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Google Translate App Gets Silver Tongue
January 14, 2015
Google has released a new version of its Translate app for Android and iOS. It now lets users instantly translate text in foreign languages using their smartphone cameras. The translation will appear overlaid on the smartphone screen. Translate app features available on iOS for the first time are camera mode, including Word Lens; and conversational mode, said Google spokesperson Roya Soleimani.
Google's Project Ara Smartphone Puzzle Is Coming Together
January 14, 2015
Google on Wednesday shed fresh light on Project Ara, its modular Android smartphone initiative, including plans to pilot the project in Puerto Rico through food truck-style stores. Project Ara will offer a smartphone endoskeleton; users will be able to add the functionality they want piece by piece, rather than being confined by the hardware configurations determined by operators and providers.
Feds Struggle to Keep Up With Digital Access Demand
January 14, 2015
The explosion in the use of mobile devices in the U.S. is posing a major challenge for the federal government to provide public access to agencies via wireless channels. In an effort to keep pace with technology, the U.S. government launched the Digital Government Strategy in May 2012 with the goal of providing citizen access to federal services and information anywhere, anytime, on any device.
Instacart Bags $220 Million
January 14, 2015
Instacart on Tuesday announced it has raised $220 million, following a $44 million investment round in June of last year. The company uses a fleet of personal shoppers, who are independent contractors, to purchase and deliver items to customers. "The two main differentiators for Instacart are our focus on grocery and our strategy to partner with retailers," said Instacart's Nilam Ganenthiran.
LG's WebOS: 3rd Time's the Charm?
January 13, 2015
LG Electronics turned up at last week's CES with a smartwatch that apparently runs webOS. LG used the watch to unlock an Audi at the show. "LG has never officially confirmed that we were planning a webOS smartwatch," said company spokesperson Ken Hong. "I think that is speculation based on the watch that Audi announced here at CES, which we developed but have not finalized the OS for."
Google Translate to Convert Talk to Text
January 13, 2015
Google soon will update its Translate mobile app to render words spoken in popular languages into written text, according to reports. This feature is already available for some major languages in the Google Chrome browser. In essence, the update will let two people converse in their own native tongues by listening to both and automatically translating their words.
Samsung Smart TVs Hint at Tizen-Run IoT
January 12, 2015
Samsung announced at last week's International CES a new line of smart TVs powered by the open source Tizen operating system. Beginning with this year's models, all of Samsung's smart TVs will run on Tizen. Samsung has taken the lead in developing Tizen, which is a derivative of Linux, and this is its first deployment as a smart TV platform. Tizen supports the Web standard for TV app development.
BlackBerry Jingles Its Keys to Recovery
January 08, 2015
BlackBerry has been hurting over the last several years, but recently it's starting to look like the stars may be lining up for recovery. If BlackBerry does make a comeback, it will be a very different company. This time, the focus will be on security -- plus one more important factor. BlackBerry succeeded years ago. It was the first successful smartphone maker.
Sony's New Walkman Aims Sky High
January 06, 2015
Sony on Monday debuted a new Walkman at CES that's as notable for its hefty price as for its high-end features. Listed at $1,119.99, the new Walkman NW-ZX2 is several hundred dollars more than last year's Walkman NW-ZX1. In return, it promises "high-resolution audio like never before," thanks to Sony's new S-Master HX digital amplifier and DSEE HX technology.
Amazon Plans Fire Phone Do-Over for 2016
December 23, 2014
Amazon reportedly is working on a second iteration of its Fire Phone for release in 2016. Following the disappointing performance of the phone's first generation, it appears the company has gone back to the drawing board to determine the combination of features that will succeed. The first Fire Phone was "quite the learning experience," said analyst Michael Morgan.
Boeing Picks BlackBerry to Brace Black's Security
December 22, 2014
Boeing has enlisted BlackBerry to help bolster the security of its Black smartphone by providing "secure mobile solutions for Android devices utilizing their BES-12 platform," said Boeing spokesperson Andrew Lee. BES 12 provides cross-platform enterprise mobile management that gives organizations strict control of devices, while letting users keep personal data private.
Feds Pounce on Sprint for Phone Bill Cramming
December 18, 2014
The United States government is delivering a one-two punch to Sprint over the practice of cramming -- allowing third parties to place unauthorized charges on customers' bills. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau on Thursday filed a civil suit against Sprint over the issue. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission reportedly is planning to hit Sprint with a $105 million fine.
BlackBerry Bucks Up Its Loyal Base With Classic Comeback
December 17, 2014
BlackBerry has unveiled the BlackBerry Classic, a handset with a full QWERTY physical keyboard, physical navigation keys, and a design that can be best described as "retro," in that its appearance is virtually identical to the BlackBerry Bold. The Classic, which is smaller than the company's recently launched Passport smartphone, targets users who still long for the traditional BlackBerry handset.
Disappointed iPod Plaintiffs: Jurors Didn't Weigh the Right Questions
December 17, 2014
After a 10-year knock-down drag-out battle, Apple on Tuesday prevailed in a class-action lawsuit over its use of digital rights management technology on iPods purchased between Sept. 1, 2006 and March 31, 2009. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd -- one of the "most feared litigation firms" in the U.S. -- brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Viber Eases Into Casual Gaming
December 16, 2014
Viber on Monday announced the launch of Viber Games, the latest expansion in its app development. This is the third such expansion for the company in as many months, following the launch of Mobile Video Calls and Viber Public Chats. Viber partnered with social game developers to create gaming experiences featuring Viber characters and exclusive content.
Gadget Ogling: Wireless Lights, Sunny Wearables and Flashy Smartphones
December 13, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, to another installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the best and worst in just-announced gizmos. On the docket this time around are wireless Christmas lights, solar-charging jackets, a speed-reading wearable and much more. The Aura Wirelessly Powered Christmas Lights aren't attached to long power cords designed to snake along, around and through the tree branches.
Iowa to Lead Digital Driver's License Movement
December 12, 2014
Iowa plans to issue digital drivers' licenses in the form of a smartphone app by next year, Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, said earlier this week at a public state agency budget hearing. The digital license will be accepted by Iowa law enforcement officers conducting traffic stops, as well as by security officers who screen travelers at Iowa's airports.
For Sync 3, Ford Picks BlackBerry, Kicks Microsoft to the Curb
December 12, 2014
Ford Motor on Thursday introduced Sync 3, its new communications and entertainment system. It is faster, more intuitive and easier to use than MyFord Touch, the company said. Sync 3 offers conversational voice recognition technology with enhanced response to driver commands, along with a smartphone-style touchscreen and graphical user interface. Sync 3 will roll out in new vehicles next year.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
New York Cabbies May Try Operating Uber-Style
December 11, 2014
Uber and Lyft are two new, rapidly growing competitors in the taxi and limousine space. They are upending the traditional taxi and limo model in city after city. Now the taxicab industry in New York City is fighting back. NYC cabs could be getting their own app. This is something that should have happened years ago. However, it was happy to keep things just the way they were.
Samsung, Apple Kick Off Round Eleventy in Patent Fight
December 10, 2014
Apple and Samsung last week squared off again in court over their long-running patent dispute. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard Samsung's appeal of the $930 million in damages a district court awarded to Apple for patent infringement, following a trial in 2012 and a retrial in 2013. "Samsung never wanted this fight," said Fosspatents' Florian Mueller.
Blackphone to Peddle a Few Good Apps
December 10, 2014
Blackphone plans to open an app store for privacy-focused applications to run on its secure smartphone. The store is expected to launch in January. The Blackphone runs PrivatOS, a modified version of Android 4.4.2 that comes bundled with tools that encrypt phone calls, texts, emails and Internet browsing. The app store will feature curated apps selected for their security and privacy chops.
NSA's Auroragold Mining Operation
December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010.
No One Has Privacy Now, Thanks to Super Cookies
December 10, 2014
Does anyone really think that we have any privacy? Probably not. Between GPS tracking and our favorite app, most of us gave up on privacy long ago. Some privacy advocates claim that cell carriers have not been transparent about what personal data they have been gathering and using, although we now know that in order to use a cellular device, we must agree to give it away.

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