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Rivals Rev Up as Uber Hits the Skids
June 23, 2017
As Uber reels from the fallout of a sexual harassment scandal that led to this week's ouster of Travis Kalanick and several of his top executives, the company faces twin dilemmas: how to clean up its corporate work environment and restock its executive ranks; and how to maintain credibility with its customer base and core team of street level drivers.
Apple Centers Health Data Strategy on iPhone
June 19, 2017
Apple quietly has been strategizing to expand its growing healthcare business to include the management of digital health records, with the iPhone operating as a central data hub. Apple reportedly has been in talks with numerous health industry groups that are involved in setting standards for the storage and sharing of electronic medical records, in a way that would give consumers more control.
The Art of Manipulation and Misdirection
June 19, 2017
Last week, I listened to an economist talk about Apple's complaints that Qualcomm had charged Apple too much for access to patents. What was fascinating was that Apple had folks focused on the 5 percent Qualcomm had charged it instead of on the massive profit that Apple made on each phone. The price of the iPhone 8 likely will be well over $1,000 -- but it could cost well under $500 to build.
Gadget Ogling: Apple at Home
June 12, 2017
The battle for your home just got a little more intense as Apple pulled back the curtain on HomePod, its smart speaker that seeks to hold dominion over your home empire and all the gadgets that reside within. HomePod holds a 4-inch woofer and seven tweeters, and it has six microphones to pick up your voice commands for Siri, wherever you happen to be in the room.
Apple's iOS 11 Makes Siri a More Natural Woman... and Man
June 6, 2017
New voices for Siri and peer-to-peer payments are among the new features in the next version of Apple's mobile device operating system iOS 11, previewed at the company's annual Worldwide Development Conference on Monday. "With the new operating system, Apple has doubled down on many of the applications it has developed for iOS," said Ross Rubin, the principal analyst at Reticle Research.
With Audio Focus, Apple Side-Steps Smart Speaker Competition
June 6, 2017
Apple raised the curtain on HomePod, its upcoming smart speaker, during Monday's WWDC keynote presentation. The company also announced some desktop OS features for the iPad, and revealed its plans to become an augmented reality powerhouse. "Just like iPod reinvented music in our pockets, HomePod is going to reinvent music in our homes," said Apple SVP Phil Schiller.
Plex Advances Cord-Cutting Case With Live OTA TV
June 2, 2017
Video streaming service Plex on Thursday announced the availability of a beta version of its Plex Live TV. The live-TV streaming launch follows last year's introduction of the Plex DVR, which provides users with free over-the-air access to 86 of Nielsen's 100 most watched shows in the United States. Plex Live TV currently is available only on Android TV and iOS devices.
Android Creator Launches a Phone of His Own
May 31, 2017
Essential, a company founded by Andy Rubin, the "father of Android," on Tuesday pulled off the wraps on a new high-end smartphone. The Essential Phone, priced at $699, includes radios for connecting to all major U.S. carriers. The unit has an almost edge-to-edge display -- there's a bit of bezel at the bottom of its screen -- that wraps around the 8-MP selfie camera at the front.
Main Surface Pro Improvements Are Beneath the Surface
May 24, 2017
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a refresh of its Surface Pro tablet-laptop computer. Although Microsoft said the fifth generation of the unit has been redesigned from the inside out with more than 800 new custom parts, the Surface Pro looks similar to its predecessor. "If you were looking for a major redesign of Surface, this isn't it," said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.
Getting Serious About Teen Smartphone Addiction
May 24, 2017
Parents don't need a poll to tell them their teenagers are addicted to smartphones. After all, smartphones are a permanent fixture rather than accessories on the visages of kids of all ages these days. Even so, polls move these everyday observances from anecdotal to official problem when the numbers tilt in that direction -- and a Common Sense Media poll hit full tilt.
Snap Stock Snaps Back - for the Moment
May 23, 2017
Snap shares appear to have rebounded from the plunge they took earlier this month, after the newly public company released a massive $2.2 billion loss in the first quarter, but investors still are scratching their heads over the company's prospects. Trading just over $20 at mid-day Tuesday, Snap looks to some like it has regained its early bloom. Others suspect that darker days are yet to come.
Verizon Aims to Help Firms Get Up Close and Personal With Customers
May 22, 2017
Verizon Enterprise Solutions has released Visual Interactive Calling, an SDK and platform designed to enable banks, retailers, airlines, travel and hospitality companies, and other firms to communicate visually with their customers. "The sweet spot for this solution is enterprises that have deep mobile app penetration into their customer base," said Tom Smith, a CX manager at Verizon.
Walmart Delivers E-Commerce Stunner
May 19, 2017
Walmart on Thursday reported soaring e-commerce growth during its fiscal first quarter, along with strong organic sales figures -- results that suggest rival Amazon may have a fight on its hands. Online sales grew a stunning 63 percent during the quarter, perhaps in response to the company's newly introduced free two-day shipping and its upgraded mobile app.
Data Watchdog Cautions Google and UK Health Partner
May 19, 2017
A British data watchdog has raised questions about whether it was appropriate for a healthcare trust to share data on 1.6 million patients with DeepMind Health, an AI company owned by Google. The trust shared the data in connection with the test phase of Streams, an app designed to diagnose acute kidney injuries. However, the sharing reportedly was performed without an appropriate legal basis.
Google Pushes AI, Machine Learning to the Front
May 18, 2017
Addressing thousands of developers at the annual Google I/O conference on Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai outlined the company's new strategy to transition from mobile first to artificial intelligence and machine learning. The goal is to equip the company's line of digital assistant products and services to anticipate the needs of users, and comprehend sights and sounds in new ways.
Wearable Tech Can Detect Life-Threatening Heart Problems
May 18, 2017
Cardiogram last week announced that it has developed a preliminary algorithm to use with the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices to detect atrial fibrillation with higher accuracy than previously validated detection methods. Atrial fibrillation, or AF, affects about 2.7 million Americans, and increases the risk of stroke by five times. Overall, it causes about 15 percent of strokes.
Consumer WiFi Use: No Letup in Sight
May 11, 2017
Consumers use lots of data on their mobile devices. While half of consumers use less than 7 GB per month, data consumption is heavily skewed toward the upper end, recent Parks Associates research indicates. Among U.S. broadband households, mean data consumption is roughly 20 GB per month, with 14 GB used on WiFi and 6 GB through 3G/4G/LTE networks. Consumers' monthly WiFi data consumption increased by 40 percent from 2015 to 2016.
BlackBerry KEYone's Success Hinges on Physical Keyboard Longing
May 6, 2017
The first reviews of the new KEYone BlackBerry handset appeared this week, and the early consensus is that this device will appeal to BlackBerry fans who want its familiar physical QWERTY keyboard coupled with the functionality of Google's Android OS. This handset technically is not a true BlackBerry -- it is the first device from TCL since it entered a licensing agreement with BlackBerry Limited.
Qualcomm May Seek iPhone Ban to Retaliate Against Apple
May 5, 2017
Qualcomm plans to ask the ITC to block imports of iPhones, according to a report. The move apparently was spurred by Apple's recent decision to stop making royalty payments owed under a licensing agreement between the two companies, which is the subject of a billion-dollar legal battle in federal court. "You can't pay something when there's a dispute about the amount," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
Google Neutralizes Docs Phishing Scam
May 5, 2017
A phishing scam that surfaced earlier this week used Google Docs in an attack against at least 1 million Gmail users. However, that amounted to fewer than 0.1 percent of Gmail users were affected, according to the company. Google last year put the number of active monthly Gmail users at more than 1 billion. Google shut down the phishing scam within an hour, it said.
Nintendo Drops New Portable on Market as Switch Sales Take Hold
May 2, 2017
Nintendo last week introduced a new contender in the increasingly hot portable gaming competition. The New Nintendo 2DS XL will make its debut on July 28 at a mid-range price of $149.99. It will slot in right between the entry-level 2DS and more robust 3DS XL. The 2DS XL has the same large screen as the 3DS XL and can play all the games made for the Nintendo 3DS, New Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS.
What People Don't Get About Tesla
May 1, 2017
Tesla is like Apple in that it represents a revolution in thinking. Although everyone seems to focus on the electric power plant, that is really a small part of the Tesla revolution. If Musk were to launch an almost-identical company but with gas engines, it would cut through the market like a hot knife through butter. The electric part isn't as much a sales accelerant as it is an impediment.
Mobile Ubuntu Gamble to Fizzle Out in June
April 26, 2017
Canonical will end its support for Ubuntu Touch phones and Ubuntu-powered tablets in June, and that it will shut down its app store at the end of this year. The company previously had signaled the system's demise, but it had not fixed a date. With Ubuntu Touch, a unified mobile OS based on Ubuntu Linux, Canonical hoped to establish a marketable alternative to Android and iOS.
Millions May Have Picked Up FalseGuide Malware at Google Play Store
April 26, 2017
As many as 2 million Android users might have downloaded apps that were infected with the FalseGuide malware, security research firm Check Point warned on Monday. The oldest of the infected apps could have been uploaded to Google Play as long ago as last November, having successfully remained hidden for five months, while the newest may have been uploaded as recently as the beginning of April.
Apple Slashes App Store Affiliate Commissions
April 26, 2017
Apple stunned the wider development community on Monday with an emailed announcement that it has decided to slash commissions for App Store affiliates from 7 percent to 2.5 percent, starting May 1. The cuts apply to all apps and in-app content, Apple said. However, they do not apply to commissions for movies, music, books and TV, which will remain at 7 percent.
Uber Boss Practices Brinksmanship With Apple
April 24, 2017
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has a reputation of playing fast and loose with rules, but it appears that a maneuver his company performed on iPhones took his ride-hailing outfit to the brink of ruin a couple of years ago. When Apple discovered Uber was planting code on iPhones that persisted on the devices even after the ride-hailing app was removed, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave Kalanick a warning.
The iPhone Model's Impending Obsolescence
April 24, 2017
VCRs gave way to DVD players, which in turn have given way to streaming services. Brick cellphones evolved into flip phones, which were swapped out for two-way pager phones and then wiped out by the iPhone model. Tape players gave way to the Walkman CD player, which gave way to the iPod, which also ended up in the iPhone model. I think we soon will see another big industry shift.
Apple May Be Getting Its Innovation Groove Back
April 20, 2017
Apple reportedly has begun testing a premium iPhone with a revamped display and body, which could be one of three new models the company is expected to launch this fall. The other two likely will be upgrades to the two existing iPhones. The new design will incorporate curved glass and stainless steel. It will increase the surface area of the display without increasing the size of the phone.
Cleveland Murder Intensifies Scrutiny of Facebook Live
April 18, 2017
Video footage of a senseless murder in Cleveland, posted after the fact on Facebook Live, has attracted national attention to the role of the platform in criminals' minds. Authorities Tuesday morning announced that Steve Stephens -- the 37-year-old suspect wanted for the cold-blooded shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. -- shot himself to death after a short pursuit by Pennsylvania State Police.
Why Is It OK to Abuse Customers?
April 17, 2017
I don't know about you but I can't seem to get out of my head the image of that poor Asian doctor who, seemingly unconscious, was dragged off that United flight. The fact that the airline did that to a 69-year-old doctor just so it could save money moving employees around is nearly as unbelievable as the initial tone-deaf response from United's CEO, who blamed the passenger.
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What do you think of today's voice recognition technology?
It's great -- the tech has improved vastly in recent years.
It's the wave of the future, but quality is still hit or miss.
I like it for texting, especially when I'm driving.
I only use it when I have to, like with IVR systems.
I avoid using it, because most voice systems are still terrible.
It's an unnecessary frill that I can easily live without.