Instagram made a billion dollars, why not WhatsApp?
WhatsApp has become the de facto standard when it comes to cross platform communications, and as bizarre as this might sound, mobile smartphone titan Google is rumored to be considering a $1 billion acquisition. According to DigitalTrends the deal was initiated four or five weeks ago, however they claim WhatsApp is “playing hardball” in an attempt to drive up the price.
It seems hard to believe, but text messaging is 20 years old today. British software engineer, Neil Papworth, sent the very first text message on this day in 1992. That message read, "Merry Christmas," and it was sent to Richard Jarvis, then a director at Vodafone, which was interested in developing the technology as a superior alternative to paging, though the company and all involved never imagined it would become this popular.
Apps masquerading as legitimate third-party programs like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Tetris, Need for Speed, and others are part of a so-called "RuFraud" scam in which unknowing victims are charged premium SMS fees. This has reportedly been going on for the past few months, mainly in Europe, and it's something Google is cracking down on by removing offending apps from the Android Market.
Reaction to Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 OS have been decidedly mixed. The move towards a single OS for both PCs and mobile devices has angered developers and end users alike: worried developers fear that their years of .Net and Silverlight mastery may fall to the wayside as Microsoft shifts focus to standards like CSS and HTML5, and hardcore PC owners hate the idea of iPad-ifying the desktop environment. The latest build of Windows 8 has leaked onto the Net and should only stoke the mixed usage-hating fires.
We don't run a feature called "Quirky Lawsuit of the Month," but if we did, two California residents who decided to sue Twitter for sending an SMS notification after they withdrew their consent would be a shoe in. Hear us out on this one. It's not that we have a problem with punishing companies that blatantly ignore opt-out requests, but that isn't what happened here. Hit the jump to find out exactly what Twitter did.
According to ZD Net, some Android users are becoming frustrated with the lack of progress on a particularly annoying bug. Many users have reported that an SMS bug in the mobile OS can cause messages to be sent to the wrong number in some instances. A search of the Google Code site indicates this has been an issues ever since the first Froyo builds rolled out back in June. It is currently listed as 'Medium' priority.
The degree to which this bug crops up seems to vary wildly. Some users report being able to reproduce it upon request with a series of somewhat complicated steps. Another piece of the puzzle is more common, and involves simply being routed to the wrong place. Tapping on the Messaging icon, or a message notification can sometimes route the user to the wrong Messaging thread. It could be easy to fire off a text here without noticing.
We've never experienced the first bug on our Android phones. The second, and less severe SMS bug has come up occasionally, but not often. Have any of you Android users noticed any SMS being sent to the wrong person?
Mobile security concerns often center around high-power smartphones, but at the Chaos Computer Club Congress some German researchers demonstrated even feature phones are vulnerable. By setting up a small GSM test network in the lab, researchers were able to test various SMS messages with different malicious payloads. The results were startling.
The German researchers were able to find vulnerabilities in many feature phones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and LG. The so-called "SMS of death" had different effects on each handset. Some were just disconnected from the GSM network, others were forced to reboot, but some (including models from Sony Ericsson and Nokia) were rebooted without registering the message as received. That means the network will continue sending the message, making the phone useless. The only way to fix this issue is to put the phone's SIM card in a non-susceptible phone.
The researchers stressed that the same vulnerability probably exists in many phones, but they only tested a handful of popular models. If these exploits make it into the wild, unscrupulous individuals could send these messages en masse, forcing a mobile provider to pay up to stop the attack. Now that the details are known to manufacturers, future phones can avoid this problem, but existing feature phones rarely get firmware updates. Fixing current handsets might be a no-go.
It was just last month that Dick Costolo took over as CEO of Twitter. He;s only given one major interview since then, but managed to flat out say that Twitter doesn't have a 'clear long term vision'. Twitter has changed dramatically since it began. The service started as an SMS-based service, hence the 140 character limit. It has since expanded in so many ways with link shortening and smartphone apps.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has also said that Twitter is hard to define because its users have defined it so much over the last few years. We can certainly appreciate that. Ideas like retweets and replies were invented by users before being integrated with the platform. Maybe another use for Twitter will be developed by the users that changes the purpose of the service yet again.
Do you think Twitter is destined to be a vastly different product in the future, or is this it?
The rumor mill is churning yet again, and this time we're hearing that Facebook and Skype are about to roll out a deeply integrated experience for users. The two companies are preparing to announce a partnership that will offer access to SMS, voice, and Facebook Connect integration; most likely on both platforms.
Skype has 124 million registered users, so they would be the natural choice for adding telephony communication to Facebook. Many of Facebook's user may already have Skype accounts, so the integration should be seamless. The Facebook integration will reportedly be available in the new version 5 release of Skype expected to drop in the coming weeks.
As Skype prepares for an IPO, this could be quit the feather in their cap. Do you think Facebook users would start using Skype if the integration was there?
According to mobile security firm Trust Digital, you're at a real risk of falling prey to an SMS attack while you sleep. Dubbed the "Midnight Raid Attack," because it's mostly run at night, a hacker who has the right toolkits and know-how could send a malicious text message to your phone capable of firing up the web browser and navigating to a harmful website. Once there, the site downloads a dirty executable to your phone intended to steal your private data, said Trust Digital.
"This is a completely real threat," said Phillippe Winthrop, a director in the global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics. "We will see these attacks. It's a matter of time."
Another type of attack has a hacker sending a malicious SMS 'control message' over the GSM network to a victim's phone using a WiFi network, like you might be using at a coffee shop. The attack turns off SSL on the victim's phone, allowing the hacker to sniff your exposed traffic and steal your email credentials.
Trust Digital posted a pair of YouTube videos demonstrating the above attacks, which you can view here and here.