? All Tech Radio Episode 412
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  • BlackBerry has been struggling to compete on the smartphone market over the last several years. The company is doing so bad that many have the once incredibly popular smartphone maker on death watch. Recently BlackBerry director Bert Nordberg said in an interview that he believes the company can survive as a "niche player" in the smartphone market. However, Nordberg did say that there are "subsets within the company that it can get rid of." However, he stopped short of naming any specific subsets that the company might sell or outlining any strategic partnerships in the works. The director said he believes that BlackBerry has value in some areas such as enterprise business, harbor functionality, and secure communications.
  • When it comes to records of personal phone calls, most people come down the side of privacy of records and authorities needing to provide clear justification that records are required for any investigation. A new report has surfaced that claims since at least 2007, DEA agents and local police authorities have had access to a gigantic database of phone records provided by AT&T. Reports indicate that database has records of every American phone call that has passed through an AT&T switch in the last 26 years. The massive database is provided under a program called the Hemisphere Project. In addition to providing the massive database of phone records, the project also reportedly pays AT&T employees to work alongside DEA officers in three states. The Hemisphere Project database reportedly goes all the way back to 1987 and includes data such as users phone numbers, time and duration of calls, and location. About 4 billion new calls are allegedly added to the database each day. The legality of the Hemisphere Project is murky when you consider the Patriot Act allows the NSA to only store five years worth of call information and the information can only include phone numbers along with the time and duration of calls.
  • With Android 4.3 Jelly Bean now on the market, many have set their sights toward the next iteration of Android operating system. After early rumors were put to rest in a sort of bait-and-switch, Android fans and once again anticipating the release of "Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie." It has been a year since Android has seen a major system update. In June 2012, Google introduced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which took the place of the 2011 flagship OS Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Android 4.1 first shipped on the original Nexus 7 tablet and brought such new and improved features as a more streamlined interface, expanded notifications, resizable widgets, new camera gestures, Google Now and offline voice dictation. Since then, we have seen two minor Jelly Bean updates hit the market. Android 4.2 launched in November 2012 on the Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 10 tablet bringing such improvements as lock screen widgets, added features to Google Now, Photo Sphere and Multiple User Profiles. Android 4.3 recently released in July on the 2013 Nexus 7 tablet and introduced Bluetooth Low Energy, restricted user profiles for tablets and improved gaming and graphics among other features.
  • The US Spy budget has been released but they won't say how it will be spent.. The $US52.6 billion ($A59 billion) "black budget" for fiscal 2013, obtained by the Washington Post from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny. Although the US government has released its overall level of intelligence spending annually since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses those funds or how it performs against the goals set by the US President and Congress. The 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program details the successes, failures and objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the US intelligence community, which has 107,035 employees.
  • The new Samsung Watch will be revealed in two days but we already know what it will be. It will be a watch with a square interactive interface. It will not be able to take phone calls but when you receive a call it will alert you on the watch. It can be configured to be setup with email separate from a phone however. We don't yet know price and availability but it will only work with Samsung's Android based phones. We assume it will be out well before Christmas.
  • Three design executives hired by smartphone maker HTC have been arrested on suspicion of leaking corporate secrets. According to the Bangkok Post, the Taiwanese smartphone maker -- which has suffered disappointing sales and the departure of key executives as of late -- now has to deal with members of its design team who allegedly planned to sell trade secrets to Chinese rivals. The publication says that HTC's vice president of product design Thomas Chien, research and development director Wu Chien-Hung and senior manager of design and innovation Justin Huang were arrested on Friday after their offices and homes were searched in relation to the alleged theft of "key interface technology." It is claimed the three HTC employees conducted talks with rival Chinese firms after setting up their own smartphone design firms, in order to possibly sell the technology which is used in HTC's yet-to-be-announced Sense 6.0 smartphones, slated for launch later this year.
  • Acer claims that the Liquid S2 is the world's first smartphone capable of shooting 4K video, which is four times the resolution of current full HD. However, Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 smartphone - also launching this week at IFA - is rumoured to offer the same capability. Acer's Liquid S2 device is clearly aimed at keen photographers and video-makers. The rear camera boasts a 28mm lens, a BSI sensor and an LED ring flash, allowing consumers to capture moments with an 88-degree wide viewing angle. This is paired with a 2-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera for video calls.
  • Apple will be expanding its iPhone trade-in program nationwide starting today, according to a report from CNBC's Jon Fortt which we've confirmed with our sources. The program allows customers to walk into physical retail stores and exchange an older model device for credit towards a new one. The program has already been piloted at a number of select locations over the past few weeks, TechCrunch reported previously. The program works by giving iPhone owners a chance to trade in non-water damaged devices in good working order, for between $120 and $250 or so depending on the condition of the device, what model it is and other factors. As part of the stipulations of the trade-in, customers have to walk out with a new contract as well as a new device. It only applies to customers shopping for a new iPhone, so you can' t just trade an older model in for store credit or towards a different purchase, according to our original sources.
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is testing a "Trending" box that sits on the top, right-hand side of your news feed. A spokeswoman told the Journal that it added Trending topics for a "small percentage of U.S. users" and that it's in its early stages. Some of Facebook's trending topics will be based on hashtags, another Twitter innovation that Facebook added in June. Privacy settings have likely hampered Facebook's efforts to be as much of an open book as Twitter. While many Twitter accounts are open to the public, the large majority of Facebook profiles are locked down in some capacity to non-friends, as they often contain more personal information than the typical 140-character musing. As a result, Facebook's search efforts have been a mixed bag, because the results only tap into those whose security settings permit it.
  • Android already rules the world of smart phones, and now the little green robot is coming for your PC. Unveiled at technology trade show IFA this week, the Acer DA214HL is a 24-inch all-in-one desktop PC that runs on Android software. It's a computer and monitor in one, the display tilting to any angle between 20 degrees and 75 degrees so you can see the screen wherever you choose to sit. What's unusual about the DA214HL is it runs Android software. Android is Google's software for mobile phones and tablets, and the DA214HL is one of the first PCs to pack Android. Specifically, it's Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, which is almost the latest update to Android. Like an Android phone, the PC is based on home screens that you fill with shortcuts to apps and widgets that tell you useful information without having to open each app. Acer claims the 700,000 apps found in the Google Play app store will work on the new desktop PC, but there's no guarantee they'll look good. After all, apps are designed for the small screens of phones, not for the 24-inch screen of a PC.

email from listeners:

  • Jean from Portland asks "Will the Microsoft Surface tablet make it or will it be dropped?"