This Week in Tech 623: Binders Full of CEOs

Disney will build a Star Wars-themed hotel where each guest gets a story. Uber says they are getting lots of applications for their open CEO post, but nobody big seems interested. Apple iPhone 8 rumors abound. Google is trying to eliminate Zika by releasing 20 million bacteria-infected mosquitos in Fresno, CA. Amazon is creating a new messaging app called Anytime. Prime Day was Amazon’s biggest sales day ever, and Best Buy stock dropped $1 billion over the rumor that Amazon is developing a Geek Squad competitor. If you don’t want Homeland Security to scan your face, you shouldn’t travel. Windows Phone 8.1 is dead. US welcomes Afghan girls robotics team, and the “world’s first robot lawyer” – meanwhile, Elon Musk warns that we need AI regulation sooner rather than later.

• Devindra Hardawar is still mad that new iPhones have no headphone jack.
• Georgia Dow needs a house with two VR rooms.
• Jill Duffy is learning Romanian on Duolingo.

This Week in Tech 621: Butler in a Box

New York Times reporter Katie Benner joins us to talk about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. Former host of MacBreak Weekly Scott Bourne joins us to talk about what it was like getting the 1st iPhone 10 years ago. This Week in Law host Denise Howell talks about the EU’s €2.42 billion judgement against Google, and Zillow’s suit against McMansion Hell. Iain Thompson rounds out the panel with some luddite views of the Amazon Echo Show and harsh words for The Guardian.

This Week in Tech 620: From Key West to Key Largo

Amazon buys Whole Foods, might buy Slack. Travis Kalanick resigns as Uber CEO. The best drones money can buy. iPad Pro is the future of Mac laptops. Neighbor spoofing robocaller made a million calls a day. Apple Music now $99/year. Why Apple made the iPhone.

–Owen JJ Stone has strange ideas about geography.
–Tom Merritt writes books about time travel.
–Jason Hiner writes books about amazing podcasters.

Microsoft writes the final chapter in the book of Zune

By | TechSpot

Microsoft over the weekend wrote the final chapter in the book of Zune, making good on its promise to retire a streaming music subscription service long past its prime.

The move means that owners of Microsoft’s failed media player are no longer able to streaming or download content from the Zune music service. As such, the device has effectively been downgraded to a standard MP3 player although Microsoft says that media purchased with DRM may not play if its license can’t be renewed.

Those with existing Zune Music Pass subscriptions will be automatically converted to Groove Music Pass subscriptions.

This past summer, Microsoft ditched its Xbox Music branding in favor of Groove, a name that resident Microsoft blogger Brandon LeBlanc said described what people feel and do with music. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore said the change was made to eliminate confusion as some believed the service was an Xbox exclusive.

Microsoft introduced the Zune in late 2006 as an obvious (yet late) answer to the iPod. Apple, meanwhile, was busy working on the original iPhone that Steve Jobs would unveil just a few months later in early 2007. Jobs famously billed the iPhone as an iPod, a phone and an Internet communicator.

It wasn’t long until the concept of a standalone MP3 player became obsolete, its functions instead rolled into modern smartphones. Had Microsoft launched the Zune a few years earlier, it would have almost certainly found more success.

Apple’s market share grows as Windows Phone continues to drop, Android still king

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech has released quarterly data for smartphone market share, and it is again bad news for Windows Phone fans, as the mobile operating system continues its decline in both U.S. and Europe, and barely manages to survive in other markets.

Apple’s market share has been given a great boost by strong sales of the company’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and has continued its growth towards the end of 2014. The three month data survey ending November 2014 shows iOS eating heartily at Android’s sweets, managing to climb at roughly the same performance in the U.S., as shown in the image above.

Android also suffered losses in the Chinese and European markets, the most serious being in the U.K., where it saw a drop from over 60% in June 2014 to just under 50% in only five months, and we have yet to see what happened during the holidays, when iDevices were apparently the most popular gift.

Meanwhile, Windows Phone is hitting new lows in some markets, sitting at 7% in the U.K., 3% in the U.S., and 12.7% in Italy as of November 2014. The mobile OS is almost invisible in China, at a meager 0.6%, but Joe Belfiore has promised to change that in the near future, with special features dedicated to Chinese customers.

We have yet to see how Microsoft’s Lumia 730 and Lumia 830 performed during the holiday sales, but it’s clear that Windows Phone is in dire need of more market penetration. Hopefully the next version of Windows Phone will make the platform more attractive for users and developers alike.

Overall, it looks like Android still holds the crown as the global king of smartphones, especially due to Xiaomi’s contribution in the Chinese market, and satisfied customers of Samsung that are not looking to switch to Apple’s new iPhones.

via Apple’s market share grows as Windows Phone continues to drop, Android still king – Neowin.

Apple iOS 8.1.2 fixes an issue with disappearing ringtones

Apple’s fifth patch for iOS 8 is now live. iOS 8.1.2 is said to address an issue in which ringtones purchased through iTunes were unexpectedly disappearing from devices.

The update is also said to include various bug fixes although Apple didn’t outline what specifically those were. The company’s security update listing hasn’t been revised with iOS 8.1.2 as of writing so it’s unclear what the other bug fixes consist of.

The update is compatible with the iPhone 4S and newer, every iPad expect the first-generation model and last but not least, the fifth generation iPod touch. It’s available as an over-the-air update for devices with enough free storage (navigate to Settings > General > Software Update to initiate the download).

Should you not have enough free space, you’ll need to connect to iTunes on a computer to get the update.

In the event you lost any ringtones as a result of the bug, Apple’s restore website will guide you through the steps necessary to get them back.

Looking ahead, Apple is already reportedly working on iOS 8.2 which, among other things, will deliver support for Apple’s first wearable, Apple Watch. The final build of iOS 8.2 is expected sometime early next year and will likely come just ahead of or alongside the arrival of the smartwatch.

iOS 8.3 is also in the pipeline although it’s still too early to know what that update will have in store.

via Apple iOS 8.1.2 fixes an issue with disappearing ringtones – TechSpot.

iPhone 6 first weekend beats last year’s iPhone 5 sales, sets record

For the third September in a row, people around the United States have queued up (physically and virtually) to buy the latest Apple iPhone—and for the third September in a row, Apple has sold a hell of a lot of iDevices. A report this morning from The New York Times indicates that the Cupertino company has delivered more than 10 million shiny new iPhones 6 and 6 Plus, a number that The Times characterizes as being at the high end of analyst expectations.

Further Reading

“I‘m not leaving without a gold one!” Tales from the iPhone 5S line

The smartphone as a fashion accessory leads to stupid histrionics.

Last year, with the introduction of the iPhone 5S and 5C, Apple sold somewhere in the area of nine million devices (though there weren’t as many gold devices as some shoppers would have liked). This year, Apple’s decision to offer larger screens has drawn a large amount of consumer interest—and opening weekend sales that reflect this.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus has been the most difficult device to locate, with projected fulfillment of online orders quickly slipping into October. Apple’s official press release addresses the high demand with this quote from CEO Tim Cook: “While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible.”

If you’re still trying to decide whether or not you want to take the plunge (or the pludge, as Ars Openforum denizens would say) and buy a new big iPhone, then we’ve got something in the pipe that might help: Ars Apple expert Andrew Cunningham is putting the finishing touches on our iPhone 6 and 6 Plus review at this very moment. It will provide our customary in-depth look at the new devices up in the next day or two, and it’ll tell you everything you need to know!

via iPhone 6 first weekend beats last year’s iPhone 5 sales, sets record | Ars Technica.

Apple reportedly negotiating with carriers on a $100 price hike for iPhone 6

Trying to predict the feature set, specifications and design of the next iPhone is a game that many have played for years but one thing has remained a constant through it all: pricing. The new iPhone has traditionally started at $199 (excluding the original that debuted at $499 and last year’s plastic 5c at $99) but some analysts now believe Apple is preparing to move in the other direction with the iPhone 6.

According to Jeffries & Co. analyst Peter Misek, Apple has started to negotiate with wireless carriers on a $100 price increase for the next iPhone. The analyst claims carriers are reluctant to make the change but then again, they’ve also conceded that there will be no other game-changing device this year.

Most of the competition has already launched their flagship smartphones for 2014 and while handsets like the HTC One M8 and the Galaxy S5 are impressive in their own right, most would agree that they are evolutionary updates instead of revolutionary new devices.

Misek didn’t touch on specifically which models of the iPhone the price increase is related to. Conventional wisdom would suggest the rumored 4.7-inch handset would retain the same $199 introductory pricing while the larger 5.5-inch phablet would command the extra money.

A price increase like this would make sense as we’ve seen it with other large phones to hit the market but we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.


via Apple reportedly negotiating with carriers on a $100 price hike for iPhone 6 – TechSpot.

iOS 7 finally gets jailbroken, just in time for the holidays

In time for the holiday season, an iOS 7 jailbreak has been released from the Evasi0n team, supporting all iPhones, iPod touches, iPads and iPad minis running iOS 7.0 to 7.0.4. The jailbreak is untethered, meaning the device its installed on will remain jailbroken after a reboot.

The process to jailbreak an iOS 7 device is said to be quite easy, taking around five minutes to complete. Once the installer has finished its work, you will be able to begin customizing your device and installing third-party applications, just like with any previous jailbreak for older iOS versions.

However this jailbreak is not without controversy. It has been reported that the version of Cydia (a third-party app store) included with the jailbreak is not official, nor updated. It has also come to light that a second app store called Taig is installed on devices where the language is set to Chinese; Taig sells some cracked/pirated applications, which many members of the jailbreaking community are not happy about.

The good news is that members of team Evasi0n, despite entering an agreement with Taig, are on the case to remove any signs of piracy from the Chinese marketplace. Evasi0n had hoped that their “cooperation with Taig will improve the piracy situation in China”, and will continue to remove pirated apps where they are discovered.

via iOS 7 finally gets jailbroken, just in time for the holidays – TechSpot.