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Today’s guest: Lamarr Wilson, Vlogger/Comedian of Tech Culture & Entertainment. He also host shows on Mashable.
Amazon’s Peter Larsen announced the Amazon Fire TV in a press conference in New York Wednesday morning. The .7” think CD-case-sized box is another video streamer but packs in a quad-core processor, dedicated GPU, 2GB of RAM and dual-band WiFi with Mimi. The remote control connects by Bluetooth and takes voice commands. IN addition to the usual apps like Netflix and Hulu, the device also plays games from major publishers, albeit games that play well on the underlying Android-based operating system. Amazon also announced a game controller for the Fire TV that costs $39.99 and comes with 1000 Amazon Coins and a free game from Amazon. The FireTV box itself sells for $99 and is available to order int he US, shipping today.
Get ready for three hours of Microsoft announcements? Don’t fret, we compressed them into a few minutes. But still. There’s a lot of them. Let’s start with Windows Phone 8.1. It sports a new action center, new lock screen experiences, a new way to set the background on start screen, and the big hit, MS personal assistant software, Cortana. The voice-activated assistant replaces the phone OS’s search function. It also shows you a notebook with what it knows about you. 8.1 also supports enterprise level VPN, new MDM capabilities and S/MIME encrypted email. Oh and a nifty WiFi Sense feature that joins known hotspots faster and a nifty keyboard typing function called ‘shape writing” that’s similar to Swype on Android. 8.1 will roll out to current customers of WP8 in the next few months. Brand new phones will have it as soon as late April, or early May.
A couple of those new phones were announced by Nokia’s soon to be Microsoft’s Stephen Elop. The Lumia 930 will have a 5-inch full HD display, integrated wireless charging, a 20 MP PureView sensor with Optical Image Stabilization and Zeiss optics and 4 microphones for audio capture in video. Lumia 930 sales start in June overseas for around $599. Elop also announced the Lumia 630 and 635 with a 4-inch display, five colors with shells. The 630 comes with 3G dual SIM capabilities while the 635 has LTE. Both phones come with a low-powere Sensorcore processor that can track movement for things like fitness tracking. Sales start next month in Asia. The U.S. will see them in July. The phones will run about $159 for the single SIM 630; $10 more for dual SIM. $189 for the Lumia 635.
And now for some not-Microsoft news! Samsung launched a service called “Samsung Smart Home” in the US and Korea Wednesday. An Android app is now available that will give users the ability to manage compatible devices from Samsung and other manufacturers. In the US the system is compatible at launch with the “Samsung Smart French Door Refrigerator” and the “Samsung Smart Front Loading Washing Machine.” An app is in the works for the Gear 2 and 2014 Samsung Smart TVs as well.
Reuters reports Turkey’s constitutional court ruled the telecom authority’s block on Twitter violates freedom of expression and individual rights. The court sent its verdict to the TIB but a previous ruling also supposedly ordered the block lifted and it has not been lifted yet. blocked access to Twitter on March 21 after several audio tapes were posted allegedly showing evidence of corruption.
News From You:
cosmicvibes submitted the blog post from Canonical’s Jane Silber announcing the shutdown of Ubuntu One cloud file storage services. The post says Ubuntu could not compete with services offering 25-50GB of free storage. The Ubuntu One file services will not be included in the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release. The current services will be unavailable from 1 June 2014; user content will remain available for download until 31 July, at which time it will be deleted. Customers with annual subscriptions will have the unused portion refunded.
KAPT_Kipper posted the Engadget story that BlackBerry has chosen not renew T-Mobile’s license to sell BlackBerry products, after the deal expires April 25th. BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the two companies’ strategies are “not complementary.” T-Mobile ran a promotion enticing BlackBerry owners to switch to an iPhone.
tekkyn00b sent us the article from The Verge about the USB Implementers Forum releasing images of the new reversible USB cable standard expected to be finalized in July. The USB Type C cable will not be compatible with current USB ports. It’s smaller and symmetrical, meaning you can’t put it in upside-down. The new standard is intended to replace both regular and micro-USB. It will support USB 3.1 and speeds of 10Gbps.
melchizedek74 pointed out the Verge article about an FCC Spokesperson telling the National Journal, “Peering and interconnection are not under consideration in the Open Internet proceeding.” Although the agency is monitoring the situation and considering some new rules to regulat arrangements between companies like Comcast and Netflix. So totally off the table in net neutrality talks. But maybe they’ll regulate it anyway? You’re confusing us FCC!
And KAPT_Kipper, he gets a twofer today, sent in the link to the Ars Technica article about Google taking its WiFi sniffing case to the US Supreme Court. Back in 2010 Google’s Street View cars were using MAC addresses of WiFi connections to help pin down locations better. Lots of services including your phone do this. Google got caught sniffing in some packets from open WiFi connections that were not necessary for the location info, including pieces of email data etc. Google says that was an accident. In 2012, the FCC fined Google $25,000 for stonewalling its investigation and a US Federal Appeals Court concluded the collection violated the Wiretap Act. Google has appealed the devision and has now asked the US Supreme Court to review it.
Discussion Section Links: Fire!
Pick of the Day: Duolingo
“Il parle sans savoir et sans comprendre”* Or, according to the addictive language-learning app Duolingo, “He is talking without knowing and without understanding.” This free app can teach you to say that in six languages – Spanish, French, German, Italian, English and Portuguese. The app was crowned Apple’s App of the Year in 2013 and it’s worth every free penny. Unlike Spanish 101, you don’t have to get up for class at 8am, you don’t have to remember to answer to your “Spanish name,” and best of all, it’s actually FUN. If languages really aren’t your forte, at the very least, it’s a source of unintentional giggles when asking you to translate phrases, like “Erwachsenen haben diese Traume,”* or, “No normal adults have these dreams.” (H/T to the wtfduolingo tumblr for finding the app’s sometimes awkward awesomeness.)
Thursday’s Guest: Veronica Belmont!