LG Abandons Flashy Gimmicks with New Signature G6 Phone

LG Electronics has a new strategy to reverse disappointing smartphone sales: ditch the gimmicks and focus on strong basic features. The company launched its new flagship phone this week; the G6 boasts more battery life, a longer 5.7-inch screen, and a sleek design. It also supports Dolby Vision HDR. Previous LG smartphones emphasized features such as a fingerprint scanner on the back or a modular approach for swapping accessories. Even with a simpler design, LG may still struggle to draw consumers in the slowing smartphone market. Continue reading LG Abandons Flashy Gimmicks with New Signature G6 Phone

Google Takes On Siri, Opens its Assistant to Android Partners

Google is making Assistant available to all its Android partners, in an effort to entice more Apple iPhone customers. Introduced five months ago, Google Assistant, which answers questions, plays music and completes tasks, is showcased in a closer partnership with LG Electronics, announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Up until now, Google’s Pixel smartphone, which was introduced in October, has been the only handset with Assistant. Apple’s iPhone will have its tenth anniversary this year. Continue reading Google Takes On Siri, Opens its Assistant to Android Partners

Snap Opens Online Store for Spectacles and Readies its IPO

Snap Inc. will open the doors to a new online store dedicated to expanding sales of its connected sunglasses. Spectacles.com launches just as the company’s New York City pop-up store closes, and anyone in the U.S. can buy a pair of Spectacles, priced at $130. At the same time, Snap’s founders will start marketing its upcoming IPO to mutual funds and hedge funds in London. Snap released Spectacles, its first hardware product, before filing for its IPO. They were initially sold in a handful of vending machines. Continue reading Snap Opens Online Store for Spectacles and Readies its IPO

Half of Web Traffic Now Encrypted as Websites Adopt HTTPS

A new report from rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found that half of today’s Web’s traffic is now protected by encryption. The increased adoption of HTTPS is largely a result of efforts from big tech companies, like Google and Facebook, and an increased awareness of government surveillance. Google started factoring whether a website was on HTTPS or HTTP into its algorithm. WordPress, one of the biggest Web hosting providers, switched to HTTPS last year. Continue reading Half of Web Traffic Now Encrypted as Websites Adopt HTTPS

Caavo Connects All Your Apps, Devices and Content Platforms

Caavo is a $399 savvy middleware box that connects content to virtually any device. Featuring eight HDMI ports and software that automatically configures to any device, Caavo offers a universal remote control with touchscreen and buttons, and works with Alexa (Google Assistant and Siri are soon to come). Caavo is designed to make watching a range of content on many different devices a seamless affair. The company was founded by Andrew Einaudi, Ashish Aggarwal and the late Blake Krikorian (who also co-founded Sling Media).  Continue reading Caavo Connects All Your Apps, Devices and Content Platforms

Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Apple is joining the ranks of Amazon and Netflix in creating original series specifically intended for online platforms. However, unlike its competitors, Apple does not have a devoted video platform, so it plans to create original content for its Apple Music streaming service that can be viewed on Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones and other devices. So far, Apple is developing a reality series called “Planet of the Apps” and a standalone series based on James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke.” Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

8i Demos Hologram Production, Set to Debut Holo Mobile App

Hologram production studio 8i plans to show off its technology and Holo, its new mobile app, at Recode‘s Code Media conference in California. The company, which gained visibility recently by creating a holographic video of actor Jon Hamm and NBA player D’Angelo Russell, also just received a $27 million series B round led by Time Warner Investments and including Baidu Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Verizon Ventures, German businessman Carsten Maschmeyer and others. That brings total funding up to $41 million. Continue reading 8i Demos Hologram Production, Set to Debut Holo Mobile App

Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

In April, Microsoft sued the federal government for intercepting its customers’ emails and preventing Microsoft from alerting them. Now, U.S. District Judge James Robart has ruled that Microsoft made a viable argument, but rejects its contention that the government interception is an unlawful search and seizure of property. At the time, federal courts issued Microsoft about 2,600 so-called secrecy orders, and the tech company could not inform its customers, even when the search was over. Continue reading Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

Apple’s iPhone 8 to Feature Wireless Charging, OLED Screen

Apple may dub its next smartphone either iPhone 8 or iPhone X, but whatever the name, it will be a special 10th-anniversary version and, says a knowledgeable source, is likely to cost more than $1,000. That’s not really a stretch when you note that the 256GB version of the iPhone 7 Plus already sells for $969. The iPhone 8 will feature a range of new features, including an OLED display and a memory upgrade, both of which are expensive. The 5.8-inch phone is expected to look like a smooth black monolith. Continue reading Apple’s iPhone 8 to Feature Wireless Charging, OLED Screen

Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

With Google’s streamlined Android Wear 2.0 on two new LG watches, starting at $250, and Samsung’s $300 Gear S3 smartwatch, fans of the Android operating system finally have some good smartwatch choices that even offer Google Assistant. Meanwhile, Apple is still the giant in the smartwatch market, cornering an estimated 80 percent of smartwatch sales last quarter. Although Apple didn’t release specific figures, it says its smartwatch “hit record numbers” in units and revenue during the recent holiday season. Continue reading Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

How Apple Music Differentiates Itself in a Competitive Market

Since Jimmy Iovine came to Apple in 2014 to revivify Apple Music, the company spent $3 billion to buy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s streaming and headphones company, and doubled its subscriber base from 10 million to 20 million users by 2016. Each user pays a base fee of $10/month. The leap upward is impressive, but the total number of subscribers is still much less than the subscriber bases at Spotify, YouTube and Pandora, all of which offer free, ad-supported versions of their streaming services. Continue reading How Apple Music Differentiates Itself in a Competitive Market

IBM’s Watson Joins with H&R Block for Better Tax Preparation

IBM struck a deal with H&R Block to utilize Watson to help the company’s 70,000 tax professionals at 10,000 branch offices file taxes for 11 million customers. The partnership, which was presented in a 60-second Super Bowl ad on Sunday, began last summer when H&R Block chief executive Bill Cobb contacted IBM. His goal was to aid the company’s professionals in increasing tax refunds and reducing tax liabilities for the company’s clients, and make the experience “engaging and interactive.” Continue reading IBM’s Watson Joins with H&R Block for Better Tax Preparation

Apple Notes iPhone Sales Increase, Looks to Expand Services

After three consecutive quarters of falling revenue, Apple is now experiencing strong demand for its iPhone 7, with a record number of iPhone shipments for the quarter ending December 2016. Despite that good news, the iPhone 7 failed to deliver the double-digit increase in sales that previous new iPhone models typically did in the first quarter after their debut. The iPhones, accounting for two-thirds of the company’s sales, pushed revenue up 3 percent to a record $78.4 billion. Apple’s service business is also booming. Continue reading Apple Notes iPhone Sales Increase, Looks to Expand Services

SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

Twelve-year old audio recognition company SoundHound just raised $75 million to build its speech recognition AI-based platform, Houndify, betting that voice will become the dominant form of interaction with Internet-connected devices. Although large companies like Apple, Baidu and Microsoft dominate the space, SoundHound has built its own AI technology to identify audio. In contrast to these other companies, SoundHound also plans to offer its voice AI tools to other device manufacturers. Continue reading SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

Social Campaign to Delete the Uber App Works in Lyft’s Favor

A viral campaign over the weekend to #DeleteUber took place in response to Uber’s actions or perceived actions surrounding President Trump’s immigration ban. Although Uber vowed to compensate drivers stranded overseas and set up a $3 million legal fund for those drivers, users weren’t appeased and the Internet was abuzz with thousands of photos of people deleting the Uber app from their phones. As a result, on January 29 Lyft had more downloads than Uber on iOS for the first time ever, according to App Annie. Continue reading Social Campaign to Delete the Uber App Works in Lyft’s Favor

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