Apple today issued a response to the controversy around the location database on modern iOS devices that a group of researches discovered last week. Apple categorically denies that it is tracking its users. The database on the phone, according to Apple, does not track a user’s location but is actually a crowdsourced database of nearby WiFi hotspots and cell towers around the users’ location.
Earlier today, Google announced some changes to its Google Apps accounts. First the bad news: business with more than 10 users now have to sign up for a paid Google Apps for Business account. Until now, the limit was 50 users. The good news: business users won't have to prepay for a whole year anymore. Google's new flexible plan gives company's the option to pay $5 per month per user without any contractual commitments. Google will continue to offer annual plans for $50 per year.
A third of smartphone owners would rather give up chocolate than their devices and 39% of U.S. consumers with smartphones have used their phones in the bathroom. These are some of the more interesting results of a survey that Google just released. It’s no secret that we tend to use our phones to get online (81%) while watching TV (33%), but in this survey Google was more interested in the role these devices play while were are out shopping and looking for local information.
The default search engine for self-hosted WordPress installs is generally not very good and mostly organizes search results by chronology and not relevance. Over time, a number of companies like Lijit and others have tried to improve this and many WordPress users also resort to custom Google search engines to offer their readers acceptable search results. For the most part, though, WordPress search remains an unsolved problem. Yolink's Wordpress plugin, which is officially launching tonight, aims to change this by offering bloggers a good search engine that is easily customizable and deeply integrated into WordPress.
Instant Previews made their debut on Google's search results pages since last November, but today, Google is taking this concept one step further by introducing Instant Previews for ads as well. With Instant Previews for Ads, you can now get a preview of the site that lurks behind text ads on Google Search. For advertisers, who generally pay Google per click on a text link, this should be a welcome new feature, as it will allow potential customers to see a preview of the site's landing page without having to click on an ad (and hence costing the advertiser money). Advertisers won't have to pay for clicks on the Instant Preview button.
Google just announced a new experimental feature for Gmail: background send. Thanks to this new feature, which you can activate in the Gmail Labs section of the Settings menu, Gmail can now send emails in the background. This will save Gmail users a few seconds every time they send an email.
Facebook today announced a number of new features for Facebook Groups. Group admins, for example, can now pre-approve members and Groups now also feature a Q&A and photo-sharing section. More importantly, though, Facebook also introduced a new new button that publishers can put on their site: the Send button. This button is a close relative to the Like button, but with the added twist that it allows users to selectively share a webpage with one of their Facebook Groups or email it to their friends.
In a post on his blog Venture Level today, entrepreneur Romil Patel describes his experiences with running Groupon and LivingSocial deals. Overall, his experience with Groupon was not exactly positive, but what struck me while reading his account was that the Groupon representative he worked with asked him to create positive Yelp reviews for his own business.
As more information about the “secret” location-data file on Apple’s iPhone 4s and iPad 3Gs becomes available, the story surrounding this discovery is becoming more about the people involved than the location data itself. As it turn out, Alex Levinson, a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, had long discovered this file in his research and work with forensic firm Katana Forensics. Katana Forensics produces a tool called Lantern, which can extract this data and map it in Google Earth’s KMZ format.
The iPhone location scandal dominated the tech news today. While early reports seemed to indicate that all iPhone 4s and 3G-enabled iPads were keeping precise logs of everybody’s location over time, the reality that emerged over the course of the day is a bit more complicated. Atlanta-based tech blogger Will Clarke took a closer look at the data tonight and argues that Apple is decidedly not keeping a log of the phone’s location in this secret file, but is only storing the location of cell towers.
Google just announced an update to its automcomplete feature, which speeds up the search process by showing predicted searches while you type. Until now, Google mostly based its predictions by looking at the most popular searches. The problem with this, Google points out, is that the majority of search queries have never been typed in before and hence didn’t show any predictions. Now, however, Google is expanding this feature by “improving the predictive powers of autocomplete” for these seldom used queries as well by just looking at the last part of the query.
I'm a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft's HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.