editorial

Amazon Prime Day delivers the worst of Black Friday

Amazon Prime Day delivers the worst of Black Friday

Perhaps we should've expected Amazon Prime Day to be a monstrous disappointment. When you model your huge, one-day-only sale on Black Friday, after all, you're probably going to experience the same instantly-evaporating deals and masses of unlovable clearance items. Sure enough, though there have been some impressive bargains to be had, there are more people vocally annoyed than crowing about their purchases.

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Amazon Echo’s weirdest talent is making you feel heard

Amazon Echo’s weirdest talent is making you feel heard

Amazon’s Echo is a lot of things - shopping companion, music player, portal to Wikipedia - but its most surprising feature says more about human comfort with next-gen electronics. Echo’s cleverness is in the cloud; the black column of its local hardware is really just a gateway to that remote functionality. Yet it also has to satisfy a few core requirements, such as demonstrating attentiveness. The solution Amazon came up with is both simple and elegant.

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As WWDC ends, the mood in the trenches is neighborly

As WWDC ends, the mood in the trenches is neighborly

Apple’s WWDC is over for another year, and as the dust settles on the iOS 9, Apple Music, and OS X El Capitan launch, it’s a chance to reflect on five days of sessions. It’s hard to gauge the tone of a week-long developer event from a fast-paced keynote - even with an Apple Music section which went on too long, and which several developers I spoke to suspected was padded to fill up space originally intended for an Apple TV SDK announcement. If there can be such a thing as an overarching theme, though, it felt like it might be harmonious co-existence.

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Microsoft needs a new tune to woo developers to Windows 10

Microsoft needs a new tune to woo developers to Windows 10

"Developers! Developers! Developers!" That chant might trigger nightmares of a rather sweaty Ballmer, but what was true almost a decade ago is now even more critical for Microsoft's success. Yes, success, not just survival. There is little doubt Microsoft could live on for a few more years on life support should Windows 10 flop, but if the next operating system is to become the success that Windows 8 was not, it needs to have more apps. Not just any app, clones or fakes, but the kind of apps that make iOS and Android users go nuts. And to get those apps, Microsoft will obviously need developers, developers, developers.

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I still trust autonomous cars more than I trust you

I still trust autonomous cars more than I trust you

I told my grandmother about Mercedes-Benz’s self-driving F 015 concept the other week, and she was horrified. “However could you trust it to drive you safely?” she wanted to know, perhaps thinking of how her DVR regularly and unpredictably dumps her favorite recordings and extrapolating that to a crazed silvery space-pod crashing and taking her grandson with it. In fact, I told her, I trust autonomous vehicles far more than I do my fellow human drivers, and recent news of self-driving car crashes in California has done nothing to change that.

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The big Apple Watch surprise is how little you use it

The big Apple Watch surprise is how little you use it

For all the furore around the Apple Watch launch, not to mention the number of people still waiting for their pre-orders, it’s a surprise just how low-key the smartwatch itself is. Of course, there’s the excitement of opening the box, strapping it to your wrist, and setting it up with your favorite apps and notifications, but after that the wearable works best if you simply... wear it.

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Living with the new MacBook Retina

Living with the new MacBook Retina

There’s an unusual degree of forthrightness - sometimes bordering on vitriol - in how outspoken people are about the new MacBook Retina. It’s something you see occasionally with high-profile, edge-pushing devices: not just dissent as to whether it’s a good product to buy or not, but a sort of slightly-frothy aggression in aiming to convince you that you’ve made the wrong decision.

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Why I refuse to believe VR is the future of gaming

Why I refuse to believe VR is the future of gaming

Virtual reality was all the talk at the Game Developers Conference this week. From Sony to Valve to Oculus to Sulon, a slew of companies showed off virtual reality technology that they say, will carry us well into the future.

Of course, this is something we’ve heard before from hardware makers. Oculus has shown its Rift product off for years, arguing that it can succeed in virtual reality where so many other companies have failed. Now several other companies are arguing the same.

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I gave away my tablets and don’t at all miss them

I gave away my tablets and don’t at all miss them

Tablets were the new big thing, and the idea of owning one was exciting. Still, I didn’t see a use for them at the time, and so I put off buying one for a while, instead using those extra funds for an extra nice smartphone. Months rolled by and I’d nearly impulse buy a tablet at one point or another, but always held back. What would I do with it? It’d be easier to watch movies while lying around, I reasoned. And I could use it to take notes during class. It’d be lighter than my then-laptop. There was an app for everything! I talked myself into it. Fast-forward a few years. I’ve given away most of my tablets, and I don’t miss them a bit.

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Elon Musk is Easily the Most Fascinating Person in Tech

Elon Musk is Easily the Most Fascinating Person in Tech

I’m often asked who I think could be the biggest game-changer in the world of technology in the next decade. Often, people share their opinions on the matter, saying that it’ll be Apple or Google or even Microsoft. They argue that companies – not individuals – will ultimately be the change agents going forward. While I can certainly agree that major companies will likely play a major role in industry growth, I see things a much different way. I still believe that individuals can change the world in dramatic fashion, and the person who has the highest likelihood of doing that right now is Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

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It’s time to hit reset – not delete – on Google Glass

It’s time to hit reset – not delete – on Google Glass

Farewell, Explorers. Goodbye, Glass. Google's decision to spin out its controversial wearable into a standalone business was instantly portrayed by many as the often-predicted death of the headset, but the reality is less clear-cut. Glass' struggles saw early enthusiasm sour when questions around privacy and usefulness collided head-on with anti-ostentatious-geek sentiment, and the "face computer" never managed to restore its reputation. While the temptation may be to hit delete on the whole saga, I'd argue a Glass reboot with far greater focus on how head-worn wearables might fit into our daily lives would be a far more rewarding strategy.

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Project Ara has a lot to prove

Project Ara has a lot to prove

The geek within me loves Project Ara. Interchangeable modules that snick into a brushed aluminum frame and turn your smartphone into a pseudo-DSLR or a Tricorder: what's not to like? Google's ATAP team demonstrated the latest prototype - and detailed its flaws and future improvements - at Ara's second developer event yesterday, inviting module-minded partners on stage to discuss exactly what the flexible phone could become with a little imagination. Ambitious, certainly, but while many (myself included) left the event impressed by Regina Dugan and her intriguing handset, that enthusiasm was tempered with concern over whether the real-world would be so welcoming.

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