News

NETWORKING | SOFTWARE | PERIPHERALS

An Amazon Echo SDK is in the works, which could mean third-party apps are not far off

Amazon's voice-activated, cloud-enabled speaker and smart-home assistant, Echo, is quite clearly a work in progress. In its current form, it's more of a voice-controlled speaker than a virtual assistant for your home, when it should be the other way round. But this could change very soon as the e-tailing giant is about to kick this ambitious experiment into high gear.

CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

Have we reached peak smartphone?

At the end of 2006, the cell phone landscape was awash with devices that filled specific wants and needs. If you wanted the coolest way to make calls, you got the RAZR. If you needed to email colleagues on the go, you bought a BlackBerry. If you were constantly texting your friends during study hall, there was the Sidekick.

SOFTWARE

You can now embed OneNote images, tweets, and YouTube into Microsoft's Sway

Microsoft said Tuesday that it has greatly expanded the types of content and sources that can be embedded into its Sway tool, with an eye toward OneNote. And, just for fun, you can embed other Microsoft Sways into your Sways, as well.

CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

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The Fogo smart flashlight is a survivalist's dream tool

After turning heads and bagging multiple accolades at CES in January, the Fogo flashlight is now trying to charm the Kickstarter community into loosening its purse strings to the tune of $125,000. According to Fogo Digital, the company behind the device, this money will be used "to build molds and pay for the initial production run."

GAMES

Steam Machines are coming this fall: Syber announces 6 new living room gaming PCs

Steam Machines are back. Yes, even the name "Steam Machines," if an email I just received from Syber is to be believed.

BUSINESS ISSUES

Tech company mergers and acquisitions activity hit $1 trillion last year

Global technology mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity last year hit record levels, with nearly 4,200 technology companies changing hands in deals worth more than $1 trillion, according to research.

CONSUMER ELECTRONICS | SECURITY

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Dropcam competitor Simplicam adds new features to its cloud camera

ArcSoft's Simplicam showed itself to be a worthy challenger to Dropcam when we compared three of the leading home-monitoring cameras in November. This was due in no small measure to its ability to detect human faces. The Fremont, California-based company has made several improvements since then, the latest of which it announced today.

GAMES | SOFTWARE

Unity 5's new full-featured Personal Edition is completely, utterly free to use

This is why competition is great: Following on yesterday's news that Unreal Engine 4 is going free, now Unity 5 is going even more free too--as long as you're a developer making less than $100k.

SOFTWARE

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Geomerics' Enlighten 3 engine aims to create photorealistic in-game lighting

Some artists are said to paint with light. Geomerics, an ARM subsidiary that develops dynamic lighting technology, helps game developers do just that. Today the company released its third-generation product--Enlighten 3--along with a new Forge development tool.

SOFTWARE

BitTorrent Sync 2.0 adds pro features

More than two years after its initial public release, BitTorrent Sync has been updated to version 2.0 and dropped its "beta" designation. Based on the peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol, it enables users to securely sync folders among their own devices and share them with other users, without relying on cloud servers like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Apple's iCloud Drive.

Expert Opinion

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Apple doesn't need its own gadgets to dominate the smart home

If you believe the weekend rumors, Apple will announce a connected-home platform next week at WWDC. But before you get too excited about an iThermostat and an iFridge and an iCamera watching you sleep, consider this: If Apple does get into the home-automation market, that doesn't necessarily mean it'll make smart-home gadgets of its own.

Editors Pick

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Justin.tv goes off the air

With all signs pointing to a Google purchase of Twitch, the company behind Justin.tv has shut down the live video service.

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Verizon fires back at FCC over data throttling

The FCC called out Verizon for its plans to throttle customers with unlimited data plans who use the most data, so the carrier responded.

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Business faces backlash after threatening $500 fines for negative Yelp reviews

Businesses who don't know how to manage their social media presence should remember that the Internet can be vicious.

Latest Product Reviews

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Key Ingredient kitchen tablet review: Yummy recipes can't rescue this crummy tablet

Meatballs. Giant bacon-wrapped meatballs. The Key Ingredient Recipe tablet suggested this fantastic idea to me when I searched for a meatball recipe. It's a good thing the meatballs were tasty, because that's about the only thing this tablet gets right.