Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US) is making its Xbox Music service available on Android and iOS devices to compete with Apple (AAPL:US) Inc.'s iTunes, Spotify Ltd. andPandora Media Inc. The $9.99-a-month Xbox Music Pass, which provides unlimited, advertising-free streaming, can be used today for the first time on Apple iPhones and devices running Google Inc. (GOOG:US)'s Android software, Scott Porter, principal program manager at XBox Music, said in an interview. The expansion gives Microsoft access to the biggest smartphone platforms as it guns for the leaders in digital music -- Spotify in subscription streaming, Pandora in Web radio, and Apple's iTunes for purchases. Microsoft introduced the service in October on the Xbox 360 console and Windows 8 devices, saying then it planned to add Android and iOS.
The new Windows Surface 2s are coming. Thurrott also has notes on the Surface Pro 2, saying it will use Intel's fourth-generation Core chip - known as Haswell - and get double the internal memory over the prior model; that should boost both performance and battery life. Look forward to some new accessories as well. There's been talk of a new Surface cover - likely for the Pro model - to have an internal battery. It's possible we see some additional docking options as well. While both Surface devices are likely to debut this month, I'm actually not anticipating availability for a few weeks after that. Windows 8.1 goes live in mid-October, so I could easily see Microsoft hold off on Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 availability until then.
StatCounter - the research group that tracks Internet usage by browser, platform and device, among other things - has released some numbers that indicate that while Apple continues to keep its traditional lead as the most-popular brand for mobile Internet browsing in certain markets, globally, Samsung is now leading the pack - not just because it comes in first in markets like Western Europe and South America, but also because of its strong showing even in markets where Apple is ahead. The news comes as many accounts point to Apple working on a new, less-expensive version of the iPhone, which could be announced at the company's big event tomorrow. Some believe a cheaper iPHone will be used to gain more headway among more price-sensitive consumers - both in the U.S.and emerging markets like China - who have shied away from its flagship iPhone models because of high prices.
More information coming about from the the Snowden leaked documents. According to a set of secretive documents reportedly authored by the NSA and delivered to the public by Der Spiegel, the security agency is or has been able to access vital data on three of the world's most popular operating systems with relative ease. These documents suggest that Apple iPhones, Google Android devices, and BlackBerry devices are all able to be tapped by the NSA. These documents suggest that NSA taps of these devices are able to reveal "most sensitive data" including SMS traffic, location information, notes, and contact lists.
The idea of Amazon releasing it's own phone isn't exactly new, but the latest rumors are saying that the retailer will be offering the Kindle-branded smartphone to customers for free, with or without wireless contracts attached. This is a huge departure from common mobile device practices today and it remains to be seen how Amazon plans to pull this off. This may turn out to be just rumor however as Amazon is coming out saying at this time it is not a reality. Maybe they are just testing the waters by using the rumor mill.
Nokia is preparing to launch a 6-inch Lumia 1520 Windows Phone. We got a brief look at the phone last month thanks to a leaked image, but Verge reader KaZ has supplied a number of new photos of the device. The images compare the Lumia 1520 to a Sony Xperia handset, and they show just how big this 6-inch 1080p handset is. KaZ claims the device has 2GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 6-inch 1080p display, 32GB of storage, and an SD slot. The rear of the device includes a camera with a hump that's similar to Nokia's Lumia 925, and it also matches a press render that leaked earlier this week. Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 8 update, known as General Distribution 3, can be seen running on the device with an additional column of Live Tiles on the Start Screen for 1080p resolution support.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should not block web traffic for customers that pay less to give faster speeds to those that pay more. Verizon says regulators were "arbitrary and capricious" in trying to impose rules on how traffic can be delivered. The outcome of the case could have major implications for US internet law and economics. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and Verizon will present oral arguments to a panel of three judges at the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC on Monday. Verizon is challenging a 2010 order adopted by the FCC on "Preserving the Free and Open Internet". The order stated that internet service providers could not block lawful content, and that mobile broadband providers could not block lawful websites. Verizon has argued that the FCC has acted outside of its remit, and that the order contradicts US communications law.
Google GOOG +1.02%+, the search giant's play at a social network, doesn't get much respect, with many people still insisting it's a bit of a ghost town. While Google disputes that characterization, it's continuing to try to make it more relevant to more people. This morning at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Google announced a couple of features-attribution to Google+ authors in search results and the ability to embed a Google+ post on other websites-that aim to get the content and people on Google+ distributed more widely across the Web. Seth Sternberg, director of the Google+ platform, sought to show that Google+ offers people and companies that use it more than most people might realize. He said the Google+ sign-in boosts Android app downloads. Fitbit found a 60% acceptance rate of downloads. Users also said Google+ is the most popular sign-in option on the Web, he said. Not least, he said the Google+ sign-in is increasing new user registrations. New features being launched today are intended to empower content creators, Sternberg said. The first feature is attribution for authors and context for users. Let's say you use Google+ to sign in to WordPress. If you create a blog post, Google knows it's you who created it, and the author's photo will appear alongside the post on a Google search.
The famous server that hosted Wikileaks during its controversial release of secret U.S. State Department cables is now on eBay. It was going for $25,200 as of Monday morning. The Wikileaks server belongs to the Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof. The company rented it out to the nonprofit Wikileaks in 2010, when the organization began disclosing highly-guarded U.S. government records. Wikileaks used that hardware to serve the so-called"Collateral Murder" video, 2007 footage of U.S. helicopter crew gunning down a group of men in Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists. The server also housed The Guantánamo Files, which noted how 150 Afghans and Pakistanis were wrongly imprisoned at the U.S. military base in Cuba for years -- without charges -- and later released when assessed by officials as innocent. But buyers shouldn't expect anything more than 35 pounds of hardware. All data on theDell (DELL, Fortune 500) PowerEdge R410 server will have been thoroughly wiped using something called the "Gutmann data sanitation method," a painstaking process that prevents any software recovery by overwriting the hard drive 35 times.
A website named GhettoTracker.com launched earlier this week that invited locals to rate neighborhoods in their cities and identify which areas were unsafe, or as the homepage put it, "ghetto." The crowdsourced information was supposed to help like-minded visitors, or people new to the area, know which neighborhoods to avoid. Since then, it's been a busy ride for the site's founder, who has fielded an avalanche of angry criticism, rebranded the site, defended himself, shut the site down and then started it again. The word choice was far from the only problem critics had with Ghetto Tracker, which featured a stock photo of a smiling white family on its homepage. Many called it out, accused it of being racist and classist. Ghetto Tracker's ratings of neighborhoods weren't based on any hard crime data, just the impressions and biases of regular people. A Facebook page for the company featured multiple offensive "joke" posts. One showed two young black men looking in a car under a warning about "#ghetto reports in #tallahassee." Another linked to an article about "ghetto booty."
email from listeners:
Sandra asks "When do you see the change in cable rates coming now that some providers are offering alacarte options?"