(You're reading all posts by Mike Elgan) Mike Elgan is a Silicon Valley-based columnist who writes about technology and culture. His work appears in a variety of publications, including Computerworld, Datamation, PC World, InfoWorld, MacWorld, ITWorld, CIO, the San Francisco Chronicle. Subscribe to Mike's e-mail newsletter, Mike's List, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Digg and elsewhere by visiting http://elgan.com.
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These phones take similar routes to security, from what we know so far. They’re loaded with encryption, security apps and other features.
But there are two feature on at least one of these phones that should be a standard part of Android.
The $629 Geeksphone Blackphone, made in partnership with Silent Circle, uses a forked version of Android called the PrivatOS. First, the system confronts you with choices when you install an app, enabling you to choose exactly what personal information is available to each app — individual permissions on each source of data that each app requests. And second, after apps have been installed, a “Security Center” lets users enable or disable specific permissions for each app.
Why aren’t these two features built into standard Android?
A dark cloud hangs over the future of mobile communication: the spectre of Facebook controlling it all.
It’s not likely, actually. But Facebook’s intention to purchase WhatsApp for $16 billion or $19 billion dollars (depending on whether you factor in the stock-based bonuses for WhatsApp employees) involved some scary-big numbers.
The biggest of these numbers happens when you add Facebook’s current user count plus WhatsApp’s projected user count (how many users Facebook believes the service will have if current growth rates continue). The number is: 2.3 billion users.
Of course, the number is pure B.S.
WhatsApp’s current growth probably won’t continue. Facebook’s current numbers are padded with duplicate users, fake users and non-active users. And there’s always going to be big overlap between WhatsApp and Facebook users — a dude who uses both is still just one dude.
Still, when I ponder the number of people likely to be using Facebook-owned services (WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) for messaging compared to those using Google-owned Hangouts, I find myself astonished and confused. How did this happen? And what can be done about it?
The Wall Street Journal reported today that an Android-powered smartwatch is coming from LG and Google. The Journal’s source said other companies may also be involved, and that the device is likely to be unveiled at Google I/O, Google’s developer conference, which is scheduled to begin June 25.
According to the report, the watch will be integrated with Google Now.
The report didn’t specify the N word, but this information reeks of a quasi-reference design product in line with the Nexus strategy. It’s easy to imagine all this as a Nexus-branded smartwatch with all the core attributes of the Nexus lines of phones and tablets. Let’s go ahead and call it the Nexus Smartwatch.
So what are these Nexus attributes when applied to a smartwatch?
Google bought a tiny Israeli startup today called SlickLogin.
The three-person, two-month-old company has an interesting technology that replaces passwords. The terms were not disclosed.
The acquisition is a tiny victory for people who believe in sound as a viable medium of digital communication.
The first successful personal computer didn’t have a screen — not even a command-line screen. It communicated with the user through blinking lights. It was called the MITS Altair 8800. This blinking-light box was such a revolution, a kid named Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to write software for it.
I have the feeling that the first successful wearable computer will also show nothing more than blinking lights.
I’m going to tell you why the high-rez wearables may not go mainstream over next couple of years, but why blinking-lights devices might. But first, let’s check out two interesting blinking light wearable devices.
Apple’s iBeacon is suddenly in the news a lot, and will soon show up at major sporting events, big retail stores and elsewhere.
The beacon revolution is being presented as an Apple thing for Apple users. But as with so many technologies, Apple didn’t invent beacons. It was here before Apple’s version got here. And it’s not just for Apple users — even Apple’s iBeacon supports Android.
Here’s everything you need to know about beacons.
I love Google Glass the way it is, and love the camera. But I also want people to understand Google Glass in particular and wearable computing in general. Right now, Glass is widely misunderstood.
The problem is that the existence of Glass’s camera is distracting everyone, and causing the public to completely miss what this technology is all about.
Just look at Glass’s reputation in popular culture.
I crossed the 3-million Google+ circles line this morning.
It’s weird and thrilling to have so many “followers,” and to be sandwiched in circle counts between Paris Hilton, who has a couple hundred thousand more circles than I do, and Rihanna, who will probably catch up to me and pass me at some point in the future. (One of the great things about Google+ is that the geeks hold their own against entertainers in popularity.)
But mostly, it’s been an eye-opening adventure for me. Here’s what I learned along the way.
The future looks grim for Microsoft. The world is quickly turning mobile and post-PC, two categories Microsoft hasn’t succeeded in.
Recent reports from Gartner and IDC show just how dire the situation is. PC sales, which are directly tied to sales of Microsoft Windows, are in a free fall. Between 2012 and 2013, PC sales dropped by 10% (that’s 35 million fewer PCs).
Gartner says only 15% of Internet-connected devices sold in 2014 will run Windows.
That’s Windows’ real market share: 15%.
Having tried everything else, maybe the solution for Microsoft is to be a software company. That would mean embracing Android with everything they’ve got.
This is the year that Android busts out — out of phones and tablets and into all kinds of devices.
Android is coming this year to your home, car, desktop, wrist, face, camera and other locations near you.
Of course, Android has been used by a huge number of non-phone, non-tablet devices. But these have almost always been niche products that didn’t go anywhere.
What’s likely to happen this year is a kind of “mainstreaming” of Android as the OS that powers random devices that you normally wouldn’t think of as mobile computers.