This year’s most captivating games either pushed the envelope with state-of-the-art graphics and rich narratives or perfected already proven formulas for touch-based devices. The best titles also bridged the gap between casual and hardcore gamers.
Some developers (Phosphor Games and Vivid Games, most notably) went for realistic 3D graphics that often packed in hours of story-based gameplay similar to console titles. Others like Rovio and RocketCat Games, stuck to churning out repetitive, casual gaming experiences that kept us fully engaged. All being equal, these disparate approaches produced truly riveting games that took full advantage of the features and processing capabilities of mobile devices.
The developers with games in this list should be very proud of their creations. Despite certain genres being oversaturated (such as pick up and play or side-scrolling games) and the unpopular monetization trend of forcing customers to pay for content through in-app purchases, these geniuses managed to make games that are infinitely addictive and rewarding. The picks listed below were curated by Appolicious advisors (most notably gaming guru Andrew Koziara) and members of our user community.
We also have a separate list of the best iOS and Android apps of 2012.
Horn (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android $6.99)
The character Horn is a young blacksmith’s apprentice who must defeat giant monsters who are villagers transformed by a horrible curse. Using a melee combat system similar to Infinity Blade, but with major gameplay enhancements like using a crossbow and puzzle-solving, the developers on the Phosphor Games team were truly pensive during Horn’s development. Horn is the best game of 2012 because it combines an imaginative narrative with top-of-the-line graphics, proving that mobile games with endearing stories can be beautiful despite the limitations of iOS devices. Horn appeals to gamers young and old, and is a great title that will enlighten you as to just what your smartphone or tablet is capable of handling. We should note that Horn does suffer a bit on earlier generation Android devices and operating systems.
ARC Squadron (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad free – limited time only)
ARC Squadron is a rail shooter game that combines the retro experience of playing an old Nintendo 64 console game with state-of-the-art graphics geared specifically to touchscreen devices. Powered by the Unreal Engine 3 development toolkit, ARC Squadron has players try their hands (and fingers) in intergalactic warfare. Each area of the galaxy involves a handful of levels with bonus challenge levels along the way, culminating in an epic boss fight. ARC Squadron is very arcade in nature, as scores in each level directly translate into currency that lets players upgrade and purchase new ships, weapons, and skins. Somehow ARC Squadron manages to ape the gameplay of classic console titles like Star Fox 64, yet feel fresh in a mobile media environment.
Angry Birds Star Wars (iPhone, iPod touch 99 cents, iPad $2.99, Android smartphones free, Android tablets $2.99)
Star Wars merchandising, both before and after the Disney acquisition, has never felt so good. The newest edition to the Angry Birds family is just plain awesome. Old birds are re-dressed as Luke, Han, Obi-Wan, Chewie, and the rest. The birds also get all new powers, including shooting blasters and swinging light sabers. The game is a brilliant mix of the old school Angry Birds mechanics and the gravity mechanics of Angry Birds Space (also a worthy addition to any “best of 2012” list). Add all the Star Wars references and visuals (from the original trilogy, only) and you have a game that is out of this world.
Rayman Jungle Run (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android $2.99)
Apple named this Ubisoft title the 2012 game of the year, and for good reason. Many of us were totally praising this game before it was cool. Based on the utterly brilliant Rayman: Origins (a console-based platformer to rival even Mario), this auto-scrolling runner manages to keep all the creativity and bizarre charm of its predecessor, but with bite-sized levels and half of the controls removed. Seriously though, Ubisoft stripped ‘Origins’ down to its core for this simple game, but it’s just as fun and the visuals are just as jaw-droppingly crisp and vibrant as ever. It’s a bit more challenging than other runners, but do not skip this one.
LetterPress – Word Game (iPhone, iPad free)
Move over, Words With Friends. Developed by atebits, Letterpress is an inventive multiplayer word game that mixes the strategies of Boggle and Chess. The virtual board of this game is covered in red and blue tiles, each representing you or your opponent. The objective is pretty basic: change as many tiles as possible to match your color while spelling words. Games end when tiles run out. It helps to both have a high letter count and know when to play defensively, blocking off letters by placing your tiles around them. LetterPress supports asynchronous multiplayer through Game Center, so you can face off against as many players as you desire from all over the world at the same time.
Beat Sneak Bandit (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad $2.99)
Beat Sneak Bandit elegantly combines rhythm games (in which players tap along to the beat of the music playing in the game), with puzzle gameplay and stealth action. You’ll need to tap to the beat to make the Beat Sneak Bandit character take his sneaky steps, and time your way through the game’s obstacles and traps. The game is really a clever take on touchscreen games, has a great art style and musical selection, and is easy to play while challenging to master.
Punch Quest (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) (Free)
Punch Quest is an impressive side-scrolling, endless running game where the main objective is to meet monstrous obstacles head-on with a barrage of uppercuts and jabs. Enemies include feeble skeletons, shield-wielding orcs, fire-breathing imps, and spellcasting wraiths. During the game your fully-customizable protagonist collects coins called “punchos” for buying skills, super moves, boosts, and upgrades. There are even bonus levels where your warrior rides a dinosaur that shoots lasers out of its mouth or transforms into a cartwheeling gnome! RocketCat Games, one of the most reliably talented and awesome developers in the iOS gaming space, are is responsible for the Hook Champ games and the excellent Mage Gauntlet.
Real Boxing (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, iPad mini) $4.99
Real Boxing, developed by Vivid Games, delivers a one-two punch of well-designed gesture controls for a touchscreen combined with beautiful, console-quality graphics. Your device’s camera catches punch gestures using the V-Motion Gesture Control System. The game features a surprisingly effective Career Mode, where you develop, train, and customize your prizefighter. You’ll be hard-pressed to find flaws with this game as you build up your fighter and even take him online into real-time multiplayer fights over Game Center.
Jetpack Joyride (Android) Free
Jetpack Joyride, released by Halfbrick Studios on Android in September, is the endless running game closest to perfection. Although it launched and rocketed to the top of the charts on iOS in 2011, the game’s presence in the Android Market was substantial. In Jetpack Joyride you play as the fiery and uber-manly Barry Steakfries who swipes a top-secret machine gun-powered jetpack from a laboratory only to be met by thousands of obstacles including electric pillars, rockets, and terrified scientists. Your goal is to collect coins and get as far as you can before dying. The game has an exceptional sense of humor and an impressive array of interchangeable costumes, jetpacks, power-ups, and vehicles. What sets Jetpack Joyride apart is that behind its simple formula, there’s a hugely addictive mission/challenge system which pushes you to play again and again. The difficulty and learning curve are set perfectly so even casual gamers will never feel overwhelmed.
The Room (iPad, iPad mini) $1.99
With The Room, Fireproof Games delivered the most intriguing puzzle game of the year. Mind-bending puzzles, a surreal atmosphere, and delectable 3D graphics in stunning HD quality make The Room a necessary app for every gamer who owns an iPad 2 or higher. The game works ostensibly as a mystery that you solve using a single finger control scheme through puzzles contained within ornate boxes. It is definitely the most realistic looking game released in 2012, even more so than titles from the Zen Bound series. The Room was designed to be a pick up and play game, and although it is rated 9+ for Infrequent Horror/Fear Themes, it is the sort of game you can play with your family if they’re cool enough and can handle the suspense.
How to Install Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean on Galaxy Nexus I9250 with JPO40D Xylon Custom ROM
Step 2 - Connect and mount your Galaxy Nexus USB mass storage on your computer with original USB cable.
Step 3 - Copy and paste the Xylon ROM and Google Apps zip files to the root folder on your phone’s SD card.
Step 4 - Then power off your phone and boot into Bootloader mode.
Step 5 - Switch on the phone while pressing and holding Volume Up, Volume Down and Power buttons together until the device enters Bootloader mode
Step 6 - Follow the navigational instructions on screen. Now, select Bootloader and progress into Recovery.
Step 7 - In ClockworkMod recovery (CWM), wipe data first. Then navigate to Flash zip from SD card option and hit Power button to select it.
Step 8 - Tap the Power button again and click Choose zip from sdcard.
Step 9 - Use volume keys to navigate to Xylon ROM zip file and select it by tapping Power button. Confirm the ROM installation on next screen and the installation procedure will begin.
NOTE: Repeat this step for installing Google Apps as well.
Step 10 - Once Google Apps is installed, hit Go Back and reboot the phone by tapping Reboot System Now in the Recovery Menu. The phone will reboot and the first boot might take about 5 minutes to complete. So, leave it alone.
Android 4.2.1 JPO40D Xylon custom Jelly Bean ROM is now installed on your Galaxy Nexus I9250. Go to Settings About Phone to verify the firmware version installed.
[Source: Team Android]
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Nexus Financial Services has been active in Bahrain since 2006, and is firmly established as one of the largest and most competent companies of its kind in the country.
Able to tap into Nexus Group’s more than two decade experience across the GCC, the company offers consumers and business of every stripe a wide range of cover and products from Bahraini, regional and international insurance providers.
“Bahrain is a significant market for Nexus, and we are delighted that our expansion and influence continues to spread,” said Emanuel Lantzos, General Manager, Nexus Financial Services. “We are moving our new offices to better service our customers, and to continue recruiting the best possible employees, including a particular focus on identifying and training talented Bahraini nationals.”
Earlier this year, Nexus Financial Services announced that it was stepping up its recruitment of Bahraini talent to boost the local financial services sector, as well as extend a suite of much-needed insurance-based investment products such as retirement funding and education fee planning across the kingdom.
The move is set to give Bahrainis better choice, as the current trend is to seek advice from banks and stand-alone insurance providers that often sell solutions that are not always tailored to individual needs.
Nexus Group is the largest and one of the most respected independent financial firms of its kind in the GCC region.
Following more than five years of consistent double-digit growth, the company recently announced at its AGM that it expects 2013 revenue to jump by an average of 25% across its core businesses – life, investment, pension, and general insurance.
Earlier this year, Nexus announced plans to enter the competitive and highly-regulated Saudi and Kuwaiti markets. The company currently operates offices in Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Doha, Dubai, and Manama.
In October, Nexus Insurance Brokers scooped the coveted Personal Lines Insurance Broker of the Year title at the 2012 Insurex Awards. The company has now won the award four times in the past six years.
The amount of malware targeting Android is still growing fast, and Google has promised to crack down. Turns out, that’s not going so well.
Back in February of this year, Google announced it was hardening its stance on Android security, unveiling an app-scanner (codenamed Bouncer) to weed out malware uploaded to Android Market (now Google Play) through automatic scanning. Since then, Google has taken more steps to protect Android users: it acquired VirusTotal back in September and in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean introduced an optional app verification feature that enables users to identify dangerous and potentially-dangerous apps on their devices, even if they downloaded them from the Web or got them from an app store other than Google Play.
How have Google’s efforts to combat Android malware been working out? Perhaps not so well. Security researchers were quickly able to analyze how Bouncer operated and find easy ways to circumvent Google Play’s automated scanning — techniques publicly available now to malware authors if they hadn’t managed to think of them on their own. Further, Xuxian Jiang of North Carolina State University has published an assessment of Jelly Bean’s app verification capability. The results? Google’s app verification service identified just over 15 percent of malware samples thrown at it from the Android Malware Genome Project
What do these findings mean? Do Android users need to immediately run out and install antivirus and security software on their devices? Or do only people who engage in “risky” behavior with their phones or tablets need to be worried?
Looking at raw numbers, it’s pretty easy to Android malware is a serious problem. According to security firm TrustGo (PDF infographic) concluded in October that malware and viruses targeting Android had increased 580 percent year-on-year. Back in February, Juniper Networks reported an even scarier number: a 3,325 percent increase in malware targeting Android. (They made a keen little infographic too.)
Are these signs of Android Armageddon? Not exactly — or, at least, not yet. Those figures include not just apps found on Google’s own app store in Google Play, but also apps available for download out in the wilder-and-woolier world of third party app marketplaces. While Apple’s iOS (and now Microsoft’s Windows RT) operate in a walled garden where the parent companies are the only source for applications (unless owners jailbreak their devices), Google’s more-open Android platform actually encourages third party marketplaces. Probably the best-known (and best run) is Amazon’a Appstore, but there are hundreds of other Android marketplaces around the world. Many of these provide a localized experience for users: after all, if you don’t speak English, Google Play can be a daunting experience. This is particularly true in China, where not only do Chinese-language app marketplaces abound, but Google Play itself offers no paid apps due to Google’s very limited presence in the Chinese market. Android users in China who want premium apps are almost certainly going to go to third party marketplaces. Some of them are managed responsibly and proactively…others, not so much.
Even the comparatively sanitized world of Google Play isn’t entirely safe. In it’s October report, TrustGo found there were 175 million downloads of “high risk” apps from the Top 500 apps in Google Play alone. For TrustGo, high risk apps are separate from outright “malicious” apps: where malicious apps outright try to harm users or their devices, high risk apps are things that can potentially compromise a user’s privacy, steal data, make fraudulent transactions, track usage and location, etc. In many cases, high risk apps are programs that are attempting to monetize themselves using insecure ad networks: that means data like phone numbers and device IDs are being sold (or snooped) by third parties, meaning users get targeted with more spam, malware, and even telemarketing calls. Other high risk apps do things like replace the browser home page with their own search page, add their own icons to users home screens, and more.
For well over a year, Google has been taking serious steps to try to reduce malware in Google Play, and the new app verification feature in Jelly Bean is intended to give users a way to confirm whether an app is legit regardless of whether they get it from Google Play or from other sources.
But so far, Google efforts don’t seem to have made a tremendous difference. Worse, the new app verification feature could lead Android users to have a false sense of security about their apps.
Bouncer — Google conducts automated scans of apps uploaded to Google Play (and developer accounts) using Bouncer, flagging those found to contain known malware. Bouncer works by essentially loading up Android apps in a software emulator using Google’s cloud infrastructure: basically, the app thinks its running on an Android device, but it’s really just running inside a program that behaves like an Android device. Google lets the app do its thing for a few minutes, watching its behavior, and if it doesn’t see anything suspicious, gives the app a pass. Back when Google unveiled Bouncer in February, the company claimed it had already been running quietly for some time and was responsible for a 40 percent drop in the number of possibly-dangerous programs available on Google Play.
Sounds great, right? Security researchers were quickly able to ferret out a lot of interesting behaviors of Bouncer — many of which could be used to let malware slip through its fingers. For instance, Bouncer’s analysis is purely dynamic: it only flags apps that misbehave during the five-or-so minutes Google runs the app in the emulator. If an app is subtle and just waits for a while before engaging in risky behavior, it could get a pass. Similarly, Bouncer seems to use a very limited set of contacts, pictures, and other fake personal information, making it easy for malware authors to special-case those items and avoid trying to steal them. Bouncer does let the apps it’s testing connect out to the Internet; however, those connections all come from IP ranges easily identified as Google, making it simple for malware developers to let remote Web services behave differently for Bouncer than they would for an Android device in the wild. Google has been updating Bouncer to work around some of these issues, but the fact remains that malware that delays its attacks long enough to evade Bouncer’s scrutiny will probably still pass muster. Similarly, apps that have totally innocuous installers but then download malware via update mechanisms can bypass Bouncer entirely.
App Verification — Android 4.2 Jelly Bean includes an app verification service as part of the Google Play app. The service can be used with apps obtained from any source, but users must have Google Play installed. Once app verification is activated (in Settings Security Verify apps) the service sends information to Google, including the app’s name, URL, and a probably-unique signature string (a checksum) representing a scan of the app’s files. Google then compares that information to data in its records about known malware apps: if there’s a problem, Android will alert users the app is either “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous:” potentially dangerous apps present a warning, and users can choose whether or not to proceed with the installation. Dangerous apps are blocked outright.
This sounds like another positive step for Android security, right? It could be, but so far that doesn’t seem to be the case. North Carolina University’s Xuxian Jiang threw some 1,260 samples of Android malware (representing 49 different “families”) from the Android Malware Genome Project at Google’s App verification service to see how it did. The result? App verification detected just 193 of them, or a bit over 15 percent of the total. Right now, it appears that Android users relying on Jelly Bean’s app verification to ensure their safety may mainly be receiving a false sense of security.
Google’s app verification will likely improve significantly in time. In September, Google acquired security software developer VirusTotal for an undisclosed amount, and VirusTotal’s technology has apparently not yet been integrated into Google’s app verification. When Jiang randomly chose one example from each of those 49 Android malware families, Google’s app verification service flagged 10 of them, but ten representative antivirus services in VirusTotal flagged anywhere from 29 to 49 (yup, 100 percent) of the samples.
Even if (when?) Google integrates VirusTotal technology into its app verification service, it will always be playing catch-up to malware authors, though. Even now, Android malware developers are known to mutate and repackage their malware so it can have different checksum values and thus avoid detection. Google’s app verification service also does no on-board scanning or analysis of app behavior. If an app doesn’t get flagged right away, it’s never going to get flagged later.
To be sure, the scale of the Android malware problem has nowhere near the scale of, say, the Windows malware problem. TrustGo tallied up nearly 29,000 different Android malware samples in September 2012 — compare that figure to the over 75 million unique malware signatures firms like McAfee are tracking for Windows. Windows’ total installed base is larger than Android, and while Android is catching up fast it’s still a relatively young platform without the sheer volume of malware targeting something like Windows. Put another way: TrustGo emphasized that 175 million high risk apps had been downloaded from Google’s Top 500 apps in October 2012; however, when The Next Web’s Emil Protalinski concluded just 23 of those 500 were problematic.
How can users protect themselves?
Stay up to date — The best way to make sure you have the most secure version of Android is to apply operating system updates as soon as you can. Unfortunately, the fragmentation of the Android platform makes this impossible for many users, since mobile carriers have been very slow to roll out patches and fixes. More frustrating, some manufacturers stop offering updates for their devices long before their useful lifespans are over, meaning the only way for many customers to get newer, more-secure versions of Android is to get a new device.
How bad is it? Back in September data collected via Duo Security X-Ray mobile app estimated over half of all Android devices carried known, unpatched security vulnerabilities. Also consider that, according to Google, Android version 2.3 (Gingerbread) still accounted for about half of all Android devices checking in with Google Play as of last week.
Don’t download apps from links or messages — Limit your apps downloads to reputable, well-managed app stores. Although there’s no guarantee apps in Google Play, the Amazon Appstore, or other above-board ventures are safe — and, as we saw above, popularity is no guarantee of safety — well-managed stores are less likely to be serving up malware than apps available via direct download. Remember: one way scammer and cybercriminals get people to install malware is by sending links via email or text messaging — it’s particularly effective with children and folks who aren’t technically savvy.
Read those permissions warnings! — When you install an app from Google Play, you’ll be asked whether you want to grant it permission to sense SMS or MMS messages, access browser history or bookmarks, or access your contact data. Think careful about those permissions. Does that casual game need to send text messages? Why does that free disco-party flashlight app need to access your browsing history? If it doesn’t make sense, don’t grant the permissions.
Consider security software — For everyday Android users, common sense and paying attention should be enough to keep devices (and their data) reasonably safe — for now, anyway. However, for less knowledgable or technically-inclined users — perhaps like children and senior citizens — Android security software from a reputable vendor might be worth considering. Many security developers offer Android packages and services, including Avast, TrendMicro, Symantec, BitDefender, ClamAV, F-Secure, Kingsoft, Kaspersky, Kingsoft, and others.
Right now, security software might be more important for businesses and enterprise, particularly as users increasingly bring their own smartphones and tablets to the workplace. Although the most profitable Android malware right now seems to be SMS scams (that surreptitiously send SMS messages to a service that charges a mobile user’s bill), 2012 was also the first time security researchers found mobile botnets, and targeted mobile attacks are on the rise, where attackers use Android (and BlackBerry) malware to move funds out of personal and business bank accounts.
The Android platform isn’t stumbling under the weight of malware, but mobile threats are very real and growing — and, as the most-exploitable and most-popular mobile platform, Android is cybercriminals’ biggest target. Google is taking steps to make Google Play and Android devices more secure, but so far those efforts don’t seem to be having big payoffs for users and, in the case of the app verification feature in Google Play for Jelly Bean, may lull users into a false sense of complacency. We hope Google’s security efforts improve quickly; in the meantime, the best way for Android users to stay safe is to be informed and vigilant.
MLSsoccer.com polled 20 of our editors, writers, videographers and statistics specialists to bring you the Best of 2012, running Dec. 17 through Jan. 2. Each day we’ll hand out an award in a variety of categories culled from the storylines of MLS and US international players, including Biggest Controversy, Breakout Player of the Year and, via fan vote revealed on Dec. 31, the Moment of the Year.
LA Galaxy beat writer Scott French breaks down the Fantastic Finish of the Year, given to the most dramatic close to an MLS match we saw this season. The San Jose Earthquakes played a part in at least matches that were worthy of votes in this category, but none was better than a win over the LA Galaxy in May that proved to be the runaway winner on our panel.
The LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes played five classic encounters this year, four of them absolute thrillers (with San Jose rallying from behind for two wins and a draw) followed by a stunning blowout in the playoffs.
But the best of the bunch — the Quakes’ 3-2 comeback triumph May 23 at the Home Depot Center — featured a finish for the ages.
It gets the nod for MLSsoccer.com’s Fantastic Finish of the Year, besting two other sensational endings thanks to a red card, brilliant substitutions, a late penalty kick (after an earlier would-be spot kick was denied) and, at the death, a dramatic header to send the Earthquakes atop the Western Conference standings while extending last-place LA’s winless streak to six games, their worst since 2009.
The Galaxy’s best performance of the season thus far, with Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan away on international duty, provided a 2-0 lead by the 73rd minute. Hector Jimenez struck in the third minute and Mike Magee doubled the advantage after taking a feed on the counter from David Beckham, beating two players — goalkeeper Jon Busch included — and firing into the ceiling of the goal.
By then LA were down to 10 men — Jimenez dismissed on the hour after a studs-up challenge on Steven Beitashour — and when San Jose coach Frank Yallop brought on Marvin Chávez, it changed everything.
The Quakes, with Chávez spearheading the attack, struck three times in 20 minutes, halving the deficit when the Honduran winger’s corner kick was nodded home by a diving Steven Lenhart in the 76th minute and pulling even after Beckham, leaping to block a Jason Hernandez cross, got his arms in the way and Jair Marrufo, who in the first half let an Ike Opara hand ball in the box go unpunished, pointed to the spot. Khari Stephenson converted.
Leave it to Gordon, a halftime sub who spent all or parts of seven seasons with the Galaxy, for the heroics. He had scored equalizers in the 88th and 90th minutes of San Jose’s two previous games, then topped it here four minutes into stoppage. Hernandez again delivered the key ball, sending a cross into the box after an LA turnover.
Gordon slipped past Sean Franklin’s mark and in front of A.J. DeLaGarza to nod the ball off the bounce over goalkeeper Brian Perk and into the net. Cue the Goonies.
“I just was following up the play,” Gordon said. “I think there may have been a little bit of hesitation on their part, and I was just seeing the play through. They hesitated, I didn’t, I finished it. Forwards get lucky sometimes. I got lucky. Who cares? I put it in, end of story, period.”
2. Real Salt Lake beat Portland, March 31
RSL were on the verge of a second straight loss and a .500 record, hardly what it expected so early in the season, after Darlington Nagbe scored a pair of goals to give Portland a second-half lead. No problem. Jonny Steele slipped through traffic to pull RSL even in the 89th minute and Kyle Beckerman volleyed home the winner in the 93rd for a 3-2 decision in the Rose City.
3. Toronto FC beat Vancouver, July 11
The cross-Canada derby ended with a flurry, as TFC let a late lead slip away and then claimed a 3-2 triumph in the final seconds of a lengthy bit of stoppage. Rookie Darren Mattocks, with his second goal of the game, seemingly delivered a point to the visiting Whitecaps in the 91st minute, but Terry Dunfield got his head to Torsten Frings’ corner kick in the fifth minute of stoppage to sink his former club.
To market the BBC Two series Wonders of Life, hosted by Brian Cox, the BBC got none other than Eric Idle to write and sing new lyrics to “The Galaxy Song” from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. But instead of singing about the massive scale of the universe and humanity’s insignificance in it, this time Idle sings about the miracle—and weirdness—of life on Earth.
And here is the original “Galaxy Song” from The Meaning of Life:
[via Bleeding Cool]
Riddle us this: Why file a patent claim against a device that isn’t actually going to be sold in the jurisdiction let alone, the country of where you’re filing the claim?
Such has been the peculiarity presented to Apple, which announced on Friday that it’s no longer pursuing patent claims against Samsung’s Galaxy S3 Mini smartphone. Samsung has said that it is not, “making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the Galaxy S III Mini in the United States,” and has maintained this stance ever since Apple asked a California court to add the device to Apple’s latest patent dispute last month.
Apple won its first round of patent litigation against Samsung this past August, but that hardly put an end to the two companies’ legal squabbles which includes Samsung’s desire to lessen the approximately $1 billion in damages that it faces juxtaposed against Apple’s interest in amending a second round of patent claims to add as many recently released and allegedly infringing Samsung devices as it can.
In other words, Apple’s second patent infringement lawsuit includes devices (and claims) that the company didn’t address in its first round of patent litigation. And Apple has been zealous about amending its filling to include more Samsung devices as warranted. Samsung, in turn, has been granted permission to add Apple’s iPhone 5 to its own patent infringement claims. Both of these trials won’t kick off until 2014.
Apple initially argued that its ability to purchase a Galaxy S3 Mini smartphone from Amazon, and have it billed and shipped to a U.S. address, was enough to qualify that the device was being sold in the U.S. And, as such, Apple argued that it should be allowed to include the smartphone as part of the list of current devices that Apple claims infringe its patents.
As part of Apple’s withdrawal, the company indicated that it would do so, “so long as the current withdrawal will not prejudice Apple’s ability later to accuse the Galaxy S III Mini if the factual circumstances change,” as reported by Reuters.
Samsung launched the four-inch Galaxy S III Mini in Europe in November, which numerous pundits saw as a direct assault against Apple’s similarly sized iPhone 5. At the time of Apple’s request to add the Galaxy S III Mini to its lawsuit, there was plenty of talk that Samsung might bring the smartphone to U.S. markets which explains Apple’s interest in bringing the full weight of its legal efforts to bear.
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Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2413664,00.asp
Google’s Gmail service went down for about 20 minutes on Monday. That was annoying, but not exactly unprecedented. These sorts of outages happen all the time. What was strange is that the Gmail outage coincided with widespread reports that Google’s Chrome browser was also crashing.
Late Monday, Google engineer Tim Steele confirmed what developers had been suspecting. He said that the crashes were affecting Chrome users who were using another Google web service known as Sync, and that Sync and other Google services — presumably Gmail too — were clobbered Monday when Google misconfigured its load-balancing servers.
Sync is essentially Google’s answer to Apple’s iCloud. It’s a software service built by Google to unshackle web surfers from their own desktops. It works in the background, shuttling information between the Chrome browser and Google’s servers, so that people users who log into Google can get at their bookmarks, extensions, and apps — no matter what computer they’re using to surf the web.
But on Monday, Steele wrote in a developer discussion forum, a problem with Google’s Sync servers kicked off an error on the browser, which made Chrome abruptly shut down on the desktop.
“It’s due to a backend service that sync servers depend on becoming overwhelmed, and sync servers responding to that by telling all clients to throttle all data types,” Steele said. That “throttling” messed up things in the browser, causing it to crash.
The problems were short-lived, but widespread. Over at Hacker News — a news discussion site that tends to attract Silicon Valley’s most knowledgeable software developers — a long thread quickly filled up with dozens of crash reports. “My Chrome has been crashing every ten minutes for the last half hour,” wrote one poster.
This may be a first. Bad webpage coding can often cause a browser to crash, but yesterday’s crash looks like something different: widespread crashing kicked off by a web service designed to help drive your browser.
Think of it as the flip side of cloud computing. Google’s pitch has always been that its servers are easier to use and less error-prone than buggy desktop software. But the Sync problem shows that when Google goes down, it can not only keep you from getting your e-mail — it can knock desktop software such as a browser offline too.
Chrome prides itself on “sandboxing” itself, so that a problem with a single webpage can only crash a tab in the browser, and not bring down the entire program. But that’s just what happened with Monday’s bug. It clobbered the entire browser.
“That’s definitely a big and unusual problem because if the browser shuts down, that’s a failure of the whole model of Chromium itself,’ says Kevin Quennesson, CTO of online photo service Everpix.
“When you bridge authentication and identity and the cloud to a desktop application, you then get occasionally these very weird failures,” says David Ulevicth, the founder of OpenDNS, a cloud-based infrastructure services company.
It’s the kind of issue that could pop up more often as developers work to build browsers such as Rockmelt that do more than simply surf the web, says Michael Mahemoff, a former Google Chrome team member who is now the founder of podcast app-maker Player FM. “People are trying to integrate more identity and these kind of sync service and social services,” he says.
It’s also something that cloud service providers are going to have to worry about more and more, as services such as Apple’s iCloud and Windows Live get more closely intertwined with our phones and PCs.
“As you centralize things like authentication and identity to one provider, then when that one provider has a hiccup the impact can be far-reaching,” says Ulevicth. “Imagine a scenario where you can’t even open your Android phone or you can’t get phone calls on Google Voice. it’s not just your browser.”
Image: Robert McMillan/Wired
Article source: http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/12/google-bug/