If you've ever wanted to take massively-sized photographs without lugging around a DSLR camera, I've got a smartphone for you. Last week, Nokia unveiled the Windows 8-powered Lumia 1020, complete with a 41-megapixel PureView camera and Carl Zeiss optics. Yep, you heard me right - 41 megapixels. The massive 41-megapixel images are processed by new Pro Camera and Smart Camera software, which are also hitting other Lumias soon. Since a 41-megapixel image is far too big for a mobile upload, the Lumia 1020 actually saves two versions of each photo you take: the full 41-megapixel image as well as a 5-megapixel version, which is far more conducive to sharing on Facebook. The rest of the Lumia 1020's specs are good, not great: it features a 4.5-inch AMOLED display, a dual-core processor and 32 gigs of storage. If you've absolutely got to own the phone with the best built-in camera on the market, the Nokia Lumia 1020 will hit AT&T store shelves exclusively on July 26 for $299 with a new two-year contract.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
It's far from a scientific sample, but I noticed a lot of people in my Twitter feed over the past few weeks lamenting a lack of thorough media coverage surrounding the political crisis in Egypt. Certainly, when the George Zimmerman trial reached its apex, one might have assumed things in Egypt had reached a peaceful resolution, given how little news could be found in the mainstream US media.
It turns out that media companies are pretty astute at knowing what their audiences want to see, even if it doesn't jibe with the smaller but more vocal Twitterati. Turn on your local network news for five minutes and you'll figure out the formula: If people aren't interested in a given topic, the media doesn't spend a lot of time trying to change our minds.
What about Egypt?
Egypt seems to have all the makings of a sensational news topic, with its mass protests, violence, and intrigue. But do Americans really care?
We surveyed over 2,000 US adults over the past few days to gauge how concerned they were about the crisis in Egypt. Here's how they answered:
Over two-thirds of Americans have some degree of concern, with a full 30 percent characterizing themselves as Very Concerned. Thirty-two percent don't seem to care at all. When we looked at demographics, we found that women were much more likely than men to be Very Concerned, as were people over age 45, and those with an advanced education.
This doesn't tell us much, though, without comparing Egypt to other issues. So, we looked at 19 other issues we've studied using the exact same question format, like this one:
Most topics we follow on a daily basis (for our long-term tracking questions, we looked at results over the past 3 months), but a few issues were timely, like last December's Fiscal Cliff. We included a mixture of both for contrast.
To develop a consistent "Concern Index," we took the percentage of people who said "Very Concerned" and multiplied it by two, then added the percentage of people who said "Somewhat Concerned" (this did NOT take a Carnegie Mellon-trained data scientist). Based on this system, the crisis in Egypt would have a score of 98 ((30% x2) + 38%). Income inequality achieves a score of 115.
Now let's look at a litany of other issues to see how the crisis in Egypt compares:
What Stands Out?
Let's first address the elephant in the room. No matter how we sliced our numbers, the public health implications of texting-while-driving ("TWD") produced the highest concern score. These were all large samples sizes, over 5,000 respondents, reweighted to match the full US adult population. So we can't argue with the numbers. TWD is a big deal to a lot of people.
The next items on the list should come as little surprise. Health Care and Public Education rank slightly above the Economy and Jobs, but within a thin margin of error. Consumer Privacy has surged in recent months, making it to #7 on the list, just behind Gas and Energy Prices.
It's interesting to note that issues like last year's Fiscal Cliff and Bullying in Schools rank so highly above Crime and Violence and Climate Change among the general population. Clearly, these numbers might be different among respondents across the socio-economic and ideological spectrum.
We don't find the Crisis in Egypt until #17, ranking more highly than only Concussions in the NFL and last summer's LIBOR interest rate scandal. These are niche topics, to say the least.
If the mainstream media is providing little coverage of the Eqypt dispute, they may know what they're doing. Our data makes a pretty convincing case that most consumers are concerned more about issues that impact their everyday lives, like failing schools, out-of-control health care costs, tight job markets and, most importantly, that college kid in the car in front of them sending a text to his girlfriend.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
If you're using Google's "back up my data" feature for Android, the passwords to the Wi-Fi networks you access from your smartphone or tablet are available in plaintext to anyone with access to the data. And as a bug report submitted by an employee of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on July 12 suggests, that leaves them wide open to harvesting by agencies like the NSA or the FBI. "The 'Back up my data' option in Android is very convenient," wrote Micah Lee, staff technologist at the EFF. "However, it means sending a lot of private information, including passwords, in plaintext to Google. This information is vulnerable to government requests for data." The Backup Manager app stores Android device settings in Google's cloud, associated with the user account paired with the device; the Backup Manager interface is part of the core Android application API as well, so it can be used by other Android apps.
Read the full story at Ars Technica.
Poor Apple Maps. While we see very minor improvement from Apple's year-old Maps application, Google continues to improve its world-class offering pretty rapidly. Why, Wednesday, in fact, Google launched an update to the Google Maps for iOS app, adding support for the iPad, indoor maps, and a slew of other features that were released with the recent Android Google Maps update. Google Maps 2.0 now fully supports the larger screen sizes of the iPad and iPad mini, as well as offering indoor maps with walking directions for transit stations, airports, malls and other large buildings. Past that, you'll also notice that the Google Maps iOS app now offers better navigation with live traffic updates and incident reports. Meanwhile, Apple Maps still hasn't figured out transit directions.
Read the full story at TechCrunch.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The Vatican has taken another step in its efforts to embrace social media by offering "indulgences" to followers of Pope Francis' (@Pontifex) Twitter account. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reports that the church will reduce the time Catholics have to spend in purgatory if they follow official Vatican events on TV, radio, and through social media. One such event is the Catholic World Youth Day, commencing in Rio de Janeiro on July 22nd. The Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins, will award the privilege to the faithful that follow the event using different forms of media. Pope Francis' followers are not immediately granted an indulgence for tracking the event, with the penitentiary noting that it would hinge on the user having previously confessed and being "truly penitent and contrite."
Read the full story at The Verge.
As Apple's next-generation iPhone 5S enters mass production, we're seeing all of the puzzle pieces fall into place. Photos are leaking, new details are trickling out, and rumors of production issues and possible delays are spreading like wildfire, just like they do every year. Now, a new report from Weibo user and claimed insider C Technology may reveal full specs for the iPhone 5S alongside new images of the device's case assembly seemingly taken inside Foxconn's factory. Where specs are concerned, the upcoming new flagship iPhone will be the biggest hardware upgrade ever for an "S" device if the report's claims pan out. Highlights include a 4-inch IGZO display with the same Retina resolution as the iPhone 5, an A6 processor clocked a bit faster than the current model, quad-core SGX 554MP4 graphics, 2GB of RAM and an upgraded LTE radio.
Read the full story at Boy Genius Report.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Yahoo just released its mixed Q2 earnings, and a few sentences may have given the answer everyone was waiting for - yes, Yahoo still has plenty of cash to pursue more acquisitions. Evidence of this lies in the company's share buyback program. "During the second quarter of 2013 Yahoo repurchased 25 million shares for $653 million," one can read in the release. Those are part of a bigger $5 billion program. These shares can be reissued and sold for cold cash any day. Back in September 2012, Marissa Mayer decided to sell 40 percent of Yahoo's stake in Alibaba for $7.6 billion. $3.65 billion was set aside to reinvest in Yahoo shares, proving that the company is confident in its own future. "We are happy to announce that as of today we have essentially completed our commitment to return $3.65 billion from our Alibaba Group proceeds to shareholders, repurchasing a total of 190 million shares," wrote CFO Ken Goldman in today's earnings release.
Read the full story at TechCrunch.