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Was Apple's Outstanding Q1 a Fluke?
February 6, 2017
Apple had a good quarter, but if you look under the numbers there is a ton of trouble. It just dropped behind Google in brand value, and valuation may crater in a few months. The iPhone 7 did well, but that shouldn't be a surprise, given that its biggest competitor, Samsung, saw its phone literally go up in flames last quarter. The Galaxy 8 is coming, though, and it looks really impressive.
Apple Goes on Record-Breaking Spree
February 1, 2017
Apple stunned Wall Street with Q1 earnings that set new quarterly unit and revenue records in key product segments, and its highest-ever earnings per share. CEO Tim Cook said the company set all-time revenue and unit records for its iPhone and Apple Watch brands, all-time revenue records for its Mac and Services businesses, and all-time revenue records for four of its five geographic sectors.
Devs Alerted to Long-Delayed Android Wear 2.0 Reboot
January 13, 2017
Google is moving ahead with its long-delayed launch of Android Wear 2.0, an operating system for its emerging wearables ecosystem, which finally could decouple the smartwatch from the smartphone. A notice to developers states that Android Wear 2.0 will launch in early February, Android Police reported Wednesday. Google reportedly has been working on two new smartwatches as well.
Gadget Ogling: Floating Speakers, Neckbrace Audio, and Charming Caffeine Fixes
January 6, 2017
LG features twice in this edition of the column with two very different but similarly strange speakers. The "Levitating Portable Speaker" has as descriptive and accurate a name as the "Small Transparent Speaker" from last month's edition of this column. You can call it "PJ9" if you prefer the duller moniker. Yes, through the magic of electromagnets and a base station, this speaker will levitate and pump out audio in every direction.
Snapdragon-Powered AR Smartglasses Are the Real Deal
January 4, 2017
Qualcomm on Tuesday debuted its groundbreaking Snapdragon 835 system on a chip at CES. Following the 835 launch, the company joined Osterhout Design Group in unveiling two new ODG augmented reality headsets, the R-8 and R-9, which are the first Snapdragon 835-powered devices to be announced. The Snapdragon SoC is the first chip built using the ultra-advanced 10nm FinFET process node.
Gadget Ogling: Heightened Hearing, Toasty Toes, and Glass Speakers
December 22, 2016
Bose's latest earbuds are designed to help you tune in to the specific sounds you want to hear. Hearphones are a sort of blend of noise-cancelling earbuds and hearing aids. There are several presets in the app, with names like "focused conversation," "gym," "airplane" and "television." You can opt to crank up the volume on all sound from the world around you or turn it down.
Apple AirPods Finally Good to Go
December 14, 2016
Apple has begun taking online orders for its wireless AirPods, and said it would start delivering the $159 earphones to customers, Apple Stores, resellers and carriers next week. At the iPhone 7 launch in September, Apple SVP Phil Schiller said the AirPods would be available in October. Missing the deadline for release of any hot product is bad news for a company.
New Smartwatch OS Debuts on GitHub
December 9, 2016
Can a new smartwatch operating system based on Linux breathe some new life into the smart wearables market? Florent Revest hopes so. Revest, a French computer science student, on Wednesday announced the alpha release of AsteroidOS, an open source operating system that will run on several Android smartwatch models. Revest has been working on his OS for two years.
Fitbit Pulls Pebble From Rock, Hard Place
December 9, 2016
Fitbit has announced an acquisition deal with smartwatch maker Pebble. It clearly has been struggling, having laid off 25 percent of its staff earlier this year, when CEO Eric Migicovsky acknowledged that money was tight. "Fitbit is acquiring certain assets of Pebble, including key personnel and intellectual property specific to software and firmware development," a Fitbit spokesperson said.
Without Numbers, Cook's Apple Watch Claims May Be Hollow
December 8, 2016
Apple drew some pointed questions this week following CEO Tim Cook's vague response to reports suggesting Apple Watch demand has plummeted. The Apple Watch is on track to set a holiday sales record and post its best quarter ever, Cook said. Sell-through of the watch -- that is, units sold to consumers and not just stocked on retailers' shelves -- also is on track to reach a new high, he added.
Fitbit May Pick Up Pebble
December 5, 2016
Fitbit, the leader in the wearables category, is close to an agreement to buy struggling smartwatch maker Pebble for up to $40 million, in a move to gain the firm's intellectual property and software. The negotiations follow several months of financial turmoil at Pebble, which reportedly slashed its workforce by 25 percent in March and has rebuffed several prior offers to be acquired.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Merrily, Snapping Happily, and Listening My Way
October 1, 2016
Roku has refreshed its lineup of media players with lower prices, so bringing streaming video to every screen in your home just got a little more accessible. At the lower end, the Roku Express costs $30. The lineup includes $40, $50, $80 and $100 models with a variety of feature combinations. At $130, the Roku Ultra, pictured here, is the feature-loaded top-of-the-line option.
Snap Unveils Eye-Popping Camera Spectacles
September 27, 2016
Snap, the company formerly known as "Snapchat," on Saturday announced sunglasses that take videos through a built-in camera in the frame. Snap's Spectacles let users take 10-second videos by tapping a button on the top left-hand corner of the eyeframe. Users can tap on the record button to record two more 10-second segments, for videos of up to 30 seconds long in all.
New Apple Products Have the Right Gaming Stuff
September 17, 2016
Apple wants to attract gaming fans to the more powerful graphics and processing power embedded in its new iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 products. The iPhone 7 features the new A10 Fusion chip -- the most powerful ever in a smartphone, according to the company. The CPU fuses two high-performance cores that run twice as fast as the iPhone 6 with much more efficient use of battery power.
Apple Hopes iPhone 7 Extras Will Make Up for Missing Headphone Jack
September 8, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday officially unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone Plus, confirming a rumor that has evoked widespread dread: The traditional headphone jacks are gone. The new iPhones are sleeker than their predecessors, though, as well as water resistant. Their biggest plus might be the advanced lenses in what Apple claims is the most sophisticated smartphone camera in the world.
Snazzier Fitbits Sport Beefed-Up Feature Sets
August 30, 2016
Fitbit on Monday announced two new fitness trackers with sleeker looks, more durable construction and greater data-gathering capabilities. The Fitbit Charge 2, priced at $149.95, features continuous heart-rate tracking. It uses the data to generate a cardio fitness score and provides guidance for improving it over time. The Charge 2 displays real-time exercise stats.
Gadget Ogling: Musical Pizza Boxes, Backup Backpacks, and Tattooing Robots
August 25, 2016
Call it a gimmick, but I'm very much into the idea of having a pizza box that doubles as a turntable. Pizza Hut partnered with Novalia to make the box, which includes pitch and volume controls, a mixer, and touch-sensitive decks. Using printed electronics, DJs can crossfade, rewind and even scratch. The box pairs with smartphones and computers using Bluetooth and works with DJ software.
Gadget Ogling: Levitating Smart Things, Making WiFi-Perfect Wine, and Staying Safe While Solo
August 16, 2016
Lift is an antigravity charger for Apple Watch and Pebble. The charger is wireless, so there's almost no clutter involved -- except, I suppose, when you have to charge the charger. The watch wraps around a portable battery pack, which the base keeps elevated using magnets. There's a Pro version of the base, which you can use as an iPhone or iPad stand and charger.
The Internet of Medical Things, Part 2: Devices and Apps
July 12, 2016
Concerns have been multiplying in the United States over the creaks of a medical infrastructure that's bearing the weight of an aging population. Current and upcoming members of the over-65 club are helping to drive a new age in healthcare, in which devices connect patients with caregivers, things get even smarter, and machines get even better at learning what sensors are saying.
Gadget Ogling: Artsy Audio, Stress Detectives, and Wee Violins
July 2, 2016
I don't think any product range beats speakers for running the design gamut from gorgeous to ghastly. There are so many to choose from, in all shapes, sizes and colors, that there's something for everyone -- plus a few things no one should buy. But what if your sound system were a piece of art, literally? Case of Bass has created a boombox print that houses a speaker system in a shadow box.
The Internet of Medical Things, Part 1: A New Concept in Healthcare
June 30, 2016
Manufacturers are eager to lay the bricks and help pave the road to better, more personalized healthcare through integration of connected devices in the new Internet of Medical Things. Compared to other industries, healthcare has been "inherently conservative and slow" to embrace innovations such as the cloud and the Internet of Things -- but that's changing.
Gadget Ogling: Pliable Phones, Clever Kicks, and Sumptuous Speakers
June 21, 2016
Lenovo has peeled back the curtain on a smartphone that you can wrap around your wrist, sporting a full-color screen. The "CPlus," as Lenovo calls the prototype, runs Android and has a 4.26-inch display. It will be available in 12 colors if and when it goes on sale. It's clear bendable smartphones will be a viable consumer product in the near future.
New Samsung Fitness Trackers Have Music Built-In
June 8, 2016
Samsung last week unveiled its Gear Fit2 fitness band and Gear IconX earbud set. The Gear Fit2 will be available for $180 this Friday at major retailers. The IconX will hit shelves in the third quarter of this year. The Gear Fit2 has a built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor. The Gear IconX is a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that can track fitness information.
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.
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.
Feds to Take a Hard Look at Mobile Device Patch Practices
May 11, 2016
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission on Monday announced a joint investigation into the issue of mobile device security updates. The FTC issued an order requiring Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC America, LG Electronics USA, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics America to provide information about how they issue security updates.
Apple Drops CareKit on GitHub
April 29, 2016
Apple on Thursday made its CareKit platform available through the GitHub open source community. CareKit joins two other Apple frameworks for developing healthcare apps -- HealthKit and ResearchKit. It was designed to enable developers to create apps that give users a more active role in managing their health. Apps developed through CareKit will let people track symptoms and medications.
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.
Nokia Buys Into Digital Health
April 28, 2016
Nokia on Tuesday announced plans to purchase Withings for $192 million in cash as part of its move into the healthcare devices arena. The deal is expected to close in early Q3, and Withings will become part of the Nokia Technologies business. "We have said consistently that digital health was an area of strategic interest to Nokia," CEO Rajeev Suri said.
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.
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