Since Satya Nadella took the reins from Steve Ballmer just over a year ago, Microsoft has been on an aggressive acquisition spree of cross platform apps and services. Most recently, the company bought the iOS email app Acompli then relaunched it as Outlook for iOS. Microsoft also bought Sunrise, the popular calendar software with an iOS app.
Aside from Microsoft and Apple, other interested buyers include or included Facebook, Google, and Yahoo (anyone missing?). Competing with Apple’s TestFlight acquisition last year, Microsoft even bought the beta distribution service Hockeyapp at the end of last year.
Adding to its list of recent mobile app acquisitions, TechCrunch reports that Microsoft is now eyeing Prismatic, a social recommendation network with apps for both iOS and Android. Prismatic describes itself as a personalized and social news reader.
TC notes that one of Prismatic’s co-founders Aria Haghighi, who is a natural language processing specialist, currently works at Apple; Haghighi previously worked for Microsoft Research as well as Google.
The report says it’s unclear if the mobile startup has officially been bought yet, however, adding that Apple has actually shown interest in buying the company.
Don’t expect an “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time” line from Apple this time, however, as one source tells TC that Microsoft has already dropped $30 million to close the deal.
Filed under: Apps Tagged: Apple, Aria Haghighi, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Natural language processing, News, news reader, Prismatic, Satya Nadella, Yahoo
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Filed under: Tips and Tricks Tagged: 9to5Toys, Amazon Gold Box, Belkin, coupon codes, Daily Deals, Deals, free shipping, giveaways, iOS freebies, JBL, Lunch Break, Media, Toshiba, video games
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Though only spoken of briefly, Pichai mentioned that the new service would take a decidedly more developer-focused route, calling Android Pay a "developer tool" that would give those developers considerable flexibility in how to implement the payments service.
He noted that the service was less a new consumer-level product and more of an "API layer" that will give other developers and companies the chance to build interesting mobile payment solutions on Android platforms.
"We are doing it in a way in which anybody else can build a payments service on top of Android," said Pichai. "So, in places like China and Africa we hope that people will use Android Pay to build innovative services."Google's news follows on the heels of Samsung's own entry into the contactless payment market with Samsung Pay just yesterday. Samsung's offering is set to be baked in to the upcoming Summer release of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones, which will include a fingerprint scanner to help secure mobile payments made on the device, falling far more in line as a direct competitor to Apple Pay than Google's new service.
Although Pichai did not explain the details of Android Pay to any great degree, he claimed it would "start with NFC" and eventually accommodate biometric sensors as well.
Samsung is attempting to come out of the gate strong, with the company having already made deals with MasterCard and Visa to support the service and attempting to line up various other companies and banks before the new Galaxy phone launches this summer. The announcement appears to be a direct continuation of Samsung's acquisition of mobile payments-focused company LoopPay earlier in February, setting itself up to battle Apple Pay in the coming months.
Pichai noted during MWC that Android Pay is a bit more malleable of a service, not locking itself onto one specific phone or brand similar to Apple Pay or the upcoming Samsung Pay. He continued that the company doesn't mean to directly compete with Samsung's newly announced mobile payments service, and mentioned that Google wanted to "work closely [together] to see how we can align [with them]."
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In addition to discussing the international Apple Watch launch and accessibility efforts at a briefing in Germany, Apple CEO Tim Cook teased “a whole ton of announcements coming shortly about all of the apps coming” for the Apple Watch, according to employees in attendance. Cook first highlighted the use of the Apple Watch in hotels by saying that “some of the best hotels in the world” will allow Apple Watch users to use the wearable to unlock room doors.
Additionally, Cook said that the Apple Watch hotel applications will even be able to replace the check-in processes for some hotels. “So people are beginning to think about doing not only cool things with their apps, but how it changes their whole business,” Cook said. As highlighted at the first Apple Watch event in September 2014, Starwood Hotels has already announced that it is working with Apple on an app for the Apple Watch…
Cook also expressed pride in the health and fitness applications being developed by third-parties for the Apple Watch. These programs will come in addition to the bundled Workout and Activity apps on the Watch, which allow users to custom program exercise routines and measure fitness statistics. Cook called these apps from third-party developers “really, really fantastic.” The Apple Watch includes motion and heart rate sensors that should allow developers to make powerful apps.
On the other end of the spectrum, Cook said that Panera Bread is working on a WatchKit application that will allow Apple Watch users to pay for their carbs with their wrist. Panera Bread was an early Apple Pay partner with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last fall, so it’s not a huge surprise that the company is working to jump on the Apple Watch bandwagon, too.
Finally, Cook hinted that Apple is working on getting the Apple Watch into the enterprise. He noted that Salesforce.com is developing software for the Apple Watch. Salesforce.com has been a longtime partner in the enterprise with Apple, developing early applications for both the iPhone and iPad. Apple recently partnered up with IBM for enterprise efforts, but Cook did not comment on Apple Watch applications from IBM. Some apps, such as Launch Center Pro, have already been announced.
With the Apple Watch not having a single major feature, third-party applications and customizability will be critical to the product’s success. Realizing this, Apple has invited over 100 application developers to Cupertino to finish up, design, and test apps for the Apple Watch. It is likely that Apple will utilize a significant portion of its March 9th “Spring Forward” event to showcase applications for the Apple Watch, which will ship in April.
Filed under: AAPL Company, Apple Watch, Apps Tagged: Apple watch, enterprise, Fitness apps, Health, Heart Rate Sensor, Motion Sensor, Panera BreadS, Salesforce.com
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While the expansion, which also occurred in Mexico on the same date last month, is unsurprisingly sparking discussion about Apple's efforts in the automotive industry, it is not exactly a new development. Various other Apple trademark applications over the years have included protection under International Class 12, which covers vehicles and their accessories. A European Union filing from October 2003 describes a similar vehicle-related corporate trademark, and others such as a United Kingdom filing from last year have been filed since that time.
Each trademark filing goes through the same basic motions in mentioning various types of vehicles and vehicle-related devices to be covered.
Vehicles; Apparatus for locomotion by land, air or water; electronic hardware components for motor vehicles, rail cars and locomotives, ships and aircraft; Anti-theft devices; Theft alarms for vehicles; Bicycles; Golf carts; Wheelchairs; Air pumps; Motorcycles; Aftermarket parts (after-market parts) and accessories for the aforesaid goods.One issue with interpreting trademark applications is the common strategy of trying to cover as broad a base as possible in order to maximize protection, and thus it is difficult to tell whether Apple's new vehicle-related applications are related to the rumored projects or something simpler such as CarPlay. Apple also currently holds "iPhone," "Mac," and "iPod" trademark protection under Class 12 in several countries.
The Swiss and Mexican filings come on the heels of a recent deluge in Apple car-related news that began when a mysterious van leased to the company was seen on Bay Area streets. Further news on the company hiring employees from Tesla, Ford and GM, and reports stating the so-called "Project Titan" is aiming to launch in 2020 have led some to believe the vans are related to Apple's vehicle project, but they appear more likely to be an attempt to beef up Apple's Maps offerings with imagery similar to Google's Street View.
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Apple told employees during a week at the flagship Berlin Apple Store in Germany that the company will increase its focus on product accessibility by putting executive Lisa Jackson in charge of the efforts, according to people in attendance. Asked by an Apple Store employee if the Apple Watch will include accessibility features, Cook reportedly replied:
Yes is the short answer. In every product we do, we want it to be accessible for everyone. This is not something that we sit around and figure out what the ROI is. I can give a rats what the ROI is. It’s one of those things that goes in the just and right column. So we want all of our products to accessible. In the point that you we are on, I think we need to raise the awareness of accessibility, and I’ve asked Lisa Jackson to work on this. She’s done a great job on the environmental impact, and I tend to think we can do the same thing with accessibility and create an even better environment than what other companies do. The Watch will start with doing some things, but it will become better at more things over time. You can make a call from the Watch… You can interface with Siri. Siri with this point comes back in a textual mode, but we’d like to do something different with that over time. But it’s cool for all of us, but I think it is going to be profound for some people. More on this.
Lisa Jackson joined Apple in 2013 as its Vice President of Environmental affairs, previously serving as the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Jackson’s experience in raising awareness of global issues, combined with her government and industry connections, makes her a prime candidate for boosting Apple’s efforts in accessibility…
While Cook did not go into detail about the Watch’s Accessibility features, the Apple Watch Companion application that we detailed earlier this year sheds some light on Apple’s plans. Here are the bullet points for accessibility that we covered in that earlier article:
- To access Accessibility Settings on the fly, users will triple-click the Digital Crown.
- The Apple Watch will have a VoiceOver feature that can speak text that is displayed on the screen. Users will be able to scroll through text to be spoken using two fingers. VoiceOver can be enabled either by merely raising a wrist or by double tapping the display.
- Users will also be able to zoom on the Apple Watch’s screen: double tap with two fingers to zoom, use two fingers to pan around, and double tap while dragging to adjust the zoom.
- There will also be accessibility settings to reduce motion, control stereo audio balance, reduce transparency, switch to grayscale mode, disable system animations, and enable bold text.
As Cook said, more enhancements will come over time in future generations of the Watch’s hardware and software. For context, Apple tends to add new accessibility features to iOS for the iPhone and iPad year-after-year via the major annual upgrades. The National Federation of the Blind notably has said that Apple “has done more for accessibility than any other company.”
On the topic of raising awareness of global issues, Cook is said to have said that “Apple is investing in education like never before.” Cook said that Apple is moving to lift “underserved and underprivileged” students by supplying Apple products. “The early results are very heartwarming,” Cook told employees at the Germany meeting. Cook also said that Apple is working on improved career development programs to bring more people out of universities to Apple.
Filed under: AAPL Company, Apple Watch Tagged: accessibility, Affairs, Apple watch, Environmental Efforts, EPA, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Lisa Jackson, schools, Tim Cook, Universities
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Apple car project is ‘good news’ for Nissan, says CEO
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