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Gadget Ogling: A Touchless Thermometer, Flashing Audio, and a Mesmerizing Mattress Cover
January 31, 2015
JoyWing's Wishbone is a fancier thermometer than what you or I will have seen on any trip to the doctor. It's a smartphone attachment that gives temperature readouts within a couple of seconds without even having to touch the person or material it's examining, thanks to an infrared sensor. It's inexpensive, at $26-35 for those pledging to the crowdfunding drive.
Google Gives WebView the Cold Shoulder
January 30, 2015
Google has decided not to fix vulnerabilities in WebView for Android 4.3 and older, sparking heated discussions among developers. Those versions of WebView run on the WebKit browser. Fixing them "required changes to significant portions of the code and was no longer practical to do so safely," explained Adrian Ludwig, lead engineer for Android security.
FCC Issues Tough Warning Against WiFi Blocking
January 29, 2015
The FCC on Tuesday issued a warning that intentional blockage of personal WiFi hotspots was illegal and would be subject to enforcement. The FCC has noticed a "disturbing trend" among hotels and other commercial establishments of blocking consumers' personal WiFi hotspots on their premises, it said. The agency last year conducted an investigation of Marriott International for WiFi blocking.
Tech-Savvy Cubans Build Their Own Private Internet
January 28, 2015
Because Cuba's government makes it difficult for all but a handful of Cubans to access the Internet, people in Havana and other parts of the country reportedly have linked thousands of PCs to create an informal network known as "StreetNet," or "SNet" for short. The network was built with commercially available equipment. The PCs are connected by WiFi and Ethernet cables strung over rooftops.
Cablevision Freewheels Into WiFi-Only Phone Territory
January 27, 2015
Cablevision on Monday announced plans for Freewheel, an all-WiFi mobile phone service offering unlimited data, talk and text to residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The prepaid service will connect to Cablevision's Optimum Online WiFi network of 1.1 million hotspots. Optimum Online is Cablevision's high-speed Internet service.
China Overtakes US in iPhone Sales
January 27, 2015
Apple is expected this week to report that last year's iPhone sales in China exceeded those in the U.S. Thirty-six percent of iPhone shipments in the most recent quarter reportedly went to China, while just 24 percent went to the U.S. This shift took place over the past year; in the year-ago quarter, the U.S. accounted for 29 percent of all units sold, while 22 percent went to China.
Microsoft's Windows Reboot Could Be Legendary
January 26, 2015
I was one of the launch analysts for Windows 95, and the launch of that product is widely held -- including by Bill Gates -- as the company's pinnacle. No launch before or since ever came close to that launch, and I remain amazed that no one, including Apple or Microsoft, has ever really attempted to duplicate that effort. Windows 10 has the potential to be even greater than Windows 95.
Gadget Ogling: A Microsoft Marvel, an Eensy Keyboard and an Ingenious Desk
January 24, 2015
Microsoft had a major surprise up its sleeve for those awaiting details about the Windows 10 launch: its holographic headset, HoloLens. Billed as a new way to interact with technology and the world around us at once, it overlays holograms onto what wearers see in front of them. They might, for instance, play a version of Minecraft that's constructed across a kitchen table and chairs.
Google to Add Mobile Carrier Hat to Its Collection
January 23, 2015
Google reportedly is planning to set up shop as an MVNO, purchasing bandwidth from Sprint and T-Mobile in order to offer its own wireless service. Details are sparse, but Sprint is said to be putting a volume trigger into its contract that would allow for renegotiation if Google's customer volume should exceed a predefined number. The project, led by Nick Fox reportedly bears the code-name "Nova."
Ford R&D Facility Rolls Into Silicon Valley
January 23, 2015
Ford Motor on Thursday announced the opening of its Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, a 25,000 square foot facility that will help it accelerate the company's innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. This is the latest addition to the automaker's global network of R&D centers, which include its hometown facility in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Brave New World of Windows 10
January 23, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled a slew of new features and capabilities coming in Windows 10: the convergence of the desktop and mobile; the advent of the killer universal app; more power and features for personal digital assistant Cortana, which will be on mobile as well as desktops and laptops; improvements to maps; a new browser; a strong emphasis on gaming; and holographic computing.
Chen Calls on Congress to Mandate BlackBerry Apps
January 22, 2015
BlackBerry CEO John Chen set off a barrage of online chatter Wednesday when he proposed that any rules the U.S. adopts to preserve Net neutrality also should guarantee application neutrality. Chen made the proposal in a letter to two U.S. congressional panels and posted an adapted version on the company's blog. Both the FCC and Congress are considering Net neutrality proposals.
Acer Designs Chromebooks for Students' Rough Handling
January 22, 2015
Acer on Wednesday announced two new ruggedized Chromebooks geared for classroom use. Both will go on sale in February. The Acer Chromebook C910 and C740 have a durable design built around reinforced covers and hinges. The new models support multiple user sign-ons and offline file access. Security features include a Kensington lock to secure the laptop to a wireless cart or lab station.
FreedomPop's $5 WiFi Plan Whittles Wireless Bills
January 22, 2015
FreedomPop on Wednesday announced a new plan that provides Android smartphone users with access to 10 million WiFi hotspots across the U.S. for $5 a month. That sum will give any smartphone or tablet -- regardless of any carrier service it might have -- unlimited talk, text and data on FreedomPop's WiFi hotspot network. Users will have to download FreedomPop's Android app.
Ubuntu Aims to Make the IoT Snappy
January 21, 2015
Canonical on Tuesday unveiled Snappy Ubuntu Core, a new rendition of Ubuntu targeting the Internet of Things. Snappy Ubuntu Core offers a minimal server image with the same libraries as "traditional" Ubuntu, but Snappy apps and Ubuntu Core can be upgraded automatically and rolled back if necessary. Snappy runs on any device with an ARMv7 or Intel x86 processor and at least 256 MB of RAM.
HP Goes Pro With Mobile Business Strategy
January 21, 2015
HP has unveiled eight new business-focused mobile products: six specialized tablets, a 2-in-1 device and a tablet case. The company also announced new relationships with partners and independent software vendors, and a slew of accessories. HP is "very cautious these days about the types of products they release," said Susan Schreiner, senior editor and analyst at C4 Trends.
Microsoft Just Handed Us Our Holographic Future
January 21, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday announced Windows Holographic, a feature in Windows 10 that will let users create their own holograms and print them out on 3D printers. Every Windows 10 device has holographic APIs enabled, Microsoft's Alex Kipman said. Windows 10 holograms are Windows Universal Apps. Users need the Microsoft HoloLens headset, which Kipman described as "the first fully untethered computer."
Apple Stylus Rumor: Taking Care of Business?
January 20, 2015
Apple will introduce a stylus to accompany its expected new, larger iPad, an analyst with a good scorecard in predicting Apple products wrote in a research note on Sunday. Speculation about a 12.9-inch iPad Pro to be launched this year has been grist for the rumor mill for months, but the prediction of an Apple stylus is a new development. The stylus would be sold separately.
Adobe Opens Lightroom's Door to Android
January 19, 2015
Adobe last week released an Android mobile app as a companion to its Lightroom desktop application and cloud service. Adobe released a mobile app for iOS last year. The new app will include all of the functionality of the iOS mobile app -- but refined to take advantage of the Android platform, according to Shared Mangalick, senior product manager for photography at Adobe.
Gadget Ogling: A New Galaxy, Awesome Audio, and One Ring That Doesn't Rule
January 17, 2015
Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that takes freshly announced gadgets out for a hypothetical test run, rendering judgement long before they hit the shelves. In the offing this week: Samsung's latest mid-range smartphone, a gesture-based ring, shiny headphones and much more. Samsung has another mid-range smartphone in the Galaxy A7.
Xiaomi Launches Galaxy Note Killers in China
January 16, 2015
Xiaomi on Wednesday announced two new flagship smartphones in Beijing, the Mi Note and the Mi Note Pro. The Mi Note has a metal frame and is protected on the front and back with 3D curved Gorilla Glass 3, which apparently makes it highly resistant to scratches and shattering. Xiaomi compared the Mi Note to the iPhone 6 Plus, but it appears that Samsung's Galaxy Note is its real target.
Verizon's Cookies Never Crumble
January 16, 2015
Verizon advertising partner Turn is using the carrier's Unique Identifier Header, or UIDH, to maintain tracking cookies on smartphones even after privacy-minded users have deleted them, Jonathan Mayer, a computer scientist and lawyer at Stanford University, reported this week. Turn shares the cookies with dozens of major websites and advertising networks.
3 Reasons Apple Won't Pull the Rug Out From Under GoPro
January 16, 2015
Despite having the most popular camera on the planet in the form of the iPhone, the odds of Apple pulling the rug out from under GoPro by building its own action sports camera system -- even with using its forthcoming Apple Watch as a controller -- are so low they stand in stark contrast to the hysterical selloff of GoPro stock this week. What happened?
Google Pulls Down Shades on Glass' Future
January 16, 2015
Google on Thursday announced that it will shut down its Glass Explorer Program in order to refocus -- but that new versions of Glass will be forthcoming at some unspecified time. The Google Glass team will be moving out of Google X to become an independent entity reporting to Tony Fadell, cofounder and CEO of smart thermometer maker Nest, which Google acquired a year ago.

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