This week’s technology news – 18th July 2014

IBM, Apple and exclusive Apps

In the consumer market the war for a dominant victor has been decided, at least for now, Google comfortably holds the biggest share worldwide but for the workplace it is very much up for grabs. IBM and Apple have announced a new partnership to help each other tackle corporate mobility. IBM will be focusing on the software, creating new iOS apps, porting more than 100 of its existing applications over. IBM will also be selling iPads and iPhones direct, and teaming with apple to provide AppleCare for enterprises. 

 

This all makes for a strong business case, albeit a pricey one. The investment to work on so many end-to-end mobile solutions is impressive, however with such a partnership you must wonder if this is IBM taking a stand and making the bulk of these exclusive to Apple’s ecosystem, for mobiles at least. Application support has definitely helped sway the battle for phone manufacturers before, so why not use that same approach for businesses?

 

This could potentially be dangerous territory, an iPhone doesn’t make the most sense from a cost or support perspective to all. Of course this is not the first case of platform specific exclusive apps but with the size of the players involved, it could spur similar deals with others. This highlights an important consideration when deciding or reviewing your device standard of choice. Beyond what come pre-installed, are the necessary apps you need available? And are they implemented in away employees will be able to best benefit on the go? And how will they incorporate into your own existing infrastructure?

FBI on catch up with driverless car technology

An internal report by the FBI disclosed by the Guardian reveals their fear that the evolution of driverless cars such as those being developed by Google (and Volvo as reported in our 9 May 2014 blog), could create lethal weapons.   For law enforcers, their fear is that the automated cars present a perfect opportunity for criminals to focus their attention on shooting at officers, rather than having to keep their eyes on the road as well during a chase.   One counter to this is the advantage to the emergency services whose paths could be automatically cleared ahead of them as traffic moves aside.

 

With Google’s potential to have an approved car on the road in five to seven years and the British government already clearing the way for the legality of driverless cars on UK roads with the highway code being re-written, there is clearly a split in the debate.  Nonetheless the producers themselves are keen to promote that the anticipated increased safety will ultimately result in driver error becoming eradicated.  Whether this will also stem the traditional derisory comments between passengers and their driver about the skills on display may take a little longer to change.

A case of helpful hacking

Finding out a hacker has breached your network security is a major headache for companies. In the case of Sony, who infamously were hacked back in April 2011 had to close down their public facing media network for 24 days as it was rebuilt, admitting personal and credit card information was possibly compromised for up to 77 million users account. This instance can stand as a good case study on network and infrastructure security.

 

Google is taking a more direct approach and hiring the same hacker; George Hotz to assist with their new Project Zero initiative to identify problems with software. Controversial? Sure but the above does read as an impressive resume in the aim of finding flaws in large systems and applications. The Google project is not just self-beneficial. The new Team will also investigate other company’s software. Vulnerabilities found will be placed into a public database, with information on how long companies took to plug these after being alerted.

 

Google are not the only ones in the vulnerability finding game, Both Microsoft and Facebook have ‘bug bounty’ programmes, paying hackers for find system vulnerabilities. No matter how big or small, you may be surprised what someone outside your company walls could see in, if they really wanted too. Make sure your own system has had an additional teams eyes review the security, beyond the team that implemented it. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is all that’s needed to find that overlooked flaw.

Google’s diabetes smart lens looks good

The future of wearable technology and advances in digital health have taken what appears to be a solid step forward, following the deal struck between pharmco giant Novartis and Google to produce Google’s diabetes ‘smart’ contact lens.  With 1 in 10 people in the world forecast to have diabetes by 2035, this is canny commercial advance in healthcare.  The lens, utilising a tiny wireless chip with miniaturised glucose senses embedded in the lens, will help diabetics monitor their glucose levels through the tears in the sufferer’s eyes.  The results are then communicated to a mobile phone or computer.

 

With the prototype revealed in January, Novartis believe the technology had “the potential to transform eye care”.  The enthusiasm of Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin to use technology “to help improve the quality of life for millions of people”, may still be some way off.  However, with the increase in incidence of the disease, such innovative technologies would likely prove popular to consumers, whilst enabling healthcare experts to continue their monitoring role and make a difference to the management of the disease.

google smart lens

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