<![CDATA[NBC New York - Tech News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:56:39 -0400 Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:56:39 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Apple Releases Tool to Remove U2 Album]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:14:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/455053622.jpg

Some iPhone users are not happy that U2's new album, "Songs of Innocence," was automatically added to their iTunes music library, free of charge. In response, Apple has released a special tool that lets people remove the album from their collections.

U2 played at an Apple event last week that included the unveiling of the iPhone maker's new smartwatch and updated iPhone models. In a surprise move, the Irish rock band performed at the event and put out its 11-song release.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the new album would be given to the company's 500 million iTunes users. The release showed up in users' iTunes music libraries. The company said Monday that 33 million iTunes account holders have accessed the free album.

But some iTunes users took to Twitter to complain and ask how to remove it. While it was already possible to delete the album, Apple's tool makes it possible in one step.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Investigating Threats with Possible Links to ISIS]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 09:17:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TWITTER-ISIS-THREATS-SOT-TZ---18281826.jpg

Twitter says its security team, along with relevant law enforcement officials, is investigating the veracity of apparent death threats made against its employees by radical Islamists.

The threats reportedly showed up on a Twitter account with ties to the Islamic State rebel group that has beheaded reporters.

Twitter has 800 employees in San Francisco, but none were eager to talk to reporters on Tuesday. The social networking service has been taking down accounts the company believes are platforms for the terrorist group ISIS. It is believed that action is what prompted the threats posted on such an account, which has since been removed.

The original threatening posts were in Arabic and initially translated on the website Vocative. They reportedly said:

“The time has arrived to respond to Twitter’s management by directly attacking their employees and physically assassinating them.”

“Every Twitter employee in San Francisco in the United States should bear in mind and watch over himself because on his doorstep there might be a lone world assassin waiting.”

Steve Weber, a terrorism expert at UC Berkeley, believes the tweets are intended to frighten, but are without substance. “Day-to-day employees there are probably in more danger walking across the street in San Francisco than the likelihood of being hit by a terrorist assassin inside the United States,” he said.

Marc Sandalow, associate director of the University of California’s Washington Center, said he believes ISIS is using the threats and the recent videotaped beheadings of journalists to raise its profile on the world stage, but since President Obama’s initial statements discounting ISIS, the group’s soldiers have taken control of a significant amount of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Weber says “that has moved the discourse in Washington from ‘Maybe this thing is just going to go away’ to ‘We need to make sure that this thing goes away.’”

The president laid out his strategy for going after ISIS to members of Congress on Tuesday. Wednesday night, he briefs the nation at 6 p.m. PT in an address that will air live on NBC.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[The Apple Watch: What You Need to Know]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 07:51:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-apple-watch-thumb-new.jpg

Rumors of the Apple Watch have been swirling since 2012, and while Apple is not the first to debut a smartwatch, it has arguably designed the most elegant wearable yet.

Why isn't it called iWatch? Apple may have been unable to license the name as it is owned by Swatch.

Name aside, here are the top features to know about the Apple Watch.

Requires an iPhone, Old or New

The watches require an iPhone: either the new 6 and 6 Plus, or the older iPhone 5, 5S and 5C, meaning 200 million people can already use the device, Cook said.

The Handoff iOS 8 feature will let you start composing an email on the Apple Watch and finish it on your phone, iPad or Mac.

The Apple Watch will start at $349 and will be available in early 2015. In addition, the newly introduced payment system Apple Pay will work with the watch.

A New User Interface: The Digital Crown

As CEO Tim Cook pointed out, with each new product category Apple created a new UI: the Mac's mouse, the iPod's clickwheel, the iPhone's multi-touch. For the Apple Watch, there is the Digital Crown.

The Digital Crown, a souped-up dial on the right side, provides a way to scroll, zoom and navigate the Apple Watch without covering the display. A wearer can scroll through lists and messages, make selections and more without obstructing the screen.

From CEO Tim Cook: "What we DIDN'T do is shrink down the iPhone interface and put it on your wrist. That'd be a horrible experience!"

Interactivity and Communication

The watch will have Siri, Maps and Photos apps, among others. The Maps app shows the way and guides wearers to go left or right with a tap. From a feature called Friends, wearers can make a call, send a message, customize emojis or a sketch made with their finger.

There's also a feature called "Glances," which you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see stocks, meetings, weather and world time.

Wearers can also send their friends a "gentle tap on the wrist" through haptic feedback (or tiny vibrations), even if they are thousands of miles away. They can also capture and send their heartbeat by pressing two fingers on the screen.

More than a Health Tracking Device

Apple is pushing the watch heavily toward fitness-savy consumers. A "Workout" app will monitor calories burned and miles run, and an "Activity" app will show the same metrics over the course of a day.

The watch measures three aspects of movement inside "rings": Move, Exercise and Stand. The Move ring gives an overview of how active the wearer is, while the Exercise ring measures brisk activity, and the Stand ring shows how often the wearer has stood up to take a break from sitting.

An accelerometer measures body movement while a custom sensor measures intensity by tracking the wearer's heart rate.

Customizable Faces, Bands

There are three watch collections: the Apple Watch, made with stainless steel; the Apple Watch Sport, inside an aluminum casing; and the Apple Watch Edition, made of 18k gold. There is also a smaller-sized watch for smaller wrists.

For the bands, there are six different versions, made of leather, polymer, metal mesh and stainless steel, and each has a mechanism that makes the straps interchangeable.

The screen is made of ultra-durable sapphire, resistant to cracks. Wearers can personalize the capabilities and appearance of the faces.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York



Photo Credit: Apple]]>
<![CDATA[Apple's New Watch, iPhones]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:22:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-iwatch-1.jpg Apple announced two new iPhone models, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and its new Apple Watch at an event in Cupertino on Sept. 9.

Photo Credit: Apple]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Unveils Sleek New Watch]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 20:26:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-apple-lead-455042032.jpg

Apple unveiled a sleek new smartwatch dubbed the Apple Watch and two new, bigger iPhones on Tuesday, marking its much-heralded entry into wearable technology and signaling its intentions to keep innovating three years after co-founder Steve Jobs' death.

The event, held at the same Cupertino venue where Jobs unveiled the industry-shifting Mac computer a generation ago, was capped by a performance by U2, whose new album "Songs of Innocence" would be available for free on iTunes.

Apple's big reveal wasn't without its hitches, as technical problems marred its livestream and frustrated would-be watchers online.

But at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts itself, CEO Tim Cook's announcement of the new watch — "the most personal device we've ever created," he said — was met with a standing ovation from Apple fans.

The smartwatch, with its square display and rectangular bezel and screen, can function, Cook explained, as a fitness monitor, communication device and, of course, timepiece. It will start at $349 and be available in early 2015.

What looks like an ordinary crown on the watch's side is a dial that lets users zoom, scroll and navigate, in a departure from the commands iPhones use. Its touchscreen, with a sapphire crystal, also senses force.

"What we didn't do was take the iPhone and shrink the user interface and strap it on your wrist," Cook said.

The watch, available in two sizes and in 18-karat gold with a variety of straps to choose from, was the crowning new product announced at Tuesday's event, closely watched by Apple fans and industry-watchers, near the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Its unveiling came after two new iPhones, iOS 8 and Apple's first game were announced.

Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus boast larger screens, more powerful cameras and a new payment system Apple vowed would prove a radical improvement.
The iPhone 6's screen will measure 4.7 inches, the 6 Plus' 5.5. Both boast a new next-generation retina display, and apps on both can be viewed differently, including in a double-paned display, when the phone is held horizontally, giving it the air of an iPad.

Each model also promises a more powerful camera, with autofocus and face detection that's twice as fast as older models' and that works seamlessly in video, in a move by Apple that seemed designed to preclude users from needing separate cameras. The iPhone 6 Plus comes with optical image stabilization, too, to adjust for users' unsteady hands.

Both models also use a new payment system, dubbed Apple Pay, that CEO Tim Cook said was safe, simple and a vast improvement for users' experience.

It will let users use credit cards already on file with iTunes or take a photo of their cards to use them, and to preserve their safety, no credit card information will be stored on their phones.

"We're totally reliant on the exposed numbers and outdated and vulnerable magnetic stripe interface," he said. "This whole process is based on this little piece of plastic." 

Prices for the iPhone 6 start at $199 for a 16 GB model and go up to $399 for 128 GB, while the 6 Plus starts at $299 and goes up to $499. Pre-orders will begin Friday, and the products will begin shipping a week later, on Sept. 19.

Apple also launched its first-ever own game, a battle game called Vain Glory.

That wasn't the only exciting news for gamers: The new iPhone also boasts a new 64-bit chip, the Apple A8, which Apple promises will make for a 20 percent faster CPU and 50 percent faster graphics, according to The Verge.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How to Sell Your iPhone for the Most Money]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 14:06:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_iphone_edited.jpg

Looking to sell your iPhone before the new model is released? The longer you wait can have a dramatic effect on the value of your phone.

Many users are looking to upgrade their phones to get their hands on the latest gadget after Tuesday's announcement of Apple's new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Even if you are locked in a contract or not due for a subsidized upgrade from your phone carrier, you can still sell your current iPhone to help pay for the new model.

Many sites offer trade-in deals that will give you a fair amount of cash for your gadget.

Gazelle, an online trade-in store, is offering up to $335 for an iPhone 5S, a price expected to be good until Tuesday. The value is estimated to drop as the iPhone 6 was announced on Tuesday.

Worried about not having a phone? Gazelle is letting users hold on to their current phones until Oct. 10 so they are not phoneless while waiting for the new model. Users must first lock in their deal by Sept. 9 through Gazelle.com.

Through Gazelle, you lock in a price online, and the company will send you a package to ship your phone for free. Once your phone is processed, you can choose to receive a check, gift card or PayPal.

If you are looking to get more bang for your buck, you can try selling your phone privately on eBay. Prices vary depending on the model and storage space of your iPhone. Current listings on eBay as of Monday found iPhone 5S models being sold on eBay for between $300 and $500.

Another option for a user looking to unload their iPhones is Craigslist. You should complete your Craigslist transaction in a public place to be safe. Keep in mind that Craigslist does not offer any “buyer/seller protection” as they are not involved in any transactions.

Apple also has a trade-in program called Apple Reuse and Recycling Program that lets users trade in their phones and receive an Apple Store gift card in exchange. A previously owned iPhone 5 was estimated at a value of $225, while an iPhone 5S is currently not available to trade in through Apple’s site.

Another option to get rid of your phone is through a retailer like Best Buy or Amazon, which both offer competitive pricing onto a store gift card.

The value of a previous iPhone model typically drops when a new model is introduced, so the sooner you sell your phone, the more money you may be able to get.

The price of new iPhone's without a contract typically starts at $649 depending on the model of the phone. If you are due for an upgrade, or start a new contract, prices for new models start at $199.

Check with your carrier to see if you are eligible for an upgrade.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Live from Cupertino: Apple Will Live Stream Sept. 9 Event]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:54:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/179*120/tim+cook+2.jpg

Is it a phone, a watch, a wallet? All eyes will be on Cupertino Tuesday for Apple's next big announcement. Apple will also be live-streaming the "special event" on Apple.com starting 10 a.m. Sept. 9.

The Apple website already features a countdown clock counting down to the magic hour.

Announcements on both the iPhone 6 (with apparently a bigger screen) and the iWatch (or iBand?) are expected, reports indicate, but there's also the "what else" aspect.

Reports from both Re/code and Bloomberg indicate that the debut of a wearable device is in the cards. There are also reports that the tech giant might unveil its own mobile-payment system -- possibly an iWallet? Apple is also reportedly working on a new, taller iPad.

Apple's invitation to media last week didn't say much, except for a one-line teaser: "Wish We Could Say More." The company stock reached a new all-time high following the announcement and sent social media abuzz.

Apple opted to switch venues for the event, opting for the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, instead of its usual Moscone West venue in San Francisco.

On Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced plans to add extra security to iCloud, following a celebrity photo hacking incident last week.

According to Apple, live streaming Tuesday's video from its website will require Safari 5.1.10 or later on OS X v10.6.8 or later; Safari on iOS 6.0 or later. Streaming via Apple TV requires second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 5.0.2 or later.

Follow NBC Bay Area on Twitter @nbcbayarea for live coverage of the event.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple to Unveil New Products ]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:58:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/2014-08-28-apple-invitation-thumbnail.jpg

Apple has made it official: The next gadget event will be September 9th.

The Cupertino company sent out official invitations to the press Thursday morning, with a date (September 9th), time, and place (10am, Cupertino). The invitation also came with a brief message: 'Wish We Could Say More."

The tech press is already saying plenty about the event, speculating that we'll see a new iPhone, a new iPad (both reportedly larger), and maybe even the long-guessed about iWatch. Apple is not saying anything beyond its emailed invitation.

Investors like the drama, though; shares of Apple stock (AAPL), on a tear lately, hit a new all-time high this morning, as the invitations arrived in boxes.

A quick note about the venue: Cupertino's Flint Center is historic in Apple lore. It's the place where Steve Jobs first showed off the Mac computer back in 1984.

Scott will be at the event, with updates on Twitter: @scottbudman



Photo Credit: Apple]]>
<![CDATA[HP Recalls Computer Power Cords for Burn Hazard]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:31:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/20140826+PowerCord.jpg

Hewlett-Packard is recalling almost 5.6 million power cords in the U.S. for notebook computers because they can overheat and catch fire.

Two people have reported they suffered burns and 13 people have experienced minor property damage as a result of the overheating cords, HP said. HP has had 29 reports of the cords heating up or catching fire.

The power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and docking stations. The power cords are black and have an “LS-15” molded mark on the AC adapter end.

Customers should immediately stop using and unplug the recalled power cords and contact Hewlett-Packard to order a free replacement. Consumers can continue to use the computer on battery power.

The recall also covers almost 500,000 cords in Canada.

For more information on the recall, click here.

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<![CDATA[Apple Rolls out iPhone Battery Replacement Program]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:40:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/tlmd_iphone_5_nuevo_12.jpg

If you have an iPhone 5 with a short battery life, you may be eligible for a new, free battery, thanks to Apple’s new iPhone battery replacement program.

Apple released a statement that it has determined a certain number of iPhone 5s purchased between September 2012 and January 2013 “may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently.”

Go here if you think your phone meets these requirements and find out how to get a new battery.

Apple also said that if you already replaced your iPhone 5 battery, you could be eligible for a refund.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:58:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/216*120/Steve+Ballmer+Clips+1.JPG

Steve Ballmer on Tuesday left Microsoft's Board of Directors, citing new commitments as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a day after publicly stepping into his role with the team.

"The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately," Ballmer wrote in his resignation letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time."

Ballmer, who handed off the reins as CEO to Nadella in February, expressed confidence in the company’s future and said he is proud that "Microsoft has been my life's work."

"I bleed Microsoft -- have for 34 years and I always will," he wrote.

Ballmer bought the Clippers from Shelly Sterling, wife of former owner Donald Sterling, for $2 billion in May.

The deal was approved by the NBA and finalized Aug. 12 after a tumultuous court battle between the Sterlings.

Shelly Sterling said last week she is "thrilled that the Clippers now have such a wonderful new owner."

Ballmer introduced himself to thousands of Clippers fans on Monday during an energetic rally at the Staples Center that also featured several players and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. Ballmer promised to keep the team in LA and to usher in an era of many victories.

"This is an amazing new day in Clippers history," Coach Doc Rivers said at the rally. "I couldn't be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization."

In a response to Ballmer's resignation letter Tuesday, Nadella thanked Ballmer for his time at the company and wished him success.

"I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft," Nadella wrote.

Ballmer remains a shareholder at Microsoft.

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<![CDATA[Uber Driver Arrested After Assault]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:31:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/police-lights-night-shutterstock_54084688.jpg

Police arrested an Uber driver a woman accused of sexually assaulting her earlier this month.

Police charged 31-year-old Reshad Chakari of Alexandria, Virginia, with second-degree sexual abuse.

On July 20, police went to the 1400 block of Rhode Island Avenue NW where a 25-year-old woman reported that an Uber driver sexually assaulted her. She had several drinks at a nightclub while celebrating her birthday and passed out in the car, News4's Darcy Spencer reported. According to the police report, the woman said Chakari touched her while she was sleeping in the car.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh said she wants to make sure these drivers are not preying on women. While Uber is required to perform background checks on drivers, that may not be enough, Cheh said. She said installing panic buttons in cars could help.

"Rider safety is Uber's #1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care," said Taylor Bennett, spokesperson for Uber Technologies. "It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following any serious allegations, which we have done. We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation.”

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington for more on this developing story.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Phone Chargers and Adapters Recalled]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 17:41:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/recall33.jpg

Two recalls have been issued for chargers that can overheat phones, causing a burn hazard, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The first recall warns about Gemini adapters and chargers that were given away at trade shows between October and April.

The company has received one report of a consumer who was burned on their hand, according to the CPSC. All chargers of this brand should be thrown out. About 31,000 chargers are affected.

The second recalls warns about Lifeguard Press charging kits. Seven models of charging kits with universal serial bus (USB) connectors that are used to recharge Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod devices are affected by the recall, according to CPSC.

They were sold under the brands Ban.do, Jonathan Adler, and Lilly Pulitzer between February and June.

Lifeguard Press has received six reports of the wall chargers emitting smoke and sparking and six reports of prongs detaching from the plug, according to CPSC. No injuries have been reported.

Consumers may contact the company for a refund. About 25,400 are included in the recall.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Kardashian Game Propels App Company]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 15:26:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/KK11.jpg

Kim Kardashian is money.

Glu Mobile knows.

The app-maker is the publisher of "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood," a free-to-play game downloadable from Apple's App Store. And Glu Mobile is also enjoying a wave of success after its stock shares jumped 42 percent in recent months thanks to the Kim game, Bloomberg News reported.

San Francisco-based Glu Mobile officials say they're not surprised that Kim's celebrity power could compel hordes of downloads and plenty of in-game purchases, the trick that makes free-to-download games lucrative.

In the game, users try to negotiate their own celebrity landscapes, using advice from Kardashian herself to rise from the "so-called E-list" to the "A-list," the website reported.

Revenue from the game could hit $200 million, an analyst told the website.



Photo Credit: GC Images]]>
<![CDATA[Taxi Commission Blocks Lyft's Debut in NYC]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:00:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP575848222989.jpg

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has announced that the rideshare app Lyft is "unauthorized" to operate in New York City, just two days before the service was slated to debut.

The commission said in a press release Wednesday that Lyft failed to comply with the city's safety and licensing criteria set for its drivers. TLC's main point of contention is that Lyft vehicles have not "undergone the rigorous safety and emissions inspections" and its drivers have not passed the required drug and background checks, the statement said.

TLC also warned that drivers who sign up with Lyft risk losing their vehicles and may be subject to fines of up to $2,000.

Lyft uses regular drivers to provide on-demand rides to users via its smartphone app. The company tagline "Your Friend with a Car" is an attempt to differentiate itself from its competitor Uber, which functions more like a yellow cab. Lyft riders are encouraged to sit in the front seat with the driver, much like you would when hitching a ride with a friend.

Lyft co-founder John Zimmer told the The New York Times earlier this week that the company employs a rigorous vetting process for new drivers.

"We have safety standards that are more strict than what New York City taxi cab or hired vehicles go through," Zimmer said.

The San Francisco-based start-up has been vying for a piece of the rideshare pie currently being gobbled up by Uber, whose entry into the New York City market in 2012 was beset by its own set of legal issues, like city rules that prohibit yellow taxis from prearranging rides with passengers.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Uber: What to Know About Car Service App]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:42:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/451565438.jpg

Summoning a driver at a push of a smartphone button is a lot easier than trying to hail a cab during rush hour, which may explain why Uber, a car service app that connects passengers and car services within minutes, has become so popular.

The San Francisco-based startup, which launched in 2010, is the biggest of the car-hailing apps (others include Lyft, Sidecar and Wingz), operating in 120 cities and 37 countries. Uber relies on a surge-pricing model, which means the fares increase during high-demand periods. The company has come under fire from traditional taxi drivers who say the service is not fair and might even be illegal. This battle between upstart and establishment is likely to continue, and may benefit riders from a cost perspective.

Meantime, here’s what you need to know about Uber:

  • How Does Uber Work?

A customer requests a car using a smartphone app and Uber sends its closest driver to their location, using the phone’s GPS. The fare is charged directly to your credit card. Uber provides five types of services: UberX, the cheapest option which allows for the hiring of livery car drivers with a smartphone; Uber Taxi, which lets you e-hail a yellow cab; Uber Black, a private hire car; Uber SUV, the car seats up to six people and Uber Lux, which features the priciest cars.

  • Who Drives Uber Cars?

UberX drivers are not licensed chauffeurs and they use their own cars. They also use their personal auto insurance policy while driving for Uber and they are not required to get commercial liability insurance. According to the company website, all ride-sharing and livery drivers are thoroughly screened and the company conducts ongoing reviews of drivers’ motor vehicle records throughout their time with Uber.

The review process may be flawed.  A three-month investigation by NBC4's I-Team found that convicted felons passed Uber background checks across the country. And in an undercover investigation, NBC Chicago hired several UberX drivers and ran their own background checks on them and found numerous tickets for speeding, illegal stops and running lights.

  • Is Uber Safe?

States are warning riders who hail an Uber or another ride-sharing cab that they may not be covered by insurance if the driver gets in an accident. But Uber and other ride-sharing companies say that is not the case.

"There's no insurance gap at all on any trip on the Uber system," Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian told NBC News. She said the company's $1 million policy provides sufficient coverage in case a driver's personal insurance fails to do that.

There are other safery concerns as well. A 32-year-old Uber driver in Los Angeles was arrested in June on suspicion of kidnapping a woman and taking her to a motel room, police said.

And a California couples told NBC4 an Uber driver stole $2,500 in cash and personal items from them after he picked them up from LAX and dropped them off at their West Hollywood condo.

  • How Much Is Uber Worth?

Uber was valued in June at $18.2 billion, less than a year after being valued at $3.5 billion. The valuation was the highest-ever for a venture-backed start-up and experts say Uber is positioned to become one of the most powerful companies in the world.

  • Uber Capping Fares in Emergencies

Uber announced Monday that it will cap fares during emergencies and disasters in all U.S. cities. The company said prices may still rise higher than usual during an emergency, but the increase will be limited. The price will always stay below that of the three highest-priced, non-emergency days of the preceding 2 months, according to Uber's website.

The company was accused of price gouging when it applied surge pricing after Hurricane Sandy, in some cases doubling the normal fares.

  • Uber Slashing Fares in Some Cities

Uber also said Monday that it was temporarily cutting UberX rates by 20 percent in New York City, making its service cheaper than taking a yellow taxi.

An UberX ride from New York’s City’s Grand Central Terminal to the Financial District will now cost about $22, down from about $28. The same ride in a city cab will cost about $24, according to Uber’s blog.

Uber has also reduced fares in Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.

  • Uber Banned in Some Cities

While taxi operators often shell out more than $1 million for a medallion to operate in some cities, Uber drivers don’t. At least six cities (Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Ann Arbor, Michigan; San Antonio and Austin, Texas; and Miami) as well as the state of Virginia have banned ride-sharing companies. Another seven cities and three states (California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania) are trying to regulate them.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[30 Md. Cab Companies Suing Uber]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:40:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Uber-Council-102313.jpg

More than 30 Maryland cab companies are suing Uber, saying the company is hampering their ability to do business.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court, reported the Baltimore Sun. The lawsuit claims Uber's surge-pricing model is similar to price fixing, and the car service is creating an unfair marketplace.

Taxi companies have begun to fight Uber, a popular ride-sharing company that uses an app to summon rides. In D.C., taxis affiliated with the D.C. Taxi Operators Association closed down Pennsylvania Avenue last month in a protest against Uber that gridlocked traffic.

Virginia has barred Uber from operating in the state, and in San Francisco, the head of one of the oldest cab companies in the city has said that traditional taxis may not survive 18 months in the face of competition from Uber.

Maryland has become a new battlefront for the dispute, with cab companies lobbying against proposals to regulate Uber differently than cab companies.

The cab companies claim that services like Uber aren't regulated the same way that taxis are. Uber has countered that the ride-sharing model isn't a taxi service, and pointed to the consumer demand for the product.

Two of the companies that sued in Maryland -- Barwood Tax and Sun Cab -- are based in Montgomery County.

An Uber spokesperson says it's too early to comment on this lawsuit, but the company will defend itself if it has to.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Is Oakland the New Silicon Valley?]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:35:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/219*120/jacklondonsquare.jpg

Tech companies are now branching out into the East Bay, favoring Oakland after being priced out of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.

Erik Collier serves as one of the general managers of Ask.com, a search engine company that moved into Oakland's City Center from Emeryville in 2004.

"We knew it was cool before it was cool," Collier said. "We were looking for more space. Oakland seemed to be a great spot, a central location to transportation."

Other startups and tech companies moving into Oakland point to the cheaper costs of doing business, especially compared to San Francisco or on the Peninsula.

The average price for an apartment in San Francisco is $3,500. Oakland's average rent is about $2,000 a month for an apartment.

"All the young techies want to be in the East Bay," Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney said. "It is so hot. They don't want the sterile environment of those isolated campuses of the old tech."

McElhaney considers old-tech powerhouse companies to be the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple, all of which helped make Silicon Valley famous, simultaneously driving up rents south of the City in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, neither of which have much in the way of rent control.

She is touting Oakland as the next big thing for the tech industry.

"At this point, Silicon Valley is old money," McElhaney said.

The Sears and Roebuck building in Oakland will soon become part of  the city's renaissance. The building has been sold and the new owner plans to turn the building into retail and office space for more start-up companies.

Oakland restaurateur Irfan Joffrey, owner of Camber, said the upswing seems to be gaining momentum.

"A lot of new businesses are moving in," he said, "just because other businesses are coming into town so they can benefit from the economy."

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<![CDATA[SF Parking App Makers Threatened With Fines, Lawsuit]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 10:32:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/06-23-2014-parking-app.jpg

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who think they can solve San Francisco’s parking woes – and make some cash at the same time – are busy launching new apps that match drivers in need with much-coveted parking spots in the city.

But these tech companies could fold just as quickly as they started – or face possible fines or lawsuits – if they choose to go through with their business plans. 

On Monday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a cease-and-desist letter to MonkeyParking, claiming the app is illegal because it attempts to lease public, on-street parking spots.

Herrera also sent a similar letter to Apple, asking the Cupertino-based giant to remove the app from its store. Herrera also vowed to send out two more letters to ParkModo and Sweetch, companies with similar business models that charge consumers money to find empty spaces in parking-starved San Francisco.

Herrera’s letter said the companies will face a $2,500 fine, and a lawsuit, if they don’t stop operations by July 11. And his letter brought up issues of safety, logistics and equity regarding the controversial apps in a city where parking is in short supply.

In an email, MoneyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny said he wasn't allowed to say too much because he hadn't yet time to consult with his lawyers. But in general, he said, he believes his company is "providing value to people," where users can "make $10 every time you leave a parking spot" by holding that spot until the next person comes. He said he feels his service should "regulated and not banned."

But, in an interview on Monday, Sweetch founders insisted that they’re not selling public spaces, they’re selling information. And the founders – French students who developed the app while taking an entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley – vigorously defended their business model.

In fact, Sweetch Co-Founder Hamza Ouazzani said his company attorneys told his San Francisco-based team that the app is “perfectly legal.” He explained that Sweetch’s goal mirrors Uber and Lyft, which also attempt to match people through the “sharing economy." Those two companies have been visible players in the ongoing conflict between tech ventures and public entities.

The Sweetch app, which charges users $5 to park, and pays users $4 to sell their spot to someone new, aims to make parking smarter, Ouazzani said, by providing a lower cost option for people who want to decrease the time they spend hunting for a place to park.

Ouazzani said while he’s not worried about Herrera’s threats, his team is now in consultation with attorneys to decide what the next move is for Sweetch.

The next move, at least on the city attorney’s behalf, will be to start fining, or suing, the companies who don’t heed his warnings. Herrera’s office noted, however, that Sweetch’s app, with its set-price model, does not appear to be as egregious as the other two apps, which encourage online bidding wars over parking spots.

City attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said his office isn't buying the app makers' logic. He said companies that claim to be selling “parking information," as opposed to the spot itself, are giving consumers a line that is “patently false.”

Companies like these are “holding on-street parking hostage,” Dorsey said in a phone interview. He added that San Francisco police code clearly bans the buying and selling of public spots to drivers. “It’s like selling off Muni seats,” he said.

Plus, Dorsey is skeptical that the information the companies are selling is even useful.

 “In the Mission District,” he said, “That information isn’t going to be good for very long.”

Herrera’s office is also arguing that drivers using these apps will make the roads more unsafe.

“Presumably, you’re still on your iPhone while you’re driving,” Dorsey said.

And, on a social justice level, Dorsey said the city attorney is concerned that the apps might "fly in the face of San Francisco values," making parking even more difficult for those without parking app access.

“It’s not fair that people with the ability to pay have a better chance to find parking in San Francisco than you or I might,” he said. “It’s already a city with affordability problems.”



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sweetch]]>
<![CDATA[Daughter's Letter Gets Dad Week Off of Work at Google]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:15:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_07_google_car.jpg

A little girl's summer wish came true, thanks to a letter she wrote to Google.

Katie wanted her dad, who works at Google, to spend more time with her, so she wrote the Mountain View company a letter asking for him to have Wednesday off. 

"Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off," she wrote in the letter, which is going viral on Twitter.

"P.S. It is daddy's birthday. P.P.S. It is summer, you know," she added.

The letter worked, according to "The Today Show," as Google responded with a letter thanking Katie for the note and giving her dad the first week of July off as vacation time.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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<![CDATA[Google Doodle Takes on Office Workers Sneaking Peeks at World Cup ]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:36:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/worldcupgoogledoodle.jpg

Google outted office workers around the world with a doodle that features the iconic "Google" letters sitting around a conference table watching a World Cup game.

The animated letters are seen switching from the game to a graph presentation when a stern looking letter "B" walks by with a clipboard in hand. Once the B-is-for-Boss is gone, the PowerPoint presentation switches back to what appears to be an exciting match as the Google letters cheer and fist pump.

Users who click on the Doodle were taken to coverage of Monday's Netherlands vs. Chile match.

Researchers have yet to calculate the estimated loss of work productivity during the 2014 World Cup, but the U.S. economy in 2010 took a $121.7 million hit due to the 21 million soccer-loving Americans who watched for 10 work minutes a day during the South Africa games, according to NBC News.

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<![CDATA[Facebook Down for the Second Time This Week]]> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 18:03:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP120112075763.jpg

Facebook appeared to be experiencing an outage on Friday afternoon. Users attempting to log on would see either a blank screen or an error message.

This is the second time this week the popular social networking site went off the grid. Facebook suffered its longest and biggest outage in the middle of the night on Thursday as millions of users around the world found themselves unable to access their accounts for about half an hour starting at 4 a.m. ET.

The latest service disruption started at about 1:13 p.m. ET, according to downrightnow.com, a website that monitors web services. Facebook was back up by 6:00 PM ET.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Target Fixes Glitch That Caused Delays at Checkout]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 12:29:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/target9.JPG

Target says it has fixed a glitch that caused delays at checkout stands at some of its U.S. stores Sunday.

The company said it identified the source, and that it was not a security-related issue.

“We sincerely apologize to anyone inconvenienced by this issue,” said Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman.

One customer told NBC4 on Twitter that a Target store in Tustin was unable to process debit cards. The store handed out coupons for $10 off to customers, she said.

Last December, Target announced it was the victim of a cyber attack that resulted in the theft of at least 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla to Open Up Its Electric Car Patents]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 08:49:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tesla_models_car_red.jpg

Electric car maker Tesla Motors is sharing its technological brainpower with the world and will open up all of its patents in an effort to boost electric car production.

"Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a blog post announcing the decision Thursday.

Musk said he hopes encouraging other electric car manufacturers to use Tesla's technology will help make cars less reliant on gasoline.

"Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis," Musk wrote in his blog post.

"Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day," he added.

Musk said his new business strategy was based on open source philosophy, which encourages the free and open development of technology, and said sharing Tesla's technology "will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard."

The announcement came the heels of Monday's reveal that Tesla also planned to encourage standardized electric car specifications by opening Tesla's Supercharger system to other auto makers, Engadget first reported. The Supercharger lets Tesla drivers charge half the car's battery life in about 20 minutes.



Photo Credit: Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[TweetDeck Security Issue Gives Hackers Access to Accounts]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 13:27:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*160/tweetdeck18.jpg

Users of Twitter's popular web app TweetDeck are encouraged to log out of their account right away.

Users reported on Wednesday morning that the app was creating pop-up alerts all by itself. The issue seemed to be affecting those who use TweetDeck on Google Chrome, but some reports show that other versions were affected as well, according to the tech blog Gigacom.

Mashable reported that the service has a security flaw that could allow hackers to gain access to user accounts. TweetDeck confirmed on Twitter in the afternoon that the issue has been fixed.

In addition to logging out of and logging back into the app, users are encouraged to remove access to TweetDeck from the Twitter app before using the service again.

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