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SCOTUS Scuttles Apple's Big Samsung Award
December 7, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday spoiled Apple's hopes for a big payday, scotching the $399 million award in its successful patent infringement suit against Samsung. Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the Court's decision, which turned on what lawmakers meant by the term "article of manufacture." The appeals court had ruled that it encompassed the entire phone. The Supremes disagreed.
iPhone Envy May Have Felled Galaxy Note7
December 6, 2016
Samsung's desire to match the iPhone 7 Plus led it to implement an aggressive design and manufacturing approach that led to problems with its Galaxy Note7 -- including some instances of the smartphones bursting into flames, Instrumental reported last week. Instrumental engineers tore down a Galaxy Note7, and found "tension between safety and pushing the boundaries," CEO Anna Shedletsky revealed.
iPhone 8 Dreaming in Full Swing
November 29, 2016
Apple's latest iPhone was barely out of the gate when rumors began percolating about the company's next new phone. Although the iPhone 7 garnered mostly tepid reviews, initial inventories sold out quickly, and the company had to scramble to meet demand. That demand may have peaked, though, which may be why chasers of the next big thing are looking down the road.
BlackBerry to Deliver One Last Keyboard Phone
November 14, 2016
BlackBerry has a new phone in the works, and it will have a physical keyboard, according to reports that surfaced last week. The company recently announced that it would exit the smartphone hardware market and transition to developing back-end mobile security software. However, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed that one last device is in the pipeline.
Daydream Believers May Boost VR, Suggest Early Reviews
November 10, 2016
Reviews for Google's Daydream View VR headset began to appear on Thursday, and the consensus among those who were able to test the new US$79 device appears to be two thumbs up. Although it has limitations, Daydream could be a gateway to affordable virtual reality technology, they suggested. The headset needs to be paired with Google's new line of Pixel and Pixel XL phones.
Samsung's Next Galaxy Phone Could Have Siri-Like Smarts
November 9, 2016
Samsung Electronics this week revealed plans to unveil its flagship Galaxy S8 mobile phone with a new digital assistant powered by AI. The assistant will be based on technology gained with Samsung's recent acquisition of Viv Labs. The plans call for Samsung to incorporate the AI into its family of electronics and appliances, ranging from mobile devices to wearable technology and home devices.
Google's Pixel Wins a Place in the Sun
November 8, 2016
Google's Pixel smartphone, which made its debut last month, has gathered some high praise from reviewers. "The Google Pixel is now the best Android smartphone you can buy," wrote Joanna Stern. "The other leading contender was disqualified due to spontaneous combustion," she added, referring to Samsung's doomed Galaxy Note7, which was recalled for safety reasons.
Gadget Ogling: Mac's Back, Nintendo Returns, and Huawei Goes to the Edge
November 5, 2016
Apple has unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, giving the company's core laptop its first full refresh in a few years. The design has metal on all sides, along with a Force Touch trackpad double the size of previous versions. There's a customizable OLED touch strip above the keyboard that responds to gestures and taps, useful for fast access to emoji or secondary controls within an app.
Xiaomi Debuts Magical Mi Mix
October 27, 2016
Xiaomi on Tuesday fired another shot in the shrinking bezel wars, as it announced a smartphone with a front that's more than 90 percent display. The Mi Mix is a 6.4-inch phone that's stylishly crafted by French designer Philippe Starck. It sports a feature set that indicates Xiaomi wants to compete at the high end of the smartphone market. The Mi Mix has a screen-to-body ratio of 91.3 percent.
Samsung Bows Under Note7 Fallout
October 20, 2016
Three owners of Galaxy Note7 smartphones this week filed a complaint in a federal court in Newark, New Jersey, that could become a class action lawsuit against Samsung. "Plaintiffs and the Class have suffered injury in fact, incurred millions of dollars in fees, and have otherwise been harmed by Samsung's conduct," the complaint states. Samsung has recalled the phones and stopped producing them.
Gadget Ogling: Google Embraces a Hardware Future
October 12, 2016
The first smartphones Google has made by itself, Pixel and Pixel XL, are the first to bear Android 7.1 and the first to have the impressive Google Assistant built in. The Pixel has a 5-inch HD screen, while the Pixel XL offers a 5.5-inch QHD display. The phones have a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. I like that the fingerprint sensor is on the back.
Samsung Down, Galaxy Note7 Out
October 11, 2016
Samsung shares fell sharply on Tuesday after the company confirmed reports that it had halted production of its flagship Galaxy Note7 smartphone, just launched this summer. The move came after several replacement phones reportedly smoldered or caught fire. Shares fell 8 percent in the Korean market. Samsung had been working with the U.S. CPSC on a voluntary recall and replacement program.
Samsung's Galaxy Note7 Assembly Lines Grind to Halt
October 10, 2016
Samsung has stopped production of its problematic Galaxy Note7 smartphones, according to multiple press reports Monday. The company had been offering replacements of the phone after issuing a recall due to defective batteries, but all four major carriers have stopped doing so, presumably because several of the replacements exhibited similar problems, including smoking and catching fire.
Google Resurrects Embrace, Extend, Extinguish
October 10, 2016
This almost sounds like a plot for a novel. Microsoft creates a successful strategy called "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" and then promptly forgets it, resulting in a string of failures. Google, which up to now seemed happy to repeat Microsoft's mistakes, accidentally picks up a successful Microsoft practice and uses it against Apple -- likely taking out a number of its Android partners.
Galaxy Note7 Snaps, Crackles and Pops, Spurring Evacuation of Plane
October 6, 2016
Southwest Airlines on Wednesday evacuated a plane after a Samsung Galaxy Note7 began popping and issuing thick smoke. Samsung last month began replacing Galaxy Note7s globally, following reports of several of the devices catching fire or exploding. It blamed the problem on an "isolated" faulty battery cell issue. The latest incident reportedly involved a replacement phone.
Google Plasters Its Name on a New Hardware Collection
October 5, 2016
Google on Tuesday unveiled a new smartphone and home hub that squarely aim at products from market leaders Apple and Amazon. The company's new branded smartphone, called "Pixel," marks a departure from past efforts. Up to now, Google's Nexus phones were made by a variety of manufacturers that sold them under their brands. "Google is trying to position itself as a complete supplier," said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr.
Report: Apple Shares Unencrypted iMessage Metadata With Cops
October 5, 2016
Apple last week faced renewed scrutiny for its data-sharing practices, following news that it retains iMessage metadata and shares it with law enforcement when presented with a court order. The company has insisted that it would not share data that would jeopardize the privacy and trust of its millions of customers. Metadata includes contacts, IP addresses, and dates and times of conversations.
Feds Probe Alleged Phone Hacks as Election Fears Surge
October 4, 2016
Federal authorities have been investigating reports that hackers targeted the mobile phones of a handful of Democratic Party staffers. The news follows a series of breaches in recent months that revealed emails and other personal information of party staffers and other Democratic officials. The FBI has launched an investigation into the attacks, which may be linked to Russia.
Prepare to Be Google Pixelated
October 3, 2016
Leaks about Google's expected family of Pixel smartphones, reportedly manufactured by HTC, on Monday reached a crescendo ahead of the company's Tuesday press event. Google is poised to announce two smartphones, the Pixel and Pixel XL, according to specs published online. The Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch 2,560 x 1,440 pixel AMOLED display; the Pixel has a 5-inch 1,920 x 1,080 AMOLED display.
Samsung Green-Lights Galaxy Note7 Replacements
September 22, 2016
In an update to its Galaxy Note7 recall, Samsung announced that more than 500,000 new replacement devices would be available for exchange at U.S. retail outlets on Wednesday. The company also announced the rollout of a software update that will display a green battery icon on the screens of new Note7 devices to distinguish them from those subject to recall.
Samsung Troubles Deepen Following Formal CPSC Action
September 19, 2016
The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Samsung last week announced a formal voluntary recall of about 1 million Galaxy Note7 smartphones, after the high-end flagship device was found to have overheated or caught fire in at least 92 incidents. Samsung was notified of 26 cases of people being burned by the defective 5.7-inch smartphones and 55 cases of property damage, according to the CPSC.
New Apple Products Have the Right Gaming Stuff
September 17, 2016
Apple wants to attract gaming fans to the more powerful graphics and processing power embedded in its new iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 products. The iPhone 7 features the new A10 Fusion chip -- the most powerful ever in a smartphone, according to the company. The CPU fuses two high-performance cores that run twice as fast as the iPhone 6 with much more efficient use of battery power.
iPhone 7 Draws Tepid Notices
September 15, 2016
The iPhone 7 may be Apple's best smartphone to date, but it's garnering lukewarm reactions from reviewers and pundits. The new iPhone's waterproofing and better battery life are welcome. Further, "the camera and speed improvements are nothing to sneeze at," wrote reviewer Andrew Cunningham, "but you'll need to buy into Apple's vision of the future" -- a world without buttons or wires.
Samsung Catches a Small Break in Midst of Note7 Battery Pummeling
September 13, 2016
Samsung stock recovered slightly on Tuesday from the nosedive it took Monday, after regulators urged consumers to turn in more than 2.5 million Galaxy Note7 smartphones. Shares closed 4.2 percent higher on Tuesday, erasing some of Monday's $14 billion loss in market value. The FAA's alert came in response to a small number of reports of the phone's lithium ion batteries catching fire.
Apple Puts Its User-Friendly Stamp on Fancy iPhone 7 Cameras
September 9, 2016
Apple raised the ante for cameras in flagship phones with the announcement of its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Others already have taken the dual-camera approach to smartphone photography -- notably HTC, LG and Huawei. "While it's not the first dual camera mounted in a smartphone, it's on par with the others in terms of basic functionality," said Brian Blau, a research director for Gartner.
Apple Hopes iPhone 7 Extras Will Make Up for Missing Headphone Jack
September 8, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday officially unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone Plus, confirming a rumor that has evoked widespread dread: The traditional headphone jacks are gone. The new iPhones are sleeker than their predecessors, though, as well as water resistant. Their biggest plus might be the advanced lenses in what Apple claims is the most sophisticated smartphone camera in the world.
That Hissing Sound Is the Last Bit of Air Leaking From Apple's Balloon
September 6, 2016
Apple used to guard details about a new iPhone more closely than Fort Knox, but that doesn't seem to be the case any more. The shift has been glaring with the iPhone 7, slated for introduction on Wednesday. It's widely believed that the new iPhone has no headphone jack. Sound is piped to the user through a set of EarPods that connect to the phone through its Lightning port or a dongle.
Sacking Jack May Anger iPhone Headphone Fans
September 3, 2016
Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak recently said removing the headphone jack in the next version of the iPhone is going to "tick off a lot of people." It's been rumored for months that Apple would be scrapping the 3.5 mm headphone jack in the iPhone 7 it's expected to unveil next week. Such a move, Wozniak said, could upset users who have invested in listening technology that uses the headphone jack.
Google Fills Nexus Devices With Rich Nougat Features
August 23, 2016
Google on Monday began rolling out its long-awaited Android 7.0 Nougat release to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The new operating system became available as a beta release, known only as "Android N," earlier this year. The experiences of developers and other users led to more than 250 new features, including improved multitasking, stronger battery life and tighter security features.
Tim Cook Devotes a Lot of Words to Saying Very Little
August 16, 2016
Tim Cook talked about his five years at the helm of Apple in a wide-ranging interview published Saturday. Apple fans looking for juicy morsels about new products won't find them in the Q & A, however. Among other things, Cook discounted the bleak claims of those analysts who maintain the smartphone market is in decline -- and Apple's fortunes with it.
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