Find out the week’s top stories from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Virtual reality, mobile payments and wearables, the automotive industry gets connected, new handsets under Google’s Project Tango plus much more.
After a botched early pre-order program that created customer outrage, Coin, the digital payment company that wants to reinvent your wallet with a single credit card that can be controlled from a smartphone app, is finding a second life with the help of MasterCard.
Expanding on its original vision of having customers carry a single Coin credit card that can be reprogrammed from a paired smartphone app, Coin is heading into the wearables space to make it easier for wearers of fitness bands, smartwatches and health trackers to tap their wrist to pay.
Samsung isn’t resting on its laurels where Samsung Pay is concerned. At CES 2016 the company announced that Samsung Pay will be expanding to three more countries in the coming months: Australia, Singapore and Brazil. This announcement follows hot on the heels of the confirmation that China, Spain and the United Kingdom will receive the service in Q1, 2016.
There was no specific timeline put on the launches for each country but it clearly demonstrates how aggressively Samsung is pushing its touchless payment system. These six countries will join the U.S. and South Korea where the payment system is already in place. The Gear S2 will also have its Samsung Pay functionality enabled in the coming months.
Ford has long indicated that CarPlay and Android Auto were part of its long-term infotainment strategy, but only now are we learning the actual game plan: both platforms will finally be coming this year.
All 2017 Ford models sold in North America with the company’s Sync 3 infotainment platform will have CarPlay and Android Auto out of the box, while owners of 2016 models will be able to upgrade “later in the year.” The 2017 Escape will be the first model on the road to get both systems, going on sale in the spring. The new Escape had also been previously announced as the first vehicle to get Ford’s Sync Connect system, which brings LTE into the car; other vehicles with Sync 3 will be getting LTE later this year as well.
A collaboration between Harman and Microsoft at the Consumer Electronics Show brings features from the Office 365 suite of productivity software to automotive infotainment systems. The deal promises to allow drivers to safely get business deals done in the connected car of the future.
“By ensuring that Office 365 services are seamlessly integrated with car and driver telematics and performance data, we will allow consumers to be more productive during their driving hours, while enjoying far greater convenience, safety and reliability,” Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of business development, said in the announcement.
Samsung shared today that its flagship smartwatch, the Gear S2, will support iOS devices by the end of 2016.
Samsung announced the news today during its CES keynote in Las Vegas. The move lacks surprise — iOS support was already rumored to arrive by the end of 2015. Now it’s official, although we have no idea how long we’ll have to wait, nor do we know how comprehensive the integration will be.
In addition to the upcoming iOS support, Samsung debuted two new colors for the S2 smartwatch: gold (obviously) and platinum. The company also shared that support for Samsung Pay — Samsung’s Android Pay and Apple Pay competitor — is coming to the S2 smartwatch soon.
The basic utilitarian look of Fitbit is so last week, with today’s CES 2016 debut of Fitbit Blaze, a smart fitness watch with a color touchscreen that heralds in the next generation of the company’s popular fitness device line.
Fitbit Blaze does many of the same things as more expensive smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch, but it does it at a lower price point. The basic Fitbit Blaze comes with an elastomer band and will be available for retail sales in March 2016 with a $199 price tag. It tracks fitness and sleep stats and provides notifications for calls, texts, calendar alerts and music control. It’s compatible with Windows, iOS, and Android platforms.
The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has been put on sale at a price of $599 (£410).
Pre-orders for the CV1 version of the headset are now officially open and the device can be bought via the Oculus website. Anyone ordering the headset now should have it shipped to them in March, said the Facebook-owned firm.
Reaction on social media was swift, with some saying the final price was far higher than they expected it to be. The arrival of the headset has been long-awaited since it first appeared on the Kickstarter crowdfunding site in 2012.
The Rift is the first of two mainstream VR devices set to be launched in 2016. Rival HTC is to release the consumer versions of its Vive headset in April.
Developers get a sneak peek at hardware before games are showcased in Seattle in late January.
HTC is showing off a brand-new Vive Pre virtual reality system at CES 2016, but it’s only for developers. The company is giving away 7,000 of the new products to game makers and other creatives this month, according to Dan O’Brien, vice president of planning and product management for HTC Vive.
HTC did not announce pricing or a firm release date for the HTC Vive Consumer Edition, which was previously delayed until April. All of the enhancements on the HTC Pre will ultimately end up in the consumer edition.
Project Tango is moving from experiment to a feature that Lenovo hopes will sell phones. Tonight at CES, Lenovo and Google have announced that the former will be the first manufacturer to release a consumer handset with Project Tango built in.
And there’s already a release date: it’s coming this summer. The device will cost under $500 and will launch globally, according to both companies. Also interesting is that Lenovo and Google have said it’ll be “less than 6.5 inches” in size. Tango, unveiled nearly two years ago, allows devices to map the 3D space around them in real time using a combination of cameras and sensors. If you need a refresher, here’s what Google says its technology can make possible:
Neura, an Israeli tech company, has developed a smartphone-compatible software program that collects users’ data to create a digital identity map. The software helps users in their daily activities while also securing their data.
The software, showcased at the CES 2016 in Las Vegas, offers users enhanced privacy features and total control of their own data. However, in order to provide such a service, Neura’s software would require complete access to users’ activities recorded on the various apps of their smartphone. Neura‘s CEO and representative at the CES, Gilad Meiri, told the BBC: “You should be scared. It is a radical view of privacy.”