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Seattle Lets Ride-Sharing Drivers Unionize
December 16, 2015
The Seattle City Council this week approved an ordinance that will allow drivers for Uber and Lyft to form unions, becoming the first U.S. city to pass such legislation. The City Council voted 9-0 in favor of the ordinance, which doesn't require the mayor's signature to pass. Drivers for Uber and other ride-sharing networks are classified as independent contractors, like taxi drivers.
T-Mobile Sets Hulu Lure to Snag Verizon Customers
December 14, 2015
T-Mobile last week introduced its latest promotion aimed at attracting subscribers from rival mobile phone carriers: 12 months of Hulu streaming service for Verizon customers who switch to T-Mobile. In addition to a year's worth of Hulu service, T-Mobile will give Verizon customers who switch up to $125 off in-store accessories such as smartwatches, speakers, fitness trackers and headphones.
Yahoo Ropes In Gmail
December 14, 2015
Yahoo last week announced that it had integrated Gmail with the online version of Yahoo Mail, just two months after integrating Outlook.com, Hotmail and AOL Mail in a major redesign. It also has integrated Gmail support in Yahoo Mail for Android 5.1 and Yahoo Mail for iOS 4.0.4. Yahoo Mail for Android 5.1 began rolling out to Google Play last week.
Twitter Sics Promoted Tweets on Logged-Out Users
December 11, 2015
Twitter on Thursday revealed it's testing the expansion of promoted tweets aimed at logged-out users. The company has been searching for ways to monetize the patronage of the roughly 500 million logged-out users per month who hop off Google for a moment to read tweet or two. The glue here is more tweets, more content. The test will enable logged-out users to view promoted tweets.
Walmart Jumps Into Mobile Pay Fray
December 11, 2015
Walmart on Thursday introduced its own mobile payments solution to let customers make in-store purchases with an Android or iOS smartphone. The move will make it the only retailer to compete with third-party mobile payment systems. Walmart currently is rolling out the feature through its Walmart mobile app in select stores in the northwest Arkansas area.
Apple Tweaks Music, Mail, News in iOS Update
December 10, 2015
Apple on Tuesday released a new version of iOS, and while it was largely a maintenance release of the mobile operating system, the upgrade included some treats for music and news enthusiasts. The release, iOS 9.2, improved Apple Music, the company's streaming music service, in a number of ways. For example, users can create new playlists when adding a song to a playlist.
Mozilla Launches Free Ad Blocker for iOS 9
December 9, 2015
Mozilla on Monday launched Focus by Firefox, a free ad blocker for Safari users on iOS 9. It lets users block the same trackers blocked by Private Browsing with Tracking Protection in Firefox for the Windows, Mac, Linux and Android platforms. The protection is based on Disconnect's open source block list. Focus by Firefox doesn't work with Firefox.
Gadget Gives Passwords Pocket Protectors
December 9, 2015
Denis Clermont and Jérôme Jadot last month launched a Kickstarter campaign for the OdyOne digital identity manager. As much as many Web travelers and security experts would like usernames and passwords to disappear from use, the pesky credentials aren't going away anytime soon. That's why password managers are seen as a way to make the best of a bad situation.
Apple Cranks Up Music Storage to 100K
December 8, 2015
Apple has increased from 25,000 to 100,000 the maximum number of music tracks that can be uploaded to the personal libraries of Apple Music and iTunes Match users, according to media reports Sunday. When Apple launched its streaming music service, Apple Music, in June, company exec Eddy Cue revealed on Twitter that the company was working on raising the library ceiling for iOS 9.
Hello Barbie, Can We Talk About Your Security Issues?
December 8, 2015
New security issues that surfaced last week in connection with Mattel's Hello Barbie doll, which talks back to kids, have heightened fears that hackers could use the toy to steal information about its owners and their families. The Hello Barbie app, which is available for iOS and Android, uses an authentication credential that can be reused by hackers, Bluebox disclosed.
4-Inch iPhone With Apple Pay May Be Coming Soon
December 7, 2015
Apple will launch an iPhone with a 4-inch display and support for Apple Pay in early 2016, according to a research note from an analyst with a good track record of predicting Apple products. The new iPhone model will have an A9 processor -- the same processor found in the latest iPhone models -- and a metal casing offered in several colors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said.
Facebook Lets Ordinary People Try Out Live Video
December 7, 2015
Facebook last week launched a beta of its Live Video service for a small percentage of iPhone users in the United States. Live Video reportedly will be available for the Android platform at a later date. Facebook also has launched a pilot to make it easier to share videos from mobile devices. Some iPhone and Android device users can tap the "What's on your mind?" prompt to trigger a drop-down menu of the options they can share.
Steve Ballmer's Excellent Android Adventure
December 7, 2015
Steve Ballmer last week presented an interesting plan to kill Android -- or at least compete with it. What's ironic is that Ballmer's tenure at Microsoft wasn't short of good ideas -- it was short on execution. In contrast, Satya Nadella has shown strength in execution but -- so far -- hasn't come up with anything that represents the kind of risks that Ballmer was willing to take.
Yahoo Reintroduces a Messenger for This Millennium
December 4, 2015
In the midst of takeover speculation, Yahoo on Thursday reintroduced its standby Messenger app in a more robust version, with a set of features designed to breathe new life into a semi-comatose patient. Yahoo completely rebuilt the app with a focus on sharing images and online conversations. Tapping its Flickr, Tumblr and Xobni properties, Yahoo created some collaborative juice.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Focuses on Intelligence
December 3, 2015
Microsoft this week released Dynamics CRM 2016 in CRM Online and on-premises versions. Built-in intelligence is a key feature of the package, which is available in 130 markets and 144 languages. It leverages the Cortana Analytics Suite's advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities. Intelligence "is important because it's an idea that's current," observed analyst Denis Pombriant.
Google Updates Android for Web Lite
December 3, 2015
Google on Monday announced an update to Data Saver mode in Chrome on Android designed to make loading Web pages on a slow wireless connection easier. The update will remove most images when loading a page on a slow connection, reducing data consumption by up to 70 percent, Google claimed. After a page has loaded, users can tap to show all images or just the ones they want.
'Tis the Season for Online Predators
December 3, 2015
While visions of holiday shoppers dance in retailers' heads, those visions are also on the minds of online marauders. Net predators are sticking to scams that have made them money throughout the year. "Over the last 12 months, we've seen a return to attachments with innocuous macros in them," said Kevin Epstein, vice president of advanced security and governance at Proofpoint.
Android Studio 2.0 Aims to Rev App Development
December 1, 2015
Google last week released a preview of Android Studio 2.0 at the inaugural Android Dev Summit in Mountain View, California. The preview offers several updates, including Instant Run and a new GPU Profiler. Instant Run lets developers see changes to code running on their devices or emulators, while the GPU Profiler lets users profile their OpenGL ES Android code.
Gadget Ogling: Zippy 3D Printing, Custom-Molded Earphones, and Fast-Food Buttons
November 30, 2015
One of the current issues with 3D printing is that it can take some time to create physical versions of large or complex designs. Nexa3D's NX1 prints objects as much as 100 times faster than competitors, with printing speeds of about a centimeter in height every minute, according to the company. It uses light on a certain type of resin to speed up the process.
Facebook Tests Tools to Make Breakups More Bearable
November 24, 2015
Facebook last week announced it was testing tools that will let people manage their post-breakup life on its pages. "Today social media means that you are guaranteed to run into your ex, and he or she might very well be wrapped around a new partner," relationship expert Wendy Walsh said. "Research has shown that those who don't disconnect electronically have a harder time getting over a breakup."
Report: Mobile Payments Won't Be a Thing This Holiday Season
November 24, 2015
Bankrate.com on Monday released results of a survey showing that even though consumers may have more mobile payment options this holiday season, more than two-thirds of shoppers won't be using them. That's because seven out of 10 Americans surveyed said they'll be using cash or a debit card for most of their holiday buys, according to Bankrate.
Fitbit Amps Up Tracking Features
November 23, 2015
Fitbit on Monday announced the addition of PurePulse heart rate tracking and SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition to its Charge HR and Surge devices. The PurePulse monitoring will be activated whenever the devices are used in Exercise Mode, providing users with continuous, automatic tracking of heart rate trends over time without the need for a chest strap.
HPE Closes Ranks With Microsoft on Windows 10
November 23, 2015
Microsoft last week announced a collaboration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise to push Windows 10 solutions to enterprises worldwide. The collaboration will occur in three areas: cloud, productivity and mobility. The move harks back to the strategy Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined last year, saying the company would focus on cloud, mobile and empowering users everywhere.
Telegram Shutters 78 ISIS Channels
November 20, 2015
The team behind the Telegram secure messaging app on Wednesday reported that it had shut down 78 channels, across 12 languages, used by ISIS and its supporters. However, the app's privately used channels weren't affected by the sweep. After the attacks on Paris last weekend, the Telegram team learned that the terrorist group had been communicating openly on its secure messaging platform.
Dojo Stands Cybersecurity Guard for Smart Homes
November 20, 2015
Dojo-Labs on Thursday introduced Dojo, a device that plugs into the router of a home network and acts as a watchdog to ensure that everything connected to the network is operating on its best behavior. The device brings some of the advanced technologies used to protect corporate networks to the home. It can prevent attacks and detect intrusions by observing how a device behaves on the network.
Google Tears Down App Walls
November 19, 2015
Google on Wednesday began streaming content from certain mobile apps in its search results, with no download required. The company is working initially with nine partners, including Weather, Chimani, My Horoscope, New York Subway and Hotel Tonight. Technology Google acquired when it purchased Agawi lets it stream virtual versions of mobile apps. Apps no longer need to have related websites.
Uber Launches 'Going My Way' Feature
November 18, 2015
Uber this week announced a feature that lets drivers set their destinations twice a day for when they only want to pick up riders traveling their way. The feature is rolling out this week in the Bay Area, reportedly in the company's hometown of San Francisco first. "We are focused on rolling [this feature] out to additional markets," said Uber spokesperson Molly Spaeth.
Microsoft Pulls the Plug on Zune
November 16, 2015
Microsoft on Sunday announced that it would retire the service for its Zune digital media players beginning immediately, and users will no longer able to stream or download content to the device from the Zune music service. The device will continue to function as a music player, and any downloaded content will remain on the device. Users can transfer music to and from the device.
Apple May Enter P2P Mobile Payments Fray
November 12, 2015
Apple reportedly is in negotiations with several major banks to launch a peer-to-peer mobile payment system that would compete against rival digital payment companies, including PayPal and Square. Apple is working on a plan that would allow consumers to transfer funds directly from their checking accounts to other people. It would be similar to the PayPal transfer system operated through Venmo.
iPad Pro: The Thrill Is Gone
November 12, 2015
Apple this week began selling its iPad Pro, but the newly introduced device is failing to evoke the enthusiasm the company's line of tablets traditionally has seen. Reviewers gave the device high marks for its battery life, screen, speakers, light weight and Pen, but panned the keyboard, the lack of a touchpad and 3D Touch, its long charging times and its price.
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