptions.

A recent report has found that nearly 15,000 customers have ditched their TV cable service in the second quarter of 2014, bringing the total customers subscribed to broadband higher than TV customers.

Despite the fact that cable companies are loosing TV subscribers, cable TV still remains the most lucrative as it brings in a greater revenue stream. In fact, bundled services give the highest profits for cable companies.

While the disparity between broadband and TV customers remains on the low side, it seems that this is definitely the way of the future as more and more content is offered through the internet.

In order to keep up with growing trends, the big cable companies are going to need to come up with a competitive edge to lure customers way from the cheaper content streaming services.

On the flip side, cable companies have also begun raising the price of the internet. One report found that there was a 20% increase to internet prices over the last two years.

As more customers rely on the internet, rising costs seem only inevitable.