Posts tagged Kills
Update: Apple has pulled iOS 8.0.1, presumably to fix the major bugs it introduced, as reported below.
Do not—I repeat, DO NOT—update your iPhone to iOS 8.0.1. Not yet, anyway, at least if you want to actually want cellular reception or Touch ID to work.
To fix its flub in HealthKit, Apple pushed out an incremental update to iOS 8, the latest version of its operating software for iPhones and iPads, just a week after making iOS 8 available to the public. That small update, however, led to a huge problem: It broke some core features, especially for the new set of iPhones.
Some users with older iPhones, like the 5 and 5S, don’t seem to be affected, at least not en masse like iPhone 6 owners. So the bug could be particularly acute for Apple’s latest phones.
See also: Apple’s HealthKit Is Looking Unhealthy
The software update was intended to fix the unexplained bug that Apple said was plaguing HealthKit, its new fitness and health monitoring system. Third-party apps written to work with HealthKit found themselves yanked from the App Store as Apple attempted to repair the issues.
The iOS update also tackled other problems, such as downloaded keyboards that wouldn’t stay selected as default options; some photos that wouldn’t show up in Photo Library; errant data use with SMS or MMS; and in-app purchase glitches in Family Sharing.
iOS 8.0.1 was supposed to address all of the following issues, according to Apple:
- Fixes a bug so HealthKit apps can now be made available on the App Store
- Addresses an issue where 3rd party keyboards could become deselected when a user enters their passcode
- Fixes an issue that prevented some apps from accessing photos from the Photo Library
- Improves the reliability of the Reachability feature on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- Fixes an issue that could cause unexpected cellular data usage when receiving SMS/MMS messages
- Better support of Ask To Buy for Family Sharing for In-App Purchases
- Fixes an issue where ringtones were sometimes not restored from iCloud backups
- Fixes a bug that prevented uploading photos and videos from Safari
For more information on the security content of this update, please visit this website http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1222.
Those sound great, or at least they would have, if other phone-killing glitches weren’t on board. Unfortunately, they are. So again, the major takeaway is this:
Do not install this software update until Apple fixes this version. Tell your friends.
We’ll give you the all-clear when the new version is ready.
Update: Apple appears to have already yanked iOS 8.0.1:
9to5Mac reports that Apple pulled this software update for now, and it seems that the company has indeed withdrawn its digital signature for iOS 8.0.1. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help users who already grabbed it. But all may not be lost for them.
Some folks say that restoring their iPhones successfully reverts the device back to the previous version.
See also: How To Roll Back iOS 8.0.1
If you were afflicted and try this, let us know how it works out for you in the comments below.
Photo by Tomás Fano
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Google Kills Blackhat SEO Services
Newswire (press release)
In our interview Tony mentions that "the future of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is that Google will be demanding quality and original content for anyone to ever be able to reach the first pages of Google and the other search engines" He went on to …
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It takes more than “Zestimates” and other zippy technology to make money in real-estate listings, as evidenced by the $3.5 billion in stock that Zillow agreed to drop in order to snap up its chief competitor, Trulia.
The impending Trulia acquisition could centralize listings and tools for home sellers. The joined company says it will provide “advertising and software solutions that help real estate professionals grow their business.”
Real-estate sites cannot dominate the Internet with lookie-loos alone; they must have advertising dollars. Now Zillow’s listing site can also attract home sellers—and their attendant advertising—with Trulia’s tools for estimating a home’s value.
Zestimates, Zillow’s zingy name for the proprietary algorithm it uses to estimate home value based on publicly available information, put the real estate site in the spotlight—but not always in a good way. Critics question the their true value, citing the algorithm’s inability to know, for instance, whether the neighbors mow the lawn.
A Real-Estate Squeeze Play
Regardless, Zillow is protective of Zestimates, and sued Trulia for patent infringement in 2011, a claim Trulia disputed. Earlier this year, the rivalry between Zillow and Trulia was still going strong. In February, Zillow announced it would spend $65 million on national advertising. Two days later, Trulia announced it would spend $45 million on same.
Currently, Zillow has 83 million users, according to comScore. Trulia has 54 million. Once joined, the new real estate behemoth on the block will rule 61 percent of the market, making the most visible place for real estate to pay for premium ad placement.
In theory, Zillow’s shelling out $3.5 billion in stock to swallow its former rival could save both companies some money in the short run, since real-estate agents will paying the difference in premium advertising on the biggest game in town. Knocking out the competition makes it a sellers market for ad space. Investors will be pleased.
According to the announcement, the deal—expected to close in 2015—will “maintain both the Zillow and Trulia consumer brands.” As the deal marches toward the regulatory process, specific details of how the merged company will operate and whether there will be layoffs, have not yet been shared.
Lead image by Flickr user John Morgan, CC 2.0
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The Google+ Direct Connect feature in which you could quickly find Google+ pages in the search results by using the “+” command has quietly slipped away. A Google spokesperson said it was no longer a focus for Google moving forward.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, you cannot legally patent laws of nature, natural phenomena or abstract ideas. Especially if those abstract ideas are a generic implementation of doing something “on a computer.”
In a unanimous decision today, the Supreme Court invalidated a class of software patents that cover what it considers “abstract concepts.” The case, Alice Corporation PTY. LTD. v. CLS Bank International et al., concerned the patenting of a generic concept—a means of enforcing the settlement of debts in a multi-party financial transaction—to be performed on a computer by Alice Corporation. CLS Bank International argued that the patent was invalid because the underlying concept has long been part of finance and economics, and that the only thing new was that Alice performed its settlements using a computer.
Essentially, the Supreme Court ruled that no such abstract concept can be turned into a patentable invention simply because someone programs it into a computer. That’s going to have some important consequences for many existing patents, although reform advocates had hoped the high court might use the case to invalidate all software patents.
What Types Of Software The Case Affects
The ruling is fairly narrow in terms of its application but still a giant step in the long-standing campaign for patent reform. But if you think the ruling will stop the patent trolls in their tracks, you have another think coming.
It might be easier to think of it in terms of what the Supreme Court didn’t do. It didn’t invalidate another common class of patents that cover “business methods”—i.e., supposed “inventions” that support new ways of doing business. Three justices believe that business method patents should be invalidated and filed opinions to that effect in the Alice case. In the 2010 case Bilski vs. Kappos, the court ruled 5-4 to leave business method patents untouched.
The Alice decision leaves the open the possibility that more patents covering more complex software that can’t easily be boiled down to simple “abstract” ideas will remain valid.
Who Will Be Affected By Alice Vs. CLS Bank?
There’s a clear set of winners from this decision, at least until the high court issues future rulings on software patents:
Large Technology Companies: Like, say, IBM and Microsoft. Both companies filed briefs supporting the Alice patents because of their own investment in thousands of software patents. Many of those remain untouched by today’s ruling.
Software Patent Defendants: One of the tangential benefits of today’s ruling is that it forces software patents to meet patent-eligibility restrictions described in Section 101 (35 U. S. C. §101) of U.S. patent law. That doesn’t fundamentally change much for patents in general, but it does allow defendants to rely on established legal defenses that can sometimes result in quicker dismissal of patent lawsuits.
Individual Developers: Individual software developers often say that they are against software patents. And that’s easy for most of them to say, as few indie devs have ever filed a patent. Still, the ruling should provide smaller companies and independent developers protection from patent trolls using abstract patents designed to force them to settle out of court or accept licensing terms.
Questions Remaining After Alice vs. CLS Bank
Given that the Supreme Court keeps taking half-measures in patent reform, this will likely not be last time it rules on patent-reform issues.
The court’s opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, declined to define what an abstract patent actually entails. “We need not labor to delimit the precise contours of the ‘abstract ideas’ category in this case,” the opinion stated. So the definition of “abstract” goes back to the lower courts.
Overall volume of patent suits may decline, particularly if patent assertion entities—i.e., trolls—find it harder to clear the “abstract” bar. But that doesn’t mean that these patent troll entities won’t still try to scare smaller companies into settling for smaller claims.
Lead image by Flickr user DonkeyHotey, CC 2.0
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When your social media campaign attracts the attention of Google’s chief spam fighter Matt Cutts, it usually isn’t a good sign. That’s what happened after a company sought sponsored posts from bloggers to promote Internet Explorer for Microsoft.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
A year after redesigning its News Feed, Facebook has undone the makeover for a simpler, cleaner layout, which was officially unveiled Thursday.
Last year’s change, which proved unpopular with Facebook users, took on a more photo-driven approach, with big images and featured profile pics, along with a drop-down menu of feeds that now resides in the sidebar.
The Verge noted that the look—which will roll out over globally over the next few weeks—seems reminiscent of the social network’s mobile design.
Lead image courtesy of Facebook
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But Facebook will still use your profile information to promote advertising. While the company may no longer be calling the ads sponsored stories, such advertisements will be considered “social context.”
Facebook described the ads as follows:
[M]arketers will no longer be able to purchase sponsored stories separately; instead, social context — stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking in to a restaurant — is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook.
The changes—announced last fall, and now effective in April—were in large part due to a lawsuit against Facebook claiming sponsored stories violated user privacy. The crux of the $20 million lawsuit Facebook settled in August hinged on the social network using users’ likeness in advertising without asking or compensating them.
But Facebook’s new wording—social context—eliminates all phrasing alluding to advertising, potentially leading to more confusion. At least with sponsored stories, one could deduce that “sponsored” means “paid for,” thus, users would recognize their likenesses being used in ads.
To its credit, Facebook does remind users that we control who sees our information via the Activity Log in general settings, including whether our likeness appears next to ads.
But just because Facebook killed “sponsored stories” doesn’t mean your data will stop being used as a vehicle to push ads. It will just be called social context.
Image via findyoursearch on Flickr
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Google has just removed a new privacy feature in the latest update to Android KitKat that briefly let users control exactly how individual apps access their information and various phone functions. Google apparently hadn’t intended to release the feature in the first place, and now it’s gone. Predictably, users are up in arms over the whole thing.
The app-permission feature was first rolled out as experimental code in the Jelly Bean 4.3 release of Android in July. It wasn’t ever accessible via the standard Android interface, so most casual users likely never knew it existed. Some developers noticed it, however, and created several popular app-style shortcuts that unveiled the permissions manager functional. For instance, “AppOps Launcher” by developer Pixel Monster was downloaded between 5,000 and 10,000 times according to its Google Play page.
But if your phone is now running the newest Android KitKat 4.4.2 update, these shortcuts will no longer work—and you can no longer exercise fine-grained control over the liberties that apps take with your devices and information.
The experimental Google code basically allowed users to prevent apps from accessing certain phone functions and stored data. If you didn’t want a game app to look at your contacts list, you could use the permissions manager to block that access for that particular app and no others—theoretically without otherwise affecting the game. That was a big step forward for Android users, who otherwise have to grant every permission an app requests if they want to install it.
Such permissions are a big deal in app-land. If an app needs access to a data connection (Wi-Fi or cellular) to download information from the Internet, it needs permission. If an app needs access to your location (like Foursquare) through GPS, it needs permission. Common app permissions allow access to the device’s camera, user contacts or calendar, phone status, storage, social information and accounts. An app like Facebook needs many of these permissions and more to run effectively.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation took Google to task for killing the permissions manager. When EFF asked Google about killing the permission manager it was told that the feature was experimental and released by accident. Google disabled it because it broke some of the apps that it policed.
EFF technology projects director Peter Eckersley wrote on the group’s website about the disappearance of the permissions manager:
The disappearance of App Ops is alarming news for Android users. The fact that they cannot turn off app permissions is a Stygian hole in the Android security model, and a billion people’s data is being sucked through. Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago.
Google has independently confirmed to ReadWrite that that permissions manager was indeed an accidental release. In this case, Google had left in experimental and untested code that modified aspects of Android permission system. This happened first with the Jelly Bean 4.3 release. This experimental code was removed with the Android 4.4.2 update. Google never supplied documentation for developers to use the feature that was unsupported when it was originally released.
Since Google never supplied documentation for the accidental release of the permissions manager, Android developers had no opportunity to prepare for the possibility that users might be withholding individual permissions, or to warn users about the possibility that an app might break if they did so.
So while the permissions manager technically existed in the source code of Android, Google had never purposefully released it. By taking it away, Google is not acting in some nefarious manner. Eckersley and the EFF can make a significant amount of noise about the permissions manager being taken away, the fact of the matter is that for most users it hardly ever existed in the first place.
A Brief History Of Permissions
Android was the first major mobile operating systems to show users what permissions its app were using in the first place. When you download an app from Google Play right now, it will show you what permissions the app is requesting. Astute users won’t download apps that require permissions that are not core to the functionality of an app.
When apps are updated, Android will ask for the user to accept any new permissions the app is using. For the most part, Google has been very straightforward with users by showing them what their app is actually doing.
Some apps, of course, don’t play nice. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission just settled a complaint against an Android app called “Brightest Flashlight Free” from Goldenshore Technologies that harvested user location data and unique device identifier information that it then passed onto advertisers. A flashlight app does not need a data connection or access to … anything really. It’s a flashlight. Users need to be wary that many apps ask for permissions that could ultimately lead to their data being siphoned off and sold to advertisers.
That being said, the ability to turn off certain permissions or network access entirely (as the EFF points out) would be a highly desired feature in Android going forward. (In fact, that capability already exists in CyanogenMod and other popular Android variants.)
The fact that code exists to be able to manage permissions shows that this is something that Google has been working on, even if it is not necessarily ready for developers or users quite yet. When contacted, Google said that it had no plans to share if and when the permissions manager system that the AppOps shortcut enabled would be available as a standard feature.
Image by Dan Rowinsky for ReadWrite
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