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Samsung's Note7 Post Mortem Turns Up 2 Problems
January 21, 2017
Samsung is set to release the results of its Galaxy Note7 investigation on Monday, explaining the underlying causes of the problems that led to the phone's demise. The three independent quality control and supply chain analysis firms Samsung engaged to conduct the investigation concluded that the Note7 was affected by two separate issues. One was a battery issue; the other was the rush to market.
Apple to Jack Up App Prices in UK
January 18, 2017
Apple on Tuesday alerted its development community that it will be raising prices on apps sold through its App Store in the United Kingdom. Several factors influence App Store price tiers internationally, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes, and the cost of doing business, Apple said, noting that the factors vary by region and over time. App Store price increases also are ahead for India and Turkey.
Devs Alerted to Long-Delayed Android Wear 2.0 Reboot
January 13, 2017
Google is moving ahead with its long-delayed launch of Android Wear 2.0, an operating system for its emerging wearables ecosystem, which finally could decouple the smartwatch from the smartphone. A notice to developers states that Android Wear 2.0 will launch in early February, Android Police reported Wednesday. Google reportedly has been working on two new smartwatches as well.
Instagram Stories to Feature Video Ads
January 11, 2017
Instagram on Wednesday announced that businesses will be able to place immersive, full-screen video ads in its Stories feature, which has attracted 150 million daily users since its launch five months ago. Further, Instagram Business Tools will include insights on stories, which will allow business users to view the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual story.
iPhone at 10: The Best Is Yet to Come?
January 10, 2017
It seems like yesterday -- not 10 years ago -- that Steve Jobs took the stage at MacWorld to debut Apple's latest new gadget: the iPhone. The iPhone was three devices in one, he declared. It was a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device. The iPhone went on to become a critical contributor to the company's success.
Gadget Ogling: Floating Speakers, Neckbrace Audio, and Charming Caffeine Fixes
January 6, 2017
LG features twice in this edition of the column with two very different but similarly strange speakers. The "Levitating Portable Speaker" has as descriptive and accurate a name as the "Small Transparent Speaker" from last month's edition of this column. You can call it "PJ9" if you prefer the duller moniker. Yes, through the magic of electromagnets and a base station, this speaker will levitate and pump out audio in every direction.
Apple's Great App Store Sales May Not Signify Much
January 6, 2017
Apple's App Store racked up an all-time high of $240 million in sales on the first day of this year. On the whole, 2016 was a very good year for Apple devs, who earned more than $20 billion for their apps. "Apple has always had the most profitable ecosystem and app market in terms of revenue per user and price per app," said Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.
Snapdragon-Powered AR Smartglasses Are the Real Deal
January 4, 2017
Qualcomm on Tuesday debuted its groundbreaking Snapdragon 835 system on a chip at CES. Following the 835 launch, the company joined Osterhout Design Group in unveiling two new ODG augmented reality headsets, the R-8 and R-9, which are the first Snapdragon 835-powered devices to be announced. The Snapdragon SoC is the first chip built using the ultra-advanced 10nm FinFET process node.
Norton Core Router Gives Home Security a New Design
January 3, 2017
Norton by Symantec on Tuesday announced the Norton Core secure router for smart devices in the connected home at CES. The router protects up to 20 PCs, Macs, Android and iOS smartphones and tablets on a home network, and unlimited devices connected to the IoT. It will update its firmware in background mode automatically, said Ameer Karim, GM of consumer IoT security at Symantec.
Looking Ahead to CES: This Will Be a Big One
January 2, 2017
CES week is here, and it's the one week of the year I look forward to looking back on. CES is a killer show -- not because you are up to your armpits in interesting new products, but because it is so spread out that it'll kill your legs as you hike all over the damn place. One year, I walked so much I actually ripped the soles off both shoes. This show is weird, in that it really comes too early.
Evernote Toes the Privacy Line
December 31, 2016
Caught off guard by a huge backlash, Evernote recently abandoned its plan to let staffers read customer notes under certain circumstances. The plan would have allowed staffers to review private customer notes as a means of assessing the accuracy of its new machine learning technology. The company made a mistake in judgment, Evernote CEO Chris O'Neil acknowledged.
Gadget Ogling: Heightened Hearing, Toasty Toes, and Glass Speakers
December 22, 2016
Bose's latest earbuds are designed to help you tune in to the specific sounds you want to hear. Hearphones are a sort of blend of noise-cancelling earbuds and hearing aids. There are several presets in the app, with names like "focused conversation," "gym," "airplane" and "television." You can opt to crank up the volume on all sound from the world around you or turn it down.
Samsung May Unleash a Beast
December 21, 2016
Hot off the rumor mill on Wednesday is news of Beast Mode, a new feature Samsung may include in its upcoming Galaxy S8. Spotted in an EU trademark application, Beast Mode would apply to smartphones, mobile phones and application software for smartphones. The Galaxy S8 is expected to be the first smartphone built around Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor.
Salesforce Releases Texting Customer Service Chatbot
December 14, 2016
Salesforce has released LiveMessage, a chatbot that lets enterprises users engage customers through messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, SMS or MMS directly within its Service Cloud. Service agents can respond to customers on Facebook Messenger after accessing their records, for example, and the conversation automatically is appended and can be resumed later if necessary.
Apple AirPods Finally Good to Go
December 14, 2016
Apple has begun taking online orders for its wireless AirPods, and said it would start delivering the $159 earphones to customers, Apple Stores, resellers and carriers next week. At the iPhone 7 launch in September, Apple SVP Phil Schiller said the AirPods would be available in October. Missing the deadline for release of any hot product is bad news for a company.
Gadget Ogling: Rolling Records, Designing Lawns, and Placated Phones
December 13, 2016
RokBlok is a portable record player without a turntable. It's a block that dashes around the top of your records, and uses both its needle and built-in speaker to soundtrack your day. All you need to operate it are your records and a flat surface. If you'd like higher quality audio, you can connect it to your Bluetooth speaker or headphones. It's designed with protecting your records in mind.
Microsoft Trumpets Stellar Surface Sales
December 12, 2016
Microsoft announced robust sales of its Surface line ahead of the holiday season. November was the best month ever for consumer Surface sales, according to Brian Hall, CVP of Microsoft devices marketing. The sudden surge follows this fall's unveiling of the Surface Studio, the Surface Dial, and the Surface Book with Performance Base, which delivers twice the graphics power as its predecessor.
New Smartwatch OS Debuts on GitHub
December 9, 2016
Can a new smartwatch operating system based on Linux breathe some new life into the smart wearables market? Florent Revest hopes so. Revest, a French computer science student, on Wednesday announced the alpha release of AsteroidOS, an open source operating system that will run on several Android smartwatch models. Revest has been working on his OS for two years.
Fitbit Pulls Pebble From Rock, Hard Place
December 9, 2016
Fitbit has announced an acquisition deal with smartwatch maker Pebble. It clearly has been struggling, having laid off 25 percent of its staff earlier this year, when CEO Eric Migicovsky acknowledged that money was tight. "Fitbit is acquiring certain assets of Pebble, including key personnel and intellectual property specific to software and firmware development," a Fitbit spokesperson said.
Without Numbers, Cook's Apple Watch Claims May Be Hollow
December 8, 2016
Apple drew some pointed questions this week following CEO Tim Cook's vague response to reports suggesting Apple Watch demand has plummeted. The Apple Watch is on track to set a holiday sales record and post its best quarter ever, Cook said. Sell-through of the watch -- that is, units sold to consumers and not just stocked on retailers' shelves -- also is on track to reach a new high, he added.
SCOTUS Scuttles Apple's Big Samsung Award
December 7, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday spoiled Apple's hopes for a big payday, scotching the $399 million award in its successful patent infringement suit against Samsung. Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the Court's decision, which turned on what lawmakers meant by the term "article of manufacture." The appeals court had ruled that it encompassed the entire phone. The Supremes disagreed.
Amazon's Register-Free Grocery Shopping Could Disrupt Retail
December 6, 2016
Amazon on Monday unveiled a prototype convenience store called "Amazon Go," which uses mobile e-commerce, machine learning and computer vision to allow customers to make purchases without a cashier. The 1,800 square foot concept store in Seattle uses the company's Just Walk Out technology, which incorporates many of the same concepts found in self-driving cars, Amazon said.
iPhone Envy May Have Felled Galaxy Note7
December 6, 2016
Samsung's desire to match the iPhone 7 Plus led it to implement an aggressive design and manufacturing approach that led to problems with its Galaxy Note7 -- including some instances of the smartphones bursting into flames, Instrumental reported last week. Instrumental engineers tore down a Galaxy Note7, and found "tension between safety and pushing the boundaries," CEO Anna Shedletsky revealed.
Fitbit May Pick Up Pebble
December 5, 2016
Fitbit, the leader in the wearables category, is close to an agreement to buy struggling smartwatch maker Pebble for up to $40 million, in a move to gain the firm's intellectual property and software. The negotiations follow several months of financial turmoil at Pebble, which reportedly slashed its workforce by 25 percent in March and has rebuffed several prior offers to be acquired.
Apple Drone Fleet to Gather Maps Data
December 2, 2016
Apple reportedly has assembled a group of robotics and data-collection experts who will use drones to obtain data for updates to its Maps app. Apple, Google and others in the cartography space currently collect a lot of their data using motor vehicles equipped with high-tech gear. "That's a very expensive and time-consuming process," said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research.
Gooligan Ransacks More Than 1M Android Accounts
December 2, 2016
More than 1 million Google accounts have been breached by Android malware dubbed "Gooligan," Check Point reported Wednesday. The malware roots infected devices and steals authentication tokens that can be used to access data from various Google apps including Gmail, Google Docs, G Suite and Google Drive. It potentially affects devices running Android 4 and 5.
Netflix Offers Offline Option at Long Last
December 2, 2016
Giving in to years of customer pressure, Netflix has announced that a limited number of television shows and movies will be available for viewing offline without a live connection to the Internet. Customers have been asking for a way to view content on airplanes or other locations where Internet service might be unavailable or expensive, noted Eddy Wu, director of product innovation at Netflix.
Zenefits Pays the Piper
December 1, 2016
The California Department of Insurance this week announced fines totaling $7 million against startup Zenefits, a provider of cloud-based human resources services. The company's former leadership "created an anything goes culture at the Internet startup, resulting in numerous violations of licensing requirements to protect consumers," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
iPhone 8 Dreaming in Full Swing
November 29, 2016
Apple's latest iPhone was barely out of the gate when rumors began percolating about the company's next new phone. Although the iPhone 7 garnered mostly tepid reviews, initial inventories sold out quickly, and the company had to scramble to meet demand. That demand may have peaked, though, which may be why chasers of the next big thing are looking down the road.
Hype Video Broadcast App Has Niche Potential
November 14, 2016
The folks who brought Vine into the world last month introduced a new video broadcasting app called "Hype." Available for free from Intermedia Labs in the iTunes App Store, Hype not only allows users to broadcast live to the Internet, but also lets followers interact with their broadcasts in real time. At first blush, it might seem that Hype's offering closely mirrors Periscope and Facebook Live.
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Genesys Forrester Wave
What's your reaction to the new Nintendo Switch gaming console?
I'm excited -- can't wait to get my hands on one.
I'm mildly interested and probably will try it out.
It looks cool for the younger set but not serious gamers.
Nintendo has lost its way -- the Switch will flop.
No interest -- I'm a PlayStation fan.
No interest -- I'm an Xbox fan.
I only play games on my tablet or phone.