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Apple's HomePod Could Leave a Lasting Mark With Customers
February 15, 2018
Apple's new $350 HomePod could make an impact in several ways. In addition to providing listeners with highly praised sound quality, the smart speaker literally could make an impression on some of the wood surfaces it touches -- in the form of white rings. The HomePod can stream music to those who have an Apple Music subscription. It has a few other capabilities too.
Are Smart TV Designs Taking Home Security for Granted?
February 15, 2018
Millions of smart TVs from Samsung and some streaming devices from Roku recently were found to be vulnerable to cyberattacks, allowing intruders to take control and remotely change channels and volume settings, among other things, according to Consumer Reports research. Vulnerabilities were discovered not only in Samsung televisions, but also in TVs from TCL and other Roku-compatible brands.
With 4K HDR, Olympics May Be More Colorful Than Ever
February 8, 2018
The parade of Olympic athletes entering Pyeongchang could be quite colorful for a few reasons. Athletes from North and South Korea will enter together for the first time in more than a decade, and viewers at home will be able to see the ceremony and some events like never before. NBCUniversal has decided to make the XXIII Olympic Winter games available to cable and satellite partners in 4K HDR.
Critics Love HomePod's Sound but Rap Its Smarts
February 7, 2018
Critics have begun weighing in on Apple's HomePod smart speaker, and they're loving the device's sound but don't have much affection for its smarts. The HomePod's sound outclassed top-shelf competitor SonosOne, according to Matthew Panzarino. "The HomePod was the 'best' sounding. It's nuanced and subtle with great separation and clarity across all kinds of music," he wrote.
There May Be Gold in Them Thar Podcasts
February 2, 2018
User engagement with podcasts has been steadily increasing, and many listeners actually prefer longer-format content, based on results of Apple's Podcast Analytics reported this week. The service, which Apple launched late last year, gives podcasters a way to track performance metrics including number of listeners, total time listened and time per device.
Apple's HomePod Set to Barge Into Hot Speaker Market
January 24, 2018
HomePod, Apple's long-awaited entry into the torrid smart speaker market, will be available Feb. 9. The HomePod will be offered in white and space gray. It can be pre-ordered at Apple's website for $349 starting Friday. Unlike other smart speakers, which support a variety of music services out of the gate, HomePod will support the Apple Music subscription service exclusively.
Google Device Bug Chokes Home WiFi Networks
January 18, 2018
A bug in the software used by Google Cast devices such as Chromecast and Home can slow down or crash WiFi networks. The problem -- initially believed to be isolated to a particular router model made by TP-Link -- appears to affect models made by other manufacturers, including Asus, Linksys, Netgear and Synology. Complaints on a Google user forum brought the problem to light earlier this week.
Gadget Ogling: CES Edition
January 16, 2018
Roader's Time Machine Camera is designed to hang around your neck and, for up to seven hours of battery life, constantly capture what it sees. When you hit a button, it saves the last 10 seconds of footage and the following 10. You can send a low-resolution version of that 20-second clip to your smartphone immediately, and if you'd like to save a high-resolution version, you can grab that too.
Google Assistant Makes CES Splash
January 10, 2018
Since launching the original Echo smart speaker in 2014, Amazon has expanded its line of Alexa voice-activated devices to reach a dominant position in the marketplace. Realizing it has a bit of catching up to do and possibly may need to redefine the ground rules, Google this week put the consumer electronics world on notice that this no longer is a one-horse race. Google threw down its gauntlet at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.
Roku Takes a Different Angle on Voice-Controlled Home Entertainment
January 4, 2018
Roku on Wednesday announced new software and a licensing agreement for OEMs to develop smart speakers, soundbars and multiroom audio systems that will allow customers to control their home entertainment devices with simple voice commands. The company also introduced Roku Entertainment Assistant, a new smart speaker technology that allows customers to use voice commands on supported Roku-enabled devices.
E-Commerce Trends in 2018: Voice, Subscriptions, Personalization
January 4, 2018
The mushrooming popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home will fuel e-commerce in the coming year. "You're going to have a whole new frontier of commerce space driven through voice and brand recognition," said Michael Levine, marketing vice president at Photon. "It's going to be a different type of playing field for these brands.
Tech to Watch in 2018: Cryptocurrency, AI, Wearables
January 2, 2018
Guesswork is often involved in predicting the "next big thing" -- but with CES just a week away, the future is almost now. The annual trade show, as well as other industry events following one after another -- including ITExpo, Gitex and Mobile World Congress -- means there will be no shortage of product announcements, technology unveilings, and proclamations about the tech of the future.
The Tech Wars of 2018
December 11, 2017
We are coming up to the end of the year, and it's a good time to look forward. Stepping outside of politics and the obvious war between the Democrats, Republicans and common sense, there is the war between Amazon and Google, which likely will redefine the growth of digital assistants. There's also the war between Intel and Qualcomm in the personal computing arena.
Google and Amazon Square Off, Ignoring Customers in the Middle
December 7, 2017
A long-simmering dispute between Google and Amazon has escalated into a front-burner feud, following Google's decision to block its YouTube video service from Amazon's Echo Show, effective immediately, and from its Fire TV, effective Jan. 1. Google apparently decided to cut off YouTube as retaliation for Amazon's refusal to carry its products, including Chromecast and Google Home, on its website.
Facebook Messenger Promises Speedy Delivery of 4K Pics
November 21, 2017
Facebook on Tuesday raised the ante for messaging apps photo quality with the announcement of 4K support for Messenger. Starting Tuesday, "people can send and receive photos in Messenger at 4K resolution -- or up to 4,096 x 4,096 pixels per image -- the highest quality many smartphones support," wrote Facebook Messenger product managers Sean Kelly and Hagen Green.
Amazon Denies Rumored Plans for Ad-Supported Prime Video Service
November 14, 2017
Amazon has denied a report that it has been working on a free, ad-supported video platform to complement its subscription-based Amazon Prime Video service. Amazon has been in talks with various television networks, movie studios and other media entities about providing content to the site, according to the Monday report. Such a service would place Amazon in direct competition with Apple.
Amazon Cloud Cam Joins Burgeoning Smart-Home Ecosystem
November 9, 2017
Amazon has begun shipping its latest smart home product, a security camera that works with its Alexa personal assistant and Echo speakers. The Amazon Cloud Cam allows customers to live-stream activity inside their home 24/7. It features 1080p full HD resolution, two-way audio for communicating with family members or pets, night vision technology, and sophisticated identification algorithms.
Fake News: Amazon Wants a Key to Your House
October 30, 2017
I'm getting tired of headlines that present something you might want to do as something you'd have to be crazy to do. Last week was a case in point: Headline after headline shouted out that Amazon wanted to get a key to your house. The initial reaction was hell no -- but the reality is far more nuanced. You see, there are a lot of folks who live in places where their front entrance isn't secure.
Amazon to Let Delivery Drivers Open Your Front Door
October 26, 2017
Amazon has announced a new service that will allow Prime members to receive in-home delivery of packages with the help of high-tech smart locks that allow drivers to open their front doors. Amazon Key will launch officially on Nov. 8 in 37 U.S. cities and surrounding communities, with additional locations to be added over time. The service will be available at no extra cost to Prime members.
Harman Kardon's Cortana-Powered Smart Speaker Underwhelms
October 21, 2017
Early reviews of the Harman Kardon Invoke with Cortana -- the smart speaker that features Microsoft's personal assistant -- have been lukewarm at best. The speaker will be available in the U.S. starting Sunday. Like Amazon's Echo line and Google's Home speakers, Invoke lets users play music, manage calendars, set reminders, check traffic, get news reports, and control other smart home devices.
Google Assistant Shines in Pint-Sized Home Mini
October 12, 2017
The first wave of reviews touting Google's Home Mini smart speaker surfaced this week, following reports that the company had to quash a top touch function to prevent the device from accidentally activating and recording conversations without users' knowledge. Google has promised to update the device by Oct. 15. The Home Mini can provide reports on weather, traffic, news, sports and more.
New Kindle Oasis E-Reader Can Take a Dunking
October 12, 2017
Amazon on Wednesday pulled the wraps off a new premium e-reader that's waterproof and has a sharp 300 pixels-per-inch display. The Kindle Oasis has a 7-inch Paperwhite display and sports an aluminum back and ergonomic shape that makes it easier to read for prolonged periods. It has a battery life measured in weeks, and it can charge from zero to full power in two hours.
Google Pixel 2: 8/10ths of an Apple-Killer Strategy
October 9, 2017
What would it take to cause Apple to fail? While Steve Jobs was alive, the prevalent belief was that it would take his removal from the company. That has happened, but Apple's valuation and reserves are higher. Although the foundational element was removed, no one really went after Apple hard until last week, when Google launched a comprehensive strategy that clearly targeted the company.
Gadget Ogling: Same Old Apple
October 6, 2017
Watching Apple's product announcement showcase is a bit like celebrating New Year's. People from all over the world are drawn to this annual event with the promise of something new and exciting, a vision of tomorrow and untold promise. Yet the more it comes around, the more disappointed we are. That promised kiss from a stranger at midnight is a dud. Our best intentions fall by the wayside.
AI Ripples Through Google's New Product Lineup
October 5, 2017
Google on Wednesday launched a bevy of new products into its growing hardware and software ecosystem at its Made by Google event. Many of the new devices are infused with artificial intelligence capabilities. "Since last year and since Google I/O, we've been working hard, continuing our shift from a mobile-first to an AI-first world," Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the gathering.
Anticipating the Smart World of 2027: A Billion Cameras and AI, Oh My...
October 2, 2017
Nvidia went to China last week and made a series of interesting announcements having to do with smart cities and autonomous cars. IBM made an announcement on advancements in tying the Weather Channel to its Watson artificial intelligence engine, and improvements in targeted marketing. We also found out about Oculus' Fall in Love VR project which is kind of like the The Bachelor.
Amazon Deploys Army of Echoes Against Oncoming Threats
September 29, 2017
Amazon has unveiled five new Echo products that raise the bar in the automated home market. Among other things, Amazon has improved the sound quality in its second-generation Echo speaker to compete with several new competitors in the high-end audio segment. The new Echo, which is more compact and comes in a variety of shell colors and finishes, offers more immersive sound.
Google Assistant Goes to Work for Nvidia's Shield TV
September 29, 2017
Nvidia on Thursday announced that its Shield TV now includes Google Assistant as part of its Shield Experience Upgrade 6.0 update. The update also lets the Shield device work as a SmartThings Hub when paired with a SmartThinks Link. The SmartThings Link, which can be used to connect Shield TV as a SmartThings Hub, will be released in the coming months with a promotional launch price of $14.99.
Cloudflare Stream Promises Easy, Cheap Video Hosting
September 28, 2017
Cloudflare on Wednesday released the beta version of Cloudflare Stream, a new, inexpensive streaming video service. Designed for app developers who want to build businesses hosting and streaming videos, Cloudflare Stream bundles encoding, global delivery and video player software into one package. These functionalities can be separated upon request.
Amazon's Alexa May Get Into Your Head
September 21, 2017
Developers at Amazon's secret Lab 126 reportedly have been working on audio-only smart glass technology that would allow users to communicate with its virtual assistant Alexa. The smart glasses would connect wirelessly to users' smartphones and transfer communications through a bone-conduction audio system that would negate the need for headphones. Amazon plans to release the device this year.
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If the FAA approved the use of autonomous drones as passenger "air taxis" for short commutes, how interested would you be in riding in them?
Very -- too much of my life is wasted in clogged traffic.
Not interested -- even if they were safe, they would be ridiculously expensive.
I'm looking forward to them -- smart machines will save human lives.
I'm skeptical -- but if they proved reasonably safe, I'd get on board.
I'd use them -- human pilots could take over remotely if necessary.
No way -- I would want a human on board to take over in an emergency.
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