In case you missed it: Target’s 40 million credit cards leak,

A seamless Apple communications system

Cult of Mac writes about how Apple can become the ultimate communications company.

I previously talked about my wish for a seamless experience switching between devices while on FaceTime.

The ultimate future home run, of course, is when Apple does and should auto-select how to make calls. In other words, you call someone by taping a face or phone number and your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop connects the call through FaceTime Voice or the phone system depending on whether the other person has FaceTime Voice and also depending on the speed of the data connection.

Mike Elgan takes it further with this almost futuristic ideal.

And Apple should be able to pull this off better than competitors. Within a couple of years, here’s how Apple’s telephone system should work. You walk in the house and just say to the house: “Siri, call Janet.” Apple should be able to identify that Janet is sitting in front of her iMac, and so while connecting the call, Siri asks: “Would you like to connect through FaceTime Video on iTV?” You say yes as you sit down on the couch. The call is connected, and you chat for awhile. Then you realize that you forgot to pick up your dry cleaning. So you walk out the door. Janet gets a message on-screen saying the call is switching to FaceTime Audio, and your call now happens through the Bluetooth earpiece you’re wearing. Once you get into the car, the call is automatically transferred to the car’s built-in iOS in the Car system, using the car’s speaker and the dashboard microphone. You get your shirts, drive back home and when you plunk down on the couch again, the call returns to video after both parties are notified.

After you say good-bye and hang up, you tell the house again: “Siri, tell Janet it was great catching up,” and Siri sends Janet your message, which she receives on her iWatch.

It is quite possible, especially since Apple is entering micro-location mapping with iBeacons.

Why do people keep giving money to Foursquare?

Matthew Panzarino writes on TechCrunch about why people keep investing in Foursquare.

Previously, we mentioned about how Foursquare is moving away from the check-in game by making check-ins public.

In this piece, Foursquare CEO Crowley wants to get things straight.

“The misunderstanding [in days past] was that Foursquare was about “who’s really going to check into a bar”,” Crowley says. Now, with the passive notifications and the increasing complexity of the signals that Foursquare is able to sift through to provide them, people are beginning to turn the corner on how they perceive it.

When they improve Foursquare, it is not just about making the app or service better. It is about how Foursquare can help other apps more than it already has.

Is there, for instance, a benefit for Instagram to know that you’re taking pictures at a specific restaurant or at Disneyland? Maybe. Could OpenTable’s utility be increased if it had access to a background parsing system like Foursquare’s? Almost definitely.

Foursquare’s current point-of-interest database is good. I speak with a lot of developers and it’s consistently mentioned as the go-to source of location data for apps that need it. Better than Google and certainly better than Apple — which actually uses Foursquare’s database to flesh out some of its place info. But what Crowley is talking about is far more than just a solid API and a big list of locations.

A lot of people seem to believe in the future of Foursquare, judging from its $600 million valuation. Just this week, it raised another $35 million in funding.

Facebook screwed online retailers

Business Insider writes about how online retailers have been hit hard by Facebook’s new News Feed.

It turns out the News Feed tweak did more than just highlight “high quality” news stories. It also totally buried posts from retailers on Facebook.

A source from one retailer told us that her company’s “reach” on Facebook declined 40% to 50% after the change. Another source from a different online retailer said that since Facebook’s change, her company’s posts are getting seen by an 80% smaller audience.

Not that the change in reach affected sales:

All the retailers we spoke to emphasized that their actual sales have not declined since Facebook made the change. But each said they’ve only been able to maintain sales by increasing the amount of money they spend on Facebook ads.

It seems like social media marketers are not the only one affected by Facebook’s new algorithm.

Facebook wants businesses to pay to enjoy the benefits of using it as a marketing and advertising platform. The change won’t hurt big businesses or established brands, but it will make it a lot harder for smaller start-ups to gain a foothold now.

FaceTime Audio to be available on Mac OS X

MacRumors report that the OS X 10.9.2 beta that has been released to developers includes FaceTime Audio.

With Messages, FaceTime, and FaceTime audio on iOS and OS X, Apple will have a complete communication system in place.

With a simple way to answer telephone calls and chat requests from all devices, those in Apple’s ecosystem will have little reason to resort to alternative VoIP apps when communicating with other Apple users. FaceTime audio is also a high-quality VoIP choice, as it uses the AAC-ELD codec for Full-HD Voice. AAC-ELD is designed to provide CD-like audio quality for voice calls, delivering high speech and audio quality at a low coding delay.

I love using iMessage. It allows me to reply messages while working on my Mac, without having to pick up my iPhone. Sure, I can do the same with Facebook messages and Google Hangouts but those require an additional step of firing up the browser. I still prefer to use a native app solution. The only service that comes close is LINE, with its Mac app.

It will be very useful to be able to make FaceTime Audio calls on the Mac. I have a feature request. Let me be able to shift between my iPhone, iPad or Mac during a call and it will be the perfect seamless experience.

Vine available on Android Gingerbread devices but only for watching videos

Vine has announced a new version of its app for Android that runs on Gingerbread devices. The app only allows content consumption but not creation.

Please note that due to device limitations, this version of Vine doesn’t allow for video creation. However, there are tons of great Vine videos to entertain you. We hope you enjoy watching!

You can have your pie, or gingerbread, but you can’t eat it. Would it make you hungry enough to want to upgrade your phone?

Snapchat for text messaging

It’s often said that Snapchat is a popular tool for sexting, but regardless of whether you agree with that or not, there is no doubt that Snapchat is popular. The next question people should ask is “what about text messaging?”

After the Edward Snowden leaks, there has been increased interest in private messaging, but as we’ve seen, it’s not easy to be achieved, so could disappearing messages be the solution?

Depending on the situation, Snapchat messages can be requested by law enforcement agencies. The solution to prevent that would be to ensure that messages can’t be retrieved by the service provider itself, something that Wickr is currently promoting. Another alternative would be to check out Ansa which allows you to delete messages that you’ve sent to others in the past.

Suddenly, Messages Are Disappearing All Over—On Purpose

Wickr, a messaging service that completely erases your communication, uses military-grade encryption called CDH521 to safeguard your messages. The company uses a different key for every message generated on your mobile device, meaning you are protected from both hackers and law enforcement.

Wickr lets you send texts, picture, voice, video and PDF messages that have a self-destructing time limit of up to five days. When the message expires, a so-called shredder built into the application deletes it from the device’s memory. Wickr’s shredder works in the background of the device, rewriting all the data users trash—including emails, photos, and messages not stored in Wickr.

Did the RSA collaborate with the NSA for just $10 million?

There are always two sides to a coin, but at this point, the RSA’s image is definitely going to take a beating. Whether it entered into such an agreement willingly or not doesn’t take away the fact that there are vulnerabilities in some of the current encryption standards.

This is very disturbing indeed.

Exclusive: Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a “back door” in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.

Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.

Mailbox app now supports iCloud and Yahoo Mail

The good news is that the popular email app Mailbox now supports iCloud and Yahoo Mail, so the app isn’t restricted to Gmail users any longer. There isn’t any indication that support for traditional IMAP email clients is arriving anytime soon, though.

Mailbox: now for iCloud and Yahoo Mail

Today we’re thrilled to announce we’ve added Mailbox support for Yahoo, iCloud,, and email accounts. This is a big step for us — we get more requests for Yahoo and iCloud support than for any other feature.

The bad news is that support for Yahoo Mail now seems to be broken, apparently because Yahoo Mail servers aren’t permitting connections from Mailbox. There isn’t any indication whether this is due to a violation of any of Yahoo’s terms of service, or something related to the email problems that Yahoo has been facing recently.

Google’s minute-by-minute map of your life

TechCrunch reports on Google’s location history browser.

If you carry any Google-filled gear (like, say, an Android phone or tablet), there was a prompt during the initial setup that asked if Google could transmit your location data back to the mothership. This is that data. You know how Google Now can auto-magically figure out where you work and warn you about traffic? This is the data that makes that possible (or at least a good chunk of it.)

If you are using an Android device and cannot remember if you agreed to send your location data, check this link to see if Google is tracking your location. Unfortunately, Google does not have any of my location history so I will appreciate it if you can share your experience. Do you find it awesome or creepy?