The UpStream

Apple Lawsuit Filed Over Misdirected Text Messages

posted Sunday May 18, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Apple Lawsuit Filed Over Misdirected Text Messages

One of the many annoyances I encountered during my week with an iPhone was at the end of my experiment. When I was through with the phone and switched back to my Windows Phone, I noticed something odd: some of my text messages were delivered to the Windows Phone, while others were being delivered to the iPhone, which was now in Wi-Fi-only mode.

After a little investigation, I discovered that it was other iPhones that were delivering to the wrong device. I looked around a little bit and found that iMessage was on, which meant that communications with Apple devices didn't happen via SMS, but rather through Apple's servers. This was happening, despite the source of the initial message being SMS, meaning that it was not on an iMessage-enabled device.

Luckily for me, I still had the iPhone, and it was still powered on. Had I sold it, or destroyed it as I had wanted to, I am not certain I could disable the iMessage service. Unfortunately, not everyone has the scenario I did. Currently, the only two known solutions to the problem involve turning off iMessage before the switch (or after if you're lucky) or having each iPhone user with your contact information remove your phone number and re-add it, hopefully breaking the iMessage connection.

Unfortunately, both of the solutions are slightly theoretical, as some users have still seen their messages vanish into the Apple ether. Enter a new lawsuit filed against the company, alleging that Apple has known about this issue and done nothing to solve the issue. Having launched the service in 2011, with complaints starting shortly after, Apple has had more than enough time to fix the problem.

This has been a solved problem since before the introduction of iMessage, however. Windows Phone and webOS have had multiple messaging platforms integrated into their systems since at least 2009, meaning they had to have dealt with message source and destination. Considering Apple hired several developers from Palm after the HP buyout, it would seem they already have the expertise to fix it.

So, why hasn't the problem been fixed? Laziness on the part of Apple? A lack of respect for the people who have spent money on their products? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

ACLU to Sue Peoria, Illinois Over Twitter-based Home Raid

posted Sunday May 18, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Parody of public officials and celebrities is a long-held tradition in the United States, as well as all free societies throughout history. That parody is an important part of a country's speech and culture. In modern time, the most common way for a public figure to be parodied is through social media - especially Twitter where there is little barrier to entry.

Jon Daniel from Peoria, Illinois created one such Twitter account, in the name of Mayor Jim Ardis. The mayor, or someone in the mayor's office, was not happy with the account and decided to act, calling in the police to deal with the issue. The police, in turn, were issued a warrant, which resulted in the search of his home and seizure of his personal property. Among the seized items were computers, phones and tablets.

This act, which is obviously against the 1st and 4th Amendments, came under immediate scrutiny by many organizations. The important organization is the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. The ACLU has reached out to Mr. Daniel, and is representing him in a suit against the city. ACLU of Illinois Communications and Public Policy Director Ed Yohnka said,

The ACLU of Illinois now represents Mr. Daniel, the creator of the Twitter parody. Mr. Daniel, like other parodists, has a First Amendment right to post these tweets. He was engaging in a time-honored tradition of poking fun at public officials - even when the public official doesn't like it. Because Mr. Daniel's activities were protected, they should never have led to a warrant and search of his home. The police activity in this case was unnecessary and contrary to both the First and Fourth Amendment protections to which he was entitled.

In the coming weeks, the ACLU of Illinois anticipates bringing legal action in support of Mr. Daniel against those officials who are responsible for the violations of his rights. We hope this action will send a strong signal to all that wrongful use of the police power to suppress protected speech, even when it is critical or makes fun of public officials is an abuse of power and is not acceptable.

Normally, these types of cases do not go well for the defendants, and the ACLU's involvement will not help their case. This should be an interesting case, so we will keep you up-to-date on the proceedings.

Cellphone Kill-Switch Engaged by Senate of California

posted Saturday May 17, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Cellphone Kill-Switch Engaged by Senate of California

Back in February, Scott talked about the possible wireless kill switch that was heading to Congress. On our show we weighed out the pros and cons, with the conclusion being that it was probably just a way for the government to have more control in our lives. Either way, the state of California Senate has approved such a measure in a smartphone kill-switch bill.

The bill, SB962, would require that smartphones sold in the state would come installed with some kind of theft detection software. This would apply to any smartphones manufactured after July 1st, 2015 and would not apply to tablets or any other electronic devices.

Interestingly enough, this same bill was rejected on April 24th but is now approved. All that's left is for the California Assembly and California's Governor Jerry Brown to approve it. Both parties have previously said they'd OK the proposal. The bill cleared the Senate 26-8 and only needed 21 of the 40 members to vote "yes."

The decision to push forward with the bill comes after a reported rise in smartphone theft, especially in California. However as we've mentioned before, it will still be a difficult feat to recover GSM devices, even after a kill-switch would be installed, due to the inability to tie a device down to a SIM card.

As far as penalties and liabilities are concerned, that filled up most of the conversation on the senate floor during the voting process. It was concluded that retailers would be at fault for selling devices without the software installed and that the fine would range somewhere between $500 and $2,500. Senator Mark Wyland opposed this pointing of the finger, citing simple shipping errors as reason. "It's a big burden on a retailer of anything, that they have complete control over everything they sell," he said.

All of this really doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, but it does seem perfectly fitting for the state of California, considering the long list of unusual legislation in the state. What do you make of all of this? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

*In accordance with California Proposition 65, this post may contain traces of lead, which is known to the state of California to cause birth defects or reproductive toxicity.

Yahoo Picks Up Messaging App Blink, Will Make it Vanish

posted Saturday May 17, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Yahoo Picks Up Messaging App Blink, Will Make it Vanish

Billions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of employees have been placed under Yahoo's umbrella ever since CEO Marissa Mayer took over last year. In this acquisition spree, Mayer has picked up everything from social browsers and media rights to spending a billion dollars on Tumblr, Yahoo has now added to that list a messaging app acquisition.

Yahoo announced that it has acquired Blink, a self-destruction messaging app similar to Snapchat and Confide. Popular outside of the US but gaining traction in the States too, Blink's userbase has grown to over 500,000 worldwide. However in the next few weeks, the Android and iOS-based app will be shutting down.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Blink posted the announcement on its app website.

Blink is now a part of Yahoo!

We're excited to announce that as of May 13, 2014, Blink is joining Yahoo! We built Blink because we believe everyone should be free to show the same honesty and spontaneity in their online conversations as they can in person. We look forward to the possibilities that will come from bringing the Blink vision to Yahoo.

We can't begin to express how grateful we are for your support throughout this journey. We hope you stick with us through the next chapter.

Since the app is being shut down, obviously the acquisition here is the talent coming over to Yahoo. All seven Blink employees, which includes the founders, one being an ex-Google employee, will have a new home in the Yahoo community. The makers of Blink were also involved in the creation of other apps such as Kismet, a location-based app. The team of seven must have resonated with someone inside Yahoo for the company to buyout all of them, so hopefully we'll see some creative enhancements or new developments to Yahoo's services in the near future.

Xbox Music to Rival Amazon and Google with OneDrive-like Music Storage

posted Saturday May 17, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Xbox Music to Rival Amazon and Google with OneDrive-like Music Storage

For those of you familiar with our show, you'll know that we talk a lot about Xbox Music, the popular Microsoft music-streaming service that was introduced with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. It's a great service, with a lot of incredible features and the largest music catalog in the industry. Now, Xbox Music could be ready to take on its competitors by introducing cloud-based music storage.

Think of it like OneDrive but for music. LiveSino has found some source code hidden in OneDrive's site that leads to a possibility of a OneDrive Music folder. It would make sense to add this feature to a service that already exists and lives between all your connected devices.

In the source code there's also a small description of the service.

Meet your OneDrive Music folder. Upload your music files to this folder, so that you can play them via Xbox Music from any of your devices. You can also add files to this folder using the OneDrive app for your computer.

Something like being able to automatically upload unmatched songs to OneDrive for play across all your devices would certain put Google and Amazon's lockers to shame. I'd just hope that we would see the space you fill up not come out of your existing OneDrive storage, even if you did take advantage of the extra 100GB, because that was only available to US users.

It finally feels like Xbox Music is almost on pace with what the Zune Music Pass used to be. What's good about this is that Xbox Music features a lot of today's technology while embracing what brought Microsoft to the dance in the first place, which was Zune. Say what you will about the media player, which I still hold the Zune HD as hands-down the best MP3 player, but the software, Smart DJ and Music Pass were unmatched in the space and surely ahead of the times. Plus, let's not forget, you can get Xbox Music on Windows, Android, iOS and the Web, so it doesn't matter where you are or what you have; you can use experience your music library however you want. Xbox Music does not discriminate based on age, color, creed or mobile platform.

Xbox One Drops Kinect and Price, Changes to Xbox Live Gold for All Owners

posted Saturday May 17, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Xbox One Drops Kinect and Price, Changes to Xbox Live Gold for All Owners

Since June, the console war battle has gone on and when the PS4 and Xbox One both launched this past holiday season, we knew we'd be in for additions, changes and key decisions that would spell out success or defeat for Sony and Microsoft for the coming years. As far as changes are concerned, the Xbox One is a completely different device than it was initially set out to be, with Microsoft backing down from a lot of innovative features that would have set the gaming system apart from anything else. Starting June 9th, Microsoft announced it will be removing the requirement to purchase a Kinect with the Xbox One, and the console will now be $100 cheaper. On the plus side, we're going to see some changes concerning Xbox Live Gold as well.

A totally different "next-gen" console

As we could have predicted with the path of changes we've seen, in the summer we'll now see the Xbox One sold without Kinect for $399, putting it right at the same price as the PlayStation 4. Glazing over the fact that this now takes the Xbox One away from even remotely resembling the vision at inception, Microsoft said in the announcement that you can still do all the great gaming and entertainment features you'd expect with the Xbox One. This, of course, no longer includes voice and gesture commands, search and interactivity. And you won't be able to tell the One to "Snap" your game with your Skype app while playing the game with both of your hands.

This change won't affect current Kinect users on the Xbox One, as the framework is staying the same, but it certainly affects some Kinect game developers. If a large number of people purchase the console without the motion and voice accessory, I could see the publishers shifting away from focusing resources on Kinect titles and interactivity. Many also think that the Kinect wasn't as widely accepted as Microsoft had hoped, which may be true, considering that Titanfall does not include any Kinectable actions at all within the game's context.

More free games and free video-streaming

So while dreams of new and exciting things with the Kinect are placed into the same pile of ashes as discless gaming and constant-connected environments, at least we still have Microsoft's cloud servers and Azure technology, which currently are in use for over 75 percent of Xbox One's games. Speaking of games, we weren't sure if Xbox 360's very popular free Games with Gold program would carry over to the Xbox One and now we're being told that it will. Starting in June, Games with Gold will arrive on the next-gen console starting with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. June will also see the 360 getting an upgrade with three games being offered each month instead of two. On the list are Dark Souls, Charlie Murder and a bonus game of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. Oh, and for those wondering, you'll still only need one Xbox Live Gold subscription to take advantage of five free games each month. If that's not winning I don't know what is.

There's even more positives coming to Gold members with an Xbox One, and that's in the form of discounts. Those not currently in possession of Forza 5 or Ryse, among others, will see a 50-75 percent discount on those titles beginning in June. Microsoft will also be introducing a VIP room on the One that will feature free games, exclusive deals and other perks and bonuses.

And we can't forget about the fact that the Xbox One and the 360 are both still committed to being the center of entertainment in the home, not just gaming. This was further proven this week when, in the same announcement, Microsoft said that many popular entertainment options will no longer require Xbox Live Gold. Services like Machinima, Twitch, Upload, Netflix, HBO Go, NFL, MLB.TV and NHL Game Center will be offered up to Silver members as well. This was a big gripe with a lot of 360 owners, as some wanted to use the inexpensive $200 arcade version merely as a streaming device, and had to fork up another $60 a year on top of the premium subscription services they wanted to use and were already paying for. This should really attract more customers to the Xbox platform as a whole, as 360s are getting cheaper by the day and can now be used for entertainment without requiring Gold.

So, what do you think about all of these changes? All of the Gold perks and free entertainment options are really a plus but I'm extremely bummed about the lost vision of the Xbox One. Are you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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