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Supreme Court Puts Kibosh on Aereo
June 25, 2014
Aereo may be dead in the water after the Supreme Court ruled it broke federal law by retransmitting programming without paying copyright fees. The company, which allows consumers to watch broadcast TV over the Internet, had been in long-running legal battles with broadcasters. "Today's decision clearly states that how the technology works does not matter," said Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia.
No Unanimity in Reactions to SC's Unanimous Software Patent Decision
June 25, 2014
When the U.S. Supreme Court issues a unanimous decision, it's easy to conclude that it must be right on the facts, right on the law, and right in applying the law to the facts. So what's not to like about its recent 9-0 ruling in a software patent case? The decision was spot-on -- or at least nearly spot-on, according to Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of the Business Software Alliance.
Cruise RP-1 Kit Transforms Regular Audis Into Driverless Cars
June 25, 2014
Cruise aims to spark a revolution among autopilot technology with a $10,000 accessory that consumers can use to create a self-driving car, of sorts. At the heart of the Cruise RP-1 system is a sensor pod that gets mounted on the roof of a car. It utilizes cameras, data and radar to analyze the vehicle's surroundings. The system is meant to be used in daylight hours only.
Verizon Flips Off Chromebook Pixel Customers
June 24, 2014
Though early purchasers of the LTE model of Google's Chromebook Pixel were promised two years of limited data, it appears Verizon has reneged on those assurances. The WiFi-only Pixel cost $1,299 while the LTE model set back consumers an extra $150. Those who bought the system through the Google Play Store when it went on sale last April were offered 100 MB of free Verizon data every month.
HTC May Trot Out Nexus 9 Before the Brand Is X'ed Out
June 23, 2014
Specifications for HTC's 8.9-inch Volantis tablet, which may be renamed "Nexus 9," have surfaced. The device reportedly will ship with a 2048 x 1440 display, a Tegra K1 Nvidia Logan 64-bit processor, and 2 GB RAM. It can have either 16 GB or 32 GB of storage, and will come with 8 MP rear-facing and 3 MP front-facing cameras. It may prove both thicker and heavier than Samsung's Galaxy Tab 8.4.
Tide Turns in Favor of Crime-Fighting Smartphone Kill Switches
June 23, 2014
In the wake of overwhelming evidence that the kill switch Apple introduced in iOS 7 last year has reduced iPhone thefts, Google and Microsoft have agreed to follow suit. SF D.A. George Gascon and NY A.G. Eric Schneiderman, who have spearheaded the battle to implement smartphone kill switches, last week announced that the next versions of Android and Windows Phone will include a kill switch.
How Amazon's Fire Phone Will Beat the iPhone in 3 Years
June 23, 2014
Amazon launched its rather impressive Fire Phone last week, and it has a number of things that make it interesting -- but just as the iPhone improved massively by the third version, I expect this phone will as well, as a result of users providing feedback on what they want. Ironically, if the iPhone fails against the Fire Phone, it will be because Jeff Bezos is executing Steve Jobs' old strategy.
Apple Gets Ready to Tell Consumers Why They Want a Smartwatch
June 20, 2014
Apple reportedly is preparing to ship multiple versions of a smartwatch this coming fall, as competition increases in the wearable technology space. Its long-rumored smartwatch reportedly will be available in multiple screen sizes and will include more than 10 sensors that will allow it to track the wearer's health and fitness metrics, among other information.
Intel (?) Gets Chat-Appy With Mood-Mimicking Avatars
June 20, 2014
Best known for its computer chips, Intel this week ventured into new territory with Pocket Avatars, a mobile messaging app that uses animated icons to mimic users' facial expressions. Now available for both Android and iOS, the free app can be used to create, send and receive personalized 3D video animated messages designed to convey emotions and mood.
SnappyTV Could Amp Up Twitter Amplify
June 19, 2014
Twitter just announced a new addition to its social-TV arsenal: SnappyTV, an online service that allows content owners to clip, edit and share video from live broadcasts in near-real time. "As we continue to invest in video, it's important for us to provide tools that make it easy for TV broadcasters, businesses, and event producers to share high-quality videos," said Twitter's Baljeet Singh.
Lego Fuses Physical and Virtual Gameplay
June 19, 2014
Lego fans are about to experience a new way to play with their favorite plastic bricks, both in the physical and virtual worlds. The company's line of Fusion playsets will become available in August. The sets combine traditional brick construction play with video games. The goal is to allow people -- especially children -- to engage with Legos both physically and virtually.
The Maker Faire Gets the Obama Bump
June 19, 2014
Hopeful tinkerers and entrepreneurs gathered Wednesday on the White House lawn to showcase their innovative ideas at the Maker Faire. The Maker Faire brings together students, educators, artists, engineers and innovators who have an invention or an idea about how to make something. Billed as "The Greatest Show (and Tell) On Earth," the Maker Faire got its start in the Bay Area.
Dems Push Net Neutrality Against the Odds
June 19, 2014
Congressional Democrats are taking another go at Net neutrality. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Doris Matsui, a member of the House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, have introduced an act that would require the FCC to ban "paid prioritization" agreements between a broadband provider and a content provider.
How Will Regulators Chaperone the Big Merger Dance?
June 19, 2014
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son may have new hope for a Sprint, T-Mobile merger. After SoftBank merged with Sprint last summer, Son set his sights on T-Mobile. There was early resistance from regulators, but that may be softening, with Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV having joined the merger dance. Trying to understand and predict what regulators will do is always a challenge.
Bright and Shiny Fire Phone: Amazon Delivers
June 18, 2014
Despite entering the smartphone world late, Amazon managed to double down with a user-focused infusion of technical innovation to deliver a compelling new device: the Amazon Fire Phone. The most head-turning feature is its ability to track your face and create a three-dimensional effect on the home screen and in apps, which makes it seem as if you're peering into a lavishly illustrated diorama.
Apple Gains an Inch in E-Book Price-Fixing Scrap
June 18, 2014
Apple has reached a settlement with plaintiffs in 33 states regarding allegations that it colluded with five major U.S. book publishers to fix the price of e-books. The class action maintained that Apple overcharged plaintiffs $280 million. News of the settlement came on Tuesday via a filing with U.S. District Judge Denise Cote by Steve Berman, an attorney representing some of the plaintiffs.
Spire Breath Tracker Helps Users Chillax
June 18, 2014
Spire on Tuesday kicked off preorders for its namesake new wearable device dedicated to promoting health by monitoring the wearer's breathing. Billed as "the first wearable that tracks both physical movement and state of mind," Spire is the first activity tracker to measure breathing patterns, the company said, thereby offering new insights into periods of tension, relaxation and focus.
If Amazon Builds It, Will They Come?
June 17, 2014
Amazon is poised to reveal its very first smartphone, and the rumor mill is in full swing. It's expected to include a 3D display, utilizing sensors or retina-tracking technology in four front-facing cameras to detect eye positioning and movement in order to project a 3D image without the need for 3D glasses. It reportedly will be available exclusively from AT&T.
Nest Offers Discounted, Wave-Less Smoke Alarm
June 17, 2014
Google's Nest subsidiary has returned its Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm to the market, less than one month after recalling 440,000 units because of a defect. The device has been discounted to $99 from $130. The Protect was recalled because of a software glitch that could prevent it from properly sounding an alert. Nest issued a temporary software update to disable its Wave feature.
Facebook Aims to Blaze New Gaming Trail on iPads
June 17, 2014
Facebook on Monday unveiled an iPad app update designed to make the site a hub for game, video and content discovery. A new panel appears on the right-hand side of the iPad providing news and entertainment. Games are heavily featured. More than 70 percent of Facebook for iPad users played a Facebook-connected game in the past 90 days, the company noted.

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