We've reached the midway point of football season. Races are shaping up between NFL teams that are battling for a playoff berth, while others have fallen by the wayside -- I won't name those, to spare the poor fans. But sometimes sports meets technology, and it does so at an increasingly high rate. That happens today as Motorola joins the club of "NFL fans".
The Moto X has gained notoriety, partially because of its functionality, and largely with its customized backs. Perhaps not everyone wants a phone with a wood back, but apparently some do. Now Motorola is going a bit further, adding a "football back". In other words, it has the look and texture of a game ball.
Despite a little spat with Taylor Swift, Spotify seems to be mostly improving all the time, adding updates and content on a regular basis. The latest update aims to marry your computers to your mobile devices via new, and rather unique, remote app.
The company is announcing a new feature for Premium subscribers, allowing users to access Spotify on their computer using remote control from the phone or tablet.
The basketball season is freshly underway in the US and NBA fans are waiting to see how their respective teams do. While many have a general idea of which will be good and which may just not pan out, there are always surprises.
For those NBA fans who are eying an Android TV device like the Nexus Player then Google has sweetened the offerings a bit. Folks will now get access to live basketball games on the set-top box, though a subscription is obviously required.
Music streaming has become the norm. When did you last buy a CD or, gasp, cassette or album? And we will not even discuss the 8-track tapes. That made yesterday's news cycle a bit baffling. Artists should be falling over themselves for ubiquity, not heading towards obscurity. But some apparently simply don't get it.
It has been revealed that Taylor Swift, a vastly popular singer, has pulled her music from Spotify. The artist seems to be worried about piracy, something that seems of little concern to most musicians today.
For those with tons of family photos, and probably the occasional selfie, safe storage can be an issue. Phones get lost and stolen and computer hard drives have a nasty tendency to die. Having a backup to a cloud service is a good option, and there's no shortage of solutions for it, with Amazon being one of them.
That option just got a whole lot simpler and cheaper. The online retailer is announcing that its cloud storage will take on the task of unlimited photo storage for Prime members, adding one more benefit to the growing list already available.
Google has just announced the Nexus Player, bringing the extensive Play store content to the living room. But Google's new set-top box isn't the only device on the market. There is plenty of competition in the arena from Apple, Roku and Amazon, to name only three. Now it appears Google intends to compete with itself in this crowded space.
Roku, perhaps the leader in this area, is announcing that it will now include the Play store for video content. "Today, we're thrilled to announce that Google Play Movies & TV has been added to our expansive Channel Store in the US, UK, Ireland and Canada. With the addition of Google Play Movies & TV, you now have more options than ever to watch the entertainment you love on your Roku player", the company states.
The other day my colleague Brian Fagioli posted a story about Cortana advancements for the Windows Phone crowd. It got me thinking because he stated that "quite frankly, Google Now is so good at learning about you, that at first, it can seem a bit creepy". He isn't far off the mark, as it is creepy, but it works. And it works to an almost scarily good degree, when it comes to figuring its user out. TV? Travel? Packages ordered? It will have you covered. But is all of this a good or bad thing?
The answer will depend on the person, as I know the privacy advocates will chime in and disagree with my assessment. Am I worried about this invasion to my personal life? The answer is a resounding NO. Google Now alerts me to all sorts of events, some are just useful, some are things I'd likely have forgot without the help of the search giant.
Microsoft has struggled a bit recently with Xbox One sales, at least in comparison to rival Sony's PS4, though strides are being made. So what to do to combat this problem? For starters the company recently began selling a cheaper model that comes without the Kinect. But things will heat up even more this holiday shopping season, which is fast approaching.
Beginning November 2nd, the Xbox One will be available for $349 -- $50 off the regular non-Kinect price. That price will only be available in the US. And it's not the only discounted offer coming to the gaming platform next month.
As Bluetooth speakers go, most tend to be small devices, easily transportable and charged via a micro USB port. That is largely what has made the peripherals popular -- portability and convenience. But there are manufacturers that take these things a bit more seriously.
Cambridge Audio aims to change perceptions of Bluetooth speakers, turning those small portable gadgets into something that is more home theater gear. One of its offerings is called the Bluetone 100 and, though it doesn't come cheap, it may satisfy the audiophiles out there by offering a bit more than average.
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.
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.
Microsoft is committed to the cloud. CEO Satya Nadella is starting to hit his stride and his vision is coming into focus. The new leader seems to see the future in OneDrive and he isn't shy about explaining his reasoning.
In a lengthy interview with CNBC's Jon Fortt, Nadella tackled the concepts and ideas he has for the company. In discussing OneDrive, the CEO made it clear that the product would remain free to everyone. The model involves monetizing for those who need more than what is offered for the price of zero.
If you happened to miss it, then some background information is in order. The Marriott hotel chain, or actually one branch of it, was caught red-handed blocking Wi-Fi hotspots that its guests brought along on their trip. The hotel giant claimed security reasons, but people didn't buy the excuse. More importantly, the FCC didn't bite on it either.
It seems the Gaylord Opryland Hotel would have preferred customers to pay the exorbitant rates it charges for internet access. The Federal Communications Commission saw things differently and slapped the hotel with a $600,000 fine.
The music streaming business continues to grow and actually buying tracks seems to be heading for the distant memory pile. Spotify is one of the top competitors in this growing industry. The competition forces each business to differentiate itself and today Spotify does that.
The streaming service is announcing a new Family Plan. This option brings tunes to up to four people, all under one monthly bill. Each of the people on the account will be able to keep their playlists, history and recommendations completely separate.
Cord cutters are not new, they've been around for years now. Various reasons lead to this decision -- ranging from a simple lack of interest in programming to a desire to get TV shows and movies through other means. Over-the-air (OTA) has always been possible, and some go that route, but a growing number of services have sprung up to fill the gap left behind when cable and satellite service is cancelled.
Netflix, Hulu and Amazon all provided options for movies and TV shows, and now each has spread its wings and moved into the realm of producing original content. That is likely the time when cable providers should have moved into panic mode.