Source code snippets open door for raw photos on Android

Android device owners might be able to take photos in a higher-end raw format in the future, according to details tucked away in the source code for the mobile operating system.

As spotted by Ars Technica, Google programmers have been working on a revised camera interface that exposes new features to Android app programmers. Among the features in the "new camera API" (application programming interface) are support for raw photo formats and burst-mode shooting that can take a rapid sequence of photos.

It's not clear what the fate of the new interface will be. It was added … Read more

Apple could smarten up Siri using crowdsourcing

Apple device users who are frustrated when Siri fails to answer a question may one day be able tap into the crowd to get a better response.

The Apple patent application "Crowd sourcing information to fulfill user requests," published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, envisions a few ways to help Siri when it comes up empty.

Siri typically relies on such sites as Bing, Yelp, and WolframAlpha to gather the data needed to answer a question. But sometimes those sources aren't equipped to provide an accurate response, especially if the question itself is phrased … Read more

Mozilla: No Firefox phones in US

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're a Firefox OS fan and you live in the United States, you're going to have to wait a bit longer to get your Firefox phone.

Earlier this year, Mozilla's then-CEO Gary Kovacs said at Mobile World Congress that Firefox OS phones would be coming to Sprint in 2014. At the OpenMobile Summit here Wednesday morning, Mozilla Executive Chair Mitchell Baker appeared to backtrack on that comment.

"Currently, there are no plans to launch in the US," Baker told CNET's editor-in-chief, Paul Sloan, during a fireside-style conversation in front of … Read more

Blockbuster stores meet their end

CNET Update is making it a Netflix night:

In this episode of Update:

- Get nostalgic for the video store as Dish Network closes Blockbuster stores and stops offering DVDs through the mail. (But you still may find a few franchised Blockbuster stores that stay open.)

- See if Amazon can convince small bookshop owners to sell Kindles with a new program called Amazon Source.

- Dream of a day when a tablet can fold like a newspaper, because Samsung is hard at work on the concept.

- Check if Google knows your number, because it can use your photo … Read more

Amazon makes play for small retailers with Kindle deal

Small retailers and independent bookstores might have a much better reason to partner with Amazon.

The e-retailer on Wednesday announced a new program called Amazon Source. The program, which launches today, will see Amazon sell its Kindle devices and accessories to the small shops for a discounted price. If that isn't suitable, the retailers can opt to receive 10 percent of the price on every Kindle title purchased by their customers for a period of two years after a device sale.

According to Amazon, Source has been in pilot testing for some time, but is now being rolled out … Read more

Cisco, Mozilla open things up for real-time online video

Tapping into one of the biggest trends in information technology this year, Cisco will be open sourcing its H.264 codec for high-definition, online video.

The codec will be available to download for free as a binary module for use with the open-source project WebRTC. Cisco noted that it will not pass on its MPEG LA licensing costs for this module.

Mozilla already has signed up as one of the first supporters of Cisco's new strategy here by adding support for the OpenH.264 binary modules to Firefox.

Cisco and Mozilla reps declared that the free and open distribution … Read more

With Snap.svg, Adobe gets animated SVG religion -- again

Eight years after Adobe Systems acquired Macromedia for $3.4 billion, in part for its Flash technology that vanquished the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format, the company has released an open-source project called Snap.svg designed to bring some Flash-like characteristics to the Web.

Flash is slowly being squeezed off the Web -- at least newer parts of it -- by the fact that it doesn't run on mobile devices and that browser developers are starting to banish plug-ins. Adobe has redirected a lot of its staffing accordingly to Web standards that work in browsers without plug-ins, and SVG … Read more

Telefonica's Yotam Ben-Ami fights for Firefox phones (Q&A)

Android and iOS won the mobile operating system wars, right?

Not if you're Yotam Ben-Ami, who as director of open Web services at Spanish carrier Telefonica is responsible for bringing a new competitor to market, Firefox OS. Last week, Mozilla finished Firefox OS 1.1, but even with some shortcomings fixed, the smartphone operating system faces immense challenges competing against Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

But Ben-Ami has some evidence that the open-source, browser-based operating system has a shot at becoming the third operating system for mobile devices. Since its first Firefox OS phones went on sale in July, … Read more

Mapbox raises $10M, could give Google Maps a run for the money

Ever wanted to see an interactive map that shows broadband coverage in the US? How about a map with all the best campsites along the Shenandoah River? Or a map that shows energy use from New York's buildings? No problem, these are all Mapbox's specialty.

The Washington and San Francisco-based startup focuses on creating interactive and customizable maps with big data -- similar to what can be done in Google Maps, but with a lot more pizazz.

Now, Mapbox could tread even deeper into Google territory. The company announced Wednesday that it raised $10 million in Series A … Read more

Google pays coders to improve open-source security

Pushed both by corporate desires for better security and less wholesome motives, the market for finding security holes is getting bigger.

In an attempt to improve security for software it and many others use on the Internet, Google said Wednesday it's offering to pay programmers $500 to $3,133.70 for changes that make widely used open-source software less vulnerable to attack.

With the Chrome reward program and the vulnerability reward program, Google already offers two mechanisms to pay people for finding specific weaknesses in its browser and its online services. The new patch rewards program goes a step … Read more