Friday, December 14, 2012

Facebook for Android goes native, iOS app gets an update

After less than a month of its previous update, Facebook has launched an update for its app on both Android and iOS. The rollout started with the Android app on which Facebook has ditched the HTML5 ‘webviews’ and has instead taken to native codes to make using the app a faster experience.

The Android app is now a native one as it has been built from scratch using Android’s Software Development Kit (SDK.) Facebook engineer Phillip Fung said in a statement, "It's twice as fast when looking at photos and opening up your Timeline, and noticeably quicker to launch." The iOS app had been completely rebuilt in August to version 5.0 making it faster and easier to use, and if that is anything to go by, the Android app promises to be as fast – almost 200 percent faster.

The changes listed in the Play Store are:
  • News feed and your Timeline load faster.
  • Photos open with a tap so you can quickly like and comment
  • New Stories bar lets you see more stories without refreshing.

Facebook irks users
Facebook has updated!

Hours after launching the iOS app, Facebook for iOS too received an update. The new app promises faster loading time for the Timeline and news feed as well as the ability to choose which album to upload an image to. Facebook seems to have stepped on the gas pedal when it comes to releasing updates for apps as soon as something new comes up. It’s a part of Facebook’s new ‘mobile-first’ strategy that is making it release updates at a great speed. In an update sent out a month ago, Facebook finally added the much awaited ‘share’ button that allowed users to share posts from their phones.

In previous updates, Facebook had rolled out a photo-sync feature for both Android and iOS that allowed users to sync images clicked by their phone cameras discreetly to their Facebook accounts without posting them. This private album is not visible to your friend list. Whenever you want to share an image, just pick and post the desired image, which will then be viewable by your friends on Facebook.

The highlight of this feature is the fact that photographs are kept private once they are uploaded, and it’s up to the user to decide which photos they would like to share on their public feed. Users can also choose when and how the photos are uploaded by choosing between Wi-Fi and cellular, or they can simply choose to turn off sync.

And in an unprecedented move, Facebook took cross-platform messaging apps head-on with an update to its messenger. Facebook has opened up its messenger service to people who aren't registered with the social network, and you can now use Facebook Messenger to chat using only your name and mobile number.

Facebook updated its Android app in early December, to embrace a wider audience base by removing the necessity to be a Facebook member to use the messenger service. It is supposed it could help in enticing more non-members to use Facebook services while giving existing users a bonus by letting them chat with friends who are not on the social networking website.

The breakneck speed at which Facebook seems to be rolling out updates and new features are not just doing wonders to their popularity, it’s a win-win situation for the company and users alike! Get the app here from the Play Store for Android and here from the App Store for your iOS devices.

App gifting reactivated on iOS by Apple

It is time to be jolly indeed as Apple has returned the ability to gift apps from the App Store back to iOS 6 devices. The gift option had previously disappeared rather mysteriously from iOS 6 before the launch.

This time round, though, the share function is found in the system-wide action sheet instead of the bottom of the app listing. Searching for the gift option may be a little annoying as it is tucked into a corner of the ‘share’ option rather than be kept in plain sight. It could be why, not a lot of people have discovered this option yet.

Find & Call is the first ever iOS malware
Gifting comes back to the App Store!

The gifting option makes it the perfect launch to the countdown to Christmas with its ability to postpone sending the apps out as gifts. You can choose to send the gift ‘today’ or on any other date, upto 90 days in advance. A good move by Apple, this makes it convenient to send out more than one of the apps as gifts to multiple recipients for the holiday season.

The gift function was available in devices running iOS 5 and was supposed to be a part of iOS 6 too, but for some undisclosed reasons, Apple scrapped the plan of putting the feature in the newer version. Previously, you only needed to scroll down to find the gift button, but this time round, it has been hidden within the action sheet.

Devices running iOS 5 and lower can still gift apps from the link available on the store. iTunes gift cards and gifting via iTunes still remain popular modes of gifting.

Postponing sending out an app is also possible
Postponing sending out an app is also possible

Meanwhile, iTunes Store finally hit India in the beginning of December, making purchases possible in the Store using Indian currency. The iTunes Store is widely used and loved in the United States as it is elsewhere, with convenient services where users can purchase tracks for as cheap as 99 cents. The service took really long to come to India and had not been accessible in Indian currency for this long.

Users of devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are now able to purchase local and international music from the iTunes store. Single songs are priced anywhere between Rs 7 to Rs 15 and entire albums start from Rs 70. The store now features Bollywood and Tamil film tracks as well as international music.

Apple has also launched the iTunes Match service in the country. This service allows users to store all the music they’ve bought from sources other than iTunes to the cloud for easy  accessibility. The Match service will cost Rs 1,200 a year, a decent price to pay for music lovers who cannot bear the thought of being away from their music collection.

A great feature that the iTunes Store offers Indian consumers is the option to rent out movies instead of purchasing them. For example, the Salman Khan starrer Ek Tha Tiger in HD, which is available for purchase for Rs 290, can be rented for a one time watch for Rs 120. Non-HD movies are available for as low as Rs 190 for purchase and Rs 80 to rent.

Apple Services, Stores, and iCloud Live System Status

Just click on the link.

Samsung Smart TV Security Hole Opens Millions to Attack

Britain's hunger for internet-connected smart televisions is growing at an unprecedented rate, with 15 percent of Britons owning one, but a security hole discovered in Samsung's Smart TVs leaves them wide open to attack.
Cybercriminals could potentially take over webcams integrated or connected to your TV, as well as gaining access to any device connected to the television.
According to Ofcom, almost one-in-seven Britons own an internet-connected smart television, letting them surf the web, play media from connected USB drives, and make video calls with friends and family, but a security consultancy has found that all of these smart features can be taken over and controlled by hackers.

Malta-based researcher ReVuln has uploaded a video demonstrating how it has been able to hack into a Samsung Smart 3D TV over its internet connection and gain complete root access to the TV and any connected USB drives. Samsung is the market leader in connected smart TVs in the UK.
The vulnerability can allow criminals to search USB drives connected to your TV for sensitive financial information, usernames and passwords; install malicious software, access the TV's SecureStorage accounts, and even watch and listen to viewers using built-in webcams and microphones.
ReVuln co-founder Luigi Auriemma told IDG News Service: "If the attacker has full control of the TV, then he can do everything - like stealing accounts to the worst scenario of using the integrated webcam and microphone to 'watch' the victim.
"The vulnerability affects multiple models and generations of the devices produced by this vendor, so not just a specific model as tested in our lab at ReVuln."
This isn't the first time Auriemma has found major security flaws with televisions. Back in April he came across a vulnerability in all current versions of Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players that would allow attackers to gain remote access. He added that the flaw could be found in all Samsung devices that use remote controllers.
'Televisions are just the beginning'
Auriemma added: "We have tested different Samsung televisions of the latest generations running the latest version of their firmware. Unfortunately we can't disclose additional information but we can only say that almost all the people having a Samsung TV at home or in their offices are affected by this vulnerability."
Samsung is the smart TV market leader and sold two million units in the first three months of being on sale last year, and this is why ReVuln says it chose the Korean company's products to investigate.
"We plan to invest more time and effort on the home devices security in the near future testing the products of many other vendors and moreover finding new types of attacks and ways to use such vulnerabilities. The televisions are just the beginning."

Rumor: Next-gen iPad mini to boast high-resolution display

Apple is rumored to be focusing on upgrading the resolution of its recently released iPad mini to Retina display specifications, with the changes said to be arriving in the next generation of the small form factor tablet's next generation. 
iPad mini unboxing

Comparison of iPad pixel densities. From top: iPad without Retina, iPad with Retina, iPad mini.

The fresh rumors come from Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, which cited sources from the backlighting industry as saying Apple's next-gen iPad mini will boast a higher resolution display. It is not yet clear if the 7.9-inch tablet will feature a screen on-par with current Retina offerings, but "market observers" said a HiDPI display is likely the next step for the mini.

If the rumors are true, the next-generation tablet will move to a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, which would yield a higher pixel density than the full-size iPad's 264 ppi due to the discrepancy in screen size.

Sources also said Apple will be modifying the 9.7-inch iPad's existing LED backlighting system, going from dual light bars to one in an effort to cut weight and slim down the tablet's profile. 

Although DigiTimes has a spotty record when it comes to forecasting upcoming Apple products, the publication's sources in the display industry are a bit more reliable. In October, it correctly noted that AU Optronics would be tapped as a suppler of the current generation of iPad mini displays, while a second report said weak yields were delaying the release of the iPad mini, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and the new iMac.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Problem Resolved: Google Maps for iPhone is Here, Looks Good

Then iOS 6 arrived, with an all-Apple version of Maps that was beautifully designed but, um, extremely spotty when it came to data. Tim Cook apologized and promised Apple would improve it, but the most obvious quick fix was for Google to release an all-Google mapping app for Apple devices.It seem like iPhone users have been obsessing over the possible arrival of an iOS version of Google Maps for about a century now. Actually, it’s been less than three months. Before that, we had the iOS 5 version of Maps, an app –with Apple software and Google mapping data — which was highly satisfactory except for the lack of turn-by-turn spoken driving directions,
And now it has. Google was indeed hard at work on Google Maps for the iPhone, which is now available on the App Store. (It took me a few tries before it downloaded — an awful lot of folks are presumably trying to snag it all at once as it rolls out around the world.) For now, it’s not available in a version optimized for the iPad.
At first blush, it looks very nice indeed. The interface is sleek and attractive, with vector-based maps which load quickly and scroll smoothly; it has full directions for drivers, pedestrians and public-transportation travelers; it includes traffic and Street View and can send you over to the Google Earth app for globe-spanning exploration.
Best of all, it has Google’s map data and address-searching technology — the same painstakingly-constructed stuff which make Google Maps work so well on Android devices and in desktop browsers. Use it, and you can stop fretting about how long it’ll take Apple to clean up its Maps. (In my personal experience driving around the Bay Area, Apple Maps works well as long as it understands your address correctly — but it lags far behind Google Maps when it comes to knowing where businesses are located and interpreting addresses which are the least bit cryptic.)
During the period of Apple Maps anxiety, some observers fretted that Apple would refuse to allow Google Maps into the App Store. I didn’t: In recent times, there’s been plenty of evidence that Apple no longer declines to approve apps for competitive reasons.
And really, there was no reason for it to nix Google Maps. By bringing the app to the iPhone, Google just gave Apple’s phone a boost in its never-ending battle against handsets based on Google’s own Android. It also largely eliminated a great big obvious reason for owners of previous iPhones to steer clear of the iPhone 5.


Android Malware
The old phrase often credited to the late P.T. Barnum, “there’s a sucker born every minute,” can definitely be used to describe some aspects of the mobile industry. Assmartphone and tablet adoption continues to increase, hackers and scammers are finding new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Things aren’t expect to slow down, security firm BitDefender predicts malware will become so prevalent in 2013 that it has dubbed it “the year of mobile malware.”
The firm notes that the number of Android devices infected with malware increased by 41% in the second half of 2012 with individual malware reports increased 75%. In fact, 94.35% of unique malware samples in 2012 were found to be Android trojans. BitDefender chief security strategist Catalin Cosoi believes that these numbers will increase in the coming year. The firm also predicts that the number of app scams targeting U.S. and European users will increase, including fake apps that can collect money through premium messaging services.
It should be noted, however, that a majority of consumers will never run into malware unless they use an unofficial app marketplace, pirate apps illegally or unknowingly click on a malicious link.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WSJ: Apple testing 'several' HDTV designs with Asian manufacturers

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday became the latest publication to chime in on the much-rumored Apple television, saying the company's most recent efforts have focused on a collaboration with struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp.
Apple television

According to the Journal's supply chain sources, Apple has been testing "a few designs" for a large format HDTV, though the publication warns that the Cupertino, Calif., company may not actually build the device. 

"It isn't a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing," said one source. 

Apple has reportedly been working on prototype designs for years, but the recent collaboration with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., better known by its trade name Foxconn, and Sharp may signal that the TV is edging closer to production. 

The rumors are in line with previous reports regarding Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou's investment in Sharp's Sakai LCD plant, which netted Hon Hai a 37.6 percent stake in the facility's operator. In November, Apple too was said to have invested some $2.3 billion to keep Sharp alive as the firm is a key supplier of displays used in iDevices and other products. 

In an interview with Brian Williams of NBC's Rock Center, Apple chief executive Tim Cook stoked the "iTV" fire when he was asked about the company's next big thing. 

"When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years," Cook said. "It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that."

Hints of an Apple-built TV have been circulating for years, and reports have claimed inside knowledge that the final product will be anything from a full-fledged HDTV to a revolutionary set-top cloud-enabled cable box, but sources have yet to offer tangible evidence in support of their claims.

Working Apple I nets record-smashing $640,000 at German auction

A working example of Apple's first computer was sold by German auction house Team Breker in November for $640,000, breaking the previous Apple I record selling price of $374,500 set by Sotheby's in June. 

As noted by Classic Computing, the German sale nearly doubled the similar Apple I auction held by Sotheby's in New York, and is the second such high-profile sale for the legacy computer held in the last two months. Prior to the record-breaking sale, Christie's put a non-working Apple I motherboard on the block in the UK, but bids failed to surpass the £50,000 reserve price. 

As Apple continues to expand its share of the consumer market, the company's first products are becoming more collectible and have been fetching increasingly large auction sums. In June, a functioning version of the 1976 Apple I motherboard sold for $374,500, beating its estimated sales price of $120,000 to $180,000. Also included in that auction was an unrelated note written by Apple cofounder Steve Jobs during his time at Atari. The handwritten letter sold for $$27,500.

The most recent sales follow one of the first high-profile Apple I auctions, which managed to net$174,000 in 2010. 

Only 200 Apple I computers were made, each hand-built by Steve Wozniak, and only six of the estimated 50 intact examples are believed to be in working condition. When the product was first released in 1976, it sold for $666.66 without power supply, display, keyboard or housing.

Time Magazine names Apple's iPhone 5 its 'Gadget of the Year'

In its annual list of the best gadgets available, Time has named Apple's new iPhone 5 the top device of 2012, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display also made the cut.

The magazine's list, compiled by author Harry McCracken, praised the iPhone 5 as "one of the most artfully polished gadgets anyone's ever built." He said it outperforms other "nifty" smartphones, like Samsung's Galaxy S III.

"When it comes to melding hardware, software and services so tightly that the seams fade away, Apple still has no peer," he said.

iPhone 5

In taking first place, Apple edged out Nintendo's newly released Wii U game console. The new platform includes a controller with a tablet-style touchscreen.

Though the Wii U GamePad is tablet-like, it's not a direct competitor to Apple's iPad, as the controller is actually driven wirelessly by the Wii U console. As such, Nintendo's new GamePad accessory cannot be used as a gaming or tablet-style device on the go.

Also on Time's list is Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, taking sixth place. McCracken called Apple's top-of-the-line notebook a "joy to use."

The full list of Time's 'Top 10 Gadgets' of 2012 is included below:
  • 1. Apple iPhone 5
  • 2. Nintendo Wii U
  • 3. Sony Cyber-shot RX100
  • 4. Raspberry Pi Model B
  • 5. Lytro
  • 6. Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
  • 7. Microsoft Surface with Windows RT
  • 8. Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • 9. Nest
  • 10. Simple.TV             

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Τα έξυπνα κινητά στο έλεος των χάκερς

Τα έξυπνα κινητά στο έλεος των χάκερς

Στο έλεος των χάκερ βρίσκονται οι χρήστες smartphones που δεν λαμβάνουν τα απαραίτητα μέτρα ασφαλείας προκειμένου να θωρακίσουν τη συσκευή τους απέναντι στους ηλεκτρονικούς κινδύνους. Τον τελευταίο χρόνο οι κυβερνοεπιθέσεις στα έξυπνα κινητά τηλέφωνα έχουν εκτοξευθεί κατακόρυφα.
Οι επιτήδειοι εγκαθιστούν ιούς στα τηλέφωνα, εκμεταλλευόμενοι κενά στην ασφάλεια των συσκευών όταν οι κάτοχοί τους σερφάρουν στο Ιντερνετ ή χρησιμοποιούν εφαρμογές (apps).
Από τη στιγμή που ο ιός μολύνει το κινητό, οι κυβερνοεγκληματίες αποκτούν πρόσβαση στα δεδομένα του χρήστη (μηνύματα, επαφές, κωδικοί πρόσβασης κ.ά.) και, σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις, στον τραπεζικό του λογαριασμό.
Αυτό συνέβη στην επιχείρηση Eurograbber, οι εγκέφαλοι της οποίας κατάφεραν να βάλουν χέρι στους λογαριασμούς τουλάχιστον 30.000 πελατών υπηρεσιών online banking.
Οι χάκερ εγκατέστησαν στις συσκευές των ανυποψίαστων χρηστών έναν τύπο ιού ο οποίος είναι γνωστός ως «δούρειος ίππος» (trojan horse) και μεταδίδεται από τον υπολογιστή του θύματος στο κινητό του τηλέφωνο. Οι δούρειοι ίπποι εισδύουν στους υπολογιστές χωρίς να γίνονται αντιληπτοί και κλέβουν τα προσωπικά δεδομένα των χρηστών.
Μάλιστα, υπάρχουν ιοί που έχουν δημιουργηθεί ειδικά για να προσβάλλουν τις υπηρεσίες online banking - που είναι ιδιαίτερα δημοφιλείς και στην Ελλάδα - μέσω των οποίων ο χρήστης κάνει τραπεζικές συναλλαγές από τον υπολογιστή ή από το κινητό του.
Ο πιο γνωστός δούρειος ίππος αυτού του είδους είναι ο ZitMo (στα ελληνικά αποδίδεται ως «Ο Δίας στο Κινητό»), ο οποίος παραβιάζει την ηλεκτρονική επικοινωνία του πελάτη με την τράπεζά του, υποκλέπτει τους κωδικούς χρήσης της υπηρεσίας και αποκτά πρόσβαση στον τραπεζικό του λογαριασμό. Ο επίμαχος ιός προσβάλλει τηλέφωνα Android και BlackBerry.
ΠΩΣ ΓΙΝΕΤΑΙ Η ΑΠΑΤΗ. Οι επιτήδειοι αντλούν πληροφορίες από το Ιντερνετ (ψάχνοντας σε μηχανές αναζήτησης, κοινωνικά δίκτυα και ιστοτόπους) και συλλέγουν ονόματα και ηλεκτρονικές διευθύνσεις ανθρώπων οι οποίοι χρησιμοποιούν διαδικτυακές τραπεζικές υπηρεσίες.
Στη συνέχεια τους αποστέλλουν email τα οποία δήθεν προέρχονται από την τράπεζα με την οποία συναλλάσσονται, ζητώντας τους να κάνουν κλικ σε έναν σύνδεσμο ή να ανοίξουν ένα συνημμένο αρχείο μέσω του οποίου εγκαθίσταται ο ιός.
Οταν ο πελάτης επιχειρήσει να συνδεθεί με τον τραπεζικό του λογαριασμό από τη - μολυσμένη πλέον - συσκευή του, ο δούρειος ίππος τον ενημερώνει ότι πρέπει να κάνει μια «αναβάθμιση ασφαλείας» στην εφαρμογή online banking, διαδικασία που απαιτεί την εισαγωγή του αριθμού τηλεφώνου του.
Οι επιτήδειοι στέλνουν στο κινητό του θύματος ένα SMS το οποίο περιέχει έναν δεύτερο σύνδεσμο, καλώντας τον χρήστη να μεταβεί σε αυτόν προκειμένου να ολοκληρώσει τη διαδικασία αναβάθμισης. Τη στιγμή που ο χρήστης κάνει κλικ στον σύνδεσμο, εγκαθίσταται ένας δεύτερος δούρειος ίππος στο τηλέφωνό του.
Την επόμενη φορά που θα μπει στην εφαρμογή online banking, οι επιτήδειοι θα αποκτήσουν πρόσβαση στον τραπεζικό του λογαριασμό, δίνοντας εντολή μεταφοράς χρημάτων στους δικούς τους λογαριασμούς.
Μετά την ολοκλήρωση της συναλλαγής, η τράπεζα στέλνει στο (μολυσμένο) κινητό του πελάτη ένα SMS το οποίο περιέχει τον μοναδικό Αριθμό Αυθεντικότητας Συναλλαγής (ΤΑΝ), ο οποίος αντικαθιστά την υπογραφή του.
Οι επιτήδειοι υποκλέπτουν τον αριθμό και τον εισάγουν στην εφαρμογή της τράπεζας. Η παράνομη μεταφορά χρημάτων ολοκληρώνεται χωρίς το θύμα να αντιληφθεί το παραμικρό.
Σήκωσαν 36 εκατ. ευρώ με ένα κλικ
Συναγερμός στις υπηρεσίες ασφαλείας των ευρωπαϊκών χρηματοπιστωτικών ιδρυμάτων έχει σημάνει μετά την εξάπλωση ενός νέου ιού με το όνομα Eurograbber (Ευρωάρπαγας), ο οποίος χτυπά ηλεκτρονικούς υπολογιστές και έξυπνα κινητά τηλέφωνα και επιτρέπει σε επιτήδειους να αποκτούν πρόσβαση σε τραπεζικούς λογαριασμούς αποσπώντας μεγάλα χρηματικά ποσά.
Ο Eurograbber επέτρεψε στους χάκερ να κλέψουν 36 εκατ. ευρώ από 30 χρηματοπιστωτικά ιδρύματα σε όλη την Ευρώπη, πλήττοντας περισσότερους από 30.000 πελάτες τους στην Ιταλία, στη Γερμανία, στην Ισπανία και στην Ολλανδία, οι οποίοι κάνουν ηλεκτρονικά τις τραπεζικές τους συναλλαγές (online banking).
Η παράνομη μεταφορά χρημάτων από τους λογαριασμούς των πελατών στους λογαριασμούς των χάκερ αφορούσε ποσά από 500 έως 250.000 ευρώ τη φορά, σύμφωνα με τους «Φαϊνάνσιαλ Τάιμς».
«Τα κινητά που έγιναν στόχοι ήταν κοινά τηλέφωνα. Οι δράστες στοχοποίησαν πολύ γνωστές τράπεζες», δήλωσε ο Ντάρελ Μπάρκεϊ, στέλεχος της εταιρείας λογισμικού ασφαλείας Check Point.
Πρόκειται για τη δεύτερη μεγάλη επίθεση εναντίον τραπεζικών συστημάτων μέσω Διαδικτύου που σημειώνεται εφέτος. Είχε προηγηθεί η επιχείρηση High Roller, κατά την οποία χάκερ κατάφεραν να μεταφέρουν σε άλλους λογαριασμούς τουλάχιστον 60 εκατ. δολάρια από ισάριθμες τράπεζες.

Apple patents method for intelligent caller ID image selection

In its quest to protect every facet of iOS and the products it powers, Apple has won a patent for the method in which pictures are assigned to incoming calls, but offers a twist to the common feature seen in most cellular devices since the introduction of the camera phone. 
Caller ID

Illustration of caller ID image with example caller "Pat." | Source: USPTO

The U.S. patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,331,916 for "Image selection for an incoming call." At first glance, the patent appears to be simply covering the method with which a device assigns a picture to a contact, but on closer inspection the IP calls for a more advanced system that randomizes and selects images intelligently based on predetermined criteria. 

According to the patent language, the system relies on filters to parse out relevant images of a contact associated with a certain caller ID. Any incoming telecommunication protocol can be used to determine who the caller is, for example text messages are supported. 

Pulling from a pool of images, stored on-board the receiving device or on an off-site server, the system matches the caller ID information with pictures associated with the caller. For example, upon detection, a caller's picture may be randomly selected from the image pool based on a weighting system that takes into account how many times a certain image has been. Going further, the pictures may have associated star ratings that can be used to refine the filter even further.

The method also allows for image selection based on a set of criteria, such as location, date and other rules. For example, if a call is found to be originating from San Francisco, the system will search the image pool for pictures of the caller taken in that city. Alternately, if the call originated from the home town of the caller, but that person is currently on a trip to New York, pictures of previous trips to New York will be displayed. 


Flowchart of image selection system.

Time is also taken into consideration as an image taken during the day or night can be selected depending on what time it is in the call's originating location. 

Finally, the system also supports video snippets to be played in place of pictures when appropriate.

The '916 patent was first filed in 2010, with Timothy B. Martin and Gregory Charles Lindley credited as its inventors.

Twitter takes on Instagram with new photo filters

Updated versions of the company's iOS and Android apps allow for photo editing inside Twitter.
Twitter's new photo filters.
Twitter's new photo filters.
(Credit: Twitter)
Twitter unveiled its much talked-about photo filters today, giving users of its iOS and Androidapps a way to edit their pictures and share them directly from their smartphones.
The move, which comes just days after Facebook-owned Instagram blocked its photos from being displayed properly inside the Twitter timeline, sets up a new rivalry between two social networks eager to capture as many of their users' photos as possible.
The new features are available in updated versions of the iOS and Android apps. The big changes, taken from Twitter's blog post on the subject:
  • Filters. Apply one of eight filters, ranging from black & white to vintage, to add a new look and feel to your photos.
  • Take a bird's-eye view. See how each filter would affect your photo in a single grid view, or swipe through looks to compare your options. 
  • Frame the action. Crop and pinch to zoom in order to focus attention. 
  • Auto-enhance. Make your photos pop with balanced light and colors by tapping the wand.
Twitter also put together a video demonstrating how the new features work.