TweakTown NewsRefine News by Category:
BlackBerry was one of the most popular smartphone providers in the world years ago, but it has slumped and is seeing many of its customers leave for other devices today. BlackBerry is trying to turn itself around and get some of the popularity it once enjoyed back and one of the ways it is doing that is by trying to turn itself into a provider for people who are security conscious.
To help build up its security chops BlackBerry has reportedly purchased a German security firm called Secusmart. Secusmart specializes in providing voice and data encryption and was partnered with BlackBerry in the past.
Smartphones from BlackBerry with the Secusuite software from Secusmart are in use in Germany already with government agencies. Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. "The acquisition of Secusmart underscores our focus on addressing growing security costs and threats ranging from individual privacy to national security," said BlackBerry chief John Chen.
GM has announced that it plans to add wireless smartphone charging to Cadillac vehicles in 2015. Not all vehicles will get the wireless charging option, but it will be available on 2015 Cadillac ATS sedan and coupe and on the 2015 CTS and 2015 Escalade.
Vehicles that have the wireless charging option will have a Powermat wireless charging pad inside the console of the vehicle. Drivers and passengers will be able to lay their compatible smartphone down on the mat to charge wirelessly.
GM says that the majority of wirelessly charging devices on the market would work with its Powermat option. While the phone is on the charging mat, drivers will still be able to answer and make phone calls using the vehicle's Bluetooth hands-free tech.
Rhapsody is a streaming music service that has been around for a long time now offering a wide range of music. This week the company has announced that it plans to expand into more locations including France and Latin America. The expansion into the new areas comes with deals in place with French operator SRF and Telefonica in Latin America.
Rhapsody has also noted that it has reached 2 million paying subscribers for its premium and unRadio internet radio service launched along with T-Mobile in the US. Rhapsody launched in 2001 and is currently facing stiff competition in the marketplace.
Segment leader Spotify now boasts 10 million paying subscribers putting it at about 5 times the size of Rhapsody. Rhapsody's subscriber numbers are on the increase with the firm announcing in April that it had 1.7 million paying customers.
The technology industry is no stranger to battery issues. Years ago a huge number of lithium ion batteries were recalled when notebooks started to catch fire while being used normally. A 13-year-old girl in North Texas woke recently to the smell of something burning and realized that her Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone was on fire.
The fire was intense enough that the entire mobile device melted, glass, plastic and all. You can hardly tell that the device was a smartphone in the images. The teen says that her phone fell under a pillow as she slept and her father thinks that the phone overheated leading to the battery catching fire.
Samsung has pointed out that the battery inside the smartphone that caught fire wasn't a Samsung unit; rather it was a replacement part from another supplier. Samsung also noted that it points out in materials included with the phone that covering the device with bedding or other material could start a fire.
The transition from military life to civilian life can be hard for some veterans. USAA is an insurance company that caters to veterans and their families and USAA will make the first consumer facing application of the IBM Watson cognitive computing technology.
Watson will be used to advise members of the military and families on the transition from military to civilian life. Watson is being used in a pilot program and USAA members will be able to ask questions to Watson that are related to the transition. Watson reportedly has analyzed and understands more than 3000 documents on topics that are exclusive to military transitions. Watson is designed to gain value and experience over time.
"This is a continuation of our journey to deliver meaningful advice to our members on digital platforms," Shon Manasco, executive vice president of member experience at USAA, said in a statement. "And it reinforces our commitment to finding innovative and distinctive ways to make our members' lives easier. Through this experience, we expect to learn how intelligent assistants like IBM Watson can help service members who may not know exactly where or how to start the daunting transition process."
Wireless carriers want to get away from offering big subsidies on smartphones and start financing out new devices for customers. Three of the major carriers already have plans in place to do that with AT&T Next, T-Mobile Jump, and Verizon Edge. Right now if you buy an iPhone in an Apple Store, you can only get a two-year contract plan or pay full price for an unlocked device.
That will be changing with Apples Stores gearing up to offer iPhone 5S and 5C smartphones via AT&T Next, T-Mobile Jump, and Verizon Edge. At the Apple Store Verizon Edge will break the phone purchase price up into 24 payments, AT&T Next breaks it into 20, and T-Mobile Jump breaks it into 24 payments.
One source says that these plans will be available at Apple Stores in an unspecified test market to begin with. After the issues are worked out, these plans will be offered at other stores later in 2014.
A document has leaked from Staples, the office supply store, that lists an Amazon Card Reader as a new product landing at the retail store next month. An Amazon Card Reader suggests that the ecommerce giant is getting a new mobile credit card processing platform.
Along with the Amazon Card Reader, the documents also show that Staples will start to sell a PayPal Here Mobile Card Reader and its own branded card reader. Documents suggest that the Amazon Card Reader will sell for $9.99 and it is expected to connect to a smartphone for processing.
Speculation is that the Amazon Card Reader might connect with the recently unveiled Amazon Wallet App that launched last week. Related rumors suggest that Amazon is working on other payment hardware including fingerprint scanners and more.
Fans of talk radio may be familiar with the app called Swell. It's rather like Pandora, but specifically for talk radio and the company behind the app had raised $7.2 million from investors. Word has surfaced from multiple sources that Apple has now purchased Swell for about $30 million.
Apple has been on a buying spree of late with the massive $3 billion purchase of Beats and another purchase of a book recommendation service called BookLamp. Swell is an app designed to make it easy to listen to talk radio and podcasts in your car.
With Apple purchasing Swell, the app will be shut down this week. That is definitely not good news for fans of the app, but Apple is likely to integrate the tech into one of its existing apps. Odds are Swell tech will be used to replace Apple's own Podcast app. A large portion of the Swell team will be joining Apple.
Google has been mapping tourist locations around the world for years now and puts the images it generates into virtual tours you can take via Google Maps. Reports have come in that indicate Google is now getting ready to make tours of Ellis Island and Liberty Island available for virtual tours.
Google has reportedly been collecting images of both islands in preparation to add the content to its online maps service. The images were taken by a Google backpack wearing man named Alberto Elias according to the NYT. The reason it's taken so long to get access to Liberty and Ellis islands is that the National Park Service operates them and a long process has to be worked through to gain access to the islands.
The Trekker backpack has 15 cameras along with GPS and a laser system on top that is used to measure the distance to objects. Liberty Island is a heavily visited landmark and the faces of those in the images will be blurred out before they are put online.
Crytek has been going some tough times lately, not paying its employees on time, key talent leaving, and more, but the German studio behind CryEngine and Crysis has finally made a formal statement to GamesIndustry.
The company said that it "has been in a transitional phase" as it changes from being a developer to an online publisher, something that requires considerable sums of money. Crytek said that it has secured the money required, and is better prepared for the long term, but added that "we won't be communicating further details about our developments and progress".