The new Chromecast Audio

A new product was introduced to the Chromecast line. We are talking about the new Chromecast Audio. Now, Google Chromecast line is recognized as being an easy way to stream video content from the smartphone tablet or smartphone, to a bigger screen.

Well, with the new release, Chromecast Audio will allow people to stream wireless music content into any powered speaker, sound bar or AV receiver. Yes, this an inexpensive way for users to stream audio content wherever they want, from their smartphones or tablets. 

At the moment, Sonos is probably the leader in wireless streaming audio, but it has some reasons to worry. Why? Because the new Chromecast Audio is currently available at the price of 35 dollars, while Sonos Connect costs somewhere around 350 dollars. Will this be a huge threat for Sonos? 

We will surely find out in the next couple of months. So, the new Chromecast Audio is one of the easiest ways for users to spread wireless music into their audio devices. Moreover, they will be able to play music around their house, from most popular services like Spotify, YouTube and Pandora. At the moment, Chromecast Audio is available in 17 countries.

Since the popular basic Chromecast is available somewhere around the same price as the newest Chromecast Audio and this supports numerous audio apps as well, the new version will probably be a strong competitor. 

To be added that the video model, which also received an update in 2015, still requires a device with an HDMI port. This means that users will have to open their TV to listen to music. On the other side, the new Chromecast Audio is more specialized in audio field, so this means that it works on many other audio systems that do not come with HDMI. So, people who have an old stereo device that has an “aux in” port can rest assured that will will work with the new Chromecast Audio. 

As for design, the new Chromecast Audio looks like a tiny 2-inch puck in diameter. Moreover, this little device comes with two ports and also has a cable to plug into each. 

Google is testing password-free logins

Google has confirmed this morning that they are searching for a way to sign into Google account without having to type in a password. Those who have been invited to try out the new method of logging in will respond to a notification sent to their smartphone. 

So, this new idea is similar with Yahoo’s “Account Key,” where users will receive a notification on their smartphone that will open an app where they will approve to log-in. But, why did Google decide to work at this? Well, probably because passwords are always considered to be the weakest parts when it comes to breaking into an account.

Many users have been complaining that their accounts have been hacked, but probably that is because they choose to use a weak password. In other cases, users have forgotten their password and they weren’t able to recover it. Another mistake is when people are using the same password for many other accounts, which is not recommended. So, if Google is introducing a password-free login option, this will probably solve a lot of problems. For instance, people will not lose time logging into their accounts whenever the password is needed, and probably it will be a more secure way for them.

With this new system, people will just have to introduce their email address when signing into their Google account. After that, a notification will appear on their phone, asking if they are trying to sign in from another device, and users will just have to approve the login by tapping “yes.” That’s it, after that, they are in the Google account.

“We’ve invited a small group of users to help test a new way to sign-in to their Google accounts, no password required. ‘Pizza’, ‘password’ and ‘123456’—your days are numbered,” has declared a Google spokesperson. 

So, this new logging option will not be a big problem, especially for those who always have their smartphones nearby while using Google services on their computer or laptop. This new system will probably be better than the old system, meaning that it will be more secure and users will not have to memorize complicated passwords. 

Ford and Google will build a self-driving car together

Now, here is an interesting story. The end of the year is coming, but it looks like the biggest tech companies have not stopped for celebrations. Google and Ford are still working and it seems that they have come to an agreement to build a self-driving car together. 

However, they will officially announce the deal next month, when the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will be taking place. This is an incredible deal that will represent a huge collaboration between two of the most successful and biggest names in the automotive and tech industries.

Even though the two huge companies haven’t made an official announcement yet and they don’t want to talk about this subject, the deal seems to be already done. Ford’s CEO Mark Fields is expected to make the announcement at the International Consumer Electronics Show, in January 2016. 

Moreover, Ford officials have already made several announcements about rapping up its testing of autonomous cars. “We have been and will continue working with many companies and discussing a variety of subjects related to our Ford Smart Mobility plan,” has declared Ford’s spokesman, Alan Hall. “We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons, and we do not comment on speculation,” he continued.

To be added that Ford is the first company which has managed to make a deal with Google over self-driving cars. So, this will be a huge advantage over major rivals, like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Volvo. These companies are also working on self-driving car projects and are trying to get them to the market as fast as possible. An interesting announcement has been made last year by Ford’s chief executive officer, Mark Fields. He declared that he believes that in the next five years, someone will introduce autonomous vehicles. 

However, even for Google this is a great deal, because they will have a professional partner that will help them and handle the expense and hassle of manufacturing autonomous vehicles. To be added that former Ford CEO, Alan Mulally, is on Google’s board of directors. We don’t know that this has represented an advantage for Ford, but Google and Ford are now a team on building a self-driving car.

Microsoft buys Ray Ozzie’s Talko

Microsoft revealed that they have managed to reach an agreement to buy Talko. This is a mobile messaging startup founded by Ray Ozzie. He was Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect until 2010.

The terms of this acquisition were not disclosed, but it seems that it involves the Talko technology and the team. After the deal will be closed, Talko’s employees will join Skype, while the app will be shut down. As for Ray Ozzie, he will not rejoin Microsoft as a part of the deal.

This mobile messaging app has been launched in September 2014, after years of development. Talko is an app that offers service that aims to place the usual conference line with VoIP, cloud-based calls.

Moreover, the app is recording live conversations, but it also offers other features. For example, this app is able to create bookmarks within conversations, add asynchronously shared voice-based follow ups to the conversation in question and tag users. So, this is a promising app that will definitely be a huge hit on the app messaging market. It is not a surprise after all that Microsoft has decided to buy the company and add Talko’s team to their own app, Skype. 

After this acquisition, Microsoft has declared that Talko’s technology and talent will join Skype and it will be used to “deliver great new features and capabilities” in both Skype for Business and Skype. But, the question is: Why Ozzie decided to sell Talko? So, here is a post from Talko:

“…the reality is that the broad-based success of communications apps tends to be binary: A small number of apps earn and achieve great viral growth, while most fall into some stable niche. For all the value and enjoyment it’s delivered, and for all the team’s listening and perseverance, Talko was largely on the path to filling a (passionate) niche. We’re in this to have great impact, so it’s time for a change.”

To be added that this is not the first time when Ozzie has decided to sell a company to Microsoft. He also sold his startup Groove Networks back in 2005, and then he became Chief Software Architect at Microsoft.  

Interesting facts about Motorola’s Moto 360 Sport

Motorola has released its new fitness-focused smartwatch called Moto 360 Sport. This new device is now available on the UK market and it costs somewhere around £219. US customers will have to wait a little bit longer, because this device will be available here on January 7 and it will cost 299 dollars. 

The classic Moto 360 has been a huge success this year on the market, being considered one of the best smartwatches out there. So, will the new Moto 360 Sport have the same success? The answer to this question will probably be discovered next year, when the new device will be globally released.

The new Moto 360 Sport is also considered to be the second Android Wear device that comes with a GPS. The first smartwatch that had this feature was Sony Smartwatch 3. How will the GPS feature make this watch even better? Well, GPS will allow users to track pace and distance when running, without needing any other device, like a smartphone. Moreover, it seems that the GPS signal is better than Garmin’s Forerunner 630, which is a really good result because Garmin has a lot of experience in the industry.

As for display, this is pretty nice. Moto 360 is the first smartwatch that comes with a display which combines a traditional backlit LCD screen and a front-lit reflective one. This combination will allow the screen to remain visible even on outdoors with direct sunlight. This is an incredible feature, making this smartwatch really attractive. The battery life will probably be a problem, because users will most likely have to charge it daily. Why? Well, because when the GPS feature is turned on, the battery life will start to shrink. At approximately 30-minute run with the GSP on, the battery has been reduced to 85 percent.

To be added that on the new Moto 360 Sport, users will find a single button situated in the two o’clock position. Pushing this button, the only action will be to go back to the home screen. So, this means that everything will be controlled by touch. 

A classy-looking smart bulb called Misfit Bolt

Misfit is probably well-known for its fitness tracker bands, but it looks like the famous company has also released on the market a bulb. Yes, it is called Misfit Bolt and looks pretty well, having some interesting features. But, why does this company release a bulb if they are specialized and famous on the wearable market? 

Well, if we look a little bit closer, we will surely see that these two have a little connection. So, customers who will buy the new Misfit Bolt, will have the opportunity to pair it up with their phone over Bluetooth. This means that they can control or adjust the bulb’s lighting by using an app, or using its integration with the company’s activity trackers. 

Knowing these facts, it sounds more interesting and probably a little bit more attractive. Users will also have the possibility to sync Bolt with their sleep patterns and they will be waked up in the morning with a gradual sunrise simulation. A very interesting feature and a nice companion for those who are using Misfit’s Beddit sleep monitor and Misfit wearable. 

The new Misfit Bolt is available at the price of 43 dollars. This is not a very high price, if we compare it with other competitors, for example Lifx LED, available at 60 dollars. Moreover, using Misfit’s bulb, users will not have to use a hub plugged into their router in order to sync it with their phone. It will be much easier to use the bulb and there will be no extra cables or devices in the house.

However, the Misfit Bolt also has some downsides. This means that this bulb isn’t coming with full features, meaning that it cannot be sync with a system like IFTTT or Amazon Echo or with user’s music. As for the basic color-changing smart functionality, yes, it is good, but the competition is one step ahead. As for design, Misfit Bolt looks pretty attractive and has a distinctive design. To be added that it weighs under a half a pound and when holding it in hand, it will feel luxurious and expensive. So, is this new bulb worth the money? 

The new Polaroid Cube+

In the last year, the Polaroid camera had a huge success on the market. This tiny camera got a lot of attention from customers due to its attractive design and interesting features. Customers who are in search of a tiny camera, will definitely be attracted by the Cube camera that costs approximately 100 dollars and has waterproof features. 

Moreover, this previous Polaroid Cube camera had many other interesting attractions, besides being a camera with a power/record button situated on top and a magnet located on the bottom for hands-free shooting.

But, unfortunately, being so little, there is no room for a screen. There are many other cameras that are coming with a Wi-Fi feature that can be connected to an Android or iOS device, transforming the tablet or phone into a viewfinder. Sadly, the Cube doesn’t come with such a feature. Well, that’s why the company has released the new Polaroid Cube+. 

This new tiny camera has a built-in Wi-Fi and some other changes compared with the original model. This includes more recording capabilities, for example slow-motion video and time-lapse. This feature has been integrated in the new camera without some significant changes to its design. Moreover, there is not a huge difference when it comes to price, either. The new Polaroid Cube+ is available at the price of $150.

So, without a doubt, customers will probably prefer to spend an extra 50 dollars and have a Polaroid Cube that also has Wi-Fi and improved shooting features. As for the video quality, customers who are extremely interested in this feature will probably prefer the famous GoPro Hero4 Session. That camera also costs an extra 50 dollars. So, for 200 dollars, the GoPro Hero4 Session has a similar design as Polaroid Cube+, but it is fully waterproof down to approximately 33 feet and has a better video quality.

However, this doesn’t mean that Polaroid Cube+ is a bad product. No, this tiny camera is affordable and has a good video quality and with the new Wi-Fi feature, customers will definitely be interested. To be added that this camera also has a microSDHC card slot that can go up to 128GB cards.

Is Definitive Technology W Studio Micro worth the money?

The new Definitive Technology W Studio Micro comes at an expensive price. So, why should customers buy a sound bar that comes at a high price, if the market offers other alternatives at a cheaper cost? 

Well, the new Definitive Technology W Studio Micro comes with an improved styling. What does that mean? This new sound bar uses wood and metals instead of the plastic material that other sound bars are made of. The great advantage of a sound bar is that it is much sleeker than other separate systems, meaning that it takes less space.

The new Definitive Technology W Studio Micro is available at the cost of 899 dollars. Yes, this is not a very affordable price, but it is made of real wood and metal, meaning that it offers a very premium look.

Moreover, it also has many other features that are not usually found on a single sound bar. So, the device comes with a multiroom music system from DTS, also known as Play-Fi. This is an interesting new feature that can probably be compared with the feature that allows users to control their device from tablets or phones, but they need compatible Play-Fi gear to take advantage.

So, even if it has interesting new features and an incredible design, made from premium materials, this new sound bar probably costs too much. This means that for a lower price, customers could buy other sound bars that sound good and come with an attractive design, for example Yamaha’s receivers. However, this doesn’t mean that this sound bar doesn’t need a chance. For customers who doesn’t have a limited budget, the new Definitive Technology W Studio Micro can be a good decision. Without a doubt, its incredible design will look great in every living room.

The wireless subwoofer is really attractive, featuring a simple and clean design, with a large “D” logo situated down below. As for the remote control, it also comes with a great design and a rubberized, black finish. Its buttons are very responsive, but unfortunately it doesn’t have a backlit feature. 

WhatsApp will be blocked in Brazil for 48 hours

WhatsApp is without a doubt one of the most used messaging apps in the world. Millions of users are using this app every day.

Today, an interesting news has come from Brazil. It looks like a judge has told phone companies to shut down Whatsapp for 48 hours for failure to comply with a July court order in a criminal case. 

We are talking about a case involving a drug trafficker linked to the PCC, also known as Sao Paulo’s most dangerous criminal gangs, which has been using this messaging app in the commission of crimes. 

This is a shocking decision, because approximately 93 million people are using WhatsApp in Brazil. So, is this a good or a bad decision? Well, we will find out, but one thing is sure. Closing a popular messaging app that more than 90% of the country’s internet population are using, makes people search for other alternatives.

What is the alternative? Well, Telegram. Actually, this has been the most downloaded messaging app in Brazil during this day. It looks like in the past 12 hours, Telegram has declared that more than 400,000 users from Brazil have downloaded and signed up for this app. After three hours, another 1 million uses has joined the group. That last counting has stopped at 1,5 million new users, but the counting is still ongoing. Without a doubt, this has been a great day for Telegram developers, but also a very busy one, because they are struggling to keep pace with demand. 

“This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open internet,” has declared Facebook Inc. Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg. Until the case will be solved, it looks like WhatsApp will not be available in Brazil. 

“We are disappointed in the short-sighted decision to cut off access to WhatsApp, a communication tool that so many Brazilians have come to depend on, and sad to see Brazil isolate itself from the rest of the world,” has declared chief executive of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, in a statement post on Facebook.

Facebook Messenger allows users to order an Uber car

Facebook Messenger, one of the most used messaging apps on the market, is now stepping forward with a new feature. Starting today, users will be able to order an Uber car straight from the app. 

Facebook has included a “Transportation” feature, making its Messenger one of the first apps that will be able to help users order a car.

Why it isn’t the first app? Because there is another messaging app, called WeChat, which allows users to book cars on ridesharing platforms. However, this doesn’t mean that Facebook Messenger has been inspired by WeChat.

“For us we’re more inspired by how we see our users using Messenger and we just saw the growing popularity of group chats and this is one of the best use cases of why Messenger’s so great,” declared Seth Rosenberg, Facebook’s product manager. 

So, this means that the newest version of Facebook Messenger will come with an Uber button, meaning that users can call a ride and even track the driver’s progress from Facebook’s app. Moreover, users will have the chance to pay for the ride or even communicate with their driver, all from Messenger. The Uber button is hiding under the name of “Transportation,” being located in the “more” menu in a Messenger conversation.

However, people who are not using Facebook Messenger, can still order an Uber car from their official app. To be added that more than 700 million people are using Facebook Messenger at least once a month. These are some incredible numbers, but it seems that Facebook is not willing to settle and they are still looking for new ways to refresh the app. So, the social network company has also partnered with other app makers, including entertainment apps, for example Giphy. On the other side, Uber has partnered with a range of services, like United Airlines, OpenTable and the Apple Watch. 

So, the new version of Messenger will come with a “Transportation” button that will allow users to call an Uber car. But, Facebook is not stopping here, because they are in talks with rival ride-sharing service, Lyft. It seems that they want to include this service on their social network page, starting with January.