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Google Unveils Guetzli, Open Source JPEG Encoder, to Speed Browsing
March 18, 2017
Google on Thursday announced Guetzli, a new contribution to its evolving set of tools for the open source community. Guetzli is an encoder that allows JPEG files to be compressed as much as 35 percent, resulting in much faster Web page loading. "Guetzli," which means "cookie" in Swiss German, allows users to create smaller JPEG images.
Verizon Wakes Up to Join Mobile TV Race
March 17, 2017
Following decades of slow movement due to cable companies facing no competition, the television world is changing rapidly. Lots of challengers have arisen in the pay-TV space in recent years. One of the latest comes from Verizon, which has improved its FiOS mobile app to offer data-free streaming. AT&T's DirecTV started this ball rolling with its wireless TV, or mobile TV, offering.
McDonald's Puts Mobile Ordering to the Test
March 16, 2017
McDonald's has begun testing new mobile ordering and payment functionality at 29 of its restaurants in California. It will expand the pilot to another 51 restaurants in Washington on March 20. The company will run multiple pilots to gather customer feedback, work out any issues that arise, and streamline integration with its IT systems before rolling out its updated mobile app more broadly.
WhatsApp Field-Trials Business Chat
March 14, 2017
WhatsApp reportedly has been conducting tests of a business chat system with a number of companies that are part of the Y Combinator startup incubator. The API gives companies a direct line of communication with WhatsApp users. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum last year said the company would seek to monetize the free chat service by providing businesses with direct access to consumers.
Despite Intense Scrutiny, Uber Lays Another Egg
March 10, 2017
Already under the microscope for claims of sexual harassment and questionable labor practices, Uber this week said it would ban the use of a controversial technology to block regulatory authorities from monitoring its operations. The company's "greyballing" technology is designed to hide the standard city app view in specific cases -- for example, from former riders blocked for being abusive.
USB-C Port, Curved Display Top Latest iPhone Rumor List
March 1, 2017
Apple poked a hornet's nest when it removed the standard headphone jack from the iPhone 7. It may do it again by replacing the Lightning port with USB-C in the next iPhone. The Lightning port, introduced in 2012, is used to charge and connect accessories to the iPhone, but Apple reportedly plans to swap it for USB-C, which the company has been introducing into its computer lines.
How Deeply Could Bribery Scandal Wound Samsung?
February 28, 2017
South Korean prosecutors on Tuesday indicted Samsung head Lee Jae-yong and four other executives on bribery and embezzlement charges, following a lengthy investigation into Lee's ties with impeached president Park Geun-hye and her confidant, Choi Soon-sil. Charges against Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Group, include pledging bribes to organizations tied to Choi.
Nokia 3310 Pushes Nostalgia Buttons
February 28, 2017
HMD Global, owner of the Nokia phone brand, on Sunday reintroduced the classic 3310 feature phone at the MWC, along with a line of brand new Nokia smartphones that run on the Android platform. The relaunch of the 3310 is the reimagination of one of the world's best-selling feature phones as a sleek, lightweight device that features 22 hours of talk time and an entire month of standby time.
Snap Sells Itself as Camera Company as IPO Nears
February 27, 2017
As it approaches its IPO, Snap, maker of the popular Snapchat messaging app, is positioning itself as a camera company. "We feel like we're really at the beginning of what cameras can do," said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. "Before, cameras were the best way to perfectly save or record something that you saw. They sort of helped augment memory -- but now, you know, cameras augment the way that we talk."
FCC Head Champions FM Radio for Smartphones
February 27, 2017
Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, last week issued a call for activation of the FM chips in smartphones. The vast majority of smartphones sold in the U.S. have FM chips, but they're activated in only about 44 percent of the top brands, Pai said. Although that's nearly twice the 25 percent figure of two years ago, it's not good enough, he suggested.
Mobile World Congress: Gigabit Wireless and the Anti-iPhone Set
February 27, 2017
One of the biggest disappointments at this year's Mobile World Congress is that the Samsung Galaxy 8 phone won't make it. The Galaxy line has been the ultimate iPhone fighter. Rumors around the anniversary edition of the iPhone suggest that it will do amazing, magical things, like 3D selfies. OK, I'm really missing Steve Jobs at the moment -- who the hell wants 3D selfies?!?
Rich Content Makes WhatsApp Look a Lot More Like Snapchat
February 22, 2017
Facebook has rolled out a WhatsApp update that could threaten Snapchat's share of the mobile app messaging market. The update allows WhatsApp users to share photos and videos through the app's status area. Moreover, like WhatsApp text messages, content shared through status updates is protected by end-to-end encryption -- a key distinction between WhatsApp and its competitors.
Facebook Gets More In-Your-Face
February 17, 2017
Facebook this week announced new features for News Feeds videos, along with an app for TV. News Feed videos now have sound turned on by default in mobile devices. This can be disabled in the Settings menu. A larger format to present vertical videos now is standard on iOS and Android devices. The feature became available as a preview last year. A Watch and Scroll feature lets users minimize the video they're watching and drag it to any corner of the screen.
Trump's Not the Only One With a Phone Security Problem
February 17, 2017
Is your Android phone secure? President Donald Trump's favorite smartphone reportedly is an older Android device. Security concerns flared recently, following indications that he sent some tweets from it. Of course, the president has been given a special secure device, but it's not clear whether he is using it. My question is, if the president is not secure using an ordinary phone for his primary wireless communications... are any of us?
Samsung's Chromebook Pro Earns Respect
February 14, 2017
Some early reviewers of the Samsung Chromebook Pro characterized it as a "MacBook killer," but others were more restrained in their enthusiasm. Jointly developed with Google and first demoed at CES 2017, the Chromebook Pro is slated for release next month. Samsung's Chromebooks basically are lightweight productivity tools that rely heavily on access to cloud-based resources.
Verizon Caves, Launches New Unlimited Data Plan
February 13, 2017
Facing growing pressure to respond to growing wireless data demands in the U.S. mobile phone market, Verizon finally relented. The company on Sunday announced its own unlimited smartphone option while keeping alternatives open for lighter data users. Verizon's new introductory plan provides unlimited data on smartphones or tablets, along with unlimited texts and phone calls, for $80 per month.
Dozens of iOS Apps Vulnerable to WiFi Snooping
February 9, 2017
Dozens of applications for Apple's mobile devices are vulnerable to WiFi snoopers, according to Will Strafach, CEO of the Sudo Security Group. He identified 76 popular iOS apps available at Apple's App Store that were vulnerable to wireless eavesdroppers, even though the connections were supposed to be protected by encryption. There have been 18 million downloads of the vulnerable apps, he said.
Snap Seizes the Moment
February 6, 2017
Snap last week filed for a $3 billion IPO. The company's private market valuation is $17.8 billion, but investors reportedly have valued it at between $20 billion and $25 billion. "Twenty-five billion dollars is just nuts, but that's the market we're in," remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "This could provide an opportunity for the big gambler investors," he suggested.
Was Apple's Outstanding Q1 a Fluke?
February 6, 2017
Apple had a good quarter, but if you look under the numbers there is a ton of trouble. It just dropped behind Google in brand value, and valuation may crater in a few months. The iPhone 7 did well, but that shouldn't be a surprise, given that its biggest competitor, Samsung, saw its phone literally go up in flames last quarter. The Galaxy 8 is coming, though, and it looks really impressive.
Wireless, Telecom and Pay TV: The Future Is Coming Into Focus
February 2, 2017
Wireless, telecom and pay TV -- including cable, satellite and Internet services -- are all on a growth trajectory, but each company is taking a different path. That means comparing them will be more difficult going forward. In the past, the companies in these sectors in many respects looked the same and offered nearly the same basic services. Looking forward however, things appear very different.
Apple Goes on Record-Breaking Spree
February 1, 2017
Apple stunned Wall Street with Q1 earnings that set new quarterly unit and revenue records in key product segments, and its highest-ever earnings per share. CEO Tim Cook said the company set all-time revenue and unit records for its iPhone and Apple Watch brands, all-time revenue records for its Mac and Services businesses, and all-time revenue records for four of its five geographic sectors.
Trump Clings to Personal Phone Despite Security Risks
January 27, 2017
President Donald J. Trump apparently has continued to use his personal Android smartphone despite security concerns. Trump was concerned about losing access to his personal phone even prior to taking his oath of office, according to a report citing unnamed aides who said he worried about how isolated he could become in the White House without his phone to keep in touch with friends.
Personalization, Simplicity Key to Smart Home Device Adoption
January 26, 2017
Continued innovation and messaging are crucial for smart safety and security device manufacturers that want to capitalize on new opportunities in the emerging Internet of Things. Early adopters of smart devices are often drawn to the innovative design and technological gadgetry. However, mass market adoption depends on clear and compelling value propositions that appeal to the masses.
Google Gets Rid of 1.7 Billion Bad Ads
January 25, 2017
Google removed 1.7 billion bad advertisements from its various sites in 2016, more than double the prior year's totals. Google took several steps to crack down on the deceptive advertising, including updating its policies to protect users from "misleading and predatory offers." It also beefed up its technology to help identify misleading ads and remove them.
Barra Leaves Post as Xiaomi's International Point Man
January 24, 2017
Almost four years after being poached from a critical post at Google to join Chinese upstart Xiaomi, Hugo Barra on Monday announced he will return to Silicon Valley in February. Barra, who led the Xiaomi's overseas expansion as vice president, international, explained the move largely as a desire to reconnect with his family and restore a sense of normalcy to his life.
Samsung Explains Note7 Failure, Promises to Do Better
January 23, 2017
Samsung has announced new quality assurance protocols to ensure that it won't have a repeat of the catastrophic issues that plagued its Galaxy Note7 handsets. The company last fall issued a universal recall after several of the devices caught fire or exploded. In one incident, an aircraft had to be evacuated after a Samsung Galaxy Note7 caught fire and produced thick smoke.
Samsung's Note7 Post Mortem Turns Up 2 Problems
January 21, 2017
Samsung is set to release the results of its Galaxy Note7 investigation on Monday, explaining the underlying causes of the problems that led to the phone's demise. The three independent quality control and supply chain analysis firms Samsung engaged to conduct the investigation concluded that the Note7 was affected by two separate issues. One was a battery issue; the other was the rush to market.
Apple to Jack Up App Prices in UK
January 18, 2017
Apple on Tuesday alerted its development community that it will be raising prices on apps sold through its App Store in the United Kingdom. Several factors influence App Store price tiers internationally, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes, and the cost of doing business, Apple said, noting that the factors vary by region and over time. App Store price increases also are ahead for India and Turkey.
Instagram Stories to Feature Video Ads
January 11, 2017
Instagram on Wednesday announced that businesses will be able to place immersive, full-screen video ads in its Stories feature, which has attracted 150 million daily users since its launch five months ago. Further, Instagram Business Tools will include insights on stories, which will allow business users to view the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual story.
Apple's Great App Store Sales May Not Signify Much
January 6, 2017
Apple's App Store racked up an all-time high of $240 million in sales on the first day of this year. On the whole, 2016 was a very good year for Apple devs, who earned more than $20 billion for their apps. "Apple has always had the most profitable ecosystem and app market in terms of revenue per user and price per app," said Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.
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How urgent is the need to provide broadband services for rural U.S. communities?
It's critical to the entire economy, and everyone should share the cost.
If rural residents really want high-speed Internet, they should foot the bill.
Internet providers will benefit -- they should build out their own networks.
The government should ensure that everyone is connected, but broadband isn't necessary.
People who choose to live off the grid do so for a reason -- leave them alone.
Providers should improve broadband services in heavily populated areas first.