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Feds probe data collection by smartphone apps

Music player Pandora's smartphone app for both iPhones (above) and Androids transmitted information about a user's age, gender, and location. (Reuters/Joe Skipper)

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating whether numerous smartphone applications illegally obtained or transmitted information about their users without proper disclosures, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The criminal investigation is examining whether the app makers fully described to users the types of data they collected and why they needed the information — such as a user’s location or a unique identifier for the phone — the person familiar with the matter said. Collecting information about a user without proper notice or authorization could violate a federal computer-fraud law. Get the full story »

Windows 8 is coming soon for PCs, tablets

Information screen for Windows 8. (Microsoft)

While most of the world has yet to upgrade to Windows 7, Microsoft is gearing up to launch the next version of its PC operating system.

Web forums lit up last week with the news that PC manufacturers had just gotten their hands on a new Windows 8 test build. Several analysts reported that equipment makers had received “early beta“ test versions of the operating system. Get the full story »

Walk and Text look-alike targets app thieves

Symantec Corp. said Thursday that it has detected a new kind of malware that targets Android mobile phone users who download illegal applications. Get the full story »

Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble over Nook

A customer tries out a Nook electronic book reader at a Barnes and Noble. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Microsoft Corp. sued Barnes & Noble Inc. and the manufacturers of Barnes & Noble’s Nook electronic book device, escalating a series of patent battles over gadgets based on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.  Get the full story »

Blackberry Playbook to go on sale April 19

Research In Motion’s long-awaited tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, will go on sale in the United States and Canada on April 19 at a base price of $499. Get the full story »

Apple sues Amazon over its ‘App Store’

Apple Inc. sued Inc. over its use of the phrase App Store, accusing the online retailer of trademark infringement. In a complaint filed March 18 in the U.S. District of Northern California, Apple asked the court for an injunction stopping Amazon from using the name as well as unspecified damages. Get the full story »

New browsers offer major improvements

Kate Pietrelli, marketing director of hi5, shows off a browser during a Microsoft Explorer event. (Chip Chipman/Bloomberg)

After a decade-long hiatus, the browser wars are officially back. With this week’s release of Internet Explorer 9, last week’s Google Chrome 10 release, and this month’s expected release of Firefox 4, the three most-used browsers are all trying to outduel one another with the most impressive specs. Safari 5, which was released in June, also features many of the same modern features. Get the full story »

Motorola Solutions hits road for annual meeting

Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions Inc. is holding its annual stockholders’ meeting in Washington, D.C. this year, going out of town for its first shareholders gathering as an independent company.

This year also marks the first time Motorola has held its stockholders meeting outside of the Chicago area. Get the full story »

Microsoft adds do-not-track tool to Explorer

Ryan Gavin, senior director of Internet Explorer for Microsoft, shows IE9 last month in in San Francisco. (Reuters)

A new version of Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer to be released Tuesday will be the first major Web browser to include a do-not-track tool that helps people keep their online habits from being monitored. Get the full story »

Amazon announces Android app store

Bloomberg News | plans to open an app store to sell software for the Android operating system. It will join the more than 30 stores selling the mobile-phone downloads.

Chicago, Vernon Hills hop on Microsoft’s cloud

The City of Chicago and Vernon Hills Police Department are among 16 new government and education customers for Microsoft’s cloud computing program, the company announced at its Public Sector CIO Summit Wednesday.

“Public sector organizations are looking for enterprise-grade cloud solutions, and that means providing high levels of security, functionality and support,” Curt Kolcun, vice president of U.S. Public Sector at the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant said in a statement. “We’re seeing government and education organizations of every size and dimension using Microsoft cloud solutions to help reduce costs and increase productivity in support of their missions.” Get the full story »

Google rolls out Cloud Connect rival to Office

Google Inc., taking aim at Microsoft Corp.’s  lucrative Office franchise, plans to release a free tool allowing users to transfer files from the widely used software suite to the Web so that multiple people can edit and collaborate on them.

The long-anticipated move is intended to bolster one of Google’s fastest-growing businesses not related to its popular search engine — selling online software to companies. The company’s Google Apps offering includes online word-processing, spreadsheet and collaboration tools used through a Web browser that are part of a service called Google Docs. They compete with Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Get the full story »

3LM partners up to launch Android platform

Three Laws Mobility Inc., a mobile software firm that was just acquired by Libertyville-based Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., has partnered with a number of mobile phone manufacturers to launch a new Android-based platform for enterprise users.

Motorola Mobility just announced its acquisition of Mountainview, Calif.-based 3LM on Monday. The startup, which specializes in Android-based software and products for business users, is operating as its own business unit within Motorola. Get the full story »

Nokia CEO pressured to justify Microsoft switch

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is under pressure to justify a decision to ditch the company’s smart-phone software in favor of Microsoft’s, his former employer.

Nokia Corp., the world’s largest maker of phones, announced the alliance with Microsoft Corp. Friday. In a show of displeasure, Finnish employees used flex time to go home early. Get the full story »

Anti-computer hacking bill coming to Congress

Strengthening cybersecurity is the goal of legislation being introduced in Congress after reports of hack attacks on computer networks at Nasdaq OMX Group and at oil and gas companies.

“Cyber-threats are not on the horizon, they are upon us,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who is introducing the bill, said in a statement on Thursday. Get the full story »