Find out more top mobile stories from CES 2017 in Las Vegas in part two of our news round-up. Voice computing is going to be big, new friction free payment options for Honda cars, Blackberry is back as is Nokia (but only in China) and much more…

Huawei: smartwatches need more features to be popular

Tech Radar

Smartwatches are cool (if rather geeky) gadgets, and they’ve yet to really capture the hearts of the general public. But perhaps that’s about to change, as Huawei reckons it knows how to make the public full in love with the wrist-worn wearable.

TechRadar sat down with Huawei’s President of Consumer Strategy, Shao Yang at CES 2017 to find out what the Chinese firm believes will see smartwatches adorn wrists around the world.

“The wearable’s biggest challenge is getting people to wear it all the time,” Yang explained. “People usually use them for a few weeks or months and then stop using them altogether.”

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Nissan and BMW bring Microsoft’s Cortana assistant to cars

The Verge

Just days after teasing a Nissan and Cortana partnership, the car maker is unveiling its plans to integrate Microsoft’s digital assistant into some vehicles. Nissan is working directly with Microsoft on its Connected Vehicle Platform, which utilizes Azure, Cortana, and Office 365. Cortana will be available in cars and will adapt its preferences and features based on drivers and others in the vehicle.

Nissan demonstrated Cortana integration in a concept video of what will be possible with the digital assistant. Asking “what is my schedule” surfaces the usual functionality of Cortana’s calendar integration, but Nissan also demonstrated the ability for Cortana to understand and suggest shortcuts to destinations, and even options to download new maps overnight. At one point in the demo, Cortana even asks “shall I engage auto park?”

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Will rewards finally push mobile payments past the tipping point?

Mobile Payments Today

One of the more interesting discussions during the Digital Money Forum Wednesday at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was whether the payments industry has come to a tipping point with consumer adoption of mobile payments in the U.S.

Nana Murugesan, vice president and general manager of services and new business at Samsung, wasn’t ready to say that point had been reached in the first few days of 2017.

“It depends on the tipping point definition,” he said in one of many panel discussions during the forum. “If your definition is softer where mobile is a more preferred method [with consumers], I think we’re getting close — maybe three years away.”

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New Nokia Android Smartphone Officially Revealed — But It’s Only For China

Forbes

The first Android-powered smartphone to carry the Nokia name from HMD Global has been announced. The Nokia 6 features 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of on-board storage alongside microSD support, a 16 megapixel main camera, and a 3,000 mAh battery.

The form factor may not push the limits of design – the handset is a monoblock form sculpted from a single piece of aluminium – but it represents the modern design ethics of a smartphone with a 1920×1080 HD screen measuring 5.5 inches on the diagonal.

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Honda unveils in-vehicle payment service for fuel and parking at CES 2017

NFC World

Honda is conducting the first proof-of-concept demonstration of its in-vehicle payments platform at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas. The service allows drivers to pay for parking and fuel with a touch of a button on the vehicle dashboard.

The auto manufacturer is showcasing the latest developments of its partnership with Visa that was first established in February 2016 to enable a variety of in-vehicle payment experiences through Visa Checkout. The demonstration on show at CES makes use of fuel pumps from Gilbarco Veeder-Root and smart parking meters from IPS Group.

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Alexa Just Conquered CES. The World Is Next

Wired

YOU CAN’T WALK the sprawling floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center without tripping over a speaker, an appliance, or even a robot or two that supports Alexa. Amazon’s voice assistant is clearly the darling of CES 2017.

This may well be the year you switch from tapping and typing on touchscreens to simply shouting commands. Many platforms, from Apple’s Siri and Micosoft’s Cortana to Google’s Assistant and Samsung’s Viv, want to be your conversational partner, but Alexa easily leads the race. The winner will claim a sweet prize. Just how big is the subject of not a little speculation, but the best estimate pegs the market for digital assistants at $3.6 billion by 2020.

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BlackBerry Mercury wants to make the keyboard real again

Cnet

The last few BlackBerry phones we’ve reviewed: all duds. But the guys who picked up the license to make the next crop promise way better ‘Berrys, and that starts with the preproduction phone at CES 2017 that’s rumored to be called the Mercury.

A touchscreen Android phone crowns a QWERTY keyboard that you can also swipe your finger along to flip through screens and scroll up and down, like you could on the Priv and Passport. There’s also a fingerprint reader in the divot of the spacebar, which helps keep the “Mercury” up to date. (The space bar is no home button, though.)

BlackBerry was all but dead until TCL, the Chinese company behind Alcatel phones, picked up the license to make more of them, including the underwhelming BlackBerry DTEK 50 and DTEK 60. This model sees a return to the BlackBerry branding of the company’s heyday.

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Your Car as Mobile Health Platform, at CES 2017

Health Populi

Mobile health (mHealth) has been long defined as care (broadly defined) delivered via mobile communications platforms, such as smartphones, text phones, and tablets. This week at CES, the automobile joins these consumer technologies based on the concepts and demos presented by several auto manufacturers at #CES2017 in Las Vegas.

The most far-reaching mobile health scenario was developed by Hyundai, unveiled as the Health + Mobility Cockpit.

The innovation was featured in the Las Vegas Convention Center in an immersive virtual reality room. The concept car is embedded with sensors, which are designed to read the driver’s levels of stress, alertness and the negative effects of driving. Lighting, scents (à la aromatherapy), and other tailored “mood bursts” are deployed based on the sensors’ readings: for example, if a driver lacks alertness, a peppermint scent might be released in the car as an energy-boosting scent. If a driver is stressed, eucalyptus or lavender could be used. The various mood burst responses address posture, scent, light, temperature and sound (think: music, podcasts or news).

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