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Apple Music Steals WWDC's Scattershot Show
June 9, 2015
To cap off Monday's wide-ranging keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced a three-pronged music initiative -- a streaming service, a live radio broadcast station, and an app that lets artists connect with fans. "Music is such an important part of our lives and our culture," Cook said, showing off Apple's famous "one more thing" slide.
It's Hard to See WWDC Through My Apple TV Tears
June 4, 2015
By the time you read this, I'll have finished swearing in the privacy of my office, and likely will have entered the acceptance stage of grief. Already, realization is dawning that I was right to withhold hope that Apple would reveal a new Apple TV at its WorldWide Developers Conference on Monday. I hate it when pessimism wins. But how can I know that Apple isn't going to introduce a new Apple TV?
BitTorrent's Bleep Hides Messages From Prying Eyes
June 4, 2015
BitTorrent's Bleep, a secure peer-to-peer messaging service, last month reached the end of its third trimester in alpha testing, and an official version became available for iOS, Android, OS X and PC. The official release is the first to reach iOS. Bleep's Whisper feature enables ephemeral messaging, along with the service's cloudless, end-to-end encrypted calling function.
And the Dish Ran Away With T-Mobile?
June 4, 2015
T-Mobile, which has tried unsuccessfully several times to get acquired, is now in talks with Dish, according to press reports. The purchase price and possible cash-stock mix that could pay for the deal remain to be thrashed out. The two companies reportedly are planning a merger with Dish CEO Charlie Ergen to chair the new company and T-Mobile head John Legere (shown here) to be its CEO.
Google's Android Permissions Get Granular
June 4, 2015
Google appears to be heeding warnings of security experts who say Android users need better control over what apps do with information from their phones. At I/O, its worldwide shindig for developers held last week, the company announced that the next version of its mobile operating system, Android M, would take a more granular approach to permissions for data requested by apps.
Huawei's P8 Lite Tickles US Smartphone Market
June 3, 2015
Huawei on Wednesday launched the P8 Lite, a $250 unlocked smartphone running Android 4.4. The company has positioned the device as offering consumers in the United States premium design and features at an accessible price. Though some critics have dismissed the P8 as a low-end phone, "this is a mid-range device masquerading as a low-end one," remarked Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC.
Doppler Labs Kickstarts 'Bionic Ear'
June 3, 2015
Doppler Labs on Tuesday launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Here Active Listening system, which takes noise-canceling technology to a new level. Unlike typical noise-canceling headphones, Here's Bluetooth earbuds allow a listener to customize ambient sound, not just block it out. Paired with a smartphone app, Here can be used to control volume, mix sounds and even add effects.
Scrappy Hound Stalks Siri and Cortana
June 2, 2015
SoundHound on Tuesday launched a private beta of Hound -- a personal assistant similar to Siri, Google Now and Cortana -- and began fielding requests for invites. SoundHound built its music ID service on voice and pattern recognition technologies. In developing Hound, SoundHound has retrofitted that technology's framework with what it calls its "Speech-to-Meaning" engine.
Google Creates One-Stop Privacy and Security Shop
June 2, 2015
Google has rolled out "My Account," a hub that lets users manage their Google settings, along with a new site that answers questions about its privacy and security practices. In addition to letting users manage their password and account-access settings, My Account allows them to review their security settings and activity. My Account also lets users manage personal information about themselves.
Nintendo Scotches Android Console Rumor
June 2, 2015
Nintendo not only has embraced the idea of releasing its iconic intellectual properties for mobile devices, but also is planning to base its next videogame console on a version of the Android operating system, according to a Japanese-language business publication. The publication claimed an inside source revealed that Nintendo's next console, code named "NX," will run on Android.
Microsoft Starts Taking Windows 10 Reservations
June 1, 2015
Windows 10 will be available for free to users running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on their PCs or tablets. However, it's likely that once they've been exposed to the full range of possibilities, many of those users will opt to buy a new device that can take full advantage of the operating system. Using the biometric authentication in Windows Hello, for example, likely will require a new PC.
Google's Cardboard May Help Build Strong VR Foundation
June 1, 2015
It's a whimsical approach to virtual reality, but Google's Cardboard VR platform breaks down the barriers of entry and allows consumers to bring their own devices to the movement. "I think [Cardboard] will help with the general popularity of VR," said Marxent CEO Beck Besecker, "but I think the folks that are really going to gravitate to VR are going to want a high-quality experience."
5 Reasons Jony Ive's Step Back Is Apple's Step Forward
May 28, 2015
There seem to be two major reactions to the "promotion" of Apple's Jonathan Ive to the newly created position of chief design officer: first, that he deserves the recognition and reward; and second, that this is the beginning of the end for Jony Ive's tenure at Apple. Apple released the news in the UK... on Monday, which was the Memorial Day holiday in the United States.
Phone Companion App Lets Cortana Get Around
May 27, 2015
Microsoft advanced its "if you can't beat'em, join'em" mobile strategy with Tuesday's announcement of Phone Companion, an app built into Windows 10 that's designed to synchronize information across multiple platforms, including Android and iOS. Windows 10 Phone Companion works like a hub on a PC for a user's mobile devices, allowing apps like Cortana to work across multiple platforms.
Gadget Ogling: A Mighty Little Amp, a Credit Card-Sized Phone and a Food Tray Keyboard
May 26, 2015
Tinny, terrible laptop speakers may be a relic of the past, but there are still occasions when the built-in audio from your portable computer's speakers or audio jack just doesn't quite cut it. Let's say you're an electronic music luminary traveling the world without the comforts of one's home studio but with an album deadline to meet. You need to hear what's going on. So here's the Apogee Groove.
Is Home Where HomeKit's Heart Is?
May 26, 2015
Since Apple SVP Craig Federighi announced HomeKit at last year's Worldwide Developers Conference, the company has been working on making it ready for prime time. Now, a year later, Apple finally may have an app to go with its framework for integrating home management and monitoring devices with iOS. Whether Apple will announce the new app, called "Home," at this year's WWDC is unknown.
Apple vs. Lenovo: Lenovo's Coming-Out Party
May 25, 2015
If there is one vendor on the planet that has the capability to fight Apple -- on paper, it is Lenovo. Lenovo this week will hold its annual Lenovo Tech World event in China, showcasing the company's new breadth. While it would be easy to position this as the U.S. against China, Lenovo is actually far more of a multinational company, with executives balanced between the U.S. and China.
Spy Agencies Planned to Corrupt Google Play
May 22, 2015
The United States and its leading Western allies, known as the "Five Eyes," reportedly planned to hack into smartphones through their links to Google and Samsung's app stores. They wanted to infect apps with spyware and find ways to send misinformation to targets, according to documents released to the media by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Russia Aims to Build US-Free Mobile OS
May 20, 2015
Russia wants to develop alternatives to proprietary or partly closed mobile operating systems by using open source tools as a foundation, Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Nikolay Nikiforov said last week. "Success would make a fairly significant impact on the go-to market plans of numerous IT vendors," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
The Rampant, Risky Babbling of Android Apps
May 19, 2015
Eurecom researchers recently developed an Android app that can monitor the network traffic of other apps to alert users of suspicious or malicious activity. With more than 1.2 million applications in the Google Play store, there are multiple programs for performing a particular task. That can make choosing an app a chore for users, they noted in a report released last month.
Coherent Navigation Buy May Not Unmuddle Apple Maps
May 19, 2015
Apple has purchased GPS firm Coherent Navigation. The purchase is widely viewed as an effort to improve the trouble-plagued Apple Maps. Coherent Navigation offers satellite navigation hardware; software that includes precise, secure, robust positioning; and timing and communication solutions. "Coherent is well known for ... navigation and geolocation work," said Charles King, principal at Pund-IT.
The Future According to Qualcomm
May 18, 2015
I was at the Qualcomm Internet of Things event in San Francisco last week during what was a major IoT event in the city. What is kind of amazing is the larger event was just a small part of the applications show that used to go on at the same time. This year it is twice the size of that older show. Companies are flocking to this IoT concept like ducks to water.
Gadget Ogling: A Tracking Camera Drone, a Rockin' Speaker and a Water-Boiling Efficiency Expert
May 16, 2015
Camera drones certainly are growing in popularity -- or further polluting the sky, depending on your perspective. A new model plans to follow your every move, thanks to a tracker on your wrist. After you throw Lily, it will fly up to 50 feet in the air and 100 feet away from you, knowing where you are and keeping its lens focused on whatever you're doing.
Swiftkey's Clarity Keyboard Puts Auto-Correction in Context
May 12, 2015
Most auto-correction programs correct mistakes as you make them. They even predict words for you as you type. Swiftkey's recent release for Android, Clarity Keyboard Beta, corrects mistakes -- up to several at a time -- after you've typed them. "SwiftKey, for a long time, has had context awareness, but it's applied it looking forward," explained SwitfKey's Chief Marketing Officer Joe Braidwood.

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