Posts Tagged ‘product news’

Intel May Turn Over Its Web TV Project to Verizon

October 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Shutterstock / Stokkete Intel’s efforts to break into the TV business may be coming to a close. Sources say the chipmaker is close to a deal to hand over control of Intel Media, the unit that has been trying to build a Web-based subscription TV service, to Verizon, the telco that already operates a pay TV service. People familiar with the talks say the two companies are in advanced negotiations. But it’s unclear whether Verizon would take control of the entire Intel Media unit, or if Intel would retain a piece of the Web TV project or a say in its operations. Intel and Verizon reps declined to comment. If Intel does end up getting out of TV, it will mark the end of an odd chapter in the company’s history. In January 2011, Intel hired Erik Huggers, the executive who had headed up Web video for the BBC, and Huggers began working on a plan to create an Intel-branded pay TV service, using an Intel-built set top box. That was a big departure for a company that doesn’t have a media background or sell anything directly to consumers. And lots of tech companies that do deal with media and consumers, from Apple to Google to Sony, have considered pay TV over the Web but have yet to figure it out. Still, by February of this year, Huggers was promising to deliver the service by the end of 2013 . Huggers eventually hired a team of 300 workers, built the box and created branding for the service, which was supposed to be called “ OnCue .” Thousands of Intel employees have been testing the service in their homes this year. But Intel was never able to secure the programming deals from TV networks it would need for a commercial launch. In July, new Intel CEO Brian Kraznich made cautious comments to reporters about Intel Media’s future.

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Big Fish and BlueStacks Partner to Let PC and Mac Gamers Download Android Titles

October 23, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Big Fish, the casual-games studio that runs a downloadable-games store , is adding mobile Android titles to that store by way of a new deal with app-virtualization company BlueStacks . The companies are pitching the partnership, announced at Casual Connect Kiev , as a new potential revenue stream for mobile-focused developers. Big Fish reports that it has served two billion game downloads since 2002.

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Sneaky Apps and Quiet TV Watching

October 23, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Q: I was surprised to see updates for some of my favorite apps say they can access my camera to take pictures or video at any time without my permission. Can they really take pictures or video from my camera? A: I wouldn’t use any app that could trigger the camera without your knowledge or at least implied consent each time. An app might legitimately be using the camera for tasks like scanning bar codes or business cards. But even so, it should be obvious and allow you to decide what to do. And if the app is one that should never need the camera, but says it wants to do so, don’t use it. Apple says it flags and rejects apps that use the camera without stating that the camera is part of the app’s functionality. Google doesn’t curate apps in advance and apps’ disclosures are generally stated all at once in a dense page at download. Q: I like the TV on at night, which drives my wife crazy. Is there a device that would attach to the TV and use Bluetooth to wirelessly send the audio to a set of earbuds so the main speakers could be muted? A: You can buy these either as just a transmitter or as a set that includes headphones—though I haven’t tested any of them and can’t recommend a model. One example is the Clear Sounds CLS-CS-Qlink Stereo TV Transmitter, which sells for $41 on Amazon. But be aware that with this or similar products, you may need an added-cost cable adapter to fit your TV’s audio-out jacks. Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.

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Microsoft Yanks Windows RT 8.1 Update

October 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Uh-oh — trouble already with Windows RT 8.1. On Saturday, Microsoft temporarily pulled the update from the Windows Store following reports that it was bricking some devices on which it was installed. This just two days after it was officially released. “Microsoft is investigating a situation affecting a limited number of users updating their Windows RT devices to Windows RT 8.1,” the company said in a statement posted to Microsoft Community . “As a result, we have temporarily removed the Windows RT 8.1 update from the Windows Store. We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and apologize for any inconvenience. We will provide updates as they become available.” Microsoft did not say how long Windows RT 8.1 will be unavailable. The company has not yet responded to a request for comment or provided further detail on the situation.

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Microsoft Yanks Windows RT 8.1 Update

October 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Uh-oh — trouble already with Windows RT 8.1. On Saturday, Microsoft temporarily pulled the update from the Windows Store following reports that it was bricking some devices on which it was installed. This just two days after it was officially released. “Microsoft is investigating a situation affecting a limited number of users updating their Windows RT devices to Windows RT 8.1,” the company said in a statement posted to Microsoft Community . “As a result, we have temporarily removed the Windows RT 8.1 update from the Windows Store. We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and apologize for any inconvenience. We will provide updates as they become available.” Microsoft did not say how long Windows RT 8.1 will be unavailable. The company has not yet responded to a request for comment or provided further detail on the situation.

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Apple Replacing Faulty MacBook Air Drives

October 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If you purchased a MacBook Air sometime between the beginning of this summer and last, Apple may owe you a new drive. Apple said this week that it is recalling some 64 gigabyte and 128GB flash storage drives that were used in MacBook Airs sold between June 2012 and June 2013. The company has issued a firmware update — MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.1 — that MacBook Air owners can use to determine whether or not their machines are affected. Drives found to be defective will be replaced for free.

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Acer Unveils Iconia W4 with Windows 8.1, Faster Processor

October 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

This morning, Microsoft began rolling out Windows 8.1 , the first major update to its Windows 8 operating system that was released last year. It’s available as an optional free download to current users. But of course, device manufacturers are also using it as opportunity to trot out new hardware. Joining Lenovo , Dell and others, Acer today introduced the Iconia W4, an eight-inch tablet running Windows 8.1. The tablet will start shipping in the U.S. this month and comes in two versions: A 32-gigabyte model for $330 and a 64GB model for $380. At first glance, the tablet doesn’t look all that different from the Iconia W3, which was released just a few months ago. But the company has made a few changes under the hood that hopefully address some of the issues of the Iconia W3 , which my colleague Walt Mossberg called a flawed device. So, what’s different? Well, for starters, the eight-inch, 1,280 by 800 touchscreen now offers wider viewing angles (170 degrees) and features technology that helps improve the screen’s readability in sunlight. The tablet is also equipped with a faster fourth-generation Intel Atom processor. And it’s slightly lighter at 0.91 pound versus 1.1 pounds. The addition of Windows 8.1 also brings a number of enhancements and tweaks aimed at addressing some of the early criticism of Windows 8. This includes the return of the Start button, smarter search and better multitasking.

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Anki Brings Videogames to Life With Robotic Toy Cars

October 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Anki co-founder Hanns Tappeiner places two palm-sized toy cars onto a flat, rolled-out mat and gives them a little shove. They start zooming around the inside of a D-shaped track that’s printed on the mat. They accelerate next to each other, weave and leapfrog each other, and speed along perilously close to one another. They’re showing off. Tappeiner’s co-founder, Boris Sofman, reaches down and grabs one of the cars off the vinyl track to interrupt the sequence, then places it back down. The car zooms around the track to catch up with its buddy and goes back into demonstrating its maneuvers. That’s the first stunt of Anki Drive. Two little toys that look like they belong on any car-loving kid’s shelf, seem to magically come to life. The only human intervention is opening up the Anki app on an iPod so it can run the car demo mode over Bluetooth low-energy signal. You could say Anki is not like anything you’ve seen before — but it’s totally like what you’ve seen before. It’s just that, in the past, the racing cars would have been on a video-game console or at a carnival

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Apps on iPhone 5s Crashing at Twice the Rate as on Other iPhone 5 Models

October 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Whenever there is a new operating system, it’s not surprising to see apps crash at a somewhat higher rate, given all the changes. But one of the interesting things in Apple’s latest iPhone transition is that apps appear to be crashing at a much higher rate on the new iPhone 5s as on either the iPhone 5c or the iPhone 5. In its look at hundreds of millions of app launches since the debut of the latest iPhones, Crittercism says that programs crash about two percent on the iPhone 5s, as compared to just under one percent on both the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5. “Anytime there is new hardware or software release, we see issues,” Crittercism CEO Andrew Levy said in an interview. “Inevitably, over time, those issues get resolved.” Levy said that perhaps the reason the iPhone 5s is seeing more crashes than the equally new iPhone 5c is that, while developers were able to check their apps for compatibility with iOS 7 during several months of beta testing, the new hardware wasn’t available ahead of time. The iPhone 5s packs a new 64-bit A7 chip and an M7 coprocessor, while the 5c is nearly identical, internally, to the iPhone 5. An Apple representative declined to comment. Levy said that it’s not uncommon to see higher crash ratios when new devices or operating systems come out. And Apple has done a pretty good job of making a major transition — the shift to 64-bit processors — nearly invisible. With past transitions, including the move on the PC desktop to 64-bit, developers had to write new drivers and other code. “The good news is that Apple is certainly aware of issues,” Levy said. “They’ve pushed out two iOS updates for iOS 7 … Apple is doing a really good job of addressing these issues as they come up.”

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These iPhone 5c Price Cuts Are Coming Dangerously Close to a Trend

October 7, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Several weekend price promotions for Apple’s iPhone 5c are raising eyebrows, given the newness of the mid-range phone and the fact that Apple products so rarely see discounts. RadioShack’s iPhone 5c promotion The promotions started with an offer from Best Buy giving customers a $50 gift card with the purchase of one of Apple’s colorful new models. Then Walmart said it would “roll back” prices on the 5c for a limited time, and RadioShack jumped on the bandwagon with its own $50 gift card offer. The moves are particularly noteworthy given the relative consistency of pricing on Apple products, which tend to sell for their full price until at least the month or two before a new product is expected. But ascertaining the reasons behind cellphone price moves can be trickier than it appears. When a new tech product hits the market, a quick price cut is often a sign of weak demand. However, when it comes to cellphones, such pricing moves aren’t always an indication of slow sales. Promotions on phones, even relatively new ones, are not uncommon as retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon trade some of their profit margins in exchange for a higher share of sales for a hot new product. Retailers also can get incentives for signing up new customers — money which can also be used to fund various promotions. Best Buy, for example, is also running a special right now giving $50 off various Samsung Galaxy phones, including some models of the Galaxy S4. Apple declined to comment specifically on iPhone 5c sales. The company reported better-than-expected first weekend sales of 9 million units for the iPhone 5c and 5s. It also said to expect overall company revenue at the high end of its previous guidance, though it didn’t break down initial iPhone sales by model

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