Top News for January 2, 2014

Snapchat

Here are today's top stories from Tech News Today for January 02, 2014:

  1. Snapchat got hacked on New Year’s Eve day, and the names and phone numbers from up to 4.6 million user accounts were downloaded. A newly created web site called SnapchatDB.info posted the data online, but with the last two digits of user phone numbers censored. The post has been removed, but a cached version still exists. An Australian company called Gibson Security posted a warning to Snapchat about the possibility of an attack in August followed by details on Christmas Day. Two days later, Snapchat claimed in a blog post to have taken steps to make such a hack “more difficult to do.” Difficult? Maybe. But not difficult enough. Read more at lookup.gibsonsec.org.

  2. Ford Motors has announced a solar-powered car called the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept. It has a special roof that concentrates the sun’s energy to boost the effect of the solar panel. It’s a gas-electric hybrid, based on a plug-in hybrid called the C-MAX Energi Hybrid. The differences is, you don’t need to plug the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept into the power grid. Ford plans to show the car at CES next week. Read more at media.ford.com.

  3. A new TV remote from Samsung features smartphone-like user interfaces. The “Smart Control” accepts voice commands, touchpad input and even in-air gestures. A built-in microphone lets you talk to your TV without competing with noise from the TV itself. Gesture input works like a Wii Remote. The weirdest feature is a dedicated “Soccer Mode,” which optimizes the screen for watching soccer. Samsung plans to unveil the remote at CES next week, along with a new line of TVs. Read more at global.samsungtomorrow.com.

  4. Google wants to turn your conversations into comic strips. At least, that’s what a newly granted patent suggests. The company's idea is to automatically, or manually, capture a back-and-forth conversation, then insert that dialog into a comic strip that can be shared using social media, email or instant messaging, not unlike the social app Bitstrips. But Google’s patent would let users extend editing permission, so a social conversation could continue as an ever-expanding comic. Read more at engadget.com.

  5. Google is helping the world’s largest democracy get out the vote. Over the next few months leading up to the general election, Google will help India’s 725 million potential voters, including nearly 150 million first-time voters, look up their registration status and even find local polling stations out of a total of 800 thousand stations on Google Maps. Adding to the complexity, India has about 13 hundred political parties. Google will offer these services free of charge. Google is offering similar services in 100 countries around the world. But the scale of India’s elections dwarfs all others. Read more at indiatimes.com.

  6. Tech tipster Evleaks tweeted this morning what he claims is a picture of LG's upcoming webOS-powered Smart TV, which is expected to be announced at CES next week. The photo appears to reveal a new card-based user interface, as well as support for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Skype apps. LG bought webOS from HP in February with the intention of using it for TVs, even though it was originally designed for phones and tablets. Palm launched WebOS in 2009 and HP acquired Palm in 2010. Read more at twitter.com/evleaks.

  7. The news site The Information reports that Sony and ZTE may soon launch Windows Phone handsets. The report is based on two anonymous sources and says that Microsoft is slashing prices to convince the Japanese and Chinese phone makers to jump on board. And while ZTE is not a well-known brand in the United States, that company is planning to expand aggressively in key markets around the world, including in the United States. Today, Nokia has more than 90 percent market share for Windows Phone devices, according to a recent report from AdDuplex. Read more at theinformation.com.

  8. Mark Zuckerberg was the most charitable American in 2013, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Why? Well, the Facebook CEO and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave almost 1 billion dollars worth of Facebook stock (18 million shares) to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation last year. That gift makes Zuckerberg the only American under the age of 30 to ever top the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s top givers list. He's 29. Read more at philanthropy.com.

For insight, analysis, and discussion of these topics and more, check out Tech News Today for January 02, 2014.