Facebook rolls out photo sync to Android and iPhone users

If you have the latest Facebook app for Android or iPhone, you’ll now see a notification about photo sync

fb sync

Facebook has broadly launched a feature it began testing earlier this year that automatically syncs photos you take on your mobile phone to a private album on the social network where you can later choose to share them if you want.

If you have the latest Facebook app for Android or iPhone, you’ll now see a notification about photo sync when you visit your timeline using your handset.

If you turn photo sync on, Facebook will upload all the photos you have saved on your phone, as well as any future shots you take up to 2 GB worth of images. To use photo sync on an iPhone, you need to be running iOS 6.

You can also turn on photo sync from your computer by going to your timeline>Photos>Synced From Phone.

Facebook says it will generally sync user photos as soon as people take them, but will wait to do so if a phone’s battery is running low. It also will sync smaller versions of your photos when you’re using cellular data, and larger size photos when you’re on Wi-Fi.

To shut off photo sync in the Android Facebook app, go to the menu on the top left of your phone display, scroll down and tap Account > App Settings > Sync Photos. From there, choose “Don’t sync my photos.” In the iPhone app, go to your timeline, tap Photos> Synced>Settings (the gear icon) and choose “Turn off Photo Sync.”

In these areas you can also choose if you want photos to sync using your cellular network and Wi-Fi or only Wi-Fi, as well as see how much of your 2 GB cloud storage you’ve used.

Photo sync isn’t available for feature phone users.

Visit Facebook’s photo sync page for more information.

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Portable suitcase-sized DNA analyzer

The device will prepare DNA samples in the field for matching with DNA databases

NEC is working on a suitcase-sized DNA analyzer, which it says will be able to process samples at the scene of a crime or disaster in as little as 25 minutes.

The company said it aims to launch the device globally in 2014, and sell it for around 10 million yen, or US$120,000. It will output samples that can be quickly matched via the growing number of DNA databases worldwide.

“At first we will target investigative organizations, like police,” said spokeswoman Marita Takahashi. “We will also push its use on victims of natural disasters, to quickly match samples from siblings and parents.”

NEC hopes to use research and software from its mature fingerprint and facial matching technology, which have been deployed in everyday devices such as smartphones and ATMs.

The company said that the need for cheaper and faster DNA testing became clear in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that devasted much of Japan’s northeast coastline last year, when authorities performed nearly 20,000 samples.

NEC pointed to growing databases such as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) in the U.S. and a Japanese database of DNA samples.

The company said it is aiming to make the device usable for those with minimal training, requiring only a cotton swab or small blood sample. NEC aims to make a device that weighs around 35 kilograms, measuring 850 millimeters by 552mm by 240mm, about the size of a large suitcase. The unit will run on a 12V power source.

NEC said it will be able to complete three-stage analysis process using a “lab on a chip” process, a term for for technology that recreates lab processes on chip-sized components. The basic steps for analysis include extracting DNA from samples, amplifying the DNA for analysis, and then separating out the different DNA strands.

The current version of the analyzer takes about an hour for all three tasks, and NEC said it aims to lower that to 25 minutes.

NEC it is carrying out the development of the analyzer together with partners including Promega, a U.S. biotechnology firm, and is testing it with a police science research institute in Japan.

Why Apple can’t deny Google Maps on iPhone

When Google submits its rewritten Google Maps app for iOS, Apple can’t block it

Google has nearly completed work on a new version of Google Maps for the iPhone. Citing sources familiar with Google’s plans, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google is now field testing the app outside of Google. It should soon be ready for Google to submit to Apple for approval.

Apple booted Google Maps from the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch earlier this year with the introduction of iOS 6. Google Maps was a part of iOS from the very first iPhone through September of this year — a partnership that lasted more than five years. But Apple has been divorcing itself from Google’s goods and services ever since the two began battling head-to-head with competing smartphone platforms.

Apple replaced Google Maps with its own mapping product. Embarrassingly for Apple, Apple Maps has been a complete failure. Users immediately complained that the app was inferior to Google Maps. It was (still is?) riddled with mistakes, missing towns, distorted imagery, and other goof-ups. The black eye Apple received for Apple Maps probably played a role in Apple iOS head Scott Forstall’s recent departure from Apple. Apple was forced to apologize for the Apple Maps disaster and has been working hard to fix the software ever since.

What everyone wants to know, of course, is whether or not Apple will approve the new Google Maps. Traditionally, Apple has disliked apps and services that compete with the iPhone’s (or iPad’s) native software and services. For years, it wouldn’t allow competitive apps in the app store. It has relaxed that policy a bit. For example, iPhone users can use alternate email applications (including Google’s Gmail app), alternate browsers (including Google’s Chrome app), and alternate cloud syncing services (including Google’s Drive app).

After the Apple Maps fiasco, Apple understood that it had made a mistake. It recommended that iPad and iPhone users find an alternate mapping application. In fact, the iTunes App Store still has a place reserved on the home page that takes users to a collection of mapping and navigation apps. Some of the apps listed there belong to MapQuest, TomTom, Magellan, TeleNav, Garmin, and even Microsoft. All these companies offer navigation apps that compete with Apple Maps. Some are free and some are not, and many don’t have the deep system-wide integration that Apple Maps does (or that Google Maps did), but they still help iPhone users get from Point A to Point B and show them nearby points of interest.

Considering how Apple has relaxed some of its traditional app policies and is currently recommending competitors’ mapping apps, it would look petulant and hypocritical if it were to deny Google Maps for the iPhone. Apple may not typically concern itself over such things, but this is a major exception. Denying Google Maps at this point would be opposite of everything Apple is already doing. It would be an obvious move against a competitor. It would make Apple look petty and pathetic in the eyes of many.

Apple can’t say no.

Facebook takes another shot at settling privacy lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO  – A U.S. judge said he would consider whether to preliminarily approve Facebook’s second attempt to settle allegations the social networking company violated privacy rights.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg rejected a proposed class action settlement over Facebook’s ‘Sponsored Stories’ advertising feature. But at a hearing on Thursday in San Francisco federal court, Seeborg was much less critical of a revised proposal and promised a ruling “very shortly.”

Five Facebook Inc members filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status against the social networking site, saying its Sponsored Stories feature violated California law by publicizing users’ “likes” of certain advertisers without paying them or giving them a way to opt out. The case involved over 100 million potential class members.

As part of a proposed settlement reached earlier this year, Facebook agreed to allow members more control over how their personal information is used. Facebook also agreed to pay $10 million for legal fees and $10 million to charity, according to court documents.

However, Seeborg rejected the proposed deal in August, questioning why it did not award any money to members.

In a revised proposal, Facebook and plaintiff lawyers said users now could claim a cash payment of up to $10 each to be paid from a $20 million total settlement fund. Any money remaining would then go to charity.

The company also said it would engineer a new tool to enable users to view any content that might have been displayed in Sponsored Stories and then opt out if they desire, the court document says.

In court on Thursday, Facebook attorney Michael Rhodes said the settlement provided meaningful protections and that Seeborg’s job was to ensure a fair settlement – not write national privacy policy.

“Trust me, I’m not proposing to set grand policy with privacy issues writ large,” Seeborg said.

Two children’s advocacy groups filed court papers opposing the deal, saying that an opt-in procedure with parental consent should be required before Facebook can use a minor’s content in ads.

However, plaintiff attorney Robert Arns said the deal balances the public good with Facebook’s ability to run a profitable social networking service.

“We believe we cracked the code so that it’s fair,” he said.

If Seeborg grants his preliminary approval, outside groups would be able to file further objections before a final hearing.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Angel Fraley et al., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated vs. Facebook Inc, 11-cv-1726.

Google to invest $75m in wind energy

Google will invest $75 million in a wind energy project to power one of its data centres in the US, the company announced.

SAN FRANCISCO: Google will invest $75 million in a wind energy project to power one of its data centres in the US, the company announced on Thursday.

The Rippey wind farm, located in the US state of Iowa, has a capacity to produce 50MW of electricity. With this, the search giant’s total investment in clean energy projects has now risen to nearly $1 billion, Xinhua reported.

The California-based company had last year created a $280-million fund in partnership with SolarCity, an American solar energy company, to generate clean energy.

Android to eclipse Windows by 2016

Wellington, Oct. 25:  Google’s Android operating system will be used on more computing devices and other gadgets over Microsoft’s Windows within four years, a new research has suggested.

According to the study by research firm Gartner, at the end of 2016, there will be 2.3 billion computers, tablets and smartphones using Android software, compared to 2.28 billion Windows devices.

That compares to an expected 1.5 billion Windows devices by the end of this year, against 608 million using Android, Stuff.no.nz reports.

According to the report, Android, which reached the market only in 2008, has risen fast to be the dominant smartphone platform, controlling two-thirds of that market, and has also taken the No. 2 spot in the fast-growing tablet computer market.

The proliferation of the free software also gives Google its edge in the search market, its current key profit generator, the report said.

Microsoft’s Windows has dominated the personal computer industry for decades, but the company has struggled to keep up with its shift to wireless, while in smartphones its market share is only around 3 percent, the report added.