For $10,000, your car can drive itself >> The Verge
This is the first public demo of Cruise, a new technology and business from a Y Combinator startup aptly named Cruise Automation. It’s designed as a computer-controlled driving system that can take over when you’re behind the wheel. Turn it on like typical cruise control and it will keep the car going, but the added smarts will steer, brake, and avoid objects.
Unlike more expensive and complex technologies like the one Google’s shown off recently, Cruise is not a replacement for the driver, nor one that will be capable of getting you from point A to point B on all roads. Instead, it’s been designed to exist somewhere between Google’s fully automated self-driving car and the cruise control you’d find in your car today.
“Driver-assisted”, as car makers call it. Doesn’t work in rain, fog or darkness, but Google’s aren’t ideal in all those either. Cheaper and proximate. (Thanks @timacheson for the link.)
Heartbleed-based BYOD hack pwns insurance giant Aviva’s iPhones >> The Register
Mobile device management systems at insurance giant Aviva UK were last month hit by an attack based on the Heartbleed exploit that allowed hackers to royally screw with workers’ iPhones.
The insurance giant has played down the breach but El Reg’s mole on the inside claims Aviva is in talks about moving to a new platform in the wake of the incident.
Aviva was using BYOD service MobileIron to manage more than 1,000 smart devices such as iPhones and iPads. On the evening of the 20 May, a hacker compromised the MobileIron admin server and posted a message to those handhelds and the email accounts, according to our source.
The hacker then performed a full wipe of every device and subsequently took out out the MobileIron server itself.
Ouch. MobileIron out, BlackBerry Enterprise Server MDM in, apparently. (Though it’s not necessarily BYOD.) Will Heartbleed turn into BlackBerry’s enterprise saviour? Update: we understand from one of the parties that it was not a Heartbleed hack. Someone apparently got logon details at the reseller and wiped Aviva’s systems. MobileIron isn’t vulnerable to Heartbleed.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review >> AnandTech
Anand Lai Shimpi:
When I reviewed the first Surface Pro I was intrigued by the idea, but felt it needed a few more iterations to get to the right point. In less than two years what we have in front of us looks very different than Microsoft’s original vision for the platform. Display size, aspect ratio and even the mechanics of the whole thing are all quite different. The changes are for the better as Surface Pro 3 is a much better laptop and a much better tablet than any of its predecessors. The device no longer feels cramped and tiring to use as a laptop. The new Surface Pro no longer feels heavy to use as a tablet either. It’s truly an improvement on both vectors.
Microsoft might be overselling the design to say that it truly is the only device you need. Like most compromises, Surface Pro 3 isn’t the world’s best laptop nor is it the world’s best tablet. It serves a user who wants a little of column A and a little of column B.
…Personally I find that Android and iOS deliver better tablet experiences particularly when it comes to 3rd party applications. If everything you need on the tablet front is available in the Windows Store however then the point is moot.
…I don’t know how big the professional productivity tablet market is, but it’s a space that Microsoft seems to have almost exclusive reign over with its Surface line.
Smartphone shipments to China unlikely to surpass 400m units in 2014 >> Digitimes Research
The high cost of 4G service, unsatisfactory communication quality during the initial period, and the limited availability of 4G entry-level smartphones have caused consumers in China to be unwilling to upgrade their services to 4G. In addition, as carriers just stopped providing subsidies for entry-level/mid-range 3G smartphones in May and started turning to subsidise 4G models in June, some consumers have delayed their plans to purchase a new smartphone for the second quarter.
Digitimes Research believes that vendors will gradually digest their 3G inventories in the third quarter, and 4G smartphones priced below CNY1,000 (US$161) will start to appear in July, pumping up China’s domestic smartphone shipments. However, China’s smartphone shipments are unlikely to break 400m units as originally expected due to 4G smartphones’ failure to become popular in China in the first half.
Four myths about Apple design, from an ex-Apple designer >> Co.Design
Mark Kawano was there for seven years:
“I think the biggest misconception is this belief that the reason Apple products turn out to be designed better, and have a better user experience, or are sexier, or whatever . . . is that they have the best design team in the world, or the best process in the world,” Kawano says. But in his role as user experience evangelist, meeting with design teams from Fortune 500 companies on a daily basis, he absorbed a deeper truth.
“It’s actually the engineering culture, and the way the organization is structured to appreciate and support design. Everybody there is thinking about UX and design, not just the designers. And that’s what makes everything about the product so much better . . . much more than any individual designer or design team.”
Amazon and Android forks >> Benedict Evans
The FirePhone runs an AOSP fork of Android:
Amazon is testing the proposition that you have to have Play (or iTunes) and Google Maps to sell a smartphone outside China – or, rather, it is testing just how good the app store and maps have to be. How many of the latest cutting-edge apps do you have to have, if you cover the basics? How close do you have to get to Google Maps’ coverage? We know Windows Phone does not have enough apps, but can the Amazon store get there?
These same questions apply to any Android OEM that might be thinking of asserting greater independence from Google (such as Samsung), with a further complication. Google’s agreements with OEMs have been leaked several times, and they include clauses that prevent you from having a foot in both camps: you cannot sell a forked device and carry on selling official Google Android devices. So you can’t experiment on the margins (Samsung can’t sell a phone running Amazon’s Fire software) – you have to walk away from Google entirely, or not at all. That’s really no choice at all at the moment.
All of this takes us to the elemental question – why, exactly, are you forking Android?
As one commenter suggests, in Amazon’s case it’s because it doesn’t want to be shut out by Google – the same reason Google bought and developed Android: to avoid being shut out by Microsoft from mobile search.
Millennials shy away from voicemail >> NYTimes.com
A spokeswoman for Vonage reported that voice mail deposits had dropped by 8 percent from October 2013 to April of this year. (Data was not available by age.) And a 2012 Pew report on the phone habits of children age 12 to 17 confirmed various truths we hold to be self-evident: Teenagers are texting more (sending and receiving a median of 60 a day in 2011 versus 50 in 2009) and calling far less on their cellphones than they used to. Those who make daily landline calls to friends have become nearly extinct: 14 percent as compared with 30 percent in 2009.
Apple’s new $1,099 iMac is a MacBook Air in a desktop’s body >> Ars Technica
While the $1,299 model gets you a quad-core, 2.7GHz Core i5-4570R and Intel’s best integrated GPU (the Iris Pro 5200), the $1,099 model comes with a dual-core 1.4GHz Core i5-4260U and Intel’s third-best integrated GPU (the HD 5000). This is the exact same processor included in the speed-bumped MacBook Airs that Apple introduced in April.
That CPU can’t be upgraded at purchase, nor can the 8GB of RAM Apple includes in the unit…
…The new iMac will be appreciated more by people who just want an Apple all-in-one and don’t really care about speed. This describes many casual users, as well as schools and businesses that deploy iMacs to end users and in computer labs.
Basically, a poo deal unless you’re simply after cheap(ish).