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Performance Matters: 9 Key Consumer Insights
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.
Gadget Ogling: A Swank Walkman, a Brainy Grill, and Oh, So Much More From CES
January 10, 2015
Welcome to the year's first edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that offers infallible opinions on the latest gadget announcements. The mammoth CES trade show took place this week, and though it offered far too many new items to conceivably cram into a single column, we'll look at some of the most notable and notorious, including Sony's latest Walkman, a smart grill and more.
New Filter Family Adds Diversity to Instagram Toolset
January 2, 2015
Instagram recently added some new filters -- the first time it has done so in two years. Each of the filters included in the latest version allow users to make subtle mood changes to a photo. "Filters are becoming a competitive advantage for Instagram so I suspect you'll see it develop more filters as time goes on because that's the real value of their service," noted IDC Research Director Chris Chute.
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.
BMW's Self-Parking Tech Relieves Drivers From Circling the Lot
December 18, 2014
BMW Group this week previewed the automated parking technology it will showcase at next month's International CES in Las Vegas. The Remote Valet Parking Assistant features 36-degree collision avoidance with secure position and environment recognition. It can be controlled via a smartwatch. The technology will be demonstrated at the trade show in BMW's electric i3.
Google's Cardboard VR Kit Is Really No Joke
December 17, 2014
Google last week announced an updated app for its minimalist Cardboard virtual-reality viewer, as well as software development kits for both Android and the Unity game engine. It also published new building specifications for those interested in making their own Cardboard viewers and announced that it's hiring more people to work on the project, with five new positions now open.
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.
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.
Whoa, Maybe Apple Really Is Serious About Enterprise IT
December 12, 2014
Apple and IBM have delivered the first batch of enterprise-class apps for iOS, rolling out 10 apps that cover key industry verticals like banking and finance, travel and transportation, retail, insurance, telco and government. The companies have pledged to deliver more than 100 such apps. The apps are the first proof point in the "unprecedented" partnership.
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.
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.
Samsung Offers Cool Gear VR Headset but Content Is MIA
December 9, 2014
Samsung on Monday began offering what may best be described as the "alpha version" of its Gear VR headset, developed by Oculus, in the U.S. This Gear VR Innovator Edition works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and is priced at $200. The headset comes with sample gaming and experiential content such as the dungeon exploration adventure HeroBound and the space shooter Anshar Wars.
Grooveshark Tries a Different Tack
December 9, 2014
Grooveshark on Monday confirmed that it will launch a new mobile app that allows subscribers to chat while listening to user-created music stations. Dubbed "Broadcasts," the new app will debut next month, offering an ad-free social radio listening experience on both Android and iOS. Stations will be "created by people rather than by algorithms," said spokesperson James Pearson.
Uber Lurches Down Rocky Road
December 8, 2014
An Uber driver in New Delhi has been arrested on charges of raping his passenger, prompting authorities there to ban the service from operating within city limits. Meanwhile, the Netherlands' Commercial Appeals Court has issued a preliminary judgment that Uber must stop working with drivers who lack a taxi license but charge passengers fares for rides.
Intel Gives Google Glass a Big Break
December 1, 2014
Google reportedly has teamed up with Intel to target the corporate market with its Glass eyewear, and it will use an Intel processor in the next iteration of the device instead of the Texas Instruments chip it now uses. The partnership makes sense, given that Glass has failed to make much headway in the consumer market. "It's a major coup for Google to get Intel," said tech analyst Ronald Gruia.
Apple's 'Get' Puts Paid to Free-App Sham
November 24, 2014
Apple has removed the word "free" from download buttons in its iOS and OS X app stores, replacing it with "get." European regulators recommended the action to Apple and Google earlier this year. In July, Google removed the "free" label from games that could be downloaded without cost -- but required in-app purchases to access a full set of features.
WhatsApp Battens Down the Hatches
November 19, 2014
WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption and enabled it by default in the latest version of its Android messaging application, partner Open Whisper Systems announced Tuesday. The new feature taps Open Whisper's open source TextSecure encryption protocol to ensure that only a conversation's participants can read the messages they exchange. WhatsApp itself won't be able to decrypt the messages.
Google Glass May Be Saved by Obscurity
November 19, 2014
Whatever happened to Google Glass? In the early days, people got punched in bars, bounced from movie theaters, and pulled over in cars for wearing them, and some establishments outright banned "glassholes" from their premises. Google claimed the white "Cotton" beta model sold out when it held a one-day sale of Google Glass Explorer for United States residents at $1,500 a pop in April.
Apple Preps for Enterprise Offensive
November 12, 2014
Apple reportedly has formed a dedicated sales team to pitch Apple products to CIOs, and it is working closely with app developers who have a corporate presence to sell into the enterprise. Apple's increased interest in the enterprise could be part of a long-term strategy to offset declining sales in the tablet market. For three consecutive quarters, iPad sales have fallen.
Researchers Shine Spotlight on OS X/iOS Masque Attack
November 12, 2014
Researchers at FireEye on Monday made public the existence of the Masque Attack, which threatens iOS and Mac OS X operating systems. Masque Attack exploits a flaw in Apple's OSes that allows the replacement of one app by another so long as both apps use the same bundle identifier. All apps, except those preinstalled on iOS, such as Mobile Safari, can be replaced.
New Tool Alerts Etailers to Suspicious Characters
November 11, 2014
As thoughtful as mobile phone makers are when they design their products, there are always punters who want something that isn't there and are willing to hack a device to get it. In the Android world such a hack is called "rooting" a phone; in the iOS world, it's called "jailbreaking." Regardless of what it's called, it can turn a phone into a can of worms for retailers.
The Apple Effect: The Leaders Shall Become Followers
November 7, 2014
Google Wallet reportedly has experienced a sudden surge: Weekly transactions are up 50 percent, and the number of new users has nearly doubled in a month. Obviously, the primary explanation for this sudden leap is Apple's entry into the mobile payments world. It introduced Apple Pay in September and rolled it out officially October 20. Google Wallet has been available since 2011.
Microsoft Rearranges Mobile Office
November 6, 2014
Microsoft on Thursday announced new Office apps for the iPhone, updated Office apps for the iPad, and a preview of Office apps for Android tablets. The company released separate Office for iPhone apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint that it said would offer the iPad experience optimized for the iPhone. Microsoft also updated Office for iPad apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

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Are you comfortable using a mobile device to make purchases?
Yes - It's not any riskier than using a computer or paying in-person with a credit card.
Somewhat - I do it, but I also worry about ID theft and data security.
No - I've heard too many horror stories. The convenience is not worth the risk.
Performance Matters: 9 Key Consumer Insights