Stories for Aug. 19, 2014
In Brief

2014-08-19-17.17.49

The Sharp Aquos smartphone with those oh-so-skinny bezels announced earlier this week in Japan is officially coming to the United States, and no surprise, it’s headed exclusively to Sprint and its prepaid subsidiaries, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. But what is a bit of a surprise is how attractively priced it is: At $240 without a contract, it represents a strong challenge to the Moto G LTE for the mid-range Android crown. It’s even cheaper on Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, checking in at $150 when purchased locked from Sprint’s prepaid MVNOs. There isn’t an official release date yet, but it should be available later this fall.

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In Brief

Home robot Jibo‘s Indiegogo campaign was scheduled to close over the weekend, but after raising more than $1.75 million the robot’s creators have decided to keep the campaign open through September 14. If the campaign hits $2 million, Jibo will allow users to remotely access their robot’s camera and peer around the room. The robot will also be able to send alerts when there is suspicious movement or sound. Jibo is scheduled to start shipping in late 2015.

In Brief

Facebook announced Tuesday that 95 percent of the notification emails it sends out are now being encrypted using STARTTLS — the extension used to encrypt insecure network connections between mail providers. Facebook singled out Microsoft and Yahoo as being major email providers who have since backed the extension, which requires compliance from both the email clients that send emails and those that receive them. Back in May, Facebook released a study on whether or not mail providers were using the extension and found that only 28.6 percent of the company’s outbound notification emails were being encrypted, meaning not very many services were correctly using STARTTLS.

In Brief

curved touch display apple patent

Among 48 granted Apple patents published on Tuesday is one that could easily pertain to a wearable device, such as the rumored iWatch. Patently Apple notes that U.S. patent 8,808,483, originally filed in 2010, covers a method to create a curved touch panel. No current Apple products use a curved touch display but the obvious application for one would be on a wearable device, regardless of whether it’s a smartwatch, a health-tracking fitness band or some combination of the two: Curved displays allow for a better, less clunky fit on the wrist compared to traditional, flat screens.

In Brief

In what must surely be the best advert for Tor yet, the elusive electronic music maestro Aphex Twin has announced his new album Syro — his first in 13 years — through a webpage that can only be viewed through the anonymizing network. Those who haven’t downloaded the Tor Browser can still view a similar page in a boring old non-anonymizing browser, but all they’ll get is the information about their ISP and IP address, not the track-listing nor album title. The Tor-only .onion page is part of the “Deep Web”, a below-the-surface scene of hidden services that can’t be crawled by normal search engines.

Stories for Aug. 18, 2014
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