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HTC 10 Wins Heaps of Praise With a Sprinkling of 'Buts'
April 15, 2016
HTC this week unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC 10. The phone's camera is outfitted with new, larger sensors and 12 million new-generation UltraPixels. Both the front and rear cameras sport the world's first optically stabilized, larger-aperture f/1.8 lenses on, the company said. The rear camera also has a faster laser autofocus.
FBI Paid Hackers to Defeat Security of Shooter's iPhone
April 14, 2016
The FBI paid hackers to break onto the iPhone of the San Bernardino, California, shooter, according to a news report published Tuesday. The bureau obtained the services of gray hats, insiders said, and apparently did not get help from Cellebrite, as earlier reports had suggested. Gray hats are hackers who sell flaws to governments or companies that make surveillance tools.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Amazon's Kindle Oasis: Lightness of Being at an Unbearable Price?
April 13, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday launched the Kindle Oasis -- the latest upgrade to its popular line of e-readers. Along with features that are arguably revolutionary, it comes with a price point that may shock more than a few customers. The Oasis is the thinnest and lightest e-reader it has ever produced, Amazon said. Without the cover, it weighs in at just 4.6 ounces and is only 3.4 mm at its thinnest point.
Male Snubbing Ride-Sharing Service Postpones Launch
April 13, 2016
Chariot for Women, a ride-sharing service that excludes males 13 and older, reportedly has postponed its launch to sometime this summer due to heavier-than-anticipated demand. The company originally had planned to debut the service in Boston next week. Chariot for Women is open to all women, including transgender women. Children, including boys under the age of 13, also may ride.
Officials Named in Panama Papers Cower Behind China's Great Firewall
April 13, 2016
Chinese authorities have issued censorship instructions to the media following the release of the Panama Papers, according to news reports published last week. The leaked documents reportedly listed several top Chinese officials who used Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore companies. The names include President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law Deng Jiagui.
Next Apple Watch Will Be More 'S' Than 2
April 13, 2016
Most of the changes in the next version of the Apple Watch will be on the inside and not the outside of the case, according to an investors note issued Monday by Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. His comments are consistent with rumors circulating last summer that the design of the next version of Apple's wrist computer would remain essentially unchanged.
Samsung's AR Vision Includes Smart Contact Lenses
April 12, 2016
Samsung has been granted a patent for a smart contact lens, according to news reports published last week. The lens is equipped with a tiny display, a camera, an antenna, and sensors that detect movement and eye blinks. Eye blinks would provide the input, and a smartphone would be needed to process images. A user blinks to take pictures or interact with data displayed on the smart contact lens.
Robust New FreeOffice Suite Proves Free Can Be Just as Good
April 12, 2016
SoftMaker's FreeOffice Linux office suite is a LibreOffice look-alike that provides strong performance compatibility with Microsoft Office documents. SoftMaker offers a line of open source offerings that compete with its commercial suite. It's a Windows/Linux cross-platform office suite with integrated applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and email management.
Learning to Love Virtual Reality
April 11, 2016
At Nvidia's technology conference, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase.
White House Takes a Pass on Encryption Debate
April 7, 2016
It appears that the Obama administration will refrain from giving its outspoken support to any legislation that aims to compel high-tech companies to help law enforcement agencies crack mobile phone encryption. On the other hand, it won't level any outspoken opposition either. Introduction of such a bill -- sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr -- is expected soon.
Vivaldi Flaunts Its Plus-Size Browser Attributes
April 7, 2016
Vivaldi on Wednesday launched the first release of its eponymously named browser. Vivaldi is the brainchild of CEO Jon von Tetzchner, a cofounder of Opera Software. Aimed at the power user, Vivaldi 1.0 packs in features that were stripped out of Opera 12. However, "Vivaldi is not about a single feature," von Tetzchner said. "Vivaldi is more about a philosophy."
Apple, FBI Tussle Puts Bull's-Eye on iPhone
April 7, 2016
The battle between the FBI and Apple over access to the iPhone of Syed Farook came to an abrupt end last week when the agency announced it no longer needed the company's assistance. Since the Department of Justice delayed a hearing on an order to force Apple to assist the FBI in brute-forcing the password, speculation has spread about how the agency planned to access the data.
WhatsApp Encryption Ups Privacy Ante
April 6, 2016
WhatsApp on Tuesday told its 1 billion users that their communications would be better protected from prying eyes with end-to-end encryption. The company always has made data and communication security a priority, according to Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the founders of WhatsApp, which Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014. End-to-end encryption is accomplished through use of the Signal Protocol.
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
Microsoft Guns for Cloud Devs at Build 2016
April 4, 2016
Microsoft last week at its Build 2016 conference announced innovations in mobile app development, the Internet of Things, microservices and intelligence designed to help developers create apps for the cloud. One is Azure App Service, which offers back-end capabilities for Web, native Windows, iOS and Android platforms. Microsoft also announced five Azure IoT starter kits, starting at $50.
Foxconn Finally Wrangles Sharp Deal
April 1, 2016
Foxconn has agreed to purchase a controlling stake in Sharp -- about 66 percent -- for roughly $3.5 billion, the companies announced Wednesday. Foxconn has committed to restoring Sharp's profitability and improving operations, according to the companies. "I am confident that we will unlock Sharp's true potential," Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said. The acquisition brings months of speculation to a close.
Facebook Plots Secret Chat for Messenger
April 1, 2016
Facebook has been working on mobile pay and secret chat features for its Messenger app, according to a report published this week, based on clues found in extracted software code on Messenger for iPhone. Commands embedded in the software hint at secret conversations, similar to what's found in WhatsApp, and commands to pay in person and pay in Messenger when picking up an item.
Microsoft Tells Devs to Talk to the Bots
March 31, 2016
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and members of his leadership team, speaking to developers Wednesday at the Build 2016 conference, introduced their vision to infuse human speech and machine learning into the company's consumer and enterprise businesses. Nadella and Executive VP Terry Myerson introduced upgrades to Windows 10 and Cortana as well as technology called "Conversations as a Platform."
Gadget Ogling: Honey, I Shrunk the iPhone
March 31, 2016
The iPhone SE packs almost everything from the iPhone 6s into a handset that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5. The only thing that's really missing is Force Touch. It's a smart play, trying to convince iPhone 4 and 5 owners that they can still upgrade to -- almost -- the latest model without the need to take on a device with a larger screen.
Oracle Ups Java Damages Demand to $9.3B
March 30, 2016
Oracle has asked for $9.3 billion in damages in its multiyear lawsuit against Google over the use of Java in Android, according to a report filed last week in federal court. That amount is reportedly about 10 times what it had initially asked for. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 9 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
For Many Users, Instagram Algorithm Is Not a Pretty Picture
March 30, 2016
Instagram on Monday moved to calm concerns among some users about a proposed change in the way content appears in their feeds. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Cindy Crawford fueled the anxiety by urging their followers to enable a feature on their mobile devices that would notify them whenever those celebrities post to Instagram. The company assured users that their feed weren't changing yet.
Latest iOS Upgrade Drives Users Buggy
March 30, 2016
Apple has been deluged with complaints from users who say the latest version of its mobile operating system is breaking links and crashing apps. "Following iOS 9.3 on iPhone 6splus update links in safari no longer open, then safari crashes -- any ideas how to fix? Same problem in Chrome," user John MacDonald posted Monday on Apple's support page on Twitter.
Hard-Pressed Pebble Sheds 25 Percent of Workforce
March 29, 2016
Pebble -- once viewed as the little smartwatch company that could -- last week cut its worldwide workforce by 25 percent, according to news reports. That's reportedly about 40 people, but actual figures are hard to come by because Pebble is privately held. The company has raised $46 million, but CEO Eric Migicovsky blamed the layoffs on the difficulty of raising funds in Silicon Valley these days.
You Rang? Microsoft's Holoportation Redefines Face-to-Face Communication
March 29, 2016
Microsoft on Monday unveiled its version of a teleporter, called "holoportation," which was designed to transmit 3D models of people anywhere in the world. Holoportation compresses, transmits and reconstructs the 3D scans to Microsoft's HoloLens and other head-mounted displays. It lets headset wearers interact with remote users in 3D as if they were in the same space, according to Microsoft.
Feds Crack iPhone, Warn Apple to Keep One Eye Open
March 29, 2016
After a bitter legal battle over encryption and privacy rights, the Department of Justice on Monday announced it would back out of its case against Apple because the FBI was able to crack the code of the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The department had asked a federal magistrate judge to force Apple to help the FBI crack open the encrypted smartphone.
A Dramatic 16 Years for 4 Tech Titans
March 28, 2016
Following Apple's latest announcements, I noticed a number of reports on how disappointed customers were that there was nothing they wanted to wait in line for hours to buy. I personally thought they should have been excited about that, because I hate to stand in lines. I've never really figured out an Apple fanatic's penchant for pain. Still, it is very clear that today's Apple is very different.
Dish Networks' Hopper 3 Takes a Leap and a Bound
March 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to up its game with its whole-home TV set-top box and accompanying devices. Since introducing its Sling-based TV-anywhere solution and whole-home DVR three years ago, Dish has remained one hop ahead of the competition. Since its launch, the Hopper has featured Sling technology that allowed for the streaming of content from the living room to almost anywhere.
Blendle Bets Readers Will Micropay for Good Journalism
March 25, 2016
Blendle, a Netherlands-based news aggregation site that draws comparisons to Spotify, on Wednesday announced its beta launch in the U.S. Blendle made its debut with the participation of several major new organizations and financial backing from Axel Springer and The New York Times. The 5-year-old company, which recently expanded into Germany, has opened the beta phase to 10,000 users.
Google Aims to Build a Better iOS Keyboard
March 24, 2016
Google has been developing a third-party keyboard for Apple devices in an effort to increase the number of Google searches on iOS, according to a news report published Tuesday. The keyboard, which is being tested internally, reportedly would incorporate a number of search options and a Swype-like feature to guess the intended word when a user slides a finger from one letter to another.
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Google just announced Home, a voice-activated speaker similar to Amazon's Echo. What do you think of these devices?
I have an Echo and I love it.
I have an Echo but rarely use it.
I plan to buy an Echo or Home.
Google's Home will be much better than Echo.
They're expensive novelties.
They're intrusive and creepy.