Start up: a huge new Android security risk, Google+ downgraded, iTunes’s giant mess, and more


It was 20 years ago (roughly) that a Rolling Stones song launched Windows 95. Photo by michfiel on Flickr.

A selection of 9 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Making free work (hint: cannibalize radio, not sales) » Music Industry Blog

Mark Mulligan:

Neither Spotify or Deezer is in the business of free music, they are in the business of subscriptions and simply use free as a marketing tool. So they have no reason to cling doggedly to free users that show no sign of converting. Instead after a sufficient period of free music has been offered users should be pushed to subscriptions or onto a radio tier (see figure). There is no business benefit to the streaming services nor rights holders to have perpetual on demand free users.

The assumption that free music is some sort of internet right is symptomatic of the internet’s growing pains. In terms of market development we’re probably at the adolescence stage of the internet, the stage at which carefree childhood starts to be replaced by responsibility and consequences. We’re seeing this happen right across the internet economy, from privacy, data, free speech, jurisdiction etc. Because music has been free online for so long consumers have learned to accept it as fact. That assumption will not be changed any time soon, and try to force the issue too quickly and illegal services will prosper.

Of course YouTube is, and always has been the elephant in the room, buoyed by the schizophrenic attitude of record labels who simultaneously question its impact on the market while continuing to use it as their number 1 digital promotional channel. While the tide may finally be beginning to turn, don’t expect YouTube to go anywhere any time soon. But should the screws tighten do expect YouTube to stop playing ball.

Apple Music, of course, chucks you out after your three-month trial unless you subscribe. Let’s see how it does for conversion.
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Continuum on Windows 10 » Blogging Windows

Windows 10 adjusts your experience for your activity, device and display, so you can do your thing in any mode anytime you want. Onscreen features, like menus and taskbars, adapt for easy navigation. Apps are built to scale smoothly from screen to screen so they look good from the smallest app window up to the largest 8k displays*.

That’s gr– hey, what’s the asterisk?

“*App experiences may vary.”

Oh. (Via Wes Miller.)
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Start Me Up (again) » GartenBlog

Windows 10 will arrive, without fanfare, on computers tomorrow (July 29th). In August 1995, Windows 95 was launched with the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” as its theme song. Michael Gartenberg recounts Microsoft’s Brad Stone talking about the negotiations with the band:

For a good month we continued negotiations mostly on the phone. I had only so much I would and could pay and that made things easier on our end. The fact that we had to fish or cut bait to get our TV ads done in time for the August 24th launch served as a forcing function and eventually we agreed to terms. They rushed WK the “Start Me Up” recording as we were already working on the ad. The next day I got a frantic call from WK saying that the Stones had sent a later live version of “Start Me Up” that wouldn’t work. I called up Cohl and told him that I had to have the original version or there was no deal. Eventually they agreed. I found out later that the reason they gave us the live version was that it was recorded after Bill Wyman had left the band. Giving us the original meant that Wyman got his allocation of the deal which of course meant that giving us the original version of “Start Me Up” meant that Jagger, Richards and the rest of the band got less.

I also found out later that Jagger and Richards did not always see eye to eye on the deal. As Brad indicated, Jagger was less inclined to commercialize their music in this way. I was told he was especially ready to just forget the deal when we made it clear we needed the original version but that he did not want to piss off Richards over it because Richards wanted or needed the money.

One British paper (not me) suggested Microsoft paid $14m. “We paid a fraction of this”, Stone writes.
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Dmail makes your Gmail messages self-destruct » TechCrunch

Sarah Perez:

The product works by way of a Google Chrome web browser extension, which only you, as the email sender, have to install.

Once loaded, you’ll have a new option within the Gmail “compose” interface that allows you to turn the Dmail service off and on using a toggle switch. When on, you can specify ahead of sending an email if you want the email destroyed in an hour, a day, a week, or “never.” Even if you choose the “never” option, you can later go into your sent message and click a “Revoke Email” button to remove access to that email from all recipients.

What’s clever about Dmail is that, unlike some other secure messaging products, recipients don’t have to use the service themselves in order for it to work. If they don’t have the extension installed, they’ll instead receive an email that states: “This secure message was sent using Dmail. To view this message, simply click the button below.” 

Clicking the included “View Message” button will then redirect them to a web view where they can read your email.

More accurate headline: Dmail makes your Gmail messages into shareable web pages whose access you control. These attempts to reinvent email are doomed to failure.
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Canon cuts outlook as weak camera sales hit second-quarter profit » Reuters

Ritsuko Ando:

Japan’s Canon Inc cut its earnings outlook for the full year and reported a 16% fall in quarterly profit as consumers, increasingly in the habit of taking photos with their smartphones, bought fewer compact digital cameras.

The world’s largest camera maker said on Monday its second-quarter net profit fell to 68bn yen ($552m) compared with 81bn yen a year earlier. Analysts on average expected 65bn yen, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The firm said it now expects full-year profit of 245bn yen rather than the 255bn it forecast three months ago.

Wait and see what they forecast in another quarter. This is a trend that will only continue.
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The hidden opportunity of corporate smartphones » Tech.pinions

Bob O’Donnell:

Many of the IT professionals who are making or strongly influencing these purchases also have a soft spot for Windows and this preference clearly shows up in survey results. Though it’s well known the percentage of consumers actively using Windows Phones is small, what isn’t well known is a surprisingly large percentage of companies (over 40% in several different surveys) have employees who use devices running Microsoft’s mobile OS. In fact, in a TECHnalysis Research survey of US healthcare companies, 17% of work smartphones in their organizations were running Windows Phone. This goes a long way towards explaining Microsoft’s recent comments about focusing their future smartphone development towards enterprise as a key target. They actually have a solid opportunity there.

Goes to show how little influence IT professionals have in the new mobile world order, if you ask me. A reminder: about 80m Windows Phones are being used worldwide; in the US it’s in the low single-digit millions. That might be a gigantic corporate usage. Or it might be a small corporate usage and a small corporate usage.
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Major flaw in Android phones would let hackers in with just a text » All Tech Considered : NPR

Aarti Shamani:

In this attack, the target would not need to goof up — open an attachment or download a file that’s corrupt. The malicious code would take over instantly, the moment you receive a text message.

“This happens even before the sound that you’ve received a message has even occurred,” says Joshua Drake, security researcher with Zimperium and co-author of Android Hacker’s Handbook. “That’s what makes it so dangerous. [It] could be absolutely silent. You may not even see anything.”

Here’s how the attack would work: The bad guy creates a short video, hides the malware inside it and texts it to your number. As soon as it’s received by the phone, Drake says, “it does its initial processing, which triggers the vulnerability.”

The messaging app Hangouts instantly processes videos, to keep them ready in the phone’s gallery. That way the user doesn’t have to waste time looking. But, Drake says, this setup invites the malware right in.

If you’re using the phone’s default messaging app, he explains, it’s “a tiny bit less dangerous.” You would have to view the text message before it processes the attachment. But, to be clear, “it does not require in either case for the targeted user to have to play back the media at all,” Drake says.

Gives attackers system privileges. Proportion of Android devices vulnerable: 95%. Google has pushed out an update to hardware makers. But have the hardware makers pushed the update out? Google reckons that if 50% of devices get it, that will be good.

The big risk is that someone will create a Blaster-style worm that attacks a phone and then accesses its phone book to send malicious MMSs to the numbers in the phone book.
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Don’t order the fish » Marco.org

Marco Arment:

With the introduction of Apple Music, Apple confusingly introduced a confusing service backed by the iTunes Store that’s confusingly integrated into iTunes and the iOS Music app (don’t even get me started on that) and partially, maybe, mostly replaces the also very confusing and historically unreliable iTunes Match.

So iTunes is a toxic hellstew of technical cruft and a toxic hellstew of UI design, in the middle of a transition between two partly redundant cloud services, both of which are confusing and vague to most people about which songs of theirs are in the cloud, which are safe to delete, and which ones they actually have.

iTunes has Microsoft’s problem: supporting a gigantic range of legacy hardware in the form of millions of iPods and iPhones.
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Everything in its right place » Official Google Blog

Bradley Horowitz, VP of “Streams, Photos and Sharing”:

People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.

So in the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google. YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change, and you can learn more on their blog. As always, your underlying Google Account won’t be searchable or followable, unlike public Google+ profiles. And for people who already created Google+ profiles but don’t plan to use Google+ itself, we’ll offer better options for managing and removing those public profiles.

You’ll see these changes roll out in stages over several months. While they won’t happen overnight, they’re right for Google’s users—both the people who are on Google+ every single day, and the people who aren’t.

On that YouTube blogpost:

The comments you make on YouTube will now appear only on YouTube, not also on Google+. And vice-versa. This starts rolling out today.

Google+ is no longer obligatory. Slightly too soon to call it dead. But it will never grow big. And we’ll never hear those faintly bogus stats about “user sharing” or inflated claims of users.
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One thought on “Start up: a huge new Android security risk, Google+ downgraded, iTunes’s giant mess, and more

  1. The whole Operating System spanning watch to Jumbotron is bonkers. In the short term it might make sense from a developer perspective (not that developers are developing modern apps for Windows devices – why should you when you can do iOS, Android and then web?)

    But further down the line, the key thing that developers are only just vaguely beginning to scratch the surface of is designing around context (see http://mmitii.mattballantine.com/2013/02/04/contextual-design/); form factor *plus* where the device is and when it’s being used will become the differentiators. The idea that someone will build one single app to span all of those things, well – what’s the advantage? Sound like bloated complexity to me…

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