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
Amazon R&D is also working on buildings that you can drive to to pick up things in 10 minutes or less
— Ashlee Vance (@valleyhack) December 2, 2013
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.
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, 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 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 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, the digital distribution platform for PC games from Valve, has added user reviews 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 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‘ campaign. Ironically this was Apple’s way of selling its products for many years — especially with the PC Vs Mac ads — so this could be classed as Cupertino getting a taste of its own medicine.