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BQ's Ubuntu Bows on World Stage
August 13, 2015
BQ last week opened an Ubuntu global store accessible to anyone who wants to buy an Aquaris Ubuntu Edition handset. BQ recently launched the BQ Aquaris E4.5 and E5 HD Ubuntu Edition smartphones in Europe. Both BQ and Canonical, which provides commercial support for Ubuntu Linux, have acknowledged network frequency and mobile operator compatibility issues in some countries, including the U.S.
Qualcomm Ups the Ante With Next-Gen Processor Innovations
August 12, 2015
Qualcomm on Wednesday unveiled its Adreno 5xx GPU architecture next-generation visual processing technology and its 14-bit Spectra image signal processing unit at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles. The first two GPUs to use the new architecture, the Adreno 530 and 510, will be integrated in Qualcomm's forthcoming Snapdragon 820 and 620/618 processors. The Snapdragon 820 also will feature the 14-bit ISP.
Android on BlackBerry Is Looking More Real
August 10, 2015
BlackBerry's upcoming slider handset, aka "Venice," will run on Android and will be available in the coming months for AT&T as well as T-Mobile, according to rumors that picked up steam over the weekend. This is not the first time rumors of a BlackBerry device running on Android have made the rounds. The company earlier this year hinted at the possibility at the Mobile World Congress.
Mozilla Plugs Dangerous Firefox Zero-Day Hole
August 10, 2015
Mozilla on Friday released security updates to fix a zero-day flaw in the Firefox browser. An exploit that searches for sensitive files and uploads them to a server -- possibly somewhere in Ukraine -- has surfaced in an ad on a Russian news site, Mozilla reported last week. The exploit impacts Windows and Linux users. Mac users could be hit by a modified version.
Gadget Ogling: Bacteria-Zapping Toasters, a Clicker for Cortana and Souped-Up Printers
August 8, 2015
In truth, the Nico Gerard Skyview Pinnacle is more an accessory than a gadget, but it's so repugnant and ridiculous that it's impossible not to include it this week. Someway, somehow, watchmaker Nico Gerard found it prudent to create a watch that can accommodate an Apple Watch on its band, mounted where the clasp is located. It starts at $9,300. The Pinnacle is colossally absurd.
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.
Report: Apple Is Kicking the MVNO Tires
August 5, 2015
Apple is in discussions to become a mobile virtual network operator in both Europe and the United States, where it's already running a trial of its service, according to a media report. The MVNO idea may not advance beyond the test phase -- and if it does, it likely won't happen for some time -- at least five years. However, Apple on Tuesday issued a denial that it has held MVNO discussions.
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.
Glass Is Back, and This Time It's All Business
August 3, 2015
A reinvigorated and redesigned Glass reportedly has been sighted in the enterprise sector. Google earlier this year closed down the Glass Explorer program, proclaiming that the augmented reality wearable was "graduating" from the company's clandestine Google X labs to a brand-new division of its own. Since then, Google has offered vague reassurances from time to time that the product was not dead.
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.
Gadget Ogling: Useful Smartwatches, Orbital Cameras, and an Un-Procrastinator
August 1, 2015
Dot is a smartwatch that may have life-changing implications. Rather than trying to convey information through tiny text on a small screen, Dot intends to provide visually impaired wearers with notifications through Braille. Four sets of the six dots that signify characters in the Braille system raise and lower as quickly as 100 times per second to denote four characters simultaneously.
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
Consumers Fret Over Health Wearables Security
July 29, 2015
Collecting health and fitness data through wearable devices is raising concerns among consumers about the security of that information. Twenty-five percent of more than 3,500 consumers who participated in a recent survey did not believe their personal health data was safe on fitness trackers or in health-tracking apps, reported Healthline -- and that number could be low.
Motorola Promises Its Smartphones Will Love You Back
July 29, 2015
Motorola, on Tuesday launched three new handsets -- Moto X Style, Moto X Play and a refreshed Moto G -- designed to end the "one-sided relationships" between smartphones and consumers. People have been living with phones that nag during drives, make outbursts during meetings, and run out of juice just when they're most needed, the company said. Motorola promised its new suitors will change that.
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.
The Key to Apple Watch Success: Getting Enough Right the First Time
July 28, 2015
I still find wry joy in all the "Apple Watch Tanks" headlines from early July. There are some great gems, like "Apple Watch is a FLOP: Sales of the gadget have fallen by 90 percent since April, report claims" or "Analyst: Apple Watch selling worse than thought." Trouble is, the reports and estimates were based on a tiny slice of reality. In fact, Apple Watch sales in June exceeded April or May.
Apple Watch to Decorate Best Buy Shelves
July 27, 2015
After tightly controlling the sales experience for its smartwatch since its April debut, Apple appears ready to unleash it to the mass market. Best Buy on Monday said it would begin selling the Apple wearable in 100 of its stores on Aug. 7, as well as on BestBuy.com. As the holiday season rolls in, it expects to expand that number to 200. Sixteen models will be available at the Best Buy outlets.
Gadget Ogling: Gritty Tablets, Wireless Storage Sticks, and Swapped-Out Speakers
July 25, 2015
Dell's Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet is designed for people who work in the field, for the military and explorers, for industrial work and first responders. This system can handle some harsh conditions, including temperatures between -20 and 145 degrees and drops from more than four feet, as well as spills, mud, dirt and sand. It boasts an 11.6-inch screen and fifth-generation Intel Core CPUs.
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.
Apple's Tumble: Trouble in Paradise?
July 22, 2015
Apple's stock slid on Wednesday following the company's fiscal Q3 earnings report late Tuesday. Shares opened at $122.05 -- more than $8 down from Tuesday's closing price of $130.75 -- but inched upward to close the day at $125.22. Analysts were atwitter over the quarterly results, some implying they heralded big trouble in little doses for Apple. Others insisted there was no basis for the fuss.

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