Your favorite mobile apps should soon be making it a lot more clear when they intend to use your data.

The Attorney General of California, Kamala D. Harris, announced Wednesday a deal with Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research in Motion; the companies agreed to strengthen privacy protection for users that download third-party apps to smartphones and tablet devices.

In the deal, the companies said they would require app developers to clearly spell out what data their apps can access and what the app or company does with that data. The deal also makes app store custodians such as Apple and Google, who run the App Store and Android Market, set up a way for users to report apps that don’t provide a clear-cut explanation of their privacy policies.

According to a statement from Attorney General Harris’ office, if an app developer doesn’t meet these new privacy-policy requirements, they could be charged with a crime under California law.

“California has a unique commitment to protecting the privacy of our residents,” said Harris. “Our constitution directly guarantees a right to privacy, and we will defend it.”

Android users are well aware that developers on the platform are required to ask them for permission before accessing their personal data, but they’re not told how or why their data is being accessed. Apple also doesn’t allow any software on its App Store that takes personal information without asking, but developers haven’t been transparent on that platform, either.

In fact, Harris’ office says, only five percent of all mobile apps offer a privacy policy. And developers across both platforms have come under fire recently for coding software that transmits users’ personal data unbeknownst to them.

That controversy managed to pique the interest of some members of Congress, who sent a letter of inquiry to Apple.

Should lawmakers intervene when the creators of popular platforms like Android and iOS may not be doing enough to protect the privacy of their users? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, TommL

More About: amazon, android, apple, blackberry, Google, Hewlett-Packard, iOS, microsoft, privacy, research in motion, RIM, webOS, windows phone

For more Dev & Design coverage:

1. Logitech M600

I had a chance to test this Logitech Touch Mouse M600, and I think it’s excellent. Its beautiful slim design feels just right under my medium-size hand, and its touch sensitivity works just like a touchscreen on a good smartphone.

Logitech’s smooth-scrolling software lets you fling browser pages just like an iPhone, and you can go back or forward in your browser with sideways gestures. The mouse’s clicking mechanism takes a little getting used to, but overall, it’s a huge win for Logitech.


Click here to view this gallery.

It was a week of superlatives, where we found unique smartphones of the present and future, a new candidate for the world’s tallest building, an ambitious deep space outpost and a iPhone dock/boombox that knocked our socks off.

SEE ALSO: Previous editions of Top 10 Tech This Week

Come along with us on a journey through tech and ideas from today and into tomorrow, as we lay down a gallery of Top 10 Tech This Week.

Here’s last week’s Top 10 Tech.

More About: blackberry, droid, iphone, smartphones, space, Top 10 Tech, trending

For more Dev & Design coverage:

BlackBerrys are working again in Cairo according to NBC News, after two days of disconnection by the Egyptian government. In a live report last night (2:29 a.m. Cairo time) NBC correspondent Richard Engel held his BlackBerry up to the camera and said that service had been restored.

Update: ABC News reporter Lara Setrakian tweeted 8 hours ago: “Cell phones coming back on line in Egypt, internet still seems to be out as of an hour ago.”

It’s unclear whether BlackBerry service has been restored to the rest of the country, or if it’s still functioning now, but Engel said of the restoration of BlackBerry service and its effect on the widespread unrest in Egypt, “I don’t think that’s going to fundamentally change the equation, but it is showing responsiveness.”

Engel said while BlackBerry service had been restored, he added, “I haven’t had a chance to check the Internet, but I assume that’s back on, too.”

Meanwhile, the crisis is now into its fifth day.

More About: blackberry, Egypt, Social Revolution, trending, Unrest

Tired of dealing with wires to charge your mobile device? The Energizer Inductive Charger lets you place your iPhone or Blackberry on its shiny black surface, where it immediately begins charging wirelessly.

Energizer’s $89 inductive charging station has been available for a few months, and the company’s been working on the various sleeves that must be placed on devices so they can work with it. So far, there’s a sleeve for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, a replacement door for the BlackBerry Curve 8900, and now, Energizer’s finally finished its iPhone 4 sleeve and sent it to us for review.

The charging station is a wedge-shaped piece of piano-black plastic that’s a little larger than a paperback book. It has two spots where you can place your mobile devices for wireless charging, and can accommodate both at once. There’s a USB port in the back to connect an additional device, letting you charge a total of three at the same time.

This inductive charger is compatible with the Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless charging standard adopted by the Wireless Power Consortium. Qi shows great promise — in fact, we’re so impressed, we named it one of the 8 Gadgets to Watch in 2011. The consortium members include Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, HTC, Verizon, Duracell, Energizer, Black & Decker and a few others — but notably missing so far is Apple. The idea is for all the products made by consortium members to be interoperable with each other.

Here’s a diagram showing how it works:

Does it work? Yes, and it seems like magic. The Qi system uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy instead of wires. When I plugged my iPhone 4 into its sleeve, all I needed to do was place it onto one of the targets on the charger, and its blue light began to glow, indicating that charging had begun. I like the way each of the two lights turn off, indicating the associated device is fully charged. When all are fully charged, the charging station goes into its energy-saving standby mode.

The plan for the Qi system is to build this wireless capability into devices, eliminating the need for an external sleeve, or in the case of the BlackBerry Curve 8900, a replacement door. Energizer says that according to iSuppli, there could be 234.9 million units with built-in wireless charging by 2014.

Whether that happens or not, for now, we have samples of the iPhone 4 sleeve and the BlackBerry Curve 8900 replacement door, and both are relatively unobtrusive. We also have the sleeve for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and it’s slightly bulkier, more like a case than a 3/4 sleeve like that of the iPhone 4. See the gallery below for pictures of all.

The iPhone 4′s sleeve is nowhere near as bulky as even the thinnest add-on external battery extenders such as the Mophie Juice Pack Plus. It’s thin, light at 1.6 oz, and only makes the 5.1 oz iPhone feel only slightly larger and heavier. In the case of the BlackBerry, look at the gallery below you’ll see that the door only adds a tolerable amount of depth to the current handset.

Using the charger in these sleeves couldn’t be easier. The iPhone 4 sleeve has a snug fit, so you won’t be leaving it in your pocket as you pull out your phone. The target area where you place the device on the charger is big enough so that it’s easy to get the device to start charging, even if you don’t place it exactly on the circular graphic.

There’s an added advantage to that sleeve — if you’re one who holds your iPhone with a finger underneath, covering up its tiny speaker, the sleeve redirects the speaker’s sound toward the front. It does the inverse for the iPhone 4′s microphone, directing its sound from the front rather than the bottom. I couldn’t tell a difference with the microphone, but I noticed the speaker sounds better with the sleeve on, an unexpected benefit.

So is it worth it? Are we so lazy that we can’t bother to plug in our phones to charge them? Probably. Maybe it’s not laziness, but the desire for convenience that makes wireless charging so appealing. I found myself much more likely to lay my iPhone onto this charger than to plug it in. And, it’s good to know this charger will still be able to accommodate any device that’s compliant with the Qi standard in the coming years. That’s when this will really pay off — when many devices have this wireless charging capability built in, and no sleeves required. Until then, even with the sleeves, I enjoyed using the system and highly recommend it.

Here’s a video showing how easy it is to charge your device by just placing it on the inductive charging station:

Energizer Inductive Charger

Place an iPhone in its special sleeve, and put it on the charger slab and it begins charging right away.

Energizer Inductive Charger

There’s room for two devices

Energizer Inductive Charger

Here’s a three-quarter view. The shiny surface is a fingerprint magnet.

Energizer Inductive Charger

There’s also a USB port for an additional device.

Energizer Inductive Charger

Here’s the underbelly of the charging station.

Energizer Inductive Charger

The charging sleeve fits snugly on the iPhone 4.

Energizer Inductive Charger

The blue light indicates that charging is underway.

Energizer Inductive Charger

While it would be better if it wasn’t necessary at all, the charging sleeve doesn’t add much weight or bulk to the iPhone 4.

Energizer Inductive Charger

It’s not exactly thin, but thinner than an auxiliary battery pack.

Energizer Inductive Charger

See how the iPhone 4 is not entirely covered up by this charging sleeve.

Energizer Inductive Charger

The top of the iPhone is exposed.

Energizer Inductive Charger

The back of the iPhone 4 sleeve covers up one of its most fragile parts, its glassy dorsal side.

Energizer Inductive Charger

iPhone 4 sleeve without the phone inside

Energizer Inductive Charger

It’s relatively thin and light, weighing just 1.6 ounces

Energizer Inductive Charger

That’s the Qi logo on the back.

Energizer Inductive Charger

This is the replacement battery door for the BlackBerry Curve 8990. We didn’t have a handset with which to test it, but it looks quite thin.

Energizer Inductive Charger

Another view of the BlackBerry curve 8990 replacement battery door.

Energizer Inductive Charger

This is the sleeve for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, significantly bulkier than the better-designed iPhone 4 sleeve.

Energizer Inductive Charger

Another view of the iPhone 3GS/iPhone 3G sleeve

More About: BlackBerry Curve 8900, Energizer, Energizer Inductive Charger, iphone 4, Qi, wireless charging

There was a lot going on at Mashable this weekend, where we got a sneak peek at a new BlackBerry, took a ride down memory lane with Wikipedia, figured out if it would be a good idea to buy a Verizon iPhone right now, and discovered a new feature for those runners who can’t get enough of the Nike+ GPS package.

For Dropbox aficionados, we went to the horse’s mouth, finding out ways to use that synchronization tool that you might have never thought of yourself. We found tips and techniques for users of all levels — a must-read for Dropbox users.

And finally, the weekend was packed with leisure-time tips and gadgetry, including a tiny speaker that might surprise you when it’s placed on a flat surface, another hilarious batch of 404 error pages, some crazy USB desk toys to chase the boredom away, and a snooty magazine calling out Mark Zuckerberg on his wardrobe choices. And then it all came to a close with The Social Network winning four out of six nominations — including “Best Picture, Drama” — at the Golden Globes.

Check it out — a great way to catch up on the weekend and start your week right:

News Essentials

BlackBerry Storm 3 Spy Pics and Specs Revealed [REPORT]

Wikipedia Celebrates 10 Years, But Will It Survive Another Decade?

Comparison: Verizon iPhone 4 and Two Hot New Android Smartphones [INFOGRAPHIC]

Nike+ GPS Update Lets Runners Play a Game of Tag

Zuckerberg Named One of 10 Worst-Dressed Men [PICS]

The Social Network Wins Big at Golden Globes

Helpful Resources

From the Dropbox Gurus: Ideas for Beginners, Intermediates and Wizards

45 New Social Media Resources You May Have Missed

Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week [CHART]

3 Ways to Design Your Own Clothes Online

Weekend Leisure

HANDS ON: Portable Speaker Creates Big Sound on Any Flat Surface [PICS & VIDEO]

Gang of Smart Mini-Copters Learns How to Build Stuff [VIDEO]

33 More Entertaining 404 Error Pages

10 Boredom-Busting USB Desk Toys

HANDS ON: A Paintbrush Stylus for iPad [VIDEO]

Top 10 Food Shots From Foodspotting’s 1st Year [PICS]

More About: blackberry, Dropbox, Nike+ GPS, twitter trends, Weekend recap, Zuckerburg

The BlackBerry Storm 3 has been whispered about and wondered about for months, but now there’s a murky trio of spy pics of RIM’s elusive smartphone for you to peruse.

A massive leak uncovered many of the mysteries of this upcoming smartphone from Research In Motion, said by BGR to be on its way in September.

With its Storm line, Blackberry bumbled the buggy first launch and nailed the second, so if the Storm 3 is anything like its respected predecessor the BlackBerry Storm 2, it might be worth the wait.

Looking a lot like last year’s iPhone with a bulbous back, the most impressive feature of the alleged BlackBerry flagship is the highest-resolution screen ever seen on a BlackBerry, 800×480 pixels, big numbers that mean its resolution is getting close to iPhone’s lofty “retina display” territory.

Check with BGR for the entire list of specs, but suffice to say this will be running a 1.2GHz CPU — it’s unknown if it’s a dual-core chip, but that’s plenty quick for smartphone these days. Now all we need to find out is how much this handset will cost and which service providers will be likely to carry it.

What about it, commenters? Will it be worth it to wait until September for the BlackBerry Storm 3?

Images courtesy of BGR

Disclosure: RIM was a sponsor of Mashable Awards.

More About: BlackBerry Storm 3, pics, rumors, Spy Shots, trending