TechSummit Rewind #024: May 30th, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology stories.

Sony’s Xperia Z4 goes global as Z3+

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Sony’s newest flagship is the Xperia Z4, at least for Japan. For everyone else, the Z4 will be the Z3+, which will launch in June. Sony has pretty much reissued the Z3 with refreshed internals. The new handset is still waterproof, but its USB port no longer needs a flap to protect it from water.

Sony’s Z3+’s 5.2-inch display still has a 1080p resolution, the rear camera is still a 20.7-megapixel Exmore RS sensor, and the aluminum-framed body is still available in black, white, or copper. There’s also an aqua green option, and the phone’s thickness has been slightly trimmed to 6.9mm.

The processor has also been upgraded to the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 with Adreno 430 graphics with 3GB of RAM, however, the Z3+ has a slightly smaller 2,930mAh battery than its predecessor, and Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Microsoft partners with LG, Sony, others to sell Android tablets with Office, OneDrive, Skype

Microsoft-Office-for-Android

Microsoft has signed up 20 more hardware partners to sell Android tablets with Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Skype included out-of-the-box.

“Today, I’m excited to announce that 20 additional global and local OEM partners, including LG, Sony, Haier, Positivo, and Wortman, will make Microsoft productivity applications and services available on their Android tablets. Those 31 partners will offer Android tablets pre-installed with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype in the near future. They will be available on a new LG tablet, and Sony will include them on their Xperia Z4 tablet in the next 90 days.”

-Nick Parker, Microsoft’s original equipment manufacturer division corporate vice president

Ford launches pay-per-minute GoDrive carsharing service in London

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Ford’s GoDrive car-sharing service is now open to the public, making 50 vehicles available at 20 London locations.

“As cities become more and more congested, people are becoming increasingly open to new means of mobility, and car sharing is proving to be an appealing model. A crucial part of delivering effective car-sharing services is to learn alongside these drivers what best meets their needs and expectations, and complements their location and existing transportation infrastructure.”

-Ken Washington, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering vice president

GoDrive uses a pay-as-you-go approach to pricing and trips are charged by the minute, which includes the cost of the central London congestion charge, insurance, and fuel.

Cars are either Ford Focus Electric vehicles or Ford Fiesta 1.0-liter EcoBoost models, and there will always be a guaranteed spot to drop off the car when carrying out a one-way journey.

Based on the feedback Ford gets for the beta, the company will look into providing different day-hire pricing options and other on and off-street parking spots.

Phone Companion app coming to Windows 10

Windows 10 Phone Companion

Microsoft has announced that a Phone Companion app is coming built-in to Windows 10 to connect your Windows PC to your phone – whether it runs Windows, Android or iOS.

When you launch the PC app, you can pick the phone you own. With a Windows Phone, you’re pretty much done, but for an Android or iOS device, you can install apps like Cortana, OneDrive, OneNote, Office, and Skype to allow for it to “work great in conjunction with your Windows 10 PC,” according to a Microsoft blog post. Here’s a full list of suggested apps:

  • OneDrive– Photos taken on phone will show up on Windows 10 Photos app
  • Xbox Music- Store, access OneDrive music for free (update coming)
  • OneNote- Notes you write on PC will show up on phone, and vice versa
  • Office- Documents can be worked on from any device

Cortana

The company has also announced that the Cortana voice assistant will come to both Android and iOS as a dedicated app.

The app will be able to do most of what Cortana does from Windows. Cortana can remind you to pick you milk the next time you’re at a grocery store, track a flight, and show you everything from Cortana’s Notebook with everything syncing between devices.

However, the voice assistant will not be able to toggle settings, open apps, or be opened hands-free by saying “Hey Cortana” because it doesn’t have those device permissions since it’s only an app.

The Phone Companion app will come to the Windows 10 Insider Preview in a few weeks. The Cortana companion will be available for Android at the end of June and iOS later this year. The updated Xbox Music app for Android and iOS will be available in late June or July, with playable or OneDrive music content coming in beta.

Charter buys Time Warner Cable in $78.7 billion deal

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Charter Communications has agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable for $78.7 billion.

Charter also finalized an updated deal with Advance/Newhouse Partnership, Bright House Networks’ parent company, to acquire it for $10.4 billion. The amended agreement allows the two companies to form a new partnership with Charter owning 86-87 percent depending on shareholder decisions in the Time Warner Cable deal. Charter will pay Advance/Newhouse common and convertible preferred units in the partnership in addition to $2 billion in cash.

The combined company will be the second-largest U.S. cable operator (behind only Comcast) and the largest in Southern California.

The combined company will have roughly 23 million total subscribers, compared to Comcast’s roughly 27 million customers as of the end of Q1.

Charter will pay Time Warner Cable shareholders $100 per share in cash and stock of a new company called “New Charter” equivalent to 0.5409 shares of the current Charter, according to the company.

The deal values each Time Warner Cable share at $195.71 based on Charter’s May 20 closing price, or $200 based on Charter’s 60-trading day volume weighted average price. In addition, Charter will provide an election option for each Time Warner Cable stockholder to receive $115 of cash and Charter shares for each Time Warner Cable share they own.

Vox Media acquires Re/code

Vox Media

Re/code, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher’s website, has been acquired by Vox Media, publishers of properties like The Verge, SB Nation, Vox, and Polygon.

Both Mossberg and Swisher plan to stay with Re/code.

The deal was announced Tuesday at Re/code’s code conference in Rancho Pales Verdes, CA. The site has 44 full-time employees and three contract employees.

Re/code will also gain access to Chorus, Vox’s publishing platform, which has been a key to luring marquee journalists like Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein.

While The Verge also covers technology, according to editor-in-chief Nilay Patel, they cover the industry from a different angle than Re/code.

“The Verge is explicitly not a business publication. [The site] is about being a new kind of culture publication.”

-Nillay Patel, The Verge editor-in-chief

Re/code is The Verge’s polar opposite in that respect, covering the business of the technology industry.

While there could be fighting over certain stories between site leaders, according to CEO Jim Bankoff, a Vox Media study indicated a three percent content overlap between the two sites.

Snapchat users watch two billion videos daily

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Snapchat users watch over two billion videos daily, according to CEO Evan Spiegel.

That’s roughly half the daily video views that Facebook gets.

“More than 60 percent of 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users in the U.S. are active on the service,” according to Snapchat.

“We are fortunate that we have an audience that is compelling and big enough that people will change their video to make it a better product.”

-Evan Spiegel, Snapchat CEO

Apple drops discoveryd in latest OS X beta

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The latest beta of Mac OS 10.10.4 has dropped discoveryd, the process used for networking performance in Yosemite, in favor of the older process used by previous versions of the OS. This should address the network stability issues introduced with Yosemite’s new networking stack.

The process causes users to regularly drop WiFi access and causes network shares to list many times over due to bugs.

Discoveryd would cause crashes, duplicate names on the network, and other WiFi-related bugs.

In OS X 10.10.4 seed 4’s Activity Monitor, discoveryd is no longer loaded by the device – instead using mDNSResponder, the process used in OS X versions pre-Yosemite.

Mandriva is officially dead

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French company Mandriva is being liquidated, according to the company.

Although the company raised $585,000 in revenue in 2013, it wasn’t enough to make it through 2015.

The company aimed to take on Microsoft with a Linux-toting desktop PC. Mandriva won out against Microsoft with the Nigerian government to put its Linux distro on 17,000 school PCs.

The company was on the brink of bankruptcy by 2012, but was saved by Jean-Manuel Croset, who joined as COO in 2011 and eventually became CEO.

Hyundai becomes first manufacturer to embrace Android Auto

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The 2015 Hyundai Sonata will be the first vehicle to natively play nice with Android Auto.

The company will begin using the in-car operating system this year, first appearing on the Sonata before appearing on other models.

“Android Auto aligns with Hyundai’s core interior design principles of safety, intuitiveness and simplicity. We launched this highly anticipated feature on our best-selling Sonata, adding to our promise of value. With the launch of Android Auto, we provide more owners with the experience of cutting-edge technology.”

-Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America CEO

“Android Auto helps keep drivers’ eyes and attention on the road by integrating the advanced driving-related functions of the user’s smartphone with the familiar centralized screen, physical controls and microphone of their car. Furthermore, the smartphone’s screen becomes ‘locked,’ so drivers are tempted to look down and interact with their phones directly while Android Auto is in use.”

-Hyundai

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