Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, which presses pause on the technology newswire.
GoDaddy, Microsoft focus on small business with Office 365 partnership
In early 2013, Microsoft extended its Office 365 subscription service to small- and medium-sized businesses and now it’s continuing that push with a new partnership with GoDaddy. The web-housing and domain name company will offer Microsoft’s suite of partnership tools to its small-business customers, including the ability to connect users’ domain names to Outlook. It also brings the full suite of Office’s producitive software, including shared calendars, cloud storage and instant messaging. The move comes a little over a year after Brake Irving, a former Microsoft executive, took the helm as GoDaddy’s CEO, where he’s focused on expanding its support for small businesses. Office 365 for GoDaddy is already available in the US, Canada and globally.
Google acquires Nest for $3.2 billion, pledges continued iOS support
We didn’t see this one coming. Google scooped up Nest, headed by former Apple employees Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, for a cool $3.2 billion. Mountain View was also quick to assure users that Nest will continue to run under its own brand — like Motorola did (which has since been sold off to Lenovo).
“Google will help us finally realize our vision of the conscious home and allow us to change the world faster than we ever could if we continued to go it alone. We’ve had great momentum, but this is a rocket ship.”
Also, to answer the obvious question here: yes, Nest will continue to offer apps for both iOS and Android. That means Apple fans will still be able to tinker around with their thermostats and Nest Protect smoke detectors even after the acquisition goes through.
“Nest’s product line obviously caught the attention of Google and I’m betting that there’s a lot of cool stuff we could do together, but nothing to share today.”
In a pair of blog posts, Nest’s founders promised the company would keep its “distinct brand identity” and that it takes privacy seriously, with a policy limiting the sharing of customer information to improving its services.
Sprint abandons its ‘One Up’ early upgrade plan after just a few months
Sprint’s answer to T-Mobile’s UnCarrier campaign wasn’t quite the success the company hoped it would be. Less than four months after its announcement, Big Yellow has begun phasing out its “One Up” early upgrade plan and directing online customers to its “Framily” plan instead.
With Framily, Sprint is attempting to drive down the cost of friends and family plans by rewarding customers with lower monthly fees for each other person (up to 10) they add to a single account. The One Up plan, however, was specifically designed to cut the cost of upgrading to a brand-new smartphone every year.
Sprint hasn’t left customers out in the cold, however, with a couple of similar alternatives. The first, called Sprint Easy Pay, allows customers to buy a device for a smaller down payment and then pay off the rest of the device over 24 monthly installments. With its Framily plan, Sprint also provides an upgrade option for subscribers who sign-up for the $20 unlimited data add-on. Once they’ve had the package enabled on their account for 12 consecutive months, they’ll be able to trade in their device for a newer model.
Motorola Assist updated to let you reply to texts with your voice while driving
Contextually aware app Motorola Assist lets you set triggers and actions for a variety of tasks, and is smart enough to decide when you’re driving, sleeping, in a meeting or in other situations. In the first scenario, the app was only able to read texts out loud to you as you drove, leaving you without a way to respond aside from pulling over and doing so the old-fashioned way. However, that changed today as an update to the app promised to let you reply to incoming messages using your vocal cords. Additionally, Assist can also launch your music app of choice as soon as you turn the ignition. Assist is available on the Moto X and Verizon’s Droid devices released from 2014 on.
EU wants to know if US studios’ TV deals restrict pan-European viewing
Many European TV aficionados are all too familiar with the limitations of getting content from across the pond. However, the European Commission is concerned that these deals go one step too far. It’s now investigating whehter some exclusives violate antitrust rules by preventing access beyond a single EU country, effectively carving up the continent’s TV market along national borders. Would-be viewers beyond a carrier’s home market shouldn’t have to suffer, according to the EU. There’s no deadline for the investigation, and no guarantees that it will lead to action against broadcasters. However, this is still good news for Europeans who want more choice about how (and when) they watch US shows.
Emblink dongle now lets you control your home apliances using voice commands
Enblink is an $85 dongle that plugs into your Google TV box, allowing you to control any Z-Wave enabled appliance (whether it’s a door lock, light, etc.) using an app. You can now control everything using voice commands (with a Google TV still required). Basically, once you’ve gone through the trouble of creating so-called scenes, like dimming your living room lights, you’ll need to go into the settings menu of the app and add a voice widget to the main screen. From there, you can use commands like “lamp on,” “TV off” and “dim.” The three-minute video embedded below breaks it down — and serves as a helpful introduction to folks who had no idea about Enblink before this post:
UK carrier O2 dropping mobile wallet service after less than two years
O2 UK’s carrier-independent Money mobile wallet may have been a little too ambitious. The network shut down the service on March 31st to investigate “new and better ways” to handle payments — in other words, it’s not satisfied with Money’s performance. Both the market and O2’s parent company Telefonica have changed in the past two years, according to the provider. Still, this is disappointing news to shoppers hoping that O2’s blessing would give Money an edge over its rivals.
Just Mobile unveils fine-point capacitive stylus, expands dock and battery lineup
Just Mobile was at CES to sprinkle some magic dust on its new accessories, including a mixture of batteries, Lightning docks, cables and styli.
They showed off the AluPen Digital fine-point capacitive stylus that works on any modern mobile device, without needing Bluetooth or any other sensor, the AluBolt Pro Lightning dock for iPad, along with the Lounge Pro and Lounge Ice iPhone docks, the AluCable Flat and the aluminum Gum++ battery. Read on for a detailed look at all of them.
As mentioned below, the AluPen Digital shifts away from the conversational blunt stylus to deliver an experience closer to a real pen. The only thing needed (other than a mobile device) here is an AAAA battery (yes, that’s a real thing) that keeps the narrow tip going for six-eight weeks. When you’re done doodling, you can also retract the tip by twisting the small cap. The best part possibly of all this is the price: $49.95. The AluPen Digital is available now.
Gum++ aluminum edition, AluCable flat
The original Gum++ launched last year with a Rimowa-inspired design, but apparently there’s a demand for a smooth aluminum version, hence this refresh. The specs haven’t changed: 6,000mAh capacity and a generous 2.5A output. You can grab it now in black, space gray, silver, red and gold for $79.95.
If you’re looking for a Lightning cable as well, Just Mobile’s also offering the self-explanatory AluCable Flat, available in black with silver caps, black with blue caps or white with gold caps. You can grab one now with the long version setting you back $24.95 and the short version for $19.95.
This minimalistic iPhone dock has a couple of not-so-obvious feature like a retractable support stand behind the phone (but the Lightning plug can do the job on its own as well), and the hold underneath the iPhone’s speaker, which amplified the sound through a front-facing slot at the bottom of the dock. It’s available now for $34.95, because you have to supply your own Lightning cable.
Last but not least, we have the Lounge Ice, which is clearly designed with the iPhone 5c in mind. It gets its name because when plugged in, it’s as if you’re looking at a popsicle. The wooden plug isn’t just for show, though, as it actually houses your Lightning cable’s plug. This is also available now for $29.95.
Twitter’s web view updated to match your phone
Where one of Twitter’s app designs goes, the rest will follow — hot on the heels of its latest Android and iOS releases, the social network rolled out a new web interface with a matching look. The change is primarily cosmetic at first glance, although you can now personalize the accent color as well as usual elements like backgrounds and profile photos.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 begins Android 4.4 KitKat rollout in Poland
Sometimes, even the most massive of updates have humble beginnings. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 had one of them, offering Android 4.3 Jelly Bean upon its début. It was only a matter of time before an update to Android 4.4 KitKat became available to users, and it has come — albeit, on a rather small-scale starting in Poland. Polish quad-core Snapdragon 800 Note 3s can now sideload the update through the manufacturer’s Kies software, according to SamMobile. This was a fairly quiet and restrictive launch, so Samsung didn’t make an official announcement, but the company’s limited rollout was to make sure that all possible bugs got squashed before its worldwide availability.
Uber taxi vandalized in France despite new law favoring regular cabbies
Though a new French law gives cabbies there a 15-minute head start against private companies like Uber and LeCab, taxi drivers aren’t done protesting. Things may have taken a violent turn, as a Uber car with a pair of Eventbrite execs aboard got attacked on its way from a Paris airport. The culprits slashed two tires, dumped glue on the car and broke windows, cutting the hands of CTO Kat Borlongan. She added that the Uber driver managed to maneuver out of harm’s way before the attackers could enter the vehicle. There’s no proof that taxi drivers were behind the attack, but Uber believes they’re responsible, and there have been vehement protests in France by traditional cab drivers who have paid enormous sums for their official permits and now feel that their livelihoods at risk from new car services. Meanwhile, there’s a good change of the new “15-minute” law being struck down anyway, according to Rude Baguette, because of the law’s passing by presidential decree, making it held to a higher anti-competition standard — which it seems unlikely to meet.
Uber in a statement:
“Unfortunately, I can confirm this morning’s incident in Paris occurred and we strongly condemn this severe violence two of our riders and our partner were confronted with. First and foremost, we are relived that all involved are safe and ok. Also, we would like to praise our partner who has shown great courage and professionalism, focusing on getting his customers out of a very challenging situation as swiftly as possible.
“That the taxis chose to use violence today is unacceptable, that they chose to strike is their business. However, Parisians also have a choice when it comes to moving around in their cities, and today’s incident will certainly not tempt Parisians into choosing a taxi for their next ride. Safety, reliability and choice, not violence, are what continues to draw customers towards private hire vehicles.”
YouTube partners with DreamWorks to create daily highlight reel
Sure, YouTube can recommend related videos, but those aren’t necceasarily the best videos on the service; you have to rely on outside help to find the best of the best. However, that search just got a lot easier. The streaming powerhouse is teaming up with DreamWorks (yes, that DreamWorks) to launch YouTube Nation, a five-minute daily show that highlights its most interesting content in up to Ultra HD quality for pixel fanatics. The show will draw attention from everything on the site, whether it’s professionally-made shows like Video Game High School or amateur footage. While it’s doubtful that the show will spot the next Harlem Shake, it could save a lot of time for busy viewers when it hits subscription boxes weekdays at 9PM ET (6PM PT, 2AM GMT) and just might get visitors in a YouTube wormhole, maybe.
PayPal starts testing seamless online store checkouts
PayPal can be a hassle for online shopping when you have to leave a store’s site just to finish a transaction. That will change once PayPal finishes rolling out its new In-Context Checkout, though. The technology lets you enter all your billing and shipping info through a pop-up; you never have to actually visit PayPal itself, and the interface remains simple regardless of your device. Only a handful of stores are testing it out, but the company promises that more large retailers will get to use it. Meanwhile, PayPal hasn’t forgotten about those who’d rather skip checkout altogether. It’s expanding trials of its hand-free Beacon payment system to retailers in Canada, France, Germany and the UK; if all goes according to plan, we’ll hear more soon in the TechSummit Rewind.