The Microsoft Band Is Dead
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 03:44 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department
Microsoft's fitness-band line of devices have not be very well adopted over the years. Last month it was reported that Microsoft will be killing off the Lumia brand in favor of a new Surface Phone brand. Now, it appears the company is discontinuing its Band devices, as it has removed all references to them from its Microsoft Store listing online. Mary Jo Foley writes via ZDNet: A tipster who asked not to be named showed me a cached version of the Microsoft Online Store listing from yesterday, October 2, which included Band devices; today, October 3, references to the Band devices are gone from the company's Store sites. Microsoft also removed the Band software development kit (SDK) today, which isn't surprising given it's no longer selling Band 2 devices. Microsoft is believed to have disbanded the software team that was looking to bring Windows 10 to the Band a couple months ago. I've gotten various tips that at least some of the Band hardware team members have dispersed, too, with some moving to other Microsoft hardware teams inside the company. Even though sources of mine have said Microsoft is planning to phase out its fitness band devices and to have no plans to roll out a Band 3 device any time soon (or likely, ever), company officials still haven't completely conceded that it's the end of the line for Band. I asked again today and have yet to get an updated statement from the company regarding when and why Band devices were removed from Microsoft's online stores. A spokesperson sent me the following statement: "We have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year. We remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers through Microsoft Stores and our customer support channels and will continue to invest in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-thumbs-up department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Amazon is making a significant change to its Community Guidelines, announced today, which will eliminate any incentivized reviews, except for those that emerge from within its own Amazon Vine program. This program allows Amazon -- not the seller or vendor -- to identify trusted reviewers, and has a number of controls in place in order to keep bias out of the review process. Amazon has historically prohibited compensation for reviews -- even going so far as to sue those businesses who pay for fake reviews, as well as the individuals who write them, in an effort to make its review and rating system fairer and more helpful to online shoppers. However, it has allowed businesses to offer products to customers in exchange for their "honest" review. The only condition was that those reviewers would have to disclose their affiliation with the business in question in the text of their review. Reviewers were generally offered the product for free or at a discounted price, in exchange for their review. Although, in theory, these reviewers could write their true opinion on the product -- positive or negative -- these incentivized reviews have tended to be overwhelmingly biased in favor of the product being rated. Amazon says that, going forward, the only incentivized reviews will be those from Amazon Vine. These don't work the same way, however. For starters, Amazon selects who will be allowed to review products, and it does so mainly to boost the review count on new or pre-release products that haven't yet generated enough sales to have a large number of organic reviews. Vine reviewers are invited to join the program only after having written a number of reviews voted as "helpful" by other customers, and tend to have expertise in a specific product category. In addition, vendors don't have any contact with Vine reviewers, nor do they get to influence which reviewers will receive their products, which are submitted directly to Amazon for distribution. These changes will apply to all product categories other than books, as Amazon has always allowed advance copies of books to be distributed, the retailer notes.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's google-mania department
Google will unveil its answer to Amazon's Echo at an event on Tuesday, the New York Times reports. The Google Home device, which looks like an "air freshener," is expected to go on sale later this month (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), the publication added. The Google Home is powered by what Google calls Assistant, which uses "artificial intelligence" to understand what users are saying and respond conversationally with the best answers. "Amazon is the accidental winner here," Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University, told the paper. "Amazon got there first, which is superimpressive, and it has been a huge hit." From the report: Google is a leader in natural language processing -- the ability to turn spoken words into terms that computers can digest -- and its search engine is the starting point for how most people get answers on the internet. In fact, the company says 20 percent of Google searches on mobile phones are done by voice. So why didn't Google create an Echo-like device before Amazon? In part, Google was hindered by a balkanized structure that prevented different groups within the company from working together, according to four current and former employees. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., had a large team working on voice search but its focus was on an app for smartphones. The company had a separate team working on the Android operating system, which runs on smartphones, tablets and internet-connected home devices, and they were building virtual assistant technology into mobile devices.Google is also expected to launch two new smartphones, expected to be called Pixel and Pixel XL. Earlier today, both the phones showed up on a retailer's website, revealing their specifications. The Guardian reports: The leaked images show two sizes of the phone -- a regular and "XL" version, USB-C fast charging, a new interface, video calling and the Google Assistant, which first launched within the company's Allo messaging app. Both devices will have 32GB or 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, Qualcomm's latest 821 processor, AMOLED screens, fingerprint scanners on the back, an eight-megapixel selfie camera and a 12-megapixel camera on the back with optical image stabilisation, according to the smartphone retailers listings which have since been removed.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department
Apple CEO Tim Cook has once again defended his company's hardline approach to security. At Utah Tech Tour event while taking questions from the audience, Cook said, (via BusinessInsider):"This is one of the biggest issues that we face. Encryption is what makes the public safe. As you know, there are people kept alive because the grid is up. If our grid goes down, if there was a grid attack, the public's safety is at risk" -- hence the need for encryption to protect it. "You can imagine defence systems need encryption, because there are a few bad actors in the world who might like to attack those. [...] Some people have tried to make it out to be bad," the chief executive told the audience at the Utah question-and-answer session. "Encryption is inherently great, and we would not be a safe society without it. So this is an area that is very, very important for us... as you can tell from our actions earlier this year, we throw all of ourselves into this." he added. "We're very much standing on principle here."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's 'good-will'-cloud-game department
Microsoft announced on Monday that it plans to build its first Azure data center in France this year as part of its $3 billion investment for building cloud services in Europe. The company today also launched a new publication dubbed, Cloud for Global Good with no fewer than 78 public policy recommendations in 15 categories such as data protection and accessibility issues. TechCrunch adds:The new expansion, investment and "trust" initiative were revealed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who was speaking at an event in Dublin, Ireland. He said that the expansion would mean that Microsoft covers "more regions than any other cloud provider... In the last year the capacity has more than doubled." As a measure of how Microsoft and Amazon are intent on levelling each other on service availability right now, the news of the French data center comes one month after Amazon announced that it would also be building a data center in France. Nadella, of course, did not mention AWS by name but that is the big elephant in the room for Microsoft. Nadella said today that Microsoft has data centers covering 30 regions across the globe, "more regions than any other cloud provider," with the European footprint including Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany.An anonymous reader writes: Satya Nadella, currently on a whirlwind tour of Europe, says that Microsoft has now invested over $3 billion in cloud infrastructure in Europe, and will extend that to governance-friendly French data centers in 2017. The company has also released a new publication calling for 78 policy reviews in 15 sectors of Cloud, including an overhaul of the verbose and opaque way that end-users are required to click legal agreements over data, some of which are specious and others of which are critical: "Because data is now collected and used in so many different ways, people can be overwhelmed if constantly presented with privacy choices and requests to consent to data collection. Requiring express consent in every situation could also make it difficult to understand which situations raise serious privacy implications and which are trivial."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's data-dumped department
Vint Cerf "worries about the decreasing longevity of our media, and, thus, about our ability as a civilization to self-document -- to have a historical record that one day far in the future might be remarked upon and learned from." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard:
Magnetic films do not quite have the staying power as clay tablets. Clay tablets are more resilient than papyrus manuscripts are more resilient than parchment are more resilient than printed photographs are more resilient than digital photographs. At stake, according to Cerf, is "the possibility that the centuries well before ours will be better known than ours will be unless we are persistent about preserving digital content.
"The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity while modern media from the 1800s forward seem to have shrinking lifetimes. Just as the monks and Muslims of the Middle Ages preserved content by copying into new media, won't we need to do the same for our modern content...? Unless we face this challenge in a direct way, the truly impressive knowledge we have collectively produced in the past 100 years or so may simply evaporate with time."
He points out that much of this century's digital documents can't be viewed without software. Do we need to start carving our web pages into clay tablets?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's kernel-of-wisdom department
Slashdot reader prisoninmate brings news from Softpedia:
Today, Linus Torvalds proudly announced the release and availability for download of the Linux 4.8 kernel branch, which is now the latest stable and most advanced one. Linux kernel 4.8 has been in development for the past two months, during which it received no less than eight Release Candidate testing versions that early adopters were able to compile and install on their GNU/Linux operating system to test various hardware components or simply report bugs...
A lot of things have been fixed since last week's RC8 milestone, among which we can mention lots of updated drivers, in particular for GPU, networking, and Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM), a bunch of improvements to the ARM, MIPS, SPARC, and x86 hardware architectures, updates to the networking stack, as well as to a few filesystem, and some minor changes to cgroup and vm.
The kernel now supports the Raspberry Pi 3 SoC as well as the Microsoft Surface 3 touchscreen.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's phoning-it-in department
"Pitted against the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5, Apple's latest handset came in last place... and by some distance," reports BetaNews. Here's the results of a new test from the U.K. consumer advocacy group, Which?:
We compared the iPhone 7's battery life, when making calls and browsing the web, to those of three top Android competitors: the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5, and the results were staggering. While the iPhone 7's 712 minutes of call time (nearly 12 hours) may sound acceptable, the rival Samsung Galaxy S7 lasted twice as long -- and it doesn't even have the longest lasting battery. The HTC 10 lasted an incredible 1,859 minutes (that's almost 31 hours).
When it comes to internet browsing time, arguably the more important measurement, the results were a lot closer...but the iPhone 7 still came bottom. The 615 minutes of battery life offered by the iPhone 7 is 25 minutes less than its nearest rival, the LG G5, and 175 minutes less than the top performing HTC 10.
The researchers point out that the iPhone 7 has a smaller battery -- but that's leaving critics unimpressed. The Guardian newspaper is asking, "How good can a phone be if the battery doesn't last even a day?"Read Replies (0)