As the smartphone maker clings to its dwindling market share, one of its last and most prominent strongholds – the White House – is reportedly weighing other options.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 21, 2014 12:08PM

The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneyPresident Barack Obama uses his BlackBerry as first lady Michelle Obama talks to him at a NCAA basketball game between Oregon State Beavers and Towson Tigers at Towson University in Maryland, Nov. 26, 2011 © REUTERS/Yuri GripasBy Will Connors, The Wall Street Journal

The White House is testing smartphones from Samsung (SSNLF) and LG Electronics for internal use, a person familiar with the matter said, threatening one of the last and most high-profile strongholds of BlackBerry (BBRY).

The devices are being tested by the White House's internal technology team and the White House Communications Agency, a military unit in charge of President Barack Obama's communications, the person said. The tests are in the early stages, the person said, and any implementation of Samsung or LG phones is still "months away." There was no indication that President Obama is switching from his modified BlackBerry.


After purchasing controller company Green Throttle Games, the tech giant appears closer to entering the gaming market.

By Forbes Digital Mar 20, 2014 12:15PM
Forbes on MSN MoneyThe By Dave Thier, Forbes contributor

If we were looking for more proof about search giant Google's (GOOG) designs on the living room, this is it. The BBC reports that Google has acquired controller company Green Throttle Games for an undisclosed amount.

A quick look at one of their products proves that the company is making things designed for sitting on a couch. Google hasn't bought this company for use with its phones.

We've heard a lot of rumors about Google's set-top box in the past, enough to believe with reasonable certainty that it exists and we'll see it sometime. The specs are what we wonder about now -- considering that the company already has Chromecast, I think that whatever it makes has to be a little more than a box with an Internet connection. Local computing would be a reasonable addition, and there's no better use for that than gaming.

Telepresence robots are a new niche of products that hope to improve the video conferencing experience.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 18, 2014 12:05PM

iRobot Ava 500 Courtesy of iRobot
The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneyBy Priya Ganapati, The Wall Street Journal

Want to work from home? Send a robot to the office instead. The Ava 500 is virtual collaboration gadget from iRobot (IRBT) you can use to make your presence felt at meetings or in the hallways of the office, without physically being there.

In development for years, the Ava is finally available in the U.S., Canada and some European countries through authorized resellers of Cisco (CSCO) teleconferencing gear.

The robot has an automated navigation system and a 21.5-inch LCD screen so it can move around while transmitting a video of your face. Powerful microphones and cameras pick up and transmit surrounding audio and video back to you. 

Channeling oneself through the robot requires no more than an iPad Mini. Open the app, select a meeting room or a location on the map and the robot will find its way there and get started.


A number of iPhone users have noticed the setting automatically switched on after an iOS update -- an important, if sneaky, push to increase use of the company's iBeacon technology.

By Forbes Digital Mar 13, 2014 1:31PM
Apple iPhone 5SBy Kashmir Hill, Forbes Staff

The last few times iPhone users updated their operating systems per Apple (AAPL) prompting, they may have noticed something weird. Those of us who keep Bluetooth turned off for battery and privacy or security reasons suddenly had Bluetooth turned on by default after the update.

Forbes on MSN MoneyThere are scattered complaints about it in the Apple support forum. "It's new to iOS7," is the standard response from other users. Apple did not respond to emailed inquiries about the change to users' settings. (Siri wasn't very helpful either.)

Greg Sterling, a senior analyst for Opus Research who organizes a conference about location marketing, had no knowledge of Apple turning Bluetooth on by default, but was impressed if it's true. "It's a critical piece here," he says. "Without Bluetooth, iBeacons won't work."

These smartphone cases pack a backup supply of juice, ready to recharge your device when you need it. Here's how they compare in price and performance.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 12, 2014 11:48AM

Mophie Space Pack cases (c) Mophie.comBy Joanna Stern, The Wall Street Journal

Battery-life panic disorder. You won't find it in any medical textbook, but I assure you, when a smartphone's battery indicator turns red, the corresponding feeling of complete powerlessness is real.

The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneyI used to suffer quite badly from it, sitting on dirty floors as my phone charged at whatever power plug that happened to be available. But I've since found relief: iPhone and Android phone cases that can double your battery life.

Often called a "Mophie," because of one of the first companies to release them, the case connects to your phone via the power port. When the battery is low, you turn it on and before you know it, you're back in the green. It'll usually double the thickness of your phone, but if these cases were a prescription drug, that would be considered a minor side effect.

Mophie is no longer alone. In fact, the competition is outrunning it, and that's good news. I tested 11 cases and discovered you can put more power in your pocket while spending less with cases made by others.



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