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This is the tech news page. Visit every weekday to stay informed about the latest tech news, from security alerts and hardware news, to mobiles and gaming


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Apple Fans Mark First Year Without Steve Jobs

He has been gone now for a year.

Yet in the time since Steve Jobs lost his battle with cancer, the Apple (AAPL) magic he became synonymous with continues to flow as if he were still here, jumping around like a kid, refusing to suffer fools gladly, dreaming up the next insanely great thing that none of us would see coming but that few of us would be able to live without.

"I get goose bumps when I think about what he did for the world," said retired college professor Francina Nur. "In a way, through his amazing products, he will live forever."

Nur had just composed a remembrance note on one of the 100 sheets of 8x12 typing paper a stranger had taped early Friday to the front of the Palo Alto Apple Store. Suddenly a makeshift shrine to the Apple co-founder, this is a spot not far from Jobs' home, a place he'd visit often and always to the delight of his adoring fans lucky enough to be on hand. "You are still the best Apple ever had," Nur wrote. "No replacement yet."


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Samsung Sells 58mn Smartphones, Posts Record Profit

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Samsung had a good third quarter. The company recorded its best-ever profit, earning $7.3 billion. It marked the fourth straight quarter of record profits for the Korean electronics maker. Samsung's results were buoyed by sales of its Galaxy smartphones.

Samsung doesn't report hard sales figures of its cell phones, but analyst estimates put the number between 58 and 60 million. As many as 18 to 20 million of those unit sales are Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III smartphone, which has been on sale since May. As a point of comparison, Samsung sold about 50 million handsets during the second quarter of 2012.

Samsung's smartphone business is responsible for about two-thirds of the company's $7.3 billion profit.

The strong sales of Samsung's cell phones helped to offset losses in other businesses. For example, profits from its DRAM (dynamic random access memory) chip business dropped 14% during the third quarter thanks to fewer orders from its customers. Falling demand for its laptop and other computers dampened third-quarter earnings further.


Foxconn Workers Strike Over iPhone 5 Demands

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Thousands of factory workers at Foxconn went on strike Friday to protest their working conditions on the iPhone 5's production lines, according to a report from an independent workers' rights organization.

Workers at Foxconn's plant in Zhengzhou, China, were furious after management enacted "overly strict demands" for production of Apple's new iPhone 5, according to a report late Friday from China Labor Watch (CLW), a New York-based advocacy group that works closely with sources in China.

The strike began at 1 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) on Friday, CLW said, and the majority of its participants were from the on-site quality control line for the iPhone 5. It remained ongoing into the evening, causing a work stoppage that "paralyzed the production lines," the group said.


Apple Quietly Improving Its iOS Maps Data

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Apple appears to be fixing its in-house maps software with new additions and corrections.

A week after pledging to improve the quality of the software, some locations are already showing signs of attention, notably corrections to points of interest and improvements in detail, including 3D representations.

Macrumors today points to some notable improvements and expansions in 3D data, including a 3D view of New York's Statue of Liberty, which appeared as a flat areial shot in the initial public release, and has since been given the 3D flyover treatment. Other changes appear in parts of the U.S. and the U.K., the site says.

Shortly after criticism on the new feature, which replaced Google's mapping data in iOS 5, Apple said it would be "continuously improving" the product. "The more people use it, the better it will get," a company spokeswoman told CNET at the time.


Acer Iconia W700 Windows 8 Pro Tablet

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Three days after HP announced the business-oriented ElitePad 900, Acer's formally announced flagship Windows 8 Pro-based tablet -- the Iconia W700, sporting Intel's Ivy Bridge processors gets pricing details. It is right where Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer suggested for Microsoft Surface. Coincidence or not?

The new Acer Iconia W700 boasts an 11.6-inch 1080p IPS display with an 1920 by 1080 resolution powered by an integrated, Intel HD Graphics 4000 video card paired with a Core i3 or a more powerful Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, with a yet undisclosed amount of RAM. For storage it uses a 64GB or 128GB SSD that reportedly boots up in as little as 6 seconds, with resume from standby happening in just 1.5 seconds. On the back there is a 5MP auto-focus camera capable of 1080p video recording and on the front what appears to be a less than 2MP camera; that is known to record 720p video. And there's more...


FCC Lifts Ban On Exclusive Cable Channels

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The Federal Communications Commission voted on Friday to lift its rules requiring cable operators that own programming to make those channels available to their rivals.

The rules, first put in place by the Cable Act of 1992, helped to pave the way for competition from satellite TV providers.

But in a unanimous decision, the commission concluded that the pay-TV marketplace is now competitive enough that the rules are no longer necessary.

The order allows the FCC to continue to review video distribution agreements on a case-by-case basis.


Google Settles Epic Lawsuit With Publishers

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The settlement involves one of a handful of actions involving Google, U.S. publishers and authors and digital rights. It only resolves issues between Google and the publishers. "There are a number of arrangements that could exist depending on the work, individual arrangements between authors and publishers, and the industry sector," said AAP spokesperson Andi Sporkin.

The American Association of Publishers, whose members are 300 of America's largest publishers, has settled its 7-year legal dispute with Google over the latter's digitizing of books for its Google Books project.

The settlement will give Google access to publishers' journals and books that are in copyright, for its Google Library project.
The Google Books Library Project is Google's effort to scan and make searchable the collections of major research libraries. It's part of the Google Books project.


Facebook Users Pass 1 Billion Mark

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Facebook passed the 1 billion user mark in September, a level of global penetration that is a remarkable achievement for an 8-year-old social network and a heightened challenge to its quest for sustained growth.

Facebook, which has endured a bruising four months in the stock market since a haphazard May 18 initial public offering, has acknowledged that a slowdown in new-user acquisition is inevitable as its worldwide reach expands.

But doubts over whether the company can squeeze more and more dollars out of each network member - given well-publicized struggles to monetize the growing ranks of users who access Facebook from mobile devices - have shaved more than 40 percent off Facebook's value since its IPO, although shares still trade at a lofty 45 times projected 2012 earnings.

Thursday's announcement that Facebook crossed the billion threshold on September 14 confirmed expectations on Wall Street that growth is actually trailing off.


Google Maps Street View Now Available In Safari On iOS

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Good news for Dora the Explorer and other map fans: Google Maps now, for the first time, offers Street View when you access the service from Safari on an iOS device.

iOS users were long accustomed to having easy access to Google's Street View, thanks to the fact that it was available within the native Maps app since late 2008. As you may have heard, however, the Maps app in iOS 6 sheds its former Google-reliance; it's instead powered directly by Apple's own mapping data, which the company assembled from a variety of sources. Said mapping data isn't without its flaws, and Apple has suggested that you keep using it more so that you can report problems, which Apple in turn can fix. And CEO Tim Cook published an apology for the app's occasional flaws and frustrations.


AT&T To Sell New Nokia Phones In U.S.

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AT&T T Thursday said it will sell Nokia Corp.'s latest Windows-running Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 smartphones in the U.S. from November, but didn't say how much they will cost.

It may be crucial for loss-making Nokia. The Espoo, Finland-based company had 1.3% of the U.S. phone market in the second quarter, according to an estimate by International Data Corporation. That's down from a 19.7% peak in the first quarter of 2006.

"The US market is critical to investor sentiment, so securing AT&T as a lead carrier partner is an encouraging development for Nokia," Ben Wood, an industry analyst at CCS Insight, said.

AT&T is the first U.S. carrier to publicly announce that it will support Nokia's new devices.

Nokia has been criticized for not giving enough detail on pricing and availability for its new devices, and following AT&T's announcement, shares in Nokia fell in Helsinki.


iPad Mini Moves Into Production

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With the launch of the iPhone 5 behind it, Apple is turning its attention back to the production of a smaller iPad tablet, informally referred to as the iPad Mini.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which quoted unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation, Apple’s Asian suppliers have begun mass production of the smaller tablet. Two of the sources claimed the device would have a screen size of 7.85 inches and a lower-resolution display than the 9.7-inch high-definition Retina display found on the full-size iPad.

The sources also told The Journal that LG Display of South Korea and Taiwan’s AU Optronics have begun production on the device’s LCD panel. This is not the first time rumors about the production of an iPad Mini have surfaced.

Although Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who passed away last year, had famously derided the concept of a 7-inch tablet, a slew of low-priced competing devices from Amazon, Google and others could prompt Apple to offer consumers a device in the $200 range. The full-size iPad currently starts at $499, while Amazon’s recently released 7-inch Kindle Fire tablets start at $159 and Google’s Nexus 7 tablet starts at $199.


Sprint Might Challenge T-Mobile, Go After MetroPCS

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T-Mobile USA and parent company Deutsche Telekom probably thought the most difficult part of securing their just-announced merger with MetroPCS would be getting it through the regulatory process. Don't look now, but competition could be in the offing.

Members of Sprint's board of directors will get on a conference call Friday and mull the possibility of presenting a counter offer for America's fifth-largest wireless provider, "people familiar with the matter" told the Wall Street Journal.

The combination of T-Mobile and MetroPCS would hurt Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint, which is the country's third-largest provider in terms of subscribers. Some subscriber estimates of a combined T-Mobile-MetroPCS put the newly formed company ahead of Sprint. The Journal reports that Sprint almost had an agreement with MetroPCS last winter, but its board put the kibosh on the move.


Nook Media Receives Microsoft Funds

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Microsoft Corp. has completed the investment of $300 million in a newly created subsidiary of Barnes & Noble Inc. called Nook Media LLC, the companies said Thursday.

The new company consists of Barnes & Noble's digital businesses, including its Nook e-reader and tablets, as well as its 667 college bookstores. Microsoft's investment translates into a 17.6% stake in Nook Media, with Barnes & Noble owning the remainder. It is possible that Nook Media will attract additional outside investors.

"This further fuels the growth of the digital content business and allows us to do things like expand internationally," said Barnes & Noble Chief Executive William Lynch in an interview. "We will be in 10 international markets with the Nook digital bookstore by June 2013."

He said Nook Media will generate more than $3 billion in annual revenue and is debt-free. In addition to its equity investment, Microsoft has committed another $305 million to the company over the next five years.


Facebook Scans Private Messages To Hand Out Public 'Likes'

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Facebook doesn’t just rely on its users to hit the “Like” button around the Web to tell the world that they endorse a product, news article, hotel, or LOLcat. It scans their private messages to friends, and when it sees a link to a ‘Likeable’ page, it doles out ‘Likes’ accordingly. Two ‘Likes’ per private message sent, to be exact. This is a fascinating find by security researcher Ashkan Soltani, writing for the Wall Street Journal:

"A recent online video shows that the social networking site scans the links you’re sending – registering them as though you “Like” the page you sent. … The video, which was posted this week on Hacker News, showed a person who sent links in Facebook messages in order to inflate the number of “Likes” a page had received. Each time the link was sent, the page’s “Like” count went up by two, something that the Hacker News poster said allows people to “pump up to 1,800 ‘Likes’ in an hour.”

I tested it myself. When I sent a link to Soltani’s test page in private messages to my sisters, Soltani’s page registered two extra “Likes” with each message. When I sent the link to both sisters at once, the page still got just two “Likes.” His page also got two more “Likes” when I posted a link to it on Soltani’s wall (publicly). I tried the test again sending a recent article I wrote to my sister. It jumped from “5 shares” to “7 shares” after I sent her the message.


Samsung Galaxy S III Mini Could Get Revealed Next Week

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It’s clear by now that the Galaxy S III is an extremely popular smartphone, so it’s no wonder we’ve been hearing rumors of a new version of the handset – dubbed the Galaxy S III Mini – off and on for a while. Today we’re hearing new rumors of such a device, although this time around there’s some lovely photographic evidence to go along with it. Samsung has apparently started sending out invitations to an October 11 event in Germany, and with them, the company is teasing something tiny.

According to the folks at UnwiredView, the text on the invitation (pictured below) says something along the lines of “Something small will be really big,” and, “Get ready for a little sensation.” Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure what Samsung is talking about in this invitation, but we can clearly see the “S” that Samsung has always used in the branding for Galaxy S devices pictured in the center. So, at the very least, we should be hearing about a new Galaxy S device at this event on October 11.

The text on the invite, however, suggest that this device’s size is one of the main talking points. That’s leading some to believe that the long-rumored Galaxy S III Mini will be revealed at this event, but even though the evidence is pointing toward such a reveal, we’re hesitant to say that it’s a sure thing. In short, take any rumors about a Galaxy S III Mini with a grain of salt until Samsung makes the announcement it’s teasing in this invite.


Samsung Motions To Add iPhone 5 To Patent Case

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South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. says it has filed a motion with a U.S. court to add Apple's iPhone 5 to their ongoing patent battle.

Samsung says it filed the motion Monday with the California court, alleging that Apple's new phone infringes on eight of its patents.

The two companies are locked in a struggle for supremacy in the global smartphone market, leading to legal cases in courts across the globe.

Samsung released a statement Tuesday saying, "We have always preferred to compete in the marketplace with our innovative products, rather than in courtrooms. However, Apple continues to take aggressive legal measures that will limit market competition."

It said it had "little choice but to take the steps necessary to protect our innovations and intellectual property rights."


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