Samsung Invites Users to Design Their Galaxy Z Flip3 Phone

Samsung used its Galaxy Unpacked Part 2 streaming event to share details of a new Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, Galaxy Buds2 and Galaxy Watch4. Samsung invited users to customize their mobile devices by making design choices on their Galaxy Z Flip3 using the online Bespoke Studio, which provides a 360-degree preview of different color and style combinations. Owners of the Galaxy Z Flip3 Bespoke Edition can sign-up to replace the colors on their device panel, freedom that “allows consumers to express their unique personalities through technology.” Continue reading Samsung Invites Users to Design Their Galaxy Z Flip3 Phone

European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution that calls for banning law enforcement’s use of biometric surveillance, including facial recognition. The vote signals what Parliament is willing to adopt as part of the Artificial Intelligence Act being developed by the European Commission. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) advocate for a permanent ban on automated recognition of individuals in public spaces in addition to the use of private facial recognition databases such as those developed by companies including New York-based Clearview AI.  Continue reading European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes that allow customers to order and pay for food and drinks caught on in restaurants and appear to be here for good. Retail chains including CVS and Foot Locker have also added them as have marketers. Because QR codes can store digital information and open an app or website that tracks peoples’ personal information, they’re ideal for vendors looking to create their own customer databases. Consumers will soon be served customized offers marketed within QR code payment systems. Continue reading Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Google is relaunching its Google Pay digital wallet and online payment system for Android and iOS with a raft of new features including the ability to connect to the user’s bank account for a searchable overview of finances. The company also plans to partner with banks in 2021 to offer its Plex, an online checking and savings account within the app. This more fully-featured Google Pay can now serve as a direct competitor to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Venmo and other apps and services, as well as an online bank such as Ally. Continue reading Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Nintendo Reveals $199 Switch Lite With Built-In Controllers

Nintendo just unveiled the Switch Lite, designed as a handheld version, priced at $199 and due out September 20. The new unit, which will cost $100 less than the original, won’t be able to connect to the TV and its Joy-Con controllers are built-in. According to Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, the two systems “complement each other and co-exist in the marketplace.” The new unit is also much lighter and, with built-in controllers, feels more robust. A d-pad replaces the original directional buttons. Continue reading Nintendo Reveals $199 Switch Lite With Built-In Controllers

Ticketmaster Combats Ticket Fraud With New SafeTix Tech

It’s common for ticket resellers to use screenshots and photocopies of real tickets to sell in bunches to unknowing ticket buyers. To combat this fraud, Ticketmaster will start using a new technology called SafeTix, which is tied to a ticket holder’s mobile device via an encrypted barcode that refreshes every few seconds. Additionally, SafeTix supports NFC technology that allows fans to enter venues using a “tap and go” experience, and users will soon be able to use SafeTix via Apple Wallet on their iPhones and Apple Watches.

Continue reading Ticketmaster Combats Ticket Fraud With New SafeTix Tech

Google Adopts Open-Source, Secure Password-Less Logins

The FIDO Alliance, a consortium for open source authentication standards, is trying to make passwords obsolete, expanding its secure login protocols. Its efforts were boosted by Google’s announcement that it added certified support for the FIDO2 standard, impacting the vast majority of devices running Android 7 or later. That means owners of these Android 7-based devices should be able to log in seamlessly without passwords on mobile browsers such as Chrome. Websites can now be designed to interact with FIDO2 management. Continue reading Google Adopts Open-Source, Secure Password-Less Logins

Google, Yubico Security Keys May Lead to End of Passwords

Swedish-based Yubico, in business for 10 years, debuted its latest online security product, YubiKey 5, a device that plugs into a computer to authenticate the user with a “handshake” that is more secure than a password or authentication code. Google has come out with a similar device, the Titan Key. Both devices can also be used with some smartphones, by plugging into a port or via a wireless communication. These keys are the first arrivals in an Internet security strategy that might displace the password. Continue reading Google, Yubico Security Keys May Lead to End of Passwords

Google Redesigns its Wear OS, Streamlines the Smart Watch

Google is readying the release of its new, third version of Wear OS, which has been updated to be a speedy, inconspicuous platform rather than “Android on a smart watch.” It doesn’t feature any obvious improvements to battery life, but that’s an overall problem in the industry, not a Google shortcoming. According to Wear OS director of product Dennis Troper, users who are connected all the time will be able to be more present in the real world, similar to the goals of the company’s Digital Wellbeing initiative. Continue reading Google Redesigns its Wear OS, Streamlines the Smart Watch

Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

At the Berlin trade show IFA this year, manufacturers showed smart speakers that incorporate voice assistants from Amazon and Google. Sony debuted its LF-S50G, one of the first third-party products, including Google Assistant and offering 360-degree sound and a digital clock, due out in December for $200. Another rival is the $250 Harman Kardon Allure, which offers Amazon’s Alexa and features ambient lighting that keeps the music’s beat. In addition, JBL’s new LINK series features three wireless speakers with Google Assistant and Chromecast support. Continue reading Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Fitbit will debut its first true smartwatch, the $300 Ionic, in October. This new gadget, however, is focused on the company’s core competency — fitness — although it still offers typical smartwatch functionalities, including music, mobile payments and push notifications. Since Fitbit views health and fitness as the killer app, the Ionic offers an expanded range of health-oriented functions. Fitbit co-founder/chief executive James Park said the decision to take this tack was because he saw that consumers have been confused about the purpose of smartwatches. Continue reading Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Tech Firm Is First to Offer Employees Implantable RFID Chips

A Wisconsin-based technology company, Three Square Market, is offering its employees the chance to have a microchip injected between their thumb and index finger. The grain-of-rice sized chip, once injected, will allow an employee to swipe her hand to pay for food in the cafeteria, enter the office building or accomplish any other task involving RFID technology. Though the implant might sound like overreach, more than 50 of the company’s 80 employees have signed up for the implant when it is first offered on August 1. Continue reading Tech Firm Is First to Offer Employees Implantable RFID Chips

Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

Ticketmaster has partnered with LISNR, a data-over-audio company, to use an ultrasonic sound technology on users’ smartphones to admit them to live events and track their movements. The technology, dubbed “smart tones,” transmits information between devices, and was recently used by Jaguar Land Rover so that mobile devices in different vehicles could communicate with one another. Ticketmaster is launching a new e-ticketing system called Presence, powered by LISNR tech, that it hopes will reduce entry wait times at live events. Continue reading Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

WWDC: Apple Unveils Product Updates and New HomePod

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off yesterday in San Jose, California. During his keynote, CEO Tim Cook noted that 5,300 developers from 75 countries were attending this year’s conference. Among the more noteworthy announcements, Apple shared information regarding its High Sierra macOS update; iOS 11 with improved Siri (including language translation), iMessage features, and Core ML to make machine learning easier; a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro (starting at $649, available next week); a beefed-up iMac Pro; a completely redesigned App Store; and an Echo-like smart speaker called HomePod (shipping in December for $349). Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils Product Updates and New HomePod

Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

To succeed in countries where large percentages of the population do not have bank accounts, Amazon is launching Amazon Cash, a new service that allows users to add cash to their Amazon accounts without incurring fees. Otherwise, to make cash purchases, such customers would have to buy an Amazon Gift Card or purchase a prepaid card. To access Amazon Cash between $15 and $500, the user requests a barcode, accessed through Amazon’s website mobile app or via text message, which is presented to a participating retailer. Continue reading Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts