Facebook finally took the wraps off Home, a suite of apps and a home screen replacement for Android phones. It’s not just a new UI for launching apps however; it replaces the lockscreen with Cover Feed and prioritizes updates from people instead of apps. There is a standard paginated launcher, that is always just a swipe away. But the focus is on the full-screen images that are you’re new welcome screen. More here.
iPad price cuts: A signal Apple is about to release new ones. It’s only been 163 days since Apple (AAPL) introduced the iPad mini and updated its full-size iPad line — roughly half the tablet’s usual 311.On Wednesday, Wal-Mart (WMT), Best Buy (BBY) and MacMall initiated clearance sales, reducing their 3rd-generation iPad and current iPad mini prices roughly 30% across the board — a pretty good sign that Apple is about to replace the old models with new ones. More here.
Apple builds on its lead as top U.S. smartphone maker. Apple has padded its lead as the top U.S. smartphone manufacturer in the first quarter of this year, according to comScore data released Thursday. Samsung, the world’s top smartphone manufacturer , also had slight growth in its share of U.S. smartphone subscribers from the final quarter of last year. More here.
Chrome 27 Beta Lets You Browse 5% Faster. The latest Chrome beta just hit Google’s release channels and Chrome 27 for desktop, and mobile promises to speed up your web-browsing experience by making content appear on your screen 5 percent faster than before. Also new in this release are a new user interface for HTML5 date and time input forms, support for live audio input using the Web Audio API, some minor updates to the Chrome DevTools and a few other minor updates, such as unprefixed support for the allowfullscreen attribute for <iframe>. More here.
Hewlett-Packard Chairman Ray Lane Stepping Down. Hewlett-Packard Chairman Ray Lane is stepping down from the chairmanship of the company. Director Ralph Whitworth will be taking over as Chairman while the company seeks to find a permanent replacement. Lane will remain on the board. More here.
Intel inside & out: trademark filings point towards Intel Media plans. Intel’s plan to enter the media biz is looking more ambitious by the day: The company applied for a series of trademarks last week that seem to be related to the TV service it is going to launch out of its Intel Media unit. Intel filed three applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for trademarks on “Intel inside & out,” and the services described in these filings all fit Intel’s plans for its TV venture. More here.
Disney Halts Game Development at Lucasfilm in Licensing Push. Walt Disney Co. is halting video- game development at its recently acquired Lucasfilm division in an effort to cut costs. Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, will focus on licensing “Star Wars” content rather than developing games internally, Miles Perkins, a Lucasfilm spokesman, said. Disney acquired Lucasfilm, the business founded by director George Lucas last year for about $4 billion. LucasArts, the company’s video-game unit, was established in 1982 and its catalog has included titles such as “Lego Star Wars” and “Star Wars Battlefront,” according to its website. More here.
Nokia shuts its biggest store in the world in Shanghai. Nokia has closed the Shanghai flagship store that it once billed as its largest in the world. Nokia confirmed the closure to ZDNet on Thursday, with the country’s mobile carriers and retailers now expected to step in to fill the gap. More here.
Samsung Electronics first-quarter profit guidance beats street view. Samsung Electronics, the iPhone’s main adversary, estimated its January-March operating profit rose 53 percent to 8.7 trillion won ($7.7 billion) as sales of mid-tier smartphones helped the South Korean giant tide over the off-peak season. The guidance, released ahead of full quarterly results by April 26, was better than an average forecast for 8.3 trillion won in a poll of 42 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. More here.
Twitter Arrives on Wall Street, Via Bloomberg. Largely blocked on Wall Street, Twitter is making its big debut on trading desks — via Bloomberg terminals. Bloomberg L.P. announced on Thursday that it was incorporating tweets into its data service, which is widely used in the financial industry. The new feature allows traders and other professionals to monitor social media buzz and important news about companies they follow. More here.
Apple’s iMessage encryption trips up feds’ surveillance. Apple’s iMessage encryption trips up feds’ surveillance. Encryption used in Apple’s iMessage chat service has stymied attempts by federal drug enforcement agents to eavesdrop on suspects’ conversations, an internal government document reveals.An internal Drug Enforcement Administration document seen by CNET discusses a February 2013 criminal investigation and warns that because of the use of encryption, “it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices” even with a court order approved by a federal judge. Full report here.
Google Fights U.S. National Security Probe Data Demand. Google Inc (GOOG)., operator of the world’s largest search engine, is challenging a demand by the U.S. government for private user information in a national security probe, according to a court filing. It “appears” to be the first time a major communications company is pushing back after getting a so-called National Security Letter, said the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet privacy group. The challenge comes three weeks after a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that NSLs, which are issued without a warrant, are unconstitutional. More here.
Anonymous takes control of North Korea’s Twitter and Flickr accounts, defaces websites. North Korea’s official Twitter and Flickr accounts have been hacked and two of its main websites defaced, in hacker group Anonymous’s latest efforts to disrupt the communist county’s online presence. More here.
Google Launches Drive App Data Folders, Lets Developers Safely Store Configuration Files And Other Data. Google has introduced “app data folders” which are protected and can’t be seen by users within their Drive account. Other apps can’t see the files either, so there is now an added layer of security to fight off bad actors who build apps to swipe information or do other damage. More here.