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Instagram Shows Off Collections in New Curated Video Channel
November 5, 2015
Instagram last week began offering packaged videos tied to topical events, starting with a stream of video content to celebrate Halloween. In launching a curated content initiative, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is following in the steps of Snapchat and Twitter. Snapchat launched Live Stories in June, and Twitter introduced a feature called Moments last month.
Activision Welcomes King Into Its Court
November 5, 2015
The deal isn't done, but Activision Blizzard already was calling itself a "crowned leader" earlier this week, as it anticipated acquiring Candy Crush publisher King Digital Interactive. Both companies' boards of directors are on board with the acquisition, and the two sides have signed a "definitive agreement" that entails Activision Blizzard picking up King's outstanding shares.
NewsON Puts Local News in Your Pocket
November 5, 2015
NewsON on Wednesday launched a free, ad-supported app that offers instant access to broadcast-quality local newscasts and clips. Users can search by market for curated content linked to breaking news from 118 stations in 90 markets, covering about 75 percent of the U.S. All top 10 U.S. markets, as well as 17 of the top 20, 40 of the top 50, and 73 of the top 100 are participating.
Cortana for iOS Enters Beta Territory
November 4, 2015
Microsoft this week launched a survey for Windows Insiders, seeking candidates for a limited beta of Cortana for iOS. "We're testing the Cortana for iOS app with a limited number of users in the U.S. and China before releasing [it] publicly," said Microsoft spokesperson Jennifer Reynolds. The full app is slated for release later this year. Selected testers will get the app in the next few weeks.
Mobile Malware's Growth Slows, Nastiness Grows
November 4, 2015
The good news about mobile malware in 2015 is that growth has slowed down. The bad news is that the malware entering the market is more virulent than ever. While there hasn't been a sharp rise in the volume of mobile malware this year, the increasingly malicious nature of the types of malware and attacks is alarming, Blue Coat Systems said last week in its 2015 Mobile Malware Report.
Airbnb Holds its Breath as San Franciscans Vote on Prop F
November 3, 2015
San Franciscans will vote Tuesday on Proposition F, also known as the "Airbnb Initiative," which seeks to restrict short-term rentals. Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. At first glance, it appears that the fight is about short-term rental aggregators such as Airbnb. However, the battle lines are muddy. On one side, landlords support Prop F. However, many tenants also support it.
The New York Times May Get Technical With Ad Blockers
November 2, 2015
The New York Times Company last week indicated would take steps to circumvent ad-blocking tools. "As you know, the Times' digital subscription revenue stream means that we are less exposed than most publishers to the impact of ad-blockers," said NYT Company CEO Mark Thompson during an earnings call. "Nonetheless, let me make it clear that we oppose ad blocking."
T-Mobile Rumored to Roll Out Unlimited Video
October 30, 2015
Rumors that T-Mobile plans to introduce an unlimited data plan for streaming video services circulated Thursday following a Twitter post from journalist Evan Blass, who tweets under the handle @evleaks. The company would allow unlimited high-speed data to be used to watch select streaming from services such as Netflix and HBO under its "Uncarrier 10" campaign, he suggested.
Nintendo's Miitomo Smartphone 'Game' Fails to Charm Investors
October 29, 2015
Nintendo shares dropped 9 percent on Thursday, and partner DeNA's stock dropped 15 percent after Nintendo announced that it would wade into the mobile waters next year with social mobile app Miitomo. Based on the Mii digital avatars made popular by the Wii, Miitomo will seek to connect players through trivia, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly said.
Europe's New Net Neutrality Law Draws Jeers
October 28, 2015
The European Parliament on Tuesday passed Net neutrality legislation to a chorus of boos from Net neutrality proponents. The European Union has found consensus on the common principles of Net neutrality -- no blocking, no throttling and no prepaid prioritization -- said Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger. However, the rules have three major loopholes, Net neutrality supporters said.
Gadget Ogling: A Deluxe Dock, a Crafty Computer, and a T-rific Tablet Stand
October 24, 2015
Beddi is an alarm clock smartphone dock that has a few tricks to elevate it above others of its ilk. The system, from Witti, works with both iOS and Android devices, which you place on top and recharge with your own cable. Two things are really interesting: the price and the programmable buttons. As for the latter, that means using Bluetooth to pair your smartphone with Beddi's companion app.
Digital Assistants Sap Drivers' Attention
October 23, 2015
Up to 27 seconds of residual distraction trails use of digital assistant software and infotainment systems in automobiles, the University of Utah reported Thursday. The report follows a similar set of studies done last year that concluded that infotainment systems distract drivers. This time, researchers looked at the aftereffects of driving while using infotainment systems and digital assistants.
Magic Leap: Now You See It
October 22, 2015
There are no special effects in the augmented reality demo it shared on Tuesday, Magic Leap said. The video, which shows imaginary objects blended into a real-world setting, was shot using Magic Leap's augmented reality technology, the company proclaimed. Details about Magic Leap's AR headset have been sparse thus far, but CEO Rony Abovitz dropped a bit more this week.
NX Leaks Hint at Nintendo Comeback
October 20, 2015
Nintendo reportedly has started to distribute software development kits for its next game console. The company hasn't laid out in detail the ecosystem of third-party software that it plans to build around its upcoming console, code-named "NX," but it plans to integrate it with a digital platform for smartphones, tablets, PCs and its own hardware. The NX will employ "industry-leading chips."
Boffins Demo Remote Control of Siri, Google Now
October 19, 2015
Siri and other smartphone digital assistants may do your bidding -- but they may do a hijacker's as well. That's what two researchers discovered when they began to tinker with the effects of radio waves on smartphones. They could use the waves to issue commands to any Android or iOS phone running Google Now or Siri. The researchers first aired their findings at a Paris conference this summer.
Yahoo's New Email App Dumps Passwords
October 16, 2015
Yahoo on Thursday announced a password-free Yahoo Mail app that can manage email accounts from Outlook.com, Hotmail and AOL Mail. There was no mention of syncing with Gmail or Apple's iCloud Mail. Yahoo has been working to improve email security in the wake of repeated hacks of the service over the years, the most prominent a password theft that occurred early last year.
Facebook Sets New Lures for Video Viewers
October 15, 2015
Facebook on Tuesday revealed it's experimenting with making video clips easier for users to find in its mobile and desktop applications. In coming days, a limited number of users will see the new format. "We look forward to seeing how people use it to discover, watch and share videos with their friends," said Will Cathcart, vice president of product management at Facebook.
Uber Rushes In as Same-Day Deliveries Ramp Up
October 14, 2015
Uber on Wednesday made its UberRush merchant delivery service a full-fledged division of the company, officially rolling it out in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. The announcement followed a soft launch earlier this year in NYC. Americans waste too much time and productivity by transporting things from one point to another, Uber reasoned.
Apple News Goes Dark in China
October 13, 2015
Apple recently disabled its Apple News app for users in China, according to multiple reports triggered by software developer Larry Salibra's alerts last week. Although Apple is mum on the subject, users based in China have begun complaining on the Internet about the News app being unavailable there. Salibra could not connect to the News app, and he couldn't read previously downloaded content.
Apple's App Yanking Switches On Data Monitoring Red Light
October 12, 2015
Apple last week revealed that it had removed from its App Store several apps with root certificates that could allow data monitoring. The monitoring could compromise SSL and TLS protocols, the company said. It suggested users delete the apps and their associated configuration profiles. However, it did not name the apps users should delete.
User Info Safe After LoopPay Attack, Says Samsung
October 9, 2015
Samsung has assured users that their information is safe following a computer intrusion of a key company linked to its mobile payment system. The intrusion may have occurred as early as March. Samsung purchased LoopPay for $250 million in February. Its technology allows mobile phones to perform payment card transactions with older POS terminals that recognize only cards with magnetic strips.
App for Rating People Draws Withering Scorn
October 7, 2015
Canadian businesswoman Julia Cordray's plan to launch Peeple, a Yelp-like app that would let people post reviews about other people, has drawn fierce criticism in the tech press and the blogosphere, including a petition against the app's launch and a Twitter campaign to boycott it. "It's a legal and ethical minefield," said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a research director at 451 Research.
Philips Smart Hub Embraces Siri, HomeKit
October 7, 2015
Philips on Monday unveiled Hue Bridge 2.0., which integrates the company's smart home products and iOS's HomeKit, giving users the ability to dictate to smart things from a Siri-enabled smartphone. Replacing its round predecessor, the square Hue Bridge 2.0 is compatible with Philips' legacy smart lights and controls. The hub will support new smart products from Philips for the foreseeable future.
Canonical Plays With Internet of Toys Idea
October 7, 2015
Canonical last week announced plans to launch the Internet of Toys, an open source initiative calling on toy makers, hackers, Internet of Things fans and innovators to build the next generation of Web-accessing toys. Participants will build the next generation of toys around open source tools such as Cylon JS, Gobot, Snappy Ubuntu Core, Snapcraft, ROS and Erle-Spider.
Microsoft Throws the Book at Apple
October 6, 2015
Microsoft on Tuesday held an event in New York City where it unveiled a laptop, a tablet, three Lumia smartphones and a fitness band -- all running Windows 10 -- along with a slew of other products. It also announced new apps for Windows 10, including Box, Facebook, Instagram, Flipagram, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Uber. All of the apps will be available on the new devices.
Adobe Lays Out a Feast at Its MAX Picnic
October 6, 2015
Adobe raised the curtain on two mobile apps and a basket of product upgrades at its MAX conference in Los Angeles. Both new apps -- Photoshop Fix and Capture CC -- are free, but they initially will be available only to users of Apple's mobile devices. Photoshop Fix includes some commonly used Photoshop features -- exposure, contrast and saturation control, as well as object and blemish removal.
New Sonos Speaker Costs $500 but New Smart Tuner Is Free
September 30, 2015
Sonos has unveiled a new version of its top-of-the-line Play:5 speaker, which includes three mid-woofers and three tweeters. It can be set up in three orientations: by itself, or paired with another speaker -- either vertically for tight sound, or horizontally for a more immersive experience. Sonos also introduced Trueplay, an iOS app for tuning its wireless speakers to a room's acoustic profile.
Black Hats Offer Million-Dollar iOS 9 Bug Bounty
September 30, 2015
Zerodium has posted a million-dollar bounty for juicy iOS 9 bugs or jailbreaks. Zerodium runs a market where exploits and vulnerabilities are bought and sold, according to Damballa. "While there is no insight into a specific buyer, we can assume if an exploit for iOS 9 is found, Zerodium will sell it for way more than $1 million," wrote Loucif Kharouni, senior threat researcher at Damballa.
Amazon Flexes Its Muscles in Crowdsourced Delivery Space
September 30, 2015
Amazon has entered the on-demand delivery space in its hometown of Seattle, where independent workers are delivering orders within two hours or less. Under its new Amazon Flex program, the company pays workers between $18 and $25 per hour to deliver packages to Prime Now customers, said company spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman. The service is available only in Seattle for now.
Malware Jumps Apple's Garden Wall
September 22, 2015
Developers who unknowingly used a malicious tool to code their programs uploaded hundreds of malware-infected apps to the iTunes App Store, China-based iOS developers reportedly discovered last week. Security researchers around the world have analyzed it. Called "XcodeGhost," the malware is hidden in an unauthorized version of a program Apple distributes to create iOS apps.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.