Bytes: What’s new in tech

Pirates shun wearable tech; Silencing noisy tabs; A spy-proof smartphone

Pirates shun wearable tech

Are wearable gadgets getting “the cold shoulder” from counterfeiters? asked Johan Nylander and Justus Krüger in The trading district of Shenzhen, China, hosts a “thriving market for counterfeit electronic goods,” but the interest in faking wearable technology—such as Google Glass or Samsung’s Gear smartwatch—seems “ice cold.” The lackadaisical take-up of such products might be a warning sign for mainstream manufacturers of what they’d hoped would be the next big thing in tech. “Piracy is all about benefiting from the buzz,” said piracy expert Alf Rehn. “This isn’t necessarily a disaster for Samsung, but definitely a serious warning signal as the Shenzhen crowd is the bellwether for electronics consumption.”

Silencing noisy tabs

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Here’s some good news for Web surfers seeking peace and quiet, said Roberto Baldwin in A new update to Google’s Chrome browser makes it easier for users to identify which of the many tabs they have open is the one blasting unwanted noise, such as blaring sales pitches or videos that launch on their own. The popular browser’s new version also attaches small icons to tabs that are using your webcam or being broadcast to your TV. “It’s the feature everyone has pleaded for since the introduction of tabbed browsing.” Once it’s installed, you can be “comforted by the knowledge you will never again spend five minutes trying to find which tab is playing an embedded YouTube clip of goats yelling.”

A spy-proof smartphone

Could we soon see the hack-proof phone we’ve been waiting for? asked Natasha Lomas in “The pro-privacy movement has been cranking up its own ideas to counter spy tech” like that revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. A joint venture based in Switzerland said it will soon unveil Blackphone, “a smartphone that’s been designed to enable secure, encrypted communications, private browsing, and secure file-sharing.” The supersecure phone will be built on a “security-oriented” version of Android, and while details are still scarce, it is supposed to offer far better security than mainstream mobile phones. But since encryption is a two-way street, “the Blackphone’s security credentials will inevitably depend on how you use the device”—including “who you place calls to and which device they use.”

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