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Amazon removes Fire OS encryption, Apple supports users through Twitter, Amazon adds new devices to the Echo family, the founder of Oculus VR takes Apple to task, and Morgan Freeman thinks selfie sticks are dumb.
Amazon Deprecates Encryption Support
ZOMG: encryption in Amazon devices is gone! They removed it! I have no idea what it was used for but this is HORRIBLE!?
— Hoff (@Beaker) March 3, 2016
As you’re no doubt aware by now, Apple is currently fighting the good fight by refusing to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) a backdoor into the iPhone. Most tech companies have come out in support of Apple, realizing that if the Feds succeed they could be next. However, while all of this has been going on, Amazon has been weakening the security of its customers.
This is because Amazon has actually stopped supporting device encryption on its Fire OS devices, with Fire OS 5 being the update which kills it. This means that anyone who wants to retain device encryption on their Amazon tablet needs to resist updating. Which is a security risk in its own right.
Amazon has issued a statement saying:
“In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren’t using. All Fire tablets’ communication with Amazon’s cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption.”
What this essentially means is that while communication sent between your device and Amazon are secure, any files stored on the device itself are not. Which, as multiple complaints on the Amazon support forums make clear, means sensitive data such as corporate emails can no longer be stored on an Amazon Fire tablet.
While the Apple and Amazon situations aren’t linked, they do reveal real differences between how the two companies regarding the security of your data.
Apple Brings Support to Twitter
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 3, 2016
Apple has launched an official Apple Support Twitter account. This account, @AppleSupport, will offer tips, tricks, and customer service, all in 140 characters or less. One of the first tweets sent out offered a step-by-step guide to turning lists into checklists in the iPhone Notes app. However, the account is also responding directly to users concerning complaints and queries.
Apple has been somewhat cagey about embracing social media, preferring to channel people through to its official support forums or bricks-and-mortar Apple Stores. The company does have accounts set up for various products and services, and executives such as Tim Cook tweet regularly. However, rather bizarrely, @Apple has never tweeted, and doesn’t even have a profile picture.
Amazon Launches New Tap and Dot
Buoyed by the success of the Amazon Echo — which we reviewed in June 2015 — Amazon has launched two new devices belonging to the same family. Amazon Tap is a portable version of the Echo, while the Echo Dot is a smaller sibling which is designed to let you hook your own speaker up to it.
The Amazon Tap is a Bluetooth speaker with WiFi and Alexa (Amazon’s voice-activated personal assistant) built into it. The name derives from the fact you have to tap the microphone button to issue voice commands to Alexa. The Tap weighs in at 470 grams, and will cost $130 when released later this month.
The Amazon Echo Dot is so-called because of its small stature, being about the same size and shape as a hockey puck. The Dot is a strange beast, as it’s essentially the same as a full-sized Echo, just with limitations in terms of the area it can control. Still, you can hook your own speaker up to it, and it’s priced at just $90. Unfortunately, you can only order one using an Echo or Fire TV.
Why Oculus Rift Won’t Work on Macs
If you’re a Mac owner annoyed at Oculus VR for refusing to support Apple’s computers then you only have one entity to blame… Apple. That’s at least according to Palmer Luckey, founder and CEO of Oculus, who recently addressed the issue in an interview with ShackNews.
Asked whether the Oculus Rift will ever support Apple, Luckey said:
“That is up to Apple and if they ever release a good computer we will do it. It just boils down to the fact that Apple doesn’t prioritize high-end GPUs. You can buy a $6,000 Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700, and it still doesn’t match our recommended spec.”
Eesh, that’s got to burn. But Luckey backs up his claims by insisting Apple lost all hope of Oculus support when it stopped prioritizing high-end GPUs. Apple has aimed its computers at professionals and the applications they use, not at gamers. And this is the result of that decision.
Morgan Freeman Hates Selfie Sticks
And finally, all right-thinking people dislike selfie sticks, seeing them for what they are… tools to help the vacuous display their vanity for all the world to see. And now we know Morgan Freeman is with us, as he clearly isn’t a fan of selfie sticks and the dumbos who use them.
We know because Jimmy Kimmel asked Freeman to use his rousing voiceover voice to narrate people randomly walking down the street. And the first person to come along was using a selfie stick. As was the second. Because that’s what tourists do when they’re in Hollywood. Much to Freeman’s annoyance.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
How do you feel about Amazon dropping Fire OS encryption support? Will you be following Apple Support on Twitter? Are you interested in either the Amazon Tap or Amazon Dot? Is Palmer Luckey talking nonsense? Do you agree with Morgan Freeman that selfie sticks are dumb?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.
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