Since 2010, Google has been under investigation by EU regulators over instances where the company allegedly manipulated its search results to push down rival services. The search giant’s latest proposal to settle the antitrust investigation was released today by Consumer Watchdog, which slammed it for failing to address consumer welfare.
The deal offers to label its own results that it is favoring as ‘Google Specialized Results’, and proposes to provide links to competing services — though it will, in some cases, impose a charge on them to be included in the listings.
It was also revealed in the proposal that Google is seeking a watchdog in Europe to monitor its compliance with these obligations it has suggested, as noted by the New York Times.
The job title: monitoring trustee.
This person has to be independent of Google and third parties, but will be paid by Google “in a way that does not influence or impede the independent and effective fulfillment of its mandate.”
As part of the job, the monitoring trustee has to check if Google is displaying text from their vertical search engine rivals, such as Kayak or Expedia, that is “relevant to the user’s query.”
It remains to be seen if the European Commission will accept Google’s latest proposal, but the New York Times notes that the EU’s competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, has already stated that he wants the benefits for consumers to kick in as soon as possible — and this hints that a settlement could be imminent.
Headline image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Go here to see the original: Google is seeking a watchdog in Europe to monitor its compliance with an antitrust settlement
Back in October, we covered the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for the web design tool Macaw. Creators Tom Giannattasio and Adam Christ, set out to raise $75,000 to help speed development of the tool but smashed through that goal in just over 24 hours.
Fast-forward to today and the Kickstarter closed with a respectable $275,000 from just over 2,700 backers. Giannattasio and Christ wrote that they’re in awe of how much they’ve raised: “never did we imagine that we’d hit more than 3.5 times our goal” and that they’re “going to do everything in our power to deliver the very best product for you all.”
Version 1 of the product will land in January for backers of the Kickstarter.
Apple released a statement today to The New York Times noting that a manufacturing issue has caused shortened battery life in a ‘very limited’ number of iPhone 5s devices. At its introduction, the phone was reported by Apple to have nearly identical life to the iPhone 5, and most tests have borne that out with reviewers seeing identical or slightly improved numbers.
The statement, issued by an Apple spokesperson, indicates that a small number of the iPhones that Apple has sold so far are defective. Here’s the statement given to the Times:
“We recently discovered a manufacturing issue affecting a very limited number of iPhone 5S devices that could cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life,” said Teresa Brewer, an Apple spokeswoman. “We are reaching out to customers with affected phones and will provide them with a replacement phone.”
The Times says that Apple’s statement ‘implies’ that this is only a few thousand devices, but Apple themselves gave no exact number. Apple sold 9 million iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 4s devices in its launch weekend in September.
iPhones do not have user replaceable batteries, making the life of those batteries of paramount importance. In general, iPhones get comparable battery life to other devices in the same size and thickness. Other devices from Motorola, Samsung and more have made design decisions that allow them to get greater battery life by packing in larger or thicker battery packs.
If that reputation for decent, if not exhilarating, battery life is going to be maintained, Apple will want to make sure that they clamp down on this issue quick. Of course, the bad news about iPhone 5s battery life issues arrives ahead of iPad Air reviews, which are expected later today. Slick.
We’ve reached out to Apple to see if it has any more information to share.
That’s according to the Financial Times – which quotes Chou as admitting that he “took on too many things.”
Chou has refused to even entertain the idea of stepping down from his role — despite dwindling revenue and market share, and HTC’s first quarterly loss as a listed company — so it will be interesting to see what future devices are forthcoming now that he is “focused on innovation and product portfolio.”
➤ HTC chief offloads duties to chairwoman to reverse decline [Financial Times] (Paywalled) | Via Reuters
Headline image via by John.Karakatsanis / Flickr
Amazon has reportedly teamed up with HTC on development of three smartphone devices with one in “an advanced stage of development”. The Financial Times says that while phones are being worked on, no specific timeline has been set for their release.
The launch of new mobile devices would seem to complement its Kindle tablet product line. It also certainly adds to repeated rumors that the company is moving into finding ways to rival the popular iPhone and Android devices (Amazon uses a variation of the Google mobile operating system).
In September, there were reports saying that Amazon would offer its smartphone for free without a contract, perhaps leveraging its Special Offers program or Amazon Prime membership. The company quickly refuted those claims and suggested that its device(s) wouldn’t be released this year.
➤ Amazon plans entry into smartphone market with HTC (Financial Times)
Read more from the original source: Amazon has reportedly teamed up with HTC to develop three smartphones
Google Glass, Google schmass. What you really want on your face are these puppies. ION Glasses are sunglass or prescription glasses frames with a built-in LED, Bluetooth stack, and tiny button controller.
What do they do? Well the LED lights up to notify you of new messages – you can set different people to different colors – and you can use the glasses to control the music on your phone, a presentation, or almost anything else controlled via Bluetooth.
The astute observer will say “Why in the living blazes would I want an LED in my glasses? Are you daft, man?” And to this I would say “Non!”
Understand me here – I’m not saying this product is for everyone, but I met the founder, Santiago Ambit, and he is so earnest and big-hearted that we have to assume that he thought this through. So here we are.
Ambit’s system is fairly ingenious. He’s embedded a small piezo buzzer, LED, and Bluetooth stack inside the eyepieces of a standard pair of glasses. They are no heavier than regular Wayfarers and the logo glows on the side so people know you’re into the ION lifestyle.
He is raising funds on Indiegogo and has raised $22,000 of his $150,000 goal. You get a pair of glasses — suitable for prescription or sunglass lenses — for a pledge of $89. They last a week on one charge.
Again, why do you need these? Well, they’re extremely unobtrusive and they’re a great way to see when someone important is calling and to help your prioritize the times you need to pick up your phone.
Because of their clever design no one will have to know you’re using them and, in turn, you can react to messages and notifications without panic or rudeness.
Would I wear these? I’m not so sure, but if I were in security or needed to be in a lot of important meetings I could definitely see myself wanting to get small, discrete messages in the corner of my eye without the potentially off-putting nature of Google Glass.
I rarely end posts with a question but I ask you, dear reader, would you wear these?
See the original post: ION Glasses Are The Unobtrusive Notifications System You Wear On Your Face
Google has been addressing an issue with mugshot sites to push them down in search results, the New York Times reveals today in an article.
Such sites post photos of those who have been arrested and charge a fee for their removal, which can range from $30 to $400, or even higher.
What makes them popular is that they appear high up in Google searches regularly whenever a name of someone who has been previously arrested is keyed in. The New York Times notes that Google had not been penalizing these sites for getting their images and text from third-party sources, going against the search giant’s ethos that websites should be promoted if they have original material, and demoted for copying.
However, Google has now found that these sites apparently do not comply with a certain guideline, and has taken action to demote them since Thursday, rolling out an amendment to its algorithms that has led to mugshots being pushed back and listed beyond the first page.
In an excellent piece about how mugshot sites affect people who have once been arrested, the New York Times also reached out to several financial companies that enabled these sites to receive payments for mugshot removal services.
Ultimately, MasterCard told the newspaper that it is in the process of terminating these mugshot site accounts as customers, while PayPal also said it is putting an end to support for such mugshot removal payments. American Express and Discover also said they were pulling the plug for payment support for mugshot sites, while Visa was asking merchant banks to investigate business practices of these sites.
Headline image via Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images
The New York Times has published a lengthy feature on the creation of the original iPhone that includes plenty of interesting details from veterans who worked on the project.
Plenty of ink has been spilled on exactly how much work went into the device, but the Times’ piece really digs into the personal struggles and triumphs involved in the project. It’s a fascinating read that’s worth saving for later if you can’t read all of it right now.
Andy Grignon, the engineer responsible for the iPhone’s cellular radios, goes into particular detail on how stressful the rehearsals for the keynote were:
But it quickly got really uncomfortable. Very rarely did I see [Jobs] become completely unglued — it happened, but mostly he just looked at you and very directly said in a very loud and stern voice, ‘You are [expletive] up my company,’ or, ‘If we fail, it will be because of you.’
Other interesting details include Apple modifying an Airport base station to broadcast Japanese wireless frequencies during the keynote, an all-aluminum design from Jobs and Jony Ive that had terrible reception, Jon Rubinstein’s pitch for an iPhone mini that functioned like a feature phone, and the use of fake schematics and designs for vendors.
My personal favorite: during the keynote, the iPhone team passed around a flask of scotch, taking shots after each of their demos. By the end of the presentation, many of them were drunk.
See original here: Apple veterans reveal backstage details of the making of the original iPhone
Britain’s The Times newspaper, one of the UK’s best-known newspapers, is pulling its BlackBerry app citing “lack of interest”. The process of withdrawing from the smartphone manufacturer’s app store is expected to be completed by October 31.
According to Reuters, a spokeswoman for the News Corp-owned newspaper said: “While The Times’ app on iPhone, iPad and android continues to be very successful, very few people use the app on their Blackberry.”
The departure of the Times and Sunday Times apps are just a slowly growing sign that brands are starting to see less value in the company — in September, T-Mobile revealed that its US retail stores would stop selling BlackBerry devices, attributing it to “weakening sales”. This news follows revelations that BlackBerry could possibly be acquired by a group of investors led by Fairfax Financial for $4.7 billion.
The National Security Agency has slowly been mapping it’s own massive network of suspects with associations to US citizens. The New York Times obtained documents that reveals how the NSA is utilizing social data to map intelligence connections.
From the report: “Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.”
Since data leaker Edward Snowden originally revealed the NSA dragnet phone record and Internet surveillance program, it has been known that the government looks at citizens that are 3 network “hops” away from a suspect (a friend of a friend of a friend). It’s never been revealed what types of data the NSA used to prioritize which targets were most valuable until this NYT story. However, it’s no surprise that intelligence analysts use public and private data., including that from social sources.
Specifically, the data includes “bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents.”
In response to the story, the NSA says that all mining “queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.”
There are several surveillance reforms packages proposed in congress. However, all reform will likely wait until President Obama’s NSA task force issues reform recommendations.