Lenovo Introduces Project Tango Smartphone, Modular Moto Z

Chinese company Lenovo just introduced two new smartphones: Phab 2 Pro, based on Google’s Project Tango, which measures and maps surrounding objects and spaces, and Moto Z handsets that feature interchangeable, snap-on modules. The Moto Z handsets, which come out of Lenovo’s 2014 purchase of Motorola Mobility, already offer three “Moto Mods” – an extra speaker, a projector for presentations and an expanded internal battery. The company will make a reference kit available for developers to build other Moto Mods. Continue reading Lenovo Introduces Project Tango Smartphone, Modular Moto Z

Global Smartphone Sales Slow, India and China Still Promising

Research firm Gartner states that global smartphone sales will dip into single digits following a continued slowdown. The company expects sales to grow 7 percent this year, reaching 1.5 billion units, down from 14.4 percent growth in 2015. In the mature markets of North America, Western Europe, Japan and parts of Asia/Pacific, smartphone penetration is now at 90 percent. That, along with consumers in these regions not replacing or upgrading phones as quickly as before, are the root causes of the slowdown. Continue reading Global Smartphone Sales Slow, India and China Still Promising

Google’s Virtual Products Could Upend Traditional Ad Models

Google is building technologies that rely less on physical devices: Google Home and its virtual assistant; Project Jacquard, clothing with computing built into the yarn that responds to gestures and voice commands; and Project Soli, that allows gestures to control computers. Also new is Project Ara, a smartphone design that “surrounds” the user wherever she goes, which chief executive Sundar Pichai calls “ambient computing.” What’s unclear with the new paradigms, however, is how Google will generate revenue. Continue reading Google’s Virtual Products Could Upend Traditional Ad Models

European Commission Poised to Issue Major Fine to Google

The European Commission in Brussels is at the end of its seven-year investigation of Google and preparing to issue a record-breaking fine, expected to be about 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion). To date, the toughest fine the Commission has issued was 1.1 billion euros, levied at Intel. Inside sources say the announcement will likely come before the summer break, possibly as early as next week, and that the final amount hasn’t been decided upon, with the maximum possible at around 6.6 billion euros, or a tenth of Google’s total annual sales. Continue reading European Commission Poised to Issue Major Fine to Google

VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

For those looking for an affordable VR alternative, RiftCat has been busy developing an app called VRidge that streams virtual reality games from a PC to a smartphone over Wi-Fi. The beta is currently available for Android, but the company is also working on an iOS version. The most recent update added support for SteamVR and Razer’s open source OSVR project. The implications could be significant, especially when considering the cost of investing in a high-end VR headset, such as the $600 Oculus Rift or $800 HTC Vive, both of which still require a powerful PC starting in the $1,500 range. Continue reading VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

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

TiVo Unveils Roamio OTA with More Storage, More Features

In addition to the recent debut of its 4K-ready DVR, TiVo just unveiled the latest version of its Roamio, the OTA 1TB. With a 1TB hard drive, users can record up to 150 hours of HD programming and up to four shows at once, due to multiple tuners. The device can also bring in over-the-air (OTA) or broadcast programs from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and Univision via an HD antenna. Roamio OTA 1TB will also allow users to watch streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube. Continue reading TiVo Unveils Roamio OTA with More Storage, More Features

Wells Fargo Bets on Biometric Security to Replace Passwords

If Wells Fargo is right, the traditional password will be gone in five years. To prepare, the company has been mentoring startup EyeVerify in an accelerator program since 2014. This July, Wells Fargo will debut EyeVerify’s software to corporate clients. Those executives authorized to use commercial bank accounts will be able to use their iPhone camera to take a selfie, and the Eyeprint ID software built into the bank’s mobile app will read their eyes’ veins and other markers to match with a stored template. Continue reading Wells Fargo Bets on Biometric Security to Replace Passwords

YouTube Gaming Focuses on Live, Mobile Capture, 360 VR

YouTube’s gaming video site draws hundreds of millions of gamers watching 144 billion minutes of game videos every month, half of which are on mobile devices. YouTube Gaming content creators have posted videos on more than 25,000 games. The channel’s fans are 30 percent women, 30 percent over 34 years old and 47 percent parents. Now 11 years old, YouTube continues to evolve its gaming ecosystem, with a push to do more livestreaming of games, a new “mobile capture” feature and an emphasis on 360-degree VR game videos. Continue reading YouTube Gaming Focuses on Live, Mobile Capture, 360 VR

Government Says iPhone Unlocked, Apple No Longer Needed

The Justice Department revealed it has learned a way to unlock Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone without help from Apple. Farook was a gunman in the San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 people. The announcement stalls the legal standoff between the federal government and Apple; the Justice Department will withdraw its efforts to enlist the tech company’s help in the investigation. While the news suspends the privacy vs. security debate, at least temporarily, law enforcement’s ability to open the device without Apple’s assistance raises new concerns. Continue reading Government Says iPhone Unlocked, Apple No Longer Needed

Hulu Unveils its First VR App, Content for Samsung Gear VR

Hulu debuted an app for Samsung’s Gear VR now available in the Gear VR Oculus Store, the first of several VR apps for different platforms that the company plans to unveil. The app allows users to watch Hulu’s 2D TV/film content library in a 360-degree immersive environment, choosing from several settings (a living room, a big screen movie theater, a beach). Among original content is Hulu’s first VR film, “The Big One,” produced in partnership with Lionsgate and featuring Freddie Wong and his RocketJump brand. Continue reading Hulu Unveils its First VR App, Content for Samsung Gear VR

Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

Vizio is launching a SmartCast TV set and several soundbars and speakers, all based on Google Cast, the same technology as that company’s Chromecast streaming stick. With the SmartCast TV, the user can control streaming services directly from his or her phone, without a remote control. Vizio just introduced a companion Android app on Google Play that will allow volume control and other basic functions as well as a movie/TV show guide. One partner in the launch is Walmart’s video service Vudu. Continue reading Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

New Daily Talk Show from E! Now Livestreaming on Facebook

On March 21, the NBCUniversal-owned cable network E! debuted a daily live talk show — “Live From E!” — on Facebook Live. The show, which runs 15 to 20 minutes each weekday at 12:30 pm Eastern time, is shot with an Apple iPhone 6s Plus smartphone, and is also available on eonline.com and the E! Online app. The show represents a success for Facebook, which has been pitching TV networks, media companies, sports leagues (including the NFL) and celebrities to bring premium live content to its streaming service. Continue reading New Daily Talk Show from E! Now Livestreaming on Facebook

Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Shaping the Future

Although up until now, augmented reality has had an inauspicious debut — think Google Glass — it’s poised to transform how we interact with computers in the next two decades. AR now has technical limitations including a narrow field of view, less-than-ideal resolution and latency issues. Furthermore, the only way to interact with AR is via bulky glasses or helmets. But many experts believe that we are in the midst of a speedy evolution to the point where AR will enable us to project a virtual screen on every surface. Continue reading Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Shaping the Future

OpenCar Poised to Take On Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

INRIX, a Seattle-based company that offers connected car solutions, just purchased OpenCar, which describes itself as an “updateable application platform and developer ecosystem” for the auto industry. With both solutions on board, INRIX can compete head-on with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both aimed at auto manufacturers interested in integrating smartphone functionality in their vehicles. Ford, Volvo and BMW have confirmed they will integrate Apple and Google’s solutions into new models of their vehicles. Continue reading OpenCar Poised to Take On Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

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