Archive for September 6th, 2012

Free ‘Treasure Park’ Vita app out now

Treasure Park, one of three free apps confirmed for the Vita, is available now in the PlayStation Store in North America and Europe.

Treasure Park allows players to create their own grid-based puzzle sheets with hidden objects and bombs, and share them with friends via the Near app.

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RedLynx imperils plushies in ‘Nutty Fluffies’ for iOS

Trials and MotoHeroz developer RedLynx is now exacting its familiar physics-driven punishment on soft, defenseless plushies. Its new iOS game, which is genuinely called Nutty Fluffies, reveals what booth toys get up to when the fairground shuts down: they ride the roller coasters and get horribly mangled when you don’t keep the vehicle right-side up.

Alright, the cartoonish visuals don’t exactly convey that level of imagined horror, but it’s hard to brush off roller coaster accidents when they involve little stuffed creatures. Nutty Fluffies is an instinctual test of momentum and speed ? and instead of balancing a bike, as you did in Trials, you’re trying to keep a string of connected cars in tune with the track, even as it leaves momentarily to collect hearts. Succeeding is a matter of swiping forward across the screen to increase speed, even while in the air, and swiping backward to decrease it.

There’s more to the iOS game than that, of course, with specific animals bestowing bonuses after you purchase them for your empty cars. Also, the vehicle itself can be extended, with the implicit warning that a long coaster is about as graceful as a drugged centipede. Whee!

Ubisoft hasn’t yet shared a release date more specific than “2012.”

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Motorola, Nokia try to win back market

In the smartphone market, Apple and Samsung have become the two giants. Is there room for a third?

Motorola Mobility and Nokia, two laggards in the mobile race, better hope so.

Both companies held events on Wednesday in New York to unveil their latest smartphones, just one week before Apple is scheduled to introduce its next iPhone. Much depends on the success of those phones, as Nokia and Motorola’s shares of the phone market continue to slide while sales of Apple and Samsung devices soar.

Combined, Samsung and Apple account for about 50 percent of the global smartphone market, with Samsung in the lead, according to estimates by Gartner, the research firm. Other phone-makers are so far behind that there is essentially no relevant third player. Research In Motion, a potential contender for that spot, has said its new line of BlackBerry devices will not be ready until next year.

Samsung and Apple are the only companies shipping lots of phones to retailers and making money, said Jan Dawson, a mobile analyst at Ovum, a research firm. “Nobody is really No. 3 because nobody else is shipping and profitable.”

At its event, Motorola unveiled three smartphones under its Razr brand that will be sold to Verizon customers. It said the focus of the phones was speed, because they connected to Verizon’s faster fourth-generation network. And they have larger screens than their primary rival, the iPhone.

These were the first new phones that Motorola has introduced since it was bought by Google, which announced the acquisition last year and closed the transaction in May. The companies remained mum about their plans until last month, when Motorola announced that it was laying off 4,000 employees, the start of a revamping under its new owner.

A Google executive, Dennis Woodside, is Motorola’s new leader. In an interview on Tuesday, Woodside said that the union of the two companies would spur mobile innovation. But Woodside, sharp and energetic, was careful not to overstate his goal for Motorola. He does not expect it to become a giant overnight.

“We want to be pushing the limits of what Android can do,” he said, referring to Google’s popular operating software for phones. He said that the plan for Motorola was to build excellent products that took advantage of its engineering heritage. “It doesn’t need to be the biggest player, but it can be one that’s truly leading in leaps and bounds in generations and generations of devices,” he said.

The new phones – the Droid Razr HD, Droid Razr M and Droid Razr Maxx HD – have a crucial component that reflects Motorola’s legacy as a radio company: the Motorola-made cellular modems inside them, which connect with newer, faster fourth-generation LTE networks.

And because Motorola helped develop this radio technology, the company knows how to design 4G LTE phones with long battery life, said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president for product management at Motorola, in an interview. The Droid Razr HD, for example, has a 4.7-inch screen with 16 hours of talk time, twice as long as many similar phones, according to Motorola.

The phones all use Android, raising questions about whether Motorola will become a legal target for Apple, which recently won a court victory against Samsung in one of many patent disputes related to smartphones. Apple accused Samsung of copying several aspects of the iPhone with its Android phones.

Woodside said he was confident that Motorola would not face similar problems. “We’ve always been pushing the envelope of technology,” he said. “It’s not a culture that copies things.”

Nokia has chosen a different and perhaps riskier route than the makers of Android phones, forming a close partnership with Microsoft and building that company’s Windows Phone software into its smartphones. The partners have not gotten much traction in the market lately, but they are hoping for another chance.

On Wednesday the two companies showed the Lumia 920, a smartphone that includes Nokia’s PureView camera technology and the ability to charge the phone by placing it on a special mat. Nokia also briefly introduced the Lumia 820, a midprice smartphone with exchangeable covers. The phones run Windows Phone 8, the latest version of the software.

“This is the most innovative smartphone in the world,” said Jo Harlow, Nokia’s executive vice president. She said the Lumia 920 took better pictures and video, especially in low light, than any other phone camera, and that it would offer access to Nokia’s mapping database, which provides maps for 200 countries.

Nokia, which is based in Finland, has been trying hard to gain a foothold in the smartphone market with its Windows-powered Lumia line. It sought to make a splash this year with the Lumia 900 on AT&T, aggressively priced at $100 and backed with an enormous promotional campaign, but sales were lackluster.

Investors seemed unhappy with the announcements. Nokia’s American shares dropped 16 percent. But some analysts were optimistic that the Lumia 920 would grab the attention of phone buyers.

Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research, said offering features like the ability to wirelessly charge the device would only help Nokia, as long as the phone is cleverly marketed and priced competitively enough. But Nokia did not say how much the phones would cost or when and where they would be available.

“The most pressing question is whether Nokia can get its magic back, whether it can be a viable third leg in the smartphone world and it remains to be seen,” Golvin said.

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Apple data posted online after hacking FBI laptop

NEW YORK: A hacking group today said it has obtained a million identification numbers for Apple mobile devices after breaking into the laptop of an FBI agent, a claim which the federal probe agency said has “no evidence”.

Anonymous affiliate – AntiSec – released a file on the internet which allegedly contained a million identification numbers for the Apple devices.

The group said they obtained the data by hacking into the computer of an FBI agent in March.

Responding to the claim, the federal agency said it is aware of reports alleging that an FBI laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple unique device identifiers (UDIDs) was exposed.

UDIDs are 40-character strings of letters and numbers assigned to Apple devices.

“At this time, there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data,” the FBI said in a statement.

“At this time there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data,” the statement said.

AntiSec had posted copies of the file over the weekend and claimed it has a total of 12 million numbers for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, as well as some phone numbers and personal data on their owners.

The group said the purpose of their hacking into the FBI agent’s laptop and releasing the data was to prove that the agency used device information to track people.

AntiSec said they had obtained the file from the computer of Christopher Stangl, a supervisory agent of the FBI’s Cyber Action Team.

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Japan’s Sony hit by fresh cyberattack

TOKYO: Sony said Thursday that hackers stole details belonging to hundreds of its mobile unit clients, the latest in a string of cyberattacks to hit the embattled Japanese electronics giant.

A group calling itself “Null\Crew” said it had attacked a mobile communications server, with a Sony spokesman confirming the cyber thieves had grabbed information belonging to 400 customers in mainland China and Taiwan.

Null\Crew, which reportedly has links to international computer hacking group Anonymous, posted online usernames, e-mails and some passwords along with a statement critical of the Japanese firm.

“Sony, we are dearly disappointed in your security,” it said, adding that it had gained control of eight Sony servers, which could not be immediately confirmed.

“Not even your customers can trust you,” it added.

The company spokesman said the incident was being investigated and added that the server with client details belonged to an unnamed “third party”, and not Sony itself.

In April last year Sony suffered a massive data breach that compromised more than 100 million accounts and forced it to temporarily halt its PlayStation Network and Qriocity services.

And in October, the firm suspended 93,000 accounts on its online entertainment networks, which let users play videogames and watch movies, after detecting a wave of unauthorised sign-in attempts.

The entertainment giant has been battling to restore consumer trust after the initial security gaffe, with a string of subsequent attacks on websites including in Greece, Thailand and Indonesia.

In another incident, a group of hackers known as Lulz Security in June said they had compromised more than one million passwords, email addresses and other information from SonyPictures.com.

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