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Sprint to Lay Off Thousands of Customer Service Reps
January 28, 2016
Sprint plans to lay off about 2,500 employees, including five vice presidents, according to news reports this week. About 2,000 of the cuts are in customer service. The company reportedly will close or reduce operations at six customer care centers: at its Overland Park headquarters in Kansas and in Colorado, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
FCC Chief Proposes End of Set-Top Box Rule
January 28, 2016
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday announced that he'd shared with colleagues a long sought-after proposal to loosen the set-top box's grip on home entertainment. The proposal seeks to spur competition and consumer choice in an arena dominated by large cable and satellite television providers. Wheeler's proposal would provide a mechanism for creating new ways to access video content.
FDA Guidelines Target IoT Medical Device Security
January 28, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week took a step toward addressing the threat the Internet of Things poses to patients and their data by releasing some proposed guidelines for managing cybersecurity in medical devices. "Networked medical devices, like other networked computer systems, incorporate software that may be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats," the FDA says in its proposal.
Wall Street Backs Off Apple
January 28, 2016
Their fears confirmed, investors were bearish on Apple Wednesday, the day after the company reported its slowest-growth quarter ever. The company's shares closed the day at $93.44, down 6.55 percent. In its Q1 earnings report, Apple prepared investors for what may come next: its weakest quarter for iPhone sales in 13 years. Even worse is its gloomy forecast for next quarter's iPhone sales.
GoPro Shooters Can Send Live Streams Up Periscope
January 27, 2016
GoPro on Monday announced an integration with Twitter's Periscope app that allows live streaming from a GoPro Hero4 camera. Periscope users can switch between broadcasting from their iPhone's camera to their GoPro directly from the phone screen with the touch of a button, GoPro said. The feature allows GoPro shooters to use the Periscope interface like a production switchboard.
iPhone Sales Could Be Slowing
January 26, 2016
In the runup to the release of Apple's Q1 2016 earnings report Tuesday, one of the big unanswered questions was whether the iPhone could maintain its sales momentum. Q1 2015 iPhone sales hit a record 74.5 million units, and it's possible the latest quarter's shipments may not equal -- let alone exceed -- that mark. IDC has forecast of slowing sales industrywide for 2016.
New Little iPhone May Sprout This Spring
January 26, 2016
An iPhone with a 4-inch display and some features found in Apple's latest models will launch in March or April, according to a report that surfaced last week. The model reportedly will be called the "iPhone 5se" -- for "special edition" -- and will be offered at the same price point as the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5se will have design features similar to the 5s, which was released in 2013.
Gadget Ogling: Super Strollers, Posture Prodders, and Portable Projectors
January 26, 2016
Regular readers will know that I am not a parent, so you might wonder why I'm including a self-propelling stroller in this week's cavalcade of riches. The answer is elementary: It's a smashing idea. Granted, it's maybe because I don't have a child that I think as much. Aside from pushing itself along the sidewalk, the Smartbe Intelligent Stroller can warm bottles, charge devices and play music.
The Gears of E-Commerce
January 26, 2016
As the U.S. retail industry puts another long holiday shopping season behind it, a few changes appear to be taking place. For one thing, it appears there's a new recipe for success. Growing a business requires more than setting up a fancy website, placing inventory into a warehouse, and engaging a service to make speedy deliveries. That's in part because customer expectations have changed.
Samsung Rolls Out Stylish Gear S2 Classic Smartwatches
January 25, 2016
Samsung on Monday began a global rollout of the latest versions of its Gear S2 Classic smartwatch, hitting China first. There are two models in the Gear S2 Classic New Edition line -- one with 18K rose gold plating and the other with a platinum finish. They have ivory and black genuine leather bands, respectively. The watches' new faces feature characters from the Peanuts comic strip.
Execs Exit as Dorsey Works to Reshape Twitter
January 25, 2016
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Sunday announced that four executives have exited the company. Alex Roetter and Kevin Weil, who managed the engineering teams responsible for generating ads; Katie Stanton, who helped guide the international offices; and Skip Schipper, who oversaw HR and recruiting, all have departed. Roetter, Weil and Stanton each had been with Twitter for more than five years.
California Bill Would Ban Encrypted Smartphone Sales
January 25, 2016
California State Assemblyman Jim Cooper last week introduced a bill seeking to ban the sale of smartphones that include unbreakable encryption. It would require smartphones made on or after Jan. 1, 2017, and sold in California to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by manufacturers or OS providers. Knowingly failing to comply would subject a seller or lessor to a fine of $2,500 per device.
Android Is Download King, but iOS Reigns Over Revenues
January 23, 2016
Worldwide downloads of Android apps in 2015 were double those for iOS, but revenues from iOS apps were nearly twice those of Android, according to an App Annie report released this week. First-time device owners in emerging markets drove the huge increase in Android downloads, researchers found. "This growth opens up avenues for publishers to create new markets," the report says.
Foxconn Makes $5.3B Bid for Sharp
January 22, 2016
Foxconn Technology Group has offered as much as $5.3 billion to purchase Sharp, according to media reports this week. Foxconn, formally known as "Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.," is said to have offered between $5.1 billion, or 600 billion yen, and $5.3 billion, or 625 million yen. A response to the offer is not expected before the end of January, as the discussions are private.
ESPN Boss Sees Significant Role for Sling TV
January 21, 2016
Streaming media services, including Dish Network-owned Sling TV, could help make up for losses in traditional pay TV subscribers, ESPN President John Skipper said an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Tuesday. Sports remains a growth business, he said. It would be foolish to predict that sports rights -- and therefore prices -- would decline in the near future.
Zero-Day Flaw Puts Millions of Linux Machines, Android Devices at Risk
January 21, 2016
Tens of millions of Linux PCs and servers, as well as 66 percent of all Android mobile devices, are vulnerable to a zero-day flaw that could allow users with lower-level privileges to gain root access, according to Perception Point, which announced its discovery last week. The local privilege escalation vulnerability, which affects Linux Kernel v3.8 and higher, has existed since 2012, the firm said.
Child Laborers Mine for Cobalt Used in Tech Gadgets
January 20, 2016
Amnesty International and African Resources Watch on Tuesday issued a report alleging that the supply chains of major electronics companies -- including Apple, Sony and Samsung -- included cobalt mined by child laborers in Africa. The companies have failed to make basic checks to halt the practice, the report claims. The report traces the harvesting and sale of cobalt in the poverty-stricken DRC.
Gadget Ogling: Baring Souls, Soaking Up Sound, and Tracking Babes
January 19, 2016
As time advances, more responsibilities seep into our lives. We get wrapped up in our own worlds, and don't necessarily make enough time to spend with the friends and family members who've been important parts of our worlds for decades. Concepter's Soul time tracker seeks to make us more conscious of the time we spend with those who matter most to us.
WhatsApp Scraps Fee Model
January 18, 2016
WhatsApp on Monday announced that it would drop the annual subscription fee and allow people to use the service for free. Company founder Jan Koum announced the move at the DLD Conference in Munich. While more than 900 million people worldwide use WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends, the $1-a-year subscription fee could be a barrier to further growth, he said.
IDC: There's Hope on the PC Horizon
January 18, 2016
IDC last week reported worldwide PC shipments totaled nearly 72 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 10.6 percent year over year -- the largest YoY decline ever. While shipments in Q4 were slightly higher than in Q3, 2015 was the first year since 2008 that fewer than 300 million PCs were shipped. Longer PC life cycles and economic issues contributed to the poor results.
Sony Builds Smart Home Hub Into Ceiling Light
January 15, 2016
Sony this week announced its Multifunctional Light, a ceiling lamp that's kitted out with sensors to talk to smart things. It includes sensors for motion, illumination, temperature and humidity. There's also WiFi radio, a memory card slot, a condenser microphone, and an infrared controller for air conditioners. The lamp form factor offers convenient placement, said a Sony Electronics spokesperson.
Samsung Snaps Up Snapdragon 820 Chip Manufacturing Deal
January 14, 2016
Samsung Electronics on Thursday announced that it had struck a deal that will make it the sole manufacturer of Qualcomm's flagship mobile processor. Samsung last spring began mass production of a logic chip utilizing its 14-nanometer LPP (Low-Power Plus) process in its own Exynos 8 Octa processor. That process will be used for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip.
Apple Loses Track of News App Traffic
January 13, 2016
Apple this week revealed that technical difficulties with its News app have led the company to underestimate usage figures for the more than 100 publications offering content through the software. The company discovered an error in the app that's resulted in underestimating the number of readers using the software, according to Apple's Eddy Cue, who said the company is fixing the problem.
Periscope's Live Streams Now Pop Up in Tweets
January 13, 2016
Periscope on Tuesday announced integration with Twitter, allowing users to view its live-stream broadcasts directly in the Twitter iOS app. Previously, Periscope broadcasters could share only links to their videocasts in tweets. Now they can embed video directly into tweets, and the content can be set to autoplay. Periscope has more than 20 million user accounts, according to CEO Kayvon Beykpour.
Facebook Messenger Dashes Past 800 Million User Mark
January 11, 2016
Facebook last week announced that its Messenger app had reached the 800 million monthly user milestone. Messenger lets users send text messages, stickers, photos, videos, voice clips, GIFs, their location and money. It's a standalone app, so one doesn't have to be a Facebook member to use it, and it's cross-platform, running on smartphones, tablets and desktops.
Gadget Ogling: Fitbit's Smartwatch, Super Home Movies, and Flying Machines
January 9, 2016
Fitbit found great success this past holiday season, and it's keeping up the momentum with its first smartwatch. The Fitbit Blaze includes a continuous heart-rate monitor, a connected GPS, and a multisport mode with a feature that recognizes the type of workout or sport and tracks it appropriately. Still, the Blaze stands out almost more for what it doesn't do.
Uber Settles With New York AG After 'Playing God' With Data
January 8, 2016
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday announced a deal that would require Uber to encrypt geolocation information about its riders, as well as enhance its data security practices. The AG opened an investigation into Uber in 2014, in response to allegations that the service had tracked riders and displayed their locations in an aerial format, known internally as the "God View."
Apple Rings In 2016 With Record App Sales
January 7, 2016
Apple on Wednesday announced that customers spent a record $1.1 billion on apps and in-app purchases the during the holidays. Jan. 1 was the App Store's best day ever, with consumers spending about $144 million, the company said. Since 2008, the store has generated close to $40 billion in revenue for developers. Consumers spent more than $20 billion in the store last year.
Major Security Flaw Found in Silent Circle's Blackphone
January 7, 2016
Security researchers at SentinelOne on Wednesday revealed a vulnerability they discovered in the Blackphone. The flaw -- an obscure socket -- lets an attacker take over and control communications on the Blackphone, a highly secure Android smartphone Silent Circle developed and marketed in reaction to news of government surveillance of people's communications.
Iranian Cyberattack on American Dam Viewed As Rarity
January 7, 2016
Just days before Christmas, a rare event occurred: the report of a successful intrusion into America's infrastructure by overseas hackers. The event -- penetration of the control system of a dam 20 miles from New York City -- happened more than two years ago but wasn't made until last month. Cloaking such incidents in secrecy is standard operating procedure for industries that use control systems.
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What is your reaction to the rumored
4-inch iPhone?
I'm in -- I'd love to have a smaller iPhone.
I prefer a larger iPhone, but it's good to have more options.
I expect innovation from Apple -- seems it's running out of ideas.
I'm not interested in an iPhone of any size.