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Facebook Trains Sights on Clickbaiters
August 26, 2014
Clickbaiting may soon come to an end on Facebook, which has launched an effort to deal with the problem. Posts with clickbait headlines get higher placement in News Feeds, pushing down more desirable content. Eighty percent of the time, users prefer headlines that help them decide whether they want to read a full article before having to click through, a Facebook survey indicated.
Google Gives Glass a Good Polish
August 26, 2014
An update to the software that runs Glass gives users of Google's wearable computing device more control over their interactions with contacts. The latest version of the software -- also known as version XE20.1 -- adds the flexibility to choose how to reach out to a contact after selecting the person from the contacts list. Users now can swipe between Hangouts, email or SMS.
Amazon Aims to Skewer Google's Cash Cow
August 26, 2014
Amazon appears to be readying an advertising platform to compete with Google's AdWords. It reportedly has started talking up its new Amazon Sponsored Links platform with potential partners and is anticipating a launch later this year. Ads from the new platform would replace those from Google currently found on Amazon Web pages. They also would be sold outside the Amazon universe.
Gadget Ogling: A New Nook, a Good (M8), a Lock With No Key - and Music, Music, Music
August 26, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook conflates lots of different things: It's an Android tablet designed for reading, made by Samsung for Barnes & Noble. That might seem confusing, and I'd agree. It's essentially a branded version of the Galaxy Tab 4 with an e-commerce focus. Specifically, there's a Barnes & Noble Newsstand app, with games, movies and books on offer.
China to Go Its Own OS Way
August 26, 2014
China is developing a homegrown operating system that could be ready as soon as October as part of an effort to wean itself from Western-made software, according to a Sunday report from the government news agency. The new operating system first will appear on desktop devices and then be extended to smartphones and other mobile devices in three to five years.
'iWatch' Could Be Late for a Very Important Date
August 22, 2014
Apple may be forced to postpone the launch of the hotly anticipated "iWatch" or health band, perhaps pushing it back to 2015. It apparently is facing wide-ranging production issues involving components, system design, manufacturing, and integration between hardware and software. Holy macaroni. Of course, it should be noted that Apple has never said that it would deliver anything of the sort.
Sprint's Moment of Truth
August 21, 2014
The good news for Sprint is the stars seem to be lining up for a recovery. Change is occurring throughout the entire wireless industry. Every player -- including AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and C Spire Wireless -- is changing. We will start to see lots of new services, pricing, competition and marketing going forward.
HTC (M8)s With Microsoft
August 20, 2014
HTC, which in recent years spurned Windows Phone for Android, on Tuesday returned to the Microsoft fold with the launch of a Windows Phone version of its flagship HTC One (M8) smartphone. The HTC One (M8) for Windows debuted as a Verizon Wireless network exclusive. The two-year contract price at Verizon Wireless is $200. AT&T also will carry the phone, but it hasn't said when that will be.
Leaked Moto 360 Specs Impress, Price Point Iffy
August 20, 2014
Specs of the forthcoming Moto 360 smartwatch from Motorola appeared briefly on a Best Buy Web page, sparking increased chatter about the device. Concerns about price -- the watch was listed at $250 -- tempered the usual gasps of delight from geeks. Amazon lists a Samsung Galaxy Gear for $150, a Gear Live for $180, a Gear 2 Neo for $200, a Pebble Steel for $230, and an LG G Black Titan for $233.
The Many Faces of Multivariate Testing
August 14, 2014
When Facebook and OKCupid recently admitted they had been tinkering with headlines and content to see how users reacted, many consumers were outraged -- but the business community just shrugged. What the companies were doing was simply a form of multivariate testing -- albeit in the case of OKCupid, it was particularly aggressive. The practice itself has been around for years.
Amazon Flows Into Mobile Payments Territory
August 13, 2014
Amazon has introduced Amazon Local Register to the mobile payment market, taking on such companies as Square and Paypal Here. The product is a combination of a secure card reader, which sells for $10, and a free mobile app. Together, they offer a platform that allows businesses to accept credit and debit card payments using smartphones or tablets. The product comes with customer support.
Siri Creators Have a Much Smarter Bun in the Oven
August 13, 2014
The inventors of Apple's Siri personal assistant have launched an independent effort that could make their first offspring look kind of dumb. Billed as "the global brain," Viv aims to provide an intelligent interface to everything. "They are trying to abstract Siri's [natural-language processing] interface so you could apply it into other applications and domains," said Tempo AI CEO Raj Singh.
The Connected Car, Part 2: Wired For Wireless - It's All Business
August 12, 2014
The connected car is a battlefield among technology purveyors fighting to get their hardware plugged into the vehicle's network bus. Open source technology is becoming a key contender. OEMs are sorting through a garage full of options from versions of embedded Linux to the Automotive Grade Linux distro and the Android car platform. The connected car concept is picking up speed.
Smartphone Kill Switch Law Reaches California Governor's Desk
August 12, 2014
California is poised to enact a consumer-friendly law requiring smartphone manufacturers to install "kill switches" -- that is, antitheft technology that would be activated by the carrier when a consumer alerts it that a device has been stolen or lost. The technology not only wipes the device of personal data but also renders it inoperable. The state legislature passed the bill on Monday.
What's Next for Sprint?
August 12, 2014
There's a New Sprint in town. Last week the earth shook twice in Kansas City -- once when Sprint decided not to end its pursuit of T-Mobile, and then again when it replaced CEO Dan Hesse with Marcelo Claure. What can we expect next? First, Sprint is going to be a very different kind of company going forward. New CEO Marcelo Claure and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son will take Sprint on a new path.
Carrier Software Flaws Imperil Smartphones: Report
August 08, 2014
Wireless carriers pose a threat to mobile phone security, researchers have disclosed. Mathew Solnik and Marc Blanchou of Accuvant this week told an audience at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas that Android, BlackBerry and some iOS devices are vulnerable. The problem lies in a device management tool using the OMA Device Management Standard, which carriers embed into mobile devices.
Beacons Hit the Retail Spotlight
August 07, 2014
It was just six months ago that we saw what beacon technology could do on a wide scale. For Super Bowl XLVIII, the National Football League installed wireless transmitters in Times Square and at MetLife Stadium to send simple yet specific messages to smartphones: "bathrooms to the right," "snacks to the left," and so on. The deployment was considered a bold test for the nascent technology.
Sprint Sheds Hesse Along With T-Mobile Hopes
August 07, 2014
Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son has announced sweeping changes for subsidiary Sprint. Effective Aug. 11, Sprint President and CEO Dan Hesse is being replaced by Marcelo Claure, founder and CEO of Softbank subsidiary Brightstar. Also, Sprint has dropped plans to purchase T-Mobile. Hesse's replacement was expected, as Sprint has been hemorrhaging customers and piling up losses for some time.
NPR One Lets Listeners Hear Radio Their Way
August 06, 2014
NPR last week launched a mobile app that gives modern listeners a new way to access personalized radio content. NPR One provides mobile device users a stream of news stories based on their preferences. They can curate a playlist of their favorite NPR podcasts -- such as Fresh Air, for instance -- as well as stories aired on their local public radio station.
BlackBerry Ripe for Growth, Predicts CEO Chen
August 06, 2014
BlackBerry -- the "sick man of mobile" -- is poised for better times. That was the sentiment expressed by CEO John Chen in an internal memo distributed to BlackBerry employees last week. BlackBerry has completed its restructuring and the workforce reductions that started three years ago have been completed, Chen reportedly wrote in the memo. Better yet, it may soon be adding workers.
Qstream Runs Broader and Deeper
August 05, 2014
Qstream, which has developed a gamification-based app to help sales reps learn complex sales-related content, has broadened and deepened its functionality so the platform can be used in new scenarios. It has expanded the types of situations in which a company can use its Qstream license, said CEO Duncan Lennox, because it has proven to be wildly popular with companies beset by a common problem.
Apple's Big Blue Dilemma
August 05, 2014
Apple reportedly is gearing up to do what it does best -- introduce a new gadget or two. Word is the company will hold a spellbinding iPhone event come Sept. 9. With the dust not quite settled over Apple's recently announced liaison with IBM, it will be interesting to see whether there are any new corporate nuances in the upcoming presentation. Will Apple maintain its strong consumer focus?
Xiaomi Wins Key to China's Heart
August 05, 2014
Smartphone maker Xiaomi has been on a tear. It has risen from a lowly device maker to king of the Chinese market in just a year, according to a new report from Canalys. A year ago, Xiaomi held a 5 percent of China's second-quarter smartphone shipment rankings. By the first quarter of this year, it had achieved a 10.7 percent market share, behind Samsung's 18.3 percent and Lenovo's 11 percent.
Retailers Harassed by Backoff Malware
August 05, 2014
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security last week sounded an alarm warning retailers of a family of malicious programs aimed at compromising point-of-sale systems. Attackers used such software last year in massive data breaches that nicked millions of consumer records at Target and Nieman Marcus. Variants of the Backoff family have turned up in at least three forensic investigations.

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