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Apple's App Yanking Switches On Data Monitoring Red Light
October 12, 2015
Apple last week revealed that it had removed from its App Store several apps with root certificates that could allow data monitoring. The monitoring could compromise SSL and TLS protocols, the company said. It suggested users delete the apps and their associated configuration profiles. However, it did not name the apps users should delete.
Gadget Ogling: A Fascinating Book, Stunning Speakers, and Empowering Tables
October 10, 2015
Right after Google unveiled the first tablet it created entirely in-house, Microsoft has gone them one better. Its Surface Book is a high-end laptop that falls in line with the Surface ethos. It's a convertible that works in tablet format, but its keyboard appears vastly superior to the ones available for other Surface devices. From a specs standpoint, the Surface Book seems to pack the goods.
User Info Safe After LoopPay Attack, Says Samsung
October 9, 2015
Samsung has assured users that their information is safe following a computer intrusion of a key company linked to its mobile payment system. The intrusion may have occurred as early as March. Samsung purchased LoopPay for $250 million in February. Its technology allows mobile phones to perform payment card transactions with older POS terminals that recognize only cards with magnetic strips.
Verizon Supercookie to Let Advertisers Gorge on Customer Data
October 8, 2015
Verizon has announced it will begin sharing customer data with its AOL Advertising Network, triggering concerns about privacy and customer tracking. AOL will use Verizon's supercookie -- which is difficult to get rid of -- to track users. "This is a huge privacy problem, but carriers have never really cared that much about customer satisfaction," said tech analyst Rob Enderle.
Google Spearheads Effort to Hook Mobile Web on Speed
October 8, 2015
Google has announced Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, an open source initiative to speed up mobile Web page loading. The aim is to have Web pages with rich content -- such as video, animations and graphics -- work alongside smart ads and load instantly, with one code working across multiple platforms and devices. The project will use AMP HTML, an open framework based on existing Web technologies.
App for Rating People Draws Withering Scorn
October 7, 2015
Canadian businesswoman Julia Cordray's plan to launch Peeple, a Yelp-like app that would let people post reviews about other people, has drawn fierce criticism in the tech press and the blogosphere, including a petition against the app's launch and a Twitter campaign to boycott it. "It's a legal and ethical minefield," said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a research director at 451 Research.
Philips Smart Hub Embraces Siri, HomeKit
October 7, 2015
Philips on Monday unveiled Hue Bridge 2.0., which integrates the company's smart home products and iOS's HomeKit, giving users the ability to dictate to smart things from a Siri-enabled smartphone. Replacing its round predecessor, the square Hue Bridge 2.0 is compatible with Philips' legacy smart lights and controls. The hub will support new smart products from Philips for the foreseeable future.
Canonical Plays With Internet of Toys Idea
October 7, 2015
Canonical last week announced plans to launch the Internet of Toys, an open source initiative calling on toy makers, hackers, Internet of Things fans and innovators to build the next generation of Web-accessing toys. Participants will build the next generation of toys around open source tools such as Cylon JS, Gobot, Snappy Ubuntu Core, Snapcraft, ROS and Erle-Spider.
Microsoft Throws the Book at Apple
October 6, 2015
Microsoft on Tuesday held an event in New York City where it unveiled a laptop, a tablet, three Lumia smartphones and a fitness band -- all running Windows 10 -- along with a slew of other products. It also announced new apps for Windows 10, including Box, Facebook, Instagram, Flipagram, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Uber. All of the apps will be available on the new devices.
Adobe Lays Out a Feast at Its MAX Picnic
October 6, 2015
Adobe raised the curtain on two mobile apps and a basket of product upgrades at its MAX conference in Los Angeles. Both new apps -- Photoshop Fix and Capture CC -- are free, but they initially will be available only to users of Apple's mobile devices. Photoshop Fix includes some commonly used Photoshop features -- exposure, contrast and saturation control, as well as object and blemish removal.
Facebook, Eutelsat to Use Satellites to Spread Net Across Sub-Saharan Africa
October 5, 2015
Facebook and Eutelsat have entered a partnership to leverage satellite technology to provide Internet access to remote parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative, which includes a multiyear agreement with Spacecom, will utilize the entire broadband payload on the future AMOS-6 satellite as the backbone of a dedicated system that will include satellite capacity, gateways and terminals.
So What's Really the Best Smartphone?
October 5, 2015
The best smartphone on the market is the iPhone, right? That is the conventional wisdom. However, if I were to ask about the best shoes, shirt, car, boat or TV, the answers likely would be all over the map. When it comes to cars, for instance, I personally favor convertibles because they remind me of my youth when I could ride a motorcycle without a helmet, and they are just more fun.
Gadget Ogling: Eyes on Google
October 3, 2015
Chromecast helps people easily stream whatever they want through their TV via a simple dongle. Now Google's adding a splash of color to the device, along with a string of new features. Instead of resembling a USB stick, Chromecast 2 is more like a colorful button, and Google says it is easier to plug into an HDMI slot. Also, it apparently can stream videos faster and with less buffering.
Microsoft and Google End Hostilities, Partner Up
October 2, 2015
There's strong, scientifically verifiable evidence indicating Microsoft's move to join the rest of the tech world in open source and collaboration was propelled by a compelling force: the Nadella effect. Since taking the company's helm, CEO Satya Nadella's message has been one of collaboration, and meeting consumers on their terms. For example, Microsoft pushed Office 365 to all major platforms.
New Sonos Speaker Costs $500 but New Smart Tuner Is Free
September 30, 2015
Sonos has unveiled a new version of its top-of-the-line Play:5 speaker, which includes three mid-woofers and three tweeters. It can be set up in three orientations: by itself, or paired with another speaker -- either vertically for tight sound, or horizontally for a more immersive experience. Sonos also introduced Trueplay, an iOS app for tuning its wireless speakers to a room's acoustic profile.
Google Lines Up a Batch of Marshmallow-Ready Hardware
September 30, 2015
Google on Tuesday introduced a pair of new phablets, a couple of Chromecasts and the first tablet it built by itself. The unveilings took place at its Nexus event in San Francisco. Months of leaks drew very accurate portraits of the $499 Huawei Nexus 6P and $379 LG Nexus 5X and other Android hardware, but Google filled in the details ahead of Android Marshmallow's expected Oct. 5 release.
Black Hats Offer Million-Dollar iOS 9 Bug Bounty
September 30, 2015
Zerodium has posted a million-dollar bounty for juicy iOS 9 bugs or jailbreaks. Zerodium runs a market where exploits and vulnerabilities are bought and sold, according to Damballa. "While there is no insight into a specific buyer, we can assume if an exploit for iOS 9 is found, Zerodium will sell it for way more than $1 million," wrote Loucif Kharouni, senior threat researcher at Damballa.
Amazon Flexes Its Muscles in Crowdsourced Delivery Space
September 30, 2015
Amazon has entered the on-demand delivery space in its hometown of Seattle, where independent workers are delivering orders within two hours or less. Under its new Amazon Flex program, the company pays workers between $18 and $25 per hour to deliver packages to Prime Now customers, said company spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman. The service is available only in Seattle for now.
Google to Expand India's Internet Access With Free WiFi at Train Stations
September 29, 2015
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced a plan to provide high-speed public WiFi in 400 train stations across India. The announcement coincided with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the company's California headquarters. Modi is expected to promote his Digital India initiative during his U.S. visit. One objective of the plan is to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas of India.
Sprint Bets Its Spectrum Will Suffice
September 29, 2015
Instead of bidding for the low-band spectrum that will be on offer, Sprint -- which is running neck-and-neck with T-Mobile, the self-styled "Un-Carrier" -- will focus on improving its network. It could be the last low-band auction the industry sees for decades, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said this summer. Up for grabs at the next auction are 600-MHz bands.
BlackBerry Sees the Android Light
September 28, 2015
BlackBerry on Friday announced that it would introduce an Android smartphone later this year. The announcement came during the company's Q2 earnings call. The device will be known as the "Priv" and will be built around user privacy, said CEO John Chen. BlackBerry didn't offer any specifics about the Priv beyond the name -- nothing about pricing, U.S. carrier partners or any handset specs.
Samsung Gear VR to Test Virtual Reality's Mass Appeal
September 28, 2015
Samsung last week unveiled a consumer version of a virtual reality headset adapter that converts Samsung smartphones into head-mounted displays. The move represents a first strike -- ready or not -- as top tech industry players begin to push virtual reality hardware into consumer markets. Samsung and partner Oculus VR have imparted several improvements to the consumer version of Gear VR.
Two Risky Strategies Could Threaten Apple's Long-Term Survival
September 28, 2015
One of the ironies of my career is that when I first went to work for a tech company, I specifically wanted to work for a firm that was breaking the mold -- not representative of it. So, in my initial interview, I was concerned that IBM was going to buy the firm because it was the mold at that time. I was promised that there was a contract that said it couldn't. Then, six months later, it did.
Gadget Ogling: Pebble Goes Round, VR Hits Movies, and Smart Locks Lose Keypads
September 26, 2015
The latest Pebble looks a touch different from previous models of the smartwatch. Instead of a square screen with rounded edges, it bears a circular watch face. The Pebble Time Round also is thinner and lighter than its siblings, but it's not as water-resistant. More importantly, the battery doesn't last as long -- a couple of days rather than a week. That earns it a black mark.
Lockscreen Bug Fix Conspicuously Absent in iOS 9 Update
September 25, 2015
Apple has released the first update to its new iOS 9 operating system to clean up some bugs in the original version of the software. Bugs addressed in the update, iOS 9.0.1, include a system freeze on the slide to update screen, alarms and timers that would fail to go off, and frame distortion in paused videos. One bug Apple didn't address allows an intruder to bypass a device's lockscreen.
The Rich Get Internet-Richer While the Poor Get None
September 24, 2015
Efforts to increase Internet access worldwide are falling short of targeted goals, according to a United Nations Broadband Commission report released earlier this week. More than half the world's population is still offline, according to the report, and growth in the number of people with access to the Internet is slowing. The digital divide has become a chasm.
Review Roundup: iPhone 6s Joy Depends on Where You're Coming From
September 23, 2015
Notices for the new iPhones have started appearing, and Apple's hardware once again is being bathed in critical acclaim, with just a few cries of discontent. The new capabilities in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus may appear underwhelming to some observers, but not to Walt Mossberg. "These are things that improve the quality of the phone while generally making a fluid, powerful product even better."
Malware Jumps Apple's Garden Wall
September 22, 2015
Developers who unknowingly used a malicious tool to code their programs uploaded hundreds of malware-infected apps to the iTunes App Store, China-based iOS developers reportedly discovered last week. Security researchers around the world have analyzed it. Called "XcodeGhost," the malware is hidden in an unauthorized version of a program Apple distributes to create iOS apps.
Patched Android Lockscreen Still a Threat
September 21, 2015
Google recently issued a patch for Nexus mobile devices to fix an Android Lollipop vulnerability that lets hackers bypass the lockscreen and gain control of mobile devices. However, it could take weeks to months for manufacturers and service providers to roll out the patch for other Android devices. University of Texas security researcher John Gordon discovered the vulnerability.
Amazon Fans Fire's Flames
September 21, 2015
Amazon last week confirmed and detailed the bare-bones Fire tablet, which will sell for just $49 -- and it announced five other Fire family additions while it was at it. Flanking the Fire tablet are the refreshed Fire HD, the Fire TV with 4K, the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote and the updated Fire Kids Edition. Amazon announced two flavors of the revisited Fire HD.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
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At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
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