Color me thrilled and other exciting tech news

iOS7 - Style or substance?

By Laura Haight

Originally published as the Digital Maven column in Upstate Business Journal, Greenville, SC on 9/6/13

I imagine that most of you have not been keeping up with the tech media in recent weeks. That's OK, I have. Here are a few developments the media is following that you might have missed.

Color me thrilled!: I am sure everyone's aware that a new iPhone is set to be launched this month. No? Well that may be because there doesn't seem to be too much to say about it. Still the lack of important information has not deterred the tech media - particularly those who follow Apple with near-religious fervor - from writing a lot about it. For example, it looks like there will be a graphite and - wait for it! - champagne colored iPhone option this time. The color choices have dominated the Apple press for the past couple of weeks with dozens of stories and "leaked" photos.

Don't laugh, apparently champagne-toned tech is all the rage this season. 9to5Mac's story about the new Sony QX Smart Lens begins with the fact that the device, which will attached to ios and Adroid devices will clash with the new champagne iPhone. Thank you, Sony, for seeing that giant problem and making color options - champagne and white - to match. Oh - and if you were wondering, the device is 20 megapixels, has a Carl Zeiss lens, connects to the camera operating system via wifi and will cost a hefty $450.

Not to be outdone, Motorola's Moto X phone due out in Q4 will offer four new wood-look back panels.

Creative writing: You may also have heard that the iPhone and iPad are getting a new operating system also due to be released mid-month. This release appears to be more a triumph of talented marketers than ground-breaking technology. Reading past the smart prose and stunning photos on the iOS 7 page on the Apple site, you find that most of the changes are presentation - changing the way the operating system (OS) looks, not what it does. In some cases, it appears to have new functions, but - as in the case of the camera, notification center and other functions - it was really just a matter of putting an existing capability in a new, more accessible place.

Every now and then, however, there is some useful information. PC Magazine identified six new iOS functions that are actually useful and may help protect your identity and security but they are pretty well hidden. So most of us might not uncover them. Check these out.

Is there a line anymore?: Here’s an example of important stories that can be overlooks.  Tech Crunch reported on a new app that will aggregate information from all your fitness apps and send them off to your employer so that they can provide data support for premium reductions. How you feel about this really depends on whether you are the employee or the employer. But it raises a lot of serious Big Brother and ethical questions. Remember that the same data that can be used to lower your employer's premium can be used to raise yours. What, you put on 10 pounds? Your blood pressure's a little high? You aren't sleeping well at night? Maybe your calorie counting app is reporting you are eating too much fat and carbs. Is this information your boss should have?

The good news is that these apps can't do anything without your consent. The bad news is that most of us give it without regard to what the consequences might be. Apps tell us what they want to do - "xxx is requesting permission to send data to third-party applications and access your Facebook account". Not sure what that means? Then don't hit "OK". You may get a lot more than you bargained for.

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