Apple reportedly facing hurdles with smartwatch production

By Chris Welch

tim cook wwdc 2013

Apple has faced several setbacks in its attempt to design a smartwatch, according to The Information. Those include unsatisfactory battery performance attributed to display issues. Apple has explored switching the display technology used within its smartwatch, according to the report, though The Information doesn’t mention what sort of panels are under consideration. Apple also called off production of iWatch components with one supplier late last year, the report claims, but even editor-in-chief Jessica Lessin hedges that this detail may not be significant. But Apple is said to have a “sizable” team working on bringing its first smartwatch to market.

That likely includes ex-Nike design director Ben Shaffer, who played a large part in development of the popular Nike Fuelband. The company has also reportedly hired a variety of fitness and wearable experts. But even with all that talent, it does appear that Apple has faced problems; all the way back in March of 2013, the oft-reliable Bloombergclaimed that Apple would release its smartwatch by year’s end. At the time, The Vergecorroborated the story with our own sources. CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly hinted that Apple will move into a new product category sometime in 2014.

Intel Wants to Make Computers Think More Like Humans


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LAS VEGAS – Intel says it wants to make science fiction into reality. More specifically, it wants to make the way we interact with computers and tablets more human, more “natural.”

“We want to communicate with the computing device naturally, as you would with another human,” Mooly Eden, Intel’s senior vice and perceptual computing general manager, said today during a press conference here at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Think of it, he said, as adding senses to the computer brain.


Enter “RealSense,” Intel’s new technology that spans devices and attempts to bring immersive, human interaction to devices. It was announced today.

At CES, Intel demonstrates its new RealSense 3-D camera.

The technology will appear in various types of devices — laptops and tablets, for example — from hardware partners like Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo, among others. Intel outlined two new ways RealSense will initially take shape: a RealSense 3-D camera and a natural language personal assistant.

The 3-D camera features a depth sensor and a can detect specific gesture movements from a user’s hands and fingers, as well as a person’s facial features and movements. With the camera, a person can use a device with any number of “natural” gestures instead of, say, typing or using a mouse. It can be used for gaming, enhanced learning and to capture and share 3-D images.

Related: A Tech Entrepreneur’s Insider Tips for Exhibiting at CES

The camera can also be used for video conferencing or video blogging. For example, Intel has partnered with Microsoft to enhance Skype video conferencing, enabling users to change or remove a person’s background during a video call and add video and other images in real-time. These features might also be useful for content creators who produce videos for YouTube or perhaps a company blog.

One might think of the camera as enhancing the devices sense of sight, Intel says.

To advance a computer’s sense of hearing, Intel collaborated with Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance Communications, maker of the Dragon voice assistant, to develop a smart, new personal assistant.

Intel says the new personal assistant operates conversationally. “People can simply tell it to play music, get answers, connect with friends and find content — all by using natural language,” the company says.

The personal assistant software will available later this year on Ultrabooks and tablets from Asus, Toshiba, Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo, Intel says.

Related: New From CES: Improve Videos on Your Smartphone With This Smart App

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Apple Opens Official Store On Popular Chinese E-Commerce Site Tmall

by Husain Sumra

Apple has partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to open an official online store on its popular online marketplace Tmall, reports the Wall Street Journal.

An Alibaba spokeswoman confirmed that the Tmall page is indeed Apple’s and that it opened recently, but declined to comment further. An Apple spokeswoman wasn’t immediately available for comment.


Tmall is one of Alibaba’s two dominant online marketplaces and hosts over 70,000 merchants, including brands like Nike and Gap. Its structure is essentially an online shopping mall, with trusted brands each having their own store portal. However, Tmall requires each seller to pay a deposit, an annual service fee and charges a commission on each transaction.

The online store mirrors Apple’s own Chinese store portal, but allows the company to reach China’s fast-growing population of online shoppers.

The move is yet another effort by Apple to boost sales in China as the company is also set to start selling iPhones to China Mobile’s 700 million subscribers on January 17. Apple also recently announced its annual Lunar New Year sale, a one-day event for Asian countries also known as “Red Friday” because of its similarities to Black Friday, would take place on January 10.

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