Microsoft and Adobe have been duking it out on the desktop to become the definitive platform for rich media content, and now it looks like that fight is going mobile. We'll file this one under the rumor category, but BoyGeniusReport (BGR) says it has "pretty much confirmed" that Research in Motion is planning on integrating full Flash and Microsoft Silverlight support into the Blackberry browser.
You might be wondering how today's Blackberry devices can pull off the power needed for full Flash (not Flash Lite) and Silverlight support, and the answer is, they won't. BGR says we won't see either one until next summer when RIM will release more powerful handsets along with a major overhaul of the software.
The next summer release gives the competition plenty of time to catch up. As it stands, just a few Nokia devices boast Flash support, and Flash Lite at that, along with the HTC Hero. As for Silverlight, we don't know of any smartphone that supports the platform, but come next summer, we can't imagine Blackberry will be the only one.
Microsoft’s share of the mobile OS market has plummeted sharply in the last few years. It needs to quickly mount a counter-offensive against its more dapper rivals in the smartphone market, if it is to prevent itself from being marginalized even further. According to Taiwanese rumor mill Digitimes, Microsoft does have a strategy to counter its rivals in the smartphone market.
According to Apple, you should think twice before jailbreaking your iPhone to run software that hasn't been approved for distribution through the iPhone App Store. Should you decide to do it anyway, cellphone towers could come under "potentially catastrophic" cyberattacks, Apple says.
In a filing with the Copyright Office, which is considering a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to legalize the practice of jailbreaking, Apple wrote:
"A local or international hacker could potentially initiate commands (such as a denial of service attack) that could crash the tower software, rendering the tower entirely inoperable to process calls or transmit data. Taking control of the BBP software would be much the equivalent of getting inside the firewall of a corporate computer -- to potentially catastrophic result."
Apple went on to say that the technological protection measures in the iPhone were specifically designed to avoid such scenarios, and jailbreaking would undo all of that.
Fred von Lohmann, the EFF attorney who has requested that consumers have the legal right to jailbreak iPhones, isn't buying Apple's claims.
"As far as I know, nothing like that has ever happened," Lohmann said in an interview. "This kind of theoretical threat is more FUD than truth."
According to news and rumor site The Inquirer, Microsoft plans to rebrand its Windows Mobile operating system to Windows Phone. The name change "reflects the upcoming desktop operating system release where people away from their PC can have the same experience everywhere," Microsoft explains.
The Windows Phone branding will be applied to Windows Mobile 6.1, the upcoming 6.5 release, and also to the multitouch-capable WIndows Mobile 7, due out sometime in 2010. There's no word yet on when the new Windows Phone branding will be implemented, nor do we have much info on why Microsoft has decided to rebrand, other than to make it easier for consumers.
Windows Mobile 6.5 Windows Phone has already been sent to manufacturers and will include the ability to backup all SMS and email content to the Web, remote disabling of the handset, and the new Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
On Tuesday, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch reiterated the company’s promise to release a beta version of its Flash 10 player for mobiles by the end of this year. He was addressing analysts at an event specially organized for them. He went on to add that the mobile version of Flash will begin making full use of APIs by the beginning of next year. This will allow the mobile variant of Flash to fully tap such hardware features as multi-touch and accelerometer, which are found on an increasing number of smartphones.
Synaptics hopes to take mobile touchscreen technology to a whole new level with the company's recently announced ClearPad 3000 Series. Unlike two-finger capable touchscreens, the ClearPad 3000's capacitive touch pad can track up to 10 simultaneous finger touches.
"By enabling more devices to have multi-finger gesture capabilities, our premium ClearPad 3000 Series opens the door for innovative software developers to push the edges of the user interface envelope by creating exciting new classes of applications -- such as multi-user gaming -- not possible before, giving OEMs greater flexibility to differentiate their products," said Tom Tiernan, Synaptics president and COO.
Synaptics says the ClearPad 3000 is based on new, proprietary technology featuring 48 sensing channels and advanced power management. The end result is support for larger screen sizes up to 8 inches diagonally in a thin, low-profile design. Synaptics also boasts a high level of accuracy.
The company plans to ship engineering samples for general release starting in November 2009, which means you may see some snazzy new multi-finger touchscreen devices just in time for the holidays.
You knew it would happen sooner or later, we're just a little surprised it took this long for hackers to release a botnet running on mobile phones. According to Symantec, a piece of malicious software called Sexy Space may be the first documented case.
Like most botnets, Sexy Space relies on quite a bit of user interaction to be effective. Those who ultimately become a zombie in the botnet first receive a text message saying "A very sexy girl, Try it now!" Inside the message is a link that must be clicked, which then asks the potential victim to download software. The software then scours through the user's contact list and sends an SMS with the same message to each person.
Symantec says that this particular botnet is being controlled by a central server, but it remains unclear whether or not the phones respond to remote commands.
We're undoubtedly preaching to the choir on this one, but be wary of any rogue text messages, especially when they ask you to click a link and download software.
In the movie Braveheart, there's a pivotal scene involving Mel Gibson and a Scottish battalion where, as William Wallace, he tries to muster some courage from his ragtag company. Face painted blue and half-hysterical, he rallies them with a memorable speech about freedom and love of country. Then, the army proceeds to completely destroy the foreign oppressor in a fight to the bitter end.
In some ways, the current war on smartphone devices could be just as pivotal...and bloody. Companies such as Palm and Nokia have everything to lose if their platforms do not thoroughly crush the competition. Meanwhile, Apple has taken a strong lead with the iPhone, and BlackBerry devices do not appear to be losing any momentum, at least in the business sector. Google has entered the fight with their Android OS, attracting legions of developers to the platform in record time.
All of these operating systems support touch control, rudimentary multi-tasking, rich media, desktop-like Web browsing, and advanced messaging. Yet, only one OS is superior and will ultimately emerge as the victor. It might seem like Apple has already had their Braveheart moment, and maybe there is room for several companies at the top of the pile, but if Windows has taught us anything, it's that a single operating system can become so dominant that every other desktop OS becomes inconsequential. Developers lock into a platform, users get accustomed to it, and that OS wins the war.
We set out to put the major contenders to the test and find out which could become the most dominant. Really, it's too early to call Apple the victor, even though it would be easy to do so with 50,000 apps available and over a million iPhone users. As any technology analyst can tell you, there are actually significantly more Nokia and BlackBerry phones in use today than the iPhone, especially in Europe. The surprise is that the OS that seems to be winning the battle (the iPhone) may not eventually win the OS war in the long run.
Forget about dialing into your Google Voice number in order to use the service from your smartphone. Pretty soon, that will be the old-school way of doing things, as Google is releasing a mobile application that allows users to make calls directly from their phone. The caveat? It will only work with Blackberrys and Android phones, although Google did say it is working with Apple to bring its app to the iPhone.
For those with a compatible phone, when making a call with the new app, the recipient will see the user's Google Voice number instead of the mobile phone number. The same applies for text messages. Other features include the ability to more easily access voice mail, and view message transcripts and have them read back to you"karaoke style," as Google calls it, where the words being read are highlighted.
Not everyone will get access to the new features. Currently, Google Voice is by invitation only - sign up here.