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September 11th, 2014
10:19 PM ET

Did Apple do enough?

September 9th was one of the biggest days for Apple in years. They introduced two larger iPhones, a mobile payments system, and the long-awaited Apple Watch - the first major new product created without the input of the late Steve Jobs.

But are any of them new enough?

After all, the trend for larger phones was pioneered by their arch-rival, Samsung. Mobile payment systems have been around for some time now. And while everyone expected Apple to completely redefine what a smartwatch is... the Apple Watch appears to be just a better version of what's out there; an evolution of current smartwatches instead of a revolution.

So how did Apple do? The New Yorker's Nicholas Thompson gave his take to Kristie Lu Stout.

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Filed under: Gadgets • Technology
June 16th, 2014
03:08 PM ET

Virtual reality's new reality

There’s something a little strange that one of today’s hottest trends in technology is… virtual reality.

It’s an idea that seems past its time; sitting alongside household atomic generators and personal jetpacks as visions for the future that seem laughable today. But VR isn’t a joke anymore.

I had the chance to try on the headset that has almost single-handedly revived interest in virtual reality: the Oculus Rift.

For now, the Rift is only in the prototype stage and has some way to go before it’s ready for consumers. Still, even at this early stage the potential of the Rift is incredible.

It looks big and bulky, but once it was strapped to my head I couldn’t feel the weight of the Rift. The whole setup is slightly cumbersome; you have the headset, then you have to put on headphones and find your controller — without being able to see either, because your eyes are covered by the Rift.

My first impressions of the Rift? It’s a little unsettling. I was surprised by the low resolution of the screen, individual pixels reminding me that my eyes were millimeters away from them; I was acutely aware of the edges of the display; and basically, I could feel like I had a big plastic visor strapped to my face.

But then you move your head… and your view of the world shifts almost perfectly with your movement. Move your head to the left, and you’re looking left.

I played a 3D platforming game called Lucky’s Tale (from the creator of Words With Friends). To be brutally honest, it felt a little like a simple Mario clone: You make a cute little fox run and jump along a basic path running from left to right. Then the path turns back to the left… and you find yourself scoping out the way ahead simply by turning your head to look at it.

Video games have allowed you to move your view of the world for years through a controller. It’s not a new idea. But with the Rift, looking around a game’s world is as natural as looking around our own.

That’s when the Oculus Rift experience starts to click, and it all starts to work.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • Games • Technology
April 24th, 2014
11:01 PM ET

Why would Nike kill the FuelBand?

Sometimes it feels like everyone is wearing a fitness band on their wrist, whether it's the Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up or Nike FuelBand.

But now there are reports that Nike might kill the FuelBand.

Why would Nike kill an apparently popular gadget?

The New Yorker's Nicholas Thompson suggests that Nike might be trying to pull out of dedicated fitness bands before they're replaced by other wearables - such as the much-hyped Apple smart watch.

"Think about the Flip video camera, which was a huge sensation, everyone thought they'd be huge. And then suddenly the iPhone can take videos that are just as good, and Flip went away."

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Filed under: Gadgets • Health • Technology
February 26th, 2014
08:26 AM ET

Samsung on "cruise control" with GS5, but shines with Gear Fit

Samsung's latest flagship smartphone is out. The reviews are in. And the reaction is...

Meh.

"What you're seeing here is a Samsung that's very much on cruise control," says Chris Ziegler, deputy managing editor of The Verge.

"It's an evolution of the S4, not a whole new phone. There were some of us who were hoping they would take a little bit of a leap here, go to an aluminum body, maybe a new user interface, but really it's just an evolved S4."

Compared to its predecessor, the S5 has a bigger screen, a better camera and a faster processor.

There's also a fingerprint sensor built into the home button, just like what you find in the iPhone 5s.

But one big change in the Galaxy S5: there's a built-in heart rate sensor. Does that score points for Samsung?

"The fact that they included a heart rate sensor in the GS5 really isn't surprising when you consider fitness is a buzzword in mobile now," Ziegler tells me.

Along with the Galaxy S5, Samsung unveiled three smartwatches at the Mobile World Congress – the Samsung Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo, and the Gear Fit.

For Ziegler and his fellow editors at the Verge, the slender and form-fitting Gear Fit stole the limelight at the big reveal in Barcelona.

 "Of the new smartwatches that they showed yesterday, that would be the winner for sure," says Ziegler.

Click on for the full interview.

January 1st, 2014
11:21 AM ET

Looking back at 2013

News Stream usually brings you stories about the power of technology to improve our lives. But in 2013, the top tech story was more ominous.

Since June, revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance programs have come to light. The fallout has been felt in Washington and the rest of the world.

Tech companies have expressed outrage over the U.S. government's spying practices. Listen to Google's chairman Eric Schmidt in Part 1 (above).

In Part 2, hear from Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales and examine the new generation of gaming consoles.

Finally in Part 3, astronaut Chris Hadfield speaks about his popular videos from space. And we ask what the future holds for mobile technology.

We hope you enjoy these highlights from 2013. We look forward to the year ahead!


Filed under: Gadgets • Games • Mobile World Congress • Technology • Titans of Tech • Viral Videos
BlackBerry: Why breaking up is hard to do
September 24th, 2013
11:40 AM ET

BlackBerry: Why breaking up is hard to do

By Kristie Lu Stout

Hong Kong (CNN) – I can't even remember the last time I thumbed a message on its itty-bitty qwerty keyboard.

And yet, I stubbornly keep my BlackBerry in my bag and on my desk, fully charged.

As with my Palm Vx of yesterday, breaking up with a beloved gadget is hard to do, especially when you have history.

FULL POST

September 6th, 2013
02:01 PM ET

Samsung's new smartwatch

Samsung says its new Galaxy Gear smartwatch is an engineering marvel.

CNNMoney's Adrian Covert calls it "unimaginative, reductive and maybe even retrograde."

Decide for yourself as Samsung Mobile's Ryan Bidan shows Covert the primary features of the device.

August 23rd, 2013
09:33 AM ET

Why your mobile phone is a weather station

Your smart phone is smarter than you think.

The UK-based OpenSignal has developed an app that crowd sources the weather using data from your mobile battery.

That's right, you can tell how hot it is outside thanks your cellphone's energy source. That's because smartphones have built-in thermometers to track battery temperature to help prevent overheating.

It's something the company discovered by accident. A year ago, OpenSignal discovered a strong correlation between battery temperature and daily temperatures recorded at a weather station.

Its WeatherSignal app, available for Android phones, crowd sources the temperature data from thousands of users who are running the app.

How accurate is the data? And will it be able to predict the weather one day?

Click on to my News Stream interview with OpenSignal co-founder and CTO James Robinson to find out.

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Filed under: Data • Gadgets • Technology • Weather
May 9th, 2013
09:58 AM ET

The promise and peril of 3D printing

3D printers have been around for a while, used in industry for rapid prototyping.

But the promise and peril of 3D printing really came to the fore this week, after that shocking announcement from the Texas-based "Defense Distributed" which claimed it has successfully fired the world's first gun made by a 3D printer.

Thanks to cheaper 3D printer models, the technology is available to anyone with around a thousand dollars to spare.

Here's how it works. Instead of using ink like regular inkjet printers, 3D printers use materials like plastic. They take a digital image that you can create using modeling software on a computer, and then print it out building up layer upon layer of material to create complex solid objects.

Toys, car parts, even mini human organs have been 3D printed by manufacturers and scientists who've been using the technique for decades.

How far can the technology go? What will 3D printers be able to do for us 10 years from now? And is it an advance that needs to be regulated today?

In the video clip above, News Stream contributor Nicholas Thompson of the NewYorker.com weighs in on the 3D printing debate.

May 2nd, 2013
08:15 AM ET

From MindMeld to Google Glass - can tech be too smart?

You've heard of Siri. You may be familiar with Google Now.

But what about MindMeld?

The app, built by Expect Labs, bills itself as "a smarter way to have conversations on your iPad."

It hasn't been released yet, but tech giants Samsung, Intel and Telefonica have just joined on as the startup's latest inventors.

This is how it works. When you talk, MindMeld listens so it can search and bring up information that's relevant to your discussion.

But after looking at the product demo online, it's easy to see why some call it "Siri on steroids" - a voice-activated search engine that hangs on to your every word.

There's something deeply fascinating and creepy about the technology that tracks everything you say. Why would I want to use it? And what do I give up for using it and similar tracking technologies like Google Glass?

CNN contributor Nicholas Thompson of the NewYorker.com says by using such hyper-smart technology, we are trading in our privacy in return for utility. There's always resistance at first, but eventually we grow to accept it.

What's your take?

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