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January 21, 2013

Technology News Briefs — Jan. 21, 2013

Instagram Still Going Strong, Company Data Reveals

Instagram has revealed statistics about its user base, likely in a bid to counteract reports earlier this month that it had lost four million users due to its terms of service fiasco.

The photo-sharing app claims to have more than 90 million monthly active users. Other stats it released included 40 million photos posted per day, 8,500 ‘likes’ per second and 1,000 comments per second.

The Instagram kerfuffle began last month after it had made some policy changes — set to take effect this month — which users interpreted as giving Instagram the right to sell peoples’ uploaded photos without their permission and without compensation.

Many users threatened to leave service, believing Instagram would soon have the right to grab users pictures and other data to promote itself on its website or in advertising without mention of or compensation to the owner of the images.

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom did some quick backtracking and, in a Dec. 21 blog post said: “Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.You can see the updated terms here. Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.

“You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content. I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.”

Goodbye Passwords, Hello Smartcard-Embedded Jewelry?

Two Google security experts have released a research paper that indicates passwords will soon be a thing of the past.

Instead, Smartphones or even smartcard embedded jewelry will be used to prove identity online, they said in an article to be published in an engineering journal, according to The Telegraph.

“Along with many in the industry, we feel passwords and simple bearer tokens such as cookies are no longer sufficient to keep users safe,” said Google vice-president of security Eric Grosse and engineer Mayank Upadhyay in the article.

“We’d like your Smartphone or smartcard-embedded finger ring to authorize a new computer via a tap on the computer, even in situations in which your phone might be without cellular connectivity.”

The pair is currently testing YubiKey, a small USB stick that employs extremely secure “one-time pad” cryptography to sign in to Google services. They are hoping similar authentication technology will work wirelessly on all of a user’s online accounts.

Apple Seeking iPad Trademark

Apple is seeking to secure trademark for the iPad’s likeness in China.

Apple has submitted two designs to China’s Patent and Trademark Office: one that covers black and white images and one that covers full color, according to Patently Apple.

The submission comes after Apple’s legal battle with Proview, a Chinese company, over the rights to the iPad name trademark. Proview claimed Apple had committed fraud in the process of acquiring the iPad trademark and took the iPhone maker to court.

The companies settled in a deal said to be worth $60 million.