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Tech Retrospect: Microsoft strikes up Band, Moto turbocharges Droid

Microsoft's entry into the smartwatch market might be worth your time. Also, Moto unveils the Droid Turbo and AT&T's in trouble with the FTC, in this look back at the week.


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Wearables are where it's at -- at least, that's what every consumer electronics company in the land wants you to think. Microsoft's been a little late to get into the game, but given the market for smartwatches and the like hasn't exactly taken off just yet, perhaps it's jumping in at just the right time.

Unimaginatively called Band , Microsoft's latest hardware release slots in somewhere between a simple fitness tracker and a proper smartwatch. It looks a lot like a Nike FuelBand or FitBit Flex, with its rubber styling and narrow OLED display. And, with its integrated pedometer and heart rate monitor, it definitely has a strong fitness angle. That said, it's looking like a far more capable tracker than others, as it tracks your heart rate continuously throughout the day, and its integrated GPS can monitor your position without a phone.

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It also has plenty of smart features, including notifications for texts and tweets, emails, caller ID, and even some apps, like one from Starbucks that lets you pay from your watch. Its promised 48-hour battery life means it fits in between something like a Moto 360 and a Pebble, as does its $199 price (about £125 or AU$225). Worth it? It certainly might be, and I'm awfully tempted to pick one up myself, but you'd best wait for our formal review to be totally sure.

Moto Droid Turbo does 2 days on a charge

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It's been a little while since we've seen an addition to Motorola's Verizon-exclusive Droid line, but perhaps it was worth the wait. It's the new Droid Turbo , and the talking point is the battery life. 48 hours on a charge out of a massive 3,900mAh battery, a feature that many will covet. But will it be enough for people to give up their iPhones and Galaxy devices? The rest of the specs certainly line up with what we like to see, including a 5.2-inch, 2,560x1,440 display, a 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM. The 32GB version is $199.99 in the US exclusively on Verizon, while a 64GB model will set you back $50 more. With no micro-SD expansion, you'd best step up to the bigger of the two.

In other Moto news, Lenovo finally closed the $2.91 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility from Google, a process that's taken months and, sadly, just a few days too many for Lenovo to make a big deal of it at the Turbo launch.

Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: Retailers choose sides

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A bit of an ugly "skirmish" has broken out of late over the future of mobile payments. At least, that's what Tim Cook called it. Apple Pay launched to much fanfare just over a week ago, but recently a few major retailers -- Rite Aid and CVS being the largest -- disabled all NFC payments to block its use. As it turns out, that's because those retailers have signed on with a system called Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, which is pushing its own means of mobile payments called CurrentC.

CurrentC uses QR codes instead of NFC, and unlike Apple Pay it is multi-platform. That means it'll likely be more clumsy to use, requiring users to unlock their phones, launch an app, and then hand their phone over to be scanned. MCX spoke out and said that it isn't forcing its members to block Apple Pay, but all the backlash isn't exactly a good start for the service -- nor was the security breach that exposed the email addresses of its users.

FTC sues AT&T for misleading 'unlimited' claims

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It's sad to think that we live in a world where the word "unlimited" needs to be qualified. But if the FTC gets its way, AT&T's attempt at restricting the meaning of the word may be ruled invalid. AT&T of course made waves when it started throttling data speeds for those on unlimited data plans who were sucking down the most content. The FTC has filed a federal court complaint, saying: "The issue here is simple: 'unlimited' means unlimited." I tend to agree.

It'll be months, if not longer, before we see any resolution from this, but the mere action might discourage other carriers from getting similarly creative with their wording.

Tim Cook: 'I'm proud to be gay'

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CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook made quite an impression on Thursday by publicly discussing his sexual orientation for the first time. Cook is a notoriously private person, but said: "If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it's worth the trade-off with my own privacy." I can't do the rest of his public letter justice, so I encourage you to just click on over and read it for yourself.