This is the time of year for a product guide. I'm a big fan of products most people don't have that solve a specific work problem, as well as those that could make your life easier, more comfortable or more fun. I like to give gifts that people actually would use. In some cases, due to the cost, these may be things you'd buy only for yourself, a spouse, or a relative you really want to impress.
Tesla vs. Jaguar: The First Real Electric Car Track Shootout
November 26, 2018
I'm a longtime Jaguar fan. I've owned a ton of them over the years, and I've had both good and bad experiences with the cars. Currently I own two -- a 1970 XKE and a 2014 F-Type -- and they are about to get a sibling. I've ordered a new Jaguar I-Pace, which is the first legitimate challenger to Tesla, which surprised the automotive industry much like Apple surprised the mobile phone industry.
Google Shows Off New Android Dev Tools
November 13, 2018
Google has announced support for a range of new Android tools for application developers, chief among them the creation of a new support category for foldable devices. After years of speculation, it finally looks as though foldable screen smartphones are headed to market. Google's dev announcement followed closely on the heels of Samsung's announcement of a folding phone/tablet prototype.
Black Friday Deal Sprawl Grows
November 13, 2018
Although retailers are slating some outstanding deals for Black Friday, the shine of the once-feverish shopping day has diminished, as product discounts have started to appear earlier and earlier in the holiday season. Discounts formerly found exclusively on Black Friday -- and on its online equivalent, Cyber Monday -- gradually have migrated to earlier in the fall.
Mobile Phone Security: All You Need to Know
November 6, 2018
We rely on our phones to process and store reams of personal digital data. Our digital activities -- from checking bank balances to paying for a product with a tap of the screen, to sending friends and family messages over social media, to accessing work emails remotely -- have turned our phones into a goldmine of personal information. How secure is your mobile device?
The Rise of Activist Employees in the Tech Industry
October 22, 2018
Things have been changing at an almost unprecedented rate with regard to power structures. The last time I saw this happen was in the 1970s, when the EEOC took off. Suddenly a lot of the off-color, sexist and racist jokes that many executives regularly told could get them fired. A surprisingly large number of people got reassigned, fired, demoted, or otherwise punished.
Apple Unveils Trio of New iPhones
September 13, 2018
Apple unveiled three new iPhones at a Wednesday in Cupertino. Along with the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and iPhone XR, Apple introduced the Apple Watch 4. "Our mission started with personalizing technology for the desktop," said CEO Tim Cook, and it's "now personalizing it for every aspect of our lives." Apple aims "to put the customer at the center of everything we do," he added.
7-Eleven Gives Nod to Apple Pay, Google Pay
September 12, 2018
7-Eleven has begun accepting Apple Pay, and Google Pay at participating U.S. stores. The stores will add support for the services throughout this month. The convenience store chain has more than 66,000 stores in 17 countries worldwide; 11,800 are in the United States. "A 7-Eleven is a 'hit-and-get' kind of experience," noted Michael Jude, program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.
Trio of New iPhones Expected in September
August 28, 2018
Apple will release three new iPhones in September, according to a Monday report citing unnamed knowledgeable sources about the company's plans. Although all the phones will have edge-to-edge displays, like the iPhone X, only two reportedly will have OLED screens. Some Apple insiders have been referring to 2018 as an "S" year. Most of the phone's significant changes will be on the inside.
Galaxy Note9 Is Front and Center in Samsung's Connected World
August 10, 2018
Samsung unveiled its much-anticipated Galaxy Note9 Thursday at its Unpacked event in New York City. The company made several other announcements as well, as it presented its vision for a seamlessly connected world. "We are creating a galaxy of experiences that span not just devices and locations but platforms and brands," said DJ Koh, CEO of Samsung Electronics, at the event.
CVS Offers Doc Visits via Smartphone Video
August 9, 2018
CVS Health'a retail MinuteClinic on Wednesday announced MinuteClinic Video Visits, a new virtual healthcare offering designed to assist people with minor illnesses and injuries, skin conditions, and other wellness needs. The telehealth offering will provide 24/7 access to healthcare services via mobile devices. It is available for both Android and iOS in nine states and Washington, D.C.
Android Pie Is Filled with AI
August 8, 2018
AI plays a big role in Android 9, the latest version of Google's mobile OS. Called "Android Pie," it is designed to learn from its users' behavior, and apply those lessons to simplify and customize their phone experiences. Android 9 adapts to your life and the ways you like to use your phone," noted Sameer Samat, Google's vice president of product management for Android and Google Play.
Virus Attack on Chipmaker Could Delay Next iPhone
August 7, 2018
A computer virus over the weekend disrupted the operations of the Asian manufacturer that makes chips for the iPhone and other devices offered by top shelf high-tech companies. TSMC said that a virus outbreak Friday evening affected a number of computer systems and fab tools at its facilities in Taiwan. The incident likely will cause shipment delays and create additional costs.
Behind Apple's Trillion-Dollar Company Numbers
August 6, 2018
Apple is one of the most popular and powerful companies in the U.S., and last week it became the most valuable as well. That news brought back some personal memories of my time at IBM, when it was the most powerful and valuable technology company in the world. For a long time, it seemed virtually untouchable. However, IBM went off the rails, and by the early 1990s the stock had collapsed.
Earrings With Earphones and a Smartphone Bonanza
July 26, 2018
Swings Bluetooth Earrings with built-in earphones showcase a practical, clever idea for people with pierced ears. Swings certainly could fix the problem of losing Apple's expensive AirPods to the ether or having to root around in one's pockets or purse to find one's tangled-up headset. You can expect five hours of listening time out of the Swings on a single charge.
Mobile phone cameras are about to get a significant performance boost. Sony on Monday introduced a 48-megapixel sensor for cellphone cameras that measures less than one-third of an inch diagonally. The sensor is slated for release in September. To pack that many pixels into such tight quarters, Sony had to shrink their size to 8 microns. Shrinking pixel sizes usually results in performance degradation, not improvement.
Samsung plans to launch a foldable-screen smartphone early next year, according to reports, possibly priced around $1,500. It will resemble a book, with the main display inside the covers, said Ken Hyers, director of the emerging device strategies service at Strategy Analytics. The exterior will have a smaller notification display on the front, and a camera, or cameras, on the back.
New iOS Security Feature Ripe for Defeat
July 11, 2018
A new feature in iOS 11.4.1, which Apple released earlier this week, is designed to protect against unwanted intrusions through the iPhone's Lightning Port. However, the protection may be weak at best. The feature, called "USB Restricted Mode," disables data transfer through the Lightning Port after an hour of inactivity. In some cases, the phone might not charge, according to Apple.
The Dismal State of Healthcare IoT Security
June 25, 2018
The healthcare industry has been moving toward medical equipment connectivity to speed up data entry and recording, as well as improve data accuracy. At the same time, there has been a shift toward incorporating consumer mobile devices, including wearables. "The demand for connected devices has increased rapidly in recent years," noted Leon Lerman, CEO of Cynerio.
Fire Cubes, Home Theater Beams, and X-ray Cases
June 21, 2018
Amazon's latest gambit for taking over your living room is the Fire TV Cube. It works in much the same way as the Fire TV stick, but with the added impact this time around of stuffing in a smart speaker with the familiar tones of the Alexa voice assistant. You can use it to play whatever you want to see in up to 4K resolution from various streaming services.
iOS 12 to Provide Stronger 911 Location Help
June 19, 2018
iOS 12 automatically will share location data for iPhones used to make emergency calls. The system will use an IP-based data pipeline developed by RapidSOS to share location data from iPhones with 911 centers. "Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Apple plans to equip iOS 12 with USB Restricted Mode, which requires users to unlock their iPhone with their passcode before USB accessories can connect if the phone last was unlocked more than an hour earlier. The company included this feature in the developer versions of iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12. Apple will release USB Restricted Mode publicly in a future software update, it confirmed this week.
Apple Unveils New Siri Customization Tools at WWDC
June 5, 2018
The next version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 12, will include a new feature that allows you to customize the way Siri works with applications on phones and tablets. The announcement was one of the highlights at the kickoff of Apple's WWDC on Monday. Called "Siri Shortcuts," the feature lets a user define a phrase that will trigger a set of actions by the apps on a device.
Apple has ramped up production of its new 7-nanometer processor for its upcoming crop of iPhones. The new processor will be smaller, faster and more efficient than the 10nm processor in Apple's current iPhone line, according to a report. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, one of Apple's partners, has begun mass production of the chip, which is expected to be called the "A12."
How to Back Up iPhone Data to an External Drive
May 16, 2018
A recent incident reminded me of the importance of backing up one's phone regularly. Soon after carrying my recycling out to the curbside, I realized I had misplaced my 6-month-old iPhone. Cue brief panic, followed by deep concern that I'd somehow tossed my device into that transparent bag I'd left outside for the world to see. That led me to yelling "Hey, Siri" until the familiar chime sounded.
Android P Tackles Phone Addiction, Distraction
May 10, 2018
Google has revealed some major new features in the next version of its Android operating system for mobile devices. Now in public beta, the OS known as "Android P" includes features designed to address growing concerns about phone addiction and distraction. For example, a dashboard will show users how often, when and for how long they use each application on their phone.
Could BlackBerry Displace Apple?
April 30, 2018
I spent a day with BlackBerry last week and it brought back memories of how Apple displaced the company around a decade ago. I, like a lot of folks, thought what Apple was attempting was impossible. However, after the fact, it didn't even look difficult. BlackBerry largely has completed its pivot to software and services, but a wave of new phones from its partners suggests new possibilities.
Swedish Sounds, Cool Phones, and Smart Switches
April 17, 2018
Not quite content with furnishing every other aspect of our homes, IKEA has continued its push into smart home territory with its first Bluetooth speaker. The Eneby comes in two sizes: 8 x 8 and 12 x 12 inches. You can use it as a portable speaker with up to 10 hours of battery life with the optional $20 battery, and there's a handle for added portability.
Curves, Gestures May Be in iPhone's Future
April 5, 2018
Gesture control and a curved body may be in the iPhone's future. Apple has been experimenting with those features for the iPhone, and they could be ready for prime time in two to three years. Gesture control would allow a user to execute tasks without touching the screen. The technology could be used for more than just answering phone calls and opening apps, noted Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen.
Oh, look, it's a new flagship smartphone duo from Samsung. Shockingly enough, they're called the "Galaxy S9" and "Galaxy S9+." They have a similar appearance to the previous year's models, but there are also a few differences, such as a new camera and stereo speakers. There's a 960-frames-per-second slow motion mode, and there's the option to add music to clips or turn them into GIFs.