Messaging joins voice

Open Whisper Systems has released version 2 of its Signal secure calling app for iPhone. This is an important iteration, as it introduces secure text messaging that’s compatible with the outfit’s TextSecure app for Android — for now, Open Whisper Systems’ secure voice app for Android, RedPhone, remains separate from that, though everything will come together later this year in a Signal app that works across iOS, Android and the desktop. As secure communications operations go, Open Whisper Systems has good credibility, offering end-to-end crypto, auditable open-source code and decent identity verification. The TextSecure protocol has also found its way into WhatsApp, which is why Android-toting users of that Facebook-owned messaging app enjoy extra security these days.

Learn how the leaks came to be

Citizenfour, the acclaimed Edward Snowden-centric documentary (and recent Academy Award winner), is now available to watch online for free at Thought Maybe. The film traces the origins of how Edward Snowden leaked numerous top-secret NSA documents and his meetings with filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, whose work on the leaked files would eventually lead to a Pulitzer prize for public service. The filmmakers and Snowden recently participated in a Reddit AMA in which Snowden said he wished he could have leaked the documents sooner.

UPDATE: Well, that didn’t last long. Looks like the site that posted the documentary did so under dubious circumstances. If you still want to watch it, you’ll have to head to the filmmaker’s website and scan for a screening, head over to HBO Go or watch it on Channel 4 where it will be up for a few more days.

Electric roadtrippin'

Electric car company Tesla Motors says it’s now deployed 2,000 of its fast chargers at close to 400 Supercharger stations (380 according to the latest annual report). Tesla’s Superchargers can give Tesla cars 170 miles of range in 30 minutes, and the company doesn’t charge for the electricity. Tesla launched the network to help combat the perception that electric cars have limited vehicle range, as well as a way to give Tesla customers the perk of free charging. The company wants to expand the network by over 50 percent this year.

Sorry, no live games

YouTube viewers are getting their dose of March Madness this year in the form of short clips of game highlights as the action unfolds and video recaps of all 67 games, which will be made available as part of a new NCAA March Madness channel. The channel will also feature live streams from press conferences, as well as game previews and news and analysis clips. The one thing missing: Live streams of all the games. For that, users will still have to rely on streaming from CBS and Turner, some of which will once again only be available to pay TV subscribers.

Cramming more bits and bytes

Ultra_microSDXC_Black_UHS-I_C10_200GB_LR.0.0Last year, SanDisk released 128GB memory cards for phones and tablets; this year, it’s following up with a 200GB card. Called the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I, Premium Edition , the tiny card can store 20 hours of full HD video and transfer up to 1,200 photos in one minute thanks to the 90MBps transfer speeds. Before you get too excited for this little wonder, it comes with a big price tag: Expect to see the 200GB memory card in the next quarter with a suggested retail price of $399.99. Hopefully, the street price comes down quickly since this phone or tablet accessory can cost more than a mobile device.

IoT consolidation is coming

NXP Semiconductor has agreed to purchase Austin, Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor in a deal valued at $11.8 billion, creating a $40 billion chip giant that will be a dominant supplier for the internet of things. Both companies are large chip providers in automotive and sensor markets as well as microcontroller vendors. As the internet of things expands and makes the embedded market more of a monolithic industry like the PC and mobile markets, we’re going to see the chip firms act accordingly. That means consolidation.

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