GLOBAL TECH WRAP: Samsung's standalone smartwatch plan revealed

Prince Charles dons Google Glass

Samsung will launch a standalone smartwatch within months, the Wall Street Journal reports. The watch-phone will be able to make and receive calls without being tethered to a smartphone, something most models on the market now can't do, according to people familiar with the matter.

Samsung's current smartwatch lineup has to be wirelessly paired with a compatible Samsung smartphone. The Korean company is currently in talks with phone network operators in the US and Europe over the watch, the Journal says. Samsung has released any sales figures for its smartwatches, but anecdotal evidence indicates they aren't being wrapped around that many wrists so far.

Beyond the finickiness of pairing with a smartphone, there's a question mark over users' tolerance for yet another gadget to charger every one to three days, and the perennial fashion question of whether a smartwatch represents James Bond chic or nerdlinger geek. 


Microsoft to the FBI: Drop dead, paraphrases Computerworld. The company has taken some heat for what some people claim has been too cozy a past relationship with the NSA. But Microsoft has recently gotten privacy religion, standing up to the FBI and refusing to turn over data to the FBI about one of the company's enterprise customers, says Computerworld's Preston Gralla. 

Microsoft successfully fought off an attempt by the FBI to get "basic subscriber information" about one of Microsoft's corporate customers, writes Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs in the the "Microsoft on the Issues" blog. Some media have reported the customer involved was using the cloud version of Office, Office 365.


"Smart spectacles, what?"

Prince Charles donned Goolge Glass during a  visit to 'Innovation Alley' in Winnipeg, Canada, Time reports. The prince tried out an app developed to help tradespeople track jobs. 


Speaking of Google's smart specs, travel itinerary outfit TripIt says it has adapted its service for Google Glass. If you shell out for the $US49/year pro version of the service, it includes real-time flight updates and flight status notifications (Air New Zealand is among the supported airlines). 


A Google letter to the SEC has revealed the company's plans to send ads to almost any internet-connected device, including fridges

"We expect the definition of mobile to continue to evolve as more and more 'smart' devices gain traction in the market," Google says in the letter, which was  addressed to the accounting branch chief at the US Securities and Exchange Commission. 

"For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities," the company said.

Of course, not everyone will want to see a constant roll of ads on a smart fridge display.

Visiting NZ ecently, Microsoft's global chief privacy officer, expat Kiwi Brendan Lynch, told NBR that smart devices, and the so-called internet of things, raised both privacy issues and a practical problem: How do you present a privacy policy when people are using a device like a smart watch or smart glasses that has a minimal interface?

“We’re moving toward an age of ubiquitious computing; ‘the internet of things’ where computers ultimately become invisible – whether it’s a car or a camera or a smart electricity meter. We’re moving to a world of more wearable computing as well,” he said.

“Giving consent [to a privacy policy] can be difficult because there simply is no screen,” he said. Core privacy policies had to be simple, and presented to the customer up-front.


Nanotech smart togs dry out in minutes, says CNET, as it coos over Frank Anthony swim trunks (picture) with a special "hydrophobic" technology to repel water (NBR's question: do they breathe?). It's reminiscent of Nissan's recent experiments with nanotech paint that repels water and dirt, for a never-need-a-car-wash experience. 

Frank Anthony is trying to crowdsource funds for the togs on Kickstarter. If you plegde $US47 or more in support, you'll get a pair (assuming the project gets off the ground).


Taxi hailing and private driver app Uber is in talks over a private equity deal that would value it at $US12 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports. Uber has just launched in NZ against local startup Zoomy.

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