Researchers can determine what smartphone a photo was taken on by analyzing it

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Researchers at the University at Buffalo have discovered a way to identify smartphones by analyzing just a single photo taken by the device. The researchers centered on a flaw in digital imaging called photo-response non-uniformity (PRNU) to do so. PRNU happens when the imperfections in the manufacturing process of each camera’s sensors create tiny variations. Those variations can cause the millions of pixels in the camera’s sensor to project colors that are slightly brighter or darker than normal, which creates a systemic distortion in the photo called pattern noise. This…

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Microsoft makes Azure Bot Service generally available for developers

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Microsoft introduced the Azure Bot Framework more than two years ago and companies have been building chatbots for a variety of scenarios ever since. Today, the company made generally available the Microsoft Azure Bot Service and Microsoft Cognitive Language Understanding service (known as LUIS). “Making these two services generally available on Azure simultaneously extends the capabilities of developers to build custom models that can naturally interpret the intentions of people conversing with bots,” Lili Cheng, corporate vice president at the Microsoft AI and Research division wrote in a company blog post…

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Apple ‘to buy Shazam for $400m

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Apple is close to buying the music recognition app Shazam for about $400m (£300m), media reports say. Shazam, a UK company founded in 1999, allows people to use their smartphone or computer to identify and buy music through a snippet of sound. Shazam, which says it has more than 100 million monthly users, makes most of its revenue from commissions paid on referrals to Apple’s iTunes Store. Neither Apple nor Shazam have commented on the reports on the TechCrunch site. If the deal is confirmed, the music identifying App will…

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German spy agency warns of Chinese LinkedIn espionage

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China is using fake LinkedIn profiles to gather information on German officials and politicians, the German intelligence agency (BfV) has said. The agency alleges that Chinese intelligence used the networking site to target at least 10,000 Germans, possibly to recruit them as informants. It released a number of fake profiles allegedly used for this purpose. BfV head Hans-Georg Maassen said the accounts show China’s efforts to subvert top-level German politics. “This is a broad-based attempt to infiltrate in particular parliaments, ministries and government agencies,” he said. China has denied similar…

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Google Maps will soon tell you when it’s time to get off your train or bus

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Google is about to launch a small but useful update to Google Maps that will give you live guidance and interactive real-time notifications during your journey. The idea here is to give you real-time updates while you are on your transit journey. These updates will appear in the Google Maps app and, maybe most importantly, on your Android lock screen. To get started, you search for your transit directions in Google Maps as usual. So far, so good. What’s new here is that you’ll soon be able to tap a…

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Facebook appears to axe feed for tracking your friends’ activity

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As Facebook continues to tinker with its layout and services to spur more interactions and engagement, it seems that not even the most well-known or oldest features are spared. In the most recent development, it looks like Facebook has quietly removed the Ticker, the box that used to appear to the right of your News Feed to summarize what all your friends have been liking, commenting on, and generally doing on the social network. The removal has come after several weeks of people reporting the feature suddenly disappearing for them.…

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China’s phone market is now dominated by five companies, none of which is Samsung

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China is the most unique smartphone market in the world: a phone maker can be a global sales leader without ever treading beyond Chinese borders, and small upstart challengers can suddenly explode in popularity from out of nowhere. The latter aspect is becoming harder now, however, as the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that China’s top five phone vendors are becoming a more solid and dominant group. Kantar reports that, for the calendar quarter ending in October, the top five of Huawei, Xiaomi, Apple, Vivo, and Oppo accounted for…

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Drone collisions worse than bird strikes for planes

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A US study into drone safety has suggested that collisions with aircraft are more damaging than bird strikes. It said current aircraft manufacturing standards are not appropriate for the growth in drone use but stopped short of saying such hits could be fatal. The US Federal Aviation Authority said it will work with drone-makers to develop technology to detect and avoid planes. It estimated there will be 2.3 million drones in use by the end of this year.The FAA study recreated a collision between a drone and an aeroplane using…

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Google launches a data-friendly search app for users in emerging markets

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Google is continuing its push to make its services accessible for people with lower-end mobile devices or slow internet connections after it introduced Google Go, a data-friendly search app. The app was first spotted in beta in August — when it was known as Search Lite — and now it has been released for select Android devices (here). At just 5MB the app won’t take up huge amounts of space on a device — that’s important because cheaper devices that are popular in emerging markets have limited capacity — while…

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Millions caught in virtual keyboard app data breach

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Security researchers claim to have found the personal data of 31 million Android users of the keyboard app Ai.type after finding an open database online. The app offers themed keyboards for phones and tablets.The researchers claimed data left visible included names, phone numbers, locations and Google queries. The boss of the Israeli company behind the app admitted the breach but said most of the data was not sensitive. Bob Diachenko, from the Kromtech Security Centre, part of security company Mackeeper, said the amount of data required by the app at…

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