Browser-based version of Skype widens beta reach, global availability expected in weeks
Microsoft has opened up Skype for Web to more users, pulling it out of the closed beta and making it available to all current Skype users based in the United States or the United Kingdom. The widening of beta access follows after another web-based Skype change, namely a redesign of how Skype for Outlook.com appears and works for users of the browser-based webmail client.
Restrictions of FAA certificate only for local testing of Amazon Prime Air drones
Amazon's plan to bring drone-based deliveries to the United States has taken another step to becoming reality, thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The regulator has examined Amazon's request to test its potential service, and has granted the online retailer with an "experimental airworthiness certificate," allowing it to perform testing outdoors.
Rumored Apple streaming television service could have 25 channels at launch
Apple may launch an Internet television service later this year, a report claims. The supposed streaming service will apparently offer around 25 channels from major broadcasters including ABC, CBS, and Fox to subscribers, sources of the Wall Street Journal say, with Apple said to be aiming for an unveiling in June and a launch of the service in the United States by September.
National PlayStation Vue rollout expected by end of this year
Sony is getting closer to launching its PlayStation-based Internet television service, with PlayStation Vue set to open up to new users in a few locations in the United States soon. Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House advised that PlayStation Vue will be leaving its invitation-only testing, and launching in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia within the next two weeks.
Crowdfunding site will offer YotaPhone 2 in US before wider retail availability
Yota Devices is bringing the YotaPhone 2 to the United States, with initial sales going through crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The smartphone, which notably has a secondary e-paper display on the back of the device, will apparently go on sale in the US next month through the site in a similar move to Pebble's recent smartwatch sequel launch on Kickstarter.
AT&T to start selling BlackBerry Passport, Classic from February 20
BlackBerry fans in the United States will soon be able to pick up the manufacturer's latest devices on AT&T. The BlackBerry Classic and the BlackBerry Passport, redesigned specifically for the carrier, will be going on sale from February 20. The Passport, complete with rounded edges, will cost $650 off-contract, $200 with a two-year agreement, or for between $21.67 and $32.50 under AT&T Next. The Classic will cost $50 on a two-year contract, $420 off-contract, or under AT&T Next's various plans, between $14 and $21 per month.
Proposals rule out drone-based delivery services
Drones performing deliveries for retailers will not be offered to consumers any time in the near future, if proposals from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are adopted. The initial proposals for "small unmanned aircraft systems" would in theory allow for the commercial use of the remote-controlled aircraft, but not to a point where Amazon's drone delivery service would become a reality in the United States.
Video streaming service enters Cuba after US relaxes trade restrictions
Netflix is continuing its current strategy of fast expansion into new countries, by unexpectedly launching in Cuba. The video streaming service is being made available to residents of the country for the first time, following the recent easing of trade restrictions that have been imposed on Cuba by the United States since 1961, though potential users still have some obstacles in the way between them and watching House of Cards.
Employee claims Xiaomi event intended to introduce brand to US media
Xiaomi could be preparing for a debut in the United States, by holding its own media event in the country. A report claims the Chinese smartphone producer will be holding an event for members of the press on February 12 in San Francisco, California, though a company employee suggests that the event will not be a US launch at all.
Vote of FCC commissioners to change broadband definition passes 3-2
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has changed its definition of broadband, after commissioners voted 3-2 in favor. The previous definition of 4Mbps download, 1Mbps upload minimum speeds have been increased to 25Mbps down, 3 Mbps up, a move which pushes higher the proportion of households in the United States declared to be incapable of receiving broadband Internet access.
Claimed lack of justification for proposed FCC broadband speed definition
Cable companies do not believe customers need to have connection speeds faster than 25Mbps, according to a letter sent by a cable lobbying group to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The letter from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) asks that the FCC avoids defining broadband as a 25Mbps downstream, 3Mbps upstream connection, due to a lack of justification.
Free games, subscription time, compensation offered to US PlayStation owners
Sony is providing compensation to PlayStation Network users in the United States affected by a major breach in April 2011, half a year after agreeing to a settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit. The original attack, resulting in the closure of the online service and Qriocity for close to a month, risked the personal data and payment details of more than 77 million accounts.
Proposals require companies to reveal data breaches within 30 days
President Barack Obama will push for legislation forcing companies to be quicker in revealing major intrusions of their servers, White House officials have advised. In a speech set to take place at the Federal Trade Commission later today, Obama is expected to propose a new law, requiring disclosures over server hacks and other security breaches within 30 days of occurring.
Main Internet connection for North Korea goes down following statement attacking US government
North Korea has declared it will strike against the United States, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified the rogue state as the origin of the Sony Pictures hack. However, alongside the sabre-rattling statement provided by the Korean Central News Agency of DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as it calls itself) are reports that the country's Internet connection has itself been the target of an attack over the weekend, with North Korea effectively being knocked offline.
LTE-equipped Nexus 9 priced $120 more than Wi-Fi equivalent
A variant of the Google Nexus 9 tablet with cellular connectivity is now on sale in the United States, two months after it was first unveiled. The Nexus 9 LTE, being sold first through T-Mobile before other carriers and Google Play, is identical to the already-available 32GB Wi-Fi model, but includes the requisite cellular radios to connect to T-Mobile's network.
NPD claims 1.2M Xbox One consoles sold in US in November
Microsoft has beaten Sony for the first time in a long while, in terms of console sales. Sales data from NPD reveals that the Xbox One outsold the PlayStation 4 in the United States for the month of November, with the pre-holiday spending breaking a sales streak Sony has enjoyed since the launch of its console in the country last year.
AT&T increases number of markets with HD Voice enabled
AT&T has expanded its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and HD Voice service into more markets. The carrier's higher-quality voice calls are now available to use in parts of the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, though customers will require a VoLTE-compatible smartphone.
Average time spent watching TV in US lower, online viewing up 50 percent
The viewing of television shows in the United States via broadcasting has dropped in the face of streaming services gaining in popularity, according to Nielsen. The ratings company's third-quarter report claims the average American watches more than 141 hours of live television per month, or more than four hours a day, but the figure is a year-on-year four percent drop from last year's 147 average hours per month.
Officials slow to react in NOAA hacking, cover-up claimed by congressman
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has admitted that it has been the target of another online breach, just a few days after the United States Postal Service (USPS) revealed it too endured an intrusion. The attack took place in late September, though unlike the other governmental intrusion, NOAA officials are not revealing whether any classified data was acquired by intruders, nor if systems were altered.
Customer payment data not in danger, USPS claims following intrusion
Servers belonging to the United States Postal Service (USPS) have been hacked, it has been revealed. The latest major organization to suffer an intrusion, following a string of retailers, data belonging to more than 800,000 USPS employees have been compromised, including the postmaster general's, in a breach which was discovered in mid-September.
Pre-orders for Timex Ironman One GPS+ smartwatch start tomorrow
Pre-orders for the Timex Ironman One GPS+ will commence in the United States through AT&T stores on November 7th, and online from November 10th. Designed for runners, the smartwatch is able to track the wearer's speed, distance, and other position-related information, includes 4GB of storage, works with Bluetooth speakers and headphones, and has its own cellular data connection rather than relying on a nearby smartphone. Including one year of AT&T data, the Timex Ironman One GPS+ will be priced at $400.
Bluetooth earphones, standalone Samsung Gear S smartwatch head to market this week
Samsung has confirmed it is bringing its Gear Circle wireless earphones to the United States this month, ready for the holiday shopping period. At the same time, it has been revealed the manufacturer's standalone Gear S smartwatch will be making its way to the United Kingdom, with the first units set to go on sale later this week.
Official states charges are 'groundless,' believes US should focus on upholding security
In a press conference today, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei responded to the government sponsored hacking allegations from the United States. In an unclassified report from the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the body accused the Chinese military of being responsible for at least 20 successful attacks on US Transportation Command (Transcom) contractors.
Senator pushes for more citizen input days after FCC commenting period closes
There is still some fighting left to do for the United States Senate when it comes to net neutrality, as Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that there would be hearing in the near future. The senator, who is also the chairman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, is calling the hearing for September 17 in order to take testimony on the importance of keeping the Internet free and open.
Breach confirmed for April forward as investigation continues, no evidence of PIN theft
An initial investigation by Home Depot into an intrusion of its payment data systems has revealed that its systems were indeed breached. The home improvement retailer began looking into the breach of its systems after it noticed irregular activity and subsequent sale of its customer data last week. Home Depot was apparently hit by the same malware responsible for the breach of Target's systems.
Intruder installs 'malicious software' for cyber-attacks, breach access point unknown
Health care exchanges continue to hit rough patches, as the United States government has revealed that the federal health care portal Healthcare.gov was breached. While there is no evidence that any personal information from the 5.4 million people applying through the site was stolen during the event, the attack marks the first time an intrusion has successfully accessed systems attached to the website.
Independent tester finds that Verizon beats out all other carriers for first half of 2014
A new study of wireless carriers for the first half emerged today, putting Verizon at the top of the pile in five categories, marking it as the best overall carrier in the United States. Market research firm RootMetrics announced its findings, showing that Verizon was the best carrier in reliability, speed, data performance and call performance.
Organization believes that auction violates Spectrum Act, abuses discretion under APA Act
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking a review of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2015 spectrum auction. In the filing, the NAB states that the FCC isn't taking the proper precautions to protect broadcasters that choose to retain their spectrum. According to the NAB, an updated methodology the FCC is using will result in a loss of coverage area for remaining broadcasters.
US Digital Service created to avoid issues similar to Healthcare.gov launch
The Obama administration has launched a new team dedicated to managing the IT practices of government agencies. The US Digital Service (USDS), headed by former Google engineer Mikey Dickerson, aims to help government-created public IT projects work as effectively as privately-owned services, in order to avoid issues similar to the ill-fated Healthcare.gov launch, a project Dickerson helped rescue.
NTIA may be called to create voluntary best practices for commercial drones
President Barack Obama may issue privacy guidelines for commercial drones in the United States, claims a report. Plans to issue an executive order allegedly involve the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) working with consumer groups, and companies planning to operate drones in the future, to create "voluntary best practices" for the unmanned aircraft.
Worldwide shipments up 0.1 percent over second quarter 2013, US shipments up 7.4 percent
Following up on the projections it says that PC shipments worldwide witnessed flat growth during the second quarter of 2014. Total PC shipments, which includes desktops, notebooks and premium ultra-mobiles, peaked at 75.7 million units, with the United States taking up 15.9 million of the total.
Proposal would extend US Privacy Act rights to EU citizens
European citizens could receive some of the same rights to privacy as Americans in the future, if new proposals are adopted. US Attorney General Eric Holder advised to European leaders in Athens, Greece on Wednesday that the Obama administration is working on legislation that would provide EU residents similar protections under the US Privacy Act as US citizens already have.
Discounts of $100, $200 on Surface Pro 2 through Microsoft Store
Microsoft has cut the price of the Surface Pro 2 tablet in the United States, before the latest incarnation of the device, the Surface Pro 3, starts shipping. Echoing a similar discounting scheme in the United Kingdom, the lower cost of previous-generation Surface Pro tablets comes at the same time as news that there could be some delays in Surface Pro 3 shipments.
Report shows streaming performance of YouTube videos over 30-day period
Google is expanding the coverage of its Video Quality Report to all Internet service providers in the United States. Originally launched in Canada in January, the service monitors the quality of connections between YouTube servers and the end user, with ratings provided for each ISP in an attempt to pressure telecommunication companies to improve their services.
Signers of three letters to FCC receive 1.2 to 5 times more lobbyist money from telecoms
Members of the United States House of Representatives responsible for sending letters to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over net neutrality concerns have received more than double the average campaign contributions from telecommunication companies over a two-year window. The contributions, tracked by Maplight, shows the funds that the politicians of both parties have received via political action committees and employees of organizations.
Demands placement of GLONASS ground stations on US soil
Russia is threatening to shut down American-run GPS stations in the country, in retaliation to the refusal by the United States to allow similar sites to operate in its territory for the competing GLONASS system. The threat comes at the same time as another against NASA's use of the International Space Station, in retaliation to US sanctions.
Smart chip cards as found in Europe making way to customers in next 18 months
Credit cards in the United States will begin transitioning away from the aging technology of magnetic swipe strips in the next 18 months. Future cards will have embedded smart chips containing card data as well as a magnetic strip, much like the cards that are used in Europe and Canada. The system currently in place, that relies wholly on magnetic strips, is still used in Mongolia, parts of the Middle East, and Papua New Guinea.
NTIA starts process to end DNS management, American monitoring in 2015
The United States government has asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to begin drafting a proposal to transition the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) responsibility of domain name system (DNS) administration away from the United States. Stepping away from governance of ICANN would mark the final phase of DNS privatization that had been set in motion in 1998, allowing ICANN to operate independently.
Nokia rolls out Refocus app to all Lumia devices running Windows Phone 8
Nokia is making its Lytro-style Refocus app available to all Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices, as a free download via the Windows Phone Store. The app, which was initially released for Lumias with PureView, allows users to adjust the focal point of an image, after the photograph has been taken, with the resulting image shareable on social networks and stored on OneDrive.
Lower Simple Choice plans gain more data, new higher tier offered
T-Mobile in the United States has updated its Simple Choice price plans with a few changes. The amount of data available to customers on the carrier has both risen and fallen, depending on the tier of service, with all plans also gaining enhanced global data and text services in more countries, and the extra introduction of unlimited stateside international text messaging.
Majority of Galaxy S devices will get Android 4.4 update
Samsung has confirmed it will be bringing Android 4.4.2 to a large number of its mobile devices in the United States. The upgrade to Android KitKat, rumored last month, will apparently start rolling out to devices from today onwards, and while the timing will vary between carriers and individual devices, it will continue "throughout the coming months."
Support scheme provides display repair, Google Drive storage
HTC is upgrading the level of support it provides customers in the United States, in its new HTC Advantage program. The improvements, teased on Valentine's day, include a commitment to offering the major Android updates for two years from the launch date of the device, as well as a free replacement display in the event the customer cracks the screen in the first six months of ownership.
Price cut an attempt to grow OLED television market, claims LG
LG has lowered the cost of its curved OLED television in the United States, in an attempt to improve demand for OLED devices. The 55EA9800, a curved OLED Full HD television that went on sale in the US through Best Buy in July last year, is being cut down in price from the initial $15,000 down to $8,000, with an extra $1,000 rebate bringing the price down to $7,000.
Kobo to serve as e-book option for customers
In addition to getting out of the personal computing business and spinning off their television division, Sony will start dropping out the e-book business as well. In a press release from the company, Sony will be teaming up with Kobo in the United States and Canada in late March 2014, closing its Reader Store in the process.
Agrees to measures requiring court approval for NSA metadata searches
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has given its approval to changes President Barack Obama has requested as part of a surveillance reforms speech last month. Two measures in the reforms have been accepted by the court, which will affect the way the National Security Agency (NSA) searches its phone records database in the future.
NSA,GCHQ allegedly claimed to collect information on individuals from mobile advertising
Intelligence agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom are allegedly taking advantage of smartphone apps to collect a wealth of information about individuals, in new spying allegations. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are able to use the "leaky" nature of popular mobile phone apps to extract information about an individual, according to new leaked documents.
1,400 US patents and applications bought by Qualcomm
Processor producer Qualcomm has acquired a considerable haul of patents from HP, including some originally from the portfolios of iPAQ, Bitfone, and Palm. Though the sale price was not revealed by the company in a statement, it did reveal that the purchase includes approximately 1,400 granted patents and pending applications from the United States, and another 1,000 from other countries.
Collection programs such as Prism is illegal according to review board
An independent federal watchdog has decided that the National Security Agency's (NSA) phone call logging and collection activity is illegal. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board advises that the call log collection provided "minimal" benefits to current counter-terrorism operations and should be stopped, in a 238-page report set to be released today.
Collected data to be handed to third party, judicial findings required for access
The United States government will reform the way it uses surveillance data, President Barack Obama has announced. Addressing concerns over the National Security Agency (NSA) and the various programs employed to monitor potential threats, Obama outlined a number of changes in how the data will be accessed by security agencies as he attempts to ease the concerns of US citizens.
Price cut follows earlier discounts, Moto X flash sales
Motorola is making a bigger push for sales of its flagship Moto X in the United States, by giving it a permanent price cut. The change, coming after a number of similar discounts on the smartphone, comes at the same time as reports that its cheaper stablemate, the Moto G, is being sold at Best Buy for $100 on Verizon with no contract.