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Microsoft, Xiaomi Become Office Mates
June 1, 2016
Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to sell 1,500 mobile technology patents to China-based Xiaomi, in a deal that will expand both companies' access to new markets. Microsoft's office apps will gain a stronger foothold in China, while Xiaomi's smartphones will gain a stronger global presence. The agreement calls for Xiaomi to ship Microsoft Office and Skype on its Android smartphones and tablets.
Microsoft Drastically Scales Down Smartphone Biz
May 25, 2016
Microsoft on Wednesday announced plans to streamline its smartphone business by cutting 1,850 jobs. It will record an impairment charge of $950 million, with severance payments accounting for $200 million of the charge. The restructuring will entail up to 1,350 job losses at Microsoft Mobile Oy in Finland, and 500 more cuts around the world.
OnePlus Offers Free Headsets to Lure Crowd to VR Smartphone Launch
May 25, 2016
The 30,000 virtual reality headsets OnePlus announced it would give away as part the unveiling of its OnePlus 3 smartphone were snapped up Monday, the day they became available. OnePlus has set up a VR space called "The Loop" in which it will unveil the OnePlus 3. The Loop can be accessed only by users of the OnePlus Loop VR headsets, made by AntVR.
Gadget Ogling: Speedy Tortillas, Racing Robots, and Real-Time 3D
May 20, 2016
Flatev is a pod-based system for instant tortillas in the mold of a Keurig coffee maker. Insert a pod of fresh dough -- you have several choices, all organic -- then adjust settings for type of dough and desired crispiness, and 90 seconds later you'll have a fresh, warm tortilla. There's a heated drawer to keep your tortillas warm while you make as many as you need.
Nokia Stages Smartphone Comeback
May 20, 2016
Nokia on Wednesday announced its return to the mobile phone and tablet business in connection with a larger agreement by Microsoft to sell its entry-level phone business to HMD Global and FIH Mobile for $350 million. Microsoft will sell its Hanoi, Vietnam, manufacturing facility to FIH Mobile. Nokia will grant HMD the exclusive global license to make Nokia-branded phones and tablets for 10 years.
Motorola Shows Off New Moto G Collection
May 18, 2016
Motorola on Tuesday unveiled three new smartphones: the fourth-generation Moto G, the Moto G Plus and the Moto G Play. The Moto G and Moto G Plus can be customized using Moto Maker, while the Moto G Play can not. All three run Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The Moto G and Moto G Plus became available Tuesday in Brazil and India. They will be rolled out elsewhere over time.
Could the Next Disruptive Consumer Product Be a Flip Phone?
May 16, 2016
Smartphones appear to be losing their luster, and the king of smartphones -- Apple -- clearly is not having a good year. Suddenly, I'm hearing that there is an upswing in flip phones, making this feel a bit like a Game of Thrones episode, when a believed-dead king returns to seize the throne by surprise. Clearly, the market is looking for the next big thing.
Google Gives iOS Users 1st Crack at Gboard App
May 12, 2016
Google on Thursday introduced Gboard, an app that combines search with a new soft keyboard for mobile devices running iOS. Gboard, which supports glide typing, allows users to perform searches from the keyboard without leaving the application they're in. Once the information is found, they can paste it into their application without leaving the keyboard.
iPhone 7 Rumors Blunt Anticipation
May 11, 2016
It appears there won't be a lot of design changes in the next iPhone, according to a schematic photo published online Monday. It shows what's purported to be Apple's upcoming iPhone 7 to be the same size as the 6s. "They've done a lot with the design already. They're keeping multiple design languages to keep their customer base happy," said analyst Kevin Krewell.
India Rejects Apple's iPhone Retread Plan
May 4, 2016
India's telecommunications ministry has rejected Apple's proposal to sell refurbished iPhones in the country. Officials apparently based their rejection of the proposal on rules that prohibit importing used electronics. The country's environmental ministry nixed a similar request last year. With smartphone sales starting to stall, India could become an important market for Apple.
Law Affords More Protection to PINs Than Prints
May 3, 2016
A federal magistrate in Los Angeles ordered the girlfriend of an alleged gang member to open her phone using her fingerprint so prosecutors could look at the data on it for a case they were working on, according to a news report published last week. After Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan pleaded no contest to identity theft, a judge issued a warrant to force her to press her finger to her iPhone to open it.
Osterloh's Return Suggests Google Just Got Serious About Hardware
May 2, 2016
Google has rehired former executive Rick Osterloh to lead its hardware businesses, which it plans to consolidate under a single division, according to news reports published last week. Osterloh, who recently stepped down as president of Motorola, reportedly will head up Google's Nexus business, which will include a suite of products dubbed the "living room."
Wall Street Pummels Apple After Weak Q2 Earnings Report
April 28, 2016
Apple shares were trading at around $95 as of mid-day Thursday in the wake of the company's disappointing Q2 earnings report. That was even lower than Wednesday's opening price, which was down more than $8 from Tuesday's $104.35 at market close. The company's second-quarter performance was dismal. The iPhone recorded its first drop in sales -- to 51.2 million units, down from 61.2 million in the year-ago quarter.
Apple's Q2 Report Expected to Be Light on Good News
April 26, 2016
Apple shares closed at $105.08 Monday -- down 60 cents -- as the market steeled itself for what's expected to be a gloomy quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. Apple will underperform the smartphone industry and become the only global top-five brand to see shipments decline in 2016, predicted Ming-Chi Kuo, a KGI Securities analyst who previously has made several accurate calls on the company.
Gadget Ogling: A 360-Degree Cam, a Leveled-Up Kindle, and a Space-Saving Home Gym
April 21, 2016
Facebook has unveiled its latest push into hardware -- an open source 360-degree camera. Bearing 17 cameras and Web-based software to render footage in 360-degrees, Facebook Surround 360 is more of a design than a commercial product. It would cost around $30,000 to build one as is, Facebook said. The idea is to allow creators to iterate on the design to create their own cameras.
2017 iPhone May Be a Glass Act
April 21, 2016
Apple has been developing a glass casing for a new iPhone with an AMOLED display to be unveiled in 2017, Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at KGI Securities, reportedly said this week in a note to investors. That would mark a return to the design of the iPhone 4 and 4s, both of which had glass cases. The use of the AMOLED screen will offset the heavier weight of a glass back for the device, Kuo said.
60 Minutes Shows How Network Flaw Makes Any Smartphone Easy Prey
April 19, 2016
An international team of cybersecurity experts hacked into an iPhone loaned to a U.S. congressman who sits on a key technology committee, in a 60 Minutes demonstration of how easy it is for a criminal to spy on callers by exploiting an international mobile phone network vulnerability. The hackers were able to listen in on a call by Rep. Ted Lieu just by getting the actual phone number he was using.
HTC 10 Wins Heaps of Praise With a Sprinkling of 'Buts'
April 15, 2016
HTC this week unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC 10. The phone's camera is outfitted with new, larger sensors and 12 million new-generation UltraPixels. Both the front and rear cameras sport the world's first optically stabilized, larger-aperture f/1.8 lenses on, the company said. The rear camera also has a faster laser autofocus.
FBI Paid Hackers to Defeat Security of Shooter's iPhone
April 14, 2016
The FBI paid hackers to break onto the iPhone of the San Bernardino, California, shooter, according to a news report published Tuesday. The bureau obtained the services of gray hats, insiders said, and apparently did not get help from Cellebrite, as earlier reports had suggested. Gray hats are hackers who sell flaws to governments or companies that make surveillance tools.
Learning to Love Virtual Reality
April 11, 2016
At Nvidia's technology conference, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase.
White House Takes a Pass on Encryption Debate
April 7, 2016
It appears that the Obama administration will refrain from giving its outspoken support to any legislation that aims to compel high-tech companies to help law enforcement agencies crack mobile phone encryption. On the other hand, it won't level any outspoken opposition either. Introduction of such a bill -- sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr -- is expected soon.
Apple, FBI Tussle Puts Bull's-Eye on iPhone
April 7, 2016
The battle between the FBI and Apple over access to the iPhone of Syed Farook came to an abrupt end last week when the agency announced it no longer needed the company's assistance. Since the Department of Justice delayed a hearing on an order to force Apple to assist the FBI in brute-forcing the password, speculation has spread about how the agency planned to access the data.
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
Gadget Ogling: Honey, I Shrunk the iPhone
March 31, 2016
The iPhone SE packs almost everything from the iPhone 6s into a handset that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5. The only thing that's really missing is Force Touch. It's a smart play, trying to convince iPhone 4 and 5 owners that they can still upgrade to -- almost -- the latest model without the need to take on a device with a larger screen.
Feds Crack iPhone, Warn Apple to Keep One Eye Open
March 29, 2016
After a bitter legal battle over encryption and privacy rights, the Department of Justice on Monday announced it would back out of its case against Apple because the FBI was able to crack the code of the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The department had asked a federal magistrate judge to force Apple to help the FBI crack open the encrypted smartphone.
A Dramatic 16 Years for 4 Tech Titans
March 28, 2016
Following Apple's latest announcements, I noticed a number of reports on how disappointed customers were that there was nothing they wanted to wait in line for hours to buy. I personally thought they should have been excited about that, because I hate to stand in lines. I've never really figured out an Apple fanatic's penchant for pain. Still, it is very clear that today's Apple is very different.
FBI Would Rather Crack Terrorist's iPhone Itself
March 23, 2016
On the eve of a court showdown with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the FBI put its case on pause Monday to pursue an attack method that could allow it to crack the phone without Apple's assistance. After reviewing the FBI's request for postponement of oral arguments in the case, a U.S. District Court in California granted the delay.
Apple's CareKit Gives More Power to the Patient
March 23, 2016
Perhaps worthy of more attention than it received at Apple's Loop You In event on Monday is CareKit. The open source platform will allow developers to create consumer-focused applications to help patients communicate with healthcare providers and closely monitor their own health conditions. Similar to ResearchKit, CareKit applies many of the same tools to patient care.
Supreme Court to End Samsung, Apple Patent Brawl
March 22, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from Samsung regarding its patent dispute with Apple. The case stems from a 2011 lawsuit by Apple that alleged Samsung copied certain design elements and features from the iPhone and iPad and used them in Samsung Galaxy phones and tablet computers. A jury in 2012 awarded $1 billion to Apple.
Apple Brings Back That 4-Inch Feeling
March 21, 2016
Apple on Monday announced a pair of new products in old sizes -- the 4-inch iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro -- banking on user preferences for the familiar form factors to lessen their hesitancy to upgrade. Although Apple's hour-long "Loop You In" event was short on surprises, it was slimmer on filler as well. Among the notable extras, Apple announced a price cut bringing the Apple Watch to $300.
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