It would be easy to glance at Samsung’s new Milk Music service and dismiss it as another copycat. The personalised internet radio service for Galaxy smartphone owners that launches in the US on Friday is, in essence, pretty similar to Pandora or Apple’s iTunes Radio, which launched last year.
But while maintaining feature parity is an important if unglamorous part of the hypercompetitive smartphone market, Milk does bring something new to Samsung Galaxy: great software design. Read more
In a mobile world where single-serving apps are replacing vast monolithic services, Jawbone on Thursday poured out a shot of Coffee: its new caffeine-consumption tracking app.
The move to a standalone app that does not require its Up wristband to work is a first for Jawbone, which is raising $250m in new funding. It comes as part of a big push by Jawbone to up its game in software and services, as step-counting gadgets fast become a commodity. Read more
It was just a regular Tuesday afternoon in Mountain View’s Red Rock coffee shop: rows of young entrepreneurs sitting behind their MacBook screens, working on what they hope might be the next WhatsApp.
The low-key cafe served as an office for Brian Acton and Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s founders, when they were starting out back in 2009. It was here that Sequoia’s Jim Goetz met them in 2011 before becoming their only venture-capital investor. WhatsApp’s modest, unmarked offices are still just around the corner. Read more
Facebook is paying up to $19bn in cash, stock and earnouts to acquire WhatsApp Messenger, the world’s most popular mobile chat app with more than 450m regular users. Here Tim Bradshaw and Hannah Kuchler brought live reaction and comment from Facebook’s conference call.
Google is expanding the number of people who can get hold of Glass, as the FT reported late last year. Now a few friends of each of its first “Explorers” and selected other developers can purchase the experimental wearable device.
With all those new lenses wandering around, it hasn’t escaped Google’s notice that its wearers are getting “a lot of attention”. Google has talked to its existing community of Explorers for some tips on how to deal with the rest of the world, finally acknowledging that it can look “pretty weird”. Read more
Millions of addicted gamers are in a flap over the untimely death of Flappy Bird.
The Vietnamese creator of the most popular mobile game of 2014 has removed the app from sale after saying its internet fame “ruins my simple life”, despite making him tens of thousands of dollars a day. Read more
It may not be the biggest Microsoft story around today, but it’s a big deal for Foursquare: Microsoft is investing $15m in the social-location app as part of a new four-year commercial partnership.
The $15m investment comes in addition to the $35m that Foursquare raised in December last year from DFJ Growth and Capital Group. The app lets users share their location with friends by “checking in” and then recommends new places based on where they’ve been in the past.
Although uptake hasn’t quite lived up to the hype when it launched in 2009, it has collected a lot of data since then: 5bn check-ins, 60m places and 40m tips, all crowdsourced from some 45m users. Read more
Friday’s Personal Tech column reviewed the Narrative Clip, a small wearable camera that takes a photo every 30 seconds. Although it is a well-made product, I encountered some difficulties with the privacy aspects of wearing such a device, and felt that the images it produced were not worth the social awkwardness that it created.
Narrative’s co-founders are a thoughtful bunch and Oskar Kalmaru, the start-up’s chief marketing officer, sent the FT these comments in response: Read more
Apple speculators, take a breath.
Executives from the iPhone maker, including its head of operations, met with officials from the US Food and Drug Administration last month, public records show, to discuss “medical applications”.
What could they possibly have been discussing? Read more
Hardware is hard, so the saying goes. Raising millions of dollars on Kickstarter or Indiegogo can create as many problems as it solves. So the recent explosion in hardware start-ups has produced a crop of incubator and accelerator programmes, such as Lemnos Labs and Haxlr8r. The latest, Highway 1, is a new project from Liam Casey’s PCH International, which typically handles supply chains for rather larger electronics companies such as Apple and Beats Electronics. Read more
Expectations are high that Apple can go back to its old forecast-busting ways when it reports earnings for its December quarter on Monday.
“Investors think that Q1 is going to be a blow-out and the Q2 guide is quite strong,” said analysts at Berenberg in a note after meetings with shareholders last week.
While the iPhone and iPad both look set to turn in double-digit percentage growth rates, falling prices and margins could minimise revenue and earnings growth.
Here’s what to expect after the markets close in New York: Read more
In an interview on Monday afternoon, Nest’s co-founder and chief executive Tony Fadell told the FT that he sold the “smart home” company to Google because he wanted to focus on new product innovations, not worry about managing the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that handles all the data generated from its “Learning Thermostat” and “Protect” smoke alarm, and to ensure the company stays ahead of mounting competition. Read more
The taxi industry’s war on app-enabled chauffeur services such as Uber has broken out into physical combat on the streets of Paris. During a strike by French cab drivers who are protesting against the rise of what are locally called “voitures de tourisme avec chauffeurs”, several drivers and limos who crossed the picket line were attacked, with windows smashed and tires slashed. Read more
The verdict is in and it’s unanimous. The best gadget of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show 2014 is not a curved television, a health-tracking wristband, a Bluetooth speaker or a connected car; in fact, it’s not even a finished product. Yet the latest prototype of the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset has so excited attendees that tech blogs the Verge and Engadget – not to mention this FT reporter – have named it their “best in show”. Read more
Say you’re a fairly aggressive taxi app company with a reputation for hiking prices at peak times and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to crush your competitors. What’s the one thing with enough internet love to offset your karma? That’s right: kittens.
And so it came to pass that Uber, “everyone’s private driver”, for one day only delivered kittens and cupcakes. And the internet said it was good. Even for $20 for 15 minutes of “snuggles”. Read more
You can now comfortably hold the iPad with one hand.
What, you want more? That really is all you need to know. Read more
On a brisk, foggy Tuesdsay morning in San Francisco, Apple unveiled the iPad Air, a new tablet which is thinner and faster than the previous devices, in a bid to consolidate its grip on the high end of the tablet market.
In what it called the “lightest full-sized tablet in the world”, Apple said it had a “dramatically different experience” but the new tablet did not include the fingerprint reader that some had expected after it was introduced for the latest iPhone. The company also unveiled a new iPad mini and cut the cost of the original smaller tablet to $299, the cheapest price for an iPad ever.
Revealing a whole host of updates from mobile apps to its Mac OS update, it announced that it would now offer its software for free. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said the move was “turning the industry on its ear”.
Tim Bradshaw and Hannah Kuchler followed the launch for the FT’s Apple liveblog as Tim Cook took to the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco.