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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.
Come September, Apple TV Will Outshine the iPhone
August 29, 2015
About Apple's September event... Apple's annual September media event is an oxymoron -- it's become almost entirely predictable. One year it introduces a major new iPhone redesign and the next it offers incremental iPhone improvements. And make no mistake about it, despite last year's Apple Watch debut, at the core of the September event is the critically important iPhone.
Apple Watch Nips at Fitbit's Heels
August 28, 2015
Despite disparaging sales reports, the Apple Watch is closing in on market leader Fitbit, according to a new IDC report. During the second quarter, Apple shipped 3.6 million watches -- 800,000 units behind Fitbit's shipments for the period. Shipments for all wearables during the quarter increased 223 percent from the same period a year ago, IDC reported, to 18.1 million units from 5.6 million.
Amazon Firing Spree Follows Fire Phone Flop
August 27, 2015
Amazon reportedly has given the boot to dozens of engineers who worked on its ill-fated Fire Phone. The purged staffers worked at Lab126, Amazon's secretive Silicon Valley-based hardware development center. Amazon also scaled back or killed off several other Lab126 projects, including a large-screen tablet, and it reorganized the center to combine two hardware units into one.
Shadow IT Feeds 'Man in the Cloud' Attacks
August 27, 2015
Shadow IT -- the use of unauthorized online services by company employees -- is a concern of cyberwarriors charged with defending business systems against network attacks. There's new evidence that those concerns are justified. A new attack vector on business systems leverages the synchronization features of services like Dropbox and Google Drive to perform malicious mischief.
Cortana Cozies Up to Android Users
August 26, 2015
Microsoft has released a public beta of its Cortana personal assistant for Android. The Cortana app can do most of the things Cortana does on Windows: set and get reminders; search the Web on the go; track information such as flight details; and begin and complete tasks across all a user's devices. Cortana will find answers on the Web in response to spoken or typed requests.
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."
iPhone Users Can Test-Drive Samsung Galaxy for One Thin Dollar
August 21, 2015
Samsung on Friday kicked off the Samsung Ultimate Test Drive, a new promotion aimed at drawing iPhone users into its fold. For just one dollar Samsung will provide iPhone users with a Galaxy smartphone -- models available include the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, as well as the S6 edge+ and Note 5 -- plus a month of cellular service. The promotion is open only to iPhone users.
Smartphone Sales Sag in China
August 21, 2015
China experienced the first-ever downturn in its smartphone market in the second quarter of 2015, and it was enough to drag global sales to a two-year low, Gartner Research said Thursday. The rest of the Asia Pacific smartphone market saw substantial growth in the quarter. iOS snatched a tad of market share -- about 2.4 percent -- from the other mobile operating systems.
Wireless Performance Studies and You
August 20, 2015
It appears both AT&T Mobility and Sprint deserve congratulations on their great performances, based on two just-released studies on the wireless wars. J.D. Power and RootMetrics revealed some interesting and surprising new information on this changing marketplace. For the fifth time, AT&T won first place with J.D. Power. For its part, Sprint showed significant performance improvement over the last year.
Devs Get to Poke Around With Marshmallow
August 20, 2015
Google on Monday announced the official SDK for Android 6.0, aka "Marshmallow." It also opened Google Play for devs to publish apps that target the new API Level 23 in Marshmallow. Google further updated the Android Support Library to v23, giving devs an easier way to make new platform APIs, such as permissions and fingerprint support, backward compatible.
Say Hello to Google's Kinder, Gentler Router
August 19, 2015
Google has unveiled OnHub -- a router that is not only good looking but also fast, secure and easy-to-use. It developed the router in partnership with TP-Link. "Many of us keep our router on the floor and out of sight, where it doesn't work as well," said Google Group Product Manager Trond Wuellner. "We replaced unruly cords and blinking lights with internal antennas and subtle, useful lighting."
FCC Fine Hints at End to Exorbitant Convention Center WiFi Fees
August 19, 2015
The FCC on Tuesday announced that Smart City Holdings had agreed to pay a $750,000 fine to settle allegations that it blocked personal mobile hotspots in several convention centers, forcing exhibitors and attendees to use its services instead, at $80 a day. Blocking FCC-approved WiFi connections is "patently unlawful," remarked Travis LeBlanc, chief of the commission's enforcement bureau.
AT&T Went Above and Beyond for NSA, Say Snowden Docs
August 18, 2015
The National Security Agency considered its relationship with AT&T unique and particularly productive, accordingto a report published Saturday. The information about the company's close ties with the agency came from the trove of documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. NSA lauded AT&T for its "extreme willingness to help," giving it access to billions of emails among other things.
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.
Report: Ad Blockers Are Killing Ad Dollars
August 14, 2015
About $21.8 billion in global ad revenues have been lost so far this year due to ad blockers, according to a report Pagefair released this week in partnership with Adobe. Consumers increasingly are opting for tools to shut down ads before they pop up. By next year, the U.S. alone should account for about $20 billion in blocked ad revenue, the report predicts.
Xiaomi Unveils Redmi Note 2 as US Twinkles in Its Eye
August 13, 2015
Xiaomi has announced its new Redmi Note 2, getting a jump on Samsung's announcement of two new smartphone entries. Xiaomi's Redmi Note 2 comes with a 2-GHz octacore Mediatek Helio X10 CPU and 16 GB of flash memory. The Redmi Note 2 Prime edition comes with a 2.2-GHz octacore MTK Helio X10 CPU and 32 GB of flash memory. The phones will sell in China at price points equivalent to about $125 to $140.
Android on BlackBerry Is Looking More Real
August 10, 2015
BlackBerry's upcoming slider handset, aka "Venice," will run on Android and will be available in the coming months for AT&T as well as T-Mobile, according to rumors that picked up steam over the weekend. This is not the first time rumors of a BlackBerry device running on Android have made the rounds. The company earlier this year hinted at the possibility at the Mobile World Congress.
Sprint Sinks to 4th Place, T-Mobile's Legere Gloats
August 6, 2015
Sprint continued to make progress in its turnaround during Q1, it said Tuesday. However, it apparently wasn't enough to keep the company from slipping to fourth place among major wireless carriers, exchanging places with T-Mobile, which climbed up to third. Among other things, Sprint cut postpaid customer losses in the quarter to 12,000 -- the lowest ever.
The Transformational AT&T, DirecTV Merger
August 6, 2015
AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV is more than a merger -- it is a transformational event that could change the entire television space. It has the potential to create such intense competition that it very well could transform the entire television space -- meaning cable TV, satellite TV and IPTV -- and blend it with wireless. It means more choice and more innovation.
Report: Apple Is Kicking the MVNO Tires
August 5, 2015
Apple is in discussions to become a mobile virtual network operator in both Europe and the United States, where it's already running a trial of its service, according to a media report. The MVNO idea may not advance beyond the test phase -- and if it does, it likely won't happen for some time -- at least five years. However, Apple on Tuesday issued a denial that it has held MVNO discussions.
Hey, Siri - Get Out Your Steno Pad
August 4, 2015
Apple reportedly is working on a service that will enlist Siri to transcribe voice mail messages for iPhone users. The service could roll out in 2016, possibly as a new feature in iOS 10. When a call is placed to a phone that has iCloud Voicemail enabled and you don't answer it, Siri will pick it up for you. If your caller leaves a voice message, Siri will notify you and send you a transcription.
AT&T to DirecTV Customers: Let's Stick Together
August 3, 2015
AT&T on Monday announced its first-ever nationwide package of TV and wireless services. The new bundle, which is being offered for US$200 per month, will be available beginning Aug. 10. It will include HD and DVR service for up to four TV receivers, along with unlimited talk and text for four wireless lines. Subscribers to the plan will get 10 GB of shareable wireless data.

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