iFive: Apple’s Subscription Mess, State Dept.’s Pro-Egypt Past, Android Encryption, Twitter Firehose, Anonymous Hits Egypt

iFive is Thursday’s early innovation news, neatly packaged for speedy convenience:

NASA’s Kepler space telescope has found an Earth-sized planet, in an Earth-like habitable zone. In fact, it’s found several–though we, obviously, don’t know if they’re Earth-like. It’s also found six planets orbiting a very Sun-like star. All of these are firsts. The search for life “out there” just got more interesting. On with the news:


1. In the immediate aftermath of News Corp.’s Daily iPad newspaper launch, there is much confusion about Apple’s new subscription model for periodical newspapers and magazines–and it may confirm the Sony Reader fuss from the other day. Apparently Apple will require all periodicals to accept payments through its own Store interface (not their own models) by March 31st. Is this all so messy because Steve Jobs is away from the driver’s seat? The future of tablet publishing is highly sensitized to this mess.

2. Trawling through the WikiLeaks cables leak regarding Egypt, it’s emerged that back in 2007 the State Department acted in an admirable way: It contacted Google to re-up videos (that had been taken down for unexplained reasons) showing government repression in Egypt. Considering Egypt was a major non-NATO U.S. ally at that time, it indicates the U.S. government’s caring side. Or appears to.

3. Having gotten their hands on a tablet running Google’s upcoming Android 3.0 OS, the guys at Engadget dove in and found something curious: There’s an option to encrypt personal data on the entire device using a PIN or password. Encryption takes an hour, and if the code is entered wrongly all the data on the tablet is lost. Handy–considering how portable tablet PCs are, and how much personal info is aboard.

4. Riding high on the wave of publicity surrounding its use in helping protesters in Egypt, Twitter has revealed a new plan for buying access to its firehose of data–using a metered pricing scale. “Power Track,” a joint effort between Twitter and Gnip (the site’s official reseller) costs $0.10 per 1,000 tweets and opens up Twitter’s data stream to smaller companies, other than Microsoft and Google.

5. Anonymous, the loose group of Internet activists, has struck again: It’s announced that it launched an attack on Egyptian government sites, and successfully brought them down. It’s a direct protest against the shuttering of the Internet in Egypt last week, and the suppression of political protesters. There’s no word yet on whether the FBI will be as aggressive in chasing Anonymous members as it was when the targets were in the U.S.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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