Reuters: Apple, Google CEOs trying to bury patent hatchet

In the wake of Apple’s billion-dollar patent win over Samsung, the iPad maker’s CEO, Tim Cook, has spoken several times with Google CEO Larry Page about the companies’ ongoing intellectual-property dispute, Reuters reported Thursday.

The discussions, which also involve lower-level employees, are reportedly aimed at resolving the tech giants’ dispute.

One possible scenario under consideration could be a truce involving disputes over basic features and functions in Google’s Android mobile software, one source said. But it’s unclear whether Page and Cook are discussing a broad settlement of the various disputes between the two companies – most of which involve the burgeoning mobile computing area – or are focused on a more limited set of issues.

Samsung reveals super-sized Galaxy Player

galaxy player Samsung reveals super sized Galaxy PlayerAnd you thought Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphone was big. The Korean company on Monday revealed a 5.8-inch Galaxy Player that looks more like a small tablet than it does a pocketable media player meant to compete with the likes of Apple’s iPod touch.

The Galaxy Player 5.8, whose massive screen boasts a resolution of 960 x 540, features Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, a 2500 mAh battery, a microSD card, GPS support, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a front-facing video camera.

Samsung hasn’t said when the device will hit stores or how much it will cost, but with the company expected to hold a press conference on Wednesday at the IFA consumer-electronics show in Berlin, we’ll probably know more soon.

White iPhone 5 gallery: Apple’s white smartphone in all its glory

Reviewers agree, one of the iPhone 5′s best qualities is its stunning design. Sure, it’s reminiscent of its predecessors, but the attention to detail that went into Apple’s latest smartphone is unprecedented. That’s not hyperbole, mind you. It’s the consensus: No other mass-produced handset is made so meticulously. Not one. It’s unfortunate, then, that so few reviews have done the phone’s watch-like craftsmanship justice. Which isn’t to say the average write-up isn’t thorough – many are exhaustive. But most we’ve come across have skimped on pictures, and that’s a crime when dealing with something so beautiful. So, to set the world right, we give you a white iPhone 5 gallery showing the smartphone as it was meant to be seen.

iphone 5 white front full1 White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory

iphone 5 white front zoom1 White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory

iphone 5 white side White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory iphone 5 white back full White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory iphone 5 white side full White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory iphone 5 white dock White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory iphone 5 white bottom angle White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory iphone 5 white bottom angle1 White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory iphone 5 white back angle White iPhone 5 gallery: Apples white smartphone in all its glory

Feel free to use these pictures elsewhere, but do us a favor and tell people where you got ‘em.

And if you’re wondering about the phone’s wallpaper, it was created by Louie Mantia.

Skeuomorphism in Apple designs: The best of both worlds

The word skeuomorph has been used often in relation to interfaces designed by Apple, with it most recently being applied to its Podcasts application, whose player menu takes inspiration from a tape deck. However, Apple has been creating skeuomorphic interfaces for a while now, and it uses them so effectively that its products are easier to interact with.

Skeuomorphism: a derivative object which retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original.

While some speculate that Apple’s insistence regarding skeuomorphic designs is merely to counteract its lack of originality, it does serve a deeper purpose. That purpose is accessibility, which is something that Apple prides itself on. As we have seen countless times throughout the technology world, new interfaces can be simple and innovative, or they can be the complete opposite: complicated and unoriginal. The key is to tread the line between the two in order to obtain something that is fresh and intuitive yet familiar. That is exactly what Apple is trying to do with skeuomorphism.

Using the Podcasts app as an example, we can see that Apple has replicated a tape deck to add a nifty visual element, but also to give consumers a feeling of familiarity with an app they just downloaded. While there are users who will immediately adapt to the new interface, others may be bewildered. But this user may be familiar with the tape deck and therefore will feel at ease with the interface, knowing that it is not a completely foreign experience.

The same principle can be applied to many other applications that Apple has produced. For example, the iBooks app on iOS initially displays a bookshelf, with titles spread across the various rows. The same trend continues when reading a book. As is shown in many of Apple’ iPad advertisements, turning a page on a book is just the same as it is with a normal book. Although there is no hiding the fact that the iPad is not a real book, the experience has been replicated to make it feel more familiar to the user, and in most cases, more visually appealing.

apple skeuomorphism 2 Skeuomorphism in Apple designs: The best of both worlds

The Contacts application on OS X has been styled to look like an address book.

While the jury is still out on the faux leather included within the Calendar and Contacts applications on both OS X and iOS, the intention is apparent. There is a feeling that this electronic application effectively mimics its physical counterpart.

The little details in the experience are what matters, and Apple is the master of fine tuning applications to visual perfection. Take a closer look at the Notes application on a Mac or iOS device. At the top of the yellow notepad you’ll find the remains of torn-away pages. All these minuscule details add to the skeuomorphic experience, which is achieved perfectly by Apple, now master of the user experience.

Motorola: Hey, we have a press event on Sept. 5 too!

Motorola isn’t about to let Nokia and Microsoft hog the spotlight on September 5. Two days after the Windows Phone duo sent out invitations for a joint press event that will take place in New York City next month, Motorola told journalists Friday to save the same date for “the day’s main event.”

It’s unclear what Motorola’s up to (besides blatantly stealing attention from Microsoft and Nokia), but Engadget suspects the Google subsidiary might have a Droid RAZR HD or XT907 up its sleeve.

WSJ: Apple envisioning a set-top box that would provide content on demand and support sharing

The set-top box that Apple has in mind would give users the ability to start shows whenever they want thanks to a digital-video recorder that would store content on the Internet, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. What’s more, the device would feature an iPad-like user interface and social-media integration, and it could be accessed by other Apple products, sources told the Journal.

Earlier in the week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has been trying to convince some of the biggest U.S. cable providers to support its set-top box. But that’s not the only group Apple has appealed to. The Journal said Thursday that Apple has also courted entertainment companies in recent weeks, and in at least one case, the company reportedly spelled out its plans for the device in a document.

Researcher discovers ‘serious’ flaw in iOS that could lead to SMS spoofing

A security researcher has discovered a “severe flaw” in iOS that could allow hackers to spoof SMS messages. The researcher, who calls himself “pod2g,” said in a blog postFriday that the problem has existed since the iPhone first supported SMS messaging.

If you either own a smartphone, or a modem and an account in a SMS gateway, you can send texts in raw PDU format (some services also exist to send a text with an HTTP request in raw PDU format). For the easiest smartphone option, there are different tools available online. I made one for the iPhone 4 that I will publicize soon.

In the text payload, a section called UDH (User Data Header) is optional but defines lot of advanced features not all mobiles are compatible with. One of these options enables the user to change the reply address of the text. If the destination mobile is compatible with it, and if the receiver tries to answer to the text, he will not respond to the original number, but to the specified one.
Most carriers don’t check this part of the message, which means one can write whatever he wants in this section : a special number like 911, or the number of somebody else.

In a good implementation of this feature, the receiver would see the original phone number and the reply-to one. On iPhone, when you see the message, it seems to come from the reply-to number, and you loose track of the origin.

Why is it an issue ?

  • pirates could send a message that seems to come from the bank of the receiver asking for some private information, or inviting them to go to a dedicated website. [Phishing]
  • one could send a spoofed message to your device and use it as a false evidence.
  • anything you can imagine that could be utilized to manipulate people, letting them trust somebody or some organization texted them.

 

Pod2g is calling on Apple to fix the issue.

How App.net can change everything

A caveat: This article represents my current understanding of the planned App.net platform as laid out by its founder Dalton Caldwell through many different sources, as well as my own personal views of its potential future development. It is not definitive.

What is App.net?

App.net is a service dedicated to providing a new infrastructure for social Web applications that will never be funded through ad revenue. It is the brainchild of Dalton Caldwell and Bryan Berg, co-founders of Mixed Media Labs. The vision for App.netwas crystallized as an audacious proposal from Dalton after he received an overwhelming response to a post he wrote on what Twitter could have been, itself a response to a blog post from Michael Sippey, the director of consumer product at Twitter.

On July 13, a fundraiser was initiated to raise $500k in 30 days in order to prove the demand for a new way of thinking about Web startups – one where users pay for compelling products rather than being turned into products themselves for advertisers to pay to market to and mine information about. This funding goal was met on August 12 with more than 7,000 backers donating in tiers of $50, $100 and $1000.

How does App.net benefit users?

App.net is fundamentally driven by a desire to empower users and has the potential to establish a new standard of excellence in the treatment of user data and permissions, which will be innate to the core platform upon which App.net developers will build. App.net has publicly declared that their most valuable asset is their users’ trust.

Some of the things I’m most excited about are:

Users own the content they create and are already able to download a complete archive of their content at any point in time, something that has been a rarity among Web startups. (Twitter has failed to support this for six years despite declaring the intention to do so many times).

Users will likely have a universal ID that will connect them across any services they use that are running on the App.net platform. This infrastructure would support seamless discovery of friends across services and a robust view of the permissions a user has granted across all the services they use.

By charging for access to the underlying infrastructure, spam will be heavily disincentivized.

As an infrastructure company, App.net’s business motivation is to encourage a vibrant ecosystem of applications and novel uses of data. The most interesting social applications we’ll see in the next phase of the Web will be built on App.net.

How does App.net benefit developers?

In the last few years, the rapid acceleration in the creation of startups can be attributed to a great extent to the arrival of cloud-hosted infrastructure like Amazon Web Services and Web application development frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Python/Django.

Amazon Web Services meant that startups no longer had to worry about how to set up and maintain their server infrastructure or how many machines they needed to buy in order to handle spikes in traffic. Instead, they could plug into Amazon’s system, which treats storage space and computational cycles as a utility. It’s like drawing electricity from the wall – you don’t worry about it running out, and you only pay for what you use.

Frameworks like Ruby on Rails provide powerful yet flexible guidelines and core capabilities for programmers to build Web applications with. They free developers from having to think too much about the common issues of developing a Web app so that they can instead focus on the bits that make what they are building unique.

App.net will combine the simplicity of cloud infrastructure with the power of Web frameworks to deliver the best platform for developing social Web applications.Social Web apps are built around concepts like users, posts, connecting, and sharing. App.net will provide a scalable infrastructure and a base model for these concepts upon which startups can innovate without reinventing the same wheels again and again. Developers will spend less time just trying to make their applications functional, so they can have more time to make them unique and useful.

Is App.net vaporware?

Absolutely not. The current infrastructure for App.net is built using the codebase from PicPlz, a photo-sharing service that supported hundreds of thousands of users and tens of millions of API calls monthly. After announcing the new App.net initiative, a brand-new UI was built in two weeks for an alpha service to demonstrate the viability of the platform. In the one week since this alpha was made available to backers of the initiative, over 3,500 users have joined the service and 40,000 messages have been created. In that same period, 13 Web apps, five mobile clients, two browser extensions, and five API libraries for the platform have been released. There is an actively curated list of projects running on the platform.

Is App.net a Twitter clone?

No, it is not. There is definitely a great deal of misunderstanding about this currently. The service that the early backers of the platform have been using this past week, which can be viewed at alpha.app.net, is a testing ground for the capabilities of the platform. It does heavily resemble Twitter. It also hasn’t been given a specific name to distinguish it from the core App.net platform, and this has contributed to the confusion. For clarity’s sake, for the rest of this post, I’m going to refer to the particular network we’ve been playing with this past week as Alpha. Alpha is just one network running on top of the App.net infrastructure, and in the future there should be hundreds if not thousands. Each of these networks will have its own user base and its own apps, browser extensions, etc., but they’ll all share a common infrastructure and many core capabilities. In fact, they will be greatly enhanced by having standardized ways of talking to each other.

Going forward, I do believe Alpha will continue to play a vital role in the success of the App.net platform, which I will discuss in more detail below. The important thing to realize is that App.net’s core business is not Alpha – it is the platform that powers Alpha.

Will App.net be another Diaspora?

It is understandable to equate App.net to Diaspora, but it is not accurate. I believe App.net will succeed where Diaspora has for all intents and purposes failed, for a variety of reasons:

App.net is not vaporware. Diaspora was funded on an idea and an initial goal of raising $10,000 but was able to raise over $200k due to the tech community’s excitement over a user-controlled and privacy-focused alternative to Facebook. It took three and a half months before any software was released. App.net has exceeded its funding goal of $500k and established a user service and a developer API during the funding period despite an aura of extreme pessimism by the tech community as to its viability, in large part due to the perceived failure of Diaspora.

App.net has traction. App.net has exceeded 10,000 backers. A third of those users are already actively using Alpha and have contributed more than 40,000 posts. Well-known third-party developers with extensive experience with the Twitter and Facebook APIs are actively developing tools and services for the platform, have already released working products, and are contributing to testing and debugging the App.net API.

App.net has a business model. From the outset, App.net will be charging users $50 per year for access to Alpha, and developers an additional $50 a year to access the platform API. Moving forward, App.net will model its pricing on running a sustainable business without any ad revenue.

Dalton and his team have the necessary experience. This to me is by far the most critical factor. Frequently the human factor is lost when discussing the merits and viability of any particular startup. Building software and a business with the scope envisioned by Diaspora and App.net is incredibly challenging. Diaspora was started by four college students with no prior background in running a startup. App.net has a skilled team of 12 led by an entrepreneur who built a service, iMeem, that at its peak had 26 million users. Founders deal with tremendous amounts of stress, as I have learned first hand several times over. Much of Dalton’s motivation for App.net is a reflection of a deep regret over the mistreatment of iMeem’s third-party developers after MySpace acquired it and then shut down its API without warning. It is a testament to him that he was able to bounce back from this as well as cut his losses on PicPlz and continue to innovate. It doesn’t always work out that way. Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the four co-founders of Diaspora, suffered from depression and committed suicide at the age of 22. I think it’s absolutely tragic and I wish there was a greater awareness of just how hard the startup founder life is (I was really hesitant to add this last bit about Ilya but it is a significant part of the Diaspora story and shouldn’t go unmentioned).

What is App.net’s business model?

App.net will charge developers for access to the platform. Controversially, App.net also currently charges users of Alpha for access to the network. There is healthy debate goingon about the pricing model for App.net, but one thing is absolutely clear: App.net will not run ads on Alpha and will not have an ad-supported revenue model.

As an infrastructure play, I think App.net has a lot of options for how to develop its revenue model. Here’s what I think they should do:

Charge developers a basic fee for access to the platform and a network for developers only – similar to Alpha (let’s call it Dev).

Charge applications based on the number of active users they have. This could be tiered or scale linearly. There should be some basic threshold (say five users) that is free, so that purely experimental apps can still flourish.

Charge applications based on the resources they consume, the same way Amazon Web Services does. This would enable App.net to be a feasible platform for media hosting in addition to messaging.

Keep Alpha as a paid-access network for the time being in the spirit of lean development. Those who want to be there in the early days because they feel it is worth it can pay to be there (all the current backers are already doing that).

How can App.net prove its infrastructure model?

In order to succeed, I believe App.net needs to show that it can effectively support multiple networks running on the same base infrastructure and data models, while being able to add their own unique attributes. Additionally, App.net needs to show that it can effectively manage permissions for the data that are shared within and across networks. To do this in the near term I suggest that App.net establish a secondary network for the developer tier of backers, which I called Dev above, and proceed to figure out the methodology for having developer user accounts operate concurrently on Alpha and Dev and how they can cross post between them while maintaining the overall privacy of the Dev network (which requires a different level of subscription payment than Alpha).

Why should App.net continue to build the Alpha network and eventually make it free?

As I linked to above, there is a healthy debate occurring as to whether Alpha should be a paid service for all users. I believe that in the long term it should not, but in the short term the status quo is fine as App.net has already proven its ability to gain traction with a paid approach. There is also some indication from Dalton that Alpha may not live much beyond its current form, as App.net transitions to being solely an infrastructure provider and relies on third parties to establish UIs for interacting with the platform. I believe this would be a mistake.

In my mind, continuing to nurture Alpha is a vital element for the success of the platform. There are several reasons for this:

Bootstrapping the universal user ID. One of the biggest potential benefits of the App.net platform is adoption of a universal user ID that would enable your identity to seamlessly move between an unlimited number of Web services running on the platform. The biggest hurdle with this is the initial identity creation, and Alpha can bear the brunt of this burden.

Give people something to understand relative to Twitter and Facebook. The reality is that grasping the full potential of the App.net platform is challenging. Most of the people who initially visit it will be looking for “a better social network.” They should be able to find it here.

Developers will benefit from a reference implementation. Alpha can serve as a showcase for the best ideas occurring in the ecosystem and provide third-party developers something to measure their own efforts against.

Providing discovery for other networks. Providing users with a central place to see posts originating from a wide range of networks running on the App.net platform will benefit everyone.

I personally believe that it will be in the best interests of the platform to eventually transition Alpha to being an entirely free service. There will be many opportunities for paid networks to spring up on the platform that cater to certain industries or hobbies or age groups, but it will be difficult for anyone but the core App.net team to operate a large-scale free network on the platform without significant investor backing, which leads back to the original problems App.net was envisioned to solve. Again, in the short term I think things are fine the way they are, but in the long term I believe it would be a disservice to the world and likely a poor choice for the overall health of the App.net ecosystem to not open the doors to Alpha for everyone, for free.

Won’t the App.net Alpha network compete with third-party developers?

Yes, it will – for discovering and incorporating fundamental ideas that benefit the entire ecosystem. The reality is it is likely impossible for a platform to improve without competing with services that were created to address the platform’s deficiencies. However, given that App.net’s business model centers on providing the best infrastructure for third parties to build upon, improvements to the core platform should always stand to benefit the entire ecosystem. The best thing App.net can do to prevent screwing over developers is to maintain the open discussion that it has so far (and could continue to do on Dev) and to build a visible roadmap so developers know what is coming.

Will advertising be allowed on App.net?

I believe so, yes. A fundamental misunderstanding about the App.net platform so far has been that there will never be any ads running anywhere on the platform. I believe that is incorrect. What is correct is that there will never be any ads run on Alpha or anywhere else to fund the operations of App.net the company. Ads can make sense in content networks, and any such networks running on the App.net platform should be allowed to run them. But they do not make sense to support an infrastructure service, which is at its core what App.net is. If you want a better understanding of the App.net ad thesis, read this interview with Dalton.

Why doesn’t Dalton understand network effects?!

Excuse me, but I believe Dalton understands network effects better than almost anyone in this industry right now. While everyone is up in arms about the chilling effect of gated access to a social network, they are completely missing two other potentially massive sources of network effects: a developer / platform ecosystem that supports thousands of interoperable services and a core infrastructure that provides an extremely high level of customer satisfaction. Not only has Dalton demonstrated profound insight into network effects at a macro level but at a micro level as well. He has stated he intentionally and carefully titrated the addition of new members into Alpha so as to not have an inversenetwork effect by having a social network filled with n00bs who have no idea what is going on and who end up hating the experience. If you’re looking for network effects on App.net, I suggest you look here.

What are the risks?

Although I have been extremely excited by the potential of the App.net platform, there are certainly many things that could go wrong. Here are a few that come to mind:

Investors. App.net has been built by Mixed Media Labs using existing code from PicPlz. Mixed Media Labs has already received several million dollars in investor backing and it isn’t immediately clear how in line Dalton’s backers are with his new vision, or how much control he maintains, or essentially what, if anything, prevents the company from being forced to follow the same path that Twitter seems to be on. I feel pretty confident that there isn’t anything to worry about here, but it would be very nice to have some more concrete information from Dalton.

Baggage. Much of the conversation on Alpha up to this point has been about how to implement “missing” features that can be found on Twitter. There is a real risk that innovation will be stymied by the pursuit of copying existing lousy social-networking mechanisms. However, there have also been some truly great threads that have questioned fundamental assumptions about how these things should work, and again I’m pretty confident that there are great things coming.

Rushing. Building a robust yet flexible API to support the widest variety of social-network implementations is no easy task. Having lots of users on Alpha has already put pressure on the team to build rapidly, and this could come at the expense of “doing things right” for the long term.

Security. Having thousands of networks utilizing the same core user ID could be a recipe for disaster if accounts aren’t secure.

Decentralization. App.net will have to figure out how to provide redundancy or better yet how to decentralize as the platform grows. We don’t want thousands of startups to grind to a halt due to central points of failure. We also don’t want all these startups to cease to function should App.net the company decide to shut down, for whatever reason.

Conclusion

If it succeeds, App.net will undermine the basic economic premise of the entire current social Web ecosystem, and this is a good, good thing. This is a tremendous opportunity to dream big and put aside ingrained thinking.

I’m excited to contribute to this endeavor. If you are too, join Alpha today. If I helped convince you to join, please say hi and let me know! I’m @orian.

Lenovo exec: Windows RT tablets will start at $300

ARM-based tablets running Windows RT will start at $300, according to David Schmoock, head of Lenovo’s North America operations. Schmoock told Bloomberg Thursday that “RT will play in consumer and retail at very aggressive price points.”

“It will do well but it’s going to be more of a consumer price point play to begin with,” he said.

Tablets built around Windows 8, on the other hand, will cost between $600 and $700, Schmoock said.