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Gadget Ogling: Amazon on Fire, Virtual Reality, True Nature and Energy Relief
September 20, 2014
Apple might be the flavor of the minute as new iPhones hit stores, but Amazon isn't ready to let its rival hog all the limelight. Without a flashy presentation, it unveiled a half-dozen new Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. There's a 6-inch Fire HD tablet priced at $99 and a 7-inch version for $139. The Fire tablets are reliably solid machines, and those are fantastically enticing prices.
Red Hat Slurps Up FeedHenry
September 19, 2014
Red Hat has inked a deal to acquire FeedHenry as part of a stepped-up initiative to support mobile application development. "Given the sheer number of mobile phones out there and the sheer adoption in the market at large of mobile technologies, our customers and prospects and target customer base are moving more and more toward mobile," said Mike Piech, Red Hat's general manager for middleware.
Apple Fills iOS 8 Security Basket to Brim
September 19, 2014
With data thefts and cybersnooping making headlines daily, security has started to capture the attention of the disciples of the digital lifestyle -- and if the latest version of iOS is any indication, it's catching the attention of Apple, too. Along with nifty features like Hand Off and Family Sharing, iOS 8 contains a number of significant security and privacy enhancements.
Amazon Gets All Fired Up
September 18, 2014
Amazon on Wednesday introduced a slew of new Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. It also unveiled a new OS based on Android KitKat. The top-of-the-line product is the company's Fire HDX 8.9, which sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, with each core running at up to 2.5 GHz, and a GPU that's 75 percent faster than that of the previous Fire HDX.
What Is the Apple Watch if Not a Watch?
September 18, 2014
The Apple Watch is not a watch. So what exactly is it? Or for that matter, what is any smartwatch from any other maker? No one has done a good job of creating a brand identity for the new segment yet. That leaves the space wide open. Rather than think of the smartwatch as a watch, we should think of it as a smartphone extension. It just happens to be strapped to your wrist and looks like a watch.
The Wearables Revolution
September 18, 2014
The wearables market heated up last week with Apple's introduction of its Watch and Apple Pay, and the implications for CRM are interesting. First off, the announcement shows how very young the wearables marketplace is and how far it has to go. Second, even though wearables are by nature devices intimately connected to us and our motivations, they are still devices, which should concern us.
Early iPhone 6 Reviewers Might as Well Be Rating Vacuum Cleaners
September 18, 2014
With every new iPhone release, Apple delivers a handful of new iPhones to a select few industry journalists to review. How are those journalists and publications selected? First, they are known to appreciate the Apple aesthetic -- they have written dozens of positive reviews. No Apple haters allowed, which makes sense. It's important to set the stage for positive vibes.
Sony's Mobile Malaise Lands It in Deep Ditch
September 18, 2014
Sony on Wednesday announced that it will post a loss of $2.14 billion for the fiscal year, far outpacing the loss it previously forecasted. It will take a quarterly write-down charge on the unit as a result. The reduction is due almost entirely to diminished growth in its mobile unit. Sony announced several changes to the unit, including adjusting its orientation away from sales.
FCC Chews on the Mobile Net Neutrality Question
September 17, 2014
The FCC on Tuesday hosted a roundtable discussion on the possibility of Net neutrality rules being applied to mobile networks. Participants in the talk included representatives from The Center for Media Justice, Consumers Union and CTIA. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this year suggested that the 2010 rules, which exempted mobile services from Net neutrality provisions, should be reconsidered.
iOS 8 Rolls Out With Oodles of Goodies
September 17, 2014
Apple made the latest version of its iOS mobile operating system available for download on Wednesday, and while it looks familiar, it contains lots of new delights not only for fans, but also for its legions of developers. "If you already have iOS 7, you're going to immediately know how to use this, but there's a lot of new features," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.
Microsoft's New Mobile Keyboard Swings 3 OS Ways
September 16, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a new, cross-platform mobile keyboard that's designed to work not just with Windows devices but also with those running Android and iOS. The keyboard includes an OS switch that lets users change from one operating system to another while maintaining full functionality. An integrated stand allows users to position their tablet however they like.
Medical Trials to Test Usefulness of Apple's HealthKit
September 15, 2014
Stanford and Duke Universities reportedly will use Apple's HealthKit in medical trials. Doctors at Stanford are working with Apple to let physicians track blood sugar levels for children with diabetes, while Duke is developing a pilot program to track blood pressure, weight and other measurements for patients with cancer or heart disease. The programs will roll out in a few weeks.
Rise of the Smartwatch
September 15, 2014
Taken separately, last week's announcements from Apple, Intel and T-Mobile were impressive. Intel and T-Mobile basically announced they were going to explode the existing mobile market, changing it dramatically. Apple embraced some slow-moving technologies, which should speed them up dramatically. I don't think what Apple announced is in the same league, but it also will drive change.
Apple Pay Rings Opening Bell in Banks vs. Retailers Match
September 15, 2014
Apple's unveiling last week of its Apple Pay NFC mobile payments system has triggered a clash between banks and the retail industry. Apple has lined up support from banks and credit card companies, but Best Buy and Walmart have said they will not support Apple Pay, according to reports. Instead, they will go with a competing mobile wallet application, CurrentC.
Facebook Asks Users to Bare Souls Over Ad Hiding
September 12, 2014
Facebook has updated its ad policy with two changes. One gives users the option of explaining why they don't want to see a specific ad in their News Feed. The second update takes this new policy a step further by giving more weight to the feedback provided from users who rarely hide ads. Facebook's goal is to identify ads that aren't good fits or are generally offensive.
Polar Buy Hints Google+ Not Left Out in the Cold
September 12, 2014
Google on Thursday announced its acquisition of online polling startup Polar. "At first, it was difficult to find the connection ... opinions and polls?" mused marketing and social media expert Lon Safko. Upon reflection, "the acquisition was about driving engagement and audience to websites," he said. "Polar makes it easy to engage with your followers."
Gadget Ogling: It's Raining Apples
September 12, 2014
It's usually around here that I introduce the column and tease the agenda, but since absolutely nothing happened in the gadget world this week, I'm going to take it easy. Oh, wait -- sorry. Apple happened. Welcome to a special edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly peek at just-announced gadgets. Of course, the big topic is Apple's iPhone 6 and its first wearable, the Apple Watch.
Verizon May Launch Have-It-Your-Way Internet TV
September 12, 2014
Verizon in the first half of next year will launch an Internet TV service that offers a selection of custom channels as well as a bundle of content from the Big Four networks, according to reports. Represented in the mobile-minded bundle will be not only content from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, but also millennials-focused programming from DreamWorks Animation's Awesomeness TV.
Apple Pay Could Slam Door on Data Thieves
September 11, 2014
Despite the efforts of some big name tech players, consumers have been reluctant to turn their smartphones into wallets. That could be about to change with Apple Pay. Apple Pay is the new mobile payment system Apple introduced with its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus earlier this week. "Apple being Apple is going to change the game," said Christopher Budd, threat communications manager at Trend Micro.
Apple's New iPhones: Ho-Hum and Controversial Too
September 11, 2014
Apple's new iPhones didn't take center stage at this week's big event. "The fact that they are ho-hum is interesting in itself," said Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research. "Apple is now a company that follows rather than leads." Apple is "at least 18 months late with a large screen device," he pointed out, and its Apple Pay mobile payment feature is "not exactly new."
Apple's Cook Hits It Out of the Park
September 11, 2014
Apple made its annual iPhone announcement Tuesday, and there were several surprises, including one of those Steve Jobs "one more thing" moments. Now the question is, will the two new iPhones, Apple Pay and Apple Watch be a home run? Generally speaking, yes -- but with some caveats. The iPhone is coming in two new sizes. One is larger, meaning longer. The other is even larger, meaning even longer.
The Importance of Openness to the Internet of Things
September 10, 2014
Consumers today are in an awkward position. Personal privacy is being wiped out by the Internet. At the same time, new technologies that interconnect our devices, homes and offices are offering stupendous advantages. Welcome to the new Internet of Things' open world. "Openness" means something different depending on whether you're basking in the convenience or contributing to a vendor's cash flow.
Comcast Ad Tinkering Could Muck Up WiFi Security
September 10, 2014
Comcast has begun using JavaScript injection to serve ads for its services to devices connected to its publicly accessible Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the U.S. The ads are fleeting, but they can appear roughly every seven minutes. The program reportedly began months ago. "This practice is definitely concerning for multiple reasons," said the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Jeremy Gillula.
Apple Watch Dazzles Beyond High Expectations
September 10, 2014
Apple is almost never first to market in a product category, but when it does make its splash, it usually swamps all boats. That seems to be the case again in the smartwatch space. "Every other watch in the market is a beta version compared to what you're seeing coming from Apple," said analyst Michael Morgan. "None of us expected this to be a mind-blowing product," said analyst Trip Chowdhry.

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