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Early iPhone 6 Reviewers Might as Well Be Rating Vacuum Cleaners
September 18, 2014
With every new iPhone release, Apple delivers a handful of new iPhones to a select few industry journalists to review. How are those journalists and publications selected? First, they are known to appreciate the Apple aesthetic -- they have written dozens of positive reviews. No Apple haters allowed, which makes sense. It's important to set the stage for positive vibes.
Sony's Mobile Malaise Lands It in Deep Ditch
September 18, 2014
Sony on Wednesday announced that it will post a loss of $2.14 billion for the fiscal year, far outpacing the loss it previously forecasted. It will take a quarterly write-down charge on the unit as a result. The reduction is due almost entirely to diminished growth in its mobile unit. Sony announced several changes to the unit, including adjusting its orientation away from sales.
iOS 8 Rolls Out With Oodles of Goodies
September 17, 2014
Apple made the latest version of its iOS mobile operating system available for download on Wednesday, and while it looks familiar, it contains lots of new delights not only for fans, but also for its legions of developers. "If you already have iOS 7, you're going to immediately know how to use this, but there's a lot of new features," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.
Web-Surfing Adults More Infection-Prone Than Teens
September 16, 2014
American teens spend a lot more time online than older Web surfers, yet it doesn't seem to increase their vulnerability to malicious activity. Teens last year spent a little more than four hours a day on the Net, while adults in the 50-to-64 age bracket burned two hours, 41 minutes online daily, MarketingCharts found. Those numbers piqued the interest of Enigma Software.
Rise of the Smartwatch
September 15, 2014
Taken separately, last week's announcements from Apple, Intel and T-Mobile were impressive. Intel and T-Mobile basically announced they were going to explode the existing mobile market, changing it dramatically. Apple embraced some slow-moving technologies, which should speed them up dramatically. I don't think what Apple announced is in the same league, but it also will drive change.
Gadget Ogling: It's Raining Apples
September 12, 2014
It's usually around here that I introduce the column and tease the agenda, but since absolutely nothing happened in the gadget world this week, I'm going to take it easy. Oh, wait -- sorry. Apple happened. Welcome to a special edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly peek at just-announced gadgets. Of course, the big topic is Apple's iPhone 6 and its first wearable, the Apple Watch.
Apple Pay Could Slam Door on Data Thieves
September 11, 2014
Despite the efforts of some big name tech players, consumers have been reluctant to turn their smartphones into wallets. That could be about to change with Apple Pay. Apple Pay is the new mobile payment system Apple introduced with its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus earlier this week. "Apple being Apple is going to change the game," said Christopher Budd, threat communications manager at Trend Micro.
Apple's New iPhones: Ho-Hum and Controversial Too
September 11, 2014
Apple's new iPhones didn't take center stage at this week's big event. "The fact that they are ho-hum is interesting in itself," said Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research. "Apple is now a company that follows rather than leads." Apple is "at least 18 months late with a large screen device," he pointed out, and its Apple Pay mobile payment feature is "not exactly new."
Apple Watch Dazzles Beyond High Expectations
September 10, 2014
Apple is almost never first to market in a product category, but when it does make its splash, it usually swamps all boats. That seems to be the case again in the smartwatch space. "Every other watch in the market is a beta version compared to what you're seeing coming from Apple," said analyst Michael Morgan. "None of us expected this to be a mind-blowing product," said analyst Trip Chowdhry.
Amazon's Hot Sale Stokes Fire Phone Interest
September 09, 2014
Amazon on Monday dropped the price of its 32-gigabyte Fire Phone to a mere 99 cents from its original $199, with a two-year contract. The 64-gigabyte version now sells for $99, down from its launch price of $299. The offer is available exclusively for AT&T's network and includes a free year of Prime. The news raised more than a few eyebrows. Was the price cut in response to sluggish sales?
Apple Brings It
September 09, 2014
Apple on Tuesday rebuilt its iPhone foundation by introducing two new models with Retina HD displays: the iPhone 6 at 4.5 inches, and the iPhone 6 Plus at 5.5 inches. It launched Apple Pay, which promises to become the catalyst NFC mobile payment technology needs to become mainstream. Plus, it introduced the drool-worthy Apple Watch in two sizes, three style collections, and six choices of straps.
The Dark Side of BYOD
September 09, 2014
The BYOD trend offers pluses for both employers and employees, but sometimes there's a hitch. Under certain circumstances, the owner of a device suddenly might lose all of the data stored on it. Clients of Fiberlink remotely wiped 81,000 mobile devices between January and June. About 30,000 of them, or 37 percent, were cleaned of everything -- including personal data.
Can Cook Stir Up That Old Black Magic?
September 08, 2014
Excitement is mounting as the countdown to Apple's mysterious Tuesday event ticks away. Apple is widely expected to unveil two new iPhones -- one in the usual smartphone form factor and the other a phablet. There's also a good deal of anticipation for an iWatch or other stylish wearable that will kick the sector into high gear. Some expect Apple to go full blast into the healthcare industry.
Gadget Ogling: Curves and Edges, Toasty Toes, Smart Charger and Dumb Wearables
September 05, 2014
Welcome to the latest installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly look at just-announced personal tech items. There's plenty on the menu this time around: Samsung's latest smartphone and tablet salvo; two pieces of smart, on-the-go tech; some curved home entertainment options; and wearable devices from an unlikely source. Tthese are not reviews -- my ratings reflect my interest.
Bad News Hounds Apple Days Before iPhone Gala
September 05, 2014
Apple has been forced to do some serious damage control when it no doubt would rather be rallying fans for its big iPhone launch next week. The company on Tuesday learned that a number of celebrity accounts on its iCloud service had been cracked and some embarrassing photos posted. Then two activist groups on Thursday released a report critical of work conditions at an Apple supplier in China.
Microsoft Shines Spotlight on a Trio of New Lumias
September 04, 2014
Microsoft on Thursday unveiled the Nokia Lumia 830, 730 and 735 smartphones at the IFA 2014 consumer electronics show in Berlin. The 830 is the thinnest and lightest member of the Lumia family. It has a 10mp camera and is positioned as an affordable flagship. "The Lumia 830 looks to me like a high-end smartphone masquerading as a mid-range device," said tech analyst Ramon Llamas.
We Can Fly to the Moon, but We Can't Secure the Cloud?
September 04, 2014
The entire freaking tech industry is falling down on the job, and Apple, my favorite company in the world, is stumbling around too. What's worse is that it doesn't seem to care. Apple is the most profitable consumer tech company in the world, with billions of dollars in the bank. Yet the company can't seem to be bothered to imagine how easily iCloud user accounts could be compromised.
Samsung's Gear VR Hits New Note
September 03, 2014
Samsung and Oculus on Wednesday unveiled the Gear VR -- a virtual reality wireless headset optimized for Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 phablet, also announced Wednesday. The Gear VR -- or "Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition," as Oculus describes it -- will be compatible with a wide range of film, gaming, 360-degree video, and educational and experiential content.
Gadget Ogling: Sapphire Phones, Waterproof Reads, Connected Hats and a Runner's Salvation
August 29, 2014
A current trend among smartphone makers is to thrust a sapphire screen onto the face. Among the 17 million rumors regarding the next iPhone is that it will feature such a display -- the camera and Touch ID components already feature sapphire. Until Apple reveals the truth about its next smartphone, other manufacturers, like Huawei, are jostling for sapphire-embossed market share.
Apple's About to Kick Mobile Payments Into High Gear
August 29, 2014
Rumor has it that when Apple reveals its much-hyped iPhone 6 on Sept. 9, one of the features it will be trumpeting -- finally -- is near field communication. The NFC tech will enable mobile payments, Wired reported, citing sources "familiar with the matter." Wow. If this is true, it could be the catalyst that propels mobile payments into the mainstream.
Instagram Hyperlapse Sparks Time-Lapse Video Craze
August 27, 2014
Instagram has released Hyperlapse, a free iOS app that takes the jitters out of time-lapse video. Just two weeks ago, Microsoft demonstrated a similar technology that bears the same name. The Instagram app "is the most impressive effect to hit smartphone video in recent memory," said Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research. An Android version is not yet available.
California Lays Down the Kill-Switch Law
August 27, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill requiring that anti-theft measures be incorporated into all smartphones sold within California. It doesn't specify the particular technologies used to enable that capability, but it does require that the feature, also known as a "kill switch," give smartphone users the ability to remotely disable their devices in the event they're lost or stolen.

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