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Gadget Ogling: Curves and Edges, Toasty Toes, Smart Charger and Dumb Wearables
September 05, 2014
Welcome to the latest installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly look at just-announced personal tech items. There's plenty on the menu this time around: Samsung's latest smartphone and tablet salvo; two pieces of smart, on-the-go tech; some curved home entertainment options; and wearable devices from an unlikely source. Tthese are not reviews -- my ratings reflect my interest.
Bad News Hounds Apple Days Before iPhone Gala
September 05, 2014
Apple has been forced to do some serious damage control when it no doubt would rather be rallying fans for its big iPhone launch next week. The company on Tuesday learned that a number of celebrity accounts on its iCloud service had been cracked and some embarrassing photos posted. Then two activist groups on Thursday released a report critical of work conditions at an Apple supplier in China.
Beginning of a Paradigm
September 04, 2014
I've been following the wearables space with great interest over the last year, from the first steps of products like Fitbit and Jawbone to the current wave of activity by a growing list of device makers and, importantly, app tool vendors. This has a great deal to do with CRM, both because of the customer-tracking angles and the fact that vendors like Salesforce.com are rushing in.
Microsoft Shines Spotlight on a Trio of New Lumias
September 04, 2014
Microsoft on Thursday unveiled the Nokia Lumia 830, 730 and 735 smartphones at the IFA 2014 consumer electronics show in Berlin. The 830 is the thinnest and lightest member of the Lumia family. It has a 10mp camera and is positioned as an affordable flagship. "The Lumia 830 looks to me like a high-end smartphone masquerading as a mid-range device," said tech analyst Ramon Llamas.
We Can Fly to the Moon, but We Can't Secure the Cloud?
September 04, 2014
The entire freaking tech industry is falling down on the job, and Apple, my favorite company in the world, is stumbling around too. What's worse is that it doesn't seem to care. Apple is the most profitable consumer tech company in the world, with billions of dollars in the bank. Yet the company can't seem to be bothered to imagine how easily iCloud user accounts could be compromised.
Samsung's Gear VR Hits New Note
September 03, 2014
Samsung and Oculus on Wednesday unveiled the Gear VR -- a virtual reality wireless headset optimized for Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 phablet, also announced Wednesday. The Gear VR -- or "Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition," as Oculus describes it -- will be compatible with a wide range of film, gaming, 360-degree video, and educational and experiential content.
The Perfect API Storm
September 03, 2014
Smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices have made it possible for consumers to access the Internet from almost anywhere in the world -- but apps are the tools that specifically drive usage, by offering an easy-to-use interface. As a result, consumers are getting accustomed to accessing the Internet using apps instead of a browser. Businesses have embraced this change.
Uber Hustles to Buff Up Its Image
August 29, 2014
Uber is attempting to polish its image with a defense of its driver recruitment tactics following publication this week of accounts of sabotage, dirty tricks and generally ruthless behavior toward Lyft and other competitors in the ride-sharing space. "We want to make sure everyone has access to Uber's unmatched economic opportunity," Uber's "Craig" innocently said in a blog post.
Gadget Ogling: Sapphire Phones, Waterproof Reads, Connected Hats and a Runner's Salvation
August 29, 2014
A current trend among smartphone makers is to thrust a sapphire screen onto the face. Among the 17 million rumors regarding the next iPhone is that it will feature such a display -- the camera and Touch ID components already feature sapphire. Until Apple reveals the truth about its next smartphone, other manufacturers, like Huawei, are jostling for sapphire-embossed market share.
Apple's About to Kick Mobile Payments Into High Gear
August 29, 2014
Rumor has it that when Apple reveals its much-hyped iPhone 6 on Sept. 9, one of the features it will be trumpeting -- finally -- is near field communication. The NFC tech will enable mobile payments, Wired reported, citing sources "familiar with the matter." Wow. If this is true, it could be the catalyst that propels mobile payments into the mainstream.
Samsung, LG Unveil Smartwatches With Sex Appeal
August 28, 2014
Samsung and LG both announced brand-new smartwatches on Wednesday in the run-up to next week's IFA 2014 consumer electronics trade show in Berlin. Featuring a sleek, curved Super AMOLED display along with 3G, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, the Samsung Gear S runs Tizen and allows users to make and receive phone calls. It has customizable screen options and changeable straps.
Ralph Lauren Takes a Swing at Fitness Tech
August 28, 2014
Ralph Lauren this week merged the tech and fashion worlds with a new smart Polo shirt. Knitted into the Polo Tech shirt's core are sensors that read biological and physiological information. The company partnered with Msignal to develop a "black box" that includes an accelerometer and gyroscope, which capture movement and direction. Data is captured and sent to the cloud for analysis.
A Big Honking iPad Could Roll Right Over Apple's Speed Bump
August 27, 2014
While the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is working to establish itself as the perfect tweener device between tablet and laptop, one hot rumor suggests that Apple's answer for more working space on an iPad will come in the form of a bigger screen -- 12.9 inches of touch-sensitive glory. The rumor comes from Bloomberg, which vaguely cited "people with knowledge of the matter."
Instagram Hyperlapse Sparks Time-Lapse Video Craze
August 27, 2014
Instagram has released Hyperlapse, a free iOS app that takes the jitters out of time-lapse video. Just two weeks ago, Microsoft demonstrated a similar technology that bears the same name. The Instagram app "is the most impressive effect to hit smartphone video in recent memory," said Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research. An Android version is not yet available.
California Lays Down the Kill-Switch Law
August 27, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill requiring that anti-theft measures be incorporated into all smartphones sold within California. It doesn't specify the particular technologies used to enable that capability, but it does require that the feature, also known as a "kill switch," give smartphone users the ability to remotely disable their devices in the event they're lost or stolen.
Google Gives Glass a Good Polish
August 26, 2014
An update to the software that runs Glass gives users of Google's wearable computing device more control over their interactions with contacts. The latest version of the software -- also known as version XE20.1 -- adds the flexibility to choose how to reach out to a contact after selecting the person from the contacts list. Users now can swipe between Hangouts, email or SMS.
Gadget Ogling: A New Nook, a Good (M8), a Lock With No Key - and Music, Music, Music
August 26, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook conflates lots of different things: It's an Android tablet designed for reading, made by Samsung for Barnes & Noble. That might seem confusing, and I'd agree. It's essentially a branded version of the Galaxy Tab 4 with an e-commerce focus. Specifically, there's a Barnes & Noble Newsstand app, with games, movies and books on offer.
Torvalds Says Yes to the Desktop
August 25, 2014
It was just a few short weeks ago that we here in the Linux blogosphere were rehashing the open source world's documentation dilemma -- one of those perennial topics bloggers love to resurrect whenever there appears to be a lull in the conversation. At the time, alert readers may recall, Linux Girl compared the topic to the ongoing "Year of Linux on the Desktop" debate -- another favorite.
OS Flaw Leaves Android Wide Open for App Hack Attacks
August 22, 2014
A flaw in Android's GUI framework let university researchers hack into applications with up to 92 percent success. They tested apps from Gmail, H&R Block, Newegg, WebMD, Chase Bank, Hotels.com and Amazon. "Changes in the shared memory side channel allow an attacker to infer if there is an activity transition going on in the foreground," said researcher Zhiyun Qian, an assistant professor at UCR.
'iWatch' Could Be Late for a Very Important Date
August 22, 2014
Apple may be forced to postpone the launch of the hotly anticipated "iWatch" or health band, perhaps pushing it back to 2015. It apparently is facing wide-ranging production issues involving components, system design, manufacturing, and integration between hardware and software. Holy macaroni. Of course, it should be noted that Apple has never said that it would deliver anything of the sort.
It's Time Companies Put Mobile First
August 21, 2014
A growing number of consumers are becoming mobile-first or even mobile-only, so why not businesses? Granted, it is hard to image the company whose computing power and data could be accessed and manipulated only through a mobile device. However, a company that gives mobile the same status and resources as its other IT initiatives? That is a little easier to envision.
Nook Redux: Is B&N Shooting Itself in the Foot?
August 21, 2014
After Barnes & Noble bled serious cash trying to create its own Nook e-reading tablets to compete with Amazon's Fire and Apple's iPad -- eventually, scrapping most of the Nook-building unit -- I figured it was pretty much down for the count. Letting Samsung give select tablets the "Nook" brand seemed more like a cry for help them a business decision that had much chance of success.

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