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Which Stars Will Shine Brightest in Apple's Brilliant 2015?
December 19, 2014
The end of the year and holiday season is a natural time to look back -- and then look forward to the year to come. Apple started 2014 slowly, but more than made up for it in the long haul, introducing the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, Mac OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, an iPad Air 2 with a super-fast processor, the massively selling iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and a luscious iMac with a 5K Retina screen.
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.
BlackBerry Bucks Up Its Loyal Base With Classic Comeback
December 17, 2014
BlackBerry has unveiled the BlackBerry Classic, a handset with a full QWERTY physical keyboard, physical navigation keys, and a design that can be best described as "retro," in that its appearance is virtually identical to the BlackBerry Bold. The Classic, which is smaller than the company's recently launched Passport smartphone, targets users who still long for the traditional BlackBerry handset.
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.
Disappointed iPod Plaintiffs: Jurors Didn't Weigh the Right Questions
December 17, 2014
After a 10-year knock-down drag-out battle, Apple on Tuesday prevailed in a class-action lawsuit over its use of digital rights management technology on iPods purchased between Sept. 1, 2006 and March 31, 2009. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd -- one of the "most feared litigation firms" in the U.S. -- brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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.
Have Intel and Microsoft Discovered the Fountain of Corporate Youth?
December 15, 2014
This has been an interesting quarter. After Andy Grove left, Intel often seemed to struggle with its place in the world and seemed at odds with the computing OEMs. Now, though, it seems more and more like it did when it was 20 years younger. It's not alone, either. Microsoft, which seemed to have forgotten why there were OEMs, suddenly is acting much more like the firm we knew in the early 90s.
Gadget Ogling: Wireless Lights, Sunny Wearables and Flashy Smartphones
December 13, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, to another installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the best and worst in just-announced gizmos. On the docket this time around are wireless Christmas lights, solar-charging jackets, a speed-reading wearable and much more. The Aura Wirelessly Powered Christmas Lights aren't attached to long power cords designed to snake along, around and through the tree branches.
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.
For Sync 3, Ford Picks BlackBerry, Kicks Microsoft to the Curb
December 12, 2014
Ford Motor on Thursday introduced Sync 3, its new communications and entertainment system. It is faster, more intuitive and easier to use than MyFord Touch, the company said. Sync 3 offers conversational voice recognition technology with enhanced response to driver commands, along with a smartphone-style touchscreen and graphical user interface. Sync 3 will roll out in new vehicles next year.
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.
Samsung, Apple Kick Off Round Eleventy in Patent Fight
December 10, 2014
Apple and Samsung last week squared off again in court over their long-running patent dispute. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard Samsung's appeal of the $930 million in damages a district court awarded to Apple for patent infringement, following a trial in 2012 and a retrial in 2013. "Samsung never wanted this fight," said Fosspatents' Florian Mueller.
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 09, 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 09, 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 08, 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.
An iPod Moment Is About to Make Your PC Obsolete
December 08, 2014
I was at Dell's thin client briefing earlier this week at its new facility in California's Silicon Valley, and it clearly is feeling very confident, in light of HP's plan to split its company. There really have been only two major players in the thin client space for a few years, and they are HP and Dell, but HP's split would seem to make its offering obsolete.
Gadget Ogling: Seeing E-Ink Everywhere, Breathing Easy and Brewing Beer
December 06, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, and set aside that last leftover-turkey sandwich for a short while as we explore the murky landscape of freshly announced gadgets. On the menu in our post-Thanksgiving edition are a pair of e-ink smart devices, wearables with a health focus, an intelligent home brewing kit, a kitschy kitchen product, and perhaps the most useless item we've included in this column to date.
Apple Accused of Secretly Snuffing Non-iTunes Music Purchases
December 04, 2014
Apple for two years surreptitiously removed from iPods any music not purchased at its iTunes store, prosecutors charged Wednesday in federal court. The accusations surfaced during the trial of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit claiming Apple violated federal and state laws when it issued iPod software updates that prevented the devices from playing songs not purchased on iTunes.
HP's New EliteBooks Target Enterprise Sweet Spot
December 03, 2014
HP says its new EliteBook Folio 1020 family of business-oriented PCs are the thinnest and lightest in the industry. The HP EliteBook 1020 and the ultra-lightweight HP EliteBook 1020 Special Edition both offer an ultrathin form factor measuring just 15.7mm, and they are designed with enterprise mobility in mind. They are designed to pass military-grade testing for drops, shocks and exposure.
Apple Fights Yesteryear's iTunes DRM War
December 03, 2014
Apple this week clomped into court to continue fighting a nearly 10-year-old class-action suit stemming from its use of digital rights management technology in iPods. The suit originally was brought in 2005. Both sides' lawyers have filed dozens of trial documents in several hearings. The courts have dismissed some of the items in the original complaint, but have refused to dismiss the case.
Cybersecurity Threats 2015: More Espionage, More Apple Malware
December 03, 2014
Cyberspies will flourish and hackers will target Apple devices more often in 2015. Until now, Russia, China and the United States have dominated the cyberespionage scene, but their success will start to attract new players to the practice. "We can expect some of the developing economies ... to engage in these activities to protect their growth status," said Websense's Carl Leonard.

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