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Tech Information 14

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Dell reaches historic $67B deal with EMC
Dell says it will purchase data-storage provider EMC for $67 billion, which could put an end to conflict between EMC's management and activist investors. The deal would be the largest acquisition in the tech industry's history. Dell founder Michael Dell plans to help fund the buyout and stay on as CEO of the merged company. Bloomberg (10/12), Bloomberg (10/11), Financial Times (tiered subscription model) (10/12)

Sling TV brings upgraded UI to Amazon Fire, Android TV
Sling TV's updated user interface, with a redesigned channel guide and quick access to live and on-demand content, is now available on Android TV devices and Amazon's line of Fire streaming devices. Multichannel News (10/9)

Select members get first glimpse at Cortana for Xbox One
Microsoft plans to release its voice-activated assistant, Cortana, for Xbox One this year and is giving a few members of its preview program access even earlier than the planned beta release. Ubergizmo.com (10/11)

Vudu brings 1080p movie streaming to Android mobile screens
Engadget (10/11)

How Apple TV could alter the gaming landscape
Apple has sold more than 25 million Apple TVs, and the device's next iteration also functions as a gaming platform, given that the company is opening the App Store to game developers. Games will be controllable from iPads, iPhones and third-party devices, could attract all ages and skill levels and offer a glimpse at the future of gaming, Travis Hoium writes. The Motley Fool (10/11)

Android robot-phone is coming to Japan
A robot-shaped Android smartphone that can move its arms and legs, recognize faces and voices, and project photos and videos on any surface is coming to Japan next year. Made by Sharp, the RoBoHoN is a "phone in human shape, a phone that you feel like talking to, a phone that also wants to know you," the company claims. Tech Times (10/12)

Xiaomi CEO helps fund smart bike, eyes broader IoT category
Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun has helped electric smart bike maker Yunmake raise its first round of funding through Jun's investment firm. Jun is aiming to expand Xiaomi's reach beyond smartphones into a larger Internet of Things category, Stratechery analyst Ben Thompson has written. TechCrunch (10/12)

Hulu's app for VR devices is "ready to go"
Hulu is "ready to go" with its virtual reality application, which is slated to work with Samsung's Gear VR headset, Hulu's Tim Connolly said. The headset will launch in November. Hulu, Netflix and YouTube are all gearing up to make content available in VR. CNET (10/9)

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."
-- Abraham Lincoln,
16th US president

 

Sony knocks $50 off PS4 price
Sony cut $50 off the price of its PlayStation 4, landing the console at the same price at which rival Microsoft sells its Xbox One. The PS4 is now retailing in the US at $349.99, with game bundling options expected to be revealed before the holidays. USA Today (10/8), Wired.com (10/8), CNBC (10/8)

Netflix bumps standard subscription price by $1
Netflix has raised its standard subscription service price by $1, from $8.99 to $9.99 per month. The company anticipates spending $5 billion on content next year, up from $3 billion this year, which includes a $300 million deal with Disney and more Netflix original content, Miriam Gottfried writes. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (10/8), MediaPost Communications (10/8)

Logitech sets launch for $99.99 Multimedia Speakers
Ubergizmo.com (10/8)

Carmakers, tech firms work to standardize vehicle data
Representatives from Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, HERE, Inrix, TomTom and Robert Bosch met to discuss the standardization of vehicle data to enable global sharing. "The increasing interconnectivity of the vehicles is changing the automotive industry sustainably. A future without traffic accidents becomes more likely if as many participants as possible collaborate to enable cars to gain a comprehensive perception of their environment," said HERE's Ogi Redzic. MediaPost Communications (10/7), EE Times Europe (10/7)

Companies discuss the future of autonomous cars
Auto manufacturers and tech firms are racing to debut their driverless vehicles, but with different ideas of what they'll look like and how they'll function, writes Dawn Chmielewski. Nissan autonomous vehicle research head Maarten Sierhuis said at a Code/Mobile discussion that autonomous cars will allow drivers to take the wheel under certain circumstances. Qualcomm's Chris Borroni-Bird, discussed the obstacles carmakers will face with autonomous technology. Re/code (10/7)

PC shipments dropped in Q3 amid strong dollar, high prices
Gartner reported a 7.7% drop in worldwide PC sales for the third quarter, while IDC reported an 11% decline. Both firms said the decrease was influenced by a strong dollar that increased product prices and slow desktop sales, but Gartner says it sees "some signs for future stabilization and growth." Lenovo Group increased its leading market share to 20.3%, Gartner says. Bloomberg (10/8), Reuters (10/8)

Apple Pay to add Starbucks, Chili's
Apple's mobile payments technology is coming to Starbucks this year, with a full introduction across all the coffee purveyor's stores by the end of 2016. Also, Apple said KFC and Chili's restaurants will begin accepting Apple Pay next year. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (10/8), Reuters (10/9)

Amazon makes Internet of Things play with cloud-based service
Smart devices ranging from maintenance sensors to household items will be able to connect with Amazon Web Services' newly launched cloud-based service for the Internet of Things. AWS IoT makes Amazon a competitor in the Internet of Things field, which IDC projects will grow to a $1.7 trillion market in five years. Business Insider (10/9), ITProPortal.com (U.K.) (10/9)

"The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action in mind."
-- Frank Herbert,
writer

 

VR may be on the brink of a breakout
The Consumer Electronics Association reports that more than 40 vendors will demonstrate content for virtual reality platforms at CES 2016, 77% more than did so in 2015, as headset-makers such as Facebook's Oculus, Sony, Samsung and HTC make gaming their first VR frontier. Other verticals, including retail and Hollywood entertainment, could take advantage of the emerging tech as it starts to gain momentum, analysts say. Fortune (10/7)

UBeam lands $23.4M to extend its charge
UBeam, the maker of a transmitter that can wirelessly charge devices anywhere in a room with ultrasound waves, has landed $23.4 million from investors. The company is working on a phone case that will work with the charger, but it also wants to improve the technology so it can charge computers, TVs, hearing aids, and other sensors and mobile devices, Josh Constine writes. TechCrunch (10/8)

Gartner predicts next year's technology
Gartner forecasts a year of smart sensors, automated machines, data and increased communication between Internet-connected devices in its "Top Ten Strategic Technology Trends for 2016." Forbes (10/6)  

HP brings curved screens to PC with 34-inch all-in-one
Hewlett-Packard has introduced the 34-inch HP ENVY Curved All-in-One PC with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor starting at $1,800. Ubergizmo.com (10/7)

Jet.com drops membership fee after less than 3 months
Jet.com has waived its $50 annual membership fee, which was critical to the weeks-old startup's revenue and profit plan. The shift to a free membership model could mean reduced savings for shoppers, though product savings of about 5% are expected to remain through the company's Smart Cart offering. "Jet executives said the change will also fix an early perception that Jet was a discount site, which is not how it wanted to be perceived," Jason Del Rey writes. Re/code (10/7), Business Insider (10/7)

Samsung works to assure consumers following breach at subsidiary LoopPay
Samsung is responding to a breach of its recently acquired payment system, LoopPay, by working to minimize the implications of the hack on critical components of its popular Samsung Pay mobile wallet service. The company says the breach -- which occurred in March -- was an "isolated incident" that left personal payment data unscathed. BBC (10/8), The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (10/7)

Copycat Apple stores in Shenzhen, China, even fool some employees
Business Insider (10/7)

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."
-- Walter Bagehot,
journalist

 

Microsoft unleashes Band 2, Surface Book
Microsoft has announced a string of upcoming devices, including its second-generation fitness wearable, Band 2, and the HoloLens gaming device, which lets users hold holograms in their hands. The company also debuted its laptop-tablet hybrid, the Windows 10 Surface Book,

Panasonic readies 4K Blu-ray player
Panasonic is gearing up for the Nov. 15 release of its UltraHD Blu-ray disc player, which is expected to be the first such player to hit store shelves. The player will join Panasonic's 4K line of televisions and digital cameras and will be available first in Japan. TechHive/IDG News Service (10/6)

Vizio incorporates Dolby Vision into 4K TVs
USA Today (10/6)

Microsoft unveils 2 high-end Lumia phones
Microsoft put hardware front-and-center Tuesday in introducing a pair of premium Lumia smartphones. The push into making devices comes as Microsoft rolls out its Windows 10 software for phones on the new Lumia 950 and 950 XL handsets, which will be exclusively distributed by AT&T in the US. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (10/6), The Verge (10/6), CNET (10/6)

Synaptics wants to bring 3D touch to Android
Synaptics introduced its ClearPad 3700 technology Tuesday. The company hopes the tech will make it into Android smartphones and make those touch screens sensitive to pressure, similar to the 3D Touch technology Apple recently unveiled with the launch of the iPhone 6S. Synaptics' Kevin Barber said force sensitive smartphones "will soon become the norm." 9to5Google (10/6), TheNextWeb.com (10/7), Ars Technica (10/6)

Verizon signs on for Samsung Pay, rollout date remains unclear
The Verge (10/6)

Gatorade taps VR for baseball game video experience
Gatorade immerses consumers in a baseball game using 360-degree GoPro technology in a virtual-reality video. It's the latest brand venture into VR, with others including a Mountain Dew campaign that features extreme sports and a Volvo video that puts consumers in the driver's seat virtually. The Motley Fool (10/4)

Report: 6 tech companies in world's most valuable brand top 10
Apple is the world's most valuable brand with an estimated worth of $170 billion, followed by Google valued at $120 billion, per Interbrand. Four other tech companies also made the top 10 -- Microsoft, IBM, Samsung and Amazon. Digiday.com (10/5), TWICE (10/5)

Roku 4 streams video in 4K, turns smartphone into a remote
Roku announced Tuesday that the Roku 4 streaming device, which can stream 4K content and turn a smartphone into a remote, will ship this month for around $130. The streaming company, which is up against Amazon, Apple and Google in the over-the-top streaming market, is also planning a software overhaul for iOS and Android to simplify search and other features. HD Guru (10/6), CNET (10/6), Fast Company online (10/6)

Philips Hue smart lights can take cues from Siri
Philips Hue and Apple have teamed up to let iPhone users control their Philips Hue smart lights through Siri voice commands. The lighting company announced integration with Apple's Homekit in June, and the Hue Bridge 2.0, which makes the connection possible, goes on sale today. Engadget (10/5)

Bud Light's smart fridge signals when it's time to stock up
USA Today (10/5)

Russia sets deadline for Google to unbundle apps
Russian regulators have given Google until Nov. 18 to stop bundling its applications on Android phones, saying deals with smartphone-makers have put the country's Yandex search engine at a disadvantage. Google could face a fine equal to 15% of the revenues from the preinstalled apps. Bloomberg (10/5), Re/code (10/5)

Tech firms tout concept of batteries run by software
Microsoft, Tesla Motors and other technology companies are advocating the use of operating-system software to manage multiple batteries in a device, making those batteries more energy efficient, they say. The concept is called software-defined batteries. PCWorld (10/2)

Visa exec sees biometrics as next path for US payments
Biometrics can create more secure point-of-sale transactions, but moving the technology into the mainstream will be a challenge, says Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of Risk Products and Business Intelligence at Visa. "There are people who feel strongly that if your biometric is stolen it is irreplaceable. ... But our goal at Visa is to make sure when we use biometrics at the point of sale or in payments there's adequate security standards in place so that the data is encrypted and if it is stolen it can't be reused," he says. Pymnts.com (10/2)

GameStop to stock Steam Machines
The Verge (10/5)

"There can be no courage unless you're scared."
-- Eddie Rickenbacker,
fighter pilot and business leader

 

Microsoft buys 3D gaming tech
Microsoft has snapped up video game technology company Havok from Intel for its expertise in 3D graphics as gaming turns toward virtual and augmented reality, Alex Wilhelm and Ron Miller write. Microsoft touts Havok as the "leading provider of 3D physics." TechCrunch (10/2)

Disney works toward augmented reality app for 3D coloring books
Disney is working on making coloring books come to life on a mobile device with an augmented reality application that shows flat images in 3D while children are coloring. Gizmodo (10/2)

How Xbox One users can reprogram controller buttons
An upcoming Microsoft software update will let Xbox One users reprogram the buttons on a controller for a more customized fit, Dante D'Orazio writes. The Verge (10/4)

"NBA 2K16" sets one-week franchise records
Visual Concepts set multiple franchise records with the release of "NBA 2K16," selling 4 million units in one week, tripling the number of online games and doubling digital sales, Dan Pearson writes. GamesIndustry.biz (U.K.) (10/2

Motorola dumps "extraneous" add-ons to make room for "Marshmallow"
Motorola Mobility's move to adopt Android "Marshmallow" will result in the Lenovo unit eliminating some features it had introduced on its devices, such as Motorola Assist, Connect and Migrate. Those add-ons are now extraneous, given the features offered on the new Android platform, Motorola noted on its blog. Greenbot (10/2)

Google, Mattel give classic View-Master toy a VR twist
Google and Mattel are teaming up to make the classic View-Master toy into a kid-friendly virtual reality headset. The Mattel-made case pops open to house a smartphone, and the augmented reality experience runs on Google's Cardboard platform, delivering a toy that costs around $30 to get started. VentureBeat (10/4)

Apple may be exploring possibilities of a future smart ring
Daily News (New York) (10/4)

Apple Pay fails so far to shake up the payments world
Apple Pay hasn't quite taken off the way the company anticipated, accounting for only about 1% of US retail transactions a year after it was introduced, Aite Group says. Lack of promotion and scarcity of compatible sales terminals are among the reasons cited for the muted reception. Bloomberg (10/5)

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."
-- Vince Lombardi,
football coach

 

LG's 2nd-gen Watch Urbane lets users leave their phones at home
LG has announced that its second-generation Watch Urbane will come with 4G and 3G cellular connectivity, allowing the wearer to use the device without being tethered to a nearby smartphone. The smartwatch will also tout Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and will launch first in the US and Korea. Wireless Week (10/1)

Samsung speakers disperse sound in all directions
Samsung is adding three new cylindrical, Wi-Fi-connected speakers to its Radiant lineup this month starting at $199. The speakers disperse sound in a "360-degree pattern" and can pair with other products loaded with Samsung's wireless multiroom technology, Joseph Palenchar writes. TWICE (9/30)

Multiuse connected cars drive Ford's future
Ford Motor Co. is demonstrating how data from connected cars can monitor employee travel, lower insurance premiums for safe drivers, check brake wear, improve traffic flow and otherwise enhance use of the streets. Electric bicycles with data sensors to measure vehicular and pedestrian movement also are part of Ford's connectivity push. Fortune (9/30)

GM working on app to enable remote control of car doors
The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (10/1)

Google looks to build a bigger Nest
Google's Nest plans to open a Works with Nest store next month, and Google is offering tools to developers for products that can work with the Nest thermostat. The move supports Google's idea of how Nest fits into the "thoughtful home." USA Today (10/1)

NuVo Wi-Fi audio systems can now skip the gateway
Legrand's NuVo Player Portfolio systems can now be connected directly to a router, skipping the need for an IP gateway. CEPro.com (10/1)

Amazon to drop Apple TV, Google Chromecast
Amazon will cut Apple TV and Google Chromecast streaming devices from its online store on Oct. 29. Amazon will continue to sell Roku, Xbox One and PlayStation consoles that integrate Amazon's Prime Video service. Bloomberg (10/1), MarketWatch (10/1)

Report: Amazon offers the highest discounts
EcommerceBytes (10/1)

"He who rejects change is the architect of decay."
-- Harold Wilson,
former UK prime minister

 

 

Tech firms to Obama: Give up on access to encrypted data
A coalition of tech companies and privacy advocates have called on the White House to give up on its support of "backdoor" methods to gain access to encrypted communications for law enforcement purposes. The White House has so far reportedly only slowly backed away from its support of guaranteed access. The Hill (9/30)

Epson unveils $360 portable projector for bigger screens
Epson has unveiled a portable projector that works indoors and outdoors, and can light up a screen as big as 300 inches, 25 times bigger than a 60-inch TV, Caleb Denison writes. The Powerlite Home Cinema 640 will be in stores soon for $360. Digital Trends (9/30)

Netflix is on its way to Spain, Portugal, Italy this month
Broadband TV News (10/1)

Microsoft, Google come to terms in patent war
Google and Microsoft have settled their patent differences and have agreed to drop roughly 20 pending legal actions, some of which involved Google's former Motorola Mobility unit. Also, the companies have agreed to work together on technologies after fighting over patents related to cellphones, wireless networking and the Xbox gaming system. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (9/30), Bloomberg (9/30)

Google buys Jibe in hopes of making RCS a messaging standard
ZDNet (9/30)

Alcatel unveils new smartphone, smartwatch
Alcatel has debuted two new devices, the "Go Play" Android Lollipop smartphone and "Go Watch" rugged fitness band. Devices will be sold separately, or paired in a package for around $300, Lauren Keating writes. Tech Times (9/30)

MediaTek helps link iPhones and the connected home
MediaTek has produced kits to allow software writers to develop tools that will enable homeowners to control their appliances and garage doors with their iPhones. "In this industry, we think about the Internet of Things -- whether it's smart home, wearables -- for semiconductors, that's next," MediaTek's Jeffrey Ju said. Bloomberg (9/30)

Amazon recruits drivers for 2-hour delivery service
Amazon is seeking to hire Seattle-based drivers for $18 to $25 an hour, to deliver "Prime Now" orders around the city using their own cars -- a strategy taken from Uber's playbook. Prime Now offers free two-hour delivery or paid one-hour delivery and is available to Prime members in 13 cities. TWICE (9/29)

"The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud."
-- Coco Chanel,
fashion designer

 




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