Talking tech since 2003

Sunday has found us once again, which means it’s time to look at the top tech stories of the past week. Companies making headlines include Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft and Comcast. Ready? Let’s go.

Samsung Buys SmartThings

The Internet of Things is about to get a real kick in the pants — at least, it will in the Samsung universe. The electronics company reportedly laid down $200 million this week to acquire SmartThings, a company that makes Internet-connected smart devices like lamps and sensors. Will SmartThings products work only for Samsung products going forward? That remains to be seen, though the message coming out of the newly purchased company is that “SmartThings will remain SmartThings.”

amazon-local-register-headerAmazon Launches Local Register to Compete with Square

Amazon Local launched this past week as a new service that enables small business owners to take credit card payments. Using software for iOS, Android or Fire OS combined with a special reader, payments can be taken on a smartphone or tablet. And if this system sounds at all familiar, that’s because it’s pretty darn close to how Square operates. But Amazon isn’t just entering Square’s territory to compete — it’s coming in to try and kill off the Jack Dorsey-led startup by undercutting Square’s swipe rate. Square currently takes 2.75 percent of each transaction, while Amazon will only ask for 1.75 percent (until January 1, 2016). Is Square in trouble? We’ll find out in the coming months.

Cortana Could Come to Windows Threshold

Cortana is an impressive virtual assistant — in fact, it’s probably one of the most impressive things Microsoft is working on right now. My gripes about the use of “Cortana” aside, I hope the AI is integrated into the Windows experience as much as possible, and is brought to other areas as well (Xbox, for instance). It does look like Cortana will show up in Windows Threshold/Windows 9, according to a report from this past week. Tests are early, with Cortana functioning more as an app than an integrated experience, but that could change. We’ll keep an eye on this story and update when we get new information.

Comcast Isn’t Having a Great Summer

As Comcast tries to make its case on why it should be allowed to swallow Time Warner Cable and become even larger, one issue continues to dog the company: customer service. The company has had a longstanding reputation for poor customer service, but with the TWC merger on the table, the horror stories have been going viral more frequently and more quickly than usual. If you want to catch up on the four (!) stories that have been making the rounds, you can check out this post as well as this post. And if you have some Comcast horror stories of your own, we’d love to hear about them — tweet us or email

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