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Mobile Technology News, December 15, 2013

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • New Android ioPhone mimics Apple's iPhone 5c style
    A Japanese phone maker is taking a whole page from Apple’s design book, copying almost exactly the look of the iPhone maker’s iPhone 5c. Kodawarisan pointed out Iosys’ ioPhone5 on Saturday, revealing images of a multicolored line of Android-powered devices that mimic the look of Apple’s “unapologetically plastic” mid-range smartphone. So devoted was Iosys in its mimicry that the placement of the ioPhone’s logo and regulatory information match those of the iPhone 5c exactly.


  • Drones Could Revolutionize Agriculture, Farmers Say
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Idaho farmer Robert Blair isn’t waiting around for federal aviation officials to work out rules for drones. He and a friend built their own, outfitting it with cameras and using it to monitor his 1,500 acres.

    Under 10 pounds and 5 feet long nose to tail, the aircraft is the size of a turkey and Blair uses it to get a birds-eye view of his cows and fields of wheat, peas, barley and alfalfa. “It’s a great tool to collect information to make better decisions, and we’re just scratching the surface of what it can do for farmers,” said Blair, who lives in Kendrick, Idaho, roughly 275 miles north of Boise.

    While Americans are abuzz about Amazon’s plans to use self-guided drones to deliver packages, most future unmanned aircraft may operate far from the nation’s large population centers.

    Experts point to agriculture as the most promising commercial market for drones because the technology is a perfect fit for large-scale farms and vast rural areas where privacy and safety issues are less of a concern.

    Already, farmers, researchers and companies are developing unmanned aircraft systems equipped with cameras and other sensors to survey crops, monitor for disease or precision-spray pesticides and fertilizers.

    Drones, also known as UAVs, are already used overseas in agriculture, including Japan and Brazil.

    And the possibilities are endless: Flying gizmos could be used to ward off birds from fields, pollinate trees, do snow surveys to forecast water supply, monitor irrigation, or plant and harvest crops.

    The technology could revolutionize agriculture, farmers say, by boosting crop health, improving field management practices, reducing costs and increasing yields.

    So far, drones have been used mainly by the military. Interest is booming in finding other uses for them, but the possibilities are limited because of regulations on the use of airspace and privacy concerns.

    The Federal Aviation Administration does not allow drones’ commercial use. Businesses and researchers can only apply for a special, experimental airworthiness certificate for research and development, flight demonstrations or crew training.

    The FAA does allow public agencies — including law enforcement and other governmental agencies — to get a certificate of authorization to operate unmanned aircraft in civil airspace. About a dozen sheriff’s offices, police and fire departments, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, have been allowed to use drones.

    The move has raised concerns about privacy and government surveillance, leading to drone privacy bills being introduced in most states this year and about a dozen states passing laws, most to limit drone surveillance by law enforcement.

    Those concerns, in turn, have tempered interest in developing unmanned aircraft technology for police and other crime-fighting agencies — leading drone manufacturers and researchers to focus on agriculture instead, said Josh Brungardt, director of unmanned systems at PARADIGM, a Bend, Ore.-based drone research company.

    “A small UAV flying over a field with nothing around it doesn’t create a privacy issue,” he said. “We’re talking about an operating atmosphere that’s much more benign.”

    Last year, Congress directed the FAA to grant unmanned aircraft access to U.S. skies by September 2015. The agency is in the midst of developing operational guidelines for drone use, but it said the process would take longer than Congress expected.

    Next year, the agency plans to propose a rule for small unmanned aircraft, but it declined to discuss the rule. In the meantime, the FAA is also working to choose by the end of December six drone test sites across the country.

    Blair’s drone, built in 2008, isn’t breaking the law, because his aircraft is essentially a model airplane — allowed by the FAA as long as it’s flown below 400 feet above ground level, far from populated areas and no one is compensated for the flight.

    Blair said the UAV gives him a complete, aerial view of his crops. He said he also uses it to gather historical data on his crops — which can help validate crop loss or animal damage when applying for government programs like crop insurance.

    Companies large and small are also racing to develop the technology, as are universities.

    University of Oregon researchers flew drones this summer over potato fields to monitor for disease. Oregon nurseries have also partnered with researchers to test unmanned technology to count potted trees.

    In Florida, farmers and researchers have used small unmanned helicopters equipped with infrared cameras to monitor orange trees for the deadly citrus greening, a bacterial disease that kills the trees. Greening begins at the top of the tree.

    And at the University of California, Davis, professors have teamed up with Yamaha Motor Corp. USA to fly unmanned remote-controlled helicopters to spray vineyards and orchards.

    Some farmers fear environmental groups could use the technology to spy on them — PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, recently announced plans to purchase drones to monitor factory farms.

    But Blair said use of unmanned aircraft would have the opposite effect.

    “We’re talking surgical agriculture, which allows us to be more environmentally friendly,” he said, “because we can be even more precise in how we apply fertilizer, water or pesticides.”

  • Apple's iPhone predicted to hit 68 percent US share by 2017
    Apple’s iPhone will be in the hands of more than two-thirds of American smartphone owners by 2017, according to one analyst’s new figures. Asymco’s Horace Dedieu took a look at trends in the U.S. smartphone market this week, finding that the rate of iPhone adoption has it on pace to move into a majority position in just the next few years. Dedieu posits that the iPhone will be in the hands of 68 percent of U.S. smartphone consumers as the market continues to grow.


  • Briefly: New iMag Pro II mobile reader, NuGuard KX Screen Armor
    ID TECH, manufacturer of automated electronic solutions, has released its new encrypted MagStripe mobile reader, the iMag Pro II, compatible for all Apple 8-pin Lightning connector mobile devices. Ideal for business use, the iMag Pro II allows accepting credit card transactions, signature debit cards, gift cards, driver’s licenses, and ID badges on one’s iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad mini, and iPad 4. Providing bi-directional reading of three tracks of card data and supports TDES and AES encryption, using DUKPT management.


  • Ever Wondered What A Helicopter Looks Like Playing Hockey? (VIDEO)
    We’re sure like almost everyone on the planet, at some point you’ve wished that you could watch a helicopter ‘playing hockey’ on a frozen lake. Sadly, it’s always been an impossible dream that could only be imagined… that is until now!

    Click play to see the dream finally become a reality in this surreal video above from Bradley Friesen out of Canada that took “8 different cameras” and “250gb of awesomeness” to create. Along with a helicopter, frozen lake and puck, of course.

    Via Yahoo! Sports

  • Yahoo's Bad Week Ends With An Apology From Marissa Mayer
    Yahoo and CEO Marissa Mayer have had a no good, very bad week.

    Mayer acknowledged as much on Friday night in a post on her Tumblr, where she wrote that she and the company were “very sorry” for the prolonged Yahoo Mail outages that left people unable to access their email for several days this week.

    “This has been a very frustrating week for our users and we are very sorry,” Mayer wrote. “We really let you down this week. We can, and we will, do better in the future.”

    Mayer wrote that the problem began on Monday because of hardware issues with one of Yahoo Mail’s servers. The server powered email for about 1 percent of Yahoo Mail’s users, who Mayer said were the only ones affected by the outage. Yahoo Mail has about 289 million monthly users worldwide, second only to Gmail at 304 million, according to comScore.

    Messages sent to problematic accounts during this time were not delivered, but held in a queue. Users were very vocal on social media while the “scheduled maintenance” dragged on for several days. The problem was completely fixed by Friday.

    Yahoo faced backlash in October also after a massive redesign for Yahoo Mail left some confused, missing emails and longing for some lost features such as tabs.

    Flickr, the photo sharing service that Yahoo owns, also struggled with downtime this week.

  • Decoding Dolphin Talk: Are We Smart Enough?
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    We humans have wanted to be able to “talk” to dolphins for as long as anyone can remember. They beguile us with their intelligence, curiosity, playfulness, and sophisticated level of sociality. We sense, intuitively, that there are many layers of complexity to dolphin communication – as there are to dolphin minds – but we have yet to translate most of that recognition into a meaningful and productive path toward two-way communication with them.

    As Denise Herzing concedes in her engaging TED talk “Could we speak the language of dolphins?” we do not have a Rosetta Stone. But why? Surely, if we can travel to Mars, cure disease and create symphonies, we should be able to figure out what dolphins are saying. But in fact, despite the sophisticated and high-tech ways in which we have applied our efforts, it is entirely possible we may never communicate with them in the way we want to.

    When we think of decoding dolphinese, we mean that we would like to be able to engage in an exchange of information that looks something like this: “What are you doing?” – “I am preparing to show my child how to find fish in the sand with echolocation.” – “Oh, that sounds great.” – and so on. A simple conversation like this is still way beyond our reach.

    Despite the sophisticated and high-tech ways in which we have applied our efforts, it is entirely possible we may never communicate with them in the way we want to. — Lori Marino

    Herzing’s pioneering work is distinctive because it incorporates the components of earlier studies on dolphin communication in captivity by other prominent scientists, i.e., a whistle-based interface, a keyboard component, etc., within the framework of the natural behavior of these animals.

    But is our species really smart enough to figure out a communication system that may not only be at least as complex as our own but based on different acoustic principles and dimensions? Are we going to hit a “glass ceiling” in our understanding?

    Human language consists of vocabulary and syntax. Syntax determines the structure of a language and how vocabulary is modified to create new meanings. Vocabulary is more straightforward; it’s easier for those of us studying a second language to learn vocabulary words by connecting one word with one object. Syntax is quite another matter and much more difficult, as anyone who has attempted to correctly conjugate verbs in Spanish will tell you!

    Our relative ease with vocabulary is analogous to our ability to learn the lexicon of dolphin communication. As Herzing correctly points out, dolphin signature whistles are what researchers have studied the most – for the very reason that they are easy to measure. But dolphin communication also includes body posture, touch and different acoustic variables like echolocation, whistles and burst-pulsed sounds. And we can interpret sounds that are directly correlated with individuals, specific behaviors, or specific contexts more easily than sounds that seem to vary from one situation to another. That’s because the human brain is very good at picking up patterns of correlation. We are so good at attending to “what” goes with “what” that we often create false positives known as illusory correlations. So contact calls, alarm calls, signature whistles and other sounds with a more-or-less one-to-one correspondence with a behavior or context are going to be the first to give up their secrets because they are most like the vocabulary of a second human language.

    Likewise, we’re very good at teaching human words to other species such as dolphins, birds, great apes and dogs. Part of our success at this has to do with the fact that this task is easy for us.

    What we don’t know, however, is the basic nature of dolphin communication – whether it is dimensional or categorical or some combination of both. And we don’t know if they are combining components in ways outside of our experience and, thus, invisible to us.

    Dolphin whistles have been sampled, statistically-parsed and then analyzed to determine whether certain whistle types can be predicted from the same or another whistle type. Results show that dolphin whistle repertoires contain higher-order internal structure or organizational complexity. This suggests that their whistle “language” contains elements loosely analogous to grammar or syntax in human language. And, in her talk, Denise Herzing compared spectrograms of human language words and burst pulsed sounds made by a dolphin. Who could tell the difference?

    So, we know there is complexity in dolphin communication, but we don’t know the content or depth or nature of the vast majority of it.

    But irrespective of whether we are intelligent enough to “decode” dolphin communication, it is worth reminding ourselves that we continue to turn a deaf ear to arguably more important messages that spell out distress, poor welfare, psychological trauma and high mortality when they are captured and confined in tanks and made to perform. A colleague of mine once said that if only the dolphins murdered annually in Taiji, Japan or the Faroe Islands could say something like “Stop it. You’re hurting me!” all abuse would probably cease immediately due to the shock of hearing those words come from the victims.

    Unfortunately, we have not made the same effort to “decode” dolphin dignity and personhood. And that’s certainly worth some study.

    Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today’s most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend’s ideas to contribute as a writer.

  • 'Interstellar' Teaser Offers First Look At Christopher Nolan Film
    The first look at Christopher Nolan’s next film, “Interstellar,” is here. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, and Michael Caine, among many others, “Interstellar” is co-written and directed by Nolan (his brother, Jonathan Nolan, also worked on the script, which is based on a story by physicist Kip S. Thorne). The new teaser is voiced by McConaughey and focuses on the importance of discovery and testing human limits. The upcoming sci-fi film will detail “the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.” Check out an early look at “Interstellar” below and catch the film in theaters next November.

  • Officials Say U.S. May Never Know Extent Of Snowden's Leaks
    WASHINGTON — American intelligence and law enforcement investigators have concluded that they may never know the entirety of what the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden extracted from classified government computers before leaving the United States, according to senior government officials.
  • Google Acquires Boston Dynamics, Adding To Its Fleet Of Robot-Makers
    The rich get richer. And they also get more robots.

    Google confirmed Friday to The New York Times that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, the Waltham, Mass., engineering company that has designed robots for the Pentagon. The company, purchased by Google for an undisclosed sum, is the eighth robotics company Google has acquired in the last several months.

    Last week, the Times also reported that Google’s newest “moonshot” effort to create a division focused on building and experimenting with robots would be developed by Andy Rubin, the boss behind Google’s Android operating system. Unlike Google’s computerized glasses or driverless cars, these robots will be available only to businesses that want to streamline the manufacturing process.

    It’s unclear if manufacturing will be Boston Dynamics’ main purpose now that it is part of Google. An Oxford University study from last year predicted that 45 percent of United States jobs were “at high risk” of being lost to computerized machines.

    Boston Dynamics robots, such as BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas, have gained notoriety over the years through YouTube videos, GIFs and “the robots are taking over” half-curious, half-terrified reactions they create. The videos show agile, four-legged robots bustling through rough terrain, or sprinting around parking lots. One recent video showed their Cheetah robot sprinting 29 mph on a treadmill, faster than Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash.

    Check out a video of the WildCat in action below.

    The company was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, a former professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently has multimillion dollar contracts with the U.S. military’s advanced research division of DARPA. The New York Times notes that while Google will honor Boston Dynamics’ existing contracts, it has no plans to become a defense contractor “on its own.”

    One DARPA-funded project is the Atlas, a 6-foot 2-inch, 330-pound robot with 28 hydraulically actuated joints and two sets of hands capable of many natural human movements. The Atlas is part of Boston Dynamics’ DARPA Robotics Challenge, where seven teams compete to create a robot that can navigate rough terrain, drive a car and in DARPA’s words, “advance the technology necessary to create robots capable of assisting humans in disaster response.”

  • Lies Our High School Science Teachers Told Us
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    I’m not a scientist, but as someone whose life is all about the animals, I found Dr. Herzing’s TED talk (“Could we speak the language of dolphins?”) a fascinating documentation of work along an appealing path full of big questions. But if not a scientist, what do I bring to this conversation which appears largely about a scientific pursuit? What are my creds?

    If she was still around to admit it, Mom would acknowledge she did all she could to sidetrack my overwhelming early passion for animals (“if only I had let him have a dog, perhaps I too could say ‘my son the doctor!'”), but the causal uber-attention to cleanliness which defined the ecosystem of our Brooklyn Jewish household was matched by an emphasis on learning. And I read everything related to animals I could get my hands on.

    I earned a handful of useless degrees in the ’70s, but motivated by student debt and a long love of animals, I landed my first job at a humane society back in 1978. The first step in a 35-year career working for animals in the SF Bay Area, Washington D.C., Arizona, and a few brief jaunts here and there (programs on several Native American nations, Mexico and elsewhere).

    I prefer celebrating what we’re very good at as one species within the kingdom, as opposed to trumped up absolutes that tend to isolate us. — Ken White

    (This long and varied track record moves me to make sure readers know that all the thousands of humane societies and SPCAs throughout the nation are separate nonprofit organizations: none are chapters or affiliates of the organizations with the national name like ASPCA or Humane Society of the U.S. Unlike many other nonprofits, our organizations’ policies are set in local boardrooms rather than in D.C. or Manhattan, and for the overwhelming part gifts made to national organizations don’t trickle down to local shelters trying to save dogs and cats in your community. This is not to say that national groups do not do important work, work often well outside the scope of what is possible on the local level. It is, however, to advise the reader that IMHO it’s well worth your time to learn who is doing what to help animals in your ‘hood.)

    Best known in our community for our life-saving work with dogs and cats, unlike most local organizations, the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA’s work does not stop with companion animals. We provide care, as well, for exotic animals sometimes kept (most often poorly so) as pets, farmed animals, and for thousands of injured and orphaned native wild animals. That unusually broad mission has given me further opportunity to explore that childhood passion for all animals, and over time I am ever more drawn to discoveries which shorten that perceived distance between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animals on Mother Earth.

    It’s not that I don’t think we’re special; rather, it’s that all life is special. Maybe we are unique, but if so it is by degree. I prefer celebrating what we’re very good at as one species within the kingdom, as opposed to trumped up absolutes that tend to isolate us.

    Back in those many decades ago, 1960-70’s biology class curriculum included the “fact” that the yawning gulf separating us from “lesser animals” was evidenced by two “unique” abilities: language and tool use. Marine mammals were the first to topple that, communicating by song in that mysterious dark (first among their own kind, and then a tantalizingly “maybe with us” in early iterations of Dr. Herzing efforts), followed by primates who could learn sign language and perhaps speak with “their betters.” (Pick up a copy of Daniel Quinn’s “Ishmael” for a truly wonderful exploration of that theme.)

    Add to Dr. Herzing’s TED talk even a quick peek at the scientific journals and this year alone you’ll find tool use among brown bears (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pubmed/22367156), dung beetles using the starry nighttime sky to navigate (http://www.cell.com/current-biology/retrieve/pii/), and an example of interspecies communication among fish, eel and octopus (http://www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pubmed/23612306).

    Yes, of course I see the difference between building a nuclear reactor and using a barnacle-encrusted rock to scratch an itch; I see the difference between the mind that brings us everything from “Hamlet” to “Homeland” and two mammals agreeing on which whistle and mark means “scarf.” That’s not the point. The point is that we are not alone in our abilities, including the ability to communicate. And that point, not being alone, is a big deal.

    Dr. Herzing says: “Imagine what it would be like to understand the mind of another intelligent species on the planet.” I try to, just as I often try to recall the words of naturalist Henry Beston from his “The Outermost House,” written almost a century ago:

    “The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.” I look forward to the day we receive ambassadors from those nations.

    Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today’s most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend’s ideas to contribute as a writer.

  • iOS 7.1 Beta 2 Hits Developer Network

    Members of the Apple Developer Network have been seeded beta 2 of iOS 7.1 through the network.  The second beta follows on the original beta of the mobile OS back in November and according to our secret developer, is available for iPad and iPhone.
    iOS 7.1 has several big improvements and fixes in […]

    The post iOS 7.1 Beta 2 Hits Developer Network appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Camera Plus App Updated With New Filters

    The new update of the Camera Plus app elevates captures and gives it a new dimension with unique handpicked photo Filters and Text options. This version adds a refreshing set of features to the innovative ‘Lumy’ and Focus Modes and delivers more than what the iPhone camera is designed for. Camera […]

    The post Camera Plus App Updated With New Filters appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • RC Trackpad 3.0 Released – Now a Universal App with a Redesigned UI

    m3me, Inc. has announced the release of RC Trackpad 3.0 for iOS. RC Trackpad turns your iOS device into a beautiful and secure remote control for your Mac or PC. RC Trackpad has best in class wireless trackpad support with the largest selection of configurable gestures and actions. Additionally, it […]

    The post RC Trackpad 3.0 Released – Now a Universal App with a Redesigned UI appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Amounts for iPhone brings a new way to take control of personal expenses

    Swift Fox Software is introducing Amounts for iPhone, a personal expense tracker designed to make users more aware of their spending. The app features a clean interface designed specifically for iOS 7.
    Users can add new transactions in seconds with the streamlined entry system. A receipt photo and […]

    The post Amounts for iPhone brings a new way to take control of personal expenses appeared first on AlliOSNews.

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