Latest Technology News

Apple Pay really is that easy, and game changing

Apple pay

When Tim Cook stood on stage last month to introduce Apple Pay, the typically reserved chief executive could barely contain his excitement. A video plays with a woman in a shoe store. She pulls out her shiny new iPhone 6, places her finger on the Touch ID sensor, taps it on the NFC receiver, and walks out with her purchase. "That’s it!" Cook exclaims. "That’s it!"

Cook’s reaction was over the top, of course -- which some of us argue is modus operandi for any Apple keynote -- but it certainly signals the promise of NFC and is an example of how Apple Pay will streamline and advance mobile payments from here on out. Is it really as simple as it looks? I can tell you it is. Following the release of Apple Pay with iOS 8.1 on Monday, I set out to test it on the vending machines at work. Indeed, it's as simple as the demo showed. All you need to do is pull up Passbook, tap the card you’d like to use, put your thumb on the Touch ID button and place it near the receiver.

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42 percent of American PC users suffer daily or weekly attacks on personal data

42 percent of American PC users suffer daily or weekly attacks on personal data

A new survey conducted by Microsoft shows that more than one in four PC owners in the US is suffering weekly, or even daily, attempts by criminals to gain access to their private data. Microsoft found that 22 percent of tablet users suffered similar data access attempts, and that general levels of concern about scams has increased. While "traditional" scams -- such as those asking for upfront payments or relating to fake lottery winnings -- have actually decreased, there are now more social media-based scams than a couple of years ago.

It's not all bad news. While scams might be on the increase, web users are seemingly more aware of the risks involved in using the internet and take proactive steps to protect themselves and their data. As more people use mobile devices to get online, more phone and tablet users are taking precautions.

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Google and Oxford University partner for artificial intelligence research

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I am a huge fan of artificial intelligence (AI). After all, it is the technology that might eventually make my dream of a realistic robot girlfriend a reality. Sure, many people are wary of this technology, claiming it could lead to machines becoming self-aware and destroying humanity. However, those people are simply paranoid conspiracy theorists (who've watched the Terminator movies too often). AI is something that should improve technology and help humanity overall.

Google is a very forward-thinking company, often on the forefront of technology and ideas. Today, the search-giant announces that its DeepMind division is partnering with the renowned Oxford University for artificial intelligence research.

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Ello pockets $5.5 million, legally pledges to never feature ads

Ello pockets $5.5 million, legally pledges to never feature ads

Out of nowhere, Ello exploded, ninja-style, into the public eye. The social network shot to fame after Facebook's real name policy sent many users scuttling off in search of a new home, and the spartan, "beautiful" (Ello's word, not mine) social network welcomed an influx of new users. In addition to the "use whatever name you want" philosophy, users were happy to find that Ello offered a completely ad-free experience.

Now the lack of ads has been enshrined in law. While pocketing $5.5 million in a new round of venture funding, Ello has converted to a State of Delaware Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). The social network vows to never show nor sell ads, and requires this commitment to transfer to any future owner, should the company be acquired.

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Amazon rolling out Fire OS 4.1.1 to its tablets

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Amazon recently released a new line of Kindle products, featuring two new tablets and readers respectively. With the release came an update to the retailer's version of Android, known as Fire OS. It's a highly customized take on Google's mobile platform -- almost unrecognizable, in fact.

Now Amazon is rolling out an update to it, bringing the system to version 4.1.1. The update doesn't seem to have hit the 2013 models yet, but those with the latest tablet should be seeing it now, or at least very soon.

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Top 5 tips for avoiding project failure

Happy man

How can I avoid project failure? That's a question I'm asked all the time. There's no doubt things today are complex -- products have millions of lines of code, dozens of variations, and projects usually have hundreds or even thousands of stakeholders, often all in a perpetual state of development. But, the reality is that failure isn't usually a result of all this complexity. Rather, it's generally caused by a collaboration meltdown.

Research from Forrester paints a clearer picture. According to the firm, the biggest problem in product development is a mismatch between the expected and actual value of a product, and the number one reason that products are delayed is unclear or changing requirements. In addition, more than 40 percent of companies cite an inability to agree on product requirements.

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Microsoft launches lockscreen apps for Android, Windows Phone

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Microsoft app launches are usually predictable. Most are offerings which aim to get us hooked on the software giant's most-prominent products, like Office, OneDrive, Outlook.com and Xbox. But, every once in a while, Microsoft does something out of the ordinary, like it wants to tell the world that, much like startups, it too is capable of intriguing and exciting things.

After launching a lovely keyboard for Android Wear, Microsoft just released a whole bunch of apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, made by an in-house team of "hackers, makers, artists, tinkerers, musicians, inventors" called Microsoft Garage. The most interesting offerings are Torque, which my colleague Brian Fagioli just covered, and two lockscreen apps, for Android and Windows Phone.

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Understanding how decisions affect the enterprise

muPDNA

In large companies it can be difficult for decision makers to see the full impact their choices have. A new product from decision support specialists Mu Sigma aims to provide a holistic picture of how things are connected.

The product, called muUniverse, is designed to give decision makers at Fortune 500 companies a complete view of their business decisions, allowing them to navigate an increasingly complex set of interconnected problems they face in areas such as sales, marketing, finance, supply chain, risk, and others.

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How to combat cyber attacks using speed and sophistication

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During a cyber attack, every second counts. While an attack can happen in an instant, it can take months to remove it from an organization’s infrastructure. For some organizations, there can be more attacks in one hour than a well-staffed security team can address in an entire day. That's a big problem.

Historically, attackers have had the advantage over defenders by being able to choose from a broad array of tools, around-the-clock attack windows, and innumerable attack types. If one type of attack failed, an attacker could simply try again and again until vulnerabilities were discovered. Moreover, cyber attacks are easy to organize and cheap to enact.

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B&O PLAY introduces BeoPlay A2, its first Bluetooth speaker

beoplay

Bluetooth speakers can be a mixed bag, audio-wise. I have a Cambridge Audio speaker which I’m very happy with, but I may be tempted to stray now that B&O PLAY has launched the BeoPlay A2.

The stylish new speaker is designed be carried and has a leather strap/handle on the side. It features Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound and delivers 180W power, with True360 omni-directional performance so the audio should sound good no matter where you are in the room. It has two speaker drivers on each side -- a 3/4-inch tweeter and a 3-inch full range driver.

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Oculus Rift owners will be able to go to the moon

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US scientists have developed a robot that will allow Oculus Rift owners to see the surface of the Moon as if they were really there.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed the project to compete for the Google Lunar XPrize, which is offering $30 million to a team that can send video back from the Moon.

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Google Earth for Android gets perhaps its biggest update yet

earth-n9-nyc

Google Earth has never been too highly publicized, besides maybe a couple seconds in a Nexus tablet commercial here or there. A lot of the awesome use cases for Earth have also been slowly integrated into Google Maps. Maps is new and stylish where Earth feels antiquated, Maps is light and fast where Earth is slow and laggy. Hence, Earth hasn't had wide appeal, especially when Google showered Maps, its prodigal son, with attention.

Google has finally shown Earth some love with a significant update for Android. You can see the change right from the get-go, as the icon has been redesigned to fit in with the material guidelines (although looks a lot like AT&T now).

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Microsoft releases Torque -- a Bing-powered Android Wear app

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When the smartwatch concept started to take off, I was dubious to say the least. I mean, I own a smartphone, so why do I need another device that essentially duplicates functionality of my phone? It is an honest argument, but I'll concede that I was wrong -- smartwatches rock. Well, to be more specific, Android Wear in particular kicks major ass. I love my Samsung Gear Live which I recently got.

As great as Google's watch concept is, it is a bit limited. It tells me the weather, checks my heart rate and alerts me to Android notifications, and that's cool, but clearly the sky is the limit for the new platform. Today, an unlikely company, Microsoft, releases a new Android Wear app called "Torque" and it is powered by Bing. Yes, a Bing app on a Google watch -- are pigs flying?

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Forget Facebook, Microsoft now has a 'share with Yammer' button

Yammer-Share

Okay, that may be a bit over the top. I doubt most users will be forgetting Facebook anytime soon, but it isn't the only social network. Don't forget Microsoft owns Yammer, which is geared more towards business than personal use. That doesn't mean it should be left out of the equation though.

In an effort to cash in on the social sharing craze, Microsoft is bringing Yammer to web sites. Yes, the business network will be included with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the rest of the set, allowing users to share stories.

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Employees are distracted by technology -- should employers ban smartphones?

distracted

I will admit that I am addicted to my smartphone -- there, I said it. Quite frankly, I am becoming addicted to my smartwatch too, but I digress. You see, I am not alone in this, as many people seem glued to their devices nowadays. However, I know to put away my devices when it is time to work. Sadly, many people use their smartphones for personal reasons as they do their job. If I go to Starbucks, the barista is usually distracted by her iPhone, and I end up with the wrong drink -- I'll be like "listen lady, I wanted a venti, not a grande, hop off of that Instagram, yo!"

Sadly, this seems to be plaguing society, but businesses are getting hit hard; employees are too damn distracted! Today, a new report explains that a large amount of the workforce is distracted by technology. Should employers start banning smartphones and tablets at work?

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