December 19th, 2011


In depth looks at smartphone technology: from security to tablets

Over the last few months I've been writing a series of pieces for Recombu looking at the technology behind smartphone operating systems, looking at some key issues like security and tablet adoption in more depth. Here's a roundup of links:

Is your mobile data safe in the cloud?You expect to always be connected on your phone or your tablet, so services like Flickr, Google Docs and iCloud (when it launches) for storing your photos, music and files in the cloud makes sense. It’s easier to send your photos to Flickr and Facebook than to prise open your phone and swap to a bigger memory card. You can see your images from your PC, if you lose or break your phone your files are safe – cloud seems like the ideal partner for mobile, and most of the time it is.

But ‘in the cloud’ doesn’t always mean secure, let along private...

What to expect from Windows 8 ARM tablets

Does the mobile OS matter? What's technically different about the various smartphone platforms?
Just about every smartphone these days is based on an ARM chip of some kind. Many of them are built on the same combination of ARM chip, graphics chip and phone radio from Qualcomm, although Apple notoriously puts together its own custom combination of hardware. But what each phone operating system does with that hardware is very different, and that affects what apps can do on each kind of phone...

Smartphone security: How safe is your operating system?
Your smartphone isn’t just your phone; it's your address book, your personal diary, your online banking system and fairly soon it could be your wallet, your train ticket and your front door key (when NFC handsets are common). That makes it an even more tempting target for hackers than your PC. If someone takes control of your phone they could potentially make money by sending premium rate text messages and downloading expensive apps and in-app purchases, and they could get your online banking password and use your Facebook account to spam your friends with malware. How secure are you on different phones?

How does BlackBerry Messenger work?
BBM keeps BlackBerry the best-selling phone for teenagers in the UK because of the free messaging, but is it really better than texts - or iMessage?


Looking back at 2011 with David Brin; have we built The Transparent Society?

An interview I did in the aftermath of the riots that turned out to reflect many of the issues of 2011 in general.

NASA consultant, scientist and writer David Brin has long concentrated on the effects technology can have on people. In 1998, he wrote The Transparent Society, an award-winning book investigating privacy, surveillance, people's rights and the state.

Famously, he considered the solution to too much surveillance by the state was even more surveillance — but by the people, guarding their rights by checking up on the activities of the watchers.

Now we have police turning to Flickr to identify rioters, Anonymous disclosing user data, Google+ pushing users to prove their names and even Swiss banks giving up some of their famous secrecy. Given this, I asked Brin: Are we living in the transparent society now?