Microsoft’s Smartwatch Allegedly Launching Within Weeks

by Istvan Fekete on October 20, 2014

Microsoft is about to enter the wearable device market: the software company is preparing to launch a smartwatch that will measure the wearer’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms, Forbes has learned.

One of the outstanding features of the Microsoft smartwatch will be its battery life, according to people familiar with the matter: more than two days of regular use. That would put it ahead of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Motorola’s Moto 360, which both need to be charged once a day.

The Microsoft smartwatch will allegedly hit the stores shortly after the announcement, in about two weeks or so, according to Forbes’ sources. By launching the wearable now, Microsoft will capture the lucrative holiday shopping season. Apple, however, is targeting an early 2015 launch, as it needs to add finishing touches to the Apple Watch.
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The Forthcoming U.S. Wireless Spectrum Auction and You

by Matt Klassen on October 20, 2014

Wireless spectrum: It is to the wireless industry what oil is to the automotive industry, a finite resource that serves as the lifeblood of the modern conveniences we hold most dear. While I’ll admit that writing about the radio waves designated to transmit data over the air from your smartphone to the Internet isn’t the most engaging topic in the world, as the U.S. government stands poised to hold its first wireless spectrum auction in six years, it’s something you might want to pay attention to.

If you’ve ever followed the ins and outs of the wireless industry over the last decade you’ll no doubt have come across the ongoing discussion regarding spectrum, a resource wireless carriers insatiably crave for the simple fact that employing more bandwidth, that is, controlling more radio frequencies dedicated to data transmission, means better networks, better networks means faster service, and of course, faster service means faster delivery of your latest streaming video binge.

The forthcoming auction, announced for November, is therefore important for several reasons: First, it’s a huge revenue generator for the American government, as billions of dollars will be in play as the country’s wireless carriers bid on the newly available spectrum. Second, the outcome has the potential to shift the balance of power in the wireless market, as lesser lights like T-Mobile and Sprint have the opportunity to make up some ground on their larger rivals Verizon and AT&T. Finally, it matters to you specifically because as I mentioned, more spectrum means better, stronger wireless service resulting in better performance not only for our smartphones and tablets, but for everything in the growing Internet of Things.

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Apple Introduces iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3, and Announces Apple Pay Availability

by Istvan Fekete on October 17, 2014

Following the iPhone and Apple Watch event in September – which cost the company more than $1 million, by the way – Apple was back yesterday with another important milestone: the release of the updated iPads and other products.

The second-generation iPad Air is being marketed as the thinnest tablet available. Fact is, it is only 6.1 mm thick, but it is the most powerful iPad Apple has ever made. The full-sized tablet weighs less than a pound, and features an improved Retina Display and, more importantly, it packs a powerful A8X chip designed especially for this iPad and Touch ID.

“iPad is a magical piece of glass that runs more than 675,000 apps specifically designed for it, and is thin and light enough that you can comfortably hold it all day; the new iPad Air 2 is packed with amazing new innovations, weighs less than a pound, and at just 6.1 mm is the thinnest tablet in the world,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “iPad Air 2 has a new Retina display with anti-reflective coating, second generation 64-bit A8X chip, all-new iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, faster Wi-Fi and LTE wireless, and includes the revolutionary Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor.”
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Wireless Providers might take a Shine to New Controls over Mobile Advertising

by Matt Klassen on October 17, 2014

With technology companies occupying more and more of the telecom industry’s traditional territory it’s no wonder wireless providers are feeling like little more than “dumb pipes,” providing the network framework on which the tech industry makes its money but really seeing none of the profits. To this point, in fact, wireless providers have had no recourse against this seemingly inexorable shift, watching their roles shift from the kings of the communication market to nothing more than faceless data middlemen.

Whether it is mobile payments, advertising, or even the voice and text communication the wireless industry was built on, tech companies have found a way to deliver such services to their customers using the providers’ wireless networks, but otherwise cutting them out of the process (and associated revenues) entirely.

But if perhaps you were feeling sorry for those beleaguered wireless providers, an Israeli start-up named Shine Technologies may have offered the telcos their first real weapon in fighting the tech companies, creating AdSight, a product that allows carriers to monitor (and block, if need be) advertising being delivered over their network; the only hitch, it may conflict with Net Neutrality.

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Telus’ Wireless Data Speed Statistics Misleading, Say Industry Critics

by Istvan Fekete on October 16, 2014

Telus recently stated at a CRTC hearing that Canadians enjoy the second-fastest wireless data speeds in the world. Also, Telus – just like the other two incumbent players – believes that regulating the wholesale wireless market to stimulate competition could lead to inferior service and negatively affect the current state of the Canada’s high-quality wireless networks.

The incumbents pointed to Europe as a negative example: wholesale regulation in Europe has led to depressed investment levels, poor-quality networks, and a digital deficit, said Ted Woodhead, Telus’s senior vice-president of federal government and regulatory affairs.

But there is a tiny piece of information Telus forgot to mention when proclaiming Canada’s superior mobile Internet connection speeds as the second-fastest in the world.
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Google Grows Phablet Market with Gigantic Nexus 6

by Matt Klassen on October 16, 2014

Bigger than a phone, smaller than a tablet, hybrid phablet devices continue to be a surprisingly successful niche in the mobile market, evidenced by the release of Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, and now Google’s own form factor bending Nexus 6, a colossal 6-inch smartphone.

To that end, the search engine giant held its own glitzy release event this week, unveiling its new Nexus 9 tablet, the aforementioned Nexus 6 phablet, and its Android 5.0 upgrade, dubbed Lollipop. It’s clear that the Motorola-made Nexus devices are designed solely around this latest Android upgrade, par for the course with anything Google actually puts its name on. But this time, however, it looks like Google is actually interested in making some money, evidenced by the $649 price tag for the Nexus 6, far and away the most expensive Nexus device to date.

The only question I continue to ask is how big is too big when it comes to phablets? With only one inch now separating the largest smartphones from the smallest tablets, will the two genres continue to blur into one, particularly as the popularity in stand alone tablets continues to wane while the interest in phablets only continues to grow?

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Google Uncovers Web Encryption Vulnerability That Opens “Encrypted” Data to Hackers

by Istvan FeketeOctober 15, 2014

If you have placed your bet on a safe Internet, you may want to think again: as it turns out, the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption we have relied on for secure communication on the Internet, isn’t as safe as we initially thought it was. Google researchers unveiled yesterday that they have found a bug [...]

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Flight Attendants Sue over In-Flight Mobile Usage

by Matt KlassenOctober 15, 2014

At the time it was seen as a radically progressive revision, the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision almost a year ago to allow the use of mobile devices on board aircraft during flight; a forward-thinking change to a longstanding ban on wireless electronics while flying. But while passengers lauded the decision, and the subsequent follow-up by [...]

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SaskTel Releases Transparency Report 2013

by Istvan FeketeOctober 14, 2014

SaskTel is the next telco in line to publicly release the first transparency report for 2013 since the eavesdropping scandal unveiled that government and police agencies request information about customers. The transparency report details the number and different types of requests SaskTel received in 2013. Although its customers’ privacy is important and the company takes [...]

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Microsoft CEO Inadvertently Shines Light on Gender Inequality

by Matt KlassenOctober 14, 2014

Late last week Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella inadvertently revealed the lingering presence of the gender gap in today’s workplace, stepping in a steaming pile of controversy when he suggested that women shouldn’t ask for raises, but rather trust that the system will take care of them. What was even worse for Nadella is that his [...]

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