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Uber Hustles to Buff Up Its Image
August 29, 2014
Uber is attempting to polish its image with a defense of its driver recruitment tactics following publication this week of accounts of sabotage, dirty tricks and generally ruthless behavior toward Lyft and other competitors in the ride-sharing space. "We want to make sure everyone has access to Uber's unmatched economic opportunity," Uber's "Craig" innocently said in a blog post.
Twitter Lets Ordinary Users Get Analytical
August 29, 2014
Twitter this week announced that its analytics tool now can be used by everyone. Twitter's analytics tool lets users click on any tweet to see how people engage with it in real time. They can compare their tweet activity month over month and see how they trend over time. Users also can click on a tweet to see the number of retweets, replies, favorites, follows or clicks received.
Apple's About to Kick Mobile Payments Into High Gear
August 29, 2014
Rumor has it that when Apple reveals its much-hyped iPhone 6 on Sept. 9, one of the features it will be trumpeting -- finally -- is near field communication. The NFC tech will enable mobile payments, Wired reported, citing sources "familiar with the matter." Wow. If this is true, it could be the catalyst that propels mobile payments into the mainstream.
Samsung, LG Unveil Smartwatches With Sex Appeal
August 28, 2014
Samsung and LG both announced brand-new smartwatches on Wednesday in the run-up to next week's IFA 2014 consumer electronics trade show in Berlin. Featuring a sleek, curved Super AMOLED display along with 3G, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, the Samsung Gear S runs Tizen and allows users to make and receive phone calls. It has customizable screen options and changeable straps.
A Big Honking iPad Could Roll Right Over Apple's Speed Bump
August 27, 2014
While the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is working to establish itself as the perfect tweener device between tablet and laptop, one hot rumor suggests that Apple's answer for more working space on an iPad will come in the form of a bigger screen -- 12.9 inches of touch-sensitive glory. The rumor comes from Bloomberg, which vaguely cited "people with knowledge of the matter."
Instagram Hyperlapse Sparks Time-Lapse Video Craze
August 27, 2014
Instagram has released Hyperlapse, a free iOS app that takes the jitters out of time-lapse video. Just two weeks ago, Microsoft demonstrated a similar technology that bears the same name. The Instagram app "is the most impressive effect to hit smartphone video in recent memory," said Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research. An Android version is not yet available.
California Lays Down the Kill-Switch Law
August 27, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill requiring that anti-theft measures be incorporated into all smartphones sold within California. It doesn't specify the particular technologies used to enable that capability, but it does require that the feature, also known as a "kill switch," give smartphone users the ability to remotely disable their devices in the event they're lost or stolen.
Facebook Trains Sights on Clickbaiters
August 26, 2014
Clickbaiting may soon come to an end on Facebook, which has launched an effort to deal with the problem. Posts with clickbait headlines get higher placement in News Feeds, pushing down more desirable content. Eighty percent of the time, users prefer headlines that help them decide whether they want to read a full article before having to click through, a Facebook survey indicated.
Google Gives Glass a Good Polish
August 26, 2014
An update to the software that runs Glass gives users of Google's wearable computing device more control over their interactions with contacts. The latest version of the software -- also known as version XE20.1 -- adds the flexibility to choose how to reach out to a contact after selecting the person from the contacts list. Users now can swipe between Hangouts, email or SMS.
Amazon Aims to Skewer Google's Cash Cow
August 26, 2014
Amazon appears to be readying an advertising platform to compete with Google's AdWords. It reportedly has started talking up its new Amazon Sponsored Links platform with potential partners and is anticipating a launch later this year. Ads from the new platform would replace those from Google currently found on Amazon Web pages. They also would be sold outside the Amazon universe.
Gadget Ogling: A New Nook, a Good (M8), a Lock With No Key - and Music, Music, Music
August 26, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook conflates lots of different things: It's an Android tablet designed for reading, made by Samsung for Barnes & Noble. That might seem confusing, and I'd agree. It's essentially a branded version of the Galaxy Tab 4 with an e-commerce focus. Specifically, there's a Barnes & Noble Newsstand app, with games, movies and books on offer.
China to Go Its Own OS Way
August 26, 2014
China is developing a homegrown operating system that could be ready as soon as October as part of an effort to wean itself from Western-made software, according to a Sunday report from the government news agency. The new operating system first will appear on desktop devices and then be extended to smartphones and other mobile devices in three to five years.
'iWatch' Could Be Late for a Very Important Date
August 22, 2014
Apple may be forced to postpone the launch of the hotly anticipated "iWatch" or health band, perhaps pushing it back to 2015. It apparently is facing wide-ranging production issues involving components, system design, manufacturing, and integration between hardware and software. Holy macaroni. Of course, it should be noted that Apple has never said that it would deliver anything of the sort.
Sprint's Moment of Truth
August 21, 2014
The good news for Sprint is the stars seem to be lining up for a recovery. Change is occurring throughout the entire wireless industry. Every player -- including AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and C Spire Wireless -- is changing. We will start to see lots of new services, pricing, competition and marketing going forward.
HTC (M8)s With Microsoft
August 20, 2014
HTC, which in recent years spurned Windows Phone for Android, on Tuesday returned to the Microsoft fold with the launch of a Windows Phone version of its flagship HTC One (M8) smartphone. The HTC One (M8) for Windows debuted as a Verizon Wireless network exclusive. The two-year contract price at Verizon Wireless is $200. AT&T also will carry the phone, but it hasn't said when that will be.
Leaked Moto 360 Specs Impress, Price Point Iffy
August 20, 2014
Specs of the forthcoming Moto 360 smartwatch from Motorola appeared briefly on a Best Buy Web page, sparking increased chatter about the device. Concerns about price -- the watch was listed at $250 -- tempered the usual gasps of delight from geeks. Amazon lists a Samsung Galaxy Gear for $150, a Gear Live for $180, a Gear 2 Neo for $200, a Pebble Steel for $230, and an LG G Black Titan for $233.
The Many Faces of Multivariate Testing
August 14, 2014
When Facebook and OKCupid recently admitted they had been tinkering with headlines and content to see how users reacted, many consumers were outraged -- but the business community just shrugged. What the companies were doing was simply a form of multivariate testing -- albeit in the case of OKCupid, it was particularly aggressive. The practice itself has been around for years.
Amazon Flows Into Mobile Payments Territory
August 13, 2014
Amazon has introduced Amazon Local Register to the mobile payment market, taking on such companies as Square and Paypal Here. The product is a combination of a secure card reader, which sells for $10, and a free mobile app. Together, they offer a platform that allows businesses to accept credit and debit card payments using smartphones or tablets. The product comes with customer support.
Siri Creators Have a Much Smarter Bun in the Oven
August 13, 2014
The inventors of Apple's Siri personal assistant have launched an independent effort that could make their first offspring look kind of dumb. Billed as "the global brain," Viv aims to provide an intelligent interface to everything. "They are trying to abstract Siri's [natural-language processing] interface so you could apply it into other applications and domains," said Tempo AI CEO Raj Singh.
The Connected Car, Part 2: Wired For Wireless - It's All Business
August 12, 2014
The connected car is a battlefield among technology purveyors fighting to get their hardware plugged into the vehicle's network bus. Open source technology is becoming a key contender. OEMs are sorting through a garage full of options from versions of embedded Linux to the Automotive Grade Linux distro and the Android car platform. The connected car concept is picking up speed.
Smartphone Kill Switch Law Reaches California Governor's Desk
August 12, 2014
California is poised to enact a consumer-friendly law requiring smartphone manufacturers to install "kill switches" -- that is, antitheft technology that would be activated by the carrier when a consumer alerts it that a device has been stolen or lost. The technology not only wipes the device of personal data but also renders it inoperable. The state legislature passed the bill on Monday.
What's Next for Sprint?
August 12, 2014
There's a New Sprint in town. Last week the earth shook twice in Kansas City -- once when Sprint decided not to end its pursuit of T-Mobile, and then again when it replaced CEO Dan Hesse with Marcelo Claure. What can we expect next? First, Sprint is going to be a very different kind of company going forward. New CEO Marcelo Claure and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son will take Sprint on a new path.

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