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Amazon's Underground Unshackles Freemium Android Apps
August 31, 2015
Amazon last week freed a selection of Android apps of the in-app payment requirements necessary to enjoy them to their fullest. The value of the goodies in the apps labeled "Actually Free" comes to more than $10,000, Amazon said. The Actually Free apps can be accessed via Underground, a new app available from Amazon. Amazon Underground is essentially an expansion of the company's core mobile shopping app.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Bikes, Contactless Cards, and Roll-Up Keyboards
August 29, 2015
I never had much interest in riding a bicycle as a child, and although I now live in a tremendously bike-friendly city, I haven't found a way to learn without feeling like a total chump in public. Yet I am more interested than ever in leading a life on two wheels after discovering SmartHalo. This is a tool that attaches permanently to one's ride and turns it into a smart vehicle.
McDonald's Tips Android Pay Launch
August 24, 2015
An internal McDonald's memo labeled "proprietary and confidential" has been circulating, advising employees to get ready for a Wednesday launch of Android Pay -- the successor to Google Wallet, and Google's answer to Apple Pay. Google officially announced Android Pay this spring, during it's annual developers conference, saying only that Android Pay would launch with "Android M."
Gadget Ogling: Smart Rings, Breathalyzing Bike Locks, and Laptop-Sized Transports
August 15, 2015
Please, whatever you do, don't decide with your loved one it would be a good idea to get rings that vibrate only when you're trying to get in touch with one another. Omate and Emanuel Ungaro are offering schmucks the Ungaro ring, which does just that. It buzzes when one designated person, whoever that may be, sends a text message or calls you. It will retail for up to $2,000.
Samsung Doubles Down on Galaxy Phones
August 14, 2015
Samsung on Thursday unveiled two new devices, the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note5. The smartphones reportedly will be available in the United States starting Aug. 21. Samsung also announced its NFC mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, will launch in the United States Sept. 28. The Note5 reportedly incorporates many of the Galaxy S6's features and design elements.
PayPal Flies Solo on Nasdaq
July 21, 2015
PayPal on Monday returned to the Nasdaq as an independent company, no longer tethered to eBay. PayPal debuted at a market value 1.4 times its former parent -- $46.6 billion -- while eBay's capitalization shrunk to $34 billion. The companies agreed to split in September due to market pressures and some nudging by corporate raider turned shareholder value advocate Carl Icahn.
Swipes, Taps and Cursor Movements Can Foil Cyberthieves
July 16, 2015
Swipes, taps, cursor movements and other ways of interacting with electronic devices can be used to protect online merchants from Net fraudsters. Many people are familiar with biometric authenticators like irises, fingerprints and voices, but it turns out that how we behave with our machines, including typing speed and the use of keyboard shortcuts, can authenticate our identities, too.
Google May Goose Mobile Device Impulse Buys
July 15, 2015
Google on Wednesday announced that it is giving tablet and smartphone users more purchase options in an effort to respond to shoppers' "micro moments." Mobile devices influenced about 28 percent of in-store sales in the U.S. last year, noted Jonathan Alferness, vice president of product management for Google Shopping. However, "it's way too hard to buy things on your phone," he added.
Will PayPal Become the Next BlackBerry?
June 18, 2015
Recently I had a problem with a purchase, which led me to ask an important question: Will PayPal become the next BlackBerry? PayPal must update, or it will lose to new competitors like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, CurrentC and Square, whose intention is to reinvent the e-commerce and mobile payment space. PayPal was a great service when the Internet was young and consumers had no other choice.
Amazon May Try Out Delivery-Sharing
June 17, 2015
Amazon reportedly is developing a mobile app that will be the cornerstone of an Uber-type service for neighborhood package delivery. Under the scheme, the app would allow Amazon to compensate people to deliver packages in lieu of using a commercial carrier. People would pick up packages at Amazon's partnering brick-and-mortar stores, and make deliveries on their way to another destination.
A Stellar Progress Report for Mobile Retail
June 3, 2015
Any industry player sitting at the vortex of mobile marketing and retail has a great deal to be excited about at present. The marketplace is witnessing an incredible growth and innovation surge. At the end of last year, mobile technology clearly upped the ante -- creating fresh, breakthrough marketing opportunities for a merchant community looking to increase revenues while better controlling ROI.
Google's I/O Steers Devs to Photos, IoT, Maps and More
May 28, 2015
Google on Thursday kicked off its I/O developers conference with the introduction of a new app for better managing, organizing and storing photos, as well as an Android spinoff for the Internet of Things, and an offline feature for Maps. The new Google Photo application allows shutterbugs to back up photos automatically from any device to a personal home site on the Net.
Google Makes It Easier for Online Hunters to Gather Food
May 12, 2015
Google last week added an option that lets users place a food order directly from search results. Six providers are participating in the service: Seamless, Grubhub, Eat24, Delivery.com, BeyondMenu and MyPizza.com. More are expected to join later this year. This could provide Google with an entry into the growing food-delivery market. Consumers increasingly are searching online for food options.
Jawbone Gets a Charge Out of Amex
April 17, 2015
Jawbone on Wednesday announced two new, completely reworked fitness bands. The $99 UP2, which launched Wednesday, tracks activities and monitors the quality of sleep, doing so for up to seven days on a single charge. The $199 UP4 smartband, scheduled for release this summer, complements its biometrics-tracking with a mobile payment capability powered by American Express.
Gadget Ogling: Dashing Buttons, a Plug-In PC and a Smart Teakettle
April 7, 2015
Amazon Dash is a series of WiFi connected buttons you dot around your home for various products. Once you run out, hit the button, and Amazon will ship out more of what you need. Run out of things like trash bags, razors, detergent, diapers, paper towels, dog food or toilet paper, and Amazon can ship you more at the touch of a button. It's wonderfully simple.
WiFi Pays Retailers in Spades
April 1, 2015
EarthLink and IHL on Tuesday released a joint study that shines a light on the specific ways different types of localized WiFi networks are helping businesses, and how enterprises are adapting to the realities of a more mobile and data-centric world. Companies are changing their point-of-sale systems to try to stay competitive, the study indicates.
Mobile Banking on a Tear, Says Fed
March 27, 2015
The Federal Reserve Board has released its fourth annual study of consumers' mobile commerce behaviors. The report shows a continued boom in banking on mobile phones and other devices rather than at a teller desk. Central to the report's findings is the growing number of "banked" consumers -- those with full access to bank services -- who also use a smartphone.
Optimizing the Brick-and-Mortar Customer Experience
March 27, 2015
The retail industry has finally awakened to what customers always have known -- they don't distinguish too much between channels. Modern shoppers are happy to embrace the immediacy and experience of the physical store while also benefiting from the informed and personalized ease of shopping online. Retailers should translate the smartest online strategies into their in-store experience.
Square Reshapes Itself for Small Businesses
March 10, 2015
Square on Monday introduced two new services for small businesses: instant deposits; and protection for disputed purchases. Square, which six years ago began offering square-shaped mobile credit card readers for smartphones and tablets, has shifted its focus away from point-of-sale operations and toward data collection. The company processes millions of credit card swipes daily.
Mobile Wallets as Credit Card Killers
March 9, 2015
Years have spent trying to oust the credit card as the ultimate payment method. Publications and pundits have been quick to hail new technologies as "credit card-killers," and they're not without justification. The credit card has lost whatever futuristic luster it may have once had. Magnetic stripes wear out, plastic snaps in half, and the incessant manual inputting of 16-digit numbers becomes tiresome.
Apple Pay Cybercrime Burns Banks
March 4, 2015
Identity thieves are using Apple Pay to defraud banks of what could amount to millions of dollars. Due to weak authentication procedures at the institutions issuing the cards, fraudsters are able to use stolen cards to make purchases through Apple Pay. Before cards can be added to Apple Pay, they must be approved by the card issuer. Criminals are finding that process easy to game.
Android Pay: Mobile Payment Systems, Unite
March 4, 2015
Google this week confirmed that it's preparing to launch a mobile payments framework called "Android Pay." Google SVP of Product Sundar Pichai discussed the project at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Android Pay will be an API layer of Android. Google will incorporate standard features for mobile payments, such as tokenized card numbers, into an Android Pay software development kit.
Google Pads Its Wallet
February 24, 2015
Google on Monday announced a two-pronged thrust to beef up its efforts in the mobile wallet arena. It has struck agreements with Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile to preinstall the Google Wallet app, including its tap-and-pay functionality, on Android phones the carriers will offer later this year in the United States. The devices must run KitKat or later.
LoopPay Deal Rolls Samsung Into Mobile Pay Arena
February 19, 2015
Samsung has purchased mobile payments firm LoopPay to create its own digital wallet. LoopPay's contactless magnetic secure transmission technology works with magnetic stripe readers. "The one major advantage LoopPay/Samsung has over NFC and Google/Apple Pay is that currently it does not require a separate terminal to accept payments," noted Copper Mobile's Andrew Stern.
Yandex Asks Russian Authorities to Drop the Hammer on Google
February 18, 2015
Yandex has asked Russia's antitrust authorities to look into whether Google is breaking the country's laws by not allowing preinstallation of third-party services on Android devices. Three smartphone vendors told Yandex last year that they couldn't install its search engine as the default, the company claimed. Yandex is seeking to have the Android OS unbundled from Google Search.
Apple Pay Takes Flight on JetBlue
February 10, 2015
JetBlue on Tuesday announced that it will accept payments through Apple Pay in-flight. Passengers with an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or an Apple Watch, will be able to use Apple Pay to purchase snack boxes, food, beverages, onboard amenities and better seating. JetBlue will accept Apple Pay on select flights from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco beginning in mid-February.
Is an Apple Maps Upgrade in the Works?
February 9, 2015
The ad on Apple's job site is innocuous enough, seeking an engineering project manager for Apple Search. However, that raises questions about whether Apple has plans to further improve its Maps app, possibly by strengthening local listings, which are increasingly important to businesses. "Apple may well revamp its street maps, as that application has far more value in an increasingly mobile world," noted Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a research director at the 451 Group.
Instacart Bags $220 Million
January 14, 2015
Instacart on Tuesday announced it has raised $220 million, following a $44 million investment round in June of last year. The company uses a fleet of personal shoppers, who are independent contractors, to purchase and deliver items to customers. "The two main differentiators for Instacart are our focus on grocery and our strategy to partner with retailers," said Instacart's Nilam Ganenthiran.
Amazon Plans Fire Phone Do-Over for 2016
December 23, 2014
Amazon reportedly is working on a second iteration of its Fire Phone for release in 2016. Following the disappointing performance of the phone's first generation, it appears the company has gone back to the drawing board to determine the combination of features that will succeed. The first Fire Phone was "quite the learning experience," said analyst Michael Morgan.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
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Should social media sites be held accountable for terrorists' communications?
Yes -- They are providing a platform to facilitate murder and mayhem.
Yes -- Everything must be done to protect society from danger.
Maybe -- I'm not sure they have the technological capability to stop them.
Maybe -- I'm not convinced terrorists are using them for serious plotting.
No -- Authorities should monitor social networks to gather intelligence.
No -- Social networks are no different than phone carriers or mail services.