The recent announcement of Skype turning quote-unquote open source has me twirling a finger with delicious glee. It's not that I dislike Skype. And it's not that I'm about to get into one of my 1,500-word debates on the differences between the definition of "free" and "open-source," I promise. This is nevertheless an important premise of Skype's entire move, as some Internet commenters are crying foul that Skype is only half-opening its popular application to the crowd. The GUI code will be yours to play with as you please. The underlying Skype protocol... nope!
To them I say: Duh.
I don't want to put words where they don't exist, but I'm willing to bet that Skype's sudden shift toward open-source waters has more to do with applying a giant, universal band-aid to staggered Linux development. It's not quite an altruistic gift to the community so much as it is a package and a bow with the phrase, "you fix it" written on the label. And that's fine. Let the community create the functional GUIs for Skype. It would be suicide for the company to release its heavily encrypted voice protocols for common use.
AT&T has sent a rather pointed letter to the FCC accusing Google of violating Network Neutrality standards. No, that isn’t a typo. AT&T’s beef is that Google Voice will not connect calls to some numbers that traditional telecoms are required to connect. This is because of so-called “common carrier” laws.
Some rural local telephone carriers charge long distance companies extremely high fees to connect calls to certain numbers on their networks. These are usually numbers for conference call centers, adult chat lines, or party lines. Sneakily, revenues from these connections are shared with the owners of the lines. Google Voice does not connect these calls, and AT&T thinks that isn’t fair.
It is interesting that Google, a company that strongly supports Net Neutrality, is taking this course of action. AT&T seems to want them to be treated like any other telecom, but in Google’s response, they lay out their rationale for why AT&T should shut it.
Google says that first and foremost, Google Voice is a free service. To make it workable, they simply cannot spend money to connect those calls. They also say that Google Voice is software, and software isn’t covered by common carriers rules. Finally, they claim that since Google Voice is an invite-only beta service, it doesn’t need to comply with all regulations.
So, is this just AT&T trying to distract the FCC, or is Google really in the wrong here?
There’s been loose talk of a Zune phone for some time now, and it looks like we’ve finally found out what it might be. According to some scoop from the folks over at Gizmodo, Microsoft’s reported Pink phone is the device at large, and it’ll come in two forms.
The two models, which are known as the Turtle and the Pure, look an awful lot like a Palm Pre and a Sidekick respectively. The phones will be made by Sharp, who will share branding with Microsoft. The phones are reportedly aimed at a younger audience, which explains the perpetually round aesthetics.
Sony Ericsson today lifted the curtain on the world’s very first motion-sensitive headphones. The MH907 headphones possess a special sense for motion and automatically become active when they are comfortably deposited inside the listener’s ears. One can start listening to music by simply plugging in both earphones and pause it by pulling one of them out. Phone calls can be answered and terminated in much the same fashion.
But if the listener wishes to switch from an active music-listening session to an incoming phone call, they have to first remove both earphones and then plug in just one. The MH907 headphones are sensitive to body contact, which prevents inadvertent operation. The MH907 is only meant to be used with Sony Ericsson phones that feature the propriety Fast Port connector. The headphones will go on sale across the globe this week. Sony Ericsson did not reveal their price, however.
The best times to beset the phone user with audio ads, according to the application, are when the call is on hold, when the call is suspended, and when it is being dialed. Furthermore, the ads will be targeted at a certain demographic. Delivering precisely targeted ads would undoubtedly require that the system be fed information about phone users. It is still too early to say what exactly Google has on its mind.
Earlier this year Acer had announced that they’d release an Android powered phone before 2010. And, thanks to a recent statement, it would appear that we’re getting closer and closer to that day.
Acer allegedly plans to release the phone in September of this year, and the phone will be called the A1 (not to be confused with the steak sauce). No word on what exactly the phone will have under the hood, or what service providers it’ll be for, but there’s little doubt that we’ll find out in the coming months.
Google Voice is a new service that assigns a single phone number to a user, which can be used by the user to simultaneously receive calls and SMSes on his other phones. The user can categorize phone contacts into groups and configure the service to forward calls and messages from a certain group to all the phones, or to a pre-specified number(s), or to Google Voicemail – you can read the transcripts of voicemails as well.
A Google phone number is tethered to you and not a phone number or your location. The cherry on the cake, as with most Google services, is that it’s free. However, Google’s largesse has bounds and users will have to purchase new visiting cards that mention their new Google phone number.
Formerly called GrandCentral and acquired by Google back in July of 2007, Google Voice aims to streamline mobile communication by giving users a single phone number capable of accessing all other phone numbers, including home, cell, work, etc. Initial impressions by those who have previewed the free service have been positive, but a potential major downside is having to give out a new number to everyone. That might not be the case when Google Voice launches.
Google has started experimenting with letting new users port their existing numbers to Google Voice, including mobile numbers. And according to TechCrunch, this will be a mainstay of the new service later this year.
"Google is only testing the service for now, but we've heard from a source inside Google that they plan to roll out number portability as a general feature later this year," TechCrunch wrote. "Once that happens, users will be able to move the phone number they've had forever to Google, and avoid the switching costs."
The site went on to say that Google will also launch apps for outbound calls for major smartphone platforms that will automatically route outbound calls through Google Voice rather than show the number of whatever device a user is calling with.
With the introduction of four new specialized Atom processors (as well as two new system controllers to accompany them) Intel is looking to put their wildly popular Atom processor into more platforms. Notably, they’re making a push for internet-pones and in-car devices.
The processors, which are made from the same 45nm manufacturing process as their siblings, aren’t too different from the others that already exist. The processors, which will clock between 1.1GHz and 1.6GHz will consume very little power, and fit perfectly into a whole myriad of industrial options.
So who knows, perhaps in the coming years not only your computer, but your car might have Intel inside.
"We don't have to look even for five years from now to see that what we know as a mobile phone and what we know as a PC are in many ways converging," Kallasvuo said. Nokia is widely expected to enter the netbook segment, if it does actually foray into the PC market.