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

Websites begin exposing Safari push notification support as Mavericks nears public release

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With the launch of Mavericks imminent, a handful of major websites have begun supporting the Safari Push Notification feature. These sites include The New York Times, NBA.com and social network Pinterest. HTML 5 web notifications have been supported by all major browsers, including Safari, for a while. However, the HTML 5 native feature requires the page to be open for notifications to be sent, as noted by MacRumors.

Meanwhile, Safari Push Notifications mirror the user experience associated with native app push notifications. With user consent, a supporting website can send notifications to your Mac without the page (or even, Safari) being open. This is because this system uses Apple’s Push Notification Service servers — rather than the local client — to function. Because of this server-side integration, the utility of website notifications increases dramatically.

With major support already implemented by such big sites, it seems like this will be a big deal for end-users. More sites will undoubtedly roll out support in the coming days. For instance, CNN was used to demo the feature at WWDC but is yet to go live publicly. Mavericks is expected to launch by the end of the week. It is very likely Apple will confirm the OS’ launch date at its special media event later today. Read more

Clear + Leap Motion, Runtastic, DataMan Pro, Orbitz for iPad, Adobe Muse, deals, more

News:

Clear for Mac + Leap Motion: We’ve brought you a couple hands-on demos of the Leap Motion controller before, and today popular productivity app Clear for Mac announced it is working on bringing support for Leap Motion to Clear. There’s no timeframe yet, but Realmac Software provided the short preview above.

Updates:

Runtastic version 2.10.1: Personal fitness tracking app Runtastic gets a nice update today that brings more Sport types, improved Facebook integration, and number of other bug fixes and performance enhancements.

DataMan-ProDataMan Pro version 6.3: After some trouble getting by Apple review guidelines with its last update, DataMan Pro is back on the App Store today and is 50% off for a limited time to celebrate. The app has also been completely redesigned:

The resurrected DataMan Pro has been completely reinvented to feature a stunning new interface, an intelligent real-time data usage forecast, and most advanced app tracking… The powerful App Watch technology that users love is also back. You can see the usage statistics for all apps. This amazing capability empowers you to root out data-hungry apps… The new DataMan Pro includes Smart Forecast and the beautiful interface that were recently introduced in DataMan Next. Combined with precise real-time tracking, you can say goodbye to overage.

Orbitz Flights, Hotels, Cars 3.0: Yesterday Orbitz launched its first “fully native, in-app search and book experience” for the iPad with an update to its Orbitz Flights, Hotels, Cars app that brings support for the larger screen and new iPad-specific features:

Our award-winning app (App Store Editors’ Choice & Hall of Fame inductee) is now also optimized for iPad and iPad mini! iPad users enjoy *all* the same app features as iPhone users, plus iPad-exclusives like a dual list/map view of hotels and the ability to compare details of multiple flights, rental cars, or hotels from a single screen.

Adobe Muse: Adobe announced today that it is updating Adobe Muse with some highly requested new features: Read more

Here’s all of the public information on Apple’s watchmaking activity

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Since the old iWatch rumor reared its head again in December, there have been a few more reliable sources adding weight to the idea that we could see a smart watch from Apple this year. Over the weekend, The New York Times, which said essentially the same thing in 2011, followed up the rumors with a report that Apple is working on a curved glass watch prototype running iOS. The Wall Street Journal quickly followed with more information, claiming Apple and partner Foxconn are now testing wearable, watch-like devices.

While many have speculated what Apple might include in an iWatch, such as Apple employee #66 and founder of Apple’s Human Interface Group Bruce Tognazzini, all we get from reports is “curved glass” and “iOS”. Apple has clearly been testing wearable prototypes with several patents dating as far back as 2009, describing potential integration with wristwatches and iOS devices. By taking a look at the technology for watches that Apple is already experimenting with through the many publicly available patents, we put together a list of some of the features the company could very well include in an Apple-branded smart watch. Read more

The New York Times is back with the curved glass iOS iWatch story (U: WSJ too)

Image (5) iWatch.jpeg for post 22979According to a report from Nick Bilton from The New York Times, citing people close to the situation, Apple is currently in the process of developing a wristwatch that utilizes curved glass. This isn’t the first time Bilton has reported that Apple has wearable devices in the works, and there has recently been many rumors that Apple could indeed compete with a Bluetooth watch of its own. In December 2011, Bilton reported that a small group of people at Apple were “conceptualizing and even prototyping” wearable devices. The group was likely lead by wearable computer expert Richard DeVaul at the time, and it was said to be prototyping a “curved-glass iPod that would wrap around the wrist.” DeVaul jumped ship to Google in 2011, but Bitlon said Apple is pushing ahead with its bendable iOS wristwatch.

In today’s report, Bilton claimed the watch would run iOS and stand out from the competition due to Apple’s unique process of implementing curved glass in wearable form factors: Read more

New York City Mayor Bloomberg blames iPhones & iPads for increase in crime

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In September, we noted some statistics from the NYPD that claimed Apple-related crimes were increasing 10 times the 4 percent increase other crime in the city was experiencing. Today, New York City Michael Bloomberg is once again pointing to thefts of iPhones and iPads as the cause of the increase in the city’s annual crime index (via The New York Times):

Crime in New York City inched up this year, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Friday fingered the culprit: too many iPhones and iPads were being swiped.

As of Monday, the Police Department recorded 3,484 more crimes than for the same period last year. A full breakdown of the year’s crime statistics was not immediately available, but city officials were quick to focus on the Apple figure. The increase in Apple product thefts: 3,890.

“If you just took away the jump in Apple, we’d be down for the year,” said Marc La Vorgna, the mayor’s press secretary.