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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."
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.
Fitbit Hooks Up With Windows 10
August 14, 2015
Fitbit on Thursday introduced a new app for Windows 10, Windows 10 mobile and Xbox One, scheduled for availability later this year. The Fitbit for Windows 10 app features an improved design that allows users to personalize the way they utilize Windows devices as part of a fitness routine. It handles traditional fitness tracking and provides the user with advice to help reach overall fitness goals.
Bring On the New Apple TV - Streaming Service or Not
August 5, 2015
I've been waiting for a new Apple TV from Apple for years, and I've been disappointed each time a major Apple event came and went without one. Plus, I've been waiting for Apple to come along and disrupt the cable/satellite TV bundling status quo with some sort of a la carte streaming service, also to no avail. Now I don't think that second wish matters much at all.
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.
Windows 10: Changing the Apple vs. Microsoft Dynamic
August 3, 2015
What I find most interesting about Windows 10 is that if Apple wanted to knock Microsoft off the desktop, then it -- not Microsoft -- should have released a product like this. When I say "like this," I mean one that could transform a smartphone into a PC. My reasoning is that Microsoft is relatively weak in smartphones, and Apple currently is kicking Google all over the market.
Angry Birds 2: Freemium Clips Its Wings
July 31, 2015
Angry Birds 2 -- the 13th installment of Angry Birds and the original game's first proper sequel -- on Thursday became available for iOS and Android. The free-to-play model is a call to players beyond its base. However, those new players may slip through developer Rovio's fingers if the game's features fail to motivate them to play with real money
Facebook Pumps Up Internet.org
July 29, 2015
Facebook on Monday announced it was scaling up Internet.org, creating a partner portal that makes it easier for mobile operators to offer its free basic services in new countries. Those basic services are bringing new users onto mobile networks more than 50 percent faster, and more than half of them pay for data and Internet access within 30 days of signing up, Facebook said.
Salesforce's Lightning Announcement
July 29, 2015
Spreadsheets suffered a body blow on Tuesday, when Salesforce announced new platform functionality. Soon all spreadsheets will be good for is financial analysis. This sounds funny, because the spreadsheet for several decades has been the unofficial IT prototyping tool. Actually, it was the end-users' prototyping tool -- the default thing they used to capture data.
Super-Scary Android Flaw Found
July 28, 2015
Zimperium on Monday revealed a stunning discovery by researcher Joshua Drake -- a flaw in Android's Stagefright media playback engine that could expose millions of mobile device users to attack without their having done anything. Stagefright, which processes several popular media formats, is implemented in native code -- C++ -- which is more prone to memory corruption than some other languages.
Apple Leaves Nest Thermostat Out in the Cold
July 24, 2015
Apple reportedly has pulled the Nest smart thermostat from both its online and brick-and-mortar stores, possibly paving the way for its own line of smart home appliances. The thermostat disappeared from Apple's product offerings earlier this month. Apple's stores now are selling the Ecobee 3, a thermostat that works with Apple's HomeKit, an Internet of Things platform that's part of iOS.
Mobile Device Hijacking Costs Advertisers $1B a Year
July 24, 2015
A type of fraud spreading through the mobile universe could cost advertisers more than $1 billion globally this year, according to a July 2015 study released by Forensiq. The fraud, called "mobile device hijacking," uses installed apps to rapidly load ads that no one sees -- but the fraudsters collect money for the ads as if they had been viewed.
Google Photos Backup Keeps Collecting Until You Make It Stop
July 15, 2015
Uninstalling Google's Photos app doesn't turn off backup sync, meaning photos taken with Android devices could be saved to the company's cloud storage, even if the user doesn't intend to store them there, Google acknowledged on Tuesday. The issue came to light last week, when a BizJournals editor reported finding hundreds of family photos he had deleted from his phone stored in Google Photos.
New Android Malware Sprouting Like Weeds
July 1, 2015
Information stored on an Android smartphone or tablet is vulnerable to almost 4,900 new malware files each day, according to a report G Data SecurityLabs released Wednesday. Cybercriminals' interest in the Android operating system has grown, the firm's Q1 2015 Mobile Malware Report revealed. The number of new malware samples in the first quarter increased 6.4 percent.
5 Things the Apple App Store Could Do Better
July 1, 2015
I haven't been thrilled with app discovery on the App Store for years, and while Apple has been tweaking things to make it better, it's pretty easy to enter the iOS App Store, look around, and come to the conclusion that only an infinitesimal fraction of 1.5 million apps must be worthy of showing off -- and unfortunately, Disney's "Palace Pets in Whisker Haven" is one of them.
Gadget Ogling: Vertical Vinyl, Kid-Friendly Video Chats, and a Smart Pool Monitor
June 27, 2015
I enjoy music as much as anyone, though I'm no real audiophile and I have not an enormous passion for one format over another. I admire the romance of vinyl but find it unwieldy and cumbersome when digital recordings work just fine for me. The Floating Record turntable is beautiful, though, and I'm almost tempted to race to my record store to stock up on vinyl to play on one of these.
IBM, Box Team Up to Conquer the Cloud
June 26, 2015
IBM and Box have entered a global partnership to combine the two companies' best-in-class technologies and resources to transform work in the cloud. The two will offer customers IBM analytics and social solutions, IBM security technologies, the IBM cloud, and Box's cloud content collaboration platform. "IBM provides Box with a global go-to market footprint," said IDC's Chris Chute.
Red Hat, Samsung Ramp Up Enterprise Mobility
June 24, 2015
Red Hat and Samsung Business Services on Tuesday announced a strategic alliance to deliver the next generation of mobile solutions for the enterprise. The alliance, announced at the Red Hat Summit 2015, combines the strengths of each company -- Samsung's mobile device portfolio and Red Hat's open source middleware, mobile and cloud technologies.
Uber Loses Crucial California Legal Battle
June 18, 2015
Uber on Tuesday filed an appeal of a California Labor Commission ruling that is widely viewed as a threat to the company's business model. The ruling resulted from a claim filed by a San Francisco driver against Uber last year. The commission found that the plaintiff was an employee of Uber rather than an independent contractor, as the company had maintained.
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.
Apple's Safari Declares Open Season on Mobile Ads
June 16, 2015
Apple is sending a shiver down the spine of anyone who depends on mobile advertising for a living with the inclusion of ad-blocking extensions for iOS 9 in the next version of its Safari browser. The news surfaced last week, after developers discovered the provision in documentation following iOS 9's introduction at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple Music Steals WWDC's Scattershot Show
June 9, 2015
To cap off Monday's wide-ranging keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced a three-pronged music initiative -- a streaming service, a live radio broadcast station, and an app that lets artists connect with fans. "Music is such an important part of our lives and our culture," Cook said, showing off Apple's famous "one more thing" slide.

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