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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.
Gadget Ogling: A New Nook, a Good (M8), a Lock With No Key - and Music, Music, Music
August 26, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook conflates lots of different things: It's an Android tablet designed for reading, made by Samsung for Barnes & Noble. That might seem confusing, and I'd agree. It's essentially a branded version of the Galaxy Tab 4 with an e-commerce focus. Specifically, there's a Barnes & Noble Newsstand app, with games, movies and books on offer.
Torvalds Says Yes to the Desktop
August 25, 2014
It was just a few short weeks ago that we here in the Linux blogosphere were rehashing the open source world's documentation dilemma -- one of those perennial topics bloggers love to resurrect whenever there appears to be a lull in the conversation. At the time, alert readers may recall, Linux Girl compared the topic to the ongoing "Year of Linux on the Desktop" debate -- another favorite.
HTC (M8)s With Microsoft
August 20, 2014
HTC, which in recent years spurned Windows Phone for Android, on Tuesday returned to the Microsoft fold with the launch of a Windows Phone version of its flagship HTC One (M8) smartphone. The HTC One (M8) for Windows debuted as a Verizon Wireless network exclusive. The two-year contract price at Verizon Wireless is $200. AT&T also will carry the phone, but it hasn't said when that will be.
The Connected Car, Part 3: No Shortcuts to Security
August 19, 2014
The connected car is becoming a reality, but the gadget-filled roadways it travels will be paved with several options for in-car technologies. These choices pose challenges for carmakers. Whichever technology wins the race, one of the biggest concerns for OEMs is their electronic security. The Linux Foundation wants an open source platform in the pole position.
To Your Health: Intel Inside Your Headphones
August 16, 2014
Intel on Friday announced it is working with rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's SMS Audio to develop earbuds that will monitor users' heart rates. The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones will have an earhook and will be powered by the user's smartphone. They will be sweat- and water-resistant. The earbuds will be available from SMS Audio in Q4; pricing has not yet been announced.
Galaxy Alpha: Samsung Puts Pedal to Metal
August 13, 2014
Samsung has unveiled its long-awaited Galaxy Alpha smartphone featuring a metal frame and a 4.7-inch HD Super AMOLED display. "We have taken a new approach to smartphone design with the Galaxy Alpha, focusing on sophisticated design techniques and compact construction, while building upon the Galaxy experience," said Samsung spokesperson Ashley Gregory.

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