Stories for Mar. 1, 2014

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Advances in low-cost and low-power computing are removing the shackles that have constrained the feature sets of wearable devices. IBM’s Paul Brody predicts this will allow devices like smartwatches and fitness monitors to become more contextually aware and start to blur the lines between wearables and smartphones. Read more »

Weekend Plans

Suzanne Vega, Rupert Murdoch’s broken marriage, Silicon Valley’s circus of innovation, Tom Steyer, the inconvenient billionaire; South Sudan’s old enmities and Facebook’s plan to conquer the world — some of the stories on menu this weekend.  Read more »

Stories for Feb. 28, 2014
On The Web

Apple has been pushing for a windowed release strategy for new music, according to a Billboard report. In talks with record label executives, Apple has pointed to the latest Beyonce album as a possible blueprint for future releases: iTunes offered Beyonce’s self-titled album as an exclusive for one week when it was released in December. After that, it also sold at other retailers, but Spotify and other streaming services only got two tracks. Apple executives think that such windows could boost digital downloads, which declined by 5.7 percent last year.

Updated: This story has been corrected to reflect that it declined 5.7 percent last year, not 57 percent.

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In Brief

Google filed an emergency motion on Friday asking a California appeals court to stay a decision this week that forced it to purge all copies of a controversial anti-Islam video from YouTube. The removal order was based on an unusual interpretation of copyright law, and was greeted with alarm by scholars, free speech advocates and the tech and entertainment industry. The order was all the more remarkable since it came with a gag order that forced Google to pull down all the videos before the court ruling was disclosed. In Friday’s motion, Google asked the court to suspend the original order until a full panel of the 9th Circuit Court can hear its appeal.

In Brief

Like an eBay listing for a vintage Def Leppard concert T-Shirt, the Federal Communications Commission’s first spectrum auction in six years reached its reserve price of $1.56 billion and then promptly came to a halt with no further bids. Given the lack of carrier interest in Auction 96 and the 10 MHz of PCS spectrum it offered, the lackluster result is hardly a shock. Nor are we likely going to be surprised by the winners when the FCC announces them next month. Dish Network had promised to bid the reserve price for this spectrum, and barring any surprises, it likely ran away with these airwaves.

On The Web

Apple just  launched an Apple TV promotion that looks a lot like an attempt to clear the shelves for new hardware: Apple TV buyers will get a $25 gift card, effectively lowering the price to $75, reports 9to5Mac. Last month, reports surfaced that Apple was getting ready to introduce new Apple TV hardware in the first half of this year.

In Brief

Just how accountable is the U.K.’s GCHQ spy agency, which has tapped the world’s communications infrastructure, hacked activists and snooped on webcam chats? Every time it’s challenged, GCHQ says it submits to “rigorous oversight” from the intelligence services commissioner and Parliament, but on Thursday Parliament’s home affairs select committee had to take the unusual step of ordering that commissioner to show up for questioning about the Snowden leaks. Sir Mark Waller, who is supposed to be a watchdog, refused to respond to the customary polite request for an appearance, and this is the first time during this government’s rule that the committee has had to order someone to show up.

Stories for Feb. 27, 2014
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