LG G4 release date, news and rumors

LG G4 release date, news and rumors

Latest update: We've received an invite to an LG event that's likely to be the G4 announcement. Plus new snaps of the phone may have been uncovered and it might be packing a not-so-cutting-edge Snapdragon 808 chip.
The LG G4 missed MWC 2015 but it looks like we may see it as soon as April, so the wait is hopefully almost over.
It should be worth the wait too, with talk of a premium new design, a super-sharp display and a whole lot of power. Plus this is the company which brought us the LG G Flex 2, so a curved screen is never entirely off the table.
With the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 out the way LG G4 rumors are heating up and flooding in and we're hopeful that it can stand up to such tough competition.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? LG's next flagship smartphone
  • When is it out? Likely to be announced on April 28
  • What will it cost? It will command a high, flagship price - but cheaper than the competition

LG G4 release date

We've received an invite for an LG announcement on April 28 and not only does the invite itself hint at the G4 but the announcement event is taking place in London, New York, Paris, Seoul, Singapore and Istanbul- so it's bound to be for something big.

Of course it could be a few weeks or more after that before the LG G4 actually lands in shops, so don't expect to be able to buy it before May.
An April or May launch has been looking likely for a while now, with an earlier rumor pointing to April and another rumor pointing to a May launch at the earliest, while an earnings call pointed to a quarter 2 release.

LG G4 design

We may have caught a glimpse of the LG G4 in the wild, as a metal-backed LG phone certainly seems to have been snapped. Though it's on the large side and appears to have a stylus, which suggests it could actually be the LG G4 Note. It's still unclear whether the G4 will have a metal body or not. Some rumors say yes while others say no.
LG G4 leak
The LG G4 could be almost with us though, as case makers are already selling protective covers. If they're an accurate fit then you can expect a return of the laser autofocus and dual-LED flash found on the LG G3 judging by the cut-outs.
Credit: @OnLeaks / 1688.com
We've also seen several press renders, supposedly showing a non-final version of the handset, with a curved back, a large camera lens and dimensions of 148.9 x 76.5 x 9.9mm, which oddly would make it bigger than the LG G3. It also seems to have the same metal-effect casing.
LG G4 render
That last bit clashes with a previous rumor though, as LG's mobile chief Juno Cho has stated that the G4 will be "radically different" to anything that's come before, with those changes including a metal casing rather than a polycarbonate one.

LG G4 screen

The LG G4 might have an even bigger display than the LG G3, as @OnLeaks claims it will come in at 5.6 inches. It also looks like the LG G4 will have an ever so slightly curved screen, as @OnLeaks attempted to prove with the drawing of a very straight line over a leaked press image.
LG G4 leak
Additionally it seems the LG G4 may have a QHD 1440 x 2560 display, as both a user agent profile page and an html5test result suggest as much. Though one wilder rumor based on a leaked specifications screenshot tied to the G4 suggests that it will have a 3K 1620 x 2880 display.
It could also be goodbye bezel on the LG G4, as the South Korean firm has launched a display with a super slender 0.7mm of fat around its perimeter. The screen in question measures 5.3 inches, which is a jot smaller than the 5.5-inch G3, though given other rumors point to a 5.6-inch screen we wouldn't count on it.
The LG G3 has 1.15mm of bezel either side of the screen, so this new display if used could make the G4 look visually stunning.

LG is apparently also preparing a fleet of bendable phones for 2015, following in the footsteps of the LG G Flex and the LG G Flex 2, and links are being made between this and the rumored G4. In fact LG quietly took the covers off a three sided smartphone at CES 2015 in Las Vegas - could this be our first glimpse at the LG G4?

LG G4 rivals

As a flagship Android phone the LG G4 will have the Samsung Galaxy S6 as a major rival and if it ends up being curved then it could also have some direct competition from the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.
Of course the HTC One M9 will give it a run for its money too with its stylish build and similar specs to those the G4 is rumored to pack. The Sony Xperia Z4, which may well arrive at a similar time to the LG G4, could give it pause for thought as well.
Then there's always the iPhone 6 and the looming threat of the iPhone 6s for anyone not married to Android. In short the LG G4 is going to have some serious competition.

LG G4 camera and battery

Best intelligence, from a batch of leaks, suggests the LG G4's camera will be boosted from the 13MP resolution of the LG G3 to 16MP.
Though G4Games reports that LG has unveiled a new 20.7MP sensor, which could be headed for the LG G4. The key question then is how the brand will use this new technology after the snapper on the G3, which should have been awesome, was woeful compared to the competition.
Another rumor, this time stemming from inews24, is that the LG G4 will have dual rear cameras a bit like the HTC One M8, though we'd take that claim with a huge pinch of salt.

LG G4 OS and power

Surprisingly the LG G4 might pass on the Snapdragon 810 and use the weaker Snapdragon 808 instead, if a benchmark believed to be from the LG G4 is to be believed. It could be true though as the Snapdragon 810 reportedly suffers from overheating issues. Alongside that it's shown with a meaty 3GB of RAM.
Though that flies in the face of earlier rumors, which suggested that the LG G4 would sport a Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB of RAM. That had seemed likely, given that the HTC One M9 has arrived with exactly those specs and even the LG G Flex 2 uses the Snapdragon 810.
LG's mobile chief Juno Cho has stated that the G4 will use the LG UX 4.0, which is a new UX system, set to be announced before the handset.
The LG G4 is also bound to run Android 5.0 Lollipop straight out of the box, which is good news if you want a handset that comes with Google's latest mobile operating system.

LG G4 other features

One particularly spurious LG G4 rumor suggests we may see a fingerprint scanner on the back of the handset. This would seemingly be a last minute decision and LG officials have denied the rumor, but with Samsung and Apple both including them in their flagships there's a possibility that LG could follow suit.
There is also a suggestion that the LG G4 may pack a stylus in its body, but we'd be surprised if LG put this on its core flagship device. It's probably something that will arrive with a variant, like the LG G3 Stylus.

While we're fleshing out the details of what will be coming with the LG G4, here's what we want to see when we do:

A metal chassis

The LG G3 sure does a good job of looking metallic, but that's all it is, an effect, and as soon as you pick up the phone the illusion is broken, so much so in fact that it actually winds up feeling cheaper than the LG G2.
So we really hope the LG G4 will go the whole hog and have a shell crafted from actual metal. Even Samsung's sticking metal in its phones now so LG really can't afford not to.
We'd also appreciate it if they gave the G4 a unibody rather than having a removable back, as it's likely to feel more solid and premium as a result.

Improved battery life

The LG G3 had good battery life, but it was actually slightly worse than the G2's battery and that's not a trend we like to see. There's steeper competition here now too, with Sony in particular doing well with the Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact, both of which have a whole lot of juice.

A battery saving mode

Battery saving modes are all the rage these days, whether it's Sony's Stamina mode, HTC's Extreme power saving mode or Samsung's Ultra power saving mode, but the LG G3 doesn't have one.
Now it already does a good job of conserving battery on the fly, by adapting the display and slowing down the processor when the extra horsepower isn't needed, but it would be great if the LG G4 went even further and had additional options that could be toggled as needed, just to squeeze even more juice out.

More power

More power is an obvious wish and an increasingly redundant one as most high end phones are levelling out and delivering near faultless performance. But the LG G3 actually did noticeably lag at times.
Maybe that's down to the QHD display, maybe it's just down to poor optimisation, but whatever the reason we really hope LG sorts it out and gives us a faster phone in the LG G4.

A slicker interface

LG could also afford to do some more work on its interface. The G2's was a cluttered nightmare and the G3's was a big step in the right direction, but still not as slick as it could be.
G3 screen
In particular we'd like to see improvements made to Smart Notice. This sits below the weather widget on the home screen and gives you tailored advice and suggestions, for example it might give you more details on the weather or suggest you add someone to your contacts if you call them a lot.
The problem is it just doesn't work that well, often providing irrelevant advice, so LG should make it smarter or ditch it, we already have Google Now after all.

A better camera

On the whole the LG G3 has a pretty great camera, complete with optical image stabilisation and a laser autofocus. But while it performs well in bright light it's not so good in low light, relying on software to unconvincingly smooth over noisy shots, rather than taking good photos to begin with. So hopefully the LG G4 will improve in that area.
Recent rumours have suggested that we'll be getting what we wished for, with the LG G4 coming with a 16 megapixel snapper.
We'd also like to be given more manual control. The LG G3 is great if you just want to point and shoot, but there aren't many options for those who want to adjust the exposure or ISO for example.

A superior screen

This one might seem strange, after all the LG G3 is already QHD, but we're not talking about more pixels. Rather we'd like to see improved performance from the pixels that are already there. In particular the LG G3 suffers from a noticeable loss in brightness when not viewed square on, so if LG can sort that for the G4 we'd be pretty happy.

Water and dust resistance

While not exactly a headline feature, water and dust resistance are undeniably nice things to have. We have to wonder how many people ever actively make use of the fact that they can submerge their smartphone, but knowing that it can survive a little water gives us some peace of mind.
Here in England it rains all the time and sometimes we'd actually like to be able to use our phone while outside, without first crafting a makeshift shield from whatever else we happen to be carrying / wearing at the time.

Knock Code Improvements

We love Knock On – the ability to wake up your phone with a tap, but Knock Code, which takes things further by letting you also unlock your phone with a series of taps, just doesn't work all that well.
The main problem is that if you touch the screen when picking the G3 up it registers that touch as the first tap and causes the pattern to be interpreted incorrectly. We're not quite sure how LG can get around that so it's a good thing we're not designing the G4, but hopefully LG has a solution because a feature which doesn't work is just an annoyance.

Front-facing speakers

With support for high quality audio the LG G3 already does a great job when listening to music through a good pair of headphones, but its speaker isn't so hot either in terms of positioning or quality.
For the LG G4 we'd like to see dual front-facing speakers, like those on the HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z3. It's a much more logical place for them, especially when you're watching something or playing a game. If LG can make the sound crisper and richer too then all the better.

Netflix wants to let you watch all its movies, no matter what country you're in

Netflix wants to let you watch all its movies, no matter what country you're in

Netflix is something of a hero to many of us. After all, this is the firm that brought high-quality video streaming to the world and gave us a way to see shows like Breaking Bad when UK broadcasters couldn't be bothered.
Now it seems that Netflix also has another plan - to rid the world of geographic boundaries. At least as far as video goes. The argument made by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is that people shouldn't have to wait for programming to come to their region, but everything should be released globally.
That's actually some logical and smart thinking that's somewhat lacking from the movie and TV industries. Release windows have a historical basis, but it's about moving a physical product around the world.
In the old days, it was expensive to print moves for projection, so instead the US would show movies, until popularity dwindled, at which point the films would be taken out of the cinema and the physical media shipped to, say, the UK for use here.

Post Hastings, please

However these days movies are sent from the distributor via satellite to digital projection systems. The release window makes no sense. The same is true of TV. No more do we need to ship a ¼ tape across the world, but shows can be sent anywhere in a few minutes - just look at piracy, which does a smashing job of distributing TV globally within moments of it airing.
Hastings was speaking to Gizmodo Australia, and addressed many of the same problems that have plagued the UK from time to time, from data caps to a real lack of content availability.
He spoke of the problem with VPN use, where user want to watch legal stuff on Netflix, are happy to pay, but have no service in their country. Hastings told Giz, "The VPN thing is a small little asterisk compared to piracy".
In short, if you give them what they want, they don't need to break the law any more.
So Netflix wants a future where we all have access to films and TV at the same time. That's something we can get behind. Until then, why not read our Netflix review or see which we prefer between Amazon and Netflix in our side-by-side comparison?

Putting human vision models into computer video display

Putting human vision models into computer video display


Image processing technology has achieved remarkable breakthroughs, with more vivid colors, richer detail and higher definition images. This adds up to better resolution and a broader range of available colors at lower cost per pixel. But despite these stunning advances in visual display, it has been impossible to accurately reproduce what the human eye would see when viewing the scene directly.
No matter how advanced the technology, there has always been a difference between seeing something on the screen, and seeing it in real life. The human eye has an advantage in perceiving input, due to its ability to compensate on the fly for differences in lighting conditions both in static and mobile viewing.
There's no doubt that the future of television and video display rests in higher definition. Most recently, 4K TV, also known as Ultra HD, offers up dramatic improvements with twice the picture resolution of a standard 1080p full HD television.
What's next though, isn't just adding more pixels to the display and supporting larger color gamuts. The most dramatic improvement is in an entirely different approach that begins with a study of how the human eye organically perceives and processes color.

The human eye isn't just RGB

The original color standards defined a limited range of colors, by creating different intensities of red, green and blue (RGB) light emitted from rare earth phosphors grouped into sets of three. This system has persisted over time, but it does not allow for all possible colors, since it does not allow for negative amounts of a color to be used.
Nonetheless, it worked well, and has been extended a number of times. The most common standard continues to be sRGB, although some new color emitters in display devices are capable of creating more colors than are defined by the standard.
It's also important to note that the move from analog to digital displays came at a cost. In the real world, human eyes are not digital (unless you are a character from Star Trek). The natural color spectrum is analog, and every color in the frequency range of visible light is possible.
Digital displays impose an artificial limitation on the color gamut, because they have to rely on discrete digital values. Digital displays take the entire display as a single unit – only using crude adjustments of brightness that are applied across the board, which leads to a perception of some colors as being simply "wrong" in certain lighting environments.
The human eye adjusts how it sees colors based on brightness, and color of the viewing light. Technological displays, unlike the human eye, do not differentiate between regions that should be adjusted (such as shadows) and those that should not.
Also, digital standards do not take ambient light into account, and as a result, a display in an environment in which there is bright light, will look less colorful than it would in a dimly lit theater. The human eye does something that technology has until now been unable to do – and that is to adjust perception of colors based on the level of ambient light.

Putting human vision technology onto the digital screen

Applying the physical models of human vision to the computer or television display will come closer to natural vision than any other image technology on the market. This new era of real-time color processing, first developed by Entertainment Experience for its eeColor software application, in partnership with Rochester Institute of Technology, is now a reality. The new model displays vibrancy that even in Ultra HD, has never before been possible.
The technology applies real-time light sensors to automatically restore any quality that might be lost due to subpar lighting or bright sunlight, making it the first display technology suitable for equally vibrant displays in any lighting environment.

In addition to the ability to dynamically adjust for light, the new processing technology uses an approach with multidimensional tables, in order to map the true image colors as seen by the human eye. This gives total color control for the first time.

The evolution of color reproduction

The problem with video display is that it fundamentally differs from how the brain works. The way digital display works hasn't changed a whole lot since the early days of TV. We have four colors, and added white and other attempts to make the standard look better. The trouble is, it looks awful if you take relatively poor processing capability in the video processor and display it on a big screen.
But no matter what you do to the display, the color information in the image data doesn't correspond to the way your brain expects color to work. You just get a better-looking bad picture. The problem is, the eye is naturally adaptive. That's why you can see a candle on a dark night ten miles away. The way the color image processing works, it isn't visible at all.
To achieve a video display that offers the same quality as the human eye, one must first start out by understanding what science calls memory colors. Examples include blue sky, sky tones, and reference colors.
If you can make those colors look right, our eye system, when it looks at the display, will perceive that there is quality of color in the image that is much closer to what is actually there. To do that, you have to understand how to map the image to different pieces of the color space.
In current technology, adapting the display depends on adjusting saturation and contrast to compensate. The new Entertainment Experience technology does not depend on those adjustments. Instead, they control the area in the color gamut of the display that creates the color one's eye expects to see, controlling for ambient light.
Furthermore, the approach is scalable for different screen sizes. It scales to the size of the display at any height level. Scaling down, on the smartphone, the display characteristics can be adjusted, so you can look at it and see it clearly even in bright sunlight.
Unfortunately, before eeColor, standards have not kept up with the promise of the hardware. The color gamut for HDTV was bound by what can be created from a scanning electron beam and phosphor.
Today we do have wavelength-tunable lasers that can create a larger color gamut. It is possible to get to 85% of the theoretical maximum gamut with current LED laser technology, but the standard remains at about 45%.
We throw away a lot of color information in going from what the camera saw, to what you see when it's displayed. eeColor puts back much of the information that was thrown away, by processing what was retained in a dynamic fashion.
The eeColor technology is a software plug-in. The engine references a set of lookup tables that can be very specific or completely generic to a class of device, which gives it a high degree of flexibility to be adapted to almost any display hardware.
The result is simply stunning – and represents the future of display technology on every device from smart phone displays to Times Square billboards.

Turn your TV into a Chrome PC with Google's affordable Chromebit dongle

Turn your TV into a Chrome PC with Google's affordable Chromebit dongle
Google Chromebit Asus

Google is going way beyond Chromecast with its latest HDMI dongle, the transformative and affordable Chromebit.
The Google Chromebit, made by Asus, turns any TV with an HDMI jack into a full-fledged Chrome OS PC - and it costs just $100 (about £70, AU$130).
The Chromebit comes in blue, silver and orange, and it swivels to fit in any HDMI port.
Google's Chromebit uses a Rockchip RK 3288 chip and quad-core Mali 760 graphics, 2GB of memory, 16GB of solid state storage, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a USB 2.0 port on the end.

Borrowed bits

As Gizmodo points out, this is not a wholly original idea. Chinese companies already sell Android-based TV dongles - which also use the Rockchip processor - and Intel in January announced a Windows 8,1-based HDMI gadget clumsily dubbed the Compute Stick.
The site said this entry-level Chromebit won't be the only version, either, and that Asus isn't the only company with one in the works.
The first Google Chromebit should launch some time this summer.

Meet the Asus Flip, a very attractive 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook

Meet the Asus Flip, a very attractive 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook
Chromebooks for the most part have followed a model to be inexpensive 11- to 13-inch machines without much deviation. This year we're starting to see that mold break apart with the Acer Chromebook 15 and now Asus has unveiled a new convertible Chromebook called the Flip.
Available later this spring for $249 (about £167, AU$327), the Asus Flip is just as affordable as any Chromebook, but if features a screen that you can…well, flip back a full 360-degrees to turn it into a Chrome OS tablet. The screen itself is a 10.1 inch IPS panel with a 1280 x 800 resolution, which is just a tiny bump up from the traditional 1,366 x 768 resolution screen most 11-inch machines come with.
While the Lenovo N20p has the honor of beating the Flip to the convertible Chromebook, this machine also features an all-aluminum chassis that 15mm thin and weighs less than two pounds.
For the computing guts, Asus has gone with 4GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD and a fanless Rockchip 3288 CPU. That might not be a household name next to Intel's Core M but it's an ARM chip based on a 32-bit quad-core Cortex 17 design. On paper this 2GHz quad-core processor should be more than adequate for web browsing, meanwhile benchmarks from CNX-software have shown it running laps around an Intel Baytrail Atom processor.
Asus Chromebook Flip
The Acer Chromebok C201
On top of the Flip, Asus 11.6-inch Asus Chromebook C201, which will also feature the same Rockchip 3288 processor. The new machine is due to go on sale at Amazon this May with a starting price of $169 (about £ 113, AU$221) for the 2GB version alongside another 4GB model.

New players

We also have a new players in the Chromebook space with Hisense and Haier, two electronics manufacturers from China.
Firstly, there's the Haier Chromebook 11, an 11.6-inch Chromebook that comes sporting a Rockchip 3288 chipset with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Haier claims its first Chromebook will have a battery life of 10 hours and it's already available on Amazon for $149 (about £100, AU$195).
The Haier also has plans to release a Chromebook 11E made specifically for the education market that's more durable with a spill proof keyboard as well as a removable battery.
Hisense, meanwhile, announced its own Chrome OS laptop will be available for preorder on Walmart for $149 (about £100, AU$195). For the price you'll get an 11.6-inch cloud-based machine with 8.5 hours of battery life with practically identical specs as the Haier Chromebook 11.

Google Drive for Work bolstered by new security settings

Google Drive for Work bolstered by new security settings
Google is beginning to roll out a new update for Google Drive for Work that brings added security to file sharing. With new sharing controls, digital information rights management (IRM), and alerts, IT administrators now have better control of how corporate files are shared.
"And to keep your company's data even more secure in Drive, we're launching new sharing controls, alerts and audit events to Google Drive for Work and Google Education over the next several weeks," Google said in a statement.
In one instance, Google detailed a scenario in which a company may want to keep files created by the research department internal. By adjusting the Drive settings within the Admin Control, administrators could limit the files from the research department to only be shared internally to users with the same domain.
These settings could be tweaked for various departments. Each department will have their own share settings.
The rollout for the update starts today and continues over the next month.

Information Rights Management

To control how files are shared and handled, a new Information Rights Management (IRM) setting allows file creators to limit downloading, printing, and copying. If you have sensitive information that is meant to be accessed only by a few people, IRM helps to prevent these files from being copied or further disseminated.
IRM can be applied to any file created within Google Docs, including spreadsheets, documents, and presentations.

Drive audits

Administrators can also set up custom alerts that will be sent to their phones if any of the policies are breached.
"So if you want to know when a file containing the word 'confidential' in the title is shared outside the company, now you'll know," Google detailed. "And there are more events coming to Drive audit, including download, print and preview."
Custom Drive alerts can also be used to let administrators know when things change. For example, a Drive alert could be set up to notify if a shared calendar was deleted.
Administrators can also add trusted domains. Businesses, schools, and organizations with multiple Google apps domain will benefit from this feature as trusted domains, once added, will be treated like an internal domain for files limited for internal access. Administrators can also set up an expiration time for temporary file shares with trusted domain users.
For organizations, this means that you can add your partners' and customers' domains and share files as if they are internal to your business. Schools can also add domains for individual departments for broader collaboration.
Sharing documents with people outside of your organization is easier, even if they don't use Google services. A new feature, if enabled, allows shared Drive files to be viewable without having to sign in with a Google account.

Amazon's physical 'Dash Buttons' buy you household goods with a press

Amazon's physical 'Dash Buttons' buy you household goods with a press

With one day remaining before April Fool's, Amazon has unveiled a new gimmick that we're 100% sure isn't a prank: Amazon Dash Button.
The buttons let you order individual products, from Bounty paper towels to Gatorade, with a press.
The idea is you stick them up in your pantry, laundry room or bathroom and give them a tap when you notice you're running low. Amazon then charges your account and sends your order posthaste.
Amazon Dash could potentially make it easier than ever to get certain home supplies - although the absurdity of dedicating an actual, physical dongle stuck on the wall of your home to simply buying rolls of toilet paper has us questioning this a bit.

Sign us up

Amazon says the Dash Buttons are free for Amazon Prime users - with an invitation. To grab some for yourself head to amazon.com/oc/dash-button.
This also could be a sort of proof-of-concept on Amazon's part, as the company notes that "developers, makers, and manufacturers can integrate the same service that powers Dash Button into their product or services," with a link to learn more.
We asked the bookseller just to make sure this wasn't a too-real-seeming joke, and a spokesperson confirmed it: this is a very real thing. Oh, joy.

The original Xbox was almost a free console for 'casual' gamers

The original Xbox was almost a free console for 'casual' gamers
Microsoft's Xbox launch in 2001 marked a turning point for the home video game console market and for the game industry as a whole, but it could have gone off much differently.
Former Microsoft developer Seamus Blackley, who helped design and launch the original Xbox, and Oddworld Inhabitants' Lorne Lanning, who launch Munch's Oddysee on the Xbox in 2001, told GamesIndustry that Microsoft had considered giving the console away for free to undercut Nintendo.
"At the time, Xbox thought that the core market was going to be casual. They were going to be the casual gamers' machine," Lanning said. "Now, that's why they approached us because they said 'we think you've got something that competes in that Mario space and we think Mario's the thing to kill ... We see that space. We want that audience. We love Oddworld so why don't you get on this bandwagon? And we might give the box away'."
Blackley added that Microsoft also considered launching the Xbox as a game console but later forcing it to run Windows - a ploy to get the then-unpopular OS into homes - as well as focusing it on movies instead of games, or only letting it play internal Microsoft-developed games.

More blips

Thankfully none of that happened, and today you can use Internet Explorer on your Xbox One to read more of TechRadar's blips. Win?

Intel's entry-level Braswell CPU to boost cheap laptops and desktops

Intel's entry-level Braswell CPU to boost cheap laptops and desktops
Intel has introduced seven new processors that will make their way into affordable laptops and desktops.
The new chips, from the Braswell family, are manufactured using a 14nm technology and will take
over Bay Trail parts in the long term.
Interestingly, all the announced Celeron parts cost the same except the N3150 (the top range model) and come with four cores clocked at 1.6GHz with 2MB of cache.
Braswell (for desktops) and Cherry Trail (for tablets) are both part of Airmont, which is a die-shrink of the current Silvermont architecture.

Still too expensive

The popular Geekbench 3 application suite shows that the N3150 scored 843 and 2689 respectively on its single-core and multi-core benchmarks, both very decent numbers. The newcomers are likely to find their way into Intel's next generation NUCs (Next Unit of Computing), in addition to entry-level desktops and laptops.
Braswell was announced last year in China as part of a concerted push by Intel to produce Chromebooks and similar devices costing as little as $199 (about £120, AU$240).
That said, if Intel wants to hit that price point, it will have to significantly reduce the suggested retail prices of the newly-released processors which hover around the $100 (about $60, AU$120) mark.

When April Fools’ Day Gets More Love Than Good Policy

When April Fools’ Day Gets More Love Than Good Policy
Here is something to ponder: Silicon Valley will have gotten more work done on its April Fools’ Day jokes tomorrow than Washington has gotten done in the past several years. And that’s scary, for as much as playing PacMan on Google Maps is funny and maybe even endearing, driving on bridges ready to collapse is not.
Things are not looking good in our nation’s capital, and they haven’t in a long time. Gridlock in Congress has kept legislative action of almost any kind at a complete standstill, while the nation’s aging infrastructure continues to disintegrate. Just at a time when more attention has finally been garnered by these persistent problems, Indiana dropped gasoline on the smoldering fires of the culture wars, reigniting interest in such vital issues as who can eat at a Dairy Queen.
This weekend, I argued quite strongly that Silicon Valley is now at the zenith of its power, and wields it with a force almost unknown by any other industry today. Tech has become the most powerful force in the universe, which, while perhaps a tad hyperbolic, seems so eminently true when we look at just how little actually gets done politically.
Even technology’s critics are calling it quits. Evgeny Morozov, perhaps one of the most consistently strident critics of Silicon Valley and its political and social culture, recently wrote that there was practically no radical undercurrent in technology criticism and that “While radical thought about technology is certainly possible, the true radicals are better off theorizing—and spearheading—other, more consequential struggles, and jotting down some reflections on technology along the way.”
For Morozov, trenchant criticism has declined due to a lack of a framework for analyzing the relationship between technology and society, which he pithily summarizes as “No vision, no critique.” He offered a mea culpa here as well about his own writing: “Thus, I must acknowledge defeat as well: contemporary technology criticism in America is an empty, vain, and inevitably conservative undertaking. At best, we are just making careers; at worst, we are just useful idiots.”
It’s not just technology’s critics though that lack imagination and vision, but its proponents as well. Silicon Valley’s leaders talk about the idyllic utopia that rests just on the other side of this funding round or new product release, and yet, when we look around our society at the number of challenges we face, the action seems completely absent.
Of course, there were visions in the past. The internet was supposed to bring the world together, if not fully for peace, then at least for understanding. The internet was then supposed to be a cyberlibertarian paradise, bereft of the complicated regulatory state that had supposedly brought the physical economy to its knees.
Just in the last few days, we have seen the darker side of this network, with the Chinese government likely behind massive attacks on GitHub, as well as with the continued growth of ISIS in the Middle East. The internet is increasingly dividing into independent and militant fiefdoms, almost the antithesis of what it was all supposed to be about.
Today, it was announced that Silicon Valley heavyweights Ron Conway and Sean Parker are launching a new think tank that will hopefully get more involved in at least some of our nation’s pressing issues, such as infrastructure and economic opportunity. We should definitely have a more steady voice in policy discussions and try to minimize the wide distance between government officials and the technology world.
Policy briefs are not a vision statement though, and that sort of leadership still seems really far off. Instead, we are too busy deploying the next feature to really see what effect all of our work is actually generating. We have barely scratched the surface on what our technologies and startups are doing for workers, such as immigrants and contract laborers. While we have started responding to the need for cybersecurity (a need we created!), we do so more out of avarice than service.
There are visionary statements galore in this industry, but so little real thought about what those statements mean outside of a couple of blocks in South of Market. Even worse, there is a persistent groupthink about technology and politics, despite the vast interest that most nerds have with engaging on these topics.
What does Silicon Valley stand for? Technology progress is too easy – those words have almost no meaning whatsoever. Do we represent every individual in the pursuit of their creativity and industry? Do we want the world to become more egalitarian? Do we want more of our personal property to be managed by others? There is a cacophony of views out there, but those views are expressed so limitedly that they are almost silent to hear.
That wider discussion might be ambitious, but we can always take a few early steps. Taking a cue from some of Apple’s recent software releases, maybe it is time that we actually spent some cycles figuring out how to clean up our existing products and services rather than purely push new features. Commentators always talk about our country’s financial debt, but what about the country’s technical debt in terms of lines of code? How can we rebuild reliability, safety, and security in terms of technology and economics into the products that consumers and enterprises use everyday?
Silicon Valley has had enviable success for some time now. There are moments in a country’s history when everything looks lost, only for success to be found right around the corner, and we have the ability to potentially offer the way forward. That requires a bit more time to think and to ponder, time for concentration that just isn’t available in these frenetic unicorn days. If we can look around though, we might not just find the next big product, but a more fulfilling purpose as well.

Etsy IPO Price Expected At Between $14-$16 A Share, Starting Roadshow Tomorrow

Etsy IPO Price Expected At Between $14-$16 A Share, Starting Roadshow Tomorrow
Today, Etsy gave a few more key details about its upcoming initial public offering.
The company, which is known for its marketplace for handmade and vintage objects and plans to trade on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “ETSY,” said today that its expected IPO price will be between $14 to $16 a share. This puts Etsy’s valuation between $1.55 billion and $1.77 billion.
Etsy also said that its roadshow, which is the time that a company’s executives and bankers travel to potential stock buyers to gin up interest in the IPO and often secure early sales, is slated to begin tomorrow.
Etsy, which was founded in 2005, initially said it planned to raise up to $100 million in the IPO — that was likely a boilerplate figure in its regulatory documents, since today’s update has tripled the amount it expects to raise up to $300 million. The company officially signaled its intent to go public a few weeks back on March 4, when it filed an S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You can read more in-depth analysis of Etsy’s planned IPO and its financials here.

YC-Backed Neverfrost Wants To Kill Windshield Frost And Keep Rocks From Ruining Your Day

YC-Backed Neverfrost Wants To Kill Windshield Frost And Keep Rocks From Ruining Your Day
frostI’m a fan of all different sorts of rocks. Rock music. Rock gardens. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

But there’s one type of rock that I — and most other drivers, I imagine — hate with a deep, fiery passion: rocks that hit my car’s windshield at 70 mph.
Few things so small can wreck your day so suddenly. Everything is going great. The sun is shining. Hell, you probably even have time to grab some coffee before your meeting with — *BAM!*, you’ve got a 2-inch scar streaking across your once flawless glass.
Neverfrost, a YC-backed company that has been working away quietly up in Waterloo for the past few years, wants to beef up your windshield’s ability to handle the stray rocks that may come its way — and while they’re at it, they want to end windshield frosting and help drivers save fuel by keeping their car’s interior cooler.
Neverfrost began its life in the University of Waterloo’s Nanotechnology Engineering program, where it was initially a fourth-year design project for the company’s founders, Khanjan Desai and Chong Shen.
Here’s what Neverfrost is claiming its film can do:
  • Reduce frost forming on the windshield by about 95 percent. It’ll still form on reaaaally cold nights; but Khanjan tells me that even that frost should be considerably lighter than it otherwise might be. It’ll also make snow considerably easier to scrape off, as it won’t be able to stick.
  • Increase your windshield’s resistance to rocks by up to 6x. This is possible because the material is on the exterior of the glass (unlike most tints, which go on the inside), and is a bit softer than the glass itself. When a rock hits the film, the force is spread across a wider area.
  • It’ll reject 90 percent of infrared heat from the sun, which Khanjan tells me is about 40 percent of the total solar energy that’ll enter and heat up your car. That means less A/C required to keep things cool, and thus less fuel burned powering your A/C.
  • It does this with minimal impacts on optics; it’ll allow 88 percent of visible light through your windshield, which is only about 2 percent less than what most bare glass windshields allow and should be within legal limits in the U.S. and Canada.
(Note that these stats are from the company’s tests, and are not something I was able to personally test. Once the film approaches commercial availability, I’ll happily fire some rocks at my car’s windshield in the name of science.)
So how does it work? While the company doesn’t reveal every ingredient in its secret sauce, they explain the product as “nano-composites sandwiched in a single 100-micrometer-thick film.”
Wondering how can you get Neverfrost for your windshield?
For now at least, you can’t. It has to be professionally applied by an authorized dealer, and they’re primarily working with trucking fleets in California and Ontario for now — because no one knows the pain of a chipped/frosted windshield like the folks who drive across the country all-day-every-day for a living.
That said, the company tells me that it hopes the product will be available commercially to consumers by next fall. Interested parties can sign up for more details here.
One interesting thing to note about the company: unlike many (most?) YC-backed companies, Neverfrost isn’t planning to make Silicon Valley its home any time soon. It needs to be somewhere cold to test and iterate on their product, and the Valley isn’t exactly known for its snowfall.

An Action Plan For Getting More Women In Tech

An Action Plan For Getting More Women In Tech
How can more women be encouraged into technology careers? It’s a question that is often put to delegates at tech conferences, but one which continues to be far harder to answer than it is to ask. The problem of gender imbalance in tech is systemic and societal in Western nations. This is not a question of ability or talent, given that countries such as China and India have far higher proportions of female engineers. This is about expectations and aspirations.
The question has topical imperative given the gender discrimination spotlight that’s been shone on Silicon Valley of late — with high profile lawsuits touching various entities, including most recently VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter. And they are by no means the only tech companies to find themselves dealing with disgruntled former female employees making public claims of hostile corporate cultures.
Last year a raft of major U.S. tech companies also made their diversity reports public, putting concrete data on the scope of the problem into the public domain. Across the board, leadership roles and technology jobs at all these companies skew heavily in favor of men, with at most just over a quarter of tech company leadership roles filled by women. When it comes to pure-play technology jobs, female involvement dwindles even further.
So what can be done to change attitudes and convince more women to pursue a career in technology? A roundtable discussion held today in London organized by startup support group Tech London Advocates and chaired by U.K. shadow minister for the Digital Economy, the Labour Party’s Chi Onwurah (herself a former telecoms engineer turned politician) heard various ideas for fostering change from a group of women already working in the tech space. A full list of the women who attended the event can be found at the bottom of this article.
The group’s ideas boiled down to five priority areas for action:
  1. improvements to education, to raise awareness about technology and tech careers and counteract negative perceptions
  2. making the business case for more women in tech, and offering guidance to corporates to help them shift entrenched, male-dominated company cultures
  3. creating positive narratives and championing rolemodels to combat negative stereotypes, whether in the media or because of a lack of parental awareness about career opportunities for girls in tech
  4. strengthening female networking and mentoring opportunities 
  5. access to funding to encourage more female entrepreneurs into startups
Discussions were wide-ranging, as you’d expect from a large group tackling a complex, systemic issue, but various interesting threads emerged.
Companies should be better at recognizing when someone is capable of doing a job, rather than relying on women to push themselves forward, suggested Louise Beaumont, head of public affairs and marketing for GLI Finance.
That view resonants with the current gender discrimination lawsuit Twitter is facing, brought by a female engineer and former employee who was passed over for promotion and whose complaint is the tech giant has an opaque promotions process that unfairly favors men.
“I agree about pushing forward. There are many jobs I didn’t apply for, which in retrospect I realize I should have done,” said Onwurah, responding to Beaumont’s point. “But there is also something about changing the corporate culture so you don’t need to be blowing your own trumpet all the time. You don’t necessarily need to be leaning in in order to be recognized for what you’re doing.”
Beaumont also made the point that companies with more gender balanced senior management have been shown to be more financially successful — and that message, that if a company fails to promote women it can be shown to be “failing its shareholders”, could be used more forcefully to drive a business case for female promotion.
“There is quite a lot of data that those companies with more mixed executive teams have better outcomes and better shareprices,” she said. “As much as we might all feel things very strongly, if people actually understood the impact on their bottom line they would have fewer places to hide.”
Quotas were also discussed as one possible tool a future government could use to accelerate the pace of change within companies — perhaps even using skilled immigration as one avenue to further this agenda, by, for instance, requiring that a certain proportion of developers brought into the country on specific visas are female. Or indeed using quotas to increase the proportion of female board members.
“I think it was a French minister who said ‘I don’t believe in quotas, I don’t like them, I don’t want them, we have to have them’,” said Onwurah, discussing the lack of women on boards. “I’m not quite there yet but it’s the last chance saloon. It’s absolutely right that you need more women at just below the executive level [to be in a position to be promoted to boards]. But I’ve spent a lot of time talking to Harvey Nash and other recruitment organizations and they are trying to put more women up for jobs but companies are not taking them on.
“Or companies are still having all male shortlists. So we need to do something about supply but we also need to do something about demand. And I think legislation is a crude measure/way of improving demand but if the industry doesn’t sort itself out then governments often are put in a position where they have to take crude measures.”
A large part of the discussion focused on the challenges of reworking education to engage girls with STEM subjects and technology careers — with a general view of the benefits of encouraging big and small tech companies to work with schools to raise awareness and change perceptions about technology careers.
Jess Tyrrell, associate director of the Centre for London, suggested it can be even more valuable if you’re linking kids with local companies — so developing local educational partnerships, and working within a local context that feels relevant to the children.
“Young people learn when they’re attached to things that happen around them — especially if you want to increase diversity. You’re not going to travel from Newcastle, necessarily, to go to the Wired Next-Gen conference unless someone takes you. But you might go down the road to a club to do a Rewired State or to do a Code Club or whatever.”
“Regardless of the size of the business what we’re saying is what we need is these clusters of education-business partnerships locally that can get some saturation into the schools but also things that happen in informal learning,” she added.
The importance of engaging parents, and mums specifically, was also flagged up — given the close role they play in shaping their daughters’ expectations and aspirations.
Onwurah referenced a recent study that identified a lack of science capital as the biggest factor that stops young girls going into technology. “By science capital — generally it means somebody in your family whose in science or technology already. So if your father or mother was a scientist girls had the same proportion, I think, going into science as boys whose parents were in it,” she said. “So getting science capital into the environment of girls who don’t have it now is one thing education can do. But also mums. Dr Sue Black has an initiative called Tech Mums which is trying to address that.”
Also on the education point, Ghislaine Boddington, CEO of BodyDataSpace, talked up the importance of emphasizing the role that art and design increasingly plays in technology — so pushing STEAM, not just STEM — as a way to encourage more girls to get involved.
“Design particularly will encourage a lot more girls and women to actually see technology from an earlier stage, the opportunities that are out there, the massive growth in design areas in technology,” she said, noting the increasing importance of user interface and UX design in tech.
Another thread of the discussion focused on ways to challenge gender stereotypes and foreground positive and well-rounded female-in-tech rolemodels.
Engineering is a really caring career. What is more caring than giving clean water or the ability of a parent to talk to their offspring?
Jennifer Arcuri, founder of the Innotech Summit, suggested starting a meme to celebrate women who are already working in technology. “I love being a feminine woman and interested in make-up and clothes and also love dinosaurs and space. I don’t think that there needs to be one exclusive [tech female rolemodel]. That’s the beauty of being a woman. All the wonderful things that come along with femininity and being a woman in this space.”
“If we can show how women are already here doing things you don’t need to make a special case for us, we just need to shout from the hilltops a bit better,” she added.
Onwurah also noted the narrow and hackneyed narratives that are told about tech and engineering — suggesting they are ripe for debunking. “One of the clichés about girls when choosing their careers is that they love particularly caring careers. I think engineering is a really caring career. What is more caring than giving clean water or the ability of a parent to talk to their offspring? But it’s never portrayed like that — it’s portrayed as hard-hats or as men arguing with each other over formula,” she said.
Other areas touched on in the discussion included the need to have more women speaking at tech conferences and on panels — and ways to encourage that to happen, such as raising awareness of existing directories of female speakers, such as the Articulate Network. All-female mentoring lists were also suggested as something that might be helpful.
Getting more women involved in startup funding was also touched on — along with promoting the work of organizations that are already advocating for more female investors to come forward.
“There are something like 14% of angels in the U.K. are women. One, four. This is because women choose not to do that with their money,” added Beaumont.
The discussion was clear on the need to change the choices that adults of both genders make in order to positively influence the tech gender balance — given those choices filter down to shape the aspirations of girls and boys alike. So no quick fixes, but plenty of food for thought.
Here’s the full list of women attending the roundtable:
Nikki Watkins, European Leaders
Liz Kanter, SAP
Zoe Steventon, Infectious Media
Ghislaine Boddington, BodyDataSpace
Yashu Reddy, Healthbox
Katarina Derschewsky, Instinctif Partners
Sarah Fetherston-Dilke, Instinctif Partners
Jo Tasker, Technopop
Louise Beaumont, GLIFinance
Jennifer Arcuri, Innotech Summit
Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch
Chi Onwurah, Labour Party
Sarah Luxford, European Leaders
Sofi Newsham, CuppaMe
Olivia Sibony, Grub Club
Anushka Sharma, TechHub
Jess Tyrrell, Centre for London
Also attending:
George Bevis, Labour Digital
Russell Shore, Tech London Advocates

Sinch Blasts To $60M Run Rate In 10 Months

Sinch Blasts To $60M Run Rate In 10 Months
The race to provide telecom services to developers of every stripe has a number of large, well-capitalized participants. New and quickly growing among the better-known names is Sinch, a company that was spun out of Rebtel just over 10 months ago. According to the firm, Sinch is now generating revenue at a $60 million run rate.
Sinch started with certain advantages that are worth noting. It launched last May with $12 million in funding and its former corporate parent Rebtel as a customer. That doesn’t make its revenue growth less noteworthy, however.
For context, Twilio, another company that provides voice and texting capabilities to developers, is currently on a path toward an IPO. Its revenue? It was recently reported that Twilio was generating revenue on a $100 million run rate. Another firm in the space, Nexmo, hit a $72 million run rate in September of last year. That puts Sinch in third place, but given its comparative youth, that’s hardly unflattering.
They declined to comment on what portion of its revenues come from its corporate progenitor, and declined to speculate on where its revenues might be in one and three years from today.
Sinch becomes slightly more notable in the growth context because, simply due to its youth, its product history is short compared to its revenue. For example, Sinch only rolled out its global SMS API last December, as TechCrunch reported. At that time, TechCrunch also wrote that the company had picked up 6,000 developer sign-ups through that date.
Like most technology companies with a pulse, Sinch tells TechCrunch it is currently raising capital. In response to an emailed query regarding profitability, Sinch told this publication that it has a “low burn” that is in decline as it expands its customer base. Why is the firm raising capital? As you expected, the answer is growth. Or, implicitly, faster growth.
Sinch focuses on providing tools for mobile developers in particular. To that end, the company recently released “Flash Call User Verification,” which lets users confirm their phone numbers without retyping PINs. In response to a question, Sinch called the response to the new feature “incredible.” The company also confirmed that the new product has similar margins to its other offerings. Revenue growth derived from the product will therefore not dilute the company’s path to eventual profitability.
Akin to the cloud storage space, and the mobile device management market, there is lots of capital and competition in the developer-telecom game. What comes next are the usual fun questions: Who will spike their cap table by raising at too high a valuation, and how long until we see the first S-1 from the group?

As Internal Threats Rise, Investors Back New Security Tech

As Internal Threats Rise, Investors Back New Security Tech
On February 3, 2011, a little over two years before Edward Snowden would board his plane to Hong Kong and change history, a 37-year-old man named Jason Cornish fired what may have been the first shot in one of the new fronts of the battle for enterprise security.
An information technology employee at Shionogi, the US subsidiary of a Japanese pharmaceutical firm, Cornish woke up that icy February morning, went to his local McDonald’s and deleted 15 virtual hosts on Shionogi’s network, housing the equivalent of 88 different computer servers.
Shionogi lost its email and Blackberry servers, its order tracking system, and its financial management software, according to an FBI report.
Cornish accessed the network via a software program he had secretly installed and used his familiarity with the company’s network to select each of the virtual servers he wanted to delete. The FBI estimated that attack cost the company $300,000.
Companies have lost billions to both disgruntled employees and outside hackers, governments have been hobbled (rightly or wrongly) by information leaks, and identity theft has skyrocketed.
Amid this steady drumbeat of technology breaches and security snafus, venture capitalists have spent roughly $6.5 billion on new technologies to combat this menace, according to CrunchBase data.
The latest company to benefit from this deluge of dollars, and the one that addresses the issue of bad actors inside corporate networks most directly, is HyTrust, which has just closed on $25 million in new financing. The Series D round was led by new investor Accelerate IT Ventures with additional participation from Vanedge Capital.
Previous strategic investors VMWare, Cisco, Intel, Fortinet and In-Q-Tel (the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency) and venture capital firms Granite Ventures, Trident Capital, and Epic Ventures also participated in the round.
“HyTrust definitely benefited from the Snowden effect,” said one investor familiar with the company.
To prevent against future Snowden-like breaches in government or in business, HyTrust allows companies to automate controls around who can access what information and then monitors how different users behave on the network. If a user tries to access files or acts anomalously Hytrust can notify the right security channels and prevent access to unauthorized material.
The movement to “cloud computing” which allows organizations to store and process orders of magnitude more data than every before has exposed that information to more attacks, says Brian Nugent, and investor with AITV who will take a seat on the HyTrust board of directors. “Cloud computing creates a soft underbelly of data security,” he says.
Traditional security depended on the protection of hardware and software and network perimeters. But with data distributed across a network, the notion of a “perimeter” disappears. “System administrators are now some of the most powerful people within an organization,” says Eric Chiu, HyTrust chief executive.
HyTrust and other companies like it allow organizations to create layers of controls to gauge who has access to what information, and integrate with other services to monitor user behavior and look for anomalies. By partnering with networking giants like Cisco, virtualization technology vendors like VMWare, and hardware companies like Intel, HyTrust has a window across all aspects of a company’s network, according to investors.
And securing networks has never been more important. According to a survey by Forrester Research 53% of enterprise workloads were already virtualized in 2013, and that number is expected to rise to 71% by the end of this year.
While HyTrust is attracting dollars and investor interest, other security buckets represent big opportunities for venture investors and young technology companies, according to one venture capitalist familiar with the security market.
“This has the potential to productize a multi-billion dollar consulting market around security penetration,” the investor said. Marquee firms like Benchmark, which backed Hacker1, and Greylock, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures are behind Synack. Venture capitalists are also taking a closer look at document management, security and tracking, with three stealthy companies backed in the last year.
Finally, new companies are even taking a run at HyTrust’s market of securing against internal threats in a network. Baltimore-based RedOwl Analytics raised $4.6 million in a round of funding to develop its network monitoring and security technology, and Fortscale has raised $12 million from investors including Intel Capital looking at a similar market. “This category builds on top of security compliance, and adds a bunch of data sources to do predictive analytics,” the investor said.
Ultimately, enterprises will turn to all of these technologies, because, frankly, they have little other choice, investors said. “There’s no one technology that’s a silver bullet,” said an investor backing HyTrust. “Companies need everything they can to reduce the cost and complexity of security, and counterintuitively that means buying more technology. The threats keep multiplying.”

Google Says 5% Of Visitors To Its Sites Have Ad Injectors Installed

Google Says 5% Of Visitors To Its Sites Have Ad Injectors Installed
According to a study Google conducted with researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, 5 percent of people visiting Google’s sites and services now have at least one ad injector installed.
When it comes to malware, ad injectors may seem relatively benevolent at first. They put an ad on your Google Search page that didn’t belong there, for example. That’s annoying, but doesn’t seem dangerous. But ad injection was pretty much what Lenovo’s Superfish was doing and that created plenty of security issues for users. Indeed, the research, which is based on the analysis of 100 million pageviews across Google’s sites from Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, classified about a third of these injectors as “outright malware.”
red warningGiven that these kinds of ad injectors are often bundles with legitimate software — and desktop developers and download sites often see them as a relatively easy way to make a bit of extra money with their installers and download wrappers — it’s easy enough to install one of them inadvertently.
Google and the Berkeley researchers found that ad injectors are now available on all major platforms and browsers. Out of those 5 percent of users that have at least one installed, one-third actually had four of them running simultaneously and half were running two. Clearly, there is a group of users that is a bit more prone to catching one of these than others.
Google says it is publishing these numbers (and a more detailed research report on May 1) to raise awareness about ad injectors.
“Unwanted ad injectors aren’t part of a healthy ads ecosystem,” Google Safe Browsing engineer Nav Jagpal writes in today’s announcement. “They’re part of an environment where bad practices hurt users, advertisers and publishers alike. ”
Given that these programs inject themselves between the browser and the website, and change the website’s code, browsers have a hard time figuring out which ads are legitimate and which ones are not.
“In broader terms, the question of just who ultimately controls the information presented to users is of great and increasing importance – it’s one of the most vital issues the digital world faces,” UC Berkeley EECS professor Vern Paxson noted in a statement today. “Ad injection undermines the integrity of user interactions and surreptitiously inserts control separate from either of the communicating parties. Thus it represents one of the “fronts” in this key struggle.”
Google says it has already banned 192 Chrome extensions that affected 14 million users based on this research and it is now using the same techniques the researchers used to scan all new and updated extensions in the Chrome Web Store.
Google’s advertising and browser extension policies pretty much ban deceptive ad injectors — as do most other ad networks — but most of the companies that build them aren’t exactly about following the rules. It’s also worth noting that ad networks often also don’t know that their ads are being used in this way.
Unless Google and other browser and advertising vendors find a technical solution to this problem, chances are it’ll never fully go away.

Facebook’s New Photo “Scrapbook” Lets Parents Give Kids An Official Presence

Facebook’s New Photo “Scrapbook” Lets Parents Give Kids An Official Presence
For the first time, children under 13 are allowed to have an official presence on Facebook. They still can’t have a profile, but their parents can now tag photos of them (or pet) to create a “Scrapbook.” This lets parents collect photos of their baby, toddler, or pre-teen in a centralized place they can share with friends or loved ones. Scrapbook will first roll out in the U.S. on iOS, Android and desktop.
Facebook tells me it’s looking into how it could let parents hand off control of the scrapbook to their kid when they turn 13 and can legally join Facebook. And if you hate seeing baby photos, giving parents a way to identify them could be the first step to Facebook hiding them from your feed.

Turning Emergent Behavior Into Product

Meet Rom. Rom is a bouncing baby boy launched by Facebook Scrapbook product manager Dan Barak and his co-founder (wife). Barak wanted a better way to compile all the photos of Rom he was uploading on Facebook, so he built one.

“Before Rom was even born, I started seeing friends who were parents adding photos of their kids and tagging their partners” Barak tells. This was a clever hack. By tagging their partner in photos of their kid, a parent could instantly notify their significant other they had uploaded one, made it visible to their partner’s friends, and create a place to find those shots in the Photos Of Me section of their partner’s profile.
“We asked and interviewed a bunch of parents and found 65 percents of partners who share photos of their kids on Facebook [in the U.S.] do this,” says Barak.
So like Twitter turning “RT:” into the retweet button, Barak took all the benefits of the tagging hack and baked them into Facebook Scrapbook.

How To Scrapbook

To create a scrapbook, people will be able to go to the About section of their profiles, and then the Family And Relationships tab. There they’ll see options to start a scrapbook from scratch or make one for an existing child. This lets them establish themselves as a parent and create a phantom presence for their kid (which has ad targeting ramifications I’ll get into later).
Barak tells me there’s an easter egg in the family member selector for starting a scrapbook that lets you choose to make one for your pet.
Next, you’ll see a cute animated video about how Scrapbooks work, starring a baby elephant named Elly. You’ll then select whether to co-own the scrapbook with your partner, which means they’ll also be able to tag photos of your kid, get notified about those tags, have the photos default to being visible to their friends, and change the Scrapbook’s privacy settings.
Scrapbook 3
Once the Scrapbook is created, parents will be shown photos tagged with them or their partner, and can click to identify which ones feature their little munchkin (though there’s no facial detection for kids, as that’d be creepy). The Scrapbook then becomes a special collection of photos of the kid from other albums. Parents can tag their kid in other people’s photos, too, and get a notification if the privacy setting of those photos changes.
From then on, if they ever want to show someone photos of their kid, they’ve got them all in one place. Years down the road, Barak says, Facebook hopes to let teenagers assume ownership of their Scrapbooks.
“Everyone who’s on Facebook should control their own identity,” Barak says. So if  they don’t get laughed at by their middle school friends, Barak tells me, “it’s private to them and they can do whatever they want. If they want to remove it they can, or they can make it more public.”
Dan Barak
Facebook Scrapbook Product Manager Dan Barak

Once You Know What’s A Baby Photo…

Barak says Facebook wanted to “ship [Scrapbook] early and get feedback” from parents, so there’ll be a prominent link in the product to send comments to the company. One feature Facebook plans to add is a subscribe button that will let loved ones like grandparents get a notification any time a photo is added to a kid’s scrapbook.
But shipping early has its risks, too. Facebook hasn’t quite figured out an elegant way for Scrapbooks to work for mixed families with step-children and step-parents. A maximum of two people can be the owners of a Scrapbook, and those people have to be in a formal relationship on Facebook (expect “domestic partnerships” for friends who co-own a pet). Divorced parents could always start separate Scrapbooks, but there’s some potential for emotional stress even if Barak says “We’re not passing any judgement.”
Scrapbook Hand
Getting parents to out themselves could be good for Facebook’s business, though Barak says “it was never an incentive. This was my baby project that came along with the baby.” Still, to use the Scrapbook, you have to list yourself as a parent, which signals to Facebook’s advertisers that they might want to target you with ads for toys or kids’ clothes.
On the brighter side, people who despise seeing baby photos on Facebook may be in luck. When I asked if Facebook could use the Scrapbook tags to identify which photos have kids in them so it could hide those photos from people who never look at, like, or comment on them, he admitted, “It’s something we’ve thought about.”