News

Apple Sets Record, Sells Out of iPhone 6 Pre-Orders in 24 Hours

Posted in News on 15 September 2014
Apple has set a new record. The Cupertino company received more than four million pre-orders for its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in just 24 hours.
 
The high demand means the orders placed so far have surpassed Apple’s pre-order supply. As a result some iPhone enthusiasts will have to wait until October for their new Smartphones.
 
Apple said “a significant amount” of iPhone orders will be delivered on schedule, however. Deliveries begin on Friday and will be carried out throughout September.
 
There will also be iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices available for walk-in customers Friday, beginning at 8 a.m. local time, at Apple’s retail stores.
 
Both phones will also be available Friday at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless as well as additional carriers and select Apple Authorized Resellers.
 
“iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are better in every way, and we are thrilled customers love them as much as we do,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.  “Pre-orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus set a new record for Apple, and we can’t wait to get our best iPhones yet into the hands of customers starting this Friday.”
 
The new handsets are the first iPhones to boast larger screens.
 
The devices sport curved edges, a thinner design than previous models and a new tool to make it easier to use the phone with just one hand.
 
The new iPhones come with the all-new A8 chip which offers faster performance, less battery drain and the ability to play console-class 3D games.
 
Users can also use Apple Pay via the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to make secure payments in stores.
 

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New Motorola Line Available for Pre-Order Tuesday

Posted in News on 15 September 2014
Motorola is gearing up for the launch of its new Moto line with pre-orders of four products kicking-off Tuesday.
 
The company’s Moto X for AT&T and Moto X Pure Edition Smartphones will be available for pre-order on motorola.com at noon EST as will the Moto Hint earbud and Motorola Turbo Charger.
 
Moto X for AT&T is a version of the Smartphone made exclusively for the wireless carrier. The Moto X Pure Edition, meanwhile, is available unlocked, without a contract and with an unlockable bootloader for $499.99.
 
The Moto Hint is a wireless earbud that offers the user total control of their phone with voice command. It sells for $149.99.
 
The Motorola Turbo Charger takes just 15 minutes on the latest Moto phones to offer eight more hours of battery life. It will start at $34.99.
 
“Don’t forget about our Trade In program, making it easier than ever to purchase a customized Moto X using Moto Maker,” the company said in a blog post. “Just send in your old device, and we’ll mail you a Motorola Visa Prepaid Card worth up to $300 depending upon the phone you send in.”
 
A custom phone, the company said, can include items such as a leather or FSC-certified wood finish.
 

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Google Debuts Android One Program in India

Posted in News on 15 September 2014
Google today launched its Android One initiative in India.
 
The goal? To provide Smartphones that cost less than $100 to high-demand emerging markets.
 
“There are three big reasons why it’s hard for people in countries such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines to get their hands on a high-quality Smartphone,” Google senior vice-president of Android, Chrome and apps Sundar Pichai said.
 
“First, is the hardware itself. Even entry-level Smartphones still remain out of reach for many (bear in mind that in some of these countries the average monthly income is around $250). Second, many people in these markets do not have access to the latest Android software and popular applications. Finally, even where 3G and 4G networks are available, not enough people have phones that can support data and the plans can be expensive.”
 
To solve the problem, Google is working with phone and silicon chip makers to “share reference designs and select components” which makes it easier for its partners to make phones that are functional and affordable. Pichai described them as having “lots of processing power,” front- and rear-facing cameras and expandable storage.
 
“We also added features that people in India will find particularly useful, like dual SIM cards, a replaceable battery and built-in FM radio,” he said.
 
Android One devices will also receive all of the new Android features including up-to-date security patches.
 
Those with an Airtel SIM card will receive software updates for free for half a year and will be able to download up to 200MB in apps per month.
 

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Messenger App Tracking Tonnes of Information

Posted in News on 12 September 2014
Apparently, no matter what information you think you are sharing while using Facebook’s Messenger app there is, in fact, that much more that’s being shared.
 
Internet security specialist Jonathan Zdziarski set off a lot of talk Thursday when he spent some time poking around in Messenger’s iOS binary and later sent out a tweet stating he was surprised by his findings.
 
“Messenger appears to have more spyware type code in it than I’ve seen in products intended specifically for enterprise surveillance,” Zdziarski tweeted.
 
After looking through the binary, Zdziarski told Motherboard the app logs almost everything a user is doing. Facebook is collecting loads of data ranging from how often a device is held in portrait versus landscape orientation to how much time a user is spending in the app.
 
Some of the information being gathered is not unusual but Zdziarski did express surprise over some of his findings.
 
In an e-mail to Motherboard, he stated Facebook is “using some private APIs I didn’t even know were available inside the sandbox to be able to pull out your WiFi SSID (which could be used to snoop on which WiFi networks you’re connected to) and are even tapping the process list for various information on the device.”
 
Gizmodo picked up on the story and reached out to Facebook for comment. A spokesperson behind the Messenger app told the site the collecting of information is nothing out of the ordinary.
 
“Privacy is core to our approach with Messenger, and like any developer, we analyze usage trends to make our apps better, faster, and more efficient,” the spokesperson said.
 
“As an example, with regard to what where people tap — when we noticed that people were using the ‘Like’ stickers a lot, we modified the app so that people could send them with fewer taps.”
 

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Google Buys Online Polster Polar to Give Social Network a Boost

Posted in News on 12 September 2014
Google’s spending spree continues with its latest acquisition of online poll company Polar to boost the technology company’s social network.
 
Although financial details of the deal were not disclosed, the companies said the Polar team will work on Google+.
 
“I’m thrilled to welcome +Luke Wroblewski and the talented Polar team to Google,” vice-president of engineering for Google Dave Besbris wrote in a brief Google+ post. “They’ll be joining our team and helping us make G+ even more awesome.”
 
The nearly two-year-old start-up polls users of its app via Smartphone and tablet to learn users’ preferences. The firm has served more than half a billion polls in the past eight months and counted 1.1 million active voters as of this month.
 
“Creating products is a journey. And like any journey, it’s filled with new experiences, missteps, and perhaps most importantly, lots of opportunities to learn,” said founder Luke Wroblewski. “My most recent journey started nearly two years ago when we began working on Polar … I’m delighted to announce we’re joining Google.”
 
Polar will be available for use by its users through the end of the year. Users will also be able to download an archive of the polls and data they have created.
 

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Former NSA Boss to Patent Anti-Cyber Attack Technology

Posted in News on 11 September 2014
An innovative idea or making cash off the back of government-mandated work?
 
That’s the question that’s been asked since Keith Alexander, the former head of the National Security Agency, announced he’ll be patenting a way to significantly reduce the effectiveness of cyber-attacks. Alexander’s new company, IronNet Cybersecurity, is expected to patent this new technology.
 
The issue, as brought forward by Bloomberg, is that Alexander worked on these types of projects while heading up the NSA, a post he left earlier this year.
 
Is Alexander breaking new ground or taking information and technique he used while in his former job and cashing in?
 
“When the patents become visible to everybody, they will see the solution is a game changer and hugely different from what the NSA is looking at,” Alexander told Bloomberg in an interview.
 
Alexander has defended the new technology and is not taking credit for it. He said it was someone else who came up with the idea and it has no links to what he was doing with the NSA.
 
Regardless, the optics are not good and some are questioning the ethics behind the potential patent and Alexander’s motives.
 
It’s not the first time, though, that he has been criticized since leaving the NSA.
 
Earlier this year, Alexander came under fire when it was learned he was charging companies hundreds of thousands of dollars each month to provide Internet security advice and services.
 

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No Quick Resolutions Expected in Ongoing Google Anti-Trust Probe

Posted in News on 11 September 2014
The European Union’s anti-trust probe into Google will not be over any time soon.
 
European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the investigation will not be wrapped up before he leaves office in October, when he will be succeeded by former Danish economy minister Margrethe Vestager.
 
“For sure this will not be concluded before the end of October,” Almunia said during a conference organized by Georgetown University.
 
The search engine giant’s tentative settlement with the European Commission fell through after European Union regulators asked Google for more concessions to address concerns it is using its monopoly of the market to give its own products and services prominence over that of its competitors.
 
The announcement, made earlier this week by Almunia, puts the kibosh on the deal that was to bring an end to the four-year anti-trust investigation into Google’s search practices.
 
If Google is unable to satisfy the EU with its next round of concessions, the company could be slapped with a $5-billion fine.
 
The news of the EU’s rejection of Google’s submission does come as a bit of a surprise, however, because Almunia, in February, said the proposal obtained from Google “after long and difficult talks” addressed the Commission’s concerns.
 
The deciding factor in rejecting the concessions was the “very, very negative” feedback received from Google’s rivals, which includes the likes of Microsoft, Expedia, Oracle and Nokia.
 

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EU to Google: No Deal

Posted in News on 11 September 2014
It is back to the drawing board for Google.
 
The search engine giant’s tentative settlement with the European Commission has fallen through after European Union regulators asked Google for more concessions to address concerns it is using its monopoly of the market to give its own products and services prominence over that of its competitors.
 
The announcement, made Tuesday by European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, puts the kibosh on the deal that was to bring an end to the four-year anti-trust investigation into Google’s search practices.
 
If Google is unable to satisfy the EU with its next round of concessions, the company could be slapped with a $5-billion fine.
 
The news of the EU’s rejection of Google’s submission does come as a bit of a surprise, however, because Almunia, in February, said the proposal obtained from Google “after long and difficult talks” addressed the Commission’s concerns.
 
The deciding factor in rejecting the concessions was the “very, very negative” feedback received from Google’s rivals, which includes the likes of Microsoft, Expedia, Oracle and Nokia.
 
Google competitors are saying the concessions did not go far enough and, in fact, would only serve to reinforce Google’s search supremacy.
 
“Some complainants introduced new arguments, new data, new considerations,” Almunia told Bloomberg TV in an interview. “We now need to analyze this and see if we can find solutions, Google can find solutions, to some of these concerns that we find justified.”
 
Google spokesman in Brussels Al Verney said the company will continue to work with EU regulators on the concerns that have been raised.
 
Under Google’s latest round of concessions — which only covered Europe and would be valid for five years — was the offer of equivalent display to specialized search services that compete with its own.
 
The chief change would have been the prominence of rivals in Google’s search results. Almunia said images connected to links of competitors would be larger and more easily seen. Google had also gotten rid of the ability to turn off rival links.
 
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, began probing Google’s search methods in November of 2010 after receiving a number of complaints from companies that allege the technology firm rigs search results in its favor.
 
The Commission provided Google with a list of four concerns to address last March.
 
Google submitted four concessions the following month in an attempt to avoid being fined up to 10 percent of its global annual revenue by the EU, but its rivals complained, saying the concessions fell far short of what is needed to better level the playing field.
 
The European Commission agreed, suggesting Google try again. Google came back with a new round of concessions in October, which the Commission also rejected after seeking feedback from the search engine firm’s rivals.
 

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Google's Penguin 3.0: Taking Aim at Bad Backlinks

Posted in Tips on 10 September 2014

Browse through any internet marketing message boards, and the buzz about Penguin; is deafening. When 2.0 launched in October of 2013, Google’s beloved update took aim at spammy practices and black hat backlinks tactics. Updates have continued to be released unexpectedly, but nothing significant enough to warrant a 3.0 label. It’s coming though – we don’t know when, but we know it’s on the way.

Rather than wait until the release hits and becoming reactionary, it’s wise to take stock of your site and SEO practices now to identify areas that require improvement. This article will serve as your handy guide to prepping for an onslaught of penguins. Act now, or prepare to get pummeled.

Penguin’s Poignant Purpose

Google has made one thing clear over the years: they don’t like spammy tricksters who attempt to cheat the system. Why? Because users don’t like the results. If a search for “best shoe site” yields link farms and sites that are simply traffic hogs without any supporting content, users will be disgruntled and go elsewhere. Google is therefore a slave to their searchers.

Penguin, unlike its cousin Panda, aims specifically for backlinks and related SEO practices. If sites are clearly purchasing backlinks or are an aforementioned link farm, their search engine results were likely highly diminished when Penguin first hit the scene.

Some sites aren’t necessarily black and white in their practices, and plenty of small business owners felt the squeeze, but without an understanding of how or why. If you don’t yet know how affected you’ve been by any of the updates, check out this handy free Penguin results tool; it will show you what you need to know.

How to Ensure You’re Not Dinged by Penguin’s Update

Here are some critical tips to follow so you don’t see your SERPs plummet:

  • Be diligent about checking all sites that link back to you. If they are questionable in any way (content, black hat practices, irrelevant to your industry, etc.), not only will the links not help you, they could diminish an otherwise stellar reputation.
  • Use backlink verifiers like IWebTool and OpenSiteExplorer to thoroughly check your links.
  • Be meticulous about the data you see in Google’s Webmaster Tools. Check your site’s stats to ensure you have no offenders. The best way to proceed is to comb through the list of sites who link to you. This is laborious, but worth it; not following up on these links can be hugely detrimental to your marketing efforts.
  • Use sites like RemoveEm, which feature tools that try and predict which links are bad. If you notice a good number of questionable links, consider doing a full-service paid option to enlist professionals in your quest to clean house.

Once you identify all the offenders, it’s a two-step process:

  1. Make sure you are not linking to these sites.
  2. Contact the webmasters of each site and request link removal. In your letter, make it clear you’re a site owner addressing a Google penalty, and be specific about the URLs you want removed. Include the full URL where the link can be found, your link, anchor text, and any other specific and relevant details. Make this as easy on them as possible so you’re more likely to get a positive response.

Some sites have contact information that is difficult to track down. To unearth the info you need, earch for @WEBSITENAME to see if any results yield an address, or, if available, use the website’s Contact form. If you’re still not having any luck, these tools can help:

  • SpyOnWeb: Perfect when you have a single URL to research. SpyOnWeb lets you find all domains associated with a URL. All you need is the website address, IP address, or Google Analytics / Ad Sense code.
  • DomainTools: Lets you do a whois.sc lookup to find the owner of any site you’re listed on. They can’t hide from you forever.
  • Keep excellent records of these bad links, and all attempts at correspondence. If you ever do get dinged by Google, this kind of paper trail shows your due diligence and can help tremendously.
  • Finally, if you feel Penguin erroneously penalized your website, fill out the Penguin complaint form on Google’s site. You’ll need to list the specific search terms you feel you are wrongly penalized for, but it’s worth the effort if you know it’s a mistake.

A word to the wise: backlinks are rarely neutral. They either help your results by giving you credibility and relevant industry support, or they hurt you through black hat practices. Don’t amass links just for the sake of having them; they have to make sense, and your partners must echo the same integrity and commitment to quality. Otherwise, Penguin will strike.

 

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Apple Watch Can Make Calls, Receive Messages

Posted in News on 10 September 2014
A new Smartwatch will allow users to make and receive calls, view messages and keep track of their health vitals.
 
Heard it before? That’s because an announcement made Tuesday by Apple surrounding its Apple Watch was similar to Samsung’s announcement, made late last month, regarding its Gear S watch.
 
Regardless, that didn’t stop Apple from rolling out its Apple Watch during its press conference Tuesday with great pomp and circumstance.
Mainly, the company focused on its new Digital Crown, an “innovative way to scroll, zoom and navigate.”
 
Apple boasted the Digital Crown is the company’s most revolutionary tool since it introduced the iPod’s Click Wheel.
 
“Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad,” Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in a company release. “And once again Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made.”
 
It wasn’t just Cook who was excited about the watch, though, as design senior vice-president Jony Ive boasted its a unique personal device meant to be innovative.
 
“It blurs the boundary between physical object and user interface,” said Ive. “We’ve created an entire range of products that enable unparalleled personalization.”
 
Apple Watch, which will go on the market sometime in early 2015, will be available in three collections—Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition.
 

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