As posted on Technology news, comment and analysis | guardian.co.uk

Plus Nokia Asha’s unique selling point, the point of a Google Music service, what Apple needs at WWDC, and more

A burst of 10 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Mac malware signed with Apple ID infects activist’s laptop >> Ars Technica

Stealthy Mac OS X spyware that was digitally signed with a valid Apple Developer ID has been detected on the laptop of an Angolan activist attending a human rights conference, researchers said.

The backdoor, which is programmed to take screenshots and send them to remote servers under the control of the attackers, was spread using a spear phishing email, according to privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum. Spear phishing is a term for highly targeted emails that address the receiver by name and usually appear to come from someone the receiver knows.

Jacob Applebaum (@ioerror on Twitter) is the person who spotted all this; he says the target’s life is “likely in danger” – just in case you thought this was some trivial bit of hacking.

Contactless ‘charging errors’ at Marks and Spencer >> BBC News

Some Marks and Spencer customers have told the BBC of cases where the chain’s contactless payment terminals have taken money from cards other than the ones intended for payment.

Card are supposed to be within about 4cm of the front of the contactless terminal to work.

But some customers say payments have been taken from cards while in purses and wallets at much greater distances.

The customers can’t be certain that they never brought their wallets within that required 4cm or so. But it does point to a potential business making wallets with fine wire mesh weave to stop the cards being read by accident.

Galaxy S4: 10M in 4 weeks. iPhone 5: 5M in 3 days. >> Fortune Tech

Philip Elmer DeWitt:

It’s been years since Samsung reported any unit sales numbers at all for its mobile phones, so the tech press took notice Thursday when the South Korean manufacturing giant decided it had something to brag about.

Samsung Electronics co-CEO Shin Jong-kyun told reporters at an industry forum in Seoul that he is confident shipments of the Galaxy S4 will top 10m next week – four weeks after the device went on sale in 60 countries, including Korea, China, India and the US.

“That would make the mobile device the fastest-selling selling smartphone in Samsung’s history,” the Korea Times reported – a line echoed in the U.S. press.

That kind of coverage must drive Tim Cook crazy.

Because when Apple (AAPL) reported last September that it sold 5m iPhone 5 units in three days, analysts expressed “disappointment” and Business Insider ran this headline:


And what was its headline Friday?

Samsung’s S4 Starts Strong: 10 Million Units In Less Than A Month

Samsung responds to Galaxy S4 BBC Watchdog investigation >> Trusted Reviews

Despite advertising 16GB of internal storage, the Samsung Galaxy S4 only offers roughly 9GB of user available storage highlighted by the BBC Watchdog exposé. The Samsung flagship does offer microSD card expansion options, but early purchasers have complained about the memory discrepancy.

“We appreciate this issue being raised and we will improve our communications,” said a Samsung spokesperson to CNET UK. “We are reviewing the possibility to secure more memory space through further software optimisation.”

The interesting thing about this isn’t that there’s a difference between the stated storage and what you get, but that buyers are actually complaining about it. One wonders how much Samsung will be able to claw back through that “optimisation”. And how much memory Google’s “pure” S4 (sold via Google) has. (Thanks @Avro for the link.)

Google’s open video proposal closes door on software freedom >> InfoWorld

Simon Phipps, president of the Open Source Initiative, on Google’s VP8 licensing proposal:

You’ll need to provide your personal information to Google to get this license, and section 9 makes clear the company may well use it at some point to contact you and even use your name in its publicity, according to section 15.

That restriction is probably tolerable for a corporation that can execute the agreement once for all products and staff, but for an open source project it’s a big problem. Open source communities may not have a legal entity able to sign on behalf of the community, either because there’s no actual legal entity or because the community of developers has too loose a relationship with any legal entity to be counted as the equivalent employees. By requiring individual, nontransferrable registration, Google is erecting a barrier that at the very least will provoke suspicion from open source projects.

Google Lock-In Lock-Out >> OUseful.Info

Open University professor Tony Hirst:

As John Naughton feels obliged to remind folk every now and again, the web is not the internet. Because we all know that for many people, Facebook apparently is. Or Google is.

And as anyone following my tweets over the last year or two will know, I’ve started finding Google more and more irksome.

It’s not just that the one or two people I know who use Google Plus (Google+?) are now all but lost to me as sources of neat ideas because I don’t do Gooplus and it doesn’t do RSS…

Keep reading. It’s quite a list of points with a killer endline.

Asha to Asha >> Stratechery

Ben Thompson:

Asha… has worse specifications than a cheap Android phone, and a much worse app selection. Thus it has been largely ignored by a tech press that considers little more than features and price.

However, finding a market is about finding a new axis of differentiation. In the case of low-end smartphones, are there things that matter beyond price and performance?

Consider again where Asha will be sold: India, Africa, Latin America – all have markets where mobile phones are the primary form of computing, as well as areas without consistent electricity. In such markets, nothing matters more than battery life.

And Asha has that in spades. In fact, the Asha range has sold more phones in the past three quarters than Windows Phone. (Also, bonus point for the title of the post.)

Why did Google launch Google Play Music All Access? >> Venture Harbour

Marcus Taylor:

When I go to Google in search of music, it’s fair to say that the results I’m served are exceptionally poor.

In this instance, the results that Google serve me do not match my search intent. I want to download Incubus’ album – but instead Google is pointing me in the direction of illegal download sites, music videos, and a streaming platform.

To paraphrase Google’s mission statement, they want to offer me the most relevant result in as few clicks as possible – and at the moment there are no legal and relevant results within 3-4 clicks away. Surely Google can do better?

So here is where I think we’re heading. Please note that these are photo-shopped images, and not actual screenshots.

His suggestion is that Google Play Music All Access results will be pushed to the top of music search results – as happens with lots of other Google properties. One has to wonder about the antitrust implications.

London in 1927 >> Vimeo

Incredible colour footage of 1920s London shot by an early British pioneer of film named Claude Friese-Greene, who made a series of travelogues using the colour process his father William – a noted cinematographer – was experimenting with. It’s like a beautifully dusty old postcard you’d find in a junk store, but moving.


Everything Apple needs to introduce at WWDC to appease the internet >> carpeaqua

Justin Williams:

With WWDC just a few weeks away, I thought it’d be beneficial to the Internet at large to compile a working list of everything that is expected of Apple during their Keynote and subsequent “State of the Union” addresses in order to appease the Internet.

He left off “$100 mini iPhone in five colours”. What sort of appeasement is this?

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