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To Your Health: Intel Inside Your Headphones
August 16, 2014
Intel on Friday announced it is working with rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's SMS Audio to develop earbuds that will monitor users' heart rates. The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones will have an earhook and will be powered by the user's smartphone. They will be sweat- and water-resistant. The earbuds will be available from SMS Audio in Q4; pricing has not yet been announced.
Apple Flexes Muscles in Health Field
August 15, 2014
Apple has begun ramping up for an incursion into the healthcare market, two months after announcing its HealthKit app at WWDC. The app will collate all a user's fitness and health data. Apple reportedly has discussed HealthKit with healthcare providers Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins, along with electronic health records provider Allscripts.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Internet.org Hands Out Free Samples in Zambia
July 31, 2014
The Internet.org collective's mission of bringing the entire planet online took a step forward Thursday with the release of an app affording limited free mobile Internet access to users in Zambia. While around 85 percent of the world's people are located in areas with cellular network connectivity, only 30 percent access the Internet. In Zambia, just 15 percent have online access.
Target Adds a Ripple to Image-Recognition Pool
July 31, 2014
Target last week introduced In a Snap, a new image-recognition app that lets users buy products from the pages of select magazine and printed ads. It is unlike earlier variations of such apps in that consumers don't have to scan codes or follow a link to buy a product. It is similar to -- although far more limited than -- the Firefly functionality in Amazon's recently released Fire Phone.
Samsung Z Delay Prompts Tizzy Over Tizen
July 30, 2014
Samsung has delayed the launch of its Samsung Z smartphone running the Tizen OS, which was scheduled for Q3 release in Russia. The move, just short of two months after the Samsung Z's launch at the Tizen Developers Conference, sparked a death watch for the device. However, Samsung said it needed to further enhance the Tizen ecosystem. Samsung has had several setbacks with the Tizen smartphone.
Android's Fake ID Could Put Millions in Jeopardy
July 30, 2014
An Android vulnerability that exists in every version from v2.1 Eclair to v. 4.3 Jelly Bean could expose millions of users, Bluebox Security has warned. The flaw lets attackers fake the certificates of specially privileged parties, such as Adobe and Google Wallet, and serve them up with malware that bypasses detection by Android. Attackers then can take over every app running on an Android device.
Swell Deal Could Give Apple Something to Talk About
July 29, 2014
It appears Apple is close to acquiring talk radio app Swell for $30 million. Much of Swell's development team reportedly will be joining Apple, and the app is expected to be shut down sometime this week. Although Swell managed to raise $7.2 million from the likes of DFJ, Google Ventures and InterWest Partners, it hasn't been able to get much traction in the crowded iTunes App Store.
Yahoo's in a Flurry Over Mobile Advertising
July 28, 2014
Another Yahoo acquisition hit the news last week -- Flurry Analytics, and it was widely seen as a bid to raise the company's profile in the hot mobile ad market. Mobile advertising will exceed $31 billion this year, eMarketer has predicted. The market currently is dominated by Facebook and Google, which together account for more than 75 percent of all mobile ads worldwide.
IBM Is a 'Kindred Spirit': Whoa, Tim Cook, Whoa
July 25, 2014
The Apple deal with IBM has shown us a whole new side of Tim Cook -- the gushing, hype-laden, excited-but-still-vague Tim Cook who says things like "kindred spirit," "fit together like a puzzle," "huge opportunity," and "radical step for enterprise." Who peppers his speech with words like "profound," "complementary," "landmark" and "thrilled." Holy macaroni.
Sprint Jumps Aboard Google's Apps for Business Bandwagon
July 24, 2014
Sprint will begin selling Google Apps for Business services to enterprise customers starting next month through a new partnership announced Wednesday. Included in Sprint's mobile-focused offering will be a full array of deployment and support services, along with value-added services such as single sign-on. Among the packages included in Google Apps are Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs.
Microsoft's New Direction: One OS to Rule Them All
July 23, 2014
Microsoft will unify and streamline all its operating systems into one, and emphasize mobility and the cloud, CEO Satya Nadella told analysts in a call Tuesday after the company announced its earnings. In a nod to the growing bring-your-own-device trend, the company's devices and applications also will merge life and work. Microsoft will "consolidate overlapping efforts," Nadella said.
EU Rides Apple Over Weak In-App Purchase Policies
July 23, 2014
The EU last year adopted a "common position" on how purchases made within mobile and online applications should be treated by operators of app stores. Now Google is drawing praise for striving to comply with EU guidance, while Apple is being rebuked for dragging its feet. Google announced specific steps it's taking, including removal of the word "free" from any app that enables in-app purchases.
Apple, IBM Bond Over Big Business
July 16, 2014
Apple and IBM have teamed up on enterprise mobility in an exclusive partnership that will create iPhone and iPad business apps incorporating IBM's Big Data and analytics capabilities. "Mobility has been very much a catch-as-catch-can solution in most businesses," noted Yankee Group Research Vice President Carl Howe, with enterprises having to consider a variety of vendors.
Amazon Risks Customer Loyalty in Fight Over Kids' In-App Purchases
July 11, 2014
Amazon's reputation for stellar customer service could become tarnished if its current flap with the FTC gets out of hand. The FTC is suing Amazon for permitting children to make millions of dollars in unauthorized purchases through its Appstore. Similar accusations have been circulating for years. Other companies, including Apple, have been targeted, said Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson.
FTC Goes After Amazon for Fleecing Kids
July 11, 2014
The FTC has filed suit against Amazon over billing kids for unauthorized in-app purchases that in many cases they did not know they had made. The suit accuses Amazon of violating Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. The FTC is seeking a court order requiring Amazon to refund victims for the unauthorized charges.
Tiny Spectrometer Tells You Exactly What You're Eating
July 08, 2014
For all those who have wondered about the ingredients in their lunchtime burrito, Consumer Physics is gearing up to release a handheld device designed to provide the answer. Dubbed "SCiO," the device is a tiny spectrometer that can scan food, medicines and plants to determine their molecular composition. SCiO can deliver nutrient values and evaluate ripeness and spoilage levels.
Reading Rainbow Finds Pot of Gold
July 07, 2014
Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter campaign hit a significant milestone last week: It not only raised the $1 million it originally sought to create a Web version of the popular children's television show within the first 24 hours of the campaign, but also wrapped the 35-day effort with an additional $4.4 million for a grand total of $5,408,916 in donations. The project was organized by LeVar Burton.
Despite Apple's Aperture Fumble, the Photos for OS X End Goal Could Win It All
July 03, 2014
There's a lot riding on Apple's new Photos for Mac OS X app. At WWDC, Apple briefly showed off an early version of its upcoming Photos app, which will integrate with iCloud and the iOS 8-based Photos app with the iCloud Photo Library service. Naturally, this plan raised some questions, and late last week, Apple revealed that it has stopped developing new features for Aperture and iPhoto.

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