New leaked docs show NSA collects personal data from smartphone apps

New documents leaked by Edward Snowden and reported by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica detail how the NSA and its British counterpart can collect users’ personal data through smartphone apps. The reports specifically mention popular apps like Angry Birds, Twitter, Google Maps and Facebook and claim the NSA is capable of intercepting information ranging from location, age, and sex of users to address books, buddy lists, phone logs, geographic data and more:

The N.S.A. and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters were working together on how to collect and store data from dozens of smartphone apps by 2007, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.

At least one of the app developers, Rovio, is not surprisingly unaware of any of the activity mentioned in the documents, but it will be up to the app developers, Apple, and Google to address the issue and clarify for users if their personal data is safe. In a recent interview with ABC, Apple CEO Tim Cook commented on the controversy over surveillance programs and promised he would press congress for more transparency: Read more

Incipio & AT&T finally launch NFC-enabled Cashwrap iPhone case for ISIS payments

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A little over a year ago at CES 2013, we first got a look at a new case from Incipio that would allow iPhone users to take advantage of the NFC-based ISIS mobile wallet service that rolled out back in October 2012 for AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile customers. While ISIS is usually restricted to NFC enabled Android devices, Incipio teamed up with AT&T to create a case for iPhone called Cashwrap that builds-in the NFC chip and allows iPhone users to make payments using ISIS. Today the company has finally made things official announcing that The Cashwrap will be available online starting today for $69. It will also land in AT&T retail locations starting January 31.  Read more

Jimmy Fallon scrambles to hide his MacBook during Bill Gates interview (Video)

Bill Gates stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night to talk about his various charitable endeavours and to promote the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual letter published today. Despite the serious subject matter, Jimmy still managed to squeeze in a few laughs including apologizing for the MacBook and Apple keyboard and mouse that sit on his desk each night before removing them for the rest of the interview.

And then there was this: Read more

Is the Nest Protect fire alarm giving users false alarms?

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Late last September it was rumored that a smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector would join the now Google-owned Nest line of smart thermostats and was later announced in early October to a great response.

The Nest Protect, which retails for $129 in both a wired and battery powered variant, intelligently interacts with an iPhone app called Nest Home with warnings about low batteries (if applicable) and when alarms are active or about to be active. It also features a handy dismissal gesture for silencing a screaming alarm.

Some users, however, are reporting a number of unprompted false alarms unrelated to cooking or other reasonable instances. One user even reported the alarm stubbornly going off for 30 minutes in the middle of the night with no sign of smoke and ignoring prompts to dismiss the alarm after an apparent glitch in the device… Read more

Apple marketing chief Schiller unfollows Nest & Tony Fadell on Twitter following Google deal

Schiller and Fadell on the left (image via web)

Schiller and Fadell on the left

Only a few days after “father of the iPod” Tony Fadell agreed to sell thermostat and smoke detector maker Nest to Google for north of three billion dollars, Apple senior vice president (and former Fadell colleague) Phil Schiller has unfollowed the Nest CEO and the Nest company on Twitter.

Here’s Schiller’s following list from a recent cache:

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Google acquires smart thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 billion in cash, Father of iPod now Google employee

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Google has confirmed in a press release that it is acquiring Nest Labs, the company behind Nest smart thermostats and fire alarms started by Father of the iPod Tony Fadell. Earlier reports were quickly confirmed along with the transaction price of $3.2 billion in cash in an official announcement posted on the company’s Investor website. In the statement, Google said that Fadell will be staying on board as a Google employee and continuing to run Nest:
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