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EU Levels Antitrust Charges Against Abusive Android
April 20, 2016
The European Commission has charged that Google breached EU antitrust rules by seeking to maintain and expand the dominance of its Android operating system. "A competitive mobile Internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe," said the EC's antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager. "We believe that Google's behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps."
Apple's MacBook Refresh Draws Tepid Response
April 19, 2016
Apple on Tuesday announced a refreshed MacBook with some incremental improvements but nothing likely to dazzle even the staunchest Mac fans. The improved battery life and fanless design got the attention of tech analyst Eric Smith. "Battery life is always top of mind for consumers," he said. However, he was "a little disappointed" that there has been no improvement to display resolution.
Verizon Strikers Highlight Lost Jobs, Broken Promises
April 15, 2016
An army of 39,000 workers this week went on strike against Verizon in one of the biggest labor actions in the U.S. in several years. Fast food workers have joined in a show of support, and both Democratic candidates for president have entered the fray. Thousands of wireline workers from Massachusetts to Virginia walked off the job at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Chatbots Drive Shopify's Kit CRM Deal
April 15, 2016
Shopify on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to purchase Kit CRM, whose Kit chatbot automatically sends out marketing text messages for online stores. It also lets businesses run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, make recommendations based on store activities, post on social media and use functionality provided by other social media apps, Shopify CMO Craig Miller said.
E2E Encryption Could Make WhatsApp a Spam Magnet
April 15, 2016
Facebook's WhatsApp last week announced it would roll out end-to-end encryption for its users, but the move could make the service more attractive to spammers. While encryption can safeguard information from data thieves, it also can block data protectors. The policy "will not stop the growth of spam on the platform and could make the problem worse," AdaptiveMobile's Simeon Coney said.
HTC 10 Wins Heaps of Praise With a Sprinkling of 'Buts'
April 15, 2016
HTC this week unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC 10. The phone's camera is outfitted with new, larger sensors and 12 million new-generation UltraPixels. Both the front and rear cameras sport the world's first optically stabilized, larger-aperture f/1.8 lenses on, the company said. The rear camera also has a faster laser autofocus.
Amazon's Kindle Oasis: Lightness of Being at an Unbearable Price?
April 13, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday launched the Kindle Oasis -- the latest upgrade to its popular line of e-readers. Along with features that are arguably revolutionary, it comes with a price point that may shock more than a few customers. The Oasis is the thinnest and lightest e-reader it has ever produced, Amazon said. Without the cover, it weighs in at just 4.6 ounces and is only 3.4 mm at its thinnest point.
Male Snubbing Ride-Sharing Service Postpones Launch
April 13, 2016
Chariot for Women, a ride-sharing service that excludes males 13 and older, reportedly has postponed its launch to sometime this summer due to heavier-than-anticipated demand. The company originally had planned to debut the service in Boston next week. Chariot for Women is open to all women, including transgender women. Children, including boys under the age of 13, also may ride.
Verizon May Be Tuning Up for Yodeling Contest
April 9, 2016
Verizon reportedly is planning to make a formal first-round bid for the core assets of Yahoo when the company begins fielding offers on Monday. Verizon, whose CEO last month confirmed his company's interest, is working with executives of its AOL subsidiary and three financial advisors to put together a bid by the April 11 deadline, according to the report.
White House Takes a Pass on Encryption Debate
April 7, 2016
It appears that the Obama administration will refrain from giving its outspoken support to any legislation that aims to compel high-tech companies to help law enforcement agencies crack mobile phone encryption. On the other hand, it won't level any outspoken opposition either. Introduction of such a bill -- sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr -- is expected soon.
FCC Labels Aim to Demystify Broadband Service Plans
April 5, 2016
The Federal Communications Commission on Monday announced a plan to create label disclosures that would give consumers a clear picture of the pricing, speed and bandwidth they are paying for under high-speed Internet contracts. The FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee proposed the nutrition-like labels amid concerns that providers were not transparent enough.
4-Inch iPhone: Slow and Steady May Win the Race
April 5, 2016
Apple appears to have experienced a lost weekend with the 4-inch iPhone SE failing to rack up significant sales. When the period ended, the SE claimed only 0.1 percent of the iPhone market, Localytics reported Monday. "The new phone was unable to take away the iPhone 5's share, the model it most closely resembled, suggesting that small-screen lovers have not yet been convinced to upgrade."
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
Foxconn Finally Wrangles Sharp Deal
April 1, 2016
Foxconn has agreed to purchase a controlling stake in Sharp -- about 66 percent -- for roughly $3.5 billion, the companies announced Wednesday. Foxconn has committed to restoring Sharp's profitability and improving operations, according to the companies. "I am confident that we will unlock Sharp's true potential," Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said. The acquisition brings months of speculation to a close.
Facebook Plots Secret Chat for Messenger
April 1, 2016
Facebook has been working on mobile pay and secret chat features for its Messenger app, according to a report published this week, based on clues found in extracted software code on Messenger for iPhone. Commands embedded in the software hint at secret conversations, similar to what's found in WhatsApp, and commands to pay in person and pay in Messenger when picking up an item.
Oracle Ups Java Damages Demand to $9.3B
March 30, 2016
Oracle has asked for $9.3 billion in damages in its multiyear lawsuit against Google over the use of Java in Android, according to a report filed last week in federal court. That amount is reportedly about 10 times what it had initially asked for. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 9 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
FCC Commissioner Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Throttling
March 30, 2016
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly on Tuesday suggested the government should investigate Netflix's practice of throttling video content delivery to customers using mobile devices. However, Netflix's video throttling was not a violation of the FCC's Net neutrality rules, O'Rielly also said. Netflix last week announced plans to offer a data saver feature for mobile apps beginning in May.
Latest iOS Upgrade Drives Users Buggy
March 30, 2016
Apple has been deluged with complaints from users who say the latest version of its mobile operating system is breaking links and crashing apps. "Following iOS 9.3 on iPhone 6splus update links in safari no longer open, then safari crashes -- any ideas how to fix? Same problem in Chrome," user John MacDonald posted Monday on Apple's support page on Twitter.
Hard-Pressed Pebble Sheds 25 Percent of Workforce
March 29, 2016
Pebble -- once viewed as the little smartwatch company that could -- last week cut its worldwide workforce by 25 percent, according to news reports. That's reportedly about 40 people, but actual figures are hard to come by because Pebble is privately held. The company has raised $46 million, but CEO Eric Migicovsky blamed the layoffs on the difficulty of raising funds in Silicon Valley these days.
A Dramatic 16 Years for 4 Tech Titans
March 28, 2016
Following Apple's latest announcements, I noticed a number of reports on how disappointed customers were that there was nothing they wanted to wait in line for hours to buy. I personally thought they should have been excited about that, because I hate to stand in lines. I've never really figured out an Apple fanatic's penchant for pain. Still, it is very clear that today's Apple is very different.
Google Aims to Build a Better iOS Keyboard
March 24, 2016
Google has been developing a third-party keyboard for Apple devices in an effort to increase the number of Google searches on iOS, according to a news report published Tuesday. The keyboard, which is being tested internally, reportedly would incorporate a number of search options and a Swype-like feature to guess the intended word when a user slides a finger from one letter to another.
iPad Pro Wants to Be Your Next PC
March 24, 2016
When Apple unveiled its 9.7-inch iPad Pro earlier this week, it aimed the tablet squarely at the PC replacement market, with Senior VP Phil Schiller describing it as the "ultimate upgrade for existing iPad users and replacement for PC users." More than 600 million PCs in use are 5 years old or more, he said. The Pro's 64-bit A9X processor rivals that of most portable PCs, Apple said.
Supreme Court to End Samsung, Apple Patent Brawl
March 22, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from Samsung regarding its patent dispute with Apple. The case stems from a 2011 lawsuit by Apple that alleged Samsung copied certain design elements and features from the iPhone and iPad and used them in Samsung Galaxy phones and tablet computers. A jury in 2012 awarded $1 billion to Apple.
ProtonMail Launches Encrypted Email for iOS, Android
March 18, 2016
ProtonMail, which offers encrypted email, on Thursday launched free iOS and Android mobile apps worldwide, through the iTunes App Store and Google Play, respectively. They have been in beta since August, company CEO Andy Yen said. The email service features end-to-end encryption; emails stored on ProtonMail's servers also are encrypted and thus can't be accessed.
Does Little iPhone Mean Apple Is Growing Up?
March 17, 2016
Every few months, fans gather with excitement to see what Apple will introduce next -- so what can we expect to see from Apple on March 21? I think the most important thing will be fixing a mistake the company made two years ago. Apple will reintroduce a 4-inch iPhone. As smartphone sales slow, even Apple needs to cozy up to users. Slapping them in the face was not a good sales tactic.
Amazon May Let You Pay With a Wink and a Nod
March 16, 2016
Amazon has applied for a patent for selfie-based authentication for online purchases, according to a patent application published last week. Using the technology, a prospective purchaser would take a selfie, and the image would be authenticated against an image database using facial recognition software. The buyer then would perform an action to verify that the image is of a live human being.
Digital Assistants Fail Abysmally in Crisis Situations
March 16, 2016
Personal digital assistants are of little benefit for people experiencing a serious personal crisis, such as sexual assault or thoughts of suicide, according to a study published Monday. The research looked at four major personal assistants. For the most part, they were unable to recommend solutions when users expressed severe mental anguish, or reported domestic violence, sexual assault or forms of imminent danger.
Apple Slips Native Advertising Into News App
March 16, 2016
Apple recently updated its iAd specifications to allow the display of sponsored posts directly in users' news feeds in the Apple News app for the iPhone and iPad. The ads will appear in native-banner format and can link to articles in the News app. They will be set in the same default font as News articles and will have the same look, with a title, text excerpt and a small image.
Apple Lassos Attention With 'Loop You In' Tease
March 11, 2016
Apple on Thursday sent out media invitations to a March 21 event at its Cupertino, California, headquarters, with the cryptic teaser, "Let us loop you in." Speculation is rife that the company will unveil a new 4-inch iPhone called the "iPhone SE." A 9.7-inch iPad Air also is expected, as well as some new Apple Watch bands and minor hardware and software updates.
FCC Proposes Subsidy to Close Broadband Gap
March 10, 2016
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Tuesday announced a $2.25 billion plan to expand the federal Lifeline subsidy program to help low-income consumers afford broadband Internet service. Lifeline, which currently allows low-income consumers to buy mobile phone service at a discount, would let them buy standalone broadband starting Dec. 1 for $9.25 per month or apply the discount to bundled services.
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