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The Washington Post reports that the US White House has named its next chief technology officer. Megan Smith is a Google executive who most recently ran the secretive Google X division. The Obama administration named as deputy U.S. CTO, Alexander Macgillivray, a former Twitter lawyer known as a staunch defender of the free flow of information online. The last US CTO Todd Park had his hands full with helping to salvage the US healthcare rollout; according to The Post, Smith is expected to refocus the position to a more forward-looking role.
Reuters reports Microsoft launched a new range of Lumia phones at IFA Thursday. The Lumia 735 has a 5-mpxl front-facing camera and a wide-angle lens for close-up photos of groups of friends. It’s the one you may some people call the Selfie Phone. The 735 will arrive globally this month for 219 euros. A 3G version called the 730 will run 199 euros and amore afforable flagship the Lumia 830 will sell for 330 Euros. The Verge adds MS also announced the next update to Lumia, called Denim, will include a “hey Cortana” commad to activate the voice assistant.
According to Gigaom, smart home monitoring company Nest is updating the software on its smoke detector, The Nest Protector, to include the ability to detect steam, thus avoiding false alarms in the middle of your shower. Other updates include a ten day data history, and additional carbon monoxide data. But no ‘wave-to-silence’ still isn’t back. That’s the feature that allowed user motion to silence the alarm,and unxepctedly worked in situations where it shouldn’t. That discovery led to a recall of 440,000 devices back in April. Nest has since removed the feature.
Businessweek reports that Google agreed to pay at least 19 million dollars to settle the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s claim that it wrongly billed consumers for unauthorized purchases in apps downloaded from the Google Play store. Google agreed to provide full refunds to consumers and modify its billing practices to get express consent from users.
ZDNet reports Lenovo announced updates to the Thinkpad Helix at IFA Thursday as well as two phones, the Vibe X2 which has a three-layer body design for $399 and 64-bit Vibe Z2 for $429 both coming in October. The new convertible Helix is 2.98 pounds about 15% lighter than the last Helix, 0.38 inch thick down from a half inch and has a Core M processor. It will be available in October starting at $999 with a magnetic ultrabook keyboard or you can wait until January for the Helix Pro with the flexible keyboard similar to the first Helix.
Engadget reports that Dyson, maker of fancy appliances that suck up dirt, will be unveiling its own robot vacuum today. The Dyson 360 Eye will apparently come with a 360 degree camera to better see the crumbs that drifted down to the floor from the scone you ate in bed last night. No judgement. The Dyson Eye can roam your house for 20 minutes before needing to return to its charging station. The expected cost is about 1650 dollars and the Eye will launch first in Japan. Betting is now open on The Battle of the Robot Vacuums: Roomba v. Eye, brought to you by a cat wearing a shark costume chasing a duck.
More phones! YAY! This ones actually a phablet. Because who doesn’t love a phablet? BUT WAIT This one is SMALLER than a regular Phablet. It’s all very confusing so let’s try to clear it up. Huawei introduced a 6-inch Ascend Mate 7 which is a smaller follow up tot he 6.1-inch Ascend Mate 2. Search and rescue is still looking for Mate’s 3,4,5, and 6. The Ascend Mate 7 has a one-touch fingerprint reader ON THE BACK! It also has a 1080p screen, dual SIM slots and Huawei’s own octa-core Kirin 925 SoC. The Mate 7 is due to arrive in Europe, Hong Kong and China this quarter in black, silver and gold. The 16 GB will run €499 and the 32 GB €599.
CNET reports Intel is making jewelry. Well it’s making a bracelet. Well, it’s making a smart bracelet which means another wearable for you. But I said jewelry because it will have a 1.6-inch sapphire display and semiprecious gems and be sold at Barneys in New York. It’s called MICA which stands for My Intelligent Communications Accessory” an almost Microsoft feat of naming. It will only cost you $1000 and give you notificatiosn on SMS, calendar items, and other things. It has a 3G radioand USB for charging. It comes in two models, one will have black water-snake skin, pearls from China, and lapis stones from Madagascar, the other is the white water-snake skin, tiger’s eye from South Africa, and obsidian from Russia.
Ars Technica reports US FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler spoke today at 1776, a startup hub in Washington DC and said that 25 Mbps Internet is fast becoming “table stakes” for US homes. That’s quite a bit faster than the FCC’s current definition of 4 Mbps as broadband. Wheeler said “at 25Mbps, there is simply no competitive choice for most Americans.” Wheeler said that even at 4 Mbps US customers only have a duopoly to choose from and he said its too hard to switch providers. So what’s the FCC going to do. By gum they’re going to go out there and try to make things more competitive, somehow. But not by doing anything drastic mind you.
The Next Web reports TwitPic will shut down on September 25th over a trademark dispute with Twitter. The company wrote on its blog “A few weeks ago Twitter contacted our legal demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API.” The company has been around since 2008 and first filed fro the trademark in 2009.
News From You:
spsheridan points out a Guardian story that Netflix continues to push US regulators to let cities build their own Internet infrastructure. Netflix told the US FCC in a Tuesday filing that it should block state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that prevent cities from expanding their own Internet services.
KAPT_Kipper passes along the report that Facebook’s video autoplay feature is having an unwelcome impact on smartphone bills. MoneySavingExpert.com reports that it has received a number of complaints from users who have been hit with larger than usual data bills after exceeding their monthly allowance. People, c’mon. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. I’m talking to YOU, ice bucket challenge. The Daily Mail has a helpful inforgraphic on how to turn off the setting on various devices as well as tips on how to get your bill reduced.
And spsheridan ALSO submitted the LA Times story that Tesla chose Nevada as the site for its $5 billion battery plant. Nevada beat out California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to get the factory where Tesla will team up with Panasonic to build lithium ion batteries for its electric vehicles.
Discussion Section Links:
Pick of the Day:
Michael Hand (the now-producer of Tekzilla among other things) here with a pick of the day. Recently on Tekzilla we interviewed the founder of plot.ly, a site that makes it easy to graph and visualize any sort of data. This website is great if you want make sense of a pile of numbers in the easiest way possible. You can copy and paste data directly to the website or use their APIs with a handful of different programming languages. Switch between bar graphs, scatter plots, histograms, heat maps, and way more with a few clicks…I’m really into it!
I personally use it to graph Tekzilla download stats and even plot out bathroom usage data for the office restrooms (long story, see DIY Tryin’ or bathroomstatus.com).
Plot.ly is free for unlimited public graphs and 50 private graphs. Definitely check it out if you are a data geek like me!