Microsoft is Scaling Back its Consumer Smartphone Business

Two years ago, Nokia announced that it had sold its mobile phone and smartphone businesses to Microsoft in a $7.2 billion deal. Since then, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shifted the company’s focus to bringing software and services to Android and iOS mobile systems rather than convincing consumers to use Windows. Last week, Microsoft announced it was selling its low-end feature phone business, and yesterday added it would further scale back consumer phone efforts and cut another 1,850 jobs. The company explained it would also take a $950 million charge as part of the move. Continue reading Microsoft is Scaling Back its Consumer Smartphone Business

Microsoft Unveils New Devices with Emphasis on Windows 10

During a product unveiling in New York last week, Microsoft introduced new devices including a Surface Book laptop, the company’s latest Surface Pro tablet, big-screen Lumia smartphones that plug into displays for PC capabilities, and a $249 wearable fitness band. The press event also showcased Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset. While a focus on CE devices represents a shift for the software giant, hardware serves an integral role in a new corporate strategy that revolves around the Windows 10 operating system, designed to run on a variety of different devices. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils New Devices with Emphasis on Windows 10

Fan TV App Offers TV and Movie Discovery for Cord Cutters

Fan TV has launched a revamped mobile app that works as a discovery engine to help users keep track of the TV shows and movies they want to watch via streaming services or as paid downloads. To find a show or movie, users simply search the title and the app runs a query across the 44 different services that it tracks. If not readily available, the search is stored and users receive an update at a later date when a title has become available. The company also has a $149 device with a touch remote that combines live TV, VOD and streaming services. Continue reading Fan TV App Offers TV and Movie Discovery for Cord Cutters

BitTorrent Launches Sync as New Alternative to Cloud Services

BitTorrent has developed a data sharing service called Sync that lets users share and sync files between devices without having to store any information on remote servers. Powered by BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer file-sharing technology, Sync reportedly transmits data between devices 16 times faster than today’s cloud services. Because there is no cloud, there are no user accounts or passwords either. Free and paid versions of Sync are now available on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and Windows Phone.  Continue reading BitTorrent Launches Sync as New Alternative to Cloud Services

VLC Upgrade Adds In-App Extensions Store, Android TV Support

The VideoLAN Organization has released an upgraded VLC 2.2.0 open source video player with some notable new features. VLC for Linux, Mac and Windows now includes an in-app extensions store, in-app subtitle downloads, resume playback functionality, and support for interactive Blu-ray menus. Resume playback has been available on mobile versions, but is now offered on the desktop. VideoLAN has also added support for Android TV, Windows Phone and Windows RT. VLC 3.0.0 is scheduled for release later this year. Continue reading VLC Upgrade Adds In-App Extensions Store, Android TV Support

Disney Movies Anywhere App Available for iOS and Android

The Disney Movies Anywhere app, which launched for iOS and the iTunes Store earlier this year, will now be available for Android and Google Play. Consumers who purchase Disney, Pixar, or Marvel Universe movies via Google Play will have their content automatically added to an account to be joined by anything they have purchased on iTunes or redeemed using digital copies that come with DVDs and Blu-rays. Interestingly, movies purchased via iTunes will appear in the Google Play app and vice-versa. Continue reading Disney Movies Anywhere App Available for iOS and Android

Flipboard Mobile App Focuses on Personalization, Navigation

Flipboard has grown popular as a personalized digital magazine, allowing users to flip through articles from multiple sources across 30,000 topics. While Flipboard was initially designed for Apple’s iPad, the phone app is now used by 70 percent of its users. Flipboard’s acquisition of Zite has introduced the ability to easily recommend personalized articles in more specific subjects. Now, Flipboard 3.0 is available for tablets and smartphones running iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Continue reading Flipboard Mobile App Focuses on Personalization, Navigation

Microsoft Opens The Garage, Unveils Wild Ideas of Employees

Microsoft recently launched a new section on its website to provide the public with access to various projects in development. Microsoft Garage started in 2009 within the Office Labs group as a place for employees to work on innovative new ideas. Until last week, The Garage was largely an internal effort that supported side projects, hackathons and science fairs. The Garage is now offering public access to 16 free consumer-facing apps across Android, Android Wear, iOS, Windows Phone and Xbox One. Continue reading Microsoft Opens The Garage, Unveils Wild Ideas of Employees

Simple.tv DVR Streams Live and Recorded TV to Mobile Devices

For over-the-air recording, Simple.tv offers plenty of perks for cord cutters. The set-top box will not only stream video content to desktops and mobile devices, but also other set-top streamers such as Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku. The device can run up to five streams at once and recorded TV shows can be downloaded for offline viewing. However, Simple.tv comes at a steep price: $200 for the box, $60 to $150 for the subscription, and at least $50 for the hard drive. Continue reading Simple.tv DVR Streams Live and Recorded TV to Mobile Devices

Microsoft to Pay $2.5 Billion for Mojang, Maker of ‘Minecraft’

Microsoft has agreed to purchase Mojang, the Swedish company responsible for developing the world-building computer game “Minecraft.” The $2.5 billion cash deal, expected to be completed later this year, will bring the immensely popular title — and the Stockholm-based Mojang team — to Microsoft Studios, which publishes blockbuster game series such as “Fable” and “Halo.” “Minecraft” is currently the most popular online game on Xbox, and the top paid app for iOS and Android in the U.S. Continue reading Microsoft to Pay $2.5 Billion for Mojang, Maker of ‘Minecraft’

Millennials Represent the Largest Number of Smartphone Users

Millennials have more smartphones than any other age group in the U.S., currently at 85 percent. Statistics show that nearly 43 percent of these users opt for iPhones while 52 percent prefer Android devices. The choice to use Android is based on cost rather than software or hardware. Millennials spend 37 hours per month on their phones, most commonly engaged with social networking, entertainment and messaging. Users 25 to 44 use the most apps, an important statistic for developers. Continue reading Millennials Represent the Largest Number of Smartphone Users

Nokia Plans to Spin-Off MixRadio Music Service as Standalone

As a result of Microsoft’s recent downsizing, Nokia has plans for its MixRadio streaming service to become a standalone company. While the app will still be included in handsets running Windows Phone software, MixRadio will now have the opportunity to pursue other platforms including iOS and Android. MixRadio offers themed playlists — online and through an app — free with no advertising. The service also provides users with an option to pay monthly for enhanced features. Continue reading Nokia Plans to Spin-Off MixRadio Music Service as Standalone

Celebrities Can Interact with Fans via Facebook Mentions App

Facebook Mentions is a new iOS app that encourages “actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers” to interact with their fans. It is essentially a more straightforward way for verified accounts with cluttered activity to manage their public figure pages. On the app, these users have a facilitated process for accessing their mentions and responding to them, along with allowing users to view conversations they follow and general trending topics.
Continue reading Celebrities Can Interact with Fans via Facebook Mentions App

Amazon Announces its Kindle Unlimited, the Netflix for Books

Amazon announced its new Kindle Unlimited, a $9.99 per month unlimited reading and listening service that provides access to more than 600,000 Kindle books and thousands of audiobooks from Audible. It will be available for the Kindle as well as iOS and Android mobile devices through the Amazon Kindle app. Analysts suggest that the service, which will compete with existing ebook subscription services Scribd and Oyster, could spark as much as $1 billion in growth for Amazon. Continue reading Amazon Announces its Kindle Unlimited, the Netflix for Books

Microsoft Makes Opera Default Browser on Android Handset

Microsoft has unveiled its first Android smartphone, the mid-range Nokia X2 Dual SIM, and has made Opera the handset’s default Web browser. The $135 Linux-based device features a 4.3-inch WVGA display, 5-megapixel camera (with LED flash and autofocus), 1GB of RAM and a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor. With a tiles-based home screen similar to Windows Phone, the X2 comes with preloaded services such as Skype, Outlook, OneDrive, HERE Maps and the ad-free MixRadio. Continue reading Microsoft Makes Opera Default Browser on Android Handset

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