What Will Microsoft And Nokia’s September 5 Press Conference Be About?



But seriously, Microsoft very publicly revealed the future of its Windows Phone platform a few months back. At the time Nokia though, didn’t have much more to announce than some conciliatory apps for all the people whose Lumias wouldn’t work with Windows Phone 8.

Now it looks like Nokia and Microsoft are finally ready to talk hardware. The two companies jointly sent out invitations to a press conference in New York on September 5, and while the invite doesn’t provide much insight into the day’s proceedings, you don’t need to be a mind-reader to figure out it has something to do with Nokia’s new batch of Windows Phone 8… phones.

The multiple tile sizes in seen in the invitation are a clear sign that WP8 (or WP7.8) is involved, and it just so happens that Nokia World is also slated to kick off in majestic Helsinki that same day.

In case you were wondering, the last time Nokia World rolled around the Finnish company officially pulled back the curtains on its first two Windows Phones, the Lumias 710 and 800. What better opportunity is there for Nokia to reveal its swanky new handsets? Of course, neither Nokia or Microsoft has specifically said any of this, but the timing is just too perfect to be anything else. If I’m wrong, I’ll make and eat this ridiculous hat and document the whole damn process.

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The Invisible Bike Helmet: An Airbag On The Go

Invisble Bicycle helmet

People die trying to look cool. Vanity is the sad reason why people don’t wear bike helmets. So two Swedish women set out to invent “the invisible bicycle helmet”, They’ve succeeded, and the end product isn’t a made of clear plexiglass and there’s no lightbending-stealth technology. In fact it’s not really a helmet at all.

Hövding is a rapidly-inflating airbag that deploys from a collar around your neck when you’re in an accident. Here’s how it works, and a video demonstrating this amazing, but still expensive, invention.

The invisible bicycle helmet uses rechargeable battery-powered accelerometers and gyroscopes that detect the typical motions involved in a bike crash. They trigger a tiny gas inflator which instantly fills a nylon airbag with helium. The bag forms a hood around your head that cushions the impact of the street, a car, or anything else you slam into.

The product and company named Hövding began as the industrial design master’s thesis of two students, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstinat, at Sweden’s Lund University. After five years of research and $ 10 million in funding, they’re now selling the invisible bike helmet. It’s not cheap, though.

Hövding costs $ 600 and only works once. There’s also been some complaints about the design and an early version had trouble with the zipper.

But considering the potential hospital bills, and you know, the risk of death, it might be a good investment for fashion-forward bikers. Really you should just be confident and realize that wearing  areal bike helmet doesn’t make you uncool. But if that’s too much to ask, at least consider a Hövding.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Suunto Adds Active Mapping To Their Ambit Smart Watch


In a real first for a GPS watch, Suunto has added a mapping feature to their Ambit smartwatch via a free update. The watch previously supported GPS tracking, waypoints, and training functions but this upgrade adds a live map to the mix, allowing hikers and runners to pinpoint their location on a trail or course.

From the Suunto website:

With this update, users will be able to download routes online or input their own waypoints. Out on the trails, users will be able to see their route in real time, including their start point, position and the route ahead.

Another upcoming update will add Suunto foot pod and ANT+ accessory compatibility along with improved training instruments like interval timers. It will also support “community-crafted” features uploaded by users to Suunto’s support site.

This is a real first for these sorts of watches. First, this update is wildly compelling and that it comes free, after the watch has been on the market for a few months. The watch itself is pretty cool, as evidenced by this in-depth review and it’s fascinating that it can be upgraded via software to unlock new features.

The community features are also compelling in that they allow groups of people – runners, bikers, onanists – to upload various readout settings and programs. All of this, of course, inside a package the size of a silver dollar. The watch itself is $ 500 and these updates will be free at Movescount.com in September.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Dell Pushes Warranties While Claiming Help-Desk Customers Won Phony Sweepstakes


If you call the Dell support line, chances are you’re the lucky winner of the chance to pay $ 300 for Dell warranty protection. Laptop Magazine called Dell three times with a number of simple problems, including trackpad issues and software problems. Each time the CSR informed the reporter that they had won a “daily drawing to purchase a four-year extended hardware warranty for our laptop for $ 317.”

The CSRs also offered software warranties for hardware questions and even forced a warranty on the customer during a question on how to use the trackpad with three fingers.

When we told him that we weren’t interested in a warranty, Sherma told us that only three customers win the drawing per day, and that the normal price for such a warranty is $ 512. We again told him we weren’t interested, at which point Sherma said that if we didn’t want the discounted offer, he would give it to his next caller. We once again told Sherma that we didn’t want to purchase the warranty, to which he replied in a clearly agitated tone that he was only trying to save us money. He then began telling us that we were also eligible for a software warranty.

These call centers were apparently all in India and Dell responded by explaining that many of the behaviors exhibited weren’t sanctioned by the company. “Daily drawings are not a regular practice nor encouraged tactic in technical support and we have used your feedback to reinforce this with our teams. Their only priority is to resolve our customers’ issues,” they wrote.

This sort of behavior suggests a few things. First, these guys are paid commission for every warranty they sell and by gar they’re going to sell them some warranties. Second, if Dell, ostensibly no longer a PC company, is reduced to the worse tactics than Best Buy, there may be some problems internally. I’m surprised they didn’t try to upsell Monster USB cables.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

UTest Acquires Apphance In 7-Figure Deal As Mobile Developer Tools Consolidate

uTest Apphance - logo

Some consolidation in the area of companies that offer tools to mobile developers, specifically in the area of quality testing — a must-have for developers working in the highly fragmented world of smartphones and tablets. Boston-based uTest has made its first strategic acquisition: Poland-based Apphance, which it is buying from its parent company Polidea in a seven-figure deal, consisting of cash and uTest equity for Polidea.

As part of the deal, uTest is picking up all of Apphance’s intellectual property, as well as 10 engineers who work on it, to add to uTest’s existing team of 100 employees. And it will continue to sell and develop the product — which helps developers test apps for bugs and distribute new versions of those apps. It will from now be marketed as uTest Apphance and will be offered to developers free of charge for the rest of 2012 to help promote it.

uTest will also be using Apphance itself for its own 60,000-strong army of app testers, as well as adding functionality for it to support HTML5, on top of existing support for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

The deal is both a sign of how mobile app testing services are growing in use and maturity, and how consolidation will inevitably follow as bigger players continue to scale.

“This acquisition is a giant step forward in the growth of uTest,” Doron Reuveni, CEO of uTest, said in a statement. “By adding Apphance to our in-the-wild testing services, we’ve dramatically increased our value to customers and extended our position as an all-in-one testing solution for mobile developers around the world.”

Among the features of Apphance’s platform are the ability for developers to distribute new versions of their app, gather crash reports, obtain bug reports and solicit user feedback. This is done by way of adding Apphance code into a mobile app, which then lets any device running that app in pre-production or production to then get tracked by Apphance’s system.

The two companies have been in communication since 2011, uTest says.

Since then, uTest’s business has grown five-fold, raising $ 17 million in the process, and “discussions between the two parties evolved, ultimately leading to today’s announcement.” uTest is on track for a run-rate of $ 40 million this year, the company says.

Customers for uTest include Google, USA Today, Amazon, Virgin, Sony, Box and Trulia, and the company employs 60,000 testers across 190 countries and all mobile platforms, devices, and carriers, as part of uTest’s “real world” approach to making sure that apps work as they should.

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