The UpStream

Windows 8.1 with Bing Coming to OEMs

posted Friday May 23, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Windows 8.1 with Bing Coming to OEMs

Microsoft has been working hard to increase Windows 8's adoption rate. One of the issues they have faced from manufacturers is the pricing of the operating system versus the perceived lower cost for Android on low-end tablets. One of the rumored ideas to solve this perceived issue was a reduced cost or free version of windows designed for low-cost devices.

This rumor was validated at //build/ this year, when Microsoft announced an end to licensing fees for phones and smaller tablets. This week, Microsoft detailed the free edition of Windows 8.1 that will be available for these smaller tablets. Named Windows 8.1 with Bing, the new version of Windows is almost identical to it's full-priced edition, with only one small change: manufacturers cannot change the default search engine before shipping the device. A Microsoft representative said,

The Windows 8.1 with Bing referenced on the Windows Blog is the edition that is licensed in connection with the recently announced royalty-free option for small tablets. Microsoft will license this edition for other OEM form factors as well. OEMs will each determine which types of devices they want to bring to market with this edition of Windows.

Several manufacturers have been paid by Google to change the default behavior in Windows for years, but with this new Bing-powered version, that will no longer be an option. Microsoft is making it clear, however, that it is entirely up to the manufacturer whether they want to enter into this edition of Windows or continue on with the standard Windows on a device-by-device basis. This means we could see Dell release 2 versions of its Dell Venue Pro 8 - one with each version of Windows.

It will be interesting to see how many manufacturers pick up this new edition and if it can make a bigger dent in the Android tablet space.

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.

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