Posts Tagged ‘product news’

Jawbone Raises More Than $100 Million to Meet Demand for Wearable Tech

September 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Jawbone, the Bay Area-based electronics company that makes colorful Bluetooth speakers and the activity-tracking Up wristband, has raised more than $100 million through debt financing and new equity. Jawbone UP The funding round was first reported by Fortune earlier this morning. AllThingsD has independently confirmed the funding. The company has said it needs cash in the short term to meet demand for its products, as it has “millions of back-orders to fill,” according to the Fortune report. Its long-term strategy, I’m told, includes the hiring of more data engineers to work on its wearable products. Jawbone raised over $90 million in debt financing and asset-backed loans from Silver Lake Partners, Fortress Investment Group, J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo. Previous investors Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins also contributed to a new round of equity said to be at $20 million. In recent months, Jawbone, which is led by founder and CEO Hosain Rahman, has made at least a few strategic acquisitions in addition to expanding its product line and making key hires. In February, Jawbone bought two mobile-focused health and lifestyle companies, Visere and Massive Health , for an undisclosed amount. In April, it spent more than $100 million to acquire BodyMedia , a veteran Pittsburgh-based health-tracking company, for both its talent and its patents. Since then, it has also hired data scientist Monica Rogati as a “VP of Data” and has been looking to hire more data-focused scientists and engineers. Jawbone’s $130 Up wristband is part of a growing category of devices that are worn on the wrist and other parts of the body to track wearers’ activity levels throughout the day and sync the data to a mobile device. Competitors include Fitbit’s products and the Nike+ FuelBand — and competition may be creeping up from within the mobile phone itself, as sensors inside smartphones get better and more plentiful

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Finding a Tablet for a 4-Year-Old

September 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Q: We have an iPad for me and my wife, but we’d like a tablet for our daughter, 4, to use on long drives and flights to keep her entertained. We would like to find something at a lower price point than an iPad, but something reliable and durable on which she can watch movies and TV show episodes. Do you have any suggestions? A: I’d recommend the 7-inch Kindle Fire or Fire HD, which start at $159 and $199, respectively. They have access to lots of kid-friendly content and even have a feature called FreeTime, which allows parents to preselect what content kids can access, restrict the time they spend with the tablet and create a special kid-friendly home screen. Amazon offers a subscription service, FreeTime Unlimited, which provides unlimited apps, games, movies and TV shows handpicked for ages 3 to 8 for $5 a month. Q: I will spend the month of October in Paris in an apartment without an Internet connection. I will have my new Verizon Galaxy III phone and my new Lenovo Yoga laptop. Is there an easy or inexpensive way to connect without visiting a cybercafe? A: Your phone should be able to connect to the Internet over the cellular-data network and the phone can act as a portable Wi-Fi hot spot (a feature you turn on in settings) that will enable the laptop to see it as a Wi-Fi network and get on the Internet. However, this can be costly if you are roaming on your U.S. network for a month. So, assuming your carrier and plan allow this, I suggest you switch the phone to a French carrier, which can cut costs dramatically. This may require you to get the phone “unlocked,” either here or in Paris. Q: I have two homes, both of which have cable TV and Internet service

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Wash Your Hands, Kids: Apple Unveils Touch ID Sensor for One-Step iPhone Authentication

September 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

At today’s Apple event in Cupertino, Calif., the company unveiled a widely expected “Touch ID” sensor that allows users to unlock their iPhones by tapping on the home button of the smartphone. It’s a super-high-resolution sensor — 500 pixels per inch — that uses advanced capacitive touch technology to analyze users’ unique fingerprints. It can also be used to authenticate before purchasing items from the iTunes Store and App Store. “About half of our customers do not set up a pass code on their device,” Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller, said onstage.

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Apple Won’t Introduce New Apple TV Box Next Week, Will Upgrade Software

September 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

There are very, very good odds you’re going to hear about new iPhones at Apple’s event next Tuesday . But if you’re looking for a new Apple TV, you’re going to be disappointed. Despite speculation about new Apple TV hardware on the way, Apple won’t be unveiling any new boxes next week, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. That said, the company will be tweaking the software inside its Web TV box. Apple has already said that it will be bringing its new iTunes Radio service to Apple TV . And it has been adding new content partners, including Disney and HBO , throughout the summer. Expect to hear about more changes next week. Sources said that one new feature in the works will let people who’ve bought content from Apple play that stuff on other users’ Apple TVs, via Apple’s Airplay system and Apple’s server. So if you bought a TV show or movie from Apple’s iTunes store, you could watch it at a friend’s house by calling it up on your iPhone and telling your friend’s Apple TV to start streaming it. (The files wouldn’t need to be stored on your iPhone or iPad ) You could have previously accomplished this by getting your friend to log out of their Apple TV box and then logging in with your own credentials. But that’s awfully cumbersome — particularly with Apple’s minimalist Apple TV remote. And you can already do a variation on this, though not as elegantly, with some Apple TV apps like HBO Go. But if this makes it that much easier to watch “Pain and Gain” with your pals, then that’s a good thing. And if that makes you less inclined to buy a $35 Google Chromecast and treat that as your Web TV device , then that’s good for Apple. No comment from Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr.

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Apple Likely to Ship OS X Mavericks in October

September 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Though Mavericks, the next version of Apple’s OS X desktop operating system, is currently in its seventh developer preview, the OS is still a way off from public release. Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac reports , and AllThingsD has confirmed, that OS X 10.9 will not launch this month, but next. Sources said Mavericks will arrive at market sometime in late October, well after the release of iOS 7, a redesigned version of Apple’s mobile operating system whose development has taxed the company’s engineering resources. As we have reported in the past, Apple has had to shift engineers away from OS X in order to meet the aggressive iOS 7 launch timeline it set for itself. Though a firm Mavericks launch date couldn’t be learned, it’s possible that Apple may plan to ship the OS after it next reports earnings, something it did with both OS X Lion in 2011 and OS X Mountain Lion. Another possibility: Mavericks debuts alongside the new Mac Pro and iMacs and MacBook Pros based on Intel’s Haswell processors.

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First Xbox One TV Ad Shows Off TV Integration, Not Games … And It Totally Clicks

September 5, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Are you ready for some football? If you aren’t, but you buy an Xbox One in November , this might be a preview of how your house will use it: The first 30-second spot for Microsoft’s next-gen gaming console notably does not include any mention of games. Rather, it smartly showcases — in the same vein as those great iPhone ads — some of the other stuff the Xbox One can do: Voice control, live TV access, apps that integrate with and react to that live TV, and Skype. Impressively, it touches on all of that in the first 13 seconds, and shows those features in real-looking settings. Check out how cluttered some of those coffee tables are. Gamers raked Microsoft over the coals after it devoted nearly half of its unveiling event for the console in May to these broadly consumer-friendly (although not cord-cutter-friendly ) media features. But they’re a key point of distinction between Microsoft’s next-gen console strategy and Sony’s, which is focused mainly on the gamer audience .

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Parallels Access Requirements on Windows

September 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Q: Is it true that Parallels Access, for controlling a PC from an iPad, won’t function on a computer running XP Pro? If so, is there another app with approximately the same functionality that will run on XP Pro? A: It is true that for Windows PCs, Parallels Access requires Windows 7 or Windows 8, so it won’t work with XP, which is about 12 years old. As I noted in my column, there are other iPad apps that can remotely control a computer, but none that I have seen incorporate the iPad features and gestures the way Access does. Most make you try to emulate a tiny mouse pointer with your fingertips. However, if you can deal with that, there are some that will work with XP. One popular example is Splashtop 2. Q: Can photo files from a Windows PC be transferred to an iPad mini? A: Yes, you just install the Windows version of iTunes on your PC, connect your iPad to the PC, select the iPad from within iTunes, and then go to the Photos tab.

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Don’t Like In-App Purchases in Games? Deal With It, Says PopCap.

September 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies 2, the sequel to the hit tower-defense game from 2009, recently crossed 25 million downloads — more in two weeks than the first game racked up in its lifetime. But, unlike the first game, which initially cost $20 on PC and a few dollars on iOS, PvZ2 was free and supported by in-app purchases. Critics’ and users’ reviews of the game were generally positive , but a subset of users has kvetched on the iOS App Store since launch that the free-to-play business model is “ruining great games like PVZ,” as one review noted. PopCap’s franchise business director for Plants vs. Zombies, Tony Learner, doesn’t seem too worried, though. “When people hear things like ‘free-to-play’ or ‘freemium,’ in their heads they think they know what that is,” Learner said in an interview with AllThingsD . “What we’ve seen with Plants vs. Zombies is, in the vast majority, once you play the game, you understand that this is a very different approach to offering a free experience with optional payments inside.” As many game critics have pointed out, it’s possible for skilled players to beat PvZ2 without spending any money, but it takes a lot longer. Some of the titular plants — which players drag and drop onto the screen to fight off invading zombies — are only available through the store; that store also lets players unlock more advanced plants and speed through the game’s worlds faster, or buy packs of virtual coins that can be spent on short-term in-game power-ups Learner declined to share any specific in-app purchase sales numbers, but said that they’ve met PopCap’s expectations. And, although he gets asked about it a lot, he said that the “small handful of dissenters” pleading for a paid version of the game without IAP shouldn’t hold their breath

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Here’s How the Oculus Rift Will Work on Mobile

August 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Oculus Rift, the much-hyped virtual reality gaming console interface that debuted at E3 2012, is still seemingly some time off from a consumer release. But at PAX Prime , the gaming convention being held this weekend in Seattle, the Oculus VR team is showing off a new HD version and talking more about how the gadget might work on mobile devices as well as PCs. Currently, the only Rifts in the wild are $300 dev kit versions, made for game developers. The HD iteration of the hardware, currently unavailable to those developers, improves on the VR headset’s screen resolution, which is all-important for convincing the wearers that they’re physically in a virtual world. In a demo with co-founders Nate Mitchell and Palmer Luckey on Friday morning, I piloted a PC-connected HD Rift around and through a gargantuan volcano and used it to sit in a virtual movie theater (yes, really), where I watched the trailer for “Man of Steel.” But as CEO Brendan Iribe told Edge Magazine last month, the company is internally working on mobile support for the Rift. In other words, instead of requiring gamers to be tethered to a PC, Oculus wants to be able to power the virtual reality experience from a mobile device’s hardware. Luckey said that currently, the Rift only works with Android devices that have video output and can “ host ” the Rift via USB connectivity. Oculus VR co-founders Palmer Luckey, left, and Nate Mitchell, right, calibrate Oculus Rifts before a demo at PAX. “We’re about mobile gaming hardware,” Luckey said. “We don’t want to play [casual] mobile games in VR.” However, Mitchell then jumped in to say that he’d seen a Candy Crush-esque match-three game playing on the Rift, and that it worked well, even if it didn’t fully take advantage of VR’s capabilities. Mitchell added that he didn’t want to close off the potential catalog to only the games that will work in hardcore virtual reality: “I think it’s going to be lot like Steam ,” he said, in reference to the Valve-operated PC gaming store, with a mix of serious AAA titles available at prices competitive with those of console games, and simpler experiences that might be sold for as little as a few dollars. “We’ve seen vacation simulators” among developers’ early work, he said. “I dropped my father into one, and he was like, ‘This is great!’” Luckey enthused that the Rift itself could one day become an Android device, with a chip that might currently be found in one of those high-end phones embedded in the headset itself. The company chose to start with Android because of the operating system’s openness as compared to iOS, but isn’t completely ruling out the latter.

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Every Tech Ad You’ve Seen, in One Funny Video

August 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Given that we’re going into product launch season, this CollegeHumor clip is nicely timed. Also, it’s the Friday before Labor Day: CollegeHumor’s Favorite Funny Videos While we’re here, may as well point out that the biggest tech sellers have gotten pretty good at moving beyond the cliches deftly parodied above. Here, for instance, is the latest in Apple’s series of feature-centric ads, which range from good to really great : And here’s the new one from Microsoft, which probably won’t sell many Windows Phones, but is fun to watch anyway:

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