Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Google debuted its third iteration of Pixel smartphones to rival high-end Apple and Samsung phones. The company also introduced a smart speaker with built-in display and a hybrid laptop/tablet. Although the hardware devices showcase Google’s chops in AI and image processing, they haven’t moved the needle on the company’s sales or market share; its most popular hardware product is a wireless router. Google also unveiled Duplex, a human-sounding bot to be available on Pixel smartphones by the end of 2018 in a few U.S. cities. Continue reading Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Google Absorbs EU Fine, Alphabet’s Other Bets Burn Money

Despite the impact of new European regulations, Google just reported sales and profit that exceeded analysts’ expectations. The Silicon Valley company’s shares hit an all-time high, rising 3.9 percent to $1,267 in after-hours trading. The result is proof that advertisers aren’t put off by European regulations or allegations that Google abuses its dominant position in the marketplace. Its parent company Alphabet, however, continues to see losses in its “Other Bets” category, which includes Waymo autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Google Absorbs EU Fine, Alphabet’s Other Bets Burn Money

Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Although Amazon currently sells a certain number of Google smart home Nest devices, the company has decided to stop doing so, thus ramping up the competition in this space between the two tech behemoths. Nest employees apparently had been expecting the move, which came in a conference call last year when Amazon said it would not list any of the newer Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Secure home security system. The decision reportedly came directly from Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. Continue reading Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Google Removes YouTube From Amazon Fire TV, Echo Show

Google is pulling YouTube from Amazon’s smart speaker Echo Show, saying it is doing so because Amazon won’t sell Google products including its Home speaker, Chromecast streaming device and some Alphabet Nest products. Google also states that Amazon won’t make its Prime Video shows available for Chromecast. The move escalates an ongoing battle between the two behemoths whose business interests now overlap. In addition to Echo Show, Google plans to block YouTube on Amazon Fire TV’s media streaming device beginning January 1. Continue reading Google Removes YouTube From Amazon Fire TV, Echo Show

Verizon Intros LTE SmartHub to Manage Connected Devices

Verizon announced the release of its $200 integrated smart home control interface and Wi-Fi hot spot called SmartHub. Designed for managing your connected devices, SmartHub features its own dedicated LTE line, which enables connectivity to a variety of devices, including phones and laptops. SmartHub also supports an HD Voice feature for making calls over the Verizon network, and “has its own battery, which means it maintains your home phone and Internet connection in the event of a power outage,” explains Android Police. “It’s not clear if there will be special data plans for the SmartHub,” and a full list of the devices that work with SmartHub has yet to be unveiled, although Verizon did reference Nest and Kwikset. Continue reading Verizon Intros LTE SmartHub to Manage Connected Devices

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

Alphabet: Search is Strong, Future Bets on YouTube, Pixel, IoT

Alphabet’s Q4 revenue increased almost three times faster than profit, leading the tech titan to look for new growth areas. The company says that a one-time tax adjustment accounted for the missed Wall Street expectation. Google’s largest global advertising business and the very popular YouTube account for most of the revenue, but Alphabet is looking to mobile search, YouTube and automated ad buying as newer forms of advertising; its new smartphone Pixel and digital assistant-powered Google Home also show promise. Continue reading Alphabet: Search is Strong, Future Bets on YouTube, Pixel, IoT

Google Competes with Customers for Prime Online Ad Space

Google is among the biggest buyers of its own ads and the Silicon Valley titan is increasingly pushing its own hardware products — from Nest smart-home thermostats to the new Pixel phones — on its own site. Now a recent study shows that Google gives its own ads and those of its affiliate companies the most prominent placement nearly all the time. Google isn’t the only company competing with its customers for online ad space; Facebook and Microsoft fall into that same category. The digital advertising industry is valued at $187 billion. Continue reading Google Competes with Customers for Prime Online Ad Space

Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

Google just released Home, a smart speaker that competes directly with the recently introduced Amazon Echo, powered by the virtual assistant Alexa. Since its release, Amazon’s Echo has been a hit, as users have relied on it for everything from a home automation tool to kitchen companion and shopping assistant. Now, the two products, from two technology behemoths, will face off in the marketplace. These devices are still early in their development, and the virtual assistants powering them offer limited abilities. Continue reading Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

In its Q3 results, Alphabet revealed that, of its Other Bets initiatives, two Google projects — the cloud and artificial intelligence — have proven to be the most successful; both are on track to expand in the next year. Amazon is still the leader in cloud services, with a 55 percent gain representing $3.2 billion, and Microsoft is another major technology company rivaling Google. But Alphabet has made it clear that it is doubling down on both cloud and AI, even as it retreats from Google Fiber Internet and Nest connected-home tech. Continue reading Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

Amazon and Lenovo Discuss the Integration of Alexa into PCs

Lenovo, the world’s biggest PC manufacturer, is in discussions with Amazon about integrating Alexa into its computers and other devices. Also recently, LG decided to integrate Alexa support into its SmartThinQ Hub. These moves underscore Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos’ goal to incorporate Alexa into a wide range of electronics, to spread the company’s influence to more consumers. Other tech companies attempting to do the same are Microsoft with Cortana, Apple with Siri and Google with Assistant. Continue reading Amazon and Lenovo Discuss the Integration of Alexa into PCs

Tony Fadell to Step Down as CEO of Alphabet’s Nest Division

Nest CEO and co-founder Tony Fadell announced he will step down from his leadership position, but will stay on as an adviser to parent company Alphabet. Fadell will be replaced by telecom vet Marwan Fawaz (formerly CTO of Adelphia Communications and Charter Communications), “amid escalating drama at Nest that sent ripples across all of Google,” suggests Recode. “Despite its internal struggles, Nest is a market leader in the connected device field.” Its ability to ship its collection of smart home products and “build out software and energy partnerships for Internet-connected devices” will be critical as it competes in this space with tech giants such as Amazon and Apple. Continue reading Tony Fadell to Step Down as CEO of Alphabet’s Nest Division

Starry to Roll Out Fast, Affordable, Wireless Internet Service

Following the shutdown of Aereo, Chet Kanojia is back with a new venture that intends to revolutionize broadband delivery. New York- and Boston-based startup Starry is looking to introduce a test version of its super-fast, wireless Internet service this summer. With its planned July beta release, Starry will join companies such as AT&T, Ericsson, Facebook, Google, Huawei, Qualcomm and Verizon that are working on millimeter wave fixed wireless systems to approach gigabit-per-second service in homes and businesses. Continue reading Starry to Roll Out Fast, Affordable, Wireless Internet Service

Researchers Warn That Smart Home Technology is Hackable

The security research community has warned that the Internet of Things, including home security systems, is hackable. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Microsoft have published an in-depth security analysis of Samsung’s SmartThings platform that allows control of home appliances via PC or smartphone. They were able to hack the system, setting off a smoke alarm and opening a digital lock with a “backdoor” PIN. Their findings will be presented at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy later this month. Continue reading Researchers Warn That Smart Home Technology is Hackable

Amazon’s Alexa Moves Artificial Intelligence Into Mainstream

Amazon spent years to bring Echo from an idea to an intelligent, voice-controlled product that could play music, order groceries and read the news out loud. Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos demanded perfection, bringing latency levels to below 1.5 seconds, and the result is that Echo and its virtual assistant Alexa are a hit. In less than two weeks, Echo hit a million pre-orders, which took the iPhone 70 days to achieve. Amazon is now letting third-party hardware manufacturers integrate Alexa into their products. Continue reading Amazon’s Alexa Moves Artificial Intelligence Into Mainstream

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