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Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent

Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Welcome to dot.Rory - these are my thoughts about how technology is changing the world and shaping our lives

Samsung tries to get an edge on its rivals

The world's mobile phone makers, gathered in Barcelona this week, have a guilty secret - they know full well that all of their latest models look roughly similar and do much the same as those of their rivals. And for the world's biggest phone maker Samsung that's a problem - it needs to look different.

Faced with the mighty brand of Apple's iPhone at the top end of the market and Chinese models that are now offering a smartphone experience at a bargain price, the South Korean giant has had a tricky year. At the end of 2013, it had a big lead over Apple in the smartphone market, but by the final quarter of 2014 the two firms were neck-and-neck, and three Chinese firms, Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi, together made up a powerful third force.

Last year's version of its flagship phone, the Galaxy S5, had failed to produce too much excitement even amongst the firm's most loyal fans. So a lot was hanging on Sunday evening's Galaxy Unpacked event held in the biggest arena I've ever seen for a mobile phone launch.

And Samsung did indeed have something that looks radically different, the Galaxy 6 Edge. Its glass screen wraps around the sides of the handset and is used to deliver notifications, and as an area where your closest contacts are kept - so for instance the screen edge might light up green when it's your boss calling

The other new model the Galaxy 6 isn't so radical, but like the Edge it has a more solid and luxurious feel than its predecessors. Or to put it bluntly, it is less plasticky - because its back cover isn't plastic. That was the main criticism of the S5, but replacing it with Gorilla glass comes at a price. Gone are the removable battery and storage which many Samsung fans always saw as a major advantage over Apple's iPhone.

Read full article Samsung tries to get an edge on its rivals

Kickstarter - now just a store?

Kickstarter website - woman playing the piano
Kickstarter has insisted in the past that it is not simply a shop window

This afternoon I've been staring, mesmerised, at a Kickstarter page.

It is a campaign to raise $500,000 to fund a new smart watch - and just half an hour after it was launched it had raced through its target. The last time I looked, it was racing towards $3m in 90 minutes.

Read full article Kickstarter - now just a store?

Food on your phone

A selection of Rory's food

I've been testing the patience of my social media friends and followers to the limits this week. What's new, I hear you ask. But photographing your every meal and sharing the pictures on Instagram and Twitter is almost guaranteed to annoy.

But that was at least part of the point of the exercise. As part of a joint venture between Tech Tent and another BBC World Service programme The Food Chain, I was exploring how mobile phones have affected the way we eat. The idea was to take a photo of my breakfast, lunch and dinner over a number of days and see how it changed my attitude to my food.

Read full article Food on your phone

Is email broken?

inbox

For many people, email was their first experience of online communication, and seemed at first a magical new way of connecting at work and at home. Now, though, it looks old hat. Teenagers, we are told, are using everything from Snapchat to WhatsApp to communicate and are unlikely to respond if you email them - something I can confirm from personal experience.

Even in the workplace, the usefulness of email is being increasingly questioned. The sheer volume of messages is one issue, the etiquette of how you compose emails and who needs to be copied in on them is another. Some firms have acted to restrict the flow - the German carmaker Daimler stops employees from receiving messages while they are on holiday, and the IT firm Atos even talked of banning internal email altogether.

Read full article Is email broken?

Who wants a smartwatch?

Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch, October 2014
Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch, October 2014

The big trend in computing this year is the move from staring at your phone to glancing at your wrist. Once the Apple Watch is released in April, the smartwatch sector will really take off. Or at least that is the received wisdom.

But some figures released this week by the research firm Canalys should give us pause for thought. They show that just 720,000 Android Wear devices were shipped in 2014, out of a total of 4.6 million smart wearable bands, which include fitness trackers such as the Fitbit and the Jawbone Up.

Read full article Who wants a smartwatch?

Taking the robot dog for a walk

It's a video which is bound to go viral. Spot sets off down an office corridor, and then out into the open air. At various points, for no apparent reason, people approach him and try to kick him over - he staggers back and then resumes his progress.

And no, there are unlikely to be protests to the RSPCA because Spot is actually a robot dog. It is the latest, most sophisticated creation of a company called Boston Dynamics. Spot follows in the footsteps of Big Dog, which as its name suggests was a rather larger but cruder robot seen rampaging across the Massachusetts countryside in another video which since 2008 has had more than 16 million YouTube views.

Read full article Taking the robot dog for a walk

Office puts chips under staff's skin

Want to gain entry to your office, get on a bus, or perhaps buy a sandwich? We're all getting used to swiping a card to do all these things. But at Epicenter, a new hi-tech office block in Sweden, they are trying a different approach - a chip under the skin.

Felicio de Costa, whose company is one of the tenants, arrives at the front door and holds his hand against it to gain entry. Inside he does the same thing to get into the office space he rents, and he can also wave his hand to operate the photocopier.

Read full article Office puts chips under staff's skin

Facebook - lessons from the panic

Facebook screen saying "Sorry, something went wrong"

The call came at 06:59 as I turned the corner into my street on the way home from walking the dog.

It was a colleague from the Today Programme and his voice was urgent, with an undercurrent of fear. "We need you on the programme in 15 minutes," he said.

Read full article Facebook - lessons from the panic

Future of News: Seven insane ways tech will change news

Small drone with camera

The BBC, like many media organisations, is having a major head-scratching session about the whole future of news.

As part of this exercise, I've been asked to write about the way technology could change the news business over the next decade.

Read full article Future of News: Seven insane ways tech will change news

Should schools gorge on gadgets?

Child with tablet

Want to see how equipping every child with a tablet can transform the way they learn? Want to meet leading tech firms which promise that their products are the key to your school's future? Then come to BETT, the educational technology fair in the vast Excel complex in East London.

But here's another thought - what if all of this is a huge waste of money which would be better spent on employing more teachers?

Read full article Should schools gorge on gadgets?

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About Rory

Rory has been watching the technology scene like a hawk for the last 15 years.

From the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s to the rise of Google and Facebook, from the Psion organiser to the iPad, he's covered all the big gadget and business stories, and interviewed just about everyone who's played a part in the story of the web.

Dot.Rory, his previous blog, was named among the Top 100 blogs by the Sunday Times.

He aims to look at the impact of the internet and digital technology on our lives and businesses. Rory has been described as "the non-geek's geek", and freely admits that he came late to technology - but he aims to explain its significance to anyone with an interest in the subject.

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