Bangkok, Disneyland, and Times Square – the most popular places to take Instagram photos Read more at–the-most-popular-places-to-take-instagram-photos#9jz2FZ0bZ3KCO3FY.99

Instagram today revealed the most popular places that people have taken photos in 2012. The popular photo-sharing app flourished at the world’s famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and popular tourist destinations like Times Square, but neither location earned the top spot.

The most poplar destination for Instagram photos is actually Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok, Thailand. Instagram users have posted more than 100,000 photos at the airport, including self-portraits, group photos, and images of statues and architecture at the airport. Thailand also claimed the No. 2 spot thanks to an abundance of photos taken at the Siam Paragon, a popular shopping mall in Bangkok.

Other than Thailand’s grip of the top spots, the list of the most prolific locations for Instagram photos leans heavily towards California. Times Square in New York City and the Eiffel Tower in Paris made the list, but only at Nos. 4 and 8 respectively. The remaining six locations were all at venues in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Here is the full list of the Top 10 Instagram locations:

– Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok, Thailand
– Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand
– Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California
– Times Square in New York City
– AT&T Park in San Francisco
– Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
– Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles
– Eiffel Tower in Paris
– Staples Center in Los Angeles
– Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles


Snapchat and Poke design flaw enables saving videos permanently Read more at

Snapchat and Poke are supposed to be iPhone apps that can share a short personal video that the sender intends to not be available once it has been watched; however, both apps have issues that make it possible to watch those videos, or share them with people the sender never intended to see the clip, on a permanent basis.

Buzzfeed has posted a tutorial illustrating how easy it is to access videos sent using Facebook Poke or Snapshot. Both iPhone apps store videos in the tmp cache folder, so it’s possible to access the clips using a file browser like iFunBox. As long as the recipient doesn’t view the video in the app, he or she can copy the file to a computer and continue viewing it beyond the intended time or even send the video to other people.

The workaround doesn’t appear to work for photos, but there is an existing way to access photos in the Android Snapchat app. When Buzzfeed asked Snapchat about the oversight of making videos available beyond the one-time viewing that senders expect, founder Evan Spiegel said:

“The people who most enjoy using Snapchat are those who embrace the spirit and intent of the service. There will always be ways to reverse engineer technology products – but that spoils the fun!”

Spiegel’s attitude downplays the significance of people believing that they are sending private or potentially embarrassing media without realizing the problems it could create. This episode serves as a reminder that Snapchat and Poke are not as simple and temporary as the apps would have users believe, so it’s best to not send anything that someone wouldn’t be comfortable with becoming public.

USPTO Hits Apple Where It Hurts

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday rejected all 21 claims in Apple’s “pinch-to-zoom” patent in a preliminary ruling after an ex parte re-examination of the patent.

The USPTO ruling is a significant blow to Apple, as the patent was among those found to have been infringed by Samsung in a case that went to trial this summer. The jury awarded Apple more than US$1 billion in damages in that case, but Judge Lucy Koh subsequently denied Apple’s request to ban the sale of certain Samsung products, and she has not yet approved the damages amount.

Apple could appeal the USPTO decision, but if it loses, the reversal could limit the damages Apple would be awarded in the suit.


A Losing Streak

This invalidation comes at an unfortunate time for Apple, which has been on the losing end of several patent-related initiatives. It recently lost a case brought by MobileMedia Ideas, which alleged that Apple misappropriated its technology for mobile devices.

Last month, a court dismissed Apple’s lawsuit against Motorola Mobility for abusing standard-essential patents.

On the other hand, an International Trade Commission judge ruled just this week that Apple has not violated Google’s Motorola Mobility patent for a touchscreen sensor, with the judge finding that the patent was invalid.

Still, the losses are adding up at a time when Apple’s stock is perceived to be weakened. What’s more, this setback strikes at the heart of one of Apple’s great patent related victories — its win over arch-enemy Samsung in the U.S.

A Bigger Hit

The USPTO’s decision will probably reduce the damages claim against Samsung, said Peter S. Vogel, a partner with Gardere Wynne Sewell.

However, Apple’s exposure is much bigger than the Samsung trial, he told the E-Commerce Times.

“What we don’t know — and that is not public information — is what companies are licensing the [invalidated] patent and paying fees to Apple,” he said.

Probably those companies wouldn’t have a case if they sought to have the money they paid to Apple returned, he speculated, “but they certainly wouldn’t have to pay fees to Apple going forward.”

Given Apple’s vigilant approach to patent infringement, said Vogel, it is likely there are many companies out there that are licensing this patent.

FCC Unveils Smartphone Security Checklist

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday launched a smartphone security checker website to help consumers ensure their devices are as secure as possible.

The page lists various mobile operating systems and also points to a general checklist of actions users can take to secure their smartphones.

“You have to have some kind of tips for people to follow,” FCC spokesperson Justin Cole told TechNewsWorld.

“We recognize everyone’s time-constrained, and wanted them to be able to access the list and take simple and effective actions,” Cole continued. “That’s why we capped the list at 10 items and tried to make them as simple and effective as possible.”


Why Now?

More than 120 million Americans now own smartphones, and security threats to smartphones increased by 367 percent in 2011, the FCC stated.

“There has been a rash of very public incidents of individuals’ cell phones being hacked or stolen, and information hijacked, in 2012,” remarked Chet Wisniewski, Senior Security Advisor at Sophos. “This, combined with most Americans now owning smartphones with much more personal information available on them, made it seem time to try and provide guidance on their safe usage.”

More on the FCC’s Solution

The general checklist contains tips that are easy to act upon. Among other things, they suggest smartphone users set PINs and passwords, back-up and secure data, install apps only from trusted sources, understand app permissions before accepting them, and accept updates and patches to their smartphone’s software.

The list also has a link to the “Stop. Think. Connect” program run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and to the FCC’s home page.

Users who click on the OS that runs on their smartphone are taken to the website of a vendor offering devices using that OS, Coles said. “When you get to that stage, it’s more like hitting buttons or touching the screen than following a list of instructions.”

Will the List Work?

“There are large numbers of people, especially children and the elderly, who are concerned about the security of their devices but don’t know how to go about securing them,” Wisniewski told TechNewsWorld. “For people who have awareness but not expertise, this guide should provide a good starting point and some comfort in knowing it was constructed by experts.”

The checklist is useful to the degree these recommended actions are taken correctly,” Ryan Sherstobitoff, a threat researcher at McAfee Labs, commented.

“I think with the increase in awareness surrounding mobile security and recent attacks on the financial sector that used a mobile threat, users may be more likely to pay attention to the tips,” Sherstobitoff told TechNewsWorld. Those attacks included Eurograbber and Operation High Roller.

“Even if you don’t follow all the measures, something is better than nothing,” Cole said. “It literally just takes seconds to set up a PIN and password.”

Pros and Cons

One of the biggest drawbacks of the FCC’s tool is that people do not often follow instructions.

“We hope the press coverage will allow those citizens concerned with their phone security to take advantage of our efforts,” Wisniewski said.

Sophos, RIM, McAfee, the National Cyber Security Alliance, and Symantec are among the private-sector companies that worked with the FCC to create the checklist.

In the future, users might find it easier to implement smartphone security. “Mobile applications are beginning to emerge that attempt to address some or all of the recommendations for the user,” Sherstobitoff said.

For example, an app might check whether the device complies with settings that implement security recommendations and notify the user when the device is out of compliance, Sherstobitoff suggested.

Apple Pushes Out WiFi Fix for iOS 6

Apple on Tuesday began pushing a fix to a WiFi bug in iOS 6 that targets the iPhone 5 and iPad mini.

Apple has released very little information about the fix. Its support site simply describes the 6.0.2 update as “fixes a bug that could impact WiFi.”

This latest fix for iOS 6 is the second since the software was released in September. The first fix addressed a number of problems including the display of horizontal lines across the iPhone’s virtual keyboard, inability to perform over-the-air updates on the iPhone 5 and the removal of meetings from the calendar after the user accepts an invitation to attend.

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.


No Quality Concerns

Several iPhone owners running iOS 6 reported receiving no update notice early Tuesday, though one had, so it appears the fix is being rolled out slowly. None of the iPhone owners said they’d experienced any WiFi problems with iOS 6.

Fixes like those released since the introduction of iOS 6 should be expected and aren’t necessarily signs of quality control slip-ups at Apple.

It’s not unusual for a new release of a product to need bug fixes, according to Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

“A major release will have some bugs, but Apple’s quality control is best-in-class, and their releases go out with minimal bug issues,” he told MacNewsWorld.

Apple releases updates only when they’re ready for market. In some cases, that may be twice a year, in others, it could be as long as eight months, he explained. “And if there are security issues, they may update it more often.”

On-The-Fly Fixing

It does appear, though, that Apple is pushing out fixes for iOS 6 at a brisk pace. “This is bug fixing on the fly,” observed Carl Howe, research director at the Yankee Group.

“As soon as they find cures for problems, they release them,” Howe told MacNewsWorld.

The latest bug fix addresses a compatibility problem with 802.11 routers that use the 5-GHz band, he explained.

Routers that comply with the 802.11 standard may support the 2.4-GHz or 5-GHz bands, or both. Routers supporting 802.11a, for example, only support 5 GHz. Those with 802.11g support only 2.4 GHz. Those with 802.11n support both.

The 2.4-GHz band is crowded, however, because it’s used by lots of devices — Bluetooth gadgets, cordless phones, baby monitors, even microwave ovens. Access to the 5-GHz band, which is less crowded, can result in cleaner reception.

Record Sales?

The problem with the standard for 5-GHz WiFi, according to Howe, is that it’s not a fully specified standard. In other words, there’s room for router makers to vary their implementation of it. Not all vendors do 5 GHz right, he asserted, but users expect their devices to work with their router, even if its maker did it wrong.

Such inconsistencies can trip up a device maker, and that appears to be what happened to Apple. “You can be connected to [5-GHz] WiFi, but all your data may not be going over that WiFi network, so you end up using some cellular data when it should be going over WiFi,” explained Michael Morgan, mobile devices analyst at ABI Research.

Between bug fixes and the Apple Maps fiasco, the iPhone 5 has received more adverse publicity than most new iPhone models, but that isn’t affecting sales, according to Morgan.

Apple will sell 40 million iPhones in the quarter ending on Dec. 31, he predicted. That would be a 48 percent increase over sales during the previous quarter, when 27 million iPhones were sold.

However, that’s less of a sales bump than occurred when the iPhone 4S was introduced in 2011. Then, quarter-to-quarter sales jumped almost 118 percent, from 17 million to 37 million units.

Nevertheless, the iPhone 5 will be a winner for Apple, Howe believes. “I think people are going to be amazed at how many iPhone 5’s will be sold. There’s every possibility that it will set a new record.”

Apple Scores With ITC but It May Be a Lose-Lose Game

The International Trade Commission on Tuesday ruled that Apple has not violated Google’s Motorola Mobility patent for a touchscreen sensor. ITC judge Thomas Pender said the patent was invalid.

The touchscreen sensor patent came before Pender this summer, when Google asserted three other Motorola patents against Apple. The commission ordered Pender to examine that particular patent further.

The next step in the process is for the commission to review Pender’s ruling.


Win Some, Lose Some

The ITC is a regular stop on the technology patent infringement legal circuit. The court can ban the importation of infringing products — a serious blow to any company. Also, it tends to make its decisions fairly quickly.

However, a favorable ruling is hardly a guarantee, even if a judge has sided with a company in the past. Google has previously come out the victor in Judge Pender’s court. Earlier this year, he ruled that Apple was infringing one of Motorola Mobility’s patents for 3G wireless technology — even though he found that three other patents asserted by Motorola against Apple were not valid. That ruling came before Google finalized its acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

The Court of Public Opinion

Granted, the ITC can be counted among those agencies whose names are guaranteed to make consumers’ eyes glaze over. Still, if Apple ultimately prevails in this case, it may help to counter the drip, drip, drip of discouraging news the company has been experiencing lately.

On the patent front, Apple recently lost a case brought by MobileMedia Ideas, which alleged that Apple misappropriated its technology for mobile devices. Also, a U.S. District Court judge last month dismissed Apple’s suit alleging that Motorola Mobility had abused its standard-essential patents by charging rates that were not appropriate under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Apple has won its fair share of legal actions, though, including this past summer’s blockbuster award against Samsung.

Apple’s Baseball Bat

That said, the patent battles in general are not good for Apple’s image, David Johnson, principal with Strategic Vision, told the E-Commerce Times.

“Apple is starting to come across a big bully with these suits,” he said.

Consumers wowed by Apple’s technology probably won’t let the suits bother them. However, for shareholders, they must be starting to wear.

“Apple is suffering a death by a thousand cuts,” said Johnson, “and that makes shareholders uneasy.”

RIM Hustles as Day of Reckoning Looms

While BlackBerry 10 devices won’t become generally available until sometime in the New Year, more than 120 enterprise customers will reportedly begin testing the new platform as part of the BlackBerry 10 Technical Preview Program that is being rolled out this week.

Research in Motion did not disclose the names of the organizations that will get their hands on BB 10 in advance of its Jan. 30, 2013, launch.

This news has generated significant buzz, but “I wouldn’t call it good,” said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics. “There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we don’t know if it is a freight train approaching.”

RIM admits that it is facing a significant challenge ahead.

“Nobody understands better than us the challenging and competitive nature of the global smartphone market,” said RIM spokesperson Kim Geiger.

“RIM has redesigned, reengineered and reinvented the BlackBerry, and the delivery of high-quality, full-featured BlackBerry 10 smartphones remains the company’s No. 1 priority. We continue to believe that executing on this vision will have long-term benefits for the company, its customers and other stakeholders.”


Too Little Too Late?

While RIM also announced that UK carriers will get the BB10 in the new year — and more importantly, that the new platform will have 70,000 apps at launch — much of this could be taken with a grain of salt. The platform has been seriously delayed, and while that is no small number of apps, the rival Android and iOS platforms can make that number look rather insignificant.

“The 70,000 apps one is an interesting comment, and while I’d like to think this will all be solid, native apps, we’ll likely see some Web apps masquerading as native in that count as RIM continues to woo big name mobile properties into its store,” said Chris Silva, industry analyst for the Altimeter Group.

“This is similar to what we’ve seen on Windows Phone 7/8 as the marketplace numbers go up, but there’s an increasing tradeoff between the total number of apps and their average quality,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

How many of those might be legacy apps as well?

“When RIM said BB10 would launch with 70,000 apps, we don’t know how many might be running in legacy mode,” Entner added. “I doubt those are all new. That makes it kind of window dressing.”

A bigger issue is whether this matters, given BB10’s delay?

“BB 10 is a year — if not more — behind, so the question is whether this is an updated BB 10 or the BB 10 that was supposed to launch a year ago,” Entner told the E-Commerce Times. “How is it compared to Android and iOS today?”

Enterprising Move

RIM’s focus on enterprise clients is understandable, given they represent a large segment of its user base. Large enterprises and government offices have been reluctant to drop the BlackBerry platform, in spite of the company’s fall from glory in the past couple of years, as it still offers stronger security than Android or iOS.

That is no longer the trump card it once was, though. Many IT managers are now allowing employees to bring their own devices to work.

“IT managers liked that RIM couldn’t do some things, like play a lot of games,” said Entner. “In a way, their backwardness was RIM’s virtue.”

The fact that 120 companies are already testing the new platform is a hopeful sign — for RIM — that the BYOD trend hasn’t made it irrelevant.

“There are a lot of companies that are still very email-centric and they value the security that comes with RIM,” stressed Entner. “Those are probably the 120 customers using RIM in the preview, but there could be just five-10 people in each business. If you give them the opportunity to use it, of course they will try it.”

Small acorns do yield oak trees, but only if the acorn survives!

“The 120-customer commitment is encouraging, but it’s telling to me that they’ve highlighted the number of organizations and shied away from talking about the total number of devices or server licenses that means,” Silva noted.

“They did make a smart move in opting to transition existing BES server licenses to the new version that will support BB10,” he acknowledged. “Had they stayed the course and forced an upgrade fee for any business looking to support their next generation of devices, it would have been strategic seppuku.”

Do-or-Die Time

What is clear is that BlackBerry won’t likely retake the No. 1 smartphone spot — that is something even the company’s most loyal customers can’t expect. Still, if RIM can manage to find a solid niche, the company could retain a place in the market.

“RIM could start growing again and carve out a successful No. 3 spot,” said telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan.

To get there, the company faces two challenges, he said.

“First, stop customers from exiting,” Kagan told the E-Commerce Times. “Second, win customers back. If they can do this with BB10, it will be a huge success. Then they can start building once again.”

Failing that, RIM could go the way of another once-hot mobile device maker.

“Palm was a very successful smartphone provider, second only to RIM,” Kagan emphasized. “Palm too fell off the fast growth track. They reinvented themselves as well. When they introduced their new technology, the media and analysts loved it. It sounded like Palm was going to start to grow again.”

In the end, the biggest threat to RIM could be RIM.

“A lot of what was on RIM’s side was IT inertia,” said Entner. “They’ve lost that, and the inertia is going the other way. Even a lukewarm or haphazard launch would kill the company. They have one chance left. This better be good.”