So long, CES 2013 – the world’s largest consumer electronics show has now come and gone. And with so much media attention surrounding it, you probably will have heard more than you ever wanted to about “bigger televisions, smarter watches, thinner humans, bendy phones and pointy computers” (and let’s not forget the i-Potty, even though we might want to). But as The Guardian newspaper’s Rory Carroll pointed out, the event contained “no major surprises” and that’s a pity, because with so many CES-related reports in the news, it was easy to miss other stories happening elsewhere. So here are some of what I think should be considered as the non-CES headlines of last week:
Facebook joining the mVoIP game
If you ask me, social networks have the ability to change the way we communicate with voice. I’ve already made a point of this when I compared Facebook to Skype on VentureBeat:
“Put simply: How much will Skype be hurting when Facebook comes up with its own video chat service, based on WebRTC?”
And while Facebook hasn’t offered a video chat service (yet), last week we found out that it is trying to go that route with a mobile VoIP offering that is currently being tested in Canada.
Carriers find the way to developers’ hearts
Carriers are very aware of the significance of the API, even though they haven’t managed to do much about it. Ask around and you’ll find a lot of people who feel that most of these efforts by carriers to work with and foster developer communities haven’t worked out that well yet. One carrier appears to have nailed it though: just before CES started, AT&T hosted the AT&T Developer Hackathon, and from the feedback on the blogosphere, it seems that AT&T found the right ingredients for the receipt of a carrier developer community. One example was an “impressed” Alan Quayle, describing the (470 attendee,74 apps created) event as:
“The best by far of any Telco developer events I’ve attended”
Expect other carriers to follow suit.
Nokia is reading your secured browsing content
Some mobile browsers try to improve on your browsing experience by using dedicated proxy servers to compress data for faster browsing and less data usage. But as security researcher Gaurang Pandya just discovered (and Nokia subsequently has confirmed) ,Nokia is not only applying this compression to public content, but it’s also applying it to the encrypted content you are browsing online (and assuming to be secure). As GigaOm’s David Meyer explains, Nokia’s Xpress Browser is decrypting the data that flows through HTTPS connections from your phone, giving Nokia access to clear text information which could include your user credentials to social networking and banking sites, credit card information, or anything that is sensitive in nature. Nokia however is insisting that there’s no need for users to panic because it would never access customers’ encrypted data.
This raises several issues for me:
* How should web proxies work for mobile phones? There are already a few being used such as the Opera or Kindle Fire tablet browsers, and they will probably become the norm – but there’s no standardization or even best practices for them.
* Mobile browsing is different than desktop browsing in a lot of aspects, and that includes how privacy is being safeguarded.
* What are the implications for net neutrality? (Different phones and browsers have different browsing experiences because someone is providing a service to speed things up).
* And is there such a thing as a secure connection online?
Not sure I know the answers, but I do think privacy will end up being discussed much more this year than most of the innovations launched at CES.
BLOGGER: TSAHI LEVENT-LEVI