WhatsApp launches desktop app

WhatsApp users will now have native access to their conversations on their desktop via the new desktop app.

Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp has launched a desktop application that mirrors conversations and messages from a user’s smartphone device.

The new desktop application is available for users running Windows 8 or Mac OS 10.9 and above, and can be synced with WhatsApp on a user’s mobile device.

In a blog post, WhatsApp said that because the app runs natively on the desktop, it can support desktop notifications and keyboard shortcuts.

At the start of the year, the company removed its $1-a-year subscription fee as an attempt to look for new ways to connect with its users.

The company promised it would not introduce third-party ads to make up for the revenue shortfall.

A month later, WhatsApp announced it was dropping support for BlackBerry OS as well as BlackBerry 10, Nokia S40, and Nokia Symbian S60. The company also said it was dropping support for Android version 2.1 and 2.2, and Windows Phone 7.1.

“While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future,” WhatsApp said at the time.

WhatsApp was recently caught up in an ongoing battle with telecom regulators across the world. South Africa’s two largest telcos, MTN and Vodacom, wanted to see over the top services regulated, while Brazil’s telcos were particularly disgruntled by WhatsApp offering voice call functionality and sought to have WhatsApp declared illegal.

Another ban was placed on WhatsApp at the start of the month in Brazil, which was overturned three days later, after Facebook failed to provide police access to users’ data for a criminal investigation. The police had requested for a conversation that took place in a WhatsApp messaging group, as well as other data that included geolocation.

As of February 1, Whatsapp has 1 billion monthly active users.

New Instagram unveils new logo, but it’s not quite picture perfect

Photo sharing app unveils new sunset-coloured logo and a sleeker in-app look, but opinion is mixed1400 

How the Instagram main logo and accompanying app logos have changed. Photograph: Instagram

Instagram, the photo sharing app owned by Facebook, responsible for such cultural highlights as hot-dog legs, The Fat Jewish memes and Rich Kids of, well, Instagram, has debuted a new logo.

The previous one, a retro-looking camera, and one of the most recognisable tech logos out there, has been replaced by a background swirl of sunset colours (orange, yellow, pink, purple) and a white outline of a camera. As if the camera was murdered, and chalk was drawn around its body. Murdered at sundown. Here it is:

717

The brand new Instagram logo. Photograph: Instagram

The new logo was announced via a blog post, a longer post on Medium from head of design, Ian Spalter, and also a short introductory film. The kind that is usually intensely annoying, but actually this one is quite cute (warning though: the end has a lot of flashing and intense colours).

The blog post asserts that the “Instagram community has evolved over the past five years from a place to share filtered photos to so much more – a global community of interests sharing more than 80m photos and videos every day. Our updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become.”

Opinion on social media from Instagram users is split.

This Android Tablet Is A Total Surface Ripoff

Another day, another Android tablet. This one’s
got an 11-inch screen, magnetically-attaching
keyboard, kickstand coming out the back…wait,
that seems familiar.
The Remix Ultra tablet is the brainchild of three
ex-Googlers, and at first impression, seems to
follow the timeless tech-product-ripoff formula
to perfection. The hardware is a cheaper
version of the Surface’s popular form-factor: 11-
inch tablet with a kickstand and magnetically-
attaching keyboard. And, just like those
knockoff iFones your auntie accidentally bought
for all her nieces, the Remix is running a
version of Android that looks an awful lot like
Windows, complete with a navigation bar
running along the bottom.
In all fairness to Jive, the company behind the
device, it doesn’t look like a terrible tablet: it’s
running Android 4.4 on a Nvidia Tegra
processor, which should promise decent
performance. Despite the custom ROM, Android
Central reports that it’ll ship with access to the
complete Google Play store. And, if the knockoff
hardware is as comfortable and flexible as the
real Surface, it could be a good all-round
machine for the $349 base price. Just make sure
you put some of those savings towards a
lawyer.

Threat to Zuckerberg: ‘Pakistaniextremist fought to have mesentenced to death’

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the biggest
social network Facebook, opened up about
threats he received from an extremist in
Pakistan who had threatened to have him
sentenced to death after the social network
refused to ban blasphemous content.
“A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan
fought to have me sentenced to death because
Facebook refused to ban content about Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH) that offended him,” he said
in a post on Facebook.
The Facebook CEO revealed the threats just two
days after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris,
which left 12 people dead – including prominent
cartoonists.
“As I reflect on yesterday’s attack and my own
experience with extremism, this is what we all
need to reject,” Zuckerberg wrote. “A group of
extremists is trying to silence the voices and
opinions of everyone else around the world. I
won’t let that happen on Facebook.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. PHOTO: EPA

Facebook users in Latin America will have a chance
to pepper Mark Zuckerberg with questions next
week when he heads to Bogota, Colombia, for
Facebook’s first international townhall Q&A.
The social network has held two Q&A sessions so
far, both in the U.S., but this third one could see
some grittier topics raised, judging from questions
submitted so far online.
“Latin American countries have many problems like
socioeconomic inequality, lack of education and
violations against free expression. How could
Facebook be used as a tool to try to fix [these]
problems, working along with the governments of
each country?” asked one Colombian teenager.
It was one of more than a thousand comments
submitted Friday in the lead-up to the event, which
will take place Wednesday and be broadcast online.
The teenager also wanted to know if Facebook
could organize a public awareness campaign to
dispel stereotypes around drug trafficking in
Colombia.
Others have concerns about access to the Internet.
“How will Facebook help Latin American people to
be more connected to the Internet considering the
difficulties of our region?” one person asked.
Zuckerberg will take questions from a live audience
as well as questions submitted online. Anyone can
submit questions, though the event is geared
toward people in Colombia and Latin America.
Questions in both Spanish and English have been
submitted in advance.
A person from Ecuador wanted to know how
Facebook can help with technology education.
“A while back you mentioned how important it is for
people to learn basic programming and coding. …
Would you consider opening up a series of
educational centers across the country … to focus
specifically on those subjects and make it
affordable for people?”
Some questions touch on issues Facebook is trying
to address through its Internet.org project, which
seeks to bring affordable Internet to parts of the
world where it’s absent today. The Q&A might
reveal new information about Facebook’s
Internet.org plans in the region.
Other users have questions about Facebook’s
language translation tools, while some want to
know if it will back startups in Colombia.
The two previous town halls tended to address
lighter topics, including why Facebook required
users to install Messenger, the growth of video and
Zuckerberg’s wardrobe, though questions about
education and entrepreneurship surfaced too.
For the upcoming Q&A, people still have plenty of
questions about Facebook features—especially
requests for new ones.
“Can you install an ‘I’ve read this’ button so we
won’t continue to see post[s] we have already read
several times?” asked a user from St. Petersburg,
Florida, whose question garnered more than 80
likes.
Some are bored with the look of Facebook and want
more options to customize their profiles.
“Why [is] Facebook blue and not orange?” wrote a
person from Chile.
“Can you add an option to change the Facebook
theme?” said another.
Several others wanted a way to publish audio posts
instead of just text and video.
One of the questions for Zuckerberg was deeply
personal and philosophical.
“You are rich enough to not be motivated anymore
by money,” a user wrote. “You and your company
are well known enough not to be motivated by
recognition, and Facebook’s powerful ability to act
as a catalyst continues to grow. So I would like to
know, what motivates you now?”

Lamborghini phonewill cost you $6,000

The 88 Tauri has
been announced by
luxury brand Tonino
Lamborghini at CES
for those that have
expensive taste.
This is the
company’s second
Android device, and like the first it commands a
premium pricetag. Expect to shell out $6,000 for
this piece of kit.
In terms of specs, the 88 Tauri is no slouch. You’ll
find a quad-core 2.3 GHz processor and 3 GB of
RAM with 64 GB of local storage wrapped up in a
stainless steel frame. The front offers a 5-inch
1080p display and 8 megapixel front-facing
camera, while the rear has a 20 megapixel camera
and a fancy leather coat. You’ll even get some
special edition premium headphones to go with it.
It’s worth noting that the folks behind the 88 Tauri
are purely a luxury brand whose founder happens
to be the son of Ferruccio Lamborghini, of
automotive fame. Regardless, on the phone you’ll
find the familiar raging bull crest and posh style
that characterize both companies.

Apple says it’s created1 million jobs, AppStore is goinggangbusters

Apple announced Thursday that more than 1
million jobs have been directly or indirectly
created by the company in the United States
alone and that its 6-year-old App Store
experienced its biggest day ever New Year’s
Day.
The jobs include Apple’s own employees as well
as app developers, suppliers and manufacturers
across the country. More than 9,000 jobs were
added to Apple’s payroll in 2014, which the
Cupertino-based tech giant said represents a
sixfold increase over the past decade. As of the
close of 2014, Apple employed 72,800 permanent
full-time employees and had 437 retail stores in
15 countries.
The App Store’s milestone comes on the heels of
a record-breaking year, as apps created more
than $10 billion in revenue for developers. The
company said much of that success was helped
by the introduction of iOS8, an operating system
that helps app developers add new and
innovative features. To date, the store’s
developers have earned a cumulative $25 billion
from the sale of apps and games.
“This year is off to a tremendous start after a
record-breaking year for the App Store and our
developer community,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s
senior vice president of Internet software and
services. “We’re so proud of the creativity and
innovation developers bring to the apps they
create for iOS users and that the developer
community has now earned over $25 billion.”
Apple said more than 41,000 jobs related to the
company’s new headquarters will be created in
Santa Clara County by the time the spaceship-
shaped building is completed, reportedly
sometime in late 2016.
The tech giant announced that 1,027,000 jobs
were “created or supported by Apple” in the
U.S. and that 627,000 positions can be attributed
to the iOS ecosystem. Apple also announced that
334,000 jobs have been created at other
companies due to Apple’s dramatic growth.
One of the beneficiaries of the App Store’s
success is Caroline Hu Flexer, whose San Mateo-
based educational-game company, Duck Duck
Moose, has grown from three people to a staff
of 20 who have now 21 different apps under
their belts.
“Our whole business is based on the App Store
and the growth we’ve seen because of that has
been amazing,” Flexer said. “It’s a whole new
economy and there’s no way a small company
like ours could have had such success with their
apps competing against the big media
companies without the App Store’s
distribution.”
The first week of January set a record for
billings from the App Store, with customers
around the world spending nearly half a billion
dollars on apps and in-app purchases, and New
Year’s Day marked the single biggest day ever in
App Store sales history.
During the holiday season, App Store customers
helped make history with their support of Apps
for (RED), a special initiative on the store with
exclusive content where all proceeds went to
the Global Fund to fight AIDS. Apple said it
donated a record-breaking $20 million this
quarter, and since teaming up with (RED) has
donated more than $100 million.
As of November, Apple was both the largest
publicly traded corporation in the world by
market capitalization as well as the first U.S.
company to be valued at over $700 billion.

TEXAS MAN ACCUSED OF RAPING GIRLS, INFECTING THEM WITH HIV

David Richard Wilson, 33, was found
guilty of the sexual assault of a child in 2005 and
sentenced to four years in prison. Six years later,
Wilson was back in a Texas courtroom, accused in
two new cases that, if proven, may have lifelong
consequences for two more children.
Wilson is charged with super aggravated sexual
assault of a child. The enhanced charge is because
of the age of the alleged victim. She was only 23
months old at the time. We have also been told that
the child is Wilson’s niece.
A court document states that the alleged assault
occurred last year. The toddler’s parents are said
to have lived out of state, had drug problems, and
sent their daughter to live with family in Houston.
The child is the daughter of Wilson’s sister.
Last November, the toddler was taken to a doctor,
where she was diagnosed with HIV, genital herpes
and chlamydia. Reconstructive surgery was
performed because of infection to her private parts.
A doctor told investigators that she had to have
been sexually abused because of the sexually
transmitted diseases that were detected.
Four people in the home where the child lived were
tested. Only one, the affidavit states, tested positive
for HIV. It was David R Wilson. It’s unclear why
Wilson was not arrested at the time.
Last month, a 14-year-old girl spoke to the
Children’s Assessment Center, telling a caseworker
she had been having sex with a man for two years.
She identified the man as David R Wilson and said
she was pregnant. An exam of the girl showed that
she was HIV positive, had herpes and chlamydia.
Wilson was arrested, and is now being held without
bond in the Harris County Jail. His first court
appearance is expected to be Friday.

Android stays ‘unbeatable’ insmartphone market — for now

Android continued to dominate the smartphone
market last quarter, far outpacing Apple’s iOS,
according to research released Friday by Strategy
Analytics.
For the third quarter, global shipments of Android-
based smartphones reached 268 million, up from
206 million for the same quarter a year ago. Those
numbers helped the OS win a market share of 84
percent, up from 81.4 percent in the year-ago
quarter. Strategy Analytics cited the power of
Android overall but did point to challenges for
individual Android device makers.
“Android’s leadership of the global smartphone
market looks unbeatable at the moment,” Neil
Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics,
said in a statement. “Its low-cost services and
user-friendly software remain attractive to
hardware makers, operators and consumers
worldwide. However, challenges are emerging for
Google. The Android platform is getting
overcrowded with hundreds of hardware brands,
Android smartphone prices are falling worldwide,
and few Android device vendors make profits.”

APPLE CHIEF TIM COOK: “i’m proud to be gay’

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has publicly
acknowledged his sexuality, saying that he is
“proud to be gay”.
Mr Cook made his announcement to try to help
people struggling with their identity, he wrote in a
Bloomberg Businessweek article .
He has been open about his sexuality, but has also
tried to maintain a basic level of privacy until now,
he said.
This week Mr Cook challenged his home state of
Alabama to ensure the rights of gay and
transgender people.
Privacy trade-off
“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t
publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” he wrote.
“So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I
consider being gay among the greatest gifts God
has given me,” he added.
He said he didn’t consider himself an activist, but
that he realised he had “benefited from the sacrifice
of others.”
“So if hearing that the CEO [chief executive] of
Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come
to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to
anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist
on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with
my own privacy,” he added.
Mr Cook said that he had been open about his
sexuality with many people, including colleagues at
Apple, but that it still “wasn’t an easy choice” to
publicly announce his sexual orientation.
He quoted civil rights campaigner Martin Luther
King, saying: “Life’s most persistent and urgent
question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ”