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Samsung Galaxy S5 rumor roundup

Jon Gold | Jan. 17, 2014
Like a frog in a cooking pot, I didn't notice that rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S5 had really hit the boil until it was too late. But now, with steaming clouds of hearsay and a distinct aroma of scuttlebutt in the air, all that's left is to hope that the results will at least prove savory for the consumer. (Side note – can any readers tell me whether frog legs are any good? I'm curious, but also a little scared.)

Still, pictures leaking out onto Twitter are being widely identified as the long-rumored Nokia Normandy, a budget device running a heavily modded version of Android.

Whether or not the phone is a real project, you've got to admit that Normandy is a great name for a first foray into new territory.

Being in PR for Google Glass must be a tough gig while the now-famous headware is an inarguably impressive piece of kit, it's also the butt of a not-inconsiderable amount of humor:

What's more, it's also become a lightning rod for much more serious backlash over privacy, with businesses banning them from their premises and commentators of various stripes decrying Glass as fundamentally intrusive and uncivilized. (NSFW, though more efficient, language.)

Given that, it seems like Glass' PR people have a full-time job already. So when news broke recently about a facial recognition app called NameTag that attempts to pull up subjects' online dating profiles and cross reference them with the National Sex Offender Registry, I can imagine that their reaction wasn't one of amused detachment.

As the addendum to the article notes, Google is at great pains to emphasize that their developer policy bans apps that use facial recognition technology "at this time." NameTag's creator says he will bring the app to a different platform if Google's policy doesn't change.

At the distant opposite end of the privacy spectrum, this week also saw the public debut of Blackphone a joint project of hardware startup Geeksphone and encrypted communications provider Silent Circle that promises to protect your privacy against the numerous governmental, commercial and criminal threats to it.

Seems like a great idea. It is, however, probably not the best idea to characterize the problem of digital privacy as "enslavement" as Blackphone does in its promotional video - when there is, you know, actual slavery still happening in the world.

That aside the principle of building encryption for phone calls, SMS, video calls and file transfers into the basic DNA of a modern smartphone sounds like a good one. But there are huge questions hanging over the product, including the absence of any hardware specs, pricing or a release date, and whether or not customers will have to pay additional subscription fees for Silent Circle's encryption services. Hopefully, full answers are forthcoming at the Mobile World Congress, where the Blackphone is set to be officially unveiled. Maybe with some marketing that isn't stupid and offensive.

 

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