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Today in Tech News Digest, Amazon plans to deliver packages via aerial drones, a Facebook friends list hack is revealed, a vulnerability in Google Nexus handsets is discovered, Black Friday numbers are released, Steam introduces user reviews, and the Kindle Fire HDX is compared favorably to the iPad Air.

Amazon Delivery Drones

When you order an item from Amazon in five years time you may get it delivered to your door within 30 minutes via aerial drone. This is the promise of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who revealed the ambitious plan during a segment on 60 Minutes on CBS.

Amazon Prime Air, as the project is called, sees Amazon aiming to deliver products using octocopters. Currently at the R&D stage, Amazon Prime Air could be used to deliver 86 percent of products (anything weighing less than five pounds) to people living within a 10-mile radius of an Amazon distribution center.

This is an intriguing idea, though a mere concept that needs a lot of finetuning before becoming a reality. There are question marks over urban flying regulations, safety concerns, and the suitability of dropping a product in unsecured location. Still, Amazon certainly has the muscle to pull this off, regardless of whether there’s actually a demand for such a service.

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Facebook Friends List Hack

It’s entirely possible for complete strangers to find out who you are friends with on Facebook thanks to a vulnerability in the social network’s ‘People You May Know’ feature. By creating a new user account and sending their target a friend request Facebook Friend Requests: Unwritten Rules & Hidden Settings [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Friend Requests: Unwritten Rules & Hidden Settings [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook is all about connecting with other people and making friends. Yet friend requests are delicate and can quickly get you in trouble with Facebook. While you probably won't get banned for inappropriate friend requests,... Read More , someone could find out everyone they have as friends, regardless of privacy settings.

This vulnerability, or simple privacy hack, was revealed in October but has recently come to mainstream attention thanks to Sophos. Facebook issued a statement to Quotium suggesting that while some friends may be revealed using this method, there is “no way of knowing if the suggestions you see represent someone’s complete friend list.” Is that a good enough response?

Google Nexus Handsets Vulnerability

There is a vulnerability inherent in Google Nexus handsets that open them up to denial-of-service attacks via SMS. At least according to Bogdan Alecu, a system administrator at Dutch company Levi9 (and reported by PC World). The issues affects the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, and Nexus 5 Google Nexus 5 Review and Giveaway Google Nexus 5 Review and Giveaway Approximately a year after Google released the Nexus 4, the company behind Android has come out with its successor -- the Nexus 5. Read More smartphones.

The vulnerability is due to the way Class 0 SMS, or Flash SMS, appears directly on the screen of the devices. If 30 or more of these SMS messages are received in quick succession it can lead to the phone rebooting itself and further problems will follow. Having previously failed to plug this hole Google is now “investigating” the vulnerability.

Billion Dollar Black Friday

The U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving Celebrating Freaky Thanksgiving In Style [Weird & Wonderful Web] Celebrating Freaky Thanksgiving In Style [Weird & Wonderful Web] The Web is a place full of content that is far too easy to miss. This column has one simple aim: to collect the best weird and wonderful content that appears on the Web. Read More last Thursday (Nov. 28), and Black Friday 2013 followed 24 hours later. This celebration of consumerism saw shoppers fighting each other over bargain-priced television sets (as seen in the video above). But the sensible shoppers stayed at home and bought goods online instead.

According to comScore, a whopping $1.2 billion was spent online on Black Friday, which is a 15 percent increase on last year’s figure. As further proof that online retailers never close for business, $766 million was spent on Thanksgiving Day itself. And with today being Cyber Monday, expect a lot more online-only deals designed to persuade you to part with your hard-earned cash.

If only drones were capable of delivering these products we don’t actually need to our doorsteps!

Steam Reviews

Steam, the digital distribution platform for PC games from Valve, has added user reviews Steam Introduces User Reviews For Improved Game Ratings Steam Introduces User Reviews For Improved Game Ratings Steam has just launched Steam Reviews, a system for users to rate the games they've played, much like Amazon's review system for products. Users can review any game that they've played. Read More to the service. Called Steam Reviews, the new system allows anyone to rate games they’ve played, with helpful reviews rising to the top thanks to upvotes. Steam 6 Useful Tools For Getting More Out Of Steam Games 6 Useful Tools For Getting More Out Of Steam Games Steam is packed with a variety of useful features you may not be aware of, but third-party developers have made utilities and websites that add even more features to Steam. From moving installed games to... Read More is already beloved by PC gamers everywhere, and this will only add to its usefulness.

Amazon Mocks Apple

And finally, Amazon has mocked Apple, and in particular its product designer Jony Ive, in a new ad for the Kindle Fire HDX. The ad, as seen above, compares the Kindle Fire HDX to Apple’s top-of-the-range iPad Air, with the whole thing having an “anything you can do, I can do better” feel to it.

While the ad is undoubtedly entertaining it’s another example of one company attacking a competitor rather than focusing on their own product, similar to what Microsoft is currently doing with its ‘Scroogled Xbox One Reviews, Winamp Loses, Google Newsstand, Scroogled Merchandise [Tech News Digest] Xbox One Reviews, Winamp Loses, Google Newsstand, Scroogled Merchandise [Tech News Digest] The Xbox One is reviewed ahead of release, Winamp gets condemned to death, Instagram arrives on Windows Phone, Google releases Apple-inspired Newsstand, a Bitcoin scam is uncovered, and Microsoft sells anti-Google Scroogled merchandise. Read More ‘ campaign. Ironically this was Apple’s way of selling its products An Apple (Ad) A Day: Top Ten Commercials You’re Likely To Remember An Apple (Ad) A Day: Top Ten Commercials You’re Likely To Remember Apple is a company that you either love or hate; there's very little middle ground. This is because you either buy into the company and its culture or reject it outright. Seeing as I don't... Read More for many years — especially with the PC Vs Mac ads — so this could be classed as Cupertino getting a taste of its own medicine.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks

  1. Robert B
    December 24, 2013 at 4:24 am

    I can see it now, people getting arrested for shooting down the Amazon drones with their trusty bird guns just to see what they are toting. In all seriousness I doubt that the FAA will ever approve the use of package delivery drones. It is probably more of a publicity stunt than anything of real substance.

  2. coal akida
    December 9, 2013 at 11:08 am

    The technology is closer than 5 years, and all those people that say I would just run over to it and smash it or shoot it down , or steal it, please keep in mind that the drone has a 360 camera that is being monitored so while its fun to say these Violent and silly things in fact they do not really legitimate. People said the same things about Speed Traps on the traffic lights that they would be destroyed before they got started, well guess what another thing they were wrong about. Both Apple and Microsoft learned that immediate satisfaction was responsible for almost a 40% increase in sales so you better believe that amazon is moving forward very very quickly with this. The only real situation would be the FCC and even that should not be an issue if limits were placed on the altitude. I for one hope to see this start very soon, I am surprised that they do not have Kick Starter Program for this to raise 10 million and make it a reality in 2 years. So here some love for the program and the business that will thrive from it. :)

  3. dann
    December 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Any one else think of the WKRP turkey drop when they heard of this drone delivery?

  4. Tom W
    December 3, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    I don't think the Amazon advert is as bad as the Scroogled campaign. You say that "it’s another example of one company attacking a competitor rather than focusing on their own product", but the advert deals exclusively with pointing out that they have been focussing on the product, and it's better (in certain ways) than what is available now.

    • Dave P
      December 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      If it focuses entirely on the Amazon product then why the mocking of Apple's advertising style and Jony Ive's voice?

      It's not as bad as the Scroogled campaign, perhaps, but it's still an attack ad IMO.

    • Tom W
      December 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      You can mock someone without attacking them. I think I would draw the line between "Our product is better" and "Their product is bad". The Amazon advert falls into the first category, whereas the Scroogled campaign and Apple's "I'm a Mac" campaign definitely fall into the latter.

  5. Matt S
    December 3, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I'd really love to see drone delivery. Getting a package in 30 minutes after ordering it would be outstanding. Bonus points if they can land on my second-story deck.

    Also, drone delivery would be hilarious on days a big video game release comes out. All the drones leaving the warehouse would look like the drones leaving the Combine tower in Half Life 2.

    • Dave P
      December 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Does the 1-day/2-day wait genuinely frustrate you? I like buying random shit but apart from takeaway food or snacks I've never felt I need it that quick.

      If it does come in Amazon is going to see a lot of extra sales as people use the service just for the hell of it!

  6. ''@gimmegadgetsuk
    December 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Amazon say delivery by drone in 5 years this would be amazing will we ever see it i doubt very much

  7. dragonmouth
    December 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Just what we need! Amazon drones getting in the way of NSA drones and vice versa. How long is it going to be before both sides arm them and we have drone dog fights over our cities?!

    How about NSA drones pulling over the Amazon drones and checking them for contraband?

    • Dave P
      December 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Actually drone dogfights sounds pretty cool. Watching them would sure beat vegetating in front of the TV.

    • dragonmouth
      December 5, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      We already have a steady rain of space junk falling on our heads. Now you want to add drone guts to all the debris? Chicken Little would defintely be right, The sky will be falling.

  8. kindleon
    December 3, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Amazon can work out the regulations and figure out how to prevent your packages from being dropped on your head from above, Bezos promised, there will be a fleet of shipping drones taking the sky.

    Read More : http://kindleon.com/detail.php?id_detail=77

    • Dave P
      December 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      I remain unconvinced.

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