Bill Gates Reclaims ‘World’s Richest’ Title
Tech titan and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is once again the richest person in the world.
The 57-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist has recaptured the top spot from Mexican investor Carlos Slim, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
This marks the first time since 2007 that Gates has out-bankrolled the rest of the world. His fortune, Bloomberg reported, is valued at $72.7 billion, up 16 percent this year.
Known for his philanthropy, Gates once relinquished his "World's Richest" title when he gave away $28 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting hunger, improving education, and developing vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS. He was left with "only" $49 billion.
Meanwhile, Slim fell from first-place grace this week as his America Movil SAB company – the largest mobile phone operator in the Americas – dropped 14 percent recently, when the Mexican Congress passed a bill that Bloomberg said could devastate Slim's market dominance.
Gates took to Reddit earlier this year for an "Ask Me Anything" session that focused on topics like his attitude toward open-source software to the worldwide charitable work done by his foundation.
When asked about the late Steve Jobs, Gates said, "he and I respected each other. Our biggest joint project was the Mac where Microsoft had more people on the project than Apple did as we wrote a lot of applications." Gates saw Jobs regularly over the years, he said, including an afternoon spent with him a few months before he passed away in October.
Gates spoke about Jobs again in a recent 60 Minutes interview, saying that the two of them grew up together. "We were kind of naively optimistic and built big companies. We achieved all of it, and most of it as rivals," Gates told host Charlie Rose.
LulzSec Hackers Sentenced to Jail Time
A London judge today sentenced four members of the LulzSec hacktivist group to jail time for their roles in a series of attacks on high-profile firms.
According to the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service, Ryan Cleary, 21, was sentenced to 32 months; Jake Davis, 20, received 24 months in a Young Offenders institution; Ryan Ackroyd, 26, got 30 months; and Mustafa Al-Bassam, 18, got a 20-month sentence, suspended for two years, plus 200 hours of community service.
Cleary, Davis, and Ackroyd will only have to serve half their sentences, however, according to reports.
"The harm they caused was foreseeable, extensive and intended," Andrew Hadik, CPS London reviewing lawyer, said in a statement. "Indeed, they boasted of how clever they were with a complete disregard for the impact their actions had on real people's lives."
He pointed to instances in which companies suffered financial and reputational damage, as well as one American senior executive who lost his job and was forced to move his family because of death threats.
Government targets included the Central Intelligence Agency, Arizona State Police, the U.K.'s Serious Organised Crime Agency, and Britain's National Health Service. The hacking group also went after the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Rupert Murdoch's News International, Nintendo, Sony, and security firm HBGary Inc.
iTunes Update Brings Revamped Mini Player, Songs View
Heads up iTunes users. It's time for an update.
Apple on Thursday released a new version of its media playing software, iTunes 11.0.3, bringing a revamped Mini Player and songs view, among other enhancements.
The MiniPlayer (left), which lets you play music without taking up too much screen space, now features a "beautiful new view that showcases your album artwork," according to Apple's release notes. It also now has a built-in progress bar, letting you see how much time is left of the song you're playing.
The latest version of iTunes also now lets you view album artwork while in Songs view. In addition, albums with multiple discs will now appear as a single album.
The update also includes performance improvements when searching and sorting large libraries, which should be good news for those who have spent a lot of money on iTunes.
iTunes 11.0.3 is available for download now through Software Update.
95 Percent of Q1 Android Smartphone Profits Went to Samsung
According to stats from Strategy Analytics, Samsung's Android smartphone shipments resulted in $5.1 billion of worldwide profit during the quarter, or 95 percent.
"An efficient supply chain, sleek products and crisp marketing have been among the main drivers of Samsung's impressive profitability," Strategy Analytics' senior analyst Woody Oh said in a statement.
LG landed at No. 2 with 2.5 percent, while "others" made up the remaining 2.7 percent, Strategy Analytics said.
"LG delivered a small profit during the quarter, but it currently lacks the volume scale needed to match Samsung's outsized profits," Oh said.
Overall, the smartphone industry saw $12.5 billion in profits during the quarter, 43 percent of which went to Android.
According to stats released this week from Gartner, Samsung was the No. 1 mobile phone maker, capturing 23.6 percent of the market with more than 100 million units sold in the first quarter. In the smartphone realm, the company's share was higher, at 30.8 percent, with 64.7 million units sold.
"Samsung is, for now, the undisputed king of the global Android smartphone industry," Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "We believe Samsung generates more revenue and profit from the Android platform than Google does."
Samsung could use its strong reputation and massive power to influence the future direction of the Android ecosystem, Mawston suggested, adding that Samsung could request first, or exclusive, updates of new software from Google before rival hardware vendors.
Google Maps Overhauled With More Personal Results
As expected, Google today unveiled a revamped version of Maps at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco.
The updated Google Maps, a preview of which is rolling out to developers today, makes the search giant's mapping experience more personal. It incorporates the technology that powers Google Now into the Google Maps experience, "so it'll get better and better, the more that you use it," said Bernhard Seefeld, product management director for Google Maps.
The Maps team, Seefeld said, had three goals with the update: creating a separate map for every single user; combining all of Google's mapping services - from satellite imagery to Street View to indoor photos; and making everything simpler and more powerful.
As a result, "we went ahead and rebuilt Google maps from the ground up," he said.
As some recent leaks suggested, the search box and its results are now layered on top of Google Maps. Nameless pins are also replaced with search results labeled directly on a map (below), with a description for top results. Filters allow for search results that incorporate recommendations from friends in case, for example, you want a sushi place that someone you know has visited and liked.
Google Play Game Services Takes on Apple’s GameCenter
Google today released a set of new APIs intended to boost the gaming experience on Android.
Google Play Games Services includes a new family of APIs, including cloud save, which will allow developers to sync their games across devices, from game progression to game state. If you finish a level on your Android phone, pick it up later on the tablet, Hugo Barra, vice president of product management for Android, said during today's Google I/O keynote.
Developers can also incorporate leaderboards and achievements, much like Apple's GameCenter. Players can tap into public leaderboards or drill down and compete against those in their Google+ Circles. Unlike Cupertino, however, Google's version will be cross-platform, so it will work on Android, iOS, and the Web.
A demo of the service was not cooperative at the Google I/O developer conference, but Barra said the features will be available in several games today.
Gaming was just one of the updates announced today for Google Play Services. The search giant also unveiled three new location APIs.
A fused location provider, for example, is a "completely rewritten location algorithm," Barra said, so apps pick up on location faster and with more accuracy. There's also a new low-power location mode so apps don't use as much power.
Google Launches All Access Music Service in Play Store
SAN FRANCISCO—Google on Wednesday launched a new music service called Google Play All Access here at the Google I/O developer conference.
For $9.99 a month, users of All Access will be able to listen to "millions of tracks" in the Google Play Store in addition to their own personal music libraries, said Google engineering director Chris Yerga.
"We set out to build a music service that doesn't just give you access to great music, but guides you to the music you want to hear. Google Play All Access is a uniquely Google approach to a subscription music service," he said.
All Access features expert-curated playlists that subscribers can access and add to their own libraries or create "radio stations" within Google Play's music service. The idea behind the service was to add a better discovery process for music lovers seeking to find new tracks, Yerga said.
"Anything you see, you can play. You can turn All Access into a radio station and this is radio without rules. It's as lean back as you want or as interactive as you want it to be," he said.
Google made the new service available in the U.S. immediately with All Access set to roll out in other countries in the "coming months," he said. U.S. subscribers will get a 30-day free trial—if you sign up for the free trial before July 30, the monthly subscription price drops to $7.99, Yerga said.
Latest Dorkbot Malware Spread Via Facebook Chat
A new variant of Dorkbot made the rounds of Facebook this week, infecting users as it hopped from one friend to another over the site's chat service, researchers said.
The latest Dorkbot variant infected users by including a link to an image file in a Facebook chat session, BitDefender researchers wrote in a blog post. The file had a .JPG extension but was really an executable file. Researchers believe the malware, when executed, could spy on users' browsing activities, download additional malware, and harvest user passwords.
"The kicker here is that a Facebook user can receive a chat/IM from an (infected) friend and not know it is the spambot trying to engage in conversation," BitDefender told SecurityWatch.
Facebook appears to have removed the infection as of Tuesday. Dorkbot and its variants have been around since 2003, although the last known version was in 2011. That particular malware strain spread through instant messaging clients, including Yahoo Messenger, Pidgin, and XChat. This Facebook variant appears to be an update of the 2011 version.
New Version of Google Maps Leaked Online
Later today, Google will kick off its annual Google I/O conference, an event that often offers an sneak peek at the newest projects and experiments the company has in the works. Things got off to an early start last night, however, when what appears to be the next version of Google Maps leaked online.
The launch screens for the new version of Google Maps appeared briefly, but have since been taken down. But Android-focused site Droid Life managed to capture screen shots of the leak before it disappeared. The new Google Maps seems to incorporate data from your Google account to highlight areas and locations that are important to you.
In addition to the automated location curation, the new maps also appears to add Google Flight Search into the traditional Google Maps product, allowing users to easily plan trips directly from the normal Google Maps screen rather than visiting a separate site. Perhaps the most interesting feature, though, is the inclusion of Google Earth as an option. This is a combination many fans of Google Maps have wanted for some time, but up until now the most realistic topographic images offered by Google Maps have been Street View and the satellite viewing option.