May 17, 2022

For 2nd Generation of Surface, Tweaks From Microsoft

So it goes with the Surface, Microsoft’s poorly selling answer to the iPad and a crucial cog in the company’s headlong push into hardware. On Monday, Microsoft introduced a second generation of Surface tablets with only subtle adjustments from the originals, a sign that the company still believes in its vision of devices that blend the benefits of tablets and laptop computers. The most meaningful changes are under the hood, providing faster performance, better battery life and sharper screens.

“We’re right now focused 100 percent on building the best tablets for the world,” Panos Panay, a Microsoft corporate vice president, said last week. “We haven’t slowed down or lifted our heads a bit.”

If anything, the company is doubling down on making hardware central to Microsoft’s future. Microsoft’s pending $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s handset and services business will bring tens of thousands of employees to the company who are specialists in designing and making mobile devices.

It is not clear yet how the addition of Nokia’s products and people will transform Surface, especially since the Surface group is already planning for products two years away. But sales of the Surface could use a complete makeover. So poor were the sales of the cheaper version of Surface, known as Surface RT, that Microsoft took a $900 million charge last quarter to reflect a $150 price cut on the product.

For its full fiscal year, which ended June 30, total Surface sales were only $853 million, Microsoft said in its annual report. By comparison, Apple’s iPad sales during roughly the same time frame were $33.2 billion.

And it appears that Microsoft will be leaving many tablet sales to the competition with the new offerings, too. The latest Surface tablets will not be available in smaller 7- to 8-inch versions, the most popular size in the market. The iPad mini and other devices in that size have become clear favorites among tablet shoppers because their compactness makes them easier to hold with one hand.

The Surface tablets have 10.6-inch screens, behemoths by tablet standards. This year, 57 percent of worldwide tablet shipments are expected to be in the 7- to 8-inch category, while 17.8 percent will be in 9- to 10-inch category, estimates IDC, the research firm. Tablets with 10- to 11-inch screens, like the Surface, are forecast to account for about 17.4 percent of the market.

Mr. Panay suggested that Microsoft will eventually offer a mini version of the Surface, but not until it is confident that it has the right product.

“You want to make sure the experience is spot on,” he said.

As before, the new Surface family includes two products, Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. The Surface 2, called the RT in the first version, competes more directly with the iPad, because it runs on the class of ARM microprocessors inside nearly all smartphones and tablets, including Apple’s. The Surface Pro 2 is a more expensive, full-blown PC running an Intel chip so that any legacy PC applications — from accounting software to iTunes — can run on it. The new devices will be in stores on Oct. 22.

Little has changed about the exterior of the devices, other than a subtle color change on one of the models. Both have an integrated kickstand that props the Surface screen up at a 24-degree angle for watching movies on an airplane or typing on a keyboard. On the new models, the kickstand also clicks into a 40-degree position to improve what Microsoft calls “lapability,” so people can cradle it comfortably on their thighs while sitting.

Microsoft paid special attention to improving the Pro version’s battery life, which Mr. Panay described as “awful” in the original, getting as little as three to four hours. The company redesigned the guts of the system so that the Surface Pro 2 can run for seven to 10 hours depending on how it is being used. He said people who bought the original Surface Pro loved it except for the battery life.

The company has created a new docking station that clamps onto the sides of the Surface Pro, with connectors for up to two external displays.

“For the relaunch, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” Mr. Panay said. “We really wanted it to be a subtle change.”

Microsoft will sell Surface 2 for a starting price of $449. That is $50 less than both the initial price of the earlier version and Apple’s latest full-size iPad. But it is still more than the price for Android tablets from Google and Amazon with comparable screen sizes. (Microsoft intends to keep selling last year’s model for $349.)

“I think it’s tough to come in at that price point when you are not that differentiated,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner. “Maybe with bundling they’ll be able to make it more interesting.”

Microsoft is using its online services to sweeten the deal for Surface, including a year of free international voice calling on Skype to conventional phone numbers. Surface customers will get 200 gigabytes of free storage for two years on Microsoft’s SkyDrive service, far more than most people will need for their photos, videos and documents.

Microsoft said it would also sharpen its advertising for the product, which in earlier versions showcased troupes of dancers doing percussive moves and acrobatic stunts with their Surface tablets.

For instance, Microsoft in its marketing will be more clear that the Surface Pro product is aimed squarely at people in the market for a laptop who also want the touch capabilities of a tablet. That approach could make the $899 starting price of a Surface Pro 2 more palatable since that is closer to what laptops cost.

And since this is Microsoft, it is safe to say the second iteration — and the marketing — is still only the beginning.

Brian Hall, general manager of Surface sales and marketing, said: “This time around we get to tell the first Surface story.”

Article source:

Nintendo Cuts a Dimension From a Device Aimed at Youths

Nintendo on Wednesday introduced a new portable gaming system, the Nintendo 2DS. The device will cost $130, or $40 less than its 3DS sibling, when it is released Oct. 12. It is capable of running all the games made for the 3DS, but without 3-D effects.

For Nintendo, the price drop is a hedge against a future filled with tablet computers made by companies like Apple, Samsung and Amazon.

“Forty bucks may not be a lot, but for families it’s a lot,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, in an interview. Mr. Fils-Aime said the 2DS was intended for the “entry gamer,” especially in families with multiple children. Nintendo is pairing the device’s release with the introduction of two new Pokémon games, a series that is popular among children.

The growing popularity of tablets among adults means that children are increasingly exposed to tablets at an early age. About one-third of American adults own tablets. But that figure rises to about 50 percent among parents with children living at home, according to Pew Internet Research. In another survey, IDC, the research firm, polled gamers who were considering buying a tablet or dedicated gaming device. Roughly 60 percent of respondents said they were leaning toward buying an iPad, iPod Touch or Android tablet, IDC said.

Younger gamers are drawn to tablets as well. A large number of the respondents to the IDC survey who said they were planning to buy a tablet or iPod Touch were under 24 years old, a demographic group that has historically been strong for Nintendo, said Lewis Ward, an IDC analyst that focuses on the game industry.

“The real concern for Nintendo and Sony is what’s going on with the next generation of gamers,” Mr. Ward said. “That’s an existential threat if the younger generation isn’t buying it at the same level as the customer base that has known you for a decade has.”

Also on Wednesday, Nintendo said it would reduce by $50 the price of its console for the living room, the Wii U, which has had disappointing sales. The new price will be $300.

The gaming market has expanded over the last several years thanks in part to smartphones and tablets. These devices have attracted what analysts call casual gamers — the people who yank out their smartphones and tablets to play games a few minutes on the commute to work, or the toddlers who play Angry Birds at family dinners.

Despite all that competition, Nintendo’s portable gaming device has been doing well.

The 3DS has been the best-selling piece of gaming hardware in the last three months, according to NPD Group. The last, best-selling portable gaming device was the Nintendo DS; with more than 150 million units sold, it has become the best-selling portable gaming device in history.

With the addition of the 2DS, Nintendo now offers three portable devices, including the 3DS and the larger 3DS XL.

Tablets are considered a threat to Nintendo because games can be downloaded for a few dollars, or even free. Nintendo’s strategy has been to make most of its money from sales of the games it produces exclusively for Nintendo devices. Therefore, it has refused to offer its games to makers of tablets and smartphones.

That means famous titles native to Nintendo, like Super Mario or Donkey Kong, could be left to earlier generations. And that’s bad news for the Japanese company.

“The longer that they abstain from those platforms, the longer they risk failing to acquaint children with that stable of characters,” said Ross Rubin, an independent technology analyst for Reticle Research. “Since there is virtually no presence on these screens that kids are starting to increasingly spend more and more time with, Nintendo is going to have to work harder to gain exposure to that audience.”

Mr. Rubin said there were several ways for Nintendo to participate in the mobile market outside of selling games for its own devices, without cannibalizing its own business. The company could offer software that complements its games and systems, like iPad apps that turn the tablet into an extra controller for the 3DS or Wii U. Nintendo could also create lightweight versions of its games for tablets and phones, using them to promote the superior versions of the games available only for Nintendo systems, he said.

For the moment, however, cost-cutting appears to be Nintendo’s answer.

“All we’re doing is making available a device that, for consumers who want a lower price point but want to play all these great games, now you have the opportunity,” Mr. Fils-Aime said. “And we think it’s going to work.”

Mr. Ward of IDC said that the cost-cutting strategy should be effective, at least for now, and that Nintendo could afford the price cut thanks to a stronger yen.

“It’s going to attract some entry-level gaming enthusiasts who were on the fence about the 3DS,” Mr. Ward said.

Article source:

Apple Negotiator Defends Tactics in E-Book Trial

The executive, Eddy Cue, Apple’s lead negotiator with the publishers, said he was determined to close deals that would allow them to sell their e-books on Apple’s iBookstore in time for the introduction of the iPad in early 2010.

“I wanted to be able to get that done in time for that because it was really important to him,” Mr. Cue said, referring to Mr. Jobs. He was testifying in Federal District Court in Manhattan in the civil antitrust trial brought against Apple by the Justice Department.

“I pride myself on being successful, but this had extra meaning to me,” Mr. Cue added.

Those sped-up negotiations attracted the attention of the government, which filed a lawsuit against Apple and five publishers in April 2012. Mr. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, died of cancer in October 2011.

Mr. Cue, the highest-ranking Apple executive to take the stand so far in a trial that began almost two weeks ago, mounted a vigorous defense of Apple, which is accused of colluding with the publishers to fix e-book prices.

Through a nearly full day of testimony on Thursday, Mr. Cue denied that he had encouraged publishers to impose a new business model on other retailers, including Shown a slide displaying what the government has repeatedly called a “spider web” of communications among the publishing executives, Mr. Cue said he did not know that the executives, from publishers including the Penguin Group USA and Simon Schuster, were talking to one another during their negotiations with him.

“I struggled and fought with them,” he said. “If they were talking to each other, I believe I would have had a much easier time getting those deals done.”

But he also revealed details of an unusually long and close working relationship between him and Mr. Jobs.

Mr. Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for Internet software and services, said he spoke or e-mailed with Mr. Jobs at nearly every step of the negotiations, once calling him on his way to the airport as he left a round of talks with publishers in New York.

In one e-mail, Mr. Jobs questioned Mr. Cue about the fledgling iBookstore. “Are we going to let anyone self-publish? Does Amazon?” he wrote.

“Yes and yes,” Mr. Cue replied.

After publishers signed agreements with Apple, shocking the publishing industry, Mr. Jobs e-mailed Mr. Cue: “Wow, we have really lit the fuse on a powder keg.”

The focus of the government’s questioning turned to December 2009 and January 2010, when Mr. Cue repeatedly flew to New York, met with publishers and tried to reach deals to make their e-books available in the iBookstore on the soon-to-be-unveiled iPad.

For publishers, the appeal of Apple getting into the e-book market was enormous. Amazon, which had introduced its Kindle e-reader in 2007, commanded a 90 percent share of e-book sales at the time. But the default price for newly released and best-selling books on was $9.99, a paltry sum in the publishers’ eyes and one that undermined the value of the authors’ work and cannibalized hardcover sales.

Apple encouraged publishers to switch to a so-called agency model, in which the publishers set the price of a book and the retailer takes a commission. Previously, e-books had been sold on a wholesale model, where the retailer pays the publisher about half the list price, then is free to set another price. The agency model prevented Amazon from sharply discounting the books.

Five publishers — the Penguin Group USA, the Hachette Book Group, Simon Schuster, HarperCollins and Macmillan — have already settled with the government. But Apple, intent on protecting Mr. Jobs’s legacy, is fighting the charges in a nonjury trial that was expected to last several weeks.

The defense was questioning Mr. Cue when the day ended and he will return to the stand when the trial continues on Monday.

Lawrence Buterman, a lawyer for the Justice Department, occasionally raised his voice while he questioned Mr. Cue for several hours before a packed courtroom presided over by Judge Denise L. Cote.

“Isn’t it true, sir, that throughout your negotiations with the publishers, that you constantly pitched the deal that you were proposing as a way for them to change the entire e-books market?” Mr. Buterman said.

“No, that is not true,” Mr. Cue said.

Mr. Buterman asked Mr. Cue about a previous statement by David Shanks, the chief executive of the Penguin Group USA, that Penguin would only sign a deal with Apple if three other major publishers had done so first.

“Did that strike you as a little bit like, ‘I’m only doing this deal if my competitors do it?’ “ Mr. Buterman said.

“It’s not unusual,” Mr. Cue said. “Nobody likes to be the first to sign. Everybody thinks that you get a better deal by signing last.”

According to Mr. Cue, Apple approached the negotiations with publishers the same way it did with record companies and other content providers in the iTunes store.

After Apple and other retailers started selling e-books on the agency model, prices on many best-selling and new books rose to the $12.99 to $14.99 range, infuriating many consumers.

“Who protected them?” Mr. Buterman said.

“I did,” Mr. Cue said.

“By charging them higher prices?” Mr. Buterman said.

Article source:

Xbox One Enters Changed Gaming Landscape

The company on Tuesday introduced the new version of its Xbox video game console. The Xbox has been one of Microsoft’s few undeniable consumer hits of the last decade, a product that was not just a credible entry into the games business but also a sign of the innovation possible at a company that is rarely seen as an inventive thinker.

“I think of Xbox as the accidental success out of Microsoft,” said James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, who added that the connection Microsoft has formed with the players of its current Xbox is “much deeper than any relationship Microsoft has ever achieved before.”

The new console, the Xbox One, will enter a market very different from the one its predecessor, the Xbox 360, entered nearly eight years ago, when there was no iPad, smartphones had keyboards and mobile gaming devices were primitive at best.

Today, video games can be played almost anywhere, on any device, with the biggest possible audience of online friends and without the aid of a costly gaming console.

The last year or two has been bumpy for Microsoft’s consumer efforts. The Windows 8 operating system software and the Surface tablet-computing devices got a tepid reception from the public when they went on sale last fall.

The company’s mobile phone efforts have been largely ignored. And even Bing, Microsoft’s Internet search engine, has failed to close a wide gap with Google, the market leader.

Microsoft, though, could see better results with the Xbox. With it, it hopes it can reassert the living room as the place where people can still get the best gaming experience, complete with eye-popping graphics and innovative methods for controlling games. It is also a place where Microsoft’s technology can be at the center of a home entertainment system and the funnel through which people gain access to online video.

Microsoft has sold more than 76 million of the device’s current incarnation, the Xbox 360 worldwide, compared with almost 100 million Wii consoles from Nintendo and more than 70 million PlayStation 3s from Sony.

The company also controls what may be the most valuable asset in console gaming, Xbox Live, a subscription-based online service with 48 million members who use it to play games against one another and watch movies.

“You can do a lot of things on the phone and a lot of things on tablets,” said John Taylor, an analyst at Arcadia Investment. But, he said, “you can’t do the same kinds of things on those devices” that you can on a television screen.

Microsoft plans to develop its own original, live-action television series, which will be accessible through the Xbox. The series will be made in partnership with the director Steven Spielberg and will be based on the popular Halo video game franchise.

The company is also working with the National Football League to develop an app for Xbox that lets players interact with their fantasy football teams while watching a live game.

In an interview, Don A. Mattrick, the president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, said that he recognized the growing appeal of mobile devices for gaming and that Microsoft would aggressively tie smartphones and tablets into the experience of using its console. He became most animated when talking about the possibilities of the new Xbox for providers of video programming.

“We’re going to the take the form from a one-way experience pushed through a straw to where you can communicate back and make it interactive,” Mr. Mattrick said.

Even if it is a wild success, the new Xbox is likely to have a bigger impact on consumer perception than it will on Microsoft’s overall sales. The Xbox remains a small slice of the company’s business, which is still dominated by sales of Windows, Office and other software. The company’s games division represented only 4 percent of its operating profit.

At an event in a carnival tent on its corporate campus, Microsoft did not say how much the new system would cost or how publishing partners would charge for games, which typically start at around $60 for high-end game consoles.

A major feature of the new Xbox, which is expected to hit store shelves in time for the holiday season, will be a new generation of Kinect, the camera-based motion-control sensor introduced several years ago as an Xbox 360 accessory. The new Kinect will come with every Xbox One.

Traditional retail sales of games have come under pressure in recent years as mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad have invaded their turf with free and low-cost games. While many gamers dismiss those offerings as inferior to console games, the games have nevertheless tapped into a huge audience of players who may never have played on an Xbox or Sony’s PlayStation.

The games business could use a jolt. Total United States retail sales of game hardware and software fell 25 percent to $495.2 million in April from $657.5 million a year earlier, according to estimates by NPD Group, a research firm. That figure does not include the sale of downloadable content over the Internet.

Alex St. John, an entrepreneur who worked on Microsoft’s pre-Xbox game efforts, says he is pessimistic about prospects for gaming consoles.

“They’re coming out with the latest and greatest stone tool,” Mr. St. John said. “The new console that trumps the old console is called the Apple iPad. This generation of kids loves mobile games.”

Article source:

Apple Fights Back in E-Book Antitrust Case

That is one of several factors that seem to be motivating Apple’s vigorous defense against a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit accusing the company of conspiring with five of the largest publishing houses to fix prices on electronic books, according to people close to the case.

Unlike the five publishers, all of which have settled the case, filed in April 2012, Apple is aggressively disputing the government’s assertions that Apple and the publishers wanted to force Amazon, which controlled 90 percent of the e-book market before Apple entered it, to raise its prices, according to court papers filed this week. A trial is scheduled to begin June 3 in Federal District Court in New York.

Among other defenses, Apple says that both Amazon and the publishing companies were already contemplating a move to a different pricing model in 2009, before Apple entered the e-book business. Apple cites one Amazon executive who referred in an e-mail to the idea that Amazon got publishers to accept what it wanted all along as “Jedi mind tricks.”

Apple, whose 2010 introduction of the iPad corresponded with its opening of a digital bookstore, denies that it tried to convince publishers to enforce a regime that would allow them to set their own retail prices for books, above the $9.99 price that Amazon was then charging.

In addition, Apple says that the Justice Department has selectively edited and distorted e-mails between executives of Apple and the publishers.

“Apple injected much-needed competition and innovation into the e-book business,” said Orin Snyder, a lawyer at Gibson, Dunn Crutcher who represents Apple. “The DOJ’s case is based on fictions and incomplete quotations. The actual evidence proves that Apple did not conspire to fix prices in the e-book business. We look forward to trial.”

The Justice Department accuses Apple of its own selective quotation. And, it said, the evidence shows that the publishing companies threatened to withhold books unless Amazon allowed them to set higher prices and that Apple “encouraged them to do so.”

Apple seems particularly peeved about the government invoking e-mails of its former chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, to assert its case, saying the government’s selective editing of those e-mails deliberately distorts Mr. Jobs’s intentions.

The government’s court papers quote from an e-mail that Mr. Jobs sent on Jan. 24, 2010, to James Murdoch, who as head of News Corporation oversaw its publishing company, HarperCollins. That was three days before the introduction of the iPad, as Apple was furiously negotiating deals with publishers that would allow it to introduce its bookstore on the same day.

Apple says the government left out of its papers the fact that Mr. Jobs said Amazon might have the right price for e-books already, at $9.99. “Maybe they are right and we will fail,” Mr. Jobs wrote.

Taken in total, Apple said, the e-mail “shows a new entrant with no market power proposing an alternative business model to HarperCollins, and candidly recognizing that Apple has no power to predict or influence other retailers,” Apple said in pretrial papers.

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester who follows the publishing industry, said Apple still has a relatively small share of the e-book market.

“Even though they have a big brand, their actions have had relatively little impact on the overall industry,” Ms. Rotman Epps said.

Since Apple’s entry, e-book prices have gone down, the company said, with the average retail price of an electronic book falling 63 cents since April 2010, from $7.97 to $7.34.

However, Michael Cader, the creator of Publishers Lunch, an industry publication, said that at least part of the decline reflected older books, self-published books and books from an array of small and digital-only publishers, many of which are often sold for as little as 99 cents to $3.

Edward Wyatt reported from Washington, and Brian X. Chen from San Francisco.

Article source:

Itineraries: Electronic ‘Smarts’ at Hotels Attract Guests

Hotels around the world are using technology in new ways, with the goal of speeding up or personalizing more services for guests.

David-Michel Davies, president of the Webby Media Group, said he visited Internet companies around the world each year for the Webby Awards, which honor excellence on the Internet. He said he had found that hotels were using technology as a substitute for human hospitality.

Instead of the staff at the front desk offering advice on where to go for dinner, guests may be lent an iPad loaded with maps and suggestions for local restaurants and sightseeing. A hand-held device in the room might control the television, blinds and temperature, replacing the role of the bellman who would describe how the features in the room work when he dropped off a guest’s luggage. “Hotels are transforming service into a digital concept,” Mr. Davies said.

Barbara Kahn, who studies consumer decision-making as director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said most guests, especially younger ones who are used to having information at their fingertips, were comfortable with the transition to digital. Some hotels, especially luxury brands, are more likely to keep both the staff interaction and the technology offerings, she said.

Hotels are also using technology to save money and manage inventory. Workers used to have to count sheets, towels, robes and table linens by hand on the way out of the hotel to the laundry and on the way back in, to try to avoid theft. Some hotels now stitch in small radio frequency ID tags, which transmit radio waves, so that when a cart of laundry passes by a sensor, the number of items inside is displayed. The method saves time in counting items and has decreased theft, said Sanjay Sarma, a professor of mechanical engineering at M.I.T.

Some technology offerings extend beyond the hotel’s walls. The Park Hyatt Tokyo rents guests a pocket-size mobile Wi-Fi connector to use with an iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry or laptop to make international calls and get Internet access wherever they go during their stay.

The cost for the connector is 2,500 yen a day (about $25), and it can be used by up to 10 devices for people who are traveling together. Along with the convenience of 24-hour Web access, the device offers a break from the expense of international cellphone calls.

Ana Silva O’Reilly, a travel blogger and marketing consultant based in London, said she had found that hotels were moving beyond Facebook to other forms of social media. When she recently posted on Twitter that she would be checking into the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan, the hotel responded, saying it was looking forward to her arrival. “I know hotels do it all for my loyalty and my money, but it does feel welcoming when they contact me,” she said.

Ms. O’Reilly said she also used Foursquare to share where she was by “checking in” at that location. She was recently surprised to discover as she was checking in at a Starwood hotel that she qualified for a Foursquare promotion and received 250 points for her Starwood loyalty program account. A Foursquare check-in at the hotel bar offered her a second drink free, and a check-in at the spa offered a 15 percent discount.

“It’s a clever way for hotels to get guests to explore the hotel,” Ms. O’Reilly said. Starwood varies its promotions at different hotels and spaces in the hotel, and periodically runs propertywide promotions for overnight guests.

Ms. Kahn said personalization continued to be another big theme in hospitality. Hotels at all price levels have achieved “operational excellence” and know how to run a clean, well-managed property, she said. So they need to look beyond that to attract customers.

Article source:

Google Selects New Chief for Android Unit

Google’s browser and applications chief Sundar Pichai will replace Rubin, bringing the firm’s mobile software, applications and Chrome browser under one roof.

Larry Page, Google’s chief executive and co-founder, credited Rubin for evangelizing Android more than half a decade ago and said the decision to switch was Rubin’s. Page was mum on Rubin’s future role in a blogpost on Wednesday announcing the switch.

Rubin built Android into a free, open-source software platform now used by most of the world’s largest handset manufacturers, from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to HTC Corp.

Android is now installed on roughly two-thirds of the world’s smartphones, supplanting Apple Inc at the pinnacle of the fast-moving mobile arena.

Anrdoid tablets are also expected to overtake Apple’s iPad in terms of shipments in 2013, IT research house IDC predicted on Tuesday.

“Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use—and he loves a big bet,” Page wrote in the blogpost.

“Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!”

Pichai, who began his engineering training in India before moving to the United States, aggressively pushed Google’s Chrome browser in 2008, when Microsoft Corp’s Explorer lorded over the market. Chrome now commands a roughly 35 percent market share according to Web traffic analyzers StatCounter.

He is also credited with the development of some of the company’s more successful apps, such as Maps and gmail.

“While Andy’s a really hard act to follow, I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward,” Page said.

Shares in the company slipped 0.2 percent to $825.83 in afternoon trading.

(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Leslie Adler and Andrew Hay)

Article source:

App Smart: Nursing the Flu With Help From Apps

During this bout I was much better behaved because my smartphone, jammed with entertaining apps and Internet access, was a great sickbed companion. Apps can do more than keep you company; they can give you medical advice. And as the season of coughs and sneezes settles in, an app may even help you determine what’s wrong.

For a medical app that covers a plethora of icky illnesses, WebMD is probably your best bet (free for iPhone, iPad and Android). It’s jammed with data, and can present it to you in a number of ways. A hypochondriac’s dream, the app’s Symptom Checker first asks that you tap on the corresponding part of an image of the body and then, choosing from detailed lists, specify which symptom you have. Once you select a symptom, the app leads you through a short question-and-answer session to refine your input, like exactly what kind of cough you have. You can input a number of symptoms, perhaps adding sneezes, for example, and then press the “view possible conditions” button.

The app lists all the conditions your symptoms may match, so you need to read each one earnestly to see if it describes your situation. It’s written in plain language, and links help you find treatment or more information online. A tab takes you to pages describing symptoms in more detail, and another takes you to detailed articles about the condition.

This app also works well if you already know, or suspect, what’s wrong with you: you can simply consult its alphabetical index of illnesses. A section with drugs and treatments even has a “Pill ID” feature to help you identify a medication by its shape and color or the letters printed on it. Finally there’s a quick-access First Aid section for emergencies.

The WebMD app is powerful and full of detail. This is obviously handy, but you can get a little lost navigating its sub-menus. You also need to be online so it can acquire data to meet your requests.

An alternative app on iOS, also free, is iTriage. It too has a comprehensive list of illnesses, and a symptom-checker section where you tap on a body image to input each symptom you’re experiencing. But iTriage also provides information on a list of medical procedures. And you can record in a “my iTriage” section details of your insurance, health record, previous ailments and so on. The app is more graphical than WebMD, and is thus a little easier to use. A page on influenza, for example, has data carefully organized under a long list of headings. Some sections even have video links to help you, but again, you need an Internet connection to get the most benefit.

One way to avoid seasonal illnesses like the flu is to avoid being exposed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s official Influenza app (free on iOS or Android) is jam-packed with data, including graphs, maps and medical terminology. It is mainly intended for professionals, but ordinary users can use it to find out where the flu is prevalent in the United States. It also has useful information about vaccination and flu prevention. But its interface is old-fashioned, it’s easy to get lost in the various sections and data presentation is sometimes not the most accessible.

A much simpler and possibly more useful app, is called FluDefender (free on iOS). This app’s main attractions are detailed information about influenza, a built-in link to the CDC’s Twitter feed about flu and a map that shows how common flu infections are state by state.

While the apps have their uses, if you’re really sick, seek professional help. Doctors can recognize symptoms you can’t. And apps can’t write prescriptions.

Quick Calls

Robot fanatics young and old will love the new Robots for iPad app, $5 on iOS. It has information on 126 of the most advanced robots around the world and interactive 360-degree graphical views of them, alongside articles and video content. … Microsoft has brought its free Bing Translator app to the new Windows Phone 8 smartphone platform. The app provides speech-to-text translation and translates foreign text scanned by the phone’s camera.

Article source:

Bucks Blog: Monday Reading: Creating Bespoke Vacations

November 22

Thursday Reading: Tree Removal Without Loss of a Limb

Poisonous backyard mushroom soup, apps for new iPad users, removing downed trees without losing a limb and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source:

Bucks Blog: Thursday Reading: Tree Removal Without Loss of a Limb

November 22

Thursday Reading: Tree Removal Without Loss of a Limb

Poisonous backyard mushroom soup, apps for new iPad users, removing downed trees without losing a limb and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: