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Apple Watch review: stylish and a great fitness tracker, but first-gen hardware and frustrating software make it difficult to recommend (Joanna…

April 8, 2015 8:04 a.m. ET There’s a reason we don’t wear the same clothes two days in a row, try to avoid the temptations of McDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s, keep a regular hair appointment and make it to the gym as often as possible. It’s the same reason we’d consider buying an Apple Watch: We like to look our best. After over a week of living with Apple’s latest gadget on my wrist, I realized the company isn’t just selling some wrist-worn computer, it’s selling good looks and coolness, with some bonus computer features. Too many features that are too hard to find, if you ask me. Like many Apple products of the past decade, the watch is a status symbol, a sign of wealth and taste. But unlike a MacBook or an iPhone, this Apple product works to help you look—and feel—good. There are so many things the watch can do, so many menus and features you must spend time figuring out, that for better or worse, you end up shaping your own experience. Some may find usefulness in hailing Ubers with a tap on the wrist, or transmitting a heartbeat to a beloved. My colleague Geoffrey Fowler explored the Apple Watch as a gateway to the iPhone for many quick activities. I sought a simpler experience, turning it into a stylish watch to keep me on schedule and a workout companion to keep me moving. I know what you’re thinking: Can’t I just buy a $150 fitness tracker for that? Sure, but it might end up in a drawer

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Kik Interactive Said to Explore Sale or Corporate Investment (Bloomberg Business)

Kik Interactive Inc. , which makes a messaging application popular with young teens, is exploring a sale, people with knowledge of the matter said. The company hired Qatalyst Partners to set up conversations with potential acquirers or corporate investors in Silicon Valley and Asia, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Kik, based in Waterloo, Ontario, hasn’t yet found an attractive deal, the people said. Kik, with more than 200 million registered users, as of January had raised about $70 million. Kik is betting that larger corporations may want to capitalize on the increasing popularity of messaging applications. Snapchat Inc. recently raised funding from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. at a $15 billion valuation, and last year Facebook Inc. acquired WhatsApp Inc. for $22 billion. Qatalyst will help Kik network with faraway companies and find all potential options, one of the people said. The company has about two years’ worth of financing and isn’t in danger of running out of cash, the person said. Ted Livingston, Kik’s founder and chief executive officer, confirmed the talks, while declining to comment on specific suitors. “We had a lot of inbound interest, especially this year,” he said Wednesday in an interview

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Xiaomi beats its own flash sale record with 2M phones and thousands of accessories sold in 12 hours, generating $355M in revenue (Ina Fried/Re/code)

Fast-growing Chinese phone maker Xiaomi said Wednesday that it broke its own flash-sale record, selling more than two million phones in a 12-hour period as part of a “Mi Fan Festival.” The effort, to celebrate the company’s fifth anniversary, generated roughly $335 million in revenue. In addition to the phones, Xiaomi said it sold 38,000 televisions, 200,000 fitness bands and 247,000 power strips — a sign the company is gaining traction in efforts to expand beyond its core business. The company is now testing services, including a mobile wallet . The company was selling in more markets this year, with Malaysia, India and Indonesia all additions from last year’s event. For all of last year, Xiaomi sold 61 million smartphones and had revenue of 74.3 billion RMB ($11.98 billion), becoming the No. 3 smartphone player in the world and top brand in China. Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Contact Ina Fried: @InaFried | EMAIL Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Join the conversation:

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Review: Photos for OS X is faster than iPhoto but less powerful than Aperture (Jeff Carlson/Macworld)

Home Photography software Photos for OS X 1.0 Free Photos is a big step up for iPhoto users, with better speed and editing tools. Power users of Aperture will probably want to stay with Aperture or switch to another pro-level app like Lightroom. Last June, Apple announced the impending retirement of iPhoto and Aperture in favor of Photos for OS X , a new application it demonstrated briefly at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). For most of the intervening 10 months—a long lead time for a company that prefers to ship software soon after announcing it—we didn’t know the new application’s capabilities. Would it be friendly enough for casual users but also include the depth to satisfy Aperture’s professional photographers? Would it be like a few other notable Apple software rewrites, like iMovie and Final Cut Pro X, that took bold steps forward at the expense of stripping away features and alienating users? It’s time to find out. Photos for OS X is available now as part of the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 update. The new version of the operating system is required, since Photos takes advantage of a new system framework to function. Multiple masters A modern photo library application has two jobs: organize the photos you add to the library so you can locate them easily, and edit photos to make corrections or change their appearance. (Sharing photos, uploading to social media, and ordering prints are also important, but I don’t cover those features in this review.) Photos for OS X handles them with varying levels of success, but it also stretches to take on another, more ambitious task. Apple hasn’t been simply creating a new photo application for the Mac—this is the Mac component of the company’s grand photography effort that connects the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and the Web. With iCloud Photo Library, Apple is attempting to make all of your photos—not just the ones you capture with any one device—available on every Apple product you own. All your photos, everywhere. It's a simple idea, but tough to pull off.  All that said, I’ll offer one spoiler up front: Photos is not an Aperture replacement, even though it can open Aperture libraries

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Operator app from Uber co-founder Garret Camp will fulfill requests such as purchases and deliveries (Josh Constine/TechCrunch)

Send an instant message asking for something, and they’ll do the grunt work of placing your order and getting it delivered to you. That’s the idea for Uber co-founder Garret Camp ‘s new startup Operator that’s still in stealth, according to sources with direct knowledge of the app. You might have heard of a similar startup called Magic that recently blew up. But Magic was slapped together atop SMS over a weekend as a side project of Y Combinator company Bettir. In contrast, our sources say Operator is a highly polished native app that’s been in testing for over a year with much bigger plans for changing commerce. Operator’s website is just a teaser waitlist form . And a  job listing for Operator only says “Our product lies at the intersection of technology’s biggest trends today—messaging, mobile, and on-demand services.” But we know a lot more. “Mr. Wizard, Get Me Anything” Here’s how the current version of Operator works, according to our sources, though it could change before it eventually launches. We reached out to Operator, but it declined to comment. Operator’s app acts as an inbox of your requests, which each live as message threads

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Amazon Echo adds Hue and WeMo smart home voice control (Chris Davies/SlashGear)

Chris Davies Amazon Echo is digging its voice-controlled fingers deeper into the smart home, with Amazon adding Philips Hue and Belkin WeMo support to the always-listening home assistant. The new functionality, pushed out to Echo units from today, allows owners to control their lighting, smart appliances, and switches using simple voice commands rather than reaching for the respective apps, and could well be the most useful additions Echo has seen since it began shipping in limited numbers late last year . Echo, for those who have forgotten, looks ostensibly like a simple speaker. However, packed into the cylindrical body alongside the speakers is a microphone array which can listen out for voice searches and commands. For Hue , that means recognizing instructions like "Alexa, turn on the kitchen light," though there's more flexibility on offer than just on/off. For instance, voice control over dimming is supported too: you can say "Alexa, dim the bedroom lights to 40-percent" and have instant mood lighting. Initially, there'll be support for the Hue A19 bulb, Hue Lux, the Hue Bloom lamp, and the Hue LightStrip lights. As for WeMo , the functionality will depend on what you have plugged into the WeMo Switch or Insight Switch, or wired up to one of Belkin's remote-controlled light switches. That could include "Alexa, turn on the coffee maker," if that's hooked up, or "Alexa, turn off the humidifier." Setup promises to be straightforward, with Echo automatically hunting down compatible devices when given the initial "Alexa, discover my appliances" command. You'll need to have set them up on the same WiFi network first, of course, and given them relevant names in the Hue or WeMo apps. It's not the first upgrade Echo has had. Back in February, Amazon pushed out support for Pandora control to the speaker, allowing the streaming music service to be controlled entirely by voice. Story Timeline Amazon Echo puts Siri-style smarts in a column of cloud How private is Amazon Echo? Amazon Echo teardown: easy to fix if you know how Amazon Echo now lets you control music streaming using voice

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Dell introduces Venue 10 7000 Android tablet: 10.5" screen, starts at $499, $629 with keyboard dock, on sale in US and China later this month…

Dell on Wednesday unveiled the Android-powered Venue 10 7000. The tablet is a big brother to the Dell Venue 8 7000 , one of our favorite tablets here at CNET , and shares many of the same features. Inside of the Venue 10 is the same quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor clocked at 2.3GHz and supported by 2GB of RAM. The Venue 10 7000 also comes with the same 8-megapixel rear camera as its sibling, with Intel's RealSense technology, which allows you to adjust the focus on images after they have been taken and even measure the distance between items. Other specs include a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 512GB, and a 7,000mAh battery, which Dell says should get you around 15 hours of usage. Dell Venue 10 7000 product photos See full gallery As the name implies, the main difference between the two slates is the Venue 10's display. The tablet is equipped with 10.5-inch OLED display with a pixel resolution of 2,560x1,600. That works out to roughly 287 pixels per inch. The Venue 10 is Dell's first tablet to ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop. It runs a near-stock version of Android, although Dell has included some of its own apps.

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Apple Quietly Bought Dryft, A Keyboard App (Matthew Lynley/TechCrunch)

Apple quietly bought Dryft, a startup that develops keyboard apps — an acquisition that appears to have occurred last year — TechCrunch has learned. The acquisition seemed to be confirmed by Randy Marsden’s LinkedIn profile , which lists him as joining Apple in September last year. Marsden, the chief technology officer of Dryft and also a co-founder of Swype , now leads development for Apple’s internal keyboard efforts. Whether Apple acquired Dryft for its assets or its talent in Marsden and others, we’re not exactly sure. Financial terms of the deal weren’t available. Apple told TechCrunch that it buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and does generally discuss its purpose or plans — which is another way of saying yes. Dryft was a finalist in the  TechCrunch Disrupt startup battlefield in 2013. The Dryft keyboard appears on screen only when the user places their fingers on the display, making it another unique to creating an on-screen keyboard. It’s essentially a keyboard for tablets that tracks your fingers’ movements. Since releasing iOS 8, Apple has allowed developers to tinker with the device’s keyboard, opening the doors to startups like Swype and SwiftKey to create custom keyboards for the iPhone. The move is good important for Apple. Customized keyboard applications were among the most popular — and highest-grossing — applications on the Google Play store. In a sense, having a customized keyboard gave Android a competitive advantage over Apple, as the company previously held the API (and many others) very close to its chest.

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Zynga founder and chairman Mark Pincus returns as CEO, replacing Don Mattrick (New York Times)

Photo Mark Pincus at the media and technology conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2013. Credit Andrew Gombert/European Pressphoto Agency When Mark Pincus hired a new executive to run Zynga , the online games company he founded, he tweeted a message calling the executive, Don Mattrick, an “Internet treasure.” Now, less than two years later, Zynga’s Internet treasure has left the company, and Mr. Pincus has returned as chief executive. The departure of Mr. Mattrick as chief executive was not altogether surprising to many in the industry, since a long-running turnaround plan that he set in motion at Zynga had yet to take flight. The return of Mr. Pincus to the top job, though, was unexpected since he had seemed to have largely disengaged from the business of running Zynga, best known for early Facebook games like Zynga Poker and FarmVille. The abrupt change in leadership was another setback for a company that was once poised to be a leader in a new era of games and the Internet. Other Internet darlings of the same era, such as Groupon, have also faded after their growth fizzled and profits proved elusive. The changes were effective immediately, the company said. In a statement, Mr. Mattrick said he would return to Canada, where is he from

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Facebook launches a standalone website for Messenger at Messenger.com, intended for users who want to chat without other Facebook distractions (Kurt…

Facebook is bringing Messenger, its standalone messaging tool, to the Web. The social network unveiled a Web version of Messenger on Wednesday, a way to chat from a browser tab on a desktop computer as you would using the Messenger app. The product is accessible at Messenger.com, and resides outside of Facebook, where users can already chat with their Facebook friends from a Web browser. (It still requires a Facebook account, of course.) Why, then, is Facebook rolling out a standalone Web page for messaging when you can already use Facebook to do the same? Messenger.com is for users who want to message without the other distractions that Facebook can provide, a spokesperson told Re/code . If you’re messaging through Facebook, that means News Feed and your friends’ user profiles are nearby. Messenger.com is a way to keep messaging as the focus. Related Social Zuckerberg: Here’s Why Facebook Forced You to Download Messenger By Kurt Wagner , Nov 6, 2014, 3:22 PM PST Facebook has no plans to remove messaging from its core Web service, a spokesperson confirmed. The company already did this on mobile, requiring users to download the separate Messenger app in order to send and receive messages from their phone. On the Web, you’ll still be able to use Facebook or Messenger.com — at least for now.

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