The Tech News Blog

November 3, 2014

Apple Watch Coming in the Spring

Apple Watch

We know that the Apple Watch is coming in 2015, but when? Tim Cook has declined to elaborate during recent public presentations, but Cupertino's retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, says we can expect the connected timepiece by spring.

In the leaked transcript of a voice message shared with retail employees, Ahrendts said the Apple Watch will hit shelves "in the spring," after the Chinese New Year.

"You guys were hired because you're the best people in the world," Ahrendts said in her message. "And you know how to service customers. But we're sprinting a marathon right now, and it's not going to stop."

First on the agenda is the holiday shopping season, which Cupertino no doubt hopes be a success thanks to its new iPhone and iPad lineups. Overseas employees must then prepare for the company's Chinese New Year sale, which begins Feb. 19.

October 20, 2014

Report: Microsoft Finally Ready to Release Smartwatch

Microsoft smartwatch patentMicrosoft is reportedly prepping a wearable device for launch in the next few weeks.

The smartwatch, which tracks a wearer's heart rate and syncs with various mobile platforms, Forbes said, is expected to hit shelves in time for the holiday shopping season.

Notably, the device would sync across platforms to iPhones, Android devices, and Windows Phones, Forbes said.

Redmond's wrist-worn gadget has been rumored since May, when a 2012 patent for a "wearable personal information system" (pictured) was published. The product license tipped a wearable machine with a miniature computing device that can be locked into a wristband while in use, or removed and mounted on a dock to charge or sync data.

A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment on the report.

October 12, 2014

Rumor: Microsoft Planning to End Surface Production?

Surface Pro 3Here's a rumor that has surely produced some eye rolls in Redmond— according to DigiTimes, Microsoft is planning to end production of its line of Surface tablets due to poor sales.

What's more, the tech site's unnamed sources claim that the "first- and second-generation Surface tablets are estimated to have created losses of about $1.7 billion" for the software giant.

Interestingly, DigiTimes itself has labeled its story a "rumor," which it rarely does when reporting information gleaned from its "upstream supply chain" sources in Asia. Microsoft declined to comment when contacted by PCMag.

However, a spokesperson for the company did point to a recent post on Microsoft's Surface blog as something that would "provide insight" into the company's commitment to its tablet line and especially to its business customers who rely on the Surface Pro 3.

In that post, Microsoft's Brian Hall lays out the case for businesses to purchase Surface tablets, which include pledges to maintain security and reliability with the platform, and to keep updating it with new software, including Windows 10 when it arrives.

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy, questioned the likelihood of Microsoft pulling the plug on the Surface.

October 5, 2014

Rumor: HP to Split into PC/Printer and Corporate Hardware/Services Businesses

hp logo It's back! By that, we mean a resurrected 2011 plan by Silicon Valley giant Hewlett-Packard, which is now rumored to be spinning off both its PC and printer business into a separate company.

The news arrives in the form of a report from the Wall Street Journal, where sources inside HP claim that the deal could be announced as soon as Monday. It's presumed that both companies—the PC/printer company and the corporate hardware and services company—would each be able to perform better by having more of a laser-like focus on a few overall areas instead of being stuck together in one giant, overarching company.

The move isn't unprecedented for HP; as mentioned, HP was considering a similar move just a few years ago—only, this time, just HP's PC division was going to split from the main company. The move also isn't unprecedented for Silicon Valley as a whole. eBay, in fact, just announced that its spinning off its PayPal business from the auction house, with the latter becoming a full, publicly traded company by the latter half of 2015.

Back in 2011, however, CEO Meg Whitman decided to keep HP together as a single, functioning unit. She made her announcement roughly one month or so after she took over the company's top spot.

"HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It's clear after our analysis that keeping [Personal Systems Group] within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees. HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger," Whitman said in a statement.

According to the latest rumors, Whitman will become the chairman of the PC/printer company—whose name has yet to be revealed—and will stay on as chief executive of the corporate hardware and services company. It's alleged that HP board member Patricia Russo will become the chairman of the corporate hardware and services company, while current HP executive vice president Don Weisler will step up and become the CEO of the PC/printer company.

HP's printing and personal systems group pulled in just around half of HP's total revenue for its 2013 fiscal year, or $55.9 billion. That seems like a lot on paper, but HP's PC sales aren't shooting through the roof; in fact, the company ceded the title of the world's largest PC vendor (by shipments) to Lenovo last year. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, total sales for the printing and personal systems group were down 7.1 percent in 2013.

October 2, 2014

Rumor: iOS 8.1 With Apple Pay Launching Oct. 20

Apple Pay Apple has had some bad luck with its iOS 8 updates so far, but here's hoping iOS 8.1 - rumored to be arriving on Oct. 20 - fares a bit better.

Banking blog Bank Innovation reported the rumored iOS 8.1 launch date on Wednesday, and said the update will activate Apple Pay.

Apple announced Apple Pay at its Sept. 9 iPhone event, and said at the time that it would formally arrive in October as part of an iOS update. Only the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will support Apple Pay for now, but it will work on the Apple Watch when that device launches next year.

The news comes several days after Apple launched iOS 8.1 Beta 1. Developer Hamza Sood later posted a screenshot from the beta that showed off how to enter credit or debit card info, billing and shipping addresses, and personal contact details in Apple Pay. The image also detailed Apple Pay's privacy policy, which says that information may be provided to your card issuer for use in fraud detection.

The iOS 8.1 beta also appears to support Touch ID on the iPad, though as Hamza explained, "Apple Pay on iPad with Touch ID is just for purchasing things through apps. Not NFC or anything like that."

October 1, 2014

Report: Next iPad Will Come in Gold

Rumored Gold iPhoneIf the silver and space gray iPads are a little too boring for your taste, you might soon have a new color option to choose from — gold.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, citing unnamed people familiar with the plans, Apple is planning to add a gold color option for its next-gen 9.7-inch iPad, expected to be unveiled later this month.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company is reportedly adding the gold model in an effort to "boost a category that's posted declining shipments this year," Bloomberg noted. Apple sold 13.3 million iPads during the most recent quarter, down from 16.3 million in the previous quarter and 26 million over the holiday quarter.

September 28, 2014

Free Windows 9 Upgrades for Windows 8 Users?

New Microsoft LogoMicrosoft is widely expected to introduce its Windows 9 operating system at an event in San Francisco next Tuesday and rumors have been flying about what we can expect from the successor to Windows 8.

Now we can add "free upgrades for Windows 8 users" to the mix of speculation in advance of the unveiling of the next-gen software platform code named Threshold.

The source behind the latest rumor? As spotted by BGR on Saturday, Indonesian tech site Detik earlier this week quoted Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro as saying that "the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it's released."

The Detik article is in Indonesian, but BGR gleaned from a translation that once Threshold is released, Windows 8 users "will be able to easily install the Windows 9 update after downloading it from Microsoft."

In fact, the rumor that Redmond could be planning free Windows 9 upgrades has been kicking around for some time, with variants suggesting that legacy Windows XP users may also be gifted free upgrades. If any of these rumors prove solid, what's unclear is what happens to users of other Windows OSes like Vista and Windows 7, BGR noted.

September 28, 2014

Windows 9? Microsoft Might Just Call it Windows

Windows 9 leakDetails about Microsoft's follow-up to Windows 8 are set to be revealed in a matter of days, but it might not carry the moniker Windows 9.

Reuters on Friday reported that Microsoft is planning to announce a new name for the ubiquitous operating system at its press event next week. Though the software is known as "Threshold" inside Microsoft, the expectation was that the company would officially call it Windows 9, and recent leaks have backed that up.

But Reuters sources said the revamped OS may be called something else altogether. It will either get a completely new brand name, or just be called Windows, according to the report.

"The name change is symbolic of a new direction and style for Microsoft, which is veering away from an aggressive focus on Windows and PCs, the hallmark of previous Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer," the report notes. "The new, quieter emphasis is on selling services across all devices and is championed by new boss Satya Nadella."

September 15, 2014

Windows 9 Leaks Tip Notification Center, Cortana

Windows 9 Notification CenterMicrosoft is rumored to be unveiling details about its next-gen operating system later this month, but German site WinFuture has more details about what Windows 9 might entail.

According to the blog's screenshots and videos, Redmond is working on virtual desktops, a new Start menu, and a Notification Center, as well as adapting its Cortana digital assistant for the next-gen OS.

Codenamed "Threshold," Windows 9 is expected to formally roll out next year and include the return of the Start menu, according to WinFuture, which also reported on a multi-desktop feature, a Windows Phone-like Notification Center (pictured), and the incorporation of mobile-based Cortana to the desktop.

Details have been leaking since late last week, when the German site suggested the much-anticipated Start menu will include Redmond's famed Live Tiles in an expandable table, as well as the option to individually enable the menu.

WinFuture also provided a look at virtual desktops, each of which can be created to fit your needs—one for personal projects, another for work use, and more for family or entertainment. Similar to Apple's OS X platform, Windows users will have access to various workspaces and their open programs via a new taskbar icon.

September 12, 2014

Verizon Tips a La Carte Internet TV Service in 2015

Verizon Phoens Verizon is looking to roll out its Internet TV service by mid-2015, with an offering that will allow viewers to pick and choose the channels they want.

During a Thursday appearance at a Goldman Sachs technology conference, Verizon Communications chief Lowell McAdam said the service will likely include access to the "big four" broadcast networks, as well as "custom channels."

"No one wants to have 300 channels on your wireless device," McAdam said. "And I think everyone understands. It will go to a la carte."

Major cable and pay TV services have long resisted an "a la carte" approach that would let customers pick and choose the channels they want to pay for rather than pay for a bundle of 300+ channels. For about a decade, they have argued that a la carte would result in increased pricing and less channel diversity.

And while that probably won't change for traditional cable customers anytime soon, McAdam acknowledged that when it comes to the Web and mobile, a different approach is necessary.

"We do see that the millennials really want to look at...content over the iPads and other tablet devices and their smartphones," McAdam said. Attitudes in the industry about accessing content online is "changing dramatically," he said, and execs are more open to the idea now than they were two years ago.

"I don't think there is any one that would stand up here and say the only way it's going to be offered five years from now is linear and it's going to be tied to your TV set because frankly they will miss the market and they will be the ones left behind," McAdam said.

In January, Verizon Communications bought Intel's TV business for an undisclosed sum, picking up the intellectual property rights and other assets that powered Intel's OnCue Cloud TV platform. At the time, Verizon said it planned to integrate IP-based TV services with FiOS video as well as expand its mobile video offerings.

As for what type of custom channels viewers can expect, McAdam pointed to AwesomenessTV, which DreamWorks acquired last year, but didn't delve too much more into possible partners, except to say that they will probably be "out of the West Coast, where a lot of this is more home grown content."