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Xiaomi Launches Galaxy Note Killers in China
January 16, 2015
Xiaomi on Wednesday announced two new flagship smartphones in Beijing, the Mi Note and the Mi Note Pro. The Mi Note has a metal frame and is protected on the front and back with 3D curved Gorilla Glass 3, which apparently makes it highly resistant to scratches and shattering. Xiaomi compared the Mi Note to the iPhone 6 Plus, but it appears that Samsung's Galaxy Note is its real target.
Verizon's Cookies Never Crumble
January 16, 2015
Verizon advertising partner Turn is using the carrier's Unique Identifier Header, or UIDH, to maintain tracking cookies on smartphones even after privacy-minded users have deleted them, Jonathan Mayer, a computer scientist and lawyer at Stanford University, reported this week. Turn shares the cookies with dozens of major websites and advertising networks.
Samsung Tries Out Tizen in India
January 14, 2015
Samsung has released the first Tizen-powered smartphone for India, the Samsung Z1. The Tizen phone offers localized entertainment apps and a simpler user interface than Android, the company said. Tizen is an open source platform that Samsung has taken the lead in developing. It is an offshoot of the Linux OS. Tizen OS 2.3 enables faster boot time and quicker access to apps than other mobile OSes.
Google's Project Ara Smartphone Puzzle Is Coming Together
January 14, 2015
Google on Wednesday shed fresh light on Project Ara, its modular Android smartphone initiative, including plans to pilot the project in Puerto Rico through food truck-style stores. Project Ara will offer a smartphone endoskeleton; users will be able to add the functionality they want piece by piece, rather than being confined by the hardware configurations determined by operators and providers.
CES: Oh, the Amazing Things You Will See
January 5, 2015
Writing a CES teaser is a bit difficult because I actually know a great deal about what will be announced, but I can't share the details because I'm bound by a variety of ironclad NDAs. However, I can comment in general about the product categories you are going to see opened up at the show, and I have to say you'd better lock up your wallet because much of this is cool and you'll likely want it.
The Big Tech Stories of 2015
December 29, 2014
Last week, we looked back at the largely untold, or under told, stories of 2014. This week, let's look ahead to some of the stories that are coming in 2015. We'll have robots, self-driving cars, armed autonomous drones, the professional proliferation of head mounted cameras, some scandals, and some interesting political implications. I'll close with my product of the year, which even surprised me.
Amazon Plans Fire Phone Do-Over for 2016
December 23, 2014
Amazon reportedly is working on a second iteration of its Fire Phone for release in 2016. Following the disappointing performance of the phone's first generation, it appears the company has gone back to the drawing board to determine the combination of features that will succeed. The first Fire Phone was "quite the learning experience," said analyst Michael Morgan.
BlackBerry Bucks Up Its Loyal Base With Classic Comeback
December 17, 2014
BlackBerry has unveiled the BlackBerry Classic, a handset with a full QWERTY physical keyboard, physical navigation keys, and a design that can be best described as "retro," in that its appearance is virtually identical to the BlackBerry Bold. The Classic, which is smaller than the company's recently launched Passport smartphone, targets users who still long for the traditional BlackBerry handset.
Samsung, Apple Kick Off Round Eleventy in Patent Fight
December 10, 2014
Apple and Samsung last week squared off again in court over their long-running patent dispute. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard Samsung's appeal of the $930 million in damages a district court awarded to Apple for patent infringement, following a trial in 2012 and a retrial in 2013. "Samsung never wanted this fight," said Fosspatents' Florian Mueller.
Gadget Ogling: Seeing E-Ink Everywhere, Breathing Easy and Brewing Beer
December 6, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, and set aside that last leftover-turkey sandwich for a short while as we explore the murky landscape of freshly announced gadgets. On the menu in our post-Thanksgiving edition are a pair of e-ink smart devices, wearables with a health focus, an intelligent home brewing kit, a kitschy kitchen product, and perhaps the most useless item we've included in this column to date.
Lollipop's Encryption Takes a Hefty Toll
November 24, 2014
The new full-disk encryption feature that's enabled by default in Android 5.0 Lollipop comes at a hefty price in terms of performance, according to a recent benchmark report. In fact, when full-disk encryption is enabled, random read performance drops by 62.9 percent, while random write performance falls by 50.5 percent, AnandTech reported late last week.
Will Apple's Next iPhone Capture DSLR Quality With 2 Lenses?
November 20, 2014
The Apple rumor mill never stops spinning, and even though the iPhone 6 is barely here and the next version ages away, the most interesting rumor is the chance that the next iPhone will make a huge leap forward with its camera -- possibly using two lenses to produce DSLR-quality images. The rumor comes from John Gruber of Daring Fireball via an episode of The Talk Show podcast.
Nvidia Launches a New Mobile Device Age
November 17, 2014
There was an announcement last week that I think is far bigger than folks realize: Nvidia announced a free Netflix-like streaming gaming service for its Shield products. I think this is a precursor to an event that is similar to what cable did to TVs years ago, and that it will change not only how we use these devices, but also what we use them for.
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Nexus 6, the Star Destroyer of Phablets, Goes on Sale
November 14, 2014
Google's Nexus 6 phablet on Friday became available for sale at Sprint stores, as well as on its website and through other Sprint sales channels. Priced at $696 with a plan, qualified buyers can purchase the Nexus 6 with no down payment, and 24 monthly payments of $29. The other three major U.S. carriers have announced plans to carry the Nexus 6 as well, but Sprint is first out of the gate.
Apple Preps for Enterprise Offensive
November 12, 2014
Apple reportedly has formed a dedicated sales team to pitch Apple products to CIOs, and it is working closely with app developers who have a corporate presence to sell into the enterprise. Apple's increased interest in the enterprise could be part of a long-term strategy to offset declining sales in the tablet market. For three consecutive quarters, iPad sales have fallen.
Microsoft Makes Lumia 535 Its Own
November 12, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday announced the Lumia 535 -- the first smartphone under its own brand since it completed its acquisition of Nokia in April. Microsoft is marketing the 535 as its "5x5x5" smartphone package. It has a 5-inch screen and 5-MP front- and rear-facing cameras. Microsoft will offer both single-SIM and double-SIM versions. Both will be 3G phones, preloaded with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Denim update.
New Tool Alerts Etailers to Suspicious Characters
November 11, 2014
As thoughtful as mobile phone makers are when they design their products, there are always punters who want something that isn't there and are willing to hack a device to get it. In the Android world such a hack is called "rooting" a phone; in the iOS world, it's called "jailbreaking." Regardless of what it's called, it can turn a phone into a can of worms for retailers.
Gadget Ogling: Garish Walkie-Talkies, Slick Cameras and Mini 3D Printing
November 8, 2014
Welcome to another installment of every tech-loving optimist's and misanthrope's favorite look at the week's most wondrous and pitiful new gadgets. Ahead, for your delight and dismay, are studies of a wearable walkie-talkie-type communication device, a 360-degree action camera, a tiny 3D printer, a smart camera attachment, and a clever mobile roaming solution.
Apple-Pestering WireLurker Banished for Now
November 7, 2014
Palo Alto Networks on Wednesday reported that more than 400 apps infected with a malicious program it calls "WireLurker" have been downloaded 356,104 times by Chinese Mac owners from Maiyadi, an online app store unaffiliated with Apple. The malware does no harm to the Macs it infects but when the computer connects via USB to an iOS device -- an iPhone or iPad -- it delivers its malicious payload.
Microsoft Rearranges Mobile Office
November 6, 2014
Microsoft on Thursday announced new Office apps for the iPhone, updated Office apps for the iPad, and a preview of Office apps for Android tablets. The company released separate Office for iPhone apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint that it said would offer the iPad experience optimized for the iPhone. Microsoft also updated Office for iPad apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Verizon, AT&T Are Watching You
November 5, 2014
The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week renewed its protests against Verizon Wireless' and AT&T's use of supercookies that can't be deleted or disabled to track customers' mobile Web-browsing activities without their knowledge. The carriers' tracking isn't new -- Verizon has been using these supercookies for two years. However, that has not been generally known.
Starwood's Keyless Entry Streamlines Hotel Check-In
November 4, 2014
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide -- which owns and manages a number of high-end hotel brands including the St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element -- has announced the rollout of SPG Keyless, a tech offering that allows guests to use their smartphone as a room key. Hilton introduced similar technology earlier this year.
Android Hoards 84 Percent Smartphone OS Market Share
November 4, 2014
Google's Android stole share from all of its major mobile OS rivals over the past year to achieve a whopping smartphone market dominance of roughly 84 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to a new Strategy Analytics report. Apple's iOS, which weighed in with about 12 percent, lost more than a point of share to Android since the same quarter a year ago.

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Is Microsoft starting to get cool again?
Yes - thanks to Satya Nadella's vision.
Yes - but only in certain areas, like AI and VR.
Maybe - it doesn't seem as stodgy as before.
No - it never was.