Google today updated its Search app for Android and iOS with expanded voice support: in addition to English, the app now understands and speaks French, German, and Japanese. You can download the new version now directly from Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
In case you need proof, below you can see the app answering the following questions: “What is the height of the Eiffel tower?”, “Where can one find some coffee in Munich?”, and “Who invented the transistor?” in French, German, and Japanese, respectively.
Not only can Google speak out answers to your questions in your native language, but it can do that after first interpreting what you’re saying. Don’t expect miracles though: just like the English language, these three new additions have many dialects and accents that make such a feature very hard to perfect.
Still, Google Search has only supported English speakers up until today. While Google calls this an “international upgrade,” it’s quite obviously just the very early days of regularly adding support for more and more tongues.
Naturally, the company won’t say when that will be: “Stay tuned as we work to add more languages so you can have a conversation with Google in more and more places around the world.” Given that three languages have been added today though, it’s safe to say that Google is working on implementing more than one at a time.
We’ll be watching closely. Based on how Google has added support in the past, and given that some languages are spoken much more widely than others, we’d bet Spanish, Chinese, and Portuguese are on their way.
See also – Google Translate for Android gets faster and simpler speech translation, gestures, support for more languages and Google updates Gesture Search for Android with support for over 40 languages and transliteration
Top Image Credit: RAWKU5
If you own a Western Digital branded external hard drive you might want to be careful about upgrading to Mavericks. The hard disk manufacturer has emailed customers warning of data loss when upgrading to Mavericks if its Drive Manager, Raid Manager or SmartWare applications are installed.
The email to customers comes after the company support forum exploded with users complaining that they experienced data loss after upgrading to Mavericks with the applications installed. The company says if users uninstall all three pieces of software then they are safe to upgrade to the new OS and will not lose their data. If you’ve already upgraded, you should delete the applications right away to be sure your data is safe.
While the software is being fixed, it has been removed from the Western Digital website.
See the original post: Western Digital warns Mavericks users of external hard drive data loss risk
Social sharing service Buffer was the victim of a cyber attack last week after a hacker gained access to Cloud-based database services company, MongoHQ. Buffer wasn’t the only company affected by the attack; developer product CircleCI was also victimized along with smart calendar app, Sunrise, we discover today. Sunrise’s hacking was revealed via an email sent by Sunrise CEO Pierre Valade to the product’s users this weekend.
Sunrise says it has already taken steps to protect user information, including refreshing the identification key that permits its servers from connecting with a user’s Google, Facebook, and Twitter account, something that will prevent the “malicious party” from using the data that may have been extracted.
The company says that LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Producteev data remain safe as those services do not have the same connection process as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. In addition, user emails and passwords are also safe as these credentials have been encrypted. However, the email stresses that if users connected iCloud to their account, they should reset their passwords and also reconnect its app with Apple’s cloud and storage service.
Valade says no credit card or banking information was compromised and in the interest of further protection, all users have been automatically logged out of its app.
See related: Lessons to learn from the MongoHQ database breach (Naked Security)
Photo credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The Washington Post broke news this afternoon that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting huge numbers of email address books and chat buddy lists for both foreign individuals and United States citizens.
It appears that the NSA lacks Congressional authority to collect buddy lists and address book information in the way that it currently does. As the Post rightly points out, address book data can include physical addresses, very personal information, and more.
To get around that lack of a mandate, the NSA has agreements with non-U.S. telcos and works with other, non-U.S. intelligence groups. So to get its hands on even more information, the NSA avoids the constraints of its provided oversight and legal boundaries, by going to alternative sources of the data that it wants.
That matters because the rules of other countries for tracking the communication of United States citizens are more lax. Recall that the NSA is in some ways slowed from collecting information on citizens of the United States, but not those of other countries.
So, if the NSA is willing to accept data from foreign intelligence agencies that it is not able to collect in this case, why not in other cases as well?
If the NSA won’t respect the constraints that are put in place on its actions for a reason, and will instead shirk its responsibilities and find a way to get all the data it could ever desire, then we have even less reason to trust its constant petitions that it follows the law, and is the only thing keeping the United States safe from conflagration.
The Post continues: “When information passes through ‘the overseas collection apparatus,’ [an intelligence office] added, ‘the assumption is you’re not a U.S. person.’” This means that when the NSA sweeps up contact data, buddy lists, and address sets from overseas, the same rules that keep it from collecting information on United States citizens aren’t likely in play. Minimization, it would seem, would be minimal.
The phone metadata program knows who you called, when, and for how long. PRISM can force your private information out of major Internet companies. XKeyscore can read your email, and tracks most of what you do online. And the above program circumvents Congressional oversight by collecting more data on U.S. citizens by merely executing that collection abroad.
How private are you feeling?
Facebook provided TechCrunch with the following statement:
“As we have said many times, we believe that while governments have an important responsibility to keep people safe, it is possible to do so while also being transparent. We strongly encourage all governments to provide greater transparency about their efforts aimed at keeping the public safe, and we will continue to be aggressive advocates for greater disclosure.”
Microsoft repeated to TechCrunch what it had told the Washington Post, that it “does not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customers’ data” and that if the above revelations are true, then the company would “have significant concerns.”
Top Image Credit: Zoe Rudisill
Rackspace’s Startup Liaison Officer, who grew up in Silicon Valley, brings you technology news, videos and opinions.
Apple is still way ahead of the rest of the industry. Particularly in how it introduces new products.
I’m pretty disappointed that Tim Cook doesn’t talk about the role of mobile in bringing us the future. He has the tools sitting right in front of him to do that, with the new motion sensor in the iPhone 5S and the new iBeacon technology, which wasn’t even featured in the iPhone presentation.
That all said, Apple does the best job out there at presenting new product and it isn’t even close. Watch this video and you’ll see that only one company picked up on the presentation lessons of Steve Jobs.
Samsung? Don’t be silly. They always look lame on stage. Google/Moto X? They are trying, but even at the Moto X launch they simply didn’t have the complete product and also didn’t have the ‘finish’ on the presentations that Apple has.
Microsoft? Um, no.
Who else? Most of the presentations I sit through at the Consumer Electronics Show are just not even close.
Some other thoughts:
1. When my wife gets a new phone it will be an iPhone. Sorry, Google Glass isn’t even close to good enough to get her off of Apple. Moto X? Nope, not Moto X either. She’s used to Apple devices now and I love them because I don’t need to do much tech support. Android and other devices, including my Nokia 1020, just don’t come close to the overall quality of iOS and Apple devices.
2. It’s clear, when talking with my friends, that Apple and Google are the two that are “safe” to choose. Blackberry and Microsoft? No way. I don’t know how Microsoft will change that.
3. Most people didn’t see what Apple did by giving away the five iWork apps: keep Microsoft and Google from having leverage to take away Apple customers.
4. Apple is not worried about pissing off San Francisco geeks. At least not in the short term. They know that switching ecosystems is VERY painful. It took me two months to really be happy about being on Android and even then I see all the apps that are missing and new ones keep coming out on iOS first. Android might be safe, but it doesn’t have leverage to get most iOS users over to it.
5. Only Apple seems to be working to keep my data safe (and remove theft rewards). The fingerprint scanner is really key at keeping people out of your “personal cloud.” Most of my friends don’t use passwords. Why? It’s a real pain in the behind keeping your life secure (I use all two-factor authentication, most people in my life don’t).
6. While Apple might not be the geeky leader it leads in one much more important area: the bottom of the experience. Apple’s devices and OS’s just have no rough spots in usage. Android and other OS’s? There’s ugly stuff here and there. Apple keeps removing anything that’s ugly (like the worst of its skeuomorphic design). Google still has a LOT of potholes in its OS. Shall I pull out the contact manager in Android and show you how bad it is when compared to iOS? Or, let’s look at the average app: iOS apps generally are nicer, faster, have more features, etc.
“So, Scoble, why aren’t you getting the new iPhone then?”
Easy: for me Google Glass is the future. It works best on Android. Until I stop believing Google Glass is the future I won’t switch off of Android (or, until Apple has a decent competitor).
I think this is why Apple didn’t announce its iWatch. Or a new Apple TV. It also explains why iBeacon was underplayed. Apple is holding the coolest “personal cloud” tech for when it’s needed: next February when Google will announce Google Glass and a few other things.
Apple needs those to take away the oxygen supply from Google Glass. If it fails to take away the oxygen supply then it has opened up a new way for Google to lever users off of Apple’s ecosystem.
Oh, and Xbox? Watch what Apple shows off at about 42 minutes into this video. Tell me, why would a family buy an Xbox when all the teenagers are gonna want a new phone anyway this Christmas and this one plays games pretty damn well!
Translation: Apple still is gonna be highly profitable for a long time to come, even though it is definitely a lot more boring than it was.
The thing is, everyone else is even MORE boring than Apple is. It’s amazing how this industry just hasn’t learned the lessons Steve Jobs brought us.
There’s nothing like attendance at the annual Black Hat and DefCon security/hacker conferences to hike your paranoia into the red zone and keep it there forever. You come away with the sense that nothing, anywhere, ever, is safe–and that’s just from talks given by people willing to publicize their work. Compared to the secret legions of the NSA and other governments’ equivalents, and invisible armies of mercenary black-hats selling zero-day exploits to the highest bidder, DefCon may well only be the iceberg’s tip.
What follows is a brief and highly subjective summary of the talks that people seemed to be talking about most, and/or the ones I found most interesting:
A seriously ill wind blows some good news for BlackBerry
Alex Stamos warned the world of a potential Cryptopocalypse: the RSA encryption algorithm, which is “by far the most widely used public-key cryptosystem in the world,” may be killed by math within the next five years, along with the standard Diffie-Hellman key-exchange protocol. A viable alternative is available — but guess what? Many of its crucial patents are owned by none other than everyone’s favorite crippled dinosaur, BlackBerry.
HTTPS isn’t really so S
Even if some bright mathematician doesn’t destroy online security as we know it, HTTPS still has plenty of other vulnerabilities. The BREACH exploit can use a vulnerability in compression algorithms to pluck email addresses and other data from encrypted connections. A fake termination of a TLS session (note to power users; what you’ve been calling SSL has probably really been TLS for some time now) can lead to the hijacking of a Gmail session (for five minutes) or an Outlook one (for much longer.) Oh, yeah, and client-side TLS sessions appear to be vulnerable too.
The secret computer inside your phone
There are more than 7 billion SIM cards out there, including, probably, the one in yours. Did you know that each one is a tiny little computer in its own right, is under the complete control of your carrier, and can cause phones to make and receive calls, send and receive SMSes, open up URLs, and many other actions? Karl Koscher and Eric Butler (the creator of Firesheep) walked their audience through a great software-archaeology talk on how to program these quasi-obsolete but ubiquitous devices…which is particularly relevant in light of Karsten Nohl’s talk on how approximately 1/4 of all SIM cards in existence can be exploited via a serious security flaw.
CDMA phone? No SIM card! You’re…totally not safe either. Sorry.
Your home is not your castle
Primus locks were supposed to be high-security. Not any more: nowadays Primus keys can be reliably duplicated with a 3D printer. We’re not far from the days when people can simply take a picture of a key and have a perfect physical copy mailed to them a few days later. Even if your door is secure, your home is not: smart TVs can be hacked and even used to spy on you, and your home network and home automation systems are no less vulnerable to hackers.
Et tu, Apple?
But at least we can rely on Apple products to stay safe, right? Guess again: if you plug your unlocked iOS device into a charging station, then that station can upload and run arbitrary code on your device – in other words, take it over completely. If you’re a Person Of Interest you’d best think thrice before plugging your iPhone into a hotel charger ever again.
The Chinese have hacked into American water plants…
…well, at least one honeypot water plant, as shown by Kyle Wilhoit of Trend Micro. Meanwhile, Lucas Apa and Carlos Penagos explained to the world how industrial facilities can be compromised from many miles away.
So you can’t trust your Internet connection, your phone, your home, your iPad, or your local infrastructure. And those are just the bugs that people are willing to talk about. Stay alert! Trust no one! Keep your laser handy!
Image credit: Sinauridze, Deviant Art.
Go here to read the rest: What Happens At DefCon Stays With Us All