Author: Brian Heater

OmniHub tries to fix the MacBook Pro’s port shortage with magnets and modules

TECHCRUNCH Earlier this month, my five-year-old MacBook Pro finally gave up the ghost. After traveling the world and surviving several CESes, it was time to finally lay the thing to rest. I had some misgivings about replacing the old workhorse with one of the new models, not the least of which was the company’s fairly unpopular decision to ditch all existing ports for a quartet of ThunderBolt 3 ports, which felt a bit like trading in a cow for a pocketful of magic beans. I’ve just been at too many events/live blogs in the past couple of years where...

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Apple hires Amazon Studios exec Morgan Wandell in push for scripted programming

TECHCRUNCH Apple’s first few pieces of original programming, Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, felt more like stumbles out of the gate. In this era of prestige television from cord-cutting platforms like Netflix and Amazon, the shows weren’t exactly, say, House of Cards or Transparent. But a number of moves over the past several months find the company positioning itself as a serious contender in the world of scripted television. The company has already built a team that includes a former WGN American president and a pair of executives from Sony Pictures Television — and the company just...

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Because someone had to make the first Cortana smart speaker

TECHCRUNCH People often stop after Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant when rattling off the list of smart assistants. Cortana really gets no love at all, outside of stories about Windows 10. The oversight can be chalked up, at least in part, to the fact that AI has been mostly desktop-bound. It’s true that Microsoft has launched Android and iOS apps for the assistant, but while all of the excitement in the space is happening on mobile and smart speakers, no one’s really bothered to take Cortana to the next level. Microsoft certainly isn’t taking the initiative. The Surface team...

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Amazon’s original Echo gets a much-needed upgrade

TECHCRUNCH With a good software-driven product, the hardware is almost inconsequential. After the unboxing and the setup, it just sort of fades into the scenery. That was always the case with Amazon’s original Echo, but even as Alexa continues to do all of the hard work, the grandaddy of smart speakers was in dire need of an update. It’s been nearly two full years since the first Echo was made available to Amazon Prime subscribers. In that time, the company added six new members to the Echo family (seven if you count the Tap, which Amazon kind of, sort...

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Bixby 2.0 takes center stage at Samsung’s Developer Conference

TECHCRUNCH No surprise, Samsung is making the connected home a big focus of its annual Developer Conference this week in San Francisco. DJ Koh, the company’s head of Mobile Communications took to the stage at Moscone Center to reveal a spate of different announcements focused on connected devices, as the company works to build a cohesive narrative around its approach. Up to now, the company’s take on the space has been pretty scattershot, with three distinct IOT services — SmartThings, Samsung Connect, and ARTIK — all falling under the banner. The services are being consolidated and rebranded the SmartThings...

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MakerBot attempts to embrace the open-source community with its new Labs platform

TECHCRUNCH The topic of open source has been a touchy one for MakerBot over the past decade. The one-time 3D-printing darling was the subject of some serious smack talk among the maker community when it stopped disclosing machine design in 2012 — a departure from the company’s roots as in the open-source Rep-Rap community. Announced this week, MakerBot Labs doesn’t mark a full return to those roots, but it does find the company carving out a niche for the DIY community that was once a driving force in its rapid growth. “I understand the history,” CEO Nadav Goshen told...

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The Moto Z gets its very own Alexa smart speaker

TECHCRUNCH It was just a matter of time, really. Motorola’s been teasing Alexa integration since Mobile World Congress in February. Back then, the company previewed a sort of “experimental” Mod for the Moto Z sporting Amazon’s insanely popular smart assistant. The add-on is finally really real and set to start shipping next month. The AI has already slowly made its way onto a smattering of handsets from companies like Huawei, but the new Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa is different than the standard integration. It’s a full-fledged modular smart speaker add-on that snaps magnetically onto the back of...

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Amazon Studios head Roy Price steps down amid sexual harassment allegations

TECHCRUNCH Less than a week after being suspended from his gig as the head of Amazon Studios, Roy Price has officialyl stepped down from his role, TechCrunch has learned. The resignation came after producer Isa Hackett told The Hollywood Reporter that she was subject to  “shocking and surreal” sexual harassment by Price. CNN’s Brian Stelter reported the news on Twitter, which an Amazon spokesperson has since confirmed with TechCrunch.  Hackett, who produced The Man in the High Castle for Amazon (and is also the daughter of writer Philip K. Dick, whose work inspired the series), says Price “repeatedly and...

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