Sony releases its AR eyewear, aggressive spyware is found on tons of hard drives, and the world's best smartwatch gets even better. All this and more on BitStream.

Sony's Google Glass alternative has a better price—and that's about it

The death of Google Glass was well-documented. That little AR wearable went from an exciting technological curiosity to completely dead in the water in only a couple years. Now, as Google takes a breath to re-evaluate what the hell its going to do with its unloved headgear, Sony is stepping in to fill the void and opening up pre-orders (in Germany and the UK) for the SmartEyeglass Developer Edition SED-E1 before officially going on sale in the U.S. March 10.

Now, this is a developer device, so a lot of things can be forgiven, but unless you love collecting weird tech that's soon to become obsolete, I'm not sure anyone would be interested in these things or really even developing for them as of right now.

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I spent some time with Sony's SmartEyeglasses at CES this year, and though the green-tinted AR is fun and actually worked decent enough, the frames are incredibly huge—kind of like 3DTV glasses but even worse. Also, it comes with a separate remote that houses the controls and the battery, and my god, that battery. Sony says in the spec rundown that you can only expect 150 minutes of charge if you're not using the camera, and 80 minutes if you are (lololololol).

Big companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Sony are trying to sell us all on headset wearables, and such a ubiquitous decision among companies means, that in some way, we will probably be strapping something on our faces in the future. But these SmartEyeglasses certainly are not it, and we can only hope that this is the great-great-great-great ancestor of something that we will. [Sony]

CyanogenMod and OnePlus' painful breakup continues

There was a time when Cyanogen and OnePlus lived in harmony. The out-of-nowhere Chinese startup created a smartphone that reimagined what it meant to be a "budget device" and it was running the favorite rebel ROM of Android — CyanogenMod. Then the companies started hating each other.

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First, Cyanogen penned an exclusivity deal with Micromax, which ended up banning the OnePlus in India for a short time. Then, OnePlus announced that it would be dropping CyanogenMod altogether in favor of its new ROM, OxygenOS. Now, it seems that OnePlus can't help but take one more jab at the rotting corpse that is the companies' working relationship.

An official member of the OnePlus team says that OxygenOS "won't be a community build, but a real OS." Please, apply cold water to the burn.

Essentially, OxygenOS will be a closed ecosystem compared CyanogenMod's open, developer-driven model. In response, Cyanogen's Steve Kondik said "you can love us or hate us, but we have no plans of taking our toys and going home." Yes, the CyanogenMod and OnePlus breakup continues to be painful and is another hard lesson when it comes to public relations for a company that's already had their fair share of bad press. [SlashGear]

Russian researchers discover insidious hardware spying program

According to Reuters, Russian researchers at Kaspersky Lab have found spying software deep within the hard drives made from major manufacturers, including Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, Hitachi, Toshiba, and Samsung. What makes this so potentially frightening is that this kind of spyware is automatically activated when plugged in and can even survive reformatting. It's the malware you simply can't kill.

The firm didn't go on record saying who they thought was behind the program, but a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge innuendo suggests it's the NSA. For one, the recorded targets include Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and Syria. Have any guesses, yet? Just to make it even more clear, the Russian researchers did say that this spyware seems closely linked with Stuxnet, the NSA-led cyberattack against Iran's uranium enrichment facility. So yeah, probably the NSA.

What's interesting is Kaspersky's respect for the amount of engineering and technological advances needed to create this well-hidden spyware, which raises questions about how complicit some companies were with handing over code. Western Digital told Reuters that it's never handed out its code to anyone, but evidence suggests that the creators would need deep level access to re-engineer the hard drive's firmware.

With all the Snowden leaks and other forms of spyware, companies are having and a tough time sustaining international trust when it's possible their stuff is loaded with malicious code. This could all become a major problem if things keep going from bad to worse. [Reuters]

Rumortown

  • Lots of phones will be loosed into the wild at Mobile World Congress in March, by LG's upcoming flagship, the G4, may not be one of them. [Cult of Android]
  • Motorola appears to confirm that its wonderful first-generation Moto G will be blessed with Android Lollipop. [Talk Android]
  • Google and Apple are making big moves with self-driving cars, and so is Sony, but in a completely different way. [CNBC]
  • Apple Watch may have cut a lot of its health-focused smartwatch powers due to wonky sensors. [WSJ]

Your Apps, Updated

  • New UI leaks show Facebook might be gearing up for a Material Design update for its Android app. [Android Community]
  • As the Apple Watch launch nears, Apple invites 3rd-party developers to Cupertino to finish development. [9to5Mac]
  • Sling TV continues to add more and more channels. This time Epix and video-on-demand join the cord-cutting party. [TechnoBuffalo]

De(vices)

  • Android One, Google's cheap smartphone platform, made a huge impact in India, and now looks to expand to the Philippines. [Android Police]
  • Apple Pay has been smashing through traditional payment boundaries with ease, but bringing the service to China is harder than expected. [Mac Rumors]
  • Pebble's new and amazingly great Android Wear feature is now live for everyone.
  • BlackBerry finally makes its way to AT&T and will begin selling the Passport and Classic on April 20.
  • Huawei won't be coming to MWC empty handed. The current rumor is that the Chinese smartphone maker may be showing off a 4G LTE smartwatch. [GSMArena]

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