An anonymous reader writes "Last week Valve made an interesting but seemingly innocuous announcement: they're giving game developers control of their own pricing on Steam. Nicholas Lovell now claims that this has effectively kicked off a race to zero for PC game pricing. He says what's starting to happen now will mirror what's happened to mobile gaming over the past several years. Quoting: 'Free is the dominant price point on mobile platforms. Why? Because the two main players don't care much about making money from the sale of software, or even In-App Purchases. The AppStore is less than 1% of Apple's revenue. Apple has become one of the most valuable companies in the world on the strength of making high-margin, well-designed, highly-desirable hardware. ... Google didn't create Android to sell software. It built Android to create an economic moat. ... In the case of both iOS and Android, keeping prices high for software would have been in direct opposition to the core businesses of Apple (hardware) and Google (search-related advertising). The only reason that ebooks are not yet free is that Amazon's core business is retail, not hardware. ... Which brings me to Steam. The Steambox is a competitor to consoles, created by Valve. It is supposed to provide an out-of-the-box PC gaming experience, although it struggles to compete on either price or on marketing with the consoles. It doesn't seem as if Steam is keen to subsidize the costs of the box, not to the level that Microsoft and Sony are. But what if Steam's [unique selling point] was thousands or tens of thousands of games for free?'"
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sfcrazy writes "Linux is on a roll. After conquering the smartphone space, Android is now dominating the tablet space. According to a new study by Gartner, 'the tablet growth in 2013 was fueled by the low-end smaller screen tablet market, and first time buyers; this led Android to become the No. 1 tablet operating system (OS), with 62 percent of the market.'" Also, everyone is buying tablets.(~200 million sold in 2013 vs ~115 million in 2012). Microsoft still only has 2% of the tablet market.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple announced today a system called CarPlay, which integrates your iPhone with your car, with Siri voice control. CarPlay will be offered in Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo vehicles this year, and others 'down the road.' From the press release: 'CarPlay makes driving directions more intuitive by working with Maps to anticipate destinations based on recent trips via contacts, emails or texts, and provides routing instructions, traffic conditions and ETA. You can also simply ask Siri and receive spoken turn-by-turn directions, along with Maps, which will appear on your car’s built-in display.'
An anonymous reader tips news that Apple's efforts to bring iOS to cars will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show next week. 'Drivers will be able to use Apple Maps as in-car navigation, as well as listen to music and watch films. Calls can be made through the system, which will tie into the Siri voice recognition platform so that messages can be read to the driver who can respond by dictating a reply.' Apple's partners in the automotive industry will be Volvo, Ferrari, and Mercedes Benz to start. Apple first said they were working on this system at last year's WWDC.
An anonymous reader writes "Columnist Jon Evans points out that the tech industry has been slowly getting stranger over the past several years. When you look at the headlines individually, they all seem to make sense, but putting them together and trying to imagine them popping up a decade ago really illustrates how odd it has become. Quoting: 'In Japan, some half-billion dollars' worth of cryptocurrency vanished from a site founded to trade Magic: The Gathering cards. In New Zealand, the world's greatest Call of Duty player has launched a political party to revenge himself on those who had him arrested and seized his sports cars. In Britain, the secret service is busy collecting and watching homegrown porn. Here in Silicon Valley, mighty Apple just revealed that a flagrant, basic programming error gutted the security of all its devices for years. Google, "more wood behind fewer arrows" Google, now has its own navy, to go with its air force and robot army.'"
itwbennett writes "Who doesn't love free text messages? People who try to transition from an iPhone to any other phone, that's who. Apple's Messages app actively moves conversations away from paid text messages to free Messages. Very convenient until you want to leave your iPhone and switch back to plain old text messages because suddenly you'll be unable to receive text messages from your iPhone-toting friends. There's an obscure workaround, and Samsung, which has a vested interest in the matter, has a lengthy guide to removing your iPhone as a registered receiver of Messages . But the experience is just annoying enough that it might be the kind of thing that would keep someone from making a switch — and that's when it starts to feel like deliberate lock-in, and not so much like something Apple overlooked."
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook today began prompting Facebook Messenger for Windows users as well as Facebook Messenger for Firefox users with a message saying the apps are shutting down next week. Without much of an explanation, the company plans to kill off both on March 3. It appears that Facebook is no longer interested in developing desktop apps. The Android and iOS versions are still alive and well." You can always connect to their IM service using a generic XMPP client like Pidgin (too bad Facebook doesn't federate).
Nerval's Lobster writes "Flappy Bird might be kaput, but its hilariously awkward hero is serving another useful purpose in its afterlife: teaching people how to code. Flappy Bird, a free mobile game for Android and iOS that asks the player to guide the titular avian through an obstacle course of vertical pipes, became a sensation earlier this year, seizing the top spots on the Apple and Google Play app stores. Its creator, Dong Nguyen, said the game earned him an average of $50,000 a day through in-app advertising — but that didn't stop him from yanking the game offline in early February. Now Code.org has resurrected Flappy Bird, Phoenix-style, from the smoking wreckage, with a free tutorial that allows anyone with a bit of time to code his or her very own version of the game. There's no actual code to learn, thanks to a visual interface that allows budding developers to drag 'blocks' of commands into place. 'Flappy Bird recently met its untimely death. We might've been tempted to cry all day and give up on spreading computer science (not really, but R.I.P Flappy Bird),' read a note on Code.org's blog. 'Instead, we built a new drag-and-drop tutorial that lets you build your own Flappy game — whether it's Flappy Bird, or Flappy Easter Bunny, Flappy Santa, Flappy Shark with Lasers, Flappy Fairy or Flappy Underwater Unicorn.' Childish? Maybe. But it could help draw people into coding for fun or profit."
An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow, says the mobile app ecosystem is getting out of hand. 'Your platform now has a million apps? Amazing! Wonderful! What they don't tell you is that 99% of them are awful junk that nobody would ever want.' Atwood says most companies trying to figure out how to get users to install their app should instead be figuring out just why they need a mobile app in the first place. Fragmentation is another issue, as mobile devices continue to speciate and proliferate. 'Unless you're careful to build equivalent apps in all those places, it's like having multiple parallel Internets. "No, sorry, it's not available on that Internet, only the iOS phone Internet." Or even worse, only on the United States iOS phone Internet.' Monetization has turned into a race to the bottom, and it's led to worries about just what an app will do with the permissions it's asking for. Atwood concludes, 'The tablet and phone app ecosystem is slowly, painstakingly reinventing everything I hated about the computer software industry before the web blew it all up.'"
exomondo writes "Following hot on the heels of the iOS (and OS X) SSL security bug comes the latest vulnerability in Apple's mobile operating system. It is a security bug that can be used as a vector for malware to capture touch screen, volume rocker, home button and (on supported devices) TouchID sensor presses, information that could be sent to a remote server to re-create the user's actions. The vulnerability exists in even the most recent versions of iOS and the authors claim that they delivered a proof-of-concept monitoring app through the App Store."
theodp writes "A conversation with an angry young developer prompts Microsoft Program Manager Scott Hanselman to blog about 'Microsoft Haters: The Next Generation.' 'The ones I find the most interesting,' says Hanselman, are the 'Microsoft killed my Pappy' people, angry with generational anger. My elders hated Microsoft so I hate them. Why? Because, you wronged me.' The U.S. and Japan managed to get over the whole World War II thing, Hanselman notes, so why can't people manage to get past the Microsoft antitrust thing, which was initiated in 1998 for actions in 1994? 'At some point you let go,' he suggests, 'and you start again with fresh eyes.' Despite the overall good-humored, why-can't-we-get-along tone of his post, Hanselman can't resist one dig that seems aimed at putting things into perspective for those who would still Slashdot like it's 1999: 'I wonder if I can swap out Chrome from Chrome OS or Mobile Safari in iOS.'"
Trailrunner7 writes "The certificate-validation vulnerability that Apple patched in iOS yesterday also affects Mac OS X up to 10.9.1, the current version. Several security researchers analyzed the patch and looked at the code in question in OS X and found that the same error exists there as in iOS. Researcher Adam Langley did an analysis of the vulnerable code in OS X and said that the issue lies in the way that the code handles a pair of failures in a row. The bug affects the signature verification process in such a way that a server could send a valid certificate chain to the client and not have to sign the handshake at all, Langley found. Some users are reporting that Apple is rolling out a patch for his vulnerability in OS X, but it has not shown up for all users as yet. Langley has published a test site that will show OS X users whether their machines are vulnerable."
wiredmikey writes "Users of iOS devices will find themselves with a new software update to install, thanks to a certificate validation flaw in the mobile popular OS. While Apple provides very little information when disclosing security issues, the company said that an attacker with a 'privileged network position could capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS.' 'While this flaw itself does not allow an attacker to compromise a vulnerable device, it is still a very serious threat to the privacy of users as it can be exploited through Man-in-the-Middle attack,' VUPEN's Chaouki Bekrar told SecurityWeek. For example, when connecting to an untrusted WiFi network, attackers could spy on user connections to websites and services that are supposed to be using encrypted communications, Bekrar said. Users should update their iOS devices to iOS 7.0.6 as soon as possible." Adds reader Trailrunner7: "The wording of the description is interesting, as it suggests that the proper certificate-validation checks were in place at some point in iOS but were later removed somehow. The effect of an exploit against this vulnerability would be for an attacker with a man-in-the-middle position on the victim's network would be able to read supposedly secure communications. It's not clear when the vulnerability was introduced, but the CVE entry for the bug was reserved on Jan. 8."
Andy Updegrove writes "Three weeks ago, we heard that Francis Maude, a senior UK government minister, was predicting the conversion to open source office suites by UK government agencies. Lost in the translation in many stories was the fact that this was based not on an adopted policy, but on a proposal still open for public comment — and subject to change. It should be no surprise that Microsoft is trying to get the UK to add OOXML, its own format standard, to the UK policy. Why? According to a messaging sent to its UK partners, because it believes that a failure to include OOXML 'will cause problems for citizens and businesses who use office suites which don't support ODF, including many people who do not use a recent version of Microsoft Office or, for example, Pages on iOS and even Google Docs.' Of course, that's because Microsoft pushed OOXML as an alternative to ODF a decade ago. If you don't want the same objection to be valid a decade from now, consider making your views known at the Cabinet Office Standards Hub. The deadline is February 26."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted in a Bloomberg interview that he had engaged in 'conversations' with Apple, but refused to disclose the content of those talks. Rumors have circulated for several days that Apple executives met with Musk last spring about a possible acquisition. An anonymous source with knowledge of those discussions told SFGate.com that discussions included Adrian Perica, who heads up Apple's M&A division, and possibly Apple CEO Tim Cook. 'Both [Tesla and Apple] have built brands based on advanced engineering and stylish user-friendly design,' the newspaper noted. 'And each company has become a symbol of Silicon Valley innovation—even among people who don't own their products.' But in the interview, Musk framed an acquisition as 'very unlikely,' mostly because it would distract Tesla from its goal of building an affordable electric car. 'I don't see any scenario,' he added, in which Tesla could juggle the issues associated with a takeover while producing vehicles that met his perfectionist standards. He did suggest, however, that Apple's iOS and Google Android could find their respective ways into Tesla's in-vehicle software. Tesla executives once considered integrating an early version of Android into the company's first electric cars, but the software ultimately wasn't ready to serve as an automotive application. Nonetheless, Musk could see iOS or Android within the context of a 'projected mode or emulator' that would allow someone to use applications while driving, although 'that's peripheral to the goal of Tesla.'"
cartechboy writes "Mercedes-Benz has devised a crazy new 360-degree video capture method that allows you to follow live-action video from just about any angle you choose. This new piece of tech will launch with the Mercedes AMG F1 team this year, and gives you the ability to swivel and tilt the camera angle in pretty much any direction as the car speeds around the track. The device uses wide-angle cameras arranged in a ball and then stitched together into a panoramic view. Of course there's an iOS app that lets you watch all this."
An anonymous reader writes "Mark Shuttleworth just had a conference call with the press where he announced Canonical has partnered with BQ in Europe and Meizu in China to manufacture Ubuntu phones that will ship in 2014. By the time devices ship, the hope is to have ports of the top 50 Android and iOS apps available on Ubuntu." Mark Shuttleworth notes "The mobile industry has long been looking for a viable alternative to those that reign today. Ubuntu puts the control back into the hands of our partners and presents an exciting platform for consumers, delivering an experience which departs from the tired app icon grid of Android and iOS and provides a fluid, content-rich experience for all."
snydeq writes "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has some advice for Apple CEO Tim Cook: consider offering a phone based on the rival Google Android platform. Speaking at the Apps World conference in San Francisco, Wozniak made the suggestion of an Apple Android device when responding to a question about the fate of the faltering BlackBerry platform, saying that BlackBerry should have built an Android phone, and that Apple could do so, too. 'BlackBerry's very sad for me,' Wozniak lamented. 'I think it's probably too late now' for an Android-based BlackBerry phone. Apple, Woz said, has had some lucky victories in the marketplace in the past decade, and BlackBerry's demise may provide a cautionary tale: 'There's nothing to keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes: "It's no secret that Nintendo faces significant challenges: revenues are down, rival platforms such as Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 are attracting a lot of buzz, and iOS and Android have made significant inroads into mobile gaming. Rather than double down on its core business, however, Nintendo reportedly sees its salvation in new, nongaming segments such as... monitoring your health? 'We have now redefined entertainment to mean making it fun for people to improve the quality of their lives,' Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata told a company strategy meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal. But he refused to part with more detail about Nintendo's plans, except to claim that whatever's in the works isn't a wearable device along the lines of Nike's FuelBand or the FitBit, and it isn't an iteration of the Wii Balance Board, an accessory that measures the user's weight and center of balance while playing games."
itwbennett writes "Yesterday, a story suggesting that Amazon was planning to launch a sub-$300 Android game console made the rounds. A $300 box to play mobile games on your TV? ITworld's Peter Smith doesn't buy it. 'If Amazon is working on some kind of set-top box, it's going to be about streaming,' says Smith. 'Music, video, and games. Remember back in November when Amazon announced G2, a new AWS instance type designed for streaming GPU intensive tasks like games? Combine Amazon's G2 cloud servers and an Amazon set top box for console-like game streaming, plus supporting Android and/or iOS games (possibly the latter would also be streamed), and of course support for Amazon Video and MP3, and we're getting closer to something that may be worth $300.'"