Edward Snowden’s new app turns any Android phone into a surveillance system

The app is called Haven and you can download it from the Google Play Store.

from TechCrunch;

Haven is an open source app that will run on any Android phone, particularly inexpensive and older devices. It operates like a surveillance system, using the device’s camera, audio recording capability and even accelerometer to detect movement and notify a user. The idea is that, even with the best encryption in the world, a device is vulnerability to physical, in-person tampering — also known as “evil maid” because literally a hotel maid could access it.

Go-Jek buys three startups to advance its mobile payment business

Jon Russell, writing for TechCrunch;

Go-Jek, the company leading Uber and Grab in Southeast Asia’s largest market, has bagged a hat trick of deals to advance its mobile payment strategy.

Indonesia-based Go-Jek revealed it has acquired offline payment firm Kartuku, payment gateway Midtrans and payment and lending network Mapan for undisclosed sums.

It’s starting to become a 3 way ride-sharing war in Southeast Asia; Uber vs Grab vs Go-Jek!!!

Bitcoin just passed $8,000

Fitz Tepper, writing for TechCrunch;

Yesterday the price shot past $8,000 for the first time, and per usual when it breaks through a milestone is now trading solidly above it at $8,250.

I know someone who treat bitcoin like an investment or similar to stocks, this news will surely make him very very very happy!

AFAIK, he had his bitcoin for sometime now, so you can just imagine the amount of returns he will get if he decides to cash out now. I’m pretty sure he’ll be holding on to it until it reach $10,000/bitcoin.

Alibaba smashes its Single’s Day record once again as sales cross $25 billion

Jon Russell, writing for TechCrunch;

Alibaba has set another Single’s Day record after the e-commerce giant sold over $25 billion of product on the Chinese biggest online shopping date.

The full number comes in at 163.8 billion RMB, that’s roughly $25.3 billion, in GMV — that’s “gross merchandise volume” which is used to measure a dollar value for all sales on a platform. In Alibaba’s case, that predominantly means its Taobao marketplace and Tmall brand store although it does offer sales via its international services and it ships worldwide. All told, Alibaba handled 1.48 Billion transactions during the 24-hour period.

This is all in just one day! These numbers are truly staggering!

Steve Wozniak announces tech education platform Woz U

Jordan Crook, writing for Techcrunch;

Steve Wozniak, the Apple co-founder who changed the world alongside Steve Jobs, has today announced the launch of Woz U.

According to the release, Woz U will start as an online learning platform focused on both students and companies that will eventually hire those students. Woz U is based out of Arizona, and hopes to launch physical locations for learning in more than 30 cities across the globe.

You can read the full text of the press release here.

You can also visit Woz U’s website at https://woz-u.com.

Apple open-sourced the kernel of iOS and macOS for ARM processors

Romain Dillet, writing for TechCrunch;

Apple has always shared the kernel of macOS after each major release. This kernel also runs on iOS devices as both macOS and iOS are built on the same foundation. This year, Apple also shared the most recent version of the kernel on GitHub. And you can also find ARM versions of the kernel for the first time.

The source article contain the history of the foundation of macOS, iOS, watchOS and Apple TV. But that’s interesting with this article is that last week, Nikkei Asian Review published an article that gives a hint that Apple may soon switch from Intel to its own chips.

Two industry sources say that Apple is trying to cut its dependence on Intel when it comes to notebook chips and instead build those using ARM architecture, referring to the SoftBank-controlled British chip designer.

Apple is definitely looking into using their own custom chip on all of their products and would be foolish not to, but the problem is that it would take at least 2 to 3 years before they can develop a version of macOS that runs on ARM chips and will have very little effect on the macOS ecosystem.

If they switch from Intel to ARM, they need to change the architecture of their OS and in turn the developers of existing and even new mac apps needs to be re-written for the new architecture and that’s what Apple is trying to avoid or at least minimize.

Amazon just launched 6 new gadgets and none was over $150

Matt Burns, writing for TechCrunch;

In the year of the $1000 iPhone Amazon just announced a scattering of new gadgets and none cost more than $150. Essentially, Amazon said “screws the margins” and are selling everything as cheap as possible. This race to the bottom is Amazon’s standard operating procedure. The company did it with Kindles e-readers and again with Kindle Fire tablets. The company releases a proof of concept and lets the market respond. If the response is favorable, Amazon releases the Kraken on the market.

This is where Amazon is killing the competition, they can actually sell their devices at a loss, since the company is not in the hardware business like Apple, Samsung, etc., their real business is to sell us things online, be it physical or digital goods.

If you look at all the devices that they announced today, most if not all makes it easy for us to shop online or should I say shop at Amazon.com, with just our voice or press of a button, you’ll be able to place your order, that’s their M.O., that’s how Amazon generate their revenue.

Southeast Asia games firm Sea, formerly Garena, files for $1 billion US IPO

Jon Russell, writing for TechCrunch;

Southeast Asia-based games and e-commerce firm Sea, formerly known as Garena, has officially filed for its much-anticipated U.S. IPO. The company, which is valued at over $3.75 billion, will list on the New York Stock Exchange as ‘SE’ and is looking to raise $1 billion.

Sea is best known for its Garena gaming business, which predominantly focuses on PC games but also includes mobile, but in recent years it has branched out into e-commerce with its Shopee service and payments with its AirPay business.

This will be big!

Google debuts Tez, a mobile payments app for India

Ingrid Lunden, writing for TechCrunch;

After several weeks of speculation and leaked details, today Google officially unveiled its first big foray into mobile payments in Asia. The Android and search giant has launched Tez, a new mobile wallet in India that will let users link up their phones to their bank accounts to pay for goods securely in physical stores and online, and for person-to-person money transfers.

Google has trademarked the name Tez in the Philippines as well, so it appears that the search giant will launch the service in the Philippine later this year or early 2018.

Tez is now available on Google Play Store and App Store.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 refurbished batteries get recalled due to overheating concerns

Brian Heater, writing for TechCrunch;

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall for refurbished Galaxy Note 4 batteries. While the news has undeniable echoes of last year’s massive Note 7 disaster, this time out, the fault appears to fall at the feet of potentially counterfeited batteries supplied by FedEx.

Not the news that Samsung needs, since they are about to announce Note 8, specially after what happened with the Note 7.

Facebook and Instagram get redesigns for readabilit

Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch;

Taking inspiration from line drawings, Reddit and Messenger, Facebook is overhauling the design of the News Feed to make it more legible, clickable and commentable. Specifically, Facebook now makes it much clearer where threads start and end in comments. Meanwhile, Instagram today got a little redesign itself with comment reels now being threaded so you can have sub-conversations in public.

Most people won’t even notice these small changes on Instagram and Facebook.

Disney is ditching Netflix in 2019 to launch its own streaming service

Greg Kumparak, writing for TechCrunch;

Disney has just announced plans to end its distribution agreement with Netflix in 2019, instead opting to launch its own streaming service sometime during that same year.

Here’s the part of their announcement that mentioned that they will exit Netflix;

The new Disney-branded service will become the exclusive home in the U.S. for subscription-video-on-demand viewing of the newest live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar, beginning with the 2019 theatrical slate, which includes Toy Story 4, the sequel to Frozen, and The Lion King from Disney live-action, along with other highly anticipated movies. Disney will also make a significant investment in an annual slate of original movies, TV shows, short-form content and other Disney-branded exclusives for the service. Additionally, the service will feature a vast collection of library content, including Disney and Pixar movies and Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD television programming.

With this strategic shift, Disney will end its distribution agreement with Netflix for subscription streaming of new releases, beginning with the 2019 calendar year theatrical slate.

Considering the size of their catalog, this will be a big blow for Netflix, we can just assume that Netflix executives are already anticipating this and they’re just wondering when it will happen.

China’s Didi backs Uber rival Careem to expand its global footprint into the Middle East

Jon Russell, writing for TechCrunch;

A week after its first investment in Europe, Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing is spreading its wings once again after it announced a financing deal with Careem, an Uber rival in the Middle East that is valued at more than $1 billion. The size of the investment was not disclosed.

Didi Chuxing appears to be investing to every ride-sharing startups in every region, except for Uber.

In its push to compete in Southeast Asia, WeWork is pouring $500 million into the region

Connie Loizos, writing for TechCrunch;

Less than two weeks ago, WeWork took the wraps off a new massive round of funding — $500 million from the Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital, the Japanese internet giant SoftBank, Greenland Holdings, and China Oceanwide.

Now, the company is announcing that it’s pouring that exact amount — $500 million — into expanding into Southeast Asia and Korea.

WeWork currently have more than 40,000 members in 23 cities worldwide. In Asia, they have 7 offices in 4 countries, namely China (including Hong Kong), India, Japan and S. Korea.

Amazon prepares to enter Southeast Asia via Singapore launch

Jon Russell, reporting for TechCrunch;

Amazon is continuing its international expansion push with the launch of its services in Singapore coming imminently. The arrival could happen as soon as this week, according to a source with knowledge of the plans, and it will mark Amazon’s entry into Southeast Asia.

The launch will see Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime Now fast delivery and Amazon’s regular e-commerce services become available to Singapore’s population of over five million people, the source said. Pricing is unclear at this point.

Stripe adds support for Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s top digital payment services

Jon Russell, reporting for TechCrunch;

U.S. firm Stripe said today that it has agreed to global deals with Alipay and WeChat Pay, two digital services that dominate consumer spending in China. Alipay, which is managed by Alibaba affiliate firm Ant Financial, counts over 500 million users, while WeChat Pay — the digital payment feature within China’s top chat app WeChat — claims more than 600 million users.

You can read the full text of Stripe’s announcement from the company’s blog section.

Apple is developing its own graphics chips for future iPhones

Jon Russell, reporting for TechCrunch;

Apple is one of only a handful of phone makers to develop its own mobile processors, but now it appears that the U.S. firm will go one step further and design the graphics component itself, too.

Apple is tight-lipped about the technology that powers its products, but long-time partner Imagination Technologies has revealed that Apple has told it that it will cease to use its intellectual property for GPU chips within 15-24 months. That’s apparently because it wants to use its own home-spun alternative.

For a company who wants to control every aspect of their most popular product, its just a matter of time before they decide to develop their own GPU. Apple already develops its own CPU, OS and full control of the App ecosystem, controlling both the CPU and GPU will be a big advantage for Apple, specially with the reports that the iPhone company is developing its own AR/VR/MR technology.

Here’s the full text of Imagination Technologies press release;

Discussions with Apple regarding license agreement

Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE: IMG, “Imagination”, “the Group”) a leading multimedia, processor and communications technology company, has been notified by Apple Inc. (“Apple”), its largest customer, that Apple is of a view that it will no longer use the Group’s intellectual property in its new products in 15 months to two years time, and as such will not be eligible for royalty payments under the current license and royalty agreement.

Apple has used Imagination’s technology and intellectual property for many years. It has formed the basis of Graphics Processor Units (“GPUs”) in Apple’s phones, tablets, iPods, TVs and watches. Apple has asserted that it has been working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products and will be reducing its future reliance on Imagination’s technology.

Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information. This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it.

Further, Imagination believes that it would be extremely challenging to design a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing its intellectual property rights, accordingly Imagination does not accept Apple’s assertions.

Apple’s notification has led Imagination to discuss with Apple potential alternative commercial arrangements for the current license and royalty agreement.

Imagination has reserved all its rights in respect of Apple’s unauthorised use of Imagination’s confidential information and Imagination’s intellectual property rights.

A further announcement will be made in due course.

This announcement contains inside information.

Alibaba invests in WayRay, a maker of augmented-reality dashboards for smart cars

Catherine Shu, reporting for TechCrunch;

After launching its first car last year, Alibaba is digging deeper into the automobile industry. The Chinese Internet and e-commerce behemoth is the lead investor in smart car tech developer WayRay’s $18 million Series B round, the startup announced.

Founded in 2012, WayRay makes holographic navigation systems. According to its funding announcement, WayRay has already spent $10 million of its own capital, as well as previous venture funding, on the technology that underpins Navion, an augmented-reality dashboard that overlays directions and other information onto a driver’s view of the road. The company plans to launch a consumer version of Navion in 2017.

NASA released a ton of software for free and here’s some you should try

Devin Coldewey, reporting for TechCrunch;

NASA has just published its 2017-2018 software catalog, which lists the many apps, code libraries and tools that pretty much anyone can download and use. Of course, most of it is pretty closely tied to… you know, launching spacecraft and stuff, which most people don’t do. But here are a few items that might prove useful to tinkers and curious lay people alike.

NASA;

NASA has released its 2017-2018 software catalog, which offers an extensive portfolio of software products for a wide variety of technical applications, all free of charge to the public, without any royalty or copyright fees.

Available in both hard copy and online, this third edition of the publication has contributions from all the agency’s centers on data processing/storage, business systems, operations, propulsion and aeronautics. It includes many of the tools NASA uses to explore space and broaden our understanding of the universe. A number of software packages are being presented for release for the first time. Each catalog entry is accompanied with a plain language description of what it does.

A quick browse of NASA’s software library, here are some of the noteworthy software and apps that can be use in the Philippines, most notably for the recently created Space Tech Program and with Project NOAH.

Earth-GRAM 2016;
Earth-GRAM 2016 is now available as an open-source C++ computer code that can run on a variety of platforms including PCs and UNIX stations. The software provides a model that offers values for atmospheric parameters such as density, temperature, winds, and constituents for any month and at any altitude and location within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Engineering DOUG Graphics for Exploration (EDGE)
EDGE is a real-time 3d graphics rendering package based on the Dynamic On-board Ubiquitous Graphics (DOUG) graphics engine. It combines key elements from graphics software tools developed for Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) programs and adapts them for integration with other engineering simulations and facilities. The tool allows drop-in integration with the NASA Trick Simulation Environment and provides a fusion of 3D graphics and simulation outputs.

Generalized Fluid System Simulation Program (GFSSP), Version 6.0
The Generalized Fluid System Simulation Program (GFSSP) is a general software tool that can perform complex fluid flow analysis in a wide variety of applications, including those related to chemical processing, gas processing, power plants, hydraulic control circuits, and various kinds of fluid distribution systems. The tool models liquid fuel phase changes that include compressibility and mixture thermodynamics and allows the user to apply and vary “what-if” effects of external influences.

CEOS Data Cube Platform version 2 (CEOS2)
The Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) has long recognized a need for data processing infrastructure to support Earth science objectives in developing countries. Forest preservation initiatives, carbon measurement initiatives, water management and agricultural monitoring are just few examples of causes that can benefit greatly from remote sensing data. Currently, however, many developing nations lack the in-country expertise and computational infrastructure to utilize remote sensing data.

The CEOS Data Cube Platform version 2 (CEOS2) provides a flexible model to address these needs. The CEOS Data Cube Platform is a data processing platform for Earth science data, with a focus on remote-sensing data. The platform provides a data ingestion framework that includes support for automated ingestion of a wide variety of remote sensing data products. The data products are ingested into an N-dimensional data array that abstracts away management of distinct acquisitions. The platform has a tiered API for data processing and a data/application platform layer for higher-level access.

You can find more at http://software.nasa.gov and NASA’s Technology Transfer program, http://technology.nasa.gov