UK government toys with development of social network state?
Britain's mainstream print press greeted the more awake breed of commuter with a genuinely frightening report on Thursday morning: the UK's political elite are contemplating ways of deploying existing online log-in systems to power access to government services. In and of itself, this sounds like a fairly innocent proposal, and there's nothing to get too worked up about - until you realise that social networks are being lined up as one of the principal portals.
It's like the government has been hibernating under a typewriter for the last half dozen or so years. Are they actually ignorant to the fact that virtually every major social network has suffered a security breach of some sort in recent memory? But far from being trite tabloid speculation, it has been confirmed by inside political sources that the nation's power brokers are seriously looking at allowing the likes of Facebook to provide a window to government services. (opens in new tab)
In some cases, of course, there's little to worry about: renewing a hunting license is unlikely to compromise your identity. But when it comes to things like tax records, it's another matter entirely. Moving towards full codification of citizen data would mean that, were there a breach in the future, it would be absolutely catastrophic. Those who think that it's unduly alarmist to be seriously concerned by this latest initiative are welcome to their opinion, but they're equally not entitled to whinge when someone clocks their Facebook password and then starts claiming housing benefit in their name - a right us conspiracy theorists reserve.
HTC One X+ the latest smartphone to tempt consumers
There's a glut of seriously enticing premium smartphones at the moment, and the HTC One X+ complicates matters even further. First outed in the latest O2 catalogue, the One X+ is as impressive sounding a device as we've seen (opens in new tab) - at least on paper. Coming pre-loaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and sporting a powerhouse Nvidia Tegra 3 SoC clocking at 1.7GHz (opens in new tab) in the engine room, it features 64GB of on-board storage as standard for a relatively reasonably SIM-free price of £480. Availability has been cited as October 2012.
The catch is that there's been little mentioned about 4G LTE with regards to the One X+, likely meaning that the latest super-smartphone won't run on the UK's new high-speed spectrum when it arrives in a few weeks time. Unfortunately, 4G is a complete game-changer for the world of mobile - in my opinion, handset manufacturers might as well not even bother releasing new products if they're not going to come LTE-ready.
Sure, it's got NFC - which the iPhone 5 (opens in new tab) notably lacks - but connectivity speeds are infinitely more important than the neat convenience of being able to pay for a sandwich with your smartphone, something Apple's clever evil geniuses obviously realised. The HTC One X+'s lack of 4G LTE puts its £480 price tag in a different light entirely, moving the handset from an obvious stocking-stuffing essential to just another really nice device that lacks something crucial. It's a cat-and-mouse game with regards to smartphone features at the moment, and we're still waiting for someone to get everything right. Any early bets on the Samsung Galaxy S4?
Experts: the iPhone 5 is holding us back
You didn't really think we were going to get through a weekend round-up without the iPhone 5 rearing its head, did you? Oh sure, it's a few weeks old now, but it's still the tech world's most talked about subject, like it or not.
This week in particular, the latest iToy was one of the focal points of debate over at Apps World 2012 in London's Earls Court, with a range of analysts at the multi-pronged event - which included workshops, panels, and an expansive exhibition floor - chiming in with their views on the most important Apple product launch of the post-Jobs era (opens in new tab). Conveniently, the most recurrent complaint chimed with our own frustrations - the iPhone 5 doesn't feature NFC technology when it so obviously should have.
According to the experts, the most worrying consequence of Apple's controversial connectivity decision isn't the marginal inconvenience caused to consumers, but rather the growth-stunting effect the iPhone 5's lack of NFC will have on the industry's adoption of this exciting new technology as a whole. (opens in new tab)Where it had the opportunity to really help push widespread adoption of the technology beyond the realm of lazy techies getting a cheap laugh as well as a soup at Pret A Manger, it didn't - and it should be held accountable for its motives in making this choice.
As with its patent lawsuit offensive, Apple could well be seen as holding the industry hostage through its curmudgeonly behaviour, effectively stifling innovation by refusing to tee-off until conditions on the course are totally to its liking. It's one of the perks of being the world's most valuable company, sure - and many other firms would doubtless do the same if they enjoyed a similarly advantageous position. But that doesn't mean us cranky hacks have to like it, so while the iPhone 5 has certainly had a hard start to life, it's far from deserving of our sympathy - and nor are the iSheep who leaped to buy it only to start complaining as soon as they had it out of the box and realised it wasn't bulletproof.