Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, has started culling data from Foursquare in order to offer users local business recommendations. “Cortana is able to fetch Foursqaure data based on your preferences, which allows for customized recommendations,” Neowin reports. The new feature follows Microsoft’s $15 million investment in Foursquare, earlier this year.
Apple has bought BookLamp to boost its e-books effort and “beat Amazon at its own game,” reports TechCrunch. The Idaho start-up has developed big data-style book analytics services.A second source says Apple bought BookLamp’s employees and technology for a price that was “higher than $10 million, and lower than $15 million.” BookLamp’s most well-known product was the Book Genome Project, a platform that let users find suggestions for books to read based on natural language analysis of other titles.
Torrent site has just rolled out a mobile version: The Pirate Bay has now launched a new, mobile-optimized site called The Mobile Bay. The new version provides buttons to search and browse as well as view recent torrents or the top 100. Like the desktop site, the mobile version of the Web site is filled with ads.On iOS, visitors won’t be able to actually download torrents from their mobile device if it’s not jail-broken, but the BlackBerry and Android app stores have a variety of torrenting clients to choose from.
Google is adding an “Explore Nearby” button to its Google Maps app for iOS and Android. “Explore will adjust its results based on context, such as the weather and the time of day … As Google Maps learns more about the places you go to, it’ll get more accurate,” The Next Web reports, adding: “This sounds a lot like the new Foursquare.”
Late April Fools’ joke, or an extreme example of how “connected” our culture is becoming? Hard to believe, but digital tattoos, with which users can unlock their smartphones with a single tap, appear to fall into the latter category. A thin piece of electronic film that sticks to the body, “the tattoos have gone on sale in the U.S., with Moto X users able to buy a pack of 10 of these digital tattoos for $9.99,” Gizmodo reports.
Verizon is offering rewards to wireless subscribers in exchange for a peek at their personal information, including location and Web browsing activity. “Verizon customers that sign up for the new ‘Smart Rewards’ program will be required to also opt in to another program called Verizon Selects, which tracks its customers’ locations, Web browsing and mobile application usage data, and other demographic and interest information that will be used to help marketers better target them with ads,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
With the help of $9 million in financing, a start-up named Relcy is building a search engine that combs through all the content consumers have on their mobile device to help them find what they’re looking for. “The ‘mobile-only search engine’ will index the content inside apps, link that content together, and then rank results ‘tailored for every user,’” TechCrunch reports.
Since Microsoft began selling a $399 version of Xbox One, last month, the media and gaming console is selling twice as fast. Remarking on the $100 reduction, GeekWire writes: “Offering up a cheaper Xbox One is helping Microsoft sell quite a bit more consoles.” Not just any gaming console, Xbox One is key to Microsoft broader media strategy, as it serves as a gateway into countless consumer living rooms. Still, “The Xbox One still trails the $399 PS4 in worldwide sales, while Sony’s console has held a sales lead in the U.S. for the past five months.”
Microsoft is reportedly planning its biggest round of job cuts in five years, and the axe could come down as early as this week. “The reductions … will probably be in areas such as Nokia and divisions of Microsoft that overlap with that business, as well as marketing and engineering,” Bloomberg reports. Yes, marketing. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is focused on mobile devices, cloud-computing and productivity software.
Tech giants’ current obsession with developing the perfect smartwatch begs the question: Do consumers care? Well, “Despite all the buzz surrounding wearables, it isn’t clear who’s supposed to be buying them,” New York magazine writes. “Fewer than half of the respondents to a recent Accenture survey said they would consider buying a smartwatch, and even the most optimistic experts predict only 20 million smartwatch sales this year, a pittance compared with phone and tablet sales.”