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Bill Aims to Keep States From Banning Smartphone Encryption
February 11, 2016
United States Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, last week introduced legislation to prevent states from passing laws banning the sale of smartphones with encryption capabilities. The bill aims to shut off attempts by the FBI, NSA and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to force high-tech companies to include security or encryption backdoors.
Twitter's New Algorithm Raises De-Democratization Fears
February 10, 2016
Twitter on Wednesday gave users the option of using a new algorithmically organized feed that would deliver more relevant messages -- not necessarily the newest -- first. The new approach to disseminating tweets was spearheaded by Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey, who is under pressure because of the company's lack of growth. Compared to other social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter is lagging behind.
Twitter Creates Advisory Panel on Tweet Speech
February 10, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday announced the formation of a panel to advise it on speech, abuse and safety issues. The Trust & Safety Council, which has more than 40 members, will be part of a strategy to help people feel safe when they express themselves, said Twitter's Patricia Cartes. The council "will help us tap into the expertise and input of organizations at the intersection of these issues."
Facebook Warned to Toe France's Privacy Line
February 10, 2016
CNIL, France's data protection authority, on Monday formally gave Facebook three months notice to comply with the French Data Protection Act. A working group of regulators from several countries recommended the action. On-site and online inspections, along with a documentary audit, disclosed that Facebook had failed to meet the requirements of the French Data Protection Act, CNIL said.
India Trades Free Basics for Internet Freedom
February 9, 2016
India's Telecom Regulatory Authority on Monday ruled in favor of Net neutrality, effectively banning Facebook's Free Basics Internet access app. "This is a very important decision for the future of the Internet in India," said Barbara van Schewick, director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, whose paper the TRA cited in its ruling.
Twitter Clobbered Over Timeline Algorithm Plans
February 9, 2016
Twitter plans to introduce an algorithmic timeline, possibly this week, according to a report last week. The algorithm would organize tweets based on relevancy. Twitter users criticized the idea using the hashtag #RIPTwitter, prompting CEO Jack Dorsey to respond: "Regarding #RIPTwitter: I want you all to know we're always listening. We never planned to reorder timelines next week."
New Safe Harbor Pact Offers Temporary Port in Storm
February 9, 2016
Through an eleventh-hour maneuver, the United States and the European Union last week avoided action that could have choked the movement of data between the regions and caused financial harm to U.S. companies. It may be only a temporary respite, however. The problem stems from a European Court of Justice decision in October that blew up an agreement between the regions.
LinkedIn Stock Tanks Despite Company's Professed Confidence
February 8, 2016
LinkedIn last week lost about $11 billion in market valuation after it provided a 2016 revenue forecast that fell short of analysts' expectations. The company's stock fell by as much as 44 percent Friday afternoon, with shares hitting a three-year-low of $108. LinkedIn generated $862 million in revenue in its fourth quarter of 2015, a 34 percent gain year over year.
Intel Reports Progress in Achieving Diversity
February 6, 2016
Intel this week released a new report showing some major improvements and continued challenges in its effort to achieve workforce diversity, and challenged rival companies to show their cards. The report comes a year after Intel CEO Brian Krzanich pledged to make improvements amid a sea of criticism about the industry's domination by young white males.
Uber Makeover Draws Derision
February 4, 2016
Uber on Tuesday unveiled a new logo, the culmination of a two-year effort to develop a rebranding strategy. The new logo will be depicted in the Uber app in colors localized to each of the 65 countries where the company has a presence. For example, it's pink in Mexico, red in India, gold in China and oak in Ireland. The colors and patterns are meant to bring out Uber's human side.
Google to Put Self-Driving Cars Through Rainy-Day Paces
February 4, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it has chosen Kirkland, Washington, as the next location to test its self-driving cars. It picked Kirkland as the third test city to give the cars more experience driving in new environments, traffic patterns and road conditions. Google has conducted testing mainly at or near its campus in Mountain View, California. Last year it expanded to Austin, Texas.
Microsoft Acquires SwiftKey to Advance AI Goals
February 4, 2016
Microsoft on Wednesday announced an agreement to acquire SwiftKey, whose software keyboard and SDK are used on more than 300 million Android and iOS devices. SwiftKey's technology aligns with Microsoft's vision for more personal computing experiences "and directly supports our ambition to reinvent productivity by leveraging the intelligent cloud," said Microsoft's Harry Shum.
The Next President's Alternative Energy Agenda
February 4, 2016
Alternative energy has become a real growth engine during the last several years. It seems to bounce up and down, depending on the leadership in the White House. President Obama is a supporter, so growth has been relatively strong in recent years. The big question is, what will happen under a new president? That is a question every investor and industry worker is asking.
Virtual Reality May Be Coming Around Again for Nintendo
February 3, 2016
Nintendo is looking into virtual reality, 20 years after its failed Virtual Boy console, suggest reports that surfaced Tuesday. Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly described VR as "interesting technology" during an earnings call to discuss the company's Q3 financial report. With VR finally poised to break into the mainstream, it could find a way forward by returning down an old path.
Alphabet Leapfrogs Apple to Top of the Heap
February 3, 2016
Google's new parent, Alphabet, sent a tingle up the spine of investors on Monday after reporting fourth quarter earnings that exceeded expectations. The good news sent its share price skyward, resulting in a market valuation that surpassed Apple, which for years has been the most-favored technology firm on Wall Street. Alphabet reported adjusted earnings of $8.67 per share.
Europe, US Cut 11th Hour Safe Harbor Deal
February 3, 2016
Europe and the United States on Tuesday announced a new Safe Harbor agreement that neutralizes the threat of enforcement actions against domestic companies handling overseas data. The EU-US Privacy Shield aims to protect the privacy of data belonging to European citizens when it's handled by U.S. companies. It "will protect the fundamental rights of Europeans," said EU Commissioner Vera Jourová.
Harvard Researchers Debunk Warnings of Terrorists 'Going Dark'
February 2, 2016
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University on Monday released a report that questions the so-called "going dark" phenomenon. The U.S. government and surveillance and law enforcement agencies have been calling for an end to encryption because they say it lets terrorists communicate with impunity and is responsible for the inability of law enforcement to monitor communications.
Report: Apple Has Assembled a Crack Team of VR and AR Experts
February 1, 2016
Apple reportedly has hired a team of hundreds of workers as part of a plan to develop a new set of virtual reality headsets. The report came on the heels of Oculus VR finally taking preorders on its Rift virtual reality system, which it is offering for $599. The Rift is scheduled to begin shipping on March 28. Apple reportedly also poached a number of experts in the field from other companies.
T-Mobile's Binge On May Run Afoul of Net Neutrality Rules
January 29, 2016
T-Mobile's Binge On streaming video service violates Net neutrality rules, according to a report authored by Barbara van Schewick, director of The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Among the reasons the Binge On service may be problematic: It doesn't offer unlimited video streaming, raising transparency concerns; and it gives participants a competitive advantage.
Report: Amazon Primes Spotify Alternative
January 29, 2016
Amazon has been in licensing talks with music industry executives as it prepares a rival to Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming music services, according to a news report Wednesday. It's targeting a fall launch. Amazon already offers 1 million tracks through its Prime Music service, but that pales in comparison to Spotify's 30 million-strong collection.
Starry Eyes Speedy Internet Access
January 28, 2016
Project Decibel on Wednesday announced Starry, a company that promises easy broadband Internet access at speeds of up to 1 GB with no caps. Starry will deploy what it says is the world's first millimeter wave band for consumer Internet communications. Initial deployment will be a beta in Boston in the summer. Starry has an FCC license to run pilots for 24 months in Boston and 14 other cities.
Facebook Bathes in Q4 Mobile Magnificence
January 28, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday reported earnings of 79 cents per share on $5.84 billion in revenue for Q4 2015, and annual revenue of $17.93 billion, an increase of 44 percent year over year. Net income for the full year ended Dec. 31 was $3.69 billion. Analysts reportedly had expected per-share earnings of about 68 cents on revenue of $5.37 billion for the quarter.
Sprint to Lay Off Thousands of Customer Service Reps
January 28, 2016
Sprint plans to lay off about 2,500 employees, including five vice presidents, according to news reports this week. About 2,000 of the cuts are in customer service. The company reportedly will close or reduce operations at six customer care centers: at its Overland Park headquarters in Kansas and in Colorado, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
FCC Chief Proposes End of Set-Top Box Rule
January 28, 2016
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday announced that he'd shared with colleagues a long sought-after proposal to loosen the set-top box's grip on home entertainment. The proposal seeks to spur competition and consumer choice in an arena dominated by large cable and satellite television providers. Wheeler's proposal would provide a mechanism for creating new ways to access video content.
Feds Embrace Salesforce Platform Offerings
January 28, 2016
The U.S. government has authorized an information technology contract with a potential value of $503 million that is designed to meet newly adopted goals for greatly improving IT acquisition. The General Services Administration, which issued the contract for software and cloud-related services, described the acquisition approach as a first-of-its-kind initiative.
Wall Street Backs Off Apple
January 28, 2016
Their fears confirmed, investors were bearish on Apple Wednesday, the day after the company reported its slowest-growth quarter ever. The company's shares closed the day at $93.44, down 6.55 percent. In its Q1 earnings report, Apple prepared investors for what may come next: its weakest quarter for iPhone sales in 13 years. Even worse is its gloomy forecast for next quarter's iPhone sales.
GoPro Shooters Can Send Live Streams Up Periscope
January 27, 2016
GoPro on Monday announced an integration with Twitter's Periscope app that allows live streaming from a GoPro Hero4 camera. Periscope users can switch between broadcasting from their iPhone's camera to their GoPro directly from the phone screen with the touch of a button, GoPro said. The feature allows GoPro shooters to use the Periscope interface like a production switchboard.
Sony's Gaming Biz Coming to America
January 27, 2016
Sony on Tuesday announced plans to merge its PlayStation operations in a new company to be headquartered in the U.S. Sony Interactive Entertainment will open for business on April 1, starting with $2 million in operating capital. The new California-based firm will merge the operations of Japan-based Sony Network Entertainment International and Sony Computer Entertainment.
3D Printing: Innovation's New Lifeblood
January 27, 2016
To many, 3D printing is little more than a toy. A toy that mostly prints toys. To others, it's a prototyping tool good for a hands-on feel of a manifested idea but not much more. Yet for a select few, 3D printing is the heart of innovation, and each new iteration is pumping the future's lifeblood. Here are some of the innovations 3D printing is bringing to life.
iPhone Sales Could Be Slowing
January 26, 2016
In the runup to the release of Apple's Q1 2016 earnings report Tuesday, one of the big unanswered questions was whether the iPhone could maintain its sales momentum. Q1 2015 iPhone sales hit a record 74.5 million units, and it's possible the latest quarter's shipments may not equal -- let alone exceed -- that mark. IDC has forecast of slowing sales industrywide for 2016.
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4-inch iPhone?
I'm in -- I'd love to have a smaller iPhone.
I prefer a larger iPhone, but it's good to have more options.
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