Could the Apple iWatch be around the corner? This & Other Tech Headlines for 2/3-2/7

by Modis on February 7, 2014

Apple’s iWatch: Release Could Be Sooner Than We Think

Apple’s iWatch has been rumored for nearly three years, but Apple’s recent activity points to the release of a smart watch sooner then we may realize. In July 2013, Apple applied for an “iWatch” trademark in Japan and Russia, but not in Europe, where the trademark currently belongs to an italian company. Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook recently confirmed promised future product categories were still on track. He says they are working on things you can’t see today, and there is no issue coming up with things they want to do. An advantage the iWatch could have over other smart watches is that Apple controls all of the software on the iPhone, iPad, and the watch, allowing for better integration between smartphones and tablets.

Bill Gates Now Technology Advisor to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

This week Bill Gates is stepping down from his position as chairman and will step up to become the technology advisor to Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella. Though Gates has said on a regular basis he would rather spend more time working on philanthropic projects rather than Microsoft, Nadella requested gave his assistance while stepping into the new role. Gates maintain the Nadella has the right background to leave Microsoft forward because of opportunities in mobile and cloud computing where Nadella has plenty of experience. John Thompson will succeed gates as chairman of Microsoft, leaving his previous role as CEO and chairman of Symantec.

Next Week’s XBox One Update Promises Better Voice Commands

If you were one of the first people to use the new Xbox One, you probably experienced voice commands that only worked around 80 to 90 percent of the time. This week, Microsoft announced a new system update will be available to consoles on February 11th. This system update will allow for “continuous improvements to the quality of the Kinect voice so commands become more fluid and responsive over time.” Microsoft isn’t going into detail on how this will work, but the phrasing suggests they will allow the system to learn how to interpret your specific pronunciations as you repeat commands over time. Next week’s system update will finally give users the basic ability to see how the system’s 500 GB of internal storage space is being used by various games and apps so they can manage the content more directly.

Facebook Releases Conceal Tool to Make Android Apps Safer

Producing cryptographic code has never been easy for developers, especially those who have to make smartphone apps on incredibly rigid deadlines. Facebook engineers hope to make this an easier task with an open source tool that automates some of the more difficult aspects. Conceal, as the code library has been named, provides easy-to-use programming interfaces for securely storing sensitive app data on an Android based smartphone’s SD card. Using the SD card to stash authentication tokens and similar data helps speed up bandwidth and resource constrained mobile apps, but this comes at a cost. Android designates the SD card as a public resource–a design that allows other apps to access the same files. This means developers who want to improve app performance have struggled to design SD secure data that cannot be accessed by other apps. Many developers build one-off solutions they create themselves. One objective of Conceal is to enable other developers to get up and running quickly.

Tech Companies Contributing $750 Million to Obama’s Education Campaign

In last week’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promoted an initiative to equip more schools with advanced technology. President Obama announced Tuesday while speaking at a Maryland middle school that private sector technology companies are pledging more than $750 million in: computers, software, tablets, internet access, cash and other support to launch the program. Specifically Apple is contributing iPads, Macbooks and other products; AT&T and Sprint are providing Internet access;  Microsoft will provide deeply discounted Windows operating systems for all public schools and free copies of their Office software. Verizon will provide cash and technical support. Many of the companies are targeting their donations at low income schools.

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