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All Things Appy: Top 5 Android Launcher Apps
June 05, 2014
One easy way to refresh an aging Android smartphone phone is to replace the home screen with a Launcher. Launchers are skins with themes and unique behaviors, like transparency and scrolling styles. Our No. 1 pick is Nova launcher, an extremely customizable launcher app designed to speed up performance. Neat tricks include substituting KitKat-styled icons for the aging Ice Cream sandwich versions.
Full HD 360-Degree Camera Screams Past Kickstarter Goal
June 04, 2014
A small French team claims to have created the world's first full HD 360-degree camera -- the 360cam by Giroptic. The 360cam is currently one of the hottest Kickstarter projects, blasting past its modest $150,000 goal to rack up nearly $800,000 in crowd-based funding with 29 days to go. The 360cam is a small, portable pear-shaped device that has three 185-degree fisheye lenses mounted on the top.
iCloud Drive Propels Apple a Little Closer to Dropbox Territory
June 04, 2014
Among the highlights of Apple's WWDC announcements this week is iCloud Drive, a major update to its cloud storage system. iCloud Drive is designed to be a central platform for users to share or access files across Apple devices, but it also will be compatible with Windows PCs. Documents will be accessible via the Finder Window. Users will be able to drag and drop documents into their iCloud Drive.
Samsung to Try Out Tizen Smartphone in Russia
June 03, 2014
Samsung this week officially launched its long-anticipated Tizen phone, at the Tizen Developer Conference being held in San Francisco through Wednesday. One description of Tizen is that it's an open source Linux-based operating system from Samsung -- but that might be open to debate. The Samsung Z Tizen phone initially will debut in Russia in the third quarter.
Apple Teases Consumers, Doubles Down With Devs
June 03, 2014
Apple managed to pull off a mean feat on Monday at its WorldWide Developers Conference. Without announcing a single hardware device, it teased consumers with dozens of updated features in iOS 8 and the next version of Mac OS X -- dubbed "Yosemite" -- then doubled-down with app developers by offering tons of new APIs, along with elements of deep integration between apps and devices.
The Real Reason Apple Bought Beats: Addiction
May 30, 2014
I get the sense that a good many Apple enthusiasts are confused by its acquisition of Beats Electronics. Sure, many are nodding their heads, saying that Beats is good for Apple and makes total sense. The headphones are selling well. With 250,000 paying subscribers, the Beats Music service is taking off fast, and it can only be elevated by Apple's global brand and infrastructure.
Con Artist Harasses Aussie Apple Customers in Ransomware Attempt
May 28, 2014
Apple on Tuesday aimed to calm anxiety among its iCloud users with reassurances that the service hadn't been breached in a ransomware-style attack. "Apple takes security very seriously and iCloud was not compromised during this incident," reads a company statement. The referenced "incident" is a collection of reports on Apple forums by iPhone users, most of them in Australia.
Apple May Connect the Smart Home of Your Dreams
May 27, 2014
The hottest tech rumor of the week already happened, and it's only Tuesday: Apple is finally breaking into home automation -- connected lights, thermostats, security systems and home appliances. And the key? the iPhones that already are carried by millions of consumers. The rumor hit Monday, and it's exploded with a flurry of newsy posts and opinions. So where did it come from? And why now?
Surface: The Embodiment of Microsoft's Vision
May 26, 2014
Surface largely was the brainchild of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's last CEO, and it resulted from a similar thought process that created Zune. In other words, the OEMs weren't building a product that was competitive with Apple, and Microsoft got frustrated and felt it could do a better job. In both cases, the conclusion that ultimately should have been drawn was that OEMs alone weren't at fault.
China Calls for Increased Testing of IT Products
May 23, 2014
The ever-testy cyberstandoff between the U.S. and China got a new twist when Beijing announced that it would start "cybersecurity vetting of major IT products and services" used for national security and public interests. The vetting is designed to prevent suppliers from using their products to control, disrupt or shut down clients' systems, or from using the systems to scoop up information.
iMessage Flaw Bugs Apple
May 22, 2014
Apple has vowed to fix a persistent bug in its iOS mobile OS that punishes former iPhone users. The flaw, which has been in iMessage since the release of iOS 5, prevents former iPhone users from receiving SMS messages from current users. Apple recently fixed a server-side iMessage bug that was causing an issue for some users, and it will provide an additional bug fix in a future software update.
Iran Releases Fans Detained Over Music Video
May 22, 2014
Iran has released at least some of the people who appeared in a music video for a song by American pop artist Pharrell Williams. The video, set to the Williams tune "Happy," showed people dancing on rooftops of the capital of Tehran. It is not clear if all of the people arrested for making the Tehran-based video have been released or if they later will be put on trial.
The Apple-ization of Microsoft's New Surface
May 22, 2014
Microsoft is positioning its new Surface Pro 3 tablet as a laptop replacement device -- instead of competing head-to-head with the Apple iPad. However, the Surface Pro 3 naturally invites comparisons to both the MacBook Air and the iPad Air. Plus, Microsoft has had plenty of time to smooth the rough edges from Windows 8 and build a more competitive mobile device.
Google's EU Migraine Rears Up
May 21, 2014
Yeah, about that breakthrough between Google and European antitrust regulators... The European Union's antitrust chief might pursue a tougher stance on Google than the one outlined in a February agreement, which was believed to have end -- finally -- the legal circus between the two sides. Google had agreed to display rivals' links more prominently in its search results, a chief concern.
Microsoft Boldly Goes Bigger With Surface Pro 3
May 20, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled its latest iteration of the Surface tablet at a New York City event. The Surface Pro 3 is slightly larger, with a screen size of 12 inches diagonally, instead of the 10.6 inches of previous models. It is also thinner, at 0.36 inches, and weighs a mere two pounds. The Surface Pro 3 will sport such business-essential software as Photoshop.
Will Samsung and Apple Lay Down Their Swords?
May 20, 2014
After years of legal wrangling over their mobile technology intellectual patent rights in courtrooms around the world, Apple and Samsung apparently are ready to call it a day. Representatives of the companies reportedly are in negotiations to settle their legal differences out of court. This is not the first time such a rumor has surfaced, noted Peter Toren, partner with Weisbrod Matteis & Copley.
Can Ivy Ross Make Google Glass Haute Couture?
May 16, 2014
Google Glass, whose appeal so far seems limited to uber-geeks, may be taking on a new image, thanks to Google's hiring of Ivy Ross, known for her work at Calvin Klein, Coach, Gap and, most recently, Art.com, where she was CMO. Ross will assume her new post as head of Google Glass May 19. "I look forward to answering the seemingly simple, but truly audacious questions Glass poses," she wrote.
Xiaomi Serves Up Apple-Flavored Mi Pad
May 16, 2014
Xiaomi fired a new salvo in its attempt to compete with major names like Apple and Samsung as it introduced its first tablet, the Mi Pad. The 7.9-inch Android device -- which has the same-size surface as the iPad mini -- uses an Nvidia quad-core Tegra K1 processor and will be manufactured by Foxconn, cofounder and CEO Lei Jun announced. The Mi Pad includes 2 GB of RAM and WiFi connectivity.
Flappy Bird 2 Due in August, Paternity Uncertain
May 16, 2014
Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen this week said that the wildly popular mobile game will return in August and also that he is working on a brand-new offering. After dropping a tantalizing hint back in March, Nguyen on Wednesday told CNBC that the new Flappy Bird will deliver multiplayer capabilities and be "less addictive." On Thursday, however, he said that he was not the one creating the game.
Yahoo Buys Blink Team, App to Go Dark
May 15, 2014
Yahoo has acquired Blink, a mobile app that destroys messages at a predetermined time set by the user. Yahoo intends to shut down both the iOS and Android versions of the app in the coming weeks. Blink made its debut just a year ago. The conventional thinking is that Yahoo acquired Blink largely for its talent, as it seeks to build out a robust portfolio of mobile products.

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