Tech wrap: Apple teases “Mountain Lion”

February 16, 2012

Apple released details on the successor to its “Lion” operating system for Mac computers, due out late this summer. OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” will inherit features already running on iPhones and iPads such as iMessage, Notification Center and AirPlay mirroring, according to an Apple press release. Game Center will give Mac users the opportunity to square off against gamers on iOS devices as well as other Mac users. A new feature called “Gatekeeper” is meant to give OS X users more control over what apps can be downloaded onto their Macs, further distinguishing Apple-approved apps from third-party ones. The plan to introduce more iOS functions to Apple’s desktop and laptop OS comes as Microsoft prepares to make its desktop applications more mobile with a rumored fall release of Windows 8.

Tech wrap: Zappos hacked

January 16, 2012

Online shoe retailer Zappos told customers this weekend that it has been the victim of a cyber attack affecting more than 24 million customer accounts in its database. The popular retailer, which is owned by Amazon.com, said customers’ names, email addresses, billing and shipping addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of credit card numbers and scrambled passwords were stolen. The company, which is well known for its customer service, said due to the high volume of customer calls it is expecting it will temporarily switch off its phones and direct customers to contact via email.

Tech wrap: Apple reveals child labor at some suppliers

January 13, 2012

Apple revealed its suppliers in response to harsh criticism that it was turning a blind eye to dismal working conditions at partner factories. Apple’s audit found six active and 13 historical cases of underage labor at some component suppliers. It also found a number of other violations, among them breaches in pay, benefits and environmental practices in plants in China, which figured prominently throughout the 500-page report Apple issued. Other violations found in the audit included dumping wastewater onto a neighboring farm, using machines without safeguards, testing workers for pregnancy and falsifying pay records.

Tech wrap: Era of .yournamehere domains arrives

January 12, 2012

ICANN, the body that oversees the Internet’s naming system, gave the green light for organizations to begin applying to name and run their own domains instead of entrusting them to the operators of .com, .org, .gov and others. Up to 2,000 applications were expected for the so-called “top-level” international domains. At $185,000 per application, estimated start-up costs of $500,000 and annual running costs of about $100,000, a .yournamehere domain will be out of reach of the smallest companies and organizations. But applications were expected from cities or regions with strong identities, such as .london and .mumbai, from companies aiming to build a business based on new domains, and from community identifiers like .eco or .gay.

Tech wrap: Huawei takes slimmest smartphone crown

January 9, 2012

Huawei, China’s largest maker of telecommunications gear, unveiled the “Ascend” smartphone, touting it as the slimmest on the market as it moves to boost its share on the global consumer market. Huawei unveiled the Ascend smartphones – available in black, white and pink – at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The 6.68-mm thin phone will be available in April 2012 in markets from North America, Europe to Asia and will cost roughly $400, but the final price has not been set, the company said.

Tech wrap: Nook too costly for Barnes & Noble?

January 5, 2012

Barnes & Noble cut its Nook sales forecast for this year and shocked investors by saying it was considering a sale of the electronic reader and tablet business, sending its shares down sharply. The bookseller has been banking on the Nook for growth, so news that holiday sales of the basic touchscreen e-reader were disappointing raised investors’ fears that Barnes & Noble was struggling to keep up with Amazon.com’s Kindle.  ”They’re going to have to raise capital for Nook if they want to stay viable,” said Morningstar analyst Pete Wahlstrom.

Tech wrap: “DingleBerry” rings RIM’s security bell

November 30, 2011

Three hackers said they had exploited a vulnerability in Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet to gain root access to the device, a claim that could damage the BlackBerry maker’s hard-won reputation for security. The hackers plan to release their data within a week as a tool called DingleBerry. In a response to queries, RIM said it is investigating the claim, and if a jailbreak is confirmed will release a patch to plug the hole. The PlayBook runs on a different operating system than RIM’s current BlackBerry smartphones. However, the QNX system will be incorporated into its smartphones starting next year. The PlayBook in July became the first tablet device to win a security certification approving it for U.S. government use.

Tech wrap: EBay acts on Hunch

November 21, 2011

EBay said it acquired the data analysis firm Hunch to help it develop more recommendation technology for its online marketplace. Hunch analyzes data from social networks like Facebook and from questionnaires to make personal recommendations. EBay said Hunch will help it suggest relevant products for shoppers on its online marketplace. Chris Dixon, Tom Pinckney and Matt Gattis, who founded Hunch in 2009, will stay on at eBay and remain based in New York. The purchase price was not disclosed, although tech blog Uncrunched pegged it at around $80 million.

Tech wrap: Modern Warfare 3 answers call to duty

November 11, 2011

Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ video game racked up more than $400 million in sales on its first day in stores in the U.S. and the UK, beating last year’s record of 5.6 million units, or $360 million in sales of “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” That game went on to sell $1 billion in less than two months.

Tech wrap: Net neutrality closer to reality

November 10, 2011

Democrats in the Senate blocked a Republican-backed resolution to disapprove of the FCC’s rules on net neutrality. The vote was 52-46 against the resolution. Adopted by a divided FCC last December, the rules forbid broadband providers from blocking legal content while leaving flexibility for providers to manage their networks. The rules still face a court challenge. Lawsuits by Verizon and others have been consolidated. Backers of net neutrality say big providers could otherwise use their gatekeeper role to discriminate against competitors. But Republicans said the rules were an unprecedented power grab by the FCC.