Tech News Roundup: Social, mobile and security raise stakes
Happy Thursday, aka Raven blog news day! Japan and tech, online app security, Facebook futures, and miscellaneous fun stuff on the docket. To the links!
The devastating situation in Japan following last week’s tsunami has had a ripple effect in the tech world. Google dedicated efforts to help those affected by the crisis and their families by aggregating information on missing people, available shelters and tsunami warning alerts. Google Maps imagery also helped the global community get a sense of the damage leveled by the tsunami, a striking visual that partially illustrates the impact of the destruction.
Americans are likely to feel aftereffects of the disaster in the rising price of key electronic components commonly supplied by Japan, such as LCD components and memory. While the majority of factories escaped tsunami damage, halting of shipping and transportation may create supply shortages in a few weeks. The world is wishing Japan a quick and secure recovery.
The realm of security has seen action this week. A security specialist advocacy group, Privacy International, claims to have identified vulnerabilities in Skype. That downloads are not made through a secure connection and that names rather than unique IDs are used to identify users are among the risks noted in a report.
Seeking enhanced security on the Web, yesterday the Obama administration called for a data privacy bill of rights during a meeting of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. New “baseline consumer data privacy protections” would protect personal data, regulate data collection and bring the United States in step with privacy laws in Canada and Europe, the Commerce Department Assistant Secretary testified.
Yesterday, Twitter went down for a period following a security deployment. Users now have the option to always enable Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) when using the site. HTTPS was already the default option for the Twitter iPhone app, and the company said it plans to make it the default option on the site at some point in the future. It’s not known if the rollout of the additional security setting was the cause of yesterdays brief outage.
Meanwhile, at Facebook, the social network continues to experiment with media and site services. A pre-season MLB match up was free to watch via the Major League Baseball page, and the organization will be offering free game viewing through Facebook with the goal of upselling viewers to a subscription to the digital video package at least until opening day to test the promotional power of the Facebook. The Ultimate Fighting Championship are also trying Facebook based match viewing.
And attempting to capitalize on the massive success of Groupon, Facebook will soon be testing a local deals service. The test will expand on the Deals program, which provides discount offers to members when they check in to local businesses on the network. The first test cites are Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, San Francisco and San Diego.
In Apple news, ship dates for iPad 2 online orders have been pushed to four to five weeks, a longer time frame than the original two to three weeks previously available to those who ordered an iPad through Apple’s site. Availability of the iPad 2 in Japan has been delayed indefinitely as Apple teams recover from the tsunami and its secondary effects.
Also in mobile computing, a mobile analytics company released data on how many iPhones are running on the AT&T and Verizon networks since the Verizon iPhone was released last month. In that time, Verizon has secured nearly one in eight iPhones, for 12.4 percent of the iPhone market.
Finally, it’s a fun time to be a basketball fan as the NCAA Championship is underway. If you’re a fan of the game, there are some fun Google-flavored ways to get in the spirit of March Madness. Google has rounded up action packed Chrome apps, tournament schedules, bracket generators and virtual tours of college campuses and venue. While today the fashion is to be decked in green, you know I’m saving my energy for my orange tomorrow. Happy St. Patrick’s Day and go teams!